Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mid Autumn Lunar Eats

Last night was the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival so I gathered the urban, converted Chinese family clan for a good Northern Chinese meal at San Tung. We ordered their greatest hits and man, were they good. I really don't come to this place enough. Probably because it's always so crowded and the wait can be excrutiating.
We started off with the shrimp and chive dumpling. I love the brightness of flavour of the shrimp and chives together. The shrimp was coarsely chopped so you can still get the shrimp texture. The skins had bite to them. Perfect!

Next we had the pork and cabbage dumplings. More heavy in taste. Although good, I still like the shrimp ones better. Now pork and chive might be the ticket.

The dry fried chiken wings with sauce were the hit of the evening. They are a bit too sweet for me. I think next I will try without sauce.

The dry fried green beans. Lots of pieces of preserved vegetable and garlic. Salty and crsip.
The seafood za jiang mien was excellent. Great saucing and the noodles were very al dente.
We also had a good rendition of hot and sour soup and tofu cold appetizer that are not picutred here. All this plus a round of pinot noir by the glass and it only came out to only $22/person with tip. What a bargain!

A Harvest Wine Country Dream

Stephen and Tiffany had their housewarming on Sunday. They live in this beautiful old farmhouse with a huge wrap-around porch in St Helena in the middel of a vineyard. It's really the stuff of movies and dreams. One feels as if one is on the set of that Keanu Reeves flick, "A Walk in the Clouds."
Being Stephen and Tiffany, the event was, of course, too much food and wine. People brought lots of great bottles to sample and share. For dinner, Stephen did his smoked ribs and coleslaw and Tiffany made chili verde. All of it was a big hit and we went home stuffed as usual. Oink, oink....

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Typical Weekday Lunch

Given that I tend to post *fancier* meals on my blog or meals that I cook, some wonder what I eat normally. Well, my compnay offers a soup and sandwich bar for $2/day. You can make your own sandwich from a variety of bread, cheese, meat choices.
This is a typical weekday meal for me. The version on this day happens to be a split pea soup with a tuna fish sanwich on rye bread.
Nothing spectacular, but hits the spot.

Mo' Noodles

Another quick and simple week night dinner. I pan fried some basa fillets and added it to a dried shrimp and chicken stock broth with yang chuen noodles. Some chines broccoli and a sprinkle of scallions completed the bowl.

So simple but so good......

Lan is where it's at...

Went to NYC last weekend to visit some friends. We went to Lan on Third Ave between 10th and 11th. It was truly a fantastic place (thank you, Ang!). The decor was clean, modern, yet low key. It was rather unassuming for the quality of the food there. Ang, Xander, and I got the tasting menu and James ordered a la carte.

James's A La Carte Meal

Japanese Style Organic Chicken Soup - As he put it, "Quite possibley the best chicken soup I've ever had." The flavours were so strong that it reminded me of chicken soup in Asia where they have more flavourful chicken. Smoked Duck with Baby Argula with Yuzu Dressing - great fresh greens with duck that reminded me a bit more of Thai or Vietnamese flavours.
Dry Aged Black Angus Strip Loin - I had a bite of the meat and it was incredbile. So much juice and flavour!
Our Chef's Tasting Menu Meal

Amuse Bouche of Sweet Potato Puree with Uni and Caviar - this was sweet but the uni and caviar provided the right contrast.
Duck Pate flavoured with Sancho Peppered Miso - this was just okay. A bit dry and not enough duck richness.
Crispy Warm Red Snapper Sashimi -The seasoning was subtle enough to not hide the incredible freshness of the fish

Premium Kobe Shabu-Shabu on a bed of Baby Arugula with Sesame Dressing - The meat was so tender and buttery. The crisp salad offered a good textural balance. One of my favourites. Also makes me want to try their shabu-shabu pot.
Miso Infused Foie Gras and Duck Miso atop of Simmered Daikon - my favourite dish of the night. The foie was perfectly seared. The daikon was soft and full of the miso flavour. WOW!!!!!!!!!!
Broiled Black Cod finished with Creamy Miso Foam - good but standard version of cod with miso. I wished there was more of a crust.

Roasted Lamb Chop with Sesame Mustard Crust Pan Seared Garlic Soy - the mustard crust was an amazing foil for the rare and juicy lamb. I've never had lamb in a Japanese restaurant before either.

Chocolate Souffle Cake with Rasberry Sauce and Sorbet - was good enough to impress all the non-dessert folks we had at the table (um, that woudl be ALL four of us).

Green Tea Cookies - very green tea.
I won't be forgetting Lan anytime soon. In fact, would love to go bakc and try their shaub-shabu pots.

For brunch the next day, James made us poached egg with bacon and home fries. Delicious!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Finally... TW in SF... Whoddathunk???

I was craving Taiwanese this weekend. Was starting to get a cold and was craving something soothing. Drove out to Clement and 25th as I heard about a Taiwanese restaurant there called "Taste of Formosa" and wanted to check it out. The space was very modern and cute. What a difference from the grungey, divey decor of most of the Chinese places around town! I was loving the place already and I hadn't even tasted the food. The menu selcetion had me salvating.... all the small eats looked tempting but as I came alone, I couldn't order too much.
I got the lu (slow cooked in marinade) seaweed salad. This was perfect. If they only made it into bowties, it would have exactly how my Grandma Chau made it when I was a little girl.

I was excited to see that they had fried cuttlefish balls on the menu. Not quite like the grilled ones on a stick I had in Danshui, but still tasty in their own right with a bit of salt and pepper seasoning. I love that they gave sticks to eat this with.
The mushroom and pork potage soup with rice noodle was just okay. Not a whole lot of flavour.

I happily brought some of the cuttlefish balls and seaweed home for another meal. I've got to come back here with more people so we can try out more dishes!

Front Porch Summer

For one of Jean's last nights in SF, we went to Front Porch in my old neighborhood of Outer Noe/Mission/Bernal. Ah, I miss 29th Street! Front Porch is one of my favourite restaurants in San Francisco - cute decor, homey yet clean food, great Carribbean inspired flavours. We started with the rose sangria which was lovely and refreshing.

The complementary corn bread was perfect and oh-so-cute shaped like ears of corn.
The cornmeal fried oysters had just the right crunchy grainy sweetness of the batter to juxtapose the briney succulence of oysters. This dish inspired me to make my own cornmeal fried oysters later in the week.
Jean had the crab grits. Smooth and cramy. Filling yet not heavy. What every bowl of grits aspire to be.

I had the oxtail. Falling off the bone tender and savoury. The bright bitterness of the greens on top was a great contrast to the lusciousness of the meat. I love it when a bit of otherwise overlooked cut of meat can be transformed into something delectable through some seasoning and patient cooking. That is the magic of the culinary arts... taking something humble and elevating it to heaven on a plate.

You say goodbye and I say hello...

It's been more than two weeks since I posted last. Mostly because I was gone at Burning Man for a week. Then last week I was too busy catching up on work to post. It's also been an interesting time for me lately emotionally. Quite a bit of relfection...
Two weeks ago, E and I said our goodbyes. Toasted his move to England with several rounds of blueberry fizz at Catalyst Lounge. Love the fresh squeezed juices there for their cocktails. Plus, you can't beat the location right across from the Hall of Justice and next to the bail bonds place - LOL! E, I will miss you...