An Excuse to Play With Your Food

That's a wrap.

That’s a wrap.


As a kid, I remember sitting hunched on the floor, playing pick-up sticks with my brothers.

I’d hold my breath as I gingerly tried to pull a stick out of the pile without toppling the whole shebang. All the while, my brothers would joke around, trying to make me laugh, so that my already trembling fingers would fumble the task at hand.

I’m not sure who won most of those matches. But I do know it definitely made me learn the art of focus and blocking out distractions.

In this day and age of all electronics all the time, does anyone even possess that old-school game any more?

Maybe not. I know I haven’t played it in eons. Still, this fun dish brought back those childhood memories.

“Asparagus Pastry Straws” is made for picking up with your fingers.

Long spears of spring asparagus lend themselves to that anyway. But add a twisty rope of puff pastry all around each spear and you know resistance is futile.

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Shake It On — And A Food Gal Giveaway

Black Hawaiian Sea Salt from the San Francisco Salt Company.

Black Hawaiian Sea Salt from the San Francisco Salt Company.


Boxers or briefs?

Pie or cake?

Salty or sweet?

In answer to the last question, I decidedly favor sweet.

But that’s not to say I don’t appreciate salty, and in particular, how a pinch of salt evens out sweetness or rounds out the flavor of most anything.

The San Francisco Salt Company understands that. Its British founder Lee Williamson originally started the company to sell bath salts, because he was hooked on its therapeutic and relaxing effects from soaking in the tub after a long day of work.

It wasn’t long, though, before he turned his attention to culinary salts, too.

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Coi’s Second Act

Ocean trout as imagined by the newly anointed chef of San Francisco's Coi.

Ocean trout as imagined by the newly anointed chef of San Francisco’s Coi.


Daniel Patterson is a hard act to follow.

The cerebral and celebrated chef created a very personal oasis of zen elegance in a neighborhood of strip clubs when he opened Coi in San Francisco.

Last year, he decided to step down as executive chef to devote more time to overseeing his growing roster of restaurants — Alta CA in San Francisco, Aster in San Francisco, Haven in Oakland, and Plum Bar in Oakland — as well as his new Locol fast-food concept in partnership with Roy Choi of Kogi BBQ Truck fame.

But he has found a most accomplished successor in Matthew Kirkley, who took over COI in January. The Baltimore-reared chef has worked at such renowned establishments as the Fat Duck in London, L20 in Chicago, Restaurant Joel Robuchon in Las Vegas, and Le Meurice in Paris.

His flawless technique and breathtaking food attest to the fact that Patterson has left Coi in extraordinary hands.

The restaurant offers three wine pairing options.

The restaurant offers three wine pairing options.

The intimate dining room.

The intimate dining room.

I had a chance to experience it when I was invited in as a guest of the restaurant earlier this month.

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Nancy Singleton Hachisu’s Kumquats Simmered in Sake

Plump, juicy kumquats simmered in sake, sugar and shiso make a divine topper for so many things.

Plump, juicy kumquats simmered in sake, sugar and shiso make a divine topper for so many things.


Anything simmered in sake sounds pretty good to me.

Make it cute little kumquats, and I’m sold.

“Kumquats Simmered in Sake” is from the new cookbook, “Preserving the Japanese Way” (Andrews McMeel) by Nancy Singleton Hachisu, of which I received a review copy.

Singleton Hachisu is a native Californian who moved to Japan after falling in love with a Japanese farmer. Ever since, she’s dedicated herself to learning, documenting and teaching the ways of farm food life in Japan.

It’s a cookbook that will leave you with newfound appreciation for the art of preserving — salting, pickling and fermenting the Japanese way. You’ll learn how soy sauce is made, as well as her favored brands; and how to make your own miso, kimchee, tofu and soy milk.

Preserving the Japanese Way

There are inspired recipes such as “Cucumbers Soused in Soy,” “Green Beans Cloaked in Miso,” and “Sake Lees Ice Cream with Figs.”

I snagged kumquats at my local Japanese market for this easy recipe, as well as the shiso leaves and sake that was needed. In fact, I bought so many kumquats that I ended up making a double-batch of this recipe.

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Batty for Bison — Plus A Food Gal Giveaway

Durham Ranch bison ribs right out of the smoker.

Durham Ranch bison ribs right out of the smoker.


Love the brawny taste of beef, but feeling a tad guilty about all that fat and cholesterol that go along with it?

Then, take a taste of bison.

Buffalo meat has much the same satisfying flavor, but with less fat and cholesterol, as well as fewer calories. Consider that a 3.5-ounce serving of choice beef has nearly 19 grams of fat, while the same portion of bison has just 2.42 grams. The bison also has more iron, B-12 and protein.

I admit I’ve eaten far more beef than bison, simply because it’s easier to find in most stores. So, I jumped at the chance when Durham Ranch of Wyoming offered to send me some samples to try.

The 55,000-acre ranch was started in 1965 by Armando Flocchini, a former butcher in San Francisco. It remains one of the largest bison ranches in North America.

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