San Francisco treat

27 Mar

I’m back from a three and a half day San Francisco excursion with three of my best friends (rough life, I know).  Lots of Google mapping, Instagramming, and Yelping.  I don’t know how I ever vacationed without an iPhone.

Places of food note (“Fotes,” If you will?):

  1. Blue Bottle Coffee: I don’t want to start throwing around “the best” like Kim Kardashian throws around “I do’s”, but these lattes were creamy, frothy, addicting, and yet still made with skim milk. Literally, some of the greatest espresso and steamed milk mixtures I have ever had. And as if Blue Bottle couldn’t get any better, the breakfast options were also deliciously adorable.  I nibbled on a gingerbread molasses cookie on the go and also helped Betty finish off her brown sugar and butter steel cut oats, which reinforced Julia Childs’ notion that butter does indeed make everything better.
  2. Farm:Table:  We almost missed this place on our morning hike for brunch. A little wooden sign hung above eye level on the outside and inside was a tiny counter and one large kitchen table.  As best friends do, we inadvertently ordered the same thing off of the menu – breakfast sandwich and a coffee.  But this was no greasy diner plate.  A hardboiled egg, ricotta cheese, lightly oiled greens and bacon on a brioche bun.  Why have I kept ricotta to only my lasagnas and occasional veggie pizzas?  Coupled with the hardboiled egg, it was a lighter and less greasy competition to the traditional fried egg and cheese breakfast sandwich.  Breakfast combo #2 I will be attempting to replicate in Philly.
  3. The Slanted Door: I’m not usually one to seek out Asian cuisines, but this was vacation, so branching out from the norm was on the itinerary. I had the cellophane noodles with green onions and fresh dungeness crab meat in a sesame sauce – great flavors and not a heavy dish, quite delightful.  And Tricia and Karen’s chili tofu was a great side plate to steal from as well.

Other “fotes” of San Francisco 2012: In and Out Burger, Dottie’s True Blue Café and Gott’s Roadside


What do you mean, she don’t eat no meat?

22 Feb

After 24 years of being a proud, card-carrying carnivore, I’ve decided to be in an open relationship with a vegetarian diet.  I suppose you could say I’ve always been in one, usually preferring a vegetable pizza to a pepperoni pizza.  Scratch that, a girl can have it all: vegetables AND pepperoni.

But really, ask any of my friends – I do love my falafels, eggplant parms, roasted veggies, and hummus.  So, can I get by on only these foods and their non-meat friends?  No more salami, steaks, hot dogs, buffalo wings, or pulled pork for me?  It will be ok, it will be OK.

Here are Alysea’s guidelines for being a commitment-phobe vegetarian:

    1. I will no longer buy meat at the grocery store to cook at home
    2. When dining out, I will strongly consider the vegetarian options
    3. But never sacrifice a true cultural experience or a restaurant’s signature item
    4. Bacon is an American essential and will not be forgotten
    5. Avoid awkward social situations

6. Lamb doesn’t count

Ok, by most definitions, I would not qualify as a vegetarian.  But I am trying something new in an attempt to be healthy. So sue me.  Until then, I will enjoy my home cooked black bean burger with roasted asparagus and sweet potatoes. Mmm.

black bean burger, sweet potatoes and asparagus

black bean burger, sweet potatoes and asparagus

Afternoon tea

11 Dec

Crumpets? Pâté? Sticky pudding? Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Philly any more.

But, ironically, we are.   Instead of a jet to England, I took a Septa bus to Stephen Starr’s, The Dandelion on 18th and Sansom for a birthday outing with Lauren and Aunt Lee-Ann.  The website originally pulled me in with photos of the homey decor, including dainty floral upholstery, mis-matched chairs, and tapestry wallpapered rooms.  A super cozy and adorable place for the winter months, especially that fireplace on the second floor.

With a 2:30pm Sunday reservation, we had access to the brunch AND afternoon tea menu.  Bloody brilliant!  Among our samplings were: The chicken and duck liver parfait, Welsh rarebit (whole grain mustard and cheddar on brioche toast), sticky toffee pudding, and  of course somes scones and short breads with a cup of tea.

Peppermint tea at The Dandelion

Peppermint tea at The Dandelion

The chicken and duck liver parfait was baby’s first pâté, and it was…GREAT.  But let’s not go into too much detail, because anytime that “light and airy” and “meat” may be in the same sentence, is a time better left un-said. However, if you take anything away from this post – try pâté!  It would be worth it just to say “Been there. Done that. Tastes like chicken.”

The sticky toffee pudding was another British find that I checked off of my tasting list: a moist sponge cake swimming in toffee rum sauce around an iceberg of date ice cream. So good that this coffee-fiend was even moved to order a cup of loose leaf peppermint tea to accompany the sweet plate.

From start to finish The Dandelion was a hit.  We loved the cutesy decor, had fun trying fancy Euro plates, and even one week later, I am plotting where to find the next great pâté, sticky pudding, and peppermint tea.  Cheers!

The Dandelion on Urbanspoon

Business Brunch with Betty and Mimosas

25 Nov

Betty and I had a business brunch meeting last Sunday morning. Typically, when I have meetings, I caffeinate with coffee and splenda, but Betty and I opted for Parc’s brunch cocktails.  I didn’t bike all the way to Rittenhouse to not have a mimosa.

Once we committed to the cocktail menu, I toyed with the idea of a bloody mary or a spiked apple cider, as they are on my list of foods and drinks that I want to like, but just can’t seem to acquire the taste.  With bloody marys, I feel like I’m drinking cocktail sauce and the spiked cider, it’s warm, I can’t do it. So mimosas it was and disappointed I was not.

After Betty and I had a successful consultation for a custom weaving (here’s her site – hire her!), we re-focused our eyes on the prize: food.  We were both looking for something sweet over something savory, and thus “narrowed” our selections to Parc’s assorted pastries, yogurt parfait, a side of berries, and brioche French toast with apples and hazelnut butter.  Note to self: It is not always ok to fill up on pastries, especially if there is hazelnut butter and French toast on the way.

parc brunch

My morning would have been content with a latte and a muffin, but Parc’s mimosas, assorted plates, and French-y ambiance reminded why it’s good to mix things up every once in a awhile.

Parc on Urbanspoon

Leftover Lovin’

7 Nov

Two restaurants in one weekend = excellent leftovers for Monday.  Fare with Liz on Saturday night and White Dog Café with Aunt Lee-Ann on Sunday night.  Stuffed and happy don’t even begin to explain my emotions.

It’s always a treat going out with Aunt Lee-Ann; a great cook, baker, and fellow foodie.  Whereas most people usually settle for one dish over many tempting choices at restaurants, Aunt Lee-Ann and I let our indecisiveness get the best of us and order ourselves a tasting menu. Had the waiters known we were going to order for 4 instead of 2, they probably would have given us a bigger table…but then we may not get to see their puzzled reactions when we order dish, after dish, after dish.

We started with the yellowfin tuna tartare and wild mushroom soup.  AWESOME.  This may have been my first tuna tartare and I think I set the bar high.  Just enough flavor in the fish and a mild avocado mouse underneath a tortilla chip –  a delicious crunch.

yellowfin tuna tartare

For my main course, I had to try the Pocono brown trout for obvious reasons. I usually stick to salmon when ordering fish, so I am glad I had a reason to order something different.  The trout was encrusted in a pecan and farro crust, and had a sweet maple sauce which was perfect over the mild fish.

If you ever thought that organic and local produce restaurants are all about being light and healthy, watch out because the cheese will do you in.  But who’s complaining? The side dishes Lee-Ann and I ordered at White Dog Café were fabulously fried and cheesy.   Creamy gorgonzola polenta with kalamata olives, friend green tomatoes and lobster mac-and-cheese. I kept that polenta nice and close, and as I am typing, just finished the leftovers.  It was full of tangy flavor and I’m a little disappointed that it’s gone.

And there is ALWAYS room for dessert: A pot du chocolate that gourmet-ized a container of Pillsbury icing, cinnamon rum raison ice cream with apple cake, and a peach crumb cobbler with black pepper ice cream. Ice cream with a kick if I’ve ever had it.  Actually, the black pepper ice cream pretty much punched me in the mouth, but I just kept going back for more.

apple cake

White Dog Cafe on Urbanspoon

Even though I’m satiated reliving my last night’s meal via leftovers and this post, I still have to share my Fare dinner.   Self-proclaimed as “healthy everyday fare,” I was skeptical when this restaurant opened in the summer.  I thought it might be a wine bar with a skimpy vegan tapas menu for the health conscious exercise nuts.  But I was pleasantly proven wrong.  Fare showed me just how hearty and versatile vegetarian food can be. I ordered the wild mushroom cake with corn salsa and carrot cake with edamame hummus. Great textures, color and flavor, everything you can ask for in a meal. Liz was festive and ordered the stuffed acorn squash, complete with roasted cashews – gotta love the crunch factor.

mushroom and carrot cakes

We even ventured to non-dairy land and tried the pumpkin pie sans dairy ingredients.  Ask me how they made their pumpkin pie and I couldn’t tell you (the website has an error right now and at the time I may or may not have been 3 glasses of wine in), but I have still yet to meet a pumpkin pie that I did not like, so two thumbs up to Fare!
Fare Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Can every Monday begin with sunshine and sugar waffles?

22 Aug

I have today off and want to use it to my full advantage.  Plan: Wake up early for lithe and meet Lacey at Bonte for the waffles she has been raving about for months. 

Up early: Check.

Lithe: SEPTA decided to be late and get stuck in traffic, so exercise was a no go.

Waffles: CHECK.  SEPTA may cut into my fitness routine, but they will never take away my breakfast!

Bonte makes Belgian sugar waffles to order, and for an extra .50 you can mix in fruits, nuts, and chocolate chips.  Not that I’m strict about ‘no candy for breakfast’ (hell, we all know my sweet tooth is applicable experience to work at Willy Wonka’s),  but I opted for strawberries and blueberries sans chocolate since I didn’t burn as many calories sitting on a standstill bus than I would have in Lithe class.

Regardless, this waffle was worth the wait.  Crispy on the outside and GOO-ey on the inside.  And the fruit added just the right amount of flavor to the already sugared dough.  Delicious and not too filling.  Now I just need an excuse to go back for one with chocolate and ice cream…

Bonte on Urbanspoon


13 Aug

New favorite bagel at Rybread: cinnamon raisin with peanut butter. It’s candy for breakfast.

Rybread Cafe on Urbanspoon