Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Casa Fox

I took my boyfriend to New York for the first time last month. One of the many wonders of that city that I wanted him to experience firsthand was the amazing restaurant scene. I never cease to be surprised by the number of great eateries that just seem to pop up all over that town.

Imagine how pleased I was then, when, on our first night, sour lemons turned into a delicious New York lemon meringue pie. Nik and I missed our reservation to a Cuban joint that probably wasn't worth the cash anyway. So we wandered through the Lower East Side - and stumbled into a homey-looking Latin food restaurant.

The roaring fire, ranch decor and worn wooden tables - diners were eating family style, sharing space - welcomed us in from the cold. A Casa Fox, the quaint sign outside pronounced. The place was so new it didn't have a liquor license, so we picked up a bottle of rioja to match the Central American flavors of the restaurant.

It was another golden New York find. The restaurant serves delicious American takes on Nicaraguan (and other Central American) comfort foods. And it has a story - it's modeled on the home foods of chef Melissa Fox's mother's and grandmother's recipes. Try the empanadas - all of them. The fillings are delicious, a modern twist on these regional classics - like roasted duck, or chorizo and queso. If you fall in love with them as I did, apparently you can buy them in the frozen food sections of some NYC grocery stores. Or, if you're more in the mood for small bites, get a smattering of the appetizers. I highly recommend the cheese sticks with membrillo. Fried queso fresco with a mouth-wateringly yum quince paste sauce. Trust me, they're better than mozarella sticks!

The place is reasonably priced too. An entire meal for three - and we definitely overate - set us back less than $35 a person.

A Casa Fox
173 Orchard Street
New York

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cool Cup of Coffee

There are a ton of coffee joints around San Francisco, but one part of town where I find it consistently hard to find a decent cafe to work in is SOMA. Not a particularly quaint part of town, and most of the time folks spend here is in an office.

But still, there are those odd moments - when I'm waiting for the boyfriend to finish at work, or when I really need a break from the office environs - when a nice coffee spot would be nice. If you've got any recommendations, let me know.

I have found something that will do in the meantime - the new Blue Bottle cafe in the old US Mint complex. It's most worth the visit because it has those funky, expensive glass coffee makers. The small cafe is also cozy and has a nice vibe to it. There isn't a lot of space to sit, just a few long tall tables and a handfull of bar stools. But I got a fair bit of work done there and enjoyed it.

And when you're finished there, just walk across the complex to Chez Papa for a delicious glass of French wine!

Blue Bottle Cafe
66 Mint St
(between Jessie St & Mission St)