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Mid-Autumn in Summer

We officially moved out of the old apartment today, handing over keys and surviving a surprisingly easy walkthrough. scanner_darkly and I spent the whole weekend cleaning the place -- for which Seth did most of the actual cleaning -- complete with creaky backs and sore limbs. Today, it is the Mid-Autumn Festival. I haven't really had anything planned. We've been so wiped, there hasn't been much we could do. I did get in contact with Eastern Bakery though, and ordered a large box of Moon Fishies (Gong Zai Peng) and four mooncakes. Those arrived this afternoon. The Moon Fish is a little less moist than I remember, but definitely on par with the dry biscuits I used to get in gaudy plastic baskets as a kid. Eastern Bakery's version is huge, about the size of my hand, while the ones I had as a kid were no larger than white mice. They had no melon seeds in the dough, but were lightly sprinkled with tiny sugar seeds and had red string looped into the heads.

I haven't tried the mooncakes yet, for which I got two 4 yolk and lotus paste, and two fruit and nut fillings. Eastern Bakery's site says they don't use preservatives and chemicals, and all the ingredients are made from scratch, so I am curious to try one after dinner. The box is really old-fashioned, with a 1950s-style moon goddess, as opposed to the young Qing Dynasty models we get on tins these days.

Our last two weekends have been exhausting. I worked late through Labour Day weekend, which was all my fault for misadjusting my timetable. resonant was in town from Canada, so we decided to try out the Comstock Saloon for dinner. I was a little surprised we got a table on Friday at such short notice, but this is presumably the powers of Burning Man on SF. We were quite thoroughly gifted by res with fine Canadian foods, including a mysterious wine made from frozen berries presumably crushed by frozen Canadians. The icewine came with instructions to have in a very small amount in winter, which is soon enough. There was also maple syrup and maple butter, and we are not a house that would ever turn away the fine tree sap. Unfortunately, I had to have myself a nice cocktail (Comstock apparently has the market cornered for how many ways you can crush mint and lemons with various whiskeys), which cut the after-dinner walk through North Beach a bit short. I am no drinker, and never will be. I'm also guessing their Bourbon Pudding has more bourbon that one would be led to believe. We started off with the Hangtown Toast, a surprisingly light appetizer with a surprisingly light emulsified oyster dressing. I'm usually not a fan of oysters, but this was light enough that I could easily have it again. It came with layers of pickled egg (surprisingly un-vinegary). We also shared Chicken-fried Rabbit, which had rabbit cooked two ways. One seemed to be deep-fried rabbit, with such a hint of gaminess, everyone at the table agreed it could pass off as chicken. The other style involved breaded dark meat of rabbit, which did actually taste like rabbit and was quite tender and delicious, just spiced enough. Both res and I had the beef shank and marrow pie, and generally agreed it was flaky pastry pie in a way neither one of us had really had since our childhoods. A very buttery crust, yet not greasy, with plenty of beef flavour. The filling bordered on bland, but it was how beef filling should taste like, being predominantly carried by the natural sweetness of the beef and creamy marrow. Seth had Shrimp Louie, which he enjoyed. I think I may have tried it, but not being a very big fan of shrimp, I'm not really the right person to judge this. Res had the berry crumble for dessert, which was crisp on top and just tart enough to be very berry indeed. The Bourbon Pudding was good, but there was so much of it. Seth and I shared the dessert and both felt like we imbibed our cream ration for a week.

iamfourninjas and bettyscout showed up for Labour Day brunch. First came the issue of where to eat, since most places were shut. We finally hit The Phoenix, which does have the amazing power of staying open most days of the year. I had their delicious shepherd's pie, Seth had the corned beef sandwidch, and our friends had the corned beef hash and Dolores omelet. We also tried to share the bar's potato skin nachos (nachos because it's the Mission), and wound up stuffing ourselves silly. There was much walking about to bookstores and the mysterious artifact store on Valencia that specialises in fossils, rocks and weird air plants. Actually quite tempted to attend their air bonsai class on Oct 1, which apparently guarantees that participants will come home with 2 air bonsais of their own by the end of the afternoon.

Even cleaning frenzy weekend had its bright spots. I finally tried the basic dessert crepe at Rock Nation round the corner, which is by far the second most perfect crepe I've ever had. The first was made by an elderly French couple in a cosy hole in the wall back in Perth. Rock Nation is staffed by guys who look like they come from a band themselves, and my personal theory is that they run the cafe to fund the band, or something. They brew really good coffee and make crepes that are perfectly thin and crisp at the edges, tender in the middle. The basic dessert crepe comes filled with a sour, lemony marmalade, and topped with cinnamon, brown sugar and whipped cream. Simple, but very heartwarming. Rock Nation is a rather interesting cafe that I really wasn't sure about when it first opened. It is actually heavy metal-themed, with the latest posters about town and suitable music playing at all hours. One of the coolest things about it is there's musical instruments really just lying around inside, so patrons do come in and are encouraged to play something. They have hookups for all their electric guitars, there's actually a drum set next to the counter, and more percussion instruments atop the drink cooler. It's really quite pleasant to sit down for coffee and find someone randomly plinking away nearby.

There was also a Sushi Blowfish dinner treat from the spouse. I'd never been to Sushi Blowfish before, and was told there would be porn and good sushi. There was actually Akira and good sushi, but the cels hanging on the walls were definitely interesting. Frankly, I was daunted by Sushi Blowfish's menu. There's a lot of really good stuff, and then you hit the sushi roll menu, which is filled with meat. So much fish and meat and cheese combos. It made my head spin. We went for nigiri ikura, katsuo, snow crab and walu. Because I couldn't bring myself to try one of the tempting yet truly overwhelming-sounding rolls, I went for a more traditional sea eel and cucumber roll. All were delightful to the palate. I was glad I chose the roll I did, as I love eel, and this did not disappoint in terms of sweetness and flavour. My two real loves are ikura and crab, and this was nice. I actually remember liking the ikura over at Little Spot Cafe better, but only because the nori crunched and the ikura seemed a little crisper, although the ones we had at Blowfish were definitely fresh. I mean, I'm not going to turn down ikura, wherever it is. The snow crab was glorious. Haven't had snow crab since Australia, but it's still so tender and sweet, not as stringy as Dungeness and not as soft as flower crab.

And now, there is only the madness of the Mid-Autumn festival in the middle of an SF summer.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 13th, 2011 03:32 am (UTC)
You were both amazing dinner hosts!
Sep. 13th, 2011 07:47 am (UTC)
Oh, I'm glad. I feel quite remorseful for having to cut short the evening as I did, but also sincerely grateful you took it so well!
Sep. 13th, 2011 01:04 pm (UTC)
The more you talk about food, the more I want to visit you and bug you. XD

>>The box is really old-fashioned, with a 1950s-style moon goddess.
Yes! I love it. ♥
Way way back in the day, Eastern Bakery mooncakes were one of the few you could get in Boston. My taste buds, therefore, are generally dissatisfied with any other mooncakes.
I told my mom I ordered two boxes for myself last week. She started laughing at me. :)
Sep. 13th, 2011 05:49 pm (UTC)
Two boxes? Good gravy. Even on my best day, one mooncake is more than enough. Though these are unusually tasty and delicious...and I did order 20 Moon Fishes I have to somehow finish...

I was pretty amused by the moon goddess on the cover, because it really is in a painting style you don't see anymore. It's like the old painted-type movie posters.

I can very easily see why your taste buds were dissatisfied with other mooncakes. These taste fresh. Modern mooncakes tend to be quite firm. The skin is thin and strong enough to peel off easily, and they're almost invariably far too sweet and oily for me. Eastern Bakery's mooncakes are by no means diet food, but they're not so oily I can't take more than a bite either.
Sep. 13th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
to me, a serving size is 1/4th a mooncake but the mooncakes store well in the fridge so I couldn't resist ordering two boxes. :)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )