Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Summer Snapshot :: Frito Pie

In our family, we can never get enough of Fritos Corn Chips. No matter the size, no matter the flavor ... We love 'em! And when we heard that our friends at Chile Pie and Ice Cream included a Frito Pie on their menu, we had to check it out for ourselves.

Served straight out of the bag, the corn chips are piled with spiced Niman Ranch ground beef and pinto beans. To top it off, their signature red chile sauce over and into the bag. Talk about taking snack food to whole other level!

Chile Pie and Ice Cream
601 Baker St
San Francisco, CA 94117

Friday, August 5, 2011

Wicked West Pizza | West Sacramento, CA

We recently asked the kids to come up with some of their favorite food combinations, or at least, come up with as many food combinations that they can muster. The list included burgers and fries, spaghetti and meatballs, peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, pie and ice cream, and liver and onions. We could have gone on and on, as I'm sure you could as well, but we were struck rather curious when our son blurted out pizza and bbq. Not exactly one that rolls right off the tongue and certainly one that is not necessarily in the culinary vernacular.

Still, stranger combinations have come to be accepted norms. Take, for example, fried chicken and waffles. So, it's not a stretch to think that pizza and bbq could work, and as our son reminded us, it does at Wicked West Pizza and BBQ.

Ever since they opened its doors last year, Wicked West Pizza and BBQ has caused quite a positive stir in the immediate and surrounding communities of West Sacramento. Why? Unlike other, more commercial pizzerias, they shy away from artificial fillers and flavors that can be found in mass produced pies. Rather, they are staking their newfound reputation by providing their customers with nothing but fresh and natural ingredients provided by organic farmers and artisans in the local area.

"Food is important to us," writes owners Michelle Lau-Heetkamp and Devin Grant. "It defines our bodies and makes us who we are. We know how important our customers' lives are, and we do our very best to help out families eat better and take better care of themselves. We don’t just put a local heirloom tomato on your plate and hope you assume everything is organic. We are truly committed to serving the very best food we can."

Their menu is a cornucopia of choices. If pizza is your craving for the day, you can select your own toppings or go with any one of nine specialty pizzas, each with a colorful name such as The Phat Man's BBQ, The Flyin' Hawaiian, The Old Lady, or The Campbell River. No matter the slice or size, they stack em' high on top of a gluten-free crust or one made with organic whole wheat flour.

Now, if you are anything like my son, great bbq is the preference. Sure, he likes their pizza, but he loves the bbq better. And what's not to love when their grill-master is cooking up all-natural free range chicken, baby back ribs, hot links, beef brisket, and hand-pulled pork.

Every bit of it slow-cooked over hickory chips to "give you a delectable plate of meat." And don't expect any one of the above to be served coated in sauce. That's not to say there isn't something to dip your bbq. They won't cheat you of that endeavor. You'll just find it on the side, kettle-cooked to perfection, in three ways: mild, hot, or WICKED HOT.

Beyond the food, the folks at Wicked West Pizza and BBQ keep family entertainment close to heart. Flat-screen monitors keep you updated on the latest sporting events whether the season calls for baseball, basketball, football, hockey, or soccer. For the kids, let them get lost in an arcade reminiscent of those found at the Chuck E. Cheese or the Dave 'n Buster restaurants. There's even a prize counter to cash in game tickets (AWESOME!). And for us older folks, on special evenings, it's not uncommon to enjoy live music and dancing on the patio.

Oh, by the way, did I mention the gelato bar? They got that too. No preservatives, stabilizers, or "gross stuff hidden here!" It's all-natural with featured flavors as cookie dough, vanilla, strawberry, chocolate peanut butter. raspberry marble, mint chip, butter pecan, coffee, and chocolate chip.

So, there's a little of something for everyone at Wicked West Pizza and BBQ, and now that this latest posting is done, I'll meet you there. I'll be the one chilling with a plate of their 3-Meat Sampler, a slice of The Old Lady, and a tall, frosted glass of Hoegaarden Speciale ... Oh, and a pocketful of game tickets (got my eye on sweet lookin' lava lamp).

Wicked West Pizza
3160 Jefferson Boulevard
West Sacramento, CA 95691
(916) 572-0572

Wicked West Pizza & BBQ on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Dynamo Donuts and Coffee | San Francisco, CA

BACON DONUT DAY IS EVERYDAY! A battle-cry that is noted on their website. A motto that is worn well on the chalk board signage noting the "flavors of the day" behind the take-out counter. None have stretched the creative boundaries of a donut's potential quite like our friends at Dynamo Donuts and Coffee. An idea conceived by renowned pastry chef, Sara Spearin, her neighborhood shop has not only fulfilled a longtime dream of hers, but it has also filled a niche that has not been seen or realized in San Francisco before her arrival.

Writes Lessley Anderson of Readymade Magazine, "Sara Spearin has developed mouth-watering recipes that use organic flour, milk, and palm shortening, rather than the preservatives and trans fat-laden ingredients favored by many commercial donut makers. Her natural approach, along with unusual flavor combinations, has drawn lines to the Mission District shop since she opened it in July 2008."

Spearin and her staff are there every morning at 2:30a prepping the kitchen for that day's menu, which is never repeated twice during the same week. In other words, a rotating selection of seven to ten donuts are featured daily from a collection of twenty-three exotic flavors, including, but not limited to:

- Chocolate Rose Geranium Hazelnut
- Lemon Pistachio
- The Monte Cristo (i.e. filled donut with ham, gruyere, and a house jam)
- Passion Fruit Milk Chocolate
- Candied Orange Blossom
- Caramel de Sel
- Saffron Chocolate
- Apricot Cardamom

And as noted, their Bacon Maple Apple donut is offered everyday. It is arguably their most popular flavor. Studded with bacon and apples that were sauteed in bacon fat and topped with a maple glaze and crispy bacon bits, every bite from this ringed delicacy simply melts in your mouth. We recommend that you include two (or more) in your order because one is simply not enough to garnish your plate.

For many of you who follow our culinary adventures, you know that we make no secret of our love for donuts. Baked or fried. Custard or jelly filled. Frosted with unusual toppings or simply covered in more traditional fare whether it's sprinkles, nuts, or coconut shavings. We just can't enough of these tasty confections, and as long as Spearin and her staff are rollin' out the goods, we will continue to be big fans and constant visitors to Dynamo Donuts and Coffee.

Dynamo Donuts and Coffee

2760 24th Street

San Francisco, C A 94110


Dynamo Donuts & Coffee on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Snapshot of the Day :: Tillamook at the Zoo

Last year, the 102-year-old Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA)assembled a group of dedicated personnel and placed them behind the wheels of a small fleet of decorative VW buses. They had never done anything like this before. At least, not in recent memory. Their mission? Travel across the western states to promote the many award-winning products under the Tillamook brand. Referred to as the "Love Loaf Tour," the adventurous endeavor proved to be a great success not only in its simple approach, but also in its grassroots philosophy.

They have since brought the "Love Loaf Tour" back for a second year, and during this past week, the little VW buses parked themselves in front of various locations in the Sacramento area. We were fortunate to catch up with them this past Saturday at the Sacramento Zoo, where nothing but fun was on the agenda: scavenger hunts, walkabout bingo, word scrambles, and of course, the animal exhibits and shows. Prizes were given away as well as all the cheese samples you could stomach!

"Our hope is to introduce ourselves to those who come out and see us and give them a chance to try our best tasting cheeses," noted Andrea, one of the tour hosts. "I love meeting the people. This has been a very rewarding experience for me."

But as good as that all sounded, the cheese and games were not the only highlight. Rather, the Cheese on Wheels or Baby Loaf Buses were sights to behold. According to the handouts, each bus "started out as a standard Volkswagen microbus from the '60s. Roughly five feet from the middle section was removed and the two halves were welded together. The buses were then lowered three inches to improve balance, handling, and performance." With a lot of "loaf and care," each bus was made to resemble a baby loaf of cheese and, over time, have since become automotive marvels.

Not familiar with the Tillamook brand? A quick history. Established in 1909, the Tillamook County Creamery Association (TCCA) is a cooperative of 110 dairy farming families guided by century-old values of quality, cooperation, integrity, stewardship and responsiveness. During their storied history, the cooperative has developed itself as one of the top dairy brands in the country, offering not only their naturally aged cheddars, but also a variety of other cheeses, ice cream, butter, sour cream, and yogurt.

The "Love Loaf Tour" has just a few more months left on the road with more stops scheduled in Salt Lake City, Denver, Seattle, Spokane, Portland, and Boise. To see the tour’s full & detailed schedule of stops in Sacramento, please visit their website at For other information, tune into Tillamook Cheese on Facebook or follow @TillamookCheese on Twitter.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer Snapshot of the Day :: Salumi Cone from Boccalone

Many of us have heard of ice cream cones and snow cones. But a meat cone? Why not, and leave it to our friends at Boccalone to assemble such a combination of salty flavors.

Located at San Francisco’s Ferry Building, Boccalone's storefront is visited by folks from all over the world. Whether they are local to the area or a tourist (like us), they are here for one thing: cured meats.

Fresh sausages, head cheese, cooked and smoked hams, salumi, and many others treats. Created by Chris Cosentino and Mark Pastore, Boccalone takes great pride in creating small-batches of their meats, including assurances that everything is sustainably raised, hand butchered, and cold cured.

Given this, it never takes us long to maneuver through the crowds and create a beeline towards their counter to get one of their delectable meat (a.k.a. salumi) cones. For just a few dollars, we are soon holding a paper cone stuffed with three to four varieties of their sliced, expertly cured meats ranging from Ciccioli, Coppa di Testa to Mortadella. Meraviglioso ... The salumi cone really hit the spot that day!

Boccalone Salumeria
Ferry Building Marketplace
Shop 21
San Francisco, CA 94111