As Seen on "Unique Sweets": Hooker’s

     If it hasn’t caught on around you yet, let me tell you about the latest sweet treat fad: salt.
It’s not even that it’s new, or that Hooker’s started something completely radical. But I’ve found it everywhere in the city: on top of chocolate chip cookies, in fancy grinders showing off fancier colors (Himalayan pink, anyone?), ice cream, and soap. Kinfolk Magazine has even written a letter (from pepper) to salt, to slow its roll. Here, Hook is using salt to truly enhance the flavors coming out of his confections. And it works.
     Again, I actually walked past this small and adorable place on my way to it. Very hole-in-the-wall, grab-your-coffee-on-the-way-to-work kinda place (they sell SF’s Sight Glass coffee here too).

     Exhibit A: Party Girl Caramel – “she’s a sassy and spicy sweet treat with plenty of fun in every bite…she’s loaded with toasted pecans, coconut, corn cereal, pretzel bits, and sits on a smoked sea-salted dark chocolate base.” So some of the descriptions weird me out a little, but check it out – all that in one caramel. There’s caramel in that, right? Yes…I think so. I went for a “Straight Boyfriend” (make that descriptions and names), pictured below: with peanuts and a graham cracker base, if I remember correctly.

     “We’re about aesthetics.” That’s what Matt told me when we discussed a potential photo project with Hook, the owner and creator of Hooker’s. This is clear. Check out the cocoa nibs on top of that white-chocolate dipped caramel.

     The original gangster, right here. This is where it’s at. If you’re going to buy a $2 caramel, go straight to the source of inspiration/the most caramel you can get in one go. No extras, no fillers. Just caramel and chocolate. And salt.

     I would call Hook’s flavors and combinations…thoughtful. There are a lot of different things going on with his caramels, but not so many things in one caramel that you can’t appreciate the flavor of the caramel itself. But I like me a good classic treat. Especially if I’m a n00b to the game and need to know what I’m getting into.

     The one thing I knew I had to try when I went though was the caramel bar, where they flatten a cookie base onto a baking sheet and throw a bunch of original caramels on it so they melt right onto the cookie. It was just as good as it sounds. If you’re wondering how I think that sounds, SO GOOD.
Definitely at the top of my list. If you’re into San Francisco-priced dessert. $2 for a caramel and $3 for a bar. But hey, it’s a treat-yoself kinda place.

Food Trucks For Days

   As literally as that modern idiom could be used. And as incomplete as that last sentence was. San Francisco is one of the best cities to be in as a foodie. It’s full of French boulangeries and pâtisseries, so in that sense it’s also the best place to transition oneself to a return to American life & cuisine from France. Vive la baguette. And vive le food truck, because there are easily 50 food trucks in San Francisco, and 50 more in the surrounding Bay Area. There are so many ways to get your food truck fix here, but one I learned about my first day here is called Off the Grid. Seriously check it out because it is super cool. They’ve created more than 30 locations in the Bay Area where 5-40 food trucks/tents will set up shop for either lunch or dinner and you can have your choice of yummy nummies. Food trucks/carts from crêpers to crème brûléers to gyrators to SPECULOOS COTTON CANDYMEN all get together to serve us, with the frequent local band playing live music on the side. Off the Grid gets it. The coolest party to date. So without further ado, let me introduce you to some noms, and how also, not all options are good options here in food-truck land.

 Here’s the crowd for the Sunday afternoon “Picnic at the Presidio”. Blankets, folding chairs and even those shade-maker tents. It was surprisingly steamy that day.
Here is “Fins on the Hoof”, the food truck I selected for my lunch of poutine. I was first introduced to poutine in its birthplace of Québec, right in Québec city during a high school trip. Our tour guide accurately described it to us as “French fries covered with gravy and topped with squeaky cheese”. Probably like you, I thought this sounded absolutely nasty. But I also thought I would never know for sure, so I decided to try the big signature dish of Québec. I’m glad I did because it’s awesome!! Simple and squeaky. So when I saw the traditional québecois poutine at this truck I was sold.
I will definitely be coming back for the lamb burger and salmon/egg salad sandwich though!
This truck had a long line of tickets and a longer line of people – both waiting to order and waiting for their food.
So this poutine…I’m not sure if it’s my developed palate or the particular overload of salt, but I did not love the poutine like I thought I would, and I was very sad. It doesn’t look like the gravy is plentiful, but that’s because it’s busy pooling up (down?) at the bottom of the aluminum container. Not all the fries were hot, and the cheese wasn’t all that squeaky. BTW the squeaky cheese refers to cheese curds! With all that plus the superbly over-salted gravy, I was not impressed by the poutine 😦 Goodbye $9. Did I mention food trucks are expensive?
SO to make up for my disappointing poutine experience, I got myself some more francophoney food at the Crème Brûlée Cart. They do in fact have a store which I stumbled across in the Mission District recently – but I think they make most of their money from their OtG gigs and their middle-of-the-street tents in the Mission and elsewhere.
Check out these flavors. The Crème Brûlée Cart goes all out with the toppings: cookie crumble, caramel, S’MORES. I went all out too, with “The Godfather”: chocolate crème brûlée, “midnight cookie crumble” on top, all covered in caramel sauce. Danggg!

It may have been better with hot fudge sauce, or a component of warmth. It was all kinda gooey and cold, but that’s to be expected.
I have a lot of work to do if I want to get around this food truck scene. Updates to come.