Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dinner at Home

Feta Turkey Burgers with Chopped Greek Salad
We added feta to the burgers themselves for a nice twist on the standard turkey burger, and we used a chopped salad as a sort of chunky salsa for the burger. It was pretty good, but not amazing.

Feta Turkey Burgers
-1 lb ground turkey
-1 ts garlic powder
-1 ts cayenne
-1 ts white pepper
-3/4 cup crumbled feta

Mix all ingredients thoroughly with your hands. Form into 4 patties. Pan fry the patties on the stove (or BBQ, if you have one handy). This takes about 5-8 minutes on each side for the meat to be fully cooked, which you want when you are cooking poultry.

Chopped Greek Salad
-6 baby cucumbers, peeled and chopped
-1 tomato, diced
-1/2 onion, diced
-1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
-1/4 cup crumbled feta
-1 huge handful fresh mint, finely chopped
-3 tb balsamic vinegar
-1 tb olive oil
-1 tb grainy mustard

Whisk the vinegar, olive oil and mustard to make a vinegarette. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, the pour the vinegarette over the veggies and stir to combine. Eat on its own as a side salad, or serve over the top of the feta burgers, as we did.

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Breakfast at Home

Chili Pepper, Brocolli, Onion, Bacon, Egg and Cheese Breakfast Burrito
On the weekend we have a little more time to put together a breakfast with a few more ingredients. For this one we sauteed diced chili pepper, onions and brocolli until all were tender, then scrambled with some eggs and rolled it all up with bacon in a low carb tortilla, then sealed it up with cheese in a frying pan.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Dinner at Espetus, San Francisco, CA

A friend of ours had a hankering for some meat, so we figured there couldn't be a better place than Brazilian BBQ. Well, it all started well and good, and it ended that way too, it was just the interim that was a bit iffy. So, we called at 8pm and got a reservation for 9:30. We thought, fine, ok, we'll play cards or something at the office until then. Mind you, we were told we had a reservation, not, an "if you come we might be able to seat you". In any case, we arrive at 9:25 and are told it will be a few minutes, which is fine, since we did get there a few minutes early. 20 minutes later we are getting hungry, and our table is nowhere in sight. We were keeping our cool however, until 10pm rolls around and a group of 10 strolls in and gets immediately seated before us. Then things got ugly. Let's just say that neither we, nor the staff of Espetus, were on our best behavior at this point in time. The result, however, was that we were finally seated at 10:15, a full 45 minutes after our reservation. We just kept thinking about that Seinfeld episode: "you know how to take the reservation, you just don't know how to keep the reservation". In any case, despite this rather terrible experience, we'll probably go back, but certainly not on the weekend. I mean, it IS all you can eat meat. Mundane detail: the all-you-can-eat meat and salad bar is $40 per person.

Ok. Would have been better without the rice.

Roast Beef
A bit dry, but maybe that's because we got the edge.

Guacamole and Mozzerella
They always try to fill you up on the salad bar at thee types of places. We try not to eat too much from the salad bar so that we can get our money's worth with the meat. But these were nice condiments for the meat.

Chicken Heart
Surprisingly good. Tasted like, um, chicken, seriously.

Garlic Pork Loin
Tender and juicy.

Top Sirloin
Super tender and juicy. Probably the best meat we had all night.

Grilled Pineapple
Very, very good. Sweet, tart, warm, carmelized. Yum.

Grilled Prawns
Flavorful, if a tad overcooked. The shells were rather hard to peel for some reason.

Chicken Leg
Pretty salty, but tasty.

Yum. This was tender, juicy, fatty and fall-apart tender.

Chicken Wrapped in Bacon
You'd think that everything wrapped in bacon would be great, but this chicken was just too dry.

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Lunch from Mehfil Indian Cuisine, San Francisco, CA

Chicken Mahkni, Saag Paneer and Mehfil Naan
We haven't eaten here in over a month, but then we ate here 3 times in a week. I guess it goes in waves. This time it was catered in at Alexis' work, and delicious yet again.

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Breakfast at Home

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dinner from Mehfil Indian Cuisine, San Francisco, CA

Alexis had had a migraine all day and was not quite up to cooking, so we picked up some Indian food at our favorite Indian take-out place on the way home from work.

Saag Paneer $8, Chicken Mahkni $9, Tandoori Chicken $9 and Mehfil Naan $2
The tandoori was a bit dry, but had a great spice mixture on it. The mahkni and the saag were delicious, as always. And Mehfil has the best naan we've ever had.

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Lunch at Work

Leftover Spinach, Egg and Parmasean Soup
This soup held up better than expected after a few days. Tasty and healthy.

Deviled Eggs
A very simply, sort of retro lunch. This version is kicked up with a healthy dose of dijon mustard.

-4 eggs, hard-boiled
-1 tb mayo
-1 tb dijon
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 ts hot paprika
-1 ts garlic powder

Halve the eggs and pop out the yolks. Mix the yolks with the rest of the ingredients until smooth. Spoon the yolk mixture back into the concave of the eggwhites. Sprinkle with paprika.

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Lunch at Elephant and Castle, San Francisco, CA

Buffalo Chicken Salad $11
This was just awful. It had no redeeming qualities. It even looks sad.

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Breakfast at Home

Low Carb Breakfast Burrito with Bacon, Egg and Cheese
This burrito is packed with protein and fiber and is a great way to start the day.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dinner at Home

Tomato, Avocado and Baby Cucumber Salad with Balsamic Vinegar
This is a (sort of) composed salad dressed very simply with balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper.

-2 tomatos, halved and thinly sliced
-1 avocado, halved and thinly sliced
-3 baby cucumbers, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
-2 tb balsamic
-salt and pepper to taste

Arrange the sliced veggies on a plate, then season with the vinegar, salt and pepper.

Garlic Shrimp
Super-quick for a perfect weeknight meal.

-1 lb shrimp, peeled
-8 cloves garlic, minced
-1 handful of basil, chopped
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-salt and pepper to taste

Sautee garlic in a bit of olive oil. When just beginning to brown, add in the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently. When shrimp are pink, add the lemon juice and the basil, stir and serve.

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Lunch at Work

Leftover Rosemary Balsamic Pork Loin and Lemon-Mint Asparagus
Still tasty, a few meals later.

Leftover Spinach, Egg and Parmasean Soup
Giao has now referred to this soup as "the best" even though it was a few days old.

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Breakfast at Home

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Low Carb Breakfast Burrito
Slathered in hot sauce for a nice kick in the morning.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The StarChefs Rising Stars Revue, San Francisco, CA (Event Coverage)

So, we went to the StarChefs Rising Stars Revue tonight and had a fabulous time. The food was plentiful and the drinks free-flowing. We got to try over a dozen dishes, some from chefs whose food we'd never eaten. We were impressed by some and underwhelmed by others, but overall, the food was of very high caliber. The standouts of the night for us were James Syhabout and Mark Dommel on the savory side, and Nicole Krasinski on the sweet side. Oddly enough, when it came time to vote for the favorite dishes of the night, our top few weren't even in the running. There were 3 dishes that were tied, when the tie was broken by a final vote. In the end the top 3 were Chef Lahlou's Cous Cous, Pastry Chef Leong's Pineapple and Blueberry Upsidedown Cake and Chef Dommen's Lightly Smoked Trout, with Dommen's Trout winning in the end. Our favorite dishes were Dommen's Stinging Nettle Ravioli and both of Syhabout's dishes, the Foie Gras and the Chicken Confit. On another note, Jonah Oakden of Blue Plate, the only chef/restaurant we had not previously heard of was not in attendance because he was getting married. That's a good enough reason for us, and now we have a good reason to go try out Blue Plate. Following is the rundown on everything we tasted.

From the host chef of the Westin St. Francis in the VIP Lounge before the event officially started:

Seared Scallop with Chili Oil, Truffles and Corn Sauce
The chili oil was nice, but there wasn't a lot going on here, and the scallop was a little too lukewarm for our taste.

Caviar Blini
How can you go wrong with fresh caviar.

Cheese Plate
Standard cheeses, but the fresh blackberry (we think) compote was very nice, and refreshing.

From Mark Dommen, the chef at One Market:
We'd eaten at One Market a few times before and were decidedly not impressed, however, I think we're gonna have to give them another shot. Mark Dommen totally blew us away with his Stinging Nettle Ravioli.

Wild Nettle Ravioli with Fresh California Snails
Alexis' favorite dish of the night. The pasta was light and delicate, and the flavors were earthy an briny and totally delicious.

Lightly Smoked Sea Trout "Mi Cuit"
Also very good, and the audience winner of the night, this dish was beautifully plated, topped with a nice sunny-side up quail egg.

From James Syhabout of Plumpjack Cafe:
We love chef Syhabout and his food and today was no exception.

Tempered Foie Gras with Dates in a Sweet Vermouth and Pepperberry Sauce
Velvety, rich and delicious. Giao loves foie gras; we'd had Syhabout's sous-vide foie before and were happy to have it again. However, after 3 dishes, it was even a bit rich for Giao.

Chicken Confit with Toasted Curry Spices and Mustard Chlorophyll
Everyone does duck confit, so chicken confit was a refreshing take on this preparation. This dish was pertectly tender and slipped right off the tiny bone. And the miniscule flower blossoms were a beautiful addition to the plate.

From Peter Rudolph, the ched at Campton Place:
We haven't eaten at Campton Place yet, but these were solid dishes and we'll probably give it a try in the future.

Striped Bass with Ginger-Foie Gras Sauce with Black Radish
This would have been very good, except that the interior was raw and we had no knife. It was very hard to eat this piece of fish without a cutting apparatus. But when we got it in our mouths, it was good.

Roast Lamb with Pistachio Puree
The lamb was juicy, tender and flavorful and the pistachio puree was utterly smooth and added a sweet nuttiness that went very well with the lamb.

From Nate Appleman, the chef of A16:
Having only recently eaten at A16 and having been blown away by his food, we thought his offering today was solid, but not his best. If we were him we would have served the tripe and the mozzerella.

Lamb and Ricotta Crespelle with Tomato and Pecorino
This was a tasty, solid dish, but it was not particularly inventive.

Ciccioli with Radishes and Salsa Verde
We had the ciccioli when we ate at A16, but without the radishes. The radishes and salsa verde were a nice touch and cut through the fattiness of this house-cured salumi quite nicely.

From Jennifer Biesty, the chef of COCO500:
We'd eaten at COCO500 once before, and we were not impressed the first time. However, we will be going back to give it another try, as these little bites were quite tasty.

Carmelized Goat Cheese with Baby Romano Beans and Minneola Tangerines
The flavors melded well in this bite-size morsel.

Bacon Wrapped Monkfish with Zesty Tomato Sauce and Brocolli Rabe.
Everything is better wrapped in bacon. And this was no different. It was a bit hard to eat with that little wooden stick. Very tasty.

From Mourad Lahlou, the chef of Aziza:
Giao isn't the biggest fan of Moroccan food, but Alexis ate at a Moroccan place every year on her birthday when she was growing up and considers herself a bit of a connossieur. Chef Lahlou's food was traditional and yet innovative and sophisticated.

Roasted Vegetables Cous Cous with Braised Beef Cheeks
The beef cheeks were so tender we could eat them with a spoon and the firm roasted veggies imparted great flavor.

Moroccan Spiced Carrot Soup with Blood Orange Foam
At first we were not that impressed with this soup, but as the flavors melded in our mouths, this interesting soup made our mouths happy.

From Seiji Wakabayashi, the chef from Bushi-Tei:
We had eaten once at Bushi-Tei before, and found the food good, if expensive. Tonight, however, we thought Chef Wakabayashi missed the mark. The ideas were good, but the execution failed.

Sauteed Sea Robin with Squid Risotto, Tomato Fondue and Saffron Vermouth Sauce
This was all a bit bland for what should have been a great combo. Also, it was a bit cold by the time we got it.

Quail Confit, Quail Egg, Mushroom Melange and Aged Balsamic
This was a great concept, but poor execution. The confit had an almost mealy texture that was very off-putting, and the hard-boiled egg was just sitting there and we weren't sure how to eat it all together.

From Nicole Krasinski, the pastry chef at Rubicon:
When we ate at Rubicon, we opted for the cheese plate rather than a sweet ending to our meal. Next time, we'll order dessert.

Aged Pecorino and Walnut Financier with Roasted Clementine Jam
The cheese added a savory flavor profile that made the other flavors pop.

Rose Petal-Pistachio Pave
This was Alexis' favorite of all of the desserts on offer tonight. The flavors of the rose petal and the pistachio were matched by a light lemon cream. The texture was half way between a fresh marshmallow and a cream. This this was ethereal.

From Belinda Leong, pastry chef at Gary Danko:
We'd eaten dessert at Gary Dank before and found the desserts to be huge in portion. I think we were able to enjoy them more this time, in smaller quantities.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Walnut Struesel and Burnt Caramel Ice Cream
This was our least favorite dessert because it was just too sweet. But it was the crowd favorite, so maybe it's just that our palette's can't handle the sweet as much as other people's.

Chocolate Fudge Cream with Coffee Soil and Condensed Milk Ice Cream
Yum. Firm, ultra-silky chocolate cream topped with little crumbles of coffee flavored crunch. The ice cream added a nice flavor/temperature contrast.

Full Disclosure: StarChefs was kind enough to give us press passes to this event.

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The StarChefs Rising Stars Revue, San Francisco, CA

UPDATE: Click here for the coverage of the event itself.

We're excited to be going to the StarChefs Rising Stars Revue at the Westin St. Francis next Tuesday the 19th. The event showcases several chefs in San Francisco that it considers "rising stars". Having eaten the food of quite a few of these chefs, we'd have to say that the folks at StarChefs are onto something here. The chefs whose dishes we'll be tasting are:

Nate Appleman of A16
We haven't been here yet, but we've been wanting to for a while and we are going this Friday. UPDATE: We went to A16 Friday and it was awesome. We are so excited to eat his food again soon.

Jennifer Biesty of COCO500
Click here for our previous review.

Mark Dommen of One Market
Click here for our previous review.

Mourad Lahlou of Aziza
We haven't been here yet, either, but we have been meaning to get around to it and are pretty excited to try his food.

Jonah Oakden of The Blue Plate
Haven't been here and in fact, we haven't even heard of it so we can thank StarChefs for bringing this place to our attention.

James Syhabout of PlumpJack Cafe
We LOVE this place. Great food. Very innovative and delicious. We've had the sous-vide foie and are excited to eat it again. Click here for our reviews.

Seiji Wakabayashi of Bushi-Tei
We ate here a month or so ago during the film festival, as it's very close to the Kabuki. We felt it was good, but very expensive. The foie gras with pumpkin custard was delicious. Click here for our review.

Laurence Jossel of NOPA
We're eager to give NOPA another shot as the first time was a bit spotty. Although, they did win an honorable mention for our best soup of 2006 award. Click here for our review.

Peter Rudolph of Campton Place
Haven't been here for no good reason at all. So, we're excited to give it a shot.

Nicole Krasinski, the pastry chef of Rubicon
We went to Rubicon a few weeks ago for the first time and thought it was amazing. We didn't order a dessert, but the petit fours were pretty great. Click here for our review.

Belinda Leong, the pastry chef of Gary Danko
The desserts we had at Gary Danko go down in our personal history as the biggest portions ever. Click here for our review.

Thomas Rimple of The Westin St. Francis
We've eaten at Michael Mina in the Westin St. Francis, but not just the Westin St. Francis itself.

In any case, this event looks like it will be loads of fun--there are also wine pairings. If you are in SF next Tuesday, you might want to check it out.

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Lunch at Good Earth Cafe, San Francisco, CA

After discovering that leftovers we had previously frozen were a bit past their prime, we headed off to Good Earth, for some good wontons.

Shrimp Wontons in Tom Yum Broth $6
The wontons are full of shrimp without too much filler. And the broth, while a bit sweet, if packed full of flavor.

Shrimp Wontons in

Chicken Wontons with Extra Shrimp Wontons in Tom Yum Broth $9
Double the wontons for less than double the price. Yum.

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Breakfast at Home

Bacon, Egg and Cheese Low Carb Breakfast Burrito
Topped off with hot sauce, this is a hearty, hand-held breakfast.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Dinner at Home

Balsamic-Rosemary Roasted Pork Loin and Creamed Spinach
Pork loin is cheap and very easy to cook and creamed spinach, while a bit labor intensive, if worth all the work.

Pork Loin:
-1 and 1/2 lb pork loin
-2 tb each balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard and olive oil
-1 handful fresh rosemary, leaves minced
-1 ts pepper
-1 ts salt
-1 ts garlic powder

Pre-heat the oven to 375. Mix all ingredients except the pork loin into a marinade. Then coat the pork loin and let it marinate for at least 1/2 and hour. Then roast until the internal temperature reads 135. Remove from the oven and let sit for 20 minutes. In addition to increasing in temperature by another 15 to 20 degrees, bringing the pork to a perfect temperature, this time allows the juices to redistribute within the meat. Then clice and serve.

Click here for the recipe for this delicious creamed spinach, chock full of bacon.

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