February 23, 2018

Peruvian Roast Chicken with Garlic and Lime

While this is not the real deal, it’s pretty dang tasty and has a nice little kick to it. Don’t be afraid of the fact that Habanero is used however do wear disposable gloves if possible when handling the chili and touching the marinade. If you don’t be sure not to rub your eyes after working with the chili as the oil may remain on your hands even after washing. This can also be used on a whole chicken.

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 6 medium garlic cloves , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated zest and 1/4 cup juice from 2 limes
  • 1 teaspoon minced Habanero chile
  • Chicken thighs with skin or 1 (3 1/2-to 4-pound) whole chicken

Process all ingredients except chicken in blender until smooth paste forms, 10 to 20 seconds. Spread entire exterior surface of chicken with paste. Place chicken in gallon-size zipper-lock bag and refrigerate at least 6 hours and up to 24 hours.

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees.  Roast chicken in roasting pan with rack. Roast until skin just begins to turn golden and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 140 degrees, 45 to 55 minutes. Carefully remove chicken and pan from oven and increase oven temperature to 500 degrees.

When oven is heated to 500 degrees, place 1 cup water in bottom of pan and return pan to oven. Roast until entire skin is browned and crisp and instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, about 20 minutes (replenish water as necessary to keep pan from smoking).

Box of Wine?

Ah the boxed wine era. Any fan of Dave Chappelle will recall the famous line “Box of wine”. As a child I recall my Aunt returning from a rough day at the office, kicking off her shoes, heading to the refrigerator with her wine glass and dispensing wine from a box. Even as a kid this just seemed wrong. My Uncle will tell you there was nothing better when skiing than a camel bag of boxed wine on the slopes. To me, opening a bottle is similar to opening a present on Xmas day. You need a special tool to cut the foil and pop the cork. The anticipation of what’s inside. A quick sniff test to ensure the wine is true. Poring a glass from the bottle and inspecting it’s character. Enjoying the thought process behind the label. All is lost with box wine. On a recent visit to BevMo I was actually surprised to see there was still box wine available for purchase. I came across an article via sfgate.com titled “Best bets for wine in a box“. Quite the throw back to my youth.

Kathryn Kennedy Winery

Tracy and I were introduced to Kathryn Kennedy wines via Chris Deegan, Wine Director at Nopa Restaurant in San Francisco. Over the years Chris has introduced us to numerous fabulous wines from around the globe. I’ve always been very impressed with Chris, his staff, and the selections included on their list. It’s not huge (roughly 10 pages) however very concise. I’ve encountered lists reminiscent of an encyclopedia of 50 plus pages ranging from $50 to $5000 a bottle. Seriously? I enjoy Nopa’s wine selection as Chris really tends to focus on a small selection of great wines vs an huge listing of items one may never enjoy in their lifetime. Over the years we have enjoyed the Kathryn Kennedy Small Lot Cabernet, Estate Cabernet, and Contra la Marea, each unique in it’s own way. I recently received an email from Marty Mathis with a video celebrating his Mother, Katheryn Kennedy and the wines they produce. I enjoyed the video very much and wanted to share. The wines they produce are amazing and I wish t0 thank Marty for continuing to make such wonderful wines, and thank Chris for exposing us to what has become one of our favorite wineries.

What’s for Dinner?

It’s Friday night, and you just don’t know what to make for dinner. I was not inspired tonight so gave up and picked up Chinese. If the creative juices just won’t flow, visit this link for some random inspiration. Every now and then a good one pops up!

Italian Wine Specialist Certificate

Looking to expand your knowledge of Italian wines? Why not jump in and experience all that Italy has to offer without leaving the city. The North American Sommelier Association will transform you into an expert in just four days. Spaces still available at Perbacco in San Francisco. Full details on the NASA site. Salute!

SPQR Shots

A quick unplanned visit to SPQR in San Francisco. As usual, snapping a quick photo of all things yummy placed before me or in my vicinity.


Crab Toast with Fennel Fronds & Aioli

I made this dish over the weekend and it was so great, we abandoned dinner and just ate these.

For the topping….

  • 8 ounces crab meat, picked over for shells
  • 1/4 cup fennel fronds (just the fronds and no stems)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped, seeded serrano chile
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Koshers salt
  • 4 (3/4-inch-thick) slices sourdough bread
For the Aioli…
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, grated with a micro plane
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
In a large bowl, gently combine crab meat, fennel fronds, serrano chile, olive oil, and salt to taste; set aside. To make the Aioli, Place mustard, garlic, lemon juice, and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender; process to combine. Add egg and, with the motor running, slowly add oil until mixture is thickened and emulsified. Aioli can be stored in an airtight container, refrigerated, for up to 2 days. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drizzle bread olive oil. Add bread and cook, turning once, until golden and crisp on each side. Remove bread from skillet and spread one side of each slice with aioli; top with crab mixture. Cut each slice of bread into halves or quarters. Serve immediately.

Rendezvous Tapas Lounge

Chef Mattin Noblia, former Top Chef contestant, has landed at Rendezvous Tapas Lounge. The space is nothing special, drafty and warehouse like. After being seated, it was a long wait before our server appeared. We placed our order and 30 minutes later we were alerted the ticket printer was offline and no one had noticed. How does a kitchen not realize a printer is offline for 30 minutes? First to arrive was the Red Lentil Soup with Coconut Milk, Creme Fraiche and Cilantro. Rather disappointing and lacking any real flavor at all. Completely under seasoned. The Coconut flavor did not come through and the Cilantro was simply a sprig placed on top for garnish hence not lending any flavor. Next up, Lamb Sliders with Shallot Jam & Aioli on a Brioche bun. These were fairly decent however again very under seasoned. All you could really taste was the sweetness of the Jam and you knew you were eating lamb. The Chicken Skewers (ground Chicken shaped into a ball) with Mint Yogurt dipping sauce arrived next. Once again, no flavor at all. The sauce was so neutral, it simply added a small amount of moisture to a fairly dry item. Up last the French Fries. These were reminiscent of what Grandma served me as a child. Thin frozen fries from a bag. The Sangria, on a scale of 1 to 10 would be a 5. If you enjoy fruit in your Sangria, you’ll feel something lacking here. The front of house staff was friendly and greeted us however the rest of the staff definitely needs to work towards becoming a well oiled machine. That said, I think Rendezvous has potential if they were to expand the menu to include authenticate Tapas dishes (similar to Zarzuela’s Menu), taste the food they are sending out and adjust the seasoning, work on the atmosphere, considering loosing the large screen TV’s, and warm the place up. Dim the lights, and add some candles.


7th Annual Pinot Days at Fort Mason

A few years back I was driving past the Fort Mason area. I noticed people were happy, too happy. Some were down right sloshed. I did some research and learned of the Pinot Days event held at Fort Mason. It’s that time of the year again and in it’s 7th year still going strong.  June 18th, 1:00 to 5:00 PM at Fort Mason. $50 bucks entrance fee, 200 winemakers. sounds like a great way to spend a day. Grab your tickets here.

Tuna…Or Not To Tuna…That Is The Question

I love my Bluefin Tuna in a really big way. Seared, Sushi, Sashimi, I’m all over it. Can I live without it? Absolutely not. Now if you told me that I would never taste Bluefin Tuna again because it was being over fished to near extinction, would I change my Tune? Absolutely. Thinking back to the last year or two, Salmon was a tough commodity to come by while the numbers were down. Bluefin Tuna numbers are down 80% yet we continue to pluck them from the sea without thought as to the future. Carl Safina has an interesting article published at huffingtonpost.com on the topic. In Danger? Yes. Endangered?  Not yet. What now?

Kim Alter – Surfacing?

You may recall the staff walk out lead by Chef Kim Alter of the Plate Shop in Sausalito earlier in May. I’ve had my fingers crossed in hopes that she will land soon & remain local to the San Francisco Bay Area. In the short time The Plate Shop was open, I simply fell in love with the Crunchy Pigs Ears, the Smoked Risotto with Urchin, and lets not forget that incredibly simply yet addictive Monkey Bread! So good in fact I order another serving! Tablehopper.com has posted some information today hinting chef Jeremy Fox will be serving up at Saison from June 14th-18th with Kim by his side. Reserve your seats now!

A New Edge In Town

I recently learned of Town Cutler via a Twitter post. Located at 1005 Bush Street in San Francisco, they offer an assortment of  steel and Damascus blades along with a selection of vintage/antique items as well. Sharpening services are offered while you wait. 1000 grit whetstone wheel followed by a 10,000 grit hand finish. I’ve contacted shop owner Galen Garretson in hopes of snapping some photos & video of his sharpening technique on my knives which are ready for a new edge. Stay tuned.

Don’t Toss That Cork!

Got corks? What now? Save them? Toss them? ReCORK them! Each time I visit my favorite restaurant Nopa in San Francisco, I order a great bottle of wine. After opening, tasting and pouring, the cork vanishes. Where do they disappear to and what are they used for? I asked and was informed of ReCORK. Cork is re-usable so save those corks and get with the program! Public drop off centers can be located on the ReCORK website.

Wayfare Tavern – Saturday Lunch Anyone?

Tyler Florence, or TyFlo as I prefer to call him, announced today Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco’s Financial District will serve lunch on Saturdays with service beginning at 11:00 AM. I’ve been to Wayfare many times for dinner via the waiting list which at times exceeded 2.5 hours or more. Just enough time to wash down a Martini or two and get ready for that amazing Beef Tartar with garlic oil popovers or the Bone Marrow aptly named “The Bone”. It’s good to know that you can still nab a seat early in the day. Oh ya and while I use Open Table any chance I get….good luck getting you last minute seats via the online reservation system.

TV’s Tough Guy Goes Bananas

The toughest chef on TV has gone Bananas….with chocolate chips and walnuts to be exact. Chef Gordon Ramsay has posted his recipe for the world to view. While Chef Ramsay is known for his hot temper and his wonderful vocabulary, apparently he decided to share his sweeter side with us today. When life gives you Bananas…make Banana Bread!

Michael Chiarello and Elizabeth Falkner – Iron Chef

Well whatcha’ know? Ladies and Gentleman, I present your next Iron Chefs…Michael Chiarello & Elizabeth Falkner. Catch them as they go up against eight other celebrity chefs. Be sure to catch the action on Sunday October 30th. Catch the full scoop here.

The American Grilled Cheese in SF – Da’ Bomb!

Been to The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen yet? If not, you’re in for a real treat. The line…insane! We popped in around 12:15 all tables in and out full however definitely worth the wait. Mousetrap with bacon – yummy in my tummy. Food takes longer to prepare than I thought, however I’ll take perfectly melted cheese over a rush job any day. Checkout the website for a full menu or do the tweety thing of face thing.

S. Pellegrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World – Sans French Laundry

S. Pellegrino has released their top 50 restaurants in the world. Guess who didn’t make the cut? You guessed it, The French Laundry. Listed as their top pick and winner this year is Noma. All the info posted here on their website. A quick listing of the winners is here.

2007 La Jota Cabernet – Nice!

Upon a recent visit to El Paseo in Mill Valley, our server Steve stated he was out of a few wines and challenged me to find the bottles. I stumbled upon the 2007 La Jota Cabernet from Howell Mountain. WOW! $95 at the restaurant, $65 retail, a great bottle of wine. Deep, dense,  rich, with dark berry flavors. Paired wonderfully with the Rib-eye. If you find a bottle, grab it!!

Cheap or Expensive…Can You Tell?

SlashFood posted an interesting article on Cheap vs. Expensive wines (expensive being $50 a bottle). Most people were unable to tell the good from the bad. If you really enjoy wine (as I do), you can tell the difference. My Girlfriend who barely consumed wine before meeting me is now a certified wine snob. When she read the article she was shocked. Granted we both feel that those who participated are likely acquainted with budget minded wines.

Food for the Dude

Lookie here. A food site just for the dude in your life. Food Republic was founded on the idea that guys everywhere are putting food at the center of their lives like never before. This is the site for men who want to eat and drink well, and to live smart.

4th Annual Oyster Feast at Chandon Winery

Enjoy live music, sparkling wine and oysters on Domaine Chandon’s scenic terrace in Napa Valley while helping one of the city’s most distinguished charitable organizations Meals on Wheels. Ticket price of $60 per couple includes a dozen oysters and two glasses of bubbles. Single tickets available for $45 and include a dozen oysters and one glass of bubbles. Sunday April 17th – 12 to 5 PM. Tickets

Ferry Plaza: Get your Goat on

Baby Goats running around the Ferry Plaza? It’s true. Just look out….they eat anything small enough to fit into that silly little mouth. Find them this weekend at the Ferry Plaza Goat Festival. http://ht.ly/4AAP2

Mission Cheese – Now Open

Hallelujah and Amen brother! The long awaited (at least for this guy) Mission Cheese opened it’s doors to the public on April 13th. Great Q&A with Sarah Dvorak posted on sfgate.com Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11-8. 736 Valencia St. San Francisco, CA 94117

SF Chefs Unite

Ready for some great food and looking to make a difference at the same time? Join some of San Francisco’s Chefs on May 7th & 8th for a cocktail reception and a six course Japanese inspired meal. Tickets are $150 per person. More info here and purchase tickets here. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Northern Japan Earthquake Relief Fund.

New Diggs in the Mission: Commonwealth SF

Commonwealth, located near the corner of Mission and 18th, is worth the trip. Dishes prepared by Chef Jason Fox offer a fusion of flavors throughout his many creations.

On our recent visit after reviewing the “A la carte” menu,  we opted for the full experience be selecting the tasting menu accompanied by the offered wine paring which allowed us to enjoy the same dishes and compare thoughts. Throughout the night you will inevitably find yourself glancing at nearby table to sneak a glimpse of the various dishes arriving from the kitchen. The two gents seated adjacent had a great move of their own ordering four courses each, swapping plates at the half point, experience eight dishes in total. An interesting way to go. For the tasting menu I found a fair amount of of Asian (Japanese) influence in the dishes which I felt would make for an interesting paring with the courses.

Immediately after ordering arrived the Amuse-bouche which was unexpected. A very thinly sliced portion of Fluke crudo placed upon a large slate.  This was paired with a flute of Cava which worked well with this dish and was refreshing.

Next up was the Summer Squash Soup. Nice and refreshing and paired well the Pinot Grigio which was poured along side. I enjoyed this dish very much. The summer squash blossom that accompanied was very tasty and lightly fried until crisp and golden. Chilled soup in the winter seemed odd however after moving past this, I enjoyed the dish.

Soon to follow was the Foie Gras which I was very much looking forward to. when the opportunity presents itself, you’ll find me relishing in this soon to be extinct delicacy. The Fioe Gras was sliced into a disc and plated with a thin spreading of Umeboshi below. I found the Umeboshi to be rather over powering, a little too sour which I believe masked the true flavor of the main ingredient. The seaweed brioche that accompanied was interesting. Rather than a light crispness, they were a bit soggy, likely from the water content of the seaweed.

On to the Abalone course. Of all this dishes, I was looking forward to this the most as I wanted to see how one could pair Abalone with a chicken jus. The dish worked however there was a hint of something that I did not enjoy. It was difficult to pin point however lent a slightly “plastic taste”. This was a turn off and smashed my high hopes for the dish.

The following Sweetbreads were simply heaven. Given the opportunity I would order an entire entree. The roasted small whole peppers were a nice contrast lending almost a southwest experience to the dish and a wonderful aroma. Sweetbreads were crispy and great. Wine pairing this dish – two thumbs down. Was a Monastrell which tasted similar to a mix of Vermouth and Sherry. Possibly a small 1 or 1/2 ounce pour here is all that was needed however a half glass was difficult to get down. Personally I think a very light Pinot would have paired well here.

Plum Sorbet – Spot on. Very refreshing and incredible plum taste. I expected the sorbet to be washed out given the light flavoring of a plum in its natural state. Chef Fox was able to super concentrate the flavors which really worked. Although placed on a base of almond granita, the simple flavors of the plum did not require any additional components.

For desert, Mille-Feuille. I’m not sure which side of the fence here. If you love a deep rich desert this is it. Serving size was very generous for a tasting portion and was challenging to finish. The paired Grenache was nice, however sweeter than I like given the already sweet characteristic of the dish. Burnt Honey ice cream was fabulous and a larger portion would help the remainder of the dish go down.

Personally I would skip the wine paring and go with one nice bottle. A Cava would go nicely from start to finish with the dishes on the tasting menu. Wine list stuck me as one in need of some direction however this is open to opinion based on tastes. I’m not sure why many new restaurants offer a Cab Franc so often and eliminate Cab’s, Merlots, and Pinots from the wine program. Guess it’s the new thing.

Pros – Nice clean simple interior. Open space, and the disco ball in the skylight is a nice touch that works believe it or not. Sexiness of the space comes alive at dusk as the lighting is very minimal and candlelight prevails. The location actually has roughly 10 parking spaces if you arrive early which I was not expecting. Friendly staff, everyone enjoyable. $10 of each tasting is donated to local charity which I find a great move.

Cons – Tables are close together requiring them to be moved to enter/exit. Not a fan of someone’s junk in my face as they exit for the restroom while popping a dish into my mouth. Sometimes this can’t be avoided however removing just one table along the wall would remedy the problem. Wine program could be reworked in my opinion however does offer a nice price cap at about $60-70 per bottle and does include bottles in the $30 range. Entry area offers very limited standing room with an inward opening door, which causes cold air to rush in as people shift as someone enters. No espresso machine which rules out the possibilities of Espresso, Latte, Cappuccino etc. No real “house” or “signature” cocktails other than the Narwhal, which the couple next to us ordered. Not really a drink more of a frozen foam concoction.