Saturday, November 14, 2015

good food, great deals in san francisco


We all know San Francisco is a wonderful place to live, with culture, creativity and culinary delights. But all that can be challenging to the bank account.  Here are a few great restaurants with delicious food for a super value.

The Mission is loaded with great eats and two of my favorites are Lolo and Limon.  Lolo, located at 974 Valencia is a family-owned restaurant in San Francisco that utilizes local ingredients and offers non-traditional and uniquely inspired Mexican food.  Stop in for the tacos tropical or grilled beef tacos for between $9-$10.  Walk down the street to 524 Valencia for Limón's Peruvian Pollo a la Brasa, marinated free-range rotisserie chicken, slowly roasted over open flame. A quarter chicken with a choice of 2 sides and sauces will set you back about $11.  On upper Market, head to Hecho.
Located at 2200 Market, this energetic space with a great bar mixes classic and new Mexican cuisine.  Order the braised Meyer Ranch beef short rib quesadilla and be ready with your $12!
If you are on Union Square and need a quick bite, stop in Hubert Keller's Burger Bar on the 6th floor of Macy's. Minus the wait and lines of Cheese Cake Factory, enjoy the fish and chips with 3 pieces of fish, slaw and garlic fries for around $9.

Friday, July 3, 2015

eiffel tower restaurant in las vegas

I just had a wonderful birthday weekend in Las Vegas.  Mom came down to San Francisco and we flew to Las Vegas and into it's crazy 110 degree heat. We stayed at the MGM, a marvel of a hotel, with lovely rooms, great beds, amazing pools and so much to do, you might never leave the property. But we did, and we had an exceptional birthday celebration at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at the Paris Hotel.  The Eiffel Tower is on the 11th floor over looking the fountains of the Bellagio in one direction and a scenic expanse of the strip in the other.

Serene, in soft colors and wrapped in 360 degrees of glass (with no glare or heat, amazingly), you experience perfectly executed classic French cuisine with expert service.  We dined on crab stuffed avocados, baby lettuces with toasted hazelnuts, lemon vinaigrette and the creamiest goat cheese I have ever had.  Pan-sauteed trout with meuniere sauce and wild rice and the paillard of salmon were divine.  We finished the meal with silken creme brulee all washed down with lemon drops--not that French, but damn tasty!  An elegant and delicious spot amidst the desert heat and glitter.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

fresh gem lettuce caesar salad

The Caesar is one of my favorite salads, rich and creamy dressing, chunky romaine leaves and crunchy croutons---delicious but perhaps not a salad you can eat everyday.  I came up with my own light and modern version, fresh, crisp and lemony and so easy I have been eating it every day.
I started with little gem lettuces, and separated out the smallest leaves (Trader Joe's sells the gem lettuces--3 heads for only $1.99).  I then made a Caesar dressing and thinned it with the juice of a lemon.  You can do this with your favorite bottled dressing if you like, the result should be lemony and thin enough to drizzle.  I tossed the leaves with crispy turkey bacon lardons, my substitute for croutons, shaved on good parm and drizzled with the dressing.  Cracked black pepper and you are good to go.  Restaurant worthy result!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

15 minute tiramisu


I love Tiramisu.  I am not in love with hours of prep.  I think I died and went to heaven when I discovered this Martha Stewart recipe for 15 minute tiramisu.  The secret to 15 minutes--have everything ready to go, of course.  I have adapted the recipe slightly, and I think the results are delicious.  Best of all--you don't cook anything!

Pound Cake Tiramisu

1 and 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz bar cream cheese, at room temperature
5 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
3 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 cup strong coffee or espresso, room temperature
2-3 tablespoons dark rum or brandy
1 loaf pound cake, sliced
1/4 cup shaved semisweet chocolate
Unsweetened cocoa powder for dusting

In a large bowl, beat together with an electric mixture the cream, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla till smooth and thickened.   Combine coffee and rum/brandy.
In a 2 quart baking dish, lay half the cake slices in a single layer, trim to fit.  Brush with half the coffee mixture.  Top with half the cream mixture and half the shaved chocolate.  Repeat.  Dust top with cocoa powder and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

thanksgiving at the house of prime rib

This Thanksgiving Brendan and I went to the House of Prime Rib for our 'fix'.  As many of you know, it is one of our favorite restaurants, and although it is not something to eat everyday, it is at least a couple times a year indulgence and worth every darn fat gram and calorie.

Let me explain.  This temple of old school deliciousness located at 1906 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco was established in 1949 and has been turning out near exacting meals ever since.  Specially selected cuts of beef, salt packed and roasted off to perfection are served with warm loaves of sourdough bread, a house salad tossed (well, spun) table side, creamed spinach, baked potatoes with all the toppings, Yorkshire pudding and pan au jus---all for one reasonable price!  If you have the room, finish with the creme brulee.  This year, Brendan I are giving thanks for many things---but included in that is an enduring friendship with wonderful time shared at a landmark restaurant that also continues to stand the test of time.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

easy and delicious pico de gallo

I love pico de gallo (salsa fresca) and I used to purchase it till I discovered how easy and delicious it is to make at home.  It is a healthy and light go-to condiment that can be used with egg, chicken and pork dishes or just as a snack. This recipe is inspired by a recipe by the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond.  I tweaked it just a little and changed up the quantity more suited for me--when I run out, I just make a new batch!  You can have the fresh salsa fix any time-- the ingredients are readily available all year long.

4-5 Roma tomatoes, diced  (Romas are key because they are firm and hold up well)
1 med yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper chopped very fine
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp of white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp + fine sea salt
Several turns of fresh cracked pepper

Mix together, taste for salt, cover and chill.  Good immediately--terrific the next day!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

perfect butter lettuce salad

I think I have the perfect little French salad--much like the perfect little black dress, it goes with everything, is always appropriate and never goes out of style--such is the classic butter lettuce salad.

I had my first taste of this simply creation several years ago at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco.  So simple as to be deceiving in the flavors, I was determined to recreate it at home and I did.  But of course, over time, other salads from Caesar to arugula to frisee came and went until I was watching one of my favorite chefs, Geoffrey Zakarian talk about butter lettuce as the superior lettuce for both salad and a variety of dishes from burgers to Asian minced lettuce cups--and voila!  My perfect little French salad is back!  Thankfully, it was never really gone for long.

1 head of live butter lettuce (on the roots). Chopped, bagged butter lettuce doesn't work.
Separate leaves, wash and place dry leaves in a bowl.
Splash with small amount of sherry or white wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. (Less than a tbsp or so of each--you can always add more.)
Add small amount of very finely snipped chive. Chervil and parsley may also be used (classic fines herbes blend).  Top with fresh black pepper and a dash of Maldon sea salt.  Toss lightly and serve.

For an extra touch, add toasted/chopped hazelnuts sprinkled on top.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

delicious dining at ziryab in san francisco

Don't wait, don't hesitate--make a date to visit Ziryab at 528 Divisadero Street, SF. This charming neighborhood Mediterranean/Moroccan bar and grill is intimate, alive, energetic and delicious.  The gracious owner Salim Nasser makes everyone feel like a special guest and chef Khalid El Mourabit watches every dish served with an eye for detail.  What works is the great blend of flavors and cultures that span the Mediterranean from Morocco to Greece.  Highlights include the maza sampler with labneh yogurt drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and lemon and the crispy calamari with a preserved lemon aioli, to the grilled lamb meatballs with house made sheep yogurt and the marinated chicken skewers served with roasted garlic and greens--wonderful.  If you have room, the desserts will amaze.