There I was, seated inside of a gold-painted shipping container, face-to-face with a live-streaming 23-year-old girl in Havana. What in the world should we talk about? First, names. Then I…
*Editor's Note 4/17/15: O-Toro has since relocated to a larger space only a block away at 298 Gough St. I'm constantly looking for sushi joints in the Bay Area serving really high quality fish at very reasonable prices. I've got spots all over the region (see: Wayo, Tataki, Sushi Tomi, Live Sushi Bar, and Geta) and I've even already got a place I love in Hayes Valley, but Domo is quite small and doesn't take reservations so it's not super easy to rely on it as a go-to spot in that neighborhood. Only a few blocks away is another well-reputed sushi den called O-Toro that actually does take OpenTable reservations and also sounded like it had a lot of potential to become my new go-to sushi bar in that neighborhood.
You guys know I eat a ton of food. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I'm also quite passionate about my cocktails. Some would even go so far as to call me a lush. Well, this year provided no shortage of impressive and outstanding cocktails (and obviously food as I've already recapped). And since the end of the year is rolling around, it only seems fair to look back and remember the best of the best cocktails as well. I've even inclcuded a list of ingredients for each drink recipe so you can try to whip them up for yourself at home... if you're particularly talented. Warning: there are some really obscure ingredients in a lot of these, a lot of them are rather complicated to concoct. Also, I don't have any of the proportions for the different parts... so good luck!
In an area filled with many fancy, upscale sit-down restaurants, Souvla is a welcome addition to the Hayes Valley neighborhood. With its cheap, high-quality spit-roasted meats served in either sandwich or salad form, excellent selection of Greek wines, and absolutely delicious french fries this casual, yet elegant spot is a real winner. It's the kind of place that's cheap enough for a random weeknight dinner and at the same time sexy enough to work as a great casual date night spot. There is no waiter service, which sort of takes away from the date night vibe, but it's done so well that I really can't complain. This place is a real gem.
Now that Amy and I have moved from NYC to San Francisco, it's time for me to dig into the SF food scene. There are a number of cuisines that SF is reputed to do better than New York, Mexican being the most obvious, and I want to put these reputations to the test. Perhaps a little less obvious than SF's Mexican superiority would be it's Japanese, specifically regarding sushi. It makes sense if you think about it though considering this part of the country is so much closer to Japan than New York is. Don't get me wrong though, I know we had really great sushi in New York, but it's certainly possible that the proximity to Japan could help.
As a youngster growing up in New Jersey I frequently visited Six Flags during the summer. In between lines and massive roller coaster rides, our trips always required a refreshing pit-stop at Dippin' Dots, the ice cream of the future. These little vendor carts served a unique treat of little ice cream pebbles produced by liquid nitrogen flash-freezing. I'd often wondered why this interesting technique wasn't more common since the people seem to love it and it didn't seem that difficult to do. Well I don't need to wonder about that any more. While exploring San Francisco, I stumbled across an outdoor shanty in the middle of a park in the Hayes Valley neighborhood, where Smitten is making ice cream to order using this very technique.