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 December, 2009
Evvia — sister to Kokkari in San Francisco — is one of our favorite of the favorites down here. Evvia serves wonderfully classic Greek fare along with dishes they describe as “local interpretations of many traditional Hellenic favorites.” Because of a minor kitchen fire, Evvia had to close for a few weeks this fall and my husband and I were clutching our stomachs in fear that they would never reopen. Lucky for us and for Palo Alto, they did.
In the past decade, the Bay Area’s hippest food has changed from teetering geometric towers of raw tuna to a simple slab of pork with a side of potatoes. The dainty Apple-tini ordered in the early part of the decade has given way to the masculine Manhattan. Forum talks about the food and cocktail trends of the decade. Listen to the program online!
Sweets can pretty much shove it. That’s the short story, I suppose, but in truth, it’s a complicated issue of taste. You see, I like most pies, especially plum, chocolate in croissants and puddings, lemon bars, caramel ice cream, malts, and jelly beans. I respect carrot cake, mostly for its steadfast association with cream cheese frosting. I will rarely refuse a sandwich cookie when it’s offered. I am open to enlightenment courtesy of thrilling and creative restaurant desserts of all sorts. Yet I never crave sweet things or go out of my way to consume them. I’m convinced the very bland affection I do muster is a product of 29 years spent immersed in a culture obsessed with them. Desserts are not central to my eating routines, or even peripheral. If they disappeared, I would shed no corn syrupy tears.
Now, San Francisco has its fair share of cupcake spots and most folks have already established their favorites. Whether it’s Kara’s, That Takes the Cake, or the minis over at DeLessio Market and Bakery, a variety of shapes and flavors abound. However, Jennifer Emerson’s new SOMA cupcake shop, Cups and Cakes, is shaking things up a bit.
What’s better than a stiff drink and a ham-and-turkey sandwich with people you never have to impress? I’ll tell you: a ham-and-turkey sandwich dolloped with chutney, that’s what. And not just any common-or-garden chutney, no sirree Bob, but McQuade’s Celtic Chutney, made by red-headed Scotswoman Alison McQuade in small, aromatic batches, just like you would at home, if you were lucky enough to come from chutney-making people.
As it turns out, Mele Kalikimaka really is the thing to say on a bright Hawai’ian Christmas Day. So, in honor of all my friends from The Islands Big and not-so-Big, I am saying “Merry Christmas” with a big bowl of poke. Of course, since this is a Holiday piece, I felt it necessary to make this raw tuna dish look as Christmas-y as possible, under the circumstances.
Like a lot of Christmas revelers out there, I count A Christmas Carol as my favorite holiday story. Yet my reason for loving this Dickens tale is probably a little different than you might expect. Although I find Scrooge’s metamorphoses from Bah-humbug kill joy to jolly benefactor heartwarming, I adore his transition from gruel eater to Smoking Bishop drinker even more.
Now if you’re new to piroshki, they’re not a light food. However, they’re perfect for this time of year when the rains and gray winter days are looming. Their origin is actually difficult to trace, with Poles, Russians, Latvians, and Czechs all claiming them as their own. Regardless, the piroshki you’ll try at Golden Orb are a traditional Russian hand pie stuffed with a variety of savory fillings.
As we were all gathered around the coffee table chatting, I asked my friend Rebecca what she had been up to.
She told us she had recently worked some swank party for 500 or so guests that had employed some 80 chefs, Rebecca being one of them. Apparently, it was so swank that she was not allowed to specify names or locations. What she did mention, however, was that she was in charge of making fritto misto for all 500 guests. In other words, fried seafood platters for the entire population of Dow City, Iowa.
“Wow. five hundred?” I asked, “How many bags of Fritos did you go through?”
After recently pondering the lack of glamour in my life, I realized that although elegant cocktail gatherings can be delightful, I actually enjoy my life of small dinner parties with friends and family more than I probably would the type attended by Ms. Kerr and Ms. Day (“probably” is the key word here). So instead of longing for a 1960s life unachieved, I decided to start making champagne cocktails.
These fancy little walnut date cups are the perfect savory-sweet treat for a special holiday brunch or cocktail party. It’s a prettier take on one of my favorite easy appetizers, a nut and blue cheese-stuffed date wrapped in bacon and broiled until crispy and caramelized.