Posts Tagged ‘food’

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class="post-8753 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-misc tag-food tag-los-angeles tag-photos tag-travel">

Grand Central Market

October 26th, 2019

On my last visit to LA I kept kicking myself for not taking any photos of Grand Central Market, the big local food hall downtown. It’s also one of the best food halls I’ve ever been to and I have some recommendations. So here we go.

 

Grand Central Market Grand Central Market Grand Central Market

 

Opening at 8 AM, a handful of vendors serve coffee and breakfast. Although I’m not much of a morning person myself the weirdly named Eggslut chain has a popular outpost here with their various egg-based sandwiches, and long lines to show for it.

Lunch is the main attraction at Grand Central Market when everything is open. Aside from made to order lunches from pasta to tacos to salads, you can also buy ingredients from tiny grocery stores to cook your own food.

Snack foods and beverages are also available. I’d recommend trying La Fruteria, a Mexican street food joint with spiced fruit cups and aguas frescas.

 

Grand Central Market Grand Central Market Grand Central Market

 

Grand Central Market closes around 10 PM, but many of the vendor stalls close after the lunch rush and the crowds thin out.

One solid place for dinner — also open for lunch, but is usually slammed — is Olio, an Italian place. Though they offer salads as well, the real focus is on small thin crust pizza. It’s a better bet for dinner just because there will be open seats and you won’t have to wait as long, though if you’re willing to take it to go lunch works too. The dough is a little chewy for my taste, but the perfect tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings more than make up for it.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “foodie” Grand Central Market is located between two Los Angeles landmarks: Angel’s Flight and the Bradbury Building.

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class="post-7894 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-misc category-uncategorized tag-ameritrip2019 tag-food tag-food-tour tag-omaha tag-photos tag-travel">

Old Market District Walking Food Tour

April 21st, 2019

Old Market District Walking Food Tour
Cannoli for breakfast
 

The Old Market District Walking Food Tour focuses entirely on foodie favorite spots in Omaha’s Old Market District. This part of Omaha dates back to the 19th century and is mainly built out of brick. Even the streets are paved with brick. Originally it was a warehouse and light industry district serving the nearby train lines, recently it’s been reborn as a place to meet friends for food, coffee, and drinks.

In the morning our tour group of a dozen or so had the entire place to ourselves. (To be fair not all the businesses were officially open yet.) This gave us time not only to sample the food, but meet some of the owners and managers — a nice touch for a food tour.

The tour starts, oddly enough, at a dessert shop. We all sampled classic Italian-style cannoli filled with ricotta cheese. It was rich enough I was glad I’d skipped breakfast.

Aside from food one stop includes a small sample of beer, another a small sample of coffee. Both were excellent. The cafe handed out extremely soft, melt-in-your-mouth pretzels. These didn’t go with the coffee at all but I’ve never had a pretzel like that so it’s hard to complain.

 
Old Market Passageway
 

Another highlight of this tour was learning about the Old Market District’s history. One of the more unusual aspects was the addition of the “Passageway” seen in the above photo. This simple alley between two buildings was enclosed in glass and given a lush garden makeover.

In the Passageway today you can find restaurants, art galleries, etc. My favorite business in there was a tiny bookstore that’s also home to a small dog.

Hours after the tour I wandered back to the Old Market District at around 6 PM to see if it was any busier — and to find dinner. Sure enough the streets were significantly more crowded and the restaurants had opened. Still, all of the restaurants I peeked into had at least a couple empty tables.
 

My recommendation: Going in I had low expectations for a food tour in a small town like Omaha. But in all honesty the food was on par with what I’d expect to find in much larger cities. You can book this tour or any of the other Omaha Culinary Tours here.

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class="post-7120 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-misc tag-beer tag-coffee tag-food tag-san-diego tag-travel">

Beverages and bites in downtown San Diego

January 2nd, 2019

Downtown San Diego features many amazing places to eat and drink. By no means did I visit all of them, but here are three that I’d suggest to any tourist.

 
Bean Bar
 

Bean Bar

This small coffee shop is across the street from the Central Library and a block or so away from Petco Park. It’s run by a friendly young husband and wife team. Aside from coffee they also serve a small, seasonal food menu — I highly recommend the avocado toast.

A few people sat around doing work on laptops so I assume they have wifi. But the owners seemed happy to chat with anyone who wandered in.

 
Quartyard mural
 

Beer at the Quartyard

The Quartyard is a popup space near Park & Market, designed to fill an empty corner lot while the city plans what to do with the property long term. In the meantime it features a bar with an amazing selection of local craft beers on tap. They offer a menu with various burgers and other items — I had the grilled cheese. Wasn’t bad for a beer garden, and a pretty good deal if you order during happy hour. To be honest I wasn’t expecting to eat here but I stayed for a while as I was reading a book I couldn’t put down.

During the day the Quartyard has a cafe facing the sidewalk, but I can’t really recommend it — you can easily find better coffee nearby. Stick with the beer.

 
Tocaya Organica Tocaya Organica
 

Tocaya Organica

This fast casual Mexican restaurant chain has various locations in southern California. According to online reviews it’s a favorite in the Gaslamp, and it’s easy to see why. The taco combo includes two tacos, two side dishes, and one beverage for only twelve bucks. Many of the side dishes are sharable.

The San Diego location is located next to a perpetually empty TGI Friday’s. It’s telling when a small chain serving fresh Mexican food close to the border can poach customers from a mediocre chain of American diners. Who wants microwaved appetizers when delicious spicy tacos are next door?

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class="post-6045 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-misc tag-airplanes tag-business-class tag-europe tag-eurotrip2018 tag-food tag-luxury tag-travel">

My first time flying business class

July 8th, 2018

Business class flight to Athens
 

When flying economy these days it’s fairly common to get an email offer to bid on an upgrade. Typically I place the lowest bid possible and figure there’s no chance I’ll get the upgrade, because what have I got to lose?

So imagine my surprise when Aegean actually accepted my lowball bid on a flight from Stockholm to Athens. For 100 euros I could experience the glamorous lifestyle we’ve all dreamed up, shoeing away the plebes as I lived it up like the king of the skies.

After checking in on the Aegean app, I noticed my boarding pass said “Fast Track” on it. Sure enough at the security gate I bypassed the line (to the extent there even was a line) and got cleared to enter the secure area within a minute.

Next stop: the airport lounge. The first problem was finding the right one as the Stockholm airport has three lounges. After some poking around I found my pass gave me access to the Star Alliance lounge. To enter I had to scan the boarding pass on my phone before the gate would let me in. This went off without a hitch.

The lounge was surprisingly large — and busy. Turns out many other folks have access to this exclusive world of luxury, including random looking people wearing t-shirts and families with far too many upset babies. Yet it wasn’t all bad. There were a plethora of outlets to recharge my laptop and phone, reasonably fast wifi, and a buffet not unlike a continental breakfast at a hotel — but with the addition of beer and wine.

The last part about the buffet is probably the secret sauce to it all. Between the janitorial staff accidentally ramming my chair no matter where I sat and the babies who couldn’t stop screaming, give me a little cheese and wine and I’ll let everything else slide.

Meanwhile, my flight was delayed three times. “No worries,” I thought to myself as I stuffed another buttered roll filled with cheese into my mouth. “It’s a Greek airline. Of course they’re not on time.”

When the screen in the lounge eventually said my flight was boarding, I bolted to the bathroom to pee out all the coffee and wine in my bladder before heading to the gate. As it turned out the flight was still a good half hour away from boarding. When boarding did begin, business class was first, and I was in the front row! So I got to watch all the economy class ruffians scuttle past me on the way to their inferior seats.

On this particular flight the business class seating arrangement wasn’t the luxury I’d imagined. The first row of six seats had been converted into four seats, with the middle seats serving as small trays. That one row — for a total of four seats — was the entirety of the business class section. We did have a special bathroom, and of course the curtain to shield us from the unwashed masses behind us.

The four of us had our own flight attendant who began the flight by offering us water, juice, or wine in a glass — an actual glass! — before collecting them and handing us warm cotton cloths to clean our hands with. Only the best for a posh lot like us.

I was just getting into a movie on my laptop when the flight attendant returned with my appetizer.

At this point I’d seen the menu, and realized something was amiss; the passenger next to me had requested the meal of her choice, but I was never presented with the option to take a specific meal plan. Perhaps something got lost in translation with this upgrade auction.

For the appetizer this was fine; grilled squid over a fava bean puree met my pescetarian diet restrictions, and although I’m not a fan of squid in general it was grilled to perfection and presented as though it were a fine dining restaurant quality dish. I enjoyed it. When the option of a beef or chicken entree came around, I was jealous of my neighbor whose vegetarian order scored her vegetable pasta. I opted to skip this meal and hoped the staff enjoyed it instead.

In the interest of honesty I’d gorged myself at the lounge so much that food wasn’t high on my list of priorities anyway. By the time the deserts came around and a large baklava was sitting in front of me I could barely finish half of it.

Is it possible to get bored of luxury, I wondered? If only they’d let me have another glass of wine or two, would I have realized the folly of this class divide and run down the aisle of economy class yelling “let them eat baklava?”

In all seriousness what I got most out of my business class travel was not on board the flight, but waiting for the delayed flight in a nice airport lounge. In hindsight perhaps the smart move would have been to pay the lounge’s entry fee when I realized my flight was running late. After exiting the airport my status dissipated anyway, and I had to shove my way onto an overcrowded bus just like everyone else.

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class="post-5832 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-rant tag-condiments tag-food tag-heinz tag-mr-show">

On “Mayochup”

April 14th, 2018


 

Today I spotted a funny Washington Post article titled Heinz promotes its new ‘mayochup’ and sparks an international controversy. The gist is this: Heinz sells a condiment that’s a mix of ketchup and mayonnaise in other parts of the world and is gauging interest in bringing it to the US. There’s a few things about this so-called controversy that seem, well… ridiculous.

First, the “international” part of this controversy is mostly within the United States. Heinz and its parent company Kraft Heinz are both based in the US, and at least in the article much of the outrage comes from US citizens (including Puerto Ricans.) Many claim to have invented this unique condiment, but let’s be honest — anyone who’s ever thought to put mayonnaise and ketchup on a hamburger bun basically had the same idea.

Second, if you add relish to this mix you have Thousand Island dressing. I don’t know for certain the ratio would be ideal if you made it with Mayochup, but it goes to show that again, mixing mayo and ketchup is hardly a new idea, let alone bottling and selling it to Americans.

Third, the very concept of putting two condiments in the same jar is silly enough to have made one of the most memorable fake advertisements in the criminally underrated 90’s sketch comedy series Mr. Show. In the sketch two companies compete to combine mustard and mayonnaise with the brands Mayostard and Mustardayonnaise, which only escalates to an absurd yet somehow logical conclusion. Here’s the clip below:


 

The best part? Unlike Heinz, Mr. Show’s sketch repeatedly points out the problems with this idea. Not only is the amount of time it saves negligible, but mayonnaise expires quickly. In other words, the real controversy shouldn’t be who came up with the idea first, but whether the true motivation of Heinz is to sell a product with very little purpose but to go bad before you’ve finished using it, forcing you to purchase more.

So argue all you like over this manufactured outrage, but please excuse the rest of us for rightfully laughing it off.

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class="post-4772 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-local tag-falafel tag-food tag-public-notice tag-robots tag-technology-2">

Public notice: Beware of robots

May 29th, 2017

Public notice: Robots
 

The other day I noticed an inconspicuous flyer attached to a phone pole at 16th and Valencia. Upon further examination, this notice combines seemingly every stereotype about San Francisco circa 2017. Here’s the full text of the notice:

NOTICE OF OPERATION
 

From 5/23 to 6/5 automated delivery carts will be used at this location for the purpose of food delivery. Operation hours are 11 AM-4PM, 5 PM-12 AM Monday-Sunday.
 

Typically, the automated delivery carts will be supervised by a chaperone and loaded in a specially marked zone adjacent to the restaurant entry at 3109 16th St, Truly Mediterranean, during operation hours only.
 

If you have any concerns please contact:
 

Marble Robotics
1660 16th St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
415-654-3207
 

For complaints or other related concerns, please contact 311.
https://www.sf311.org/

 

If you haven’t heard, Marble has partnered with Yelp’s Eat 24 food delivery service for short range food delivery. Their robots are basically small self-driving cars that drive along the sidewalks, which is why the board of supervisors is already itching to ban them. (Why they have to drive on the sidewalk is beyond me.)

Anyway, so to sum this all up, here’s why this notice is essentially the essence of 2017 San Francisco distilled into a single document:

  • Self-driving robots are seemingly everywhere, though they still require humans to watch over them.
  • San Franciscans are too lazy to walk to a restaurant to pick up their falafel, would rather order delivery online.
  • High tech robots stealing jobs from hard-working Americans.
  • A public notice is required for seemingly anything and everything.
  • The board of supervisors wants to ban it.

There aren’t many practical ways this could be more peak San Francisco, but that didn’t stop me from thinking of a few:

  • The robot could be programmed to smoke pot and piss on the sidewalk.
  • During its off hours, the robot could join political protests outside of City Hall.
  • At Critical Mass, the robot could somehow get into a fight with a bicyclist.
  • The robot could live in an overpriced apartment, sparking a wave of fully autonomous gentrification.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head. See if you can come up with your own — unless you are a robot, in which case please don’t.

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class="post-3431 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-local tag-butter-lettuce tag-food tag-goat-cheese tag-photos tag-salad">

Recipe theft: Cafe Madeleine’s butter lettuce salad with goat cheese

April 28th, 2015

Butter lettuce salad

Every now and then you eat something at a cafe or restaurant that’s so good, you have to reverse engineer the recipe and make it yourself. Such is the case with San Francisco mini-chain Cafe Madeleine and their excellent butter lettuce salad.

Don’t know what butter lettuce is? Sometimes it’s called butterhead, Boston lettuce or bibb. You can find it at farmer’s markets, Whole Foods, Rainbow, etc., sold with the roots still attached. It’s kind of like romaine lettuce, except it’s actually good. Fuck romaine.

Vinaigrette:

  • Two parts olive oil
  • One part red wine vinegar

Do you really need directions? Pour it in a bottle and shake it up!
 

Salad:

  • Half a head of butter lettuce, washed and stems removed
  • Small handful of garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas)
  • Half a radish, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 an avocado, sliced
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • A couple spoonfuls of goat cheese

Put everything in a bowl and drizzle some vinaigrette over the thing. Salt and pepper to taste. Boom, done!

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class="post-3425 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-local tag-16thmission tag-burrito tag-food tag-photos tag-san-francisco">

La Cumbre’s new paint job boldly stakes claim to Mission-style burrito’s origin

April 20th, 2015

La Cumbre's new paint job

Recently Taqueria La Cumbre on Valencia got a fire engine red paint job. But far more bold than the color scheme is the claim painted on the building: “Birthplace of the Mission Style Burrito.”

As with any such claim, it’s a hotly contested one. As Wikipedia notes it’s not clear if Mission-style burritos were invented in San Francisco at all. Further adding to the confusion, La Cumbre’s “birthplace” claim refers to the building rather than La Cumbre because the burritos were originally sold there when a meat market occupied the space.

The truth is out there, but until someone invents a time machine we’ll never know for certain where Mission-style burritos came from. If anyone reading this happens to have a time machine and wants to research this, please give me a call — especially if it’s around lunch time.

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class="post-1438 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-local tag-16thmission tag-food tag-picapica tag-san-francisco tag-sidewalk">

Pica Pica applies for outdoor seating permit

July 15th, 2011

Pica Pica Permit

Everyone’s favorite Pokemon themed Venezualen eatery, Pica Pica has applied for an outdoor seating permit. By eating outside their establishment, one could combine the intoxicating smells of a delicious arepa with the intoxicating smells of intoxicating substances.

Sounds like a swell idea, although it’s not terribly clear where these tables would go. I’m assuming the only space to squeeze six tables would be along 15th, though the sidewalk there is not terribly wide.

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class="post-1336 post type-post status-publish format-standard hentry category-rant tag-dinoaurs tag-food tag-photos tag-rant tag-safeway">

Has Safeway gone too far?

May 29th, 2011

IMG_2309 IMG_2310 IMG_2312

While trapped at the Market St. Safeway during the rainstorm today, I made a shocking discovery: Safeway carries not one, but THREE brands of frozen chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs.

Does this alarm anyone else?

Why do we need to make food shaped like extinct animals? Are there children out there somewhere who refuse to eat nuggets not shaped like dinosaurs? “No mom, I can’t eat this, it’s not shaped like a dinosaur.” Clearly, such a child needs to be loaded with ADHD medication and spanked repeatedly, not indulged in his absurd food preferences.

Sure, Safeway has four isle-long freezers, but there has to be a better way to fill them than this.

What do you think, has Safeway gone too far this time?