Burmese Restaurant in SF

After teaching elder art in SF, I treat myself to lunch. I try and rotate around the City. A couple of weeks ago I went back to try a restaurant I used to go to years ago in the Richmond neighborhood.

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Pagan serves authentic Burmese and Thai cuisine. I remembered this exotic Tea Leaf Salad. I ordered that again and it was just as great as before. Lap Pat Thut is made of imported Burmese tea leaves, mixed nuts, fried garlic, sesame seed, peanuts, grounded shrimps and dressing. The ingredients come beautifully individually arranged on the plate and the server mixes it for you at the table. I love the way the different flavors intermingle and the crunchiness of the salad. They also serve a vegetarianism version of this dish.

The restaurant decor is very beautiful with elegant gold details and art. The employees wear the brocaded native clothing.

It is definitely worth checking out!

Pagan Restaurant
3199 Clement St (at 33rd Avenue)
San Francisco, CA 94121
425-751-2598
www.pagansf.com

Wed-Sun 11:30-3:30pm, 5:30 – 10pm
Closed Mon and Tues

Some SF restaurant finds

I have been going into San Francisco every Friday to teach my elder art class in the mornings. I treat myself to lunch after and have been going around the City exploring for tasty delights.

I like Rose’s Cafe in Cow Hollow http://www.rosescafesf.com/. They are simple, snappy, and good. I had a roasted beet, fennel, radicchio, and avocado salad and then a very yummy dessert which was a special – warm fig and raspberry flaky tart with a big scoop of caramel ice cream which melted lovingly with each bite. I had to take a bite before I photographed it! I looked on their website and they make all their own breads and pasteries, so no wonder it was so special.

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pieSpeaking of sweet things, another place you have to try is Mission Pie in the “Mission” duh. I first went there with Janet and Susan a few months ago. Ander and I went again and it had opened up a wall and moved it’s entrance to Mission Street at 25th Street. Both times I went it was scrumptious! Great crust and not too sweet filling. We had a good cup of coffee to go with it. lucas-pumpkin

This not your ordinary pie shop. It has ties on the Coastside:

Mission Pie is a business venture that collaborates with the non-profit Pie Ranch, a diversified small-scale educational farm one hour south of San Francisco. Through hands-on work and collective reflection at Pie Ranch, San Francisco teenagers discover new competencies and insights that benefit them as individuals and in community.

The idea of Mission Pie is rooted in a conversation with Mission High School youth during their first visit to Pie Ranch in 2005. They remarked that many people in San Francisco don’t have the means to visit Pie Ranch to experience the personal connection with the farmland that sustains us. Mission Pie is an attempt to bridge that gap. Mission Pie is a tangible connection to Pie Ranch; a place, like the ranch, where people can gather with a sense of community purpose and belonging. Since our opening on January 3, 2007, Mission Pie has provided jobs and training for the youth Pie Ranch works with at the farm.

They are taking orders for Thanksgiving pies:

Apple Pie
The classic double-crust pie made with an assortment of apples from NanaMae Orchards and other California growers.
Pear Cranberry Pie
Sweet, ripe Bartlett pears and fresh cranberries are topped with a brown sugar crumb.
Walnut Pie
Craig McNamara’s walnuts have inspired our spin on the traditional pecan pie.
Pumpkin Pie
Our seasonal favorite is made with a mix of roasted pumpkins and winter squash from Pie Ranch, enriched with milk and cream and sweetened with brown sugar and apple juice.

Spicy, tasty, fresh Peruvian cuisine

Friday after I taught my elder art class, I went exploring on Filmore St in SF. I used to hang there when I was younger, but not in a loooong time. I came upon a really great restaurant I want to recommend called, Fresca. It said “nouveau Peruvian cuisine” on its sign. I thought that sounded kinda hoitty toitty, but thought, why not give it a try.

I had a large bowl of roasted mussels with chorizo and a zesty tomato broth full of garlic and onions, for $10. It came with 2 slices of toasted garlic bread. Though this was an appetizer it was very filling and satisfyingly wonderful. Many diners were going for the seafood ceviche which looked glisteningly fresh.

Here are some other appetizers on the menu:

camarones chicama « coconut crusted jumbo tiger prawns, black bean salad, lucuma-orange glaze.
crab croquetas « jumbo lump crab cakes, coconut cream, mango coulis, pickled papaya salad.
papa rellena « fried potato croquette, beef picadillo, pickled onions, aji panca miso.
ceviche 5 elementos « halibut, lime juice, rocoto aji, red onion, sea salt.
ceviche chino « big-eye tuna tartare, ponzu sauce, avocado, aji huacatay, butter lettuce, wonton chips.
ceviche mixto « squid, halibut, prawn, clam, cilantro, red onion, rocoto aji, lime juice, sea salt.
tiradito « kona kampachi sashimi, jalapeño, soy, white truffle oil, andean corn.

When I looked up their website I was surprised to see that they have two other restaurants in the SF – one on 24th St and the other on Portal Avenue.

I highly recommend Fresca – the one on Filmore anyway. It looks a little fancy for a quick lunch, but the staff is very friendly and the food is terrific!

What in the heck is ‘pistou’?

As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, I had my first ‘pistou’ and loved it, but did not exactly know what the green bits bursting with flavor were that were floating in my soup. So I looked up ‘pistou’ online and here is what I found out at foodandwine.com  

“Pistou is Provence’s much-loved answer to pesto. Typically added to a vegetable-rich soup, pistou has had a long history. The Roman poet Virgil described a sauce made by crushing herbs in a mortar with garlic, salt and olive oil. Over time, the sauce morphed into the heady Genoese pesto, which then morphed into pistou in Nice.”
I guess that is why I smelled like a giant clove of garlic after lunch! If you want to read about my meal at Cafe Rouge in Berkeley, click here.

Savor the day in Berkeley – art, food, chocolate

In case you may want to do an afternoon in Berkeley and are not quite sure where to go, let me tell you about our lovely day filled with – art, incredible food, and finishing with a chocolate delight!

Charlene and I drove from Half Moon Bay to Berkeley via Devil’s Slide which is always a beautiful way to start the journey. We took in the view and the progress on the tunnel. Along the way, my dear friend, an octogenarian, told me stories. She recounted when her father took her upstairs to their neighbor’s flat. It was in the 1920’s. There (2 years old) she sat on Gershwin’s piano and took in all the beautiful women in their evening gowns and adults drinking their cocktails. She said at this time Gershwin was composing “You Go to My Head”. I tried to imagine that magical moment while still dealing with 101 traffic.

We finally made it to Berkeley after talking so much that we did not even remember crossing the Bay Bridge. Lunch was the first on the agenda. We went to the 4th Street neighborhood which is near the University Avenue exit off of Highway 80. I wanted to try Cafe Rouge again. I had been there years ago and remembered it was nice. Cafe Rouge is an interesting combo of a restaurant and a meat market. One of the things I really like about the restaurant is the decor. The interior has a nice palette of gold and red and orange. Beautiful hanging lights and mirrors hung throughout the place gives it an elegant feel, without being stuffy.

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They describe themselves as:

…offering rustic Mediterranean fare as well as American dishes. The restaurant’s emphasis is on fresh meats and house-made charcuterie. All steaks for sale in the meat market and on the daily menu have been dry-aged on the premises. Café Rouge features a full bar, meat market and oyster bar. Heated outdoor seating on the plaza is available.

Café Rouge is known for its organic beef, pork, lamb and poultry. All meats are raised hormone free and purchased from the growers. All of these items appear on the menu and can be purchased in the meat market. All produce is also organically grown and is featured prominently on the menu.

Interestingly enough Charlene and I selected vegetarian dishes for our lunch. I got a lovely thing called early spring pistou with poached egg and garlic crouton”. I would may not have ordered this had it not been for the young woman seated next to me, who had this lovely sort of clear soup thing with fresh greens in it. I had to have what she was eating because it just looked so fresh and light and inviting! It lived up to it’s appearance and more, with fresh pea greens and pea pods, dinosaur kale, a crunchy sour dough crouton with a pinkish poached egg. It all swam in a heavenly green tinged clear broth with dashes of green algae looking tiny bits. These little floaty green things were packed with flavor. I was not exactly sure what they were, but definitely had tons of tasty garlic! (I actually looked up “pistou’ today and found out what it was – a blog entry soon on this. Warning though, my partner complained all night when I got home that I had a garlic odor!)

Charlene had the “Nettle spaetzle, Cabralinda cheese, broccoli di Cicco and pine nuts”. She took one bite and sank back in her seat. She said now I know what the critic means when they write ‘..savored every bite’. I got a taste and I agreed with her that it was indeed incredible. She said it took her back to Vienna where she first had spaetzle.

After we finished our glasses of wine and our terrific lunch, I thought about dessert and then decided to save that for later. I had a destination in mind for that…

So I whisked us off to see my art piece at JFKU Art and Consciousness Gallery, in the old Heinz Building. This is a very nice gallery which is kinda hidden away and is well worth the effort to seek out and spend some time in.

Gallery director, Doreen Coyne, was in the process of taking down the Alumni Show which just ended this week. As promised she left up my piece Elderly in America” so I could show it to Charlene and also take some photos. elderly-in-america.jpg
I’ve been able to show this piece in numerous places: The Intersection for the Arts in SF, Enso Art Gallery, in Half Moon Bay, and now here in Berkeley. Since it is very modular, it has been a little different in each locale. I have changed the number of wheel chairs or using projection depending on the gallery. The piece is my response to visiting rehab and full service care facilities when I was interviewing places for my mother.

Charlene helped me deinstall and load the piece into my truck. I kidded with her that she got to witness the unglamourous side of being an artist. The materials for the chairs were all had from Chip Roma, my incredible art material supplier. Click here if you want to see how I store this installation at home.

As a last treat after all that labor, we went to Cafe Cacao. The cafe is connected to Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker where they have a store and the factory tours.

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We had a wonderful server who correctly steered us towards the Chocolate pots de crème. Another moment to “savor”! There was a bit of spiciness, hmmm, maybe cinnamon or perhaps cayenne?

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I could not put my finger on it, but whatever it was added a special zing to the richness of the smooth chocolate pudding and the whipping creme. It also came with a flaky cookie and a small bowl of toasted cocao nibs to crunch on. That with a cup of coffee, a perfect decadent ending to our Berkeley odyssey.

Spiffed up Pescadero Store

Brian did a wonderful job on changing the ambiance of the Pescadero Store. The colors, fixtures and old country store feel is very inviting and definitely gives the joint a more upscale atmosphere.

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I really can’t even remember what the front of the store looked like before, but I know this is much better!

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The coffee station and the ordering counter.

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The charming new pizza oven by Paul and wrap around counter.

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Sign detail with raised letters and lighting, makes for easy navigation.

candlelight and whirling red skirt

Our friend Tantric Paul took us to a wonderful place called the Green Tea Palace. It is a little place near the Santa Fe plaza, is 2 months new and run by Leland and Vera. The cafe was beautiful in candle light and spiritual art from around the world and also the art of their daughter Beri adorned the adobe walls. Regular tables and chairs are interspersed with cushy pillows and low tables. While a very pregnant Vera cooked all the healthy food, some of it raw; her husband Leland , (with one daughter on his hip), ran around and made space for every person who stuck their head in the door, drawn to the wonderful live music like moths to a lantern. He rearranged chairs, and asked people to make room in such a gracious way, that everyone complied with a smile. Their kids, Beri and Rose ran around and enjoyed the music, while baby Jasmine slept in a stroller near her mother. Watching this family navigate their business and enjoy their customers was very heart warming.

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The incredible music was provided by “The Shiva Brothers” who played together for the first time. Musicians included Danesh – sitar and guitar; Paul – bells and percussion, Adam – urdu, and our own HMBer Ander – electric bass. They had a special guest, Sita, a wonderful woman who chanted and played harmonium. The music was very moving and special. I do not think one could listen to it without feeling glowy (is that a word?).

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One gentleman, Oma, got so into the sounds that he put on his dervish red skirt and twirled up a storm. He’s from the Carolinas (can’t remember which one) but looks like he is from Morocco and specializes in sculpting pregnant women using clay. When asked why pregnant women, he answered, “How else will more Goddesses come into the world?”

The Green Palace Tea House
209 East Palace Ave
Santa Fe, NM 87501

tasty kfc remodel, spork

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Monday night after going to The Intersection art opening we lucked into a seat at the counter at Spork. The restaurant is named after the plastic utensils Kentucky Fried Chicken (the previous resident of this location) used to give out with their take home meals. A spork is a combo of a spoon and a fork.

I can still feel the architecture of KFC under the slick redo and I like way the new owners actually accent that seventies aura with the devo like uniforms, flat gray paint and large blow-up photos of hands signaling the corresponding large numbers on the walls.

The place packs up, with no reservations, so be prepared to wait or slide into the counter. Either way this is the place for prime time people watching, in a dimly, candle lit room that makes everyone look mysterious and delicious.

The food is fun and a salute to down home classic American cooking, made with local ingredients and all natural meats and sustainable seafood.

We had the bibb salad for $7, with shaved parmesan, walnuts, radish, dijon vinaigrette. It was like a cloud o’ lettuce, all fluffy and light and tasty. Another salad we gobbled down was a heirloom tomato and housemade mozzarella combination of cherry and large slices of tasty, beautiful red ‘matos with chunks of chewy cheese. If you request it you will also be brought a plate of pull apart rosemary rolls, hot from the oven. They reminded me of these yummy yeast rolls my Aunty Mich used to make and I haven’t found anywhere else before – and a bonus, they are complimentary at Spork!

For the main course we had the in-side-out burger for $14, a fork and knife burger with all natural grass fed patties, caramelized onions, tillamook cheddar, smashed fries. It was very good, but not terrific. Two patties sandwich a roll with onion and cheese on top.

Other items on the menu include:
mussels and pork –
mediterranean mussels, roast pork, belgian beer, green beans, smoked chili aioli.
The devil wears pasta –
fresh pasta, spicy italian tomato sauce, parmigiano reggiano
alaskan halibut – wild caught alaskan halibut, sweet corn, chiogga beets, tapenade, cherry tomato vinaigrette
berkshire pork chop – fennel cured kurobuta pork chop, mashed potatoes, gypsy peppers, olives

Check it out!

Spork
1058 Valencia (21/22 Sts) , San Francisco
Dinner Mon – Thurs, 6-10pm, Fri – Sat, 6-11pm