Monday, April 27, 2009
If anything? My blog is suffering because there's been TOO much going on. From being gone on weekends, planning a little birthday gathering (a group of about 30 friends to ring in 30 at an amazing house in Sonoma!!)...
Sneaking off at the last minute to the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival for a weekend...
To planning a MAJOR food event (Taste of the Nation SF was a huge success!)...
To trying to 'figure out what I want to be when I grow up', to continuing to meet interesting people and developing new friendships...there's no time to process my thoughts!
I'm trying to take notes and to remember everything...and have some unfinished, unedited posts to go through. And I promise I'll try and post those soon.
I'm still documenting photos from my meals, saving (aka stealing) as many menus as I can get my hands on, and continuing to jot down notes on my cable car ride in the mornings.
Hoping life will get a little calmer in the upcoming months so that I can return to my little blog and post more regularly. Because I miss it. I miss my quiet writing time.
But hey. Just know that the less I'm writing, the more fun and adventure I'm having in life...which just means more stories in the long run!
Friday, April 24, 2009
Where can you get this you ask? One of my favorite spots in San Francisco, Poleng Lounge. I promise you, once you try one, you won't want to share the rest of the dish!
Monday, April 20, 2009
I struggle with making soups at home. First, I end up with a big pot. And there’s just one of me. So that’s a lot of soup.
Second. The whole process…transferring it into the blender, back into the pot…doing it in batches. Usually too much for me.
Well dear friends, not any more! For my birthday, I received a hand held blender! Perfect for soup making. And other annoying kitchen tasks.
My first task at hand? Replicating that asparagus soup! I sautéed the onions and celery, threw in the asparagus and homemade chicken stock and then let it simmer for awhile. Next step? Just blending it right there in the pot! EASY! Last step? I stirred in some of the asparagus tips I had reserved, let it simmer for a tad longer. Next? I improvised the recipe (from Jamie Oliver), since you know that I can’t really follow a recipe. And I wanted to give the soup a bit of creaminess, so I threw in a bit of milk that I had in the fridge (whole milk that was there for a scone recipe I had to make later in the week.) The result? Amazing. Yummy (and pretty healthy) asparagus soup.
Here’s looking forward to more soups in my future!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Now to preface, I love brunch. Everything about it. It's relaxing--you're not in any rush to get to work, and you can linger over the newspaper, and of course, there are the mimosas!
The second I heard about this project, I got really excited. I'm a big Gale Gand fan, and put her together with brunch, and I'm in! So the hardest part about this project? Picking a recipe to make!! I mean, how do you choose out of the 100 amazing recipes in the book?
There's the recipe on the cover--baked eggs in ham cups. YUM. An amazingly gorgeous cucurumao--basically poaching eggs in a tomato sauce. Looks heavenly. There's a drinks section...and of course, the baked goods section.
When I first got the book, I thought I'd go all out. Make a whole bunch of recipes. Try 'em all. Maybe even make brunch for some friends! But then, I got the book after the weekend had passed. And the week got busy. And in attempts to make 'brunch for dinner' after work one night, did not quite work out.
So what did I do? I started easy. I didn't go all out. I didn't make the baked eggs in ham cups. I passed on the breakfast crepes. I tried not to linger on the goat cheese and chive hash browns (I have a thing for potatoes at brunch...gotta have 'em!)
I made the pear streusel coffee cake. I love coffee cake. I always have. Ate it growing up...I think because it was also a favorite of my mom's. In any case, this being the first recipe I made seemed just right.
It was SUPER easy. And SUPER quick. (Perfect for my busy life these days.) Here's what the coffee cake looked like right out of the oven:
I love that it has pear in it...and that it's subtle. Something a little different. The pears also give it a little bit of moisture. And even after a few days, the cake was still really good. Really good. I dug right into it (and yes, poured myself a cup of milk!) I brought some to work--it was a hit. I gave some to my sister. She loved it.
So now that I've met my deadline...I'm already regretting not doing the big brunch spread. And doing other bloggers proud. Sigh. I promise dear readers. I WILL make ALL of the recipes in this book. One by one. Slowly but surely. (Ok, maybe not all, but definitely most of them!)
I want the nectarine skewers...and already am getting excited for stone fruit season. I'm excited for the herbed mini popovers (anyone got a popover pan I can borrow?) The gougeres! (Wonder if they'll be as good as the Bar Tartine ones?) Cinnamon sugar doughnuts! (Doubt they'll be as good as the ones at Incanto...) The peanut butter and jelly turnovers look good (and I already know that I'm going to have to make those for Vanessa one of these days!) The cheese and tomato galette looks delish, and perfect as heirloom tomato season is around the corner. There's a recipe for salami and scrambled eggs--and I've got to say, I'm pretty excited about that one.
So. Dear readers. Maybe you'll just have to tune back in here to see how these other recipes turn out for me. I can't wait to see and hear about what the other bloggers made. And I wonder if anyone else choose my pear coffee cake? And more importantly, did anyone make the ham cups??
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
It was a totally unnecessary thank you gift, but totally thoughtful. It's a little small to be a make-up bag, and a little big to be a coin purse. I'm using it as a little camera bag right now. Any other suggestions? I just want to use it!
Monday, April 13, 2009
Now, look around. Everyone carries reusable bags. They’re thrown in their cars and brought to grocery stores. They’re used at the Farmer’s Market. Stores will give you a discount if you bring your own bag. And yes, maybe it’s because I’m in San Francisco (the city that is working to eliminate plastic bags all together), but still, it’s a trend. And it’s everywhere. Do you all remember the “I’m Not A Plastic Bag” phenomenon? Right. You know once something’s gone ‘Hollywood’, it’s made it big.
So what’s the problem? I have too many reusable bags. I’m serious. It’s gotten out of control. I’ve got them hanging in every corner of my small apartment. The green ones from Whole Foods. The more plasticy one from Trader Joe’s. My brown Farmer’s Market one. And then there are the really awesome ones. The two from Fish’s Eddy (both New York themed--one I bought myself, one was a gift!), the one I found on Esty that’s got a pig stitched on it (thanks for the tip Melissa!), the organic cotton ones (one of which I shrunk, opps!) My international collection—bags from CitySuper in Hong Kong, and the Monoprix from Paris.
I’ve got my favorites for different occasions. Like I prefer bringing the new canvas ‘rooster’ one to the Farmer’s Market, because it’s got a little pocket or compartment that I can throw my wallet in and it doesn’t get lost in the bag. Or when I am throwing stuff in a car, the whole food ones work well. My Fish’s Eddy ones are kind of special. And saved for occasions when I know they’re not going to get too battered. I love the nylon Method/Virgin America bag—perfect for the grocery story runs. My little purple Monoprix bag is always brought out for something wet since it's nylon and perfect for that.
So how do you all keep it under control? When do I say “STOP! Enough is enough!” In our quest to eliminate waste, have I created more of a mess in my apartment?
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Well, a few weeks ago, I was doing my normal morning routine and getting on the cable car and heading to work. One of my favorite conductors was on the cable car that morning, Ben. As usual, we made some small talk, the usual chit chat. About work, life, his wife and family. The usual. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Then, out of no where, he reached into a bag he had, and gave me this:
It was an early Easter present. He said for brightening up his day. I thought it was sweet (as I awkwardly held a big gold foil wrapped chocolate 'bunny'). My sister thought it was a little creepy. What do you guys think?
Hope you're all out enjoying this gorgeous Easter Sunday!
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thursday, April 9, 2009
From checking out Nopalito with friends Jim, Troy, Jordan and Vanessa (I can’t stop thinking about the carnitas!), to lots and lots of sushi with Katharine and Steven…
I shared nibbles at the bar at Postrio with two dear friends, Vanessa and Christy (can I say, two of my favorite people in the world?) and I giggled lots with Defne on a Friday night over tapas at Zarzuela…
I slurped up a bowl of ramen with my friend Tim…and ate yummy fried chicken at the famous Max’s in Daly City with Wendy and Mark…ate a yummy dinner at Five Happiness with my family…
Brunch at Incanto (yuuuummmm, milk toast…I want it every Sunday now!) and Universal Café with my friend Jason on a rainy/misty Sunday…
And speaking of Sundays…Sunday night meals? Beretta…Nopa- the shaved asparagus salad with bacon, kumquats (YES! Kumquats!) and a poached egg is perfection!
Yummy food at Poleng Lounge with some new friends…checked out Charles Pham's new Heaven’s Dog with friends Nancy and Celia…
Indulged in an amazing dinner at Quince (dining with the wife of the chef has it’s perks my friends!)…
Was adventurous and ate an incredible Head to Tail dinner at Incanto (decided I loved this year’s meal better than last year’s)…
Ate an early dinner al fresco at Pizzeria Delfina…a filling Sat morning breakfast at the Farmer’s Market…
Ate a home cooked meal prepared by my friend Michelle, in honor of our friend’s one night off from her fabulous new restaurant…
And FINALLY checked out ice cream at Humphrey Slocomb (yes, I considered that a meal!)
So how, do you ask, are NONE of these amazing meals my meal of the month? Impossible, right? Nope. My meal of the month was a special preview dinner at midi.
A beautiful space, midi is located downtown in the Financial District. What made this meal so special? First, it was long in the making. Second, the chef at the helm? A dear friend of mine, and a very talented chef. Third? The industry came out to support her. Let me explain.
Chef Michelle Mah is young. Talented. Adorable. She has been waiting a long time for her restaurant to finish construction and to open. And through it all, her friends have been there with her every step of the way. Waiting for updates, progress, an open date.
And then one week in March? It happened. The restaurant was ready. And it was going to open later that week. But first? First, Michelle was going to cook for the people that had been there by her side. She was going to cook us a special dinner. It was a Sunday evening. And while the streets of downtown were empty and quiet, we gathered. Chefs that Michelle had cooked with before. Old general managers she had worked with. All friends.
It was an amazing group of people that gathered. Some were old friends. Some were strangers. But we all had one thing in common. We were excited, proud, and happy. We were there to support Michelle. Oh. And we were there to eat!
We started with nibbles in the bar...and then moved upstairs to a family style feast. Mussels, an amazing asparagus salad, a yummy fish, braised lamb, a delicious duck confit...
Each dish was amazing. And my notes are so poor because I meant to grab the menu for the night on the way out (but by then had too much wine to remember!) We all ohhh'ed, and ahhh'ed when each dish came out. And when Michelle came up with the last course? We all clapped and toasted her.
It was one of those magical nights. A night when I remember why I love this business so much. We were all there to support one of our own. It didn't matter where anyone cooked or worked, or what they did now, or how they knew Michelle. All that mattered was that we all did know her. And loved her. And wanted to see her succeed.
The night ended with the 'lighting up' of the midi sign outside, and with all of us gathered outside toasting to the restaurant's opening. Here's to many more delicious meals at midi!
Monday, April 6, 2009
I dine out a fair amount (ok, more than a fair amount. I dine out a lot.) I have favorite spots. Spots I always take out of towners to, romantic spots, fun energetic spots...I’ve got a restaurant for everything.
What makes me go back to these places? The experience. And what makes a good or special restaurant experience? The food? Yes, obviously! The food must be good. The company you're with? Most definitely! The service? More important than you know.
How you're treated at a restaurant can make or break your experience. From how you're greeted at the door to whether or not your server gives you the right amount of attention. I’ve sworn off restaurants because of bad experiences, and have returned to restaurants for the service alone.
I had an experience recently at one of my favorite restaurants that made me really think about this, and it has stuck with me for days and weeks since then.
I had walked in, and was waiting for my table with a rather large group of friends. My friends and I were lingering in the small bar area, sharing some bubbly, and casually chatting. At one point I was speaking to the hostess and I realized that after all the times I've come in and had brief exchanges with her, I didn't know her name.
I reached my hand out to formally introduce myself, and her response?
"Oh I know who you are. You're a FOC and FOT (friends of two of the chefs) and VIP4..." Then in a whisper, she said "That's the highest level. "
Wow. I had no idea. I'm in the business of promoting restaurants, so while we always tell our restaurant managers to make notes in the reservations system, they don't always do it.
And although from a professional point of view, it didn't surprise me that they had notations about me, I was surprised by how happy it made me feel. It was a rare moment when I had a glimpse into the inner workings of a restaurant-not as an industry insider, but as a guest.
And as a guest? I felt incredibly special. I was taken aback and actually left speechless (and friends know that I am rarely speechless!)
I guess they really hit the nail on the head. I know I’ll be coming back. Frequently. Because at the end of the day, don’t we all just want to feel special? I do.