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.
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!
Creamy, crunchy, gooey, and chewy. Sweet, salty, dark, yet light. Chef Zach’s peanut butter pretzel parfait is easy to throw together, but the results are wide-ranging. It is so rich, but it’s difficult to put down the spoon.
• For the caramel sauce:
1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups of vanilla’d white sugar (sugar that has been stored with scraped vanilla bean[s])
2/3 cup of water
1 tbs. of vanilla extract
Combine water and sugar in a heavy, thick-bottom saucepan. Heat on medium-high for 7-9 minutes until you achieve a medium to medium-dark amber color. Do not stir during these 7-9 minutes.
Stirring constantly now, slowly add the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the hardened caramel is smooth and dissolved, and the sauce starts to thicken.
• For the chocolate ganache:
12 oz. of dark chocolate
8 oz. of heavy whipping cream
Scald the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until a skin forms on top of the cream and the cream is hot. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate in a bowl. Let sit for 2 minutes to start to melt the chocolate. Stir with a whisk to combine and make creamy.
• For the peanut butter filling:
28 oz. of creamy peanut butter
16 oz. of cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 cup of vanilla’d white sugar, plus 1/4 cup
1/2 cup of brown sugar
2 tsp. of vanilla extract
In the bowl of a stand mixer, put the peanut butter, cream cheese, 1 cup of white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract.
Mix on a medium-low speed until well combined. Set aside.
Whip together whipped cream with the remaining sugar until soft peaks form. Fold half of this cream into the peanut butter mixture to lighten it up. Once that’s well folded, fold in the remaining cream. Set aside.
• For the crunchy layers:
One 7 oz. bag of pretzels
1 cup of roasted peanuts
Pulse the pretzels in a food processor, not to turn them in to complete dust but to break them up. A tip is to use the freshest pretzels possible, so look at expiration dates. Crush the peanuts similarly, but do not mix the peanuts with the pretzels.
• To put it all together:
In your serving vessel of choice, begin with a layer of crushed pretzels. Spoon on caramel, followed by chocolate ganache and sprinkled with peanuts. Add a liberal amount of peanut butter filling, to be covered with more pretzels. Put on a bit more caramel, then some more peanuts, and a final layer of ganache. For more defined layers, let sit in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes before adding each new layer. Chill before serving, but no longer than 2-3 hours so that the pretzels maintain their texture.
Today is National Cheesecake Day! Even though he should avoid nuts, Zach’s favorite cheesecake is turtle cheesecake. He makes this one with pecans, which are softer than, say, peanuts, so this is somewhat better for those with conditions like diverticulosis. If you have no dietary restrictions, then you might have to hold yourself back from eating the whole thing.
Makes one 9″ cheesecake
• For the caramel sauce:
3/4 cup of Straus Family Creamery organic heavy cream
3/4 cup of white sugar
3 tbs. of water
1/2 of the scrapings of one split vanilla bean
Combine the water and sugar in a heavy, thick-bottom saucepan. Heat on medium-high for 7-9 minutes until it reaches a medium to medium-dark amber color. Do not stir during these 7-9 minutes.
Stirring constantly now, slowly add the heavy cream and vanilla bean scrapings (save the bean itself and put it in your sugar container to infuse the sugar for future baking). Cook for 4-5 minutes until the hardened caramel is smooth and dissolved, and the sauce starts to thicken. It will thicken more as it cools, but wait just a bit before transferring to a glass bowl so that you don’t shock the glass and crack it. Set aside and let thicken further.
• For the crust:
2 cups of organic graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup of C&H white sugar
5 tbs. of melted butter (from Straus Family Creamery)
Combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar, and stir so that they’re evenly mixed. Add the butter and mix until it is fully crumbly and all the crumbs are moistened.
Press into a 9″ springform pan. Cover the bottom evenly, and also press the crumbs about 1 1/2″ up the sides. A dry measuring cup helps to press down (into the bottom, at least). With one extra large piece of foil, cover the outside bottom of the pan and fold up the edges; this will keep water from seeping in from the bain marie during cooking. Set aside for now.
• For the filling:
2 lbs. of cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/4 cups of white sugar
2/3 cup of heavy whipping cream (Straus)
2/3 cup of sour cream (Straus)
4 oz. of semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup of chopped and toasted pecans
1/2 of the scrapings of one split vanilla bean
Put the room temperature cream cheese in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Mix for about 1 minute on low speed, never higher than speed 2, just to get it loose and creamy. Scrape down the bowl and paddle while mixing to make sure it’s all loosened.
Add the sugar and vanilla bean scrapings (and put this bean bit in your sugar, along with the other bit). Mix for another 2 minutes, making sure to scrape down the bowl and paddle. Add the eggs one at a time while still mixing. Once the eggs are fully incorporated, turn off the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add the sour cream, then mix again on low speed for 20 seconds. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the bowl and paddle, add the whipping cream, and mix once more on low speed for another 20-30 seconds.
Evenly lay the pecans on the crust, then pour the caramel over the pecans.
Pour in the cheesecake filling, but pour it over the back of a large cooking spoon so that it gently falls over the caramel layer without disturbing it.
Fill a large, deep baking pan with an inch of water. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F with the baking pan with water, to warm the water a bit. When the oven is ready, place the foil-wrapped springform pan in the water for the bain marie. Bake for 90 minutes.
Let cool for at least 30 minutes before putting in the refrigerator. It is recommended that you keep it in the fridge for 12-24 hours before decorating and serving.
Melt the semisweet chocolate and transfer to a parchment paper cone (or a sandwich bag with the corner cut out). Stripe the top of the cheesecake to your heart’s content. Whipped cream has a similar texture to the cheesecake itself, but if you feel like adding it for looks, go ahead.