We spotted partners Liz King (left) and Judith Powell (right), toughing the weather in cute coats and distressed boots, while out for a shop on Market St. Liz works retail development and oversees some of the construction of Apple stores, and Judith is the executive director of The First Tee of SF, a youth development program. When they're not hard at work, the two are busy shopping and eating local, in SF and beyond.
Leopold's sausage and kraut (photo by Ed Anderson)
It's been 12 months of good eating. After reviewing all my past blogs, I've pulled out some—though clearly not all—of the most delicious dishes from 2011 and listed them in no particular order. A couple are new discoveries to me (see L'Ardoise), some are rediscoveries (see Kiss), but most are new as of this year.
Crazy things happen all the time in the service industry. If you've ever been a server or a host, you definitely have a story or twelve to tell. I, for one, will never forget the time, many years ago, when a fellow server had to somehow remove a maimed rat from amidst her outdoor tables during one particularly hot summer night in Washington, D.C. She saved the day—rather delicately I might add—with a take-out box. The point is, servers are asked to handle the unlikeliest of situations with poise all the time. In light of this, let's see what some Bay Area front-of-house folks have been dealing with these days.
While it is hard to have a favorite season at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, summer is definitely the easiest to enjoy. The stone fruit is ripe and ready, the musk melons are fragrant, field-grown tomatoes need little more than a dash of salt and corn is abundant.
Remember the fried wonton strips you used to get for free at Chinese American spots? Or those old fashioned mom-and-pop Italian joints that almost seemed to pride themselves on how much bread and butter they could stuff you with before the meal? For the most part, those days are over. I've heard chefs say so much gratis bread ends up in the trash, it's basically like throwing money away. But when a restaurant does the pre-meal giveaway right, it stays with you long after dinner ends, becoming a very good reminder to go back. Here are some freebies I can't seem to forget.
On Tuesday—a sweltering day if there was one—I made an impromptu stop at Locanda for a cocktail at the bar where I ordered the most gorgeous, most refreshing summer drink I've had in a while. I snapped a picture and immediately asked for the recipe from Michael Sager, the director of Locanda's bar program. Make it while the sun's still shining.
I was lucky enough to be invited to Locanda's friends and family dinner last Saturday night. It's always exciting and nerve-racking to watch a restaurant get ready to launch (for those of you who can't wait, Locanda opens this Saturday)—especially in this day and age where "soft openings" really aren't possible. Between the Yelpers gunning for “first-to-review” status and the bloggers trying to one-up each other, you’ve got about T-minus no minutes from opening to a barrage of online critiques. There's no landing pad, only hard ground.
With all the Italian restaurants continuing to open in San Francisco, I've been talking shop with some of the city's best chefs. Particularly, about dried pasta.
Should you think dried pasta is inferior product, think again. Dried pasta is used very specifically for preparations such as carbonara. No self-respecting Roman would be caught dead with a bowlful of carbonara made with anything else. It's a dish that calls for spaghetti with a backbone!
Chef Anthony Strong, one of 7x7's 2010 "Top 20 Under 40", returned recently from a two month trip to Rome where he got paid to learn the ropes (mostly at Osteria di San Cesario), a chef's dream come true. Lucky for us, though, he'll be applying his newfound knowledge to Delfina's next restaurant, Locanda, when it opens on Valencia Street in the spring of next year. Delfina just sent out its newsletter where Strong details the highlights of his trip. If you know Strong, it's so very him. Funny, quirky, offally.