Tuesday, June 29, 2004

platanos

last thursday my family and i had dinner at platanos to celebrate my mom's birthday. i have mixed feelings about the restaurant. immediately upon arrival, we were taken aback by the rude hostess (older asian-looking woman, who is probablly actually latino). she kind of looked us up and down with almost a sneer. when we told her we had a reservation, she made this expression as if she highly doubted it. when she actually checked the books, she seated us right away. i honestly don't know what she had against us. we were polite, dressed nicely, and we didn't smell. i highly suspect she's just a bitch. anyway, our ill feelings were quickly dispelled when we met our waitress. she seemed genuinely friendly and helpful.

as usual, we shared several starters. i only hope i can recall them all. my favorite by far was the gallo pinto, or rice and beans. it was so flavorful, and with the addition of an herbed sour cream, and sauteed plantains, it was to die for. the plantains were especially wonderful, which surprises me to say because i've never before liked plantains. these were nicely caramelized on the outside, and creamy within, and not starchy at all. the ceviche, and the guacamole were also very good, as well as the tuna and scallop salad. unfortunately, i can't remember anything about them other than the fact that i liked them. the only appetizer i didn't care for was the smoked salmon which was way too salty.

i can only report on my own entree as i didn't taste anyone else's. i had gambas en mole verde (or something like that). it was ok. the shrimp (or gambas) were a little overcooked. the sauce which had chunks of nopales (cactus) and tomatillos was a bit too tangy. both of those ingredients have their own sourness, and i guess when cooked together, it's a little too much.

the desserts, too, were a mixed bag. my favorite one was the chocolate chile cake. rich, moist, probably almost flourless chocolate cake with a lot of heat that sneaks up on you. it was served with a cooling espresso creme anglaise. in fact, the heats hits you so late, that when i made the comment to mr. dexygus that it was hot, he had just taken his bite, and he had time to tell me that i was a wimp. a moment later a small, "oh" came from his lips, followed by a drink of water. the pastel de tres leches was a hit with table. it was good rendition, though i'm not really a fan of this particular cake. much too sweet. the coconut flan and the orange creme brulee were passable. the guava cheescake was pretty bad. the cheesecake itself tasted like it was a no-bake version and had a gelatinous texture (probably because it was set with gelatin, duh). and the guava topping just tasted like reduced kern's guava nectar, also set with gelatin.

i probably will not go back, unless maybe it's for a quick gallo pinto lunch. for peruvian food, i prefer fresca in west portal. i haven't tried the fillmore location yet, though i hear good things about it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

my staples, part 3

i rarely ever go to burlingame avenue anymore simply because it's infested with annoying rich people and their cell phone-carrying, abercrombie-shopping pre-teens. i hear that late at night on weekends, it's the place to cruise and check people out if you're from hillsborough and in high school.

when i do venture into this foreign locale, it's usually for this sandwich:


grilled shrimp sandwich Posted by Hello

the grilled shrimp sandwich from alana's, a cute little cafe that surprisingly has a really cozy feel to it. the sandwich consists of lightly toasted sourdough with cheddar cheese melted on tender sweet bay shrimp that's been mixed with a dill dressing. i usually douse it pretty well with jalapeno tabasco sauce to give it a little kick. man, i'm starting to drool.

i normally wash it down with alana's house-brewed spiced orange iced tea. it's lightly sweetened with a strong perfume of cinnamon. very refreshing. they have jars of the tea brewing in the front window sill. mmm, i think i know what i'm having for lunch today.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

my first curry


nadan fish curry Posted by Hello

lately i've been obsessed with the message boards on egullet.com. see food links on the right. especially the foodblogs that regular egullet members contribute to. an egulleter spends a week documenting with words and pictures the food they've eaten that week, like what i do here. after his/her week is up, s/he "tags" the next random member. i'm not quite sure how they decide who to tag, and if the one who's tagged can decline or not. anyway, today ends one of the funniest, most irreverent and informative blogs i've read. it belongs to mongo jones.

his focus is on indian food. since i know virtually nothing about indian food, this blog has been very enlightening. with his decriptions and pictures, you can almost smell the spicy aromas. one recipe was especially drool-worthy. i made nadan fish curry the other night, and it was spectacular. hopefully you have an indian market near you, or else some ingredients will be hard to come by. i highly recommend this dish, and i'll definitely be trying other ones mongo has posted.

me no understand technology

computers just confuse the hell out of me. i set out half-heartedly trying to figure out how to fix my technical problem mentioned below. i really had no clue. i scanned the code but it was just gibberish to me. then i sent an email to blogger support and i have yet to hear from them.

today i decided to devote a little thought to the problem. and you know what? i fixed it! guess what i did. i removed the italics from the posole recipe below. that did the trick. maybe the program can't handle having that much text in italics. i dunno. if anyone can enlighten me as to what happened, i'd be eternally grateful. i'm just blown away at how temperamental technology can be. and now back to our regularly scheduled program...

Friday, June 18, 2004

technical difficulties

arg. for some reason, my sidebar is at the bottom of the page. let's see if i can figure out how to fix it.

my staples, part 2


posole verde Posted by Hello

this is a homemade staple adapted from madhur jaffrey's world vegetarian. this is a huge book with tons of recipes, and though we've only tried a handful of recipes, they've turned out quite well. we make this green posole every other month or so, especially if the weather is cold.

if you don't know what posole is, it's a mexican soup/stew traditionally made with pork. the first time i had it was probably 10 years ago when my hubby's
(then boyfriend) sister made it for the family. it was amazing. the soup was redolent of pork and spices, and supported copious amounts of tender meat and hominy. optional garnishes included shredded cabbage, lime wedges, avocado, cilantro, and corn tortillas, most of which, along with adding flavor, also helped to cut the spiciness. it's something i still sometimes dream of, in waking and in sleep.

now that i no longer eat meat, i must rely on memories and alternatives. not that posole verde is a substitute for traditional posole. they are, in fact, very different creatures, each with their own virtues. a variety of peppers and other vegetables and aromatics are used to create depth in the broth. with the addition of beans, hominy and mushrooms, you create a wonderfully hearty dish. as you can see from the picture, we eat it with tortilla chips, avocado, and (not shown) lime wedges.

this dish is time-consuming to make, even with the shortcuts we take (canned hominy and beans, as opposed to dried ones), so start early or have help.

adapted posole verde

3 cups canned hominy
3 cups canned cannellini beans (or great northern or other white bean)
1 pound mild poblano chiles
3 Tbsp. canola oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
5 medium tomatillos (6 oz.), husks removed, washed and finely chopped
6 scallions, very finely sliced into thin rounds
2 jalapenos, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
12 medium white mushrooms, quartered
2 large or 8 small good quality vegetable bouillon cubes
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1 tsp. salt

Pour hominy and beans into colander. Rinse and drain. Set aside.

Roast poblanos: Lay them in a broiling pan in a single layer and place under a heated broiler about 5 inches from heat source. Roast for a minute or two, then turn over and roast a couple minutes more. Continue until all sides are lightly charred. Alternatively, you can roast chiles over an open flame. Either cover tray with towel or put chiles in a paper bag to sweat for 10-15 minutes. Peel, seed, and finely chop.

Place oil and garlic in a large pot over med-hi heat. When garlic is golden, add tomatillos, scallions, and jalapeno and saute for 5 minutes. Add cumin and stir briefly. Add mushrooms and stir 2 minutes. Add chopped poblano and stir one minute. Then add hominy, beans, crumbled bouillon cubes, oregano and cilantro. Add 5 cups water and bring to a simmer. Mix well and taste for salt. Add salt if needed. Simmer, covered, very gently for 1 1/4 hours, stirring occasionally.

Serves 6

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

strawberry fields for dexygus


wild strawberries Posted by Hello

yes, that is my hand. yes, those are strawberries. very small wild strawberries that i found while walking kurn dog. well, hubby found them first, a couple of weeks ago, but i've eaten more. i finally remembered to bring the camera with me today, so i could document these tasty treats. they are the most intensely-flavored strawberries i've ever tasted. the air was heavy with their fragrance. i've never sampled the fraises des bois in france during peak season, but i imagine the flavor is similar. they look quite a bit different though. my berries are somewhat pale and round. the shape of fraises des bois are more conical and reminds me of morel mushrooms.

note: we found the berries at mori point in pacifica. mori point is part of the ggnra, which is a huge network of national parks in california.

Monday, June 14, 2004

my staples, part 1


tanuki soba from kamameshi house Posted by Hello

there are a few restaurants near our house that we frequent quite a bit. the food isn't fabulous, but it's pretty decent, and most importantly, it's nearby. one place is kamameshi house that is just 3 minutes away by car. i don't think the restaurant is authentic japanese. i don't even think a single japanese person works there, but it's where i go whenever i'm craving sashimi, or unagi nigiri, or tanuki soba (pictured).

tanuki soba is a bowl of buckwheat soba in a steaming hot flavorful broth (which probably has msg, i'm not sure) that's slightly sweet and really nice. it's garnished with a shiitake mushroom, green onions, 2 slices of fishcake, and some crispy fried bits. the menu says there are leeks in it, but it's actually pea shoots. oh, and there's also a poached egg in there, though you can't see it in the picture. i used to eat this at least once a week, but i'm a little over it. now, it's more like once a month. it really does hit the spot though.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

quince

on thursday night, we had dinner at quince on octavia in the city. the dining room was beautiful. apparently, it used to be the home of an apothecary. i couldn't take my eyes off the chandeliers. they looked like blown glass, kind of an off-white/coral color. looked so alive, so organic, and almost alien.

my family and i were there to celebrate my brother's and his girlfriend's purchase of their first home. we started by sharing a few appetizers. i think everyone's favorite was the striped bass tartare. the fish itself was so flavorful and sweet. it had some kind of horseradish marinade that was fairly strong, but didn't mask the fish at all. it was quite nice. it was served with not so toasted bread shaped like fish. i think i would've preferred something crispier that would've provided some textural contrast. we also had a gorgonzola sformata with walnuts. i didn't really know what sformata was. i had heard of it before and was expecting either something like tender dumplings or a timbale. it turned out to be very much like a souffle in texture, but wasn't served in a ramekin, rather it was unmolded. i tried googling sformata, but i mostly got italian recipes. when i get home i'll check my larousse and italian cookbooks. anyway, i liked the texture, but there was only a faint hint of gorgonzola. hubby, who loves blue cheese, was pretty disappointed. another app was cured king salmon. all i remember is that it was way too salty. the others had another app that included prosciutto, but since i don't eat meat, i really didn't pay much attention.

my second course, which was my entree as well, was spaghetti with lobster and hot pepper. i should've known better than to order spaghetti. quince specializes in pasta dishes made with fresh pasta, but i don't think restaurants that make fresh pasta make their spaghetti. i imagine it has to do with the shape. correct me if i'm wrong. but yeah, the spaghetti tasted like a commercial dried pasta. i'll remember next time. the lobster and hot pepper part was tasty though. hubby had tagliatelle bolognese. he said it was good, but his favorite is still oliveto's. he also had some beef thing (again, since it's meat, i didn't pay much attention) with morels. mmm, the morels were so good. i think they're my favorite fungus. kinda spongy, but not too soft. i love it.

desserts: we ordered five. there were five of us, so it's not like we were totally gorging. i was a bit disappointed. i only liked 2 out of the 5. buckwheat crepes with honey, walnuts and roasted apricots. i always like tangy stuff with enough sweet to offset the tang. the other dessert i liked was chocolate ice cream with stewed cherries. i normally stay away from this combo just because i grew up loving chocolate and not much liking fruit, and the thought of them together...blech. but i've come to like (sometimes love) fruit as i've gotten older. the flavor was really nice. again, the tangy/sweet thing. the ice cream was thick and somewhat chewy like gelato. yummy. everyone liked the ginger cake except me. for the life of me, i can't recall what it was served with. i thought it was too gummy. we also had a plum/blueberry crisp which i didn't care for simply because i don't like crisps. i'm a crust kind of girl. i don't want no stinking oatmeal streusel on top of a ton of cooked fruit. and last AND least, a buttermilk panna cotta. i can't think of anything good about it. it was bland and too firm. that's all i have to say about that.

i would probably not go back. my dad summed it up best by saying that the prices were comparable to gary danko, but the food wasn't, so we may as well eat at gary danko. fine by me.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

panfried skate with brown butter and capers


from: a new way to cook p. 248 Posted by Hello

well, you might have noticed that the piece of fish is not actually skate wing. i looked everywhere in my area to no avail. whole foods, andronico's, draeger's, asian markets. nada. so i used red snapper instead. does anyone know of a good fishmonger in the peninsula? now that i think about it, i bet the seafood place at the ferry building would have it. but who wants to pay for parking?

i was a little disappointed with this dish. the fish itself was a little bland. and the sauce, which contains balsamic and sherry vinegars, was surprisingly mellow. maybe having skate wing makes a difference in this dish. i wouldn't know, having only had it once in my life. the asparagus was delicious though. i just roasted them with extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. the bread was the leftover ciabatta from the other night.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

take these damn things away from me!


my latest obsession...and baby's too Posted by Hello

what better way to start my food blog than with a food obsession. anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that my life is riddled with obsessions, and not only with food. so here is my latest. trader joe's pita chips with cinnamon and sugar. my brother actually introduced me to them a couple years ago, but i somehow inconceivably forgot about them. fortunately, i re-discovered them. i can't believe that there are supposed to be 7 servings in this little bag. i know it doesn't look like a little bag, but believe me, it's mostly air in there. i swear, just sitting here typing i've eaten more than half the bag. they're a little on the dry side, but your saliva suffiently moistens them. but the brilliant thing (on the manufacturer's part) is in the level of sweetness. some of the chips are not sweet enough with not enough cinnamon, and a few have the perfect amount of sweetness and cinnamon. so you eat a chip, and you think, "hmm, not quite enough sweetness and cinnamon. maybe the next one..." and you keep going until you hit the perfect chip, and it's so good that you eat another one, but that one's not perfect, so you keep eating on and on until the whole bag is gone. well, that's how it is for me, anyways. ok, no more. i'm bringing them downstairs.