Tuesday, April 19, 2011

the first day of spring in san francisco

The first ray of spring has stealthily found its way out of heavy clouds and damp fog. The temperature is now a bearable 68 degrees and the cold harsh wind has let up some. This is the time you find San Franciscans awaken from their hibernation and stumble out blindly as their eyes meet a strange light - sunlight.

Wanting to share in this wakening of spring, brunch on a lazy Sunday morning seem most appropriate. Bar Tartine, I hear, is the perfect setup to for this occasion. The scuffed window pane walls allow for people gawking and  basking in the late morning light.

French Toast - toasted walnuts, bananas

Eggs Benedict - brioche, smoked ham, arugula

Sunbather in Mission District

Nothing fell short of expectations besides the french toast. It much resembled biting into a wet mop, not that I've experienced it, but you get my drift. The word on the street is the foi gras panini is to die for, which sadly, sold out. Maybe next time, Bar Tartine. As of now, I'm content. Life is good.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A sad day

I'm a little disheartened.

No, I'm in gut-wrenching pain.

I just got wind that El Bulli - my honeymoon and have to try before I die restraurant is shutting its doors. Not only have I been plotting and planning for the day that I would float into the fabled El Bulli, I've even marked it on my calendar with a black X. What is one to do when dreams and aspirations are punctured by the mercurial claws of misfortune himself?

Pick another one?

Denmark's Noma may hold the title of Best in World for 2 years straight, besting El Bulli in 2010, but El Bulli is the Godfather of moleculargastronomy and no neophyte can replace that designation. If not Noma, then which will I aspire to? #2 and #3 fall to Spanish restaurants El Celler de Can Roca and Mugaritz. Alinea in Chicago attained 5th place, a head above New York's Per Se (I was hoping French Laundry would have earned top 10, at least). There's Quay, best in Australia. Where do I go and what do I eat? How does one choose?

If only... El Bulli ..

Friday, April 8, 2011

Food Happenings LA and then some

 My trip to LA consisted of eating again, not surprisingly. Being the selfless being that I am, one must share some hidden gems and not so hidden ones.

Sung Ha Jang, a duck lover's hedonistic realm where the duck comes many ways. The only Korean bbq in LA that serves slices of flavorful bird frying in its own fat. As you can well imagine, the duck fat never ceases to flow.
The bubbling puddle of fat is then used to make a cloyingly rich fried rice with kimchi, leeks and spices.

Tip #1: Ask server to spoon out excess oil before adding rice
Tip #2: Be kind enough not to bring parents with high cholesterol or pacemakers

Sun Ha Jang
4032 W. Olympic Boulevard.
Los Angeles, CA 90006
(323) 634-9292

Playa, made its debut recently with a bang and lives up to its hype. To be pronounced [plah’-yah] and not mistaken for the word "player", which I learned the hard way whilst on a Playa Del Carmen excursion.

The Grail - 12 year apple brandy, malbec, pressed lady apple, Don’s mix, cane cola, apple espuma, dehydrated apple chip

                                  Tortillas Florales - maize cakes with organic flower petals, indian butter
Start the meal off with these perfectly made tortillas. The gritty texture of freshly ground corn flour still steaming from the cast iron skillet pairs flawlessly with the silky guacamole Indian butter.

                      Maize Cake Breakfast  - 63° egg, pan-seared potato, truffle cheese espuma, market mushrooms
Egg, truffle, and cheese....need I say more?

Tamalli Chipotle  - wild-mushroom duxelles dumpling, filet mignon, chipotle bĂ©arnaise
This glorified tamale with tender cuts of charred filet oozing out of its husk is not to be missed.

            Arroz con Pato  - duck confit, baby vegetable pickles, arroz blanco jus, fresno chiles, chives, micro cilantro
Probably the best preparation of duck confit. No knife is needed as the meat falls apart with the nudge of a fork and the skin is baked to crispy perfection.

                                        Chiles Gueros Rellenos - tempura chiles, crab, corn, soy, ginger, scallion
I don't mean to wax poetic of Playa's dishes, but God, every dish is a hit. This tempura style chile can put any izakaya to shame with its light and airy batter.

                                                   7360 Beverly Boulevard
                                                Los Angeles  (323) 933-5300

My LA trip ended with a pit stop at Tartine. The Lemon Meringue Cake, with its meringue either torched or baked to a slight char will make even the most finicky mouths smile.