Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Brunch at Foreign Cinema

Easter Brunch in Foreign Cinema's sunny outdoor patio this past weekend hit the spot. The $40 3-course had everything we three gals could ask for. After much back and forth (there were so many tantalizing dishes to choose from), I decided to start with the ever-so-delightful French toast baguette (soaked for a good long time in milk, or better yet, cream!) with a scoop of strawberry butter and organic banana slices. I moved right into the fluffy and fragrantly earthy porcini mushroom omelet with crispy potatoes and heavenly smoked bacon glazed in brown sugar (I usually nibble on a corner of a bacon strip and leave the rest, but not this time—couldn't help but eat the whole lot of 'em). I closed the show with a great cheese plate comprising a foot-jammy wedge (this is a good thing) of soft blue and a slice of lamb chopper (aka semi-firm sheep's milk cheese) with a drizzle of honey butter and raisin nut bread slices ... It's no wonder peeps say this is the best brunch in town.

LP's lineup:

More good things:

Smoked salmon with a squiggle of creme fraiche, microgreens and some walnut bits and bobs.

Slow-cooked scrambled eggs drizzled with truffle oil and toasted breadcrumbs, with chicken-apple sausage and big white beans.

A blueberry-and-peach-with-cream-and-biscuit concoction.

A meringue-encrusted lemon tart with macerated strawberries.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Zuni for SP's Birthday

My sister flew through town, just long enough to celebrate her birthday and then some. We had the always amazing Little Star on Friday, but then turned it up a culinary notch (or three) when we dropped in at James Beard favorite Zuni Cafe on Saturday night.

Here's what we had:

Grilled blue nose bass, moist and flakey, sitting in a spicy romesco sauce with a mess of al dente white beans and tender asparagus.

Sweet and savory in perfect balance with a fleshy-pink helping of roasted leg o' lamb, artichoke heart plus some deliciously seasoned and fried sweet potatoes.

A honkin' piece of the silkiest sweet Meyer lemon tart dressed up with a few kumquat slivers and a dollop of creme fraiche.

The food and drink had gone to our heads. So much so that we were ready for beddy-bye even before the bill came 'round. ... It was with much (and somewhat painful) effort that we got our groggy—and bloated—selves home.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Yauatcha in Londontown

Lucky for me, the folks in Norwich insisted I be on my way by noon on Friday so that I could spend a smidge of time in London before my flight back the next day. On the rec of buddies-who-know DY and JC, I dropped in on Yauatcha for a little dim sum delivered up by the guy (Alan Yau) who also spawned uber-pricey, Michelin-starred Hakkasan (on my list for next time I'm in London) and the fun and affordable Japanese noodle-chain Wagamama (used to go weekly while I was living out there).

So, there I sat, in Yauatcha's teahouse/patisserie (the resto's in the basement) and this is what I got:

* steamed, snowy white eruptions of dough stuffed with roast pork—aka pork buns (I'm a sucker for these little bundles of joy. Yauatcha's fluffy hot bao fell apart in my paws, they were so tender and delightful.)

* steamed prawn and enoki mushrooms which came stuffed in delicate rice wrappers (very well done—in terms of craftsmanship, these rank right up there with the oh-so-tender and tasty dumplings from my old fave: long-dead Harbour Village).

* duck and shiitake mushroom rolled in pan-fried bean curd (I could really have done without this one; the five spice flavoring the rolls was too much ... I'm just not a fan of star anise, and dare I say it? The shredded duck was a tad dry. Fortunately, the sweet pickled cucumbers helped 'em down the ol' gullet as did swigs from my bottle of beer).

All in all, I'm glad to have gone. But it's good to know we've got grubbin' dim sum in SF that's half as expensive as what's on order at Yauatcha.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Wildebeest Arms

was Ab Fab. DM took me there on my second night in Norwich. It's her go-to pub (and not just because it's less than a mile from her home!). The Wildebeest Arms is the perfect place to come into from out of the cold (and cold it was, with a bit of sleet and freezing rain greeting us that day). Sitting by the roaring fire, I gleefully attacked the warmed creamy goat cheese, greens, plump fig and roasted beet salad. Usually appetizers are an easy win—easy for restos to impress their diners with. The entree is often the dealbreaker. Well, I was entirely pleased with the modest slab of roasted pork belly, which came sitting in a pool of stick-to-your-ribs buttery, mustardy meat sauce, accompanied by a dollop of mashed potatoes along with lovely batons of roasted parsnip, baby carrots and shredded cabbage.

The deliciously tangy, sweet and peppery salad.

The nicely crisped pork belly with wunderbar accompaniments.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

A Spot of Curry

I couldn't leave the UK without getting in some curry. New York and San Francisco have some swell Indian and Pakistani eateries, but it was when I was living in London that I'd had the best curry ever. So while in Norwich, on a fellow workmate's recommendation, I had a go of Spice Lounge on Wensum Street, and I wasn't disappointed. I walked into the nightclubby lounge (complete with neon lighting) of this split-level resto, not quite sure what to expect. One of the six eager waiters promptly ushered me up the stairs and plunked me down in front of the large TV screen blaring the latest and greatest Bollywood music videos. I was handed a menu listing no less than 60 different options ... my mind was a-whirl. After some friendly consultation with my waiter, I finally settled on the king prawn tikka masala and the vegetable bhaji along with a fluffy disk of garlic naan and a hefty scoop of basmati rice. Were my eyes bigger than my stomach? Mmmm, you could say so, but not by much. The tikka masala was really really good—sweeter and more tomatoey than the version I get at Punjab Kabab in SF. I'm glad I'd ordered the veggie bhaji; it's a savory combo of green beans, peas, carrots, onions and potatoes. I shoveled in as much as I could (it wasn't hard to do) and then rolled on home, happy I'd gotten in my fill of sugar and spice and everything nice.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

St. Giles Gets the Nod

I just spent a week in Norwich, England, for my new jobby; it was there that I had the good fortune of staying at the ever-so-lovely and historic St. Giles House in the center of town.

Since I was so pooped from the 10 1/2 hour plane ride over to Heathrow plus a 3-hr drive to Norwich straight to the office to work for yet another 6 or so hours, I could only really muster up enough energy my first night there to hide out in my room and ring up reception for room service in the guise of a goat cheese, roasted bell pepper and olive tart. I was fairly pleased with my order: plenty of fresh greens to offset the tart's richness, lots of zesty flavor (though I'd've held back a bit on the plethora of uber-tart green olives overloading the plate) and a good dose of sweetness from the peppers. I passed out soon thereafter.

My final night in Norwich included a company celebration at St. Giles. My dinner of venison, mashed pots and bitter greens was gorgeous. The jewel-toned medallions were cooked to a melt-in-your-mouth medium rare. The buttery tubers had been whipped to poofy perfection. And the saute of bitter greens really and truly posed as a fine complement to the entree's overall savory succulence. Save for about 2 spoonfuls of starch, I ate the plate clean.