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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

FFFF: Fall Food Fest Fun

Michael Bauer said it well: 2009 could just as well be known as the year of food festivals.

And it is only beginning.

Food festivals are definitely the latest trend in the culinary world. Why? Simply because they are a great way to get a restaurant's name out there and showcase its products at a much cheaper price than going in for an actual dinner. It goes hand-in-hand with the latest street food craze as well, as well as the American mentality of eating things quickly, cheaply, and on the go.

Last Saturday was the first of a few festivals in the Bay Area. The first ever San Francisco Street Food Fest was hosted by La Cocina on Folsom Street and featured food and drinks from more than twenty vendors! There was also a beer garden for those of drinking age, but the lines for alcohol were nothing compared to the lines for food. Being the first year, things were disorganised, with lines snaking in and around each other (and up to half an hour waits) and booths being short of food, but you can't expect too much from a first-timer. Luckily, the weather was beautiful and people were chatty, so waiting wasn't that bad.

I had purchased a $25 dollar passport beforehand so I didn't have to worry about cash. At first, I thought it wouldn't be enough, but I was stuffed by the end and ended up spending the last few dollars on brownies from Neo Cocoa to bring back to my roommates. (Bee tee dubs, if you ever live with me in the future, be prepared to always eat some sort of sweet thing or another; no excuses!)

Here is a little slideshow of the festival:

With my roommate: Foodies on a mission!

First stop: Slanted Door; very disappointing boba though - it was too sweet

Vegetarian steamed bun from Slanted Door

Bean and cheese pupusa from Estrellita's Sweets; served with slaw and spicy sauce

Indulging in my horchata obession

Heirloom tomatoe tomaquet; delicious!

Major disappointment of the day; how can you sell out of creme brulee?!

Our picture for SF Weekly magazine!

Monday, August 24, 2009

City Nights #2: SPQR

For those of you new to the blog, City Nights #1 was A16. And given that this was night number two, it is only fit that I dine at the sister restaurant, SPQR, which specialises in Roman cuisine.

I've been to SPQR before for brunch [lemon ricotta swirl pancakes!] but never for dinner. The menu is divided into cold antipasti, hot antipasti, fried antipasti, and then a small collection of pastas and meats. You can mix and match antipasti for a fixed price, so we ended up doing that.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention who the "we" was! Saturday was a mini Relay for Life [or Riffle, as I like to call it; RFL = Riffle, get it?] reunion. Nicole, one of last year's event chairs lives in SoCal and came up for a couple days, so she, the other event chair, Nick, and I decided to hit up a top 100 restaurant in SF. And what great results! Luckily the executive sous chef was there last night working one of his last shifts, so he treated us like royalty. He turned a simple meal into an elaborate four-course dinner complete with an extra dish at each course free of charge! As Nicole said, every course was like Christmas morning:

Cold antipasti: Tuna conserva, fennel, ceci beans, celery, radish

Cold antipasti: Fresh ricotta, marinated summer squash, toasted pinenuts and crostini

Fried antipasti: Cauliflower with garlic, parsley, capers and lemon

Hot antipasti: Calamari with potatoes and greens

Second favourite dish of the night: Grilled eggplant with pecorino, pine nuts, and basil

Dessert #1: Granita with pecorino crema, candied fennel, and blackberries

Favourite dish of the night: Riso budino with plum confittura and pistachios

All in all, another successful dinner in San Fran!

Ending a wonderful dinner with fantastic event chairs and friends!

Now onto the next top 100 restaurant..