Category Archives: EATERY LOVE

Weekday Health Spot: The Plant Cafe

My greatest joy — exploring restaurants — is also my greatest weakness, and makes my wallet unhappy.

Since I like to eat healthy during the week, I try to cook at home (saves money, too); which leaves  room to dine about town during the weekend. However, I definitely have those weak moments where I crave a restaurant rendez-vous, so I like to have a strategy:

1. No sit down service. If you plan to eat out, you can avoid a more costly bill by eating at smaller cafes. These types of restaurants usually have fast, healthier options like soups and salads, which are perfect during the week.

2. Organic produce from local farmers. Wherever you go, try to make sure the restaurant has organic produce and local farmers/suppliers. There seems to be an unexplainable correlation between tasty, fresh food and local sources — you really can’t go wrong on this one.

3. Walk instead of alternate transportation. If you are lucky enough to live within a 5-10 minute walking distance to decent restaurants, make sure to take advantage of this exercise opportunity.

If you follow my strategy, then it’s OK to eat out during the week. I am a huge advocate of The Plant Cafe Organic, which falls nicely into the three rules listed above. It’s fast, economical, and the produce is local and organic. Not to mention, it’s absolutely delicious.  You can bet this place is part of my weekly rotation.

Sweet Potato Soup with Sunflower Seeds

Dino Kale Salad with Quinoa, Carrots, Roasted Almonds, Cucumber, Avocado & Sesame Seeds

Spicy Red & Green Juice: beets, carrot, celery, apple and ginger

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Huevos Rancheros: Your Hangover’s Best Friend

Happy Birthday, America! If you’re like me, you probably started celebrating this joyous holiday last night, and you could use some strength for the day’s festivities ahead of you. Brunch is in order.

I never particularly cared for huevos rancheros until I tried this Californian version at the Tipsy Pig on Chestnut Street. If you’re a native San Franciscan, or live in the neighborhood, then you know this place needs no introduction. It’s definitely one of the more successful gastro-pubs in SF, as there is a constant crowd morning, noon and night.

The dish itself is the best thing on the brunch menu (get there early – they will run out), so I refuse to order anything else. Its crispy tortillas, tangy cheese, and fresh bite of tomatoes, avocado and cilantro will knock the worst hangover out of you. I hope you have a very happy & healthy 4th of July. Go ahead, get your holiday on!

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Tribute to NYC: Tasty Moroccan Meatballs

While I truly adore the city of San Francisco, I must admit a piece of my heart belongs to New York.

I recently had the pleasure of dining at The Meatball Shop, located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The LES is everything you want in a Saturday evening — every bar and restaurant overflows with lively clientele and head-turning street style.

I ordered the special, which was etched messily on the chalkboard above the bar: Moroccan Chicken Meatballs with turkish apricots, ginger, mint, and cilantro (among other goodies). I could not resist, and ordered the special along with one of many available sides: “everything but the kitchen sink”, which included an arugula salad, golden beets, and yogurt dipping sauce. This meal was too memorable not to recreate, so naturally I had to jot down the ingredients and try it out for myself.

Moroccan Chicken Meatballs with Golden Beets, Arugula Salad, and Mint Yogurt Sauce

You will need:

1 lb ground organic Chicken meat (or, you can substitute ground turkey or pork)

2 large leeks; trimmed, cleaned, and sliced into thin half moons

1 cup dried Turkish apricots; diced

1 cup of mint; chopped

1 cup of cilantro; chopped

8 cloves of garlic, diced, and separated in two piles (you will use half in meatballs; half in yogurt sauce)

2 cloves of garlic (for salad dressing specifically)

2 tbsp honey (for salad dressing)

2 lemons; juiced

zest of 1 lemon

3 tbsp fresh ginger; peeled and minced

2 eggs

1 to 2 cups of whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (start with 1 cup, you can always add depending on desired consistency)

3 medium to large golden beets

1 english cucumber; peeled

1 small carton of plain Greek yogurt

1 package of arugula

1 package of pita bread (optional)

extra virgin olive oil

white wine vinegar

sea salt + freshly ground pepper

1. Prepare mint yogurt sauce: 

  • Chop cucumber in half; set one half aside (you will use it for the arugula salad)
  • Using a large-holed cheese grater, grate the half cucumber and set aside in mesh strainer over a bowl
  • Sprinkle salt on grated cucumber and let rest for 10 minutes; as the salt will extract excess water from cucumber (so your sauce is not watery!)
  • Combine strained cucumber in a small bowl with yogurt, half of the mint, half of the chopped garlic, 2 tbsp olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, and zest of 1 lemon — stir
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve

2. Prepare the beets:

  • I initially adapted this cooking technique from renowned chef Alice Waters; it’s simple and involves very little labor
  • Preheat oven to 350°
  • Remove the green stem and leaves from the beets
  • Place beets in a deep baking dish (a pyrex loaf pan works famously), and fill with enough water to cover the bottom of the beets, about 1/8 inch. Keep in mind the dish should be deep enough to fully incase the beets
  • Tightly cover with tin foil, and bake in oven from 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until beets are easily pierced with a fork
  • Remove from oven when beets are fully cooked, and place aside to cool
  • When cool enough to handle, slip skins off of beets, remove the root and bottoms, and slice into half moons. Set aside

3. While beets are baking in oven, prepare the meatballs. This dish is designed to take about an hour in total cooking time, as the meatballs should be cooked once the beets come out of the oven: 

  • Preheat a heavy-bottomed sauté pan, using medium-high heat, and drizzle extra virgin olive oil in the pan (enough to cover the pan’s surface)
  • Add leeks and stir. Reduce heat to medium. Continue to stir leeks every few minutes until translucent, about 10 minutes
  • Add diced Turkish apricots to sauteed leeks mixture and stir. Continue to sauté another 10 minutes. Add ginger and remaining half of garlic, stir. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside
  • In a large bowl, combine cooled apricots/leeks mixture with ground chicken, 2 eggs, breadcrumbs, mint, cilantro, sea salt, and pepper. Use your hands to combine the ingredients evenly
  • Roll meatballs about one inch in diameter (you can make them bigger if you wish, cooking time will be longer)
  • Use same heavy-bottomed sauté pan and preheat to medium, drizzle olive oil in pan
  • Cook about 6 meatballs at once; you do not want to overcrowd the pan
  • I like to press the meatballs down with a spatula; to make mini-burgers. I find they cook a lot faster this way
  • Flip meat patties every 5 minutes, until crispy on each side and cooked throughout — about 15 minutes total
  • Cook meatballs in batches, covering the cooked meatballs until ready to serve

4. Make lemon-ginger vinaigrette for Arugula salad (this should be done once the last few meatballs are cooking, and the beats have been removed from the oven):

  •   Combine the following ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth: 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbsp ginger, 1/2 cup olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, 1/4 cup white wine vinegar, 2 tbsp honey, sea salt, freshly ground pepper
  • Place arugula in a large serving bowl, add remaining half of cucumber (slice into half moons) and add dressing (start with half of the mixture and add to your liking). Toss with tongs
  • This is a great go-to dressing for any salad, and goes well with the peppery arugula

5. You are ready to eat! Serve all of the ingredients family style, and assemble the following on your plate: 

  • 3 to 4 meatballs
  • a generous helping of yogurt sauce
  • arugula salad. arrange beets on top
  • warmed pita bread (optional)
  • Enjoy!!!

 

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The Weekend’s Best: 5 Snapshots

Since I’m obsessed with lists, I thought I would share five snapshots from this past weekend. I am definitely a “lives for the weekend” type of person, and can’t get enough of this beautiful city and miraculous sunshine.

1. Afternoon Run by the Bay

Given that my personal hobby is food blogging, one might infer that I like to eat. That being said, I try to maintain an active lifestyle and treat my body just as well as the food it consumes.

2. Homemade Pretzels at BiergartenSF

Don’t get me started on this understated beer garden in Hayes Valley — we arrived 15 minutes prior to their opening and still had to wait in line (which lasted all day), but it was worth it for homemade snacks and german brew.

3. Bittersweet Farewell at Txoko in North Beach 

OK, I admit it: I love foie gras. It’s a right of passage for any serious foodie, but contradicts the whole local sustainable food movement California is so proud of. We say goodbye to this delectable sin in just a few short days, which is why I wouldn’t stop until I tasted some.

4. Coconut Chip Frozen Dessert with Dark Cacao Sauce

I try to stay away from sweets, but this non-dairy dessert from Coconut Bliss is hard to resist – as it’s much lighter than regular ice cream and utterly delicious.

5. Vino + Truffles + Fire Pit

We went to Bin 38 for happy hour and were lucky enough to snatch the fire pit — along with truffle popcorn and flights of wine, you definitely could call it the perfect summer evening.

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A Taste of Belgium: The Best Mussels in San Francisco

Exploring the restaurants in San Francisco is definitely one of my favorite hobbies (yeah, eating is a hobby). The best places are usually understated and slightly off the beaten path, but with superior food quality and friendly customer service.

A colleague recently recommended La Trappe, and claimed they offered the best mussels in the city. “Really??? I LOVE MUSSELS!” Naturally, I dragged my willing boyfriend to try it out for ourselves. We were completely blown away.

La Trappe specializes in belgian beer (an entire binder’s worth), delicious mussels, cheese plates, and twice-cooked belgian fries…among other delights. My colleague recommended the “Moules a la Biere” as an appetizer, served in a dark beer sauce. Seriously, they were the best mussels I have ever had, right outside of Moules Marineres served in the South of France. Add a small cheese plate to these delicious mussels, and you have the perfect late afternoon snack or appetizer combo. We will definitely add La Trappe to our rotation of favorite restaurants.

Moule a la Biere

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Gourmet Mexican in the Heart of the Marina: Mamacita San Francisco

Lime-cured ceviche at Mamacita, San Francisco

The best part of being a chef is being inspired by other chefs! I love dining out just as much as I love to cook (which says a lot!), so I can’t help but get really excited when I’ve found a local favorite spot to frequent or show to out of town guests.

If you’re looking for gourmet fare, and have a special place for Mexican food in your heart, then look no further than Mamcita. Unlike your standard taqueria, this beautifully designed restaurant is just as stylish as its upbeat patrons.

Located on Chestnut street, in the heart of the Marina district of San Francisco, Mamacita offers a lively ambiance and a diverse menu. Whether you desire scallop tacos, lamb enchiladas, or two different types of fresh ceviche, this restaurant has you covered!

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