Saturday, May 30, 2009

Travel Woes

It’s been awhile since I’ve been on the road. I know, I’ve had lots of little road trips, but no major ordeals. Well, that changed one long week in May. I had to be in Miami for work for four days, and figured while I was on the East Coast, I’d duck up to Washington DC for the long weekend holiday. All in all, it was a long journey.

First. Getting to the airport. As I mentioned earlier, it was a race to even get there on time. There was traffic, I felt rushed…I didn’t want my blissful weekend to end! Spending Sunday at SFO and on a plane? No thank you. So as you can imagine, as soon as I cleared security, I was annoyed that I had to just sit and wait. I wished I didn’t have to rush to get to the airport and wished that I could have gotten lunch ‘on the outside’. Instead, I was stuck sitting and waiting.

Once I got to Miami, some low lights? One of the servers kept calling me “m’lady”. It struck me as so odd. Not horrible, but just awkward. And kind of bugged me.

Oh, and then there was the incident when my housekeeper got mad at me for having the temperature in my room set too low (umm, really? 68 degrees isn’t that cold!) Her suggestion instead? To open up my patio door and to let the ‘fresh air’ in. Normally I’d do that (not only to be green, but fresh air is always best!)—but ummm, not when it’s hot, muggy, and storming outside! What is going on here??

As I was leaving Miami, I was getting excited. My week of being on the road was more than half over, and the second half was more fun than work. Plus, I was heading to a city I love and know!

We got on the plane, and as I tried hard not to be bothered by the rather large man sitting next to me who’s arm kept creeping over to my side, it hit me suddenly. We had been sitting there a long time. And hadn’t taken off. Just at that point, the pilot got on the speaker. Mechanical problems. Translation? Sit on the plane on the runway for two hours, haul ass to another terminal to get on another plane, sit and wait another hour, get on the new plane, sit and wait another hour, finally depart Miami. When it was all said and done? A 4 hour delay.

By the time I was leaving DC, I was ready for it. What more could the travel gods throw at me? I arrived at Dulles airport EARLY Monday morning and I was ready for whatever was going to happen. But nothing. I got there easily and quickly. Flight was on time. Made it through security quickly. Next thing you knew, I was at the gate and just waiting to board. So far so good. I had a craving for some orange juice, so hopped into line at the closest food place, which happened to be a fast food restaurant.

As I was standing in line, I could hear this dialogue:

Customer: “In the breakfast burrito, what type of meat is the sausage made of?”
Fast Food Worker: “Ummm, what do you mean?”
Customer: “I mean is it pork or is it beef?”
Fast Food Worker: “Ummm, it’s sausage meat.”

I’m not kidding you. Can you believe it? Sad but true people. I can’t make this stuff up. Just the laugh I needed that early in the morning.

The good news is that aside from the man in front of me that talked loudly and wouldn’t stop talking to his new friend, the flight took off on time, was smooth and we didn’t any problems. I got home safe and sound and in one piece.

Where’s the next trip you ask? No where! I’m staying put for awhile!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Favorite: Fried Chicken!

Ok. So this gal gets cravings. Like serious food cravings. I'll get something in my head, and won't be able to stop thinking about it until I get my fill. My recent craving ? Fried Chicken.

It started at the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival. The night Thomas Keller and Ad Hoc was at the late night chef's after party. And I saw the fried chicken, but was too full to eat any. Big mistake.

It was already in my head. And only reinforced a few weeks later. During my last supper at Jack Falstaff. We had taken one very quick glimpse at the menu, and I saw that there was fried chicken on it. Yum. Done. Just then, the server swooped in and let us know chef Jonny would be cooking for us. Tasting menu--off the menu. Wonderful. Always great. Menus closed instantaneously. Except. That meant no fried chicken.

By then, it was too late. I had to have it.

Now I'm a lucky girl. And when I asked friends where in SF could I get the best fried chicken, not only did I receive a number of suggestions, I received a number of invites from local restaurants, suggesting that I go to their restaurant for fried chicken! Amazing.

Which offer did I take? None of those. I had one better. My friend, a chef, was offering to make me fried chicken at his house. Yay!

Here's some of the chicken fresh out of the oil...

It was a DELICIOUS meal--complete with greens, mac and cheese and biscuits. One of the best meals I've had in a long time. Thank you Chad and Grace for ALWAYS taking good care of me! Hmm, what should my next craving be?

Thursday, May 28, 2009


I'm impatient. Patience has never been a virtue of mine. It's something I realize and something I need to work on.

I can't stand traffic (nothing is a greater waste of time). I get impatient waiting for public transportation. And I have a hard time waiting for news or information. Even something like baggage claim? Don't get me started. I get anxious and antsy. I can't concentrate on other things. And many times? I start getting grumpy. (Umm, especially if I haven't eaten. Seriously.)

I try to redirect my energy. Or to stop myself and just take a breath. My trusty iPod helps. Play some calming (and distracting) music while I'm waiting. So does my CrackBerry. I'm able to scan Twitter, Facebook, or even catch up on my emails.

I was recently stuck in some horrible car traffic due to the lovely SF Bay to Breakers run. And I was on a tight schedule to get to the airport. I started getting worked up. As I started to feel my impatientness grow and my antsiness increase, I tried stopping myself. There was nothing more we could do to speed up traffic. There was someone else in the car, someone that was still getting to know me and they did not need to see that side of me. At least not yet! (The good news? He was equally, if not more grumpy, and we both finally calmed down and it all worked out in the end.)

I realize many things are out of our control. For example, I know that it's better to sit on a plane for 2 hrs just to have to deplane and hike across Miami International Airport to get on another plane just to leave more than 5 hours later, than to be on a plane with faulty equipment. But the complete waste of a day...I have a hard time with that.

Maybe I was just born with a little less of the 'patience' gene.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coming Full Circle

Happy Anniversary!

Dear readers, exactly one year ago, I started this blog. I had no idea what it would bring, or what I would even write about. I just figured I had random thoughts, and hey, maybe other people might be interested in reading? I wasn’t sure if my musings would be interesting to other people, but if anything, I figured I'd want to remember these thoughts and experiences years from now.

I also knew that I was lucky. And that I have the good fortune of meeting a lot of interesting people in my life. People from all around the world, people living all over the place, and people right here in SF. And obviously in addition to wanting to remember these unique experiences and feelings, I wanted to share it too.

And what else? My love for food. The many, many, MANY amazing meals I have the opportunity to eat. From the fancy meals in the Michelin stared restaurants, to the street food in Asia, to the 'experimental' recipes, to home cooked meals at home... Some might even say my life revolves a bit around food.

Finally, I wanted to write about my life experiences. I have a passion for seeking new experiences and adventures. I'm not afraid to give anything a try. I try to remain positive, and to find the good in people, and all experiences.

I've had fun doing it. Some posts have been harder to write than others. Others have flowed out of me easily. I've LOVED reading comments from readers and getting emails from friends referencing a post. And I have had fun with creative post titles. It's been a diary. It's been a therapist. It's been my way to do some soul searching.

What have I learned?

A lot! People are sensitive. People care and take what I have to say, to heart.

There are a lot of people out there reading. I have ‘followers’ that enjoy reading about what I’m up to, where I’m eating at, who I’m meeting, and about the general happenings and mind sets of the people out here in San Francisco.

I've also learned a lot about technology! From using the blogger platform, basic HTML language, to RSS feeds, subscriptions via email, etc.

That you can’t always say what you want to say. ‘Nuff said.

The pen is mightier than the sword.

What will the next year of blogging bring? Hopefully more adventures. More new people to meet, more new restaurants to try, and of course, good meals to be had. If it is half as entertaining and interesting as this last year, I think I’m in for a treat. In the meantime, keep reading friends. Hope you'll take the time to leave a comment now and then and share with me what you're thinking!


Monday, May 25, 2009

San Francisco Snob

I think I've officially become one. I am a San Francisco snob. A person that just thinks San Francisco is the greatest city ever. That we do things better here. And that life doesn't get better than this. When I'm in other cities, I compare everything to San Francisco. I find myself saying things like "Wow, I can't believe they do that here!" Or "In San Francisco, it's better."

I was recently in Sacramento for a weekend. A city that I have lived in. A city that I actually even enjoyed living in. But that was before. Before I lived in SF and before I became a snob.

I found myself wondering, could I live there again now? And the answer is clearly no. And actually, I don't even think there are many places I could live in (at least not in the United States!)

I found myself thinking about it. The food scene in San Francisco is better than most (maybe only rivaled by New York City.) I was talking with a friend from Sacramento and some how the topic of octopus came up. Apparently it's hard to find on a menu in Sacramento. Not the case in SF! And while I wouldn't say octopus is a favorite food, or even an ingredient I crave, I like seeing it on our menus. And I like ordering it. And more importantly, I like having it as an option, and having people being open to seeing it on the menu. And ahem. Octopus? That's just the minor leagues. If Sacramento can't even handle octopus, where would I get my Head to Tail dinners and such?

The people in SF are relaxed, without being too relaxed. We've got our hippie history, but have also grown a little beyond that. (Those reasons are probably why I wouldn't be able to live in Portland, a city that each time I visit, part of me wants to stay in.) We're not too intense, and fast paced (which is often my complaint of NYC.) We've got access to great farmers, vineyards...which means the freshest and best fruits, vegetables, and wines a gal could ever ask for all year around (which is more than I can say for even New York City!)

We've also got culture. From theater to music to museums. I'm fulfilled in SF.
But there's also culture in other ways. I can get really good and authentic ethnic food in SF. Peruvian? Check. Good Indian? Southern or Northern Style? Cause we've got both! Great Mexican? Yup. And just about anything else! I also have access to my Chinese grocery stores, and restaurants. I love the little enclaves of Chinese immigrant neighborhoods where I can feel at home. These are the places I can find my Chinese vegetables or ingredients when I'm looking to cook some traditional foods. I love it.

My latest 'thing' has been to travel to other cities that I've looked down upon (in terms of food, culture, and my ability to live there and love the city) and try really hard to like the cities. I'm trying really hard to give them a chance, and am in fact asking friends, to 'win me over'. Show me why your city is so great. But so far, no matter how hard I try, they just don't compare.

I was sitting in a restaurant in Miami recently having dinner with two friends. One friend was trying his hardest to tell me all the great things Miami had to offer. But as soon as we started talking about the great things SF had to offer, he took out his iPhone to show me photos from a recent trip he had made out there. Just the photo of the fog over the Golden Gate Bridge was enough to bring a tear to my eye. As I flipped through the photos, I found myself more and more homesick for my city by the bay. It's a sign, don't you think?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Night at Emmy's

I recently checked out Emmy's Spaghetti Shack--and it was the perfect spot for a mellow, casual, and yummy, Sunday super. We loved the environment (super quirky), and were lucky that we didn't have to wait long! Apparently this can be quite the popular spot and it's not uncommon for there to be a long wait on most nights.

My friend started off with a spicy margarita that looked awesome with it's chili garnish:

We shared two salads, a spring strawberry with mozzarella, rhubarb, toasted hazelnuts, fresh mint and basil salad and also a faro salad that had watercress, raisins, roasted beets, and some goat cheese. Both were delicious!

One of the highlights of the meal? Not the ribs, but the side that came with it--fried mac and cheese. YUM! I know, anything fried is pretty good. But fried cheese and pasta? Especially yummy.

And then you really can't leave Emmy's Spaghetti Shack without eating spaghetti?? It was so good. Really, one of the best comfort foods out there!

A really fun night with some good friends, good drinks, and good food. Emmy's is a fun and casual place to go for a fun meal.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Favorite: Hat Box!

So gorgeous! One of the most beautiful hat boxes I've ever seen...

Two of my dear friends creatively used it as the 'wrapping' for a recent birthday present. The inside 'real gift' was pretty amazing (and generous), and maybe I'm just a little bit of a simpler gal...but I thought the box was pretty perfect.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


If an ingredient is fresh and in season, is it best to prepare it simply, and without masking it's true flavor? Sounds simple, right? Answer's yes! When possible, shouldn't we be true to the ingredient and have it as pure and natural as possible?

I'm a big proponent of simple foods and dishes. And preparing ingredients simply.

When it comes to veggies? Why do too much to it? Why douse it with sauces? If I like the food, I want to taste the flavors of the food.

If the corn is fresh, I want it prepared simply. Steamed or grilled. A tad of salt and I don't even like butter on it. Asparagus? Just roasted please. (Ok, ok. I've recently become a big fan of the asparagus cooked in a light brown butter sauce too!) And when it comes to my favorites like bok choy and Chinese broccoli? Just simply stir fried with a tad of garlic. Yum.

Fruits in season? Nothing better than just eating them as is. Fresh off the tree! I could bite right into a fresh peach. Devour an entire bowl of cherries or strawberries. They're perfect. Don't need to do a thing to 'em.

But I recently had a conversation with a friend about crab. It was a few months ago and the height of Dungeness crab season in SF. And what did I realized? I don't really love fresh steamed crab. I mean, it's good. And I'll eat it. But not my favorite. Instead? I prefer it prepared in more of a Chinese style. Stir fried with ginger and scallions--and a goey sauce that I eat with my rice. Or even baked. With salt and pepper. Now we're talking.

Then I began to think about the foods that I do prefer not prepared so simply. There really aren't many. Crab was the biggie. And if that's the case. Am I a genuine crab lover? If I prefer the taste of it with these other flavors and seasonings, am I masking the true crab taste?

Well, regardless. I guess ultimately, I don’t care. I am a crab lover. I just like it the way I like it.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Maybe it's my old age, but I'm getting sentimental. Or maybe it's just the fact that today, I'm heading to Bodega Bay to celebrate two special friends on their wedding day. I can't help it. Weddings make me sentimental. They remind me that I'm an optimist and a romantic at heart.

Here's wishing Mark and Serene a lifetime of happiness together. Looking forward to celebrating the happy couple and wishing happiness for all of my friends out there!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday Favorite: Asparagus Season!

Spring is maybe my favorite season. And one of the reasons? ASPARAGUS! You know spring's in the air when you start seeing asparagus (and strawberries!!) at the markets.

I recently had an delicious meal at SPQR with my good friend Sabine. We picked a handful of yummy dishes, and the kitchen generously sent out a few more, but one of my favorite dishes of the night was this simple dish:

Asparagus with spring onion, green garlic, grated egg and pecorino

SO GOOD! I've talked a lot about those dishes I CRAVE at restaurants, and I have to say, this one just might get added to that list.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival: Day Two

Day Two. Saturday. I woke up and took a complimentary ride in a Lexus from my hotel back to the Inn at Spanish Bay.

Did I mention that Lexus was a huge sponsor of the festival and basically had a fleet of Lexus’ (or Lexi maybe?) to chauffer all of the guests around? So basically, in order to get around from each of the venues, there were Lexus’ there ready to take you! I have to admit, it was weird being driven around, and I insisted sitting in the front seat when I was in the car alone. (BUT, I will also say, that another time when I was in the car with my friend Tatiana, I lucked out and sat in the seat that RECLINED--it was a full on massage chair!)

We grabbed coffee, and then hit the Grand Tasting Tent where we worked the Grand Tasting Tent (helping Incanto restaurant at their booth!)

Chris' amazing Liver and Kidney Pie—a foie gras torchon, rabbit kidney and Guiness gelle, on a suet crust with ramps, celery and carrot.

It was so good. And it was a long day, of passing out tastes, explaining to people what it was, delivering plates to some of the other chefs there (Morimoto bowed and thanked us when we brought him a taste!) and of course going on some beer runs (yes, the Hoogarden guy knew me by the end of the day!)

I did a few quick walk abouts and tried to see what was going on everywhere and what everyone else was serving. But sadly, I didn't taste too much. And I was horrible about taking photos. But I will say that meeting Sherry Yard and having her personally make me a taste of her doughnuts (with special VIP jam!) was amazing. And also serving Michelle Bernstein at Chris' Incanto booth was a highligh--she LOVED the dish, and was so kind!

There was a quick break after the tent before the evening festivities. I (regretfully) passed up the chance to go to a seminar that sounded like a lot of fun and opted for a quick nap instead. Although that plan didn’t work so well, and instead I enjoyed some tequila on the ‘porch’ of my hotel room with my roommate. Nothing better than a good chat and tequila outside while decompressing from the day. After realizing how quickly the time had passed, we rushed to get ready and back to Inn at Spanish Bay for the L.A. Michelin Stars Dinner.

All in all, although I didn’t actually taste the SF Michelin Stars dinner, I’d have to say, SF chefs should have won. I had some high expectations for this meal, and even though I’m the BIGGEST SF fan, I wanted to be wow’ed by these LA chefs. And I wanted to taste really good food.

Japanese kanpachi with soy salt, creme fraiche, endive sous vide
Prepared by Chef Michael Cimarusti

Turbot fillet and Japanese leek with licorice sake nage, Manila clams
Prepared by Chef David Feau

California squab 'roulade' with red onion veloute, lentils du Puy, hibiscus gelee
Prepared by Chef Josiah Citrin

Millbrook Farms venison with crispy brussels sprouts, tomato-kumquat jam, negi power Prepared by Chef David Myers

Dessert! Cioccolato, bittersweet chocolate cake with Perugian chocolates
Prepared by Chefs Nancy Silverton and Dahlia Narvaez

Overall, the food wasn’t bad. But I also felt like the flavors were a little off with each dish. Needing a little of this or a little of that. I know (or actually, I don’t know, but I can imagine), how hard it would be to cook for this many people—and banquet style—and not in your own kitchen. It can’t be easy. So I realize these chefs were tasked with a difficult challenge, but I was still wanting to be wow’ed a little bit more.

Post dinner, we hit up the after party (where I was wishing there was another showing of fried chicken from Ad Hoc since I was still hungry…) But alas. Sans fried chicken, I was left to consume insane amounts of alcohol and lots of dancing. It was a great night. And a fun way to kick back a little after a long day.

That was the end of my first Pebble Beach Food & Wine experience--hopefully not my last. Some random thoughts when I stopped to compare Aspen Food & Wine to Pebble Beach Food & Wine? In no particular order…

- A SIGNIFICANTLY more diverse group of chefs at Pebble Beach (aka not the super New York centric scene of Aspen)

- Aspen has the great industry track of seminars—which would have been fun at Pebble Beach

- Obviously a much smaller scale event at Pebble Beach

- The wine at both events was amazing…but I noticed in Aspen, there was also an emphasis on spirits. Not as much at Pebble Beach.

- As I’ve mentioned before, Aspen is all about the super top secret and exclusive after parties. Pebble Beach? Not so much. I mean sure, there were different after parties, I'm sure many that I didn't even know about. But not in the same way as Aspen. Maybe it's because it's a smaller event overall? Or maybe it's just me. But it seemed to me that just about everyone was in the official chef after party each night.

My conclusion? One's not better than the other--they're just different. Would I return to both of them again? Definitely!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival: Day One

I’m a lucky gal. And while it’s something I generally realize, there are also times in my life that smack me across the face and really remind me that I’m one lucky girl. Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival was one of those times. I had heard a lot about Pebble Beach Food & Wine, but had never been. I kind of thought it was ‘out of my league’ and never really even thought that I could get down there. Well, with a little wave of the wand by my fairy god mother (Tatiana—MWAH!), the stars aligned, and with less than 24 hours notice, I rented a car, and drove down to Pebble Beach! I had no idea what the weekend would hold, but I was excited!

It ended up being one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. And just an incredible weekend hanging out with incredible people. And everywhere you went, gorgeous views! And ummm, it was a food and wine festival. There were ridiculous amounts of food and wine all around us. Non-stop. Heaven.

On my drive down, a few thoughts came to mind. First, I miss driving. And I miss singing in the car. Second, it was one of those times when I was appreciative of where I was in life. Being independent, financially secure, and without any obligations keeping me from being able to experience this amazing weekend. There are only a few times in life when you can pick up and leave for the weekend on such short notice and do something totally fun, random and crazy!!

Some of the ‘celebrities’ that we saw? Jacques Pepin, Tom Colicchio (with a crutch!), Michael Mina, Traci des Jardin, Eric Ripert, Jean Joho, Richard Reddington, Hubert Keller, Thomas Keller, Gabriel Rucker, Nancy Silverton, Morimoto…the list goes on and on.

The people I was most excited to see/meet? (aka my new girl crushes?) Michelle Bernstein and Sherry Yard. Both were so nice, and it was great seeing them all weekend. (I can’t wait to check out Michelle’s restaurants when I head to Miami in a few weeks!)

What else? Let’s see. I kicked off Friday night with a glass of bubbly fireside at the Inn at Spanish Bay with my friend Tatiana. I was finally able to stop and relax. And that was when it hit me—I was there! We had the most amazing dinner that night at Peppoli, prepared by Chef Arturo Moscoso. One of those times when you sit down and you don’t even see a menu. (I love meals like that. I always know I’m in for a treat!)

Borrowed from Inn at Spanish Bay

We started with some of the most amazing bread (ok, so maybe I was hungry!) But then we had mussels, yummy silky scallops, and the best starter for me? Shrimp with polenta. I couldn’t stop eating it. Then we had soups. A delicious spring onion soup and then a tomato-bread soup that was like eating a hearty tomato sauce. We dipped the best foccaccia bread into the soups and it was perfect. Then it was pasta. And those that know me, know that this is my favorite course. There is no pasta that I’ve met that I don’t like. This was no exception. Chef Arturo had picked two amazing pastas. A bolognese and a carbonara. Seriously? My two favorite pastas. I wouldn’t have picked any others.

We were definitely getting full at this point. But still had a lovely whole fish to eat! It was de-boned table side, and served with a gorgeous platter of greens and roasted potatoes. The potatoes were THE BEST (yea, I’ve got a love for potatoes, I’m a simple gal!) It was so good. The wine kept flowing, and we finally ended the night with an espresso (well, not quite ended the night, just the meal!)

By then, it was time for the after party. We made our way to the downstairs ballroom that had been transformed. There were a few different rooms—an area for the Sommeliers (hint: you always want to sneak into that party…if the wine is good enough for the group of Master Sommeliers to drink, it must be good!) There was an area that was serving food (different each night, on Friday night? Ad Hoc was serving their fried chicken, and there was a gorgeous platter of Boccalone meats! Damn Arturo, I was too full to eat any of it!) There was the bar area, the beer bar area, a dance floor, and a little elevated VIP area.

It was nuts. We stayed and hung out and drank and chatted…until the wee hours. By the time my head hit the pillow that night, I was pooped.
Stay tuned for adventures from Day Two!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Sharing a Meal

One of my favorite things to do, is to share food with people. Whether it’s making just a tad more of a dish and sharing it with a friend, or sharing a favorite dish or restaurant with a friend. I had the opportunity to do that recently. My friend from college, John, is like me, a little food crazed. We recently got together for drinks and started talking about our favorite restaurants in San Francisco. Much to my dismay, he had never been to Incanto before. One of my absolute favorites.

So we put it in the books. And a few weeks later, John, his wife Justyna, and I experienced an amazing meal, and they understood why Incanto is one of the handful of restaurants I’m always talking about. We couldn’t even begin to pick items off the menu. It really felt like we were going to need a lot more people to help us eat. With some help from Chef Chris Cosentino, we finally settled on a few starters…

Little gem lettuce with hazelnut, lemon and chili

Strawberries, fava beans, minutina and pecorino

Marinated local sardines, celery, grapefruit and radish

The little gem was delish, and the hazelnut added a yummy nutty flavor. The strawberries were amazing. I found myself going back and picking out the fava beans after my first helping, I just couldn’t stop. It was the perfect spring dish. And the sardines? SO GOOD! They were huge, and I’m pretty sure John ate more than his fair share of this dish. We moved onto the pastas next.
Rabbit liver foie gras ravioli with grappa brown butter

handkerchief pasta with rustic pork ragu

Spaghettini, Sardinian cured tuna heart, egg yolk and parsley

The one thing I said when we sat down was that I HAD to order the spaghettini. There are a few dishes that I find myself CRAVING, and this is one of them. It’s perfect comfort food to me. Good anytime. John loved the rabbit liver—rich and delicious.

It was at this point in the meal that Chris decided to surprise us with a dish he was working on, that would be seeing it’s way onto the menu in the next week or so. We dug into it so quickly, I don’t have a great photo of it. But if you want to see a good photo of the dish, of what it’s suppose to look like, click here: In the meantime, here’s our photo:

It’s pea brain! Literally! Peas and brains. And it was so good. We ate all of it. Go and order this dish friends. Really. And for those of you that might be squeamish about brains…don’t be! Have an open mind (haha). I can’t speak for John and Justyna, but I was starting to get full. And we still had our two entrees.

white wine and rosemary braised rabbit, roasted carrots and spring flowers

Arctic char with cardoons, rhubarb and mint

The rabbit was so good. And the presentation was beautiful with the spring flowers. Really, our entire meal said spring to me. The Arctic char was really good too. And the rhubarb gave the dish a hint of pink. And how can I forget?! The best side dish ever!

A shout out to Winnie the Pooh, peas with honey and a knife. I think I ate more peas than anyone else. So after all of that, we really should have been done. But no. Dessert was next. And we were in for a treat.
We had to order the prosciutto panna cotta, because why wouldn’t you? And then we were privileged enough to be taste testers for a new dessert.

Cream soda float and a lavender toffee cookie with vanilla salt. The cream soda was SO good. Not too sweet, and perfectly fizzy. And as if that wasn't good enough?

TOAST ice cream! With a berry coulis. Get it?? Toast and jam! Yum.

At this point, we were definitely done. The meal had won over John and Justyna and reminded me of why it's one of my favorite places to eat. It was a great night not only because of the great food and wine. But the great company. And the fact that I was able to share something that I enjoy with friends. Here's looking forward to the next meal and to see what they plan to share with me!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Another one of those tough days for me. And I don't have much to say. But when thinking of Mother's Day and mom, I wanted to share this. It was a quilt I had made her a few years back. I think 2003? Maybe 2004?

I picked each fabric myself. And all of the colors and patterns were chosen with mom in mind. I measured and hand cut each piece myself. Laid it out a hundred different times until I was finally pleased with how it all blended. Little green ties were hand sewn on at the end as a finishing touch. It was a labor of love.

I've had a hard time looking at this blanket these past few years. It's been sitting in a box in my closet. But who knows? Maybe I'll take it out this Mother's Day and think about the big smile it brought to mom's face when she first saw it. And how happy she was with it. She treasured it. Mom would like that I think.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Last Supper: Jack Falstaff

I really hope this doesn't become a regular feature/series on my blog. Because it makes me sad. It's a tough economy. And sadly, some restaurants aren't making it. The papers are filled with news of closures.

One of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco, Jack Falstaff, announced that it was closing a few weeks ago. It was so sad for me to hear. And I just had to go in one last time. So last week, some friends and I headed into Jack Falstaff for a Last Supper.

It was a little sad to even walk in. Knowing it was the last time I'd be in there. The team on board made sure we had an extra special last supper. We started with a cocktail at the bar and took our time enjoying it and talking to the team there.

We finally sat down and started with a great bottle of pinot. I immediately fell in love with the label (they were actually able to pull the label off the bottle and let me keep it!) We had our menus for not even a second before our server asked us if chef could cook for us. Done. Menus closed and back in the hands of the server within seconds. (Ok, except for me. I kept my menu. You all know I steal menus, right?) We knew better than to not allow chef to cook for us. We were leaving our meal in the hands of Jonny.

So while I took photos of everything we ate...the memory's a little fuzzy when it comes to all of the dishes (blame that on the 3 cocktails before dinner and the wine with dinner.) But here we go. We started with a yummy soup...

And then we moved onto one of Jonny's classic dishes--bison tartare.

And then the best dish of the night. Burratta with proscuitto wrapped around it and just a touch of bullsblood on top of it. It was absolutely delicious. The cheese was a little melty and soft, and the proscuitto was a tad crispy on the edges. It was so good. I still dream about it and crave it.

We moved onto the fish course. Cod with English peas and caramelized potatoes. Really good. And the peas were perfect and spring like.

The next course had two components. Lamb with polenta and sweet breads with olives. Really good.

It was time for more wine. One of the challenges of a restaurant closing is that they're not necessarily re-ordering or re-stocking wine. We tried to get a few different bottles of wine, and they came back to us each time saying they were out of that wine. Our server finally told us he was just going to pick something nice for us.

The next course was super interesting. It was a pastrami beef tongue stuffed with squash blossoms and marrow, sitting on a strip of steak and served over delicious corn.

We ended with two really good desserts. Doughnuts with a delicious strawberry/mint relish, as well as a strawberry parfait. So good!

I was sad to finish our meal. I knew it would be my last meal there. But you know what? I was thrilled for Chef Jonnatan Leiva. His food is amazing. And our experience? Flawless. Regardless of what happened to Falstaff, Jonny will always have his food. And no matter where he ends up, I know I'll always have good food.

The lesson here? Go out and eat! Support your favorite restaurants, chefs, bars. Times are tough. Don't assume it's business as usual, and if you're going out to eat? Make it count.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Favorite: Daisy Pan

Does my team at work know me well or what? For my birthday, what did they get me? This BEAUTIFUL daisy cake pan--along with a cupcake 'tree' stand! Perfect!!

I love having my birthday around spring time. The rain begins to stop, the sun is out, daylight lasts just a little bit longer, and you get pretty floral cake pans!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Things I Wish I Could Say

We all have those moments. When we have something pop in our minds, and we just can't say it out loud. It's not appropriate. Or it's just not nice. And in this day and age, with social networking and social media all at out finger tips, it can be hard to not say the things you really want to say. Whether it's at work, and you're dealing with a tough situation or person....Or one of those times when you want to let your raw emotions loose...

Facebook, Twitter, this blog. None of it is anonymous. You can’t really say what you want to say anymore. You have to edit yourself. And watch what you say. So why don't I just do some good old fashioned journal writing you ask? And actually say what I want to say? Because there's something therapeutic about saying it 'out loud'. For the world to hear you. For ‘dedicating your status’ to saying exactly what’s on your mind.

Over the last few months, I’ve been jotting down all of the things that I wish I could say but couldn’t. Here are some of them:

"When will work ease up? Feeling overwhelmed."
"Feeling let down..."
"Meeting went great, I nailed it!"
"Feeling so confused"
"I see the light at the end of the tunnel..."
"Wishing I lived there instead...would things be different?"
"So frustrated by this project"
"Now there's a way to make a girl feel special!"
"Why are men such jerks?"
"Being French isn't an excuse"
"What's it all for?"
"It's just the accent..."
"How do you explain those actions?"
"Did they mean what they said?"
"Who should I believe?"
"Is all hope lost?"
"Why can't I be more like a man? Less emotion please"
"Surprisingly? She wasn't that pretty. He could do better"
"Why must geography be such a challenge?"
"Feeling like the pessimist today, not the optimist"
"First it was the Post-It, now it's the website..."
"There's only so much rejection a girl can take"
"Huge crush, he's adorable!"
"Yes, it's part of the accent phase-embrace it!"
"He had a scooter! Beep beep!"
"It was perfect...except for the geography"
"Best weekend, still on cloud nine"
"Feeling loved and on top of the world"
"It's the conversation-I can be creative with him"
"How does he really remember every conversation we've had?? Surprising..."
“I’m kind of giddy still”

Are you always able to say what you want? Do you filter your tweets, status updates and postings? Is there ever really a time and place for pure honesty? I wish there was. If we weren't all trying so hard to say the right things, or to prevent hurt feelings, would we be better off?

I continue to wear my heart on my sleeve. And despite my best efforts not to show my emotions or feelings, I do. Something to work on I suppose. So I guess, even if I don't accurately post my true feelings, one look at me, and the secret's out. I'm not so good at hiding my feelings. And that's no secret.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Meal of the Month: April

There have been a lot of months when I struggled with my Meal of the Month pick. Months when I’ve been on the road and traveling, having one amazing meal after another. Months when it seemed like all of my talented friends invited me over for amazing home cooked meal after another. Months when I was jet setting and in foreign country after another—experiencing new flavors and new dishes. Well, I have to say. This past April may be one of the hardest picks yet.

I celebrated my 30th birthday with a weekend getaway in Sonoma with some of the best friends a gal could ask for. Literally, from breakfast lunch to dinner. Meals were incredible. Wine was flowing. Champagne poured from the moment we got up. Specialty cocktails made my our very own mixologist. And friends everywhere. It was one of the most incredible weekends I’ve ever experienced. And every single one of the meals that we had was amazing. My friend Wendy made a FEAST and I had the most gorgeous birthday cake from one of my favorite pastry chefs, Ian.

Then there was the delicious meal at Blue Plate with a special group of some of my favorite restaurant people catching up. I also caught up with friends throughout the month…over a beer at Monk’s Kettle, over some duck hearts at Alembic, cocktails at Beretta, late night pizza at Pizzeria Delfina with two SF 'newbies' that I love, chicken nuggets at SPQR, cheese and salumi at Amelie and got to know a new friend over some bourbon at Street.

The over the top yummy meal at Incanto, where I was able to share the experience with old college friends (who claimed it was one of their Top 5 meals!)

So those were all amazing meals. There was also the amazing Taste of the Nation Share Our Strength event…where while I didn’t necessarily eat…it’s still worth mentioning. Almost a meal. Definitely one of the most memorable nights of April. Hands down. Maybe filed under proximity to amazing food? More on that night in a separate post.

So how is it possible that none of these were my Meal of the Month winners? It's because of Pebble Beach Food & Wine. I don't even know where to begin describing the amazing weekend I had. And I actually think it deserves it's own post. But for now, there were amazing bites throughout the weekend. The most delicious 'welcome' dinner the first night I arrived. A multi course dinner prepared by Michelin star winners of well known Los Angeles area restaurants. And being surrounded by people that cared so deeply about food.

I wish I had some photos from the Friday night dinner prepared for us especially by Chef Arturo Moscoso at Inn at Spanish Bay's Peppoli restaurant. Since I don't have photos from that meal, I'll leave you with my favorite dish from the L.A. Michelin Star dinner. It was prepared by Chef David Myers of Sona restaurant, and it was a Millbrook Farms venison with crispy brussels sprouts, tomato-kumquat jam, negi power. It was delicious. And well, yes, the tomato-kumquat jam was my favorite component of the dish...although the brussels sprouts were perfect too!

Here's raising a glass to April. I can't wait to see what May brings!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Thought

I spent this rainy Sunday cleaning my apartment, going through stacks of old magazines, purging, and generally getting organized and cleaned up. I've admitted to being a bit of a pack rat, and I'm definitely working on that (thinking, if I had to move right now, would this get tossed or make the cut?) And needless to say, even though it's hard for me, I'm starting to throw away a lot more and more importantly, saving less, and bringing fewer and fewer things into my home.

As I was sorting through a stack of papers (old cards, menus, programs, tickets, etc.) I came across a few cards from my mom. Old birthday cards, thank you notes... It made me sad even to see the familiar note cards, and tears were streaming down my face by the time I opened them up, just to see her familiar hand writing, and her signature little heart dot over the 'i' in my name.

It hit me. Why do I bother saving all of these papers, tickets, business cards, receipts, memorabilia, and other things? All of my memories are in my mind. I don't need all of these other insignificant items. It was time to let go of these material things. The things that really matter? The people in my life. The experiences. The memories in my head.

I'm going to stop saving everything (except for these cards from my mom, those are now in a safe place and will be cherished forever). But all the other stuff? I don't need it. And it's just more stuff I'll have to eventually throw away.

This is the first step I'm going to take in simplifying my life. I'm going to look for more opportunities to eliminate the unnecessary stuff. The stuff that's just taking up space. And I don't just mean actual stuff. I mean all the mental crap too. I don't have the space, nor the time for that. Both physically and mentally. After all, why let the old memories sit at home and collect dust while I've got to get out there and live for new memories.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Opps! Technical Difficulties

Sorry readers subscribing via RSS feed or FeedBlitz. I accidentally hit 'publish post' after uploading some photos...but before I wrote anything! Opps. You can read "Sharing A Meal" soon. Hope you'll tune in though, it's a great post/recap of an amazing dinner I recently shared with some friends at Incanto. You won't want to miss it, especially the photos!

Friday Favorite: Pretty Flower, Amazing Weekend

I missed a Friday Favorite photo post. I can't believe it. I know I've already admitted my negligence to the blog...but it's not without guilt. I am going to post my Friday Favorite, a day late. Let's hope this doesn't happen again.

This is a simple photo of the beautiful flowers that were on the table at the L.A. Michelin dinner at Pebble Beach Food & Wine festival. It was a simple flower in a little 'fish bowl' bud vase, and there were a few scattered around the table. It was simple and elegant.

The photo reminds me of the entire amazing weekend. Just looking at this photo brings back fun memories. Here's hoping to be able to make it to Pebble Beach Food & Wine 2010!