Aperto: A Great Solid Meal

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A few weeks ago I had dinner with my Food Companion (FC). I have been wanting to try Aperto, the sister restaurant to Bellanico. I previously wrote about Bellanico and I’m proud to call it my neighborhood restaurant. Aperto is also a neighborhood restaurant, but not mine. It’s located in Potrero Hill in San Francisco.

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I started with the Caesar Salad with dressing on the side. (Remember I am on Weight Watchers). The romaine lettuces were left as leaves and came with one large homemade crouton which I thought made a nice presentation.

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My FC ordered the sformato which came with wild mushroom-frisee salad, truffle oil, and manchego. Sformato is a molded dish that is either sweet or savory. I think it’s a cross between a custard and a pot de creme in consistency. I’ve seen it pop onto many restaurant menus in recent years including Bellanico. The mushroom salad was a nice bonus.

They have a daily fish selection of the day as well as meat selection of the day. My FC got the fish and I got the beef.

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We can’t remember what the fish was, but it was a white fish that was very delicate. The flavor was nice which was probably attributed to the broth and onions. He enjoyed his pick.

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The beef selection was prime rib roast. It had been quite awhile since I had prime rib so I went for it. It was perfectly medium rare and came with mashed potatoes and spinach. For $22, I thought this was a bargain. The meat was like butter. Thinking about it now still makes my mouth water. I definitely used up some of my weekly available Weight Watcher points for this meal.

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For dessert, we shared the warm chocolate soufflé. It came with Italian wet nuts and whipped cream. I think the wet nuts could’ve been removed from the plate. Maybe I just don’t like wet nuts. It would have been just fine with the whipped cream alone.

Aperto met my expectations. I hope the next time I go, I am lucky enough to pick the day they make another prime rib roast.

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White Gold: I’m Not Talking about the Metal

A year ago I wrote about truffles. I can’t believe another year has passed already. We were dining at Oliveto Cafe because we didn’t have reservations at the upstairs restaurant for the truffle dinner.  My friend didn’t risk it this year, she made reservations ahead of time.   Even with advance notice, we ended up with a 5:30 pm reservation for four at Oliveto on Friday.  They were serving their special truffle dinner for only four days.  From my understanding, this years trip to Italy didn’t warrant the abundance of truffles like it did last year.

We were all newbies to the truffle dinner so the waiter spent a significant amount of time  describing our options.  There was a special menu created by Chef Jonah Rhodehamel, with many items infused with black truffles.   Items listed with an asterisk were accepting of white truffles.  We were there for the white gold, the white truffle.  Like gold, you would pay by gram.  Each gram was $10 and they recommended about 5 grams per dish.  Do the math!

I was going to share a few things with one of my friends.  We were each going to have our own appetizer, split two pastas and one entree.  Our table had a total of three pastas and we had decided we would get ten grams and divide it among the pastas.  The waiter found an 11 gram truffle and brought it to the table.

I chose the soup which was velluta of celery root with black truffle creme fraiche.  Velluta means velvet and my soup was not only velvety, but delicious.  My friend who doesn’t like celery was into it.

She ordered the sformatino di nocce which is like a custard.  I had a small taste.  My friend describes it as “warm and delicate gelantanous mold of savory walnut custard”.

My other friends also shared two of their own appetizers, one was the same soup I had and the other was the pan roasted scallops with cauliflower two ways and black truffle spumonte sauce.  I didn’t try this dish, but it looked gorgeous.  The scallops were perfectly golden brown.

A few moments after our pastas arrived, someone came by to shave our 11 gram truffle that had been sitting in the center of our table.   We had two orders of cannelloni of leeks with Parmesan cheese and tajarin with butter glaze.  The truffle was carefully shaved equally on top of the three orders of pastas.  The cannelloni was soft and delicate.  It was simple and allowed us to really taste and appreciate the earthly flavor of the truffle shavings.

Tarjarin is pasta made of flour and egg and similar consistency to angel hair pasta.  Again we chose a simple pasta and figured the butter glaze would match well with the truffles.  It did.

The entree I shared was the pork porterhouse with black truffle sausage, farro, and lacinato kale.  I enjoyed this dish, but wasn’t sure why or how Chef Rhodehamel came up with this combination.

We went a bit dessert crazy and each ordered one.  I was trying to be good, ordered the Isabella grape sorbetto and had a teaspoon of everyone’s dessert.  They were all amazing and enjoyable.  Two thumbs up to the pastry chef.

French Butter pear budino with black truffles in Cognac and agrumato cream

Warm apple crostata with huckleberry swirl ice cream

Bittersweet chocolate cake

This was an amazing meal that was enjoyed well over three hours with good friends.  Although the meal is gone,  we will keep the memories.

Weekend in LA: Yum Yum

I was in Los Angeles last weekend and explored a few new places to eat. I was also excited to go back to one place that a friend introduced me to during a previous visit. I’ll start with the latter.

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Joan’s on Third is a foodie’s dream located smack in the middle of LA. It’s part bakery, cafe, and market.

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My friend and I went there for a simple breakfast. We ordered at the counter and sat at the communal table.

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I had a delicious latte as I waited for my soft boiled egg with toasted pan de mie. Unfortunately after waiting more than fifteen minutes, it was discovered that our ticket had gotten lost. The staff apologized and made it up by offering us cupcakes.

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I started to feel like I was in France again as I was eating my soft boiled egg in its egg cup. It was comforting. Before we headed out we decided to pick up lunch to go.
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A cover poster of Bon Appetit Magazine was hanging at the deli with a photo of their famous short rib sandwich. It looked delicious and irresistible so my friend and I decided to share it along with a side of brussels sprouts salad.

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We had the sandwich sometime later at the airport. It was still good, but probably not as good as if we ate it right away.

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Before I headed out to LA, I asked a foodie friend of mine for some recommendations. She mentioned a pizza place in Pasadena called the Luggage Room. She called it “special” and that was enough for me.

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My usual visit to Mozza would have to be forfeited so I could try this new place.

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My friend and I ordered a vegetarian chopped salad. It was full of freshness, not to mention huge. We would’ve shared one pizza, but in celebration of their one year anniversary, the second pizza was $1.

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Great timing for us. The first pizza was the Margherita with buffalo mozzarella and the second was their special of the day which was broccolini and duck sausage.

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The crust was crisp yet chewy. The toppings melting in my mouth was bursting with flavor. It was definitely special.

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Finally, I wanted to write about Langer’s Delicatessen. It’s been in existence for many decades, but I accidentally found it while I was “yelping”. I discovered that their pastrami sandwich made it on a list of Jonathan Gold’s 99 Things to Eat Before You Die”. I didn’t know who Jonathan Gold was, but if he created this list, we would try this sandwich. OMG! This pastrami on rye was awesome. So tender, so flavorful, so delicious. My friend who’s Jewish couldn’t agree with me more. Who is this Jonathan Gold? The name began to sound familiar as I write. Many years ago I met a food critic who was writing for Rolling Stone magazine. In 1995, we were both covering the Snoop Doggy Dogg murder trial. He for Rolling Stone and me for MTV. My colleague and I even had a meal with this guy. I think this is the same guy. Awesome!

Although I moved away from LA more than 10 years ago, I still enjoy seeing friends and having great meals.

Kiss Seafood: A Hidden Gem

I probably shouldn’t have started Weight Watchers a week and a half before my birthday. At the same time for someone like me that enjoys eating so much, there probably isn’t a right time. I made the decision to go ahead and start.

What I like about Weight Watchers is that you don’t necessarily have to give up foods, it’s about moderation. In celebration of my birthday, two of my friends took me out to Kiss Seafood in San Francisco. Japanese food seemed like a healthier choice.

Kiss Seafood located between Japantown and Pacific Heights is a mom and pop shop that seats about a dozen people. I’m not kidding when I say mom and pop. The husband is the sushi chef while the wife waits tables. Kiss is a restaurant known for their Omakase meals and I have been getting my fix of Omakase lately.

We started with a free appetizer made of white radish, clear noodles, and tiny sardines. It was pretty adventurous to say the least. It was fairly tasty having been marinated in some kind of sweet soy and was easy to wash down with Asahi beer.
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Our first plate was a trio of salads. It came with Japanese eggplant, octopus, and a persimmon salad. I loved the octopus. It was tender yet smokey.

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Our second plate was full of beautifully cut sashimi. From left to right, we had baby striped bass, toro, king mackerel, amberjack, giant clam, and Thai snapper. It was fresh and all were very good. I can reflect on a time many years ago that I worked at a sushi restaurant and disliked sushi.

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Our third plate were deep fried lotus root and turnip with fish meat in a broth with a clam placed on top. This plate showed a lot of creativity and textures.

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Next came number four which is a favorite of mine, chawanmushi. It was not that long ago that I had my first chawanmushi at Coach Sushi. This steamed egg was perfectly silky. It had scallops and mushrooms in it.

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The fifth plate was five pieces of nigiri. From left to right, we had halibut, sockeye salmon, spanish mackerel, yellowtail, and marinated tuna. I was so focused on making sure I got the names down that I forgot my photo. The photo below is a bad photo of a customer having the same dish as us. The other photo is my plate after I was done with it, after all I am on Weight Watchers.

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The sixth dish was mushroom soup. The warm earthy flavors were very comforting on this rainy evening.

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It’s common for Asian restaurants to leave you with some type of fruit to end with. We received a piece of melon. It was nice and sweet.

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Kiss Seafood is a hidden gem and really worth finding. And if you happen to be on Weight Watchers, a meal at Kiss works pretty well.