Wednesday, December 3, 2008


As the holiday weekend continued, so did our sleep. At least that's how it happened for my sister, my friend, Les, and myself. While people lined-up outside storefronts, we each stayed in bed, and loved every minute of it. I did manage to escape to Target for a quick second, but that was only so that I could buy something that I needed rather than picking up any more Christmas presents. I'm so un-spirited this season it's sad.

That being said, the rest of the weekend went off in a great way in terms of food, friends, and fun. Friday night, we headed into the city (San Fran) and went to The Slanted D
oor in the Ferry Building along the Embarcadero. I had been trying to visit this place for a while now, but each and every time we'd tried in the past we just didn't get to swing through. Not to mention that it's still sort of hard to get a table there on a given weekend. But Allan was able to pull a few strings, and we were in for a late dinner.

When we got to the restaurant, it was still abuzz with the chatter of patrons combined with the clinking of knives, forks and glasses. The main dining room was packed, as were the bar and lounge area. It made for a somewhat tight seating experience, but that was easily overlooked by the
room's ambiance. Large glass walls surrounded the place giving guests an excellent view of the Bay Bridge lit up at night. The decor was minimalist, but bearing much Vietnamese influence.

The night started out with a round of vodkas (on the rocks; dirty on the side), and we shared an order of The Slanted Door Spring Rolls (with shrimp, pork, mint and peanut sauce) and Wood Oven-Roasted Manila Clams. This was soon followed by our "family style" array of fine dishes: Niman Ranch Shaking Beef, Chicken Claypot, Roasted Alaskan Black Cod, Spicy Monterey Squid, and Star Route Farm Baby Spinach. Many of these dishes are typically found in both traditional and modern Vietnamese restaurants, and The Slanted Door surely did not disappoint with their renditions.

My personal favorite: the Niman Ranch Shaking Beef, which is made with cubed filet mignon, watercress, red onions and lime dipping sauce. The beef was tender enough to melt in your mouth, and the spices were well complimented with the lime dipping sauce. This is definitely one of their gems.

We skipped dessert at TSD, and instead headed into the outer end of the Castro to a spot called Lime. There we had more drinks and a few mini-desserts to help quell our need for something sweet. Lime is a great place for inexpensive eats, and decently-priced drinks. The music (a mixture of pop, hip-hop, and R&B), not to mention, was also a bonus.

The next day (Saturday) was not without its food adventures as well. We headed into San Bruno for a late lunch at Patio Filipino, which - obviously - serves up a great traditional Filipino dinner. We ordered Lumpianitas (lumpia Shanghai), Beef Bulalo (beef shank and bone marrow soup w/vegetables), Pancit Canton (noodles with veggies, chicken and shrimp), Sizzling Chorizo Sisig (finely chopped chorizo and longanisa fried with an egg on top), Cripsy Fried Chicken, Carne Ala Cubana (ground pork cooked with raisins, garbanzos, and peas served with fried plaintains) and Kare-Kare (beef oxtail and vegetables simmered in peanut sauce). Sounds disgustingly much for a party of five, but in grand Pilipino style, we threw down... and felt sick afterwards. But the food was excellent; almost as good as mom's. The only miss would be the Pancit Canton, which I felt was way too oily for its own good.

We spent a couple of hours at a shopping center in Emeryville before meeting up with friends in Berkeley for a final dinner at Corso. Our friend from home, Franc, works as a bar-tender there so he invited us to give the place a try. It turned out to be a great experience. Berkeley, itself, is a quaint area. The main drag is, like many other cities across the country, dotted with cafes, restaurants and bars - yet without any hint of "big city" traffic. Definitely a nice area for a cool, quiet evening.

We started off with drinks, as usual, and then the food fest came in droves: Gnocchi con Funghi and Tagliatelle al Sugo (with beef and pork), followed by two pizzas (Funghi and Salsiccia), Bisteca alla Fiorentina (T-Bone), Braciola di Maiale (pork loin), and Pollo al Burro alla Sostanza (chicken breast cooked in Plugra butter).

Me personal picks: the Funghi pizza, which was prepared with truffle oil, and the Braciola -- tender grilled-pork with sweet and sour onions.

Conversation seemed to abound, especially among those of us who hadn't seen each other since our high school days. The drinks steadily flowed, and the company was top notch. We even met some of our friend's optometry school classmates, and a couple of the restaurant's regulars. We also paid the chef our compliments for a delicate, yet precisely prepared, meal.

After saying our farewells to our friends, we headed back to Fremont. The next morning was spent preparing for the long drive back to Los Angeles.

Ultimately, the Thanksgiving weekend was well-spent. Great company, amazing food, a nice flow of libations, and a lot of catching up. There were lots of laughs, stories exchanged, and yes - even Les and I were "roasted" for our recent stint as NKOTB concert goers. The experience was truly the epitome of a family affair, and a distinct reminder that despite the petty drama that we experience daily there is so much for us to be thankful for.

The Slanted Door, 1 Ferry Building #3, San Francisco, CA 94111, 415-861-8032

Lime, 2247 Market Street, San Francsico, CA, 94114, 415-621-5256

Patio Filipino, 1770 El Camino Real, San Bruno, CA 94066, 650-872-9888

Trattoria Corso, 1788 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709, 510-704-8003

No comments: