When I was a kid, my dad would often tote home a pink box tied with red string from his shopping trip to San Francisco’s Chinatown.
Inside could have been anything from pudgy dim sum dumplings to triangles of airy buttercup-yellow sponge cake to a double-crust apple pie so shiny and bronzed that it nearly looked lacquered.
More often than not, though, what was hidden inside was a custard pie.
It had a simple crust, which honestly, wasn’t anything to write home about. The real star was the smooth, eggy custard filling, almost the pale hue of eggnog, soft and just barely jiggly, and with a taste of both comfort and lavishness all at the same time.
It was my dad who gave me my first taste of this nostalgic pie, proferring an affection for it that I still possess to this day.
So, when I baked this “Parisian Dan Tart,” I couldn’t help but think of him immediately.
No doubt he would have loved this majestic version of a custard tart.
And no doubt he would have been tickled to know that its origins are also from Chinatown.
So many places opened in 2019; and so many places closed. Be it astronomical housing costs to an extremely tight labor pool and the rising price of ingredients, the Bay Area remains a challenging landscape for restaurants.
Still, they somehow manage to put their best forward day in and day out. Here are my favorite eats of the year (in no particular order) — the ones I still dream about, and the ones I’d race back for in a heartbeat. Enjoy! And cheers to even more delicious morsels in 2020.
The whole duck confit at Cosme that takes four days to make.
When planning this trip to New York, one of the places highest on my list to dine was Cosme.
A couple of years ago, while attending the “Worlds of Flavor” conference at the Culinary Institute of America Greystone campus in St. Helena, I had a chance to try a little of Mexico City-chef Enrique Olvera’s innovative cuisine.
Ever since, I have been hooked. And craving more.
Complimentary purple tortillas and Marcona almond dip.
This is not your standard tacos and burritos taqueria. This sleek establishment is all about modern Mexican cuisine with star power. The prices reflect that. Yes, guacamole is $17 here. It’s a beautiful bowl of deeply rich smashed avocados strewn with micro herbs and served with huge purple tortilla chips that you break apart to scoop.
If you’re already balking at that price, then this isn’t the place for you. When you walk through the doors, you have to vanquish the notion that Mexican food has to be cheap in order to be worthwhile.