Restaurant Review: 4505 Burgers and BBQ


4505 Burgers and BBQ 3-Meat Platter

4505 Burgers and BBQ 3-Meat Platter

4505 Burgers and BBQ opened recently along the Divisadero corridor in San Francisco and has quickly become a popular destination.  4505 Meats was established by Ryan and Cesalee Farr as an outgrowth of their interest in whole animal butchery.  They started teaching butchery classes and selling chicharrones.  Now 4505 Meats is establishing itself as a mini-empire in San Francisco, with a butcher store in the Mission selling meats and prepared foods and stands at the Ferry Market Terminal and various local food events like the Eat Real Fest in Oakland, where they sell magnificent sandwiches like “The Fat Bastard.”  I had made a pilgrimage last year to Austin, TX to visit Texas barbecue legends like Frankin Barbecue and John Mueller Meat Co., so I was excited to see how local meat experts 4505 stacked up.

The barbecue menu at 4505 Burgers and BBQ is traditional, with brisket, pulled pork, chicken, homemade sausage (hot or mild), and pork ribs.  I tried a 3-meat sampler platter with their brisket, pulled pork, and hot sausage.  The pulled pork was excellent, moist, and flavorful.  The sausage had snap and a good amount of heat.  The brisket was a lean cut and was very good with a slightly peppery bark.  The brisket did not quite reach the luscious heights of Franklin Barbecue, but was still very well done.  The “sweet and thick” barbecue sauce was really good.

The sides were definitely well thought-out and elevated.  I had the Frankaroni, deep-fried mac and cheese and 4505 hot dogs – delicious.  Well done creamy, mild cole slaw.  Excellent pickles and pickled onions to cut the richness of the meat.  Pillowy soft Parker rolls, slightly toasted and basted with butter.  This is a great barbecue platter!

On the sandwich side of the menu, they offer what they modestly call the “Best Damn Cheeseburger.”  It’s a very good burger, with melted cheese, lettuce, and onion, on a nicely toasted seeded bun.  Bacon and egg can be added on as extras.  They cure their own bacon, and I am pretty sure they also grind the meat for their burgers.  I had a side of spicy fries topped with chimchurri and lemon parsley aioli, which were good.  Hamburgers are offered at their late night window until 11pm on the weekends (there are several bars as well as The Independent concert venue in the neighborhood).

There is an extensive selection of beers on tap as well as non-alcoholic drinks.  The building is dominated by the open kitchen, which includes the barbecue smoker.  There are about six counter seats available inside, and a fenced off area with picnic tables outside.  Many people eat there, but a lot of people get their orders to go, “Pig in or Pig out” as the sign outside says.  4505 Burgers and BBQ is located on Divisadero in the Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco, a block away from The Mill.  Go to both places for a double whammy of great food.  Highly recommended.

4505 Burgers and BBQ, 705 Divisadero, San Francisco

Link to 4505 Meats site here, and 4505 Burgers and BBQ site here.

4505 Burgers & BBQ on Urbanspoon

 

Bakery Review: The Mill (San Francisco, CA)


The Mill toast with apricot jam

The Mill toast with apricot jam

As usual, I am many months late following up on trends, but I finally tried the toast at The Mill in San Francisco.  The Mill is Josey Baker’s bakery where he sells his signature breads and baked goods in a joint venture with Four Barrel Coffee.  They make exceptional bread, using whole grain flour that they grind in-house and naturally leaven with wild yeast.  Their bread is served at some of San Francisco’s best restaurants, like State Bird Provisions and Frances.  The toast became famous among various food sites last year as “$4 Toast” or “Hipster Toast” (see write-up in Bon Appetit for example.)

The toast is made from thick slices of one of Josey Baker’s breads, like the country loaf.  It is spread with a generous amount of salted butter and and various toppings, like their own apricot jam and version of nutella.  I thought it was excellent, satisfying comfort food with elevated artisanal ingredients, justifying the hype and the notoriety.  I also sampled their seeded country loaf, which had a great crust, soft interior, and complex, slightly tangy, nutty flavor.  Their chocolate chip cookie was excellent as well, made with 100% stone ground whole grain flour and a generous amount of high-quality chocolate.  The Josey Baker Bread Cookbook is definitely on my list to get.

The Mill has an open, warm interior filled with light from the skylights above.  There is a long communal table as well as smaller tables and a parklet outside.  There is an open kitchen area where the tattooed baristas, bakers, and cooks work, making the toast along with homemade nutella or jam.  The Mill is located in a great neighborhood along the Divisadero corridor in San Francisco, with neighbors including Bi-rite grocery, Bar Crudo, and 4505 Burgers and BBQ.

The Mill, 736 Divisadero, San Francisco, CA

Link to The Mill website here.

Link to Josey Baker Bread Cookbook here.

The Mill on Urbanspoon

Paris Pastry Walking Tour


Paris Pastry Map

The 6th and 7th arrondissements are home to some of Paris’ finest patisseries.  I recently visited several and have mapped out a suggested route that hits many of them.  One can start with Sadaharu Aoki, who is a master of blending Japanese ingredients with classical French technique.  He has several locations in Paris.  I visited his counter in the Galeries Lafayette food emporium, but his flagship store is in the 6th.  His Millefeuille was amazing – layers of flaky pastry and vanilla pastry cream topped with a thin layer of crunchy caramel.  He also has interesting macaron flavors like yuzu and matcha.  From there, walk to Pierre Herme at 72 rue Bonaparte.  Pierre Herme also has several locations in Paris, but most only sell macarons and chocolates.  The location in the 6th is the only one that sells his pastries, including my all-time favorite, the Ispahan, with rose macaron, lychee, and raspberry.  The Ispahan croissant is also amazing.  The macarons are my favorite as well, especially the chocolate-passionfruit.  They are expensive – a box of 7 in a nice gift box is 18e.  Walk up rue Bonaparte to Laduree.  Laduree is also famous for its macarons, and this location has a tea salon where you can sit and enjoy some pastries.

From Laduree, go to Hugo et Victor on Boulevard Raspail.  I cannot believe I missed it on this trip, but I have read great things about Hugo et Victor.  Then make your way over to rue du Bac, where there is one block that has three incredible shops.  La Patisserie des Reves (the pastry shop of dreams), the jewel-like Des Gateux et du Pain, and opening later in 2014, Jacques Genin.  Jacques Genin’s flagship store is near the Republique metro stop in the 3rd arrondissement.  Jacques Genin makes amazingly creamy caramels in a lot of different flavors.  I like the original and nut variations, and less so the fruity ones, except for the mango-passionfruit which was quite delicious.  They sell for 110e per kg!  A 100 gm bag will get you one of each of flavor.  There is also a Mosaique sampler bag filled with various chocolates, pates du fruits, and caramels, which makes a nice gift for 17e.  The Jacques Genin store in the 3rd has a tea salon, where one can order pastries.  I am hoping that the store in the 7th will have a tea salon as well.  Des Gateux et du Pain might be my new favorite patisserie.  Stunningly beautiful pastries and breads.  Their croissant was perfect.  The pistachio St. Honore was delicious.  La Patisserie des Reves is really unique, with more playful interpretations of the classics – look at their St. Honore, for example.  A branch of Dalloyau is also nearby.

Finally, walk up rue du Bac to Eric Kayser to sit down and have coffee and your accumulated loot from all the other shops, or some of Eric Kayser’s excellent eclairs or a delicious baguette cereale (seeded baguette) and buy some mini financiers (chocolate, almond, and pistachio) to take home (10.50e for 300 gm).  And…since you’re walking a lot and calories don’t count when you’re on vacation, enjoy!

Thanks to Paris Patisseries Blog for a lot of recommendations!

Edit: I think you could do the route backwards as well (starting at Eric Kayser), just as long as you end up at a place that has sit-down coffee service like Laduree or Eric Kayser.

 

Recipe Review: Soy-Glazed Chicken with Asparagus and Scallions


Soy-glazed chicken with asparagus and scallions

Soy-glazed chicken with asparagus and scallions

This is a fast, easy, good recipe from Bon Appetit May 2014.  Chicken is marinated in a teriyaki-like sauce that contains toasted anise seed, soy sauce, honey, garlic, and lime juice (a little expensive because of the great lime shortage of 2014).  The chicken is marinated for 30 minutes up to overnight, then baked with the marinade in a 450 oven.  The recipe states that after roasting in the oven, the sauce thickens into a nice glaze.  However, in my experience, the sauce burned almost completely.  However, the chicken still came out moist and flavorful.  Asparagus and scallions are roasted at the same time and accompany the chicken nicely.

Level of difficulty: easy

Cost: about $10

Deliciousness: 3 of 5 stars (good)

Healthy: yes

Time: about 15 minutes active time + marinade time and roasting time of 30 minutes

Make again: maybe

Link to recipe here.

 

Recipe Review: Apple Snacking Spice Cake


Joanne Chang, Flour, apple snacking spice cake

Joanne Chang, Flour, apple snacking spice cake

This is an easy-to-make cake from Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook that is also one of the most popular items at Flour Bakery in Boston.  The cake is full of spices, pecans, and raisins, and the high percentage of diced apple makes the cake really moist and flavorful.  This cake got great reviews, with people coming back for seconds.  I made a few modifications: doubling the amount of cinnamon and cloves (because mine were a little bit old) and substituting about 1 tsp of fresh ginger for powdered ginger (because I didn’t have any on hand), and baking in a 9×9 square cake pan.

Level of Difficulty: Easy

Deliciousness: 4 of 5 stars

Cost: about $10

Time: 20 minutes active time, around 1.5 hours total

Healthy: no

Make again: yes

Link to recipe here.

Link to Flour cookbook here.

Food options in Whistler, BC, Canada


Whistler Village

Whistler Village

Whistler is a great ski resort area in British Colombia, Canada, just two hours from Vancouver.  However, there are limited budget food options.  Here are some places I tried.

Purebread – a good pop-up bakery near Whistler Village Marketplace.  They have a wide selection of breads and pastries.  The apple blondie bar was OK, and the caramelized banana brownie was very good.  The best was the Crack bar, Purebread’s excellent version of Momofuku Milk Bar’s Crack Pie.

Zog’s Dogs – an outdoor hot dog and poutine stand at the base of Whistler Mountain.  Decent, not sure if the gravy on the poutine was home-made or pre-packaged.  Outdoor seating and cash only.

Peaked Pies – Australian meat pies.  Flaky pastry stuffed with various fillings.  The “peaked” version is topped with mashed potatoes, mushy peas, and gravy.

Harajuku Izakaya – bar, restaurant, take-out, and mini Japanese food mart, a block away from the Whistler Conference Center.  Decent, reasonably-priced Japanese food.  I had the udon, which was good, and the chicken karaage, which could have been crispier.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory – a wide selection of candied apples, chocolates, and other sweets

There are some higher end places in Whistler, which I didn’t try.  My advice – ski in Whistler, eat in Vancouver!

Travel tips: Greyhound is an inexpensive way to get to Whistler; much less than some of the other bus services.  Buses depart from Pacific Central Station in Vancouver.  On the return trip, there is a stop downtown at the Fairmont Hotel, which is close to many other downtown hotels.  There is no luggage storage at Pacific Central Station.  A Greyhound agent referred me to the Ivanhoe hostel, a block away from the station, which has left luggage service for $5.  They don’t give out luggage receipts, which I was a little apprehensive about, but I got my luggage back!

Finding great food in Vancouver, part 2


Stanley Park, Vancouver

Lost Lagoon, Stanley Park, Vancouver

Reading through the Vancouver Chowhound message boards (search “itinerary”) led to a recommendation for Kingyo Izakaya. I had their bento box, a great value lunch at $16 with so many different components all beautifully presented. The tamago had shrimp and a delicious sauce. The tuna was excellent. Kingyo only makes ten bento boxes per day, but they can be reserved ahead of time by calling. The salted caramel tiramisu was really good. Kingyo is located on Denman St in the West End, near the entrance to Stanley Park. Tourist tip: Kingyo was a great place to go for lunch before a ~9 km bike ride along the sea wall of beautiful Stanley Park, where one can get amazing views of downtown Vancouver, the harbor, mountains, and Lion’s Gate Bridge.

I had fond memories of poutine ever since a trip to Canada as a kid. A search for “Vancouver poutine” led to many of the good reviews of Fritz European Fry House on Yelp. Poutine originated in Quebec and is traditionally French fries smothered in meat gravy and topped with squeaky cheese curds – a combination that will leave your stomach sated and your arteries clogged. Key components are fries prepared to order and a delicious gravy, both of which Fritz did really well. I liked the addition of Montreal smoked meat, which is similar to pastrami. Fritz is a bit more conveniently located on Davie St, south of the Granville entertainment district, than the Eater recommended La Belle Patate.

Yelp also led to breakfast at the Yolk’s food cart, which was solid. I had a duck confit sandwich with poached egg, spinach, and marmalade on a toasted English muffin. The truffle-lemon hash brown skewers were very good. I must say that trying to eat a hot breakfast from a food truck next to the Stadium-Chinatown Skytrain station on a cold, overcast morning in March in Vancouver is not ideal. Yolk’s has a sit-down establishment as well, but it is a bit further out from downtown Vancouver.

Yelp also led to Japadog, the curiously popular food cart with a stand-alone restaurant on Robson Street. I really like fusion (Momofuku, Mission Chinese), but here it seemed a little forced.   Japadog makes hot dogs with Japanese toppings, which sounded interesting and was something I had never had before. One of their popular items is the Terimayo, a hot dog with teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayonnaise, and strips of nori. After one bite I realized I had made a mistake. Nori and hot dogs do not go together.

Overall, I really liked Vancouver and know that I had just a taste of what the city has to offer food-wise. Having done the research for Vancouver, my experience is that it takes some work to sift through all the noise and deciding which sources to trust. At the end of the day, a consensus usually emerges that leads to great food travel experiences and memories. So take my outsider’s experiences and recommendations with a grain of salt and happy eating!

Kingyo Izakaya – website here

Fritz European Fry House – website here

Yolk’s – website here

Japadog – website here

Finding great food in Vancouver, part 1


Vancouver waterfront

Vancouver waterfront

I recently had the opportunity to visit Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada (which might be the most beautiful city in North America.)  Whenever I visit a new city, I like to seek out food destinations that serve unique and delicious dishes.  Bonus if the place is affordable or offers something that one cannot get in the Bay Area.  For example, I won’t particularly seek out Chinese food, even though Vancouver is well known for good Chinese food.  But where to find the great places each city offers?  There are so many different resources online to research new destinations.  I like perusing the best of lists from Yelp, Eater, and TripAdvisor, reading the message boards on Chowhound, the “36 Hours in…” articles in the New York Times, and finding local food blogs.  From there it’s on to individual restaurant websites and even Google Images.  While some sources and reviews are spot on, others can lead one astray.

I found Bestie on the Vancouver Eater hot restaurant list and was very glad that I did.  Bestie specializes in currywurst, a German invention where fries are topped with sausage and curry ketchup/tomato sauce.  I first tried currywurst in Cologne, Germany but had never seen it in N. America, so I was excited to visit Bestie.  They make a delicious version with everything produced in-house, including the sausages.  In addition to the traditional Thuringer pork wurst, they have some unique offerings such as butter chicken and bison.  The dessert was excellent, a not-too-sweet gooey chocolate cake with sour cherries and yogurt.  The hipster staff was really friendly, but my impression on this trip was that most Canadians are really friendly!

I found Cartems Donuterie also on Eater.  Originally a pop-up, in 2013 Cartems made the successful transition to a brick-and-mortar storefront in downtown Vancouver with a beautiful, inviting space.  They have some really unique flavors.  I really liked the Honey Parmesan – a vanilla cake donut topped with honey, grated parmesan cheese, and ground black pepper.  I grew up eating Apple Crumb and Apple Spice donuts from Dunkin, so I had to try Cartems Apple Pie Stuffie, a delicious yeasted donut with a chunky apple pie filling.  Cartems serves really good freshly ground, drip brew coffee.  At $3 per donut, Cartem’s is triple the price of Tim Horton’s (the ubiquitous Canadian donut chain) but so much better.

Miku is a slick Japanese restaurant on the waterfront near Canada Place.  Miku, and it’s sister restaurant Minaya in Yaletown, offers a $28 Zen bento box lunch, which includes five pieces of sushi and four small dishes.  Miku specializes in “aburi” style of sushi that is lightly seared.  Their sushi rice was very delicate and each piece was well executed, especially their signature salmon aburi oshi sushi, made with pressed British Colombia wild sockeye salmon, jalapeño, and “Miku” sauce.  The small dishes were also well done; most memorable was the fried prawn, almost like a fritter with a delicious batter.  Miku is a good choice in a refined setting along the waterfront.   Tourist tip: after lunch take the Seabus from Waterfront Station to North Vancouver to get great views of downtown.  Then take the bus to Lynn Canyon or Capilano suspension bridge and hike in the lush Pacific Northwest rainforest.

What are the some of the ways that you find out about the local food scene where you are visiting?

Bestie – website here

Cartem Donuterie – website here

Miku – website here

Recipes from Craftsman and Wolves: Apple Gruyere Scone, Cocoa Carrot Cake with Cocoa Crumble


Several recipes from my favorite bakery, Craftsman and Wolves in San Francisco, have been published on-line.  These include a previous iteration of the cocoa carrot muffins, in cake form, and a sweet-savory apple gruyere scone.  Both are delicious and definitely worth doing.  I am hoping for the pear-yuzu croissant, the Rebel Within, and Valrhona chocolate chip cookie recipes to someday be published.  Note to Chef William Werner: cookbook, please!

Cocoa carrot cake recipe here

Apple gruyere scone recipe here

Other William Werner recipes on-line:

- Thai scones and Chocolate coffee eclair on the Starchefs site here.

- several recipes on Food and Wine, including chocolate peanut butter shortbread sandwich cookies recipe  here.

Café du Monde and the French Market (New Orleans, LA)


Café Du Monde is the classic New Orleans institution for beignets and coffee.  It is open 24 hours a day in the French Market area adjacent to the French Quarter.  One can buy the beignets at a little take out window, but to get the full experience one should sit at one of the café tables to leisurely sip on coffee while enjoying the delicious, airy, freshly prepared beignets, buried under a mound of powdered sugar.  They sell some popular souvenir items, including coffee mugs, beignet mix, and coffee at a slightly lower price than at some of the nearby souvenir shops.  Everything is cash only.

The French Market has a large farmer’s market selling all sorts of foodstuffs and a flea market.  Southern Candymakers sells supposedly Bon Appetit magazine’s #1 praline.  Try a free sample to decide for yourself (it was pretty good, even though I am not a big fan of pralines in general).  Coop’s Place (found through Yelp) is a dive bar that also serves a full menu of New Orleans food.  Their gumbo (thick and flavorful with shrimp, crab, and oyster) and fried chicken (spicy, much better than Popeye’s) were outstanding, but the rest of the items I had on the sampler platter (shrimp etouffee, jambalaya, red beans and rice) were just OK in my opinion.

Café du Monde website here

Southern Candymakers website here

Coops’ Place website here

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
The Esquire Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 122 other followers

%d bloggers like this: