Recently in USA category

Nopa: The Burger That Knocks It Out of the Ballpark

The search ended abruptly Friday night at Nopa.

nopa burger

It’s one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco, and my pal Matt and I decided to have a boy’s night out while the planets were aligned and we were both in town at the same time. Even before I saw a menu, I knew I wanted the burger and after a plate of incredibly tasty Padrón peppers (which, if you haven’t tried, you should hop on a plane to try right now—and that’s coming from someone that dislikes peppers, almost across-the-board) and a couple of Sidecars (Matt’s with rum, mine with Armagnac), my burger finally landed. And ho-boy, what a beauty*.

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Burger #1

The one thing I crave almost every day is a good burger. Oddly, I rarely ate burgers when I lived in the states. But for some reason nowadays, I just can’t get enough. Go figure.

sf burger

So we went to Serpentine, whose burger was exalted in the virtual world, as well as in print. For some reason, as soon as we sat down, I was craving a cocktail. I haven’t had a cocktail in ages since aside from Mojitos, Parisians don’t drink mixed drinks.

(I once made Cosmopolitans for my friends and they barely got halfway through the first one without becoming close to falling-down drunk. And when you live in a rooftop apartment, having inebriated people milling around your place—or worse, stepping out on the roof for a smoke, is not really a good thing.)

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Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream

If you’re looking for a simple scoop of chocolate ice cream…or vanilla…or strawberry…you’re not going to find it at Humphry Slocombe in San Francisco.

pig part ice cream

Okay, you might see one of them nestled somewhere amongst the wacky flavors on the ever-changing list. But you’ll have a better chance of finding Fumé (smoked) ice cream, Chocolate passion fruit, and cinnamon brittle. There’s a decidedly non-kosher Boccalone proscuitto ice cream, as well as Ancho coffee, Jesus juice sorbet (you don’t want to know…), Balsamic caramel, and Secret breakfast, a mixture of milk and sweetened breakfast cereal.

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The City Bakery

City Bakery

Here’s what I like best about The City Bakery: anything you order is going to be first-rate. There’s a thin, flaky apple tart with a hint of tangy lemon and lots of crackly sugar. The chocolate cookie is soft and bursting with deep, dark chocolate flavor. And the dreamy chocolate tartlet is simple and direct: a bittersweet chocolate shell encircling a dense, chocolate pudding-like filling. No unnecessary garnishes like cream or frosting. Just chocolate, and lots of it.

(And don’t even get me started about those Pretzel Croissants. If I could find a way—or space, to haul a few back to Paris, I would.)

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Joe the Art of Coffee

joe

We’ve been doing quite a bit of shopping here in New York. Romain has been here before, but never with an ‘almost’ local. (I grew up next door.) Sure, he’s been all the museums, but he’s never been to places as uniquely American as Bed, Bath & Beyond, TJ Maxx, and Old Navy, where we saw the woman who played Janice on The Sopranos loading up on bargains.

I guess since she’s now unemployed, she’s watching her finances, too.

He was absolutely bewildered that one could buy a shirt for $10 or pay just $25 for a pair of sneakers, which, in euros, cost a third of that. We’ve both been loading up on Levi’s at Dave’s for $32, or €20. And my once-empty suitcases are now bulging at the seams.

Everything is so cheap here, and no tax, either—God bless America!

Oddly, the same jeans I bought in France cost €72 ($100), and that was when they were on sale.(Although I didn’t get the same personal attention that I did in Paris, which, arguably, is worth the extra cost—at least at my age.)

After all that bargain hunting, what could plus obligatoire than a cup of good, strong coffee?

So we stopped in at Joe The Art of Coffee. Although I’ve always found their espresso a bit murky, Romain’s declared his espresso macchiato, “Le meilleur café de ma vie”, the best coffee of his life. I took a sip of his, and indeed, it was amazing.

I don’t quite know what to write about French coffee that I haven’t written about before, but after he was done, he wondered why he couldn’t get coffee like back home. So now he’s hooked, and so am I.

And not just on the coffee, but the bargains. We’re going to need an intervention to get us to leave.

Joe The Art of Coffee
405 West 23rd Street
New York City
(212) 206-0669

(Other locations throughout Manhattan)

Papabubble

candy jar

If there’s anyone out there who likes homemade candy more than I do, I would like to meet that person. I used to have a dream about opening a shop that sold nothing but confections made by my own two hands: chocolate-covered marshmallows, twisty peppermint sticks, naturally-flavored lollypops, sugary orange slices (god, I love those…), and chewy red licorice whips.

I even went so far as to go to take courses in candymaking, which was a lot of fun. But ultimately I decided that candy was too finicky, and that not only would few people buy it, but with my luck, I’d probably get picketed by the local dentists for making all that chewy stuff.

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ubuntu

carrot salad

It’s a very good sign, when I’m handed a menu in a restaurant, and everything on it looks so good to me, I can’t decide what to order. Such was the case with the menu at ubuntu, one of the most highly-lauded restaurants in America, which wasn’t just famous for creating innovative food, but also because it’s entirely vegetarian.

ubuntu

Luckily there were six of us, so we tried almost everything on the menu, which included lots of oddities and items so unusual, we had to ask what they were.

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Dynamo Donuts

two donuts

Donuts! Now there’s a new concept.

Actually there’s nothing new about donuts, and places like Krispy Kreme have come, and (almost) gone. But tucked away in a sunny corner of 24th Street in the Mission is the Dynamo Donut & Coffee shop.

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