Slowly but surely, the tomatoes at the farmer’s market are being replaced by pears and other fall produce…
This topic arose the other day at the office: Which SF neighborhood has the best restaurants? We never came up with a definitive answer to this question at work, but it’s been on my mind ever since. Last year, I sang the virtues of these twenty restaurants that all happen to be scattered all over the city. It’s hard for me to choose just one neighborhood. Could it be the Richmond district, with its great Korean and Shanghai dumplings, and the other neighborhood cheap eats that anchor it? Or is it the Marina, home to my beloved restaurant A16? As overrun as downtown is with tourists and business travelers, it’s home to some restaurants that are dear to me: Katana-ya, Town Hall, Bong Su, even — dare I say it — the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus.
I’ve thought about this long and hard, and I don’t have an answer that I can stand behind 100 percent. At long last, I am inclined to say the Mission. Despite its shady drug deals, too-cool-for-school hipster reputation, and never-ending shortage of street parking, the neighborhood is filled with a diverse selection of thriving restaurants. I appreciate the never-fail favorites like Delfina, Pizzeria Delfina, Tartine and Foreign Cinema. I also welcome Spork, Dynamo Donuts, Frjtz, and all the other trendsetters that give me a chance to try something different and new.
Do you have any votes for the San Francisco neighborhood with the best restaurants? Please do chime in!
In case you were wondering, I did wind up making those blackberry crumbles…
This week Andy and I took a walk in the woods near our house. Since we’re in the thick of blackberry season (pun intended), I was hoping we’d find some blackberries on the wild bushes that grow on the side of the road.
They were just starting to ripen. Many of them were an unripe magenta hue, and even more still remained colorless. Picking them was tricky, since the bushes were covered with thorns, and they also happened to grow along the side of a rather steep ravine.
My hands were scratched and covered with berry stains, but I was able to enjoy some of the fruits of my labor. I haven’t yet decided what to do with them, but I’m pondering making blackberry crumbles.
Don’t you love how blackberries can look so much like molecules?
So it finally (and completely unpredictably) happened: I got a job writing about what I love most — food.
I am so incredibly excited!!!
Starting the week after next, I’ll be one of the editors at YumSugar, a food blog connected to the online women’s network Sugar Inc. I’m still definitely going to weigh in on restaurants (something I won’t be doing in my professional blogging space), home-cooked meals and other musings here, but you’ll also be able to read me on YumSugar under the byline “YumSugar” from now on.
Bring it on!
In March 2007, Andy and I took a weekend trip to Portland, Oregon. Neither of us had ever been before and we were both pleasantly surprised by the caliber of dining there. My most memorable course was an appetizer of jumbo prawns stuffed with jalapeño cream cheese at a downtown restaurant called the Veritable Quandary. Since then, I’ve not had a chance to return to Portland (yet), but I have craved the shrimp on multiple occasions. Whenever I think of the dish — not quite shrimp cocktail, not quite jalapeño popper, and the perfect blend of seafood, creole spices, decadent cream cheese and crispy breading — my mouth would water. Unfortunately, I was never able to locate a version of it in the Bay Area, nor could I ever find a recipe online: I went to the restaurant website, where the menu no longer listed the dish. I even went so far as to write Bon Appétit, but to no avail.
Finally, a last resort: I emailed the restaurant, asking them about the recipe. Had I made the whole thing up, or had there once been a menu item that was truly that divine?
It turns out I wasn’t imagining things after all; I got an email shortly following my inquiry. “We focus on farm-fresh local ingredients which means we end up changing our menu rather frequently. Unfortunately, we no longer have that particular item on our menu, so the recipe isn’t readily available,” explained the restaurant’s manager, Jason Gerlt. However, he was kind enough to dig up the old recipe and send it to me.
Moral of the story: If you ask for something, you might just get it!
Prawns stuffed with jalapeño cream cheese
Large prawns (half a dozen to a dozen or so)
Flour, for dipping
Panko crumbs, for breading
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 jalapeno, diced small
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper to taste
Pinch of garlic
3 scallions, diced
1/4 cup tomato, diced
2 cups heavy cream
1. Combine all of the filling ingredients until blended.
2. For sauce, briefly sauté the garlic, scallions and tomato. Add the cream and Creole seasoning, simmering until thickened.
3. Devein and butterfly shrimp. Stuff with cream cheese filling. Coat, first with flour, then egg wash, then panko crumbs seasoned with creole seasoning.
4. Deep fry until golden, and serve plated with sauce.
Last night I prepared one of my all-time favorite Korean dishes, dduk bok-kee. Often served in late-night bars and cafés, this dish is the Korean equivalent of an American comfort food like macaroni and cheese. In Korean, dduk generically refers to a rice cake, a satisfyingly glutinous dumpling that arrives in many shapes. Dduk bok-kee is composed of cylindrical dduk in a spicy hot sauce, often with other elements like onions, fish cakes or beef, and possibly a hard-boiled egg.
I first discovered the dish in Beijing while at a bar. A Korean friend had several orders of the dduk bok-kee brought out to us, and from that point on, I was hooked. Dduk bok-kee became my usual order whenever I went to Korean Town in Chicago, but it wasn’t until I got to San Francisco that I realized (thanks to my friend Fumiko) that it is actually rather simple to make at home. Here’s incredibly quick, semi-homemade version.
Semi-homemade Dduk Bok-kee
1 package frozen dduk (found at any Korean supermarket)
1 package dduk bok-kee hot sauce
1 package fish cake (pre-cooked)
Half an onion, sliced
Soak the frozen dduk in cold water for 2 hours. Rinse out water and replace with clean water. Fill water to approximately 1 inch above the dduk resting in the pot. Boil until soft (you will need to pull one piece out to test). The dduk should be soft, gummy, and completely cooked through in the center. Add the fish cake and the onion slices to the boiling mixture until completely heated through, then pour in the hot sauce. Top with hard-boiled egg if desired.