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SOMA StrEat Food Park, San Francisco – Beat the (Sunday) Blues! with The Yes Address

Can you believe it’s already March? And how’s that New Year’s resolution going for you? After our extended break from blogging, we’re refreshed and committed to our resolution of continuing to find spectacular restaurants and amazing events to bring to life so that you may vicariously enjoy them. A common resolution is to be bold and try new things, so while you, dear reader, are trying new things by proxy through our blog, Eventbrite is helping share new experiences with people throughout San Francisco. The Yes Address by Eventbrite is a series of 15 events spanning 10 days from February 28 to March 8, with a variety of options like workout classes, a skeeball tournament, and of course, plenty of dining. The Yes Address collaborated with SOMA StrEat Food Park for a memorable March 1 evening called “Beat the (Sunday) Blues!” featuring breakfast for dinner as one of the ultimate comfort foods to “chase away the #SundayScaries”. Normally the collection of food trucks is closed for dinner on Sundays, but when we found out that this was going on, we got on our way across the Bay Bridge – with about eleventy bazillion other cars and an extra 45 minutes of traffic. So although we didn’t get there quickly enough to enjoy games and 80’s movies as advertised, we still had a great time sampling some inventive dinnfast.

Ultra Crepes is a family-operated business based on Sebastapol with a storefront, not just a food truck (lucky local Sebastapolians!). Serving an assortment of sweet and savory crepes, we could not not try one of each. The Monte Cristo sandwich is a hot contender for August’s favorite breakfast sandwich, and Ultra Crepes’ version further helps to secure its seat. With ham, Swiss cheese, raspberry jam, and powdered sugar, it was everything a traditional Monte Cristo would be, but with an edge on texture because, while August likes French toast, she likes crepes more. The naturally tangy sweetness of the raspberries contrasted well against the smoky cheese and salty ham, so even with the jam and sprinkling of powdered sugar, this was definitely on the savory side in comparison to our second crepe, the Palachinka. Palachinka is the Eastern European version of a crepe, and this one was treated to taste like s’mores. Just the right amount of Nutella to keep it from being overly gooey, crumbled Plazma Biscuits (Serbian graham cracker-like cookies), marshmallows, and whipped cream combined to make this our favorite Nutella-filled crepe we have tried so far. Had it had any more fillings or toppings, it would have been simply too rich but as it was, it was just right.

Before getting too deep into dessert-type breakfast items, we needed something else savory and substantial so we walked not far at all to temporarily neighboring Savourie Streets. To keep with the theme of the evening, they added a fried egg to their “famous BLT” with pork belly on lightly toasted sourdough. The bread would have been cutting our gums had it not been for the thick, juicy tomato slice. The fresh produce was a nice backdrop for the perfectly cooked egg and hearty amount of pork belly. To be frank, we were a little nervous to order this because we have had some unfavorable experiences recently with gelatinous, undercooked pork belly, but Savourie Streets restored our faith. We found no fat strips, only tastiness.

It’s not like we arrived in the last minutes of the event, but about half of the trucks were already closed half way through the evening so our options for savory breakfast items were slim. Sweet ones were plentiful, on the other hand. In spite of the cool weather, we couldn’t pass up Frozen Kuhsterd, one of our all-time favorite frozen dessert trucks. This evening, they brought a treat crafted by their landlord specially for this event: liège waffle bites made with sugar cane. Sugar cane is the secret ingredient that provides an extra bit of crispiness for this type of waffle, making it seem as if there are tiny caramelized nuggets of sugar within the waffle. Drizzled with thick burnt caramel and a touch of whipped cream, we were left to choose one scoop of smooth and creamy frozen custard among four flavor options. We stood by the breakfast theme and went with the maple butter, and it was encouraging that that was truck manager Frank’s recommendation as well. We really enjoyed our choice, down to the last drop of melted frozen custard in the bottom of the cup.

Johnny Doughnuts was our last stop, and good thing for it because they loaded us up with an assorted dozen. Whether for being towards the end of the night or that we got along well with the crew, we have to show our appreciation for the half-off deal we were offered because we got to sample plenty of deliciousness. We didn’t think a dozen doughnuts would make a box so heavy (Zach almost tipped the box when picking it up), but since we were ogling them for more than a few minutes observing shape, size, and glaze, the heft of the box shouldn’t have been a surprise.

We had two old fashioned doughnuts, one vanilla and the other chocolate salted caramel. They had an excellent cake-like texture with that little bit of exterior crunch expected in an old fashioned. The vanilla would pair perfectly with a coffee for breakfast, and the chocolate salted caramel was decadently different and delicious. Another four of our assortment were raised doughnuts made with fresh mashed russet potatoes, to make them tender, moist, and more hearty and filling compared to the standard from typical doughnut shops. The classic glazed raised is great for the no-frills doughnut eater, but when glazes and fillings are made with real fruit and chocolate and the flavors are natural and true to their names, they’re hard for even the minimalist to pass up. The chocolate-on-chocolate frosted and sprinkled “sprinkly guy” was deep and rich, and the two fruity raised doughnuts were a strawberry with chocolate drizzle and lime poppy seed, each delightful and refreshing in its own way.

 

The Bismark doughnuts, also known as Berliners, are hole-less and filled like the traditional Berliner Pfannkuchen of the north of Germany. We sampled four: lime marscapone, strawberry apple, chocolate vanilla creme, and wild berry. What we loved most about the Bismarks is that it was clear the fillings were scratch-made and not spooned out of giant plastic tubs. Fresh fruit, quality marscapone cheese, and real chocolate made the centers sing. Not the shape we typically think of when it comes to doughnuts but a doughnut nonetheless (and tasty yet), we got a cinnamon twist with great texture. And to round out our dozen, we tried the wheat-free “That Fritter Thang!” with blueberries. Its texture was almost like that of an old fashioned with some crunch to the outside, just with more of an all-around chew to it.

schwag

schwag, thank you eventbrite and the yes address!

Being that this event was unique and supported by the partnership of SOMA StrEat and The Yes Address by Eventbrite, the latter was on site to promote the awesome activities lined up through March 8 as part of spreading awareness about the features of Eventbrite. To spark conversation, Eventbrite set up a mobile unit with amiable spokespeople facilitating a prize wheel. Zach won a flask and August was bestowed an outdoorsy blanket with fleece on one side and tent material on the other. Had it not been for the prize wheel we wouldn’t have learned about how Eventbrite can be used to find new, unusual, and sometimes one-time events in our extended backyard of the Bay Area. Thank you, Eventbrite, for the schwag and the super fun and yummy evening at SOMA StrEat!

 

Pumpkin Scones

pumpkin scones

pumpkin scones

It’s September 22, and August’s favorite season has arrived!  We know you wouldn’t think it would be her favorite, what with her name being August.  But this is the season of rich and comforting smells: mulching leafs, rain, fireplaces, and baked goods that are reserved just for this time of year.  We had a huge downpour yesterday, leaving us today with decadent natural aromas outside the house.  Inside the house, too, was fragrant with pumpkin scones baking in the oven.  Using homemade pumpkin puree means you can control the ingredients, support local business, and it’s fresher and better for you.

Makes 12

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup of pumpkin puree

1 tsp. of baking powder

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. of baking soda

1/2 tsp. of freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. of powdered ginger

cubed butter and dry ingredients

cubed butter and dry ingredients

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  Cut the butter into cubes and add to the dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer.

cut butter

cut butter

With two knives or a pastry blender, incorporate the butter into the flour the best you can so that the butter is in pieces no larger than a pea.

with the pumpkin puree

with the pumpkin puree

Mix together the cream, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract.  With a regular paddle on your stand mixer, put the flour and butter bowl in the mixer.  Turn on low (speed 2) and slowly add the pumpkin cream.  A soft dough will form.

rolled out

rolled out

Transfer the dough to a cutting board that has been dusted with flour.  Flatten with a rolling pin to 1/2″ thick.

portioned

portioned

Cut into 12 triangles, and don’t worry if they’re not perfect.

done with the oven

done with the oven

Lightly spray a sheet pan with nonstick spray, move the dough triangles to the sheet pan, and bake for 18-20 minutes.

• For the vanilla icing:

1 cup of powdered sugar

3 tbs. of half-and-half

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

Place a wire rack over a sheet pan, and move the cooled scones to the rack.  Whisk the three ingredients until full incorporated and smooth.  Spoon over each scone for a vanilla icing over the tops.

• For the pumpkin icing:

1 cup of powdered sugar

2 tbs. of pumpkin puree

1 tsp. of vanilla extract

1/2 tsp. of freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp. of ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. of powdered ginger

Enough half-and-half (1 tbs. of less) to make the icing fluid

freshly iced

freshly iced

Whisk all ingredients until fully incorporated and smooth.  Drizzle over the vanilla icing.  Let set before moving/storing/enjoying.

Ol’ Yeller Cafe & Market, Oakland CA

local student art

local student art

Across the street from a high school and not far from the zoo, Ol’ Yeller Cafe & Market is in the right location to get traffic and be noticed by thousands of people every day.  As it is open 7 days a week from 7 am to 7 pm, the restaurant is a hub of good, fresh food and a welcoming neighborhood vibe.  Beautiful student artwork adorns the walls, celebrating the most important members of the community, the youth.  There is even a “Recess Menu” on weekdays from 2-5 pm with kid and adolescent favorites, but we were here on a Sunday morning looking for a fresh and filling breakfast.

mexican hot chocolate

mexican hot chocolate

The Mexican hot chocolate arrived at the perfect temperature, so August could immediately enjoy it without ruining her ability to taste anything the rest of the day.  Mildly sweet, as it should be, the bitter chocolate and cinnamon drink was very tasty.

breakfast sandwich

breakfast sandwich

We shared a traditional breakfast sandwich with all kinds of choices.  Two eggs any style, choice of meat, choice of cheese, and mayonnaise come together with your choice of bread.  So much to choose!  We got the eggs scrambled, with Canadian bacon, American cheese, on a soft roll, with extra (regular) bacon.  The eggs were fluffy and the mayonnaise helped give a bit of creamy richness.  A thick slice of American cheese melted over smoky, lean, and crispy bacon.  The sandwich was perfectly and proportionately layered, and very rich.

chimichangas

chimichangas

One of the specials today was chimichangas, deep fried burritos that are popular in Tex-Mex cuisine, the Southwestern US, and two coastal Mexican states, Sinaloa and Sonora.  The chef came out to us to talk about the process of making his beef with “the tender part of chuck roast” (but sorry, we promised not to share his secrets!).  With gooey cheese and a crispy flour tortilla, each bite had a myriad of textures and greasy was not one of them.  The traditional sides of salsa, guacamole, and sour cream came with it, and like the chimichangas, the salsa and guacamole were house-made.  It is that kind of attention to detail, even in making condiments, that makes diners return.

When there is warmer weather, we’ll have to come back to enjoy a meal on the big patio.  Likely we’ll make a day of it, going to the zoo first and then, with our ticket stubs, we can get 20% off the tab at Ol Yeller.  They’ve only been open since 2012, but they’re working hard to establish themselves in the community by doing things like promoting and supporting local bakers and farmers.  Freshness is key, since they “freeze only for emergencies.”  We’re happy to have found them here in Oakland, and we like supporting restaurants that support their neighborhood.