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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hangar Steak Restaurant

Don't you love when you randomly try a restaurant because you had a gift certificate, and that restaurant turns out to be fantastic? I feel like we hit the jackpot when we discovered Hangar Steak in Burlingame.
It's got planes!
Well, okay, Hangar Steak overlooks the runway to San Francisco Airport so technically it doesn't have planes, but it does have a really cool backdrop that will keep you and your kids entertained throughout your meal.
I stumbled upon Hangar Steak last year when I was planning mine and my husband's Anniversary dinner, and wanted to use our gift certificate. I chose it because I love steak, and I thought that watching planes would be kind of fun. I was impressed enough with my meal that I brought guests back for their Easter buffet, and when it came time to plan our Anniversary dinner this year, when our son would be accompanying us, Hangar Steak was our #1 choice.

The lanterns are pretty cool, aren't they? The hostess told us they are from Restoration Hardware, if you are looking for them.

I chose to start my meal with a shrimp cocktail. I knew that my main course would be pretty heavy, so I wanted something light to start. Hangar's Shrimp Cocktail is served alongside a cocktail sauce and some lime wedges.

Brian chose a Caesar Salad and it came topped with anchovies and tomatoes, and was served with a crostini. I tried a small bite and it was pretty tasty - it had lots of garlic and tons of flavour from the anchovies. 

I just couldn't help but get the same dish that I had the first time I was here - surf and turf. I can't pass up  lobster and my favorite cut of meat is a Filet Mignon. My steak was seasoned and cooked perfectly - slightly charred on the outside with lots of salt, and rare on the inside. It was soft like butter! The lobster was sweet and plump. I was pushing the limits on fullness after this, but it was worth it.

Brian chose the New York Strip. He usually passes on the beef, but this was a special occasion!

They tried to give our son a kid's menu, and while he happily accepted the crayons and the lemonade, he quickly shot down all of the meals, asking instead for steak. Hangar was great and totally accommodated him, serving him a portion of strip steak along with fries to give him his requested "Steak Frites." And they only charged him the kid's meal price.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gaspare's Pizza House & Italian Restaurant

I love pizza, and as a former East Coaster, I find it difficult to get good pizza in San Francisco. But I adore Gaspare's Pizza House, and it makes me feel like I am back in the North End of Boston.
It's probably my favorite pizza here in San Francisco, and even though I vow to try some of their Italian dishes "the next time I go," I always end up just ordering the pizza.
It's that good!
Gaspare's has a wide variety of pizza combinations, but I am a double cheese kind of girl. Sometimes I add mushrooms, and if my son whines enough, we sometimes get pepperoni. But on the whole, I think that ordering it with just cheese really brings out the flavor of the sauce and the crust. Gaspare's tends to be a little on the salty side, and that's just the way I like it! Their crust is thin, and when you lift up a piece, it bends and drips and is gooey. To me, this is an ideal pizza.
The restaurant has a cool, old-world decor as well, with individual jukeboxes at the booths and a some wine grapes hanging from the ceiling. I feel like I am going back a few decades when I step into the place, and I think that just adds to the ambiance.
Even when I circle the block upwards of 10 times trying to find parking, I never get annoyed because I know what delicious taste awaits me!

Don't even think about coming here on a weekend, unless you are prepared to wait. There have been times when I have ordered take-away and it's still a 45 minute wait. They have a sign-up sheet at the door where you can write your name, and my advice is to either say inside, or keep your ears open outside because if you don't answer when they call you, your name gets crossed off. Personally I like to hover around inside and check-out who is almost done. I dig the anticipation!

Here is the pizza maker in the kitchen. It's where the magic happens!

I always start with their house salad for 2, and it's a pretty big portion, easily enough for our family of 3. It consists of lettuce, tomatoes, olives, onions and pepperoncini. The highlight of this salad is the dressing which is an olive oil and vinegar based creation that is addictive! They pour it on, so we sometimes keep our empty salad dish and use our crusts to sop up the left-over dressing. It's not on the menu but if you ask, they will sell you a container to take home. If it's really busy the pizza can take a bit to come, so treat yourself to a salad or appetizer while you wait. They also serve a basket of bread to each table.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dolores Park Playground

I was searching for something to do with my son when I came across this article on the playgrounds that you have to see to believe. The list includes places all over the world, but as I got near the end, one of the featured ones was here in the city. I checked out Dolores Park Playground and it was pretty fantastic!

I mean, how often does that happen? I naturally expect things on a must-see list to be in far away, exotic places (and some of these playgrounds are), so to find one in my own city was a real treat. And since it was a Monday and both the Exploratorium and Conservatory of Flowers were closed, it helped lessen the disappointment of my little boy who had, in his mind, planned on going to one of those two places. He was a hard sell at first, but once he saw the picture he was as excited as I was. I packed up a lunch and off we went!

Even from afar the playground is super impressive. It's located between 18th and 20th Streets at Dolores, and it's in the corner of the park. As in most places in the city parking is on the street and at a premium, but I have a tiny car so that helps me in situations like these. When we first walked in it was almost sensory overload; there is so much to see and do, but we ran right to the slides. There are both a big kid and a toddler area, so there are slides in varying heights and lengths.

There are a few musical areas in the toddler area, including these large chimes. And check out those cool drums - they are bigger than the kids themselves!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Guilt-Free Potato Chips

Can you easily eat an entire bag of potato chips? I know that I can! Here's how I trim some of the fat and make them at home.

French fries, potato chips, mashed potatoes...I haven't met a potato that I didn't like. Growing up, my Dad always used to make what he called "Silver Dollar" fries. They were basically just what the name implied: potatoes, roughly the size of a silver dollar, fried up and salted. Even though the only difference between those and regular french fries were the size and shape, I preferred the Silver Dollar fries so much more. Of course, that was back when I was a kid and I didn't really give too much thought to calories, fat or how food was prepared. Nowadays, as much as I love fried food, I also look for alternative, more healthy ways to cook. If you are like me and love chips, then you have to check out this super easy, much healthier way to prepare them.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Pot + Pantry

I could spend hours in the cookery section of a department store. I literally salivate when I pick up dishes, and I often walk around examining different patterns, feeling the textures and materials in my hands. I am drawn to bright colors, and when I see a Le Creuset pot I try to justify why I could possible need another item to add to my already cluttered kitchen. The cool thing about the ├╝ber-cute Pot + Pantry is that you can both buy and sell cookery, making it a must visit!

I stumbled upon Pot + Pantry when I was strolling along Guerrero after eating ice cream at Bi-Rite. I was immediately drawn to the outside facade, which is a collection of quotes and cooking words drawn on the window. When I stepped inside, I fell in love. It was full of both new and vintage items, and the decor reminded me of my own kitchen.

I really contemplated purchasing one of those salt boxes. I must have picked it up at least three times, turning it over in my hand and wondering if I had enough salts to fill it (I do!). There were so many interesting items, and a pretty big collection of Le Creuset. I found a pie dish that I might buy for my husband who likes to bake, and I need that bright green colander.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Children's Fairyland

I really think that I stepped back in time when I entered the gates of Children's Fairyland in Oakland. I have heard about this place from many friends, but since I rarely make it over to the East Bay, I had never been. We went there for a birthday party, and it was really, really surreal. The park, whose idea was conceived by Oakland businessman Arthur Navlet first opened it's gates in 1950. All of the storybook sets were designed by local architect William Russell Everitt and during that time, there were costumed guides to escort children though the sets.

What makes Fairyland super cool is that I don't think it's actually changed since 1950! There is a website which showcases old postcards from Fairyland in the 1950's, and if you compare those pictures to the park today, not much has really changed.

It's actually quite magical in it's simplicity, by today's standards. It's reminiscent of a golden era, where kids didn't need to be entertained by video games or T.V. They could be entertained by using their imagination and this park lends itself to just that. Plus, you feel like you are in the middle of a story - it's so cool! They even have daily puppet shows, and they rotate the performances every few weeks during the season.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Pacific Catch

My in-laws are visiting this week, so Brian and I decided to take them to Pacific Catch, one of our favorite restaurants in the city for casual, kid-friendly dining. It's in a great location, they have a varied menu that specializes in seafood, and most importantly, they welcome children without being tacky. We first came here years ago, and it was during that visit that we became fans. Though we had a reservation, the party seated at our table wasn't getting up, and the restaurant was super crowded. While we waited they brought us sweet potato fries to keep our bellies full and were chatty and friendly to our (then) toddler. When they finally seated us, they brought us a ton of appetizers, all on the house. Today we didn't have that problem, and they sat us right away. To start, they leave a dish of edamame and pretzel goldfish crackers. By the time I met up with family, the goldfish were long gone!

The cool thing about Pacific Catch is that while their menu has remained relatively unchanged for the past few years, they also offer daily specials, for those patrons wanting to try something new.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Do any of our followers use Bloglovin?

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

If so, then you are in luck! I finally claimed our blog there, so follow the link, and voila! Instant follower and you'll never miss a post again. Happy eating!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

101 Uses for a Cupcake Pan: Mini Fruit Tarts with Vanilla Custard

Mini, it seems, is in fashion. Everywhere I go I see at least three Mini Coopers parked on every block. Couples are forgoing the traditional wedding cake for cupcakes. And then there's that whole mini corn dog thing. 

With the Fourth of July coming up, I wanted to put together a red, white, and blue dessert. We received some wonderful local blueberries in our CSA box, and I love the taste of berries with custard. After buying a pint of raspberries to complete the color scheme, I knew the only problem was the vessel to put it in. I was making these for my son's preschool class, which also means they needed to be individual serving sizes. Basically, it had to be some kind of tart.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Penne Carbonara with Slow Cooked Egg

Like any science geek who also happens to know his way around a kitchen, I'm fascinated by modernist cooking. My Father's Day gift was a molecular gastronomy kit that I'm itching to try out. But while foams, powders, and meat glue belong more in the realm of high-end restaurants, there is one technique that I as a home cook feel still keeps the dinner plate as a dinner plate and doesn't turn it into a petri dish.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mojito Watermelon Salad

Nothing says summer like the taste of fresh watermelon, and I always look forward to the first one of the season. Though I love it in it's virgin state, sometimes I like to be more creative in how I serve it up. One day, I was thinking of a Mojito, when this idea was born. It's a great summer salad that can be served for breakfast, lunch or even dessert!

For a side salad to accompany a more hearty breakfast, here's what you'll need to satisfy 4 guests:

1 Ruby Red grapefruit
Half of a small, seedless watermelon
1 lime
10-12 leaves of fresh mint
sugar (optional)

First, pop on over to your local Farmer's Market to pick up a fresh watermelon. Here in CA we have lots of organic produce around us, but we are also members of a CSA, and pretty much during the summer we get one watermelon per week. That's a lot of watermelon!

Start by peeling and chopping grapefruit into bite-sized pieces and place into a large bowl. Then, chop your watermelon into bite-sized pieces and add it to the grapefruit mixture.

Next, you will want to juice up your lime. If you don't have fresh limes then you can use lime juice from a bottle, but I prefer the real deal. Using a lime/lemon juicer, you can squeeze it right into the bowl with the watermelon and grapefruit.

Coarsely chop the mint and sprinkle it over the salad. I usually grow mint in my herb garden, but sometimes when I use it all I have to run to the grocery to pick some up. I like to store it in a glassful of water to keep it fresh. Plus, you can even replant the sprigs and grow some more.

To finish, gently toss all of the ingredients together until the fruit is well-coated with the lime juice. Depending on the sweetness of the watermelon and grapefruit, I sometimes like to sprinkle a pinch of sugar to bring out the flavors. If you have time, it's best to pop it back into the fridge for a half an hour to meld the flavors.

Voila! A Mojito in a bowl that tastes just as good as the original drink.

Grapefruit and limes courtesy of Full Circle

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beet and Potato Salad

I have to give a shout out to my friend Tatiana for giving me this recipe, or at least a variation of it. She is a great cook, and I must have asked her a billion times for how she makes a Russian beet salad. Though I know that I wrote it down when she first told me, that paper has long since been lost, and I was forced to come up with something on my own. I am sure it's not as good as she makes it, but I sure do like it a lot! The key is to start with really fresh beets and a flavorful variety of potatoes. I prefer new potatoes myself - they are small, creamy and packed with flavor. Also, fresh dill will give this salad more flavor, but if there isn't any growing in your garden, dried dill will work fine. You will just need more of it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Full Circle Comes to the Bay Area

This article originally appeared in our sister site, I Left My Cart in SF.

So I have something very exciting to share with you all. It's actually not about food trucks, but it is about food, and I know our readers really love food. I am participating in the Bay Area preview of a new Farm to Table service called Full Circle. Similar to a CSA, they offer organic produce that is harvested in season from a bunch of small local farms and deliver it your doorstep each week. They also take it one step further and even deliver meats, seafood, dairy products and grains. It's one stop shopping, but better, because it's organic, and it helps support small local farmers.

Welcome to Untrucked!

Hello! Untrucked is the sister site to I Left My Cart in San Francisco - here you will find recipes, restaurant reviews and general musings about life beyond the food truck. I decided to create a separate home for more general postings about food that are not necessarily related to San Francisco food trucks. Plus, I just wanted a more personal blog so that I could write about travel, restaurants...whatever. Yes, both Brian and I love to eat at food trucks, but we also love to cook and create and try new recipes. Sometimes they are inspired by what we have eaten at the food trucks, and sometimes they are just creations of our own.

Follow us here to embark on this journey with us. We hope you discover something new!