Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dine About Town-ing It All Over San Francisco With The SFFoodMaven...

WARNING! You may strain your stomachs just reading about this two week Dine About Town stint I just did. I actually ate ALL of this Food... Scary, I know. Serously, a hollow leg or a tapeworm would've come in handy. *Quick sidenote...Ten years back, my good friend Alisha, swore that I had a tapeworm due to my eating habits, so she actually named him Stanley. Well, that was 10 years ago and now I find myself chanting to myself - Stanley, Wherefore are thou now, Stanley??? I Need You!

Honestly, I did not plan to eat this much over the last couple weeks. But since starting the SFFoodMaven, I have developed a following, mostly consisting of very good friends that are Foodies, Food Heads or what have you. And so with the onset of this year's Dine About Town, I was asked to join in or head up several DAT Meals.

So now here we are...

Eight Meals
Actually, there were more than that, but we're just talking straight DAT here.
But seriously, what a way to start the new year!

The last two weeks of Dine About Town have been quite a ride. I pretty much Dine About Towned it almost every night of it this time and ate out for two weeks straight.
Now, I have to say that this is the most I've ever participated in it and the few times that I have, I usually had a hard time staying within the constraints of a Prix Fixe Menu. I mean, who wants restrictions when it comes to Food? Certainly not the SFFoodMaven! Hahaha.
Anyway, this time around, sometimes I went with the Prix Fixe and other times, I ventured out. In the end, we're talking about 8 strictly DAT Meals, one Restaurant I did twice, and I'm not even counting any other Dinners that I also had in between these Meals over the last 2 weeks. In case you're curious, some of those other Meals were at Houston's, Farmer Brown and Bix...
Can you say excessive?
Straight up Bacchanalian?
All I know is that I done Bacchus proud and I am sure he is proudly looking down upon my Epicurean Exploits.
Now, you'll just have to bear with me on this one, because it really is a lot of Food. Before sitting down to read this, I suggest you grab a Snack 'cause this one's a Doozy.


Here is
the breakdown of my 8 DAT Meal highlights...

My First DAT Meal was at
Chiaroscuro across the street from the Pyramid. I didn't go there intentionally for DAT, but ended up there after a happy hour block party next door at Aventine. There were a bunch of us at Dinner trying everything from Apps to Primi's and Secondi's, but what stood out most was the Pasta.

I had the Trilogia, which was a tasting of a Carbonara, all'Amatriciana and Pesto alla Trapanese, which is a Winter White Pesto. Here is an excerpt from the Menu with details. The Carbonara was my favorite, but all were quite good.

tagliolini all'amatriciana 14.5 .
homemade tagliolini pasta with caramelized onions, imported guanciale tomato and romano cheese

tagliolini alla carbonara 14.5
homemade pasta with pancetta tossed in a romano cheese egg sauce

maltagliate al pesto alla trapanese (winter white pesto) 17
housemade pasta with organic grape tomatoes, garlic, pine nuts, almond, and basil

My 2nd DAT Meal was at Poleng Lounge and this time I could not be restricted to the Prix Fixe because the Menu had a big Filipino influence and there was just too much that I wanted to try.

We started out with 2 Apps. The Poached Marrow with Coconut Bread
which was awesome. Huge fan of the Bone Marrow, or as I like to call it, 'Meat Butter'. Yum.

And then we had the Cebuano B.B.Q. Pork Belly
which was just ok, but what I did love was the Side Dish of Salted Egg with Tomato and Onion. Now that was great and I wish I could have ordered a larger Side of that Yummy stuff.

For the Mains...

We then had the Walu Kinilaw, a
Filipino “Ceviche” with Butterfish cooked in Sugarcane
Vinegar, Lime Juice and Coconut Milk, also with Thai Chiles, Toybox Tomatoes and Cilantro.
This is the Filipino version of the Ceviche and was my absolute Favorite of the evening.

The Sizzling Sisig,
which is a Pork Medley with Coconut Vinegar, Onions, Peppers,
and fresh Calamansi, which was not so Sizzling. It could've used more Salt, and been heavier on the Heat, like Jalapeno or something. Unfortunately, it was disappointing.

The Crispy Adobo Wings,
on the other hand, a Succulent Deep Fried Chicken tossed in an Adobo Glaze served with Achara (Pickled Papaya) were good and reminded me a bit of San Tung's Angel Wings.

Poleng was a little hit and miss this time, but this could be because, the Chef, Tim Luym was in the PI and perhaps it was an off night. Will have to come back and give it another shot when Tim gets back...

DAT #'s 3 and 5 were at
Le Colonial, so I tried quite a few dishes from their extensive Menu. My first visit earlier in the week was actually a little disappointing, but my second visit with my good friend, Alish and boyfriend, Nick, definitely redeemed them a bit.

As far as the Appetizers and First Course, we really liked the
Banh Hap So Diep, Seared Potstickers filled with Scallops, Ginger and Herbs served with a Sesame-Soy Sauce. I also liked the Canh Tom Hum, a Lobster, Coconut and Lemongrass Soup flavored with Kefir Lime Leaf served with Rice Noodle and Crispy Shallot.

For the Entrees
, I had the Lobster Special for my first time there, which was a Whole Roasted Lobster in Garlic and Butter. Delicious...

On my second visit, I had the Thit Heo Nuong, which is a Pork Chop marinated in Chili, Ginger and Coconut Juice, served with Three Onion Broken Rice and Pickled Hearts of Bok Choy
. The Flavor Combinations were perfect and I absolutlely loved this Dish. My favorite overall.

I also liked the Tom Rang Muoi, Salt and Pepper Crusted Hawaiian Blue Spot Prawns with Garlic Butter served over Pan Fried Egg Noodles and Chilies.

For Dessert, I had a few different items, but the Tapioca and Banana Pudding was the Best. Should you find yourself at Le Colonial, you gotta try it. It definitely makes for a Happy Ending. And that's no joke...

On my #4 DAT I got to kill two birds with one stone, because it was my boy, Raz's bday and I chose Mangarosa. Mangarosa in North Beach is a great place for a birthday celebration, because on Thursdays they have samba dancers dancing on the bar and throughout the restaurant, every 30 minutes or something like that. It was all so lively and so much fun, and we all thought the Food was pretty good too.

Let me break it down, Y'all...

So my friend, Prof actually did the DAT menu and was so kind as to allow me to try his Food. Actually, everybody shared their Food with me which I always appreciate, if not expect. haha...

For Starters and Salads, we tried the Caesar with Hearts of Romaine and Fried Anchovies, the Warm Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Polenta Croutons, Grilled Pears, Caramelized Onions
and Balsamic Vinaigrette, and I had the Hearts of Palm Salad with Arugula, Endive, Radicchio and a Citrus Vinaigrette. All were not bad, but the winner for me was the appetizer below...

A Polenta Souffé with Sun Dried Tomatoes, Arugula, Grana Padano and Basil, which was delicious. Oh and I almost forgot to mention that the “Pão de Queijo” cheese bread “Brazilian Style” was really really good. Those went quickly...

For our Entrees, we had the following Dishes...

The Bday boy had the Rib-Eye Steak with Wild Mushrooms and a Veal Reduction Sauce. Lucky for me, I was literally 'Flanked' (get it?) by him and our friend Joe, who also had the Ribeye. Yum!

A number of people had the house made Gnocchi with Roasted Garlic, Crescenza Cream Sauce and Local Wild Mushrooms, which everyone thought was pretty great.

Prof, who sat across from me had the
beautifully Tender Soft Beef Short Ribs with a Red Bell Pepper Sauce served with Mashed Potatoes, which was pretty damn good...

I had the Grilled Lamb Chops with Green Peppercorn Sauce that was also a big hit with the table.

One quick aside, I have to give kudos to the staff and servers at Mangarosa, because they were extremely accommodating for our large birthday party of 10. Thanks again to them all because it made for a truly memorable birthday!

Well, are you still with me guys? 5 down, 3 more to go...
#6 DAT was one of my favorites and it was at XYZ.

Went to XYZ in the W Hotel with my beautiful girlfriends, Renee and Van and later Jenny, who came for drinks. Now, I have eaten at XYZ a couple times before, and I have always had a good meal here, so I was excited for this one. Nee and I stuck with the DAT menu, Miss Van had the Duck (shown above) and we shared a couple of extra Apps.

The Amuse that they brought were some beautifully, delicious Gougeres (in layman's terms - Cheese Puffs).

And we also had to try the Fries which were super good with an Aoli that was to die for!

We, or rather I just had to have the Sonoma Foie Gras with Pickled Huckleberries atop a Crispy Brioche which was pretty yummy.

We aslo had the Hamachi Carpaccio which was paired with Blood Oranges and Tangerines with a Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette. Are you salivating or what? I know, I am.

And so this next part, starts the Dine About Town portion of our Meal...
What? You thought that was it? Oh, heck no...
Read on, People.

First Course
was a Crab Arancini with a Pimentón Aioli and Frisée

Second Course Pan Seared Salmon atop a Creamy Pumpkin Risotto with Salsify and Salsify Cream. OMG...
My stomach just growled at the thought of it!

Third Course was a Tangerine and Vanilla Yogurt Sorbets with fresh Tangerine and Earl Grey Shortbread, and a Gingerbread Cake with Mascarpone Semifreddo and Candied Ginger.

Great Meal from XYZ yet again...

Fish & Farm was #7 DAT with my dear friend Nadia, her hubby Murph and their friend Becky. I opted for the DAT Menu and the others branched out and shared their Meals with me.

First Courses

For the DAT Menu, I started off with the Clams in a Vadovan Curry, Fuji Apples
which were nothing to write home about. We felt the Sauce was bland and could've used more Salt and perhaps some Citrus.

Apple Cider Braised Pork Cheeks with a Mustard Spaetzle, Devoto Farms Apple Rosemary Puree was ok, but not as good as we would have hoped.

Funny thing happened while we were there that night. Murph ordered the Grilled Sardines, which he was super excited about, but were told that a table at the front had ordered the last two Sardine Dishes, right as the server was walking by with them in hand. I happened to know the people from the other table, so I, Food Ambassador that I am, popped over to ask if they could spare a Sardine for our table. My friends, Nikki & Todd were so kind as to oblige and were able to try it.
So we had a Grilled Monterey Bay Sardine with Almonds, Golden Raisins, Watercress and Blood Orange and it was delicious.
Thanks again, Nik! I owe you one...

Second Courses

Murph and Becky had the Local Black Cod with Sauteed Hedgehog Mushrooms, a Shallot Custard and Hamada Farms Candied Citron, which they thought was quite good with all of the Flavor Combinations and Textures...

Nadia had the Single Malt Scotch Braised Short Ribs with a Pearl Barley Risotto and Plumped Seasonal Dried Fruits and Nuts.

I had the DAT Roasted Chicken paired with a Parsnip Puree and Roasted Veggies, which I was very happy with. Whatever they did to the Chicken, it was Juicy and the Skin was Beautifully Crisp. Nads thinks that there may have been some frying involved. Whatever the case, it was damn good...

Third Course

I had the only Dessert because I did the DAT and it was F&F Sundae that was a Heavenly Ending and did me just right...

I ended Dine About Town by having #8 Meal at
Plouf. This was also a favorite and a great way to end it all. I eat and drink at Plouf pretty often, one would say that I am even a regular. I just love the Alley and the feel of it, especially when the weather is nice. This night, I had my very good friend from my college days, Melisa and her hubs, Mason in town. I had them meet me and my girlfriends, Mills, Katy and Nee at Plouf for Drinks and Dins. I opted to do the DAT Menu, since it was my final one and I am glad I did, because it was fantastic.

First Course

Lobster Bisque Souffle that was absolutely Ambrosial.
For my DAT, I had the Baby Lettuces Salad with Fine Herbs and a Champagne Vinaigrette as my First Course.

As for Second Courses...

This was the 10oz New York Strip
with Green Beans, Beurre Maitre d’hôtel and a Creamy Potato Dish what knocked our socks off. Awesome.

I had the DAT Grilled Salmon with Sauteed Spinach, Creamed Potatoes, Salmon Caviar and a Cream Sauce
. Loved it.

Mills had the Wild Mushroom Risotto with Truffle, Creme Fraiche and a Wild Mushroom Ragout which was unbelievably good. We all raved after we got to try a bite...

Third Course

Banana Profiterole with a Warm Chocolate Sauce

This was a great evening, where my old and new friends came together. We ended up spending nearly 6 hours there, eating and drinking and sharing stories, which is very reminiscent of my long dinners from when I lived in Germany. Quite the Happy Ending... *sigh*

So there you have it, Friends...
If you actually made it all the way to the end here, then kudos to you.
As for me, I could seriously use a giant fork right about now, because I'm Done!

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