El Patio Español – San Francisco

El Patio Espanol Seafood PaellaEl Patio Español
2850 Alemany Blvd
(between Farragut Ave & Whipple Ave)
San Francisco, CA 94112

Rated: ♣♣♣♣

My bday was last weekend! So since I’m super crazy, I had a dinner with my friends at a Spanish cultural center. Haha! Well, we ate at the restaurant in the Spanish cultural center. The original plan was to eat at Michael Mina with 18 of my friends, but it was way too pricey for some people. Totally understandable. So, our back up plan was to eat at El Patio Español. I’ve been a few times before with my parents, and although it’s a little off the beaten path, they serve excellent food, especially the paella.

The scene:

El Patio Español is situated in a very residential part of town next to a Pacific Super with the BART train passing directly above. If you drove by, you would never know there was a restaurant in side. The plus side about the location is that you’ll always find parking in the huge lot out front. This restaurant is great for parties. Always pretty empty since no one really knows it’s a restaurant. The restaurant was probably half full and we took up a good quarter of it.

Almost every time I’ve been here, there was a wedding in their large ballroom. When eating in the restaurant next to the ballroom, you can enjoy the music from the dance floor. That night, it was hip hop.

Despite the amazing food, the service is satisfactory. You don’t really get what the main waiter says and the sous servers often take plates when you’re not finished.

The food:

Did I mention the food was amazing? My typical order here involves a few tapas an an order of paella. With the paella, you get a choice of soup or salad. Go with the soups, specifically the garlic soup. YUM!

Sangria – I didn’t have my own glass, but I tried a sip of my friends. I was surprised that it tasted nothing like wine. It was more like a really sweet and citrus-y grape juice. Friends said that ones they’ve tried before were bitter, and that this was probably one of the best they’ve had.

Serrano Ham w/Pineapple – I looooove Serrano ham. Especially when fruit is involved. I just love the saltiness and nuttiness of the cured meat. I’m going to Spain in October, and I’m planning on eating this every day.

Mussels and Clams in a White Wine Sauce – This was cooked perfectly. The wine was subtle enough in which I could taste the wine, but it didn’t overpower the flavor of the seafood. Clams were super tender and I didn’t catch any sand in the ones I ate.

Balsamic Portabello Mushrooms – By far the best tapas of the night. It has a strong balsamic taste because of the reduction. It stings the nose and eyes a bit, but once you put it in your mouth, the sweet juiciness of the mushrooms explode.

Seafood Paella – I was a little bummed the waiter plated out the paella for us. I was looking forward to getting a picture of the paella in the pan. But anyway, the paella is awesome. It’s got a great balance of spices. Not too salty, not to fishy. They’re generous with the saffron and seafood. There were clams, mussels, fish, squid and scallops. Everything was good except for the scallops. The scallops were pretty pungent as if they were old.

Chicken and Chorizo Paella – I only got to try a bit of this. Chicken was tender and the sausage was firm and hearty. I’d probably go with this one next time.

All-in-all, I was very pleased with El Patio Español. It’s easy, great for parties, and food is good.

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Dad's Kitchen – Broiled Salmon

Dad Kitchen Salmon Plate

Here’s my dad’s super easy recipe for salmon. It takes less than 10 minutes to cook and it uses about 1/2 a teaspoon of everything. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1.5 lbs wild Sockeye Salmon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried dill or couple sprigs of fresh dill
1 tbsp butter
1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to broil.

Place salmon on a baking sheet, skin-side down. Cut 6 thin slices of lemon and spread evenly across the salmon fillet, then sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic powder and dill. Add butter and a drizzle the olive oil over the fish.

Pop fish in the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Time may vary upon thickness of the fish.

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A day at the Tomales Bay Oyster Company

Tomales Bay Oysters on IceEarlier this month, K and I (with 20 of our friends) kicked off our summer with a “daycation” in Tomales Bay consisting of hiking and oyster-eating. What’s great about the Bay Area is that there are a ton of daycation possibilities an hour or two from the city. All you need to do is pack up a picnic basket and drive.

Two hours north of the city lies Tomales Bay in Point Reyes State Park. This area is best known for its oyster farms, one of which is the famous Hog Island Oyster Co. Both have the same business concept – purchase your oysters and enjoy them at a picnic table overlooking a lackluster bay view. The biggest deciding factor in which we chose Tomales Bay Oyster Co. over Hog Island is that tables are free, whereas HIOC charges $10 per person. Another thing to note is that HIOC does provide you with shucking knives, utensils, sauce, and TBOC does not.

Tomales Bay Oysters

We started the daycation off with a failed attempt to hike on the Jepson Trail in the Tomales Bay Park ($8 entrance fee. And yes, the guys went hiking with beer.). About 20 minutes into the hike, we decided the path was way too overgrown to continue and went to grab tables at the oyster farm 30 min away.

Tomales Bay Raw Oyster Hot Sauce

We instantly dug into some fresh oysters. I admit, I am no oyster fan, but I couldn’t put these down! They were juicy, briney, sweet and succulent. A hit of Tobasco and a squeeze of lemon, and you’ll be in oyster heaven. I want to say we had about 120 oysters between 20 people. The prices vary between sizes, but we stuck with the smalls at $10 for a bag of 12 or $40 for a bag of 50. For non-oyster eaters, they also sell clams and mussels. I was planning on making a clam bake, but the clams were sold out by 12 noon.

Tomales Bay Oyster Menu

Scattered around the picnic tables are BBQ pits for customers to use. Our group brought tons of other foods to cook on the grills including hamburgers, sausages and kalbi ribs.

K even got creative and made a mussel bake with butter, beer, corn and sausages.

Tomales Bay Mussels Cooked

Try throwing some oysters on the grill. It’s amazing how different they taste from their raw form. It has less of an oceany flavor with more of a smoky undertone.

Tomales Bay Cooked Oyster

I was way too full to do this, but I’d suggest stopping by Cowgirl Creamery on the way back into the city. They really do make the best cheese in the Bay Area. So next time you have a free weekend this summer, drive up to Tomales Bay with a few of your friends and have a nice picnic out in the sun. Speaking of sun, I got incredibly sunburned that day and now I’m branded with a big “x” on my back from my razorback tank. :(

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Barbara's Fish Trap – Half Moon Bay

Barbara's Fish Trap StorefrontBarbara’s Fish Trap
281 Capistrano Rd
Princeton by the Sea, CA 94018

Rated: ♣♣♣♣

Whenever it’s a sunny day in San Francisco, I think about making a trip to Half Moon Bay to eat at Barbara’s Fish Trap. It’s such an event to eat fish n’ chips and clam chowder in Half Moon Bay. I could just plan a whole day around lunch at Barbara’s and stopping at a few of the many beaches off of hwy 1.

The scene:

The wait at Barbara’s is LONG! There’s not much in Princeton, but when you drive through the main road, you’ll see a huge crowd standing in front of one restaurant, and that would be Barbara’s. If you can’t stand the wait, you could wait in a shorter line, but still long, at their take-out stand on the left side of the restaurant.

The staff isn’t too friendly here though. I don’t think our waitress said anything to us except for “boxes?” at the end of our meal.

The food:

Food is not cheap at Barbara’s, but it’s completely worth it. The total amount for K and I came out to almost $30. They have a huge menu with tons of selections ranging from pasta, burgers, and grilled and fried seafood.

Clam Chowder – Their non-dairy clam chowder is so unique, I’ve never had anything like it. Despite the lack of milk and cream, this clam chowder is thick and creamy. It’s seasoned with lots of thyme and sage so it tastes just like my dad’s Thanksgiving stuffing. It’s loaded with big chunks of clams, lots of celery and onions. So good!

Fish n’ Chips – This is probably one of the best fish n’ chips I’ve ever had. The massive pieces of fish are so flakey and juicy and the batter is thin and crispy. Really, a must get if you try this place.

Calamari – Nothing too special about these. The fried calamari is just like any other fried calamari, but still good.

I’ve been coming to Barbara’s all my life, so it has a certain comfort level with me. I’ve been wanting to try Sam’s Chowder House, so I check that out on my next visit.

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Sam’s Kitchen – Paella in a Pot

Paella Served

I’m not usually a fan of leftovers, but when I made this version of paella, I was seriously looking forward to go home after work and eat it. You will too! It’s so simple once you have all of the ingredients and it doesn’t require a specialty paella pan.

I initially started off using this recipe by Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa), but it completely transformed into something else.

Check out my recipe after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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