Hog Island Oyster Co. — Marshall, CA

23 06 2014

This weekend we took a trip up to Point Reyes for some hiking, some eating, and some general out-of-the-city time. It was awesome. The weather was mostly beautiful (save the extreme wind conditions on half our Saturday hike), and some of the food was spectacular. I’ll do another post for our experience at Sir and Star, but wanted to quickly recap the fun stop we made at Hog Island Oyster Co. on our way out.

oyster

Having been to the Hog Island in the Ferry Building in SF a number of times (omg, try the clam chowder; it’s out of this world), I was keen to see what their home base was like. Directly bordering the east side of Tomales bay on Highway 1 is a tiny town called Marshall which houses a number of oyster farms and retailers. Oysters are the “thing” on this stretch of land, as they are harvested right there in the shallow waters of Tomales Bay. And while I’ve never been an oyster person, I wanted to see what it was about.

map

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The Marshall location of Hog Island Oysters has a few things for patrons: 1) a stand where you can order oysters to-go to take them home and shuck/cook/not cook them yourself; 2) a picnic area with barbecues where you can reserve a table and make a day out of barbecuing oysters and whatever else you bring; and, 3) a small, rustic outdoor cafe open Friday through Monday which serves raw oysters, barbecue oysters, salad, cheese, bread, wine, and beer. The last option was my target on this quick stop-over.

The picnic area.

The picnic area.

cafe

“The Boat” outdoor cafe at Hog Island in Marshall

As we had already had breakfast, this “meal” was completely superfluous, so I mostly occupied myself with taking pictures, enjoying the sunshine, and ordering the smallest amount of food possible to enable us to experience the basic offerings. Raw oysters have always scared me a bit, so we started easy with the bbq oysters. I figured if I didn’t like those, I was never going to like any version of them. We ordered four barbecue oysters (resisted adding cheese and bread) and a beer for my man friend. Fifteen minutes later, they arrived:

oysters

They smelled delicious — like barbecue spices and sauce, but I was still a bit wary. Using a tiny fork, I scraped the already loosened oyster from the shell, sopped up as much flavorful juice as I could, and ate the tiny bite of food. It was delicious. A cooked oyster is soft (maybe even a little mushy?) and salty, and the flavors they barbecued onto them made them amazing. They were SO GOOD. We had two each and were really itching for more. But between the fact that we weren’t actually terribly hungry, and that every four oysters cost $13, we refrained.

But, we definitely promised ourselves we’d come back another time with a full appetite to enjoy all that Hog Island has to offer. And maybe I’ll even try a raw one next time…





Full Circle – Organic Produce Delivery

14 06 2014

Oh! I just happened to see that Full Circle is having a LivingSocial deal right now and thought I’d take the opportunity to recommend them highly! Full Circle was kind enough to give me a six month subscription for free a while back, which was totally amazing. I hadn’t really done the CSA box thing (though Full Circle is apparently not a true CSA, which is ok), and Full Circle was an amazing introduction.

If you’re thinking about getting weekly fresh, organic produce delivery and you live in the delivery areas around the SF Bay, try them out. And buy their LivingSocial deal to get a discount!

full circle

Pros:

  • Fresh, delicious produce
  • Hassle-free weekly delivery to your front door (or you can pick up at a designated location if you prefer)
  • Excellent website and customer service
  • Super easy to “skip” a delivery via their website for when you’re headed out of town

Cons:

  • My only complaint wasn’t a complaint to Full Circle, but since I live alone, it was hard for me to consume even the smallest size delivery available. And since I hate wasting food, this was always a struggle. But, if you have more than one person, or you mow through fruits and veggies, it’s awesome!




Recipe: Tzatziki Sauce

13 06 2014

It doesn’t matter that I’m not entirely sure how to correctly pronounce this word, it matters that tzatziki sauce is amazingly delicious, and now I can make it at home with relative ease. Tzatziki sauce, aka Cucumber Yogurt Dip, is a Greek sauce that is often served in gyros or on falafel. It’s delicious, and not even horrible for you. Imagine such a thing.

tzatziki

As my natural foods store does not sell pre-made tzatziki (anger!), I have been forced to fend for myself. I have now made this dip myself a half dozen times, and it’s really good. And my favorite thing about it: it’s nearly impossible to mess up.

Angie’s Amazing Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups strained Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium-sized cucumber (or 2 small ones, or a half a giant one…), peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (or 1 tablespoon dried dill spice)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Other recipes tell you to mix the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper first, then mix all that into the yogurt, then add the dill and cucumber. Some recipes recommend letting the dip rest in the fridge for two hours before eating it. My way? Do whatever the heck you feel like; just get all the stuff in a bowl together and eat it before it goes bad.

This is one of those dishes that’s just good. You really can’t mess it up. Mix things together in some weird order? Fine. Forget an ingredient or two? No worries. Don’t feel like seeding the cucumber? Still tastes great. Put in twice the amount of dill because you just love dill soooo much? More power to you.

tzatziki

A few pointers from someone who has made this many times:

  • Actually do seed the cucumber. It’s ok if you don’t, but it makes the whole thing a lot more watery, especially the following day.
  • Replacing one cup of yogurt with sour cream is a tasty alternative, but yogurt is a bit better for you and seriously tastes just as good.
  • I use Fage total classic yogurt (pronounced fa-yeh), no low-fat bullshit.
  • Honestly, dried dill (from the spice aisle) is just as good as fresh. Garlic, however, needs to be fresh. And put as much as you like of both.
  • This takes longer than you might think to make, but still not terribly long (30-40 mins or so, unless you’re lightening quick), and gets all kind of dishes dirty. Totally worth it though.

Enjoy!





Park Chow: Brunch

6 06 2014

If I were filling out a review of Park Chow on Opentable, I would check the box for “neighborhood gem”. And then I’d feel like that was super cheesy and uncheck it. Then I’d remember that it’s hecka accurate and check it again.

scramble

veggie burger

Park Chow is really just kind of your basic diner — old fashioned counter seating, a mounted board on the wall with menu items listed in individual little black clip-in lettering, and a menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads, and other American classics. But the difference is that the food is good. Like, better-than-your-basic-diner good.

And it’s just fun in there. It’s casual, unpretentious, and it’s inevitably crowded with hungry, happy patrons. It feels the way a diner should: comfortable and homey without being low-class or dingy. And last time I was there for brunch, I discovered something I never knew: they have a huge upstairs that’s partially enclosed by shade awnings! It was a beautiful sunny Saturday (an rarity in the Inner Sunset) and we were able to enjoy the outside without baking in direct sun. It was great.

scramble

IMAG1279

I wish I had taken more pictures, but, as usual, I was focused on the food. I went for the veggie burger* while my man-friend enjoyed a nice brunch scramble. The portions are pretty dang big, and we were ready for a happy nap afterward. Somehow I have to finagle a Thursday visit to experience the smoked salmon hash special… I can dream, can’t I?

*I ordered the veggie burger both to satisfy my craving for said food, and to further research the best veggie burger in the City. This one was good: nice texture, good taste, and the tzaziki sauce was a real win.

Park Chow on Urbanspoon





New Restaurant and Gift Card Giveaway: Veggie Grill

29 05 2014

Veggie Grill is heating up the West Coast as it expands out of So-Cal and into 24 locations in Cali, Oregon, and Washington. The newest location is right here in Mountain View, and I have to say that I’m looking forward to trying it. If you are too, add a comment below with your email address, or send me an email at brocandchoc@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a gift certificate for one free entree*!

Bombay Bowl $8.45 Photo Courtesy of veggie grill

Bombay Bowl $8.45
Photo Courtesy of veggie grill

The concept is simple: craveable food that’s all plant-based and good for ya to boot. Yep, even though “chickin” is on their menu, there’s not an ounce of meat, dairy, eggs, or cholesterol in the whole lot. And with a pretty big selection of burgers, sandwiches, salads, bowls, and some pretty tempting sides (hello quinoa mac and cheese), it looks like they’re doing a good job of making fast-casual food not totally suck.

Harvest Bowl $8.95 Photo Courtesy of veggie grill

Harvest Bowl $8.95
Photo Courtesy of veggie grill

Santa Fe Crispy Chickin' Sandwich Photo Courtesy of veggie grill

Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’ Sandwich
Photo Courtesy of veggie grill

All Hail Kale $8.95 Photo Courtesy of veggie grill

All Hail Kale $8.95
Photo Courtesy of veggie grill

Also, to be perfectly honest, I just love a menu where I can eat every single thing on it. I try very hard never to complain about being a pescatarian (because I do it by choice, obviously), but sometimes it’s so nice to take my guard down and choose my lunch pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey style. Three cheers for healthier, affordable, meat-free, tasty options!

As mentioned, I have not actually been to Veggie Grill yet to try some of these tasty-sounding meals, but was compelled to write about them anyway because I like the concept and the menu. If you’ve been to Veggie Grill, tell me what you think (good or bad)! I’m curious. :)

Veggie Grill: 565 San Antonio Road, Mountain View, CA 90404. 650-559-1535. www.veggiegrill.com

veggie grill

Photo Courtesy of veggie grill

*They only gave me five gift cards, peeps, so contact me quick-like before they’re gone.





Mother’s Day Brunch at The Cliff House

21 05 2014

Mom likes a nice view and an elegant atmosphere. Cut to: The Cliff House Restaurant perched nicely atop a (wait for it) cliff on the very western reaches of San Francisco, overlooking the grand old Pacific. The beautifully renovated 1909 facility has been around since 1863, at least in name — two former incarnations succumbed to fire over the years (once even after surviving the 1906 earthquake — doh!).

Mom

Happy Mom’s Day Mom!!!

The Sunday Champagne Brunch Buffet is hosted weekly in the Terrace Room of the Cliff House, overlooking views of Ocean Beach and the Pacific herself. They jack the price up for Mom’s Day, but that’s to be expected.

I have to say I was a bit scared that the food wouldn’t be great, and that the selling points were the famous digs and great views rather than the platters in the center of the room. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised. The list of food on offer goes on and on, but I’ll just show you a few pics to ponder. Also, they had a harp player to round out the elegant vibe. Harps rock. And this lady even played us some Stairway. Stairway on harp!! What more could you ask for?

IMG_4016

as we approach…

fruit

not an unimpressive fruit platter

salmon

smoked salmon (drool)

asparagus

citrus asparagus

breakfast

foods in warmy trays

 

mom

hi mom!

paella

paella

benedict

it’s not brunch without a benedict.

shrimp

shrump!

dessert

desserts!

plate

my first plate (not my last)

harp

And don’t forget the harpist!





Japanese Restaurant Provides Stuffed Animals for Solo Diners

12 05 2014

In response to a recent comment I made to a friend about eating dinner alone at a restaurant, she sent me an article about a Japanese cafe’s solution to this issue. At the Moomin Cafe, a giant, stuffed member of the Moomin family will happily accompany you for a coffee and a pastry.

moomin

moomin

stuffed animal restaurant 3

moomin

Based on the popular children’s books written by Finnish author Tove Jansson between 1945 and 1993, the little “friends” scattered around this cafe are purportedly cast in their roles in order to alleviate the loneliness of solo diners. Though I can’t seem to find the restaurant’s website to confirm this claim (as opposed to the restaurant merely being an adorable tribute to their namesake book series), nor do I really feel that an over-sized stuffed hippo would distract me from any gloominess I might feel being alone in a restaurant, I still like this idea.

Almost as enticing as Japan’s now famous cat cafes, I would definitely enjoy a slice of cake across from this little Moomin.

stuffed animal restaurant 2

hi there, little guy!

 

 








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