Our favorite products, gadgets, restaurants, bars, wine, beer, and food websites and blogs.
These limited-edition tea towels from Australian company Third Drawer Down bring some culture to the kitchen. At upward of 35 Australian dollars a towel, you might not want grease splatters on these linens. We’d like to see Margaret Morgan’s Portrait of a History of Modern Art as a Sanitary System, Royal Art Lodge’s Memories of Things, and Lilli Hartmann’s Waescheleine hanging in our kitchen. Prices vary.
Could this be the world’s greatest box of chocolates? Quite possibly. The owner of San Francisco chocolate shop CocoaBella travels the world looking for the best chocolatiers, whose products he brings back and sells. This box includes 18 chocolates from Switzerland, France, Belgium, Italy, and the United States (for now—contents are subject to change). It’s a wide range of flavors, all amazing, but our favorites are the beautifully decorated, sweet-sour strawberry balsamic caramel from Kansas City’s Christopher Elbow and a mushroom-shaped caramel and almond-praline piece from France’s Michel Cluizel that has to be seen and tasted to be believed.
CocoaBella Assorted Chocolate Collection, $25
Discovering something new is great, but discovering a classic can be even better. In The Taste of Country Cooking, Edna Lewis focuses on the simple, seasonal cooking of her childhood in Freetown, Virginia—a freed slave community founded by her grandfather. It’s one of those cookbooks that we read both for pleasure and for great recipes: Any morning with creamed ham, sweet potatoes, biscuits, and coffee sounds good to us.
Medicine New-Shojin Eatstation, the recently updated San Francisco restaurant, has retained its New Age-y air (the “loving-kindness to your body” motto; dishes with names like “clarity”), but the revised Japanese-inspired menu now includes prawns and fish (the only “animal ingredients” available). We scarfed down our soboro tofu rice bowl (ginger-chile-simmered tofu, seasonal veggies, shiitake mushrooms, and nine-grain rice) on our first visit, and our curry tofu rice bowl (fried tofu, steamed greens and seasonal veggies, curry sauce, nine-grain rice) on our second. But the pickled vegetables pickled our pucker. The restaurant’s a short walk from CHOW HQ, so next time, we’re gonna pounce on the spicy peanut ramen, the tempura jumbo prawns, and the sweet bean mochi. Chowhounds ding Medicine New-Shojin Eatstation for its relatively high prices, but, pre-makeover, they were advocating it for something different, a good place for mushroom-seekers and vegetarians. It looks like they haven’t had much of a chance to test the new waters (understandable since Medicine only reopened in March), but here’s what they have to say so far.
Medicine New-Shojin Eatstation
161 Sutter Street, San Francisco
We all suffer from recipe block at one time or another. You know: another night of steamed broccoli? More roasted carrots? Get past it by using spice mixtures from the Occasional Gourmet. The site’s got the now-ubiquitous harissa and ras el hanout, but lesser-known spice mixes, like Lebanese zatar—with sesame seeds, thyme, sumac, and cumin—are worth exploring.
Getting everything ready at once is the hardest part. This kitchen timer from Williams-Sonoma tracks up to three different times simultaneously, counts up and down, and has a clear, easy-to-read display. Indispensable in CHOW’s test kitchen.
Triple Kitchen Timer, $18
Falletti Foods opened last fall in San Francisco, and it carries everything you’ll need. There’s local and organic produce, fresh meat and seafood (including sustainably and humanely raised offerings), wine, and imported treats (HobNobs!). Chowhounds were as excited about the (re)arrival of Falletti’s as us. If you can’t face the stove, the store carries prepared foods and has commingled its retail space with a second outpost of DeLessio Market and Bakery, which has a hot and cold bar, panini, and daily specials—not to mention the desserts, oh the desserts. It ain’t cheap, but it is divine.
308 Broderick Street, San Francisco
We love getting gifts from Red Envelope. Inside a mundane cardboard packing box sits a little treasure: a pretty red box tied neatly up in a ribbon. This 100 percent pure soy wax candle will make the perfect hostess gift for the next dinner party you’re invited to. All Kobo candles are hand-poured, use the highest-quality essential oil, and literally smell like a fruit grove. The wicks are made from environmentally safe cotton, so this is a perfect pick for your ecofriendly pals with stamina: The candles burn for 70 hours.
Kobo Candles, $38, Fresh Currant (cassis, citrus peel, and fir), Fig Verde (fig, cedar, and jasmine), or Flor Nocturnal (cactus flower, jasmine, and hyacinth)
A recent trip up to Seattle landed us at Black Bottle, a modern and inviting restaurant in Belltown. Among the delicious offerings was a deceptively simple dish of crunchy focaccialike flatbread topped with prosciutto and creamy béchamel sauce. Black Bottle is yet another reason Seattle is no underdog when it comes to good food.
Black Bottle Gastro-Tavern
2600 First Avenue, Seattle