Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Spicy Sabbatical...

(one of winter's most sought-after pleasures... tucking into a hot bowl of PHO)

After laying in bed, riding the subway, yoga posing and (insert pensive thought-inducing action here) all the while quietly composing the latest fromtheseed blog post, I've decided that I need to set a few things down right now. Spicy is proud to report that she's the producer on a new (soon to be launching) food and lifestyles web series. And, she's also-hello!-pursuing wild, academic dreams, a little modified and definitely "deferred," but, now, seemingly attainable. (Lächeln :)

I take my short leave not without a little food news from your favorite spicy home cook...Me!

WHAT I'M EATING (and Drinking) RIGHT NOW: 2007 Coppola Zinfandel from the Napa Valley. Popcorn, Indiana Gourmet Smoked Cheddar Kettle Corn. As for the kettle corn, I always have a bag in my house, and I've succumbed to the brand spanking new Noe Valley Whole Foods that stocks this addictive popcorn treat. The neighborhood--despite feigning protest against WF for its questionable biz ethics--is in a constant rejoice, unable to veer away from the line of cars aimed at less than 20 spots in the parking lot. If you're in the market for things like whole, ready to eat, piping hot Provence-style free range roasted chicken or preservative free, brown rice syrup, square marshmallows at $6 a box--this is your spot (two of Spicy's guilty WF pleasures).

WHAT I'VE BEEN EATING LATELY: Asian Takeout. I've discovered Turtle Tower Pho! San Francisco's "Little Saigon" is jumping with pho joints and my friends say that Turtle Tower is the best, and I don't have time to be dubious especially after an impromptu sit-down for stir-fried beef pho bo with wide, flat rice noodles. The beef was cooked well, noodles just a little caramelized from a trip through the hot wok and a rich yet subtle broth flecked with steaming fat bubbles. Add sliced carrot, celery, jalapeno and cilantro greens to my helping on a cheap plastic soup spoon and a squirt of sriracha and I'm gone...

WHAT I ATE LAST NIGHT: Back when I was just a skinny-minny and visiting San Fran for the first time, a Thai women told me that Thai House on Market St in the Castro was the best Thai place in town. "Their Larb Ga is better than my dad's," she whispered. "It's all about the toasted rice powder." When I moved to SF in '97 I became a follower. Thai House was my go-to Thai place for 5 years until I moved to SOMA and discovered Manora Thai. When I moved back to the 'hood to Dolores street in 2003, I returned to Thai House and a wonderful, hip renovation. Long gone were the days where my roommates and I were the only women in the dining room in a mostly male and openly gay neighbourhood. But, then, Thai House owners handed the Market street restaurant over to some friends and it just wasn't the same... Until... they opened Thai House Express in the Castro! (With its grandparent location in where else? SF's Little Saigon, of course!)

I drove out of my way to get takeout from there last night, and it was good. The refreshingly potent heat from the Sum Tum Thai (shredded green papaya with shrimp, tomato, green beans and lemon dressing with peanuts) paired with my Kao Pad Goong Ga-ree (yellow curry fried rice with shrimp and egg) was well worth the drive. And, there were surprises, too. Giant Sous Chef ordered #40 the tried and true Ka Moo (thanks for the rec Yelpers!) which turned out to be a falling off the bone pork leg stew flavored with onions and tangy pickled vegetables. Com. Fort. FOOD.

WHAT I WILL EAT TOMORROW: Leftovers. Indian food semi-homemade (semi-ho'd) from tofu, frozen vegetables and Sukhi's Indian paste packets. (Yes, it has gotten to this point, my friends.) Takeout from Toast on Church. But, I will also linger a little while over my Sunday Times devouring Obama's latest exploits, Randy Cohen's Ethicist and whatever the journos are calling "revolution" that day. Then, with the Arts, Travel and Week In Review tucked beneath a plate, I will bust out the cheeses and dig in. Three cheeses spread to be precise. Ever since the summer BBQ that GSC and I hosted, the girls have been after me for the cheese spread recipe... And, I have to tip my hat to Anne O'Driscoll formerly of Cafe Cuvee in San Francisco where I hosted, waited and Garde Manger'd (ooooooolalaaallaaaaa!) and apparently pocketed a few party tricks for my very own foodie arsenal. Wha? Whaa? Give it up for...

Chef Anne's 3-Cheese Spread (courtesy of Anne O'Driscoll)
- locally produced goat cheese
- organic full-fat cream cheese (do NOT use neutchafel or fat-free cream cheese, PLEASE!)
- aged parmiggiano reggiano
- kosher salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- a touch of olive oil to help the mix blend
Let the cheeses soften to room temperature.
Add spices and hard cheeses and oil and blend the ingredients gently with a spatula. Great on baguette, crostini, crackers, toasts and stirred into sauces or soups. Chef Anne likes a 3 Cheese Spread Focaccia sandwich with black olive tapenade. And, Spicy, yes SPICY, likes to make sweet Semifreddi's baguette crostini, smooth on a layer of three cheese spread, then a little bit of tapenade and then top with a sliver of roasted red pepper.

Oh, let me have some fun...! Even homecooks need holidays to tickle the taste buds... Meet me in on the long queue at Armandino Batali's Salumeria in Seattle and parsing whole pig parts in Portland, Oregon. Or, maybe, sipping cafe in Vancouver? Or, dining on un plato de casado beneath Costa Rica's jungle canopies? Wherever we are, Be there. And, be ready to eat!

In the meantime, Eat Well. Take good care. And, we'll dine soon into the night with passion and joy... FROM THE SEED.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Eat This 2010! (2009's Holiday in Food)

Spicy's Home Cooking Foollage (food collage!)
click on the collage, full size version will open in the next tab

From Left to Right, from Top:

1st row: Wee Kalin Applejoy gets sushi from Melissa and Doug, Big Valley Bison burgers with Bi-rite cider vinegar slaw, Apple-Cherry Crumb pie from Nora's Pattisserie in Colma, Spicy's Citrus-craisin-poppyseed muffins, Christmas Eve Mac-n-Cheese (w low-carb cauliflower), a boneless dry-aged ribeye, Xmas Day Maple Oatmeal Pecan Scones.

2nd row: Maine Lobster Pose 1, SF Special: Sun Fat Dungeness Crab & Risotto w. Crispy root veg, Lobster's last hurrah, Price holiday table with lobster and pinot, lobster legs CU, Maine Lobster Pose 2, 2010's First NACHO Night!

3rd row: Maine Lobster Pose 2, Roasted roots for breakfast, Nora's Apple Cheery Pie-take 2, La Crema Pinot Noir and East Kilbride's Glen Cairn crystal, Maine Lobster Pose 1, Buffalo Burger with Slaw and French Fried Onions on a rich, Challah roll, What's a Spicy New York girl (in San Fran) without her ("new york style") morning bagel?

4th row: New Year Nachos-take 2- Warning: Contains highly addictive mix of seasoned ground bison and Monterey Jack achiote white pepper cheese sauce, Spicy's homemade take on Bakesale Betty's Fried Chicken Sandwich with Panko and Bi-rite Slaw, Giant Sous Chef's Noche Buena filet mignon, Butcher-tying and at-home dry-aging, Spicy makes ARANCINI, Real live Cast iron Caramelization, Maine Lobster mac-n-cheese ala SpicyBrowngirl Cooks!

Happy Delicious 2010!
(Check back for Spicy's Chinese New Year in San Francisco...)
Spicy wants to hear from you! If you're a homecook or a Spicygirl or have a mind filled with food-related thoughts, please let us know.
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