Friday, February 22, 2008

Paradise Bakery's Goody

To top off the ultimate meal, we got to work on Paradise Bakery's incredibly luscious carrot cake. I've had some really fab renditions over the years, but this one ... ahem ... takes the cake. And how. Stuffed full of walnuts, pineapples, raisins, shredded coconut and (duh) carrots, the cake is super moist and dense, with just the right amount of buttercream skimming its surface. Usually, the cake's got those cute little carrots decorating the top, but when told it would take another 10 minutes to get them on this fresh-out-of-the-oven dessert, my aunt demurred, whisking it away as is.
(NOTE: This is how you eat it in my household—with chopsticks!)

LP's Ultimate Lasagna

So then, I felt the need to have my aunt and uncle over to the folks' house for my version of comfort food. Having just seen Tyler Florence whip up his ultimate lasagna bolognese, I decided this would be ideal for a mid-week meal. And yes, I'd been wanting to make a meaty lasagna for a good three weeks and counting. I can't say that I followed Tyler's recipe to the letter; I decided instead to go for my own take on the ultimate (and admittedly non-bolognese) lasagna—my somewhat slimmed-down (no heavy cream, less meat), sans puree (but rather minced veg), beef-only (ground pork was not an option at my ma's fave grocery store) version still got raves from all around the dinner table (let's just say, everyone asked for seconds, and thirds in some cases). My ma kindly got together a big salad and we rounded off the hearty meal (plenty o' cheese and other fatty goodness goin' on here) with a garlicky saute of broccoli flowerets.

Family Dinner

It's all about the beef when it comes to a proper Korean sit-down. While visiting the folks in AZ, we enjoyed a family dinner where eemo marinated the crap out of a half dozen rib-eye steaks, handed them off to uncle who—with an assist from veteran griller dad—then popped the suckers on the barby just long enough to get them to a mouth-watering medium rare. Add to that some savory bean pancakes, four kinds of kimchi, s'more veg and your requisite sticky rice, and you've got the makings of a really good home-cooked meal.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Pagan for Burmese

A work pal told me I had to try relative newcomer Pagan in the outer Richmond for its super scrumptious tea leaf salad (which is just as good as the one at Burma Superstar ... why? Because Pagan's owner stole BS's chef away). Having never had Burmese food before (what what? yes, I'm embarrassed about it), I decided to take her advice tout suite.

Wow. This here's the premixed salad comprising imported Burmese tea leaves, tomatoes, lettuce, dried shrimp, fried garlic, black sesame seed paste, peanuts and split yellow peas. Soooo good.

The coconut shrimp noodles were also delightful. Our happy buddha waiter was ever so kind as to toss it all together.

Not everything was a homerun. The pumpkin shrimp stew was way overcooked (a conglomeration of mushy root veg with some really tough and chewy shrimp) and the samusa soup was take it or leave it (not bad, but not great either). We did manage to end on a high note with the luscious and sweet mango-and-sticky-rice combo, something I haven't had in at least a half dozen years or more. (Yes, the dessert's Thai—Pagan's equal parts Burmese and Thai.)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Café Myth Made Our Day

Or more appropriately, chef Ryan Scott (who's part of the Chicago Top Chef ensemble) did when he personally served up a multi-course meal from his all-electric kitchen at Café Myth in Jackson Square. A big thank you to our cutie WF, who got the invite from Mr. Scott and brought us along for the midday ride. And oh what a ride it was.

To start: deviled eggs dusted with paprika, each topped with chives and a honkin' piece of bacon. Plus some home-made potato chips tossed in truffle oil and sprinkled with a citrus gremolatta and parmesan cheese. Ooh la la.

Don't we feel special? Chef Scott gave us a play-by-play of the parade of dishes streaming out of the kitchen.

The curried butternut squash soup was ever-so-delightful with just enough tarty acid to cut through the rich cream.

My fave salad: crispy hearts of romaine with savory quinoa and squash, sweet-tart pomegranate seeds and salty crumbles of feta, dressed in a creamy moscatel vinaigrette.

The runner-up: roasted Brussels sprouts with a super smokey slice of duck breast, crunchety croutons, mache (aka lamb's lettuce), parmesan, pomegranate seeds (I'd leave 'em out—there's already a lot going on here) and caper red onion vinaigrette.

Pretty darn tasty. Roasted chicken and winter chicory salad with Asian pear, pomegranate seeds (AGAIN? Chef Scott sure loves his poms) and lotsa creamy goat cheese.

Oh, there's more! Mini open-faced Mediterranean tuna sandwiches with orange, arugula pesto and hummus. Plus a mess o' deli sammies including roast beef with Meyer lemon horseradish aioli; chili lemongrass-roasted chicken salad with pepper jack and mango; and turkey and avocado with kumquats and golden raisin chutney.

The girls were downright giddy with all the attention and endorphins kicking in from the workout of working on all this great food. Our resident Top Chef packed up some ginormous cookies, of which hands down the best was the coconut white chocolate rendition. In a word: heaven.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Mercat with Friends

Instead of hitting Tia Pol, which was really where I wanted to go (it's the tapas bar nearest and dearest to my heart, and yes I've been to Barcelona), I decided to try something new and check out Mercat on Bond Street with three pals. The airy interior was gorge—very easy on the eyes with vaulted ceilings and subway tiles adorning one wall, brick on another. The food (tapas-style brunch) was pretty good, a solid execution of churros and chocolate sauce, potato tortilla, chorizo and so on. But in the end, it was the company that made the trip worthwhile. DY tells me that dinner is where the action is. Not sure if Mercat will get another visit when I again drop into town, but damnit, I will make it out to Tia Pol, come hell or high water.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Epic Roast

Epic Roasthouse on the SF waterfront is now open for business. I was lucky enough to attend the pre-opening party with WF, where we partook of some tasty meats (lamb, veal and pork meatballs, pulled pork sammies, cedar-infused salmon) and then wandered over to the adjoining Waterbar for some yummy fruit de mer ... slippery sweet kushi oysters, bite-sized cod cakes and the like. The views are breathtaking. Planning to go back for a proper sit-down soon ...