Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Benchmark Pizzeria

Great staff of Benchmark Pizzeria

Here are the photos I took at this cute little pizzeria in Kensington for an article for Berkleyside. Here's the link:

I'll let the photos do the talking.

beer and wine on tap

900 F

Bacon. Brussels sprouts

Lovely couple Peter and Melissa of Benchmark Pizzeria

I never knew Kensington existed before I came to this restaurant. It's right between Berkeley and Richmond. If for any reason I need to go to this city, Benchmark would be a good one.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

One Pot Dinner: Kale, Tofu and Sausage

It's Winter time or probably just Fall. Whatever season it is, when December comes you'll see a lot of greens at the market. Whether it's collard greens or kale, it becomes part of our diet during this holiday season. I adapted this recipe here: It looked good so I decided to try it and give my own interpretation of it. I added some porkyness to the dish by browning some Italian sausage. I think it worked well. You can probably substitute it with the sausage of your choice. Maybe Longganisa?

I think this is a pretty basic and simple recipe. It's all about just cooking the tofu and sausage and mixing them all together with kale. The only tip I would give is that when you brown the sausage, there is a time where you don't want to touch it so that it devlops that crispy caramel flavor. I would say leave it for 3 minutes on medium heat without touching it that way there would be those crispy parts.


·       2 tbsp. vegetable/olive oil

·       1 tbsp. minced ginger

·       1 tbsp. minced garlic

·       1 tsp. red chili flakes (optional)

·       half of a medium red onion, diced

·       1 pound Italian Pork sausage

·       1 package firm tofu, cut in 3/4-inch cubes

·       2 tbsp. oyster flavor sauce

·       1 tbsp. soy sauce

·       1 cup chicken broth

·       4 cups baby kale leaves (chopped)

·       2 tbsp. chopped scallions/green onions


1.     Add 1 tbsp. vegetable oil to a large skillet heat on medium heat. Add sausage and cook until browned. (Make sure to remove the casing of the sausage and break it down while cooking it. I also leave it about 2-3 minutes without touching it so that there will be some crispy parts – The best part J). Set aside

2.      Cook Tofu. What I did was to bake it until crispy. 400 degrees for 30 minutes, flipping it halfway through. You can also fry it if you want. Set aside.
3.      Using the same pan where you cooked the sausage, heat it on medium heat and add remaining oil. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for about a minute, just enough to soften the garlic and for it to be aromatic. Add chili flakes and onions. Sauté for about 5 minutes until onions are soft.

4.       Add Pork, mix. Add Tofu, mix well. 

5.       Add soy sauce and oyster sauce. Mix and cook for about 2 minutes.

6.       Stir in the chicken broth. 

7.      When the broth begins to bubble in a light simmer, add the kale. You may want to add kale in batches so your pan is not crowded.

8.      Once, wilted. Turn off heat. Serve with steamed rice, brown rice or quinoa. I did mine with Red quinoa! Garnish with scallions J

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Golden Summer cocktail

I know I know, Summer is over. But who cares? We can still feel and taste Summer even if it's fall right? This drink lets you taste the freshness of the basil and lemon while honey gives its golden SF color! I think you can enjoy this drink all year round. As long as you have the ingredients plus the right mood you are set. 

Nice to meet you Jack

I based this recipe from a whiskey sour which is lemon juice, simple syrup plus your favorite whiskey. Since I have a Basil plant I decided to add it for freshness then I used honey instead of simple syrup since I was lazy to make one. I think the honey gives a great golden color. The only thing I recommend you to do is to stir the honey and lemon juice first so that the honey will thin out a bit then add the whiskey, ice and basil leaves. You also want to shake it about 20 seconds on your cocktail shaker just until your hands get cold. Since honey is sticky you want to really shake that thing like you mean it.

Liquid Gold

Slicing the lemon: I got this tip on a cooking demo at Jack London Square. If you don't have a lemon squeezer and you want to get less seeds, when you squeeze the lemon, don't cut the lemon in the middle. Most seeds are in the middle so if you cut it on the sides, you'll get less. Sometimes you'll still get some seeds but it will be easier to get rid off if you do it this way.

Another tip I got just by observing the bartenders is to slap your herbs before garnishing it. So before putting a basil leaf as a garnish, slap it just to release the aroma and drop it on your cocktail.

There you go! This is my first cocktail post! I know my blog is all about food and bites but sometimes you just need a good cocktail to enjoy your food and tickle those tastebuds. Try it out and tell me what you think. I almost got tempted to add a couple slices of jalapeno before shaking it to give it a good kick. Maybe you should try it?


Monday, August 27, 2012

SF Street Food Festival 2012

La Cocina's 4th Annual Street Food festival is definitely an SF food event not to miss. It is one of the biggest food events in the city where popular restaurants and even the pop-up ones are gathered in one street in the Mission to serve food street style. The festival is getting bigger and bigger every year. This year, it stretches from 20th street to 26th at Folsom. The crowd is not getting any lesser as well. There were about 70 food vendors with about 2 dishes and 1 drink each. Nothing also costs more than $10. The only thing that will cost you is your time and based from previous years, expect to wait in line.

Line for State Bird Provisions' Burrata and Fried Garlic bread.

Now that's long.

Everybody has their own mission or strategy when going to these events. For me, I have to ask myself, which food stall is worth waiting in line. So before going, I have to make a list of restaurants to try. Have some friends go with you too so that they can fall in line and you can taste what  they are eating as well. The more prepared you are the better and I'm pretty sure most of the people there have some sort of POA (plan of attack).

These guys sure have a plan. Caleb Zigas (right) is the mastermind behind the festival.

I got to read the blogs and wrote down what not to miss. I even went to the media walk through so I can get a glimpse of what's new and what's hot. So here are the results. My top 5 bites from the festival:

5. Lali's Chicken Blintzes with Salsa

Not alot of Georgian food in the bay area and I wasn't really expecting anything from this lumpia looking treat but it was packed with flavor. Definitely addictive fried Georgian snack.

4. Don Bugito's Wax Moth Larvae Tacos

The most exciting part was the fer's bite/ first bite. You don't know what to expect. Is it gross? Are there any bitter juices afterwards? After the first bite, it wasn't bad. It's actually just a texture thing. Like your eating chicharrones but healthier? Whatever it is, it was my first and it was interesting.

3. Radio Africa Kitchen's Grilled Leg of Lamb

Oooohh such juicy grilled lamb with flavorful spice packed sauce all over it. Wish I had some rice to go with it! :)

Eskender Aseged of Radio Africa

2. Il Cane Rosso's Deviled Ham Scotch Egg

I Love egg. I Love it especially if it's wrapped with ham. I Love it even more if it's breaded and deep fried. It was one of the best bites from the festival for sure.

1. State Bird Provisions' Fried garlic bread with Burrata

Ahh State Bird Provisions. It was recently named Best New restaurant in America by Bon Appetit. That probably explained the 30 minute waiting in line. Like I said before, I need to choose which restaurant is actually worth the wait and for me this was it. The garlicky fried bread is just flaky and just fried to perfection. They topped it with Burrata that just melts away dripping on your bread. They topped it with some flavored salt. It was quite an experience. No forks needed, in fact, they ran out of it. You just have to pull off the bread get some of that cheese goodness and enjoy life!

Here are some of the food and the scene from last Saturday:

Quesadilla from La Torta Gorda

The Falafel dog from The Peached Tortilla

Hawker Fare's Issan Sausage rice bowl

Surf and Turf from The Peached Tortilla

Rice Paper Scissors' fried daikon cake

15 Romolo's chicken wings "Boriquas"

To Hyang's Spicy Pork Ribs

The Prawn Baguette from Eurotrash

Chiefo's Moi Moi: black eyed peas, crayfish and corned beef
Jarred's pickled green tomato fried in lard topped with 4505 chicharrones

From Bahn Mi Love you Long Time

La Luna Cake Pops

The SF Street food festival is a great way to showcase the different talented chefs and the food entrepreneurs of the Bay area. Not only are we helping out small businesses but we also get to learn and enjoy what other cultures have to offer. It's my first time eating larvae but I'm pretty sure it's normal for some people. Last weekend was really an experience. Even if I didn't get to eat every single food from the event, it's okay, I know I ate some amazing food, helped out and supported women entreprenuers, met some amazing people and most of all I had some fun.

More pics at my FB page:!/media/set/?set=a.456453297727933.106343.209952209044711&type=1

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

La Cocina's First SF Night Market

First to have lines was the cocktail area

I am really excited about this event. It's the first ever night market in SF that aims to recreate the night scene from the streets of Asia. Coming from the Philippines, I'm familiar with these night markets. There were BBQ everywhere, fried stuff, booze and happy people. You can smell food everywhere, the smoke on the grills and bright lights invite people to gather and have a good time.

Cocktails courtesy of Rye on the Road

Lou Bustamante cutting up a block of ice.

It came close to what I expected. It was filled with street food influenced by different countries around the globe. There were music, cocktails, beer and tons and tons of happy bellies. I guess the only thing I missed were the usual street food seen in the Philippines. There were no grilled pig's blood, intestines or pig's ear that night but it's all good since I tasted my first fried veal's brain from Azalina's and the amazing oxtail from To Hyang. There were a lot of soup dishes that night which were perfect for that chill factor in SF. There were Chiefo's Nigerian fish soup, Pozole from Los Cilantros, Laksa from Azalina's and El Huarache's Birria. There were also massive buns from Bone and Gristle Boys and Jardiniere. It was definitely a taste of street food from around the world.

Stand outs for me that night were the Laksa, Vada Pav and the Boss Hog.

Fried veal's brain

Laksa from Azalina's

Laksa is a traditional Malaysian spicy soup. This dish was a collaboration from Azalina Eusope ans Suvir Saran.  It consists of hand made thin noodles with a peanut slaw, chili oil, fried veal's brain and a sous vide egg. It was amazing. The curry like sauce is sweet and spicy with some acidity from the lime. It was perfect for that breezy moments. The fried veal's brain is just crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside. Similar to a bone marrow. Lastly, the egg was a great addition since it was cooked very slowly, the yolk became like a custard. Really great flavors in that bowl.

Preeti Mistry from Juhu Beach Club

Vada Pav
It's my first time having this dish. Vada Pav is a common Indian street food snack which is basically a fried mashed potato on a bun. The mashed potato  is mixed with Indian spices then fried. It was topped with an heirloom tomato and pickled red onions. It was really good. I just wish I can snack on this everyday every 3pm at work!


Definitely an insanely, heart hater, last meal kinda food
A bite from this Boss Hog will definitely wake up your heart. There were 3 kinds of pork on this one. The deep fried pork cutlet, pulled pork and the chicharrones. It was huge. It will spike your cholesterol like a
BOSS but then again you only live once. This was definitely very tasty. It was crunchy, spicy, smoky, cheesy, crunchy and spicy. If I'm going to choose my last meal on earth this will be part of it for sure.

Here are some more of the delicious food that night:

Panuchos from Chaac Mool

Braised oxtail


Nuff said

Pozole from Los Cilantros

Onigilly's offerings. Bacon, crab, chicken, eggplant and shrimp

Dishes from Ken Ken Ramen includes pork bun, tofu bun, jelly fish and octopus

Nopales and black mole

Salvadoran Turkey Sandwich from Estrellita's

Birria de Borrego and Lamb Taco

Locanda's short ribs in Chinotto Nero

Sabores Del Sur's grilled beef hearts

Nigerian Fish stew

Don Bugito's Mezcal marinated Rabbit

Bacon maple kettle corn from Endless Summer Sweets

Fancy Jello shots

This was the very first annual night market for La Cocina and I bet it will just get bigger and better. The scene was definitely similar to the Asian night markets only hipper and with much more style. It was quite an experience and I'm looking forward to more adventurous stuff in the future.

For more pics, visit my FB page at:!/media/set/?set=a.454734477899815.105804.209952209044711&type=1