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!
We couldn’t think of a better Sunday morning brunch with friends than maple bacon doughnuts, but no doughnut shops in our area offer such a delight. Zach thought a little more, and figured that making them from scratch wouldn’t be so hard. Because the dough is fried and not baked, there is no need to let the dough proof or rise, so making these is fairly quick. Of course, you can amend the recipe by not including bacon, but why do that? The sweet/salty combination is hard to beat!
Makes 20 doughnuts
• For the doughnuts:
At least 48 oz. of vegetable shortening (or however much you need to fill a skillet or deep fryer enough to submerge the doughnuts; we used 96 oz.)
3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 cup of buttermilk
1 cup of vanilla’d sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of butter
2 tsp. of baking powder
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1 tsp. of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of baking soda
• For the toppings:
8-10 oz. of bacon
1 cup of confectioner’s sugar
1/8 cup of whole milk
1 tsp. of pure maple extract
Prep the bacon by dicing it and cooking the bits in a medium to large saute pan over medium-low heat. Drain and let cool. In a small sauce pan, melt the butter so that it browns just a little; let cool. Line one sheet pan with parchment paper, and another sheet pan with two layers of paper towels. Whisk together the flour, vanilla’d sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk and fully combine the buttermilk and eggs. Add the melted, lightly browned, cooled butter to the buttermilk and eggs, and whisk again to combine.
Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture, and pour the liquid mix into the well. Slowly fold the flour into the liquid with a spatula so that a sticky dough is formed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and pat out gently until it is about 1/2″ thick. Cut the dough into approximately 2″x3″ rectangles, and transfer to the parchment-lined sheet pan. Let chill in the refrigerator until the vegetable shortening is ready for frying.
Heat enough vegetable shortening in a deep-sided skillet or deep fryer so that the doughnuts can be fully submerged. The temperature should be 365-370 degrees F. Make the glaze while heating the shortening by whisking together the confectioner’s sugar, whole milk, and maple extract.
Once the shortening is hot and ready, fry no more than 3 doughnuts at a time, allowing at least 1 minute in between adding each one to the fryer because you don’t want to shock the hot shortening at all. Flip over when the bottoms have browned, about 2-3 minutes each side. With a slotted spoon or spider, remove the doughnuts from the fryer and transfer to the towel-lined sheet pan to drain and let cool. Dip the top side in the maple glaze and sprinkle bacon pieces over the glaze. *Tip: If you want a thinner glaze, dip when the doughnuts are hot. If you want a thicker glaze, let cool and then drizzle the glaze.
When hit with a sugar craving, there aren’t many places that can satisfy like Psycho Donuts. We drove to San Jose to see for ourselves why this place has gotten so much hype from various media outlets, and as an “asylum for wayward donuts,” the sights were lavishly psychotic. Over thirty types of topping combinations on different styles of donuts are enough to stupefy even a donut fanatic into analysis paralysis, so we picked the sixteen most extravagant to photograph and share.
An homage to America’s favorite yellow father figure, this D’oh-Nut had an ample smear of strawberry icing topped with giant confetti sprinkles. It looks very similar to the spinning donut on EA’s Tapped Out.
Doh-Nilla is vanilla on vanilla – vanilla icing with Nilla wafers. The chocolate zebra stripe offset the near vanilla overload, but if you love vanilla more than anything, then have at it.
Is it a meadow muffin? Is it a zombie brain? No, it’s Sticky Monkey, a gigantic mass inspired by Bananas Fosters with salted caramel. There was a plate under there, really, but it was just that big.
The flavor combination in Fung Shui put it at the top of August’s list. Green tea icing with dark chocolate chips and vanilla drizzle were nicely balanced on this bar.
For Nutella the Hun, a chocolate donut was dressed with Nutella and sprinkles. The chocolate flavor is stronger than the hazelnut, but hazelnut lovers will taste it and enjoy it.
Instead of frosting, ‘Mellow Submarine was an old-fashioned donut coated in marshmallow fluff. Adding rice cereal and chocolate stripes got us feeling nostalgic for rice crispy treats.
Also with marshmallow fluff, the S’mores donut was loaded with a layer of chocolate under the fluff, chunks and crumbles of graham crackers, and chocolate dribbles. Powdered sugar made this just a little messy in a funny way, kind of like how real s’mores are messy in their own right.
We didn’t know that San Jose has its own Pride celebrations until learning about them here, via the Gay Bar. With Froot Loops, no less, the textures and flavors can turn anyone
Like the ‘Mellow Submarine and the Gay Bar, the Cereal Killer was murderously smothered in cereal. Cap’n Crunchberries, vanilla icing, and piped red frosting are the toppings for what’s billed as a “Psycho favorite.”
The Strawberry Margarita had the same frosting as Homer’s D’oh-Nut, but far from holey, this was filled with custard. We debated if real strawberries were used in the frosting, for it was that intensely fruity.
If peanut butter is your thing, look up Marla and she’ll help you. A maple bar with Butterfinger crumbles and a creamy peanut butter squiggle, this was unconventionally rich.
Even richer was the Canadian Morning Squeal Meal, a tangy buttermilk tribute bar to our neighbors in the North. Maple icing, bacon bits, and squirts of chocolate looked similar to twice-baked potato toppings, and on this peculiarly-shaped bar, they could make some do a double-take to wonder if this is a sweet or savory item.
Peanut butter, like cereal, is a prolific ingredient at Psycho Donuts, as seen on this donut made in honor of the great King. The Dead Elvis was filled with custard then garnished with freeze-dried bananas, bacon, creamy peanut butter, and very gel-like jelly.
Another custard-filled creation was Bananarama, covered in chocolate and freeze-dried bananas. This was a clever take on the classic Boston Cream Pie.
Sure to please the kid in everyone, Kooky Monster combined one of our favorite cookies with piles of vanilla icing. There’s a smaller version called the Lil Kooky, but we met some people with whom to share our spoils so we needed the big one for everyone to get a bite.
The most whimsical was Crazy Face, a donut sculpture with maple glaze, a bit of custard, and a chocolate smile. He might look a little manic, but that’s because he knows he’s about to get devoured by members of the San Jose Parkour Team.
Psycho Donuts is a hub of creativity. Eclectic decorations, an intriguing beverage selection, and a prime location next to a movie theater are enough to get anyone’s imagination going. It’s no wonder the place is called Psycho Donuts, because the fanciful donuts are just plain crazy.