Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kate & Brenda know their brunch.

In our attempt to eat our way across the city, Team Brunch has been out in full force, with the two most recent brunches being very memorable indeed.

First off, we went to Kate's Kitchen in the lower Haight last Monday. Scheduling conflicts meant that we went on Monday rather than over the weekend, and this worked out perfectly, because Kate's normally has a line out the door, but as it was a weekday, we were fortunate enough to only have to wait for them to clean a table that had just been vacated as we arrived.

Wow. Not only does this cute little joint have an exciting menu, but they have exciting prices to match - and by 'exciting' prices, I mean cheap.

Amongst our choices were the french toast orgy (which has fruit and granola piled on top of it), pumpkin choc-chip french toast with whipped cream, a yummy meat scramble and a veggie scramble (complete with crunchy bits of fried tortilla in the mix). All of the items on the menu are under $10 (most are between $6.50 and $8.50) and you get big portions. Be prepared...

The ambience is very homely and simple, and there is a huge mural on one of the walls with a map of all the different types of farms across the USA. I am keen to go back to this place and try some of the other dishes on the menu.

Yesterday we braved the smells of the TL to get our French soul food on at Brenda's. We had a feeling we would have to wait, and it is a tiny restaurant, but one and a half hours spent wasting away in the street is pushing it a little. I would say we were suckers for waiting that long, but once we were inside and we tried how yummy the food was, it all appeared to be worth it. Plus, as my boyfriend put it, we went out for a dining experience and it just so happens that this place has a long wait, so if you want to see what all the hype is about for yourself, this is just one of those things you have to deal with.

Whilst we were waiting we did walk a few blocks to another brunch place, but they had a long wait too, so we went back to Brenda's where our party was edging closer up the list. I saw this walk as pre-brunch calorie burning exercise, although the tenderloin is really not the nicest neighbourhood to take a walk in.

During our wait outside Brenda's we were approached by a homeless lady who informed me that she shook hands with two Blue Angels that day. She said they were super hot and how if she only had some decent clothes she would have been right in there....she followed this comment with some hip gyrating. I felt bad for her, but it was probably a good thing that we had a lengthy wait after this encounter as the smell that wafted about her lingered in our noses for rather a long time afterwards, and would not be conducive to eating.

Once we were inside we shared the beignet sampler which had 4 types: plain, chocolate filled, apple filled and crawfish filled. They were big enough for all four of us to try each of them. My favourite was the crawfish, and the others I was not blown away by - I think I prefer the beignets at Just for You Cafe.

The coffee was not enjoyable to me either, nor were the grits - but this is just because I have come to realise that I don't like grits - the rest of Team Brunch loved them. Now I know this is starting to sound like it wasn't really worth the wait for me.....but that's because I haven't mentioned the eggs benedict yet. I chose the fried catfish benny which comes on a biscuit with perfectly poached eggs and a delicious, slightly spicy, cajun hollandaise sauce. It was scrumptious and I cannot fault it at all.

This is probably one of those establishments where it is best to go during the week, if possible, although I can imagine that even mid-week you may have to wait a little while to get in. The whole timing of the day ended up being perfect from my perspective, because on our way back to the car from the restaurant, we ended up running into a couple of sailors, and being fleet week, I have had my eyes open for sailors allllllllll week long....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Alameda Sundays.

I had an absolute blast a couple of weeks ago at the tiki car lot sale held at Forbidden Island in Alameda.

Not only was the weather gorgeous, but the day was filled with lots of friends and familiar faces, cool stuff 'n' things to look at (including lots of cute dresses) and MONKEYPODS!

I had been dreaming about the wonderful rum concoction that is the Monkeypod since the last time I went to Forbidden Island back in May. It was just as delicious as I remembered, and I think I enjoyed it even more this time as I got to sip on my cocktail whilst browsing all the tiki goods on sale...

It was pretty much the perfect day, spending the whole afternoon in the sunshine with my wonderful man, wonderful friends and the wonderful taco truck that I became acquainted with.

I spent the whole afternoon pondering over a dress that I had my eye on, and by the end of the day, I decided to haggle my way in to being its owner...which I now am....

The draw of Alameda struck again last weekend with the Alameda Flea Market. Taking place on the first Sunday of each month, this market is humongous and attracts loaaaaaaaaaaaaaaads of people. As with my last visit to the market on my previous trip to the bay area, it was a beautiful day - just perfect to rummage through all the junk (and treasure) on offer.

This time round I came away with a cute compact mirror and two rose brooches. This market appeals to the pack rat in me, and to be honest if I sorted through all my belongings in London, I would have so much stuff to sell here. It's funny how some old tatty piece of crap can seem like treasure when it is being peddled at an 'antiques market'....

The items on sale at this market call for a lot of goofing around, and so of course, we goofed. The funnest props I have encountered so far, have to be the huge Incredible Hulk boxing gloves....

We had a lot of fun, running into friends throughout the day, taking photos, playing instruments and trying on various items of clothing and jewellery. After this it was over to Forbidden Island again for a cheeky cocktail and those damn delicious spicy chicken pieces and coconut shrimp. Oh my daaaaaaays they are so good...

Fancy Footwork...

Last week we went to check out Stompy Jones at the Top of the Mark lounge at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. Apart from being swanky and having a nice little dance floor, it also has a great 360 degree view of the city. As if this wasn't enough, they also serve you Japanese rice cracker snack thingies in big silver martini glasses.

So decked out in our best gear, we climbed up the hill (and then up the elevator) to the top floor and enjoyed an evening of fancy. Fancy bar, fancy outfits, fancy cocktails, fancy dancing.

I really enjoyed the evening! Stompy Jones were on top form as usual, and it was fun dressing up and being able to dance with only one or two other couples on the floor. I also really enjoyed the opportunity to dress up smart and try somewhere new. The cocktails are overpriced ($13 a pop) but they are good, and you get to enjoy them in a nice environment. Plus the dance floor is great.

Our fancy outfits did not feel so fancy, however, when we ran out of petrol on the way home and had to pull up on the side of the freeway....

So onwards and upwards, it was time to get fancy schmancy pants again last Saturday for the Black Couture Ball.

The Ball was held across seven venues on Fillmore - some you had to pay to get in to, and other were free - and the dress code was vintage (1900-1960s) black tie.

Our friends Slim Jenkins, an up-and-coming, swingin' bluesy seven piece band were playing at Bruno's Pizzeria Cucina so we went along to support them and have a dance.

Whilst Slim Jenkins rocked the joint, I'm going to have to say, the venue itself was a real disappointment to me. It was small and cramped and didn't allow much space for dancing. But what was worse, was that more than half the customers, who were just out for dinner (rather than knowing about the event) were dressed in jeans and t-shirts. Now, this is not their fault, of course, but given that it was only the minority who were dressed to the nines, I felt like my outfit was wasted on this pizza joint.

Then to make matters worse, my boyfriend and a friend of mine were handed invitations to strut their stuff in the fashion show being held that evening at Yoshi's, but when we tried to go in, the lady at the door pulled me back by my arm and told us we needed to purchase ($30) wristbands to gain entry. This is where I got annoyed. LADY, do not pull my arm, and do not have your people handing out these invites in the street if you only want people who have paid for tickets to enter. Hand them out to people inside the venue (who have your poxy wristbands) or make sure you are organised enough not to cause this type of embarrassing situation. It's not our fault if you went to hunt for talent on the streets because there weren't enough fashionable people in Yoshi's.

She then changed her mind and decided to let us in, but by that point I no longer wanted to be a part of their event. I think the idea of the Black Couture Ball was great, but I would have liked to have seen it on perhaps a smaller but more cohesive scale. I think the tickets to get into Yoshi's should have been cheaper and there should have been a dress code to get in to all the venues involved.

So anyway, after the brief Yoshi lady encounter, we promptly went back to the pizza joint and listened to the rest of Slim Jenkins' set. They are a really fun band, and play a great selection of danceable music - with style and personality. They all look like they are really enjoying themselves when they perform, and similarly the crowd all love being entertained by them. I am looking forward to seeing them play at Amnesia later this month.