Archive for March, 2012

Bellanico

bellanicoI’ve been meaning to try Glenview’s Bellanico for a few years now but haven’t made the time. Susan suggested trying this place for her birthday this year and after taking a look at the menu online we made our reservations. I remember the original review in the SF Chronicle and, based only on having arancini on the menu I knew I’d enjoy a meal here.

Started out with their soft and fluffy focaccia which was seasoned nicely with seal salt and rosemary and served with olive oil for dipping. And then of course the arancini were next. Would have been better if served with a little more sauce since they could have used the moisture and acid. Then the arugula (and radicchio and endive) salad with a goat-like cheese and walnuts was nice. My main course were tortelli filled with a beef filling in a beef broth with foam. All of it was topped with some nice dry italian cheese shavings. This dish was pretty special and I’d order it again in an instant. It was the perfect savory dish for a cool, damp late winter night. And I was surprised at hose crowded it was for a Monday night!

Susan had the 4 course tasting menu also with arancini, as well as a lamb ‘salad’ and a clam/scallop seafood stew. For dessert I had the bomboli which are italian donut holes (very tasty) which they served with two sauces: one chocolate and the other vanilla.

Bellanico
4238 Park Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94602
510.336.1180

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Tim Horton’s

tim hortonsI am back in the Toronto suburb of Markham again today where I come every couple months to visit the satellite office of my employer. A former co-worker of mine asked me earlier this week whether I ever went to Tim Horton’s while I was here (in true Canadian spirit you can read their website in Francais). I had indeed noticed the signs on my way to and from the airport before but had no idea this was something like the Candian dunkin’ Donuts.


Tonight I decided the best way to try this place out was with some variety. I’ve always loved donut holes and have a special place in my heart for Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins. Here in Canada they call ‘em Timbits. It’s a play on tidbits, and the the ‘bit’ part can also stand for ‘big in taste.’


So I am enjoying my Timbits guilt free because I hardly ate anything today. Yum-a-doodle-doo! So if you ever do visit Canada, give Tim’s a try. And if you don’t make it all the way up to the great white north, you can find them all over the northeast where they compete head to head with DD.

Tim Horton’s
9005 Leslie Street, Richmond Hill, ON L4B1G7
905.882.9990

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Pepples Vegan Donut Farm

pepples donut farmHoused in a former fish fry restaurant space on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, Pepples Donuts (aka the Donut Farm) has limited hours (Wed-Sun 9-3). It’s primarily an industrial kitchen where these wonderful vegan creations are baked and then sold all over the Bay Area at places like Philz Coffer and Subrosa.


When it is open, you will know, because they’ve got a bigger than life size pink donut out front. These donuts would be great even if they weren’t vegan. They’ve got regular/traditional flavors such as chocolate, coconut, various kinds of sprinkles and such. They also carry some specialty flavors as well. My favorites are Salted Caramel, Phil’z Coffee, and the Candy Cap (sweet mushroom).


On the weekends they also have a vegan brunch which does seem to attract a regular crowd. Haven’t tried that yet but am looking forward to my next batch of donuts here soon. (They also have a stand in the Ferry Building in SF for those of you who can’t make it to the East Bay). Everyone once and a while they also have raised donuts. Those are awesome — light and fluffy with just the right amount of glaze.

Pepples Donut Farm
6037 San Pablo Avenue, Oakland, CA 94608
510.712.0295

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Zero Zero

zero zeroNamed after the fine grade of flour used in all the best pizzas, Zero Zero (or ’00′) is a fine italian restaurant in SoMa. They specialize in plates for sharing. I’d been there a couple times for lunch/snacks when I worked at the Chronicle. Finally went there for a full dinner on St. Patrick’s Day.


For starters we had the arancini with black garlic sauce. They were perfectly browned with rice and cheese just oozing out of them. Additionally we also had a pizza, The Geary, which featured clams, bacon, and calabrian chile. Wow — the crust was blackened just a bit on the edges and it was delicious. We also tried their spaghetti with local crab which was also a winner.


We decided to skip dessert and our server still brought us two zeppoles on the house! Even if you don’t have a reservation you should consider walking in. Even if you can’t get in here, the same block has LuLu, Bis, and Oola as alternatives.

Zero Zero
826 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
415.348-8800
Late night: Open ’til 11 Fri/Sat

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C.R.E.A.M.

c.r.e.a.m.

I wonder if the deluxe ice cream sandwich shop in Berkeley, C.R.E.A.M. (cookies rule everything around me) will ever get in trouble with the Wu-Tang Clan who had a song by the same name though the acronym stands for ‘cash rules everything around me.’

Before we get to our snack review….Here’s a live clip of the song performed by Raekwon with the awesome El Michels Affair. Enjoy!

C.R.E.A.M in Berkeley’s Southside makes you wonder why someone didn’t think of this concept sooner. You can choose from several different cookies and a variety of ice cream flavors and your sandwich is hand made for you on the spot. I tried a snickerdoodle cookie with cinammon caramel ice cream. I also tried a ‘turtle’ cookie with salted caramel ice cream (which was good but almost too decadent for my taste). This place always has a line but it moves fast. It’s worth the wait.


C.R.E.A.M.
2399 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704
510.655.5014

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Boxing Room

boxing roomA late night spot that also serves Louisiana/Creole cuisine? SF’s Boxing Room has it all. These days with my wife sometimes working late at a local SF spa, I’ve been going into the city once a week for a nice late night dinner. At first we tried limiting our late night choices to Oakland but it turns out there aren’t too many of them and the places in Uptown are just too popular for a quite late night meal to unwind. When I began to research SF options I found many.


At the Boxing Room (which used to house Citizen Cake) we had some local oysters, an oyster po’ boy, and some of the best collard greens with ham hocks I’ve ever had. I can’t forget to mention that they also have hushpuppies. Next time I go back I need to remember to leave room for the beignets! Yum.


Boxing Room
399 Grove Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
415.430.6590
Late night: Open ’til 11 Sun-Thu; ’til 12 Fri/Sat

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Shamrock Shakes on March 17

Shamrock ShakesIt’s hard to believe that after 30 years McDonald’s still has Shamrock Shakes every March. Back in the seventies I thought they were a one time novelty and I loved them. Today, they are still green in color and flavored with mint. These days they are served in a clear cup so you can really see the color. In truth they taste just ok but the nostalgic memories just can’t be beat. I almost never go to Mickey D’s for food but the Shamrock Shake is too tempting to resist.

Check out Chronicle culture critic Peter Hartlaub’s post about Shamrock Shakes.

Also, for your enjoyment I found these two TV commercials here (the one with Uncle O’grimacey is the best):

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