Tag Archives: lobster

Off The Grid street food photoblog, San Francisco

Regular readers of the blog may know off my penchant for street food, so whilst researching for my little jaunt around San Francisco, one thing on my food radar was seeking out the best street food I could find. I’ve watched many a street food programme on the Food Network channel and followed how street food has exploded in America over the last few years. Meanwhile, street food has emerged as part of the zeitgeist across the UK; London has a number of well known street food markets, such as Street Feast London and Brixton Market, Manchester with events such as B.Eat Street MCR, and Leeds has the Belgrave Street Feast and Amazing Graze….I could go on.

One of my guide books highlighted a weekly event called Off The Grid, with the aim of about gathering different food communities together they have 35 weekly public markets across the San Francisco Bay Area!! On reading this you can imagine my thoughts…..alarm bells, fanfares, party poppers going off absolutely everywhere!! A quick nosey on the website just reaffirmed my excitement and it was one of the first things I noted down as a FOODIE MUST DO on our trip.

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So as part of the itinerary I’d planned, we rocked up Friday 5pm (if that’s possible after walking 20+ miles in 35°C heat) to Off The Grid at the Fort Mason Centre. We anticipated seeing up to 32 different traders serving their wares from trucks, carts or tents…ahhhh STREET FOOD HEAVEN!!! There were so many different cuisines on offer; from Malaysian, Nepalese and Filipino to Koreon, Mexican, Asian and many others besides!

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After a quick scoot round to get my eye in and awaken my taste buds, we both ended up with what could be classed as four courses.

Pork belly Gua Bao, Maui Fish Taco, Sangria, Pork and Chive Dumplings, Strawberry and Lemonade Popsicle
Pork belly Gua Bao, Maui Fish Taco, Sangria, Pork and Chive Dumplings, Strawberry and Lemonade Popsicle

I love a Gua Bao and one of the best around are served up by The Chairman who offer a steamed or baked bao, I went for the steamed belly pork bao ($3.75) and it was so good!!! Soft, pillowy bao filled with uber soft pork, topped with pickled daikon and shiso leaf, with the addition of some chilli sauce made for a very tasty intro to Off The Grid. At just over £2 sterling, a bargain too!!

My second course was a Fish Taco from The Taco Guys, I think this was my favourite out of everything I ate that evening!!! Every ingredient was evident from the first mouthful and it was so full of fresh flavours, but also textures from the panko breadcrumb coating, creamy mayo, pickled onion and slaw. I found it hard to resist going for seconds and well worth $6, as it was a decent size too!

Our third savoury course came in the form of dumplings from Happy Dumplings, my friend and I are both dumpling fans so ordered a portion of pork and chive. Three large dumplings ($4 I think) had quite a thick casing filled with lots of pork; they were tasty, but weren’t my favourite. 

My last course had to be something cold and refreshing, especially as it had been a scorcher of a day, so an ice lolly or popsicle as they call them from Fat Face was in order. From a selection of unusual flavour combinations, including apricot/curry and thai tea/sweet potato I chose one of the safer picks of strawberry and lemonade ($3.50). Exactly what the doctor ordered!! 

Such a great atmosphere and it was rammed with people all enjoying great food and drink!

Hey street food fans, wouldn’t it be great to have something like this in Leeds every week? 
Off The Grid
2 Marina Blvd
Fort Mason Centre
San Francisco
CA 94123
http://offthegridsf.com/markets/fort-mason-center#about

Digby’s @ The New Ellington

You could quite easily drive past The New Ellington Hotel as it’s tucked away very neatly on York Place. I’d read good things about the place and fancied trying it for myself, so armed with a Pink Gorilla 30% off voucher a table for 2 was booked in their restaurant.

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From the main reception and lounge area, downstairs we entered a dining room that was gorgeous visually, very sumptuous with deep purple velvet seats and walls covered with Art Deco pictures from Tamara Lempicka.

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I had high hopes after reading that their kitchen is lead by Anton Scoones, who had worked at The Town Hall Tavern previously. We were welcomed in and brought to our table, the only customers in there. The wine list and menus were soon brought over by our waitress who was immediately very friendly and chatty.

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Looking at the À la carte menu when doing my usual pre-meal research I found that they have a mix of traditional and more dishes with a twist. Starters range from £6.95 to £10.95 for lobster lasagne while main courses, e.g. Caesar salad, pot of mussels to a Yorkshire rib-eye steak range from £11.95 to £19.95.

I chose the crispy duck egg followed by salt cod and scallop, my fellow diner the lobster lasagne and flat iron steak.

Crispy duck egg
Crispy duck egg
Lobster Lasagne
Lobster Lasagne

The starters arrived looking pretty as a picture, my asparagus tender and an excellent crispy duck egg, perfectly cooked with a gorgeous golden runny yolk and coated with breadcrumbs giving it another texture. A great starter, light and tasty, making use of the very end of the asparagus season (due to prolonged wintery weather). The lobster lasagne was a far more complicated affair. Deconstructed into its component parts, with an avocado ice cream which even for me (who isn’t a fan of avocados) was delicious. It had a sprinkling of something with a flavour we couldn’t quite put our finger on, so after asking our waitress she consulted the kitchen and informed us it was a lobster oil turned into a snow. It had a very delicate taste, I wouldn’t really say we got the lobster favour though.

10Oz aged Yorkshire Flat Iron steak with hand-cut chips
10Oz aged Yorkshire Flat Iron steak with hand-cut chips
Home cured salt cod and King Scallop
Home cured salt cod and King Scallop

My main course of salt cod and scallop looked as good as my starter, perfectly arranged the plate. I dove straight in, going first for the salt cod which was well cooked and with a delicate saltiness, usually salt cod can be a bit full on for me, but this wasn’t too salty, I’ve had some in Spain (Bacalao) and I must admit I struggled with it. The scallops tasted nice, but were probably a touch over for me, then again I’m quite happy to eat scallop dancing between cooked/not cooked. The gnocchi were lovely and light, while the samphire was a perfect accompaniment giving it that added flavour of the sea. The steak looked great and I was secretly half wishing I’d ordered that instead, it was a decent size and cooked medium rare, as requested. It was very succulent, juicy and full of flavour and my fellow diner when asked about it gave a satisfactory nod which was all that was needed. A good steak must be partnered with good chips and these were. They had a golden crust with a lovely soft, fluffy centre. Very yummy!

I then ordered a dessert of lemon meringue pie – a decent sized dessert had a lovely zesty lemon pie, topped with lovely meringue and dehydrated strawberries. A refreshing sorbet, coulis and espuma craquant which was thin and crisp filled with a very yummy foam. We did get another snow though, again I wasn’t sure what it tasted of.

Lemon meringue pie
Lemon meringue pie

We wanted to try some cocktails so a Gin mojito and a non-alcoholic cocktail was ordered. Both were very refreshing and a nice alternative to the usual dessert wine or coffee.

Berry cup and Hendricks 'Ginito'
Berry cup and Hendricks ‘Ginito’

Apart from the À la carte menu they also have a set menu available at two courses for £16.95 and £19.95 for three. Digby’s is well worth a visit, it has lovely food, wine, great cocktails and friendly service. In terms of cost, with our 30% voucher it was £80 (without tip) for 2 people.

What I would say is it would enhance the dining experience to be told what it is in the dish in more detail, as some of their dishes show off technical wizardry. There were a number of times where we asked what things were, even though our waitress kindly asked the chef, it would have been nice if as part of their practice, they already knew this information.

That aside I’d still recommend Digby’s!

Digby’s Restaurant
The New Ellington
23-25 York Place
Leeds
LS12EY
0113 204 2150

Porto – not just good for Port, you know!!

I’ve been a bit busy with work and life in general, so have been a bit interrupted in posting this, but the food was too good to leave off the blog!!!

We’d arrived in Porto on the second leg of our trip in Portugal in the pouring rain. So I had to restrain myself from taking a zillion photos, just visiting Rossio station to admire the traditional blue and white tiles inside. Really not wanting to venture outside to have dinner we decided that a 5 star hotel we were staying in should have a decent restaurant, so after some drinks in the bar we ventured down. The Astoria restaurant looked as plush as the rest of the hotel, beautifully elegant.

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We chose a Branco de Gaivosa, a delicious dry white from the Douro Valley. The menu had lots of yummy things on it and we decided on a shrimp bisque and an octopus carpaccio to start with and red mullet and veal tenderloin for our main course. The staff were lovely, friendly but restrained at the same time. An introductory dish was brought over, with compliments from the chef, sea bass with a celery purée. Excellent flavour and I loved the celery purée, worked with the fish.

Amuse bouche, sea bass with celery purée, tomato
Amuse bouche, sea bass with celery purée and tomato

Our starters arrived and mine in particular looked fantastic, rich in colour, I didn’t even have to taste to know it would pack a punch in terms of flavour.

Lobster bisque with confit tomato
Shrimp bisque with lobster medallion and tomato confit
Octopus carpaccio
Octopus carpaccio with coriander purée, bread croutons and green sauce vinaigrette

Both starters were wolfed down quickly!!! Now with our tastebuds stimulated we were really looking forward to the main event.

Mullet
Mullet with citrus risotto, pork jam and orange sauce
Veal chop
Veal tenderloin, with potato and celeriac gratin with braised vegetables

Both dishes looked fantastic and tasted just as good, I was really impressed by the standard of cooking. The veal was cooked perfectly, medium rare, very juicy and succulent. My red mullet was beautifully cooked and I loved the risotto, creamy and al dente with zest woven through it. The amazing orange sauce matching well with the strong flavour that mullet has. It really brought the whole dish alive, I loved it all!! I just wish I could cook this good!

My fellow diner had enough room for dessert, a chocolate filled tube. Perfectly thin chocolate with a light mousse and sharp raspberries, a real winner.

Chocolate tube
Chocolate tube filled with white chocolate mousse and raspberry sauce

If you’re ever in Porto, I would highly recommend this restaurant with food that tastes just as good as it looks, excellent service and perfect location.

Astoria
Intercontinental Hotel
Praca de Liberdade, 25
Porto, 4000-322
Portugal
http://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/porto/prtha/hoteldetail