There was some serious tasting going on in the city this evening starting out with the Share our Strength’s Taste of the Nation event.
The SF Giants concession stands in AT&T’s field club lounge were filled with a line up of the city’s major league chefs.
Jason Fox of Bar Tartine made a Hawaiian kampachi with fava beans, grapefruit, cilantro and horseradish:
... that upped his already tar-iffic bartine average. We loved the fresh, clean flavors of this astro-surf serving.
Mark Sullivan of Spruce made the most magnificent carrot soup:
... we have laid our paws on. This innocent sounding Chantenay carrot concoction was enhanced with turmeric, dates and almond to create a full bodied, rich and complex souplime substance.
Jordan Grosser and Ted Fleury of The Alembic:
... drove a stake through our hearts with these spiced duck pumps with pickled pineapple:
They quickly circulated though these sweet beats of Jamaican jerk seasoned, pineappled, pulmonary parts.
Jenn Puccio of Cortez:
... made a beautiful and delicious crab and shrimp verrine:
... with grilled ramps, avocado puree, creme fraiche chantilly, pickled onion, Hawaiian black sea salt and a toupee of crunchy kadafi.
Waterbar, A16, Perbacco and several others also brought their A game and it only got better when we rounded the bases to the bar. We chatted with manyfamiliarfaceswhowere also checking out what was shaking in this drinking dugout.
Romolo 15’s hibiscus tea with caramelized pineapple syrup, lemon, Peychaud’s bitters, Angostura bitters, pomegranate juice and pisco came with a hibiscus flower boutonniere for this red refresher.
We cooled our heels with a Miller’s Gin, elderflower syrup, grapefruit juice, and lemon combo from Heaven’s Dog:
... before reaching for Beretta’s apple and ginger rumfreshment to invigorate us for our next party.
... filled Root Division with melodic musement for the Taste 2009 event.
We found Beretta doing double duty at this function with spirals of fava and pecorino canneloni:
This community arts incubator hatched up a beautiful backdrop:
... to the drinkable drops of Bourbon & Branch’s:
... La Rosa Mañosa with Gran Centrenario Rosangel, strawberry gomme syrup, rose wine, lemon and rose water.
There was also an ice sculpture water slide for whistle whetters with Michael Krouse’s “Grandma’s Pie” strawberry spiked, lime and rhubarbed blast.
... from La Cocina’s Norma Quinonez were devoured as soon as these meat and cheese discs came off the griddle.
Thomas McNaughton of Flour + Water made sweet pea tortellini with Meyer lemon and mint as part of a demo:
... before these delectable pasta pockets disappeared.
Epicenter Cafe’s expertly executed espressi pepped us up with their single origin beany brew to return to our single origin after a night of sampling some celestial servings of elbow bending and tongue twisting treats.
Instead of going locavore for Earth Day, we went Local-vore. We were greeted with an amuse of white bean puree and tomato crostini:
... as we sat down for dinner at Local Kitchen & Wine Merchant. This earthy crust populated by beans was a tasty tidbit of tomato-topped, capered crostini.
The house made grissini:
... were delicate crisp, salted pencils (that were far tastier than chomping on a #2 Dixon Ticondergoa). We could nibble our way through a tub of these if they only came with a calorie eraser.
Mini Croque Madames ($14.00):
... were topped with perfectly fried quail eggs. These balsamic bordered Serrano ham and Gruyere grilled sandwiches were fine finger food laced with lambs lettuce.
Mozzarella and mache salad ($14.00):
... with tomatoes, pesto, balsamic reduction and extra virgin olive oil satisfied our cheese tooth in this oven dried tomato layered cheese cake.
Parmesan fries ($7.00):
... were truffle oil tossed tuber strips that were crisp and habit forming, crunchy, aromatic, starch staffs.
We twirled our way through the Fettuccine Bolognese ($18.00):
... which had a meaty, chili-accented, tomato sauce with tender, house made pasta in between nibbling on slices of tomato basil and pepperoni and coppa pizza ($16.00 and $17.00, respectively):
They continue to make their red pepper flakes that we enjoyed so much on our last visit. These little sparks of heat are softer than typical pepper discs so they melded into the goat cheese of tomato pie and boosted the ‘roni on the coppa ‘za with less resistance and more flavor than the commercial variety.
The wisely recommended 2007 Damilano, Barbera D’Alba complemented these dishes well.
The staff is friendly and efficient and many of the diners are (as their name implies) from the nearby condos and businesses or grabbing a bite on the way home from work.
With the idling, rush hour back up that lines 1st Street, it seems like it would be a better option to pull over for a snack and cruise over the bridge when the coast is clear.
Got to Rustic Bakery early enough for a panini-fied egg, ham and melty Gruyere scrham-wich ($5.95):
... washed south by an Equator coffee. This hand-held breakfast was a quick protein pocket to fuel our healthy, sign of the times skepticism when encountering closures.
Fortunately, we were already Inn the loop about the Lark Creek outage:
... and were pleased to see that the Tavern at Lark Creek remodel was underway:
We’re anxious to sample the goods from the wood-burning oven (which is part of the planned reworking) as well as the other simplified chow from their upcoming menu. You’ll spend less green at this Tavern when the creeky staff streams back in late May.
Ms. Goofy and I braved the Novato Heirloom & Hybrid Tomato sale. It was a madhouse. We picked up some unusual and fun varieties. I am not sure if it was worth negotiating the unruly mob. The crowd at Oakland Raider games are better behaved than this group.
I’m betting that you will forget about the mob when you fill your gob with ripe heirloom tomatoes picked fresh out of your garden later this year.
Mature Marinites leave the Apple store lines to the youngins and prefer to queue for Tomato sales. We braved the annual heirloom and hybrid tomato market:
... before hitting Pebble Beach this weekend. Last year’s fiasco taught us that disappointment awaits those who do not make a list and that one must arrive well before opening time to snag some of these fine fruits.
The grabby grandparents of this area are vicious about vines at this once a year weekend event.
The Master Gardeners answered all of our budding questions:
... and matchmade us with the best ‘maters for our microclimate. We are now the proud owners of a Black Prince, Golden Jubilee, Opalka, Big Beef and a Sun Gold which we got around to planting today:
The memory of last year’s crop motivated our unnatural early bird antics since these rare plants are motivation to mow down a mob of seniors.
Chef Keiko Takahashi’s conical take on tuna tartare:
... with wasabi tobiko, dandelion greens, daikon sprouts, avocado cream and nori was a fresh, crunchy cone of covetable geomumami. The cool fish was also a relief from today’s in-tents heat.
... and beer brought down the BTUs but there were also plenty of wines including the lovely and lush, raspberried 2005 Colgin Tychson Hill Vineyard, Cabernet Sauvignon.
Seared foie gras topped Chef Ron Siegel’s Ritzy mirin-accented rice:
He added flavorful complexity with a micro-plane shower of soy salt and a sprinkling of dried candy cap mushroom (for mapley microbial manipulation) as well as a smattering of the chef’s selection of condiments tailored to the taster. This liver was a filtration sensation.
Smoked tea crusted ahi with wakame, sea beans, blood orange and a lemony white soy dressing:
... was a delectable, seaweed-banded bolt of raw silk woven together by Chef Orlando Pagan:
Chef Bill Corbett Mina-mized milk chocolate mousse:
... while maximizing creativity with the additions of kaffir lime foam, coconut curry sauce and puffed wild rice.
Chocolate buttermilk cake with frozen chocolate pave, strawberry jelly and meringue:
...was a sweet interplay of flavors that were trunk-ated by pine tree caramel by Chef Ben Spungin.
...and wonderful wines:
...(with the addition of a lot of SF Bay Area folks) came together to make this Lexus sponsored event hit on all ate.
... interviews and discussion panels during today’s Lexus Grand Tasting.
Champagne made attendees forget about any real pagne as hundreds of wines were quaffed. The strawberry nosed, low alcohol, 2007 Kutch Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir went down the hutch with a bright, balanced acidity.
We ran into some familiar faces:
... and chomped on some sensational snacks like yellowtail pastrami:
... cured by Masaharu Morimoto:
... who sashayed this sashimi through a dry chile powder and ironed it out with dill aioli, cherry tomatoes, mesclun and olive oil.
... delectable liver and kidney pie with foie gras torchon:
...was a re-dub of pub grub with rabbit kidney, pickled carrots mirepoix salad and Guinness rabbit gelee on a suet crust. His team was grinding out organs faster than a monkey on meth.
... came from Tennessee to serve up a ham hock and pork shoulderterrine with crispy black eyed peas and a pink lady apple salad:
... that had a nice balance of sweet and tart to core-rageously trot alongside the pork and beans.
Michael Ginor’s truffle infused, foie gras custard:
... with mustard greens and chive oil was a rich and savorable sensation.
Beignets were planted in vanilla sugar:
... and mowed down as fast as Sherry Yard:
... could pluck them from the oil. She also made little innocent chocolate cookies that detonated on your dentures with a rich cacao in-fusion. Ms. Yard may not be metric, but her cooking is imperial.
Pebble Beach continues tomorrow with cooking demos, wine tastings and the Sunday Lexus Grand tasting which will include Michael Mina, David Kinch, Traci Des Jardins and other insanely talented chefs.
We started stamping out tortillas when Mark Miller’s latest cookbook, Tacos:
... arrived at the cyberhutch. This taco text proved to be a fun and easy guide to this evening’s comida.
Makes approximately 12 (5 1/2-inch) corn tortillas or 24 (4-inch) mini tortillas
2 cups Bob’s Red Mill masa harina
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
1/4 teaspoon fine kosher or table salt
To make the dough, in the bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, add the masa harina, the water, and salt. Beat at medium speed until all the water is incorporated and a smooth dough forms without any masa sticking to the sides of the bowl. It should be a little wet at this stage as it will continue to absorb water during the resting stage. Cover the masa dough with plastic wrap and let sit a room temperature until the masa is denser than bread dough, but moister than pasta dough, 30 to 60 minutes. You want the masa to absorb all the moisture from the water. If it’s too dry, you’ll find it difficult to form tortillas, which will be brittle and dry when cooked, rather than pliable and soft.
To work with the masa, hands must be moist, but not wet. Have a small bowl of warm water nearby. To form 5 1/2-inch tortillas, divide the dough into 12 equal portions (about 1 1/2 ounces each) and form them into 1 1/2-inch balls:
For mini 4-inch tortillas, divide the dough into 24 equal portions (about 1 ounce each) and form into 1-inch balls. Keep the balls of masa covered with a damp towel until you cook them.
To prepare the tortilla press, first line it with plastic so the masa won’t stick. Use a quart-size, heavy-duty (freezer-weight) plastic bag. Trim off the sides, but not the bottom, open the bag like a book, and center half the sheet of plastic on the bottom plate of the press, letting the other half drape down.
To press the tortillas, place 1 ball of masa slightly off center (away from the handle) between the plastic sheets on the bottom plate of the press, pressing down hard to flatten the dough into a thin, even circle. Drape the other half of the plastic bag over the masa. Close the press and apply firm, even pressure to flatten the dough to a 5 1/2-inch tortilla (4-inch tortilla for mini) that’s about 1/8 inch thick.
With practice, you’ll get to know how much pressure you’ll need. Open the press and carefully peel off the top plastic. Flip the tortilla onto your hand and peel off the bottom sheet of plastic. Note: If the edges of the tortilla are cracked, the dough was too dry. Return the masa balls to the mixer bowl, beat in more water and reform into balls.
To cook the tortillas, preheat a dry seasoned cast-iron comal or griddle over medium heat. Gently place the tortilla on the hot surface and cook about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, until it puffs when you “tickle” or touch it. Flip the tortilla and cook for another 30 seconds.
Transfer the cooked tortilla to a basket lined with a warm, moist cloth. Repeat until all the tortillas are cooked and serve immediately.
Makes 8 tacos
Prep time 35 minutes (plus one hour for marinating)
In a large bowl, add the pork, chile caribe, slat, chipotle powder, and canela. Toss to coat the pork evenly with the seasoning. Let the meat marinate in the spice mixture for at least 1 hour at room temperature.
In a large, heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron), heat the oil over medium heat. Add the seasoned meat and let the pieces sear on all sides. Cook the meat until golden brown and crusty, stirring only occasionally to preserve the crust, about 25 minutes.
Remove from the heat and serve immediately or keep warm in the pan until ready to serve.
To serve, lay the tortillas side by side, open face and overlapping on a platter. Divide the filling equally between the tortillas and top with salsa. Grab, fold and eat right away. Or build your own taco: lay a tortillas, open face, in one hand. Spoon on some filling, top with salsa, fold and eat right away.
We augmented our ‘nitas with radishes, cilantro and lime and threw in some slaw as a salady counterpoint before laying carnita-age to our deliciouso dinner.
Mark your Calendar
...and speaking of masa...
Benchmark Institute’s annual benefit, A Taste of Tamales by the Bay will steam up Fort Mason on April 26th with Steve Sando’s beans, Partida tequila and of course, tamales. Check out our pix of last year’s event and check out this year’s line up.