Category Archives: Restaurants

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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Scenes From Chefs’ Holidays 2015 at the Ahwahnee

Chef Duskie Estes' "S'mores in a Jar'' for sampling at Chefs' Holidays at the Ahwahnee.

Chef Duskie Estes’ “S’mores in a Jar” for sampling at Chefs’ Holidays at the Ahwahnee.

 

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA — Featuring half a dozen renowned chefs — all with Bay Area ties and most of them familiar from the world of food TV — last week’s final sessions of Chefs’ Holidays for 2015 proved delectable, delightful and deliriously fun.

I was honored to be a host of Chefs’ Holidays at the Ahwahnee Hotel for a third straight year for the annual series of cooking demos and gala dinners.

Session 7 featured Chef Ron Siegel of Michael Mina Restaurant in San Francisco, who recounted his experience of being the first American chef to beat an Iron Chef on the original Japanese program. Siegel, who prepared the five-course gala dinner, revealed that he was most worried about cutting himself on the Japanese cooking show (he didn’t) and how he was glad the “secret ingredient” was lobster, rather than something really crazy like a live cow he’d have to milk on stage.

ChefsHolidaysSign

Yours truly, flanked by Chefs Ron Siegel, Kyle Itani and Hoss Zare.

Yours truly, flanked by Chefs Ron Siegel, Kyle Itani and Hoss Zare.

He was joined in that session by Chef Kyle Itani of Hopscotch in Oakland, who showed off the hand-forged Japanese knife he had made when he lived and studied in Japan; and by Chef Hoss Zare of The Fly Trap in San Francisco, who talked about how he wanted to be a brain surgeon when he was growing up.

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Run — Don’t Walk — To Orchard City Kitchen

"Beets & Butterfish'' -- one of the delights on the ever-changing menu at the new Orchard City Kitchen.

“Beets & Butterfish” — one of the delights on the ever-changing menu at the new Orchard City Kitchen.

 

It’s been a long two years in coming for Chef Jeffrey Stout.

The former opening chef-partner of Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, Stout was let go rather unceremoniously back then from that establishment, where he earned a Michelin star and maintained that rating for three years.

He set about to start over — this time with a more casual-style of dining with eclectic small plates that he could really put his own spin on.

The result is the wonderful new Orchard City Kitchen that opened just two months ago in Campbell’s Pruneyard. Last Wednesday night, the lively dining room was packed, a promising sign for a restaurant that has not done any marketing or public relations work. Indeed, Stout says he’s averaging over 200 covers a night already.

Chef-Owner Jeffrey Stout in the kitchen.

Chef-Owner Jeffrey Stout in the kitchen.

It’s easy to understand the restaurant’s appeal. It’s a come-as-your-are kind of place with favorite cookbooks and a Japanese Lucky Cat decorating shelves, and bare wood tables with a nifty bracket underneath to slide your wood board-backed menu into when you don’t need it anymore. A glass-fronted walk-in is visible at the back of the restaurant, lined with fresh fruits and veggies for all the world to see and to emphasize Stout’s farm-to-table philosophy. White subway tiles line the large open kitchen that Stout jokes is the “most open open-kitchen” there is because of the fact that the floor-to-ceiling, retractable windows opposite it in the dining room can open up and fold back completely, giving passersby a front-row view of the cooks at work.

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