Locomotoring

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

Archive for the ‘San Francisco’ Category

Atelier Crenn from an year ago

leave a comment »

Third time is the charm for the photos, with the latest renovation, there is now a hint of light for the lens. Not that photos matter or even the menu matters. A dinner at Crenn is like a series of short adventure trips for the uninitiated. No baby steps, you jump straight into it – sky diving, canoeing the rapids, zip lining, bungee jumping and so forth. Imagine you have been handed a schedule that looked like the following,

Sky, gravity & wind
River, foam & paddles
Canopy & pines

Frankly, even if the schedule came with a video of the activity, you will only know the motions and not the sensations.

Here was what the menu said on Nov 22, 2017,

Plum kambucha
Kir Breton
Fish & Chips
Geoduck, Sea Urchin & Citrus
Seeds & Grains
Caviar, Monkfish & Koji
Brioche & Housemade butter
Abalone, Cabbage & Smoked Creme
Matcha Tea Service
A-5 Wagyu, Porcini & Bearnaise
Harbison, Buckwheat & Truffle

Nopal Elixir
White chocolate avocado cremeux
Mesa Crisp
Sapote Ice Cream & Maracuya
Vanilla Bean Guanabana & Crystallized Tobacco Leaf
Recreation of Agave, Coconut & Iced Pulque
Mignardises

Think of the elixirs and tea services as brief rest stops in between the adventure courses. I had been experimenting with home brewing kambucha last year, but that only made me wonder how did Dominique manage to get kambucha to taste good, let alone great. Thanks to a recent trip to Mexico City, at least the dessert menu ingredients like Sapote and Guanabana were familiar. Harbison? Your Googling is as good as mine. Her pastry Chef Juan Contreras, a Los Angeles native, has been with her for a while but this was the first time we noticed an influence from south of the border.

The menu also showed a hand-drawn Ocotillo, a desert cactus. We had seen Ocotillo in bloom earlier that year during the trip to Joshua Tree National Park. From a distance, they look like red tipped 20 ft tall grass. When the earth is dry, the stems are leafless, grey and thorny. The leaves sprout whenever the earth is a little moist. I took that to be the representation for the dessert menu.

Some of the photos …

Kir Breton, this is the only repeat adventure from last two times. Champagne cocktail served in a white chocolate shell with creme de cassis on top.

Fish and chips

White chocolate avocado cremeux

Sapote Ice cream & Maracuya

Vanilla bean guanabana & crystallized tobacco leaf

Recreation of agave, coconut & iced pulque. Pulque is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the agave plant. It has the color of milk, somewhat viscous consistency and a sour yeast-like taste.

Written by locomotoring

December 30, 2018 at 10:46 pm

Strandbeest and Theo

with one comment

My first experience with Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest, aside from youtube videos and his TED talk, was a model kit. This is a 3d printed kit of Animaris Ordis Parvus that we bought from his website. It’s very sight gives joy. Yesterday, I noticed that the elastic holding the backbone had disintegrated, my poor strandbeest with a broken back and in captivity and it made me a touch sad.

In Theo’s words:

“Since 1990, I have been engaged in creating new forms of life. These forms are not made of protein like the existing life-forms. Theirs is another basic stuff: yellow plastic tubing. Skeletons made from these tubes are able to walk and get their energy from the wind, so they don’t have to eat. Their habitat is the beach where I was born. They evolved gradually, over several generations. As they developed, they became more adept at weathering storms and coping with the sea. My ultimate wish is to release herds of these beach animals on the shore to make their own way through life. By redoing the Creation, so to speak, I hope to become wiser in my dealings with nature that is already there. It presents me with the same problems the Real Creator must have come up against. Strandbeest is a testimonial to my experiences as God. I can assure you that it’s not easy being God, there are plenty of disappointments along the way. But, on the few occasions that things work out, being God is the most wonderful thing in the world.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Sachin

October 5, 2016 at 1:40 am

A breakfast and a lunch in San Francisco’s Little Italy

leave a comment »

Mama’s on Washington Square. Even for a mid week breakfast, there was a long queue outside.

Mama’s screwdriver is made with grapefruit juice and soju. On yeah, a morning screwdriver is the best way to celebrate middle of the week time off from work. This is completely no-nonsense drink that would provide a buzz long enough to last the trek up to Coit tower.

Mama’s Benedicts. Tasty! Enough energy to last the trip to Coit tower and back and then slump on the luncheon chair at Tony’s Napoletana.

Menu at Tony’s Pizza Napoletana. When pizza appears on the menu along with the oven temperature, one has to take it seriously, right?

The gluten free. You could ask, why one even bothers. There is something in the aroma of bread and cheese that is simply put, irresistible. Overall verdict, the dough is not as good as Mariposa’s.

Written by locomotoring

August 15, 2015 at 8:51 am

Rattlesnake sausage, you say!

leave a comment »

Rattlesnake+rabbit sausage and a cajun sausage, served with smoked beans and salad – Rosamunde Grill.

Really, rattlesnake and rabbit! Do rattlesnakes eat rabbit?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

February 18, 2014 at 12:56 am

Gajalee, Indian coastal cuisine in San Francisco

with 2 comments

Machi fry – catch of the day, coated in semolina and deep fried. Served with sambaar, a south Indian daal and  yogurt raita. The semolina has a coarse corn grit like texture and offers an additional layer of crunch.

Tisyra Masala – Half shell mussels cooked with spices, onion, and grated coconut. For those of you who can close your eyes and imagine a coastal Indian town, this dish can transport you there. Watch out for broken clam shells.

Written by locomotoring

February 18, 2014 at 12:45 am

A perfect dessert at Range

leave a comment »

Hazelnut millet génoise with cardamom mousseline, huckleberry compote and popped millet brittle.

For dinner we had couple of fish dishes that were unapologetic in their subtle and non-fussy conception and closer to Catalan style cooking than Californian. One, an olive oil poached cod, was extraordinary. Cocktails were definitely designed for a younger audience in mind – smooth and sweet. L’Ascensor….sigh!

Our dinner at Commonwealth on the other hand was so disappointing that we came back to Range for a repeat of the hazelnut cardamom génoise.

Written by locomotoring

February 18, 2014 at 12:13 am

Posted in California, San Francisco, USA

Tagged with ,

Ganja cookies at Dolores Park

leave a comment »

Ganja cookies happens to be one of the many things you can get at Dolores park – sunshine, music, people watching, dog walking, watching kids improvise, picnic-ing – joys of a summer day in San Francisco.

Written by locomotoring

February 17, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Roxy cafe in mission district of SFO

leave a comment »

Roxy is a small cafe on Market street, mission district of San Francisco. Great food and don’t be fooled by the sign on the door that says shakes and pastries. At the time we turned up, they had no pastries left. The one interesting thing about kitchen is they only have access to sous vide machines, blenders and torches. No stove and exhaust. A fantastic meal overall.

Potato coconut soup with purple cauliflower and prosciutto


Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

February 17, 2014 at 6:15 am

Off the Grid, Picnic at Presidio

leave a comment »

If the Sunday sky in SFO is clear, head out to Presidio for a picnic . You can take your own lunch but not to try some of the “off the grid” vendors would be a shame.

A wide range of food vendors …


Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

September 23, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Memory of Hong Kong in San Francisco’s Chinatown

leave a comment »

Place: Hong Kong Clay Pot Restuarant, Chinatown, San Francisco
Ordered: Biiter melon with frog and sea food clay pot
Served: Biiter melon with shrimp, sea food clay pot and a pot of tea

Hong Kong Clay Pot Restaurant, looking out towards Grant. Catch a narrow flight of stairs to get to the restaurant.


Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

September 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Bengali Gimlet and South Indian Dosa

with one comment

Place: Dosa @ Fillmore, San Francisco
Food: Egg dosa and spicy basil dosa
Drink: Bengali gimlet

Egg dosa, cage free with onions and spices

Spicy basil chutney dosa with cashews and spices

Gimlet was so good that I had to try and reproduce at home. And here is the variation that I ended with. To make the spiced syrup, toast the following until highly fragrant and nose is itchy …

  • 4 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 4 Tbsp allspice berries
  • 4 Tbsp black peppercorns

Crush above with mortar and pestle or equivalent gear and add to 1.25 cups water, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder (to give your drink a beautiful yellow color), 2-4 hot chiles, a handful of crushed keffir lime leaves, and 1 cup sugar. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Cool for a few hours during which the flavors get to mingle. Then strain and keep. Makes about 2 cups and will serve 32 gimlets.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by locomotoring

September 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Art of joy

leave a comment »

What makes people happy?

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Som

June 24, 2013 at 6:18 am

An incredible 747 flight …

with 2 comments

Looking at Endeavour being flown around on top of a 747 reminded me of a baby whale being accompanied by its mother. Following photos are some of my favorite NASA photos (source: NASA flickr photostream) during its flight around Bay Area.

Endeavour over Ames Research Center (ACD12-0146-018) Endeavour over the Golden Gate Bridge (ACD12-0146-008)
Endeavour over the Golden Gate Bridge (ACD12-0146-010) Endeavour Over The Golden Gate Bridge (ED12-0317-012)
Endeavour Over California's Bay Bridge (ED12-0317-011) Endeavour Fly Over California  (ED12-0317-008)

Written by locomotoring

September 29, 2012 at 6:16 am

Posted in Bay Area, California, San Francisco, USA

Tagged with ,

Atelier Crenn, yet again

leave a comment »

Popsicle with eucalyptus

We are bowled over by molecular gastronomy at Atelier Crenn. This time we settled on their five course menu. And yet again, each plate was an orchestra that brought together purity of flavors and textures to form an exquisite whole.

We had the same table as last and a Spanish chef for our neighbor that evening. Even with his highly broken english, it was clear from his explanation to Chef Dominique that he was on food tourism. He had settled for the ten course meal with wine pairings. With each course, his waiter had painstakingly explained the mile long list of ingredients in Spanish. This time I had decided I wasn’t going to write down the list.

First course was “trio of tomatoes”. Saying that the course was tomatoes says nothing. These were peeled, soft textured, cold grape tomatoes in essence of tomato broth with small bits of goat cheese – an umami bonanza. Next course was seafood medley that was infused with dashi. The third dish was soft cooked kohlrabi coated with coffee served on a bed of kohlrabi puree with kimchi sauce. The bitterness of kohlrabi was extended by coffee and kimchi offered an orthogonal spiciness dimension. Who would have thought that an earthy unpretentious root vegetable such a kohlrabi could be served for fine dining and with success. For palate cleanser, we were offered a shiso-ginger ice which if served with vodka would have made for a fantastic cocktail. The final savory item was guinea hen with huckleberries and  chanterelle mushrooms. Desserts started with a not so sweet beet sorbet served to look like a beet. The tail bit was made of chocolate and the soil was composed of chocolate, yogurt and oatmeal. This was followed by eucalyptus popsicle served in a eucalyptus bouquet. Finally, some caramels and fruit jelly candy served on an artificial log but with a real acorn bud for decoration. Charming.

We obviously adore the food here but  I wish I could see my food a little better. The main courses here were served on dark slate – the kind I scribbled on with chalk while I was a child. Very stylish and personally very evocative for me but I can’t quite see the sauces. The other courses were served on glass which again has a visibility issue for me – too much specular reflection or transparency. Nevertheless, I am waiting for my next excuse to celebrate.

Trio of tomatoes

Seafood medley with dashi foam

Kohlrabi special

Wild hen with huckleberries and mushrooms

Not so sweet beet sorbet

Fruit jelly, salted caramel, and marshmallow

Written by Som

August 31, 2012 at 3:36 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

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

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 »