Monday, October 10, 2011

Conquering the West

Not even 48 hours on the West Coast and I feel like I've conquered kitchens and and more everywhere almost every waking hour. A brief summary of what I've hit up . . . so far.
  • Breakfast at the Jet Rock Bar at National Airport - "Breakfast at a bar?" you ask? That's right. Sure, I could have gone the mimosa or bloody Mary route, but a bacon, mushroom & tomato omelet with well-done homefries and a side of $6 fruit salad really did the trick for my 25-minute flight to Philadelphia, especially considering we sat at the tarmack for about 20 minutes. Apologies to the passengers sitting by me, but I was starving.
  • Running into an old friend at the Philadelphia Airport - I never wanted a longer layover than Saturday morning. Tons of shops, tons of restos and tons to see were almost dizzying. I decided I was in the mood for a smoothie of some kind and on my way, I ended up seeing this guy coming out of a shop who looked quite familiar and apparently he thought so, too. It was Grant, the not-so-little brother of one of my dear friends from college. We'd befriended on Facebook a couple of years ago, so I at least got a semblance of what he looked like now, but he's hardly changed even from his teenage years and it was so great to see him, although briefly. Even though we were both ultimately going back to Northern California, unfortunately we weren't on the same flight. Such a bummer, but was nice to catch up, even for a little bit. Was worth missing out on a smoothie, especially for my next stop at . . .
  • Peet's Coffee at SFO - Insomnia the past week and intermittent yet uncomfortable napping on the flight made this pitstop a fortunate necessity. I don't know what it is about the ultra-caffeinated nectar from Peet's, but an iced non-fat mocha made me smile, especially while I waited for my brothers to pick me up.
  • Homemade Salvadoran sauteed beef w/ onions, beans and rice at Tia Sonia's - A pleasant surprise picking up one of my cousins at my step-mother's sister's house. They're Salvadoran and we walked in to a table full of food already laid out. Granted, Sonia wasn't expecting all of us to come by, but it didn't stop a couple of us from helping ourselves to the homemade goodness.
  • Burma Superstar - After picking up the entire crew and watching the Blue Angels at China Beach in Sea Cliff, we went to dinner at this San Francisco legend. We got there early, and thank goodness because we were a party of 6 and already 15 minutes before the place opened, the line hit the end of the block. We were second and they easily accommodated our large party. Service was great and of course the food was phenomenal. My brothers and cousins never had Burmese food before. And the best way for me to describe it was that it made Chinese food seem black & white. After the famous Tea Leaf Salad, Salt & Pepper Chicken, Crispy & Spicy Chicken, Curry Beef and Dried Fried String Beans, all with their Coconut Rice, they understood why. I'm proud of the kids trying the food with an open palatte, although I feel bad for my cousin, Melissa, who had a little trouble handling the spiciness.
  • But that's okay, we made up for it at our next stop, Genki Crepes, right across the street. Their strawberry, whipped cream and chocolate crepes were refreshing and filling enough for her. And there was plenty to share.
  • But ugh, I was so full the rest of the day and into the next morning. However, it didn't stop me from enjoying some of my dad's chicken adobo and my brother's pancakes and eggs. What is it about homemade food?
  • Arriving into Seattle that evening, I was still pretty full, but I ventured on straight to dinner with my favorite chef at a new place called Ba Bar. I had no idea what to expect, but the gourmet Vietnamese "street food" got my appetite going. It also didn't hurt to run into one of my favorite Seattle culinary socialites, Chris Nishiwaki. I couldn't help but eye the Spicy Pork Belly and I wished I had a better appetite to order the fried egg on top. Alas, it was perfectly crispy with some interesting flavors, and not spicy at all had Melissa been there. The show-stoppers of the table were the refreshing Cabbage Salad and Duck Confit Soup. Perfect for the cool fall Seattle weather. I wish I had more time (and appetite) to sample more.
  • Bacon Waffle Sundae from Skillet Diner
    (Photo by Robin Leventhal)
  • Alas, we had one more pilgrimage to make at Skillet Diner. I've been a fan of Chef Josh Henderson and his amazing Air Stream for years and I was so happy to hear some great buzz about his diner. I was bummed I missed a trek the last time I was in town, so I wasn't going to miss it this time around. It didn't hurt getting to see him at the Fancy Food Show this summer and learning that the diner serves this heavenly dessert that I still dream about almost 5 years later of a tribute to his mother's chocolate pudding pie, deconstructed w/ chocolate nibs and sea salt. Darn right I ordered it. However, every time I even glance at this picture of the Bacon Waffle Sundae, my eyes state an OMFG and my tastebuds go on high alert. Don't even ask what my arteries do. Holy mother of goodness. And the concocted cocktails, one including Allspice Dram & Bourbon, were just brilliant pairings.
And now, it's time to digest before tackling on even more yummy goodness.

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