Friday, December 31, 2010

made eater sf list!

this was a bit of a surprise.

four of my pics made the best of eater sf flickr pool:

the first pic is of a visit to the pac heights location of delfina. i've always enjoyed my visits there. i also took a born-and-bred new yorker there and he was very pleasantly surprised. you know how new yorkers are about their pizza. snicker. anyway.

the next pic is of nduja from boccalone (one of the places i visit quite a lot) and nduja is one of my staples. i have some on my fridge right now actually.

the next pic...does it really need an introduction? anyone that has read me regularly since june is well aware of how much food from hapa ramen i've eaten over the past few months and how our friendship has unfolded.

the last pic is the "big mac" from 4505 meats....which was on their "secret" menu and it became a very not so secret item. again, if you've read me or follow my pics on flickr....for the past year or know that i visit 4505 meats on a regular basis. love their stuff....and i always have their chicharrones in my pantry.

having the pics appear on a food industry blog was a nice surprise and a nice way to end the year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

cookie break

i'm actually at my place at the moment....taking a break from work stuff. it is an odd bit of role reversal. since i crashed in hayes valley with the pooch last night, i'm working from my place today. after SN and i left the hapa ramen pop up, i felt my guilt pangs increase as i watched SN w/beezus (i.e., the bender's mascot....just look for her sweatshirt on the wall) i ended up crashing in hayes valley. while i like hayes valley, as i have stated before, i am just not hip enough to live there. i'm not an edgy kind of gal and i quite enjoy the neighborhood i live neighborhood.

i love the light in my new place and working from here. it some ways it feels a bit surreal to be in this warm sunny apartment and to hear the sounds of the street in melody with some tunes from one of my pandora stations. right now, there is a mix of miles davis, duke ellington, and gene ammons piping through my pandora. i know that there are many people that don't like the sounds of the city...i'm not one of those folks. i find it comforting. i don't enjoy living in a place that is completely silent. i'm also nibbling on some of the cookies that i snagged from the xmas party put on by DB and the deliciously wicked godfather.

the deliciously wicked godfather bakes these super yummerific chocolate nutty salt sweet cookies. these are my favorite...(the ones on top) which is quite odd in many ways as i usually don't like nuts in my cookies (unless they are ground up finely like in french macarons).

but i remember the first time he baked them, years ago.....and brought them into the office. they've been my favorite ever since. the deliciously wicked godfather loves to cook and is also one of those folks that cook to comfort. i also notice that the times that he and DB have taken care of me, he tries to feed me every couple of hours.

it is very funny.

it almost makes me wish i had a kid for them to spoil.

[disclaimer: please note universe this is not something i'd like to happen in the near future nor it is something i'd like to do on my own. thanks! no need in tempting fate.]

i'm actually surprised that they don't have kids. i think they would make great dads. the deliciously wicked godfather in particular, has the whole nurturing thing down pat...but with a distinct edge. he is a heck of a lot edgier and wittier than i will ever be....and i think it is hilarious how much of a softy he becomes when there is a baby within 20 feet. i remember the time when he met my goddaughter and she just immediately held her arms to be picked up. i don't think she was two yet. he was holding her...patiently listening to her baby talk...and answering her questions....pointing out various things in their home for her to look at.

hmmm, as i re-read what i have just written, i am once again reminded of how food is more than just bodily nutritional sustenance.....well....more than just nutritional sustenance for the foodie hunter anyway.

well, it is back to work for me....until later.

Monday, December 27, 2010

food coma - just back from the hapa ramen pop up

i'm laying on the bed, my feet and legs propped on top of the snoring cuddle bear (aka the dog), my stomach is protruding so far out that it looks like i am pregnant (which i am not need for panic)....and i have a silly sappy smile on my face. SN and i paid a visit to the hapa ramen pop up at bar tartine tonight ...

and i had such a good time. not only was it very cool to catch up w/SN but we were able to have some lovely food as well.

i totally over ate.

i have no regrets though.

SN had the ramen as they had never had it before....and it was a big hit. we also split the brussels sprouts which were very tasty. i went for the pig's head with the cabbage, pickles, and mustard seed....

while i enjoyed the pig's head....hopefully lightening won't strike me as i type this out....but i really really liked the cabbage, pickles, and mustard seed. richie has a way with pickles. no doubt. i've noticed this when richie/hapa ramen have offered pickles as a side, or when the homemade pickles were added to sandwiches (i'm still dreaming about that miso braised pork with the pickled peppers sandwich btw), or even the pickle plate at the moma event. hapa ramen know their pickles.

i also had the fried chicken. there was no way i was going to walk out of the pop up that evening and not have the fried chicken....

.....which was crispy, juicy, and delicious. sigh.

by this point, i was pretty full. then the server sold us on splitting a dessert and we picked out the brown rice pudding....

which was seriously good. seriously. i really enjoyed the interpretation with the spice and fruit. a lot. not too sweet....very cozy and comforting yet intriguing (with the spice) at the same time. i kept eating it when i knew i was full. it was something i wish i could have for breakfast with some tea.

in fact, when richie came over, i didn't have a filter on and just said how good i thought it was...and richie suggested that we also try the fudge. the fudge was also very good....but in a different way. it was the kind of dessert that made me want to just study it for a while. the texture and pairing. the sweet and salty. i just wish i had more stomach bandwith to eat more of it.

looks like there was a gal doing pastry tonight and i think she definitely deserves a special shout out. i don't know if she is going to make a regular appearance along side victor (sous) and richie (ahem, chef), but i must say that the pastry offerings were a lovely complement to the savory that richie and victor were putting together.

after we paid the bill, i stopped off at the kitchen to say bye to richie and despite the full house, he looked quite steady and calm. i was also able to give mrs. hapa ramen a hug good bye as well. she was definitely hustling tonight at the front of the house.

as i walked away from their pop up, i was pretty happy for them. hopefully, we'll see more pop ups....or something a bit more....from them in the future.

nite y'all.

catch up

technically, today is a work "holiday". while i am using today as a "catch up" on some things i have in-progress for work, i also feel like i am catching up on the personal life...or trying to catch up these days. i'm quite behind and surprisingly disorganized on the personal front....and just how "behind" i am really hit home this morning.

i'm in hayes valley at the moment, dog sitting. a loved one is in the midwest visiting relatives so i'm co-living in between my place and his place.

i'm trying to dodge the feelings of uber guilt as i'm not spending every night with the cuddle bear (as i do want to spend time in my own place with my own pets) but the cuddle bear has the whole guilt thing down to an expert doggie science...

after i did the early morning walk with the cuddle bear, did some work email (not all of our offices are based in westernized regions or follow western holidays), i headed over to the blue bottle kiosk to grab a latte...

i'm so predictable. if i know a blue bottle outpost is within a couple of blocks....whether it be mint plaza, the ferry building, the rooftop at moma, or the kiosk at hayes....i seem to gravitate toward it. once i was back in the loved one's place, i sat down at is kitchen table with my latte, and went through my personal snail mail. this is when i realized just how behind i was....and am.

as i was going through the mail folks have sent to my new place, i saw an envelope from the deliciously wicked godfather.

it was for his annual christmas party. the party that i was supremely late for on the 25th. although, i didn't realize i was late until i arrived....and after i opened the invite (on the 27th no less).... i realized just how late i was. i arrived at 6:30 and the party started at 3.

i have a feeling that i may be hearing about how late i was for the next 10 years or so.

i guess i'm not quite back to my organized self yet.

i am guessing that it will probably take a while.....perhaps a while longer than i thought it would.

unfortunately, the holiday season hasn't really felt like a holiday for me this year. i'm actually quite cranky about it. probably because all of the stuff that really went down around thanksgiving....and because of the holidays people are out of town...checked out...etc...etc.... it made things (such as administrative bureaucracy) more difficult to get through and get the crime aftermath things resolved.... than say...if this happened to me in the spring.

i'm shaking my head as i type this...i mean...who really gets to pick when crime happens to them, disrupts/up roots their life?

that actually sounds more like me....cranky and annoyed at the inefficiencies of when crime occurs and impacts my life....despite the fact that how could that have been within my control? sigh. still annoyed though.

i'm even annoyed at random when the heart sister and AC stopped by for leftover stew (which was not the annoying part btw...that was a very good part)....and i was frying up some impromptu salmon cakes (i.e., canned wild salmon, pasture raised eggs from eatwell farm, and heirloom corn meal ....from tierra vegetables)

i remember feeling annoyed that i "have" to use an electric stove now. it is like relearning how to cook. gawd dammit. i definitely prefer gas.

i mean, picking out my new apartment was totally my decision. it was my decision to compromise and pick this apartment because of the neighborhood, the apartment layout, the view....and the quickness of when i would be able to move in.

i knew when i looked at the stove that it was going to bug me.

yet, i still decided to sign the papers and move it.

i suppose there are all parts of me that are catching up....not just the catching up on life....but also catching up on the anger and the annoyance at how my life was disrupted ....and how i am still experiencing and feeling the consequences from it all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

making home

each day i can feel myself become more settled into the new place....and perhaps....come back to myself. i knew something was moving along in the right direction when i unpacked some wine and thought...i really need to do something with some of this wine. there was a bottle in particular that was a carry over from my previous life and somehow managed to travel with me unscathed. well....perhaps, i must confess...that i had this bottle hidden away as it was a gift....a gift that was really for me. we all know those kind of gifts....when you get "couple" gifts but you know who the gift is really for....and lets face it... i used to be really into wine....and slowly i am rediscovering my affection for the wine was really for me.

i've had this bottle for over 6 years and it was time to open it and although many oenophiles are likely absolutely horrified that i cooked with it...i could not think of a better use for a decadent way to help me "break in" my new kitchen and place.

somehow, i think that the person that gave me the bottle....i think he would approve.

after i decided that i was going to use the bottle as a way to celebrate my new space.....i decided to make a hearty comforting beef stew with it. now, some folks may recognize the inspiration behind this dish....but please keep in mind that i use the term "inspiration" quite loosely. again, there will be many people quite horrified with the dish i made. yet, that is one of the great things about being a home cook....i get to make things for my palate.

so i started out with browning salt pork (yes, i said salt pork) with some extra virgin kalamata olive oil.

after i browned the salt pork, i removed it and then added the organic grass-feed beef.

nice color huh?

then after i browned the beef, i removed it from the pan and set it aside. then i added the onions....sauteed a bit...added some dried sage and thyme....

and then added the carrots. notice that the carrots are two different sizes.

the smaller ones will integrate itself into the broth/soup/stewness while the larger ones will still be noticeable as carrots. again, this is a personal preference of mine...i love biting into soft carrots in stew ....a sweetness to complement the earthiness and fattiness. yes, i know i've broken so many "rules" thus far. i did warn you that many people would be horrified.

after i sauteed the veggies for a bit, i removed the veggies and returned the pork and beef to the pan (including the juices from the resting). then, i added some salt, pepper, and flour.

stir. fond forms. take out the meat and deglaze the pan with about 5/8 bottle of the wine and about the same amount of beef stock....and added some (about 6 oz) of pearl onions. don't get all worked up. these will disintegrate. if you like those little pearl onions whole in the soup, save some and cook them on the side in some broth and then add them to the stew before serving.


while the mix of wine, stock and onion are bubbling away, i also added about a tablespoon or so of tomato paste and the cut up stems of a whole bunch of mushrooms. the meat and sauteed veggies are loaded into the crock pot....awaiting the liquid.

i know that the liquid is ready to cover the meat and veggies when it no longer smells like alchohol and the color changes from a purple-wine color to an almost brick red also smells like earthy meatiness rather than wine-ness.

hopefully this will make sense....yet, this is how i cook.

then when the liquid is where i want it to be, i cover the meat and sauteed veggies. i cook it on "high" in the crock pot for about 3 hours ...then added the mushroom caps (quartered) and then put it on low for about 10 hours.....just checking on it occasionally. adding additional water/stock if necessary.

i started this stew yesterday and it was all ready to eat by lunch time today. as a complement to the stew, i decided to use make some buttered noodles with parsley....

and then spoon some of my separately braised pearl onions and then the stew on top.

it was delicious.

hearty, super duper rich (hello salt pork) and delicious.

as i was making my way through my super duper rich lunch, it just felt really it was something that was just right for the moment.

it was making this new place my home.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

two kinds of truffles: dragon tea and double maple

i'm winding down for the evening. i've finished up writing up the last of my team's annual performance evaluations. thankfully. at the moment, i can hear the cars glide against the rain slicked streets while i type next to my cityscape view. the sounds of the city are aligned remarkably well with the notes of coltrane exuding from my ipad. my place is filled with a mix of cozy comforting aromas....with a single consistent note...and that is of cotes du rhone red wine. i have a beef onion carrot red wine stew simmering as well as a pear (ahem frog hollow farm) poaching in a melody of red wine, cinnamon, and honey. there is a part of me that thinks the smells shouldn't be so complementary of each other.....but perhaps it is because it is the same wine in both dishes. i didn't originally plan on poaching the pear. i just didn't want to waste the wine....i'm not really a fan of having a buzz on while writing performance hence, poached pear in a mulled wine. i may share pics with you later this week.

instead of stew and pear pics this evening, i'll share with you some pic of my recent truffle-making. these are a different sort of i created these specifically for the heart sister's palate. i've made her dark chocolate jasmine tea-infused truffles in the past....but this time, i made her two kinds.....a dragon tea truffle and a maple truffle.

as she is a fan of the darker and significantly less sweet chocolate, i started out with a mix of some pretty dark chocolate.

then added about 6 tablespoons of a very strong (4 tea bags of the mighty leaf dragon tea) and mixed that into the chocolate.

as the chocolate cooled, i created these chocolate lumps, rolled them a bit into some unsweetened cacao powder and then chilled them.

after they chilled for about 10 minutes, i did the final roll in another layer of unsweetened cacao powder.

as for the maple truffle, instead of tea, i added maple syrup to the dark chocolate. i also added a substantial amount of maple sugar to the unsweetened cacao powder as well.

and like the tea truffles, i did a double roll of these truffles into the maple sugar cacao powder mixture. once when wet, then another time after they chilled.

again, these sort of truffles are not for everyone as i made them specifically for the heart sister's palate.

yet, this is how i cook....if i cook for you....i am making something specifically for you.....for how you enjoy food.....for how you approach food....for what your preferences are.....and i am hoping that in that moment of'll connect with the flavor, approach, and perhaps, have a a reason to be in the moment. a moment of feeling good.

speaking of feeling good, i think it is time to wash up and curl into bed.

until later dear hearts...


Sunday, December 19, 2010


this morning, i woke up to my phone buzzing. it was a text message from one of my closest friends regarding when we are going to see tron later this week. after we did a bit of texting, i realized that i had a lot of email messages waiting. i was charging the phone in the bedroom last night while i was working and i didn't realize that there were quite a few messages that come through last night.

after the heart sister left my place last night, fully and appropriately styled for a holiday party with various things from my closet, i concentrated on working and unpacking.... lola, in particular, was trying to help me unpack and organize my food bookshelf...

she was being so helpful. perched just where i wanted to put the escoffier, harold mcgee, and larousse gastronomique. i found another place for them. because, like the song, what lola wants...lola gets. admittedly, when i get into the "zone" i have a tendency to get extremely focused on those tasks. i have a lot of work and unpacking to catch up on, so, it wasn't too much of a surprise this morning that i had a slew of personal messages that i hadn't seen yet. however, there was one particular message that jolted me awake.

it was from the chef.

you know, one of the childhood best friends of my ex-husband. the chef whose place i snuck into and checked out the last time i was in new york. the chef and his wife are among the only people that i miss from my previous life. how could i not miss them? such good people with vivacious energy. the only others i miss from my previous life are my former mother-in-law and her husband....for very different reasons. but that is it.

it is a short list.

i got out of bed and decided that this morning was definitely an intense hot chocolate kind of morning. i made my hot chocolate with 70% cacao disks, cinnamon, cayenne, and whole milk....

then i added the ultimate decadent touch....marshmallows from humphry slocombe.

i was definitely processing and getting all i sat down with my hot chocolate and wrote him back.

ya know, it looks like the next time i'm in new york, i'll be able to walk through the front door say "hi" and it will be all good.

how about that? isn't that so cool?

despite the stormy weather we are having right now in the city, something really lovely and amazing happened this morning. so i have to send a special message to the person who told the chef about my blog

"thank you. i'm in your debt."