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J-Pop Summit Festival, Filipino Fare, and More

Monday, 7. July 2014 5:26

Enjoy sake and so much more at the J-Pop Festival in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of J-Pop)

Enjoy sake and so much more at the J-Pop Festival in San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of J-Pop)

San Francisco’s J-Pop Summit

Get your appetite ready for the second annual J-Pop Festival in San Francisco’s Japantown.

The event, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. July 19-20, celebrates Japanese pop culture, music, fashion, film and food. Admission is free, though some activities will require a fee.

Among the new attractions this year is sake tasting. A number of booths will be set up on Webster Street at Post St., where attendees can enjoy sake tastings and even buy bottles to take home. Admission to this area of the festival is $10 and includes samples from all the participating sake companies. ID will be checked.

If you need some food after all that sake, look no further than the “ramen street.” A half dozen ramen restaurants will set up booths on Post Street between Laguna and Buchanan streets. The ramen will be priced at $8 per serving.

A “Bites & Snacks” area will sell both sweet and savory noshes, including natto (fermented soybeans), onigiiri rice balls by Onigilly, and mochi waffles from Moffle Waffle.

Additionally, look for more than a dozen food trucks, including the Creme Brulee Cart, Bacon Bacon, and the Chairman.

Celebrate Filipino Food at Two Events

Enjoy a one-of-a-kind Filipino-Franco dinner at Left Bank Brasserie in Menlo Park on July 24.

Chef Brendy Monsada will be cooking up dishes influenced by his Filipino heritage. The three-course $45 prix fixe will be served family-style and include beverages.

Among the offerings will be adobong manok (chicken drumette casserole cooked in soy sauce, sugar cane vinegar and garlic); beef kalderata (slow-braised beef short ribs in a savory tomato and peanut sauce); and pritong lapu-lapu (deep-fried grouper with heirloom tomato salsa).  And yes, halo-halo, the layered dessert of fruits, crushed ice, purple ube yam and ice cream is one of the dessert options.

For reservations, call (650) 473-6543 or email: kmolloy@leftbank.com.

For more Filipino fare, mark your calendar for Aug. 30 for the first Savor Filipino at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco.

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Category:Chefs, Enticing Events, General, Restaurants, Spirits/Cocktails/Beer | Comments (3) | Author:

“Here’s Your Damn Strawberry Ice Cream”

Friday, 4. July 2014 5:25

Yup, it's damn good, too!

Yup, it’s damn good, too!

That’s what Jake Godby of Humphry Slocombe refers to the one flavor he’s never sold in his irreverent, gourmet ice cream shop in San Francisco.

Oh sure, you’ll find other versions sold by the scoop there such as “Strawberry Candied Jalapeno” or even “Strawberry Olive” (with Kalamatas no less).

But plain ol’ strawberry is just not in the equation for a madcap ice cream-maker like him who’s known for creations such as “Peanut Butter Curry,” “Hibiscus Beet,” and “Secret Breakfast” (with the flavor of corn flakes soaked in bourbon boozy-milk).

In his “Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book” (Chronicle Books), which he wrote with operations manager Sean Vahey and San Francisco Chronicle food writer Paolo Lucchesi, he states that he created “Here’s Your Damn Strawberry Ice Cream” for a special sundae smackdown with New York’s Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.

Godby decided to include the recipe in his book because everyone likes strawberry ice cream.

Indeed, what makes this one even more of a winner is its simplicity. There are no eggs nor any stovetop cooking required. You simply puree fresh strawberries in a blender, then mix with cream, condensed milk, sugar, salt and a splash of red wine vinegar before churning in an ice cream maker.

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Category:Chefs, General, Recipes (Sweet) | Comments (9) | Author:

Palo Alto Grill Grows Into Its Own

Wednesday, 2. July 2014 5:25

Mango cheesecake at the Palo Alto Grill.

Mango cheesecake at the Palo Alto Grill.

 

The Palo Alto Grill in downtown Palo Alto has undergone some tweaks.

When it first opened last year, it was decidedly much more of a steakhouse with a dedicated section of the menu devoted to various beefy cuts. That has been jettisoned, leaving just one steak on the menu.

For a time earlier this year, it also featured a separate menu of Croatian specialties in homage to co-owner Luka Dvornik’s heritage. That, too, has now been abandoned.

In its place now are dishes that lean more toward Modern American that highlight plenty of local, seasonal California products, sometimes with an Asian sensibility. The whimsy also has been turned up, as evident in the plating of several of the dishes.

Husband-and-wife team Chef Ryan Shelton and Pastry Chef Yoomi Shelton helm the kitchen with a fine eye for detail. Their previous experience includes stints at Baume in Palo Alto, and Randall Grahm’s former Le Cigar Volante in Santa Cruz.

Recently, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant for a return visit to try out the new menu.

The bread basket you can't stop eating.

The bread basket you can’t stop eating.

A cocktail made with fresh blackberries.

A cocktail made with fresh blackberries.

You could easily fill up on the bread basket alone, as the offerings are superb. Shelton bakes them all in-house every hour, including airy brioche, fragrant walnut bread and a fantastic salted pretzel shaped like a wheat stalk. Alongside is a Dijon-parmesan sauce for slathering on.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants | Comments (7) | Author:

Verbena Blooms on Polk Street in San Francisco

Wednesday, 25. June 2014 5:25

Aged Mangalitsa ham flavored with house-made shoyu at Verbena in San Francisco.

Aged Mangalitsa ham flavored with house-made shoyu at Verbena in San Francisco.

 

Fans of Gather restaurant in Berkeley have even more to rejoice now with the opening of Verbena in San Francisco.

When Gather opened five years ago, it celebrated vegetables prominently by assuring that 50 percent of its menu would always be devoted to vegetarian selections.

Verbena continues that thread of giving star treatment to veggies, but goes even further. It’s Gather’s more ambitious young cousin.

A dramatic back-lit wall stacked with jars of house-made pickles attests to that. Executive Chef-Partner Sean Baker has a penchant for preserving. He makes his own kimchi. And miso. Plus shoyu and even fermented black beans.

Pickles as wall art.

Pickles as wall art.

The dining room and bar.

The dining room and bar.

Parking is at a premium in this neighborhood. So are seats at this bustling six-month-old restaurant, as I found out when I was invited to dine as a guest a few weeks ago on a busy weeknight.

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Modernist Cuisine Comes to The Tech, Plus New Eats in the South Bay

Monday, 23. June 2014 5:26

The humble mushroom Swiss burger, as deconstructed by the Modernist Cuisine team. (Photo courtesy of Modernist Cuisine)

The humble mushroom Swiss burger, as deconstructed by the Modernist Cuisine team. (Photo courtesy of Modernist Cuisine)

Modernist Cuisine Photo Exhibit at The Tech

Nathan Myhrvold, former chief technology officer for Microsoft turned culinary mad scientist, invites you to see food like you’ve never experienced it before.

The author of the seminal “Modernist Cuisine” books, is bringing 75 eye-popping, large-format photographs of food to The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose.

The exhibit opens June 25 and runs through Sept. 1. It’s the second stop on a three-year worldwide tour for this exhibit.

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