Chances are you live a stone’s throw away from a Thai restaurant in your neighborhood, and you’ve got a go-to local favorite for pad thai. These days I often find myself traveling north of Berkeley, where there’s quite a few wonderful Thai eateries clustered in Albany, El Cerrito and San Pablo locales.
Archive for July, 2008
Crispy fries are the greatest. When cooked well, French fries can be the highlight of an entire meal. The opposite is also true, however. Bad French fries are disappointing. Soggy French fries are disgusting. Both can ruin an otherwise good lunch or dinner. For years I was disappointed with my homemade French fries. I tried using different types of oils and frying them twice, but they always turned out slightly soggy and never had the crispy exterior I was looking for. I’ve been told that this problem is easily rectified if you own a deep fryer, but I have never wanted to purchase one of those contraptions. It wasn’t until I stopped frying all together that I ended up with the crispiest fries of all. Yes, I realize you are wondering how in the world I could make crispy French fries without actually frying my potatoes, but the answer is quite simple: roasting!
I can’t recall a month with more spectacular culinary programs and special events than this August. In fact, for the entire month of August the Commonwealth Club is hosting their Bay Gourmet series called “How We Eat” with what must be a record-breaking 31 events! The events actually begin tomorrow, the last day of July. It includes dinners, demonstrations, panel discussions, authors, chefs, nutritionists and more.
Saturday morning, market day, is a jumble of visiting with friends, purchasing food for the week, jostlingwith tourists, and talking to farmers. There are some weekends when the amount of energy needed for the market — including lugging my goods home on the bus — takes its toll. While on wintry days the market almost feels like a whisper, on summer days the market shouts at the top of its lungs for hours on end. Summer food is amplified, summer crowds are amplified, and even the number of farm booths is amplified.
Two places that I was delighted to try this past weekend in NYC, with the guidance of friends, are Gazala Place in Hell’s Kitchen (or, as the real estate agents have been calling it since the new high-rises came in: Midtown West) and the infamous Bonchon Chicken in Koreatown.
Zucchini is best barely cooked. Baked, fried, or simmered too long, and it looses its moisture content and becomes soggy. Al dente and raw zucchini recipes highlight the squash’s naturally subtle sweetness and crisp texture. It’s unfortunate that so many people overcook their vegetables anyway, but with zucchini, it is — as my mother would say — a sin because you lose its innate nutty sweetness. Following are four of my favorite recipes which I think capture the summer flavor of zucchini best.
On average (unless you happen to be someone who enjoys multiple birthday parties), you get one shot a year at your own cake and birthday wish. That thought makes me weep for all the twins and triplets in the world.
So where and when did this dessert become imbued with the power to single out one’s specialness, grant wishes, and divide families?
Summer’s bounty is upon us in full force, demanding our attention, and there is nothing I like more than a simple farmers’ market supper — as fresh as you can get, barely cooked, with very little fuss.
I’ve compiled some of my favorite market meals of late here. These are not so much recipe as they are ideas, so there may or may not be exact measurements because frankly, when you are doing something this simple, you really don’t need a recipe. Don’t be intimidated by cooking like this, just keep tasting as you go…
Next week is the third annual San Francisco Wine. Dine. Donate dinner. It’s a fundraiser for America’s Second Harvest and our own San Francisco Food Bank in particular. Each year the venue changes, but it always includes a fantastic multi-course meal, a chance to meet Tanya Steel, editor in chief of Epicurious and to learn a bit about the programs of the food bank. Last year there was even a snazzy gift bag.
This weekend, I attended the Taste3 conference in Napa. Taste is an unusually structured conference focused on food, wine, and art: each speaker has 18 minutes to present on his or her topic, and then we move on to the next speaker. No panels, no audience questions. Just presentation after presentation after presentation. Then we eat (and eat and eat).
My drink of choice at taquerias has always been a large, refreshing glass of jamaica, the brightest and probably healthiest agua fresca in the glass barrel lineup. The beautifully scarlet infusion of hibiscus flowers is rich in Vitamin C and carries a tartness that I love.
Having lived through a rash of daylight shootings up and down my immediate area of Divisadero last summer (no deaths, yet no arrests, natch), I was definitely cynical about the new farmers’ market at Divisadero and Grove. Comments like, “Is that Swiss cheese or bullet holes? ” and “I guess I’ll definitely be getting my iron at this market!” flew between my husband and myself. However, I was also excited by the prospect of walking only two blocks to get my hands on some (hopefully) prime produce.
Forget for a moment that the late Hiroaki “Rocky” Aoki was a heavy-drinking playboy who once boasted of impregnating three different women at the same time. Forget that his Benihana empire turned his family into some Japanese-American version of Akira Kurosawa’s Ran. And try, too, to forget that trademark jheri-curled head of his.
After stumbling upon a few wineries while on family vacations, I have found that, in some places, wine tasting with kids in tow can actually be fun for everyone. It has been my experience that vineyards in out-of-the way places are pretty accepting of kids being part of the experience, and, in some cases, quite welcoming.
Soup and salad, ham and cheese, rice and beans, peanut butter and jelly, dinner and a movie, all great combos. This Summer there are lots of opportunities to see a movie and get a bite to eat without going to a traditional theater. Here are my top picks around the Bay.