Top 10 Things We Ate in California

Perbacco - Carne CrudaCarne Cruda at Perbacco (SF).  If you close your eyes while eating this magnificence, you may find yourself chasing chickens on the hills of Serralunga d’alba, while a little Barolo tipsy.  Once you open your eyes, you are eating this delicate hand chopped raw beauty aided by hazelnuts and quail egg at Perbacco.  This is one of San Francisco’s elite Italian specializing in dishes from the severely underrated region of Piedmont.

French Toast at NOPA (SF).  I’ve had a lot of French Toasts in my young adult life, and got the kilos to prove it.  While this French Toast doesn’t look very different than the rest of them, it couldn’t be more different.  A lot of work involved to reach such richness levels, and it only comes in one size, extra large, so great for sharing.  And while you at it, do try the great burger, before checking out SF’s version of the Painted Ladies nearby

NOPA - French Toast

Carnitas Tacos at La Taqueria (SF) – Yes, the Carne Asada Burrito griddled El Dorado style was heavenly alright, but those Carnitas just blew me away.  Heaps of juicy porky goodness topped with pico de gallo produce pure awesomeness on every morsel.  At this busy Mission legend, off hours means only a 20 minute wait

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Culotte at Cockscomb (SF) – Yes, I still have a job, which means “Cockscomb” can be safely Googled.  Its actually the comb of a rooster, and also a name of a flower.  But in SF, its a name of a hidden gem in the SOMA neighborhood.  Their Bacon Chop is sort of of a revelation, and the beef heart tartare is as good as it gets.  But it was the perfectly cooked Sirloin cap (Culotte) that left that special lasting impression.  To make a Culotte this tender, requires talent, and all signs point to no shortage of it here.

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Burrito Mojado at Los Agaves (Santa Barbara) – Who knew Santa Barbara was such a Mexican mecca.  You certainly wouldnt know while watching all those soap operas in the late 80’s (remember?).  Guadalajaran specialties throughout the menu with this grande wet burrito at the helm.  Grande often means dry, lacking flavor, but not the case here.

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Mussels at Montrio Bistro (Monterey) – Since the meal at Montrio we’ve had Mussels on three different occasions, and all three resulted in disappointment, anger, and even expletives on one occasion.  PMD (Post Mussels Depression) is apparently a real thing.  Something one can get after experiencing Mussels from Penn Cove in Whidbey Island, Washington that can put Prince Edward Island Mussels to shame.  Cooked and served with a mild red curry broth, these were some of the fullest, sweetest mussels I ever had

Montrio Mussels

Rotisserie Chicken at El Huarique (LA) – A pleasant surprise in the middle of Venice Beach boardwalk was this hole in the wall producing some of the best Peruvian in recent memory (recent memory is 10 days give or take these days).  Unlike the plethora of touristy eats outside, there’s zero atmosphere here, unless you have a wall fetish.  The menu includes a nice Lomo Saltado, Chinese like beef and veggie stir fry, ceviche, and this perfectly spiced chicken.

El Huarique Chicken

Hummus With Mushrooms at Itzik Hagadol (LA) – “Big Isaac” came up as Donald Trump would say, “Huuuuuuuge”.  This Encino gem dishes out all the Israeli classics in a sprawling space that allows you to bring the entire Mishpucha without notice.  WITHOUT NOTICE!  The hummus had that perfectly creamy texture and flavor you can only find in select places.  And those shrooms elevated this thang even further.  And while you at it, try the Moldovan Mititei, beautifully spiced kebabs made from mixed ground meat.  Some of the bulkiest, juiciest Mititei I’ve had in recent memory

Itzik Hagadol Hummus

Fried Chicken at Big Sur Bakery (Big Sur) – I know fried chicken.  I mastered in fried chicken (minored in couscous).  This was good fried chicken.  And the pizzas, especially with egg, not too shabby at this perfect stop on your stop-go-stop-go-stop-lose-your-glasses Route 1 day

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“Toast and Jam” ice cream at Humphry Slocombe (SF) – We fell in deep lasting mad love with this ice cream shop in the Ferry Building.  The ice cream has all the textures and sharp flavors of a top notch Gelato (technicalities!).  While their top seller “Secret Breakfast” was brilliant indeed the “Toast and Jam” was even brillianter (Is that a word?  I think so).  Dying wish type stuff.

Strawberry Ice Pop at Yosemite National Park – Nothing particular noteworthy at this stand by the entrance to the mist trail.  Though having it at the end of the hike to the top of the falls on your way back can be as satisfying as any of the items above.  Like a gift from the gods.

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