San Francisco Food Events- February 2011

There’s a lot going on in the Bay Area as far as food events go, and something tells me it’s like this year round.  First off, it’s BEER WEEK!  There are hundreds of specials and tastings to take advantage of including shot and beer pairings and home brew workshops.  There are also festivals, happy hours, farmers markets and restaurant weeks.  Below is just a small sampling of some of the great events happening this week.  I may have to come back with follow-up postings.  Let me know in the comments if there is an event you’d like me to cover!

San Francisco Beer Week
When: February 11-20th
Where: Yerba Buena and 100’s of restaurants, bars and breweries in the Bay Area
What: A celebration of beer! Opening gala and various specials and events such as beer floats, pairings, parties and flights

Citrus Festival
When: February 19th, 10am-1pm
Where: Ferry Building Farmers Market, 101 Embarcadero, SF
What: recipes, fruit tree grafting displays, book signing, cooking demonstration

Sonoma Restaurant Week
When: February 21-29
Where: various, Sonoma County
3-Course dinners for $19, $29 or $39 depending on the restaurant

Winter Farmers Market Happy Hour
When: February 23rd, 5:30-7:30pm
Where: Ferry Building, 101 Embarcadero, SF
What: For $35 get two full-sized cocktails and sample 10 sample-sized drinks made with winter produce and accompanying appetizers

Pie Ranch Workday and Barn Dance
When: February 19, 2:00 pm
Where: Pie Ranch- 2080 Cabrillo Hwy, Pescadero
What: Barn Dance and community potluck


Filed under Food Events, Food News

Happy Valentine’s Day!

This is a tricky holiday.  If you’re single you likely hate it and if you’re in a relationship you, well, probably also hate it for being too commercial or for stressing you out.  It doesn’t have to be that way, however.  You can be original.  You don’t have to buy red roses a card and heart-shaped box of chocolate.  You can show someone you care in more creative ways.  Here are a few:

  • Instead of roses, get a bouquet of chocolate covered strawberries
  • Cook a meal at home instead of going out for an overpriced, special menu at a restaurant
  • Make a champagne and dessert date.  Two easy and elegant desserts to share are Molten Chocolate Cake or Poached Pears
  • Instead of a fancy dinner, take your loved one to their favorite place
  • Sign up for something you can do together- cooking classes.  Many restaurants offer classes as well as culinary schools.  Take a pizza class or pasta making class and share the meal you created together with a glass of wine
  • Buy a red KitchenAid stand mixer– seriously a must-have for any cook’s kitchen
  • Build her a backyard wood-fired pizza oven ; ) (hint hint)

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Turkey Meatballs Stroganoff

I’m attempting to get back on a health kick.  I have a race coming up in May and I need to get myself in gear if I don’t want to pass out before the finish line. To most people that would mean eating nothing but energy bars, salads and protein shakes.  Not me.  I don’t think you should have to give up good comfort food completely to get in shape.  You just have to be willing to modify it and moderate it.

Here is a healthier version of an old favorite.  Don’t ask me the calorie count, I love cooking but I hate counting.  You take all of the enjoyment out of a meal.  Just know this is a better version because the ingredients are lighter.

1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 slices dark rye bread
1 egg
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/8 cup fat free half n’ half
Kosher salt and Pepper to your taste (about 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper)
Olive oil
1 1/2 cups beef stock
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
2 Tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixer or blender, grind the bread into fine crumbs.  In a large bowl, mix the turkey, onion, parsley, thyme, breadcrumbs, half n’ half, salt, pepper and egg with your hands.  Form meat mixture into balls.  Heat a pan over medium high heat and coat the bottom with olive oil.  Test the oil by sprinkling in cold water.  If it pops, it’s hot enough.  Brown the meatballs on all sides, but do not overcook.  Remove from the oil and place on a cookie sheet.  Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove excess oil from the pan.  Deglaze with beef stock, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add butter and reduce until thickened. Turn heat to low.  Add sour cream and stir thoroughly.  Place meatballs in the sauce , cover and keep warm on low heat.

Prepare pasta noodles of your choice.  (I am partial to egg noodles with this dish.)

Serve meatballs and sauce over the pasta.

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Filed under Main Courses, Poultry

Someone Give Me A Nickel

So I’ve been a little bit of a slacker about posting lately, but that’s only because I’ve been busy.  I am getting backed up on stories, but I’ll get them down eventually.  I had dinner at a great sushi place in Sunset, a bad Chinese delivery place and an amazing dinner at Prospect on Spear.  I also made some great dishes of my own that I’ll share when I get a little more time and a little more energy.  I had every intention of writing some of these tonight but woke up this morning with a killer, throbbing headache that decided to stick around all day.

One thing I thought I would share is some exciting news I got in my inbox this morning.  It involves fermented grape juice and a nickel.  That’s right, it’s BevMo’s 5 cent sale time!  Grab some boxes and get ready to stock up.  The deal is, you buy any bottle of wine at regular price and get a second of the same for 5 cents.  Madness!  I knew breaking that wishbone at Thanksgiving would pay off.  It’s a dream come true for a wino, eh hem, I mean, connoisseur such as myself.  Looks like I’ll be filling up the wine rack this weekend, so don’t be surprised if my posts I’ve been putting off don’t make any sense when I write them this weekend.  Please feel free to share any recommendations in the comments!

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Filed under Drinks, My Random Food Babble

All Spice, San Mateo

Photo from

Since moving to California I’ve had a lot of Chinese food and pizza, neither of which have been spectacular.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve definitely had some great meals, but this weekend I realized I hadn’t really made a point to seek out a lot of good food proactively.  I’ve been making a lot of spur-of-the-moment food choices in the last few weeks.  After a great long hike in the San Bruno mountains, I worked up an appetite for a good meal.  Having not had Indian food since I’ve moved out here, I decided to make a reservation at a relatively new restaurant in San Mateo called All Spice.

All Spice opened in November under the co-ownership of husband and wife team, Sachin Chopra and Shoshanna Wolff.  Chopra has brought vast experience in modern Indian cuisine spanning from New York to Silicon Valley.  Wolff has also worked in catering companies and restaurants and her passion for wine led her to start her own vineyard, hoping to release her first wines in 2012.Fritter

All Spice was a surprise in more than one way.  Its own four walls were surprising, nestled in a small cottage hiding amongst taller, more modern buildings in a busy business area of San Mateo off El Camino Real.  It seemed as though you were stepping into a small family’s home that’s been preserved amongst the commercial real estate that’s blossomed all around it.  The walls were painted in warm jewel tones and the chandeliers adorned with dangling crystals.  They had a roaring fireplace and the small dining rooms glowed with candlelight.  I could see why reservations were recommended- they have only 11 tables.  It adds to the personal and warm dining experience.

The very welcoming and friendly waiter first offered us an amuse bouche of mushroom over cauliflower puree.  I have to say that I LOVE when restaurants offer an amuse-bouche.  It’s such a classy touch.  It’s like a gentleman opening the car door for you on the first date- it really sets the tone.  For the first course, we ordered Indian Bread Fritter “Ma Mere” stuffed with mushrooms, potatoes and ciligini over stewed chickpeas.  The food arrived quite quickly.  The fritter had a perfectly crispy, brown outside and a tender center reminiscent of mashed potatoes.

For main courses, I ordered the Poached Black Cod and my husband ordered the Shortrib Vindaloo.  The cod was perfectly tender and moist, falling apart with the fork.  It was accented by a subtle chili oil that added just the right touch of flavor.  The southern spiced greens gave it a balanced kick of heat.  The short rib was fall-off-the-bone tender, topped with goat cheese and served over greens.  I never would have guessed goat cheese could pair so well with beef but now I feel like it was a match meant to be.  Every bite was creamy and rich, but perfectly balanced. 

Thankfully, their portions are to my liking as well.  I love restaurants that don’t over do portion sizes to cater to our gluttonous nature.  The portions are perfect enough to feel fully satisfied…and feel like having dessert.  It was pretty much guaranteed that I would have to order the Dark Chocolate Kulfi for dessert.  This little dome of chocolate had a flavor and texture that I can only describe as a cross between pudding and fudge.  The passion fruit gastrique complimented the rich, velvety texture. 

I was quite impressed with All Spice.  It is a quaint and warm restaurant with extremely friendly and professional staff topped off with sophisticated and elegant modern Indian cuisine.  The prices are reasonable and the service outstanding.  The only thing I would recommend is calling ahead before your reservation to see if they’ve acquired their alcohol license yet.  As of now, it’s BYOWine. 

All Spice- Online Reservations
1602 S. El Camino Real
San Mateo, CA

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Filed under Restaurants

Game Day Guacamole

The Super Bowl is almost upon us and that means one thing…munchies.  You can’t have a party without ridiculous amounts of fatty food.  I personally am a fan of a great guacamole.  Whether you’re watching the game, watching Puppy Bowl or just partying it up until Glee starts, my guacamole recipe will keep your guests chowing down.


2 ripe avocados
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup red onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
Kosher salt to taste

(*Note: It’s best to wait until ready to serve to make this to prevent browning.)

On a cutting board, carefully slice the avocados in half lengthwise and VERY carefully remove the pit.  Scoop out the insides, cube and put in a medium bowl.  Add the garlic, red onion, tomato, lime juice, cilantro and a pinch of Kosher salt.  Using the back of a spoon, stir and smash the ingredients together until well combined and the avocado pieces smooth out.  That’s it, it’s that easy!

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A Farewell Toast

La Marca

Today was the closing of the sale of our first home in Silver Spring, Maryland. We lived there for three years and poured our blood, sweat and tears into that place (in some cases quite literally during some of the renovations.) It was a wonderful first home in a wonderful neighborhood with wonderful neighbors and I will never forget it.

I thought it would be fitting to honor the closing of the house with a toast. I picked up a bottle of LaMarca Prosecco at Mollie Stones and promptly chilled it in the freezer.

Once chilled to my liking, I was ever-so-careful to uncork without bruising the bubbles and gently filled the flutes.

I have found that Prosecco off the shelf at the supermarket is always hit or miss. It doesn’t matter what the price is, it seems to have absolutely no bearing on the flavor or quality of this sparkling bubbly beverage. Thankfully, my choice of LaMarca held true to its promotional shelf tag. It was light, crisp and refreshing with clear hints of citrus, apple and grapefruit and had a clean, dry finish.  I would say it’s an excellent sparkler (I’m coining that term) for $18.99.

LaMarca was a great choice to toast the bittersweet moment of saying goodbye to a first home and cheers to new beginnings.  Salute!

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Filed under Drinks, My Random Food Babble

Restaurant Weeks by City

For those of you not already familiar, restaurant weeks are a great way to try new restaurants you’ve had on your dining bucket list or restaurants that might be on the pricey side for anything other than a special-occasion dinner.  They usually offer at least 3 courses for a fixed price (normally around $30-$50.)  One caveat is they normally have a special menu for that week with limited options.  The bright side- it’s still the same chefs and bound to be just as good.

I don’t know about you, but these restaurant weeks always seem to sneak up on me and I don’t realize they are happening until it’s too late.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Here is a list of restaurant weeks for 7 major US cities.  Don’t hesitate to report back and let me know how your meals were!

Oakland, CA
Jan. 23-29 2011
List of participating restaurants and reservations

San Francisco, CA
Jan 15-31
List of participating restaurants and reservations

Los Angeles, CA
Jan 30-Feb 4
List of participating restaurants and reservations

Philadelphia, PA
Jan 23-28
List of participating restaurants and reservations

New York, NY
Jan 24-Feb 6
List of participating restaurants and reservations

Chicago, IL
Feb 18-27
List of participating restaurants and reservations

Denver, CO
Feb 26-Mar 11
List of participating restaurants and reservations

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Filed under Food News, Restaurants

Just Say No to Taco Bell

In case you haven’t heard, Taco Bell is being sued for false advertising.  What’s this about you may ask?  They are being sued for using the words “seasoned beef” while the majority of the ingredients aren’t actually meat, allegedly.  According to the Sun-Sentinal, the attorney who filed the suit claims only 35% of the ingredients are even solid, the rest consisting of “water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate,” allegedly. (Do you think I’m inserting enough of the word “allegedly”? Just covering myself here.)  If this is true, that’s just disgusting, although not a bit surprising.  This is why I avoid fast food at all costs.

If you’re craving tex-mex, you can have a safe and healthy version at home that’s still easy to prepare.  If you want to know what’s in the food you’re eating make it yourself.  Here is a recipe for a healthier version of taco salad that’s quick and easy.


Taco Seasoning (recipe below)Turkey Taco Salad

1 lb. ground turkey
Romaine lettuce
Shredded cheddar and jack cheese (2%)
Reduced-fat sour cream
1 vine- ripened tomato, diced
1/2 cup water

Taco Seasoning:
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (add more or less depending on how much heat you want)

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Brown ground turkey until cooked through.  Add water and spice mixture.  Stir to mix. Reduce to medium heat and cook until thickened and water is mostly evaporated off.

Assemble the salad with the rest of the ingredients of your choice.  Simple!

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Filed under Main Courses, Salads

Sunday Brunch at Christie’s- Burlingame, CA

egg white omelet at Christie's
One thing I haven’t really had since I moved here is brunch. Today we decided to check out a little place called Christie’s in Burlingame after seeing promising reviews on Yelp.

We arrived and saw people waiting outside. We put our name in and did the same. The hostess had a strange way about her- not particularly friendly or welcoming, but it was busy so I will cut her some slack. After about 15 minutes we got in and were seated. I ordered a mimosa and was carded, of course. Our waitress, too, was a bit less-than-charming, but I don’t really care. It’s a diner and it was busy. As long as I get food I’m happy.

About half an hour later and seconds before taking up knife-throwing and cannibalism, our food arrived. Of course, we ordered way too much, but that’s the fun of brunch. I ordered an egg white omelet with spinach, bacon and cheddar, a side of hash browns and yet another side of biscuits and gravy to share. It was heaven. (I tried not to let the starvation bias weigh my judgment.)

The omelet was cooked perfectly- no runny whites which is an immediate send-back in my book. The spinach was also perfect- bright green, not overcooked. The bacon was crispy inside as well. A perfect omelet. The hash browns were amazing. They had that great, crispy outside you can only get from a flat-top fry. The biscuits were soft, doughy and spot-on. The gravy was great, too. It was velvety and creamy. My husband doesn’t care for it. He says he doesn’t get it. That’s OK, more for me.

I have to say it was a pretty good brunch. It absolutely hit the spot, even if we had to wait awhile and had less than warm, fuzzy service. I would definitely go back.

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Filed under Restaurants