food ideas

Recipe for the rain / Escabeche


(Also known as those pick­led veg­eta­bles from the taco truck.) … Mara made some this week­end, and I've basi­cal­ly been liv­ing on it for the last three days. The recipe orig­i­nat­ed in The Essen­tial Cuisines of Mex­i­co, but we found a pre­vi­ous­ly adapt­ed ver­sion at Sim­ply Recipes. ¡Horale! ¡Vamos a do this!


1 lb jalapeno (ser­ra­no if you please) chile peppers1/3 cup olive oil2‑3 medi­um white or yel­low onions, thick­ly sliced2‑3 medi­um car­rots, peeled and thick­ly sliced­Flo­rets from half a small cau­li­flower (optional)1 head gar­lic, cloves sep­a­rat­ed but not peeled4 cups apple cider vinegar2 Tbsp Kosher salt or sea salt2 bay leaves1/2 tea­spoon dried oregano4 sprigs of fresh mar­jo­ram or 1/4 tea­spoon dried4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1/4 tea­spoon dried1 Tbsp sugar


  1. Wash the chiles, leav­ing the stems intact. Cut a cross in the tip end of each chile so that the vine­gar will be able to pen­e­trate the chile.
  2. Heat oil in a large, deep skil­let. Add the chiles, onions, car­rots, cau­li­flower if using, and gar­lic. Fry over medi­um heat for about 10 min­utes, turn­ing them over occasionally.
  3. Add the vine­gar, salt, herbs, and sug­ar and bring to a boil. Low­er the heat and sim­mer for 5 min­utes for ser­ra­nos or 10 min­utes for jalapeños. Make sure the chiles are entire­ly cooked through before canning.
  4. Pack 4 pint-sized ster­il­ized jars with the chiles and veg­eta­bles. Top with the vine­gar and seal. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Once opened, can keep for one to two months in the refrigerator.

food new york


Even though I'm gen­er­al­ly a West Coast kind of guy, I devour books about New York — its chaot­ic begin­nings as a law­less, crazy quilt of neigh­bor­hoods and gangs; its trans­for­ma­tion into a mas­sive mod­ern city; the pecu­liar dynam­ics of its organ­ic growth. If New York didn't destroy me every­time I vis­it, I think I'd prob­a­bly live there.A few weeks ago, the New Yorker's Twit­ter stream point­ed me to an excel­lent Joseph Mitchell essay about a (most­ly) van­ished New York tra­di­tion, the beef­steak. Mitchell laid out the basics in his clas­sic 1939 essay, "All You Can Hold For Five Bucks:"

The foun­da­tion of a good beef­steak is an over­flow­ing amount of meat and beer. The tick­ets usu­al­ly cost five bucks, and the rule is "All you can hold for five bucks." If you're able to hold a lit­tle more when you start home, you haven't been to a beef­steak, you've been to a ban­quet that they called a beef­steak. From Up in the Old Hotel, an amaz­ing col­lec­tion of Mitchell's New York­er essays

We've missed out on the beefsteak's prime, so to speak, but the Bea­con Restau­rant start­ed a new tra­di­tion 10 years ago. The New York Sun's account of the 2004 edi­tion includes cours­es very much like those Mitchell describes — tiny ham­burg­ers, bacon-wrapped lamb kid­neys, dou­ble-thick lamb chops, and of course steak — "huge roast­ed Cer­ti­fied Angus shell loins that had been cut into thick slabs and doused with melt­ed but­ter."This year's beef­steak is in Feb­ru­ary. I'm intrigued, though I'm sure it will destroy me.

food san francisco

Yeah / Yoshi's Gourmet steez

A cou­ple of week­ends ago, I vis­it­ed the site of an Airstream trail­er that Yoshi and I shared out­side Stin­son Beach, Cal­i­for­nia. The trail­er is long gone, but the spot is still the same: Over­look­ing the Pacif­ic Ocean on a scrag­gly lawn at the end of a farm road. We spent many a night sit­ting on a home­made couch out under the stars, lis­ten­ing to a crusty Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain cas­sette, hang­ing out with farm peo­ple, and gen­er­al­ly being our best wild selves. They were sim­pler times, so the wild­ness was sim­pler. One time, police showed up and asked Yoshi if he knew any­thing about the rit­u­al ani­mal sac­ri­fices hap­pen­ing in the area. Naked tod­dlers often woke him up by tick­ling his eye­lash­es with wildflowers.

Yoshi's Gourmet articleLook at our boy now! Gourmet Mag­a­zine. Arti­cles about obscure veg­eta­bles. Lunch­es, brunch­es, inter­views by the pool. What's next? Con­dos in Queens? Indo for weeks? Sold out seats to hear Yoshi Yama­da speak?

The arti­cle is vin­tage Yama­da, remind­ing me of the many excel­lent, excel­lent let­ters and post­cards that I've accu­mu­lat­ed over the years:

I have not put ramps in my pipe, but I have smoked them and also roast­ed, sauteed, blanched, pick­led, braised, and pureed them. I have eat­en them raw and dirty, and I have cleaned so many in a row that I almost wished for win­ter again. This year I may take a few home to put under my pil­low, just because … my pre­cious.

Not sure that I've eat­en a ramp, but I bet they'd be tasty with a rit­u­al­ly sac­ri­ficed ani­mal. Mmm­m­m­mm rit­u­al sacrifice.

food reviews san francisco

Check, Please / Behind the music (and wine)

I always meant to write about my close encounter with pub­lic tele­vi­sion fame — the only kind that's worth pur­su­ing, if you ask me — but some­how I got way­laid by sum­mer­time, its var­i­ous par­ties and good ol times. But I've got a sec, so I should just spill it before the good times take hold again.

Check Please - Sitting at the tableTime spent comb­ing hair: zero min­utes. Time spent iron­ing shirt: zero min­utes. Num­ber of heart attacks my mom would have if she saw this: count­less.

Check, Please! Bay Area is a restau­rant review show on our local pub­lic tele­vi­sion sta­tion, KQED Chan­nel 9 (what!). On each show, three Bay Area res­i­dents sit around a table and dis­cuss their thoughts and feel­ings about three local restau­rants. At the begin­ning of the process, each per­son gets to choose a favorite1 restau­rant; then, each par­tic­i­pant goes to all three restau­rants; THEN, every­one assem­bles at KQED stu­dios to dis­cuss them in front real TV cameras.

So, yeah, it all started back in June.

Mara and I were at Pauline's Piz­za, eat­ing din­ner with some friends when we saw Leslie Sbroc­co, the host of Check Please. We're Check Please super­fans, so we couldn't resist the urge to approach Leslie and creep her out with our exten­sive knowl­edge of the show. Lat­er, Leslie and her din­ing com­pan­ion (who turned out the be the pro­duc­er) stopped by our table and asked us to apply to be on the show. Some­how, I was the one who applied, even though Mara would have been 10 times bet­ter. Some­how, I was accept­ed, for rea­sons that are still unclear to me.As I men­tioned in the foot­note, I chose a taco truck as my favorite restau­rant, and this was a slight — SLIGHT — depar­ture from those cho­sen by my cohorts — a fan­cy Noe Val­ley bistro, and a clas­sic Finan­cial Dis­trict steak­house. There­fore, my entire prepa­ra­tion for the show involve craft­ing argu­ments about why they need­ed to give the taco truck anoth­er try. "The ecol­o­gy of taque­rias is rich and diverse," I would instruct them; "each one has its own spe­cial­ty, a thing it does bet­ter than all oth­ers, and it takes time to ful­ly explore this rich­ness." (Any­way, you can read more of this BS in my review on KQED's website).Turns out, my cohorts loved the taco truck. I was speech­less, real­ly. I had noth­ing pro­duc­tive to say to peo­ple who agreed with me. It could have been the wine. (IT'S REAL, by the way). And I drank too much of it, too much for a non-wine drinker, too much for 11am on a week­day (when we taped it), too much to gen­er­ate extem­po­ra­ne­ous bon mots wor­thy of PUBLIC TV. If you're curi­ous about what the blo­gos­phere had to say about my taco truck rec­om­men­da­tion, you need only get a load of this review from a guy named Ely, also from KQED's site: 

Dont eat from El Tonayense, I had a beef bur­ri­to that made me sick! The meat was too oily and mix in with fat­ty fat peices. The bur­ri­to was tiny and the ingri­di­ents had lit­tle favor.

My bad.1 Check Please kin­da repeat­ed­ly implies that each restau­rant reviewed is the "favorite" restau­rant of the per­son who sug­gest­ed it. I chose a taco truck.

food urban

Urban farming / My robot bees are pregnant

[Dan­ger: I could only get the video to play in IE. Not sure if it's my par­tic­u­lar array of Fire­fox add-ons that are block­ing its mojo, or what.]So every few weeks I sift through the most­ly asi­nine archives of SFist, and today, against all odds, I found some­thing inter­est­ing: A llit­tle blurb about urban bee­keep­ing in San Fran­cis­co with a link to a Cur­rentTV short. The direc­tor pro­files this guy Jon Ral­ston, some­one I vague­ly recall from my time in the bee club. He's younger (in bee­keep­ing age, any­way) and takes a very sim­i­lar approach to bee­keep­ing that I did: Just get a hive, put it in your back­yard, let the bees do what they do until some­one com­plains. Worked for me until my land­lord stum­bled upon it dur­ing a very active day (that turned into a swarm), and became ter­ri­fied. I also iden­ti­fy with Jon's rea­sons for get­ting into bee­keep­ing in the first place — feel­ing clos­er to the out­doors, and hav­ing a source of cheap gifts. He seems like an inter­est­ing guy, and he's got a fun­ny blog, too: My robot is preg­nant.

food reviews san francisco

I live inside your television

Doug LeMoine - Check Please - Looking at the cameraYou may rec­og­nize me from some­where, some­where like YOUR TIVO.

Pret­ty much the only thing the direc­tor told me: "Don't look at the cam­era." Dang. More on my explo­sion onto the local pub­lic tele­vi­sion restau­rant-review­ing stage some­time soon; until then you can check out my episode of the Check Please Bay Area here.

food san francisco

There's gotta be a burrito place somewhere near here.


Via Bur­ri­tophile, an awe­some resource for all things burrito.