Anthony Bourdain in Puerto Rico….looks like a beautiful place to visit…live…relax. I’m relaxing with my VCR’ed episode. I need to get a new deck ’cause this machine keeps eating tapes. It’s old and hungry. Just like me when I’m watching No Reservations – and Bourdain stops at restaurant and watches a cook chop up roast pig. My mouth watered. If you grew up with crispy lichon and remained a carnivore – you know where I’m coming from. Damn…when was the last time I had that crispy pig skin…with bits of fat clinging? Sometime last fall, I think. My mouth is still watering. Damn Bourdain – and he just stopped in a town known by locals: “El Pueblo El Chicharron.” Damn…he stopped at a cart and bought a bag of hot chicharron with island bread. It looks frickin’ good.
My mouth is still watering.
OK – back to my gourmet adventures in the Bay Area. During my trip, I was all about the seafood. When I lived here, I used to go to the Farmer’s Market by the Ferry Building. As I browsed the fresh produce, I snacked on Hog Island Oysters and they tasted fresh, rich and meaty. When the Ferry Building opened up new shops, I saw a sign for a Hog Island Oyster Bar – coming soon. On this trip, I made it my mission to find that oyster bar.
Talk about a treasure hunt! The oyster bar was damn difficult to find at the Ferry Building…We had a map showing us the general location of the bar – but NO signs. I almost gave up. 😛 After stumbling through hallways – we found the damn bar. It’s tiny, next to the fish market (without the icky not-so-fresh fish smell). We took advantage of the mild weather to do happy hour outside – with that beautiful view of the bay. This is our half-dozen raw oysters…oh so good. I love slurping up the oyster liquor from the shell. I didn’t want to waste a bite. We also did hot oysters – done up Rockefeller style: “Baked Sweetwater Oysters with spinach, lemon, cream and Pernod“…and the extra stuff didn’t overwhelm that fab fresh oyster flavor.
On our way back to BART – I heard a weird avian noise – not a piegon coo – something different….when I looked up – I realilzed we ran into some San Francisco celebs. They took a trip to the Embarcadero…from Telegraph Hill. OK – these are the parrots’ butts…but hey…it’s not like they’re used to posing for folks. A movie has been made about this unique flock.
Here’s some cool street art in the Mission – snapped as we walked from BART to Susan and Tom’s place.
After drinks at their place – we headed down to the outskirts of Little Italy for some fine dining….This is Bix – it’s in an alley and thankfully the cab driver knew what we what and where we were talking about. Inside Bix – it has a swanky speakeasy-vibe – 1920’s art decor and a live band playing loud jaz music. The food was decadent and scrumptious.
We did hor d’oeuvres in a tapas fashion…this is the “Tuna Tartare on Olive Toasts”. I love the fresh fish in San Francisco. Heaven.
We also did some sliders in a gourmet fashion – “Mini Lamb Burgers with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce”. A month or two ago, I picked up the movie “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle” DVD and I still have a craving for little burger bites.
“Kampachi Crudo with Blood Orange, Fennel, Daikon Sprouts and Fiordolio Olive Oil.”
I first heard about crudo in a Vogue article by Jeffrey Steingarten. He’s a brilliant gourmand and he has such an evocative writing style…I also read about this Italian-style of doing raw fish in the NY Times…I think. This SF Gate article has a great way of explaining crudo: “…crudo is shorthand for any kind of raw fish — chopped tartares, marinated ceviches, sliced sashimis, paper-thin carpaccios. The stumpy word itself conveys little about the silky, sensual feel of eating a raw scallop glistening with olive oil and shivering under sheer fennel slices and bits of orange…“. And in this NY Post article…a chef has another way of explaining crudo: “Crudo is basically Italian sashimi with good ingredients. Instead of wasabi, we use garlic, and instead of ginger, we use tomato.”
Now, Susan said she had really good crudo at Incanto – possibly better than Bix…As for myself, this first taste of crudo was delightful. Again, fresh fish – slice thin and marinated lightly. It melted in my mouth and left my palate swooning. I especially liked how it finished off with the blood orange – a clean citrus tang…
I love dining with Susan and Tom – they keep opening new doors for us when it comes to cuisine. Good wine, good food and good conversation…I couldn’t ask for anything more on a vacation.
I have one more entry about our trip to the East Bay…coming up when I get another chance to blog. Promise.