Quiche me, Madeleine

Posted by Anita on 08.31.06 3:50 PM

Cafe Madeleine quiche (c)2006 AECAs I’ve mentioned before, the lunch options near my office are pretty grim. But even though I’ve known about Cafe Madeleine since late last year, for some reason I never seem to remember it when hunger strikes.

I’m officially resolving to remember.

Today’s lunch was a gorgeous slice of ham-and-asparagus quiche. Serviceable asparagus meets chunks of good ham, all bound up in a creamy custard and surrounded by a better-than-decent crust. The side salad’s good too… mixed greens tossed in a nice mustardy vinaigrette. All this for $4.50.

Add another couple bucks and you get a Pellegrino soda, or a French lemonade. If you can manage to resist the gravitational pull of the dessert case — and really, I promise not to mock if you can’t… those pastries are almost pornographic in their glossy perfection — you’ll be scrumptiously lunched for about $7.

Cafe Madeleine
300 California Street (x Battery)
San Francisco, CA 94104

downtown SF, lunch


Red-letter day

Posted by Anita on 08.31.06 10:45 AM

BlogDay 2006 logoIn addition to being my dad’s birthday (Happy B-Day, Pops!), August 31 is also BlogDay 2006. What’s that, you ask? I’m so glad you did! Here’s a clip from the BlogDay site (which seems to be overwhelmed with traffic at the moment):

What will happen on BlogDay?
In one long moment In August 31st, bloggers from all over the world will post a recommendation of 5 new Blogs, Preferably, Blogs different from their own culture, point of view and attitude. On this day, blog surfers will find themselves leaping and discovering new, unknown Blogs, celebrating the discovery of new people and new bloggers.

BlogDay posting instructions:

  1. Find 5 new Blogs that you find interesting
  2. Notify the 5 bloggers that you are recommending on them on BlogDay 2006
  3. Write a short description of the Blogs and place a link to the recommended Blogs
  4. Post the BlogDay Post (on August 31st) and
  5. Add the BlogDay tag using this link: and a link to BlogDay web site at http://www.blogday.org

Given that the only blogs I read until recently were Hedonia and SFHomeBlog, I’m basically thinking that any blog is pretty much fair game as “new” in my book.

As most everyone else who’s participating has said, it’s hard to pick just five. But here, in no particular order, are the five new-to-me food blogs I’ve put at the top of the pile, the ones that I read on my Treo on the way in to work.

  1. Anyone who’s already reading food blogs knows about Becks & Posh. Sam’s a fellow Bay-Area gal (albeit a transplant from England) and those who know tell me that I am rightly very sad that I missed my chance to shake her hand at the Bay Area Food Bloggers’ Picnic last weekend (which we had to back out of attending at the last minute).
  2. After rekindling our romance with cocktails during the Seattle Experiment, we found ourselves a bit adrift when we moved back to San Francisco: Where were all the decent watering holes? We should have gone trawling for a site like Cocktails with Camper English a long time ago. Love it.
  3. One of our friends from the Seattle food crew, Matthew Amster-Burton is also a food writer of local reknown. He’s also dad to one of Seattle’s cutest toddlers, Iris. In Roots & Grubs, Mamster chronicles his often hilarious interactions with his budding foodie of a daughter.
  4. Speaking of Seattlites… during the course of a shared dinner at Union, Molly struck me as someone who I’d be reading about some day. Little surprise to catch up with her, a couple of years later, and find that her Orangette has become one of the stars of the food-blog world.
  5. I always knew Shuna Fish Lydon was a blogger: her review of Range for the KQED blog got caught up in a (ahem) spirited debate over on MouthfulsFood last fall. But I didn’t know she solo-blogged until I met her at a June Taylor marmalade class earlier this year. When I put out my call for blog recommendations earlier this month, multiple people suggested eggbeater …and I could no longer keep my head in the sand. Now I am hooked on this quirky little slice of Shuna’s brain.

ps: Thanks for the link, Sean. :D

bar culture, drinks, food boards, geekery, other blogs, Seattle


Baci per Bacco

Posted by Anita on 08.28.06 11:15 AM

BaccoIf you’re looking for a review of Perbacco restaurant in the Financial District, we’ve got one of those, too. (Psst, click HERE.) But below you’ll find a review of Bacco in Noe Valley.

Cameron’s sister and brother-in-law were visiting last week, taking a slightly circuituitous route from their old home in London to their new one in NYC. Since we’d had a bit of a delay rounding up a babysitter for our favorite niece, all of the city hotspots were long since booked for a Friday-night celebration at anything resembling a decent dinner hour.

And so, like we’ve done so many times before, we turned to Ristorante Bacco, another one of our perennial faves. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: We can never understand why we’re able to walk in without reservations on weeknights, and snag prime-time seats on OpenTable even at the last minute.

It may be a cliché, but Bacco really does feel like a neighborhood restaurant in Italy: great European-style service, well-prepared food with a seasonal vibe, and warm ambiance without a hint of pretension. All of the waiters are Italian, and their European approach is evident: they’re not just here while they write their screenplay or find their next tech job; they’re professional waiters who know a lot about food (and wine) in general, and Bacco’s menu in particular.

The decor is cozy and Tuscan-ish in a manner that verges on caricature: Large smooth terracotta tiles set on a diagonal covering the floor, color-washed walls, long/heavy curtains, and bas-relief sculptures of Bacchus and his nymphs.

The menu changes seasonally, but many items remain year-round. Unless you’ve spent your life eating at Olive Garden, Bacco’s not going to change the way you think about Italian food. But that’s not really the issue: We come here — as you should — expecting good food, simply prepared.

Appetizers cover a wide range: there’s usually a soup (often bland and forgettable), a special salad (usually one of the best choices; they sound more boring than they turn out), and some seasonal small plate.

In the pasta section, our old favorites include a rigatoni dish with lamb ragu and tiny peas. The usual assortments of meat-centric entrees are workmanlike (and more expensive) and generally not quite as interesting as the pastas. But if you see something that catches your eye, go for it: all of them use top-notch ingredients and are prepared just as they should be.

Desserts — panna cotta, affogato, tiramisu and the like — are satisfying, if neither particularly innovative nor seasonally inspired. The wine list offers a small assortment of California reds and whites, plus a larger selection of Italian varietals; all are reasonably priced.

Ristorante Bacco
737 Diamond Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

Italian, Noe Valley, restaurants
1 Comment »


DOTW: Poire Royale

Posted by Anita on 08.25.06 6:56 AM

poire royale (c)2006 AEC[This Drink of the Week is trés simple:

Le Poire Royale
- 1 oz. Belle de Brillet (pear cognac liqueur)
- sparkling wine
Place the liqueur in a champagne flute and top with champagne or other sparkling wine. Garnish with a raspberry.

C’est bon!

I haven’t tested it, but if you don’t feel like hunting down Belle de Brillet — which I recommend that you do eventually, as it’s a nice thing to sip all on its own — you could probably substitute 2/3 oz. pear eau-de-vie (like the Clear Creek Pear that I know many of you have on hand for Falling Leaves) and 1/3 oz. cognac or other good-quality brandy.

Drink of the Week, drinks, recipes, wine & bubbly
1 Comment »


TGI Thursday

Posted by Anita on 08.24.06 5:47 PM

dry fried chicken (c)2006 AEC In the pantheon of old standbys, San Tung ranks among the venerable elders. We’ve been eating there since one of Cameron’s roommates — ironically, a vegetarian — recommended it to us, back in the days when we were just a-courtin’. I can’t even begin to count the number of friends we’ve turned on to the pleasures of dry-fried chicken and other San Tung delights in the years since.

As with any long-standing friend, we’ve collected plenty of lore about ol’ San Tung, most of it based on stuff that’s no longer entirely accurate. Example: It’s still formally known as “San Tung Chinese Restaurant #2″, although there’s no longer is a #1 to be found. And ’round our house, we affectionately refer to ST as “closed on every wednesdays” in deference to the chinglish sign that used to grace the door. (It’s long been replaced by a just-slightly ungrammatical “wednesdays closed”).

You’ll see dry-fried chicken on almost every table at San Tung, for good reason: it rocks! (For those keeping score at home, we prefer the diced version to the wings, and alternate between the “wet” and “dry” variants.) If you’re a fan of the hot, you’ll love the little dish of kimchee that you get while perusing the menu.

We can also recommend spicy soup noodles, spicy peanut noodles, potstickers, pork dumplings, mu-shu whatever — if it’s got noodles or a dumpling wrapper, it’s going to be good — and the hot-and-sour soup is pretty respectable.

Service is brusque, as you’d expect from a restaurant in this particular genre — cheap Chinese, sans atmosphere — and you should be prepared to wait anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, or share a banquet-size table with other parties. But what it lacks in charm, San Tung most decidedly makes up for in deliciousness. We’re always happy when the craving strikes on a day that isn’t a “wednesdays”.

San Tung Chinese Restaurant #2
1031 Irving Street (at 11th)
San Francisco, CA 94122
- 11am to 9:30pm; closed [on every] Wednesdays



Me gusta mucho

Posted by Anita on 08.24.06 7:53 AM

Carne en su jugo (c)2006 AECLast Saturday at the market, Steve gave us a copy of a recipe for Carne en su Jugo — a traditional dish from Jalisco — that he said was indescribably delicious.

We finally got around to making it last night… and he’s right. It’s a gorgeous soupy, spicy dish that’s somehow hearty and light at the same time. If you’ve already got the beans cooked, it’s even quick enough to make on a weeknight after work.

Carne en su Jugo, Estilo Tapatío
Adapted from Savoring Mexico

1/2 pound good-quality bacon, cut into small sticks
1 pound beef sirloin tip, thinly sliced on the diagonal and then coarsely chopped
4 cups rich beef broth or stock
2 chiles chipotles en adobo
2 small bay leaves
2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 pound dried beans – soaked, cooked and drained (we used Red Nightfall)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
8 large spring onions, grilled
4 serrano (or 2 jalapeño) chiles, minced
2 limes, quartered

In a frying pan, slowly fry the chopped bacon over medium-low heat until crisp, then drain on paper towels. Raise the heat to med-high and cook the beef in the bacon drippings for about 2 minutes. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon, and place in a large, heavy pot.

Put chipotles in a blender with about 1 cup of the beef broth, and blend until smooth. Add the chile-beef liquid to the large pot, along with the remaining beef broth, the bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until the meat is tender, approximately 20 minutes.

Warm the beans over med-low heat. When meat is cooked, divide the beans among 4 bowls, then ladle the meat and the broth over the beans. Garnish with the bacon and cilantro, and lay 2 onions along the rim of each bowl. Pass the diced serranos and limes at the table, and enjoy with good-quality tortilla chips.

cooking, meat, Mexican, recipes
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Odd couple

Posted by Cameron on 08.23.06 6:11 PM

Chicken and wafflesA few years ago I walked by a restaurant that caught my eye. The name promised a fusion theme and while I don’t remember the two cusines being fused, I do remember that the combination was unlikely enough (Japanese-Greek? Mexican-Scandinavian?) to make me stop and check out the menu in the window.

For sheer entertainment value, it was a great way to blow five minutes. The proposed fare sounded like the restaurant owner had asked a sixth-grader to combine the signature ingredients from two violently different culinary traditions. Lutefisk Gazpacho, that sort of thing.

One might make the same argument about chicken and waffles. I certainly did the first time that I was introduced to them. Individually, they’re great, but together? They turned out to be delicious. It was one of the rare moments where two completely different things mesh together perfectly.

other stuff


Workin’ for the weekend

Posted by Anita on 08.21.06 4:55 PM

heirloom tomato salad (c)2006 AECBoy, did we have a blast this weekend… so much so that I’ve been too beat to blog.

Saturday found us in the usual place: Breakfast at Primavera — ack! no chilaquiles? I suppose migas are close enough — then a long wander around the Farmers’ Market. Highlights included taste-testing about a gazillion peaches (oooo… Frog Hollow didn’t make the cut), looking far and wide for the best heirloom tomatoes, having an excuse to splurge on burrata at Cowgirl, discovering the previously mentioned tri-tip of luv at Prather, and scooping up the weekly bag of gloriously bacony avocados from Brokaw … mmm, mm!

Back south again with a stop at In-N-Out Burger en route to Target and the Colma BevMo for their big Grand Reopening sale (had to use that $10-off-$40 coupon!). Then back home, for a bit of prep cut short by realizing that we’d forgotten a few things… Off to Noe Valley on a “bourbon and bouquets” run, stopping at French Tulip — where we ran into Sean, quelle surprise — for hydrangeas and such, then on to Urban Cellars for a shockingly overpriced bottle of Knob Creek.

Whew. No wonder I’m tired… that sounds exhausting. But at the time, it felt like a nice and leisurely preparation for the dinner party we hosted on Saturday evening, jokingly (but accurately) called “bounty of the market, plus cheese”.

As our guests arrived, we started with a round of Currier cocktails on the back deck, accompanied by gorgonzola-and-peach bruschetta from the Ferry Building cookbook. Moving to the table, we paired a surprisingly affordable Yalumba ‘Y Series’ viognier with a salad of heirloom tomatoes, rosemary salt, burrata, and toasted pain-de-mie breadcrumbs (photo, above).

For the main course… there goes that tri-tip again, offered with a side of our friend Wendy’s luxurious penne-and-cheese, the winner of a recent mac-n-cheese cookoff among our old Seattle crew, and a Galante Vineyards Carmel Valley cabernet. (We won’t talk about the haricots verts that we forgot to serve… oops.)

Dessert was easy but good: We stole a page from our friends Russ & Nick’s dessert tricks, sweetening mascarpone with honey… which we then drizzled over Ciao Bella grapefruit-Campari sorbetto, topped with a few perfect raspberries. Then coffee in the living room, served with a platter of kumquats and shortbread, and another of madeleines and macarons from Miette, and some Recchiuti fleur de sel caramels.

Hard to imagine we had the strength to get up the morning after such a glorious evening, but shopping waits for no woman! Another early stop at JoAnn’s en route to Toys ‘R’ Us — our niece is on her West Coast tour and must have Dora! — then home for a quick nap before the family arrived. Thank goodness we have an appreciative audience for our leftover mac and cheese.

breakfast, cooking, dessert, entertaining, farmers markets, food boards, Noe Valley, shopping, wine & bubbly


Beer in a bag

Posted by Cameron on 08.21.06 3:30 PM

Photo copyright Reuters / Nir EliasThis has to be the worst way possible to transport and drink beer (click on the pic to see the whole thing).

And yet, I’m strangely compelled.

1 Comment »


Eat meat manifesto

Posted by Cameron on 08.21.06 11:35 AM

Tri-tip (c)2006 AECDon Carne is the gangster name of my good friend and sometime bandmate; the “Don” is an honorific. He sports a sticker on his car that says “Animals are tasty.” Every now and then he catches a hand-wringing PETA zombie in the act of trying to peel the sticker off. Hilarity inevitably ensues.

The Don also likes to say, “You don’t make friends with salad,” which is why we all froze in shock when he told us that he was planning to marry a vegetarian. However, such is the power of his meat fu that his lovely bride is now a fan of hamburgers and cheerfully experiments with all but the gooshiest animal parts.

I feel like I’ve been channeling Don Carne recently. This weekend we had some friends over for a small dinner party and I grilled a slab of Prather tri-tip slathered with a paste made up of roughly equal amounts of garlic powder, pepper, and salt brought together with olive oil. Sear, and then roast on indirect heat until done. Wow, wow, wow. I can’t wait to do it again.

Right now, I’ve got some beef ribs sozzling in a dry rub in the fridge, and they’re destined for the grill tonight. Yabba dabba doo, baby!

cooking, entertaining, meat