Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Gung Hay Fat Choy from San Francisco's Chinatown

San Francisco's Chinatown is really alive this time of year, bustling with energy and awash in bright red colors. Maybe because of the spectacular weather we've been having (sun, sun and more sun) and perhaps it's because we're ushering in the Year of the Dragon, but Chinatown seems more vibrant than ever.
The climax of all the festivities will be, of course, the annual Chinese New Year's parade, this year scheduled for Saturday evening, Feb. 11.
I recently updated by Chinatown travel app for iPhones, iPads and iPods, adding a few new restaurants. Two are especially wonderful if you like spicy food: The Potsticker on charming Waverly Place and Z&Y in the middle of one of the best blocks for eating in Chinatown, Jackson Street between Grant and Kearny.
You may have walked by The Potsticker over the years and dismissed it as a tourist spot. But last year it was taken over by new management (with staff from Z&Y). Head for the house specials such as filet of sole and any of the "Hot and Numbing Spice Pots," which you can ask to be prepared less fiery. The delectable and not-hot smoked tea duck is excellent.
Z&Y's fiery "explosive" chicken
The Potsticker's smoked tea duck
Z&Y restaurant also specializes in hot Szechuan fare. Try the kung pao bean curd with soft homemade tofu sprinkled with peanuts and onions. The signature dish is Chicken with Explosive Chile Pepper, an eye-catching plate that has diners digging through mounds of chile peppers to get to crisp juicy morsels of chicken (which are, amazingly, not very spicy). I loved the Tan Tan noodles, silky homemade noddles tossed with minced pork and vegetables. But there's so much more on the menu to explore.
For my updated Chinatown app, click here and look at iTunes for the download.
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
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Monday, January 9, 2012

Treasure Island Flea Continues into 2012

Treasure Island has become the site of what must be one of the most scenic flea markets in the world. The event, called the Treasure Island Flea, is continuing in 2012.
For the first three months of the year the market is heading indoors, to the beautiful and historic One Avenue of the Palms building -- the last useable building from the 1939 San Francisco World's Fair.
The market -- called the TI Flea Pop-Up -- will take place the last Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. of each month from January through March.
For the rest of the year, the Flea will take place outdoors, on the lovely waterfront Avenue of the Palms pathway that offers spectacular views of the bay and San Francisco and is dominated by the massive curvy woman statue that was built for Burning Man.
Market dates are the last weekend of each month, from 9 am. to 4 p.m. each day.
I drove over to Treasure Island in late November to experience the Flea for the first time and wondered why I had waited to long. This is a fun weekend happening: there are all kinds of vendors, including antiques and collectibles, but also craftspeople and others who are clearly garage sale or junkyard scavengers with some interesting stuff to sell. Making it even more of an event are the dozen or so food trucks that participate. The organizers say in 2012 they are aiming to attract even more food trucks and create more food areas, perhaps even a "seafood grotto" with live shellfish.
Then there's the fun of being on the island itself. This 400-acre man-made spot in the middle of San Francisco Bay was constructed in 1936 and 1937 for the San Francisco World's Fair. It was considered as a site for San Francisco International Airport. For many years, it was U.S. Navy base. Many of those old military buildings remain, some now leased to businesses. A couple of wineries offer tasting rooms on Treasure Island, including TI Wines. Some old buildings are used for storage, including for the old Doggie Diner "hot dog" heads. It's also one of the best places to get a view the construction of the new eastern span of the stunning Bay Bridge. So, go enjoy, maybe buy something, but stroll and eat at the Treasure Island Flea.