Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tacos and Tecate

I needed a timeout from life today, so I went down the street to the nearest Mexican restaurant, Las Olas, and ordered fish tacos and a tecate.  Las Olas is not amazing, but the nice thing about San Diego is that even the less-amazing Mexican restaurants usually have some redeeming qualities.  In this case, the salsa and the privacy were both compelling reasons to take a seat in the inner courtyard and enjoy my timeout.

While I sat, I got some amazing advice from my cousin Cindy, who said that tacos always taste better with more tecate.  Cindy, this one's for you!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Boeuf Bourguignon

There is a certain synchronicity involved in feeling compelled to blog about Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon.  After all, cooking Julia's boeuf recipe and then blogging about it changed the course of Julie Powell's life... what could it do for mine?  

It had been a while since I read her book and I had not yet seen the movie when I decided to attempt the dish.  Really, I was convinced to give it a go by a food newsletter I receive over email, describing boeuf bourguignon as the perfect comforting meal for a rainy day.  I have lately been obsessed with trying to master kitchen classics ... the perfect loaf of bread, a homemade chicken stock, a roasted chicken.  Boeuf Bourguignon struck me as another such classic for the repertoire and thus struck my fancy.

I stopped at the grocery store on my way home yesterday afternoon, and assembled the ingredients for the afternoon's adventures.  After an hour and a half of prep time in the kitchen, I had successfully fried lardons (after learning what they were), browned 3 lbs of beef, begun a sauce in the drippings, and transferred the whole stew into the stove to quietly develop for 3 hours.  Before I sat down to wait it out, I invited a couple of girl friends over to help me eat and evaluate. 

From the couch, as my boeuf started filling the kitchen with its promises, I turned on Julie & Julia and watched another food-obsessed writer attempt to find the good life via food.


Friday night I ate at Bar Crudo on Divisadero... an homage to raw seafood with a small assortment of hot plates for those needing comfort on a rainy night.  It was rainy, and I did need comfort, so I will skip straight to the chowder.  We split a bowl of seafood chowder, whose delightfully tender mussels, shrimp, squid, and chunks of white fish lingered in a creamy bacony broth.  Though I enjoyed the nuances of the different seafood in every bite, I think I would have preferred a chowder with only those mussels!

Though the chowder was a treat, the highlight for me was the crudo.  Arctic char, with a horseradish cream, wasabi tobiko, and a sprig of dill... just enough dimension with the texture and heat but the char itself was the star.  Nicely done, Bar Crudo.