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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.