There are two big things I miss about San Francisco: (1) my friends and (2) San Francisco's innovative and diverse ethnic cuisines. Thus, it is only fitting that now, as I am feeling just a tad homesick, that I share with you about these two loves of my life.
One of the last places that I dined at before I left the City of Fog was Andalu, a Spanish tapas restaurant in the Mission District. There, my friends and I shared a birthday dinner of cocktails, sangria, and small tapas plates, and we watched the sunset through the glass windows.
Talking about friends always gets me a bit teary-eyed. And reminiscing about food always gets me hungry. Given that I moved away from San Francisco three months ago, there unfortunately is a lot that I don’t remember about this meal at Andalu, so I hope the pictures do the talking.
The best tapas dish that I had evening at Andalu was the crispy mac and cheese with herb tomato vinaigrette. The mac and cheese had been shaped into finger food-sized nuggets, breaded, and deep-fried. Oddly enough, the "mac and cheese" tasted like a perfect mozzarella stick, with a warm, oozing, supple, and cheese-laden interior and a crispy and browned exterior. But it was infinitely more refined because the cheese flavors extended far beyond the simple tastes of cheddar cheese.
My second favorite tapas plate was the scallop and black truffle raviolis. The raviolis were made of delicate wonton skins containing a ground scallop and black truffle filling. The raviolis were accompanied with a refreshing micro green salad. The ravioli sauce was imbued with a sweet, buttery fragrance and the ravioli skins were smooth and silken to the bite.
I ordered burger sliders with basil aioli and shallot rings as my primary tapas plate. The burgers had a strange hint of sourness, but the savory grill-marked burger patties were bursting with juiciness and flavor and the crackly shallot rings were more flavorful than any onion ring I have had in my life. The heartiness of the tapas dish capitalized the familiar and comforting flavors of Americana, but somehow, the dish managed to seem very appropriate in a Spanish tapas setting.
The other items we shared that evening included:
Dungeness crab cakes with chipotle aioli, (the crab cakes were a little heavy on the breading and light on the crab, but very appropriately paired with the salmon-hued dollop of fiery aioli),
Romaine lettuce leaves daintily cupping mini-filets of miso-glazed black cod,
Ahi tartar tacos with a mango salsa made with chilies and fresh lime juice,
Grilled eggplant stuffed with ricotta, spinach, and pine nuts, served on a bed of caponata,
Roasted chicken breast on butternut squash risotto with porcini cognac cream, and fiddlehead ferns,
Dunkable donut holes served with a warm Castillian hot cocoa, whipped cream, and a generous dusting of powdered sugar,
A crispy-skinned lumpia (Filipino-style egg roll) filled with a ripe banana served "banana split-style" with dulce de leche ice cream, and chocolate and caramel sauce,
and chocolate brownies with fresh berries and confectioner’s sugar, and drizzled with chocolate syrup
I have a lot of pictures left over from my parting meals in San Francisco, and in reviewing and posting the pictures, I feel fortunate I was able to spend my last moments with wonderful friends and at restaurants like these.