Sunday, March 9, 2014

the treasure island flea in san francisco

I just recently had my first visit to Treasure Island--well the Treasure Island Flea to be precise.  I know, how is that possible during all the years I have lived in San Francisco that I had not made it to Treasure Island?  Well it might be that I had no particular reason to go until I heard about the flea that takes place the last weekend of each month.  The flea, located at the beautifully landscaped address of 1 Avenue of the Palms, utilizes the only historic building left from the 1939 San Francisco World's Fair.  The building is complete with original lighting, wood paneling, deco curves and a mural featuring a timeline of historic events.  Check out this YouTube video of the original 1939 World's Fair.  The view of the San Francisco skyline from this perspective is not to be missed--it's spectacular!   Booth space for the flea is available both indoor and outside,  music and drink abound plus some of the best food trucks around.  Admission is $3 and parking is free.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

the valley of amazement and a recipe for pork wontons

To celebrate Amy Tan's latest book, The Valley of Amazement, I prepared some homemade Chinese food for the book group. The book is a non-stop read, spanning three generations of women whose lives and stories of love and loss intertwine from China to San Francisco and back. I prepared  my own version of cashew chicken, marinated thigh meat tossed with thinly sliced baby zucchini and onion, beef chow fun made with pappardelle and thinly sliced bok choy, and of course a hit at every party, crispy pork wontons.  You might think 48 pieces is more than enough, but guess what, ever bite disappears!

Pork Wonton Recipe:

1 lb fresh ground pork
1/3 cup chopped green onion
5-6 oz of water chestnuts, drained
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. corn starch
½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic chili paste
½ tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp. minced garlic
1 egg, beaten
Vegetable oil
1 package wonton skins

In a small food processor, blend water chestnuts  and green onion till rough paste. In a mixing bowl, add all the other ingredients except the egg and oil.  Add the green onion mixture and mix well.  Cook a small piece of the meat mixture in the microwave to taste for seasoning—and add if needed.

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or foil—spray with non-stick spray.  Lay out a wonton wrapper, moisten 2 sides with beaten egg, add tsp of pork filling, fold over, seal well and pull points of wonton up into a little U.  Place on cookie sheet and repeat.  Recipe will make 45-50 wontons.  You can cook them immediately or the wontons can be covered with foil and frozen on cookie sheets till ready to use.  Fry in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot in oil heated to 350 degrees till golden brown and serve with favorite sauces (hot mustard, sweet and sour sauce, garlic chili sauce, etc.)

To stack cookie sheets in a small freezer, use a couple of small bowls as risers.
 Frozen wontons go from the freezer directly into the fryer with no problem.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

recipe for peruvian beans

There is something very comforting about a pot of warm beans.  There are lots of great canned beans out there and I certainly use them--but when I discovered how simple and easy it is to make a batch of beans--ready for an instant snack, burrito, taco or side dish, I was hooked.  The Peruvian beans are very tasty, but this recipe works for pinto beans and white beans as well.  Try them all!
12-16 oz. Peruvian beans
1 yellow onion, very small dice
6 garlic gloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper

Rinse the beans in cold water, to remove any dirt or shell.  Place beans, onion and garlic in a large 4-5 quart heavy pot or Dutch oven.  Add the olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper and cover with water—approx. 4 inches over the top of the beans. Stir to combine.   Bring to a boil, then lower temperature to a simmer and cover.  Cook for approx. 2 hours, checking frequently that all the water does not evaporate--add water if necessary—otherwise beans will stick and burn (you want them to be saucy). When done, taste for salt and add as needed.

Beans will be saucy and soft.   For a delicious bite, drizzle with melted butter and wrap in warm flour tortillas or drain, rough smash and saute to create refried beans for your favorite dish.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

allegro romano restaurant in san francisco

Had dinner the other night at one of San Francisco’s gem restaurants, Allegro RomanoThis charming jewel box space located at Jones and Broadway is well known to insiders and is a favorite spot for local concierges to recommend for a delicious and intimate dinner.  For us, it was the perfect space for a birthday dinner for six.

Under chef-owner Lorenzo Logoreci, this 32 seat space feels like you have stepped into a small Roman restaurant.  We immediately started with the grilled bruschetta with garlic and tomatoes followed with beef carpaccio with truffle oil.  Other dishes that made it around the table were rigatoni with pancetta (house specialty), Dover sole over black olive risotto and a Black Angus filet with porcini mushrooms and Barolo sauce.  Knock out pasta dish—fettuccini alfredo with freshly shaved truffles—special that night, and absolutely delicious!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

diane gilman makes the best jeans

Courtesy HSN:
"Fascinating!"  said a group of TV executives on a flight from New York who recognized Diane Gilman as the "Queen of Jeans" with over one million loyal "Boomer Consumers" on HSN. For the next few hours we volleyed around the idea of my own reality show about the unique advantages of being a Baby Boomer and breaking through the age barrier:  I was asked, "When are you going to stop making jeans for old ladies?"  I had to laugh. "Honey," I replied, "there is nothing old about making ladies feel sexy at any age." Challenge yourself to break through the preconceived ideas handed down to us as women. As if you're in your fifth, sixth, or seventh decade, you must be "an old lady." Forget it! Just like Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier, my mission is to break through the age barrier by redefining what's sexy for Baby Boomer women now.  ( Best jeans for every age!)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

cafe midi and laurel hardware in la

No trip to LA is complete without a couple of good restaurant sightings and this recent trip was no exception.  Brendan took me to lunch at an unique spot on Le Brea, Maison Midi and Café Midi.

You enter through a wonderful store, Maison Midi, chalk full of retro home décor, tabletop and kitchen/dining goodies worthy of any Parisian mercantile.  In the back of the store is a charming French bistro called Café Midi. The menu boasts no less than 49 different salads, each more interesting than the next, dozens of sandwiches and burgers and of course a selection of croques-monsieur--I had the tuna and avocado croque-monsieur, smothered in melted Gruyere--the ultimate French toasted cheese!

Brendan and I celebrated his birthday at another interesting store transformed into a restaurant called Laurel Hardware on Santa Monica in West Hollywood.  The original hardware storefront gives way to a cool club/dining room with outdoor patio seating in the back.  Highlights included the lollipop sprout salad with avocado and pumpkin seeds, the beef cheeks, so tender you could cut them with your fork, and the thin crust pizza--we had the homemade sausage with rapini and red onions--all washed down with organic cucumber vodka, fresh juiced watermelon and lime.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

1950's bascal aluminum cups

I recently found myself reminiscing about a certain jewel colored metal cup that I drank from growing up.  But the memory was foggy--who had them?  My mom or grandmother?  Where did they originally come from and who made them?

I shared with my boss and dear friend Nancy Morgan, the procurer of all things unique and beautiful, that if she ever ran across these cups in her travels please pick them up--and not soon after she did indeed find a set of 6 near perfect Bascal cups.

Now I needed to do the research.  It turns out that the cups were made in Italy by 2 main companies, Bascal and Sunburst. The aluminum was anodized to keep the metal from oxidizing and to keep the jewel like colors from fading.  The cups were the plastic ware of the times--perfect for outdoor barbecues, picnics and camping.  The most amazing thing about the cups is the amount of cold that they produce.  Add a beverage and the metal creates instant condensation and a sublime icy drink.

Now, where did I remember them from?  Well my mother said they belonged to my grandmother and she kept them in the camper--and that statement brought the memory right back --I could then see them in that little upper cabinet over the tiny camper stove.  I remembered drinking the Hawaiian Punch.  I have read on the web that they came from the grocery store--a few articles say they may have contained cottage cheese.  Mom said they might have been available with Green Stamps--a popular shopping outlet at the time. So, still a little mystery there, but how wonderful to have the memory back and a set of beautiful cups as well.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

birthday celebration in san francisco, monterey and carmel

It was my birthday last weekend and my parents were here to help me celebrate.  You plan and plan and anticipate and prepare it seems (and is) for weeks, and it is over in the blink of an eye. But what a great time we had.

Mom and Dad came down to the San Francisco Design Center on Friday to visit me and get a tour of the Showcase and Galleria. We also went to Restoration Hardware which is truly one of the most beautiful showrooms in the city.  We had a delightful lunch at Perry's--I had delicious ahi tuna poke tacos and mom's chicken/avocado BLT was very good as well.  A little shopping, relaxing and off to dinner at Sodini's in North Beach.  As you may know, I love the old school restaurants and Sodini's is one of my favorites in North Beach--a little slice of history started in 1907.  Start with the calamari or mixed frito misto.  I happily move on to my favorite dish, the fresh clams and linguine, a creamy dish of garlicky goodness. You also can't go wrong with the carbonara or tortellini and the pizzas are devine.  A couple glasses of smooth Merlot doesn't hurt either.  Stop for gelato down the street, Sodini's doesn't take reservations and they don't serve dessert, they just do dinner very well.

Saturday, we went down the coast, stopping at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, enjoying a great key lime pie at lunch at The Fish Hopper on Cannery Row in Monterey, down 17 Mile Drive and into Carmel.  On the way we stopped at the farmer's stands outside of Watsonville.  We picked up artichokes, strawberries, grapefruits and the most amazing crisp/sweet red cherries--I am still enjoying them.  I just wish great weekends like this lasted as long.