traci des jardins
The first time I walked off the street into Japantown's Bushi-tei, it was just to take a closer look at the majestic, live-edge communal table that almost fills up the entire street-level dining room. A glance upstairs revealed irregular, Hobbit-like slabs of wood lining the walls. Another look down popped with pairs of whittled wood spindles, serving as the most delicate of chopsticks on each table. I had to come back.
I started writing about SF’s food scene during the height of the dot-com boom, but that means I also saw it through the bust, when South of Market looked like a ghost town and restaurants like Azie, which really represented that era to me (cutting-edge $30-plus entrees) closed, and not surprisingly.
Still, I’ve witnessed nothing ravage the city’s restaurant landscape like this current recession. It’s been like a wild fire. But right now, I’m happy to report that there’s new growth: The wildflowers are emerging from the forest floor. (Nothing a writer likes more than an extended metaphor.)
I just finished reading Andrew Friedman's food geeky book, Knives at Dawn, which chronicles last year's bid by an American team—led by Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller—to win the international Bocuse D'Or cooking competition. Never heard of it? Though Americans seem to have an endless appetite for cooking competitions (witness the success of Top Chef and Iron Chef), this one has largely flown under the radar, though it has a long and storied history and a distinguished pedigree, having been founded by none other than legendary French chef Paul Bocuse.
It might be freezing and rainy, the economy might still suck, but it looks like the sun will come out tomorrow—or next year, rather—in the form of margs and tacos. We can't argue with that.
True, it's frigid and semi-miserable in the Bay but guess what that also means: snow in Tahoe. And while we're joyfully toasting to this pre-holiday snow-treat, we're also raising our glasses something else lake-side: The new Ritz-Cartlton Highlands (North Star) which opens tomorrow! We're sort of drooling over it. It's fancy.
I just got back from a four-night trip to NYC. Although I was there with Joe for his birthday, it just so happened that the Beard Awards were last night. The Twitter board was jumping with SF chefs tweeting about their flights out to NYC (Coi's Daniel Patterson is apparently no longer a virgin on Virgin America).
On Monday night, when I was recovering from my vacation by gazing longingly at photographs of the Costa Rican beaches, my intrepid understudy Robin was hard at work at Jardinière, sampling her way through the restaurant's new Monday night menu, a $45 prix-fixed four-course meal (with wine!) with a theme that changes weekly. For the kick-off they served a Oaxacan meal comprised of ceviche, cactus-and-white-bean soup and duck in black mole, concluding with cinnamon churros and Oaxacan hot chocolate. I am a little bit sorry to have missed this one, to be perfectly honest, but another chance—three more, actually—exists. For the remaining Monday nighs in March, here's the line-up:
A few weeks ago I went to Traci Des Jardins' Acme Chophouse to taste the season's best sustainable meat and game in preparation for the holidays. Traci and executive chef Thom Fox were joined by the owners of Sonoma Country Poultry and Marin Sun Farms to talk about their turkeys, duck, geese, cows, goats, lambs, pigs and chickens. Bottom line: "The better the animals are treated, the better the meat tastes," according to Marin Sun Farms' Judie Geise.