It’s 5 o’clock, and you’re leaving the office in search of some post-work libations and snacks before dinner. You could go the traditional happy hour route — where you’re limited to a few drinks and small bites within a short window of time — or you could up the ante and visit a Japanese izakaya.
Archive for September, 2009
Two simple techniques increasingly omitted from recipes now are salting eggplant and browning butter. Neither are absolutely necessary. Both, however, are worth doing every once in a while to remind yourself just what amazing flavors you can create in the kitchen.
Down the road, this frothy juice will become a suave Napa Valley Pinot Noir. But on this hot September morning at the beginning of the 2009 harvest at Robert Sinskey Vineyards, these grapes are just a day or two off the vine, busily fermenting its way from juice to wine.
Are you as tired of hearing about the End-of-Times as I am? If one is to believe all the hullabaloo, we humans have slightly more than 3 years to live until catastrophe strikes.
Still without a plan for my bowl of white and magenta barlottis, I decided to simmer them in salted water until al dente, after which they sat in a colander, forgotten on the counter for about a half hour. Once I rediscovered them, they were mostly dried. I decided the quickest and most hassle-free way to deal with them would be to toss them into a pan of hot olive oil and then sprinkle with sea salt. After crisping up the outer skins, I generously seasoned and they were good to go. Salty with a mild crunch on the outside and a buttery texture within, they were perfect for munching with our Pimms cups.
I finally jumped on the CSA wagon and I must admit, it was kind of like Christmas when my first box arrived, full of the lingering summer’s bounty.
Summer Bounty Recipe: Roasted Beet Salad with Lavender-Scented Fried Summer Squash, Chevre, Figs, Cucumber Relish and a Balsamic Reduction
Let’s say you’re at a party, hovering over a gooey white puck of Mt. Tam, canape-concerned, ignoring the guests swirling around you, when a stranger sidles over and sizes you up. “Hey,” he says, a wide, knowing grin spreading across his face as he gestures at the cheese-covered knife you’re determinedly sliding across a good cracker. “You’re a real foodie, aren’t you?” “No, I’m just hungry,” you say, wincing — because you hate that word.
Figs are sexy. Why? Is it their smooth, barely downy skin, so much like a soft cheek? Is it their plump, curvy shape, swerving out and in like a hip or breast you can surreptitiously palm right there in the produce aisle? Is it the drop of nectar that drips from the flower end at the moment of perfect readiness? Unlike the other fruit of our late summer, the plums and peaches, the raspberries and early apples, figs are all seedy lushness. There is no sweet-tangy snap, no whiplash between sugar and acid. Instead, figs are fleshy, breaking apart easily against the tongue, an odalisque who needs no convincing to roll back and give in.
I don’t care what you say, this is not hummus. It is called favosalata. If you insist on calling it hummus, I will persist in telling you that you are wrong, however politely.
Where I work, we are very good at pretending the customer is always right, even when he isn’t. I hear our guests make ordering blunders on a nightly basis, which isn’t surprising, considering the fact that our dinner menu is in Anglicized Greek. It’s downright confusing to the uninitiated. And, of course, un-Greek.
For someone as food obsessed as I am, the fact that I think of a politician instead of barracuda meuniere, or some other dish, must mean that that Mr. Ugly Fish just hasn’t been on my culinary radar — until now. So when I was in a couple of weeks ago, checking out that great fish selection, I was surprised and intrigued to find barracuda cut into thick steaks. I had never seen barracuda for sale before, so asked the butcher about it. We had just discussed the halibut, going through fish monger / customer motions of detailing where it came from, if it had been frozen, etc. But when I asked about the barracuda, his eyes lit up and a slow smile spread across his face. “I had some last night,” he said excitedly while leaning over the counter. “And it was fantastic.” Obviously, the halibut was a distant memory and I quickly asked for four pieces of barracuda.
Brunch-positive people work hard and play hard. They see brunch as a soothing extension of the partying they did the night before, a necessary putting back together of things that were dislodged — a ritual well worth the inflated price of pancakes and a lengthy wait. Brunch-negative people think waiting for food they could make at home for a fraction of the cost is a waste of a day’s best hours. There are two sides, and San Francisco’s boutique-lined streets — Haight, Church, Valencia — are divided between them.
These last two weekends in the Bay Area have shown that there are indeed thousands of people willing to stand in long lines in the full heat of summer to try any tasty treat served from a bicycle or cart, tent or renovated taco truck.