Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Outerlands is everything I love in a neighborhood restaurant.  The main menu is straightforward -- fresh wholesome food that nourishes and comforts soups, sandwiches and stews.   

The heirloom tomato soup was well balanced with a strong tomato flavor and spicy tap at the end.  A side of grilled cheese was made with thickly cut pieces of crusty bread, crunchy and perfect for dipping into the soup.  We also loved the spicy and soothing ginger cider. 

The food is comforting and matches the beautiful interior of reclaimed wood.  Enjoying a meal at Outerlands feels like taking relaxing trip to a cabin in Big Sur sipping cider and eating hot soup in front of a fireplace.  It is that warm atmosphere and friendly service that makes me wish I lived around the corner.  

Outerlands photos
Judah at 45th Ave 

Monday, September 28, 2009


Every time I get close to the end of Church Street I start to crave tuna heart.  A specialty food from Sardinia that is the heart of tuna cured into a purple red colored meaty piece with a strong umami flavor.   Two restaurants in that neighborhood serve it shaved onto pasta.  

It was a perfect night to hit Incanto, the restaurant was busy enough to have some atmosphere but not so busy as to overwhelm the kitchen.  I had a good view of the kitchen where the two chefs worked quickly, efficiently and at controlled pace.

I started with a dish of clams and tripe in a buttery broth tasting of the sea with a little base note of heat from a bit of chili, topped with some leaves of lemon verbena.  The tripe had a perfect texture -- tender with just enough meaty bite.

The spaghetti was just as I remembered it, a balance of briny smoky tuna heart with the smell of garlic and the silky richness of egg yolk.

Incanto might have a sort of 90's staid old world traditional Italian decor, but it's friendly service keeps it from being stuffy. 

December 2007 Report

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Red Cooked Pork with Tofu Knots - definitely get this. It's red cooked porkbelly pieces with some tofu knots for a more substantial texture. Perfectly seasoned, savory offset with a bit of sweetness.

XLB with Crab - these were just o.k. not much soup in the dumplings and had a canned crab flavor, but the skins were decently thin.

Salt and Pepper Cod - surprisingly good. Light almost tempura batter that is typical of salt and pepper preparations, good jalepeno heat and well seasoned. Definitely would get this one again.

Next time: the Lion's Head Meatballs and braised bacon/pork belly.

Chinatown 640 Jackson

Friday, September 18, 2009


Shanghai House, a small place across from the Balboa Theatre, another reason to catch a flick at the Balboa. We ordered the Pork Knuckle the day before our dinner.

Pork Knuckle
- a huge portion of meaty knuckle.
I was expecting the type of knuckle you get at Roli Roti. RRoti's has a small amount of meat and is a little chewy but has that delicious connective tissue. The one here was much more meaty almost like eating a huge portion of carnitas. It was crispy and salty on the outside with the gelatinous goodness of the tendon barely holding the tender meat together. Must order ahead.

Lion's Head Meatballs - this was recommended by a friend that works very close to the restaurant. Tender and flavorful blend of meats in a clay pot. I loved the vegetables that had soaked up the pork and beef juices in the silky braising liquid.

Vegetarian Goose - Crisped tofu skin matching the flavorful mushrooms and brought together with a a sweet-ish sauce.

Smoked Duck - so smokey that it was almost too smokey, but good. For some reason this one does not have to be ordered ahead.

Smoked Fish (cold) - sweet and smokey though a little chewy to my taste.

Mapo Tofu - not too much flavor, just spicy.

Hand Cut noodles
- nice hand cut shape, but a bit too chewy and the topping lacked seasoning. I liked this dish much better at Five Happiness.

XLB - I've become so used to the NY style xlb that are full of soup. These were decent xlb, not very juicy but a fairly thin skin. I wish I could find good xlb place in SF.

If I lived in the neighborhood, this would be a regular stop.
Definitely get the Lion's Head Meatballs and the Veg Goose. Next time I'll try the Shanghai Style Noodles, spicy beef tendon (cold), and a red braised dish.


Poc Chuc panuchos, fried to a crisp and stuffed with their delicious black beans. Topped off with shredded turkey and some ultra spicy and vinegary salsa and you've got the crunchy, spicy, vinegar and herbs against the earthly beans and turkey. It looks like the place is busier than it used to be, but the food is as good as ever.

Previous Posts on Poc Chuc:

October 2007
September 2007 as Popol Vuh

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Douglas Fir

HM's Douglas Fir syrup made from fresh branches she received from the wilds of Montana. She calls it A Walk in the Woods. A glass of the soda was deliciously crisp and refreshing -- like taking a breath of cool fresh air in a forest of Douglas Fir.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Starbelly, on a sunny afternoon during this heat wave of a week. First thing I notice are jars of pickles lining a wall -- good sign. I ordered the porchetta only to discover that they had run out. Went with the BLT. A very large sandwich. I thought, at these prices, no wonder they ran out of porchetta. Good bread, fresh red and yellow tomatoes, aioli, nice balance of flavors. The housemade bacon was fine. The jasmine green tea, lemonade and sage refresher was great. I would order either of these again.

Luckily on my next visit they had porchetta and it was by far the best thing I've had at the restaurant. Very thinly sliced moist pork, perhaps dipped in jus, served on a baguette nicely grilled with a giardiniara-salsa verde that had nice bits of nuts mixed in with the herbs. Great combination of pork, herb greens and giardiniara, though I would've loved a little more pork. The greens accompanying the sandwich had too much vinaigrette causing them to be limp. The clam po' boy was very light on the clam and heavy on the cornmeal crust, but had a good flavor.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Wild Fennel Pollen

The weather has been so beautiful this week, perfect for a hike and perhaps some foraging. I contacted HM, my foraging expert. She was game, and said that late August is the best time to harvest wild fennel pollen.

We headed straight for a trail far away from any streets. As we walked along the trail, we found a few plants here and there and had fun balancing precariously on some rocky slopes to get the flowers. I was happy when we came across a group of five plants. HM kept saying that she was sure there was a big patch 'just a little further, just a little further'

The path became shaded by some large trees and I started thinking that we should head back to the sunnier part of the trail, just then, we turned a corner and there it was -- El Dorado. A patch of at least sixty plants! HM threw up her hands and said "see I told you!" We laughed as we thought about the last hour we had spent balancing on hills and cliffs just to get to one or two plants.