Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Donations, Sweet Treats & One Warm Coat.

Attention friends!  This is a great way to give back during the upcoming holiday season, and what an amazing opportunity to help someone in need this winter- the hubbs and are I definitely going to do our part to get the word out and participate.  Check it out: 
Top San Francisco Pastry Chefs to Partner with “One Warm Coat” to Host Coat Drive at Eighteen Restaurants in the City...

From November 26 – December 10, 2012, Diners are Encouraged to Donate a Coat to Participating Restaurants and Receive a Sweet Holiday Treat in Return.

WHAT: A group of top San Francisco pastry chefs, including Brasserie S&P’s Executive Chef Adam Mali, have come together to partner with the charity, One Warm Coat, a national non-profit that assists in the donation of coats, to host a coat drive for two weeks following the Thanksgiving holiday.

HOW: Those interested in participating in the coat drive can drop off coats at any of the participating restaurants or bakeries, and in return, the pastry chef will provide guests with a special sweet treat.

Participating restaurants and bakeries include:

· Brasserie S&P Mandarin Oriental: 222 Sansome, Donations from 7am-11pm

· One Market: 1 Market Street, Donations from noon-9pm

· Tartine Bakery: 600 Guerrero, Donations from 8am-6pm

· La Folie Restaurant and Lounge: 2316 Polk Street, Donations from 10am-10pm

· Farallon Restaurant: 450 Post Street, Donations from 5pm-10pm

· Waterbar: 399 Embarcadero, Donations from 11am-10pm

· Goody Goodie Cream & Sugar: 1830 Harrison, Donations from 8am-3pm

· Tout Sweet Kitchen: 1750D Cesar Chavez, Donations from 9am-3pm

· Range: 842 Valencia, Donations from 6pm-10pm

· Town Hall: 342 Howard, Donations from 11:30pm-6pm M-F

· Bourbon Steak: 335 Powell, 13th Floor, Donations from 9am-5pm M-F

· Zare at Fly Trap: 606 Folsom, Donations from 9am-5pm M-Sa

· COCO500: 500 Brannan, Donations from 11:30am-10pm

· Prospect: 300 Spear St, Donations from 4pm-10pm

· Absinthe Pastry: 201 Ivy, Donations from 9am-5pm

· Noe Valley Bakery: 4073 24th St, Donations from 7am-6pm

· 1300 Fillmore: 1300 Fillmore, Donations from 4:30pm-9pm

WHEN: Coat Drive: Monday, November 26 – Monday, December 10
One Warm Coat is a national non-profit organization that assists in the donation of coats. The organization helps individuals, groups, companies and organizations across the country collect coats and deliver them to local agencies that distribute them free, to people in need. Providing this simple yet vital need helps people live productive lives year round. Over 3 million coats have been collected and distributed through One Warm Coat activities since 1992.
Be Kind,

Monday, November 26, 2012

Winter Risotto.

Admittedly, I am feeling a few pounds heavier and a tad bit dehydrated after this Thanksgiving Holiday, but altogether it has been an amazing past 5 days for us.  The hubbs and I were able to divide our time between family, both in Sacramento and Napa, and were also able to savor a few quiet evenings to ourselves after the hustle and bustle of turkey day festivities.  As December first sneaks up, I'm pretty much ready to roll into hyperdrive when it comes to travelling and eating as much as humanly possible before the turn of the year.  Hey- just because you just stuffed yourself silly with mashed potatoes, cornbread, olives, yams, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie doesn't mean there's any reason to slow down.  Winter is the time for hibernation, hearty foods and warm, rich recipes.  Therefore, I bring you... Risotto.

Risotto is normally a primo (first course), served on its own before the main course. In this house, we could easily eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's a favorite- an incredibly versatile one at that. Risotto is a class of Italian rice dishes cooked in broth to a creamy consistency with the broth being meat-, fish-, or vegetable-based. Many types of risotto contain Parmesan cheese, butter, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy, full of flavor but relatively easy to prepare.

I tend to use Arborio rice for my risotto, but there are also the Baldo, Carnaroli, Maratelli, Padano, Roma, and Vialone Nano varieties of rice that are commonly used. Carnaroli, Maratelli and Vialone Nano are considered to be the best (and most expensive) varieties, with different users preferring one over the other. I love the taste and texture of the simple, creamy Arborio rice grain-- as an added benefit, it's fairly easy variety to find at your local grocery, sold pre-packaged or in bulk dry goods. 

Tonight I'll be serving our Risotto with pan-seared, farm-raised Norwegian Salmon Filet and crispy sauteed Haricot Jaunes.  The Arborio will indeed be complemented with white onion, chicken stock and Grana Padano Parmesan cheese, staying true to it's classic preparation.  Ok, ok, I may add a little white truffle oil and garlic as well (*winkwink*).

*Savory Winter Risotto*
5 cups chicken broth
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
1 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chopped Italian Parsley
Shaved Parmesan cheese

Bring broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Reduce heat to low; cover saucepan.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add onion; saute until very tender but not brown, about 15 minutes.  Increase heat to medium.  Add rice and stir 1 minute.  Add 1 1/2 cups warm broth.  Boil gently until broth is absorbed, stirring frequently.  Add another 1 cup broth; stir until broth is absorbed.  Add remaining 2 1/2 cups broth, 1/2 cup at a time, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more and stirring frequently until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes.  Stir in 2 tbsp butter and 1 cup grated cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to bowl and sprinkle with parsley and shaved Parmesan.

Dig in and enjoy this delicious, classic Italian staple...


Monday, November 19, 2012

Chablis and Boulevard.

Last week, as the weather took a turn towards winter, the hubbs and I were honored to attend a very intimate dinner and wine pairing at one of San Francisco's (and America's) best known restaurants- Boulevard.  It was a truly memorable evening spent with President of the Chablis Wine Board, and master of Domaine Seguinot-Bordet, Mr. Jean-Francoise Bordet.  The combination of company and culinary pleasures marked the evening as one of my favorite dining experiences to date...

In 1993 Nancy Oakes opened Boulevard in partnership with designer Pat Kuleto to highlight her hearty, flavorful and beautiful cuisine.

"Surrounded by Pat Kuleto's timeless Belle Epoque inspired design, Chef Oakes wonderful expression of American regional flavors with a French influenced style has made Boulevard a culinary landmark on San Francisco's revived Embarcadero waterfront."

Our evening was one of "Pure Chablis"- a program put together to explore, sip and savor the wines of France's Burgundy region, complemented by the hearty, flavorful cuisine of Boulevard.  We tasted through seven different Chablis Cru bottles, each paired with a separate meal course uniquely designed to bring out the best of both the food and the wines of Chablis.  Our hosts, Jean-Francoise Bordet and Francoise Roure were warm and gracious dining companions, sharing their backgrounds, stories and observations with our small but involved table.  There were plenty of smiles and a good amount of laughter shared, along with an almost infinite wealth of French wine knowledge. 

One of the most exciting parts of our evening was the anticipation of the unusual, completely original food pairings coming out of the kitchen from Chef Oakes.  Always a delightful surprise, her dishes completely outshine tasting menus from events past, both in presentation and flavors.  The food was the perfect accompaniment to the unique, elegant wines of Chablis.

As we made our introductions, got comfortable and settled into our cushy alcove smack-dab in the middle of the restaurant, the dishes began to arrive, all politely and professionally described by our savvy waiters...

Kushi Oyster, Steak Tartare, Pomme Frites
Domaine-Seguinot-Bordet Chablis Vieilles Vignes 2010 
An incredibly buttery, decadent combination of flavors with a perfect, slight crunch.  The steak was firm and seasoned well.  The pomme frite were as light as air.
Deviled Crab Bisque
Mendocino Uni Toast, Chives & Lemon
La Chablisienne Chablis Premier Cru Cote de Lechet 2009
Domaine Long- Depaquit Chablis Premier Cru Les Beugnons
The delicate toast was topped with exotic Uni, a texture new and unfamiliar to me- the bisque was heavenly, served table-side from an elegant tureen.  I sliced the toast, eating in portions soaked in the creamy, savory, dense soup... Other ate the two separately, but I couldn't resist.
Pan Seared Scallop
Fresh Shelling Beans, New Zealand Spinach, Castelvetrano Olives
Domaine Pinson Chablis Premier Cru Mont de Milieu 2009
Domaine William Fevre Chablis Premier Cru Vaulorent 2009
I loved the textures is this dish- the scallops were lightly seared, the spinach was crisp and refreshing, and the shelling beans were semi-firm, hearty orbs with a potato-like consistency.
Maine Lobster
Risotto al Nero & Shellfish Mushrooms
Domaine Christian Moreau Chablis Grand Cru Valmur 2008
This course was my favorite of the evening.  The risotto was cooked exquisitely, colored and flavored with black squid ink.  The mushrooms helped cut the strong essence of the risotto, while the steamed lobster claw added another burst of fresh seafood to the palate.
Brent Wolfe Quail
Mendocino Porcini, Soft Celery Root & Chestnuts, Roasted Quail Jus
Domaine Drouhin Vaudon Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2008
The giant, succulent mushrooms and roasted quail jus were meltaway right off the fork.  The quail itself had a crispy, crackling skin on the outside, but the flesh inside was fall-off-the-bone tender.  We were told that the bird had been "butter-poached", giving it remarkable flavor.  The birds come from a local bay area sustainable, cage-free organic farm.
Butternut Cake & Maple Sugar Creme
Sage Ice Cream, Brown Butter "Hard Sauce"
Fuyu Persimmons, Piedmontese Hazelnuts
This dessert was the equivalent of a very fancy bread pudding served with a scoop of what I can only call "winter on a spoon".  The sage ice cream was unlike anything I've tasted before- cool, herbaceous and creamy.  The bread was dense, tasted of spices and wonderful fall squash.  It tasted almost as if the Chef captured November and December in a bowl.
Many thanks go out to the lovely folks representing Chablis and the entire staff of Boulevard.  It was an incredibly educational experience that left us fat, happy and a little bit more in love with French wines (and people!)  Please don't hesitate www.chablis.fr to learn more about the beautiful wines of Chablis and/or explore www.seguinot-bordet.fr for a more in-depth look at Domaine Seguinot-Bordet.  The history is fascinating and the wines are as refined as their 500+ year old family heritage.
You can also visit Boulevard, located in the Audiffred Building (one of the very few buildings in SF to survive the 1906 earthquake) at 1 Mission Street in San Francisco.  Reservations are very highly recommended... Arrive early to have drink at their luxurious bar, or just explore the gorgeous interior of the restaurant itself. 
Bon Appetit!


Friday, November 16, 2012

MOSF Thanksgiving Event.

It's that time again- Thanksgiving!  A time for family, friends and loved ones... 
Gather with friends and family at Brasserie S&P this Thanksgiving. Indulge in a four-course traditional or vegan and gluten-free menus with all the trimmings. Perfect for the entire family, this special meal is available from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, 2012 at USD75 per person plus USD45 for wine pairings.
Check out their turkey day menu:
Chestnut Honey • Roasted Chestnuts
Medloc-Ames Chardonnay 2009 Russian River
SALAD Butter lettuce • Icicle Radishes • Fennel • Buttermilk Sage Vinaigrette
Steven Kent “Lola” Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Livermore Valley
Apple Cider Bourbon Gravy • Caramelized Brussels Sprouts • Bacon Maple Syrup • Cinnamon Spiced Cranberry Brown Sugar Glazed Yams with Sage • Stuffing with Della Fattoria Artisan Bread
Hirsch Vineyards “Prelation” Sonoma Coast 2010
Three Twins Vanilla Ice Cream
Spiced Chantilly
Joseph Phelps Eisrebe
Apple Cider Reduction • Haricot Vert • Roasted Garlic Rosemary Red Potatoes • Butternut Squash • Braised Lacinato Kale
Hirsch Vineyards “Prelation” Sonoma Coast 2010
Joseph Phelps Eisrebe

For reservations or more information, please contact +1 (415) 986-2020 or email mosfo-dining@mohg.com. Brasserie S&P is located in Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco at 222 Sansome Street. Menu created by Executive Chef Adam Mali.
Be well,

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Nude Food.

I was recently introduced to a fantastic, relatively new company called NudeFood.  Hailing from Colorado, NudeFood specializes in organic, nutrient-dense, raw & vegan nutrition bars for the purist food lover in all of us.  I was a bit skeptical at first, because most "nutrition" bars have what I can only describe as a sawdust taste and texture, but NudeFood has really hit the nail on the head with their product.  Tasty, nutrient-packed, gluten-dairy-soy-GMO free products that come in a wide array of yummy flavors.

"Our bars and blends are 100% Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, Corn-free, Whey-free and Non-GMO. Our meticulously sourced ingredients are blended raw, in a process intended to feature their natural integrity and nutritional potential."

NudeFood's mission is simple: "To feed people good food — with the understanding that a well-nourished body is the foundation for a mind engaged and a spirit uplifted."

No doubt there.  You can immediately tell that NudeFood uses only the freshest ingredients when you peel open one of their bars.  They even smell fresh.  And they taste pretty darn delicious.  Like ripe fruit, dates, seeds, nuts and coconut, all mashed into one delicious bar.  Well, sort of.  I was given a selection of their NudeFood bars to sample, ranging from fruity to an almost savory cocoa blend.  Check these out...

Let's start with my favorite- The Pineapple Pomegranate Walnut bar.  The combination of almond, pineapple, cranberry, pomegranate and sunflower seed is tangy and not too sweet, with a texture like smooth almond paste.  An overall satisfying bite and unexpected flavor combo that I really enjoyed.

Next, we have the Mocha Coconut Cream bar.  This one is packed with dark chocolate, hazelnuts, Himalayan salt, dates, almonds and coffee beans.  A decadent nutrient bar loaded with vitamin E.  I'm not gonna lie, when I opened this bar, it smelled like a fresh cup of coffee... Loved it.  The nice thing about the NudeFood bars is that you can substitute a meal and feel completely satiated due to their nutrient-loaded nature, without feeling that taste is sacrificed.

On to the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk bar- what's not to like?  Just the title sounds amazing, and it truly is a mega-packed-peanutty-good alternative to that PBJ sandwich you were thinking of having for lunch.  I'd have to say this is one of NudeFood's most healthful bars, loaded with vitamin E, vitamin B6 and iron, not to mention peanuts, golden flax and Madagascar vanilla. 

Last (but certainly not least) of my sample selection was the Cherry Vanilla Macadamia bar.  When I bit into this, I felt like I was sipping some exotic, spicy-sweet cider.  The cinnamon is powerful, and the tart cherry flavor really gives it a kick.  It literally made my mouth water!  This would be a great post workout bar to have on hand, to give a little extra pick-me-up after a long day of surfing or that half-marathon you just completed.

"NudeFood Bars are packed with important minerals, including selenium, magnesium, zinc, copper, and potassium. They also contain plenty of protein, beneficial fiber, and good fats...  We pride ourselves on not needing to add any synthetic vitamins or preservatives. By using only the highest quality, all natural, and when possible, organic ingredients, we can offer some of the most delicious, nutritious foods around."

Not only does NudeFood produce great nutrition bars, you can also find a selection of Ultra Dense Breakfast Boosters:

"The Breakfast Boost is our whole-food smoothie booster/oatmeal enhancer/yogurt promoter/salad additive/soup topping/crust creator/sundae garnish and so on, as you please...  Base ingredients include California almonds, organic sunflower, flax and hemp seeds, and cinnamon, providing an abundance of naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. These elements are blended in ratios scientifically formulated to nourish your being.  The Original Spirulina Blend features ancient super-food Spirulina. Considered one of the oldest organisms on the planet, Spirulina is good for the immune system, and helps with brain, eye, blood, and heart health, plus more! With zero sugar added, this simple blend is a powerful boost for any meal."

They also have an Unbaked Cookie available that is a great snacking alternative for folks with gluten issues and/or dietary preferences.  The cookies are made with raw honey, fruits, nuts and juices, all of which are organic.  Yum!

Kudos to NudeFood for their fabulous organic, vegan, healthy products...  If you haven't figured it out yet, the NuDe is short for, you guessed it, NUtrient-DEnse.  Shop online at:  www.nudefood.com.

Ok, so now that I have stuffed myself silly with NudeFood bars, I think it's about time for an afternoon siesta.  Actually, I'm off to marinate a pork loin, roast some potatoes and bake some blondie bars for Friday funday.  Stay tuned...




Monday, November 5, 2012

Prospect & Jacob's Creek.

Amidst the chaos and celebration of the 2012 World Series, the hubbs and I were invited to dine at San Francisco's urban-hip Prospect, located in the China Basin area just a short walk from AT&T park.  Reason being that the good people of Jacob's Creek wine were collaborating with the restaurant to share some of their most recent vintages with our fellow wine and food writers, distributors and industry professionals.  It was evening of great wine, great food and lovely company.  We were able to taste Jacob’s Creek’s latest Moscato varietals as well as their award-winning Reserve range wines, all paired with seasonal dishes created especially for the occasion by Prospect’s chef.  What made the event more special was the addition of Bernard Hickin, Jacob's Creek Chief Winemaker- a jovial, warm presence at our table throughout the night...

Prospect sits at the quiet corner of Spear Street and Folsom Street, gleaming under the heavy glass weight of a high rise apartment building.  The restaurant's slick minimalist styling is magnified by the floor-to-ceiling windows, enveloping the cozy, modern interior within. 

"Prospect is a collaboration of Chef Nancy Oakes, Pam Mazzola, and Kathy King from Boulevard Restaurant.  Located at the base of the Infinity Towers, we host a warm and modern urban environment, with high service standards and exceptional cuisine.  We’re proud to offer local, sustainable, organic ingredients, staying consistent with what you’ve come to expect from Boulevard."

The restaurant feels warm indeed, (especially our private dining area) with subdued lighting, comfy banquettes and velveteen curtains.  It's almost a mysterious feeling- with the chance of turning a corner and bumping into a beloved friend seated at the bar or chatting over appetizers in the corner.  I very much like the look of the place and would return to experience it's full-service dining atmosphere.

As we mingled amongst each other, some tasty starters were brought out for us to enjoy- starting with a persimmon, soft cheese and honey drizzle.  This was a delicious combo, light and fruity with the perfect creamy finish.  Next, we were brought grilled figs wrapped in prosciutto glazed in balsamic vinegar- a huge hits with the revelers.  Delicious, crispy on the outside, warm and sweet on the inside.  The beauty of both small bites was the simplicity of serving them on tiny bamboo skewers- practical and sophisticated all at once.  Jacob's Creek were kind enough to pour us flutes of their Classic Moscato, a "delicate frizzante Moscato" that "displays attractive tropical and subtle pear fruit flavours and aromas, with a great balance."

Once we seated, we were educated on the history of Jacob's Creek, their different wines and what makes them unique- along with several fun stories from Bernard himself on unusual life in Australia.  From vineyards, to spiders and slang terms used Down Under, it was a comprehensive (not to mention entertaining!) look at life from a grass-roots winemaking perspective.  You can find more fun Aussie facts and info on the Jacob's Creek website, along with great historical outlines, wine tasting notes and beautiful images to sift through.

Our first course was a Sashimi of Kona Kampache- with Shiro Miso, Mutsu Apple, Serrano Peppers, Shiso & Mizuna Salad in a Ginger Marinade.  This was served with a glass of the Reserve Barossa Valley Riesling 2010, a perfect complement to the fresh fish and savory miso.  The Shiso & Mizuna held a extraordinarily clean, crisp flavor which only highlighted the seasonal originality of this dish.

Next, were were served the Maine Lobster & Potato Gnocchi- with Chanterelles, Pea Tendrils and Lobster Nage.  The gnocchi melted on the tongue and the Chanterelles were cooked perfectly, giving a sweet nuttiness to the pasta.  The lobster paired well with the Reserve Adelaide Hills Chardonnay 2011.  I eagerly finished this course and looked to the hubbs plate for any remnants he may have left behind... No such luck.

Following the table favorite, Liberty Valley Duck- served on a bed of Rye Berries with Confit Duck, Squash Brunoise, Squash Puree with Quince Relish and Scallion Whites.  A very deliberate dish, so many elements working together well.  The duck was tender, flavorful and rich.  The Reserve Adelaide Hills Pinot Noir 2010 was a perfect match for this hearty fall dish.

Dessert was a simple double serving of House-Made Sorbet- Raspberry & Grape, accompanied by a delicate Palmier cookie.  The sorbet was a huge hit, thanks to it's pure ingredients and delightful presentation awash with color.  The grape was my favorite, tasting precisely like it should.  Yum.  Paired with a cool glass of the Sparkling Moscato Rose, it was a refreshing end to Prospect's meal.

But wait!  A surprise from the kitchen!  A heaping bowl of Caramel Chocolate-Nib popcorn arrived unexpectedly, much to delight of the table.  I think this lasted about 5 minutes.  Salty-sweet, with cocoa undertones and buttery goodness, we devoured this bowl of crispy crunch in no time.

Our time spent at Prospect and with the folks of Jacob's Creek was short, but undoubtedly sweet.  We were wholy impressed with the value, quality and subtle nuances of the wine and equally impressed with taste and presentation of the food.  It was a great learning experience and good times were had by all- many thanks go out to the staff of Prospect, and to the wonderful staff of Jacob's Creek for providing us with such a exciting opportunity to get to know their wines.

Cheers to all!




Checking In.

Hello friends!  It's been about a week since my last post, but I wanted everyone to know that I'm back on track and ready to roll.  Things have been SO busy around these parts, I've barely had the time to sit down and type- last week was packed with events for the hubbs and I, and this week looks to be just as busy.  I'll be taking a road trip (haven't decided if I'll leave Wednesday or Thursday) down south to explore the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway, ending up in downtown Los Angeles for the one and only Wine Riot LA.  The hubbs will pouring at the event all weekend, so if you're in the area, stop in and say hi to the kids representing the wines of Bordeaux.  Looking forward to all the good stuff ahead!  Stay tuned for an article on San Francisco's Prospect and a write-up on great vegan bites from Nude Food...