Saturday, September 22, 2007

Quince Restaurant, San Francisco, CA

We've been hearing about Quince and its chef, Michael Tusk, for a while. Quince itself has been around for several years, so it's not exactly new news, but still, we hadn't been there and it is one of San Francisco's fine dining establishments, so we felt it our duty to give it a try. Although I don't think we'd go back by ourselves, Quince's French/Italian dishes seem like they'd be great for a mixed generation get together. The dishes are familiar enough for a grandma but sophisticated enough for modern types. The dining room is decidedly old-school and there was bit of a funky smell that we couldn't quite place that lasted throughout the night. But the dining room is pleasantly neutral and the waitstaff helpful and friendly. They were doing really well with the water test (serving Giao his sparkling and Alexis her tap, until the last 10 minutes).

We opted for the 5 course tasting menu at $95 per person and had the wine pairings for $55 per person. The wine pairings were totally on point. The food was good, but not great, with a few exceptions.

Shallot and Anise Butter-Soaked Rolls and Parmasean Breadsticks
We are rarely enamored by bread, but this was certainly an exception. The delightful little rolls were soft and squishy and seemed to have been dipped in a flavored, melted butter. Yum. The super-crispy, very parm-y breadsticks were the perfect counterpoint.

Lobster Salad with Fresh Soy Beans, Haricot Verts and Cherry Tomatoes
This was a great first dish. The lobster was perfectly cooked--tender and sweet. The use of soybeans was inventive. Overall, this was a very solid dish.

John Dory with Cauliflower Puree and Basil
The fish was a tad overcooked for our taste, but probably not overcooked for most people. The cauliflower puree embodied the essence of cauliflower and was silky smooth. The other veggies didn't really add much.

Tagliolini with Dungeness Crab, Cherry Tomato and Opal Basil
This dish sort of felt like some pasta with a couple of chunks of crab thrown on it as an afterthought. Pretty disappointing.

Garganelli with Rabbit, Artichoke and Marjoram
Another pasta dish, although this time it tasted more like a well rounded dish--more about the sauce than the pasta. The rabbit was earthy and tasty, although the artichokes didn't add much.

Ribeye with Vinegar Braised Shallots and Sunchoke Puree
They didn't ask us how we wanted our beef cooked, but it came out medium rare, so hat was ok. The beef was tender and this dish was tasty, but it was not special by any means.

Seven Cheeses $34
We decided to supplement our meal with a cheese course because the cheese cart looked like it had a lot of great stuff that we hadn't tried before. We loved all but one.
Pave au Pruneau--a soft goat from Perigord, France
Carmody--a firm, caramely cow from Valley Ford, CA
Tomme du Bonhomme--a cow studded with thyme from Alsace, France
Grafton Cheddar--a tangy, slightly harsh cow from Grafton, VT
Durrus--a very tasty semi-soft cow fro County Cork, Ireland
Affidelice--a pungent, Epoisse-like cow, with a washed rind from Chablis, France
Old Chatham Camembert--a domestic double creme from Chatham, NY

Creme Fraiche Panna Cotta with Strawberry Basil Sorbet
A light, fresh dessert. The panna cotta was good, but standard, while the sorbet was quite delicious.

1701 Octavia St
San Francisco, CA 94109

Food: 1
Decor: 1
Service: 1

Health Code Violations

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Kielbasa and Chard Summer Soup

Soups are a great lunch item for bringing to work. They can be made in large batches ahead of time. They freeze and reheat well, and they can be made with almost anything you have in your refrigerator. This soup was a marriage of farmer's market veggies and frozen Costco kielbasa. It was slightly spicy, rich from the sausage and brothy enough to not feel heavy on a late summer afternoon.

Kielbasa and Chard Summer Soup
-3 kielbasa, diced
-1 large bunch dino chard, chopped
-4 hot peppers, de-seeded and minced
-4 cans chicken broth
-2 cans water
-1 onion

Sautee the onions in a bit of olive oil and season with pepper until beginning to soften. Add peppers and the kielbasa, broth and water and bring to a boil. Add chard and reduce heat. Simmer until veggies are tender.

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Cookbook Review: Vij's

As part of focusing our efforts on more in depth ideas at SeeUsEat, we've decided to add a new periodic feature: cookbook reviews. And what better way to start off this feature than with the wonderful Vij's: Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine. Vij's is an incredible (so I hear) Indian restaurant in Vancouver, BC, where Alexis' sister lives. Last Christmas Alexis was gifted this book and has since read it cover to cover, tried many of the recipes and become inspired by many others. One thing I really love about the book is the story. It was written by Vikram Vij and his wife, Meeru Dhalwala, who together have turned Vij's into the reknowned place it is today. It's a classic rags to riches story that's incredibly inspiring because it was their commitment to producing excellent food that took them from a tiny storefront with no real restaurant kitchen (when they were cooking at home and bringing the food to the restaurant) to the elegant restaurant that it is today.

Vikram and Meeru's cooking philosophy is personal and flexible. They stress that measuring is really not important and that you can change recipes to suit your own taste. I like this because I cook this way too. Even when I attempt to follow a recipe, which is rare, I find that I am unable to follow it exactly, knowing that it will taste better with twice the garlic, or some other ingredient. I like a cookbook that encourages me to go down the path I'm going to take anyway.

Vij's cookbook also comes with an extensive ingredient glossary which is very helpful for someone who isn't familiar with Indian ingredients and spices or who wants to know what substitutions can be made. The glossary is also very interesting to read even if you are already familiar with asafoetida and fenugreek, as it offers information on medicinal uses of common Indian cooking herbs and spices. The glossary also offer tips on how the folks at Vij's like to use specific ingredients.

The focus of Vij's is on Indian style with fresh and local ingredients. For this reason, this cookbook is not going to give you what Americans have come to think of as Indian standards, saag paneer, chicken tikka masala and the like. What this cookbook will offer are great way to prepare the seasonal ingredients you have on hand in an Indian style. It provides recipes for simple curries, Indian basics like ghee and paneer, as well as some of Vij's signature dishes, the like lamb popsicles in fenugreek cream sauce. Sometimes I'll make something exactly as it appears in Vij's cookbook, but most often I'll look through Vij's for ideas, then make a curry based on what I've got in my fridge. Click here to view the wonderful dishes that we've tried from Vij's cookbook (or inspired by it).

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Good Frickin Chicken--Delivery in San Francisco, CA

1/2 Rotisserie Chicken with Seasoned Pita, Salad and Hummus
We've been hearing about the chicken at Good Frickin' Chicken for a while now and when Alexis' offer ordered lunch from there, she decided to join in. While the rotisserie chicken still was not as juicy as a Costco rotisserie chicken, the spice rub was great and really infused the chicken with lemony goodness. Also, the hummus on the side was creamy and quite good, topped with good quality olive oil.

Food: 1
Decor: NA
Service: NA

Health Code Violations

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

See Us Metablog

A little more than 2 years ago, this blog was started partially out of boredom at a Jamaican Airport, and partially so we could share some of our food with the world. After more than 2000 posts, and almost a gig of photos, we think we've done a good job. Along the way, it became more than just about taking pictures of the food, as we added restaurant reviews, awards, event coverage, food round ups and, of course, recipes.

As we passed the second anniversary, we had to admit to ourselves that the constant grind of photographing and blogging each meal was cutting down on what we really want to do with this blog, relieve our boredom and provide you a view into our favorites foods. I think all our regular readers have a very good idea what our normal diet is at this point.

So we would like to change the format to really emphasize the things that we think our readers care about: restaurant reviews and recipes. We plan on no longer posting pictures or writing about food and recipes we've already covered. This, in turn, will give us more time to write more in depth about all the great restaurants we go to (and we've got a couple real doozies lined up for next month). We are also working hard on a few other projects that we hope to announce here soon. We'd love to hear what you think in the comments or feel free to email us at seeuseat gmail com.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Snacks at TomatoFest at the Quail Lodge Resort, Carmel, CA

We went to TomatoFest for an afternoon of food and wine. Over 60 restaurants provided small dishes using the tomato as a main ingredient and many wineries were offering tastings of probably hundreds of wines. Overall, we were very disappointed in the quality of the food and in the poor planning of the event. Although there were 2500 attendees, each restaurant only provided 1000 portions. This means that there was absolutely no way for each person to try each dish and that if you wanted to try even some of them you had to find your way through crowds of obese guests elbowing their ways to the front of the line. It was a bit of a spectacle. Anyways, as far as the food goes, there were very few items that we ate more than a bite of. A few items were good, most were mediocre and a few were so disgusting that we had to spit it out in the garbage. For the $90 entry fee, this event did not provide a $90 experience in terms of food. It was a fun event, however, full of music and drinks, etc. And if you aren't food snobs like we are, you probably would have enjoyed the food a bit more. Full disclosure: The folks at TomatoFest were kind enough to offer us discounted tickets.

Fried Green Tomato
Sorry for the awful picture. This morsel, which was offered on trays as we walked in the gate, was actually quite tasty. It was made with a firm tomato and had a crunchy, flavorful crust.

Pulled Pork with Tomato Sauce from Chef Ted Consoli at Sticks, The Inn at Spanish Bay
Not terrible, if a bit sweet.

Tomato and Mozzerella Shooter from Peppoli at Pebble Beach, The Inn at Spanish Bay
Thick, tomatoey and refreshing.

Tomato and Fish Ball on Bread from Isabella's Italian Seafood and Steaks
Hard and just not a good flavor combo.

Tomato Salsa on Fried Wanton Skin from Millennium
A refined take on chips and salsa.

Olive with Tomato Tapenade from Chef Luis Solano at The Whole Enchilada
Not memorable.

Fried Provolone with Tomato Slice, Salad and Bread from The Forge in the Forest
Not only was this dish inedible, the chef didn't even bother to attempt to use the tomato in an interesting way, he just threw a tomato slice on a soggy piece of fried cheese.

Asagio Kashi Risotto with Marble Stripe and Brandywine Tomato Sauces from the Marriot Monterey
The tomato sauces were pretty tasty, but the combo of risotto with tomato sauce was a bit weird.

Tomato Meringue Pies from Chef Bunyan Fortune at the Terrace Grill at La Playa Hotel
While this was an interesting and inspired idea, the execution was terrible. If the chef had gone savory instead of sweet, this would have been a winner.

Ceviche from Bahama Billy's Island Steakhouse
Giao thought this was very good, as did Alexis' mom. It was fresh and the acidity and sweetness of the tomatos really added to the dish.

Shrimp Fritter on a Corn Cake with Tomato Oil and Avocado Creme Fraiche from The Sardine Factory
The shrimp was good, but the corn cake was tough.

BBQ from Willy's Smokehouse BBQ and Grill
Fatty and dry at the same time. How can that be?

Tomato-Avocado Thing with Fried Something from Chef Wendy Brodie at The Art of Food
While Alexis really liked this, she can't for the life of her remember what it was.

Tomato and Salmon Bruschetta from Farallon
Seriously, if you are going to present a dish as a part of a festival, why would you do the most common item you could think of, and then not do it very well?

Potato and Sweet Corn Vichysoisse with Concasse of Heirloom Tomatoes from Executice Chef Peter Pank of Silverado Resort
This was one of the few dishes that was memorable in a good way. It was refreshing and used the tomatoes as nice accent. The only thing that would have been better is if it were a bit smoother in texture.

Tomato Tartlettes from Chef Dory Ford of Bon Appetit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium
These were tart and light. A nice little bite. One of the better attempts at a tomato tart. The filling almost tasted like lemon meringue.

Tomato Goop of Some Sort from Chef Patrick Durant of Stillwater Bar and Grill at the Lodge at Pebble Beach
Not memorable in any way. We can't even remember what it was.

Fried Olive from Chef Anthony Keene at Carmel Valley Ranch
Terrible. Fried and cold just don't go together.

Tomato Mojito from Executive Chef Phillipe Breneman at Paragon Restaurant and Bar
Yummy. An inspired use of the tomato.

Shrimp and Tomatoes on a Chip from Chef Michael Dunn at Yankee Pier
Nothing really going on here. It was edible, but that's about it.

Tomato Lasagna from Tusca Ristorante
The flavor was ok, but it was rather cold and the top was so hard we couldn't get a fork through it.

Soupy Tomatos and Seafood from Chef Christopher Caul at Christopher's on Lincoln
Ok, but not memorable.

Cold Tomato Soup from Chef Jim Gallivan at McIntosh Atlantic Culinary Academy

Tomato Sorbet from Chef Colin Moody at Asilomar Conference Grounds
Alexis loved this. And we also saw a lot of little kids who really seemed to love this.

Heirloom Tomato Sorbet with Shrimp Tartare, Avocado and Cilantro from Marinus Restaurant at Bernardus Lodge
We liked the idea of this dish, but just having eaten such a lovely sorbet, this one sort of fell flat and the fishiness was a bit weird.

We're not sure where this cam from, or what it was, but maybe that's a good thing because it was by far the most disgusting thing we tried all day. Alexis spit it out. It was semi-frozen and nutty and gross.

Crab Salad with Tomato Sorbet from Pacific's Edge
The concept of this dish was great, but the crab was way too mayo-y, which made the sorbet taste weird.

Tomato Gelatin with Shrimp, Celery and Cream from L'Auberge Carmel
Giao thought that for sure Alexis would hate this, but actually, she liked it. The tomato flavor was clear and bright.

Tomato Tapenade from Chef Christopher Dettmer at Bouchee Bistro

Shrimp Log and Tomatoes on a Cracker from Chef A. Scott Cater at Casablanca Restaurant
Pretty gross, actually.

Heirloom Tomato, Goat Cheese and Basil Sorbet on a Puff Pastry from the California Culinary Academy
This was one of the better dishes. The basil sorbet was great and all of the flavors melded well.

Lobster Roll from Edgar's
This was one of the best items we had. It was seasoned well and the lobster was tender. We ate the whole thing.

Pork Tenderloin with Tomato Jam from Will's Fargo
The pork was a tad dry, but the flavors were nice.

Peach, Green Tomato and Salmon Sorbet from the Google Kitchens

Tomato and Fish from Wine Cask
Alexis' mom really liked this, but Giao didn't.

Fried Polenta with Tomato Sauce from the Culinary Center of Monterey

Pork with Tomato Sauce from Julia's Kitchen at Copia

Tomato Gazpacho from Post Ranch Inn

Goat Cheese and Tomato with Asparagus and Balsamic Reduction from Cielo Big Sur

Ice Cream from Monterey Plaza Hotel
Tasty, and pretty, but it didn't seem to really contain tomatoes.

Goat Cheese Quesadilla from ??
Quesadillas are never bad.

Quail Lodge Resort
8205 Valley Greens Drive
Carmel, CA 93923

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