Friday, June 8, 2012

Fisherman's Wharf Hidden Gems

Some of the best eating at Fisherman's Wharf isn't inside traditional fish restaurants or at the stands of steaming crab pots and sourdough bowls of chowder.
Suzanna Acevedo and co-worker
It's found tucked away on the edge of a parking lot along Jones Street, where the creaky old streetcars from around the world end their run on MUNI's F Line. Two colorful food trucks are permanently parked here, on a quiet block just a short distance from the main wharf tourist attractions.
Codmother fish tacos
Both are dishing up some surprisingly good food (not surprising, perhaps, to those following the food truck phenomenon).
The first is The Codmother, where a cheery Englishwoman, Suzanne Acevedo, runs a traditional fish 'n chips stand but with California twists, including super Baja-style fish tacos. The fare here is simple and straight-forward, all based on fresh fish, mostly west coast cod. The fish 'n chips come in regular and junior portions with the junior including two good-size fillets. The fish tacos are made with corn tortillas, topped with cabbage and the traditional creamy Baja-style sauce. Acevedo uses her fryer for other goodies, too: fried Oreos and fried Twinkies, among them -- but I haven't had the stomach to try those. Codmother is open daily 11:30 a.m.- 7 p.m.
Tanguito burger
The second little spot is next door, the Argentinean truck Tanguito, which serves Argentinean empanadas and juicy half-pound Angus beef hamburgers that some swear are the best burgers in the city. Tanguito, which means "little Tango" in Spanish, was in the local foodie spotlight last year when it won raves from guests on the KQED TV show Check Please! Bay Area. You can see why when you line up at the truck, order and grab a table at the covered, outdoor patio. The food, even the burgers, are Argentinean in flavor: they're topped with zesty chimichurri sauce, made of parsley, garlic, olive oil and spices. Tanguito is open Tuesdays through Sundays 11 a.m. -7 p.m. Cash only.
Both are featured in the new edition of my North Beach/Fisherman's Wharf travel app for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, available in the iTunes app store. I've added more than 20 restaurants and other spots that are new in North Beach and Fisherman's Wharf in this edition.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Lotta Shakin' Going on in Golden Gate Park

 If you duck under a table or desk when a big truck rumbles by your front door you may not want to know any more about the potential for strong, destructive earthquakes in the Bay Area. But if you'd like to learn about why our little piece of the earth's crust moves the way it does head over the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park where, for the next year, an exhibit entitled simply "Earthquake" covers the west exhibit area and planetarium.
The 18-minute planetarium show is particularly awe-inspiring, a journey high above and into the earth, zeroing in on California's San Andreas Fault and San Francisco with footage of the 1906 quake and ensuing fire that destroyed much of the city.
In the west hall of the Academy a large exhibit area is dedicated to teaching children and adults about earthquakes with interactive lessons in local geology.
No doubt the biggest crowds will be for the "Shake House," a recreation of an old Victorian residence. Once inside the "house," you hold onto railings as Academy technicians flip a switch to set the place rocking and rolling, one time for a re-creation of the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (6.9 magnitude) which occurred as the World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A's was about to start.
The second is the 1906 shaker, which, at 7.2 magnitude, was 32 times stronger than the 1989 earthquake. Both jolts leave powerful impressions.
Outside, there's plenty of information about what you can do to prepare yourselves, your families and your house for the next Big One.
One of the exhibit sponsors, Safeway, offers food products (canned foods, granola bars, etc.) and bottled water that can be ordered as a package and kept in the event of disaster.
Live ostriches are part of the exhibit, too. You can discover for yourself the correlation between these cute little furry animals and the shaking that sometimes goes on in these parts.
The exhibit runs for the next year at the Academy. The planetarium show often sells out so plan to arrive early (especially during summer peak season when the kids are out of school) and get your tickets for screenings later during your visit.