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The Allure of Shiso

Wednesday, 13. August 2014 5:26

Fresh tomatoes, soy sauce, olive oil and shiso flavor this wonderful cold noodle dish.

Fresh tomatoes, soy sauce, olive oil and shiso flavor this wonderful cold noodle dish.

 

Long ago, my husband jokingly gave me the rather apt but embarrassing nickname of “Black Thumb Jung.”

I admit I’m no Martha Stewart when it comes to nurturing my backyard. In fact, I’m sure Martha would give me one of her telling looks if she only knew that I’ve actually killed ivy and cactus. Things that people say are impossible to kill. I’ve done it, though, with my lethal gardening skills.

But there is an exception to that predictable massacre. I can grow shiso like nobody’s business.

OK, I admit it doesn’t take much for that to happen. Years ago, I planted one seedling in a pot and ever since then, I watch it die over the winter, only to regenerate on its own in summer, when it grows with abandon.

Every summer, I get big green leaves with saw-toothed edges that have the unmistakable and unusual taste of basil crossed with citrus crossed with mint. An Asian herb in the mint family, it’s most commonly found as a garnish on sashimi plates in Japanese restaurants. When I am dining out, I always save it for last. Its bright, refreshing jolt is like a natural after-dinner mint candy.

Yup, I grew that shiso.

Yup, I grew that shiso.

Though I most often add it to summer salads, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to use my home-grown shiso. That’s why this recipe for “Cold Udon with Fresh Tomatoes” caught my eye. It’s in the newest cookbook by New York City Chef Tadashi Ono, of which I received a review copy. “Japanese Soul Cooking” (Ten Speed Press) is full of recipes for ramen, gyoza, donburi, curry and other comfort dishes typically found in mom-and-pop restaurants or made by home-cooks.

This cold noodle dish could not be more effortless. Seriously, it would take you longer to take a shower than to make this.

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Category:Asian Recipes, Chefs, General | Comments (12) | Author:

Macarons Galore Plus New Juice Bar and an Oyster Fest

Monday, 11. August 2014 5:25

Presenting the "Hedwig Schmidt'' macaron. (Photo courtesy of Tout Sweet Patisserie)

Presenting the “Hedwig Schmidt” macaron. (Photo courtesy of Tout Sweet Patisserie)

Glitzy New Macaron from Tout Sweet

Inspired by the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” Tout Sweet of San Francisco has created a limited-edition macaron covered in a riot of edible red glitter.

Pastry Chef-Proprietor Yigit Pura was inspired to make the “Hedwig Schmidt” macaron because the musical’s message of “love and discovering who you really are,” resonated with him.

Named for the title character in the musical, the macaron features a bourbon-orange marmalade ganache with a brandied cherry center. And of course, there’s the glitter, which will leave your lips sparkling.

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Category:Bakeries, Chefs, Enticing Events, General, New Products, Restaurants | Comments (3) | Author:

Getting Corny For Dinner

Wednesday, 6. August 2014 5:27

Summer on a plate.

Summer on a plate.

 

I have developed a serious corn dependence.

But I can’t be the only one buying fresh corn from the farmers market week in and week out.

Whenever I come within a few steps of the stand with its boxes of just-misted ears and kernels so fresh that they squeak, I succumb.

Typically, I tote them home to char on the grill while still in their husks. Sometimes, I take a knife down the length of them to dislodge the milky kernels to saute with garlic, butter and herbs for a side dish or the makings of a room-temperature salad.

Creamed corn is not something I grew up with. Nor ever craved. But one day, with a load of fresh ears staring up at me, I spied a recipe for “Grilled Lime Chicken with Creamed Corn” that nudged me to get to work in the kitchen.

CulinaryBirds

The recipe is from “Culinary Birds: The Ultimate Poultry Cookbook” (Running Press), of which I received a review copy. The book, by esteemed Chef John Ash, was the recipient of a James Beard Award this year. It includes 170 recipes for a wide range of poultry — from duck and goose to even partridge and dove.

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Category:Chefs, General, Recipes (Savory) | Comments (10) | Author:

Scenes from Eat Drink SF 2014

Monday, 4. August 2014 5:26

CnC Cocktail Company's made-to-order cocktail snow cones.

CnC Cocktail Company’s made-to-order cocktail snow cones.

 

Bourbon, honey, grilled peaches and bitters -- in snow cone form.

Bourbon, honey, grilled peaches and bitters — in snow cone form.

 

It’s got a new name along with new digs.

The annual SF Chefs event was re-dubbed Eat Drink SF for 2014 and moved to the more spacious Fort Mason in San Francisco from its tight quarters underneath a tent pitched on Union Square.

The result?

A three-day event that still showcases the Bay Area’s best chefs, wineries and mixologists — but is far easier to navigate.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, Restaurants | Comments (5) | Author:

Parallel 37 Comes Full Circle

Friday, 1. August 2014 5:26

Guinea hen terrine with eggplant -- on the new tasting menu at Parallel 37.

Guinea hen terrine with eggplant — on the new tasting menu at Parallel 37.

 

San Francisco’s Parallel 37 has done a 360.

Almost.

Two years ago, the once prim, proper and heavily brocaded Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton San Francisco was jettisoned. So were the tasting menus.

In its place came a sleeker, more modern space, renamed Parallel 37 (after the geographic latitude running near the Bay Area). The tasting menus were eliminated in favor of la carte dining.

But something funny happened along the way. Chef Ron Siegel departed for Michael Mina Restaurant in San Francisco. His successor was Michael Rotondo, who brought back the tasting menus, slowly but surely, and something even more important. Rotondo, former executive chef of Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, convinced his former Windy City colleagues to jump into the fog with him. Besides Rotondo, Parallel 37 now boasts Trotter alums: Sous Chef Mitchell Nordby, Pastry Chef Andrea Correa, and the most recent hire, Restaurant Manager and Sommelier Ryan Stetins. Parallel 37 now boasts more Trotter veterans than any other restaurant in the country.

Rotondo added a tasting menu option early on, but left the a la carte menu, too. But starting in June, the restaurant went to a tasting menu-only format: three courses for $65, five courses for $95, and eight courses for $135. Wine pairings are an additional $40, $55 and $85, respectively.

The contemporary dining room.

The contemporary dining room.

In an homage to Trotter’s famed “kitchen table” dining experience, Rotondo also has added something similar. Guests start the evening inside the kitchen with cocktails and canapes to watch the cooks in action. Then, they are seated at a table next to the kitchen for an eight-course tasting menu with wine pairings. The “Kitchen Table” experience is $250 per person. A minimum of four people is required.

A couple weeks ago, I was invited in to dine as a guest in the main dining room. Parallel 37 is one of the 54 restaurants featured in my debut cookbook, “San Francisco Chef’s Table” (Lyons Press) and it was a kick to see a stack of the books for sale behind the hostess stand.

Thrilled to have the recipe for "Pig 'N' Boots'' in my cookbook, "San Francisco Chef's Table.''

Thrilled to have the recipe for “Pig ‘N’ Boots” in my cookbook, “San Francisco Chef’s Table.”

Of course, I had to start the evening off with a “Pig ‘N’ Boots” ($14), a cocktail created by mixologist Camber Lay and featured in my cookbook. Normally — and particularly when I have a wine pairing yet to come — I take a few sips of a cocktail, but leave the rest. Not this one. It’s amazing that a scotch-based cocktail can be this light and refreshing. Lillet Rose, lavender, yuzu and a fresh grating of cinnamon over the top give it balance, so that it’s not overly boozy tasting but rather floral and tangy instead.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants | Comments (4) | Author: