Dreaming and dining in the Golden City

Steaks, hotdogs, and crabs in San Francisco with the family

CRAB MENTALITY The Dungeness crab the author prepared with his sister

When you’re with your loved ones, your location or destination becomes secondary. But if you can be in a place that everyone loves, the experience becomes a gift from above. And confirmation of that is you’re surrounded by superb food and ingredients.

I did the same concept with my Japan food tours when I planned my trip to San Francisco. We were surrounded by great food, plus shopping. This could be easily achieved as long as you know where to go.

I love the States because not only do they have an excellent food selection, but they also have some of the best ingredients. I love to cook when I am there.

My daughter Ali planned most of the things on our itinerary. She booked us on a trip to Alcatraz. This place was once a jail to many known criminals like Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly, and Bumpy Johnson (American Gangster). Visiting this place reminds one to be a law-abiding citizen. The cells were so tiny and eerie. While waiting for the tour, we walked the streets of the wharf and had hot and thick clam chowder on a sourdough bun. Yummy!

We ate out a lot. We had outstanding meals at House of Prime Rib and Espetus Churrascaria. The latter is a Brazilian restaurant where the waiters come to your table and serve you non-stop with a variety of superior grilled meats until you surrender. It was good but I like to concentrate on a few items at a time. Some meats were better than others.

It also crossed my mind that eating out too often would deplete our “baon” (travel allowance), so I had to cook at home. My sister Mariles brought me to Raymond’s Bakery, which specializes in the most delicious sourdough bread. As soon as I entered the place, ideas raced in my head. Suddenly I was thinking of what to cook. I picked up bags of melba toast and sourdough baguettes and made a pesto dip, which was devoured fast.

FRANKDOGS A tray of French-baked hotdog sandwiches prepared by the author

One evening, I prepared a dozen French-baked hotdogs for the whole brood of relatives. I boiled Costco hotdogs in water. I then made some mornay sauce to be dabbed on the hotdog. I patted Japanese mayo on the sourdough baguette, placed a slice of crispy bacon on the bread, added the boiled hotdog and a little mornay sauce, then topped it with grated cheese. These, I wrapped in foil and took them to my brother-in-law Louie’s home. When everyone was ready, I baked those babies until the cheese started to brown and bubble. I served the hotdogs with Dijon on the side. Success!

I love the States because not only do they have an excellent food selection, but they also have some of the best ingredients. I love to cook when I am there.

One time, my kids went to the aquarium and were late for a proposed dinner my sister Mariles and I had planned. So, what we did we went to Ranch 99 grocery and bought some live Dungeness crabs. We also grabbed some Sprite, fish tofu, and pea sprouts.

I poured half of the Sprite into the pot, dropped the crabs, and slowly cooked them. While waiting, I sautéed some garlic in olive oil, and added the sliced fish tofu as well as the pea sprouts. I seasoned these with patis and sesame oil and covered them, then waited. After the sprouts shrank a bit, I tossed the veggies and they were done. For the sauce, I just made some crushed garlic on white vinegar with a little magic.

My sister and I ate with our hands and didn’t talk until we finished one crab each. It was so so delicious. We duplicated the meal a few days later. It was one of the most memorable meals of our visit. I plan to do that here in Manila.

I buy my crabs from Rizza of Farmers Market. It's a simple process. I call or text her, and she chooses the freshest crabs for me, I pass by, and she drops my orders inside my Styro, then off I go. Beautiful quality every time. Paid thru Gcash (Rizza | 0917 877 7493)

What a most memorable vacation. Thank you, Lord!

Now I’m back in Manila and I love it!

Happy eating!