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Source, Foreign Cinema and Osteria Stella Alpina

February 22, 2012

I’m adding a new category called Food Finds. I will document my experience at the restaurants I’ve tried and would recommend. We live in an area blessed with restaurants offering almost all the cuisines in the world. There are new places opening up periodically and others that have thrived for years.

This past weekend, we celebrated a milestone birthday with brunch at Foreign Cinema. Their brunch menu is awesome, offering creative egg dishes with unique flavors. I had the fried egg deglazed with balsamic vinegar, served with garlic hash and roasted greens. Every element of the dish was delicious. The balsamic vinegar adds a subtle sweetness to a mouthful of eggs, crispy potatoes and greens. The potatoes are perfectly seasoned and crispy. Our table tried pretty much all the egg dishes- with the most popular one being the flat omelette with herbs, a tomato chickpea relish and avocado creme fraiche with matchstick potatoes. The omelette served as an injera, being the bed on which the other components were served. The chickpea couscous tomato relish had a kick to it, probably from Harissa. The avocado creme fraiche balances a mouthful of flavors from the herbs in the omelette, the slight heat from the relish, with the matchstick potatoes adding crunch. We also tried the calamari weekend picnic dish, with it’s unique combination of coriander chutney and chickpeas. Service was good – efficient and attentive. Everyone loved the food, and the main dining area is al fresco, where movies are screened at night. A definite must go.

Since we were celebrating that day, dinner was at another very highly rated restaurant, Stella Alpina Osteria, in Burlingame. We were initially wait listed for a reservation, but got confirmed that morning. I must say Barbara is a great hostess, she made the entire reservation process smooth. We started our meal with the appetizer special and the soup of the day. The appetizer was a delectable plate of pasta purses with white truffle in a brown butter sage sauce- the pasta was light and pillowy, the nuttiness from the brown butter complementing the creaminess of the white truffle paste inside each little pillow- there was no cream on the filling, mind you, just pure truffle paste. The soup was a roasted tomato and fennel soup served with a little olive oil and parsley- it is the best tomato soup I’ve ever had- period. Not a touch of cream, the slight tartness of the roasted tomato beautifully balanced with a touch of sweet fennel- ever spoonful was divine. I had the fish of the day for my entree, and it was cooked perfectly. I didn’t taste the ricotta and spinach cannelloni that G got, but it was over pretty fast!! Another great spot for a special occasion dinner.

The final find I want to share was full of surprises in its menu, and is rated as one of the top 10 vegetarian places in SF. Source has an eclectic menu offering flavors from across the globe, from burgers, salads, sandwiches, “bow wow”, “cluck” (which are vegetarian versions of hot dog and chicken) to Borek (a Turkish pastry filled with chickpeas and vegetables) and Dosas ( crispy south Indian crepes) :-). You don’t find dosas in non- Indian restaurants, and that in itself lends this menu the surprise and intrigue that makes you want to try the food. They have a huge brick oven that turns out the freshest and most flavorful pita bread. After perusing the menu for a while and having a hard time deciding on what not to have, since it all sounded so good, I decided on the Quack Banh Mi in a pita with a house salad and G got the Dosa- Rito. The house salad my Banh Mi was served with gives new meaning to that term- I was expecting the usual greens with a ranch dressing of sorts. Instead I was delighted by the greens tossed in a light balsamic vinegarette with sunflower seeds, crunchy cubes of cucumber and sweet raisins. My Banh Mi had tons of flavor, from the freshly baked pita, the crunchy vegetables lightly dressed in a citrus vinegarette ( I think), slight heat from the jalapeƱo, and the quack ( fake meat). Dosa-Rito or a dosa burrito was a unique take on dosas and burritos. The dosa was filled with basmati rice and a butternut squash and kale coconut curry, topped with a sambal made with coconuts and chili. The sambal had a texture of sea salt . This was accompanied by a yogurt cilantro condiment. The whole dish has layers of flavors and totally works! This is not your traditional dosa, and is really a creative dish with very complex textures and flavors. I’m definitely going back to try the things I could not try the first time.

Here’re some pictures from Source – do try them out the next time you’re in SOMA in San Francisco.

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