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Upheaval at Orson

In all the hustle and bustle of last week (closing our November issue, dodging Fleet Week drama and the release of the 2009 Michelin guide) we received a press release from none other than Elizabeth Falkner, the executive chef behind both Citizen Cake and Orson. Unfortunately, the release confirmed what we feared might eventually happen over at Orson (for our early article and video about Orson, click here).

Tartine: Attack of the Bread Pudding


If rock stars have groupies, then certain foods in SF have a similarly fanatical following: Tartine Bakery’s bread pudding, for instance. It’s one of those things that people get irrational about. (Case in point: My mother. Last time she came in the city to help me clear out my basement of junk, she threatened to reneg if I didn’t have the bread pudding waiting for her upon arrival.)

Last week, I went to Tartine with my boyfriend. When it’s not busy, I love sitting in there on a weekday morning. It feels very civilized and European.

It did, that is, until he ordered the bread pudding for himself.

Turn a Pumpkin Carving Mishap Into This Cake

I've got pumpkins and squash on the brain lately. The first few squash made their way into my farm box this week, but not before I unknowingly spent $6 ($6!!) for an organic butternut specimen at Whole Foods. Let me repeat—butternut squash. Six dollars. What's that about the economy going to hell? Today, I had a pumpkin-shaped chocolate as my "afternoon dessert," a ritual I strongly encourage all of you to adopt. And over the weekend, I had the pleasure of driving around Sonoma at sunset and passed a bunch of pumpkin patches, filled with white and orange orbs. I would have bought some, but as everything I put on my stoop gets stolen, I just admired from afar.  Now I wish I'd bought a few sugar pumpkins so I could use fresh pumpkin puree for this handsome coffeecake. It looks like just the thing to ring in the season. Invite over a handful of friends for Sunday brunch and serve this, or bake it up on Sunday and bring it to some lucky ducks at your office Monday morning. Note: if you can't find fresh cranberries, they are available frozen at Whole Foods. And they don't cost $6 a bag.

Absinthe's Chef Jamie Lauren: Top Chef Calls


God, it feels good to be right.

If you haven't already read our coverage of the Top Chef casting calls, which I wrote about in April, click here. Back then, I made the proclamation that SF's own Jamie Lauren—currently the executive chef at Absinthe—was definitely headed for fame.

And if you haven't already heard, I was right. Jaime is going to be on the next Top Chef, as what they call a "cheftestant."

Although Lauren is certainly headed for potential ridicule as well as fame (aren't all reality show contestants?), I've always thought of Top Chef as being ok, as reality shows go. But then, I watched one of the video clips on Bravo's site, where they ask TF's judges and host—Tom, Padma and Gail—what gives them a "culinary boner?" (Can you see me cringing? I'm cringing.)

Scala's Bistro: A bright spot

One of our fabulous informants snapped this picture and sent it our way—suffice to say, this particular diner clearly found Scala’s Bistro to be a little too dark, and decided to remedy the situation by turning her mag light—er,  flood light—on the menu. Funny stuff. My question: does this diner travel around with this massive flashlight in her handbag?

Strange Fruit: The Latest from the Farmers Market

It's an heirloom-tomato-eat-heirloom-tomato world out there at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. SF's resident foodies, not content to settle for something as banal and yesteryear as an Early Girl (unless it's dry-farmed, of course) are always on the lookout for what's new, hot, the latest!

Beyond a small frenzy over Ella Bella's dry-farmed tomatoes (I saw Italian cookbook author Carol Field buying up bagfuls), this is what my trip to the market last Saturday revealed:

When Love is Not Enough: Pizzeria Delfina #2

There are some things that you just want to love. You want to love it because of the people involved, or because it’s a great idea, or because you know how much thought and care went into making the dream a reality. But no matter how you try, you just can’t love it—at least not like you’d hoped.

I’m sorry to say that this is how I felt about the new Pizzeria Delfina on California Street. As anyone who knows me already knows, I am a huge Delfina booster. I love that little pizzeria on 18th street, despite the crushing popularity that has made a wait just par for the course. I love the stools flanking the open kitchen, the breadsticks and the bustle. I love the food, which always just seems like the perfect version—the perfect roasted cauliflower, the perfect tuna conserva, the perfect pizza.

A Gold Star for Golden Produce

I’d like to point out a little gem of a market on Church Street in Duboce Triangle, across from Safeway. It’s called Golden Produce, and it’s got some of the freshest, best-looking and most affordable vegetables in town, much of them certified organic. We’re talking plump, perfectly shaped eggplant the color of Cabernet and muscular-looking bell peppers that seem to have been airbrushed by Pantone. Even more enticing are the baby vegetables—fingerling potatoes, tiny artichokes, mini-bulbs of bok choy and sunburst squash the size of silver dollars.

Tyler Florence's Peach, Fennel, Mozzarella and Crispy Prosciutto Salad

You see, there's this guy, Tyler Florence. Maybe you've heard of him? Well, you're about to hear a whole lot more, because in addition to his new store in Mill Valley and two new cookbooks, he's also about to open a restaurant in San Francisco, housed in the Hotel Vertigo (and named, of course, Bar Florence), scheduled to make its debut in December. Still, his two cookbooks are filled with simple recipes for make-at-home food and this salad is just the thing to make this weekend, while the weather is warm and before the last few peaches vanish for another season.

Nettie's Crab Shack Opens

Just in time for the opening of Dungeness season next month, Nettie’s Crab Shack debuted on Union Street Tuesday night, in the space that—for about five minutes—house Palmetto. The co-creation of Brian Leitner (who spent five years cooking at Chez Panisse) and Annette Yang (who helped open Spruce, Jack Falstaff and Home, which occupied said space before Palmetto), Nettie’s is done up like a spacious Atlantic beach cottage. You’ll think you’re back in Cape Cod or Ocean City. There’s a patio, picnic tables covered in butcher paper and buckets of beer.


The bar at Nettie's.
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