January 30, 2009

Zarzuela - a short sensory trip to Spain

The Spanish word Zarzuela is either a Spanish operetta or musical comedy or a rice and seafood dish. In San Francisco, Zarzuela is a charming Spanish neighborhood restaurant in Russian Hill. Situated at the intersection of Hyde and Union Streets, this restaurant is cheerful, warm, and welcoming. The dining room is decorated with Spanish pottery and bullfighting posters and packed with tables of contented diners.

Food at Zarzuela is authentic, simple, and delicious Spanish cuisine. I enjoyed tradition Tortilla Espanola and goat cheese baked in tomato sauce. Jonathan ate chorizo, grilled calamari, and white bean stew. The meal was accompanied by bread and outstanding spiced olives. Instead of the traditional garlic and herbs, the olives at Zarzuela are seasoned with cinnamon, cloves, and other spices. These flavors, normally associated with sweet dishes and pastries, complement the rich flavor of the olives perfectly. The wine and chocolate dessert were superb too!

In addition to serving and socializing with guests, our waiter also serenaded a young woman celebrating her birthday. During his song the whole dining room paused in the moment to listen – a fitting end to a perfect evening at a neighborhood restaurant. This is a great little restaurant!

January 24, 2009

Perfect Pizza in San Francisco

In my opinion, pizza is one of the most perfect foods. That said, not all pies are created equal. The ultimate pizza is freshly made, comprised of good, natural ingredients, have a thin, crispy crust, and are not overwhelmed with too many spices or flavors. In other words, the classic pizza margherita – a perfect balance of simplicity and elegance.

While very few restaurants can create the quintessential pizza; those that do are in high demand. Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco is one of these spots. The original restaurant is a small cafe tucked away on 18th Street between the Castro and Mission neighborhoods. On most evenings, groups of diners awaiting their turn fill the sidewalk. (Recently a second location opened near the intersection of California Street in the Pacific Heights neighborhood.)

I have read about and driven by Delfina and Pizzeria Delfina several times, but have not eaten at either until this week. So, Monday, on the eve of the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States, Jonathan and I decided to go to the pizzeria for an early dinner.

We were seated by the window – a perfect table for a warm winter evening. From our seats we could looked around the small and pleasantly cramped dining space or view the people passing by on the sidewalk. We ordered spicy cauliflower, salumi, margherita pizza, and wine. Everything was fantastically delicious and perfect. Pizzeria Delfina's pizza margherita was definitely the best pizza I have eaten in California, maybe even as good as the pies in Naples. The cauliflower was amazing – simple, elegant, flavorful – the perfect way to serve a vegetable! My husband thoroughly enjoyed the salumi plate. And lastly, the wine was excellent.

Perfect pizza, a perfect dinner, a perfect evening... Pizzeria Delfina is now on our list of favorite restaurants in San Francisco!

January 20, 2009

Change has Come to America!

No matter who you, where you live, or what you believe, today is a monumental day. It does not matter if, like me, you are a citizen of the United States of America or not, today will change the course of world history and define a generation or American politics.

Today I am overwhelmed with emotions and excitement and hope! Watching President Obama speak my belief in the American dream is restored. Today we see a new government take office. This is truly a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Today I cheer for a new era, today I salute the new president of my great country, and today I look forward with hope!

January 9, 2009

Saha – a Culinary Journey to the Arabic Peninsula

San Francisco has a unique and varied dining scene. In this city we are lucky to be able to taste and experience cuisine from Mexico, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Philippines, Thailand, Greece, France, China, India, Turkey, and many other cultures. Recently I had the opportunity to dine at the small and wonderful restaurant in the Carlton Hotel. Saha is a unique gem in San Francisco dining scene. Specializing in Arabic fusion cuisine and focusing on dishes from the chef's native country of Yemen eating here is a culinary adventure!

To get to Saha you pass through the lobby of the Carlton hotel into the hallway and the restaurant is on the right. When you enter the dining room it is if you have been transported from the victorian charm of this classic San Francisco hotel to an exotic locale. The atmosphere is romantic and warm with lanterns, tapestries, and photographs decorating the room. The music and colors are reminiscent of a distant land and help envelope the visitors in the experience.

The menu at Saha offers both small plates to share or traditional entrees. The wine and beverage selection to accompany the food is excellent. My husband and I opted to try several of the tapas style dishes. We enjoyed hummus, baba ganoush, and artichoke spread with pita bread. I tried the shitake mushroom raviolis – which were fantastic – and Jonathan enjoyed the beef kibbeh and the merguez. For dessert we ordered knaff and some fabulously aromatic Arabic tea.

I throughly enjoyed my visit to Saha and look forward to dining there again soon!

January 5, 2009

And the Adventures Continue

We returned from Asia almost a month ago. During that time I shared our photographs and retold the stories of our adventures with family and friends over and over again. I am energized from our travels and experiences and look forward to future trips – both near and far.

I originally began this blog to chronicle and share my experiences, thoughts, ideas, opinions, and views about our trip to Hong Kong and the Philippines. When I began writing and posting I did not realize how important this blog would would be to me during our travels. Our trip was a very intense experience for me – it was an immersion into Filipino culture. Writing in my blog not only allowed me to share my travels with my readers, it also helped me appreciate what I was experiencing.

But, now it is time for this blog to undergo a transition. In the future I will continue to share my adventures, thoughts, ideas, opinions, and views as my husband and I travel and experience the world – both near and far. I hope you continue to read and enjoy my postings!