Chicken apple sausage from Top Dog.

Top Dog has long been a staple of the UC Berkeley student body for many years. Its wonderful selection of hot dogs and sausages has never failed to please any hungry student with an itch for late night munchies. I haven’t had a Top Dog in several years now, so I made it a point to visit while I was in the area. I love the hot link, the bratwurst, and hell, pretty much anything they have. Can’t complain. My favorite of the bunch, though, is the smoked chicken and apple sausage. Made from chicken meat and small bits of apples, it has a nice light meaty flavor with a hint of sweetness from the apples. I am a bit of a purist when it comes to this particular sausage, so I ate it nude.

Thankfully, Top Dog’s sphere of influence has reached Southern California in the form of Berkeley Dog, which uses many of the same sausages as Top Dog. Top Dog also sells their sausages cold for cooking at home via phone or mail order. Pretty tempting if I can ever muster up the amount of stomach space it will take to eat 100 dogs and sausages.

Butter Chicken aka Chicken Makhani
This started off as a Bacon dish to surprise Coffee before she got home. But Coffee came home early. She is not only beautiful, but very talented when it comes to Indian cooking. She immediately took over and really elevated the dish in ways I wouldn’t have bothered with.
I wanted to start out saying this was not made purely from scratch. We have a bunch of these spice pastes that I purchased on the cheap just to give it a try. I used it once before and it turned out pretty tasty, so I decided to make use of it once again. Before Coffee took over, I started off with browning some onions in a pan along with a ton of butter. Once the onions looked sufficiently tenderized and slightly browned, I threw in the chicken cubes and added the paste.
Once Coffee came home, she stopped me from adding the water and started to channel her inner Indian cooking goddess. She threw in some additional seasonings including cumin, salt, pepper, and who knows what else. Our pantry doesn’t do her justice. She also added some tomatoes, potatoes and chili peppers, and finally some water. We let the thing simmer for about an hour to reduce the liquid before we added some plain Greek yogurt to the mix. This helped to thicken the sauce and add another layer of richness to the curry.
Once complete, we served it over some white rice (we don’t have basmati, but jasmine lends itself well for this purpose). The flavor was outstanding. The chicken was still very moist despite braising for about an hour. The added potatoes and tomatoes gave the curry more body, flavor, and texture. The yogurt gave the curry a lighter color and provided another layer of creaminess and richness. Despite making a massive pot full of it, we managed to finish everything in two sittings.

Butter Chicken aka Chicken Makhani

This started off as a Bacon dish to surprise Coffee before she got home. But Coffee came home early. She is not only beautiful, but very talented when it comes to Indian cooking. She immediately took over and really elevated the dish in ways I wouldn’t have bothered with.

I wanted to start out saying this was not made purely from scratch. We have a bunch of these spice pastes that I purchased on the cheap just to give it a try. I used it once before and it turned out pretty tasty, so I decided to make use of it once again. Before Coffee took over, I started off with browning some onions in a pan along with a ton of butter. Once the onions looked sufficiently tenderized and slightly browned, I threw in the chicken cubes and added the paste.

Once Coffee came home, she stopped me from adding the water and started to channel her inner Indian cooking goddess. She threw in some additional seasonings including cumin, salt, pepper, and who knows what else. Our pantry doesn’t do her justice. She also added some tomatoes, potatoes and chili peppers, and finally some water. We let the thing simmer for about an hour to reduce the liquid before we added some plain Greek yogurt to the mix. This helped to thicken the sauce and add another layer of richness to the curry.

Once complete, we served it over some white rice (we don’t have basmati, but jasmine lends itself well for this purpose). The flavor was outstanding. The chicken was still very moist despite braising for about an hour. The added potatoes and tomatoes gave the curry more body, flavor, and texture. The yogurt gave the curry a lighter color and provided another layer of creaminess and richness. Despite making a massive pot full of it, we managed to finish everything in two sittings.

Porchetta Sandwich from Roli Roti truck. The porchetta was exquisitely tender and exudes the most amazing pork flavor anyone could ask for. It is served with arugula microgreens to provide a bitter counterpoint to the rich fattiness of the porchetta. The roll from the nearby Acme Bread Company is a fine crusty, chewy delivery vessel for all this pork goodness. At $9.50 for a sandwich, it’s a treat well worth the price of admission. It can easily satisfy two people looking for a light meal, or make one person very happily stuffed (like a porchetta!). 
1 Ferry BldgSan Francisco, CA 94105 Neighborhood: Embarcadero

Porchetta Sandwich from Roli Roti truck. The porchetta was exquisitely tender and exudes the most amazing pork flavor anyone could ask for. It is served with arugula microgreens to provide a bitter counterpoint to the rich fattiness of the porchetta. The roll from the nearby Acme Bread Company is a fine crusty, chewy delivery vessel for all this pork goodness. At $9.50 for a sandwich, it’s a treat well worth the price of admission. It can easily satisfy two people looking for a light meal, or make one person very happily stuffed (like a porchetta!). 

1 Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA 94105
Neighborhood: Embarcadero

Smitten’s Olive Oil with Lavender Shortbread Ice Cream
Smitten is known for their liquid nitrogen ice cream. Even though the freeze and churning process is extremely quick, the texture of the ice cream is still surprisingly creamy. It is dense and very creamy, but there is something missing with this ice cream. I can’t quite place it. It just doesn’t feel like ice cream.
Despite the strangeness of the texture, the flavor of the olive oil ice cream was very interesting and enjoyable. It had a light flavor with a hint of olive oil. They even poured a layer of olive oil over the top to add a little boost. I gladly scooped up the ice cream and drowned every bite in this pool of oil. The lavender shortbread crumbles added a very nice texture change that helped to disrupt the monotony of eating a small scoop of alien-textured ice cream. Overall, the olive oil flavor was quite tasty and light, and I would definitely get it again if I were to ever come back to Smitten.
432 Octavia StSte 1A (between Linden St & Fell St) San Francisco, CA 94102 Neighborhood: Hayes Valley

Smitten’s Olive Oil with Lavender Shortbread Ice Cream

Smitten is known for their liquid nitrogen ice cream. Even though the freeze and churning process is extremely quick, the texture of the ice cream is still surprisingly creamy. It is dense and very creamy, but there is something missing with this ice cream. I can’t quite place it. It just doesn’t feel like ice cream.

Despite the strangeness of the texture, the flavor of the olive oil ice cream was very interesting and enjoyable. It had a light flavor with a hint of olive oil. They even poured a layer of olive oil over the top to add a little boost. I gladly scooped up the ice cream and drowned every bite in this pool of oil. The lavender shortbread crumbles added a very nice texture change that helped to disrupt the monotony of eating a small scoop of alien-textured ice cream. Overall, the olive oil flavor was quite tasty and light, and I would definitely get it again if I were to ever come back to Smitten.

432 Octavia St
Ste 1A

(between Linden St & Fell St)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Neighborhood: Hayes Valley

Kimchi Jjigae
We love kimchi and we love Spam. So we made some kimchi and spam stew, the Korean way. This is usually an excellent way to dispose of older, stale, or not so great kimchi. We used the traditional napa cabbage kimchi as well as the cubed daikon radish kimchi, juice and all. Once in the pot, we added onions (1 inch cubes), green onions (1 inch pieces), minced garlic, red pepper flakes from the Korean market, some gochujang to taste, sugar, and a touch of salt. This is also about the time we added the diced Spam to the stew. (If we were to use other types of meat such as pork belly, or beef, it would probably be best to sear the meat before getting the stew going.) Pour in enough water to cover everything, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for 45 minutes or so. Right at the end, add in some diced tofu and let it get warm. Then serve by itself or over some white rice.
This batch came out pretty well. It was a little heavy on the gochujang, which made it a little bit too sweet for our tastes. This was due to a lack of kimchi juice, so we needed to ramp up the spicy flavor a bit. In the future, we’ll try to get kimchi with more juice in it. I also felt there wasn’t enough green onion in this, so it may be worth putting in an extra bunch of green onions. It may also taste better with smaller cubes of tofu, since we cut them rather large.
All in all, a very hearty stew with great flavor. It was extremely easy to make and a wonderful way to clean out the fridge of old kimchi. And a great excuse to eat more Spam!

Kimchi Jjigae

We love kimchi and we love Spam. So we made some kimchi and spam stew, the Korean way. This is usually an excellent way to dispose of older, stale, or not so great kimchi. We used the traditional napa cabbage kimchi as well as the cubed daikon radish kimchi, juice and all. Once in the pot, we added onions (1 inch cubes), green onions (1 inch pieces), minced garlic, red pepper flakes from the Korean market, some gochujang to taste, sugar, and a touch of salt. This is also about the time we added the diced Spam to the stew. (If we were to use other types of meat such as pork belly, or beef, it would probably be best to sear the meat before getting the stew going.) Pour in enough water to cover everything, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for 45 minutes or so. Right at the end, add in some diced tofu and let it get warm. Then serve by itself or over some white rice.

This batch came out pretty well. It was a little heavy on the gochujang, which made it a little bit too sweet for our tastes. This was due to a lack of kimchi juice, so we needed to ramp up the spicy flavor a bit. In the future, we’ll try to get kimchi with more juice in it. I also felt there wasn’t enough green onion in this, so it may be worth putting in an extra bunch of green onions. It may also taste better with smaller cubes of tofu, since we cut them rather large.

All in all, a very hearty stew with great flavor. It was extremely easy to make and a wonderful way to clean out the fridge of old kimchi. And a great excuse to eat more Spam!

Tried out a local coffee shop today, The Coffee Loft. The coffee was super strong and the service was pretty awesome.
We got two frappes, Mocha with soy and White Chocolate Mocha. Place has a great atmosphere and lots of hipster music.

5025 N Tamiami Trail  Sarasota, FL 34234

Tried out a local coffee shop today, The Coffee Loft. The coffee was super strong and the service was pretty awesome.

We got two frappes, Mocha with soy and White Chocolate Mocha. Place has a great atmosphere and lots of hipster music.

5025 N Tamiami Trail  Sarasota, FL 34234

Blueberry, strawberry, banana, and Nutella crepe from Mobile Bistro. This little food truck parked in our complex’s parking lot, so we decided to give it a shot. The fruit was fresh and the crepe was well-made. We probably could have made this exact crepe ourselves, but sometimes it’s nice to just make someone else do it for you.
We will probably follow this truck and try out a savory crepe next time.

Blueberry, strawberry, banana, and Nutella crepe from Mobile Bistro. This little food truck parked in our complex’s parking lot, so we decided to give it a shot. The fruit was fresh and the crepe was well-made. We probably could have made this exact crepe ourselves, but sometimes it’s nice to just make someone else do it for you.

We will probably follow this truck and try out a savory crepe next time.

The “Sunday Special” at Wings & Things in Bradenton, 50 wings for $30. We got 5 different flavors, 10 wings each. From top to bottom: Lemon Pepper, Honey BBQ, Garlic Parmesan, Asian, TNT.
Lemon Pepper and Garlic Parmesan are considered “dry seasoning” and were our favorites. Drenched in butter, then tossed with seasoning, the flavor was not overpowering, but rich and tasty. It complemented the crispiness of the chicken very well. Lemon Pepper was a bit too salty, but the flavor combination was delicious. The garlic parmesan used jarred minced garlic and green-can parmesan, but it still tasted pretty damn good. Probably the best flavor if you love cheese and garlic as much as us.
Honey BBQ, Asian, and TNT are considered the sauced wings. Honey BBQ was not as sweet nor as smokey as the KFC variety (which makes it way better). It was very good, and at this price, cheaper than KFC. The “Asain” (as they spelled it) was really heavily soy-based so it was too salty and not well-balanced. Probably wouldn’t get it again. TNT is rank 4/6 on their spicy scale for the traditional buffalo sauce. Between the two of us, it was about 1/10 on the spicy scale. Still, the flavor was all there and we will try the spicier versions next time.
We would definitely like to come back again, just not with 50 wings for two of us… It would be nice to try out some items from their huge selection of other fried goodies.

7814 Cortez Rd W  Bradenton, FL 34209

The “Sunday Special” at Wings & Things in Bradenton, 50 wings for $30. We got 5 different flavors, 10 wings each. From top to bottom: Lemon Pepper, Honey BBQ, Garlic Parmesan, Asian, TNT.

Lemon Pepper and Garlic Parmesan are considered “dry seasoning” and were our favorites. Drenched in butter, then tossed with seasoning, the flavor was not overpowering, but rich and tasty. It complemented the crispiness of the chicken very well. Lemon Pepper was a bit too salty, but the flavor combination was delicious. The garlic parmesan used jarred minced garlic and green-can parmesan, but it still tasted pretty damn good. Probably the best flavor if you love cheese and garlic as much as us.

Honey BBQ, Asian, and TNT are considered the sauced wings. Honey BBQ was not as sweet nor as smokey as the KFC variety (which makes it way better). It was very good, and at this price, cheaper than KFC. The “Asain” (as they spelled it) was really heavily soy-based so it was too salty and not well-balanced. Probably wouldn’t get it again. TNT is rank 4/6 on their spicy scale for the traditional buffalo sauce. Between the two of us, it was about 1/10 on the spicy scale. Still, the flavor was all there and we will try the spicier versions next time.

We would definitely like to come back again, just not with 50 wings for two of us… It would be nice to try out some items from their huge selection of other fried goodies.

7814 Cortez Rd W  Bradenton, FL 34209

Ingredients:
1 pound of beef stew meat
8 fingerling potatoes, cut into quarters
1/2 Vidalia onion, cut into 1 inch cubes
2-3 carrots, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 package of mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of red wine
1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
Salt and pepper to taste
Italian seasoning to taste (I used dried oregano and basil)
Couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
3-4 cubes of beef bouillon
Brown sugar to balance the acidity of the wine and the salt
1-2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
Directions:
(Optional): Brown the beef stew meat in a hot pan with olive oil; Season liberally with salt and pepper. This will help seal in the juices.
Throw all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until the carrots and potatoes become tender.
You can cook on high for 2-3 hours instead, but the meat will not be as tender. 
Serve over rice or with your favorite bread.
I’ve been making stews for a few months now. The stew meat came out a little tough this time. It was the first time I cooked it on high, due to a shortage of time. However, we were pretty pleased with the way the rest of the ingredients turned out and the broth actually thickened up by itself. Most of the tartness of the wine was balanced out by the other ingredients. I will try adding less sugar next time, since the stew did have a slight sweetness to it. I should possibly try adding more mushrooms next time, too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of beef stew meat
  • 8 fingerling potatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2-3 carrots, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 package of mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup of red wine
  • 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Italian seasoning to taste (I used dried oregano and basil)
  • Couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 cubes of beef bouillon
  • Brown sugar to balance the acidity of the wine and the salt
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. (Optional): Brown the beef stew meat in a hot pan with olive oil; Season liberally with salt and pepper. This will help seal in the juices.
  2. Throw all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-5 hours or until the carrots and potatoes become tender.
  3. You can cook on high for 2-3 hours instead, but the meat will not be as tender. 
  4. Serve over rice or with your favorite bread.

I’ve been making stews for a few months now. The stew meat came out a little tough this time. It was the first time I cooked it on high, due to a shortage of time. However, we were pretty pleased with the way the rest of the ingredients turned out and the broth actually thickened up by itself. Most of the tartness of the wine was balanced out by the other ingredients. I will try adding less sugar next time, since the stew did have a slight sweetness to it. I should possibly try adding more mushrooms next time, too.