Sons & Daughters: Grand Food From A Tiny Kitchen

A trio of amuses starts off the night at Sons & Daughters.

A trio of amuses starts off the night at Sons & Daughters.

 

When you step inside the doorstep of San Francisco’s Sons & Daughters, you can’t help but notice the open kitchen smack in front of you — mostly because of its size.

Put it this way: Walk-in closets are larger.

To see four chefs working so seamlessly in such close quarters gives you pause.

And to see the caliber of the food they manage to turn out there takes your breath away.

The elegant restaurant, dressed up with charcoal linens, chandeliers and large framed mirrors, was opened in 2010 by chefs Teague Moriarty and Matt McNamara. These days, McNamara also lives on and works the 83-acre Dark Hill Farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which supplies the Sons & Daughters Restaurant Group that also includes The Square in North Beach.

A sliver of a kitchen.

A sliver of a kitchen.

A 2015 Holm Oak Pinot Noir from Tasmania as part of the wine pairings.

A 2015 Holm Oak Pinot Noir from Tasmania as part of the wine pairings.

I had a chance to dine at the cozy 28-seat restaurant, when I was invited in as a guest a week ago. When you are seated, along with the menus (which have the name of your party printed at the top in a welcome message), you are presented with a leather-bound booklet that includes information and photos of the farm. Food scraps are composted on the farm, which produces fruits, vegetables, herbs, eggs, honey, and rabbits that inspire every menu. Indeed, on the back of the menu is a list of the season’s harvest that may be in the dishes that night — everything from redwood sorrel to apriums to ice plant to Buff Orpington eggs.

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The Surprise of Roasted Citrus and Avocado Salad

A sublime salad that makes use of whole citrus (except for the seeds).

A sublime salad that makes use of whole citrus (except for the seeds).

 

Something miraculous happens when you roast thin slices of lemons and oranges at high heat.

They get all jammy, intensifying their sweetness and taming the overt bitterness of their rind.

I’ve added plenty of orange supremes — juicy segments devoid of their pith and membrane — to plenty of salads. But never had I added roasted slices to one before, where the flesh has largely disappeared in the cooking process, leaving behind mostly rind.

Even my husband, who normally blanches at anything remotely very bitter or sour, remarked how wonderfully refreshing this salad was.

A miracle, didn’t I tell you?

“Roasted Citrus and Avocado Salad” is from the new book, “Farmsteads of the California Coast” (Yellow Pear Press), of which I received a review copy. The book was written by Bay Area food writer Sarah Henry, with beautiful photography by Erin Scott of the YummySupper blog.

FarmsteadsBook

Whether you live in California or not, this book will make you appreciate the state’s farms even more. Twelve coastal farms are spotlighted with stories about the farmers, including what they grow, which farmers markets sell their wares, and whether there is a farmstand on site that you can visit. The farms span the gamut from Pie Ranch in Pescadero to the Apple Farm in Philo to Hog Island Oyster Company in Marshall.

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Pickle Nostalgia and A Food Gal Giveaway with Ball Canning

Pickling my way to savored memories.

Pickling my way to savored memories.

 

When I was a kid growing up in my parents’ San Francisco home, there were two refrigerators — the main one in the kitchen, and an auxiliary one downstairs in the garage.

It was the latter one that was filled with extra provisions — tubs of tofu, cartons of orange juice, and big glass jars of pickles.

My Mom’s pickles.

She would save big glass jars and reuse them, packing them with cauliflower florets, slices of carrots, and stems of mustard greens. She’d pour in hot white vinegar diluted with a little water and mixed with a few mustard seeds, bay leaves and peppercorns, before capping the jars, and storing them in that refrigerator.

As the days and weeks went on, we’d enjoy the pickles of her labor. Their snap and tang would jazz up simple green salads or sandwiches. But often, I’d just fish out a few pieces to eat solo for an entirely satisfying snack.

So when Jarden Home Brands, maker of the Ball brand of home-canning products, sent me its “The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving” (Oxmoor House), I leafed through the more than 350 recipes, and came to a halt at one in particular.

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Mosu Blossoms on Fillmore Street

Chef Sung Anh in his kitchen at Mosu.

Chef Sung Anh in his kitchen at Mosu.

 

Chef Sung Anh had no idea the trajectory of his career would change when Corey Lee sat down in front of his station at the sushi bar at the illustrious Urasawa in Beverly Hills.

Anh, who was born in Seoul and had already cooked at Water Grill in Los Angeles, had begun as a dishwasher at that kaiseki temple and worked his way through every position, including reservationist before becoming sous chef there.

He admired Lee, also Seoul-born, who had made his mark as the head chef of the French Laundry in Yountville before striking out on his own to open the acclaimed Benu in San Francisco.

“I joked to him that I wanted to be more than a sushi chef,” Anh recalls. “I wanted to wear a white chef’s coat.”

And he did. Thanks to Lee’s encouragement, Anh joined the French Laundry as chef de partie for two years before becoming chef de cuisine of Aziza in San Francisco. In late February, he took his biggest step yet — opening his own restaurant, Mosu in San Francisco’s Fillmore District.

The name is derived from “cosmos” (pronounced co-so-mo-su), vibrant Korean flowers that Anh fondly remembers from his childhood.

Tuna belly and monkfish liver rolled up in kombu and daikon.

Tuna belly and monkfish liver rolled up in kombu and daikon.

It’s a tiny (only 18 seats), very personal restaurant, as I discovered when I was invited in as a guest a couple weeks ago. It’s also by reservation-only. Which is good, because it’s unlikely passersby would come in otherwise, because the restaurant is behind a massive, unmarked wood door. You have no idea what is behind it just by looking at it. Anh explains that he designed it that way to play up the themes of simplicity, modesty, intimacy and mystery.

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The Joys of Summer Salmon

A fun, delicious dish that makes the most of pricey wild King salmon.

A fun, delicious dish that makes the most of pricey wild King salmon.

 

One of the true great pleasures of summer is indulging in local King salmon.

Rich, oily, luscious and deep pinkish-red in color, it’s my favorite fish.

When an assignment took me to Half Moon Bay, I tossed a cooler in the back of my car in hopes of scoring some fresh catch to take home.

I stopped in at Princeton Seafood Company, intent on buying a few fillets. But I walked out with an entire California King salmon instead. At first, the $150 or so total price tag for the nearly 8-pound fish made me gulp. But when you consider that local wild salmon fillets sell for upwards of $28 a pound there and at farmers markets, paying $19 per pound for the entire fish really made more sense, especially if you can’t get enough of salmon like me.

At Princeton Seafood, the friendly fish monger will scale the fish and cut it up however you like. I asked for fillets, skin-on, and for all the bones, too. After all, crispy salmon skin is a true treat to nibble on. I know some people can’t be bothered with the bones, but trust me, they are a trove of meat.

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