Showing posts with label pickles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pickles. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Croquer: Bar Tartine


San Francisco's Mission neighborhood has a need for new restaurants and bars about as much as I need second dessert. Yet amongst the hullabaloo, a constant star has always been Tartine Bakery. Though I'd peeked into the windows of their younger sister restaurant Bar Tartine, I had not had the pleasure to dine there.
Lucky for me, that is where Catherine decided we would dine for her 30th birthday. And did we!


As three of the four of us went to college in the Willamette Valley, the Adelsheim Pinot Gris seemed fitting for the celebration. The crisp, clean pinot gris provided a wonderful companion to the vegetable-forward Eastern European-influenced menu.


To start, we grazed on duck pate, rye bread, gooseberry jam, elderberry and coriander mustards. And chewy Tartine Bakery bread, of course.


A jar of green cherry tomato pickles added a bright accompaniment to the board.


Our succession of veggie-heavy small plates started with the smoked eggplant, cranberry beans, and garlic sausage. Rich and smoky, yet somehow (albeit sharing) I did not get a bite of eggplant!


Probably my favorite of the lot, the romano beans, potatoes, basil, and corn sauce was a stunner. So simple, yet we all silently fought over the last beans, and even scraped the tangy corn sauce from the dish...


Halászlé is a Hungarian fisherman's soup, here comprised of mussels, sturgeon, tomato, green chili, purslane, and fennel. The paprika broth is a bold and delicious base for mussels. A runner up for my favorite, though selfishly I wished for a couple more mussels!


The butter boletes mushrooms, yoghurt, turnip sauce, carrot, and radish was an earthy side in the disguise of a stand-aone dish. Not terribly memorable on the shadow of the Halászlé.


The side of summer squash, squash blossoms, and curried squash sauce was brought out last. We consumed it vacantly (read: on the side of ubiquitous), possibly due to the coursing order. Might have fit more nicely at the beginning of the meal.


The dessert left a little to be desired as well. Layers of sour cream custard, lemon curd, poppyseed, and a cherry/oat/walnut crumble suggested disparate flavors and sensations, but lacked a certain pride that any one of the contents of the Tartine Bakery case exudes.


After dinner we walked around the corner to spend the rest of Catherine's birthday sipping drinks upstairs in The Hideout, the back room bar at Dalva (3121 16th St.) The cocktails here are serious, such was the "Whisky In Church": Smokehead Scotch, Oloroso Sherry, and a splash of maple and pear syrup. Holy! Bittersweet amaro cocktails quickly lulled us into pleasant propensity.
The night was good.


Bar Tartine
561 Valencia St. San Francisco, CA 94110; 415.487.1600
bartartine.com
Bar Tartine on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Croquer: Salt's Cure

I'm still pretty iffy when it comes to Twitter.
I mean, I tweet... it's just not my forté as far as communication goes. I guess I'm getting the hang of it. "Meeting" some folks and networking a bit. I've definitely never been asked out on Twitter - or have I?
Following Foodbuzz Fest the little bird did deliver one proposition... a tweet from the baking blog goddess Joy the Baker herself:
@windattack @chocomeat i think the three of us should get dinner. there... i said it.
Naturally the Wind Attack and I were down for food fun. But where would our trifecta of particular tastefulness agree on meeting?
Salt's Cure, of course.
It was a happenin' night at the restaurant, a spare, open-kitchen West Hollywood storefront seemingly operating on word of mouth (no signage then). The bar around the exhibition kitchen was lined with pickle jars and twenty-somethings, the high ceiling collecting the room's jabber and sending it back down in garbled echoes. Joy the Baker was fashionably late and looked smashing. Met by candlelight, the three of us smiled cordially (not unlike a good first date), reviewed the bottle list and got acquainted.
Our server helped us select the 2005 Benjamin Silver Syrah. Round, sexy, bold fruit makes this a lovely food wine, but also just a great WINE wine.
Salt's Cure is a glorified butcher shop, so of course charcuterie is the way to go. We started with the pickle plate and built up a board from there. The house-pickled selection included cabbage, cucumber, watermelon, tomato, and jalapeño.
The three cheeses braced by almonds, dates, and honey were the always winning Red Hawk (cow), Camellia (goat), and Stout Cow (raw cow).
We couldn't resist the sultry duck ham. Who knew prosciutto could get more luxe?!
An order of cured lamb shoulder followed the cheeseboard, resting on thinly sliced apples. Delicious.
We split two entrees, snagging the last Lemon Snapper per our server's strong suggestion. What a sublime dish! The fish was juicy and tender, bites melting like creamy lemon-zested butter pats. Atop a mound of wilted kale, fried lemon peel and crisp potato sheers, the dish was a triumph of simplicity. It was unaminous - we were in love.
How long could we ignore the other, more fragrant plate on the table? One taste of the Chili Braised Pork-N-Grits and I was smiling. Akin to a REALLY GOOD tamale, the marriage of steamy corn meal product and luscious fork-hugging pork was -as always- simply trouble. We tried to be polite, but crossed utensils more than once over this dish.
Dessert. First out was a Dulce de Leche Semifreddo, or, an experiment in monochromy. Maybe it was the wine, or the lingering pleasure of the entrees, but I don't recall this one blowing me away (yet I do remember the fresh boiled peanuts on top, which were salty good times).
The other dessert, a Sticky Walnut Heirloom Pumpkin Cake was more favorable, if not suffering from an identity crisis. Pumpkin pie? Sticky toffee woohoo? Cake?? Whatever the genetic makeup, it was a toothsome end to an impressive display from Salt's Cure - A very welcome LA addition, especially in a neighborhood known for... Well, I think there's an Astro Burger close-by?
7494 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90046; 323.850.SALT
saltscure.com
Salt's Cure in Los Angeles on Fooddigger
Salt's Cure on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 27, 2010

Croquer: Mission Chinese Food

San Francisco is a kick ass food town, this we know. So when in Rome, how does one pick a dinner destination when there is only one slot to fill? How can you ever decide? Well, apparently just ask Lessley Anderson. She seems to always be right, and suggested without hesitation Mission Chinese Food. Once the popular Mission Street Food, the owners took their popular dishes indoors. A funny "in-the-know" type of joint, Mission Chinese Food is a pop-up inside of another restaurant - the divey Lung Shan Chinese Restaurant. Both menus are served, but the waiters seem to know which menu to drop by the table.
Perhaps due to their name and surroundings, the Mission Chinese chefs are careful to disclaim their craft, plainly labeling their offerings "Americanized Oriental Food." They are quick to bolster the term, stating: "Though we'll focus on Chinese food, we're leaving ourselves the freedom to incorporate other Asian flavor profiles. Our use of the term "oriental" is not meant to be offensive. The word is derived from a root meaning "eastern," which represents a Eurocentric orientation to Asia, and it was most often used in a bygone era when Europeans viewed the regions east of the Mediterranean as exotic lands full of "romance and intrigue." For us, as Asian-American cooks, using this loaded term is an indictment of the Eurocentricity of fine dining, but it's also meant to desensitize the term in that transcending-racism-by-not-interpreting-every-single-thing-as-racist way. You know, like the "queers" did." (cite)
This open approach to the cooking has brought an intoxicating array of atypical dishes to the menu. Selecting was near impossible. We decided to start with the tart and spicy Szechuan Pickles - Salted pickled cabbage, cucumber, roasted peanut, fresh coriander, and chili oil.
The slow-cooked Char Siu Pork Belly with tea smoked egg, ginger scallion, rolled noodles, and cucumber was melt-in-your mouth rich. Indulgence that can't not bring a smile to your face.
The Thrice Cooked Bacon was smoky and spicy - Thick cuts of meaty bacon tossed with rice cakes, bitter melon, tofu skin, scallion, black bean, and chili oil. A contender for favorite, the texture was as interesting as the flavor profile. Where have stir fried rice cakes been all my life???
The Westlake Lamb Dumplings -my other favorite- were handmade several feet away from our table. The lamb was terrifically spiced, steamed in freshly made rice dough, served with braised peanut, coriander, dill, and brown rice vinegar. Shockingly toothsome.
Lastly we sampled Lung Shan's Vegan Delight with shitake and oyster mushroom dumplings in miso soup. The light dish worked well as a palate cleanser after such a rich and incredible meal.
We sat in blissful awe, finished our beers while laughing, the soft chopping and forming of dough on the wood counter behind us. The hushed sound of happiness being wrought into consumable form.
*Mission Chinese Food donates seventy-five cents from each menu item to the SF Food Bank.

2234 Mission St.(Lung Shan Restaurant) San Francisco, CA 94110; 415.863.2800
missionchinesefood.com
Mission Chinese Food on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Recettes Secrètes: Bacon Brittle and Pickled Okra

For the holidays this year I chained myself to the kitchen. I tried as much as possible to use homemade goods in place of store bought gifts. My main two projects were (of course inspired by the South) Pecan Bacon Brittle and Pickled Okra. Both went over quite well, so wanted to share the recipes, ma' dear readers.

Pecan Bacon Brittle
original recipe from Everything Tastes Better With Bacon
makes about 1 pound

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) chopped pecans
1/3 to 1/2 cup cooked bacon bits (6 to 8 ounces uncooked bacon)
Grease or butter
a large nonstick baking sheet

In a medium heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a boil. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan, increase the heat to high, and cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 290 degrees. Immediately remove from the heat.

Stir in the butter, vanilla, baking soda, pecans and bacon bits. The mixture will foam. When the foam subsides, quickly pour the hot mixture onto the prepared baking sheet as thinly as possible. Do not spread with a spatula.

Cool at least 10 minutes before breaking into pieces. Store in a covered container.


Pickled Okra
original recipe from Alton Brown

2 pounds young, small to medium okra pods
4 small dried chiles, split in 1/2
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
12 sprigs fresh dill
4 cloves garlic, whole
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 cups rice wine vinegar
2 cups bottled water
Special Equipment: 4 pint-sized canning jars, sterilized*

Wash the okra and trim the stem to 1/2-inch. Place 1 chile, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, 3 sprigs of dill, 1 clove of garlic and 1/4 teaspoon peppercorns in the bottom of each of 4 sterilized pint canning jars. Divide the okra evenly among the 4 jars, standing them up vertically, alternating stems up and down.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the salt, vinegar and water to a boil. Once boiling, pour this mixture over the okra in the jars, leaving space between the top of the liquid and the lid. Seal the lids. Set in a cool dry place for 2 weeks.*Tips on Sterilizing Jars
Properly-handled sterilized equipment will keep canned foods in good condition for years. Sterilizing jars is the first step of preserving foods.

Sterilizing Tips:

Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with a glass, plastic, or metal lid, which has a rubber seal. Two piece lids are best for canning, as they vacuum seal when processed.

To sterilize jars, before filling with jams, pickles, or preserves, wash jars and lids with hot, soapy water. Rinse well and arrange jars and lids open sides up, without touching, on a tray. Boil the jars and lids in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 15 minutes.

Use tongs when handling the hot sterilized jars, to move them from boiling water. Be sure the tongs are sterilized too, by dipping the ends in boiling water for a few minutes.

As a rule, hot preserves go into hot jars and cold preserves go into cold jars. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies, and preserves must be clean. This includes any towels used, and especially your hands.

After the jars are sterilized, you can preserve the food. It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

En Vitesse: Banh Mi and the City


This is like the perfect example of why I love the NYTimes. This incredible diagram supplemented an article on the Banh Mi revolution happening in New York, and even this recipe for making your own daikon and radish pickle. Love!...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Croquer: Let's Be Frank

Is it the recession? The food cart is the IT way to 'dine' these days in LA, especially with cheap gourmet the likes of Kogi steadily on the rise. Not that I'm complaining.
My current haunt is Taqueria El Pastor (5179 Santa Monica Blvd, just West of Normandie, LA 90029; 323-644-9806) where the late-night Carnitas and al Pastor are scrumptious, but the extra spicy house-made hot sauces take the cake.
On the other side of the lake, brought to you every Thursday night courtesy of Silverlake Wine's hookup, another special brand of affordable delight is double-parked. Behold Let's Be Frank gourmet dogs. From San Fran comes this purist for the Pink's set, hand-making delicious brats and dogs with the highest quality ingredients available. AND at the cart they're only $5 a pop. I swung by last Thursday and stood in line between zin-lipped couples during Silverlake Wine's Thursday Night Flights for a taste of the dog.I opted for the bratwurst - always do (which felt like cheating so close to the Red Lion Tavern). The extra long brat came topped with freshly grilled onions and homemade bread and butter pickles (YUM), to which I added saurkraut and deli mustard. I must say that I was NOT disappointed. The best part that I really didn't expect was the bun - obviously homemade as well, chewy and soft, steamed to perfection. More substantial and less spongey than your average bun. The brat was perfectly spiced, beery and smokey; a touch of sweet anise to leave the last bite as satisfying as the first.
Though there was no way I could try the hot dog on the same night, on my drive home I realized I would be passing Scoops at Melrose and Heliotrope.. A phenom so revered in these parts that I am literally embarrassed and don't often share that I have NEVER HAD IT. Not for the sake of not trying, however.. In fact, I have tried to go to Scoops on MANY occasions, often after a filling jackfruit faux-pulled-pork sandwich across the street at Pure Luck. I have even begged for the famous Brown Bread ice cream through the gate being pulled in front of me at 10pm on the dot. But there was no sympathy in the icy scoop-slinger's eyes on the other side. I would have to come back, again. So on Thursday night when I turned onto Heliotrope at 9:45pm and saw some people still sitting on the patio and the gate only partially pulled out to signify closing time, I held my breath, parked and RAN. I made it inside, breathing hard, and the silent room turned to look at me blankly, licking their tiny plastic spoons. The lanky casual guy behind the counter seemed unphased as I began checking out the daily selection in the cooler case. Deciding would be too difficult, especially since the Brown Bread container was emptied, so I asked what was good today and set my destiny in Cool Hand Luke's chilly palms. He pointed to the near-empty Oreo Marscapone pan, said though he doesn't eat ice cream ("if [I] can believe that"), this was easily the fluffiest, cheesiest, lightly sweet treat available. I took him up on it, and boy.. was it tasty! Basically cookies n' cream.. but with smooth Marscapone-cheesiness. Delish.
Yes, it was a two for two Thursday! I can't wait to go back to both!