Across the street from the old warehouses in Pier 70, Kitchenette serves tasty lunches out of a garage door along Illinois Street. Run by chefs who have worked with the likes of Thomas Keller and Alice Waters, the food is organic, local and delicious.
I’ve had memorable lunches at Kitchenette since we moved to the Dogpatch. Their house smoked pastrami sandwich (Marin Sun Farms beef smoked over fig wood with apple-caraway mustard and braised cabbage) and their beef and pork polpette sandwich (meatballs in amatriciana sauce with parmesan cheese) are really yummy.
But the most memorable by far is their bacon snickerdoodle. I think it’s genius. It’s an excellent example of how bacon can make anything, like a simple snickerdoodle, extra special.
Just for You is the place-to-be for tasty big breakfasts: fried eggs, ham, home fries and their freshly baked cornbread. I love my cornbread sweet rather than savory, but not too sweet and I love it moist with a little bit of gritty texture. Just for You’s has all these wonderful elements. Enjoy it with a generous spread of butter or with their sweet strawberry jam. The corncakes are equally good, too. They have that melt-in-your-mouth, buttery and gritty goodness that I love. And a visit to Just for You is never complete without indulging in their puffy beignets. So delightful.
Inspired by Just for You’s cornbread, I ventured out, bought myself some corn meal and made my own cornbread. And there’s no better way to enjoy a warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven piece of cornbread in this cold winter than to pair it with a tasty bowl of hearty homemade chili. For that, I solicited Dennis’ help to make his mom’s homemade chili, the chili he grew up with in chilly Ohio.
1-1/4 cup yellow corn meal
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup fat-free milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish. You can use a pyrex dish, a non-stick baking pan or you can also use a muffin pan to make corn muffins.
Combine the corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Combine the milk, oil and egg in a separate bowl. After mixing them well add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and pour into your baking dish. Note that the original recipe called for a cup of flour to a cup of corn meal but for a grittier texture I added a 1/4 cup more corn meal and used 1/4 cup less flour in this recipe.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Mom’s Homemade Chili
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder or freshly minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin (optional)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Great-tasting chili is very much a cook-until-the-way-you-like-it sort of comfort food. So feel free to experiment with the spices as you wish.
1 to 1.5 lbs of extra lean ground beef
1 can black beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 small can of tomato paste
1 medium to large size onion diced
1-2 green or red bell peppers chopped
Worcestershire sauce (start with 1 Tbsp and then add more to taste)
Cooking time is 2-4 hours. Slow cooking is best.
Brown the ground beef in a large stew pot over medium heat. Don’t thoroughly cook the meat but only up to a point when most of the fat has come out. If you prefer a finer texture break up the ground beef completely but if you like a chunkier chili, as I do, break it up in larger bite size bits.
Extra lean beef (less than 5% fat) is recommended, which is the healthiest choice. If you do use extra lean beef there is no need to drain the fat out. Otherwise, drain the beef fat using a colander and return it to the pot. I think it’s a smart idea to give up the beef fat so you can indulge in butter with your bread later!
Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, and peppers to the browned beef and mix well. It will be pretty thick but there is no need to add water here as there will be plenty as the vegetables continue to cook. Add the Worcestershire sauce and chili spices and mix well. Let this cook and come to a slow boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the red kidney and black beans to the mix and stir well together.
Now, here’s the fun part, or well, at least Dennis thinks so. Take a break and let it simmer for about an hour while stirring it occasionally. Come back and taste the chili. If you think it needs a little more oomph add more Worcestershire, salt, chili powder and perhaps more garlic powder or freshly minced garlic. Cook for another half an hour on low heat and stir well occasionally. Continue adding more salt and chili powder if you prefer but remember to stir everything well. Let it stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Great-tasting chili is truly a season-to-taste slow cooked meal. Chili powders have different levels of potency so feel free to experiment.
Enjoy a bowl of chili with a piece of warm cornbread or some saltine crackers on a chilly winter day. Some folks love red onions or grated cheddar with their chili but I love it just the way it is with some sweet cornbread.
For breakfast, scramble some eggs in butter and top it with chili and a piece of cornbread.
By the way, I don’t think I have found the best chili in the city. San Francisco doesn’t really strike me as a city for chili but maybe I’m wrong. What do you think?
Two old cranes loom large over the Dogpatch. You simply can’t miss them.
I actually think these old cranes are very cool. Well, I think the Dogpatch is very cool. It is a bit rough but, definitely, in a good way. Old Victorians and old industrial and commercial buildings that survived the 1906 fire and earthquake mixed with new and modern loft apartments and cool cafes and restaurants give this tiny nine-block neighborhood a really interesting character.
The Dogpatch is an enclave of industrial worker’s housing in the once-booming San Francisco Central Waterfront district. The city recognized it as a Historic District in 2003. It still feels industrial but it also feels neighborly. It was recently hailed as one of America’s best neighborhoods by Men’s Journal and recently featured in the New York Times.
I love its dog-friendly Esprit Park surrounded by quiet streets where dogs can run and play. I love its 260 sunny days in a year, on average. And I love its burgeoning dining scene. Fried eggs and cornbread with strawberry jam for breakfast at Just for You. House-smoked pastrami sandwich with bacon snickerdoodle for lunch at Kitchenette. A cup of Blue Bottle Coffee at Piccino Coffee Bar. A bottle of Malbec with cheese and olives at Yield Wine Bar. And a plateful of fried chicken with red beans and rice and yams for dinner at Hard Knox Cafe.
And if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, the equally cool 18th Street in Potrero Hill is just a quick brisk walk away. Hop on the T to get to downtown or on the 22 to get to the Mission. The choices are endless.
Here is a link to read more about the story behind the city’s working class historic district. It is a great resource about the history and architecture of the Dogpatch. And here are more information about the restaurants mentioned in this blog.
Just For You Cafe
Piccino Coffee Bar
Yield Wine Bar
Hard Knox Cafe
One of the many great things about my new found freedom is being able to work from practically anywhere, anytime. I just need my MacBook, my Canon, a pen and my notebook, a good book to read, and since I work well while caffeinated and in a sugar high, a tasty cup of coffee and some sweet treats would be preferable.
And so, I have been spending a lot of time lately making the rounds of the coffee houses in the city to come up with my list of the coolest cafés.
Let me start with the one closest to home, Farley’s at 18th Street in Potrero Hill.
Farley’s is truly a cool neighborhood coffee shop with lots of community events and activities like the Annual Pet Fest they host every Halloween and their evenings of live jazz and standards played by local artists.
Another cool thing about Farley’s is their wall where they display the work of local artists and photographers. For November, they are showcasing the charming photographs of the pets and kids in costumes at the Pet Fest taken by “Photo Booth” photographer Christopher Irion. Stanford actually made it to the wall! Can you spot the red corgi?
Farley’s beans are hand roasted by a local coffee company in the East Bay. My favorite Farley’s sweet treat is their rich and yummy brownie.
Other notes: a cup of coffee is $1.75; wi-fi is free; there is outdoor seating; cookies and pastries are available and you can grab a sandwich nextdoor at Hazel’s Kitchen and enjoy it at Farley’s.
The Dogpatch is actually a great neighborhood for dogs and dog lovers. There’s Esprit Park at Minnesota between 19th and 20th where Stanford loves to run and chase balls. The park isn’t fenced-in but is large enough and surrounded by quiet streets that it’s practically safe for dogs to be off-leash. And best of all it’s only two blocks away from home!
Then there’s Pawtrero Hill Bathhouse and Feed Company with a large and clean self-serve bathing facility. They have the tastiest treats and the coolest toys and accessories.
And not far from the Dogpatch, in the Bayview District there’s Pet Camp, Stanford’s home away from home. What we love most about Pet Camp is that they have outdoor playgroups. They have this huge outdoor play space where dogs can run around or just hang out and enjoy the sun. All play sessions are monitored by camp counselors who are the friendliest people around. Check out Camper Cameos, a blog where they post photos of their adorable campers.
Well, I’m certain Stanford doesn’t mind all these cool places, but at the end of the day there is something that trumps everything else: dinner!
Stanford met a very pretty young lady over the weekend. She was wearing a lovely red Flamenco dress with matching lovely red earrings and red shoes. And what was Stanford wearing? A charming Peter Pan outfit with a matching dagger!
They met while waiting to have their photographs taken at Farley’s 19th Annual Pet Fest.
It was a beautiful sunny Saturday in Potrero Hill. The line was long for Christopher Irion’s famous Photo Booth but it was full of cheerful faces of dogs and kids alike dressed up for the occasion. There was King Arthur. There were ballerinas and cowboys. There was a lot of bumblebees and ladybugs wagging their tails. There was even a green iguana with pink and white bunny ears, not a pooch dressed as an iguana but a real live iguana! It’s Farley’s Annual Pet Fest after all.
On top of Potrero Hill, at 20th and San Bruno, near McKinley Square Park, sits a lovely community garden. It overlooks the western side of the city, from Twin Peaks to downtown San Francisco. On a clear day, you can see Sutro Tower and if you’re lucky, even the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge.
All 50 plots in the garden are maintained by local residents using only organic methods. The sunny Potrero weather is great for growing a variety of fruits and vegetables like grapes, rhubarb, onions, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, pumpkin, corn and lots more.
It also has the prettiest dahlias and sunflowers. And it has a beehive, too!
Our trek up the hill to check out the Potrero garden actually reminded me of my mom’s own garden back home in Manila. She has a guava tree, a papaya tree, peppers and herbs in her backyard. She would make nilaga, a Filipino beef stew, and garnish it with fresh green papayas picked right out of her garden. Lately, she started growing pineapples and when I phoned her the last time she was so excited to tell me that her pineapples turned out sweet and that my 5-year old niece loved them.
I’ve always wanted my own vegetable garden. I think growing your own vegetables at home like tomatoes for a caprese salad or basil for pesto is such a cool thing to do. But I’ve always lived in tiny living spaces, which really makes it almost impossible to maintain one. This makes community gardens perfect for those who are space-challenged like me. The very popular Potrero garden, however, has a very long waiting list. The current count is 74 people waiting to get in, which may take about a few years! So while waiting for a spot to open (or while saving for a country home) I’m going to start a small garden in our loft in the Dogpatch. I’m actually very excited that the new apartment has a pretty big-size patio that gets a good enough share of sun and shade. I think it’ll be perfect for a small herb garden. And maybe some tomatoes, too.
To know more about community gardens in the city and to find a garden in your neighborhood, follow this link.