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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

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March 24-31, 2009


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  Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Most are aware of the important roles played by farmers and artisanal product producers in Bay Area cuisine, but this evening we gathered to honor someone behind the scenes who has had his finger on the pulse of Bay Area dining (and gives CPR as needed). Alice arranged a “Thank You, Doctor!” dinner in the downstairs dining room at Chez Panisse to celebrate Duke’s retirement.

This is the restaurant where I met Duke and it was so long ago that I’m not up to date on the current etiquette of finding a quality physician in a fine dining establishment.

Chef Jean-Pierre Moulle prepared dinner for the man who made the introduction of Jean-Pierre to his wife many years ago.

Chicory salad with foie gras toast and gizzard confit:

Maine lobster ravioli with herbs in fish broth:

Grilled Marin Sun grass-fed beef rib eye with bordelaise sauce, straw potato cake and green asparagus, favas and spring onions:

Chocolate tart, truffles and candied orange rind with kumquat sorbet:

If you live in the Bay Area, chances are you have benefited from the good doctor’s work through his medical support of the Bay Area’s food and wine infrastructure.

One of the toasts that summed it up best was “Duke...a great friend and a great doctor”.

Chez Panisse
1517 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA



  Monday, March 30, 2009

I grabbed a “Midi Quartet” ($19.00):

... for lunch at a new addition to the FiDining scene. Midi’s Francasian food squared off on this presentation of asparagus porcini soup, chicken terrine, leek and goat cheese tart and a hazelnut marjolaine.

The simple, Japanese soup with slices of mushroom and asparagus spears:

had a faint mirin sweetness. The softly set chicken aspic with whole grain mustard and caper berry:

... needed an nice slice of rustic grilled bread to complete the effect. The leeks and cheese did not meld with their tartlet crust:

... making me wish for a custard to provide a cohesive adhesive. The praline parallelogram of hazelnut, meringue, buttercream and chocolate ganache:

... sweetly completed the equation of this Midi sampler.

I thought that I was being clever by ordering a selection, but I enviously watched neighboring tables digging into less dainty dishes and vowed to order a la carte next time.

If you drink too much of the Natura filtered still or sparkling water (served gratis) you have a long trip down two flights of stairs to the bathrooms.

The service has some bumps to work out, but that’s not exactly shocking for such a new endeavor...

Speaking of new endeavors, the Ferry Building Blue Bottle coffee will open:

... this Thursday serving simple starchy items like brioche and cookies to cap off their beany brew. But the menu will soon expand since there is a machine shipping from Europe to hammer out Stroopwafels to go with their Gibraltars. These are destined to be the handheld snack of choice.

This caffeination corner will have a side window in addition to the front entrance, so those excruciating detox outdoor kiosk waits will be a distant memory (although we found some good lesser known Blue Bottle Ferry Building options like Boulettes Larder and Out the Door.)

Midi Restaurant
185 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA


Mark your Calendar

Prather Ranch Meat Company, Cowgirl Creamery and Recchiuti Chocolates are just a few of the Ferry Building merchants participating in the Festa di Primavera.

There will be music, wine, and chow (including a prechew of the soon to be released Boccalone spicy Andouille sausage). So if Acme Bread, Miette Patisserie and Ciao Bella Gelateria get you in a party mood, head over to the Festa.

Festa di Primavera

Sunday, April 5th 4 - 7 p.m.
tickets - $25 advance, $30 at the door
purchase tickets in advance at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant
Grand Hall (upstairs)
San Francisco Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA



  Sunday, March 29, 2009

Pain(cake) perdu

I was thinking about making a bread pudding with the stack of yesterday’s leftover blueberry pancakes but changed my mind and decided to cook them in the manner of French toast.

I punched out circles with biscuit cutters before dunking them in a mixture of a couple eggs mixed with milk and salt. After a turn in the frying pan we happily dug into these maple syrup soppers.




  Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mustard Wrap

First there was the opening event at the CIA, then Le Grand Diner and the Spicy Soiree but this evening’s Photo Finish event marks the 16th annual Napa Valley Mustard Festival’s f-stop.

Guests focused on the competition capturing this condiment colored country:

These shots snapped up attention between bites of Auberge du Soliel Chef Robert Curry’s:

... smoked salmon topped onion tartlet:

... and La Toque’s foie gras terrine washed down with sips of sparkling wine from Mumm:

... (the winery hosting this event.)

There were a lot of local, smaller production wineries pouring some wonderful wares.

We loved the cherry and coffee notes from the stunning 2005 St. Clement Steinhauer Ranch Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon and the spicy tannis of the O’Brien Estate:

... 2006 Seduction Bordeaux-style blend which we sampled along with photographic works:

... that spanned from glorious to goofy.

Mumm was the perfect setting for the culmination of this seasonal celebration.

16th annual Napa Valley Mustard Festival

Grand Finale - Photo Finish
Mumm Napa
8445 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA



  Friday, March 27, 2009

Fried eggs are the anabolic steroid of the culinary world. These protein injections boost the performance of a simple ham and cheese sandwich ($10.00):

... enhancing its texture and richness while Bonding with bats of grilled asparagus. These fowl balls give a home field advantage when they cross the plate at Rose’s Café.

We dug into a crisp, chopped salad ($8.00):

... with radicchio and a gorgonzola vinaigrette to accompany our panned substances. Everything tested positive for palatability which makes it clear why Roses is all the rage.

Rose’s Café

2298 Union St.
San Francisco, CA



  Thursday, March 26, 2009

The standing ovations were for the libations rather than librettos at the San Francisco Opera House:

... during the Wine Enthusiast Toast of the Town event.

An overture of Crissy on ice:

... set the tone for a sparkling evening including Masa’s Dungeness crab with Burgundy truffles on toasted brioche:

... and a refreshing jicama salad with candied pecans and grapefruit from the Slanted Door:

Postrio dodged the bullet of pancake fatigue from pre-flapped jacks by setting up an on-site blini station:

We flipped over these house smoked salmon topped griddle cakes with an accent of creme fraiche:

We wondered what Campton Place would stage as an encore to last year’s spot prawns with gazpacho air and were answered in the key of sea major with their composition of ahi with uni underscored with an aria of apple and wild rocket foam:

A glass of Merryvale’s 1999 Profile:

... made us want to study the criminal behavior of the winemaker while they capture the vanilla scented, berry essence of Bordeaux varietals in this blend of illicit delicit-ness.

Aurea caught our attention with Petaluma duck breast with marinated butter beans:

We hadn’t heard about this Nob Hill newcomer and were seriously impressed by the perfectly cooked quacker confit with tender beans balanced with a splash of vinegar and capped with a strip of salty, crispy skin. We have to hit the Stanford Court Hotel to check out more of their chow.

We monitored the Kathryn Hall 2005 Cabernet:

... along with some Epic (in every sense of the word) Roast house beef tartare:

... cappicola, pheasant terrine, duck prosciutto:

... house made pickles and mustard.

Shokolaat had irresistible platters brimming with their signature series of sweets:

We found little ribboned boxes tucked into our goodie bags once we got back to the cyberhutch - sweet.

Enthusiasts weren’t limited to the wine variety with lively music:

... and food adding to the overall chorus of contentment.

Toast of the Town 2009

San Francisco War Memorial Opera House
San Francisco, CA



  Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A shot of olive oil, hard boiled egg and lemon over pencil thin bayonets of grilled asparagus ($6.00):

... earned these uova-achievers bulls eyes as we loaded our food chambers at Beretta.

We didn’t sleep with the fishes due to the bracing, vinegary assault style preparation of these Sardines ($7.00):

... with onions, peppers and caperberries. Bread was required to temper this pungently puckery, pescatarian platter.

A margherita pizza ($11.00):

... arrived in a cloud of basil fragrance with a nice char to the ultra thin crust (which was a little soggy and limp in the middle.) The tomato sauce had great flavor and a nice tang finished with a glug of olive oil after it left the oven.

We’ll have to shoot back to take stock of their risotto and their insanely popular meatballs at this cozy, chic, Italian eatery.

1199 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA




Tuesday, March 24, 2009

K cleverly imports her own peppers to transform into caliente cuisine as was the case with this evening’s puerco:

... that she and T prepared with potatoes, cabbage, carrot, garlic, fresh and dried pepper. Amazingly, sweat-inducingly, delicious.



Mark your Calendar

It wasn’t the ordering of 1,000 pounds of Plugra butter that was impressive, it was knowing what to do with it. The chefs at last year’s first annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine demonstrated that they knew how to churn through the good stuff and this year promises even more caloric contentment with the participation of chefs including Thomas Keller, David Kinch and Eric Ripert. The list of talent is mind (and stomach) boggling for this weekend of demos, tastings, golf and dining.

Check out the line up here before your selection is sold out.

Pebble Beach Food & Wine
April 16-19, 2009
various events and prices



Photographers have been snapping pictures of Napa’s two-toned fields over the last few months to compete at the grand finale event of the Napa Valley Mustard Festival - the photo finish. You can view these vineyard vistas while enjoying music, nibbles and of course, wine with these pour-traits at Mumm Napa.

The Napa Valley Mustard Festival
Photo Finish event

tickets $95 advance purchase, $125 at the door
Mumm Napa
8445 Silverado Trail
Rutherford, CA









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