28 January, 2011

Panties/Briefs/Boxers To Promote Home Canning

Well okay, so I guess these panties (to the left) are technically called "boy briefs" but I thought the name of the former type would be more eye-catching. What better way to flirt with your significant other than by telling them in print that you admire their "can" or "pickle?"  I would recommend though that this gift be for someone you have been with for awhile because otherwise you may get a smack in the mouth instead of a smooch! These cheeky little ditties are sold through the Shop section on the  site of the ever-creative Punk Domestics, a super-fab, Online  recipe collector dedicated to all things jarred/canned/pickled/preserved...including your tush! They also offer a handy, kitchen apron but I thought the intimate-apparel offerings were more, well ... intimate and unpredictable. 

The folks at Punk Domestics don't just make Foodie fashions, however. Like The Eatable Life, Punk Domestics realizes that in addition to the never-ending need for good recipes out in the world for people keen to expand their food/cooking knowledge, there also is an overwhelming plethora of blogs, food sites, and general information about food (and specifically canning in their case) out there that makes that task daunting. Someone has to sift through all the mess in order to make sense of it and be able to preach the "Born-Again" Food gospel loud and clear, so that is where websites like theirs come in. "Punk Domestics aims to evangelize and enable this burgeoning trend by way of curation and promotion,"  which by default creates in one social forum, a world-wide community of people who love making home-canned goods with their own hands.

The heart of the site though is the food itself. A couple of the posted "attempt-at-home" goodies that peaked my interest recently were a recipe for Lemon Curd (something I have been having a hankerin' for lately), from a blog called Vanilla Garlic; Meyer Limoncello from The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking (who also published a neat book by the same name); and Sri Lankan Mustard from Tigress in a Pickle (another gal who likes preserving and who's photographs alone are worth checking out on this blog). Also go to Hedonia, the other voice of PD's big papa, Sean Timberlake. Punk Domestics offers a newsletter as well. Happy canning/pickling!

*All underwear photos/logos courtesy of punkdomestics.com*

27 January, 2011

Tofu Done Right

 Courtesy of chow.com

As Vietnamese-born, Minh Tsai from Hodo Soy Beanery in San Francisco explains in this swell video, fresh tofu versus that pre-packaged kind in a foil-lined box that, like some soymilks, can sit at room temperature on a shelf for almost as long of a time as a Twinkie. Is that smidgen of convenience really worth the disappointment your belly and taste buds will experience after you've denied them the good kind of tofu? 

Courtesy of hodosoy.com

Considering that most Westerners eat only the pre-packaged variety, it is no wonder that this by-product of the soy bean has garnered so many cliches: that a dish sponge has more flavor; that only super-crunchy Hippies like it or vegetarians forced to eat it because they don't have many other protein options; or that it only tastes good if enough flavorings (and often chemicals) have been added to make it taste like chicken (for example). To put it another way, which would you prefer: an artificial banana-flavored, wrapped in plastic for who knows how much time, sapy sweet muffin from Walgreens's food aisle (yes, many pharmacies in the US/Canada sell what many people would call "food" in the aisle next to the suppositories), OR a baked-from-scratch, still warm, fragrant, banana-walnut muffin from your grandma's oven? Not really a content, eh? Well, tofu quality works in the same way. Way to go Hodo Soy for giving us this handy video to set us straight!

For a healthy, but flavorful recipe for eating good tofu, try this one below for roasted tofu that does not completely mask it's "tofu" flavor:

 Courtesy of chow.com

24 January, 2011

PERSPECTIVE Film In The Finals!

Back in November I wrote a post about a neat, little film called "Perspective" (with apples on it's poster that is also a character in the plot, so I can justify that it involves food) that my lovely friend Julianne Becker wrote. It was filmed on a budget of zero dollars in Bratislava, Slovakia, the capital of that fair country and close to where my grandmother's family is from, so I have an additional connection to it. Well, this flick (watch it below) is now a contender in the Final round in Yobi TV's short film contest! You do not have to have the internal links to the film that I do to go vote for it though, so head on over to this link and help get these creative kids the recognition they deserve!

San Francisco Bites

As part of the San Francisco Eats exhibit and lecture series at the SF Main Library, I recently sat in on a talk with food/wine-bloggers from The Bay Area. The panel was diverse and inspiring: vinography.com, for example, has been around for SEVEN years! It was great to see others as equally dedicated to ranting about the good things in life as much as I do! Below are each of the four bloggers, a few blurps about their site, and where you can find their blog.

Sabrina Modelle of www.thetomatotart.com
I love to cook, eat, and talk about food. Farmers markets, fancy grocery stores, and ethnic markets—even some that people consider super sketchy are my happy places, but I almost never set foot in a regular grocery store. I’m quirky, full of energy, sensuous, and seeking to balance all of the things I love in my life. Let’s cook, yeah?

Iso Rabins (center) of www.forageSF.com
ForageSF was conceived of by Iso Rabins in early 2008, with the mission to connect Bay Area dwellers with the wild food that is all around them. Through a monthly box of all wild foraged foods, which we call a CSF, we deliver fresh, sustainably harvest wild food to city dwellers. From wild mushrooms to acorn flour, there is a wealth of edible forage just outside our doors that few people know about, and still fewer ever consume. Our goal is to push people out of the supermarket, to get them trying new foods harvested sustainably and fairly by their neighbors. As part of our community focused philosophy, 50% of the profit from the sale of any product we purchase from a forager goes straight to that individual . That is, to the person who collected it.

Corine Dobbs of www.GreenGrapesBlog.com
A registered Dietition (RD), "I say goodbye to fad diets, bogus ''fat-burning'' pills, and processed, non-food food. And, I smile hello to a healthifying lifestyle full of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, sweaty workouts, the occasional "chocolate fix," sleep, family and friend time, and quality "me time" with a focus on health.

Alder Yarrow of www.vinography.com
Vinography began on January 15th, 2004 as a personal project for founder and editor Alder Yarrow. The site is now a respected source for non-mainstream wine writing, and one of the most influential wine blogs on the Internet. Featuring wine and sake reviews, restaurant reviews, editorials, book reviews, wine news, and wine event coverage, Vinography publishes new content daily to a global readership. The site's contributors work hard to create an alternative to the traditional sources and styles of wine journalism, partially through its emphasis on the stories, the people, and the passion behind wine, all told from a decidedly down-to-earth perspective.

*All photos and blurps courtesy of each featured blogs*

21 January, 2011

"Beer: A Genuine Collection Of Cans" And Its Cincinnati Love

Courtesy of coolhunting.com

           "Who dey! Who dey! Who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals?"

Ok, so I am not a fan of American football though I do hail from Cincinnati, Ohio, home of the Bengals, and when I was in grade school in 1989, our city's team made it into the Superbowl XXIII playoffs but ironically would end up losing to the team from my current hometown: the San Francisco 49ers. I cared about football back then about as much as I do now but for a period of time in those days Superbowl Fever had consumed Cincinnatians and I too was affected. To be fair, what actually made an impression on me was that the Superbowl meant a smidgen of fashion freedom at school. As a product of the Catholic school system, I normally had to endure a strict uniform. In support of the big game, however, we were allowed to wear clothes in black, orange, and/or with team logos blazoned on them instead. The opportunity to be creative with my attire was inspiration enough for me to join along in all the Bengals-pride hoopla, wear Halloween colors and a picture of a tiger on my chest, and sing along with anthem cry above; for that week at least.

Courtesy of coolhunting.com

So what does all this biographical information have to do with food? Not much except that a new book called "Beer: A Genuine Collection Of Cans" written by Dan Becker and Lance Wilson, two San Francisco-based designers, documents all manner of beer cans from the last seventy years in thirty-two countries, including a commemorative can (top, left photo) made to celebrate that particular Bengals Superbowl game in the late 80s (before they lost of course). Cool Hunting also wrote a nice feature on it. 

Cincinnati, with its German roots, has a history of quality beer production and another photo (above, left) on this book's cover of "Cincinnati Burger Brau" shows that connection. It is not a clear depiction so go to this website here to see a better picture of a lovely, old, Santa Claus-looking man in a green hat with a red plume, holding a fancy tobacco pipe in one hand, and a frosty beer stein in the other. Thanks Misters Becker and Wilson for stirring a little hometown pride in this Cincinnati expat, if for nothing else but to see the glory of my city's beer-can design past!

19 January, 2011

And The Food Awards Go To...

The sampling begins!

...Seventy-one different products from sixty-seven different food/beverage producers (out of 780 national contestants) at the First Annual Good Food Awards at San Francisco's Ferry Building! I talked about this event in the January 14 post and gave my preferences and predictions for the winners. For a comprehensive list of all of the officially chosen products check out the Good Food Awards page. Well, my friend Alejandra and I went to the marketplace to see all the prized goodies and came away with a few purchased specialties after sampling from each of the winning selections (except for the Beer category which was not on display for the general public as the products were served out-of-doors on tables and in order to placate Puritanical laws against drinking alcohol in public, they could not showcase their award-winning items). We also gathered some much-appreciated knowledge of the intricacies and distinctiveness of these foods/drinks (like the true difference in taste between coffee beans grown in tropical climates at high altitudes versus more low-lying, savannah locations, for example); a greater appreciation for the ingenuity, dedication, and good taste of those who put so much love into producing good food; and best of all, a satisfied belly.

Since the Intro photo at the top highlights the CHEESE category, I might as well start there! I am glad we began with these samples because they substituted for our breakfast and the heavy salt and fat contents of these dairy products hit the spot! First off is  "Cabot Clothbound" cow milk cheddar cheese made by Cabot Creamery and aged in the cellars of Jasper Hill (Greensburo, Vermont). I am very picky about cheddar so I was pleased to find this one so tangy and savory without being given the worn-out label of "sharp." Secondly there is this amazing, natural rind, raw cow and sheep blend cheese (photo below) called "Hannah Bridge" from Ancient Heritage Dairy (Scio, Oregon). I could not get enough of its smooth saltiness! It was also good to see my pick of Bay Area locals Cowgirl Creamery (Petaluma, CA) win for their "Red Hawk," triple-cream cheese, as well as Uplands Cheese's (Dodgeville, Wisconsin) double win for their "Pleasant Ridge Reserve" and "Extra Aged Pleasant Ridge Reserve" cheeses. Go to the video here to see how Uplands makes their magic!

As mentioned before, the winning selections in the BEER category were not permitted to give out samples at the Marketplace, but I am happy to report that my predictions came true and both The "Dry Wit" from The Pike Brewing Company (Seattle, WA) and the "Organic Gingerbread Ale" from Bison Brewing (Berkeley, CA) were among the winners!

An at-first surprising win to me in the PICKLES category was the Brine from McClure's Pickles (Detroit, Michigan). I mean, I know that brine of some kind is a necessary ingredient in creating fermented vegetables, but I never realized what an ingenious idea it was to bottle the left-over water/vinegar/cucumber juice/salt/garlic/dill/peppers mixture and sell it as a Bloody Mary or Dirty Martini base! It is also a great tonic on its own that will really clean out your liver and colon the next day after indulging in said cocktail drinks! It was also good to see that my other prediction of the "Savory Brussels Sprout Relish" by Ann's Raspberry Farm (Fredericktown, OH) from my home state was selected by the judges! When I first read about this jarred concoction I assumed it was savory, but I should have known better because Ohio loves their hot dogs, and sweet pickle relish is a favorite condiment topping there. I think after sampling it that I personally would have preferred it on the saltier side, but it was yummy nonetheless. Another company of note was Artinsanal Soy (Washington, DC) and their Edamame Kimchee, which is also available for sale at Cowgirl Creamery in the Ferry Building.

Now on to CHARCUTERIE a.k.a. CURED & PREPARED MEAT. My first choice was the Green Label Organic "Prosciutto Americano" by La Quercia (pronounced La Kwair-cha with a slight roll of the r if you can do it and means "the Oak" in Italian) in Norwalk, Iowa. Yes, they successfully make an Italian food right here on American soil! They market pork products (prosciutto, spallacia, coppa, lonza, pancetta, guanciale, lardo, etc.) raised only in the most idealistic of conditions and from farmers they are actually friends with. La Quercia treats its meats as if it were delicate varietals of grapes, and consider the final creation to be equivalent to a fine wine.  A neat little video was even filmed about the process they have perfected and the finesse of their company that has proven that pigs in the US can also give us fantastic, Italian-style, cured ham products.

Another contender in this category was Olympic Provisions (Portland, Oregon) for not just one, but THREE wins (shown in the photo to the right, from the top left to the bottom right: "Saucisson D' Alsace," pork liver mousse, and "Loukanika")! These folks are both a charcuterie-making deli and a restaurant, as well as Oregon’s first USDA certified meat-curing facility. A third contender that I had cheered for in my predictions, The Girl and the Fig restaurant (Sonoma, California), also won for their coppa (check out this swanky site for more info on coppa and all things meat)! I also really liked the Sweet Potato Liverwurst from the Weeping Radish Farm Brewery (Grady, North Carolina) whose homemade beers look tempting as well, and the Duck Mousse With Cognac from Alexian (Neptune, New Jersey)!

Then there is the COFFEE category, a particular favorite of mine. The first winning selection is "Los Lobos Costa Rica" by Madcap Coffee (Grand Rapids, Michigan). These guys helped my friend and I reach simultaneous epiphanies in terms of being able to finally distinguish the subtle "wet" nuances of coffee beans grown in the highland rainforests of Central America. This became even more evident as we compared this lovingly prepared, hot beverage to others of its kind grown in different regions of the world. For example, from Noble Coffee Roasting (Ashland, Oregon) we tried their "Kenyan Kiaora," which comes from lowland beans, shade-grown in a drier climate. They explained to us that the smoother flavor with a bit of a bite of the Kenyan coffee was due to the elevation of the coffee trees and the particular soil native to that area. For once I could actually taste the difference between the two choices.

Not only did Noble Coffee educate two female Foodies on the joys of a refined coffee palate, but according to their website their winning selection is also "the first organic Kenyan offered in the U.S. This coffee is grown under the shade of macadamia trees on an estate with some of the longest established and best tended coffee trees in Kenya." The organic status of this coffee apparently caused some controversy among the judges due to the fact that until this specific roast became available, Kenyan coffee growers has been resistant to go organic. Now I will not go into the economic and political reasons for this (that is for another time), but I am happy to see that there is an artisanal coffee producer in Oregon that has finally made organic production financially feasible for at least one group of growers to get a fair price for their beans. It was also nice that two of my coffee category predictions came true. Blue Bottle Coffee's (Oakland, California) "Kemgin" and Counter Culture Coffee's (Durham, North Carolina) "Finca Kilimanjaro" both got awards!

The next category is  PRESERVES. One of my predictions, Sweet Deliverance NYC (New York, NY), won for their "Ground Cherry Jam," made from a unique little fruit that is technically not a cherry at all! Also known as "Husk Cherries" or "Cape Gooseberries" to name a few, these fruits grow on a vine in a tiny husk, vary in color from green to orange, and can only be gathered by hand. The Ground Cherries that Sweet Deliverance NYC uses are grown by an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania with whom they work on a one-on-one basis. Another winner is Deluxe Foods with their Gingered Rhubarb Jam. In the photo to the right, the winning selection is held by the lady jam-maker herself, Rebecca Staffel, whose product ethic is to make preserves that according to Deluxe's website are, "handmade from sustainably grown (mostly organic) Washington fruits and vegetables, along with lemon juice and organic evaporated cane juice sugar. Rather than use commercial pectin, we prefer to let natural flavors and textures of the fruit shine through each product." Also of note was the small batch, locally sourced Texas Fig Preserves from Confituras (Austin, TX).

For the final category, CHOCOLATE, we have some great contenders! I really enjoyed the "Salted Caramel" chocolate bar from Xocolatl de David (Portland, Oregon). I know that salt mixed into or sprinkled on  top of sugary treats like caramel, chocolate, and/or ice cream is fashionable these days, but I have been skeptical. Actually, I normally like to combine seemingly contrasting tastes, but sharing large granules of salt with a delicacy that I eat to satisfy my sweet tooth, has not been appealing to me - until this chocolate bar! 
Two other selections that impressed me (and the judges) were the "In-NIB-itable Bar" from Patric Chocolates (Columbia, Missouri) and the "Sambirano" single-origin chocolate bars from Rogue Chocolatier (Minneapolis, Minnesota). Both of these producers stress minimal, basic ingredients whose rich flavor does all the PR work, but each one puts a unique twist on bars that both utilize Madagascan cocoa. The nibs in the In-NIB-itable Bar really stand out but their bitterness does not overwhelm the simple  mix of cocoa beans, cane sugar, and cocoa butter. The Sambirano line of chocolates completely threw my taste buds for a loop by tricking them into swearing that there was some sort of citrus fruit in the ingredient list. To my great shock, the only acidic flavor present in these bars come from the natural remnants of the fruit inside the cocoa pod itself. In fact, the only  addition in its contents compared to the In-NIB-itable Bar is Tahitian vanilla. Clearly quality, as is evident in the other Good Food Award winners,  is what makes the difference here. When I lived in Brazil, we sometimes found red-orange-yellow-colored cocoa pods growing wild in the forests and would crack them open to find dark-brown, nut-looking seeds encased  in a sweet, whitish-yellow goo that tasted terrific but ironically more resembled the stuff that comes out of one's nose during a nasty head cold than the light citrusy, apple-pear flavor that it mimicked. The fresh juice bars that are everywhere in Brazil also often stocked the sweet flesh of the cocoa pods and would blend it together with water or milk. 

So where does all of this experimenting and judging leave me? Do I feel like I learned something new? Did I have fun? Did I feel the camaraderie of being in the company of a good Foodie friend as much as I did with unfamiliar, yet like-minded, people? Will I try some of these products again? Will I suggest them to others? Do I really care about the recognition of the award over the passion, enthusiasm, and sweat that all of the contestants put in each and every day to make the food/drink product they have dedicated their lives to preserving? Except for the last question, all of my answers are a resounding YES. To me, the root of why anyone would make artisanal foods and beverages has nothing to do with becoming famous or getting rich; it is about the deep sense of fulfillment that comes from creating someone good with your own hands and with quality ingredients. However, it's nice to know that those same folks are getting attention for their work and if for nothing else, for putting a big-toothed grin on this gal's cheese/beer/pickle/meat/coffee/jam/chocolate-smeared face!

16 January, 2011

Real Food In School Lunches: How Revolutionary!

 Courtesy of chow.com

Ann Cooper: one clear-headed chef making a difference in the quagmire of bureaucratic, corporate brown-nosing, better known as the U.S.D.A's public school lunch program.

15 January, 2011

Tequila, Tequila, Quality Sipping Tequila!

The distilled liquid from the blue agave plant native to Mexico is one of my favorite alcoholic beverages, especially if it is actual tequila and not some shoddy imitation marketed towards the frat-boy crowd and containing added food coloring to make it appear of a higher quality (hint, hint - Jose Cuervo). No, Casa Dragones is not one of those types! Their glass bottles alone are worth the arm and the leg you will pay for this alcohol, which is why I will be sipping it by the glass in a bar instead of purchasing a whole bottle: installment payments. Salud!

14 January, 2011

Good Food Awards - Good Food Month

Courtesy of goodfoodawards.org
Starting today (Friday, January 14, 2011) the San Francisco Ferry Building will be hosting an awards ceremony, exhibition marketplace, and month-long events program that honor "outstanding American food producers and the farmers who provide their ingredients," from all corners of the country. The awards will be handed out today, and tomorrow free samples of all the finalists' specialties will be up for grabs at the Marketplace from 8am-2pm. 

Courtesy of ferrybuildingmarketplace.com
Besides personal pride for a job well-done and some nice promotional perks for their efforts, those products that receive an award also have bestowed on them The Good Food Awards seal, which "assures consumers they have found something exceptionally delicious that also supports sustainability and social good." The criteria include food that is, "made with real ingredients, local wherever possible, respect amongst the people whose work goes into creating it, and good animal husbandry. Good Food is made without the use of any artificial ingredients, hormones, synthetic pesticides and herbicides or genetically modified ingredients." There are contenders in seven categories (beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, pickles and preserves) who are judged by rockstars from all realms of the foodie scene. 

My votes for each one include: 
[Beer] The "Dry Wit" from The Pike Brewing Company (Seattle, WA) because they were one of my preferred spots when I lived in Seattle, or the "Organic Gingerbread Ale" from Bison Brewing (Berkeley, CA) that I sampled last night in fact.

[Charcuterie] The coppa (because it's coppa) from The Girl and the Fig restaurant (Sonoma, CA), or the natural buffalo strips (because I like anything buffalo) from Gary West Meats (Jacksonville, OR).

[Cheese] The Bay Area staple "Red Hawk" by Cowgirl Creamery (Petaluma, CA) since just about anything from that fine establishment will do. 

[Chocolate] Hometown locals' "Dragon's Breath" from Jade Chocolates, which has roasted sesame seeds, smoky lapang souchong tea, and ground red chili, or the  "Aztec Chile Tiles" (because obviously I like my chocolate dark and spicy, especially when combined with pumpkin seeds and cinnamon) from Poco Dolce.

[Coffee] "Kenya Kiandu" from our own Ritual Roasters, the "Kemgin" from Oakland's Blue Bottle Coffee, or the "Finca Kilimanjaro" from the ever-fabulous Counter Culture Coffee (Durham, NC). *Sadly, I saw no entries that used beans from my beloved Brazil.*

[Pickles] Utilizing two of my favorite vegetables, the "Savory Brussels Sprout Relish" by Ann's Raspberry Farm from my home state (Fredericktown, OH), or the nicely named "Phat Beets" from Rick's Picks (New York, NY).

[Preserves] The "Bourbon’d Figs" and "Muscadine Preserves" from Farmer's Daughter Brand (Carrboro, NC) look tasty, or the "Ground Cherry Jam" (because cherries are good and this business looks neat) from Sweet Deliverance (New York, NY).

Courtesy of goodfoodawards.org
Festivities will continue throughout the month all around the Bay Area and are broken down into groups: (Jan. 17-23) Coffee and Chocolate; (Jan. 24-30) Cheese and Preserves; (Jan, 31-Feb. 6) Pickles and Charcuterie; (Feb. 7-13) Immigrant Food Week; and (Feb. 11-20) SF Beer Week. Definitely check out that last link...BEER WEEK!

Courtesy of blogs.sfweekly.com/foodie/2011/01/good_food_awards_marketplace.php

11 January, 2011

A Little Birdie Told Me Of A Rockin' Coffeehouse In the TL ...

Nancy Felz (left) and co-owner Chelsea Torres

Red and yellow beet, open-faced sandwich with blue cheese and chips.
...And that birdie was right! Little Bird Coffeehouse in San Francisco's Tenderloin District is a welcome diamond in the rough for those who would like to have a light and fluffy, whole wheat waffle with fruit and nuts for brunch with a loved one; like to pass some casual time with friends eating a yellow and red beet, open-faced sandwich with a secret-recipe blue cheese  spread and house-pickled, red onions; or dunk a donut from either the famous Bob's, or a vegan version from  Peeble's, into an individual, drip-brewed cup of coffee from Ritual or De La Paz roasters while doing homework on their laptop. 

This cafe is among several other gems on an otherwise energetic, yet slightly seedy and nondescript street lined with buildings (a Goodwill store doors down from the decadently ornate Alhambra Apartments that copy the palace of the same name built by the Moors in Spain, for example) that seem to have a neighborhood identity crisis. Luckily for me, the food at Little Bird had a much clearer idea of how it wanted to present itself to the world: cleanly plated dishes made from colorful and healthy, yet un-pretentious ingredients that highlight what's really important - flavor. 

Whole wheat waffle with fruit, berries and nuts.
The cafe is also located conveniently along the 38 Geary bus line and next door to a fabulous dive bar called Whiskey Thieves that just so happens to be owned by the husband of one of Little Bird's owners (Chelsea Torres; the other co-owner is Dave Blood - yes, that's his real name and not just his stage name at Slayer concerts). So if you need a shot of Jameson to wind-down after all that studying, you're covered, though I recommend first getting some sustenance in your belly from the likes of say a smoked tofu "Reuben" sandwich bursting at the seams with Pepperjack cheese, farmer's-market avocado,  vegan 1000 Island dressing,  and  quality, fresh sauerkraut). 

Vegetarian "Reuben"
Miss Nancy Felz is the recent addition to Little Bird's team and is responsible for the newly expanded breakfast/brunch/lunch food menu. Everything is vegetarian, almost everything is organic and locally produced, and most items can be made vegan or gluten-free. Felz has experience as a personal chef for clients with specialized diets, so it's not a stretch for her to modify the oldie-but-goody classic breakfast item of an egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin, into a meal using "alternative," non-meat/dairy/gluten ingredients that  even a carnivore would eat. Nancy can also be reached at her website: the epicurator. There are even more tasty recipes in the works so stay tuned! The day I was there there was a nice mix of locals doing work on their computers; employees, owners, and their friends stopping in for a chat; stylish and interesting hetero couples sipping coffee; handsome and friendly gay couples lunching; other random folks peeking in to check out the new, dapper place in the neighborhood; and everyone enjoying their visit. In other words, the food, drink, and ambiance live up to expectations of a San Francisco eatery that The City can be proud to call its own. Bon appetite!

*Special thanks to Mark and Angelo for letting me photograph their lunch*

"San Francisco Eats" Exhibit At The SF Library

Courtesy of sfpl.org

The Main Public Library in Downtown San Francisco will be sponsoring a super great exhibition called "San Francisco Eats" that is dedicated to the joys of food! On display will be historical photographs, talks by cookbook writers and other panelists, Old-Time cooking gadgets, and other contributions San Francisco has made to the world of food. The event starts this evening (and runs through March 20, 2011) with what is called "Farm To Table" and as explained on the Library's website, "Investigates how local and organically grown produce shapes San Francisco cooking and dining.  Panelists include: Mark Sullivan, chef, Spruce; Dave Stockdale, Executive Director for CUESA (the organization behind the SF Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building); Sam Mogannam, owner of Bi-Rite Market; and Jeannette Ferrary, food writer and historian. The moderator will be Dava Guthmiller of Slow Food San Francisco. Speakers explore current food trends and how these trends shape and influence future dining in San Francisco, and on a national scale. This is a Green Stacks program." Other programs include films about food (they screen at noon), Chinese and vegetarian cooking, food carts, and how to make container gardens. There's even a podcast from the opening ceremonies. Follow the link here for more info.

Courtesy of sfpl.org

01 January, 2011

Help For An (Un)Happy Holiday Hangover

The quintessential hangover helper - the Mamosa, Courtesy of chow.com

Yes, it is true; I, like so many people on New Year's Day, woke up with a hangover (I will never drink Fernet Branca again, or at least not mixed with cheap champagne!) and I am cursing my turncoat willpower that cheerfully agreed to continue on with the drinking even though it bloody well knew better! Oh well. Thankfully, there are a plethora of resources out there with advice on how to make this hangover somewhat more bearable.  

Courtesy of skimkim.3dcartstores.com
If you, like myself, require super spicy foods to feel better in this situation, or if fighting a hangover hair-of-the-dog style is more your thing, then read this write-up by Tasting Table about a New York gal named Sam Kim who has a business called Skimkim that makes Korea's staple vegetable dish, kimchi, as well as other fermented goods. Even better, there is a kimchi-based cocktail mixer that with a name like Bloody Kim Jong-il Mix turns a plain Bloody Mary into the politically tinged center of conversation. Skimkim also sells kimchi butter, "Asian Green Goddess" marinade/dressing that gets its green from chives, lime, and kiwi, and she even makes ready-made smores. Kim also has a fun blog here, and according to Tasting Table has plans in the works "to launch a citywide delivery service in 2011 that will include an option for a singing kimchi-gram (featuring an a cappella group doing a rendition of a Hall & Oates tune)!"

Courtesy of chow.com
From chow.com we have a handy collection of both food and drink that are guaranteed to ease your suffering, or at least make you think you're better with a good placebo effect that will turn that wince into a smile as you curl back up under the covers and sleep off your food coma. The photo to the right of the eggs baked with Irish bangers and cheddar cheese  falls completely in my hangover comfort-food zone. All it needs is hot sauce and I'm home! Below is a French concoction whose name says it all: Côte d'Azur Cure-All Soup. With ingredients like garlic, egg yolks, herbs, and broth, it will equally erase sickness caused by either too much bubbly or the common cold.

Courtesy of chow.com

Sweet Potato Poutine, Courtesy of cookingchanneltv.com
Next we have several recipes from a show called Bitchin' Kitchen on the new, quality cable food network, Cooking Channel. Admittedly I tuned into this show out of pure, voyeuristic curiosity the way one is drawn to stare at a car crash on the freeway: the premise and hostess (Nadia G) seemed like a train wreck waiting to happen. Anyway, if you can ignore Nadia G's over-done Jersey accent, Sun-In-streaked blond hair, canned humor, and leopard-print mini-dresses, you might actually find her attempt to combine Ali G, The Sopranos, and Pee Wee's Playhouse into a cooking show, a refreshing, educational entertainment choice. In a recent episode entitled Rehab Recipes, Nadia G made two things that satisfy both sides of my hangover food cravings  - food/drink that is healthy, nourishing, and cold, versus greasy, salty, and warm! For the first one she made a Celery-Pineapple Smoothie that makes my dehydrated skin cells tingle just thinking about it! For some more cool and beneficial recipes, check out Chow's Post-Holiday Recovery Menu. The not-so-healthy option made on this episode was Sweet Potato Poutine, a slightly more nutritious version of the savory invention of Québécois French-Canadians. I first sampled poutine while in Vancouver, British Columbia years ago and instantly was hooked. On their own I'm a huge fan of cheese curds anyway, so add them to crunchy french fries and slather on some brown gravy and you have a work of art in the eyes of someone who has over-done it on the booze the night before!

Courtesy of cookingchanneltv.com

Courtesy of chow.com
Last, but not least, I thought I would offer an alternative New Year's Day ritual for those who see this day as an opportunity for new beginnings and good luck, not recovery from stupid, "amateur" behavior. In Japan many people observe Oshogatsu, which is a celebration lasting several days and involves prescribed food and drink. One of the stars of this table is mochi, glutinous rice that is pounded to form flat cakes of dough, and prepared in both sweet (like the ice cream balls in the photo above), as well as savory dishes. 

I found a tasty, pre-made, Westernized adaptation of these at Trader Joe's in chocolate, mango, and coconut flavors and that are made with dairy-free, coconut milk ice cream, which is easier on my partially lactose-intolerant digestive system. Here is a nice blog called appropriately enough, Japanese Ice Cream that explains how to make the proper recipe. Taro (root) is one of my favorite mochi flavors - more info on it here from the Cambree Notes blog. 

The other defining feature of Oshogatsu is the opening of a cask of sake, the gorgeous, Japanese rice alcohol. We here in the Bay Area are very fortunate in that we have True Sake, the first store outside of Japan to be dedicated solely to the beverage.  In addition to selling every kind of sake imaginable, they offer tasting workshops and an emailed newsletter, sponsor community events, and provide educational sake information on their website as well as links to other interesting resources. I prefer the drink chilled and unfiltered but it is more commonly available hot. Beware the latter preparation as restaurants usually warm it to mask the flavor of poor-quality sake and if it is too hot, that means that it was boiled and some of the alcohol is lost! Either way, every single time I drink sake I get rosy-cheeked and perma-grinned, and I am happy as can be. Sounds like a nice way to start 2011, but maybe tomorrow. Today I am still nursing my dizzy head, sour stomach, and lack of energy. Damn that faulty willpower of mine! Auld Lang Syne indeed!

Courtesy of truesake.com

For more information and recipes for Oshogatsu, go here.