Category Archives: General

Pigging Out at Cockscomb in San Francisco

Brined, braised and roasted pig's head at Cockscomb.

Brined, braised and roasted pig’s head at Cockscomb.

 

If ever a restaurant embodied its owner’s personality, it is Chris Cosentino’s new Cockscomb in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood.

It’s dark and it’s loud. Picture a concrete bunker hidden away with taxidermy on the walls. There’s a ceramic pig’s head you might recognize from Cosentino’s previous restaurant Incanto, as well as a huge stuffed buffalo head (a gift from a couple of patrons). Shelves around the horned beast’s head display Cosentino’s first bike helmet and old toys. The toilet paper rolls in the bathrooms are even made from spare bike parts.

As for the menu? A lot of it is rich, meaty and rustic — the delicious stuff you picture chefs devouring after a long night, especially male ones. Even so, a female colleague and I (she treated me), dug in and were rewarded with a meal that delighted and definitely made us feel like one of the boys.

Another kind of pig's head on the wall.

Another kind of pig’s head on the wall.

Wall art.

Wall art.

Drink coasters.

Drink coasters.

Why a restaurant named for that ruffle appendage on a rooster’s head? Cosentino says it’s because it harkens to his initials, “C.C.” and because “The rooster runs the farm. Its cockscomb is a commanding piece. The larger it is, the more attention that rooster gets.”

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Get Ready for GourmetFest in Carmel, A New Sushi Menu at Ame, and More

A spectacular morsel from last year's "Rarities Dinner'' at GourmetFest. (Photo by Gina Taro)

A spectacular morsel from last year’s “Rarities Dinner” at GourmetFest. (Photo by Gina Taro)

GourmetFest Comes to Carmel in March

Don’t miss the second year of GourmetFest, March 5-8, packed with cooking demos, exclusive wine tastings and even a wild mushroom hunt.

More than 20 Relais & Chateaux chefs, including an all-female team, will be participating this year. Among the chefs are: Gary Danko of Gary Danko in San Francisco, Michel Bras of Bras-Sebastien et Michel in France, and Justin Cogley of Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel. Prominent winemakers taking part include: Dom Perignon, Dr. Loosen, Gaja and Ridge.

Events include the luxe “Rarities Dinner” on March 6, a 10-course extravaganza paired with rare wines, and “A Taste of France Lunch and Cooking Demo” on March 7.

Ticket prices range from $175 to $5,500 per person.

Ame Introduces Nigiri Zushi Menu

Michelin-starred Ame in the St. Regis in San Francisco has always incorporated Japanese influences and flavors in its menu.

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A Maui Roadshow at Hapa Ramen

"Top Chef'' finalist Sheldon Simeon of Maui plates an appetizer at Hapa Ramen.

“Top Chef” finalist Sheldon Simeon of Maui plates an appetizer at Hapa Ramen.

 

Last week, a trio of Maui chefs brought their brand of modern aloha cooking to San Francisco.

And there was nary a macadamia-nut crusted mahi mahi to be seen.

Instead, Chefs Isaac Bancaco of Ka’ana Kitchen, Jeff Scheer of Maui Executive Catering, and “Top Chef” fan favorite Sheldon Simeon of Migrant, are part of the new wave of young chefs now adding a fresh spin to island cuisine by emphasizing local ingredients in dynamic preparations.

The trio showcased their cooking at invitation-only events last week at Hapa Ramen in the Mission. Call it a cross-cultural exchange, as Hapa Ramen Chef-Owner Richie Nakano is headed to Maui later this year to show off his California cooking chops.

A kitchen mascot at the pass at Hapa Ramen.

A kitchen mascot at the pass at Hapa Ramen.

Wall art.

Wall art.

HapaRamenBar

I was lucky enough to be invited to the dinner for media and travel industry folks.

Appropriately enough, the night started off with a pink-hued Rangoon Gimlet made with Maui Ocean Organic Vodka, lime and angostura.

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Crispy Rice Cakes for the Lunar New Year

Crispy rice cakes filled with mung beans and shrimp from the Slanted Door.

Crispy rice cakes filled with mung beans and shrimp from the Slanted Door.

 

Whether you call it the Year of the Ram, Goat or Sheep, it’s high time to celebrate the Lunar New Year, which begins on Thursday.

“Crispy Rice Cakes” are not something I necessarily grew up eating on this special holiday, which is celebrated by those of Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean descent. But the itty-bitty cakes looked so precious when I spotted them in “The Slanted Door” cookbook that I couldn’t help but envision how wonderful they would be alongside cups of steaming tea or sake for this festive occasion.

The Ten Speed Press book, of which I received a review copy, is by Charles Phan, owner of the pioneering Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco. It takes readers on a journey from the early days of the restaurant to its multiple moves around the city to finally its smash-hit location on the Embarcadero. Regular diners will recognize recipes for their favorite Shaking Beef, Dungeness Crab with Cellophane Noodles, and Grapefruit and Jicama Salad, along with a surprising number of cocktails. Those who have never eaten there will long to do so.

SlantedDoorBook

These two-bite morsels can be picked up with your fingers or chopsticks, then dipped into soy sauce, chili oil or Sriracha.

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Just Try to Resist Huckleberry Bakery’s Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Nothing says "I love you'' like a basket of fresh-baked muffins loaded with chocolate.

Nothing says “I love you” like a basket of fresh-baked muffins loaded with chocolate.

 

There are times when I con myself into thinking muffins are just a smidge healthful.

After all, if I choose one with bran or whole wheat or carrots or blueberries, it’s not so very bad, is it?

I mean, it’s not as indulgent as eating actual cake, right?

Forgettabout it.

Yeah, with “Chocolate Chunk Muffins,” I’m not going to attempt to play that game.

HuckleberryCookbook

That’s because there’s no getting around it. These muffins are rich, tender, and super chocolatey.  They are like chocolate-chip cookies in muffin form.

And they’re every bit as good as that sounds.

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