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!

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