Running list of restaurants/bars I want to check out for lunch/snack/after work and dinner.
Probably the best thing I made and ate last year was this white truffle risotto (recipe from the French Laundry cookbook). It's a simple dish and it really is good. I got the white truffles from Market Hall. Folding in whipped cream, the white wine, the amount of butter, the small amount of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and onions versus shallots, surprised me when I was making it. I think I made risotto correctly for the first time — I used fewer ingredients and paid more attention to actual cooking with some toasting and a lot of absorbing and stirring that needs to happen to maintain the integrity of the rice.
The second decadent thing we ate recently was this Hokkaido snow beef from Chateau Uenae. "Hokkaido Snow Beef. Located in the Hokkaido Prefecture, about an hour outside of Sapporo is Chateau Uenae. Cattle is raised in sub zero temperatures in the pristine Hokkaido countryside."
It's an A5 BMS 11 wagyu that's over the top. The superlatives of rich, fatty, melt in your mouth I heard about are all pretty true. The fat coats your tongue but it's a delicious fat. I got these 4 ounce steaks from A-Five Meats which is close to our office near the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. This is supposed to be a "holy grail" type of steak and it is good and I would certainly buy and make it again.
Go with Mafter Bourgeat and get one of their black steel pans (the 11 7/8" one) and get the remainder from their stainless steel collection: the 9-1/2" and 11" fry pans, the 1-3/4 quart and 4 quart sauce pans, the 7-1/2 quart stock pot, and optionally the 4 quart saute pan. Altogether, these should run you about $500-$600.
There's a small detail with these Mafter pots and pans that's not in most cookware. The handles are attached in a way where the rivets don't go through so the interior is clean.
- This copper/induction ready Hestan set I guess if you want to splurge
- Grab these Mac knives – 9" chef (or alternate), slicer, utility, paring
- Grab this spatula, microplane, Hi-soft cutting board
- 12" cast iron skillet (for fried chicken) and 10.5" cast iron griddle (for pancakes) are also nice and have been put to good use
Food I've been getting online (can't get from the store):
- Benton's country ham and bacon
- Bernachon chocolates
- Haydel's Bakery King cake
- Sourwood and Tupelo honey but usually we get gifted some local honey, our beekeeper friend's mentor sells local (Oakland) honey from Bee Healthy our neighbor down the street
Not sure what other food products to buy online though. If you've got recommendations, let me know.
We love us some King Cakes.
Haydel's Bakery is our favorite. We always get the sugar only (the sugar + frosting is pretty sweet) and we get the package with the coffee, bead pack, etc. because why not!?! The high costs of these cakes are due to FedEx shipping but good luck trying to find a legit King Cake outside of NOLA. Buy NOLA and support their economy!
I have yet to try a filled King Cake which is usually cream cheese but there's lot of different options (flavored cream cheese, brownie filled, praline, German chocolate) so a bit of choice overload.
The new to me hotness -> hibiscus tea and the best is supposed to come from the Sudan.
Benefits of drinking hibiscus tea include weight loss, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, prevent types of cancer and depression, and pro-liver; not at high doses.
Every tea seller has hibiscus tea but a lot are in blend form w/ black tea or berries, e.g Imperial Red from Imperial Tea. Luckily Berkeley Bowl has some just plain old hibiscus tea.
I'm not going to link to bad Google results for Karkade recipes which is a sweet hibiscus drink (there are no links to an Egyptian or Sudanese website for a recipe? really?). It's basically dried hibiscus, sugar, and water which is also agua de jamaica.
And I had no idea that jamaica was hibiscus. I didn't know what the red and tart drink was, just thought jamaica tasted good. Who knew? Anyway, it was nice to get introduced to hibiscus tea and will probably need to drink up other teas/mix it up a bit before I go overboard and get sick of it. Hasn't happened yet though.
Specific varietals of fruits and vegetables to seek out especially in good grocery stores and farmer's markets in the Bay Area/Northern California:
- lemons: Meyer
- strawberries: Chandler, Seascape, Albion
- tomatoes: Early Girl
- lettuce: Little Gems
- carrots: Nantes
- oranges: mandarins (Kishu, Golden Pixie, Murcott)
- apricot: Royal Blenheim