just some photos from one of my favourite neighbourhoods in the city
bell'occhio, a curious shop filled with curiosities. there was a lady dressed like an elegant acorn in there, and i bought a hazelnut with a stiletto switchblade in it. the elegant acorn lady gave me moss from yosemite.
MAC Modern Appealing Clothing. fearless, gorgeous clothing and every day objects as art. loooooooove this shop, even though i can barely afford things in here. however, i have been shopping here since high school and still own every single item i've bought from here.
check out this martin margiela peacock feather cape. i mean really.
chester, the nicest dog i met in san francisco. it was lovely to meet you, chester.
one of my favourite blogs is ono kine grindz, which is based out of honolulu, but its author, reid, is a globetrotting kind of guy. we had made plans throughout the years to meet up in various corners of the globe, but finally managed to meet up for dinner at incanto, during a quickie trip to san francisco that i took with lovely miss yoony from another great food blog, immaeatchu.
incanto is the sort of restaurant that i wish was in every town--smartly casual and inviting, intimate and serious about its food. the menu is a market-dependent, with a rustic italian flare, and changes every day. chef chris cosentino is partial to offal and cuts of meat that most people would discard, but he manages to make the most of some of the most unusual parts.
even though we had to cancel our reservations and suddenly re-make them (hello highway 101! you have a lot to answer for!), the staff was gracious and accommodating, and we were seated in a cosy back room with only six tables (of which four were filled with other parties taking photos of all their food as well. and everyone was eavesdropping but pretending to ignore each other. ha. love this town.).
some of the things we ate:
porchetta di testa, a pig's head salami made by marinating a de-boned head in rosemary in garlic, then braised for an eternity. if you really need to know, there's a video here, but it gets a little graphic.
boccaloneiberico di bellota lardo, nakita pear & mint: boccalone is the salumeria run by incanto's chef chris cosentino, and this is his version of cured acorn-fed spanish backfat. yes, lard. delicate, flavour-flavy fat. the sweet asian pear and sharp, herby mint was a wonderful complement.
foie gras, trotters & citron marmellata: yeah, i'm not gonna lie. this was as rich--even richer, actually--than the backfat, as there was nothing that really cut through the sumptuousness of liver, and slowly braised pig's feet. i'm suddenly reminded of that soap opera "the bold and the beautiful". because it was.
pulpo inzimino, cavolo nero & aioli: baby squid cooked in its ink, with black kale and aioli. although more delicate than the pig's trotters, this one also had bold, pronounced flavours with the sweet, tender flesh of the squid playing nicely with the mild bitterness of the vegetable and the unctuous aioli.
beef heart, sweetbreads, spinach & potato: i don't think i've ever had beef heart intentionally, nor sweetbreads, but this was a wonderful introduction. honestly, though, i don't remember their flavour apart from the rich jus, but the beef heart was tender yet with a slight chewiness, and the sweetbreads--that's thymus or pancreas to you--were slightly springy and fork tender.
for dessert we had goat cheese stuffed figs, honey & almonds and a darned tasty sticky toffee pudding & spice ice cream.
i wish i had something profound to say about it, but i don't. it is, however, what i consider to be the epitome of a great restaurant. and the food, the company, the surroundings, our crazy neighbour tables and conversation made for a great night out. mahalo, reid and yoony! hope we can do this again.
incanto 1550 church street san francisco ca 94131 415.641.4500
yoony and i took a quick trip up to san francisco relatively recently...probably spent more time on the road than in the city, so yay for that, interstate highway and byway system. you own us.
my favourite place to stay in SF is hotel tomo. it's small, quirky, quiet, and if there's a big stonking earthquake, i feel like i have a slightly-more-than-infinitesimally small chance of surviving than if i was in a bigger hotel. i could be wrong, but i like being deluded like that.
tomo is in japantown, which may have changed since i was in high school, but doesn't really feel like it. it feels like a sleepy, comfortable pocket of the city with cobblestone streets and pedestrian walkways, stone courtyards and indoor bridges. it's not particularly noted for its culinary fare (hello benihana!), but it has some great bakeries and decent comfort foodie cafés that sometimes i would rather visit than whatever is culinary en vogue.
caramimi urged me to stop by at benkyo-do, a small diner and sweets shop directly across from tomo. check out the swanky website, which is lovely, but doesn't really does not convey the vibe of this little shop at all. it looks like it hasn't changed since....the seventies, at least, the sixties is not a stretch at all--but it is charming, tidy and light-filled. one half of the shop is a diner counter with a couple of tables and possibly half a dozen things on the menu board, and the other half is a sweets and snacks-filled counter with senbei, packaged sweets, and trays of freshly made mochi and manju. mochi is glutinous sweet rice steamed and pounded into a paste then molded into bite-sized treats that are sometimes filled with fruit or bean paste. manju are other sweet treats that are filled with bean paste, but made from a variety of different flours, grains, shapes and techniques. it's a sweet sweet shop, but very, very quirky, which of course, i like.
man, i want to tell you the quirky stories, i really do, but i feel like i might be banned from the shop if i do. so, let's just say if you go, you might walk out with a story of your own, along with some of the most tender, tastiest, freshest mochi and manju i've had. the age donut with red bean paste, dorayaki pancake with whole red beans, habutai white steamed mochi with red bean paste are very good, but my new favourite has to be the blueberry mochi, filled with teeny, tiny blueberries in a not-too-sweet goo that complements the glutinous rice nicely.
the mochi and manju are made fresh every day they are open (closed sundays), but often sell out way before the shop's 5pm closing time. take a moment to stop by.
benkyo-do 1747 buchanan street japantown san francisco 94115 415.922.1244
the don draper ice cream float: one scoop of don draper-flavoured ice cream--vanilla, bourbon, caramel and smoke--floated in boylan bottleworks creme soda. from the lake street creamery truck at the santa anita race track food truck festival.
at first it was like licking the inside of don draper's mouth after a hard day at the office and a liquid lunch--sweet and enticing, with a little bit of booze and ashtray for some dirty intrigue. but then it got a little intense and overwhelming and i began to regret having sucked him in. although he was the one who was kicked to the curb, i was the one who made the walk of shame after that rendezvous.
it was literally a dark and stormy night. lightning was in the distance, and rain pouring sobering buckets on a drunken euphoria of the thought of belle + sebastian playing at hollywood forever cemetery, after a screening of "trainspotting." really? did i want to be doing this?
however, an $8 tarp from target, a long underused anorak (hello my boyish days!), and the luck o' the scottish (snort) got us to the graveyard in the nick of time, parking right in front, and prime seating for both the screening and the band.
miraculously, it was clear and mostly dry in the cemetery itself. the rains kept away the crowds and we got prime seating--better than an cinespia outing--and bundled up with a blanket and because--"picnicking is encouraged during the screening"--some provisions. now the thought of dinner during "trainspotting" seemed sort of unlikely to me, unless it included smack and lucozade, but we made due with a bottle of wine and a lot of chocolate and cheese. with the brisk winds and the wet chill in the air it was almost perfect scottish weather, in an almost perfect scottish surrounding, albeit with big palm trees and police helicopters buzzing overhead. seriously, though, if you ever get the chance, choose life, choose a career, choose a family, choose a big fucking television, choose to see "trainspotting" should it ever be screened in a celebrity cemetery because it is the perfect non-squalid surrounding for that film. i've probably seen it a hundred times, but not in almost a decade, and the film held up better than i would have ever expected.
and then to belle & sebastian. i thought that the show at the hollywood bowl was phenomenal, but this was something else in another league of awesome. intimate and engaging, casual, relaxed yet energizing, and with probably the best sound and sight lines of any concert i have attended. i know i've said it before but this was magic, pure magic. belle & sebastian bring it every time. magicians, musicians, morticians, storytellers, storm quellers, graveyard dwellers....