Wednesday, June 22, 2011

a walk around hayes valley.

just some photos from one of my favourite neighbourhoods in the city

bell'occhio mosaic


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.

martin margiela feather cape

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.

the fatted calf charcuterie

pork happy hour

the fatted calf charcuterie.
a beautiful curated collection of cured and uncured meats.

true sake

true sake, the only sake shop in america.

brighter faster

pole people

10 brady street,
san francisco, ca

MAC modern appealing clothing
387 grove street
san francisco, ca 94102-4418

the fatted calf charcuterie
320 fell street
san francisco, ca

true sake
560 hayes street
san francisco, ca 94102-4214

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

dinner at incanto, in which i finally meet....

(x-posted at my guammy blog)

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:

incanto porchetta di testa

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.

incanto lardo

boccalone iberico 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.

incanto foie gras pig trotters

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.

incanto pulpo inzimino

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.

incanto beef hearts

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.

incanto goat cheese stuffed figs

incanto sticky toffee pudding

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.

1550 church street
san francisco ca 94131



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 1

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 caf├ęs 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.

cherry blossom japantown 1

1747 buchanan street
san francisco 94115