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!
A long, lusciously decorated table was set for 120, ready for a four-course meal with wine pairing. Chef Jean-Georges Vongericht presented Farm Fresh to Tempting Table, a gourmet spread with a focus on seasonal produce. The concept is old, but seems to have been forgotten in these modern times of processed foods and international imports/exports. Our bodies are not immune to our environment; since plants grow with different seasons, our diets should follow the lead. Besides being healthier by consuming super fresh produce, eating what’s locally in season further lessens the impact on nature because costs (in labor, transportation, and environmental damage) are minimized.
Hosted at the Bellagio in the Grand Patio, we enjoyed a sumptuous final meal before returning home. The table and settings were both rustic and elegant. Before the first course was served, we sipped sweet cocktails named Angel’s Tear, with American Harvest vodka, St Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh white cranberry juice, and a rose petal.
Each course was paired with a particular wine, poured just before the plates arrived. From left to right, and in order with the courses, we sipped Pascal Jolivet Sancerre, Loire Valley 2011; Trimbach Riesling “Cuvee Frederick Emile,” Alsace 2006 (from the Chef’s home town in France); Faust Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley 2010; and Joseph Phelps “Eisrebe,” Napa Valley 2010.
This was a caesar salad like no other. Shredded kale was tossed in a robust and tart dressing of parmesan, lemon, mint, mustard, garlic, and serrano chili. The parmesan balanced the tartness, the mint helped to tone down the strong raw kale flavor, and the serrano brought about a spicy bite to add extra depth in flavor. This was a very zesty way to open up our palates to fresh, well prepared fare.
A dessert before the dessert course, we relished in these large and tender “marshmallows of the sea” with a nice sear, resulting in caramelization. They rested atop a bed of vegetables. A light and tart new onion vinaigrette sat at the bottom, to be dipped into with snap peas, morel mushrooms, artichoke hearts, asparagus, acorn squash, and spring fronds. Some of the vegetables had light flavors, but the vinaigrette enhanced their natural taste. The selection of vegetables provided contrasting textures and different kinds of green flavors, some sweet and some earthy. A “moss” was created with five dehydrated and powdered herbs, spooned over the top and garnished with chive blossoms. This dish was a very rich homage to the bounty of the land.
The prime regular tenderloin cut was buttery and lean, from the top 1% of Nebraska beef. Normally August gets ribeye when offered a choice of steak, but this filet mignon was so good in texture and taste, she might be a convert. This cut was an excellent representation of the meat used at Prime Steakhouse, so we will definitely make plans to visit the next time we’re in town. Its hat was a spinach and gruyère crêpe, which was delicate and cheesy, but in texture more than flavor; it did not overwhelm the beef. The cut’s pedestal was sauteed spinach, in an intense beef broth made with short ribs, red chili, and Japanese seaweed. It had a mildly spicy kick with a deep beef flavor that melded well with the sauteed spinach. The broth and spinach, Zach says, could easily have been a soup on its own.
To round out the meal, this layered trifle was divine. A crisp, airy meringue disc sprinkled with dried, flaked rose petals melted when bit into. It adorned a scoop of tangy rhubarb sorbet, which was surrounded by five fluffy marshmallows. These were supported by thick whipped cream over bright raspberry preserves, on top of a moist and light genoise sponge cake and a smooth base of tropical lychee puree set with gelatin. August was worried at first that this dish wouldn’t satisfy her because she is a devout chocolate lover and typically avoids fruit desserts, but she proclaimed, “I don’t need chocolate after this!”
Chef Vongericht informed, inspired, and indulged our taste buds. It’s amazing what delights can be concocted when using a finite set of ingredients that are local and in season.