Wednesday, October 22, 2008

FallFest- A Belated Post

San Francisco Magazine held an amazing event that I was lucky enough to attend. Located on the Embarcadero with the Blue Angels zooming overhead, we got to enjoy lots of amazing food and wine courtesy of a ton of local restaurants! Walking in I was handed a plate and a Reidel wine glass, one I got to keep, and free reign of the place. Below are photos of the food I tasted.First off was RNM: a bite of Grimaud Farms Duck with Knoll Farms Black Mission Figs. This was delicious,a bit rich, but tasty. It's funny because last time I went to RNM I really enjoyed my meal but ended up with a belly ache. Maybe the food is just too heavy for my sensitive gullet.

Rose Pistola offered Curli Endive from County Line Harvest with Ahi Tuna, fresh horseradish and caper berries.
Asia de Cuba also had an ahi tartare of sorts. This one was covered with coconut and I recall it being quite tasty! Not the best photo I have ever taken but I was trying to juggle a plate, the wine glass and take photos!
Above is Kuleto's, a local favorite, and it didn't disappoint with Sonoma Duck Liver with California Mission Figs and Arugula. It's funny, duck liver, foie gras, whatever you want to call it, doesn't really bother me. I know it should considering what I a bleeding heart I typically am for animals, but for some reason I have shoved foie gras into the "isn't really an animal product" category. Vegans everywhere are gathering their pitch forks to come roast me (hey, I'm an animal too guys!). The funniest thing is John didn't taste this one because he has self declared "issues" with it. He never ceases to surprise me!
Sam's Chowder House, which is located in Half Moon Bay (I think, don't hold me to it) offered and interesting little bowl of Sweet Shrimp and Chickpea salad with Daylight Farms Mint, Smoked Paprika, creme fraiche, and picholine olives. A tasty bite I must say.
Foreign Cinema offered up a small crostini that I came back to a number of times. It was local Ling Cod with creme fraiche, chile and lime and Steven Singer olive oil. The tiny sweet one hundreds on the top added just the right amount of sweetness. Those are tomatoes in case you are unfamiliar.
Have you ever had venison? Especially jerkied or dried or whatever treatment Ducca gave it?? Neither had I. But this was served on a chocolate tortilla and had the most interesting combo of sweet and savory. It was fascinating, and I have to have two to make sure I got all the flavors!
At the Betelnut stand I had this small bite of pork with some kind of sweet reduction over it. I forgot to photograph the description but this was tasty. It was cooked right and reinitiated me into the land of pork. Hmmm, not sure how long I'll stay, we'll see.
Bocadillos, one of my favorite restaurants from the people who do another one of my faves, Piperade, disappointed me with this bite of Monterey Sardines and California Quince. I love sardines, I really do, but this was way too much flavor for the quince. It just didn't really go together and I almost wanted to spit it out, not a good thing.
Paragon had Bay Shrimp, Piquillo peppers, tarragon and olive oil. It was ok, but hard to compete with all the other tasty things that were going into my mouth that day.
Prawns and shrimp were a very popular choice on this sunny fall day. I am not sure why, perhaps because they can be served at many temperatures, I cannot fathom how difficult it is to cook for an event like this. All you have is a tent and some hot plates, so anything that needs a perfect temperature or cannot sit for a while is out. But that said, shrimp, in my opinion, just isn't all that exciting. Sent Sovi offered a Arbequina olive oil poached prawn with celery root salad. I recall that this didn't taste like much. It's pretty, but the taste was missing.
Level III, a restaurant I had never even hear of fed me my second favorite of the day! Harris Ranch braised shirt rib with Coke Farms organic cauliflower risotto and Brussel Sprouts. Mmmmmm. Really, mmmm. I yelled at the boys to come take these, actually I think I asked the chef for 2 more so I could bring this little dish of heaven over to them. We all loved it. Mmmmm, again, for lack of imagination. One Market gave a Dungeness crab cake with Saffron aioli. It was perfect. I mean, perfect if you like basic crab cakes. It wasn't inventive, it wasn't something I had never tasted before, but it was simply a delicious, satisfying crab cake. I had multiple!

Namu, another unfamiliar restaurant to me, served a very savory bite of line caught Bodega Bay Black Cod with grilled scallions and avocado wrapped in Konbu. It was served in what reminded me of a ponzu sauce. I actually liked it a lot.
There were many other bites I had throughout the day, I couldn't take pictures of everything. The most disappointing picture I missed was a photo of my favorite of the day! It was from Ryan Scott's, of Top Chef infamy one might say, new restaurant Mission Bay Cafe. It was a crostini with roasted pork, white bean puree, and some kind of roasted red pepper. It was absolutely delicious. I mean, wow. Incredible. I think I ate 5. And he was nice and I didn't ask if he finally learned what a chicken scallopini or whatever dish he totally screwed up and denied doing so on Top Chef, but he was a way more pleasant figure than he gave off on tv. (Which actually totally sucks, because who cares if a few dozen people have a really good impression of you when the majority of the country thinks you're a huge douche! I mean, this guy got roasted on the message boards, absolutely skewered. Poor guy, really.) But look how happy I am with all the eating!!
FallFest was a total success. I think I probably tasted about 80% of the main courses, there were oysters that you didn't see amongst other things, but I didn't have any of the desserts. And there were a lot of other products around too. Something called Rabbit Bars, I think, oh and some amazing cheese which I loitered around for a while! There were some good wines as well. And I love my glass. So, whew, FallFest '08, conquered and now finally blogged about!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sam's Anchor Cafe- Tiburon- Another Foodbuzz Voyage

Working at Foodbuzz has its perks- food namely. To celebrate our upcoming launch and the hard work that everyone put into it, the whole group of us took the Ferry over the Sam's in Tiburon for lunch and fun. We ordered a ton of food and enjoyed the slightly overcast day. Sam's is such a classic spot for anyone who grew up around here. In high school you go and try to see if your fake id/friend with fake id can buy some drinks to enjoy in the sun. Any sunny weekend day the place is absolutely packed with people. Anyone who comes to San Francisco during the summer should take the ferry to Sam's and check out the scene, it really is indescribable. Since this was a work field trip and it was a dark and almost stormy day, this was a completely different Sam's experience than I have ever had. The first order of business was to look at the sea lions as we passed by Fisherman's Wharf. I always forget how goofy these guys are, with their huge bodies and funny bark. When we arrived at Sam's it was time to order some food. Calamari was first on the order. A HUGE basket full of the fried up squid with a lovely dipping sauce. Sam's, which is more known for its view and pink lemonade than its food, really impressed me with this one. It was delicious. Mussels were another starter that the table enjoyed. These were okay but nothing to write home about.
I was excited when the crab cakes were dropped off. Big pieces of yummy crab dipped into a mayonnaise based sauce, it's pretty hard to screw that up! I think that the two main complaints that people have about crab cakes are 1) if they are too stingy on the crab and overloaded with filler and 2) if the cakes are too dry. This was not the case for these so we were in luck.
My main course was the Halibut Salad on a bed of couscous, arugula, avocado and grapefruit. It was very pretty but the taste was, meh. The fish was a little too dry for my taste (I typically like very rare fish. With white fish I always cook it through, but just barely. This could have come off the grill about 2 minutes earlier). The vegetable part of the salad was nice though, lightly dressed and I pretty much like anything that has couscous on it.
Other orders were the Cioppino:

Grilled Shrimp:

Linguine and Clams:

And here's part of the Foodbuzz team, enjoying their ferry ride back to San Francisco:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Jake's Birthday Dinner- What Does a 2 year Old Like?

I spent Sunday night doing things to corn. Sounds strange but it is true. I shucked it, I washed it, I cut all the corn off the cob, I warmed it through and then I made creamed corn. Mmmmm. Because what more does a 2 year old want than creamed corn? Really? My mom made lamb, roasted asparagus, a large green salad and a Caprese, and then we had the corn.
Jake looked over the table and thought, hmmm, what should I eat first? Obviously he ate the corn, especially because his Auntie made it for him. And considering the fact that I used about 16 ears of corn, the few tablespoons of butter and cream really don't amount to much (except I doubled them, shhhh). The result was sweet goodness. And it isn't overtly creamy like the canned stuff. The texture is still authentically kernel-y ( new word, you like?) the corn is so sweet still that it needs nothing more than some shakes of salt and a few grinds of pepper (not too many because the baby doesn't really like it). And don't forget the cupcakes!

Mock Meat Sauce- I Played A Trick!

John and I have been having a little food conflict: he wants more meat than I do. Most nights I am content to eat a large salad, have a piece of toast and call it a night. But John wants "protein" and thinks that flesh is the only way to get that. So I bought ground turkey at the market (see above turkey burgers) and I also bought soy crumbles. With my simple tomato sauce (which I doctored up with zucchini, fresh onions, garlic and some red wine) I added the soy crumbles. I tossed it all with whole wheat linguine and a parmesan and fresh basil garnish.

So, what happened? Well...
John dove into the steaming bowl of pasta and said, "this is really good babe."
Me: Thanks, I have something I want to tell you though.
John: What?!
Me: I'll tell you in a minute, hold on a sec, let me grab something from the kitchen.
J: Is it a good surprise?
M: Sure, just a sec.
J: Are you pregnant?
M: Um, huh? No, I'm not pregnant. The surprise is I used soy crumbles instead of ground turkey.
J: Oh, really? I could tell. I knew it wasn't turkey.
M: Suuuuuure.

So apparently when I try to trick John he thinks I am pregnant. Well, I guess we both learned our lesson. But he actually really liked the pasta, so there might be more soy crumbles in our future!

The World's Best Turkey Burgers

I made the world's best turkey burgers.
Yes, you read that correctly. How, one might ask, do I KNOW that I made the world's best turkey burgers? Well, maybe I don't know, but if John and I were to make an educated guess then we would both come up with the same result. I made the world's best turkey burgers.
The turkey burgers were not even actually supposed to be made. I bought ground turkey with the intent to make either turkey meatballs or simply add it to a red sauce for extra protein. But I made the red sauce with soy crumbles in an attempt to trick John into realizing that he does not actually need flesh to have a filling meal.

So on a Saturday night we came home from a day of way too much college football (in my opinion) and I set to work on the burgers. I added the turkey to a bowl and mixed it with an egg, chopped onion and garlic, parsley, grill seasoning, and breadcrumbs. A little salt and pepper and some red pepper flakes were the finishing touch. I stuck them on the grill pan and added a slice of pepperjack when they were almost done. and the result was incredible. So tasty. Serving them on english muffins added a bit of crunch and they didn't make them too thick (personal pet peeve, when you are served a food item, often times a sandwich, that is so incredibly thick you cannot possibly get your mouth around it). They were just so incredibly moist and flavorful. I had never used grill seasoning before and the addition was perfect. John claims to have eaten dozens and dozens of turkey burgers in his life and said that these were by far the best ever taken. Even better than a hamburger!

On a side note, I had not bought english muffins for years and I forgot how much I like them. I had one for breakfast and it was delicious, all those buttery nooks and crannies. I bought the sandwich size ones so they were perfect for egg sandwiches too.