Locomotoring

Seven continents, seven seas, seven billion people and seven thousand good eats …

Archive for the ‘California’ Category

Mi Casa, Hearst Castle at San Simeon

with one comment


Touristy? Oh yes …

After years of struggling with the idea of going to Hearst Castle, we finally took the plunge one weekend. It was really a gorgeous weekend last summer but it could very well have been this summer. Some things don’t change in a year and the  spectacular journey along route 1 from San Francisco to San Simeon is one. Chances are, you will often get stuck behind cars going 15 miles below the speed limit behind nervous drivers who are perhaps more used to the straight roads of middle America. Use these temporary periods of slowdown to enjoy the blue ocean, rolling hills, and fog laden promontories even more. The journey is as much a part of the experience as the castle itself.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Som

August 31, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Posted in California, USA

Tagged with ,

An old photograph explained

leave a comment »

These photos were taken from the porch of a motel on highway 15 (Mojave Desert) our way to Grand Canyon in 2002. Finally these photos are explained. In a recent article on DailyMail UK titled, “There’s more to clouds than dull or grey and white and fluffy“, a very similar photo appeared with the following caption “Noctilucent clouds are crystals of ice hanging around 80km high in the atmosphere that catch the light of the sun long after it has set on the horizon. The cloud in this image was formed from the exhaust of a missile launched from a distant firing range.” We were indeed within range of a US army base. So the reason is likely to be identical in our photo.

Written by locomotoring

August 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Gaultier at de Young Museum

leave a comment »

Gaultier’s exhibition at de Young ended last weekend.  The dimly lit cavernous space of de Young felt appropriate for Gaultier’s over the top couture. Projected facial expressions on faces of the mannikins was a brilliant touch that animated the show and added to the sense of engagement.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

August 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Hiking Torrey Pines in San Diego

leave a comment »

Torrey Pines Natural Reserve is a jewel in San Diego. Photos below are from an easy two hour hike starting from the visitor center lodge and going down the Razor point and Beach trails. For a slideshow, click on any one of the photos.

Written by Som

August 15, 2012 at 11:38 pm

A hole in the wall …

leave a comment »

For the last few months, I have been living in the beautiful city of San Diego. Having spent 12 years in Bay Area, the air here feel fresher, the sky bluer and the sight of the beaches makes me crave a beach bum lifesytle. But it still a little cool to go beach bumming. So instead, I eat…

In fact, this one is about driving all the way to Los Angeles and back with the sole purpose of eating at Antojitos Carmen. And why? It is Jonathan Gold’s description of huarache de huitlacoche – ” … too hot to touch but too compelling not to … … with hell-hot habanero salsa Antojitos Carmen calls El Chamuco, the devil, for its ability to infiltrate your soul. The huarache will make you suffer, first through its physical heat, then through the heat of El Chamuco, then through the jet-black fungus that will paint your teeth the color of charcoal before it oozes down to stain your favorite shirt…”

Antojitos Carmen in Los Angeles

Huarache de huitlacoche

Gordita

And the old fav, taco.

Huitlacoche, or corn smut, is a corn disease, a fungus that usually replaces the normal kernels of the cobs with large, distorted tumors analogous to mushrooms. Etymology has something to do with “excrement”. But believe you me (and Gold), it is delicious. It is oozy, mushroom-y, and black. Who can say no to naturally black food? One more color to celebrate on the plate.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Som

June 2, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Atelier Crenn, Molecular Gastronomy in San Francisco

leave a comment »

Composition 8 (Komposition 8), July 1923. Photo courtesy: Guggenheim Museum, New York.

Not counting the occasional foam or sous vide, Atelier Crenn was our first molecular gastronomy meal. My husband and I are both scientists who have spent a significant part of our lives studying molecular interactions, so we were of course delighted when the word molecular started to be part of modern food cuisine. But before this meal, I had occasionally wondered if molecular gastronomy was just clever hype. But after this meal, I think a better way to describe this new cuisine is to consider the difference between abstract and realistic art. Just because art is in one category or other, doesn’t make it good or bad. The artist has to work equally hard to capture the imagination of his or her audience. Molecular gastronomy is abstract art and Dominique Crenn’s creations reminded me of Kandinsky’s composition series – many ingredients playing with each other to create something that was larger than sum of its parts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Som

June 2, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Is this the best pizza in San Francisco?

leave a comment »

Una Pizza Napoletana

We had seen chef Mangieri on Chow Obsessives. Location of Una Pizza Napoletana isn’t particularly exciting. Except for the oven, the restaurant interior looks like a bare canteen. From a choice of half dozen toppings, we ordered the Margherita. From any table, you can watch him prep the pizza with focus of a meditative monk. There is no aerial tossing, there is not much talking, there is no clinking of glasses, there is no busy moving to and fro from the kitchen… in fact there is no wasted movement, just obsessive placing of basil leaves and cheese on the dough. A baby, who was in the pram next to his station, presumably his, is growing up on the sweet smell of bread and basil.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Som

May 7, 2012 at 8:36 am

Jai Yun, Chinese banquet in San Francisco

with one comment

Even though this one is situated in the heart of Chinatown, this is not your average Chinese restaurant. You definitely can’t go by the yelp averages. Think of it as anti-thesis Chinese takeout – there is nothing fast, cheap or expected about Jai Yun. So be prepared to love it or hate it.

For us, the occasion was my 40th Birthday. What better day to treat oneself to something out of the ordinary.  We walked in early that evening to a familiar restaurant. No, it was our first at Jai Yun but their current location is where another unusually good restaurant used to be – The Flying Pan. We ate our way through an upwards of 20 dishes, all distinctly different in textures and flavors. Our server described each dish in detail without which it would have been very difficult to tell what we were eating. Pacing was superb. If I had to pick a single star item, it would be pig ear scented with five spice mix but all the dishes could be described somewhere between competent to superb. Even though each dish was quite light in itself, after the 15th or 16th dish we did get a bit tired of eating.

All in all, definitely something worth doing once – like celebrating a 40th.

Crunchy vegetables with Goji berries

Crunchy vegetables with Goji berries

Napa Cabbage

Napa Cabbage

Pickled cucumber

Pickled cucumber

Vegetarian goose made from soy protein

Vegetarian goose made from soy protein

Chinese greens

Chinese greens

Lotus roots

Lotus roots

Tofu with coriander

Tofu with coriander

Mushrooms with shark fin

Mushrooms with shark fin

Pig tongue

Pig tongue

Abalone with egg white

Abalone with egg white

Fried wheat gluten with mushrooms, peppers, and chinese lily flower

Fried wheat gluten with mushrooms, peppers, and chinese lily flower

Fried Enoki mushrooms with basil

Fried Enoki mushrooms with basil

Tofu skin with edamame

Tofu skin with edamame

Mung bean glass noodles with Chinese bacon and green onions

Mung bean glass noodles with Chinese bacon and green onions

Sea bass with peas and corn

Sea bass with peas and corn

Pig ear scented with five spice

Pig ear scented with five spice

Loofah squash, woodear mushrooms, and gingko nut

Loofah squash, woodear mushrooms, and gingko nut

Chicken with szechuan pepper

Chicken with szechuan pepper

Slow braised beef

Slow braised beef

Chinese celery greens, onion, tofu, and pepper

Chinese celery greens, onion, tofu, and pepper

Whole fried fish in Chef's special spicy sauce

Whole fried fish in Chef’s special spicy sauce

Fried eggplant with Szechuan pepper and sugar

Fried eggplant with Szechuan pepper and sugar

Written by Som

May 5, 2012 at 5:58 pm

One more reason to go to Ferry Building

leave a comment »

Mini cakes at Miette

Chocolate ganache cake

Chocolate ganache cake

Ferry Building at San Francisco is perhaps my favorite spot in the city when I am feeling lazy or when the weather is not at its best. They have everything to cheer you up – good coffee (Blue Bottle), good food (Slanted Door), good chocolates (Recchiuti), good bread (Acme), good cheese (Cowgirl creamery), the Farmer’s market and excellent views. This time, I found another reason, Miette Cakes. We picked up a chocolate ganache cake and it was delicious. The chocolate was intense (Scharffen Berger). The size was big enough to share with significant other and small enough to disallow fat/sugar overdose.

Written by Som

July 17, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Coffee and Chocolate at Four Barrel

with 4 comments

Four Barrel Espresso Station

Four Barrel Espresso Station

Four Barrel on Valencia is a well reviewed coffee mecca in Mission District of San Francisco. The queues are long but is a good opportunity to watch city fashions. The space has a modern warehouse look with a coffee bar at the entrance, the main coffee station in the middle and stock at the back. Seating is somewhat minimal but if you hang out long enough, you are bound to find a table. The coffee bar is akin to a wine bar where you pay to sample their brews. My husband was very excited about the coffee after having sampled 4 varietals! The music is played in an old fashioned way where a real person selects a record out of the collection and plays it on a record player. Unless you want a caffeine kick that makes you want to dance a jitterbug, I recommend picking their brew of the day, grabbing a seat and watching the  extensive and non-hurried ritual the baristas follow.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Som

July 17, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Kathi roll – Calcutta vs. San Francisco

with 2 comments

Kasa in San Francisco, serving Kathi roll

Kasa in San Francisco, serving Kathi roll (click for more)

Making of Kathi rolls at street side vendor in Calcutta

Making of Kathi rolls at street side vendor in Calcutta (click for more)

Kathi or kati roll – kababs wrapped in paratha, flat fried bread, and served with a variety of condiments such as chopped onions, spicy green chillies, yogurt, chutneys and salsas. Admittedly, these rolls originated as street food in Calcutta. Close variations on the concept exists in other cuisines – replace the paratha with a naan and you can be standing at Khan market in New Delhi. Put the kabab and condiments it a pita pocket and you end up with the popular gyros.

But when you set up a hip taqueria on the gentle rolling hills of beautiful Pacific Heights in San Francisco, and serve home style Kathi rolls, you have done something brand new. For one, the milieu is orthogonal to the neon lit battered stall on the crowded Calcutta street that serves a hungry crowd of pedestrians on hot summer evenings.

And secondly, can there even be a concept of homestyle Kathi rolls? Did Kathi roll not originate to satisfy the hunger for spicy, juicy meat held together by flaky, chewy fried bread? Are these rolls not to be had in the anonymity of street crowd  – away from the watchful eyes of the dear spouse, away from the responsibility of being the ideal parent? Why would the average Calcutta babu seek out nutritiously balanced and healthy food on the street.

For food purists, Kasa will never reach the divine heights of unwholesome Calcutta street food. However, for the rest of us, there is something to be said about enjoying a glass of mango lassi with a turkey kathi and not having to worry about the number of sick days one has left.

Written by locomotoring

July 3, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Old man and the sea, Pacific Heights

leave a comment »

Old man and his friend at an old age home in Pacific Heights

Old man and his friend at an old age home in Pacific Heights

Like Lonely Planet says, Pacific Heights is a wander and look operation. Most notable sights in this neighborhood are old Victorian style homes. Some gorgeous, most in 1-3 million dollar range. There are parks tucked away for you to catch a snooze or get beautiful shots of the painted ladies. From top of the hills, the bay beckons with its little sailboats. You can spot landmarks such as the Palace of Fine Arts and Golden Gate bridge.

If you go with the city guides, you will get a very detailed understanding of the architecture and evolution of these Victorian homes. The guides will also tell you exciting tales, for instance being mooned by Danielle Steel’s children. Wandering and look operations are hard to describe, who knows where you will choose to wander. I am going to provide a sample of what we found on our wanderings. A link to more photos and map is provided at the bottom of the post.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Som

June 27, 2010 at 1:57 am

Mission accomplished

with one comment

Courtyard of Mission Carmel

Courtyard of Mission Carmel

I have been meaning to do a circuit trip of missions around Bay Area. There are quite a few of these missions, so one can’t hope to cover all of them in a day. I have had eyes on a few – Carmel, Jolon and Soledad with possibility of San Miguel thrown in. Opportunity presented itself this memorial day weekend – so I packed some sandwiches, a few slices of the wonderfully moist and orange flavored cake ala Clotilde and, a thermos full of Chai. We left early on this Sunday summer morning – a perfect California day that held promises of a warm clear blue skied summer afternoon.

Read the rest of this entry »

LA’s Grand Central Market

with one comment

LA is the land that generated hard-boiled genre where dangerous liaisons occurred on streets named Mullholand Drive. Now, the maze of highways crisscrossing the city makes one wonder how Marlowe would go about saving the damsel in distress – aided by a GPS navigator?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Som

May 7, 2010 at 7:12 am

Death by Capsaicin

with one comment

Crispy fried catfish at Jitlada, Los Angeles

Crispy fried catfish at Jitlada, Los Angeles

A few weeks ago, my husband and I took a short weekend trip to LA and this trip was entirely for the sake of food – Mexican in particular. But even Mexican food lovers like us, need a break or two.  Jitlada was the one we chose – the great  Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer prize winning food critic, had recommended a few dishes among the “99 Things to Eat in LA before you die” and not just because they serve the hottest curries in this part of the world.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Som

May 4, 2010 at 8:02 am

Chocolate and coffee at Chocolatier Blue

with 3 comments

Chocolates from Chocolatier Blue

Chocolates from Chocolatier Blue

Chocolatier Blue is a new addition to our chocolate and coffee series. The earlier ones being Recchiuti, Fog City News, TchoXoX, Choco-la, ….

  • Location: Fourth Street, Berkeley
  • Coffee: I forgot to notice – chocolates were too pretty. There is a Peet’s coffee in the vicinity.
  • Chocolates: Chocolate tart and flavored Amedei chocolates – champagne and popcorn, grains of paradise (a west African aromatic and peppery spice), ….

Combine growing up on self-sustaining farms, training at Charlie Trotter’s and a passion for the best ingredients … and then add the sensitivity of an artist (this comes from the better half) – you end up with great tasting chocolates  so pretty that you wish you have a young love and Valentine’s day just around the corner.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

March 14, 2010 at 12:28 am

Sex in the city

leave a comment »

Financial District, San Francisco

Financial District, San Francisco

Should have called it “Taste of Italy”….

Find out what Italian food and kinky sex has in common at Perbacco.

If you are going to the financial district of San Francisco, also check out:

  • For chocolate lovers – Coffee and chocolate at Fog City News (more)
  • A touch of nostalgia – on the old Barbary coast (more)

Written by locomotoring

March 13, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Presidio – An escape from within

leave a comment »

Officers quarters at Presidio, fog covered Golden Gate bridge in the backround

Officers quarters at Presidio, fog covered Golden Gate bridge in the backround

For me, San Francisco is a pretty city with great food. But, the traffic gets on my nerves. Before our household got a GPS assistant, going to the city invariably meant an argument – about taking the one way only turn, and not finding a parking that cost less than the meal. Now, at least we avoid taking the wrong turn and if we do, we are not pathetically lost.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Som

October 14, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Kailasa at Stern Grove Festival 2009

leave a comment »

Beer and music at Stern Grove

Beer and music at Stern Grove

We have recently returned from a short visit to Delhi  and are a little home sick. So a couple of weekends ago we decided to go to the Stern Grove Festival for Kailash Kher’s group Kailasa. The thought of soaking in the coolness of Stern Grove listening to  Tauba Tauba sounded fantastic after Delhi’s grueling heat and mugginess.

Read the rest of this entry »

Fillmore Street Jazz Festival 2009

with 3 comments

Crowd at Lavay Smith Stage Lavay Smith Lavay Smith's Band

What better way to celebrate July 4th than with the most American of art forms – Jazz. And the Fillmore Street Jazz Festival does the celebration with gusto. This year it was spread across eight or so blocks on Fillmore street, four main performance stages, and many smaller performances going on all along the street and in Jazz clubs lining Fillmore.

Read the rest of this entry »

Coffee and chocolate at Fog City News

with 6 comments

Fog City News Storefront

Fog City News Storefront

Fog City News is fourth in our chocolate and coffee series. The earlier ones are Recchiuti, Tcho and XoX.

  • Location: Market Street, Financial District
  • Coffee: None! Although you can find imported bottled soda here. And magazines …
  • Chocolate: Tasting bites and bars – Dolfin, Vosges, Scharffen Berger to new a few …

FCN is not your atypical chcocolate store. It is an atypical magazine shop. If you like to lay your hands on hard to find magazines and periodicals, this is your place to be. Ditto for chocolates. The store fits in with busy life of financial district. Grab a chocolate and a magazine and be on the run…or, grab a soda and a magazine and be on the run … May even be a nice spot to spend ten minutes browsing during the dull part of the day. And to pick up gifts as well.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

July 7, 2009 at 12:09 am

Coffee and chocolate at Recchiuti

with 4 comments

Rose caramel

Rose caramel

Recchiuti is third in our chocolate and coffee series. The earlier ones being Tcho and XoX.

  • Location: Ferry Plaza
  • Coffee:  Peets’ or Blue Bottle is available a few doors down.
  • Chocolates: Truffles, caramels, …

Recchiuti’s is what you would expect a fancy chocolate store to look like. All trim, polished and glittery and that is just the staff. No chairs for shoppers to sit around and look flabby, unpolished and drab. No coffee either to ruin any nice perfumes the staff or customers may be wearing. Their price helps to not overindulge.

Are we sounding curmudgeonly?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

July 1, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Coffee and chocolate at Tcho

with 6 comments

tcho-a-day

tcho-a-day

Following up on our coffee and chocolate trail (inspired by David Lebovitz), the second one on our list is Tcho.

  • Location: Pier 17, San Francisco
  • Coffee: Blue Bottle
  • Chocolates: Tasting squares and bars

We had known about Tcho long before we sampled it. They had been getting reviewed on boingboing since their beta days (yes, even chocolates have beta versions in silicon valley).

Our first taste of Tcho’s chocolates was on a walk along Embarcadero. On that occasion, we tasted all four of their varieties and picked up a small pack of 8 tasting squares. On our last visit, we picked up a 30 day package called tcho-a-day.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

June 22, 2009 at 9:08 pm

Coffee and chocolate at XoX

with 5 comments

Store front on Columbus Ave

Store front on Columbus Ave

David Lebovitz says that some of the best artisan chocolatiers these days are from America. So, we decided to bring to you as many of them as we can find in San Francisco.

We start with XoX Truffles – a friendly shop for a cup of coffee and some handmade truffles.

  • Location: North Beach, San Francisco
  • Coffee: Espresso
  • Chocolates: Handmade truffles

The store front is unpretentious, the coffee delightfully strong, and the handmade truffles are small nuggets of perfection. These truffles have won so many awards that the list of awards exceeded our attention span.

They give away a free truffle for every cup of coffee you buy. Our plan is to sample all their truffles for free. OK, we lie. We buy them too. This time we bought a few Earl Grey truffles.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

June 19, 2009 at 10:35 pm

A saloon, a globe and a park – a spot of the old Barbary Coast

with one comment

The Saloon

The Saloon

Walking in front of “Old Ship Saloon”, you would have never guessed it. Looks like any other brick building surrounded by many other buildings. But this saloon was originally on a ship. How did the ship get here? How did the saloon get here? Well?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Som

June 18, 2009 at 11:42 pm