Category Archives: Chefs

Trou Normand — A Carnivore’s Delight

The "small'' beef chop at Trou Normand.

The “small” beef chop at Trou Normand.


Sure, you can choose a salad or veggie sides at Trou Normand in San Francisco’s South of Market district.

But really, this restaurant is all about the meat.

Local heritage breeds, whole-animal butchery, and up to 40 different kinds of house-made charcuterie and salumi offered daily are its hallmarks.

It is the younger sister restaurant to Bar Agricole, both founded by Thad Vogler. Executive Chef Salvatore Cracco, who heads the kitchen and butchery program, was the former butcher and sous chef at Bar Agricole.

They’ve turned the historic Art Deco Pacific Telephone Building space into an airy, industrial-hip environment with an unfinished ceiling, marble tables, over-sized tufted leather banquettes, and cool cafe artwork.

The light fixtures.

The light fixtures.

The bar with its iconic artwork.

The bar with its iconic artwork.

A couple weeks ago, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant. Naturally, my husband, aka Meat Boy, tagged along. After all, this carnivore’s paradise is right up its alley.

The restaurant is named for the northern French tradition of enjoying a small glass of brandy, usually Calvados, between courses to settle the stomach and awaken the palate. Gotta love the French, right?

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The Go-To Weeknight Dinner for Carnivores: Maple and Soy Glazed Flank Steak

Yes, you can make this even on a busy weeknight.

Yes, you can make this even on a busy weeknight.


When it comes to weeknight recipes, who doesn’t love easy and versatile?

That’s just what “Maple and Soy Glazed Flank Steak” is all about.

It’s from the new cookbook, “The Great Cook: Essential Techniques and Inspired Flavors to Make Every Dish Better” (Oxmoor House).

The book, of which I received a review copy, is by James Briscione, who has worked as a chef at Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, AL, and at Restaurant Daniel in New York. He’s now the culinary director at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. You might also recognize him as the first two-time champion of the Food Network’s “Chopped.”

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Bourbon Steak Scores at Levi’s Stadium

The bourbon cart at Bourbon Steak at Levi's Stadium.

The bourbon cart at Bourbon Steak at Levi’s Stadium.


There is no pussyfooting around this.

Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara is not inexpensive. It’s a special-occasion place. It’s where you go when you’re dining on an expense account to sink your teeth into an 8-ounce Snake River Farms rib cap for $110 or a Japanese A-5 Kagoshima rib eye for $34 per ounce (with a 3-ounce minimum required).

It’s not a place you’d head to every night. But then again, you couldn’t anyway. Because the restaurant is situated right on the ground level of the 49ers’ stadium, you can’t get into either Bourbon Steak or Bourbon Pub (the contiguous casual eatery) when the Niners are playing home games — unless you are a game ticket holder. In fact, the whole restaurant and pub becomes the ultimate gourmet tailgating extravaganza on game days — but only for season ticket-holders who pony up $5,000 each for the 10-game season. After the game ends, the restaurant and pub are open to any ticket holder.

Similarly, if One Direction, Taylor Swift or any other concert or special event is holding court at the stadium, you can’t get into the restaurant or pub, either, unless you have a ticket to said event.

Got all that?

I think you can guess whose autograph this is.

I think you can guess whose autograph this is.

How many other famous signatures can you spot?

How many other famous signatures can you spot?

The stadium field.

The stadium field.

When dining there, it pays to call for a reservation or to at least check the Levi’s Web site beforehand to make sure no events are happening the night you want to visit. Be mindful that the restaurant is open only for dinner; the pub is open for lunch and dinner.

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Rise and Shine for Joanne Chang’s Honey Cashew Morning Buns

A sticky bun that's less sweet and a whole lot more enjoyable to eat.

A sticky bun that’s less sweet and a whole lot more enjoyable to eat.


I love the idea of sticky buns. But the execution? Not so much.

That’s because the standard avalanche of goopy glaze is more than even my sweet tooth can bear.

So I beamed when I received a review copy of “Baking With Less Sugar” (Chronicle Books) by one of my favorite pastry chefs, Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Cafe and Myers + Chang in Massachusetts.

In this day and age, where we’re all trying to eat better, this timely cookbook is all about making sweets — but with only natural sweeteners and little white sugar. Yes, the perfect way to enjoy dessert without your body paying such a high price later.


The book includes more than 60 recipes, both new ones and reformulated ones from Chang’s bakery, that make use of maple syrup, honey, molasses, dates, juice concentrates, coconut, and bananas and other fresh fruit.

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New Ciao Bella Summer Flavor, Ruth Reichl To Pay A Visit, and More

Blueberries and passion fruit combine for this summery flavor from New York's Ciao Bella.

Blueberries and passion fruit combine for this summery flavor from New York’s Ciao Bella. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Introducing A New Summer Ciao Bella Flavor

I like to think of this as a non-guilty pleasure.

After all, Ciao Bella’s new Blueberry Passion Fruit Sorbetto is not only delicious, but it has 0 grams fat, 0 grams cholesterol, and 0 grams sodium. It’s also dairy-free. A half cup has 110 calories.

I had a chance to try a sample recently. It’s a little berry sweet. A twinge tangy. And a whole lot refreshing. Kind of like a favorite smoothie in frozen form.

A 14-ounce container is $5.39 and sold exclusively at Whole Foods.

Ruth Reichl in Conversation in Mountain View

You won’t want to miss the one and only Ruth Reichl in conversation with Michael Krasny at 8 p.m. Aug. 31 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

Ruth Reichl. (photo courtesy of the author)

Ruth Reichl. (photo courtesy of the author)

The noted restaurant critic, author and former editor in chief of Gourmet magazine, Reichl will be joined by the host of Forum on KQED.

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