We went to La Mar as a part of the Dine About Town week in SF. We ordered items from the Dine About Town & regular menu. La Mar’s ambiance is awesome and location is prime, situated on the pier. We went today on a sunny San Francisco day during lunchtime and landed a patio seat.
Food: 4.5 Stars
We first started with a complimentary fried plantains, white potato, and sweet potatoes with red salsa and salsa criolla. These were either fried twice, or baked and fried because these had the perfect crunch and texture that you can only get doing it this way. The two salsas were very good but not overpowering. The salsa criolla was yellow and creamy from the cheese blended into the sauce. The second was more of a traditional salsa with a tomato and pepper base.
Onto our menu items:
1. Starter: Cebiche Mixto Yellowtail from Mexico, calamari and shrimp in an ají amarillo leche de tigre with cilantro, red onion, habanero, Peruvian corn and yam. The ceviche was awesome— not too sour from lime and just the right textures you want from seafood (which was very very fresh. One bite of the calamari and it just melted away).
2.Starter: Causa Pulpo Olivo Octopus tartare mixed with Peruvian black olives, red pepper and onions on top of yellow potato causa with avocado purée and finished with rocoto huancaina sauce. Very distinct taste of octopus, which was balanced well with the smooth starch of the puree. The sauce did not add much to the dish.
3. Starter: Beef Empanada (Regular Menu)
My only complaint was the price of this dish. Empanadas are usually a cheap street food, usually $1 or $2, and is not a food to be served conventionally eaten with a knife and fork. I thought that the beef empanada should be less expensive but the dish itself was very very good. The pastry was crisp and yet fluffy on the inside—exactly what you want for a fried item. The filling was amazing—tomatoes, scallions and perfectly cooked but not overcooked ground beef.
4.Main: Arroz Criollo Wok sauteed rice with aji panca, choclo, shrimp, calamari and mussels garnished with salsa criolla and drizzed with aji amarillo sauce.
Very similar to seafood paella. The seafood was cooked perfectly. The dish was a little bland, it left me wanting a bit more spices to the dish. But we still ate the whole thing up!
5. Sous-Vide Pork Belly Sandwich
6. Dessert: Chicha Morada Sorbet Peruvian purple corn and rosemary sorbet. Perfect ending to the meal. Sweet and cold, but not so sweet to make our teeth ache. Very refreshing.
Overall, there were some items that could’ve been less salty or more flavorful but the techniques used (sous vide, marinating raw fish to coax flavor), the portions, the textures were spot on.
Service: 5 Stars
The service was stupendous—quick and attentive but not overbearing. Our server, Manuel, was awesome and extremely helpful. And! he gave us an extra order of sorbet (we intended to share one) and a complimentary post-dessert (I’ll keep what it is a secret so that you see for yourself ;) ). The way to a reviewer’s heart.
Lets Pickup from where we previously left off and finish that list of recommended books
3. A third book is called The Flavor Bible. My girlfriend and I recently discovered this book and we think its amazing. The book basically gives a flavor profile for main ingredients and suggests ingredients and recipes that work best for these ingredients. For example, the eggplant page has a list of complimentary ingredients and foods that work well and/or enhance the flavor of the eggplant.
4. The fourth is Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. It’s a memoir of sorts that details Bourdain’s life in the kitchen beginning with humble beginnings at culinary school and in Massachusetts to his job as head chef at Les Halles in NYC during the early 2000’s. I don’t know how much you know about Bourdain, but this is the book that put his name on the map and allowed his to get the TV deals for his shows A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, and Parts Unknown. He has a no frills, very readable style of writing. I learned so much about using the correct cooking ware (you need heavy-bottomed pans!), knives (3 knives—a chef’s knife, pairing knife, and bread knife are all you need), and also the restaurant business practices (its bad to eat brunch on Sundays or eat fish on Mondays). Just an all-around great book and very entertaining read.
Best Creme Brulee that I and my girlfriend have ever had— this is the real deal. This small cart is situated between Powell and Embarcadero in downtown SF and has an official canopy, logo and all.
We ordered the vanilla bean ($4) and the double chocolate($4). Initially we were thrown off by the price, especially considering their petite size, but the initial reluctance was overcome by this delicious treat.
Don’t let the small size fool you! This dessert from this cart was both rich and decadent— perfect! The double chocolate was fluffy and airy but rich from the chocolate. This is a must have for chocolate lovers. The vanilla bean was a classic creme brulee. Light and airy, with a clean finish. The bottom was marked with black speckles, evidence of actual vanilla bean, which is always appreciate. Skillfully caramelized sugar crystals topped both custards and added a satisfying crunchy texture to each spoonful. Definitely a must go for dessert lovers in SF.
Here is another pair of cheat sheets, but this time for the anatomy of a knife, the types of cuts for fruits and vegetables that you can make with a knife.
I’ve learned overtime about the importance of having and using a knife in the kitchen. Anthony Bourdain describes the role of knife in the kitchen in his book Kitchen Confidential (I’ll talk about this book a bit more later).
According to him, there’s no need to fancy knifesets, but rather three knives— a sharp, high-quality chef’s knife, a pairing knife, and a bread knife. We personally use the Global brand of knives— a high, quality, durable brand that is preferred by many chefs around the world. Other knife brands that we recommend are Wustoff and Miyabi. Depending on whether you have more control with smaller or larger knives, you may want to purchase an 6” or 8” chef’s knife. Runs you about $90, but the investment is well worth it.
There’s more to a knife than just cutting food with it. Don’t want to cut your fingers? You have to learn how to hold it! Want to sharpen that dull knife? You have know the anatomy of the knife! Check out the next post for knife tips!
Starting out in the kitchen can be intimidating but over the next few weeks we’ll give some resources to help out in the kitchen. First off, here are some books that we’ve used to get around the kitchen:
1. The Joy of Cooking, which for many chefs if the culinary bible. This book has information about different techniques, such as pickling food, selecting cheeses, selecting wines, and also has a myriad of recipes. It’s a great book for the basics—pick it up, look through it, and try one of their recipes.
2. The second book I would recommend is Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio. This book does exactly as the title says—gives ratios about the amount of ingredients needed for a certain recipes. This is almost a fool proof book for creating breads, stews, sausages, and sauces from scratch amongst others.