Tag Archives: torta

My day of eats, Bay Area edition

Just now back from a short visit to MSRI, where I spent four invigorating days collaring participants in this semester’s special program and asking them various algebro-geometric questions I’ve been storing up for just such an occasion.

Also, I ate a lot.  Wednesday went something like this.  I was meeting Akshay Venkatesh in the Mission to talk about Galois groups;  I set off the wrong way from the 24th and Mission BART, which had the good effect of bringing me past Dianda’s Italian-American Pastry, where I got a good and toothsome cannoli (but with a maraschino cherry lodged in the filling at each end — why?)  I met Akshay at the agreeably full-of-itself Ritual Roasters, where I had a fine, but not outstanding, swiss-dill-scallion scone.  I wanted a torta for lunch — Mission burritos are fine, but it’s a real Cal-Mex torta that I miss here in Madison.  But on the way I was distracted by something I’ve always wanted to see — a Filipino restaurant!  This one was called Kababayan and most of the offerings were big, gristly-looking pieces of meat swimming in various chafing trays.  I dodged those and got some pansit and an ukoy — the former a slightly sour dish of short glassy noodles, the latter a kind of shrimp latke — and ate them on the way.  Greasy, satisfying, but mostly of ethnographic interest.  The torta de pierna at La Torta Sabrosa, was tasty, but a little subdued, not offering the glorious sloppy excess I get from torta at its best.

That was all for the Mission.  On the way back to Berkeley I got off at the Embarcadero and wandered through the Ferry Building, which turns out to be 10% about getting on a boat to Sausalito and 90% about ultra-chichi food vendors.  My kind of place.  At the Cowgirl Creamery store I got a little crottin-sized cheese called Inverness, which, like everything else from CC, was terrific; pungent and direct but not a bit unfresh.  I chased that with a “salumi cone” from Boccalone, whose motto, “Tasty Salted Pig Parts,” is an accurate and essentially exhaustive description of the merchandise.  The cone was mortadella, sopressata, and of course a healthy slice of cooked pig’s head to provide some gelatinous crunch.

Then it was back to Berkeley and old favorites.  I met some friends for dinner at Gregoire’s, where I had a simple and delicious dish of fried, battered scallops.  I realized, just after we ordered, that Cheeseboard, the nation’s best pizzeria, was still open for fifteen more minutes; so I hustled across the street and brought back a slice with roasted tomato and gremolata in place of my usual appetizer of Gregoire’s magnificent frites.

We sat at dinner for long enough that, when we passed good old Crepes-A-Go-Go on the way home, I couldn’t resist stopping in.  It’s actually now called “Crepes Ooh La La” and apparently isn’t affiliated with the other store on Telegraph.  Anyway, their banana and Nutella crepe always ends a day right.  As it did this day.

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One more Mexican restaurant — Taqueria Guadalajara

On the advice of some of my commenters I took CJ to Taqueria Guadalajara tonight. Moral: believe everything you read in the comments! This homey place served me the first really satisfying torta I’ve eaten in Madison — with properly soft bread and a good balance of fillings. The meat has to assert itself without dominating, as in a successful patty burger. Guadalajara brings it off. The gordita and horchata looked and smelled very good, too, but CJ didn’t let me have any.

The dining room is pretty small, service at rush time is slow, and the atmosphere not particularly charming, unless you’ve been looking for a chance to catch up on El Gordo y La Flaca. They’re clearly doing a brisk takeout business; that might be the way to go.

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