I Left My Heart and Footprint in San Francisco

I grew up in Santa Cruz, so whenever I mention “The City” it has always been San Francisco that I have had in mind. I spent a bit of time there during the last few years of high school but I have now lived in LA for 6 years and since then I have had limited visits. Especially because when I head up north my mom wants me all to herself. I have had small excursions and I was a guest at the Tasty Awards last winter, but I have yet to really spend some quality time in the city that I always assumed I would end up living in. This weekend was different, one of my best friends who is more of a sister, named d’Auria, had just moved there from New Orleans and the whole time felt like us going home in some weird way. I picked her up on Saturday and she told me that another friend from Santa Cruz was in the city to see Wicked and asked if I wanted to hang out with him. I knew his name right away and was pleased that he knew who I was, even though I was a grade older and only knew him because he had dated an acquaintance during my senior year of high school. He was right across from the Ferry Building, we picked him up and I asked d’Auria to get on her phone and find me a sandwich. We drove around until she found a place on her Yelp App. She navigated me and we ended up only a block away from where we started. The sandwich place she found was closed and with our princess parking we went by foot and returned to the Ferry Building. Here is my bestie, d’Auria, in front of the building that houses a ton of culinary treasures.

The place was bustling and it contained some of my favorite things. I loved the oysters because of the aphrodisiac element and the mushrooms for their richness while still containing zero calories. I took a picture of Cowgirl Creamery because I know how much Josie loves their cheeses. I, on the other hand, love my cheeses like I love my men…hard and hol(e)y. We were in the mood to be served so we just browsed and returned to the car. I said something to d’Auria about how all of the LA food bloggers go nuts over Tartine. She told me that she goes there several times a week and loves just getting a baguette and jam. d’Auria is a French girl that is a foodie in her own right and she led me straight there. It was in the Hayes Valley neighborhood. It was the exact kind of neighborhood I dream about living in. There is a park in the center with an enormous woman statue made of recycled parts and is surrounded by boutiques, candy shops, and people picnicking and serenading one another. We walked to the bakery and it was quiet and empty. I thought that surely this couldn’t be THE Tartine that gives people food boners. Correct I was, it was not. Apparently we were at Tartine Cafe Francais instead of Tartine Bakery. I didn’t mind. I was starving, this place had a French owner, and my French bestie vouched for it and the prices were so reasonable. I am always happy when I see a sandwich less than $7. I had the salami and swiss with cornichons. I told d’Auria about how when I was in Cannes I brought a jar of cornichons  back with me in my luggage and what a tragedy it would have been if  the jar were to break. d’Auria proved why I love her so much by saying, “Then you would really smell Jewish.”

My sandwich was quite good and reminded me of something I ate in France. Simple, small, and fresh ingredients. Apparently this place has been here longer than the other Tartine and it clearly doesn’t have the same clout. It is a friendly neighborhood bakery and one that I wish was in my own neighborhood. The pastries were all hand crafted and everything was yummy and inexpensive. I left with an apricot hamatashan. I liked the fruit filling but strangely enough it was d’Auria who isn’t Jewish that explained to me this significance of this little cookie. We had a nice stroll through the park and then I said I needed a drink because I was parched. I said either a Diet Coke, a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, or a cider. I ended up with the latter, a pomegranate cider brewed by Two Rivers, at  the 21st Amendment Brewery. It was a perfect neighborhood brewery, there were two bars inside, the food looked delicious, and along with serving local brews they also brewed their own beers.

d’Auria and I were left by our friend and we headed to her new office to change for dinner. Her new office is this very cool warehouse space in the SOMA district. She is working with her other Jewish BFF (actually all of her besties are Jews) on a very exciting new project that I can’t wait to tell you all about. We grew up in the same town, went to the same HS, and have the same confident/bossy demeanor that can be a lot to handle. We talked about business, dating, partnerships and everything else under the sun. We ate nuts, drank Stella, and it felt like the guys (er, girls) getting back together. It was fantastic. At around 9:30, I said I was hungry for dinner and we agreed on a Thai restaurant by the office. The place was called Manora, which made us both think of Hanukkah, and it was kismet.  We ordered the fresh mint rolls, a chicken curry (after we told the duck curry we were planning on getting was very spicy), and some pad thai. The fare we ordered was standard but the food was all very good. d’Auria got full early on but I could have been grazing for hours. I was having a fantastic day in a fantastic city and I couldn’t help but notice that the packed restaurant contained 90% men. This was far better numbers than we have in LA.

I told d’Auria when we were driving into The City that I had the feeling that I sometimes get when I go on a first date, which is a repetition in my head of “Don’t fall in love. Don’t fall in love. Don’t fall in love.” However, San Francisco won me over…hard. I had the perfect day, great conversation, good food and drink, princess parking throughout the city, and good weather. I think I left a bit of my heart in San Francisco but the rest of my footprint has yet to be made. I am quite certain that the other foot will drop in the future and I’ll return to this beautiful city that has always felt like part of my destiny.

Santa Cruz: A Meal and A View from the Crow’s Nest

My mom is a woman that is not one bit of a fool, even though she shares her birthday with April Fool’s Day. It hasn’t been an easy birthday to have, especially when you are a woman as sensitive as my mother. My uncle once wrapped her up a dead bird when she was 13 and I tried to top that by giving her a dead fish when I was 10. I have since realized that this behavior is simply not funny. My mama is the kindest person I have ever known and on her last birthday she flew us to Costa Rica. She allowed me and my little bro to zip-line the rain forest, sit in mineral baths at a resort, get pina coladas IN the pool bar, and so much more. I decided that this year I would drive home to see her. I drove to Santa Cruz on Wednesday night and arrived only minutes before it was about to become her birthday. She managed to bypass most pranks on her birthday this year, except for one. At the home where my grandpa lives, a place filled with seniors, there is one young guy in his 40s who lives there because he had a stroke. He was wearing a shirt that said, “Keep Staring- I might do a trick” and as he was walking down the stairs my mom said, “I like your shirt!” He was on step number 5 and tumbled down the rest of them causing all of the nurses to run in a frenzy, my mom was terrified that she distracted him and caused him to fall. The man went from his tumbling position to standing straight up and saying, “April Fools!” Nursing homes are simply NOT the place for practical jokes. After all this, my mom decided that she wanted her birthday dinner to be at the Crow’s Nest despite already being there earlier in the week. I suggested she let me pick the restaurant and she said I needed to stop being bossy. She’s much tougher since she started martial arts and told me she could put me in a headlock. I obliged. We headed off to dinner and were later joined by our favorite neighbor, Buzz, who has been a regular at our meals and is now part of the family.

There are some things that Nor Cal (if you wanna be technical, Central Coast) does better than most and that is sourdough bread and calamari. I once learned at Disney California what makes San Francisco Sourdough bread better than everyone else’s, but I forget. Ok, I will admit it, I only have done those tours for the free bread and tortilla samples. Of course, a ton of places do breaded and lightly fried calamari, but it just brings back so many memories of my childhood when I eat it in Santa Cruz. I remember being at the Boardwalk (if you’ve seen the Lost Boys, then you have seen it) and eating it on the Sky Gliders and walking the wharf with a basket and being so impressed that I, at age 7, was eating and loving squid. Anyway, calamari up in SC is personal for me and at the Crow’s Nest they made it perfectly. For the main course, I had the swordfish with truffle oil and I had them substitute artichoke risotto for the mashed potatoes because I heart artichokes. The swordfish was a tad too dry but it is not my job to complain, it was my mom’s special day. She, who chose a seafood restaurant and is not even a vegetarian, ordered the vegetable stir-fry. It was an odd choice because my mom makes the best stir-frys and makes them all of the time. Oh well, it was her special day and I won’t get on her ordering style. Buzz and my brother, Cody, had the hamburger and french fries and Cody even shot the burger picture himself.

For dessert, the waiter was kind enough to bring out a mud pie for my mom. Did I think the food was stellar? Not quite. Did I think the service was out of this world? Not in the slightest. However, our busboy Shane was fantastic and he was my mom’s preschool student many years ago and someone I went to high school with. I was also told that my brother’s babysitter, Justine, is the hostess here and that my mom is good friend’s with a waiter who is the brother-in-law to one of our neighbors. It was a community meal that made my mom happy and that made me happy. For my birthday, she was kind enough to take me to the expensive and two Michelin starred restaurant, Manresa, in Los Gatos for perhaps the best meal of my life. While I prefer the seafood from Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing, this was my mom’s choice and it was a good one. This is a family restaurant and represents so much of our extended family in Santa Cruz, not to mention the view is gorgeous. Without being too obvious, it is called the Crow’s Nest and it has the view to match. If you wanna see where Santa Cruzans eat and work, then come here! I guarantee you will run into people we know.

My Time at the First Annual Tasty Awards

Josie and I were thrilled to be part of the process of the 1st annual Tasty Awards, as we both acted as judges. At the last minute Josie made the tough decision to honor a work commitment rather than attend the Tasty Awards with moi. I completely understood but I found myself dateless. 20 minutes before leaving for NorCal I quickly wrote a post and asked on Twitter if any SF/Bay Area foodies/bloggers wanted to accompany me to the award show and after party. In typical UG fashion, I wasn’t overwhelmed by a plethora of date options but a nice girl who goes by Smashed Potatoe was interested. Smashed Potatoe (Ashley) and I communicated via Twitter on my drive up north to my hometown of Santa Cruz. I arrived late at night, read books with my bro, and had to wake up at 7A because my favorite hair stylist Tommy-tito was sweet enough to squeeze me in on his busiest week for cut and color. He opened the Parlor, just for me, and darkened my hair and gave me bangs. I left in the late afternoon off to meet my new friend and have an adventure in San Francisco. The recommended attire was black tie but I noticed that some were in ball gowns and tuxes and some were in jeans and sandals. It reaffirmed why I love San Francisco and first annual events so much. It is the unexpected, the surprises, and all the awkward turtle and uncouth moments that make life grand. The show was hosted by the very sexy and zany Zane Lambrey of Three Sheets. I wasn’t all that familiar with him but my date Ashley was and said he was someone we definitely had to get a drink with after the show. Since you have already seen the first picture you know we made this dream a reality.

The award show began with their person of the year, Anthony Bourdain. Unfortunately, he was not there but he made a video acceptance speech and his executive producers came up and said that he asked them to tell dick and fart jokes. This is how the award show started and more uncouth and awkward turtle moments followed and caused me and my date for the evening to bond in looks and laughs. Some funny lines of the night came from the Cooking for the Clueless and her producer husband that admitted to sleeping with the talent. We were seated in the second row and had the honor of being only a few seats down from the lovely Debbie Mazar who we discovered was starting a web show called Under the Tuscan Gun. We also were both gawking at the “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” guys who won the award for best animated food related movie, of course they were the only nominees but we loved them..too bad they had dates.

There was quite a lot of talk during the night from presenters and winners talking about wanting to go to the party to eat and/or drink. Ashley was making me laugh by adding in comments like, “I have seen his/her show and they need a cocktail”. It was in walking the few blocks to the after party at New People that the whole evening really loosened up. People didn’t know what the awards ceremony would be like but we all knew how to have a party. The space of the After Party was a gallery, store, and cafe. The whole event took place in Japan Town so the party was equipped with Harajuku style girls and it was funny seeing everyone get loose when alcohol and food were finally added to the mix.

One of my favorite people of the award show was the Queen of the Trailer Park, Miss Jolene Sugarbaker, who won the award for Best Comedy Series. She was a kick and was in character all night. The other award winners I thoroughly enjoyed was Average Betty and Leslie from Check, Please! Bay Area. These Tasty winners were complete UGs, as they both ended up using their awards as drink holders. Hilarious, and all women I aspire to become!

The awards show was fresh and had a laid back attitude that is unusual in such a setting. The after party was like a maze of finding all of the interesting characters of the night and searching for wine and chocolate. Ashley was a perfect date and I was thrilled to learn we both like food, booze, and have elephant tattoos. Anyway, a big thanks to all for giving me a great night and making the Tasty Awards as tasty as can be!

Tasty Awards: Simply Scrumptious

We know the Taste TV people from their fantastic Chocolate Salon events in Pasadena. So when we heard that there was going to be the first annual Tasty Awards honoring the best in food and fashion on television, in film, and online we knew we had to be a part of it. We were fortunate enough to be part of the select Tastemaker Awards Panel and will be attending the ceremony on January 14th in San Francisco. Have no fear, uncouthies:  you, too, can vote and attend. Click on their website and vote in the People’s Choice categories section from now until January 5th and you can purchase VIP tickets to the historic award show here. We, the Uncouth Gourmand Girls, are so looking forward to the event. Here is a list of attendees thus far:

Hosted by food and travel television star Zane Lamprey of “Three Sheets” fame (FLN), the show features a star-studded lineup of food and fashion TV celebrities, including Tyler Florence (Food Network), Joanne Weir (PBS), G. Garvin (TV One), Tanya Holland (Food Network), Leslie Sbrocco (PBS), Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine Library TV), Marcy Smothers (Radio), Novella Carpenter (Author), Anita Chu (Author), Dominique Crenn (Food Network – Next Iron Chef), Brian Solis (New Media Guru), Marissa Churchill (Bravo, Top Chef), and more.


Special Achievement Awards have been announced for Anthony Bourdain, Martin Yan, Paul Prudhomme, YouTube, Alton Brown, Jacque Pepin, Meryl Streep, Giada De Laurentiis, and Tim Gunn, among others.

Forget the Academy Awards, we would so much rather be at an award show where Anthony Bourdain, Top Chef, Project Runway, Cake Boss and Guy Fieri lead the awards finalists. Plus, I am sure the gourmet wine, food, and chocolate after party will be tastier than any other award show!

Who is the Cioppino King?

What kind of girl wakes up in the morning dreaming of an Italian fish stew? Me, Carina, an Uncouth Gourmand 4 lyfe and the one without a seafood allergy. I was craving it and  I decided to ask my fellow Twits for the best bowl in LA. As the old adage goes, ask and you shall receive. I received a response from the top dog himself. The god of all foodies in LA, Mr. Jonathan Gold. Here is what he had to say:

High end, Admiral Risty; maybe better, the back room at Fish King in Glendale. RT @uncouthgourmand Where can I get a good cioppino in LA?

I was on cloud nine and invited a foodie that I used to date who I know loves Fish King to join me for a bowl. Like a real lady, I invited him via email and he responded saying:

I’ll gladly, and with much pleasure join you for some Cioppino. Now if you’re feeling really brave, you could always try the Fish King version and then when/if you go up home for the holidays, you can go to Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing and compare the two Cioppinos.

Well we planned on grabbing cioppino two days before Thanksgiving and it just so happens that the day after I was heading to my hometown of Santa Cruz. Phil’s Fish Market is maybe 20 minutes from my childhood home and has the cioppino that I have compared all other cioppinos to. How dare this gentleman plant this idea in my head. How could I walk in to Fish King with anything but ultra high expectation? I had the snapper sandwich and the bowl of cioppino. The cioppino was very inexpensive under $8 and the biggest surprise was it came with rice inside. I had never seen that but it added a nice touch. It was good and a very decent value but it became clear that the Fish King was not the Cioppino King.

I constantly end up either at the airport or on the road on the busiest travel day of the year, the day before Thanksgiving, and am always surprised there are so many people out. As I was getting in to Monterey, the 101 was at a halt and I decided to get on another freeway, the 183, which brings you right in front of Phil’s Fish Market. Continue reading

NOLA Talent Mixes it up at the Edison

UG girls at the Edison

We have been invited to Radio Room, a monthly event at the Edison, for a few months now but, unfortunately, have never been able to attend. The concept is extremely cool, it is when they get bartenders from across the country to come in for a one night only event. Last night they had mixologists Danny Valdez, Ricky Gomez, and Kirk Estopinal from the Cure New Orleans come in. Strangely enough I went to the opening of Cure on my first and only trip to the Big Easy. I remember being very impressed by the interesting cocktails at Cure and the new cool space but I must say it has nothing on the Edison. The Edison is an incredible space that always blows me away with a rich history and secret rooms. Anyway, the mixture of the NOLA bartenders and getting to be in the Edison without having to wait in that long weekend line was a huge sell.

Here was the one night only cocktail list:

cure mixologist at Edison

  • Big Black: Jameson with black tea-infused dry Vermouth and bitters
  • Celery Stalker: Plymouth Gin with housemade celery bitters and bubbly
  • Chamomile Kilt: Glenlivet Scotch muddled with fresh lemon, mint and housemade chamomile simple syrup
  • Fall Side Car: A classic Cognac Daisy using Martell VS, Limoncello and pimento dram
  • The Lounge Martini: Plymouth Gin with Limoncello and apricot brandy
  • The Nervous Light of Sunday: Plymouth Gin, fresh lemon, bitters and grapefruit zest
  • The Tea Rose: Plymouth Gin infused with Orange Pekoe tea, St. Germain and rosewater

I had the Big Black because of of my love of tea and Jameson and Josie had the Nervous Light of Sunday, which was a refreshing punch. The drinks and the mixologists were the stars of the night. However, they shined much brighter because of the wonderful big band playing background. The band was Elliot Deutsch Big Band, and they were awesome!

big band at the Edison

edison bar downtown

big band music

It was a fun night and even though we had an out of character “early night” it was still well worth it. By the way, the man of the hour-who always tells about these awesome events-is John of Social Domain LA. His site provides all the info for food, wine, and drink events in Los Angeles.

social domain and uncouth gourmand girls at the Edison

In an effort to get better about telling you, our readers, about events ahead of time (like John and the great Caroline on Crack) we want to tell you about the Edison’s  Midnight Mission toy drive. On Wednesdays, up until December 16th, if you get to the Edison before 9pm with an unwrapped toy you can get in for free (normally a $10 cover). A great cause, a night of cabaret, and well-crafted cocktails means that the UGs will be all over that!

Edison Midnight mission toy drive

A Word on Eating Dog from our Intern

South Korea dog eating

The moment you take a step inside Chisan Halmae Chip in Daegu, South Korea, you are taken with some hefty odor that you think you’ve never smelled before. That’s probably right, because it is more than likely that you have never smelled this before, assuming that you are an average uncouth Angelena. But at a same time, you may also think that you have actually smelled this somewhere before, if not the exact same odor. That is probably also right, because according to what people say, the smell of the dog burning is just like the smell of the long pig burning, because, well, you are what you eat. Think about it. These dogs eat pretty much the same thing as we humans do; more or less, for the most part of history, they ate what we would call now the leftovers – people still want to take a doggy bag for their leftovers. And it is why we are both called omnivores. We may think that we have domesticated dogs, but it may perhaps be more accurate to say that dogs have domesticated us, which is especially true in some forms of Western cultures; those that consider killing dogs for eating or any other purposes as cultural taboos. What was once considered the undeniable right of the domesticating species, i.e. to manipulate the environment in a way that would positively affect the survival rate of the domesticated species, which would in turn positively affect the survival rate of the domesticating species – in this case, the human– has now been shriveled to a daunty, pusillanimous catchphrase:  a companion animal. What was once considered the naturally given prerogative of man as the domesticator has now been folded under the empty slogan of animal rights, and now we face a dilemma that faced a certain famous Danish prince 400 years ago, or something very close to that: to eat, or not to eat, that is the question.

Chisan Halmae Chip is also called Ori Maul, which in Korean means the Duck Town. I know this may sound quite ironic and even unreasonable to some, especially considering the rambling tirade that I just had about human canine consumption. But rest be assured, there is nothing wrong with this name, since this place also sells duck dishes as well. In fact, if you can sort through the alien characters on the picture of the menu below, you will see that the left side of the menu is all canine dishes, whereas the right side of the menu is all duck dishes. But since the mallardian varieties are not the subjects of our discussion here, we will leave the right part of the menu alone here.

On the other hand, the left part of the menu displays a full array of…well, 5 different canine entrees. From top to bottom, they are respectively Puppy Back Ribs; Boiled Meat –literally, water meat–, large and small; clear-broth dog soup – “the real soup, ” as they call it in the menu–; spicy dog soup; and spicy dog casserole.  Mmmmm,  yummy…..

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Picture by Kkangji (http://blog.naver.com/this1074)

I have not personally tried out all the dishes here yet, but I must say, their puppy back ribs are just incredible. In Korea, they say that hundred hearings are less than one seeing. So instead of bombarding you with my hundred words long rambling description of the wonderfully chewy and moist texture of the marinated long pig flavor exploding in my mouth, I will show you some pictures of the dishes, in courtesy of the Daegu food blogger Kkangji (http://blog.naver.com/this1074):

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The sweet and savory soy-sauce based marinade covering the ribs masks up that characteristic “long pig” smell of dog meat very well, which may really turn off some first time dog eaters, so this may very well be an ideal dish for all those queasy yet adventurous uncouth gourmands out there. Plus, it also looks a lot like pork back ribs, so I’m guessing that it would be probably easy to trick people into eating these without them knowing what they are really eating, if you are the mischievous type – though really, I’ve never tried that before. You don’t need to do that in Korea. I mean, have you ever felt any need for tricking others into unknowingly breathing in a particular gaseous mixture of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, for any reason at all?

I’ve also had the clear-broth soup, partially shown at the lower right hand corner of the picture above, which was not bad at all, but really, nothing to write home about, either. To my uncouth tastebuds, it tasted just like Solong Tang (a popular Korean style beef broth soup), except that it had pieces of dog meat in it instead of thinly sliced beef pieces.

I’ve never had the opportunity of having boiled meat at Chisan Halmae Chip, but Kkangji tells us that she enjoyed every bit of the dish, even though she herself could not dare to touch the paws, which is considered delicacy by many experienced dog eaters in Korea.

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Picture of boiled dog skin and paws at Chisan Halmae Chip. © Kkangji (http://blog.naver.com/this1074)

All in all, Chisan Halmae Chip was a very pleasant experience, as any visit to a good dog place is for me. The hefty pricetag may turn off some people, but it is not really that much more expensive compared to other places around; and as far as I know, this is the only place in Daegu that serves those delicious marinated puppy back ribs!

I would like to end this story with a lovely picture of me and my dear late Punchy, who has become a delicious barbecue on a particularly sultry day last summer. R.I.P. Punchy. I dedicate this story to you.

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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons — living or dead, — is entirely coincidental.