Archive for July, 2015

Pintxos, Pork & Pizza Please

Last week, I learned that pork skin is magical, pizza is my love language, and tofu really isn’t the devils work. Here’s the deal:

aatxe pinxtos

Monday started off strong when Southern bell/badass Shaina and I shared a Basque feast from Ne Timeas Restaurant Group’s newest spot, Aatxe. It’s important to be skeptical of any and all establishments located on Market St., but this place broke the trend of mediocrity. We were tucked into a corner of the bar overlooking the grill, and more importantly, the garlicky octopus on its surface. We didn’t miss much of the menu – stand-outs included the housemade chicharones with whipped cheese/butter craziness, the pork belly paired with poached peaches, balsamic reduction, and crunchy toasted peanuts, and the small but mighty rice pudding with orange meringue and dark chocolate. Food aside, the service was spectacular. Each person we interacted with felt like a genuinely kind, more-food-informed-than-you-but-not-in-a-pretentious-way, old friend. Add it to your list!

aatxe rice pudding

Tuesday night was a stay late at work eating chocolate and drinking beer while talking about the future of your company kind of night. Our CEO, Tracy, and I camped out with a bar of salted cherry dark chocolate from Charles Chocolates and a big ol’ bottle of Saison Dolores. The rest of the night is a secret, but keep an eye out for some big news!

charles chocolates almanac beer

On Thursdays, the Chewse crew eats dinner together. This Thursday marked the first meal in our new office, which remains a large concrete box coated in a light layer of dust. But alas, all the better to order pizza and play Twister in! We ordered a bunch of pies from Pizza Hacker, which, no kidding, might be the best I’ve had in San Francisco. How pizza that’s crossed town can be so amazing is beyond me, but what’s even more impressive is the yolks on The Rocket Man that stay perfectly runny beneath a nest of crunchy arugula. This za is described as “arugula, garlic, fresh Mozzarella, farm egg, lemon juice, chili paste, and Grana Padano.” Wondering what my Love Language is? That’s it.

In case you haven’t caught on, this was a week of BLADing. BLAD stands for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and is a made up term intended to justify my eating all meals at the office. BLADing is fun, especially when it means you get to share amazing meals with people who make you happy, but it also means the lines between work mode and life mode get real blurry. And with that, I decided it was time to take off for Los Angeles!

chewse offices

Scott and I hopped in my car on Friday night and headed south on the 5 freeway. It wouldn’t be an SF>>LA road trip without a pit stop in Kettleman City for some In-N-Out. In lieu of eating Cowschwitz meat (yes, In-N-Out’s meat comes from that massive cow prison along the 5), we opted for grilled cheeses. Pro tip: Get your bun extra crispy, ask for extra lettuce, and for the love of god order it animal style.

in-n-out kettleman city

On Saturday morning, I woke up to dad’s special smoothie, a delightful mix of whatever healthy stuff he decides to throw into the Vitamix. That afternoon, we headed to Pine & Crane, an equally hip and authentic Taiwanese restaurant in Silverlake. The Mapo Tofu (served with pork because #yolo) was the stand out dish, with bamboo salad coming in at a close second. The tofu is a light-you-mouth-on-fire kind of dish that will make you re-consider all the terrible things you ever thought about tofu.

pine and cranepine and crane dan dan noodles

The saga continued first at Dinosaur Coffee, a quintessential Silverlake café serving Four Barrel Coffee because they know what’s good for them.

dinosaur coffeefour barrel coffee

Then, we stopped by the farmer’s market and picked up some Lion’s Mane mushrooms, which, when fried, have the exact same consistency as chicken tenders. This is not a trap!

lions mane mushrooms

The night ended on a high note with Pizza Night, a tradition at Casa di Mintz that is never to be overlooked, even during the most last minute of visits. Papa Mintz pulled out all the stops, with homemade pizza sauce for the OG Mintza.

eastside digs

We’ve been making this za – with fresh motz, crispy prosciutto, caramelized shallots, and a reduced balsamic drizzle – for years now.

mintza

The Pesto Perfecto, another classic, is truly god’s work. This one’s got homemade pesto, assorted sautéed mushrooms, and fresh burrata dolloped on top at the very end.

pesto perfecto

Pizza Night is by far my favorite night of the week, and has truly been the inspiration for why I so value meals at home. Without much time for home-cooked meals in SF these days, it only took one Pizza Night to set me straight. I can’t book it to LA every time I have a busy week, so maybe it’s about time I started learning Dad’s dough recipe. On second thought, Pizza Hackers not too far from home!

Stay Delicious, San Francisco!

Cooking is great. There’s nothing quite like taking a bunch of stuff, and turning into other, more delicious stuff. But sometimes life doesn’t let you cook. And lately, life hasn’t been letting me cook much at all. Luckily, I live in San Francisco, and not having time to cook just means I get to eat lots and lots of tasty things. Let’s talk about it.

Monday started off strong with Ethiopian like you wouldn’t believe. Moya, the latest addition to the Chewse family, prepared a feast of stews, greens, and stir fry. I’m still dreaming about the Kik Alicha, Moya’s yellow pea stew that’s all at once creamy, spicy, and just a little crunchy.

That night, I returned to Burma Love, the iconic Burma Superstar’s sister restaurant in the Mission. There’s nothing to wash away a case of the Monday’s like honey jasmine iced tea, tea leaf salad with extra fried garlic, and pull-apart, greasy platha bread.

The team stuck around late on Tuesday night, triggering my inaugural Caviar experience. We ordered Wasabi Rice Bowls from Pacific Catch, a fish lovers dream come true. In between obsessive post-it brainstorms, we scarfed sesame poke, pickled seaweed, sushi rice, and salad topped with wasabi dressing that puts your favorite Japanese house salad to shame. Shame!

On Wednesday, I finally checked Al’s Place off my SF restaurant bucket list. Tucked toward the end of Valencia street, this spot resembles a cool guys’ rent-controlled living room. Natural light, tasteful succulent incorporation, and an understated baby blue Birchwood color scheme make it feel both cozy and elegant. We went for the Family Style meal, which though promised wasn’t an exorbitant amount of food, left me wishing for a dolly to wheel me out. It started with “Snackles” my favorite of which were the “chickpeas a la catalan.” These pillowy chickpea fritters were melt-in-your-mouth fluffy with all the bold flavors of your favorite falafel. Also unforgettable was the grits dish, served with goat’s milk curds, green tomato, crispy corn, and padrón peppers. It’s all you want on a chilly night, which, thanks to Karl, was a shoe in.

On Thursday, spirits were high in the office, and so were the SSISSO bibimbap bowls that we piled with the likes of salty japchae, harissa cucumbers, sesame-soaked beansprouts, and spicy pork. Not a leftover was left over.

That night, the team piled into Lyfts and made our way to the Dogpatch, where heaps of meats and cups of mac ‘n cheese awaited at Magnolia. As the sun set over the lesser explored side of San Francisco, we sipped house-brewed beer, slathered pork butter onto sweet buns, and fought over every last bit of brisket. Dares were made and executed. Kamikazes were had. Hangovers, from beef and beer alike, were inevitable.

magnolia brewing companychewse syssitia

Friday night ushered in a weekend of edible adventures, which commenced in Oakland with a 5-pound durian. Durian, for those lucky enough to not know, is a tropical fruit that looks a lot like a porcupine’s body and is filled with clumps of mucus-like flesh. Durian is known for smelling like rotten garbage, which at first, seemed like a gross exaggeration. After an hour or so in the same room as the stuff though, I realized it was just gross. I went from being Durian’s new spokesperson, to literally wiping my tongue with a napkin to remove the taste. But it’s not so much the taste of Durian that’s so nauseating. Just like you experience a smoky flavor rather than taste it, Durian’s flavor affects you so deeply that taste is irrelevant. I was so traumatized that I deleted most of the photos of the thing from my phone, for fear of a relapse at the sight of it.

durian fruit

Saturday was better, but just as slimy. Natalie and I hiked Mount Wittenberg in Point Reyes before driving up the coast to Hog Island Oyster Company for a post-trek treat. Unbeknownst to us, Hog Island is quite the destination, and all hopes of sipping rosé and slurping mignonette-topped bivalves were squashed by the apparent 4-month reservation wait time. Instead, we bought a dozen Kumamotos, a lemon, and some Tapatío. We borrowed an employee’s glove and knife and sat in the back of my VW shucking oysters, arms dripping in seawater, until the bag was empty. The grand total – $16. You can keep your mignonette for that price!

hog island oyster company

That night, I put our CSA to work and kneaded up some purple potato gnocchi. Stay tuned for a post about how you too can eat purple pasta!

After a classically “grounding” yoga class on Sunday morning, my Birkenstocks and I headed to Flowercraft, where we swooped up some summer treats, the likes of which have turned my back porch into a little slice of heaven. A watched pot never boils, but you know I’ll be staring at those little strawberries, padron peppers, and basil babies all summer long. The first basil leaves were picked and topped on thick slices of bright orange heirloom tomatoes, drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with flaky salt and Parmesan cheese.

noe valley garden

We spent what was left of the weekend sprawled out in Dolores Park with a baguette, some homemade caponata, a bottle of rosé, and probably a lot of illicit activities that I was too blissfully unaware to notice. The sunset that night was enough to make you religious and was the perfect farewell to the weekend behind it.

dolores parktwin peaks san francisco

It was a week filled with old favorites, new flavors, and a little homemade goodness. Weeks like this make me feel honored to live in a place where great food is always a stones throw away, keeping me calm, happy, and very very full.

Juicy Summer

watermelon juice

Summer in San Francisco means fog, layers, and frequent escapes to warmer, sunnier microclimates. It means being proud of a sunburn and jealous of a tan. It means 65 degrees is shorts weather and dammnit if I won’t sit in a beer garden and drink all day, even if I’m low key shivering the whole time!

Luckily, we’ve got lots of ways to escape Karl the Fog, or at least convince ourselves that he’s totally not cramping our style. Whether it’s an escape to the Russian River or a trip to the farmers’ market, we’re not about to let a little fog cock block our love affair with summer.

Sweater weather or not, summer means there’s an abundance of juicy, sun-ripened fruits and veggies everywhere you look. It’s like the earth has been holding its breath all year long, and has finally given up. One second, you’re complaining about how sick of butternut squash and kale you are, and the next, you’re standing over your kitchen sink eating peach after peach after peach. Where did all this stuff come from, and what the heck are we supposed to do with it??

In an effort to keep up with the madness that shows up in my CSA box every week, I’ve dusted off my juicer and gotten to work.

healthy juice recipes

Side note: We just got a new CSA! CSA stands for community supported agriculture, and is a program that allows anyone to buy into a farm’s crops. They’ll give you whatever’s ready for harvest that week and either ship it to your house or bring it somewhere close by. Our new CSA is from Greenhearts Family Farm, and it’s seriously the bees knees. For $36 I got all this, plus the warm fuzzies that I’m supporting the local farming community and eating organic. Win win win!

Greehearts Family Farm

Don’t have a juicer? What are you waiting for?! Mine was pretty inexpensive and is surprisingly easy to clean. It may take up some valuable real estate in your kitchen, but like my friend Marcel says, it’s worth it.

Here are 5 steps to get you on your juicing high horse:

  1. Buy a juicer. Don’t make it complicated. Just get this one. If you become a juicing addict, you can upgrade later.
  2. Get yer fruits and veggies! Sign up for a CSA, order local produce online, or pick your lazy butt up and go to the farmers’ market! Alemany is my SF favorite for cheap and delicious treats.
  3. Prep, prep, prep! Most fruits and vegetables require very little prep in order to be juiced.
  • Apples: Cut away the core. Those seeds are bad news for the blades of the juicer.
  • Beets: Skin ‘em. I don’t think you actually have to do this, but beet skins are kinda gross, so use your best judgment.
  • Fruits with rinds: Peel them! Why would you want to drink rind juice? Ew.
  • Ginger: Get that skin offa’ there!
  • Fruits with pits: No pits allowed in the juicer. Except for Brad Pitt. He can do whatever he wants.
  1. Juice away! The opportunities are endless! No parents’ no rules!
  2. Drink up. This stuff degrades quickly, so drink your juice fresh. If you have to make it the night before, that’s cool. Just don’t tell anyone. Not even your mother.

These two concoctions are a couple of my recent faves. They’re fruit forward, for all you green-phobes, but also packed with lots of energy and health boosting vitamins.

Watermelon Fresca

Coupled with the recent SCOTUS ruling, the newly re-opened (and since destroyed) Dolores Park, and an unusual amount of sunshine, it was obviously a routy Pride weekend in SF. Before transitioning to strictly alcoholic beverages, we kicked the celebration off with this ultra-refreshing too-good-to-be-true watermelon juice.

Ingredients (juice for 2-3)

  • ½ watermelon, cut into large pieces
  • 1 cucumber, cut into large pieces
  • 1 lime, peeled
  • Handful of mint, muddled and mixed in at the end

watermelon agua fresca

Sweet Greens

When your company outgrows its office, your lease expires, and everything keeps inexplicably breaking and/or exploding (see: toaster oven), it’s time to move. Chewse recently packed up and moved down the street to a wildly massive, super cool new warehouse space. With moving, comes a lot of throwing things away, but I wasn’t going to let our brand spankin’ new Fruit Guys delivery go to waste. No sir! So what did I do? I made this juice!

Ingredients (juice for 1)

  • 2 apples, cores removed
  • 1 Persian cucumber, cut into large pieces
  • 1 kiwi, peeled

sweet green juice

The OG

I don’t know about you, but when I think about juice, I think about this juice. It’s a punch in the face, and you may be afraid of your pee a couple hours later (it’s okay, you’re not dying…it’s just the beets), but it’s really really tasty and good for you in lots of ways I’m not going to research right now!

Ingredients

  • Beets, peeled
  • Carrots, cut into large pieces
  • Ginger, peeled
  • Green apples, cores removed
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