Sunday, July 7, 2013

4th of July eats, Part 1 - Anchor Oyster Bar and Tartine Bakery

Anchor Oyster Bar and Tartine Bakery - July 5, 2013
Oysters on the half shell - Anchor Oyster Bar
I still have some recipes to put up of stuff I've baked over the past week or so but for a change of pace, here's some food porn of what I've been eating over the holiday weekend. And probably hence why I will need to take a break from baking while I increase my time at the gym.
Garlic Bread appetizer was delicious - Anchor Oyster Bar
The 4th of July weekend eating actually was for the 2 days after Independence Day.  My sister was visiting from out of town and one of my nieces came over so, with my mom, we spent a good part of the day in San Francisco this past Friday.  My niece's friends had recommended a couple of seafood places and we decided to try Anchor Oyster Bar in the Castro.  If you've never been there, be prepared for a wait, both because this place is highly rated (4.5 stars on yelp, Michelin Guide Recommended, Zagat Rated, Top 5% SF Restaurants in Trip Advisor and SF Magazine Best of Bay Area Winner in 2009) and because it's tiny.  There are only a handful of tables that can seat 2-4 people each and a bar counter that can seat a few more.  I wouldn't recommend coming here with larger than a party of 4.  When you arrive, you write your name, the number in your party and the time you arrived on the restaurant's white board posted outside.  Because the place is so small, you literally can't wait inside (no room) and have to wait outside on the bench the restaurant has thoughtfully provided or just stand there looking longingly through the plate glass window and wondering when the current patrons will be leaving.
My mom got the crab, shrimp and cheese open-faced sandwich
We arrived mid-afternoon so it wasn't lunchtime by any means but we still had a 20-minute wait for the 4 of us.  I don't actually eat oysters but there were other seafood options so that didn't worry me.  My mom, sister and niece did order the oysters (you can order individual oysters prepared a couple of different ways) along with their entrees.  I got the pasta special of the day which was jumbo prawns and penne pasta in a very excellent tomato cream sauce.  I usually don't like penne but the sauce was amazing and the prawns were to die for.
Pasta Special of the Day: Penne Pasta with Jumbo Prawns
My niece's Boston Clam Chowder
My sister's Combination Caesar Salad
We were pretty full after that late lunch but since we were already in the city and could use the walk, we decided (or my niece and I were in favor of it and talked my mom and my sister into it) to head over to Tartine Bakery, about half a mile away. I actually have Tartine's baking book and I've even been there before but it was long ago and I can't even remember what I got.  My niece's friend recommended the banana cream pie and the coconut cream pie so we were on a mission to find either or (preferably) both.
Unfortunately, since it was so late in the day when we got there, their display case was a little skimpy and they were out of the banana cream pie.  There was 1 individual-size coconut cream pie left and a guy ahead of us who was asking about it.  My niece and I held our collective breath to see if he would buy that one but fortunately he chose something else.  What a bummer that would've been if we were thwarted in both of the desserts we were seeking.  As it was, we were able to get the coconut cream pie and a hazelnut chocolate tart.
Coconut Cream Pie - Tartine Bakery
The coconut cream pie was in a flaky tart shell that contained a bottom layer of bittersweet chocolate then the coconut cream filling and shavings of fresh toasted coconut on top.  I'm not usually a fan of creamy desserts but this was delicious.  There is a recipe for it in the Tartine book I have so I may try recreating this one.
Chocolate Hazelnut Tart - Tartine Bakery
The chocolate hazelnut tart was also a winner.  You really can tell when a bakery uses "the good chocolate".  The only downside for me was the taste of liquor and I thought they used frangelico which is a hazelnut liqueur.  But I looked up the recipe in the Tartine book when I got home (assuming it's the same one) and it looks to be brandy.  I'm not a brandy fan but still, this was also good. The texture was creamy and the hazelnuts added a nice crunch on top. Since we were still full from lunch, we took both desserts to go for enjoying later.  And fortunately, it was almost a mile-long walk back to the car.

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