Wednesday, 31 December 2008

And there’s a hand my trusty friend !

And give us a hand o' thine! And we'll take a right good-will draught, for auld lang syne*.

*The version sung by Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis (from the Sex and the City soundtrack) is making me cry a lot tonight. Bless my patient husband as he slow dances with me in our living room.

Monday, 29 December 2008

My Favorite Foods in 2008

I love 'best of' compilation lists and love food, so this is going to be fun. I also eat a lot and eat just about everything, so this is going to be huge :) Before we moved to the bay area I came across a thread on chowhound called "Top Ten Tastes of 2007" or something similar. It turned out to be a great jumping-off place from which to explore from, food-wise. Also, all of these dishes are from restaurants--it's not that I don't cook/bake a lot, I do, but somehow things taste better when it's prepared for you. I'm more scrutinizing when it comes to things I make myself. Maybe I'll do another list of favorite things I've made this year.

One of the best appetizers ever--pig's trotter with foie gras, pears and bacon at the best Italian restaurant in SF, Incanto.

The strawberry mochi, made with fresh strawberries, from Benkyodo in Japantown. It's available only in summer.

The Irish brown bread at John Campbell's Irish Bakery.

Smoked salmon breakfast sandwich at Alexis Baking Company here in Napa.

The triple-cream delight that is Cowgirl Creamery's Mt. Tam cheese. One of my favorite memories of this past summer involve Steve, our friend Andrew, and I sitting in the car decompressing after a backpacking trip, going to town on this cheese.

Fava bean soup at Chez Panisse. I could have licked my plate if it wasn't, well, Chez Panisse.

This incredible orange polenta served by Indigo Room at the 2008 Taste of Vero this past May. My one complaint is that the guy serving the polenta got stingier and stingier with my portions when I kept going back to their booth for more.

The light-as-air waffles at Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland. When I was there I saw a woman with a t-shirt that says, "I hella heart Oakland"...well, I hella heart these waffles.

Spit-roasted pork belly with Sicilian chestnut honey, olives and almonds at Oliveto for their "whole hog" dinner. I'm a tad sad because going to the 2009 Whole Hog dinner was something I was hoping to do but it looks like it'll get left behind on the cutting-room floor in an effort to stick to a budget. Maybe I could re-create this dish at home?

Kunafa, a dish at Old Jerusalem. It's warm goat cheese topped with wheat, pistachios, and syrup.

The macarons Boulange, the Fillmore & Pine location. These are so good that when I had Steve try some for the first time he rolled down the car window and shouted, "I love macarons! I love macarons!" to whomever happened to be walking or driving down Pine just then.

Dorado tacos at La Taqueria, definitely our favorite taqueria in the Mission.

Rose gelato at Gelato Firenze in Oakland. I would eat it after every yoga class the whole month of June, a worthy indulgence.

The Best Ever Foccacia (seriously, amazing) at Liguria Bakery. Plain or raisin, I don't care.

Lime souffle at Cafe Jacqueline. This is so so good.

Cold jellyfish at Jai Yun in Chinatown.

Shaker lemon pie at Mission Pie.

The exquisite tea leaf salad at Burma Superstar. I could eat this every night. It's tea leaves, shrimp, fried garlic, sesame seeds, peanuts, and probably some other wonderful stuff too.

The warm sea urchin at Anchor & Hope. It's like a chowder but with bits of crab, potato, beurre blanc and of course, sea urchin. It's dreamy.

Ahi burger with wasabi salsa at Taylor's Automatic Refresher, in Napa or St. Helena. I've never been to the SF branch.

Sweet arepas with cheese at Mr. Pollo.

Carne crudo from Dopo in Oakland.

Fried fava beans with mayo aioli at Delfina Pizzeria. They take the simplest things and make them amazing--I really like that about them.

Bizets at Crixa Cakes in Berkeley.

The "fried" egg breaded with grits and pork soffrito served at SPQR's Sunday brunch. It is incredible.

The two big standouts from my dreamy birthday dinner at Manresa: the soft-boiled Arpege farm egg with maple syrup and sherry vinegar, and the foie gras and abalone "tide pool."

The French Laundry, because I still can't believe we got to eat here. Even though I feel it's worthy of it's own post, here were my three favorite dishes that night: 1) pork belly with tomato compote, hard-boiled quail eggs and capers...our server described this as "the best BLT you'll ever have;" was she ever right. 2) sweet butter-poached Maine lobster with persimmon, celery, sunchokes and black truffle emulsion. 3) donuts with frozen coffee. The "secret" (or not so secret, I guess) course that one has to actually request at the beginning of dinner in order to get. Yay!

The parmigiano pudding with cocoa nibs, pepper jam, and pop rocks (pop rocks!) at Orson.

Roti pratha with curry dipping sauce at
Lime Tree.

Tuna sashimi at Kiss.

Cheeseburger from Prather Ranch at the Saturday morning Ferry Plaza farmer's market. A good Saturday is one spent eating this burger.

The morning buns at Tartine Bakery; they are sticky and orangey and crispy, I heart them.

The caramel goat cheese made by Bodega Goat Cheese, called natilla. It is wonderful and I could easily eat a little parcel of it in one sitting. The sweet man that sells it is at the Ferry Plaza farmer's market in the summer, or they sell it at the Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley.

Coffee cream-filled beignets at 1300 on Fillmore. This place was literally less than a minute's walk from our apartment. I wish I had gone there more for dessert.

Nutella-filled bomboloni at the Boriana's Corner, a store at the Ferry Plaza.

The best xiaolongbao in the city at Shanghai Dumpling King. We really miss getting a regular xiaolongbao fix now that we're in Napa.

The fantastic BBQ pork bacon banh mi from Cam Huong in Oakland's Chinatown.Yes. Bacon.

Foie gras stuffed quail at Bar Tartine. I really really like foie gras.

Some places I want to try in the new year are
1) Cafe Majestic just to try the foie gras ice cream
2) Yats' New Orleans Original Po Boys because I actually went to New Orleans, did not eat a po boy and have regretted it ever since
3) Kaygetsu for a high-end Japanese meal
4) Quince for their homemade pastas
5) Cyrus for a blow-out dinner before we leave here.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Let your heart be light

Things I loved (and am loving, since it's not over 'till the Epiphany for me) about our Christmas in 2008

-the de-emphasis on presents, focusing instead on traditions I adore (going-to-see-Christmas-lights night...cookie Sunday...
Love Actually for the gazillionth time...)

-the "tree" I made to surprise Steve when he came home from work one December night (inspired from here)

-our humble Christmas day brunch of roasted fingerling potatoes and pancetta, then cranberry and orange pavlovas (from the December '08 issue of this), with mimosas

-getting to talk--no--getting to see Simona, Nonna, Zietta, Zio, Zia Lina via my webcam with Skype. Skype is wonderful.

Things I wish had been different this Christmas (and if we play our cards right, shouldn't be repeat mistakes)

-I wish our family(s) were closer.

-I didn't get to talk to my mom or dad on Christmas day. They're out of the country and because of insane time differences and their plans for an excursion involving 1) a camel and 2) no phone, we weren't able to connect until the 26th. That felt weird and sad.

-my dumb idea to broil our Christmas Eve lobster from some Cajun recipe I found. We usually just steam it and it's always amazing. This one came out charred, rubbery. Simpler really is better.

Merry, merry Christmas.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Wonderful Saturday

It's always been a dream/life goal (so sad!) of mine to learn the Thriller dance, and I pretty much fell off the couch six months ago when a google search for "how to do the thriller dance" brought me to this website.

Fast forward to yesterday, October 25th, heretofore known as Thrill the World Day. Yup. Here's not one but two youtube vid links to prove it--I'm the pale, pale underling wearing a black dress and hiking boots in the bottom right-hand corner and towards the back of the pack (in my defense I am wearing white face paint as part of the un-dead look but yeah, apparently I'm the whitest Italian ever). Steve is to my left rocking the un-dead yet hunky combat/Hulk look in green plaid and navy blue pants. We're so cool. The night before we had gone in a group o' lucky 7 from the Embarcadero BART to the Montgomery BART to the Powell BART, doing the dance at every station, on the street! now we're those weirdo dancers you see on the street without a care in the world!--then we ended up in Union Square where we joined up with the Friday night roller skaters for a final dress rehearsal before TTW Day.

So very cool.

the photo above is of our ringleader, dressed in his MJ finest.

Monday, 20 October 2008

a toast

to Lambert and Adam and the happiness they've found in each other (congratulations!).

to Thriller dancing in Golden Gate Park on Sunday afternoons

to Hoodle dogs peeking out of limos

to Pride wines, 'specially their sublime merlot (or is it their picnic area I'm in love with?)

to 47 months married

"The best days go fastest."

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Our favorite winery dogs

so far, that is. we get our dog fix when we visit wineries--each place seems to have a mascot.

Ralph at Stony Hill

Curly at Smith-Madrone

Until we get a pup of our own, though, we'll have to keep tormenting this little beastie:

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Chihuly, Brilliant Chihuly

Yesterday I was lucky enough to experience the Chihuly exhibition at the de Young Museum here in San Francisco. I had first seen his art--unbeknowest to me at the time-- in February of last year when I lost my Vegas virginity. Recognize the location in this picture?*

Dale Chihuly's blown-glass creations (but no, they're so much more than that) are nothing short of amazing. They are whimsical, playful, Willy Wonka-esque fantasies come to life. I'll let my favorite photos from the exhibition do the rest of the gushing. I think they speak for themselves:

*Hint: it rhymes with Dellagio and is famous for its fountains...

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Confession Tuesday

As I was wolving down my heavenly bizet--
vanilla whipped cream sandwiched by vanilla meringues--

(why did I wait so long to discover this place?)

--part of it fell into the wet kitchen sink.

I didn't care. I still sopped up every crumb.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

a year ago today...

Mexico baby.

and to think I spent THIS glorious March 8th at work. Jeez. Saving up for another trip.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Gung hay fat choy (& my 1st post of 2008, for shame)

a little late, considering it was ushered in on February 7th--but here in San Francisco there was a huge parade last night in celebration of the rat. Chinese New Year. Fun stuff. We whooped it up in the rain and wind.

& while I'm at it, happy Valentine's Day (to you Fridad, since I'm pretty sure you're the only one who reads this anymore!)

More to come. A pictorial love letter to San Francisco, my newest favorite city, is in the works.

happy Sunday, happy Oscar Night.