Birthday Eats - From SF to SoCal

I gained a year and 4lbs over my birthday.  

Guilty?  Very.  But, happy?  Absolutely!

My mom and sisters came over the day before my birthday with the intention of taking me out to lunch at a winery in Napa.  One idea led to another and we found ourselves in the City, shopping, dining, and having a blast!  It's not often that we get some uninterrupted girl time together, so that in itself was a special treat. 


Pizzeria Delfina, SF  

This is my go-to spot for a guaranteed enjoyable meal.  And always the Mission location because Delfina and Bi-Rite's salted caramel ice cream are a mandatory combination.  

We ordered:  

  • Tripe with chili oil, sea salt, and lemon
  • Spicey cauliflower with garlic, capers, breadcrumbs and Calabrian chillies (this is so good that I actually have tried to replicate it at home with 95% success rate)
  • Prosciutto arugula thin crust pizza
  • Infamous Delfina meatballs in "sugo" served in a piping hot skillet (not featured here for the obvious reason, our belly got to it before my camera) 


La Folie, SF

I told Dannie I didn't need to be treated to a fancy restaurant considering I've over indulged myself with enough decadence in the last few months.  I was serious about this, too.  But I guess he knew me more than I knew myself.  

La Folie was solid.  Food was presented beautifully and expertly prepared.  There was really nothing more I could have asked for, except maybe I wish San Francisco would allow restaurants to serve foie gras again.  Imagine the possibilities!

We ordered:

He, the prix fix truffle menu.  Me, a la carte dishes.

  • Any restaurant serving two amuse bouche deserves a major nod, especially when one of those include a runny yolk egg.  
  • Sauteed burgundy snails, in lemon butter, parsley, and bone marrow gratin.  Snails & Bone Marrow in a dish?  I'm sold.  It was definitely the most interesting preparation of snail that I've tasted
  • Pan seared local black cod, sunchoke puree, roasted salsify, butternut squash, caper-brown butter sauce. My favorite part of this dish was the caper butter sauce and the fish.  The chef prepared the cod in a way that retained its firmness yet still allowing it to melt in my mouth.  
  • Roti of quail and squab, stuffed with while mushrooms, wrapped in crispy potato strings, truffled jus.  This was practically Thanksgiving dinner in a dish.  The quail was flavorful and squab was tender.  The star was probably that beautiful quail egg that sat in truffle and a beautiful nest.  
  • Ended with coconut tapioca, passion fruit mango sorbet with basil coulis and pomegranate apple crudites.  There was hardly any room in my belly to breath but this place outdid itself with a second complimentary dessert platter  
  • I left full and guilt stricken.  I missed bootcamp class that morning, too.


SoCal Getaway

The next morning, we jetted down south for a short weekend getaway.  When my friend told me that her husband thinks I'm nuts for flying into Burbank only to drive another 30 minutes south to East LA to have some Mexican food, then drive north to Santa Barbara for a day, and then return to LA for Korean BBQ, I protested!  It makes perfect sense!  Admittedly, it sounds insane as I'm describing what we did, but it felt and tasted deliciously right.  


Mariscos 4 Vientos Food Truck, LA 



Licks lips.

I'm dreaming of that spicy, tangy, red sauce, lathered over fresh out-of-the-fryer shrimp taco that burned my fingers as I held it but I couldn't let go because it was just that good.  In between each hot, crispy, spicy bite of taco, we'd scoop a chunk of ripened avocado doused in homemade salsa to soothe our tongue before we get to relive the umami all over again.  My friend has been telling me about this shrimp truck for so long.  Actually, she told me about Jaliscos Mariscos, the shrimp truck next to this one.  But in our haste, we went to their competitor instead.  Just off the plane and feeling weary about the East LA scenery, we initially thought we were too good to eat curbside.   Until we attempted to take a bite that we realize the only way to enjoy these suckers is to get out of our car and get down with it.  I'm envious of you, LA residents!    


King Taco, LA

I call this my Mexican tapas meal.  Immediately after the shrimp tacos, we headed to King taco for some carne asada tacos, nachos, and washed it down with a pina drink.  Good as it was, that shrimp taco was incomparable and unbeatable.


Santa Barbara

The ensuing drive to Santa Barbara was a painful battle against itis.  Somehow we managed to make it there and did it just in time to savor the Santa Barbara sunset.  


The Lark, SB

I promise I'm not exaggerating but this place was phenomenal.  From the cool decor to our fantastic waiter who steered us toward the best items on the menu, I couldn't imagine how food continued to amaze and delight me this weekend.  Truthfully, I didn't think it was possible to be wowed by anything else after those shrimp tacos!  

We ordered:

  • Duck liver pate topped with fruit gelee, served with walnut, frisee salad, and crispy waffles.   
  • Grilled Spanish octopus with israeli couscous, guajilo chile, preserved blood orange, avocado, charred scallion and spiced peanuts.  
  • Pomegranate glazed pork chops with blackeyed pea & pork sausage 'cassoulet', bacon, poblano, rainbow chard 



Spanish Garden Inn

Before you think all we did was eat, here is proof that we did at least explore SB.  Starting with a couple shots of where we stayed.  This little inn is such a gem.  From their wonderful hospitality to the careful details in their decor, room, services, and deluxe breakfast, which we got to enjoy post swimming, it definitely felt like a vacation!  The rest of SB was just as much of a treat.  It has the charm and intimacy of a small beach town that I love.  I can't wait to come back.


Santa Barbara Fish Market 

I'll confess my true reason for visiting SB - uni!  Since discovering my love for this sea creature, Santa Barbara uni is one of my favorites.   Surprisingly, we didn't find uni on most restaurant menus when we visited.  But I did do my research (actually, the only research I did for this trip) and found that the SB Fish Market sells them fresh, raw, and cheap.  $8.95 for an entire 40 gm tray!  I managed to score the last two trays.  That, with some SB blue point oysters, raw marinade mini octopus, and fresh seaweed salad, mmMmm, I'm a happy camper.


Santa Barbara Shellfish Company

I know I have the perfect travel food partner when he asked for some fried seafood goodness to wash down our fish market delights.  I happily complied.  We found our way to the most perfectly fried onion rings and rock crab while catching another sunset over the pier.  Happy belly, happy indeed.


LA Eats:  Oo-Kook Korean BBQ

We bid adieu to this sweet getaway with nothing other than a korean BBQ feast.  Followed by a short visit with my dear friend, Jane, at the Grove.  Unfortunately, the only image of LA I managed to capture was from the Grove's parking garage, as we both belch out in the rental.  Thank goodness birthdays only come once a year.  

See you next time, LA.

See you next time, SB.

And till next time, friends.