Thursday, July 29, 2010


Humphry Slocombe - I tasted: peanut butter curry (not as weird as I thought it would be but wasn't ready to eat an entire scoop), blackberry shortbread (good, straightforward), malted milk chocolate (mm), secret breakfast (the signature - toasted cornflakes and bourbon), brown butter (VERY rich), and Eight Ball Stout (ordered it for someone else and liked it so much I ate it all - pictured above). For a good NY times article about Humphry Slocombe and its proprietor, Jake Godby click here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

7.25.10 - dinner

Zuni Cafe is a San Francisco establishment and their roast chicken has something of a cult following. When a visiting friend offered to take us out to Zuni I said I would happily go(and would finally be able to test out the chicken for myself). We put in an order for the chicken immediately (it takes an hour to cook) and then began to pore over the menu. We ordered the burrata on crostini with cherry tomatoes and cucumber to start. I love burrata,although this particular specimen was not particularly flavorful and left me wanting a little something more. I chose the spaghetti with nettles, toasted breadcrumbs, and ricotta salata. The pasta was fine but a bit heavy on the oil.

For our main courses (in addition to the chicken) we ordered roasted rabbit leg with a strong cilantro-garlic sauce and the "carne asada" with corn and zucchini (in a sort of succotash), pickled onions, and purslane. The rabbit was flavorful and juicy but the sauce overpowering. The "carne asada" was a fine piece of meat, and I guess in the truest sense of the word it was authentic (being beef that was roasted), but nothing about it was Latin . . .or particularly interesting for that matter. Once again, it was another of those good, not great dishes - the purslane was sauteed in a lot of oil and I think that if they had left it raw it would have provided a nice refreshing taste in contrast to the rich meat and buttery corn. Finally - THE CHICKEN - one more to add to the list of Zuni's good but not great dishes. The meat was cooked well but some parts were a tad bit dry, and there was no evidence of herbs (as per Judy Rodgers' own recipe!)leaving it tasting a bit bland. I feel as if I shouldn't even go into the bread salad so as to prevent this from seeming like a rant, all I will say is that I can soak bread in olive oil and warm it up at home ...ok I'll stop. Zuni was by no means a bad restaurant, it just didn't live up to the hype.


On our way home from Tahoe we had the good fortune of passing through Davis around lunch hour and decided we would stop in for some legendary road food at what, for years, was named Murder Burger (the name has now subtly been changed to Redrum Burger).On a 90 degree day when you have no air conditioning and are cooped up in a car for hours this is exactly what one should eat.

Between the three of us we got the patty melt (guess which one that is), a chicken burger, and the most delicious turkey sandwich ever (real home-roasted turkey, thickly sliced, and slathered in gravy!). We wanted to order bison burgers but unfortunately they were out that day. For 'dessert' we got what must have been a 2.5 pound strawberry shake made with fresh strawberries. All in all it was a delicious road stop and should be awarded extra points for character.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Another glorious 'summer' day in San Francisco . . . the sun actually did make an appearance today and made for a nice lunch and dramatic, if slightly foggy, sunset. I went to lunch at the ferry building and had a sandwich at my favorite ferry building haunt - Il Cane Rosso. I got the marin sun farms brisket sandwich with a lemon aioli, pickled onions, and ancho cress (added a nice little peppery bite). The brisket was deliciously creamy and tender and glorious. I will keep it short and sweet and just say that hands down, Il Cane Rosso serves my favorite sandwiches in the city - delectable.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Wedding season is upon us apparently. Which in my mind normally means not very good catered food that has been left too long in a chafing dish but recently things have turned around. This weekend I got to attend a lovely wedding at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. The ceremony was short and sweet, the couple warm, the weather delicious, and the food exquisite. After the ceremony they served champagne garnished with lavender sprigs (a nice complement) and appetizers circulate around. They served chicken liver mousse with a shallot jam on toast, bay scallop ceviche served on wonton spoons, vegetarian spring rolls (simple but good), and the best idea ever - lamb chops. Not only do I adore lamb - and this was cooked perfectly very pink and tender with a nice bit of salt crunch crust but I LOVED being able to pick up my appetizer by the bone and dig in. Maybe not everyone's idea of clean, refined wedding fare but I thought it was perfect.

The groom's parents are fish mongers and for the wedding they traded fish for wine with some local producers and focused on nice wine pairings with the main meal. The reception was held in an old barrel room in the huge castle-like CIA. To start they served a wild mushroom and ricotta raviolo with a small-fortunes' worth of truffles in a mushroom herb broth. The raviolo was good but the broth was exquisite infused with a strong taste of truffle. They paired it with a 2008 Truchard Roussanne from the Napa Valley (all of the wines were Napa wines) which was very light and fruity. I wasn't sure if we would be getting fish or meat (I hadn't been in charge of the rsvp so it was a surprise) and it turned out that we were served both with both a white and red wine pairing! The fish was a moist herb crusted Alaskan halibut and for meat they served a horseradish crusted filet of beef (I love horseradish but this wasn't very horseradish-y and could have just been left to stand alone). They paired a dry 2009 Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc with the fish and for the beef they chose a 2006 Judd's Hill Cab Sauvignon.
By the time I finished my many appetizers, too many glasses of champagne, appetizer (and some of my dates because they couldn't finish), main course and wine I was too stuffed to really eat dessert and stumbled onto the dance floor to try to burn off some of the millions of calories that I had gleefully attained.

Monday, July 19, 2010


With the sudden proliferation of restaurants on Union Street I have been looking forward to trying them out and decided to start with Roam Artisan Burgers. It isn't a chain but from the sound of it I was reminded of a inoffensive British chain (Gourmet Burger Kitchen - for those familiar) with the additional emphasis on local produce and grass-fed meats. My burger theory is that if the meat is good, and cooked well (i.e. not grey), then I don't need too many fancy toppings so I went with the original beef burger. It came with the basic toppings - onion, tomato, lettuce, and pickle - and I felt duty-bound to get a side of fries and a chocolate shake. The burger was a bit disappointing; I ordered medium-rare, it arrived well done and the bun was a bit hockey-puck like, but the house made pickles were nice and dressed up with ketchup and mustard it went down easily. Overall it was fine but nothing to write home about. I also tasted the Tejano bison burger (served with jalapeno relish, white corn strips, and pepper jack) which was a bit more interesting. I didn't care that much about the Tejano part but the meat was pink, moist and much more flavorful than the beef. The fries were good. The saving grace of the night was the chocolate shake. Hands down, best shake I've tasted. Made with Straus Family Creamery cream, the Dagoba chocolate shake is decadently creamy and definitely worth a visit - even if just for dessert.

Friday, July 16, 2010


For Bastille Day we attempted to go to Beldin Place to take in the festivities in the "French Quarter" but as they were charging a $10 cover to 'get in' we decided to forgo the fête and headed to North Beach. Having passed by the newly opened Comstock Saloon on the bus many times we decided to test the waters for ourself.We didn't sample the food, although the menu looked nice -elevated pub grub like bone marrow pot pie and maple bourbon pudding. The drinks were impeccable and the service charming. I had the South Side, a gin-based cocktail with lime, sugar, mint and seltzer.
Comstock is furnished with funky vintage pieces, there is an old-fashioned crank fan,and I think I might have even seen a waiter with a watch fob. In spite of the somewhat kitschy look the place isn't overly trendy-fied and the bartenders are down to earth and happy to chat - they might even tell you what their personal favorite drink is (the Sazerac - rye, sugar, Peychaud's and absinthe). Overall the place was captivating and a welcome escape from the FiDi two blocks away.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


My grapes' first harvest! It's very rewarding to eat something that you planted as a wee twig one year ago. (And they are actually sweet and delicious, which is a plus.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


I didn't eat out or make a fabulous meal but I decided that this deserved a post nonetheless. Thus, here is my homage to the cheese course. I attended a friend's wedding and in addition to the roving appetizers (local cherry tomato skewers with mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of balsamic and yellow watermelon with chili powder), they had the most exquisite table of cheese. There was a beautiful spread of goat's and cow's milk cheeses including robiola (my favorite), grana padana (delicious salty crunchies), a sharp aged white cheddar, and humboldt fog. The only hitch, which I considered a blessing in disguise, was that there was an anonymous "cheese" on the table, paired with honeycomb, which many of the guests were describing as the creamiest. I hurriedly took a slab of it, piled it on a crostino and rapidly popped it into my mouth . . . at which point I realized that I had just eaten a few tablespoons of butter (not a bad surprise if you ask me).

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Saratoga, CA - Visited this pleasant, small town nestled in the mountains near Palo Alto, about an hour south of San Francisco. The town boasts a few high-brow foodie establishments (Sent Sovi and The Plumed Horse, which has one Michelin star, among others). We decided to be budget friendly and ducked into the sole Thai restaurant in town, Bai Tong Thai. To keep it sweet and short - it was delicious. The restaurant is owned by a local Thai couple and they serve delicious authentic food and highlight some of the fresh local produce.
I order green papaya salad at every Thai restaurant I eat at as a gauge and Bai Tong definitely passed the test. It was a delicious specimen with toasted peanuts and a refreshing amount of cilantro. We ate a couple different main dishes family style - thai-style green shell mussels, panang curry (my favorite), and the surprise star of the night, crispy bbq pork with a housemade sweet thai chili sauce. I MAY have asked for an extra container of sweet thai chili sauce to go so I could put it on some rice later because it was just that good.
We rounded out the night with a concert at the Mountain Winery (pictured at top), on the grounds of what was once the well-known Paul Masson Winery.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


An unglamorous photo of my 4th of July cioppino. It was good 4th fare - especially fitting for the freezing "summer" weather here. I got fresh mussels, littleneck clams, prawns, and sea bass from the fish mart and served the soup with fresh corn on the cob(picked in Brentwood that morning). I also found some beautiful chioggia beets at the Fort Mason farmer's market which I roasted and marinated in a little vinegar and salt (no sugar was needed).

We had an interlude of fireworks (aka watching the fog change colors) at Alta Plaza Park after which we returned home for a generous helping of homemade apple pie (I like to put a bit of lemon zest in mine).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


My first Thomas Keller meal - and I have nothing but savory remembrances. After a day of wine tasting and absorbing as much of the 90+ degree heat as possible, we made our way to Ad Hoc, Keller's establishment offering a four-course, $48 prix-fixe menu.

As our first course we were presented with a very straightforward salad with a melange of squash and endive accompanied by little sugar-bomb tomatoes. It was laid atop a luscious lemon cream dressing.

The salad was fresh and the vegetables were just cooked - celebrating them at the height of the season. For the main course, I had the pleasure of eating the most tender veal ever known. It was served in a cast iron pan alongside sous vide purple potatoes (finished under the broiler with a generous pat of butter), turnips (from the French Laundry's own garden), and morel mushrooms (oozing earthiness). and snagged bar seats at Keller's restaurant offering a four-course, $48 prix-fixe menu.

A delicious companion to the cheese (capra valtellina, an aged goat cheese) - local apricots with toasted almonds and a fig agrodolce. Everything worked together beautifully and when all taken in one bite it was exquisite. To close the meal we had a chocolate cake (imagine a moist dense instensely flavorful brownie) with a small piece of salted almond brittle and coconut ice cream (which we learned was made by the pastry chef who, for lack of an ice cream machine at the restaurant, had to run back and forth to Bouchon - Keller's bakery down the street - to make the dessert).

Friday, July 2, 2010


The new Off the Grid Event at Fort Mason - a foodie's dream gathering of street food trucks.

I made the rounds of the food trucks (ordered from three trucks but tasted from five - mmm) and Hapa SF was by far my favorite. I ordered the sigsig tacos (which for those of us not familiar with Filipino food is, I gather, pork in a soy-lime sauce) served with avocado salsa verde, radishes and cilantro. The pork was caramelized and lovely and all the sauces made it feel refreshing - and delicious. An added bonus - the "cashiers" were a father-daughter team (the little girl was probably 8) providing sweet service and a nice mom and pop shop ambience.

Kung Fu tacos was next on my list which was also good but didn't quite live up to Hapa (although they were only $2 a taco - which scores serious points with my miniscule budget). I tried the chicken taco and moo shu veggie tacos.

Waited in line to try Chairman Bao. I tried three different steamed bao - the pork belly with pickled cabbage, sesame chicken with scallions and bok choy (pictured here), and the duck confit with mango "salad." Maybe I was expecting too much, but I definitely felt let down. The breading was a bit dry, while the fillings were greasy and nothing special. To end on a good note, I thought the duck was the highlight - moist and fairly tasty and the mango added a nice acidity. In the end, I recommend passing on the fad and going to Out The Door for a chicken bun.