Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I am thankful for...

Capay farms!

Look at what I got delivered to my doorstep yesterday:

All organic and local (as long as you specify Capay only) and all for $29. I suppose that might seem like a lot, but it's all very fresh and tasty and I don't have to shop for it.

The leeks and chard are going into some soup for me tonight. I feel on the brink of a cold, but I hope to stave it off with this magic concoction.


Due to a last minute freakout on my part, Nate and I found ourselves sitting through 17 hours of traffic the day before Thanksgiving. I decided, last minute, that I absolutely could not be in the same country as my family and not see them on Thanksgiving. So we went, and listened to a very bad audiobook, and Nate was nice enough to drive most of the way.

I am so happy we did. Really, the only way I am able to live 1500 miles from my family is that I somehow manage to see them once every couple of months.

Above you see the beautiful turkey my Grama roasted in the oven. It was very good, as turkeys go (turkey is not my favorite fowl). We had all the other usual suspects. One thing that was missing from the table, that I sorely missed, was the sweet potato, bacon, Gruyere, and rosemary casserole. This recipe was adapted from a Martha Stewart twice baked potato thing-y many years ago, and we have loved it ever since. However, this year, Grama's friend brought the sweet potatoes. No bacon, no love, in my opinion.

My contribution was Grama's famous onion and mushroom casserole (weird how we switch jobs around here) - I believe this is adapted from an ancient Sunset magazine recipe. We made it with fresh onions this year, instead of frozen, and I thought it was an improvement. Here's how it goes:

Blanch a bag of pearl onions in boiling water for a minute. Once they are cool, slip them out of their skins. Saute the same amount of mushrooms in a chunk of butter until they are a bit browned.

Remove mushrooms to a casserole and combine with the onions.

Saute a spoonful of flour in the leftover fat and then slowly whisk in a cup of milk. Remove from the fire and whisk in a cup of grated Swiss cheese, along with a bit of oregano and parsley. Pour this into the casserole and fold in the veggies.

Top with buttered croƻtons and pop in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

how i really plan my day

Chow has an interesting thread going about when people eat, what and why. My response is below:

weekdays: oatmeal with raisins around 9 am at work, occasionally a snack of cheese and crackers or fruit mid-morning, lunch of leftovers at my desk anytime between 11 and 2, snack of yogurt and raisins or crackers mid-afternoon, snack of popcorn or cheese and crackers (i like cheese and crackers, you see) at home around 6, dinner around 8, usually rice or pasta based with a glass of wine. on rare occasion, will have a cookie or a few spoonfuls of salted caramel (thank you, bi-rite) ice cream after dinner. i don't love sweets.

weekends: decaf coffee with milk and sugar whenever i wake up. eggs of some sort an hour or so afterwards. snack (popcorn, fruit, or chips) in the early afternoon or lunch depending on when i woke up. dinner out or take away, usually around 7/8.

i eat when hungry, out of necessity. i get very cranky, nauseous, and tired if i don't eat as soon as i am hungry. however, the food choices are usually purely for pleasure, although i like to use up the contents of my csa box for health reasons. hopefully those vegetable experiments turn out pleasurable as well.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Something to talk about

I've eaten two foods in the last two weeks that forced me to sign onto this blog. The first, french fries from Magnolia gastropub on Haight. The second, halibut and gazpacho from Cortez.

Magnolia is delightful. It's a real pub, not in the completely dark and wooden English sense, but in the Californian sense. There are big tables and wood pillars, but there are also lots of windows and light. The beer is great, even at 2 pm on a hungover Sunday. Actually, I'm not sure that the people who were actually hung over that Sunday (my twin brothers and their friend) would concur, as one of them didn't even have a beer. But my pale ale was refreshing and alcoholic enough to put a fun spin on the rest of the day.

So, the beer is good and the sandwiches are good. Really good, actually. Their Cubano has spinach on it, which may seem like heresy, but the house made (I assume, as they're too delicious to come from a market) pickles will quell any uprising. What is great at Magnolia, and I mean really great, are the fries. They are crispy, maybe double fried, maybe parboiled in advance of frying to dry them out a bit. And then tossed in parsley. They are officially the best fries I've had in my 27 years.

So, go to Magnolia, have a beer and some fries, and disfrute.

And then, when you're done with the pub atmosphere, head to Cortez for dinner. Cortez makes a regular appearance here, as it should in any diner's playlist. Cortez is consistently interesting, with well-crafted drinks and attentive service. Friday was no different, although our entrees were almost unforgivably late coming out of the kitchen. But then our server comp-ed us dessert and two glasses of Moscato, and all was forgotten.

On to the standouts. I had halibut with a beautiful crust, perched atop skinned cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and croutons. And after the server set down my dish, he poured a moat of perfectly salty gazpacho around the fish. Honestly, I was a little concerned about the hot fish and cold soup and the potential tackiness of it all. But it was so good that it inspired me to make gazpacho this weekend. An inspiration I should have ignored (or at least I should have followed a recipe).

And then there was dessert. Pistachio crusted french toast with pancetta ice cream, washed down with Moscato d'Asti. The french toasts were more like nut crusted beignets and the bacon ice cream was all that it promised to be.

Thank you Cortez, for making me feel like a grown up.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Yogurt, lamb, and rice. Boring, you say? Pedestrian?

No, it's heaven.

This little piece of the sky can be found at Fattoush on Church and 26th St. An unassuming Middle Eastern restaurant, this place holds the recipe for my new favorite dish, Mansaf.

According to Wikipedia, Mansaf is the national dish of Jordan. I'm glad to hear this, as it definitely needs an official designation.

I'm not going to attempt to describe it, except to say that it tastes like three of my favorite things: cheese, rice, and butter. However, Mansaf is truly more that the sum of its parts. Try it and you'll see.

While you're there, have the cold meze platter, full of wonderful spreads and fresh falafel (not cold). The mango laban is good, like a thin lassi. And then order the crazy pink hairy dessert, for fun. It's actually quite delicious (if Nate is not around to make unfavorable comparisons to it).

Monday, July 14, 2008

Getting away from it all.

In wine country. Nate says it doesn't really count as camping (because we ate lunch in town) but Kara, Shaina, and I slept in tents by Lake Sonoma this weekend. It was awesome. No cars, no pollution, no stinky smells (except for those in the outhouse).

Some highlights:

Friday night, I built a fire! It lasted for several hours, and on it we cooked preformed burgers from Big John's Market. They had little cubes of cheese in them and lots of Worcestershire sauce. So good and easy. They would have been even better on buns, but we ate them on regular bread, because that's what we had. And we were roughing it, you know.

Saturday morning, I swam in the lake. I did somersaults and headstands and tried to float. I lost myself in the water until my myopic eyes thought that K + S were making faces at me and wanted me to get out. I love swimming. That's one way that SF and I are not compatible - no good swimming 'round these parts.

Saturday lunch. Best BLT ever. On toasted white bread. At a place in Cloverdale called the Owl Cafe. The coleslaw was also amazing and had just the right amount of dry mustard in it.

Saturday snack. Orange freeze. Like a root beer freeze, but with orange soda. We got our sodas at Pick's Drive-in, also in Cloverdale, and sat on the picnic tables in our shorts. It was like being ten and going to Dairy Queen after swim practice or Grama's house.

Really, the whole weekend was like being ten, with the warmth and the swimming and the junk food and the girl talk. It was wonderful. Thanks ladies.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

third time's a charm

Beretta was fabulous, as usual. The only fault I can find with the place is that the drinks are so good, it's very challenging to leave without having at least two. And really, is that a fault?

I'd say no, considering how delicious the drinks are. One of them, the Lonsdale, is so wonderful that we are trying to steal the recipe. Our server was going to ferret it out for us, until she realized that might not be good for business. Next time we go, we'll sit at the bar and order Lonsdales until we've figured it out. It includes apple, gin, lemon, honey, and basil, but it's the proportions I'm after. And is the apple in juice form? Fresh squeezed (I'm sure)?

The food is not too shabby, either. Burrata on pizza? Yes, please. Pork wrapped in pancetta sitting atop green beans (which were swimming in butter and wine)? Don't mind if I do. And grilled asparagus. I'm trying to avoid saying something silly here, like "Finger lickin' good," but it seems I cannot help myself.

See, Beretta drives me to distraction. I think I'll have to make it a regular habit.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Where does your food come from?

So, a bunch of people recently had salmonellosis. The FDA thinks that the bugs are from tomatoes, although they are starting to change their minds a little. Problem is, no-one knows where the tomatoes came from. Why? Because tomatoes are imported from god-knows-where to US distribution centers, where they're repacked and sent to stores, etc. And what does the FDA say about this? Let's track the tomatoes better. What do I say about this? Let's get our tomatoes from a farm. Let's have them picked ripe, not green, let's have them go from the vine, to the picker's hands, to a box, to my doorstep.

Now, before you suggest that I get off (or fall off) my high horse, know that I buy fast food and don't always eat at restaurants that grow their own veggies in the backyard. But, in an ideal world, I wouldn't (eat fast food) and would (eat as locally as possible). Why does the government's answer to all of these food contamination problems involve even more money, oversight, and centralization, when so many problems can be solved by going smaller?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Coco500 has fried green beans

And truffled zucchini flower flatbread. They are awesome. Also good but not awesome was the duck liver terrine and the tomato braised pork shoulder.

Nate and I had eyes bigger than our stomachs last night and ordered two small plates, a large plate and one flatbread (after consuming lots of wine and white cheddar Cheezits at home). We finished about half of the food. Our waiter chastised us. When we ordered dessert (!?) he said that he wouldn't bring it to us unless we promised to finish it. Well, it was hard not to, given its deliciousness. Cherry gelee with buttermilk panna cotta and nice little shortbreads on the side. A fifty-fifty, it was called. And really, just the perfect mix.

Now I'm enjoying a fancy lunch of leftover truffled flat bread and cottage cheese (eaten separately) while I type a report and try not to think about wedding dresses.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Eat your veggies!

Nate doesn't like green things, except for salad. He especially doesn't like greens that verge towards bitter, like collards and kale. Unfortunately, it's that time of year when the grocery box is full of these things. And I like them, having a penchant for bitter tastes (Campari and tonic water being my favorite examples).

My not-so-sneaky plan is to just make them, regardless of Nate's preference. He seldom eats them, but it means more lunch for me the next day. The grocery box people are nice enough to include a letter with recipes specific to each week's box. A few weeks ago, they had a recipe for collard greens, which I made to great effect for the Southern BBQ cookoff. It involves a little garlic, raisins, and orange juice, which soften the bitter edge of the greens (I think).

It goes something like this:

Blanch the greens (which you've washed and torn/sliced into bite sized pieces)
Shock them in ice water
Soften some garlic in a bit of olive oil in a saute pan
Put the drained greens in the garlic-y pan, along with some raisins
Squeeze half an orange in with the greens (drink the other half's juice, if it's nice and ripe)
Cover the pan for a few minutes to braise the greens

I mixed this with some brown rice for what turned out to be a ridiculously healthy meal. Tonight, to repent, I'll have something cheesy or meaty.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Please forgive me, gluten-free cobbler.

Eagle-eyed reader Kara spotted a grave omission from my cookoff post. Although I listed apricot cobbler in the list of delicious dishes on offer at the barbecue, I forgot two very important points about it.

1. It was awesome. Despite (or perhaps due to) being made with gluten-free flour, it was crunchy and sweet and gooey, just like cobbler should be.

2. It tied for first place!

So, gluten-free cobbler of Kara's, I beg your forgiveness.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Range is good.

Very, very good. Too good to write about.

Just know that we are so happy to have it in our neighborhood.

You should be jealous.

Just kidding - we started out with a selection from Range's nicely composed cocktail list. Actually, I had the special cocktail of the evening, a cherry margarita, up. And Nate had the Envy, which he described as a cucumber mojito. As aperitifs, I think his won, as it whet the appetite a bit better than mine. We had the goat cheese ravioli and marinated leeks (two separate dishes) to begin. No clear winners here. The ravioli had a nice bite, provided by both the filling and the pasta. And the leeks were topped with a poached egg that released its eggy goodness with each forkful.

I was very excited to try the Tokaji Furmint that was on the wine list. I read about this wine several years ago and have never gotten around to having a glass. Luckily, our server felt that it would go perfectly with the roasted chicken, my main. And it did - a little flower and minerals to balance the oil in my bread salad. Nate had a Temperanillo (as is his way) with his pan roasted hangar steak.

To finish, I cheese and a glass of Madeira. The kind of cheese escapes me, something sheepy, but it was exactly what I was looking for. A little sharp and very creamy. I had to have a a bit of Nate's dessert, of course. Who could say no to chocolate crepes with grapefruit and pepper ice cream? No one sane, I think.

And the winner is...

Audrey's pulled pork and beans. With homemade barbecue sauce. Sooooooooo tasty, especially on the Wonder Bread she brought.

Yesterday was the occasion of our third cookoff - the theme this time was a Southern barbecue. We had the aforementioned pork and beans, black eyed pea and ham soup, biscuits, red velvet cupcakes, apricot cobbler, cole slaw, collard greens, bacon wrapped shrimp, corn, mashed sweet potatoes and cheese, and Rice Krispie treats. A great spread, considering it was potluck and not planned at all.

Sadly missing from that list was the pork butt that I started a little too late in the day to enter the competition. I rubbed the porks with brown sugar, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. They went down on the grill at noon, along with our little smoker box. I kept them on indirect heat with the grill around 260 F all afternoon. I was mistakenly thinking that two smaller pieces would need less time than one larger piece, but they held out for eight hours on the grill (and another hour in the oven). Oops. Most of the cookoff participants had left by the time the pork was ready to eat, so Lindsay, Kara, Ben, Nate and I were able to throw manners out the window and stuff shreds into our mouth with our hands. So greasy, greasy good.

Perhaps a picture is in order.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Champagne and burritos

What better way to celebrate the hottest day of the year than with our usual Thursday fare and a fantastic bottle of Bollinger from Dad? I know it was meant for Nate and I to share, but we wanted to spread the wealth. Surprisingly, champagne is a great foil for Papalote's masterpieces. After Kara, Kiko, Rudy, Josh, Nate and I savored the first bottle, we opened Josh's offering of Moet. Yummy. Normally my bubbles are along the order of Freixinet, so this was an exciting departure.

While we're on the topic, I have to mention that our backyard is sooo much more wonderful with a table on the deck. Really, it was useless before, and a backyard shouldn't be useless.

Monday, May 12, 2008

How I plan my wedding

Nate and I are engaged! It's amazing how quickly you have to start talking about all of the details - it only happened last Thursday and already we're picking a date.

What do you eat at a backyard wedding reception in March? Mind you, this will be in Phoenix, not San Francisco, so the weather will be balmy.

I suggested grilled steaks, but Nate feels that a barbecue is either too bo-ring, or too tacky. So maybe...?

I'm at a bit of a loss. Any comments are appreciated.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Veinte y siete de abril

April 27th is the new May 5th, in my book. Josh, Rudy, Lindsay, Anna, Kara, Nate and I BBQed it up. Kara came over first, around lunchtime, and we made delicious hamburgers for lunch. Despite Nate's nay saying, I ground the beef chuck myself, in the food processor. This is better from a food safety standpoint and I think it makes the meat taste fresher (I'm sure the latter is an artifact of my imagination). To give credit back where credit is due, Nate suggested including pickles and onions in the hamburger patties, so I threw a few spoonfuls of bread and butter pickles into the mix. The hamburgers were quite good, although a little overcooked, thanks to Kara and I's dawdling. The real star of the meal was the banana sauce and mayonnaise spread, which we slathered on our burgers. It was a great dip for the Tater Tots, too.

Banana sauce alone is a little boring (don't tell Nate), but added to mayo is a thing of beauty. It brings a little spice and a lot of sweetness and turns it an appealing pink. I first had this dip at the Spider House in Boracay with their magical meatloaf cum hamburger sandwich.

Later in the afternoon, we grilled up some carne asada on the replacement BBQ (which is now chained to the deck, to prevent another backyard robbery). This was my first attempt at marinating my own and I think it turned out well. It wasn't exactly like that of Super A Foods in Eagle Rock, but good in its own right. I drenched a fair amount of top sirloin slices in a mixture of sliced onions, garlic, key lime juice, orange juice, oil, cumin, and cayenne pepper. A few hours (and beers) later, we threw this on the grill and gobbled it down with some warm corn tortillas. And a great pineapple, cilantro, onion, avocado, and jalapeno salsa courtesy of Josh. And...a sugar snap, corn, and spinach salad with blue cheese dressing that would have been more interesting with real blue cheese.

Please sun, grace San Francisco with your presence for a few more weeks (or the whole summer if you're feeling particularly generous).

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

More badass than we knew

It turns out that we finished in 31:13:31! At 147th place (out of 250ish).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

199 miles, 33 hours, no sleep

I did The Relay this weekend with 11 random people. We were trapped in a van for two days, running, eating, and not really sleeping. It's amazing what your body can do if you push it.

The following times are approximate:

12pm: cheeseburger and half a beer.

4pm: ran my first 5.5 mile leg. The wind was blowing so hard that it added 30 seconds to my pace and I felt like I was running backwards.

9pm: ate a roast beef sandwich for the first time ever and washed it down with tortellini soup and a chocolate Interlude (thanks Mac). Slept on the bench of a van for 1.5 hours, then woke up and brushed my teeth.

4am: ran 6.4 miles in the dark. Nearly hyperventilated from fear. Back on pace though, running away from imagined bad guys.

8am: half a Jimmy Dean sausage and egg sandwich, a blueberry bagel with cream cheese, apple juice, and a hard boiled egg (eaten whole on a dare from Alek). Slept 2 hours on a mat on a cold gym floor.

2pm: ran 6.2 miles on Highway 9 through little towns like Ben Lemond. Had some energy to sprint to my last handoff (I'll give the egg credit for that).

7pm: ate 2.5 tacos and half a plate of nachos at Las Palmas in Santa Cruz, washed down with a Pacifico.

9pm: nearly fell asleep on the way home to SF. Thanks for picking us up, Nate!

Friday, April 11, 2008


The bag o' balut.

A peek inside.

"Balut soup" down the hatch.

A wee little duck.

All done!

More Philippines pics to come...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sometimes PB&J just won't cut it

My breakfasts are usually fairly simple: peanut butter on toast, cream cheese on a bagel, fried egg in a tortilla. And the one I had this morning while walking to my bus stop was no exception to this rule of simplicity. It tasted different, though, like Sunday brunch.

If you hate the idea of eggs with anything sweet on them, then read no further. I know that there are a class of people who do not like their food to mix - sauce and rice, broccoli and pasta, eggs and syrup. I am not one of those people, so this breakfast doesn't make my stomach turn. However, if you are, then this is not for you.

Toast an Eggo Nutri-Grain waffle, or your favorite kind of frozen waffle. Don't use homemade - they aren't sturdy enough (I'm not partial to Eggos on a regular basis, but they are particularly suited to rushed mornings). Now, put it in the toaster. Foam up some butter in a frying pan. Crack an egg into it. Break the yolk, if you want (I like to do this while I'm hard frying an egg so that the layers are more evenly dispersed). Sprinkle with salt and fresh pepper. When done to your liking, slide it onto the waffle (which came out of the toaster while the egg was frying, and now has syrup on it).

Et, voila! Sunday morning on Monday morning. Or Tuesday. If you don't go overboard with the syrup, you can eat it on the way to the bus. Or in your car.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Big afternoon.

We had an Italian cook-off yesterday afternoon. Unfortunately, the wine, pasta, and daylight savings time change have conspired to rob me of the will to live (or more specifically, type). Suffice to say, it was fantastic. We had all varieties of baked and boiled pasta, some delicious calzones, and a beautiful chocolate torte. Perhaps I will post the winners and some pictures here tomorrow, when I have my strength back.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Rejection song.

I got a rejection letter from UCSF yesterday. I'm feeling okay about it, in spurts, but it's really heart breaking to be told that you aren't wanted. The situation clearly called for a mourning dinner.

The new place down the street, Lolo, has gotten mixed reviews, but I've always been intrigued by the menu. So off we went. Nate and Josh and friend and I arrived around 8 and two tables were efficiently pushed together for us. We ordered a lot of food, so it's probably easiest to do this in list form.

Huitlacoche dumplings: umm, eww. Corn mold tastes like mold. And the "white corn foam" tasted like cold masa with a bunch of air bubbles.

Shrimp "tacos": these were fun. The tortilla was actually a big slice of jicama, and the whole thing was very refreshing.

Octopus tiradito: the standout. Sharp dressing, thin, pretty slices of octopus. We lapped it up.

Venison carpaccio: eh. The meat was tender and sweet, but it was too sweet. Not enough salt, which Josh continuously reminded us of by making motions like a salt shaker. He never asked for any salt, though. However, I think he identified the insidiously sweet spice, which may have been mace.

Three meat bites: warm and salty, which always gets points. But beyond that, not a winner. Little meat patties of beef, lamb, and bacon atop toast.

Salmon something or other: interesting. Breaded chunks of salmon that were raw in the middle. For a person that doesn't like cooked salmon, this was a happy medium, so I liked it for that.

An Argentinian Malbec: just made me happy that Josh has now been wrong twice about Argentinian wine. Ha.

I think that's all we had. Really, the "ehs" far exceeded the standouts, making me think we won't be repeating our visit. But a fun evening nonetheless.

Thanks for helping me laugh away the sting of rejection, guys.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Food for giants.

A brief note on the gluttony of Super Bowl Sunday.

Kara and Josh arrived. We threw some celery into the blender to make Southern Exposures. Nate found the recipe in the Chronicle on Friday, courtesy of Daniel Hyatt of Alembic. They were...weird. It was hard to find the right balance between gin and celery juice and they wound up a little...thick? But interesting and maybe even refreshing, if you had only one.

We also consumed a large quantity of chili with Casa Sanchez's organic tortilla chips. Before you think this is a shameless plug for all things organic, know that their organic chips are infinitesimally better than the non-organic ones. The chili was from the day before, and invovled black beans, pork, chipotle peppers and beer. I added some cheese to make it more dip-like. I also smashed a couple of avocados with Papalote's famous salsa. We made quick work of that.

After Nate and Kara moved on to the game, and Josh and I moved onto beer, we put some chicken wings in the oven. And then had the brilliant idea to start some spareribs, so that they would be ready in time for House.

The Giants, as we all know, prevailed, and we ate enough food for both teams. We ate all of the wings and most of the ribs, and somewhere around 8pm I thought we needed a snack of nachos composed of chicken and chili and cheese. I ate most of those myself.

And that, my friends, is gluttony at its finest. The game was pretty interesting too, I hear.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dan Dan Mien

We had a pile of not-so-fresh egg noodles in the fridge, procured during last week's expedition to Ocean View Supermarket. What to make? Nate's vote for chow mein didn't sound particularly appealing, and then I had a brainstorm. Dan dan noodles! Embarrassingly, the dan dan noodles I had my most recent experience with are not particularly authentic - the Marco Polo noodles from Long Life at the Metreon. These are the ground pork and cucumber version, and in the Long Life incarnation they have a slightly sweet sauce. Aside from this they are unremarkable. The other place I have had them is PF Chang's, where they are actually called Dan Dan noodles, and are ground pork and cucumbers with a spicy/salty sauce. I am mildly embarrassed that this is my only experience with the dish, as both of these noodle purveyors are poo-pooed (to borrow a Nate phrase) on the illustrious Chowhound. But it is, and I find them comforting, regardless of the inauthenticity.

On to the food-making. I found a PF Chang's copycat recipe for Dan Dan Noodles and began heating the wok. The sauce consisted of sherry, soy sauce, chicken broth, oyster sauce and something I'm surely forgetting. An aside on the sherry - the sheer volume of cooking wine sold at Ocean View is enough to boggle the mind and confuse any customer that does not read Chinese. This goes into the wok where the pork and ground chile is frying. And on and on.

We tuck into the noodles in front of a rerun of Mythbusters and begin enjoying the combination of crisp cucumbers, salty pork and chewy noodles. Really salty pork. Too salty. How can this be? I walk into the kitchen and there lies the answer - a full can of chicken broth that I forgot to include in the sauce. Instead of a 1:4 ratio of soy sauce to chicken broth we were probably working at a 2:1. Blech. I still feel like I swallowed sea water and that was two days ago.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The quest for open-ended lumpia ends.

I have been looking for open ended lumpia for sometime. Occasionally they appear in food trays at the office, but they did not appear at a crucial moment a few months ago, when Nate's mother made lumpia at our house. Hers are very delicious, but they have closed ends.

To my delight, Ocean View Supermarket on Alemany has many different kinds of prepared lumpia in their freezer case. Including the kind with the open ends! The brand was Pampanga's Best. I asked Nate if that was a good brand. Yes, he said, Pampanga is known for delicious food. Lovely, I remarked - but is this brand good? Yes, he said, it's Pampanga's Best! What a confusing name.

And now I see that I have been fooling myself to think that these open ended lumpia were any different than their closed counterparts. They are just halved! Only one end is open. They were very good - but not, as Nate pointed out, as good as his mom's.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Back by popular demand.

If by popular demand, I mean at the request of one person.

There was a showdown at San Tung last night. Original dry fried chicken: wings vs. diced. I was on the side of the wings and Kara was trumpeting the virtues of the diced. I'm not sure how the rest of our party aligned itself - or whether they were interested at all. As I expected, the wings triumphed. They are richer and their coating has a more pleasing crunch. An easy victory.

Unfortunately, not everything we ate was so exciting. The mu shu's extra pancake was hard. Like, crispy cracker crunchy hard. I, the martyr, ate it anyway, like a tostada. And the spinach with bean threads, which looked so appetizing on another table, was rather uninteresting. Apparently bean threads have very little flavor.

However, we were surprised by both the hot and sour soup and the tomato beef chow mein. These dishes sound so boring that you might be sleeping already, but they were not. The soup was peppery and had a nice helping of tree fungus (my favorite) and the chow mein was heavy on the garlic. Which can only be a good thing.

On an unrelated note, the January issue of Gourmet is engrossing. I parked myself on the couch for an hour on Saturday and read it cover to cover. "What is Southern?" According to Gourmet, a lot of fantastic recipes and beautiful photographs. I've made one recipe so far, the buttermilk cookies. Make them, now. You will want to eat all of them at once, so make sure there are a few other people around when you open the oven. And please, let the edges brown. The sugar turns into caramelized deliciousness.