Author Archives: Hummus Whisperer

About Hummus Whisperer

On a mission to enjoy all of the luxury life brings, food and beautiful places, but could never do it without my wife and kids.

Eating Without Ziggy – Hummus Whisperer’s San Francisco Report

I was already eating good food in NYC the day of my flight, as I somehow convinced the wife and daughter to attend the annual Grub Street Food Festival in LES, per Ziggy’s recommendation from the night before.  We arrived at the start at 10am and tasted the freshest bites.  The most memorable items included the melt in your mouth smoked short rib & pork shoulder chili with hominy from Char No. 4 (not Chanel No. 5 as they told me), borscht from Gifelteria, and coffee with a delicious pear walnut tart from Cafe Grumpy.

This was my first business trip in 2 years and last time I went to Des Moines, Iowa, enough said. First stop was at the Newark airport terminal C, the Grand Central Oyster Bar at the Newark airport Terminal C!!! Had a lovely platter of 8 oysters, the best in NYC, per Ziggy, and definitely the best at Newark Airport. Next was my first class meal with my 3rd Bloody Mary.  The chicken was a TV dinner, but the ice scream sundae on this United flight was a pleasant surprise.

There are 4487 restaurants in San Francisco according to an online review site and I’m here for 4 nights.  I think there are just as many restaurants as the homeless on the block of my hotel,  and according to a local friend they come here from all over the country to get paid a stipend and enjoy the mild weather. Apparently the city is believed to have the highest number of homeless people per capita of any major US city.  One of the reasons they arrive, in my opinion is…Sardines. It’s so important to the food scene, that Ziggy gave me an assignment to blog about “Sardines and anything else, but mostly Sardines.” It appears that there are actually no more than a dozen restaurants in SF that serve sardines, but I will look for Sardines as I don’t want to disappoint.

Lunch: The Melt – the place specializes in melted cheese sandwiches. Trust me they know what they are doing. I had the “ballpark sandwich,” a weekly special in honor of the SF Giants, spicy cheddar with hot dog and special secret mustard recipe – very tasty, they grill the bread perfectly and hide the pickle underneath the gourmet chips, all for $5.50.

For dinner I convinced my coworkers to have our first experience with Burmese food, Burma Superstar in the Inner Richmond neighborhood. I knew that the place usually has a 1 hour wait, but because the SF Giants were playing game 7 of the National League series, the place easily had room for 4. The restaurant looks like a typical eatery you can find in NY’s east village, but no human feels like a sardine here. What I didn’t know is that their tea leaf salad and rainbow salad were recently featured on the Food Network.

Each one was a perfect blend of ingredients, 21 and 25 ingredients respectively. As for the rest of the menu, I learned that the depth of smells and flavors far exceeds Chinese, Thai, Indian, and Korean food. I had a delicious mixed vegetable curry (pictured on left), my coworkers had the pumpkin shrimp and garlic shrimp dishes. The calamari salad was also outstanding. I had a Soju, Ginger, and lemon juice drink called “i know Kung  fu” as a perfect accompaniment. If you are looking for a delicious, authentic Asian experience in SF, this is the right place.

Breakfast and lunch were an easy choice with The Plant in the building. A great selection of organic juices and smoothies, as well as manual drip coffee, a concept I have not seen in NY, used to achieve the perfect brew.  Same place for lunch, a veggie burger to die for (the bun was red!).  I had one with melted cheese and mushrooms and another with wasabi Aioli. I also ate a tasty red Thai curry veggies with coconut rice.
In my hunt for sardines, I climbed a mountain, actually a Russian Hill to Pesce. Should I take a trolley? Neh. I climb like a local, even the roads have marks so you don’t slip. Note to self, stay at the Fairmont next time. That’s where the Detroit Tigers World Series delegation is staying. Grace cathedral down the block, they do yoga in there!! An hour an a half later, I finally arrived at Pesce, serving Venetian Cicchetti.  The chef is from Venice. I’m definitely the only tourist in a mile radius excluding those traveling on the trolley.  I picture the entire Tanner family from the show Full House eating here.  immediately sat at the bar and Ordered the Grilled Sardines!, squid ink risotto with Calamari, and one of my new favorite vegetables, the brussels sprouts.  First bite of sardines…delicious, no bones.  This is the kind of place I want to visit once a week. Then burned it all off by walking more steep hills and took a trolley downhill for an exhilarating ride.  Next stop, Venice.
On my last night I chose to explore a different side of the city that most tourists don’t dare to visit, the Mission District, better known as “the Mission.” You can consider it a hipster neighborhood similar to the Lower East Side with a rich history of immigrants from Germany, Ireland and more recently Mexico. Walking through the neighborhood, I saw pot smoking bums, hipsters, Punks – a thriving subculture there, packed tattoo parlors, and churches with Mexican mariachi bands, as well as Mexican, Honduran, Salvadoran and Guatemalan restaurants. I passed a famous french Michelin two star rated restaurant called Saison. There are over 350 restaurants in the Mission alone. I arrived at my destination, Gracias Madre, a Mexican restaurant famous for its unique, fresh vegan cuisine. From the first taste of their home-brewed ginger ale and bite the Appetizer, butternut squash and caramelized onions folded into tortillas with cashew nacho cheese and pumpkin seed salsa, I can tell that they emphasize healthy, organic, fresh local ingredients and flavors.  For main course I continued a squash theme with a delicious Roasted poblano chile stuffed with butternut squash and caramelized onions, topped with pecan cream sauce and pomegranate seeds, served with black beans, rice, and tortilla with side of zucchini. Also ordered a cashew version of Flan, which turned out more delicious than regular Flan.  In my opinion, this is one of the best vegan restaurants in the world.
Categories: New York City | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wohnst du noch oder lebst du schon?

That is IKEA’s slogan that never penetrated the US market and it means “A better night sleep.”. I slept well on Friday night because I ate in my favorite restaurant in NJ, after driving Ziggy and family to the airport. I may have been the only idiot since the store’s grand opening a decade ago that went to eat there and not shop and this wasn’t even the first time.  When HWW (Hummus Whisperer’s Wife, or the (“Wife”) was expecting, I convinced her to go there just so we can eat (but never told her that).  This time, to make sure no one finds me suspicious, I stood on line to buy 2 bibs for the baby behind a newlywed couple waiting to buy the Fyrkantig, the Nortviken, the Ramvik, and the Sleegensagen, just to name a few.  Good luck in your  “easy” assembly you fools, you’ll be back to return half of this junk next week! Been there, done that.  Anyway, Ikea’s restaurant not only boasts one of the best views of EWR and surrounding highways, but also serves the best Kottbullar (aka Swedish meatballs) outside of Sweden (On a few occasions I tried wanna-be imitations at Swedish restaurants in NYC for three times the price.) The $3.99 Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes are only a step behind Costco food samples in terms of value for the money but are a hearty and delicious lunch. The meatballs and mashed potatoes plate is above your average babushka-made meatballs, but what makes the dish is the sinful but tasty gravy cream sauce,  but most significant is the genuinely tasty lingonberry jam. It was supposedly made from the lingonberries grown in Swedish forests that are picked while they cut down and steal the wood from the woodchucks living there. I just realized I forgot to pick up my favorite bathroom reading material, the IKEA catalogue.  I’ll pick it up before I get Ziggy from the airport and will try the new baby back ribs meal.

Categories: New York City | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Wake up and smell the coffee!

Who is the guy in the office who seems to always fall asleep while doing his thing at the urinal? He always puts his head on his arm against the wall and snoozes off.  What does he have in common with the crazy woman on the bus who shouts in devil language and smacks her hand against the window and the seat in front of her, and then takes a nap? They both drink cup after cup of the cheap, flavorless, good-for-nothing office coffee that simultaneously makes them hyperactive sleepwhackers. They also don’t know about two hidden gems in downtown Manhattan  that are often visited by yours truly and a dozen of lost tourists on a rainy day that are lucky to find these java treasures ahead of their shop-till-you-drop adventure at Century 21.

Enter runner-up, Kaffe 1668, a unique well decorated establishment serving a fantastic choice of organic teas and a bold-flavored set of African and South American.  Tried the delicious cappuccino, this isn’t the burnt and musty Starbucks, and enjoyed the high note and balanced flavors of the Ethiopian and Costa Rican.  All three had fantastic aromas (very important if you have a slight hearing impairment and have a fetish for coffee smells and often visit Porto Rico Coffee Company – see my recent adventure with Ziggy).  And the Winner is, Manon Cafe! What’s so special about this usually empty hole in the wall? Chocolate! You leave with a chocolate taste in your mouth that lasts longer than your strongest eau de toilette.  You get a cup of Illy Italian coffee or cappuccino, with slightly subdued aroma, and a deeply dimensioned yet elegant taste. Accompanying this coffee, you get a choice of a free Leonidas Belgian Chocolate, dark or milk chocolate? It doesn’t matter which one you choose, this isn’t some cheap stuff made by Hershey, it’s a combination of coffee and chocolate that’s truly divine and makes you go Oooooooh!

Categories: New York City | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Taim Mobile and 7-Eleven: Are you kidding me?

No I’m not kidding! You don’t need to go to fancy restaurants to enjoy delicious food, it’s just a short walk down the block, especially if you live in Bangkok.  It seems that the people who enjoy one of the world’s tastiest cuisines on a daily basis, with its amazingly balanced mix of hot, sour, bitter and sweet had turned into 7-Eleven fanatics. How can I forget Cowboy Street?   Not for the fact that it’s the center of one of the red lights districts, but because the  7-Eleven I visited to buy a dim sum snack was across a narrow street from a 7-Eleven and another 7-Eleven right next door. I can’t believe that there are over 3,000 7-Eleven’s in Bangkok alone.

Let’s get to the point here.  Taim Mobile! (means delicious in Hebrew). The Falafel Platter is in fact delicious and hands down the best Falafel in NYC.  But you need to find the truck.  Luckily it’s at the World Financial Center a few days a week. I’m not a man of habit, but almost every Monday for the last eight Mondays I’ve indulged in these falafel balls mixed in hummus (how appropriate for my first post) and harissa that create a melt-in-your-mouth extravaganza, while indulging in the sweet flavor of the quinoa salad and the freshness of the Israelli Salad.   But this yummy lunch is not complete until you try the nectarous Pear, Lemon, Mint smoothie.  I enjoyed it so much, I had perfected it at home every weekend over the last month (with Vodka!).  I still think you can’t beat the Wild Cherry Slurpee with a corn dog and a beef jerky (my dinner tonight), but it’s a great NYC  lunch.   I hope to take Ziggy to the truck so he can experience what I think is a true  brouhaha.

Categories: New York City, Trucks | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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