Sunday, March 22, 2009

Off to Chinar

Not your average chifa


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Rage Against the Machine

I decided to make bostock for my friend's birthday, which meant making brioche. Yeast hates me, so I try to practice every once in awhile. I've tried a few different recipes in the past, and I decided to give Tartine's a go this time. It's definitely different than the others - as the cookbook disclaimer says, their brioche is meant to be less rich since they use it solely for their popular bread pudding (in fact, they don't even let you buy any, even though they sell loaves of other bread). The texture was more crumby and similar to more "normal" breads, unlike the flaky, buttery recipes of Dorie and others. It makes sense, but I think the rich version tastes better, regardless of what you're using it for. Butter = better, duh.

The dough also developed a lot of gluten while I was adding the butter - so much, that I literally had to push all my body weight onto my mixer to keep the top from flipping up. I realized that day that if I ever get a new mixer (which is highly likely at this point), it will need to be the crank kind or a Hobart (can you imagine having a 140-liter Hobart for home use?? I would need a big kitchen). Why? Because my bowl got stuck! All the motion in the bowl must've locked that sucker in. Seriously, throughout the entire day, both Val and I would periodically try to twist and turn the bowl free, but to no avail. I had trouble sleeping that night because my forearms and hand tendons hurt so much. I'm pretty much resigned to dealing with it and washing the entire machine in the sink. Sadness. =(


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nooooo Reservations: What Would Tony Eat?

Word on the street says Tony is coming to the city next weekend to begin filming the long overdue SF episode for the current season. Both Mikey and I are committed fans of the show (Mikey more so than me), much like the rest of the world. After the wealth of episodes I've watched I think we kind of understand the evolution of his tastes and what he seeks. Of course, it's all speculation, because it's not like we know the guy (I wish). With that said, where will Tony eat when he's here, considering that there has never been an SF episode? What restaurants/food-related places define this city? For someone who has traveled all over the world, where can he go that will be unique to the rest of the globe?

Some unsurprising destinations would be...
- Incanto, possibly for a head to tail dinner with fellow pig-lover Chris Cosentino
- the Ferry Building/Farmer's Market
- a taco truck in the mission
- Chinatown, maybe even a stop at Golden Gate Bakery
- some Californian cuisine establishment, like Zuni or Chez Panisse to verbally combat Alice Waters

Here are two less obvious places where I think he should definitely go to, and why:

1. San Tung

Sure, this restaurant isn't necessarily mind-blowing (although some people are completely in love with their wings), but I feel like the food and its patrons reflect the city well. Tony likes establishments with history and rich stories, meaning and value in their off-the-beaten-path glory. San Tung is a purely local restaurant, filled with families, yuppies, grad students, food-lovers, and even a few non-Asians that may or may not call the plate of kimchi an "amuse bouche." The bay area is largely Asian and Asian American, and the northern Chinese/Korean-influenced cuisine of the shandong province (close to South Korea) is also something Tony hasn't tasted in his five seasons. The food is simple, humble, but so good and so satisfying. Honestly, who doesn't like it?? Here's the story behind the restaurant:

Behind this restaurant are Mrs. Chu and her son, Frank. Mrs. Chu, who immigrated to San Francisco from Korea as an ambitious Chinese entrepreneur, runs the business side. Frank’s father had a serious medical condition 10 years ago that forced Frank to leave school at Skyline Community College, where he was studying to be an auto mechanic. Although Frank sacrificed his dream to own a mechanic shop, he is enjoying the success of the family restaurant. Amazingly, San Tung amassed great popularity without advertisement; Frank credits fresh food and loyal customers, who in return have generated business from rave word-of-mouth reviews. (source)
2. Mission Street Food
If you keep up with the SF food scene, there's pretty much no way you haven't heard of this. I've been a few times, and see no reason to discontinue my occasional visits, depending on the menus. Although this is the more likely of my two suggestions to make it onto the show, I still wouldn't necessarily add it to the "unsurprising destinations" list, even if it has been getting a lot of press lately. This is no ordinary "underground food movement," and is very much unlike your other roaming restaurants or pop-ups. What makes MSF special is not just the stripped-down food-focused [un]intentional hipster irony of being in a slightly run-down Chinese restaurant... but it's really about community. MSF is about collaboration, and bringing community together through good food, and perhaps more importantly, through the process behind that food. The menus are developed and executed by people from all around the city, using ingredients sometimes from backyards (like herbs). The community aspect also extends to where the money goes - all profits to charity. Why would Tony go here? Because MSF is as much, if not more, about San Francisco and its people as it is about the food it serves.

Hm I pretty much just wrote two voluntary endorsements, but these two "restaurants" really make me proud to be a San Franciscan. THAT is why Tony should go there!


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Recession Special


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Peanut Butter Banana Time!

I've been spending a lot of time with my parents, which means limited baking/cooking/food-making. However, that also means consistent access to my mom's ice cream machine! When I had leftover sour cream and some blueberries I got sick of eating... I made blueberry sour cream ice cream (tastes like cheesecake). The other day someone was talking about peanut butter banana milkshakes, so I did the most logical thing: made some ultra creamy PB ice cream topped with some hot caramelized bananas. Really the epitome of comfort food-dessert without making a pie. Also a flavor concept that is a favorite of mine.


Food Porn

The other day, someone commented that only people in the bay area take pictures of their food. I'd like to further that conjecture and claim that outside of food bloggers, only bay area Asians take pictures of their food. Jen countered this by telling a story of doing it in France and her Frenchie friends laughing because it fulfilled their stereotype of Japanese tourists taking food pictures (she is not Japanese). So yes, bay area Asians and Japanese tourists.

Yes, there was a time before my memory cards were filled with food porn, and I actually took more photos of people than food. Here are some food-related pictures from that time during a trip to Japan, pre-food-blog. I'm going to Japan again soon... what will happen? A bay area Asian in Japan... will the world implode in all its food porn glory?

L: takoyaki, R: OJ has feelings too

L: frozen tuna @ Tsukiji, R: Tiger trying to communicate what he wants to eat


Saturday, March 07, 2009

Size Matters

I haven't eaten a full meal here, but this tiny space around 16th + Valencia that is Monk's Kettle warrants a return. If it hasn't already reached capacity and you've gotten passed the stressed out bouncer, you can enjoy what they have to offer, big or small. They serve a wide range of beers, from PBR to some obscure Italian brews, $2-40 a glass. The best part is that they let you taste! For the unsophisticated beer palates, these tiny little steins can save you from committing to something that may taste like straight-up molasses. There were also these tiny little bottle things they kept hanging behind the bar that you're supposed to pound on the table three times before taking it like a shot. Looks fun, but tastes like not-sweet jager (= not fun).

One of their signature snacks is their "giant pretzel," served with a cheddar ale sauce and stone ground mustard. Piping hot and deliciously chewy, you really can't go wrong. Both condiments are great accompaniments to the rock salt covering the pretzel. Honestly, it's expensive for a pretzel ($8), but it's worth a try.

I would definitely come back to try more food and more beers. The bartenders are also very accommodating, knowledgeable, and patient. There are just so many beers to choose from which makes it hard to decide. It's also a popular joint, so I just need to make sure I can get in!