Category Archives: Chefs

Momofuku Ssam Bar’s Simplified Sichuan Pork Ragu

Comfort noodles -- Asian/Italian-style.

Comfort noodles — Asian/Italian-style.

 

Imagine a tangle of noodles that’s the “bastard love child of Bolognese and mapo tofu.”

How could that not be good, right?

That’s the apt description of this “Sichuan Pork Ragu” from the cookbook, “Lucky Peach Presents 101 Easy Asian Recipes” (Clarkson Potter) by Peter Meehan and the editors of Lucky Peach magazine.

The clever cookbook is a showcase of familiar Asian dishes (“Green Papaya Salad”), with some creative liberties taken at times (“Miso Clam Chowder), that’s highly seasoned with irreverent musings.

LuckyPeachAsianCookbook

Take the “Rotisserie Chicken Ramen,” in which the editors anticipate your question of “Do I really need to cook this for TWO HOURS??” The answer is yes, if you want the flavor at its peak. There’s the recipe for “Dashimaki Tamago,” the traditional Japanese sushi egg omelet, in which the editors offer encouragement by writing, “I always thought making this kind of omelet was some next-level ninja thing until we started working on this book. Now I know it can be made in 10 minutes flat, and the worst thing that will happen is that it won’t be as pretty as the one in this picture.”

This Sichuan ragu is a simplified version of one from Chef David Chang’s Momofuku Ssam Bar in New York. I love this sweet-spicy, chunky ragu because it’s a change-up from the usual Italian pasta dish, yet it’s as easy and comforting as one. It’s also faster to make than an authentic bolognese.

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Food Gal #Foodtography Event at the Four Seasons San Francisco, Le Cirque Dinner Event, And More

FourSeasonsFoodtographyYou’re Invited to #Foodtography

Join yours truly and award-winning photographer Craig Lee, when we host #Foodtography, 7 p.m. May 25 at the Four Seasons in San Francisco.

In this age of food-ecentric social media, this fun event will teach you how to be a better food critic and how to take better food photos.

You’ll get to sample gourmet tastes from the Four Seasons’ Chef Alexander La Motte — after you get a chance to photograph the dishes, of course.

At the end of the evening, you’ll take home a copy of “San Francisco Chef’s Table” (Lyons Press), my cookbook that was photographed by Craig. We’ll personally sign it to you, too.

The event is $35 per person. If you don’t take public transportation, and need to park your car, the hotel is offering a discounted valet rate of $15 that evening. RSVP to erissa.kido@fourseasons.com.

“A Taste of Le Cirque” in San Jose

San Jose’s Capital Club, normally open to members only, is opening its doors wide for a special event this Friday, May 13 that celebrates the fabled New York restaurant, Le Cirque.

A Taste of Le Cirque” will feature Le Cirque’s corporate executive chef Massimo Bebber cooking a five-course dinner paired with Sicilian wines.

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Little Gem Is A Gem

Pork shoulder at Little Gem.

Pork shoulder at Little Gem.

 

Imagine a restaurant, in which all the food is gluten-free. And dairy-free. And sans refined sugar.

No doubt, you’re probably fearing it also will be flavor-free and dismally low in satisfaction.

Not so. Not when it’s Little Gem in San Francisco, which opened in December.

After all, when the head chef is Dave Cruz, formerly of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc in Yountville, you’re guaranteed to be in good hands with the food, as I found out when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant last week. Little Gem’s other partners are Eric Lilavois, former chief operating officer of the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group, and John DiFazio, an investment banker, who has such an appreciation of good food that he did an apprenticeship at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York.

Chef Dave Cruz, formerly of Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc.

Chef Dave Cruz, formerly of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc.

The compact kitchen.

The compact kitchen.

This is clean eating the way it should be — with bold flavors, freshness, finesse but not fussiness, and great ingredients from purveyors such as Marin Sun Farms, Five Dot Ranch and Rancho Gordo.

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Fun Nibbles At Oro in San Francisco

 

Say hello to the Scarlet & Gold at Oro.

Say hello to the Scarlet & Gold at Oro.

San Francisco’s Mint Plaza has been a revolving door of restaurants over the years.

So many have come and gone that it’s hard to keep track of them all.

Here’s hoping Oro, which opened last year, has sticking power.

I think the downtown location, while an easy hop across the street from the Fifth & Mission garage, can be a hurdle. It’s hard for people to remember that behind the imposing ornate edifice of the historic Mint Building is indeed a plaza ringed by restaurants.

The three-story Oro presents a sleek veneer with floor-to-ceiling windows and a steel-cable glassed staircase that dominates the first floor.

The sleek staircase that bisects the main dining room.

The sleek staircase that bisects the main dining room.

The artsy dining nook.

The artsy dining nook.

The restaurant also has a lot going for it, most notably Executive Jason Fox of San Francisco’s marvelous Commonwealth restaurant.

When I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant recently, I started with a Scarlet & Gold ($13) cocktail served in a pretty retro glass. This is the perfect sip for those who want something delicate and not-so-boozy. With gin, fennel, lemon, soda and a froth of egg white, it was light and refreshing.

What makes the menu so fun is that you can make a meal out of a traditional appetizer and entree or several snacks and single bites if you’re more in a grazing mood.

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Petit Pot — Pudding and Cookies, the French Way

Dark Chocolate Petit Pot with Vanilla French Mini Cookie.

Dark Chocolate Petit Pot with Vanilla French Mini Cookie.

 

When you shrink down desserts, they just get so adorable, don’t they?

Not to mention irresistible since you so want to covet one all to yourself.

Petit Pot’s pot de cremes and shortbread cookies make that easy to do.

The South San Francisco company was founded by Frenchmen, Pierre Coeurdeuil, a former Valrhona food engineer; and Pastry Chef Max Pouvreau, who has worked at Coi and Radius restaurants, both in San Francisco.

They specialize in certified organic French pots de creme in various flavors that are sold in individual glass jars, as well as little round shortbread cookies. Of course, the two together make for a perfect dessert duo. I had a chance recently to try samples.

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