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October 9-16, 2008
|Thursday, October 16, 2008
The annual migration of turkey adorned cooking magazines has begun to come home to roost in our mailbox. These reread retreads of similar, seasonal circulations waddle back for perennial perusal (since most of us can’t reasonably audition an array of protein possibilities to compare and contrast.)
Chef Traci Des Jardins helped us from running afowl by hosting an event this evening at ACME Chophouse.
She and ACME executive chef, Thom Fox, rounded up some of the usual holiday suspects for a line up which demonstrated not only culinary, but shopping expertise.
Sam Mogannam of Bi-Rite Market discussed his customers increased interest of in the providence of the foods that he sells in his 18th Street shop. Sam plans to carry four heritage turkey breeds for Thanksgiving and if they were anything like the ones that we sampled this evening, you won’t regret bypassing the Butterball.
Jim Reichardt of Sonoma County Poultry involved a local 4H group in raising his organically fed fowl. The moist and flavorful turkey brought up by Matt James was top notch.
Chef Fox chased down some excellent Marin Sun Farms Cornish Cross chicken, Durok pork loin, Navajo Churro Lamb as well as Liberty Farm goose and duck in the two flights of meaty tastings:
We were impressed by all of these meaty morsels (as well as the delectable side dishes.) The emphasis was on local, quality products and knowing who they came from.
|Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Restaurant names can take on unintended meaning in the current political/economic climate (with the exception of SF’s Zeitgeist Restaurant with its mercurial moniker.) The Elite Cafe and Maverick Restaurant sound like debate topics (rather than cozy eateries) while other names take on a comforting quality like the recently unharnessed Stable Cafe.
The horses are gone from this converted carriage house, but you can still put on the feed bag if you trot over for some of their simple chow.
They de-cantered some tangy lemon aqua fresca which washed down a tasty roast beef and brie panini with sauteed onions and tomato and a cold ham sandwich ($8.50):
... with fig jam, cukes, tomatoes and Swiss on toasty wheat purebread.
With friendly counter service and equis-ite sandwiches, Stable has all the markings of a good place to be watered and fed.
|Tuesday, October 14, 2008
We got our bouche on at Bouchon’s 10th anniversary party:
... where we were met with wine, hors d’oevures, music and a lavish supper including an icy platter of Dungeness crab, shrimp, oysters and Bouchot mussels:
... salade Nicoise:
... soupe de Musquee de Provence with honey creme fraiche and walnuts:
... a perfect Cote de Boeuf:
... with lily-gilding sauce bearnaise forest mushrooms, gratin Dauphinoise and vegetables, pommes frites, cassoulet de Lotte with roasted Atlantic monkfish, lobster knuckles and fresh beans:
... and a moist and delicious chocolate layer birthday cake with coffee ice cream toasted hazelnut syrup:
Thomas and Laura graciously and gorgeously circulated among the congratulatory revelers as we all uncorked the next decade of decadence at this bustling bistro.
|Monday, October 13, 2008
The food is designed for sharing, but it’s so good that it strains your ability to subdue your greed as exemplified with the Kona kampachi ($12.95):
... with bright flavors of chile, scallion and chopped mint setting off this fresh fish flesh.
The cold salad of beets ($7.75):
... with chives and tarragon was earthy and enticing.
Black eyed peas ($7.95):
... with meltingly delicious pork belly cubes and a shower of gremolata was the answer to their self imposed query “Where is the love?” - in these luscious legumes.
We loved the perfectly cooked pork tenderloin ($24.95):
...with a square of pork belly topping cranberry beans, tomatoes and a vibrantly green arugula pesto.
They make their risotto ($11.75):
...every half hour and today’s had fresh garbanzos and basil nestled in the tomato-tinged rice.
Locally caught rainbow trout ($21.95):
... was dusted in farro powder and topped with slivered almonds. Brussels sprouts and potatoes provided the pots of green at the end of the rainbow.
We couldn’t pass up the Straus Dairy vanilla soft serve with spiced apple and caramel sauce ($4.95):
... to wind up our meal.
Picco Restaurant is our favorite Larkspur eatery. You can have a bite and drink at the bar or a full meal with friends. It’s inviting and the chow is always fun and delish.
|Sunday, October 12, 2008
Prosciutto first, ask questions later - when you see the whites of their thighs.
Boccalone’s newly released proscuitto was so delicious that our eyes got stuck in the rolled back position in their sockets. These paper thin slices of buttery, nutty, dry-cured pork are mandatory eating when visiting the Ferry Building.
Over 15 months of aging charges the depth and (non-military or industrial) complexity of flavor in this recently launched haunch.
And don’t get all “ew, that looks like fat”. You know who you are - the person who gets the cupcake with a 2-inch layer of buttercream but balks at transparently thin, glistening, slices of pig flab. It is the rare cupcake that rates as highly on the eyeball-roll-o-meter as porky perfection, so brace your corneas and go for a copia of this fine swine under their newly installed porcine sign.
|Saturday, October 11, 2008
The point of this event was to have a large venue where people could mingle, drink and eat (note the emphasis on the first two activities.)
|Friday, October 10, 2008
“Six Asian Flavors” kicked off of the Asian Food Beyond Borders weekend.
... and umami:
... were all represented. This exploration of the taste elements in Asian cuisines was like a miniature golf course with a message. We tea’ed up at each of the six flavor courses which drove different tongue regions from sour to sweet. A tender chunk of pork belly:
... with crispy skin and hot chile salt was a bite not to be missed and it was interesting to taste an array of artisanal palm sugars. Experts were on hand to answer questions at this popular tongue twisting tour.
Events continue throughout the weekend.
|Thursday, October 9, 2008
The dining room at The French Laundry was full, but with more lucky diners from the waiting list than ever. International guests are staying home, opening up opportunities for the locals so now’s the time to call for the most difficult rezzie around - who knows? You might snag an opportunity to take a spin during this economic cycle.
Chef Corey Lee said “I hope you’re hungry” and we nodded enthusiastically before commencing on the cavalcade of kick-ass cuisine.
We washed down gougers and salmon cornets with Milan Champagne as a man in a black leather suit jacket took a seat at the neighboring table with his bejeweled and bee-coiffed wife. In a thick Brooklyn accent he nodded to us “Hey, how’ya doin?” He explained the origin of his accent as we consumed our matsutake consumme with compressed Asian pear and nasturtiums:
Our neighbor told us about a St. Helena woman who deduced that he was a New Yorker after seeing his wad of bills bound with a rubberband. He lamented that nobody uses cash in California “only the cards!”
Dice-shaped chunks of Hokkaido scallops were made into a ceviche with raspberry vinegar, compressed cucumber and cilantro sprouts. Corey did not engage in mollusk-ation by overworking this pristine bivalve, his citrus marinated shellfish was perfectly balanced with the tangy fruit and herbaceous flavors of this compressive dish:
Two long soda fountain spoons appeared on our cleared table causing us to guess what would require a long, scoopy, reach before the arrival of a couple inverted porcelain DEVO hats containing a green gelee made with agar agar and transparent apples. The jello was capped with Spanner crab mixed with yuzu and mohawked with radish. Our long utensils allowed us to be effective bottom feeders by dredging up the jello without sidestepping the citrusy crab:
A 2005 Nicolas Joly, Les Clos Sacres provided a crisp, appley tip of the DEVO hat to the crabapple cuisine. Sommelier Jimmy Hayes, who recently transferred over from Per Se, hooked us up with this biodynamic Chenin Blanc.
Island Creek oysters with pearl tapioca and sturgeon caviar (aka Oysters and Pearls) made our dining neighbor exclaim, “they gotta be injectin’ this with somethin”.
Japanese big fin squid with Jambon Iberico, globe artichokes, espellete pepper puree and haricots verts had a rich, earthy flavor broken up by this highly scored, salt cured, white meat:
The 1998 Vina Gravonia Blanco Rioja had nice legs - frogs legs that is. This white Rioja had a nice acidity and minerality to keep pace with crispy, deboned, battered and fried frogs legs over Meyer lemon gastrique with FL garden tomato raisins and cilantro sprouts:
Truffle custards with chive chips were ‘quisite egg samples of another FL classic.
A warm pain au lait arrived with Andante and Vermont Butter & Cheese Company butters along with a salad of hearts of Hawaiian peach palm, cashews, banana and mizuna with pureed cashews.
The perfume from the truffles as they were showered over our bowls of tagliatelle forced our dining neighbors to place an order for these noble noodles which they also insisted were “injected.”
Corey outdid himself with a tempura battered anago with braised romaine, Hobbs bacon, onions and caper sauce. Eel-icious.
Another of TFL’s greatest hits “beets and leeks” brought color to King Richard melted leeks with a beet essence alongside a butter poached lobster tail under a pommes Maxim umbrella which came with the whistle wettening agent of a 2004 Domaine Joseph Roty, Gevrey Chambertin.
Ilocano salt from the Philippines appeared in the wood box that used to house the deep water Japanese salt in the assortment of salinity to adorn our sauteed foie gras. These luscious lobes came with FL garden strawberries, Tokyo turnips, Sicilian pistachios and 100 year old vinegar.
Scottish wood pigeon was served with its supreme coated in chopped chives. This perfectly cooked bird was polka dotted with Medjool dates and Musquee de Provence flesh (as well as the seeds) and a star anise scented sauce:
The 2003 Modicum (TFL house wine) with a flavorful and tender slice of culotte de boeuf with golden chanterelles, sauce Dijonaise and Brussels sprouts hit our meat and red wine spot.
Andante Dairy makes a cow’s milk Cadence cheese expressly for this restaurant and it is A sharp composition. The kitchen picks up the tempo with a truffle infused, hazelnut vinaigrette, compressed Belgian endives and peeled grapes.
Even though the Animal Farm butter wasn’t on the table this evening, Diane St. Clair’s buttermilk was used in this Orwell originated sherbet with pain perdu, and puffed quinoa. A little molecular gastronomy manifested itself in the caviar-ization of huckleberries...somebody has been shopping at Le Sanctuaire...
We got our popo on with coffee and donuts but they tasted even better than usual - like there was a stronger coffee element in the cappuccino semi-freddo.
10 year old Cossart Gordon Madeira glided us through dessert with a shiso sorbet adding minty orientation to the chocolate sesame cake with tahini ganache followed by chocolates and mignardises:
We are always in complete awe of Corey Lee’s category 5 talent. When the country is in a downturn, this is the place to come to renew your optimism or at least eat drink and be merry...
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