Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Souffle-tastic at Cafe Jacqueline

I've lost count how many times I've had the pleasure of inhaling the perfectly pillowy and seasoned souffles that continue to parade out of the kitchen at North Beach gem Cafe Jacqueline these past 15 years and more. All I know is that the snowy-haired French whiz, Jacqueline, is still going strong. And I'm thrilled to know it.

Nearly four years later, my sister and I gave the corn, ginger, garlic and gruyere souffle another go. And it was just as rich and savory in all of its eggy glorywith the fresh flavor and crunch of corn adding lovely dimensionas we'd remembered it.

What was new for us was the blueberry souffle. I've had Cafe Jacqueline's chocolate souffle, not to mention the peach and strawberry renditions a number of times—they're all insanely good. But we wanted to try something new.

Wowza. Doused generously in the fruit's sweet juice and then topped with a bunch of the fresh tangy berries, the impossibly tall souffle comprised a dreamy combination of textures and flavors. We scraped both ramekins clean.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In Season: Persimmons

On a recent visit to the SF Ferry Building, I noticed a bounty of fiery orange persimmons at a number of stands dotting the farmers market. Of course, I couldn't resist and bought a bag of hachiya persimmons (pictured here), which are ready to eat when soft to the touch (just like a ripe tomato).

Persimmons originate from Asia. And hachiya persimmons in particular are much loved by Koreans. I've got a strong food memory from a trip to Seoul, during which time I enjoyed large quantities of the sweet, juicy, heart-shaped fruits with my aunt. She'd bought a box full of the luscious ripe fruits and stored them in the freezer. Once frozen, we pulled them out and popped 'em in individual bowls, then took the stem off and started scooping away the insides with a spoon. Just like ice cream.

Persimmons = heritage = family = food = love.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Turkeyrific Holiday Feast

Another year, another Thanksgiving gone by. This time spent in Tiburon at the home of dear friends with my sister in tow. My contributions included green bean casserole (from scratch, of coursecompliments of Cook's Illustrated) and cheddary cheese twirls from a recent edition of Saveur magazine.

Needless to say I ate so much that I had quite the belly ache the next day.

But how could I resist when faced with as splendid a bird as this one. Brined and then roasted to moist perfection.

Not to mention a wonderful carbolicious train comprising wild rice stuffing, mashed rutabaga, roasted sweet potatoes, sweet cranberries and more.

Yep, I mowed through everything on this plate. (This does not include the 1/2 pound of hors d'oeuvre plus the pumpkin pie and apple crisp I also managed to consume.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Welcome Wo Hing General Store

Welcome to the neighborhood, Wo Hing General Store. The much anticipated "reopening" of Charles Phan's first storefront on the Valencia corridor finally took place last month, but rather than go with his usual (and outstanding) Cal-Vietnamese fare (a la Out the Door), it seems Chinese street food was the way to go.

And heck, YH and I were more than happy with the results.

Maybe it's because we started with the oh-so-smooth 50/50 Split, lovely cocktails comprising Plymouth gin, Dolin vermouth, orange bitters with a lemon twist.

But no. It was probably because the 5-spice local squid, lightly fried in panko, along with thin slivers of lemon, were ever so tender, ever so fragrant and ever so good.

Add to that Wo Hing's rendition of mapo tofu, unrestrained in its hot spice quotient with a good amount of seasoning and sauciness, which felt very Chinese-Californian and exactly right in this lineup.

The kicker to this meal: a fab dessert of super fresh, glutinous mochi rolled in black sesame filled with vanilla custard. The server cautioned us about the texture of the little rollsthose not familiar with the gummy, springy texture are often put off by it; but most Asians absolutely adore it. We were no exception.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Brunch at Slow Club

If you're a brunch whore like me, then you'll appreciate Slow Club's awesome weekend line-up. JA and I had the best late morning repast I've had in a long while one Sunday not long ago.

The perfect marriage of sweet and savory: Turkey sausage hash with yukon gold potatoes, garnet yams, caramelized onion, roasted apples, butternut squash and sage, crowned with two delicately poached eggs, a sprinkling of wild arugula and cheddar cheese. I scraped the plate clean with the help of some moist, flakey biscuits and washed it all down with a creamy, smooth latte. Heaven.

Tasty Bites at Barbacco

Three dinners at Barbacco in the FiDi, and each one a resoundingly good time. From the starters to the generous entrees, the lively trattoria does a really nice job delivering fresh, flavorful dishes along with a smart wine list that pairs well with the bright, spicy food.

On this third go 'round, AB and I delighted in the homemade spicy, smoked Calabrian soft salame (aka 'nduja) and gobbled up the impossibly rich duck liver fegatini smothered in an intensely sweet tangle of caramelized balsamic onions.

Alas, the poached oil tuna over arugula, which we'd ordered, came out incredibly salty, so we sent it back. The accommodating server suggested another salad in its place, and we decided, sure why not. Let's try the duck.

Ah-mazing. The best thing we had that night. The duck conserva was uber-tender and succulent, the perfect kind of savory that complemented so well with the crispy sweet apple slivers, salty ricotta salata and baby spinach leaves.

Addictive stuff. I could happily eat Barbacco's duck salad every week.

By now we were starting to feel the hurt. Our bellies were well on their way to filling up, but we made room for the giganto polpette, crumbly Sicilian meatballs made with ricotta and lemon sitting atop a generous serving of braised escarole.

Yes, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs. The lamb sugo was probably the most pedestrian of all of the dishes, but was really quite well doneproperly seasoned and the pasta al dente; it suffered for having to be compared against the rest.