Monday, April 25, 2011

Off the Grid

Thursday night, I met some friends for dinner at that mecca for street food lovers, Off the Grid in Upper Haight.  I had to take two full laps to carefully consider the menus of the many trucks that flanked the cordoned-off section of Waller Street.  I could not resist ordering the tikka masala burrito from Curry Up Now, but also sampled a couple of delicious items from Seoul on Wheels, including a Korean BBQ beef burrito that might be at the top of my must-eat list next time. 

Speaking of next time ... anyone up for dinner this Thursday?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Blueberry oatmeal cookies

Yesterday I took a quick time-out to bake cookies.  We have an oatmeal cookie recipe in our family that is dead-on, dependably delicious every time.  Occasionally someone tweaks them and adds raisins, but I have been a lover of the straight-up, plain oatmeal option... until last night.  I added dried blueberries and came up with a new Top Cookie.  Come by and get one before they are gone!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Every once in a while, a girl needs a good burger.  (Preferably one made with grass fed beef by a butcher she trusts.)  My close friend Kristi feels the same way (maybe not about the grass fed part), so we have planned a burger tour to get some quality time on the calendar while sampling one of the city's current culinary crazes. 

Our first stop was Marlowe, a bistro concept that brings farm-fresh ingredients to an industrial-chic space near the CalTrain station.  In addition to sharing the burger (served with cheddar, bacon, and caramelized onions and a horseradish aioli on the side), we had a couple of killer apps.  Spicy jumbo prawns were served alongside a mason jar filled with "hot and boozy" cocktail sauce, a blend of mezcal, tomato, celery, and spice that evoked a bloody mary.  At the server's recommendation, we also tried the steak tartare, which did not top Bix's version but still struck a nice balance with the poached quail egg and fresh cracked pepper on a light bed of arugula. 

My favorite component of the meal was the wine, however. Whenever I see the Unti Petit Frere on the menu, I leap for this reasonably priced Dry Creek blend.  It opens up so nicely after a glass... just like conversation with a close friend.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Tonnarelli in squid ink
 Tuesday we had a late night dinner date at A16.  As excited as I was to feast my eyes upon the deep Italian wine list, I wasn't sure the trek across town would be worth it.  I left, however, wondering why I don't do it more often.

First up, we selected a wine, choosing an Aglianico del Vulture lauded by our server for its complexity and "wow" factor. He almost teared up describing it to us, which was good enough for me to take a chance ... especially since I have never met a Basilicata I didn't like.

Wine in hand, we negotiated how to best sample from the menu and selected two small pasta plates as well as a pizza.  The pizza arrived first: a bianca with green olives, chiles, and basil.  Those ingredients created a medley of texture and heat, the mozzarella brilliantly married with the grana, and the pizza overall delivered a savory, rich flavor that was more than the sum of its parts.  As much as I would like to be tired of talking about pizza, I definitely have to keep this one top of mind.  The crust was light, crispy, chewy, and nicely blistered and held up well as we worked our way through slice after slice.

We also sampled two small plates of pasta, one a tonnarelli in squid ink with sea urchin, chile and tomato, and the other the highly regarded housemade maccaronara in ragu napoletana with ricotta salata.  While the chewiness of the maccaronara matched up well against the bright tang of the tomato ragu, the tonnarelli was my surprise favorite of the two.  Notably briny and refreshing, it was almost as fun as swimming in the ocean.

A16 thrilled and delighted on this visit and I will definitely be making plans to return again soon.  Hopefully we can make it a standing date!

Maccaronara with ricotta salata