Gracias Madre

This was my last weekend in San Francisco. I have four more days at my internship and then I’m heading back to the Big Apple. As much as I love California I’m ready to go back to New York and start my life!

I had one more restaurant I wanted to try before I left town, so yesterday I headed down to the Mission District to eat at Gracias Madre. Gracias Madre is a 100% vegan and 100% organic Mexican restaurant that I have heard really great things about.

When I first walked into the restaurant I was struck by how large and earthy it felt. The table and chairs were all made of unstained wood and the place is huge. I chose to sit outside since it was such a beautiful day yesterday.

There were precious little saltshakers with Himalayan pink sea salt!

It took me a while to decide what to order but I finally settled on the tamales stuffed with zucchini, corn, onion and jalapeno. I ordered mine mojado, which means in a mole sauce.

I like the idea of mole sauce but I’m not sure I actually like it… The tamal came drizzled with cashew cream and with a side of delicious mushy black beans, pico de gallo and spicy pickled veggies. It was good but I kind of wish I’d ordered something else, it didn’t really hold up to the tamales at Millennium.

For dessert I got the Mexican Wedding Cookies with pecan-based dulce de leche ice cream.

The amazingness of this dessert completely made up for the anemic impression the tamale gave me. The ice cream was perfect and the cookies were like pecan shortbread covered in powdered sugar (what’s not to love?).

After dessert I headed over to Mission Dolores. Walking around the Mission area there are tons of beautiful murals all over the place.

Mission Dolores, built in 1791, is the oldest standing mission.

 

The Spanish settlers converted many native Ohlone Indians to Christianity within these walls.

 

Faustino and Obdulina were two of the first Ohlone Indians to be baptized at the mission. Pretty cool, right?

I just have one more week with this little dirty monster before I head back to New York and my own big mushy man! I can’t wait, I miss this face so much!

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Ana Mandara

San Francisco held this event the past two weeks called Dine About Town where upscale restaurants offer limited three-course menus for only $34.95.

Friday was the last day of Dine About Town (and it was also the day that a certain someone was coming IN to town to visit me) so I made sure to make reservations at one of the participating restaurant

I chose Ana Mandara, an upscale Vietnamese restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf. Neither Dan nor I had ever been to a fancy Vietnamese restaurant before so it was a first for both of us. We felt kind of like impostors since the dining room was full of rich looking businessmen and families! When I arrived, the host said that usually they only offer the Dine About Town menu Sunday through Thursday but since I asked so nicely (and probably look so poor) they said we could do it eve though it was Friday.

The first course was an appetizer sampler that came with steamed Vietnamese chicken and shrimp Dumplings, fried wontons filled with Dungeness crab, cream cheese and sweet chili and an organic local baby greens salad with a ginger dressing.

Lucky Dan got a double helping of dumplings and wontons and I got two salads! Dan said that the dumplings and wontons were out of this world; he even said it was probably the best restaurant food he had ever eaten! I really liked the salad, the dressing was delicious but not overpowering and the lettuce was so fresh!

We got to choose a main course out of four options. I chose the Curry Tofu and my shrimp loving man ordered the Barbecue Jumbo Prawns.

This picture’s not great but my dish was, the curry was flavorful and the tofu was well cooked. I find often when I order tofu in restaurants it is either very plain and mushy or over fried, this wasn’t.

For dessert I had mango and passion fruit sorbet. They were delicious but if it was a contest, mango won. The sorbet came garnished with a cute (and tasty) little tuile!

Dan ordered the Flourless Coconut Rum Cake, which he said was only okay since it tasted too eggy.

Overall we had a good experience at Ana Mandara and would probably go back again if we could afford it. For now, it’s a little out of our price range…

  • Appetizer: 5/5
  • Entrée: 4/5
  • Dessert: 3/5
  • Service: 4/5
  • Atmosphere: 5/5
  • Total: 21/25

5 reasons this weekend was so great!

  1. On Friday morning I found a stray kitten on the street outside my apartment. He is pure white, has blue eyes and he’s deaf. Did you know 60-80% of white cats with blue eyes are deaf? And if a white cat has one blue eye and one green or brown they are often deaf in the ear closest to the blue eye? Anyway he is very cute and I love him already and want to take him home to New York to be Henry’s little brother.

2. My boyfriend came to visit me. Wheeeeeee! I missed him so much and I’m so happy he’s here for a whole week!

3. The weather was so great this weekend! Fog shmog, it was beautiful and sunny and warm.

4. We went to Golden Gate Park and Haight Ashbury, the hippie capital of the country.

This clock always reads 4:20, you know why.

5. There is a lemon tree in the back yard!

It was just one of many ingredients in dinner Saturday night.

Greens Restaurant

I was lucky to have the day off from my internship on Saturday since that meant I got to spend time with my parents who were in town for the weekend! Since I knew they were coming, and that they would probably need to eat at some point, I made reservation for Saturday brunch at Greens Restaurant in the Marina neighborhood of San Francisco.

Greens Restaurant was recommended to me by multiple people as the go-to restaurant for veg-friendly fare in San Francisco (second to Millennium of course!). They pride themselves in having a local and completely vegetarian menu, I was happy to see that they had a few vegan options as well.

When we first entered the restaurant I was struck by how big and airy the space felt. It used to be a military warehouse that was converted into a restaurant in 1979.

We were seated at a table next to a huge window with a great view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

I ordered Jasmine Green Tea, which came in a precious teapot. My first cup was really great but after that it got way too strong, I should have removed the leaves!

We started with fresh, seasonal mixed fruit. The blueberries and cherries right now in California are divine. Check out that yellow cherry!

For my entrée I ordered Mesquite Grilled Brochettes, which were skewers of tofu, mushrooms, red peppers, corn, onion, zucchini and squash served with a zesty cilantro sauce. On the side was a mélange of rice with toasted pumpkin seeds and some slaw. Mm, I would definitely order this again! I especially liked the sauce and the skewers made the dish more fun to eat. I thought that the tofu cubes were a little on the large side though, it would have been nice if they were half the size.

My mom ordered Yellow Finn Potato Griddle Cakes with manchego cheese and chives. Served with eggs over easy, romesco sauce, salsa verde, olives and side salad. My mom said that the egg was very fresh and cooked to perfection.

My dad had the Greek Pizza, which was topped with spinach, feta cheese, olives, shallots and roasted tomatoes (I think, I can’t really remember and it’s not on the menu online…). It looked great and got two thumbs up from Papa Dearest.

The best part of the meal, in my opinion, was dessert!

I got a trio of sorbet with a vegan shortbread cookie. The cookie was so good, I really want to know how they made it since shortbread typically has 1000 pounds of butter in it! The sorbets were rhubarb, strawberry and coconut. Rhubarb was the winner in my book, but coconut came a close second.  I was sad when my dessert was over, I couldn’t get enough!

My dad ordered a Meyer lemon ice cream sandwich that came topped with blueberry compote. I’ve noticed that Meyer lemon seems to be a big foodie trend right now! My dad said this dessert was fantastic and he had no trouble polishing it off. I would be lying if I said I didn’t steal some of his blueberries, though…

Watch this:

Overall, I loved Greens and I would definitely go back!

F the East Coast

Hi everyone! Sorry for the hiatus, I was super busy with the end of school!

“Fuck the East Coast”
Grafitti in San Francisco’s Mission district

I am currently in sunny San Francisco for my month-long internship at Millennium Restaurant. This is my first time in the Golden State and I am loving it so far. I could definitely see myself living here some day.

I’m fortunate to be staying in a pretty swanky area of San Francisco. I knew nothing about the city before I came and lucked out booking such a nice place online. I get to wake up with sun pouring in the huge bedroom windows every morning… it is bliss.

I am also kept company by two cuddly kitties and a pint-sized pup. The Patron Saint of Cats looks over me as I sleep, befitting for a cat lady such as myself.

I just finished my first week interning at Millennium and I’m really enjoying it. Working in a restaurant is like Friday Night Dinner every night but with more than one dish per course. It’s intense, but I like intense. Chef Eric Tucker (who is also a NGI Grad!) is a lot less scary than I imagined him to be!

Millennium is definitely more relaxed about dress code than the Natural Gourmet. Tons of the staff have piercings and no one wears hats (which I am relieved about since my cap kept shrinking in the wash and was beginning to cut off the circulation to my brain). I also had to go out and buy black pants to wear since I looked like such a dweeb wearing my hounds tooth eyesores.

Last week I trailed at the pantry station (salads and desserts), worked the prep shift a couple times and accompanied the chef to a catering event. I’ll have more to say about it once I’m further into my internship!

The staff gets to order complimentary meals after their shift, which is a perk I did not know about beforehand! The food is so good, it really is the best vegan food I’ve ever tasted.

A raw salad with sea vegetables, avocado, miso dressing, wasabi sauce and spicy cashews. I have dreams about this salad it was so good!

A polenta dish with a Bolognese sauce, fava beans, sautéed greens and the best pesto of my life.

My favorite dish was the huitlacoche tamale, which I don’t have a picture for. I’ll have to order it again so I can show you guys!

I’ve had two days off, I’m excited to go back tomorrow! I wonder if I’ll always feel this way about work?

a la carte

Hmm… I’ve been kinda lagging with my blog posts haven’t I? It was so easy in the beginning when we were learning specific topics every day like Soy Foods or Sea Vegetables. Now that we’re starting our final month of the program (HOLY SHITAKES HOW DID IT GO SO FAST?!) our classes have been more focused on our Friday Night Dinner and nutrition.

The last two Friday classes were A La Carte 1 and 2, where we prepared the “mis en place” for a few recipes and then prepared them to order. I really liked these classes because it was fun taking a dish from a mish-mash of ingredients to complete in a short amount of time. I also had more practice in preparing fish and chicken, which was a nice change of pace since I don’t do much (or any) of that at home.

We made a Tempeh Bolognese with roasted broccoli, capers and olives. This dish was actually amazing and I think I am going to make this at home this week, it was that good.

Salmon with black and white rice and grilled squash.

Sauteed apples in a phyllo cup topped with (melted) vanilla (soy) ice cream.

Tempeh in Curry Coconut Sauce, served with grilled pineapple salsa. This dish was also so good that I made it for Dan and I last night. I guess I just really love tempeh right now!

Chicken in a mushroom sauce.

And Teriyaki Tofu

The goal of this exercise is to simulate what goes on in the kitchens of real restaurants and to prepare us for our internships. Speaking of which, I am super excited for my internship! I am going to be working at a restaurant in San Francisco!

I have always wanted to visit (and move to) the West Coast so I am beyond thrilled to be going for the month of June. Maybe I will love it so much that I won’t come back? It was a pain in the butternut squash finding a subletter for my NYC apartment but I finally figured it out and am going to be starting my internship in just 5 weeks! I can’t believe culinary school is almost over, I’m feeling quite depressed about this…

In other news, I’ve been running again! Taking it slow but my knees have been holding up! More on that later, I’m off to watch my new favorite show, Girls.