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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Underground Market: March 6

Last month's underground market hosted by ForageSF was such a success that all of the vendors sold out of their items! It was so crowded you could barely move through to even see the vendors. I did, however, manage to purchase the most unique brownie I had ever had! We met a man who milled his own acorn flour and then roasted the flour until it developed a rich, nutty roasted flavor and then used that flour to make these pitch black brownies that had a unique, almost savory flavor. I loved them!

Anyway, the next market is on Saturday, March 6 from 5-11pm at 9 Langton Street in San Francisco. And I am so excited to tell you that I will be a vendor, along with my amazingly talented friend, Elianna.

Elianna and I are going to make a couple of homemade kegs of fresh ginger beer, lots and lots of jars of spiced pickled grapes and possibly even some hawaiian baked goodies like coconut mochi!!! These pickled grapes (an idea inspired by Seattle's Boat Street Cafe) are a k-n-o-c-k-o-u-t. They are just a tad sweet and warmly spiced with mustard, cloves, black peppercorns and freshly smashed cinnamon (which makes a huge difference, I swear). They really pop with flavor and would be the perfect addition to salads and cheese plates. I've even heard through the grapevine that Fish & Farm serves pickled grapes as a garnish for cauliflower soup, along with toasted almonds, olive oil and chives. What an idea!

Inspired by our pickling madness, my friend Jesse even made some pickled green garlic, which would really complement a nice charcuterie plate.

And, have you ever had fresh ginger beer?! Yes, its non-alcoholic, but it is packed with flavor. Jesse is the mastermind behind this one. We juiced up an enormous amount of fresh ginger (even the lady at the farmer's market asked me what I was going to do with that much ginger!). Then we added some freshly squeezed lemon juice to knock down the spicyness of the ginger and added just a little bit of sugar to please the palate. We put it all in a keg and pressurized it until it carbonates. Also, on Saturday morning we will spike it with some more fresh ginger juice to really jazz up the flavor and bring it to the front just before we serve it up over ice. Believe me, you're gonna want to try some!

We're pretty darned excited about these things and we would love for you to come check out the market!!! See you then!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Arizmendi Bakery: SF

I love mornings. I love the promise of mornings: it's early enough to get all sorts of things accomplished and any thing is possible. But it's also early enough to savor and enjoy the art of doing nothing, which, I admit, is not a luxury I get often (you and me both, I'm sure). Yesterday I slept in until about 9 am and it occurred to me that I had the whole morning to myself with nothing to do. Yeeeees.

My friend, Eli, recently told me that Arizmendi makes an apple-sage sourdough on saturdays that "gives meaning to bread". Now that is a statement. Arizmendi, my second favorite bakery in the city sliding in just after Tartine, is a sister co-operative bakery to the famous Cheeseboard Cooperative in Berkeley. In addition to breads and bakery goodies, each of these places have a vegetarian pizza that changes daily (and I have been known to sometimes plan meals around their pizza calendar). I tossed a book in my bag and grabbed my trusty Tea Tiger full of Cream Tea and headed out into the February gray with a sourdough goal in mind.

Apple-Sage Sourdough: Tiny diced apple bits are folded into a soured dough and speckled with flecks of fresh sage.
It's not really a savory bread, but it isn't exactly a sweet one either. The apples and sage provide a nice balanced flavor, which starts to grow on you with each bite. I bought a loaf for Eli as a surprise she is sure to love...

I should probably admit to you that I arrived at the bakery around 10 am and it took a-l-l of my will power to not order the pizza of the day for breakfast--spinach, red onions, feta cheese, lemon and thyme oil, parsley and parmesan cheese. This got MUCH easier to do once I caught a glimpse of the scone selection and saw that they had my favorite scone.It's made with cornmeal for a fantastic texture with just enough butter to create a delicate crumb. Then they fold in some dried tart cherries and generously sprinkle sugar on the top to create a thick sugar crust. It is the perfect scone. Really. Perfect.

SF Gate published a recipe from the Cheeseboard Collective back in May 2006. I tried it hoping for the magic of cornmeal cherry scones to fill my kitchen, but instead it was a total disaster. The butter ratio was so high that the oven just melted the heaps of scone batter into buttery pools of goo. It could have been due to the fact that I didn't use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, but I think it was likely due to the fact that I used soymilk with some vinegar instead of true buttermilk. Maybe I will try again.

Or maybe I will just hop back on the train and head back to Arizmendi...Maybe on a Friday when they make a Fig-Fennel Sourdough.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

SF Beer Week 2010: I survived!

I've been busy. Busy drinking beer. Learning about beer. Eating beer ice cream. Even learning what work and effort goes into custom blending a beer. As you might imagine, ten days of beer events is a lot. I can't even quantify how much beer was consumed because my liver and I are not on speaking terms.

I mean, I like beer (certain kinds of beer--usually the rare expensive stuff), but I am by no means a beer geek--I just learn about beer by hanging out with the real beer geeks. I think the beer community can sometimes be a little intimidating, but once you show you are eager to learn and taste, these incredibly generous people really open up their welcoming arms. It truly is a friendly atmosphere. For example, a friend of mine even has a whole blog, femALEist, dedicated to sharing a female perspective on her beer explorations! I like it.

I thought I might document the events I actually attended so I can remember for planning for next year. Ok, here we go:

Feb. 5: SF Brewers Guild Opening Gala

Feb. 6: New Belgium Brewing Co. at Toronado
I want to share with you that this brewery makes an incredibly amazing-and rare-sour called Love that I had been pining for again since I had first tried it a couple of years ago before learning it isn't bottled and I would likely never see it again. You bet I ordered a couple 4 oz. pours. Or four.
We also trekked out to Humphrey Slocombe to get a flight of 4 beer-flavored ice creams for $4.50 (what a deal!).

Feb. 7: Lost Abbey & Port Brewing at Toronado
I got to try yet another rare beer called Veritas 007, which is a delicious sour ale with cabernet-franc grapes.

Feb. 8: A night with Lost Abbey Head Brewer Tomme Arthur at City Beer Store
I had the two best beers I have ever tasted--Double Cherry Red Poppy (a Flanders Red made with copious amounts of tart cherries) and Framboise de Amarosa (a sour beer just soaking with raspberries). I told Tomme that he could easily rope in the entire female population into beer love with these two gems.
Photo gallery party for Jesse Friedman of Beerandnosh at Humphrey Slocombe. Proceed to consume yet another beer ice cream flight.

Feb. 9: City Beer Store (I shamelessly drag my friend, Eli, back to get my hands on more Framboise de Amarosa).

Feb 10: Mostly Barrel Aged Beer Dinner by Beerandnosh
(Yes, that is a photo of me kissing Jake Godby of Humphrey Slocombe. Think of it as love, from all of us, for the brilliant work he does).

Feb. 11: Collaboration Beer Dinner with Sean Paxton aka The Homebrew Chef

Feb. 12: much needed break

Feb. 13: much needed break

Feb. 14: Valentine's Dinner by The Wild Kitchen (not a beer event, but beer was had nonetheless)

Dear Morgan: Please stop this madness. Love, Your Liver.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Best Veggie Burger: Plant Cafe Organic

I have never been much of a burger person; I’m not one to get crazy burger cravings, as those things go. It’s likely largely due to the fact that I haven’t eaten red meat since about the 5th grade. In these last couple of years, I’ve been coming around to the idea of veggie burgers. Not the commercial kind, but the homemade variety. I have been known to make a mean lentil walnut burger, which I like served with a side of sweet potato fries. Or pickles. Or pickle fries, if I could figure out how to make such a thing!

When my friend, Lindsay, claimed that this place called The Plant Café Organic had the best veggie burger out there, I was intrigued and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Like I said, you’re more likely to find me swooning over things like extremely fancy vegetarian food or flaky roti rolls stuffed with tikka masala or even a "PB & J" sandwich made with pistacho butter and apricot jam and a semi-soft cheese smooshed between grilled bread.

But, this "plant burger" is no ordinary or traditional burger. For one thing, it isn’t firm or hold together quite like a patty. It’s soft kind of like the texture mashed potatoes. And they recommend getting it on grilled sourdough, although you can get a sprouted whole wheat bun if you need to. But what I find most intriguing is its main ingredients: lentils, mushrooms, beets, cashews and bulgur wheat. Sounds iffy, at best, right?! But it’s not iffy at all—it’s delicious and I even got several omnivores to confirm it. It’s like those five divergent ingredients got together and started up a band to rock out with something new. The combination of flavors all working together to comprise the burger is really satisfying!The grilled sourdough has a nice slather of tasty garlic aioli (possibly made with a vegenaise base) and the burger is topped with these delicious sticky roasted red onions, lettuce and a slice of tomato. And then you can add on other things like sautéed mushrooms, cheese and avocado.

We also loved the raw blueberry "cheesecake" made with blueberries, cashews, young coconut, agave nectar, coconut oil, vanilla, sea salt, coconut and dates. It is drizzled with a blackberry pepper sauce that is a puree of blackberries, agave nectar and freshly cracked black pepper.

And, wouldn’t you know it, a new location just opened up right across the street from my work at Pine Street and Front Street!



* 2/3 c. pre-soaked bulgur (soaked for at least 4 hours, then measured)
* 3/4 c. pre-soaked red lentils (soaked for at least 4 hours, then measured)
* 1/3 c. raw cashews (blended into a powder)
* 1 c. beets, trimmed and washed
* 1 c. white mushrooms, diced
* 1/2 tsp. sea salt
* 3 Tbsp. olive oil


* Preheat oven to 450 degrees and bake the beets for about 45 minutes or until very tender.
* Allow beets to cool slightly, then peel off skin and dice them.
* In a skillet, heat one Tbsp. of the olive oil and sautee the mushrooms over medium-high heat until cooked (you can add a sprinkle of water if needed since the mushrooms will instantly soak up the olive oil).
* In a food processor, combine diced beets and sauteed mushrooms, lentils, bulgur, cashew powder and sea salt.
* Form mixture into burger patties.
* Heat olive oil in a skillet or griddle on medium high heat. Cook burgers, but try not flip more than once to avoid burgers falling apart.

Serve on grilled sourdough bread or buns with your favorite toppings!

UPDATE: I revamped this recipe here.