Yeast is a key ingredient for both brewers and bakers: it helps bread rise, making it soft and puffy, and without it, beer wouldn't have carbonation or alcohol. But the strains of yeast used in a loaf of sourdough or a bottle of lager have remained very different, until now. Linden Street Brewery recently introduced Our Daily (B)red, a beer that's fermented with the sourdough starter that's made Tartine Bakery's loaves world-famous.
15 Romolo lets you eat its burger "yo mama style" with peanut butter and bacon. Heirloom Cafe tops its off-menu beauty with pungent Epoisses cheese. Chef Bruce Hill hand-designed a burger weight to evenly cook the patties at Bix. Hayes Valley's Straw serves its ground beef mounded on a donut. As any of these restaurants will tell you, when it comes to surviving the stiff burger competition in SF, you've gotta have an angle.
Remember those pickles from Vlasic with the smiling stork on the front? Well you can forget about them. Pickles may be everywhere in San Francisco right now, but they're way outside the bread-and-butter box. Think pickled baby green tomatoes, turmeric-pickled cauliflower, cabbage in chili paste, or any of the thirty something other pickles Nick Balla will rotate into the dedicated pickle section on the menu at Bar Tartine. He's not the only one up to his elbows in brine these days. Hayes Valley's new Boxing Room has a pickle section on its menu too. And Danny Bowien is serving pickled peanuts to the masses at his flagrantly popular Mission Chinese Food. Why pickles? And why now? Balla thinks the pickle movement springs from a collective new openness to more ethnic flavors in slightly higher end restaurants. After talking to a slew of chefs around town about their best pickle practices, I'd have to agree.
After a recent trip to Bar Tartine to try Nick Balla's new menu, I've got liver on my mind. I blame his his duck leg cabbage roll inspired by a Northern Hungarian sauerkraut soup called kapusznica that his father used to make. The Eastern Europe-inspired menu addition buries strips of sous vide-cooked Sonoma Liberty duck liver in a pile of black trumpet mushrooms, dried cherries and homemade sauerkraut, all wrapped up in a tender cabbage leaf. It's a mess on the plate, but the sweet, sour and spicy flavors bewitch, bite after bite.
A few weeks ago, Bar Tartine welcomed chef Nicholas Balla to its kitchen. Balla is replacing Chris Kronner, but he’s also replacing his French-leaning menu. The former co-owner and chef of Nombe, an izakaya restaurant in the Mission, Balla is Hungarian by decent and went to highschool in Budapest. No, Bar Tartine isn’t sporting the latest izakaya menu in town. And yes, the menu at Bar Tartine is starting to have Eastern and Central European leanings. But it’s hardly this cut-and-dried. Tartine Bakery co-owner Chad Robertson—the man, the baker—gave us the lowdown.
It's Valentine's Day, a holiday for suckers if you ask me. But for those of you suckers who don't have a dinner reservation for tonight (and you just noticed that your girlfriend is giving you the silent treatment), do not despair. The most canoodle-friendly seats in the house are at a restaurant's bar anyhow. And the bar is always reserved for drop-ins.
I wrote about the relationship benefits of bar dining long ago for the Tacolicious blog (the restaurant owned by my husband Joe) but in honor of Valentine's Day, I'll make my case for 7x7.
Five reasons why dining at the bar beats a table.
This week’s Tuesday market took place on a gorgeous winter day; it was sunny and crisp out and the farmer’s stands were brimming with winter produce. The chefs too were out in abundance picking up ingredients for their menus. I stopped to chat with a few of them to find out what they were shopping for and out how they would feature them.
There is so very little to celebrate the last Monday in February. Long weekends behind us for the foreseeable future, the weather still not quite cooperating, caught between winter food and spring food. In other words, I know you don't have plans on February 22, so you should certainly plan to attend EAST MEATS WEST, a collaborative rabbit themed dinner cooked (and hosted) by Bar Tartine chef Chris Kronner and Sean Rembold, chef of Diner in Brooklyn. Meatpaper has spearheaded the collaboration, and this is the second in a series (the first was hosted at Diner back in November). This is truly a once-in-a-long-while happening and promises to be a fun and festive evening.
No longer in a pre- or post-holiday stupor, we finally feel we've got the clarity to reflect on a year of eating. It took some sifting through our notebooks, some brain jogging, some staring off into space: And then it all came back to us with the shocking clarity that only memories of delicious meals can conjur up. Some of these dishes are from new restaurants, and some from old favorites. Either way, they all defined a moment.
JESSICA'S TOP 10
The Kronner era has commenced at Bar Tartine. Five days in and the ex-Serpentine and Good Evening Thursday chef is now installed at the Mission restaurant, filling the shoes of former chef Jason Fox (who, it should be noted, is a very fine chef who we hope will end up someplace good, and soon). Chris and I are old friends, so I paid him a visit last night to see how he's settling into his new post. In the last few weeks the restaurant, which has always been one of my favorite spaces in the city, has undergone a minor makeover—now, groupings of framed art (including some by owner Elisabeth Prueitt's father) hang from the walls—the overall effect is bistro-like and charming.