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Ali Baba's on Valencia "ohzi" - baked filo w/lamb,pinenuts &rice

Update: Walked by today and spotted these phyllo "purses" on the counter. Had one with lamb. Completely delicious! Aromatic spiced rice with nuts and tender braised lamb. A comforting delicious meal for around $5.50 ($8.50 for a complete meals, as shown here). I've eaten plenty of Arabic food, and the tastes of nuts and allspice and meltaway lamb are all familiar, but wrapped up like this made it moist and tasty. (Love it with something yogurt-y.)
Ohzi al Sham is still a winner, despite not knowing its origins.

Whole Fish in San Francisco

Had a whole branzino two weeks ago at Kokkari. (Still) Highly recommended.

No sens-e eating at Sens

There again on Friday for lunch. Sat outside, overlooking Herman Plaza and the Ferry Building. A slight breeze to cool off the sunny patio.
Most of the food was very good, except the chicken flatbread. Indecipherable on the menu, its arrival on our table added no clues. The slices of 1/2 inch-thick soft bread with tomato and slices of chicken meatballs (an odd concept) were cold when they arrive, having traveled to three other tables before ours. Beef Kefta was tasty, mildly spiced, with corn crepes stuffed with chickpeas and small-diced eggplant, peppers and onions. The flavors in salads are composed nicely, and the manti was delicious again.
Fresh squeeze lemonade was an unexpected big hit. We all loved it.
The service, again, was poor. The waiters (all men) are all amateurs. I've not encountered one that understood the menu. The mention of certain dished is like a newsflash (one chirped, "oh, we have that? how do you spell it?"). Dishes float to multiple tables before landing on the correct one, and timing is always off (entrees arrive minutes after the appetizers, or you wait 15 minutes for your credit card to be picked up; I even waved it over my head for the last 5 minutes).
Sens is not training its waitstaff, or they are not holding onto waiters long enough to develop any habits. It is the solitary reason I could never go there with a client or a large group; it is simply not predictable and reliable.
I wish I could, though.

No sens-e eating at Sens

An update: Had a great lunch there today. Large-size manti (stuffed with manouri cheese, pine nuts, chard and raisins) in a little broth with fennel, beets and roasted cipollini onions; dollop of thick garlicy yogurt on top. Really delicious, fresh and flavorful.
I always have good food, always. The price is right, too But the service, while abundant, is always a little out of tune.

Current Coffee Top 10?

It's about both the roast of the coffee and the brewing of the coffee.
Cafe at Cafe du Nord (Market and 15th Streets) serves Ritual Roasters, and its baristas make great drinks, including Gibraltars (a perfect balance of milk and espresso for me). Plus, there is light fare and good art on the walls.

Rhode Island

Where in Providence am I going for all these specialities, especially the clam dishes like fried clams, clam cakes and steamers, and the johnnycakes? I'm in Providence this week and would love to find a place that does these well, for the locals, whether old school, fancy or a dive. Any help appreciated.

cake flour & baking supplies in the bay area?

While cake flour is available in grocery stores, I have found that Rainbow Grocery stocks a wide variety of baking supplies, including a variety of other types of flours in bulk, and hard-to-find natural flavorings (after checking Safeway, Sur La Table, Andronicos, Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma and health food stores, Rainbow was the only one to have natural coconut extract). There's also lots of nuts, nut butters, dried fruits and different oils.

It's a good place for bakers.

Take the 48 bus down 24th Street to Folsom, then 12 bus up to 14th Street. Take a taxi back, I'm certain you'll be burdened with groceries.

B44 and fresh anchovies!

I bet if you called Barlata and asked, they would tell you.

B44 and fresh anchovies!

In my 4 years in SF, Belden Alley has never been about exciting food. It is an lovely cozy place, the perfect spot for dining (or lunching) al fresco. My meals there have not merited many words in the sometimes vicious Chowhound circle (yes, vicious, you know I'm right about that).

That may have changed yesterday. I met a former colleague for lunch at B44, with its full (read:lengthy) Catalan menu. The chalkboard in front read "FRESH LOCAL ANCHOVIES", but this was never mentioned when the server mentioned the specials. I ordered anchovies, regardless of how they might be prepared (I didn't even ask).

A few minutes later a tall pile of lightly fried fresh anchovies, with similarly sized asparagus and fennel, arrived steaming hot along with a aoili/mayo sauce on the side that was completely irrelevant after the first bite of the anchovies. With only the heads and guts removed, these tiny creatures tastes amazing, reminiscent of their older relatives, the sardine, without the overbearing oiliness. The bits of fennel and asparagus cut nicely the richness from each anchovy, the crunchy vegetables offset the soft delicate mild-flavored fish. A few dashes of salt, and before the plate was gone I had made plans to stop by after work for a glass of wine and another plate of these beauties, before they disappear. You should make plans, too.

See you there.

Dried fruit & nuts in bulk?

I go to Parkside at 16th and Taraval. While not in bulk, they sell large bags of nuts and dried fruit for reasonable prices, with steady turnover, meaning always fresh and good.

Slanted Door- Be forewarned

Klyeoh: You know the true value of a dollar. And your photo is amazing.

$35 corkages is outrageous, and I don't think Slanted Door is otherwise overrated or expensive. I've always struggled with their wine list. It does not have general appeal, while Slanted Door's food has great general appeal without compromise. A more approachable wine list would lessen the need to bring in your own.

Love the catfish and all the side vegetables.

Old-fashioned American Cakes in SF

I'm hungry for traditional 2 layer cakes, yellow and chocolate, with fluffy frosting. Maybe a caramel cake, or German chocolate, a coconut cake or a lemon cake that has a tart icing and sweet cake.
I love the cakes at Miette, but these are a little fancy. Imagine a homemade birthday cake from the 1960s and 1970s. Can anyone suggest a bakery in SF that does these cake?

Tasty Express on Kearny in FiDi

There is now brown paper covering the windows. Still now sign about what's going on, but it is definitely closed.

house made pasta

My recommendation is for Farina, on 18th at Guerrero. Pastas are terrific and other food is great, interesting and unique.

Tasty Express on Kearny in FiDi

Does anyone know what's happened at Tasty Express on Kearny? Not opened all last week and this week, too. No sign on the window and the place looks just closed for the night.
I miss it.

Is the 300 Block of Kearny the Ethnic Foodiest block in SF? And what's that fancy patisserie doing there?

Does anyone know what's happened at Tasty Express on Kearny? Not opened all last week, no sign on the window and the place looks just closed for the night.
I miss it.


BonBonSF - New Patisserie on Kearny @ Bush

I was thinking about that this morning, while I walked past. I agree. It is a tough block because of the lunch-only crowd. It may mean that this block never kicks up.
But when I mentioned neighborhood place, I was imagining that often people live in two neighborhoods: the one near their home and the second, near their job. I know the 300 block of Kearny nearly as well as I know my home neighborhood. Many workers in the area rely on the block for quick cheap lunches, and my hope is that these workers will flood onto the street and buy out every croissant, falafel, cuban sandwich and lemon tart available!

BonBonSF - New Patisserie on Kearny @ Bush

I'd like to see only homegrown places, too. Run by the owner and a small staff, and making things each day. Almost like a neighborhood place, for where you live during the daytimes.
I don't think of BonBon as fancy or overly gentrified. Very easy-going, relaxed, no pretense and good, available, approachable food. It is a good addition without changing the character of the neighborhood.
There are still a few shops open on this block. Fingers crossed.

BonBonSF - New Patisserie on Kearny @ Bush

The awning has been up on this place for a few weeks along this block-long "lunch-grab ghetto", and today, a soft opening. Despite first day gitters and untested processes, the amiable staff does well to guide people through the fresh-baked savory tarts of 1) broccoli, olive and onion with goat cheese and 2) lardon, onion and goat cheese. Each was crisp and flavorful, not heavily laden with any one ingredient.
Other lunch items include sandwiches, croque monsieurs, croissants and brioche, with salads to follow. Pastries included apricot mousse cake, chocolate mousse cake, lemon tart (emphasis on "tart", and intense, brilliant fresh-lemon flavor), and macaroons (also very good, with light cream inside). Also full service coffee/espresso/latte.
A good start, and an exciting new prospect for a sometimes dingy little block. With Muracci across the way, this could be a turning point.

308 Kearny @ Bush

Phyllo dough (fillo dough)

I do not believe there is any handmade or homemade phyllo dough available in SF any longer. The market at 16th and Taraval, right off the L line, has a good variety of frozen phyllo doughs, kunefi, puff pastries and yufka (a thicker phyllo dough, good for boureks). There is also a great variety of eastern Mediterranean food supplies (olives, tea, cheeses and produce) to wrap your phyllo dough around.

Where to buy small organic whole chickens

I agree. The Fulton Valley broilers are delicious and a good size for lots of preparations, and they run under 3 lbs. I get mine at Guerra's. Admittedly, I have not roasted these birds whole, but as fried chicken or pan roasted in pieces I have always been happy.

Gravlax Recipe from Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt Box

I'd like to cure some salmon for Christmas Eve dinner, but the box of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt I recently purchase no longer has the recipe on it. I sweat by it, and I've never written it down because it has been on the box for years. Can't seem to find it anywhere on the internet. Can someone please transcribe it for me? Please, run to your boxes, find the recipe, help me avoid a minor mercurial meltdown. :-)

Thanks in advance.

Dec 09, 2007
DCarbonaro in Home Cooking

Fried Chicken Crust Help

I agree that the coated chicken needs to rest to dry so that it and the egg (or milk) adhere to the chicken. Once it has rested 15 minutes or so, I toss back into flour to coat any spots that are still moist, and then rest another 10-15 minutes.
I don't care for double dipping. I would go straight from the buttermilk to the flour. Add a little rice flour makes the coating very crispy, too.

Nov 29, 2007
DCarbonaro in Home Cooking

Biscuits - making ahead

I will concur about not making biscuits in advance. You'll wind up with hockey pucks.

To lighten the load, I pre-mix the flour, soda, salt and butter/shortening, place in a container and refrigerate till needed. Then add the milk right before you need to bake them.

Might not be a great solutions, but hope it can help some.

Nov 17, 2007
DCarbonaro in Home Cooking

What do you cook when you are cooking for one?

Here is a recipe I pulled out of my personal file. It is perfect for one with extra leftover rice, or even stuffed inside a heated pita bread.

Simple Szechuan Beef and Celery

3 oz beef, thinly sliced and in small pieces (I used chuck roast)
2 stalks celery, cut thin on a bias
½ carrot, cut thin on a bias
3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
Pinch of cayenne or pepper flakes, or sliced hot fresh chili
10 szechuan peppercorns
½ inch ginger, sliced thin and narrow.
2 scallions, sliced down center and cut into ¾ inch pieces
1 tablespoon oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tbls rice or white wine

Prepare all the ingredients above and plan to move quickly.

In a very hot cast iron skillet, heat the oil until smoking. Add beef, celery and carrots with ½ tsp salt and give a stir for 1 minute. Add garlic and hot pepper/chili. Stir, keeping the heat high. Add the peppercorns. Stir and let rest for 10 seconds, stir again. Continue stirring until beef loses all its red color. Add scallions and ginger. Stir. Add sugar, then wine, stirring after each addition. Serve 1.

Oct 19, 2007
DCarbonaro in Home Cooking

NY Foodie on Business in San Fran

If you are heading to Piperade (which is great, you should have no worries), drop into Frisson for a drink before. Very cool space. Or the Bubble Lounge, which is a champagne bar. Both have a loungey feel, Frisson is hip and Bubble Lounge has the feel of Starbuck 1994, with lots of couches and slow moving people sipping champagne rather than coffee.

Both are on the way to Piperade.

NY Foodie on Business in San Fran

As a NY transplant of less than 3 years, I take nearly everyone visiting from NY to Slanted Door. Food is terrific, views of bridge great and sits in the Ferry Building. This place is long-term hip, no attitude at all and overall a real gem. It is Vietnamese food made with local and seasonal ingredients and is very approachable for the novice. The side orders of vegetables are always interesting, unique and delicious.

If your clients are local to SF, they will likely want to go to Perbacco, a new Italian place with lots of buzz, that is right in FiDi next to Aqua. Food is very good, and good environment for a client dinner that will not be too stuffy.

Do not believe mixed reviews about Boulevard. The place is terrific and a perfect place for a client dinner. It has been around for a while, and though the menu keeps up, I think there is some fatigue among local food snobs. You can not go wrong with a dinner at Boulevard.

If Bar Tartine would have been an option, then you won't mind heading to the same neighborhood for Range. The food is consistently excellent, the service competent and friendly, and the environment sophisticated but casual. It illustrates the best of living in SF. It may not be special enough for clients, but you might want to consider for another meal.

Can anyone give an update on Fat Wong's Kitchen?

Picking up my BF from SFO at 9pm and I know he will be looking for some easy-going, comforting food, like noodles or soup or even roasted meat and rice. Is there an update on Fat Wong's? Or perhaps another suggestion for Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean?
Thanks very much.

Do you like dandelion greens? Why? (and how do you make them?)

I love all the bitter green lovers coming out of the closet. I love them, too.

In addition to all the wonderful suggestions, I add an old-time favorite. We (my family) sear lamb bones (neck bones) and the scraps left over from trimming the lamb in a pot, not too long, just to get some color and flavor, then add an onion and the dandelions with some water and salt, and cook until greens are wilted. The lamb is a great flavoring, and you don't need much of it, and then while you are eating your greens, you can pick on the meat that is left on the bones.

One overall comment to the suggestions below is that rather than cooking with garlic, my family uses onion. Blanche the dandelions and drain, then sweat some chopped onions in olive oil until soft, then add the dandelions and salt and cook for 10-15 minutes. Spinkled with some lemon juice and served with a loaf of hard bread, this is one of the perfect Monday meals (after a weekend of rich eating).

Oct 11, 2007
DCarbonaro in Home Cooking