Friday, July 20, 2012

David Bacco Chocolatier

And another chocolatier from the SF Chocolate Salon.
  • Truffles:
    • Ceylon: “Spiced aromatic flavor of Sri Lanka in bitter ganache”.  Tasting notes: Dark chocolate shell, smooth ganache with nice cinnamon tones.  Definitely bitter.
    • Serene?/TRANQUILLE?: “Creamy caramel ganache”.  Tasting notes: really smooth, buttery caramel interior with incredible salt flavor infused in it.  Covered in milk chocolate.  Very nice, but almost too sweet, pairs well with coffee.
    • Crescendo: “Layer of hazelnuts over almond nougatine”.  Tasting notes: Milk chocolate covered, crunchy bits, not particularly interesting.
  • Bars
    • Fluer de sel: Tasting notes: Creamy milk chocolate, nice saltyness. [ Really nice salt on top, fairly creamy milk chocolate ]
    • 80%: Tasting notes: Complex, bitter, really nice.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dinner @ Lers Ros Thai

I was spoiled in many ways by living in Sydney for several months, but one of the tastiest was the Thai food.  I've been on a quest to enjoy Thai food back here in SF ever since, but have failed to find a place that I've really liked.  Do you have any recommendations?

Several months ago, we went to Lers Ros Thai, in the Tenderloin.  I found it pretty mediocre overall, and didn't really remember much about the meal, except that there was one really excellent dish: a whole steamed sea bass.  At $29.95 it was pretty expensive for thai food, but I fell in love with it, particularly the absolutely delicious chili and lime juice based broth.  The dish was light, refreshing, and spicy, all at the same time.  But like I said, everything else was pretty forgettable.  When some friends suggested going back on Sunday night I figured it was worth another try, particularly for the bass.  I went there not really caring about anything else on the menu, I just wanted my bass again!

And ... they didn't have it.  They told us that they usually run out pretty early on weekends since they are open for lunch.  Sigh.

The restaurant is pretty generic, I don't have much to say about it.  Service was good enough.  They take reservations (only over phone) which is nice.  And, uh, you get a nice cultural experience walking there.

The food was, like last time, very mediocre.  I don't think I'll be going back, unless someone can assure me that they have the bass!
Pad See Ew, vegetarian.  $8.95.
We started with the pad see ew.  This is one of my favorite standard thai dishes.  It was not good.

Since we were dining and sharing with a vegetarian, we got the vegetarian version.  It included carrots, cabbage, two types of brocoli, and tofu.  The vegetables were all poorly cooked, mushy, and fairly flavorless.  The tofu was also forgettable.

The noodles were the worst part, way overcooked, very mushy.  The sauce had absolutely no flavor.

I would never order this again, least favorite dish of the night.  $8.95 was a fine price I guess.  It was delivered piping hot, clearly fresh.  Points for that.
Red curry with vegetables and tofu.  $10.95.
Next we moved on to a vegetarian red curry.

Since we were dining with one person who didn't want a lot of spice, we ordered it mild.  Perhaps this is why it had no flavor.  But again, it just had no flavor.  I tried several spoonfuls of the sauce on its own, trying desperately to taste the coconuty deliciousness, but it was nowhere to be found.

The vegetable mix included cabbage, brocoli, carrots, bamboo, thai eggplant, and red bell peppers.  These were even more poorly executed than in the pad see ew, incredibly overcooked and mushy.

The tofu was also really not very good, it didn't taste very fresh.

My tasting notes simply sum this up as "nothing good here".  Second to last dish of the night.  $10.95 seemed way too pricy for this poor quality.

We also had some steamed brown and red rice, $2 per person.  It was an interesting, hearty mix, and fairly well executed.
Pla Trout Tod Nam Pla: Fried quick marinated whole trout in fish sauce and pepper, served with mango sauce.  $16.95.
And our final dish.  They were out of the steamed sea bass, but this was another fish specialty.  We took a gamble on it, knowing it was fried rather than steamed, and wouldn't have the amazing sauce, but ... if they did one whole fish dish well, perhaps this would be good too?

The trout was very, very fried.  The exterior incredibly crisp, which was nice, but it was too oily. The fish itself seemed pretty decent, it was a little fishy, but not bad.  It wasn't very moist however, since it was a fairly thin filet and was so fried.

The mango sauce that went with it was the best part of the dish.  Sweet, with a slight mango flavor.  I enjoyed it with some of the rice.

Best dish of the night, but I wouldn't order again.  $16.95 was a fine price for a whole fish.

We were pretty disappointed at the end of the meal, and opted to go elsewhere for dessert, even though I love mango with sticky rice.  We didn't have any confidence that they'd execute it well.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dinner @ Thai House 530

[ Originally posted January 5, 2012 ]
I finally checked out Thai House 530.  It just opened in November, and is brought to you by the son of the owners of Thai House Express, which I've always found decent.  One of their house specialties is a crab pad thai, and since I love crab, and it is crab season, it was time to make this happen!

The space is swanky and clean, the plating much nicer than most thai places, and it was very reasonably priced. The menu is extensive and there were a slew of things I wanted to try that we didn't get to. 

Overall, the meal and service were decent, but I'm in no rush to go back.  The ingredients seemed mid-range and the flavor complexity just wasn't there.  I've still yet to find thai food in San Francisco that I've really loved ... seeking recommendations!  I think Sydney may have ruined me for thai food ... no Thai food in SF has ever come close to Sailor's Thai Canteen or Longgrain!

One friend described the food as "osha-style thai food which means a lot of added sugar, not spicy enough and unfortunately not very fresh."  I pretty much agree.

[ Not pictured ]
"Fog City": a cocktail of soju, passion fruit nectar, lime juice, and greek yogurt.  $8.
 Sorta like an alcoholic lassi. I thought it was delicious!
Papaya salad with shrimp, green beans, peanuts, chili, tomatoes, dressing.  $9.
This dish was just ok. The shrimp were really disappointing - only a few, they were very small, and really had no flavor.  This was particularly sad compared to the photos on their Facebook page showing large succulent shrimp!  They could have been any generic protein in here. I appreciated that the salad wasn't drowning in dressing but it definitely could have used more flavor. I'd order it again and either get the chili sauces to add to it or get it spicer.  $9 was a fine price.
Pu jah: Thai style crab cake, dugeness crabmeat, grounded pork, eggs, black pepper, cilantro.  $9.
I love, love crab cakes, and it is crab season, so I was really excited about this.  Unfortunately, I really couldn't taste the crab in here and it was overpowered by the pork (and I really don't like pork).  None of us could identify what the fried crispy stuff on top was. I think "fried hair" was our best answer. Dipping sauce was sweet and not all that interesting.

Definitely would not get again.
Dungeness crab pad thai, bean sprouts, egg, green onion, lettuce, garnish.   $13.
Decent pad thai. Sauce was a little too sweet for my taste though. The crab was incredibly generous, both in size of nice chunks and quantity throughout.  Noodles were nicely cooked, although I prefer mine a little more stir fried.

$13 was a decent price, particularly given the amount of crab.
Chicken red curry rice plate: green beans, carrots, bamboo shoots, basil, bell peppers.  $10.
I'm always kinda meh on curries, so this didn't standout for me.
Mango with sticky rice, coconut milk, crispy soy thingies.  $7.
I think I got spoiled from mangos in Sydney a year ago. This mango was not very sweet nor ripe and was just sorta a mango flavored blob. The strawberry was likewise just a strawberry flavored blob, then again, it is January.  I guess I deserve this for ordering fruit that isn't local and in season, but I love mango and sticky rice so I couldn't resist.

The sticky rice itself was only lukewarm, I would have preferred warmer. I appreciated that it wasn't swimming in coconut milk, although that was the tastiest part of the dish for sure. The soy crispies added a nice crunch and were surprisingly flavorful.

$7 was a great price.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nicole Lee Chocolates

And yet another chocolatier I encountered at the SF Chocolate Salon.  I only tried one of her chocolates, a very tempting sounding treat as it is one of my favorite desserts ...
  • Crème brûlée .  Tasting notes: Thin chocolate shell, very thin smooth chocolate ganache layer at base, white filling.  Chocolate is dark and a little bitter, not particularly noteworthy.  Creme filling is specced with vanilla bean, but I didn't detect them flavorwise.  Sorta boozy flavor to it.  Didn’t really like this.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dandelion Chocolate

A friend of mine has been raving about Dandelion Chocolate for ages, so I was really excited to try their chocolate, which I had the change to do at the SF Chocolate Salon and the Good Food Awards.  The bars I sampled were all 70%, single origin, with no cocoa butter, no vanilla, no lecithin, etc.  It was really interesting to see the profound differences in the bars, given that they have the same cocoa percentage and no extra ingredients, so the real difference does come from the beans, and only the beans.  They won a Good Food Award for the Costa Rica, but I saw that they had other samples hiding.  I asked to try them, and I’m glad I did, as I liked them much more!
  • 70% Costa Rica.  Tasting notes: Fell short for me.  Flavors were ok but pretty forgettable and not complex at all.  They describe it themselves as a good starter chocolate since it is mild and not overbearing.
  • 70% Madagascar.  Tasting notes: Hello there fruit!  This was an incredibly fruity bar.  [ This was the first chocolate I’ve ever had that required opening up. At first bite, you kinda tasted nothing, and then a few seconds later it hit.  A very firm chocolate, with a snap to it when you bit into it.  I didn’t really like this, as the flavor wasn’t particularly pronounced and I like chocolate smoother and creamer. ] [ Again, very fruity.  Slightly grainy. A more subtle bar.  Cherry notes on the finish. ]
  • 70% Rio Caribe.  Tasting notes: Very fudgy, rich, brownie like.
  • 70% Venezuelan.  Tasting notes: Nice classic bitter dark chocolate.  My favorite of their bars.


Sunday, July 15, 2012


I'm probably one of few americans who isn't really familiar with Slurpees.  I grew up in a town without 7-11, so I guess this makes sense.

I only had my first Slurpee a year ago, when I was on a liquids diet for medical reasons, and wasn't that impressed (although, I was so sick of only drinking things at that point, that I think I wouldn't have liked anything ...).  That was the only Slurpee I ever had.  This past week was July 11, and 7-11 was giving out Slurpees to celebrate.  I was tempted to check it out, but it seemed like too much effort for something I didn't really care about.  But today, as I was walking through Union Square, the 7-11 cart was out with free Slurpees!  So, I got to try my 2nd and 3rd Slurpees ever.  Unfortunately, it felt like winter outside, so a nice refreshing icy drink wasn't exactly what I wanted ... but I could imagine enjoying one of these on a hot summer day, if we ever got those!
Slurpee Lite™ Fanta Sugar-free Mango.
This had a good mango flavor, and wasn't fake tasting even though it was sugar free.  I really liked the fizz to it.  Carbonated sweet ice is pretty good! [ I loved the ice-ness, but found the flavor seriously lacking. ]
Coca-Cola Classic Slurpee.
This really just was a frozen Coke.  I again found the carbonation to be pretty fun, but meh, just a Coke.