¡Que bueno!

Posted by Anita on 02.28.06 4:50 PM

Murray StensonFinally got the Fernet Branca we needed to try the Porteño… my oh my, what a lovely cocktail.

It helps that it’s courtesy of my friend Murray, the best bartender in the universe. But I would love it anyway…

drinks, Seattle
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Soup of the Fortnight: Gumbo

Posted by Anita on 02.27.06 4:25 PM

gumbo (c)2006 AECJumping the gun on Mardi Gras a little bit, we made gumbo this weekend.I followed Mayhaw Man’s step-by-step from his eG foodblog, scaling down to about 1/3 of a recipe (4 chicken thighs and 13-oz package of Aidell’s andouille). Had to wing it a bit on the veggie ratios — it’s more of a pictorial than an actual recipe — but it turned out fabulously.

Another gumbo recipe said that you really want the veggies (onion, garlic, celery, pepper) to be really well chopped before adding them, and apparently using a food processor is more than OK in this case. I took that advice, and ended up with a gumbo with plenty of good mouthfeel and body.

Even with the scaled-down recipe, we had enough for 2 generous bowls last night, plus 3 lunch-size servings. We’ll definitely be adding this to the regular soup repetoire.

cooking, food boards, Soup o' the Fortnight
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Who’s your Mamacita?

Posted by Anita on 02.16.06 10:23 AM

We had a lovely dinner at Mamacita for my birthday. The food was great, and the waitstaff was competent and helpful.

We started with an order of very good guacamole, then some chilaquiles. The latter was very spicy and a little odd — creamy chipotle sauce? — but reasonably tasty. I wouldn’t order them again, though. Good carnitas tacos, perfectly prepared Rancho Gordo frijoles de olla, and a surprisingly good bistek. We didn’t have room for dessert, not that they looked terribly interesting.

The server told us off the bat we’d probably only want 3 items for the 2 of us, so we weren’t surprised that we’d ordered too much food. Still, with 2 margaritas and 2 cervezas, the bill was really reasonable… somewhere in the $60-70 range. Considering the location and the level they’re playing at, we were very, very happy with the value.

I think the only downsides were the snotty hostess who kept talking to all the Marina chickies who came in after us before deigning to ask us what the hell we wanted, the clueless Marina clientele (I could almost hear them thinking “Ew, this isn’t like El Torito!”), the parking, and the lackluster margaritas.

We’ll definitely go back…

2317 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94123

Mexican, restaurants
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Soup of the Fortnight: Chinese

Posted by Anita on 02.13.06 4:18 PM

egg drop soup prep (c)2006 AECLast night, I made the world’s simplest Chinese soup: Egg Drop Soup.

Now that I know how easy it is, I’m sure I’ll make it a lot more often. Let’s see if I can resist the temptation to tinker with simplicity.

It took about 2 minutes… this was the sum total of my mise-en-place, not including 3 cups of stock.

The small dish is soy, a pinch of sugar, and a pinch of salt; the large one is simply a beaten egg.

cooking, Soup o' the Fortnight
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Memories: Culinary heritage

Posted by Anita on 02.06.06 1:50 PM

(originally published as part of eGullet’s Culinary Memories of your Grandparents thread)

Grams & Gramps and me (c)MREMy paternal grandparents died when I was very young, so I have no memories of them. To hear my father tell it, though, I probably wasn’t missing much, culinarily speaking. They did live on a chicken farm on the outskirts of Monrovia, CA (near Pasadena), though, and that I would have liked to have seen.

My mother’s parents are a source of many food memories. They lived in Glendale, CA (northern L.A. county, near Burbank), so we got to see them quite a lot. My most vibrant food memory of G&G was their pantry, which consisted of 2-x-4s that Gramps had hammered in between the wall studs of the basement stairs. The wall was perfectly deep enough to hold a single row of cans and jars… it was great fun to explore!

My grams, a first-generation Italian-american was a good home cook; I still use her chicken stuffing recipe, and a few others that fit into the day-to-day, down-home American genre. I don’t have any of her Italian recipes, but I do have a few letters that her mother wrote to her when she was first married, nearly all of which end with a recipe for something she thought the newlyweds would enjoy. They’re written in a lovely phonetic Italian-English hybrid that never fails to bring me a chuckle.

Gramps was always something of a gourmet at heart. He loved Julia Child — I have his copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking — and shopped at Trader Joe’s back when it was a single store with a funky selection of cheeses and wines. I also remember the aunts (including my mom) chuckling with amusement as he showed off the unglazed paving stones he’d used to line his oven for bread baking — this in the early 70s, when pizza stones weren’t yet something you could buy. After Grams passed away, my mom sent me to stay with Gramps for a week, probably over spring break. He made me tomato soup for lunch, from scratch… I’m ashamed to admit that I turned up my nose at the stuff, since it was nothing like the Campbell’s I was used to at home. (In my defense, I think I was about 6 or 7.)

Family holidays always started with hors d’oeuvres, known in our clan as “befores”… and Gramps usually brought them. The usual creamy dip with crudites (always including black olives for me), some cheeses, and ‘funny’ crackers.

Gramps was a bourbon drinker, and his kisses always tasted like Kentucky. It’s taken me a long time since his death to be able to bear the taste of bourbon — it’s just too closely tied to my memory of him.

cookbooks, family, food boards, Italian, SoCal
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World’s freshest sushi

Posted by Anita on 02.03.06 5:07 PM

Tsukiji tuna (c)2006 AECI haven’t had time to download all the photos from our trip, but a couple of people have asked me about our experience with the Tsukiji fish market tour.

Nakamura-san and Yoshino-san speak fluent English, and they’re incredibly well-versed in the ins and outs of the market. They both used to work in Tsukiji for different wholesalers, and Yoshino-san lived in San Francisco years ago. I am sure that we saw things (like the uni showroom) that we would never have found on our own. Their explanations helped us understand the things we saw, rather than just being amused by the visual experience. If our guides didn’t know the answers to a question, they would ask the vendors and show genuine interest in the answers themselves.

The tour costs 7,500 yen (approximately $63/£35) per person. The only tricky part of the operation was the reservation, and even that isn’t hard. They’ve got major spam-blockers running on their email account, so you need to post their message board with your preferred date, and they will email you back.

The first morning, we ate at Sushi-sei, a traditional sushi bar in the outer market. We ordered the middle of the three set menus, and enjoyed everything very much. Nobody spoke any english, but it wasn’t a major problem… it just meant that we couldn’t chat with the sushi chefs! The second morning, Cameron went to Sushi-zanmai, a more-modern, casual sushi-place a couple of streets over. He said both were very good, but Sushi-sei was measurably better. (I, on the other hand, went to Yoshinoya!)

breakfast, restaurants, shopping, travel
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