SavoryGirl on Check, Please! Bay Area

KQED is re-airing the Check, Please! Bay Area Season 6 Opener featuring yours truly this weekend! The schedule for the re-airings is below (Friday, Saturday & Sunday!), but I've also included a link to the online episode in case you miss it.

So if you haven't seen "my" episode before, take a look and let me know what you think! Are you going to my restaurant recommendation, Saha ASAP?!  If you ever doubted my reviews before this should give you a bit more confidence...SavoryGirl knows good food!
Noodle Theory

I can't believe I haven't written about Noodle Theory yet.  I almost cried when the one in my neighborhood went out of business and now I have a hard time eating anywhere else when I find myself near the one location in Rockridge.  So to be clear, I LOVE Noodle Theory.  I think my love is two-fold.  First and foremost, I am kind of obsessed with noodles, especially when served in a soup.  I crave them at least weekly...particularly Udon, but really any noodle with an Asian-inspired broth will do.  Second, I don't like to feel guilty about my noodles.  So greasy noodles with poor quality meat or barely identifieable vegetables just won't do.  I like my noodles to be dressed up with high-class, respectable ingredients.



You would think in a city like San Francisco with such an deep Asian history and influence, noodles like this would be pretty easy to find.  But I tell you, that just isn't true.  I still haven't found a go-to place since the Noodle Theory in the Marina closed!  So my noodle craving often goes unsatisfied...unless I make them myself which still just isn't the same.
Chimayo in Park City, UT

Ah, Sundance Film Festival! I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to go last year for work and so I thought in honor of the 2012 Festival kicking off this week I'd share a bit about a restaurant we really enjoyed while there last year, Chimayo.  While I'm not necessarily a huge film buff I had so much fun...more than I ever thought I would.  So much so that I think I'd like to go back again in the future, on my own dime even, so I can bring Christian along as well!



If you've never been to Sundance, I strongly encourage you to check it out.  Honestly, I'm not really a huge film buff (I have pretty low entertainment standards...ask Christian!) but I had so much more fun than I ever thought I would.  The movies were great (and only like $25 a ticket...way less than I thought they would be), Park City is amazingly adorable and the people watching was fantastic.  I really wish that I had Christian with me since he's is so good at identifying celebrities and the town is just crawling with them, but I had a few star sightings of my own!  I even got a picture taken with two...cutie Adrian Grenier from Entourage and the legendary Harry Belafonte! But I digress...back to the restaurant.

Louis’ Lunch

Okay, so can I prove that this is the birthplace of the Hamburger Sandwich?  No.  But Louis' Lunch in New Haven, CT is confident enough in the claim that they put it right on their website and after trying these bad boys I'm not disputing it!  These are some damn tasty hamburgers.  Since I grew up watching my dad make hamburgers at home on the stove-top and throwing them between two slices of white bread slathered with mayo (seriously, so good!) I knew he would love checking this place out too, so last time I was home visiting in MA we took a drive down to CT to check it out.



This place has been around since 1895 and developed the hamburger sandwich back in the early 1900s in response to a customer in a rush who requested something that he could eat on the run.  Ground steak trimmings were thrown between two pieces of toast and the beginnings of hamburger history began!  It's exactly the type of place that I love, too.  Line out the door full of regulars, local workers on their lunch breaks, and of course the requisite tourist or two.  But really you get an immediate vibe that this is a locals place with the staff behind the counter chatting everyone up and calling them by name.  It's super small, but cozy and has a great atmosphere.  Grab a spot as soon as one opens up even if you're still waiting in line to place your order...especially if you can get one of the seats built into the wall, so cool.  

Chotto

Chotto, a Japanese Izakaya, is a relative newcomer to the Marina food scene having been around for only a little over a year.  But if you haven't discovered this gem yet, you're missing out.  Traditionally, an izakaya is a Japanese drinking establishment with samplings of food and small bites to go along.  Order a dish here and there along the way while you drink until you've had your fill ....both the menu and service are set up at Chotto to fit this traditional izakaya experience perfectly, allowing you to linger and socialize while satisfying your hunger at intervals that suit your fancy.

So, first things first for an izakaya....the drinks.  As expected, Chotto has a great sake menu.  If you're new to sake, the sampler is a perfect way to start off.  They give you enough to share between two people if you want to use it as a way to decide which larger sake to order for the table.  One of our favorites though, is the cold unfiltered Ozeki Nigori...cloudy in apperance with a deliciously complex flavor.  Somewhat nutty while also a bit sweet with a slightly creamy finish.  Divine and pairs so well with all of their food, especially from the raw portion of the menu.  While we don't typically venture into the cocktail portion of the menu, friends always seem pleased with their unique concoctions...all either shochu (distilled liquor, similar in taste to vodka) or beer/wine based.

My Favorite Cupcake…

 

We live in a city over-run with cupcakes shops.  I don’t know if this trend has taken such a strong hold across the entire country or we are unique here in San Francisco, but within less than a mile from my own house I have at least 4 cupcake devoted bakeries!  But alas, my favorite cupcake does not live in my neighborhood, but my all-time favorite cupcake is in of all places, touristy Union Square.

It’s at a little shop on O’Farrell at Powell, right in the craziness of it all, called Cāko Bakery.  This morsel of goodness is called the Andes Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcake (click the link to see how it should look since mine got a little smashed in transit!) and I honestly crave it and find myself at Cāko pretty much anytime I am in Union Square.  As I’m writing this I’m actually trying to come up with reasons why I need to go back to Union Square (or their second location in Japan Town) again today just as an excuse to get another one of these cupcakes!
Eating Our Way Through Chicago

While I know I already shared my foodie itinerary for Chicago, I thought now that we are back from our trip I'd let you know what we thought and if everything on our original itinerary lived up to the hype.  So first things first....WE LOVED CHICAGO!  As a reminder, I hadn't been there since I was a child and Christian had never been.  So it was pretty new for both of us...and to be honest we were expecting to like it, but not much more.  But after a day in Chicago I was talking about wanting to move there, and I love living in San Francisco and left Massachusetts because I hated the winters...but Chicago is that cool.  I honestly felt like the greatness of the city would outweigh any awfulness of the winters that I had heard about...but Christian disputed and insisted he wouldn't move to Chicago with me so I had to let it go.  But really, such a clean and vibrant city with amazing architecture and waterways.  If you haven't been, go.  Preferably in the late spring or early fall from what I hear.

So, our foodie itinerary.  How did we fare?  Very well if you ask me.  While we may not have made every destination on our itinerary, we made it to the important ones and let me just say, we ate extremely well while in Chicago!
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.
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!

Pork & Noodle Soup with Shrimp

Christian cooked the Pork Noodle Soup with Shrimp (recipe below) tonight since work ran a bit late for me.  That’s another fabulous thing about having a menu posted on the fridge...if I’m not around Christian can dive right in and at least start cooking for us!

Christian’s a good cook, but can get a bit flustered at times so the fact that he told me that this was an easy recipe means it really is easy which makes it perfect for weeknights.  And we both think that it turned out a restaurant quality soup...so much so that we had a hard time restraining ourselves and saving enough for our leftovers night!