Bun Mee: New Eats in the Fillmore

How I love a good Vietnamese sandwich!  I’m embarrassed to say that until I moved to San Francisco a little over 4 years ago I had never even heard of a Vietnamese sandwich, but lucky for me I moved straight into the Tenderloin...right down the street from the famed Saigon Sandwiches (and the infamous Lee’s Sandwiches).  So boy do I know Vietnamese sandwiches now, yummmm-my!

So when Bun Mee  (a phonetic interpretation of the name of the sandwich banh mi) opened up a couple of months ago on Fillmore we were excited to have a Vietnamese sandwich shop relatively close again...but it took a little while for us to try it out, which isn’t always a bad thing with new places!  So upon entering I liked what I saw...cute, simple interior with a nice big menu up on the wall and a sassy poster making fun of the “no jalepeños” crowd behind the counter.  While there is limited seating I do like the counter seating near the back that allows you to be front and center watching the food being prepared right before your eyes (but that’s always my favorite seat in the house).
Txoko: New Eats in North Beach


I lived in San Sebastián, Spain in the Basque Country for almost 6 months back in 2001 and while I was there I actually had the rare (as a woman) and amazing experience of being invited to take a 6-week cooking class at a traditional Txoko...or a sociedad gastronómica that is traditionally only open to male members.  I LOVED my time there.  A rare sneak peak into Basque history...eating an eel that we just saw killed in the kitchen, seeing a whole duck respectfully transformed from a feathery whole animal into an amazing feast, actually enjoying eggs scrambled with sheep’s blood and intestines, learning the simple beauty of Piperade, the gastronomical list goes on!

It really opened my eyes to having a true connection with your food and between that experience and the many hours I spent in Pintxos (Basque version of tapas) bars I quickly learned to love Basque food.   So needless to say, I was excited to try out Txoko, especially since my beloved Iluna Basque closed back in December.
Lots of Good Eatin’ Over Memorial Day Weekend!

What a fun Memorial Day Weekend we had...so much yummy food I’m almost sick of eating. Almost.  It started out with an afternoon at KQED filming the season 6 opener of Check Please! Bay Area...that’s right, yours truly is going to be on the show!  More on that as the air date get’s closer!

During the rest of the weekend we tried out three restaurants that we hadn’t been to before: Chouchou in Twin Peaks, Flour + Water in the Mission, and the new Bun Mee in the Fillmore.  We attended SF Carnival 2011 and even made it to the North Bay to go to the 22nd Annual Larkspur Flower & Food Festival after a 35 mile bike ride up Mt. Tam...gotta earn those calories somehow!

Phew, I’m tired, happy and full just thinking about it!  Since it was such a fun food-filled weekendI thought I’d give you a quick run down so you can decide which restaurants or events next year you want to check out yourself...
Omnivore Books Talk with David Downie of Terroir Guides

If you haven’t been to Omnivore Books it’s a must for any foodie...particularly if you like to cook.  It’s a small bookstore housed in an old butcher shop (the back room is actually the “walk-in freezer”) and all of their books are food-related with a heavy emphasis on cookbooks.  Since it’s a small shop they don’t always have tons of copies on hand but they’ll happily order it for you if needed and they have lots of rare, older cookbooks as well, like a traditional Bahamian cookbook from 1975.  Fun.

Omnivore Books also has a great monthly events calendar with food authors coming in for talks and book signings...this is how I was able to hear David Downie of Terroir Guides speak about food travel writing this past Wednesday.
Atelier Crenn – Poetic Culinaria

Atelier Crenn is a relative newbie to the Cow Hollow end of Fillmore Street (in the old PlumpJack Cafe location) having only opened their doors in January of 2011.  While I don’t typically do restaurant reviews, Atelier Crenn is a unique enough experience that I thought I would share.

Atelier Crenn is the brainchild of Dominique Crenn (you may recognize the name from her Iron Chef win or her three Michelin Stars). Dominique spent her childhood in France and her French upbringing is certainly seen in her cooking.  The name of the restaurant references her father’s workshop Atelier Papa Crenn and his artwork can be found in the restaurant.  If you venture for a visit, be prepared, it’s an expensive night out even without alcohol.  The Chef’s 8-course tasting menu cost $115 (four-course menu is $72) with beer/wine pairings running you an extra $70. Since I was with two friends we opted to simply buy two bottles of wine instead (at roughly $60 each). So at the end of the evening the damage was about $180 including tip.  Each.  And to be perfectly honest, your not exactly full after 8-courses of “Poetic Culinaria.”  But it is a unique and entertaining evening that is different from most anywhere else I’ve been in San Francisco... consider it dinner and a show all wrapped up into one.
New! PieTisserie…pop-up pie shop in downtown Oakland

Who doesn’t love a Pop-up Pie Shop?  Seriously...what a great idea.  I have to admit, I’m definitely more a pie-gal than a cake-gal anyway, so the fact that PieTisserie has “popped-up” right around the corner from my work for the entire summer is dangerous.  Bikini season ain’t looking so good! PieTisserie’s owner, Oakland resident Jaynelle St. Jean, has been making pie for years...first starting out by staging a window of her mother’s home and giving away slices to friends of the neighborhood.  She must have quickly realized she was on to something as she soon set her mission to fill the need for unique and delicious pies, or, Random Acts of Sweetness as her tagline proclaims.
Smitten Ice Cream! The First Hayes Valley Proxy Project Shop

A friend of a friend recently opened up Smitten Ice Cream shop in Hayes Valley...the first shop to be opened in the much anticipated Proxy Project to be exact.  If you’re not familiar with the Proxy Project, it’s a temporary two-block construct with a focus on sustainable design intended to house retail, art galleries, gardens, community use spaces and of course restaurants.  Keep an eye on this project, folks, it’s sure to be a foodie focal point being right down the street from the original Blue Bottle, across from Millete and soon to be next door to planned Proxy inhabitants such as Suppenkuche’s Biergarten, Ritual Coffee (in Blue Bottle’s territory?  Neat!), Delfina Pizzeria, 4505 Meats and more!

But I digress...back to the first Proxy Project opening, Smitten Ice Cream.  While this is Smitten’s first “permanent” location the ice cream has been being sold by founder Robyn Sue Goldman via her Radio Flyer wagon and Kelvin (more on that in a minute!) since 2009.  Where?  Well, Robyn has been quite industrious in getting the word out and a following for Smitten Ice Cream while the details of a shop location were in the works.  From samplings on the streets of San Francisco to Bay Area festivals to corporate events, Robyn has been wowing ice cream enthusiasts everywhere with her fresh and innovative take on ice cream.
Zazu Restaurant & Farm

As promised, it’s time to tell you all about our fabulous dinner we had at the end of our Wine Road Barrel Tasting day up in wine country.  Now, if you’re a regular reader you know that I don’t review restaurants very often but when they really blow me away, I feel it’s my foodie obligation to share...and Zazu Restaurant & Farm did just that!

How would I summarize the Zazu philosiphy?  Nightly changing menus inspired by American classics, authentic, rustic Italian cuisine and focused on what is local (often their own farm!) and in season.  Re-reading that sentence, makes Zazu sound a bit pretentious but in fact it’s quite the opposite their dishes and ambience are comfortable, uncomplicated and perfectly suited for the amazing wine that surrounds their location in every direction.  Next time you’re up in Sonoma County give Zazu a try....they’re right off the 101 so a quick and easy detour on your way to or from the wineries, I promise you’ll be back a second and third time!

Foodie Valentine’s Day Celebrations

Christian and I celebrated V Day on Sunday with a trip to the SF Ballet to see Giselle (fabulous!) and dinner at Paul K (a bit underwhelming).  But we also celebrated on V Day proper by cooking a nice meal at home and popping a bottle of bubbly so I thought I would review both celebrations.

I’ll start with the dinner we made ourselves on Valentine’s Day itself...a nice bottle of 2006 Mumm Blanc de Blanc, Mussels Steamed in a Spicy Tomato-Cilantro Broth with a DIY salad of Arugula, Beets, Fresh Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese drizzled with truffle honey, balsamic, olive oil, salt & pepper.  Dessert was homemade chocolate dipped strawberries.
Foodie Day Trip: Napa

We’ve been having such fantastic weather that Christian and I decided to take an impromptu trip up to Napa this past Saturday...we brought our bikes, hit the Oxbow Public Market for lunch and then rode around to a few wineries.  I’ll warn you though...starting your day in Napa at the Oxbow Public Market may risk you never making it to any wineries at all!

If you haven’t been to the Oxbow Public Market you should check it out, it’s fabulous.  If your from the Bay Area, upon arriving it will be no surprise to learn that the founder, Steve Carlin, has 20 years of experience with the Oakville Grocery Company and was a project manager of the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace.  It’s right across the river from downtown Napa where other fabulous foodie outposts are as well, such as the Fatted Calf Charcuterie and Model Bakery.