The Wife and I were up in the Bay (or as the young’uns like to call it—The Yay) last weekend visiting my little brother and his girlfriend. Although I’ve visited my little brother a couple of times before in the Yay, most of my time visiting was spent on drunken shenanigans, horseplay, and tomfoolery (and bob and johnfoolery for that matter). With this most recent (and more mature) visit, I wanted to eat more and imbibe less. And because my little bro and his girlfriend are such good dining companions (they don’t scoff or turn their noses up at anything), the task of finding good food would be easy.
The Gilroy Garlic Festival
As luck would have it, the world-famous Gilroy Garlic Festival took place the same weekend we were visiting my bro. I’ve always wanted to go to this orgy of garlic, if for no other reason than, well, it’s an orgy of garlic. My wife and I knew we were in good company because our hosts for the weekend did not point and laugh at us when we mentioned we wanted to visit this garlic fest. In fact, my little bro and his girl were just as eager to go as we were.
Here are the garlicky goodies that graced our gullets:
The garlic ice cream was pretty good actually; it was sweet with just a hint of garlic in it. And look! It's shaped just like a little clove of garlic. Awwww.
These French fries were the most garlic-laden dish we sampled, and it was my favorite. It was spicy and garlicky with every single bite. I wished everything at the festival was as garlicky as the garlic fries.
My wife and I split this plate of garlic stir-fried chicken and noodles, garlic shrimp scampi, sautéed garlic and mushrooms, and garlic bread. This was ok, but really no different from a mixed-plate of food from the food court of a mall. Not very garlicky at all.
We also tried the garlic sausage. The verdict? I’ve had better garlic sausage before.
Sadly, the Gilroy Garlic Festival was a bit of a letdown. I was expecting to be assaulted by a Magic Garlic Gnome wielding a semi-automatic machine gun that shot garlic cloves down my throat. Alas, there is no such thing as a Magic Garlic Gnome, let alone a gun that uses garlic as ammunition. So tragic, I know. Despite our perceived lack of garlic at the garlic festival, we still had a very good time.
Coriya Hot Pot City
I have been to a couple of Korean BBQ restaurants where you grill your own meats, but I’ve never been to anything like Coriya Hot Pot City in El Cerrito. This was a Taiwanese-style hot pot restaurant in which a cauldron of boiling water and a hot grill are set in the middle of your dining table. There was a buffet area from where you fill your plates with a seemingly endless supply of raw goods—from beef, to pork, to chicken, to fish, to veggies. Then, you could either cook your food in the boiling water of the hot pot, or on the surrounding hot grill.
And to boot, it was only 13 bucks a person and it was all you can eat. ALL YOU CAN EAT!!! FOR 13 DOLLARS!!! I AM SCREAMING AS I TYPE THIS!!!
I don’t know why, but my favorite thing at this restaurant were these little skewered fishies:
I don’t know what kind of fish they were, and I didn’t care. I just sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper on these things, stuck them on the grill for a couple minutes, plunged the impaled fish into my mouth, and ate everything, bones and all, except the head. I think I ate 10 of these things, and all of these skewered fishies were full of fish eggs—wonderful, yummy, potentially stomach-hurting fish eggs:
Despite it being a hotbed of cross-contamination and food poisoning, what with all the raw meat and chicken, this was my favorite of all the places we ate in the Bay area. It’s not that the quality of all the meat, poultry and fish was exceptional, though it was all still very good, it was the interactive experience of everything. We all cooked, shared, and ate each other’s food. And none of us got sick! Good times. I must find one of these in SoCal!
Canton Seafood and Dim Sum Restaurant
We had a very early lunch at this Dim Sum restaurant in San Francisco, just outside of Chinatown. We had a huge selection of dim sum, and here are a few of the dishes we had:
^Pork wrapped in rice noodles (I think).
^Rice and dried scallop wrapped in a lotus leaf.
^Jellyfish (very good)
And the last picture above not only shows how messy an eater I am, but it also shows a soup dumpling (Xiaolongbao), a half-eaten chicken’s foot, and a taro cake. I’ve never had XLB before, but the soup dumplings at Canton were a very good introduction, although they didn’t have as much broth in them as I thought they would. I’ve also never had chicken feet before, but it was surprisingly good once I got past the fact that there were chicken toe bones in my mouth. The taro cake was excellent, perfectly crisp on the outside with a nice soft texture on the inside.
Mitchell’s Ice Cream
I wanted to go to Mitchell’s Ice Cream in San Francisco for one reason and one reason alone: I wanted to try their Macapuno Ice cream and compare it to my Macapuno Ice Cream. Mitchell’s texture was better than the texture of my ice cream, but flavor-wise, my version is definitely more coconutty. I’m giving the edge to me, because, well, because I can.
I also had a small sample of Mitchell’s Ube ice cream (they have a mess of Filipino Flavors), and I liked their Ube much more than their Macapuno. My wife and brother both had the Caramel Praline, and my bro’s GF had the Rum Raisin—all were very good.
Ole’s Waffle Shop
More often than not, eateries with the words “waffle” and/or “pancake” in their names usually serve only average waffles and/or pancakes. It’s true. Go to any “So and So’s Waffle Palace” or any “Such and Such’s Pancake Emporium” and you will be served mediocre breakfast batter—not necessarily bad waffles, but not really good either. I swear, it’s a scientific fact.
However, Ole’s Waffle Shop in Alameda defied this seemingly unbreakable law of culinary physics and served up some pretty effing good waffles! I was not disappointed in the slightest. I also had some eggs and sausage, but the waffles were excellent. The waffles at Ole’s had a deep brown and very crisp exterior and a fluffy interior—almost as if they were deep-fried, but they weren’t. It was the perfect breakfast before getting on a morning flight back to SoCal.
All in all, The Wife and I had a most excellent adventure in the cities by the bay.