Tag Archives: Restaurant

Deconstructed Pork Tamale from Bocanova

8 Apr

It takes a creative chef to turn a Tamale, or anything for that matter, into something memorable. This dish definitely hit the mark! Imagine the inside of a delicious, homemade, authentic Tamale with stoneground Masa, slowly cooked Pork shoulder, seasoned with Onions, Garlic, Cumin, and Mexican Oregano, maybe some Epazote or Cilantro. But then, don’t hide all those delicious ingredients inside the Husk.

Instead, layer the Husk, Tomatillo sauce, Masa (think of a round slice of Polenta, but with more texture than a traditional Masa since this one had bits of corn kernels added), and Pork that has been cooked a long time so it melts in your mouth (think of Confit), then garnish with some Guacamole, Queso Blanco, Micro-greens and Red Bell Pepper. This modern and elegant dish would work well for a dinner party too. The other photo here is a Crab Pozole…also delicious!

Bocanova’s Executive/Proprieter Chef Rick Hackett provides an ever-changing Pan-American menu for brunch, lunch and dinner, including many great options for Vegetarians. The restaurant  is located on the waterfront at Jack London Square in Oakland, CA.  I highly recommend Bocanova!


Seven Hills – San Francisco

22 Jan

Our good friends Katie and Michael recommended Seven Hills (named after the 7 hills of San Francisco: Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Rincon Hill, Mount Sutro, Twin Peaks and Mount Davidson). We had an early reservation and after several minutes, the Chef came out to say hello to our table. As we were introduced by Katie and Michael, I had no doubt we were about to have a really special dinner.

It was such a pleasure to meet Alex Alioto and Alex Solomou, the partners of this fantastic restaurant, located on Nob Hill at 1550 Hyde St. Alex Alioto, the Chef, shared with us that he worked in restaurants in Italy and Germany, as well as The Ritz Carlton in San Francisco, working with Ron Siegal (who used to be the chef at Masa’s) and The French Laundry.

We shared Appetizers consisting of Salt Seared Monterey Bay Calamari with a delicious Eggplant Caponata, Roasted Niman Ranch Bone Marrow with a Parsley and thinly shaved Black Radish Salad (along side some Crostini and Hawaiian Red Sea Salt to garnish), and Grilled Mackerel with an Olive Tapenade. All outstanding!

The fresh pastas were light and delicious. I don’t order pasta often these days, but I had feeling their Carbonara would be worth the calories. It was amazing and I especially loved the generous, savory pieces of Fra’ Mani Pancetta.

One of the other stand out pastas of the night was a Tallegio Cheese Agnolotti with Squash Puree and Vegetable Broth. The Squash Puree was delicate and the infused green oil floating on top of the broth was a lovely sight. Thanks for sharing a bite, Jenny, and Victor for ordering some great wine!

For dessert, we shared some House Made Fresh Ricotta Cheese “Doughnuts” with an Orange Creme Anglaise. The Ricotta was mixed into the dough and they were lightly dusted with sugar. If you’ve ever had Ricotta Pancakes, they were similar, but even better since they were crispy all around. I especially loved the orange zest. Can’t wait to go back!

Hmmm…I think I need to make some Lemon Ricotta Pancakes soon!

Anatomy of a Burger

31 Dec

This post is actually about restaurant recommendations for Portland but I couldn’t resist the title! Check out  the link of this picture of a mouth-watering burger from Violetta. Yumm!

Our friend Dave in Portland suggested several places for lunch, before we landed, so of course, the first thing I did was inspect the menu of each restaurant.

To be honest, after having only coffee and a smoothie for breakfast, I was so hungry for lunch on Saturday before Christmas, that I don’t remember the details of all the menus, but what I do remember, and appreciate so much, is the effort that our friend made to send us a brief list of suggestions ahead of time. And, once we arrived, I was surprised that he had his Garmin GPS navigator programmed for us with directions to each of the restaurants so we could drive in the loaned vehicle to downtown Portland without any delays or hassles.

Along with Violetta, here are some more suggestions:

Tasty N Sons has great and unusual breakfast items. For example, brown rice, Kim Chi, steamed vegetables topped with a fried egg. It is located in North Portland close to downtown.

Violetta is in SW Downtown, has really good burgers and is in a great location if you want to do some shopping. Many nice stores and good for walking around.

Papa Haydn is in NW Portland and has good sandwiches, salads and desserts. Also good shopping and easy walking distance.

The Saturday Market for shopping was going on along the waterfront and it has some unusual folks to look at as well as fun gift ideas.

We ultimately ended up at the counter at Ping, in Chinatown. From 2-5:30, they have happy hour and served a menu of small plates ranging in price from about $1-$3 average. Such a deal! They also make an unusual, but delicious, drink from fruit vinegars and seltzer, with flavors like Pomegranate, Rhubarb or Tamarind. I’d go back there just for those…




Scrumptious Salads for Thanksgiving

12 Nov

The photo above is a Frisee & Arugula salad with Walnuts, Fourme D’Ambert and Dried Apricots from the recently opened Broadway by Amar Santana (former Executive Chef of Charlie Palmer) in Laguna Beach. Very tasty!

What I love about salads is that you really don’t need a recipe, so I hope you won’t be upset that I don’t give you a specific one. Think about a few components, and then compose!

First of all, for the base of the salad, this time of year, I especially like using Escarole, Arugula, and Belgian Endive. I enjoy their slightly bitter and peppery flavors. Of course, Spinach is great year round and easily accessible. It’s nice to toss in a bit of Radicchio for color, or thinly shaved Fennel for crunch.

Next, think about what pairs well with these type of greens or in the case of Radicchio, the lovely magenta leaves…

Fruits that are in season are perfect to pair with them. Here’s a list of options:

  • Figs
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Tangerines
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Persimmon (the Japanese Fuyu Persimmon, available at farmer’s markets, is best for slicing–do not use the Hachiya as it’s too soft)

Dried Apricots, Cranberries, Cherries, Dates, Figs, or Golden Raisins are also tasty alternatives.

Cheese is another wonderful component to add to a salad. I am particularly fond of Blue cheeses like Gorgonzola, Roquefort and Cambozola. Shaved Parmesan is another great one to add, as a garnish. Using a vegetable peeler works the best!

A handful of Nuts or Seeds mixed in or tossed on top is not only healthy, but delicious! Try any of the following:

  • Walnuts
  • Pecans
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds
  • Cashews or Sesame Seeds are nice if you’re doing an Asian dressing

Speaking of dressing, I prefer my vinaigrettes on the sharp side. You can’t go wrong with the traditional French ingredients (Dijon Mustard–1 teaspoon, a small Shallot–finely minced, 2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar–I like Sherry Vinegar the best, a good pinch of Sea Salt and a few coarse grinds of Black Pepper, and 6-8 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil).

If you’re interested in changing the flavor a little, remember freshly squeezed Lemon, Lime or Orange Juice, Nut Oils, a dash of Soy Sauce or Sesame Oil, Apple Cider or Rice Vinegar, grated Ginger or Garlic, Honey, fresh Herbs like Parsley, Tarragon or Chives, dried Herbes De Provence and lastly, Truffle Oil–one of my favorites.

Of course there are all kinds of other options to add into your salads. Radishes are always nice for a bit of color and Celery, which is often underappreciated, is another good one for adding texture. Crispy bits of Bacon or Pancetta–need I say more?

The next time you make a Spinach salad, try adding Mushrooms, grated hard-boiled Egg and Sunflower Seeds.  Shaved Fennel, sliced Mushrooms and shaved Parmesan with some Lemon juice and Olive Oil is another nice combo.

I could go on and on, but as you can tell, the possibilities are endless!

Seattle – Restaurant Week and Reviews

22 Oct

There are 4 days left (10/23-10/27) to take advantage of this delicious event! Over 150 local restaurants are offering 3 course dinners for $28 and many are offering 3 course lunches for $15 (per person, not including drinks, tax or tips). You can go to the Seattle Times for details and list of restaurants participating.

Wild Ginger is one of my favorites on the list. Another one I tried recently was Michael Mina’s restaurant RN74 that opened in June 2011 (Mina has numerous restaurants, including the original RN74 in San Francisco). I started off lunch with a few oysters on the half shell. Next I tried the velvety Roasted Tomato Soup (served with 2 small triangles of Grilled Sourdough and Gruyere), and for a light main course, enjoyed a Green Salad with Grilled Steak (I’m trying to avoid too many carbs these days and it has definitely helped my waistline!). The Steak was grass-fed (although like most grass-fed meat, it was grain finished). I recommend it!

Another new favorite in Seattle is Anchovies and Olives at 1550 15th Ave. @ Madison. I liked the creative twists and loved the small plates–rating it 5 stars! I absolutely loved the seasonal Vegetable Crudité with Bagna Càuda, a classic from Piedmont, Italy. It was traditional yet addictive and intense, with olive oil, butter, tons of garlic and anchovies.

I’m also adding Szechuan Peppercornsto my grocery list after trying them in a new way–crushed and sprinkled onto thinly sliced Hamachi with shaved Fennel, diced Cucumber (I might try Asian Pear if doing it at home), and Preserved Lemon (Da Vero Lemon Olive Oil would be a nice alternative too). The Peppercorns were lemony and floral, without the bite of a Black Peppercorn. The combination of ingredients was outstanding!

What are your favorites in Seattle?

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch

7 Oct

You’ve probably heard that seafood is healthy for us and should be part of our diet (although there are some concerns about elevated levels of Mercury in certain fish, like Tuna and Swordfish). The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides valuable information about seafood recommendations to promote sustainability. They offer a seafood watch program suggesting what seafood to buy and what seafood to avoid. Download the pocket guide or get it on your iPhone or Android via Apps.

One sustainable fish is the Anchovy. You probably love ’em or hate ’em! If you like them but haven’t tried Anchovies in recipes other than topping a Pizza or in a Caesar Salad, I highly recommend the House-cured anchovies at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco or create your own version at home, although the House-cured Anchovies are more mild than canned.

Try this simple appetizer with a few staple ingredients:

Good quality anchovies (note, a small bottle 0r can of anchovies will be more salty than Zuni’s house-cured so I would suggest rinsing then drizzling Extra Virgin Olive Oil over them and let them marinate about 10-15 minutes before eating. Save the oil to drizzle over the dish)

Celery, sliced thinly on a diagonal

Nicoise olives (Kalamata would be a suitable substitute if you can’t find Nicoise)

Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced

Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Lemon juice, to taste (optional)

Serve with sliced Acme Levain bread (or other Artisan Sourdough) and a glass of Champagne or Sancerre. It’s great for  a light lunch too!

Bar Agricole

2 Oct

My new favorite restaurant in San Francisco…Bar Agricole.

Located South of Market on 11th between Folsom and Harrison, in between Slim’s and DNA Lounge.

Drinks: I recommend a Brown Derby or Paloma.

Food: Try the Armenian Cucumbers with Za’atar (a Middle Eastern blend of herbs, sesame seeds and salt…to be blogged about another day), and Country Style Pork Pate with Mostarda. The menu changes to reflect the season and these were the only 2 items still listed on their site since eating there.

Andreas Willausch, formerly the Maitre d’ at  The Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, CA (http://www.farmhouseinn.com/restaurant.html) has succeeded in creating a a top notch restaurant. Andreas, hope to see you next time we visit!