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Archive for October, 2011

No matter how you’re celebrating this day (at work, trick-or-treating, dressing up), hopefully it’s a good one!

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Armed with a Bloomspot deal (similar to Groupon, sign up!), the hubs and I ate out at Piqueo’s last Friday.  The restaurant is located in the lovely Bernal Heights neighborhood.  Have you guys been? It’s such a quaint neighborhood, with cafes, markets, and little shops like Dog Eared Books (love the name!), that I’m making a mental note to come back for a visit during the daytime.  Also, nearby is the Bernal Heights Park which is known for being one of the most dog friendly parks and boasts wonderful views of the city.

Anyway, back to the restaurant.  Piqueo’s serves contemporary Peruvian cuisine.  They offer a variety of tapas and also larger entrees.  We had been craving cebiches for a while so of course we shared the Cebiche Mixto as an appetizer.  While the fish pieces were a little larger than we’d like, we’re used to the bite size pieces, it was still tasty and refreshing.  For our entrees, we shared an order of the Clasico Paella and the Adobo, which is pork shoulder braised in adobo sauce.  The paella was chock full of seafood, which is great, however I did wish they had put more rice into the dish to make it a little more substantial.  The adobo dish was so delicious.  It was perfectly cooked and the meat was especially tender.  Again, we opted to skip dessert and decided to stop by Mitchell’s Ice Cream for some take-away ice-cream.  There’s just something so wonderful about curling up on the couch with a bowlful of ice-cream!

Piqueo’s

830 Cortland Avenue, between Ellsworth & Gates St.

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Halloween Happenings

Well, it’s that time of year again…the time when it’s fun to get the living daylights scared out of you, when you can dress up scary, silly, or sexy and get away with it, and when you can justify buying a 50lb bag of candy for the “trick or treaters” (I know I’m not the only person that does this!).  The holiday falls on a Monday this year, and you know that means this weekend will be devoted to Halloween festivities.  Here’s a sampling of some events happening across the U.S.

The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze (Croton-on-Hudson, NY) – wander through 4,000+ individually carved, illuminated jack o’lanterns:

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Eerie Evenings (Salem, MA) – hear haunted tales of local folklore and legend at the Witch House, the actual 17th century home of a Salem witchcraft trial judge:

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Scary Acres RI (Hope, Rhode Island) – a haunted corn maze and hayride and a house of fears:

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Reno Zombie Crawl (Reno, NV) – first participate in the thriller dance (part of Thrill the World, an organization setting up a huge thriller dance all over the world simultaneously tomorrow evening!), then crawl through the streets of Reno dressed as a zombie:

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Portland Pumpkin Farm (Portland OR) – enjoy family friendly pumpkin picking, a haunted maze, and a hayride:

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The Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA) – one of the most haunted places in the world, walk through the actual haunted corridors of the ship:

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West Hollywood Carnival 2011 (Los Angeles, CA) – party it up at one of the largest Halloween street parties in the world:

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What are your Halloween plans this weekend? Would you participate in any of these events?

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This week’s travel idea was inspired by a Newsflash email I received from Travelzoo recently.  The alert was for airfare from San Francisco to New Orleans for only $79 each way!  Unfortunately none of the dates fit into my travel plans (bummer 😦 ) so I couldn’t take advantage of the deal, but that doesn’t mean I can’t daydream about a future trip right?  I have always wanted to visit the Big Easy, Nawlins, NOLA, the Crescent City.  I mean, with that many nicknames, there must be a plethora of things to see and do.  While my main reason for visiting this famous city is to try the cuisine, I’m surprised to find out that there many unique things to do besides collecting beads and drinking on Bourbon Street (not that there’s anything wrong with that!).  In fact, while New Orleans is known as a great party city, there’s a certain romanticism to the city as well.

Featured Travel Idea: New Orleans, Louisiana


top: gumbo, oysters, crawfish, beignets

middle: jackson square, royal street, bienvillegarden district

bottom: bayou, plantation, jazz

Located in the heart of the French Quarter, stay at the Bienville House, a historical boutique hotel that feels more like an intimate B&B.  When you’re ready for some exploring, skip Bourbon Street and instead head one street over to Royal Street where you can find numerous antique shops, art galleries, and picturesque buildings.  Make sure to wander through the more residential streets and admire the stately homes.  Tour the wonderfully restored Gallier House for a glimpse into 19th century creole living.  When you’ve had enough walking, head over to Jackson Square and relax with a cup of coffee and some beignets at the famous Cafe du Monde.  If they’re as good as people claim them to be, you’ll want to go back every day for the remainder of your trip, which will probably be a good idea since you’ll the need the energy for all the activities!  For an up close and personal look at various creole neighborhoods, take a biking tour with the Confederacy of Cruisers.  If you’re interested in history, go on one of the numerous plantation tours located right outside New Orleans.  Or take a Bayou tour through the cypress swamps and encounter wildlife like turtles, snakes, and alligators!  In the evening, head to Frenchman Street for some live music, notably The Spotted Cat Music Club and Preservation Hall, although there are numerous other intimate jazz and blues lounges.  Are you tired yet? And this is just scratching the surface!  And of course no visit to New Orleans would be complete without trying the unique foods like gumbo, oysters prepared all different ways, po-boys, crawfish, and muffalettas.  Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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Woodhouse Fish Co. is one of those restaurants everybody would want in their neighborhood.  It has a casual, yet lively atmosphere, friendly staff, and a good selection of seafood staples.  The only negative is that it’s so popular that there is always a wait and they don’t take reservations.  Despite the wait though, their offering of comfort type food is enough to keep us coming back.

We started with a bowl of their creamy New England clam chowder and the fried whole-belly Ipswich clams.  The clam chowder was wonderfully thick and creamy with a great taste that is not too salty or greasy.  We’re a sucker for fried calamari so the fried clams were a nice change.  It had a nice clam-y taste and you could tell that it was fresh.  Definitely brought back memories of eating fresh seafood by the seaside.  For our entrees, the hubs HAD to have the split-top Maine lobster roll, really the reason why we tried the restaurant in the first place since he has never had a lobster roll before.  Of course he also HAD to order the larger version which is 6 oz of creamy lobster meat in the same size bun! He definitely enjoyed the lobster chunks and thought it was tasty, however at $26, it’s a bit steep for him to be ordering it on a regular basis.  I decided to try the stuffed artichoke, a dish that seemed out of place amongst all the fish and shellfish options, but had great reviews.  And let me tell you, it was delicious!  Take a look:

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First, the artichoke is split in half and grilled.  Then, one half is filled with Dungeness Crab and the other half is filled with Bay Shrimp.  Finally, it’s served with a light refreshing salad and garlic bread.  Okay, I’m going to admit something embarrassing, the hubs and I sat there for a good minute wondering how to eat the artichoke before we finally flagged the waiter down and asked her 😦 what??!!  The only artichoke we’ve ever had come in dip form! Hey, you learn something new every day right? So anyway, after we learned that you basically eat it like edamame (nibble on the thick part of the leaf to get the taste and then eat the tender part that comes off easily), we happily nibbled each and every artichoke leaf! To be honest, the seafood part of this dish was a bit bland, but I guess it complemented the artichoke well since it was so flavorful.  The salad was also a good complement to the artichoke and the garlic bread helped to make the dish a bit more substantial.

Overall it was a good and informative dining experience! Our only complaint would be that the meal ended up a bit pricier than we were expecting.  Next time we come back though will definitely be a Tuesday to take advantage of their $1 oysters!

Woodhouse Fish Company

1914 Fillmore Street, between Wilmot & Bush St.

and

2073 Market Street, between 14th & Reservoir St.

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This week’s travel idea was inspired by my recent bike riding trip in Napa Valley (post coming!).  It was my first time in Yountville and it was so quaint that I immediately decided that I had to plan an ideal weekend getaway for me and the hubs sometime in the near future.  While we are by no means oenophiles, we do enjoy drinking wine and eating delicious food, making Yountville the perfect town, since it is home to Thomas Keller’s famed restaurants and numerous tasting rooms.

Featured Travel Idea: Yountville, Napa Valley Wine Region




top: cottages, secret garden, ma(i)sonry, wine making

middle: anthropologie, napa valley, ad hoc

bottom: bike riding, croissant, bouchon

Stay at the charming Cottages of Napa Valley, which in addition to being pet friendly also has the added perk of providing a daily breakfast basket of pastries from Bouchon Bakery.  What better way to start the day then with a chocolate almond croissant in bed?  Afterwards,walk through town taking in the shops, chic tasting rooms, and gourmet restaurants and head to the Hill Family Farm and Jacobsen Orchards for the Secret Garden Tour.  The Jacobsen Orchards is the organic farm contracted to French Laundry, so even if you can’t get a reservation or afford to eat at the restaurant, you can still tour their garden and sample the fruits and vegetables. Another slightly off the beaten path activity is the wine making experience at Paraduxx where you can mix your very own blend.  Spend the rest of the weekend biking through the beautiful rolling hills of Napa Valley and stopping by the numerous intimate family owned wineries.  After you’ve had your fill of wine, head to Ma(i)sonry to peruse the art gallery or St. Helena Olive Oil Co. to sample numerous varieties of olive oils, mustards, salts, and sauces.  Round out your weekend with a visit to any number of notable restaurants in Yountville, like Thomas Keller’s casual family style restaurant Ad Hoc, the landmark farm-to-table restaurant Mustard Grill, or the Michelin starred yet unpretentious Redd.

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Incanto…what can be said about this place that hasn’t been said before.  The hubs has been dying to try this place since he first saw it on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations San Francisco episode.  Bourdain can recommend cold mushy peas and the hubs would want to try it, so you can imagine what salted pig parts does to the man!  To say that we were excited to finally try out this place is an understatement.

All in all the experience and the food was excellent.  The restaurant itself is warm and inviting, albeit a little boisterous.  We were actually seated in the Dante Room which is a small private dining room usually reserved for group dining, so it was a lot more intimate than the main dining room.  As per usual, we were given a basket of bread to start, which also came with an olive tapenade spread! I am really loving the spreads these farm fresh restaurants give as an alternative to butter!

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For appetizers, we ordered the Boccalone Salumi Platter, which comes in three sizes, piglet, sow, and boar.  We went with the piglet, but only because we decided to share a pasta dish as an appetizer too and it proved to be just the right size.  We selected the Handkerchief Pasta & Rustic Pork Ragu.  Both dishes were delicious and a particular highlight was the roasted garlic bulb on the salumi platter.  I looove garlic so it was a great complement to the cured meats.  For our entrees, I ordered the Pork Belly dish while the hubs tried the Goat dish.  I didn’t try the goat but the hubs seemed to enjoy it.  As for the pork belly, well, let’s just say it was THE BEST PIECE OF PORK I have ever tasted! And I don’t say that lightly.  It literally just melted in my mouth.  The hubs even had the nerve to pull the “hey, what’s that” move and steal a piece off my plate!  Needless to say, I will definitely be coming back again!

Again, rather than try their desserts, which I’m sure would’ve been just as delicious as their entrees, we opted for a stroll and ice cream again.  Since we were near the Bernal Heights area, we walked a few blocks over to Mitchell’s Ice Cream.  Mitchell’s is just as popular and tasty as Bi-Rite Creamery but offers very different flavors.  While Bi-Rite tends to be more gourmet-y (yes that’s a word), with flavors like salted caramel and honey lavender, Mitchell’s flavors are hawaiian-esque or asian-y, with tropical flavors like halo halo, ube, and ginger.  Between the two of us, we tried the ube, white pistachio, mango, grasshopper pie, and black walnut O.O!  So, yeah, they were all good 😀

Incanto

1550 Church Street, between 28th and Duncan St.

Mitchell’s Ice Cream

688 San Jose Avenue, between Valley & 29th St.

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