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I love Food. Cooking it. Eating it. Experiencing it. As a result, that's what this blog has evolved into: A journal of my gastronomical journeys abroad, as well as my culinary creativity at home. I hope you enjoy what I have to say, and I'd love to hear your comments... Cheers!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I Heart San Francisco

Always the most highly anticipated part of a media tour, coming to my wannabe adopted home of San Francisco. My mind hums and buzzes upon arrival, concocting a culinary game plan for my abbreviated stay. Thanks to my 'local' friend, and co-host of "View From the Bay," Janelle Wang (the show I am to appear on), my first night's dinner is spent at Hubert Keller's Burger Bar. It is a growing trend, this 'comfort-food-cum-haute-cusine' movement (if you can call it a movement), but it is right in my stomach's wheelhouse. http://www.hubertkeller.com/
My meal consisted of an Abita Amber beer, and Abita has now vaulted to the upper echelon of boutique beer labels for me. Native to Louisiana, it was so well-balanced, the somewhat contradictory way I'd describe it is "simply complex." Didn't want to push it with another one, but it goes without saying I will be seeking out their top-seller, Purple Haze, stat. http://www.abita.com/
Now for the eats: I went with the eponymous Hubert Keller Burger: a buffalo burger with sauteed spinach, caramelized onions, and bleu cheese on a toasted (and more importantly, lightly buttered) ciabatta. A side of perfectly crispy-outside/tender-inside sweet potato fries with aioli complemented the burger to perfection. I left off the top half of the bun; there simply was no need for it. I dove in with a fork and knife and gusto to spare.
Let me tell you, if you haven't yet tried a buffalo burger, you are missing out. Slightly different (crumblier) texture than your standard fare; a bit gamier to the taste. There's also a slight hint of sweetness to the meat. Something about a quality bison burger leaves me with an undeniable feeling that I just ingested something more... authentic.
I indulged myself (shock of shocks) with an order from Keller's inspired milkshake menu of desserts: the Twinkie Milkshake...
NEED I SAY MORE?!?! A freakin' half a Twinkie perched tantalizingly atop a lofty mount of thick whipped cream, which gives way to the shake itself, all vanilla and cream and big bits of (the remaining half of) Twinkie, the further you slurp.
As far as "Last Meal" requests go, this one, in it's totality, has to rank right up there for me...

Sunlight comes, and thankfully, the "View From the Bay" airs at 3pm local time, giving me the morning to a) work off my meal from the night before, and b) rev up the engines for a great SF breakfast...
Gotta love the internet (esp. on a Smart Phone), because, concierge be damned, all I do is type in 'San Francisco Breakfast' into my BlackBerry, and the restaurant that jumps off the screen and calls to me is Dottie's True Blue Cafe.
A real hole in the wall (in the most endearing sense of the term), there is little or no elbow room at the counter, what with all the patrons and the bricabrac on the counter. The place is just starting to buzz at 7am, and I count myself as fortunate to have gotten there and staked out my postage stamp of real estate when I did, because almost immediately after, a line snaked out the door and onto Jones St. (off Geary).
I ordered 2 scrambled eggs with chicken-apple sausage and their homemade toasted wheat bread, forgoing the breakfast potatoes in lieu of fresh fruit (see... even I can show restraint sometimes!). OK, so I can't break my arm patting myself on the back -- I had to order a stand-alone blueberry cornmeal pancake on the side... chalk it up (read: rationalize it) to research.
I marveled at the man working the griddle and burners so fluidly, like a musician, really. A scrape of the spatula here; a shake and jiggle of the fry pan there... needless to say, my eggs were tender and buttery soft, the sausage was sweet and fragrant, and the bread was hearty and oh so fresh. But it was the pancake that stole the spotlight. I fell hard for cornmeal pancakes in Albuquerque (where they favor blue corn), but this was next-level stuff. The cornmeal batter gives a pancake a denser texture, but this one still managed to be light-tasting, and the blueberries were perfectly nestled inside and all over... what a great way to start a day!

My TV segment went swimmingly. I love coming to this station: live audience, dedicated set, real pros in front of and behind the camera. Today was a special treat, because I got to meet the HOFF. Yes, Mr. Baywatch Knight Rider was in the house, spreading joy to all who came into his view. He was pimping his upcoming reality series as well as a concert (!) at a nearby casino.

Lucky for me Postrio was just a couple of turns away from the station. http://www.postrio.com/
I've always wanted to try it, mostly because I remain an unabashed fan of Wolfgang Puck, but also because it still has a solid rep in a cutthroat-competitive food city, and has remained staunchly ingrained in this town since 1989.
They only offered up their Cafe Menu, because the main dining room is under renovation, but that was no loss for me. I ordered the Pork Belly Yakitori, which was small (as I suspected), with only 3 cubes on a skewer, but the taste more than made up for it. If you've never tasted pork belly, think: the very best, most succulent part of your favorite spare ribs at a Chinese restaurant, and you're almost there. The semi-thick sauce/glaze and a wedge of orange were a nice touch, adding both sweetness and some citrus to each bite.
My entree was Wolfgang's Prosciutto-Fig Pizza. Simply otherwordly. No matter what else he puts on a menu, I can't escape the pull of a Puck Pizza! The dough is crispy throughout, yet chewy at the outer ring of crust. Layered with marscapone, generous slices of prosciutto, chunks of fig, together with slivers of red onion, a tangy balsamic glaze, a touch of truffle oil, and topped with fresh shards of Parmigiana-Reggiano. Heaven on Post Street...

I leave San Francisco post haste tomorrow, dreaming and planning for my next visit...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Scrambled special, organic oatmeal pancakes, grits, and a biscuit @ Flying Biscuit in Buckhead... Right at the top of my list of "happy places"...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Even on a grey cold day the setting is beautiful. Classic French onion soup... Hanger steak bistro and pomme frites and an unbeatable view... Takes the edge out of travel.
On a Bartolotta binge! Lake Park Bistro for lunch before leaving Milwaukee. Unreal French bistro setting right on the shores of Lake Michigan...
...Had to finish with what could be the best tiramisu I've ever eaten in the states. This is the definition of Cucina Rustica! www.ristorantebartalotta.com
...olives! Homemade ribbon pappardelle pasta with old-fashioned slow roasted briased duck ragu sensationally restrained yet robust. Nice glass of nebbiolo too

What meal in Milwaukee! Bartolotta's was all I'd hoped, even the Old World N-Italian ambience. Buffalo mozzarella pizzaoli - first time I recall enjoying green

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Great family meal @ Wildwood BBQ @ St. Pete Beach. Smoled cheddar mac n cheese; brisket sandwich... Fresh stuff all made in-house. Outstanding!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Capital Grille for lunch in the Country Club section of Kansas City. Wedge Salad and signature cheeseburger with truffle fries... Quite the indulgence!!