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An Indulgent Chocolate Treat From My “San Francisco Chef’s Table” Cookbook

Friday, 18. July 2014 5:26

Dark chocolate and mint make one arresting dessert. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

Dark chocolate and mint make one arresting dessert. (Photo by Carolyn Jung)

 

I love the dichotomy of dark chocolate and fresh mint.

On one hand, you have the deep, rich weightiness of the chocolate. On the other, the breezy lilt of the tingly mint.

Put them together and you get the best yin-yang: one ingredient so devilishly decadent it can’t help but lure you in, and the other so fresh and vibrant, it clears your palate to egg you into enjoying another mouthful — and yet another — of chocolate.

Chef Sarah Rich of the wildly popular Rich Table in San Francisco knows this. Trained in both the savory and sweet side of the kitchen, she knows just what is bound to tempt.

That’s why I couldn’t have been happier when I asked her to contribute a recipe to my debut cookbook, “San Francisco Chef’s Table” Lyons Press), and she chose “Mint Chocolate Sable with Mint Chocolate Cream & Iced Milk.”

It was one of the first recipes I tested. (Hey, I’m no fool!)

Think of this as a fanciful yet rustic version of an ice cream sandwich. (You see why I wanted to try this one right off the bat.)

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Category:Chefs, Chocolate, General, Recipes (Sweet), Restaurants | Comments (5) | Author:

A Big Helping of Dumplings and Fun at Chino in San Francisco

Wednesday, 16. July 2014 5:26

Bao de chicharon at Chino in San Francisco.

Bao de chicharon at Chino in San Francisco.

 

Chino, which opened in May in San Francisco’s Mission District, is a celebration of exuberant street food — Asian-cum-Tacolicious style.

That’s not surprising given that the playful Chinese-inspired restaurant is by the same team behind Tacolicious, which boasts four locations now, plus a Williams-Sonoma sauce and salsa line, and a cookbook publishing this September.

The team that brought you “Shot-and-A-Beer Braised Chicken Tacos” and the “Chocolicious Taco” now offer at its newest venture the likes of “Snacky Whacky” small plates such as “Cucumbers, All Busted Up” and “Nick Balla’s Dope Ass Japan-O-Mission Wings,” the latter the creation of the famed Bar Tartine chef who’s an authority on Japanese cuisine, among others.

In much the same way that proceeds from Tacolicious’ sauce line benefit local schools, all Tacolicious locations plus the new Chino donate 15 percent of sales each Monday night during the school year to a neighboring school.

Recently, I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant, which was hopping even mid-week. The decor mimics a night market in Asia with nearly 1,000 lights strung across the ceiling. If you look closely, you’ll even spot a couple pairs of sneakers dangling from them — a familiar tableau from an Anywheresville working-class neighborhood. Adding to the whimsy are nostalgic toys such as Mr. Potato Head and a Darth Vader mask arranged on shelves by the big-screen TV on the wall.

Paper lanterns mimic the vibe of an Asian street market.

Paper lanterns mimic the vibe of an Asian street market.

Can you spot the sneakers hanging from the ceiling?

Can you spot the sneakers hanging from the ceiling?

The bare tables have a clever built-in canister with dividers to neatly hold chopsticks and silverware. House-made hot mustard and chili paste are brought to the table for those who like it hot.

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Category:Chefs, General, Restaurants | Comments (8) | Author:

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:

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:

Al’s Italian Beef Comes to San Jose Plus A Food Gal Giveaway

Monday, 30. June 2014 5:25

The Chicago Dog at Al's Beef in San Jose.

The Chicago Dog at Al’s Beef in San Jose.

 

People often think my life revolves around copious chef’s tasting menus night after night.

But not when you’re married to someone nicknamed Meat Boy, whose guilty pleasure is fast-food.

I usually steer clear, but I have been known to snatch a handful of fries or the pickle from his burger now and then.

So when Al’s Beef recently opened its first Northern California outpost right here in San Jose at The Plant, I was game to try it with my husband when I was given a $50 gift card to do so.

Meat Boy and I went on a Wednesday night. Although there was a line out the door for The Boiling Crab next-door, Al’s Beef was fairly empty.

Banners inside the eatery.

Banners inside the eatery.

The eatery started out as a family-owned food stand in Chicago in 1938. It now has 17 locations, most of them in the Chicago area.

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Category:General, Meat, Restaurants | Comments (8) | Author: