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Robin Rinaldi

World's Best Carbonara

I was just blogging last week about how lots of people would love to cook more, but feel a little overwhelmed by it all. As my little contribution to solving this problem, I’m going to give you one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever attempt: my dad’s carbonara. It’s both lighter (no cream) and tastier (more contrast) than your usual carbonara. Best of all, it comes from an East Coast bookie who’s been cooking since he’s been in short pants. That kind of experience can’t be bought at Le Cordon Bleu.
Senior’s Carbonara
Serves 4
1 lb. spaghetti

Cook's Digest

photography by Sam Lee

Judging from some of my friends, there are lots of people in this city who would like to learn to cook, but feel overwhelmed by the time it takes to find a good recipe, shop, prep and put the meal together—times seven days a week. Enter The Full Plate (, a “store” that’s actually more like a commercial-grade kitchen, where folks can cook up to 15 meals at a time with nearly everything taken care of.

Fat Chance

photography by Stefanie Michejda

Next year is the last year for the annual Masters of Food & Wine event in Carmel that draws top chefs, vintners and foodies from all over the world. In anticipation of that, neighboring Pebble Beach Resorts ( this year hosted its first annual Food & Wine Weekend at Casa Palmero, two days of feasting that can’t possibly be summed up, except in these Top 7 highlights. Two more upcoming weekends will focus on the food and wines of Italy (February 2–4) and France (March 9–11).

Secret Jardin

So here’s how you want to spend your New Year’s Eve. You want to go to Paris, and you want friends of yours to coincidentally be there at the same time. You want these very glamorous friends to be close friends, in turn, with Traci des Jardins ( jardiniè

Hot Stuff

I recently returned from Paris, and I want to share with you a very European and delicious way to warm up your winter. As you know, we Americans love coffee: tumbler-size containers of espresso and steamed milk, carried with us nearly everywhere we go. The French aren’t like that. When you order a coffee, you get a little cup that looks like it belongs in a tea party. Even when you specify “café crème”—i.e. add some milk please—you barely get six ounces of liquid.

Shake 'n Bake

photography by Stefanie Michejda

Best Pastries of 2006: Boulangerie Bay Bread (, 2325 Pine St., 415-440-0356)

Though I love Tartine, their pastries can be overloaded with butter and sugar (if there is any such thing). Boulangerie gets its baked goods (like this fruit tart) just right: rich, flaky and exquisitely presented.

Winning Combination

Mexican Combo Platter of 2006: Puerto Allegre (546 Valencia St., 415-255-8201)

It's not organically grown, locally produced, or even particularly fresh—it's an old-school Tex Mex heap of carbs and lard and meat, served in an always-hopping place with cheap pitchers of margs to wash it down.

Fruit and Cake

How many foods these days can truthfully claim to be traditional “Christmas” foods? Turkey—no. Turkey is Thanksgiving food re-used by unimaginative Americans a month later. Ham is very Easter, but more generally just a holiday food. Pumpkin pie, cookies, yams—all the things we eat at Christmas have associations with other holidays.
Face it: The one food that says “Christmas” and only “Christmas” is fruitcake. Which we all agree sucks. But not the lighter, airier, less sweet and less fruity Italian version of fruitcake: panettone.

Stick It

Today’s blog is going to be nothing more than one huge push for Asqew Grill (, the local chain that has six locations in the city. Here’s why: Asqew is everything a food philistine could want. The business is local; the food is basic (skewers of grilled meat and fish, sides of starches and salads); the prices are reasonable; the brand is unglamorous but consistent in its delivery; and food snobs ignore it.

The Great Coffee Debate

I was having dinner at Eos last night with five friends, all of whom I admire for their taste and intelligence. One of them mentioned that a barista at Ritual Coffee Roasters ( had been quite unhelpful as my friend struggled to find the correct lingo for a cappuccino (known as a “short single cap” at Ritual, pictured below in a photo taken by our photo editor, Stefanie Michejda).

“That is taking coffee way too seriously,” I said.
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