The noodle-making station at the (unfortunately named) Kaka Udon. Photo: © tablehopper.com.
SF has a lot of things in the air right now, including fall and some serious Giants fever! Am loving these World Series games! Things pick back up tomorrow, and in case you’re looking for some spots where you can watch the game with your fellow fans while getting your nosh on, check out my list of six places on 7x7.com.
Speaking of 7x7, perhaps you saw the news on Grub Street that I have stepped away from my role as contributing food editor for the magazine? I will be writing some freelance pieces in the future (like the annual “100 Things to Eat Before You Die” for February’s food issue) and will continue my weekly posts for 7x7.com. Just FYI!
Here’s a little more freelance writing I have done recently: a piece for Club 21 magazine on all the latest places in San Francisco’s dining scene, featuring State Bird Provisions, Bar Tartine, Namu Gaji, Central Kitchen, Saison, and Off the Grid.
This afternoon I am heading up to Wine Country with my sis to hang out with our cousin and her boyfriend—it’s shaping up to be a perfect fall weekend. There will be bubbles (this is what happens when you dine at étoile at Domaine Chandon).
I’m also driving down to Los Angeles next Friday for a Scorpio birthday weekend bash with my wild lady pals—I am long overdue for a visit. I have many spots on my list (including Bäco Mercat, Red Medicine, Short Order, ink.sack for sandwiches, Son of a Gun, and, of course, some Korean and taco joints) but would love to hear any tips on recent LA faves/discoveries I need to check out. Oh yeah, and of course I’ll be paying a visit to Langer’s! Pastrami church!
Enjoy the weekend!
Hey there, so instead of doing a single review today, I thought I’d share some bites of some mighty delicious (and inexpensive) things I’ve had around town the past month.
First, anyone who knows me knows what a nut I am for sandwiches. Have you had a chance to try the sandwiches at MACHINE COFFEE AND DELI yet? The café/sandwich spot is just next to Show Dogs on Market, and it’s also from the Foreign Cinema team. The meats by charcutier Peter Temkin are rocking—juicy and full of flavor—from his pastrami to roast beef to roast turkey. I love the Axle—which is almost like a gourmet version of a Philly cheesesteak—made with roast beef, provolone, spicy broccoli rabe, and onion jam, and they make a wicked version of a Reuben, the Drill Press. But what I am currently crushing on is the Crankshaft, a tuna melt with local albacore tuna that is lightly salted and then poached in olive oil until just cooked through. It rests for a day and is then studded with celery, capers, red onion, aioli, lemon, salt, dill, and hand-blended. It’s an insanely good tuna, just beyond, which is then topped with Shelburne cheddar to make one of the best tuna melts in the city. And it’s 10 dolla no holla. Best of all, you can now order delivery with GrubHub. Lunch is served! And Four Barrel Coffee too. 1024 Market St. at 6th St., 415-913-7370.
Another version of a sandwich I am digging is the Sunday night-only special of pork katsu and tofu buns at IZAKAYA YUZUKI. These tender housemade buns come with either katsu pork (fried in panko) with a feisty eggplant-miso-yuzu sauce, or their superlative housemade tofu that is fried up and oh so custardy inside. Just $11 for two—you will gobble these right up, trust. The sake pairings have also ramped up quite a bit with Yoshi (previously of Corkage) in the house. Follow Izakaya Yuzuki on Facebook to keep up with their sake classes and special sushi nights! 598 Guerrero St. at 18th St., 415-556-9898.
Lastly, on a chilly and damp night a couple of weeks ago, I completely forgot Yummy Yummy in the Inner Sunset was closed on Tuesdays (wah waaah), and ended up having an impromptu dinner at nearby MANNA instead. The menu of home-style Korean dishes is cheap cheap cheap (nothing we ordered was more than $9), and totally delivered for the price—you even get six little banchan to start (delicious kimchi, broccoli, bean sprouts, and more). We ordered a madly bubbling pot of soondubu jjigae (soft tofu soup) that totally hit the spot, followed by an on-point execution of bibimbap (with beef, vegetables, and a fried egg on top that you mix all together and then anoint with some housemade gochujang/hot sauce), and for my gluten-avoiding friend, we had the japchae (clear yam noodles with beef and vegetables—not the best I’ve had, but it still got eaten). For $30, we had quite the feast. The staff is friendly (example: our server patiently waited for me to finish a loooong slurp/bite of a japchae noodle and shot me a quick grin before placing our bibimbap on the table). For a midweek bite that won’t break the bank and will warm you right up, here’s your spot. 845 Irving St. at 10th Ave., 415-665-5969.
What does a $15,000 Umbrian white truffle look like? Well, the brain-size fungus that’s been purchased by CYRUS isn’t the most photogenic thing you’ve ever seen. It’s sort of lumpy and dusty, and weighs roughly the same as three baseballs.
Primarily found in Italy, the truffle’s earthy, seductive, musky odor envelops you. In fact, its scent envelops the whole room. Bought wholesale for about $5,600, the truffle will be the centerpiece of a special menu being served at the Michelin-starred Healdsburg restaurant during its final week of operation, says chef-owner Douglas Keane. Portioned out in shavings and slices, the truffle will ultimately end up selling for $10,000 to $15,000. “It’s pretty rare. They do get much bigger, but this is probably the biggest one I’ve ever worked with,” said Keane.
It’s a delicious farewell for the Healdsburg restaurant, which has been sold out for months, ever since the announcement that it would close at the end of October. A drawn-out conflict with the building’s landlord resulted in the decision to shutter. Keane and business partner Nick Peyton have not announced future plans, but remain involved with HEALDSBURG BAR & GRILL.
At the newly opened THE PARISH CAFE in Healdsburg, Southern hospitality is alive and well. “The first time you walk in, we want you to feel like you’ve been here a hundred times,” says Bradley Blanchard, setting down a half-pound muffaletta sandwich on my table with a wink. Despite looking easily half my age, he’s called me “baby” at least three times, with the same kind of boyish Southern charm as his cousin, Parish Cafe chef-owner Rob Lippincott. I can’t say I mind being fawned over. Nor will you.
With all of the easy of the Big Easy, Lippincott’s New Orleans café draws you in with homey charm, Southern comfort, and a menu that’s pure French Quarter. Open for breakfast and lunch Wednesday through Sunday, you’ll be hard-pressed to find more authentic Louisiana cooking this side of the mighty Miss.
Breakfast includes a crawfish and andouille omelet ($11); Egg St. Charles, which is a poached egg with fried trout ($14); shrimp grits with Creole tomato sauce ($12); pain perdu with bananas and bourbon sauce ($9); and Lippincott’s beignets (three for $5), which he’s sold for several years at local farmers’ markets. You’re required, at least by me, to eat those beignets—lightly fried pastries with a dusting of powdered sugar—with café au lait ($3.50), a heavenly mix of half-and-half and chicory coffee often associated with New Orleans’ famous Café du Monde.
Lunch is a hearty affair with 10 different po’boys—the signature sandwich of New Orleans—served on a light and fluffy baguette. Lippincott’s in-laws, who own nearby COSTEAUX FRENCH BAKERY, make the loaves specially for the restaurant, which are stuffed with fried shrimp, fried oysters (go for the half-and-half, with a mix of oysters and shrimp), catfish, or fried green tomatoes (half or king-size, $7-$15). Several come with “debris” gravy, pronounced day-bray, a salty, meaty roast beef au jus (which I ordered on the side to dip my fries). The muffaletta (another NOLA staple) is piled high with ham, salami, mortadella, provolone, mozzarella, and housemade olive spread on focaccia ($12-$18).
What you’re absolutely here for, however, is the gumbo, made with chicken and andouille sausage with okra, tomatoes, and green bell peppers, and served over white rice ($6). Order a side of feather-light hush puppies ($4) and fried okra ($3), which is breaded and fried to order, so there’s no slime. You’ll pull away from the table full, no matter what you order. It’s Lippincott and Blanchard’s mission to send you away happy.
“This could easily become a habit,” says a customer waddling out the door. But not before Lippincott hollers after him, “Come back soon, y’all.” 60A Mill St. at Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707-431-8474.
Experience autumn in Sonoma County, using all five senses, at the fourth annual ARTISANO celebration, Saturday November 17th from noon to 4pm at the Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa. Discover local ultra-premium wines, delicacies from the finest restaurants that source regional, seasonal ingredients, and meet many of the region’s most talented artists. Hosted by Vintners Inn in the heart of Wine Country, Artisano will feature a raffle and silent auction of Sonoma County’s most creative lots with proceeds benefitting CERES COMMUNITY PROJECT. Tickets for the Grand Tasting are $75 per person and can be purchased online. 4350 Barnes Road at River Road, Santa Rosa.
We’re on the home stretch to the holidays, and the excellent cookbooks are filling our shelves quicker than you can say “gaeng gai sai aloo”! While there are many more on the way—and I’ll be sure to report back next month—here’s a taste of what you may want under your proverbial tree this year, if you can wait that long. If you can’t, head over to your local bookstore now and start stocking up.
Don’t forget: the books mentioned below are available at 20 percent off for tablehopper readers for two weeks following this mention at Green Apple Books—simply use the code “tablehopper” at checkout (either at the store or online) for your discount.
Burma: Rivers of Flavor Naomi Duguid (Artisan)
I’ve worked within a few blocks of Burma Superstar and Mandalay for 19 years now, and I’ve seen no reason to try to re-create their magic at home. But I’m probably not as adventuresome as you, so come check out Burma: Rivers of Flavor (after eating—or else you’ll never be able to wait for your meal). It’s 350 pages of noodles, curries, and fresh salads, all deliciously photographed to tempt you right into the kitchen.
Fäviken Magnus Nilsson (Phaidon)
I spent a few weeks last summer in southern Sweden (via Home Exchange, which I highly recommend as a way to travel with kids). And I fell in love with the food, enough so that I have since actually gone to Ikea for groceries only. Leagues above Ikea is Fäviken, a northern Swedish restaurant that only serves food produced on-site. How does this translate to someone without their own 20,000 acres? Well, most of the methods and recipes—for yogurt, breads, pickles, etc.—are easily reproduced by the home cook. But this book may be better for inspiration (unless you have sourced the crispy reindeer lichen).
Vietnamese Home Cooking Charles Phan (Ten Speed Press)
Here’s the first book from SF’s own Charles Phan, chef-owner of The Slanted Door. The book is everything you want from a cookbook: inspiring, easy to follow, thorough, and clear. Thanks to lots of photos, succinct recipes, and a focus on technique and ingredients, Vietnamese Home Cooking makes Phan’s food truly doable for any semi-adventurous home cook.