Locomotoring

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

Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

Chantal Guillon – land of macroon wonder

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Chantal Guillon in Palo Alto Downtown Store front
Blood orange macaroons Guava macaroons

Written by locomotoring

June 29, 2015 at 3:41 am

Posted in Bay Area

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Freedom Wings

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Osmanthus in Oakland was our pick for lunch after the naturalization ceremony in Oakland’s Paramount Theater. Pizza is what we would have celebrated with but with the gluten intolerant microbiota, we decided on Asian cuisine instead. And a modern pan Asian restaurant to celebrate the occasion was perhaps even apt. Of the 1097 fellow Americans who took the oath representing 55% of world’s nations (yes, a whopping total of 109 nations!) over two third were formerly asian.

Oakland, thank you for supporting restaurants like Osmanthas (and Juhu Beach Club and Asmara and …) . And thank you for restoring the Paramount theater and hosting this celebration there. It is an important milestone in our lives and it is extraordinary to share the experience with 1000 others in this stunning old Art Deco theater. It was a solemn occasion with speeches and presidential videos (w/ camera flashes and twittering and cheering!).  Throw in 15 minutes of Charlie Chaplin on the big screen next time or even Walt Disney cartoons and lets us feel the true glory of this beautiful venue, Might even lull the crying babies!

Chicken wings lunch plate with honey ginger glaze.

Dry-fried chicken wings lunch plate with sichuan peppercorns

“Ms Grant” – a gin, ginger, lime and castilian bitters cocktail and “Plum Manhattan” – a rye, vermouth, umeshu, sour cherry bitter cocktail.

Also the basa fish with fermented black beans and “kiang ton” spareribs. Every dish was done expertly with the usual play of textures. Dishes were served with this delicious Japanese style pickled cabbage that elevated this simple vegetable to fine cuisine. The flavors in their fermented beans and sichuan peppers were memorable enough that my taste buds can recall with clarity after 24 hours!

Thinking about the wings now, I would say that only thing that could have made the chicken wings better is if they were Pok-Pok’s. But at the time, after a wonderful glass of Plummy Manhattan, I was happy.

Written by locomotoring

June 25, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Bay Area

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Starting 2015 with lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe

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Nibbled at the edges of this excellent sourdough, thus convincing ourselves that we were managing to stay on the right side of our gluten quota.

“Bob Cannard’s chicories with crème fraîche, ginger, roasted beets, and chives”. Ginger-y creme fraîche! Bless Alice Waters. Chez Panisse salads are to die for.

“Shaved winter vegetable salad with Dungeness crab and citrus vinaigrette”. Mildly citrus-y vinaigrette with perfectly crunchy carrot and fennel shavings.

“Fish and shellfish fritto misto with snap pea and cabbage salad, cress, and saffron mayonnaise”. The fries felt like eating cloud! What? Each bite was feather lite crispiness on the outside and melt in your mouth on the inside. Mayo was made even more indulgent by the addition of saffron. The tart cabbage salad with green and white florets of cauliflower and peppery baby cress provided an excellent counterpoint .

“Black truffle and ricotta cheese soufflé with roasted Belgian endive, cardoons and cress.” Don’t let the picture fool you, this soufflé was like a puff of air in its lightness. Cardoons and endive were both braised and roasted.

“Bittersweet chocolate custard with crème Chantilly and almond biscotti” with sightglass espresso.

Written by locomotoring

January 3, 2015 at 11:05 am

Saltwater and champagne by the bay

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Saltwater happened to be located right opposite our cottage.  We started our outdoor dinner with the raw deal where we were served the same variety of oysters raised in different waters – indeed they tasted different.

Salmon tartare

Smoked tuna with a celery, pine nut, berries and tangy creamy sauce

Back at our cottage to share a bottle of champagne.

Written by locomotoring

June 2, 2014 at 6:55 am

Posted in Bay Area, California, USA

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Marin and its happy cows

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Cowgirl is a great place to pick up local cheeses – some of them are such limited production and they don’t even make it to their Ferry Building location in San Francisco. 

Their cheeses are made with milk from happy Jersey organic cows from John Taverna’s dairy, located in Chileno Valley in Marin County. On this trip, we tried a couple new ones:

  • Inverness: Cowgirl describes this as full flavored, tangy lactic curd with a dense, creamy mouth feel. This is aged for two weeks to create a delicate version of St Marcellin style cheese.
  • St Pat: This is cowgirl’s spring seasonal cheese. This creamy semi-firm cheese is wrapped with nettle leaves that grow wild in Marin. Cowgirl describes this as mellow, soft, and full of smoky artichoke flavor.

Written by locomotoring

June 2, 2014 at 6:28 am

Meandering about Abbotts Lagoon trail

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This photo is from the Point Reyes lighthouse and if one kept walking on this beach in a straight line, one would reach Abbotts Lagoon. Attempt this crazy route only if you are equipped with heavy woolens on a summer afternoon.

Some kids were being kids while their parents had beached themselves nearby.

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June 1, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Drakes Bay Oyster Shack

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In Bay Area, oyster on the half shell is usually $3 per piece. I am convinced that Oysters are calorie free food particularly when not accompanied by champagne. Hence, if it weren’t for the price, I think I would eat them by the dozens every day. Drakes Bay Oyster Shack is where you can get your oyster fix for half the price. They have been farming 4 generations at Point Reyes but we don’t know how long they will be allowed to continue. While they are, one hopes will continue to serve big fat plump oysters by the dozen. We landed up here towards the end of the day so all they had left were oysters doused in Bloody Mary mix – what a lovely start to the evening!

Written by locomotoring

June 1, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Marin Sun Farms

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One can presumably spot myriad wild life at Point Reyes National Seashore but what we saw most were happy cows. I can only assume they are happy – rolling grasslands and other fellow cows as far as eyes can see. Occasional hikers and cold breeze can perhaps be considered the only hardship they endure.

Marin sun farms in a family owned pasture to fork farm with the restaurant right on Highway 1 at Point Reyes Station. Sea air and good hikes can easily prepare you for their fat and juicy steaks. Be prepared to wait an hour for your food, even if you are ordering just a burger, but the wait is well worth it.

Written by locomotoring

June 1, 2014 at 5:03 pm

A brief sojourn at Inverness

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Cottage on the beach. Skylights and large windows dissolve the barrier between inside and outside.

If we had a kayak, we could launch from our doorstep. Blue Waters Kayaking were a mile away.

Put your feet up and stare the flecks of gold blow across the blue sky.

Watching the changes in sun, breeze, tide and sounds, you really feel moored like this old boat.

Early in the morning, sitting on the patio, drinking tea and looking out at the sun sparkling on the Bay.

Lazing out on the deck, body and soul disappears into the surrounding.

Written by locomotoring

June 1, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Posted in Bay Area, California, USA

San Diego Food Highlights

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This warm winter in San Francisco Bay Area with its little to no rain is reminding me of San Diego. In particular, a crafts beer shop and a taco truck, both near my then home in San Diego. The beer shop is  Bottlecraft beer, located in Little Italy neighborhood of San Diego downtown. They hold flights of beer and here is where I tasted my first sour beer. The taco truck is Mariscos Alex, a San Diego fixture.

Written by locomotoring

March 10, 2014 at 5:05 pm

Posted in California, San Diego, USA

A memory from the vault

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Watched an episode of Portlandia yesterday. Missed our friend who now calls Portland his home. Browsed through some old photographs of a memorable trip to Portland, and found these …

…a cup of coffee at Stumptown.

…a macaron at Pix.

…a glass or was it two of delicious beer at old Lampoc.

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February 22, 2014 at 11:58 pm

Posted in Oregon, Portland, USA

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Rattlesnake sausage, you say!

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

Really, rattlesnake and rabbit! Do rattlesnakes eat rabbit?

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Written by locomotoring

February 18, 2014 at 12:56 am

Gajalee, Indian coastal cuisine in San Francisco

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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

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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

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Ganja cookies at Dolores Park

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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

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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


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Written by locomotoring

February 17, 2014 at 6:15 am

Off the Grid, Picnic at Presidio

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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 …


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September 23, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Memory of Hong Kong in San Francisco’s Chinatown

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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.


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Written by locomotoring

September 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm

Bengali Gimlet and South Indian Dosa

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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.

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Written by locomotoring

September 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Art of joy

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What makes people happy?

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Written by Som

June 24, 2013 at 6:18 am

Glamping in Big Sur

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Gateway – Internet on one side and beach on the other …

After 14 years of living in Bay Area and passing by Big Sur at least a dozen times, we finally decided to spend a weekend there. What can I say, better late than never? And thanks to airbnb, we found this wonderful cabin within a stone’s throw of Pffifer State Park. And what a cabin! Constructed from a winery barrel  that once held Burgundy in the foot hills of the Sierras, it offered the view of forest canopy, blue skies, blue sea,  stars at night, and most importantly a full kitchen, porcelain toilet and a hot bath. The weekend was unusually warm for May making the trip to the Andrew Molera State Park  more than just picture perfect. From the parking spot, the beach is a short 2 miles away that takes you through the camp site along the Big Sur river to where the river meets the ocean.
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Written by Som

June 3, 2013 at 2:09 am

Bombay Street Food in Oakland

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Juhu Beach Club

Juhu Beach Club in Oakland is all about very Indian flavors served up in a modern setting. If I didn’t know I were in Oakland, I would have thought I was eating in London.
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Written by Som

May 30, 2013 at 10:11 am

An incredible 747 flight …

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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

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Metropolis II, LACMA, Los Angeles

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Metropolis II at LACMA, click image for slide show

Chris Burden’s Metropolis II is an intense kinetic sculpture, modeled after a fast paced, frenetic modern city. Steel beams form an eclectic grid interwoven with an elaborate system of 18 roadways, including one 6 lane freeway, and HO scale train tracks. Miniature cars speed through the city at 240 scale miles per hour; every hour, the equivalent of approximately 100,000 cars circulate through the dense network of buildings. According to Burden, “The noise, the continuous flow of the trains, and the speeding toy cars, produces in the viewer the stress of living in a dynamic, active and bustling 21st Century city.” – lacma.org

For a movie version, click here.

Written by locomotoring

September 6, 2012 at 10:15 pm

Atelier Crenn, yet again

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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