Friday, April 22, 2011

Parada 22: Affordable, Yummy Puerto Rican Food

MOFONGO
Mofongo
 About a month ago, Tristan and i were shopping for our White Party outfit. We'd already tried our usual downtown (which is a food story for another time) & decided to try the Haight. After all, it seemed like a costumey weird place. I hardly ever get over to the Haight. Well, we didn't luck out on any outfit things, but we DID luck out on food! All of that walking and shopping made us hungry, and checking on my Scoutmob app on my phone, I saw that we were right near a Puerto Rican food restaurant, Parada 22. I remembered reading about this place, and I'd never tried Puerto Rican food, so it was definitely a go!  Inside, it's very small, but lots to look at. I loved all the homey foods on the wall. We were seated right away, because it was a random time. So many good looking things on the menu! Both of us decided to try the Mofongo - green plantains mashed with sofrito served with camarones a la criolla. I was going to order a side of plantains, because I love them, but now there was no need! We also got salad, rice and beans.  The beans were more like a soup or daal, and were yummy. The salad was fresh, the spanish rice was flavorful. The mofongo was very good and I really didn't even know what I was eating, beyond the plaintains and the shrimp, but it tasted great! Tristan is half puerto rican, so he'd had mofongo before, apparently it is a very traditional dish.  He said this compared favorably with the food he'd eaten as a kid. To drink, I had their Citrus Mint drink, which turned out to be a minty soda. It was good, but too sweet for me. That may be because I was generally avoiding sugar at the time, and not used to it. Our whole meal was casual and homey, with excellent service, excellent food, and low prices. Who can argue with any of that? My trip to Parada 22 has made me realize that I love Puerto Rican food, so hopefully I'll be coming back. And, for those of you who enjoy their neighbor, Cha Cha Cha (I've never been), the two chefs are the founder/owner of that restaurant, and his cousin.

Photos by Merredith Lloyd

Parada 22 - Puerto Rican Food
1805 Haight Street San Francisco, CA 94117
415-750-1111

Citrus Mint
Citrus Mint Drink

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Smooth Thai : You Get What you Pay For

mango curry
Mango Curry
Last Thursday I went to see Wirehead at Sf Playhouse, and Antonio, who was joining me, couldn't meet me until the actual play, so once again, I was on my own for dinner. I wanted to try something different than the last two times I saw plays, yet someplace I wouldn't feel really silly sitting alone at. I ended up craving thai, and going to Smooth Thai. Smooth Thai is attached to a hotel downtown, and is very easy to get to, since it's right off of the Powell Muni/Bart stop. It was a little after six pm, or maybe closer to 6:30 when I walked in, and there was one other party eating, with one coming in while I ate (not counting the guy who sat down, looked at the menu, got up and left). I was seated right away and quickly decided on Mango Curry with sticky rice. I love mango curry, and most thai places in San Francisco that I've been to don't seem to have it, so that was a big plus. Normally, I would have tried their thai iced tea, but I had not been really having sugar at the time, and didn't want to pass out during the play. Service was good, although I could have used my water filled a tiny bit sooner, but overall good, and it was nice and clean. When the food came, it was only ok. The rice was good, nice and sticky, foil wrapped, but the curry tasted a bit cheap. Well, what was I thinking, this place IS cheap. That curry was maybe $10. The mango was the best part - ripe and probably fresh, especially since I've heard it's mango season. There were a couple red and green peppers, but the chicken itself just tasted kind of not bad, but not really good. After I finished, my stomach hurt a little bit, not from food poisoning or anything though. If you're looking for fast, cheap thai food with pretty good service, absolutely stop by Smooth Thai. The food is not as poor quailty and fast food-ish as some other really cheap thai places in the downtown shopping area. You really get what you pay for, I've just been spoiled by my excellent thai places I've been accustomed to eating at. If you're eating alone, on a timetable because of something like a play, or even just really tired and hungry after a day of shopping, pop in here. 

Photos by Merredith Lloyd


Smooth Thai
55 Cyril Magnin St. San Francisco, CA 94102
415-362-7456

sticky rice
sticky rice
mango curry with sticky rice
Place Setting

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Contigo - Sustainable Tapas

cana de cabra goat cheese a la pnaxa with arugula, apples, dried cherries and vinagrette
cana de cabra goat cheese
Contigo is a tapas place down the street from my house. It's not just any tapas place, it's a Spanish and Catalan healthy one, with everything cooked from scratch using local, humane and organic products.  I'd always wanted to try it, but never got around to it. Then one day, I got a Blackboard Eats coupon for it, so I enlisted Tristan and Antonio and we decided to check it out. This place is popular, don't make reservations at the last minute. We ended up eating there on St. Patrick's Day, even though it's definitely not Irish, or green. The restaurant was nice and busy, and after a few minutes wait, we were shown to our table in the back. The back is an enclosed patio made of wood, so cute, and warm! Some patios are really chilly, but they spaced their heatlamps well, so none of us was ever cold. There is a little garden around the edges of the patio, and I was sitting in front of some growing red chili peppers. The menu changes every day here, so to get the full effect, we all decided to get the chef's tapas tasting menu, which is $40 per person. Even though there were a few items with nuts, the waiter was very accomadating, going through them with us, and making sure Tristan and I weren't poisoned. 'We don't like people dying' he said. In fact, when one of the dishes accidentally came out with the nuts in it, a waitress swooped in to take it back and exchange it before we even tasted it. So, great customer service! The first dish to come out was the cana de cabra goat cheese a la pnaxa with arugula, apples, dried cherries and vinagrette. Goat cheese, fruit and greens is one of my favorite combinations, so I enjoyed it. Next was wood oven roasted monterey sardine and avocado toast with picked onions and smoked salt. Tristan had had sardines before, and did not like them, but I'm not sure I ever did. Antonio insisted they taste good, so I tried it. I have to say, this was definitely my least favorite dish of the meal, but I think it's only because I discovered I don't like sardines. Tristan gagged his down in one bite, but I like to chew and swallow my food. It tasted really…fishy. The taste was stuck in my mouth forever, so I kind of wish I'd had some sort of palate cleanser after that. Sardine fan Antonio liked the dish, so it's probably good, given what it is. Dish three was calamars a la planxa with cara cara oranges, black olives, pickled onions and spiced chickpeas. I love calamari, and I loved the sweetness in there from the oranges. All three of us enjoyed it. Dish four was jamon iberico de bellota, acorn fed spanish heritage "pata negra" ham, aged 36 months. This was my favorite dish of the night. Thinly sliced ham, that didn't even taste like ham. MMM. I'd love to go to the store and buy some more of that stuff, but Contigo's website says it's the only restaurant in SF where you can find it.. Both Tristan and I really enjoyed it, but Antonio, who had tried it before other places, said it was only ok. My opinion is, if it's there when you go, get this dish. Dish five was roasted cauliflower with olives, dates, lemon and pimenton. This was my second favorite dish of the night. I've been hearing about roasted cauliflower in general, and after finally eating it, I definitely have to try my hand at making it in my own kitchen. The dates complimented the savory vegetable so well! Dish six was wood oven roasted quail with puntarelle, poached figs, vi ranci, and cumin yogurt. Quail is always so tiny, hard to get any meat off of it, I rarely order it. It was nice and moist, and the yogurt dip was good, and healthy tasting (in a good way). The greens were a bit bitter, and not to my taste. Dish seven was abondigas pork and jamon meatballs in tomato sherry sauce. Yes, they were just meatballs. They tasted like your average meatball. I did like the tomato sauce, it was really fresh tasting, and I scooped up the extra and ate it with a spoon! All in all, a fun and good tasting meal. My only complaint was that we all left hungry. Each of the plates you see in my photographs shows the full serving for three people. I think that personally, if I had those seven dishes of three servings all to myself, it would have taken five or more eaten only by myself to fill me up. Tristan and Antonio thought that maybe we should have gotten two tapas dishes apiece, and that it would end up being more food for less money. I kind of disagree…That would have been six single serving tapas dishes, so probably less food, for only slightly less money. I don't think $40 for a tasting menu is a bad price at all, especially given the quality of the food, but I was hoping for at least slightly larger portions. I didn't have to come away full, just not hungry. So overall, I recommend trying out Contigo for its tasty, fresh & environmentally friendly food, but make sure you eat a snack (or a meal?) before you come. 

Photos by Merredith Lloyd

Contigo - Tapas
1320 Castro St. San Francisco, CA 94114
415-285-0250

wood oven roasted monterey sardine and avocado toast with picked onions and smoked salt
monterey sardine and avocado toast
calamars a la planxa with cara cara oranges, black olives, pickled onions and spiced chickpeas
calamars a la planxa
jamon iberico de bellota, acorn fed spanish heritage "pata negra" ham, aged 36 months
jamon iberico de bellota
roasted cauliflower with olives, dates, lemon and pimenton
roasted cauliflower
roasted cauliflower with olives, dates, lemon and pimenton
roasted cauliflower closeup
wood oven roasted quail with puntarelle, poached figs, vi ranci and cumin yogurt
Wood Oven Roasted Quail
abondigas pork and jamon meatballs in tomato sherry sauce
abondigas pork and jamon meatballs

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Feed Children & Eat Good Food: SF's 22nd Annual Taste of the Nation

Hey readers! This isn't a restaurant review, but if you live in the SF area, you may be interested in this event. And it's for charity! 

San Francisco’s 22nd annual Taste of the Nation event will take place on April 7, 2011, to raise money to fight childhood hunger. Money raised is invested back into local Bay Area organizations working to reach kids and their families with good, healthy food: Food Runners, Children of Shelters, and Fresh Approach.

This year’s event will be held at The Bently Reserve at 301 Battery Street in San Francisco from 6:30 to 9:30pm, with a VIP reception at 5:30pm.
Tickets for Taste of the Nation San Francisco:
$95 for General Admission – This ticket will feed a child in need for 6 months
$165 for VIP Level access – This ticket will feed a child in need for 1 year
$500 for Executive Level access – This ticket will feed a child in need for 3 years
You can buy tickets for full price at TasteOfTheNation.org.

But wait! There's more! You can get tickets for $10 off if you buy them THIS THURSDAY & if you like beer, which I don't, you'll get a free beer too:
Taste of the Nation San Francisco tickets will be sold for $10 off on Thursday, March 24 at Incanto Restaurant from 5:30 to 8:30pm. “Come on down to the restaurant, buy your ticket for a great event which raises money to make a real impact in the lives of kids and families here in the Bay Area,” says Incanto chef, and Taste of the Nation honorary chef co-chair, Chris Cosentino. “Just for the night we are offering a $10 discount on your Taste of the Nation ticket and I’ll be buying a beer for anyone who comes in to get their ticket.” Incanto Restaurant is located at 1550 Church Street in San Francisco.

Questions? Contact them on facebook  facebook.com/SFTaste or twitter @SFTaste

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lunchies: Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick - A Cheesy Way to Fill Your Stomach

cowgirl creamery's wagon wheel and devil's gulch

cowgirl creamery's wagon wheel and devil's gulch

I love cheese. I had seen emails about Cowgirl Creamery opening a Sidekick restaurant in the Ferry Building, but it had been open for a while when I saw a coupon for it on Blackboard Eats. Great, that's not far from work, it's perfect for a Lunchies review. I was kinda hesitant about going, because eating a ton of dairy is never good to my stomach, but then I also noticed that the Sidekick's Chocolate Spritzer drink was on the SFoodie's countdown of the 92 best things to eat and drink in SF. Sidekick is open for breakfast and lunch only, and most of the menu items change daily.  I was going to have the grilled cheese and soup combo, but unfortunately, they were out of soup before i got there, so I had the grilled cheese of the day, which that day was Cowgirl Creamery's Wagon Wheel and Devil's Gulch, plus of course, the Chocolate Spritzer. There are no chairs at their booth, just some tall tables, so I took my food back to work with me. According to SFoodie, the spritzer is a made to order chocolate soda, made with extra-bitter chocolate sauce from Recchiuti, also in the Ferry Building. Looking at it, it kind of looks gross and coagulated. After not having real sugar for a month, just a few sips had my head spinning. Fortunately, it tastes much better than it looks. But maybe not to my taste, it was a little extra sweet, and the texture wasn't for me. I'm more interested to go back and try one of their special flavored steamed milk drinks, or even a cream soda. As for the grilled cheese, it was good. The cheese was yummy and melty, the bread tasted homemade. But in the end, it was just a grilled cheese sandwich, much like I could have made at home. I'm not sure it's worth $7. I kind of discovered that I"m not as much of a cheese fan as I thought, as it was so rich I got a giant stomachache. If you ARE a big grilled cheese fan, this is probably the place to go. If I worked just a smidgen closer, i'd make this a breakfast blog as well, and try their breakfast sandwiches, their very own cottage cheese, the cheese puffs, or their yogurts.

Photos by Merredith Lloyd

Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick
1 Ferry Building #19, San Francisco CA 94111
415.392.4000

sidekick's chocolate spritzer
Chocolate Spritzer
sidekick's chocolate spritzer
Chocolate Spritzer

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blue: An All American Restaurant

homemade chicken pot pie
Homemade Chicken Potpie
Some months ago, my friend Jay was visiting and we needed some dinner. With some exceptions, such as sushi, Jay has the very opposite palate from me, and likes plain food, so Antonio suggested Blue. Years ago, I went to Blue a couple of times for brunch, but didn't remember much about it beyond that the food was plain, and they didn't have soymilk to use in my tea. This time, my experience was a little more favorable. It's kind of cute, but I expected it to be more..Blue.  Well, that is the name, isn't it? Our waiter was friendly enough..but it was cold. Yes, we were having a cold spell, a cold, rainy spell, and I also had a cold. Whenever that door opened, cold air blasted right on me. To compensate, I had the warmest things I could find on the menu - tea and chicken pot pie. My tea, of course, still had no soy milk. Their potpie (or homemade chicken potpie, as they call it) has lots of crust, my favorite part, as well as chicken breast, carrots, peas, celery, potatoes, and savory herbs.  Antonio chose the healthier route, and got the salmon filet - fresh grilled salmon served with rice pilaf and steamed broccoli, topped with brown butter and caper sauce.  Jay got the classic cheese burger, which comes with fries. The signature dish at Blue is their macaroni and cheese, but none of us got it - we were on our way out and didn't want something that heavy. Overall, the menu seems to be intended to be just homestyle food, and it is, although honestly, my mother's cooking is a lot more creative and tasty.  If you're into simple food like this, Blue is a good place to get it. I'd return, if I needed a place that would please a variety of people.

Blue - All American Food in the Castro
2337 Market San Francisco, CA 94114
415.863.2583

Homemade chicken pot pie
Homemade Chicken Potpie
salmon filet
Salmon Filet
classic cheese burger
Classic Cheese Burger

New Tastie Tidbits Facebook Page

Do you use facebook? You know most of you do...If you do, now you can 'like' Tastie Tidbits on facebook! Just go to https://www.facebook.com/TastieTidbits and push like. Tell your friends! There's also a facebook badge over on the side of the page. Every day, you'll see Tastie Photos of the Day, as well as featuring the restaurant reviews you read here. It's a great way to share your love of this blog!