Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Roundup

Memorable dishes and meals of 2009.

Clams and Tripe starter - Incanto

4505 Chicharrones

Peking duck flatbread;  Asian Pear Salad with watercress, chinese celery, chili oil, roasted peanut;  and Seared Beef Tongue with blackened grits, spicy mustard greens, pickled anchovy - Mission Street Food

Panuchos de Pavo and Black Beans - Poc Chuc

Lamb's Tongue - Flour + Water

Indian-inspired fried chicken sandwich, garam masala honey, cabbage, cilantro, jalapeno - Kitchenette

Rainbow Salad and Roti - Pagan

Tomato Soup w/ Grilled Cheese  on crusty bread - Outerlands

Tea Smoked Duck - Five Happiness

Lamb Chops with Thai Pesto - Namu

Pork Knuckle, Vegetarian Goose - Shanghai House

Cheese Grits and Poached Eggs - Brown Sugar Kitchen

Mac n' Cheese - Pican

Duck with cherries and a slaw with hazelnuts - Wood Tavern

Mostaccioli rossi with shaved tuna "bloodline" and zuchini crema; Wild nettle tagliolini with geoduck clams and Nocellino olive oil; and Cannelloni neri of Monterey Bay squid, tomatoes and breadcrumbs - Oliveto

Guinea Hen with/ leg confit, caramelized sunchokes and chanterelle mushrooms - Commis

Karage - Santa Ramen

Ubuntu - Salad of oca; Roasted Beets and Quinoa

Grace's Sunday Suppers - Stuffed Perilla, Pork Belly and Ribs

Sushi Yasuda - Omakase

Ko - lunch and dinner, shaved foie gras with pine nut brittle and reisling gelee, biscuit

Matchbox Bloody Mary - Prune

Flushing Food Crawl - dumplings, liang pi, lamb

King Crab Flan and King Crab with calafate berry - Afrigonia (Puerto Natales)

Saturday, December 19, 2009


A recent visit to La Ciccia:

Spaghittusu cun Allu Ollu e Bottarga - I can't get enough of the creamy bottarga flavor of this spaghetti.  Our table unanimously agreed that it was our favorite.

Spaghetti with Sea Urchin and Shrimp - a tomato based sauce, rich and creamy texture from the sea urchin that I would order again.
Octopus stew in a spicy tomato sauce - with little octopuses in a spicy tomato stew with a deep tomato flavor.   

Pizza Bianca - decent thin crusted pizza, much better than the pizza's I've had here in the past. The crust was crisped on the bottom, though not blistered.  The richness of the cheeses and salumi were balanced by a layer of shredded fresh radicchio. 

Fregula with Fresh Ricotta and Cured Tuna Heart - the ricotta worked nicely to round out the salty tuna heart, but the faro pasta did not feel like the right pairing for this flavor.  I prefer the spaghetti with tuna heart, garlic and red pepper.

Previous Notes:
La Ciccia September
La Ciccia June

Sunday, December 13, 2009


There has been a fair amount written about Mission Street Food and it's Thursday (and Saturday) dinners. After several visits that were hit or miss, one thing became clear to me, the best nights have been those when Anthony Myint is cooking. Great flavor, textures and interesting often unconventional combinations of ingredients. The menus aren't bound by convention, as if the chef is treating the place as a laboratory to experiment. With much of the proceeds going to charity it could only be the labor of love for someone passionate about food. Something I wholeheartedly support.

I won't go into a play by play of everything I've liked but here are a few standouts from menus I saved:

Asian Pear Salad with watercress, chinese celery, chili oil, roasted peanut

Crispy Tofu with slow egg, sauteed greens, garlic-sesame glaze

Salt & Pepper Cod with guacamole, sweet corn, bacon, mustard greens

Aged Angus NY Strip Steak with goat cheese, seared cherry tomato and shishito peppers, and black bean demiglace

Peking Duck Flatbread: duck confit, duck cracklins, cucumber, cilantro, scallion and spicy hoisin

country-fried chicken livers with brussels spouts, buttermilk dressing

seared beef tongue with blackened grits, spicy mustard greens, pickled anchovy

trotter flatbread: ham hock rillette, cornichon, sauce gribiche, on a homemade flatbread

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Ubuntu is at the top of my list of restaurants in Napa.  It's clear that the chef took the vegetarian menu as an inspiration for creativity rather than feeling constrained by it.  The menu is seasonal, so it's a good excuse for me to go up there come Spring.  We ordered everything listed on the menu that night.

First, a few snacks:

marcona almonds - LAVENDER sugar, sea salt - o.k.  the lavendar sugar is interesting and does add another flavor to the almonds. If you eat a lot of marconas at home, this wouldn't be a special treat, but it's a nice way to start the meal.

castelvetrano olives marinated in CARROT TOP pesto - the carrot top pesto was so subtle I didn't notice it at first, but I load up on these whenever they have them at the store, so this is not a must-order.

chickpea fries - fall HERBS and ROMESCO - good fritters, like the herbs, again another substantial starter to lead off with.

On to the garden.  When each of us singled out a favorite dish of the night, we all chose different dishes. In other words, the quality of the main dishes was uniformly high.  A few of them in order of my preference:

forono and albino BEETS baked in vegetable embers - rancho gordo red quinoa, alpine STRAWBERRY, baby MACHE
- just a fantastic combination and some of the most flavorful quinoa I've had.

Pumpkin filled donut with burrata - I don't have the list of ingredients but the seasoned burrata went perfectly with the slight sweetness of the pumpkin donut.

Salad of OCA  - again not sure of the ingredients but the composition was delicious and beautiful on the plate.

carta da musica - a selection of items from their garden, different arugulas and other greens from their garden with pecorino and hazelnut dirt (?)

rustic rancho gordo yellow eye bean stew with ROSEMARY, torn bread, CHILI, and black KALE - the most rustic dish of the night,though the portion was small, a balanced hearty soup.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Crab Dinner

Taking advantage of the bountiful crab season, we had a crab dinner and watched the TC Finale.  We had a E's beautiful salad with pumpkin seeds, persimmons and pomagranate, and polished off five crabs, but not without some difficulty earlier that day.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Crab Season

Back in SF just in time for crab season -- fresh, wild and meaty dungeness crab.  I got so excited, I ate an entire two pounder for lunch.  Nevermind the crab juice and shell pieces flying all over the kitchen!