A few weeks ago I was back home in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. We usually stay with relatives and eat in, but once in a while, we have a hankering for a Kasper hot dog, a cheesesteak from The Cheesesteak Shop, Peet's Coffee, and other local fares. This time around, I wanted to explore new eateries and ended up going back to one I had bookmarked over three years ago.
Surprisingly a lot has changed since I lived there and the East Bay, a place usually overlooked by tourists and locals alike, has brought its food scene to rival that of its neighbors in the Wine Country, Peninsula and South Bay. You'll need your walking shoes, an open mind, and an empty stomach. You never know what you'll find when you become a backyard tourist!
Silva Bakery, Hayward
I lived around the corner from Silva Bakery for over two years. I even drove into the same parking lot, usually to order shame and disappointment at the drive-thru window. Neatly tucked away between a thrift store and English pub, the bakery doesn't look like much from the outside, but once you open the door, you're met with an explosion of color and intoxicating aromas. If you're a language learner, you can't help but to read the labels and try to decipher ingredient lists. I greeted the cashier in Portuguese, but she didn't speak it and I quickly switched back to English.
It's small, but well stocked with groceries from Portugal, Brazil, and local companies. I already had my list.
- Soda. Yeah I know, but they had the abacaxi (pineapple) flavor and I needed to get it.
- Pão de Queijo
- Forno de Minas brand. I was sad to see that it was a frozen package, but I took them anyway. Couldn't tell the difference once they were baked. I ate half of them before my husband got home. So what are they? The best freaking cheese bread I've ever had! They look like little puffs, but they are dense and filled with cheesy goodness.
- Pasteis de Nata
- I had these little egg custard tarts on my trip to Montréal last October. These are baked fresh and have a hint of sweetness.
- Leite de Coco
- Menina brand. I have no idea what I'm going to do with this yet, but it will be delicioso. I'm curious to see the differences in taste and texture of this coconut milk in comparison to the American brands.
- As do Mar brand. These fishies are going on the grill. Estilo português, é claro. You can find these on Amazon, too. I might get a case of 'em.
- Piri Piri Molho
- Maçarico brand. I've tried the Nando's Peri Peri sauce and it was pretty good. I'll eventually make one from scratch, but for now, this will do.
Genghix Asian Fusion, Castro Valley
I don't care for fusion restaurants *cough, cough P.F. Chang's*, but I remember coming here with a friend and really enjoying their sushi menu. My husband and I had been running around all day, and after seeing the day's activities written all over my face, he suggested Genghix. Sushi is always a good idea. FACT. We arrived about thirty minutes prior to closing so we were surprised we were served.
“If this were Shanghai, we would be out of luck,” he said.
I hadn't had duck in a while and wanted to see their take on Duck Confit. While the flavors were present, the duck was overcooked, which meant it was a workout just to get the meat off the bone. To be honest, if I knew they were just going to give me a mediocre dish, I would have prefer them lying to me and say they were out. The sushi was decent. I'll give them a try again, but if I recall the service wasn't that great the first time either.
Trabocco Kitchen and Cocktails, Alameda
South Shore Center, I hardly recognize you! Why, I remember when Starbucks just opened and I could see The Wherehouse (that's the 90's version of iTunes) across the way! All kidding aside, this place is inviting with restaurants, shopping, and a pet-friendly promenade. We made it out this way from the Alameda County courthouse to have a nice family lunch/dinner. You can never go wrong with Italian food! And, what a better way to practice and impress your famiglia with your italiano?
Anytime someone greets you like you are family, it's a good sign of great things to come. The head chef, Giuseppe Naccarelli gave us a warm welcome and chatted with me for a few while I waited for the rest of the party to arrive. The entire experience was lovely. From the moment we walked through the door, until our departure, I felt the love! The quality of food is superb! I can't wait to go back already. Here's what we ordered.
- Description from their site: Raw, grass-fed beef tenderloin, lemon, olive oil, shaved parmesan, arugula. My husband and I were the only ones who wanted to touch this. More for us!
- Risotto del Giorno
- You know, I don't remember exactly what was in this dish other than the burrata. This wasn't on their dinner menu, instead it was the special of the day. I'm keeping the picture on my phone for reference the next time.
- Insalata Caprese
- Instead of mozzarella it was topped with a puffy cloud of burrata, drizzled with olio d'oliva, and a kalamata olive. If this is a tomato, what have we been eating this entire time?! Don't forget the basil!
- Pesce dal Trabocco con Fagiolata
- Description from their site: Fagiolata includes Lentils, garbanzos, farro, cannellini beans, quinoa, carrots, cherry tomatoes, lemon anchovy dressing. Another special of the day, hooray for pan seared ahi tuna.
All I have to say is that for the price, it doesn't get any better than this!! The portions are huge and they use locally sourced products from around the Bay Area. Alameda, you folks are LUCKY!
i-Tea, Multiple Locations around the Bay Area
Sometimes coffee just won't do. *gasp!* Other times, I just want a sweet beverage like milk tea with boba. The first location I found was at the San Francisco Premium Outlets in Livermore. My husband said it felt like something straight out of Taiwan. They also had ready-to-go snacks like fried octopus. Just my luck, the thing I wanted was sold out, so I just grabbed the milk tea. Fast forward to three days later, and we found another location in Castro Valley. Sure enough, the line was out the door and memories of Shanghai flooded my husband's noggin. Peet's Coffee, looks like you have some competition.
During this visit, I just went for the Curry Fish Balls. They were soft, moist, and the curry wasn't overpowering.
I have just begun to scratch the surface. Who know what other foodie treasures await on my next trip! See you in November.