Through your visits here, I hope you have gotten to know a few things about me. Things such as how excited I get about the recipes we try. I write about them here because I want to share them with you, but I try not be bossy. I rarely like being unequivocally told what to do and so I assume, neither would you. With most of the recipes, I gently coax you try them, hoping you will enjoy them as we did. I don’t post every meal we eat, but I hope that the recipes we do post are interesting to you. Through either the memory of the meal or its impression off a page, they were interesting to me, and that excites me enough to bring them to you.
For the most part, it is a calm interest, a gentle excitement. Every once in a while though, I come across a recipe that fairly shrieks out to me. Not literally – I know that would be very odd, and probably unsettling – but it captures my attention with just as much alacrity and focus. I cannot rest until I’m cooking it in the kitchen. At times, it turns out that recipe sounded better than it ends up tasting. But this recipe, this is not that kind. This was a time that the dish turned way better than I imagined it.
Ladies and gents, we’ve found a new restaurant that we are completely and totally, head-over-heels in love with.
It was touch-and-go for a bit. This restaurant joins several good ones on Chestnut street, which are all plagued with the same problem. On a weekend, they are impossible to get into without a reservation or a long wait. Tacolicious is no different. It’s great for the restaurant but awful for the people who just spent forty-five minutes finding parking only to find that a table is another forty-five minutes away. This was in its second open week. San Franciscans sure know how to welcome restaurants with open arms and wallets.
The next time we got in through the door, but were nearly blasted right back out by the sheer wall of sound and people that greeted us. The music was intensely loud and I found myself screaming at the hostess about tables and the bar. Finally, we grabbed a couple of tacos, guacamole and some fried plantains to-go and blew out of the place. Conversation of any kind was impossible in there. Call me crazy, but I like discussing the food and other world events with my dinner companions as I eat. Not that I would have gotten to rest on even half a bar stool that night. Tacolicious was living the very high life.
It might have been a to-go order, but it was packed with the same care and precision that I was to later realize that they put into all their food. The fresh tortilla chips and salsa that arrive at your table for you to nibble on as you peruse the menu had been thoughtfully included. So were the three different kinds of salsa that arrive with the tacos. You can tell a lot about restaurants serving Mexican food from their salsa and guacamole. Tacolicious scores flashing high numbers in this regard. They have this tangy green tomatillo salsa and smoky brown chipotle salsa, along with a searing yellow habenero one that set the soul of this chilli lover ablaze. The guacamole was easily some of the best I’ve eaten in a restaurant, with a creamy consistency, sour but not too much. We were hooked.
Construction is a necessary evil when you live in a building thats well into it’s fifties…our apartment building is being retrofitted with brand new waterproofing, shingles and just a general all around check up for its age. While I’m able to tune out peripheral external noises very easily when I’m at home, it becomes increasingly hard to do so when I’m trying to study at the same time. That Friday, the noise of the drill and the saw was loud enough to even drown out aimless thought, let alone focused study so we decided a trip to the library was in order if study of any real value was to be achieved. That was before we got to library, settled down with our books and were rudely interrupted by the jack hammer in Civic Center. Not our day….
By this time I was irritated and also starting to get cranky. I get like that when I can’t do something I want to; also when I’m hungry. And with the sun moving higher in the skies, it was time for a meal, something we forgot clean about for that day because of our pseudo-war with construction equipment. Then we remembered that just a block from the Civic Center is a wonderful little restaurant called Ananda Fuara.
After two years spent almost entirely in College Station, Texas, it was safe to say that I was thoroughly disillusioned with what was served in the name of Indian food in the United States, to the point where I only sought it in homes. While there had been shining successes by few, notably by my brother-in-law and my good buddy Pratik, to determinedly find me good Indian food in the nation’s capital and New Jersey respectively, those brief interludes did little to shake my despondency since my trips to the East coast were few and far in between. Little did I know that I’d end up living in San Francisco, a superlative Mecca of cuisine.
Somewhere in between the super-fancy restaurant found here and the “hole-in-the-wall” phenomenon that is also abundant is the kind of restaurant that promises nothing and in doing so, reconfigures what you’ve come to expect. Such was my feeling about the restaurant Chutney in San Francisco. There is nothing to distinguish it on the outside from any other restaurant in its vicinity but the Pakistani-Indian food it claims to deliver, it does so in aces. The food here is what most Indians would recognize as North Indian, a notable difference being the presence of beef, something you are highly unlikely to find in an Indian restaurant back home of this kind. I took one bite of the garlic naan and paneer tikka masala and was instantly transported in time and space. I had found heaven in the middle of one of the gritty neighbourhoods in the city.