Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What I'm Reading Today

My last post of 2008. Thanks for reading, commenting (the **very* few of you), and telling me in person how much you enjoy the blog. Hope your 2009 is full of lots of cooking and fantastic eating.

The folks at the SF Chronicle spent some time compiling their 2009 Foodie Wish List. Some of the items come from the paper's food writers and others come from locals in the food biz. My favorites on the list? More soft serve ice cream in restaurants (I miss having a local DQ), less small plates, better nutritional education for kids, and down with the burgers at $20 and over. It's a fun read.

At the end of every December the LA Times compiles their top recipes of the year. I've been reading this articles for ages. When my grandmother used to winter in SoCal, she'd cut it out and send it to us. Yes, my family has always been a little crazy about the Wednesday food section! This year I'm liking Midnight Chocolate Brownie Bites and the Maple Bacon Biscuits I wrote about earlier this year and still haven't made.

Anyone that goes to the Dining section of the NY Times today could guess in a minute what I am loving there. Fleur de Sel Caramels. I am sure by next year some list will include our over-doing the combination of salt and caramel but I can't imagine anytime in a my life where I get stick of this duo. One of my all time favorite combinations.

I know the name is weird-Weiner Schnitzel. However, if you call it crispy breaded veal scallopini, it probably sounds great, right? This recipe from the Washington Post is a really simple weeknight dish and, if you don't do veal, it works nicely with chicken breast of medallions of pork tenderloin. Call it what you want, just give it a try.

Happy Cooking in 2009!


Monday, December 29, 2008

Holiday Sticky Buns

I don't watch TV during the day unless I'm sick or, it's Saturday, the house is empty, and I can turn on the PBS cooking shows. So, I'm not sure why I had Martha Stewart on a week or two before Christmas. She was hosting an adorable baker named Seth Greenberg of Seth Greenberg's Just Dessert's. He is a Scarsdale based baker who creates his delicious looking baked goods out of his home. He and Martha had a four segment session where they prepared his mini-sticky buns. They looked FANTASTIC, albeit a labor of love as the real recipe takes two days to prepare.

Having worked in the kitchens of the Food Network, I know the magic of the 'beauty shot'. This is the finished product, meticulously prepared by the show's kitchen staff, used for the camera shots at the end of the segment (and sometimes at the beginning). Martha did have a lovely plate of the sticky buns to show before she and Seth started working. But, she was also supposed to pull the through-the-magic-of-television finished buns out of the oven at the end. Well, she opened that baby and was apparently greeted with a burning smoking mess. She recovered nicely and I giggled to myself seeing seemingly perfect Martha find the words to cover this one up.

Burned mess or not, I decided to tackle the buns. The first time it was with my mom in Seattle. We divided the job and came out with what I thought were adorable and really tasty little pecan cinnamon bites. I made them last week too. I brought a few pans to friends so they could bake them on Christmas morning and a pan for our family as well. Sadly, mine didn't rise enough. They tasted lovely (a bit sweet for me) and looked fine but, for two days of work, I'm not sure.

I am always on the hunt for a the perfect American style cinnamon roll and this just wasn't it. Recipe or bakery, I'm there. Any hints????

Hope your holidays were are sweet and wonderful as mine.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What I'm Reading Today

Well, it's Christmas Eve and tonight will be the 4th night of Hanukkah. Happy Holidays to everyone!

With a sick husband, no presents wrapped, and food to cook I still managed to sneak in some reading of the food sections this morning.

I'm in a Crab and Shrimp kind of mood. I dashed out to Swan Oyster Depot this morning to pick up mounds of fresh cracked crab and shrimp for dinner tonight. If I have any shrimp left, I'm all over this Shrimp Hoagie with Spicy Remoulade and Cherry Tomatoes from today's SF Chronicle. Totally my kind of sandwich with a perfect contrast of tastes, textures, and temperature. Yum!

Roasted Hedgehog Potatoes sounds odd, right? Think small Yukon Gold's sliced about 90% through on the horizontal so they look like a fan. Now tuck Bay and Thyme into the potatoes, drizzle them with olive oil and roast. These are often called Hasselback potatoes and I've never tried them. Might just do it tonight! Thank you LA Times!

Chowder-I love it! Clam, shrimp, corn...you name it, I am a fan. I don't like it too thick but too thin is a serious dissapointment too. Today's NY Times has a recipe for Manhattan Bay Scallop Chowder that looks amazing. Note: "Manhattan" chowder is tomato based, not cream based but, this combo of plump juicy scallops, bacon, and fennel will be perfect in a tomato broth. If you're not a scallop person, I think clams or shrimp would be great in here too.

You probably have your Christmas brunch menu all figured out. If so, save this for another day. If not, why not make Emily Luchetti's Cinnamon Sugar Toast from today's Washington Post? You can make a big batch by doing it in the oven. Who doesn't have childhood memories of this sugary sweet breakfast treat?

Happy Holiday Cooking!

Friday, December 19, 2008

What Was the Best Thing you Ate All Year?

With 2008 coming to a close, the newpaper, magazine, and blog world are all full of lists. I've been seeing many people posting the question I did: "What was the best thing you ate all year?". Not only is this a fun question to answer but, it actually prompts you to post a comment. After almost 100 posts, my comments have sadly dwindled. I know you're out there and I want to hear from you.

For me this is a seriously hard question so I have to answer with a list. As I type it, a favorite might jump out for now, I'm taking the easy way out (and these are not in any particular order). If we dined together in 2008 and you see that I'm forgetting something, jump in and remind me.

1) I really loved that fruit galette I made last summer. The original post with the recipe is here. If you're anything like me you'll starting counting down the days until summer fruit is back

2) The Momofuku Ramen and Pork Steamed Buns and New York's Momofuku Noodle. I have craved this meal on every cold day since we returned from the city. Just smelling that broth put me over the edge.

3) The first time I made Bon Appetit's Orzo with Creamed Corn Sauce it was the height of summer with farmer's market corn. Rich, sweet, and delicious. This is the perfect summer side. For some reason I can't find the recipe on Epicurious. I have a hard copy and will post it when corn is back.

4) The Panzarotti at Pizzeria Delfina on California street. Picture a mini (say two bite) calzone filled with melting cheese and the best pepperoni ever (I don't usually even like the stuff). Now, deep fry it (I know...) and serve it on a bed of perfect tomato sauce. Four in an order is never enough. I could eat these every day. Thank god I don't.

5) The Panzanella salad at Redd in Yountville. This was one of those incredibly simple dishes that was elevated to perfection because the ingredients were amazing. The best tomatoes, crusty bread, and just enough salt and olive oil to bring it together.

6) The Crispy Pork Belly at Lucques in Los Angeles. I wrote about it here and can't wait to have it again. Peaches, Saba, and porked cooked until it was meltingly tender. Mmmm...

7) The spaghetti at Scarpetta in New York. Much like the Panzanella, this simple dish was better than the sum of it's parts. The combination of homemade pasta and straight forward ingredients came together to create this over the top yummy spaghetti. As I wrote, the restaurant was good but the spaghetti was great.

Alright you...what is the best thing you ate this year? I'm waiting...


Thursday, December 18, 2008

How Much Do You LOVE Top Chef?

Personally, I just can't get enough of the show. For the most part, I am not a fan of reality TV but, there's just something about Top Chef that's drawn me in.

Is it home town girl Jamie's bad ass attitude? Eh, it's fun to watch but I don't think that's it

Is it Fabio's Italian accent? Cute but no

Is it Ariane's 'if I can do it you can do it' attitude? Nope-"you wont win with deviled eggs!"

Is it the fact that Melissa is still there despite some seriously sketchy food? Maybe?

Is it Padma's next outfit, Tom's shiny head, or the mystery of the next guest judge? Naaa

So, what keeps bringing me back? Honestly, it is the food. These people have skills, some more than others but, this is not a show of hacks with something to prove. Most of the contestants have earned their stripes in restaurants and their ability to think on the fly blows me away. Sure, there are things like hot dog wraps and deconstructed 'train wreck' sushi, but there are also beautiful dishes that look good enough to eat. They don't always hit it out of the park but, they work hard. It's not unlike the clothes made on Project Runway (sewing skills no part of me will ever come CLOSE to having).

I constantly ask myself if I could do it. It looks tough, really tough. It is so easy to be an arm chair judge and rip those dishes from here to Tuesday but, with the short windows of time and constraints like no ovens or cooking food in the theme of 'blue', they don't have it easy.

This season I think Stephan (a bite of 'tude but a great cook) and Jamie (despite those slimy scallops) have great chances to go all the way. Leah is strong and and I want to see Radhika kick some butt. I can't believe Melissa is still around and I don't see Carla hanging on too long.

So, what is it that draws you to Top Chef?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What I'm Reading Today

It's food section Wednesday, what are you reading?

Brandade is something I fell for in culinary school. The combination of salted cod and potato are heavenly together. Today's New York Times takes it to the next level with a recipe for Brandade Potato Latkes. It looks more like a croquette than a traditional latke but, either way, I'll take it. Of course if you're still in the cookie mood, Julia Moskin writes all about the butta' and has recipes to go with it.

I've made Thomas Keller's Chocolate Bouchon's (or chocolate 'corks') before. They are dense little cakes that taste like the best brownie ever. Today's Los Angeles Times suggests making them as a holiday gift. I'm pretty sure you'll make some good friend if you take their advice.

Today's San Francisco Chronicle has a fantastic looking recipe for Roasted Pork Shoulder with Farro and Squash Stuffing as part of their Italian holiday menu. It looks savory, rich, and perfect for a winter celebration.

Trying to decide how to cook your holiday Prime Rib? Well, in today's Washington Post Micheal Mina has a suggestion-poach it in butter. Not just a little butter, 8 POUNDS of clarified butter. That's one pound of butter for every pound of meat! Granted, you don't actually eat the butter, it's more the vehicle for cooking the meat (think pasta cooked in water) but, I am pretty sure this is the only recipe I've seen in my lifetime that called for 8 POUNDS OF BUTTER! That said, is there any way this can't turn out delicious?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Serious Pie

I just returned from a great visit up north in Seattle. In true winter fashion, we were dusted with snow and chilly weather but, it felt like real winter which we don't get too often in SF (with the exception of this morning's massive hail storm).

We managed to sneak out with friends one night for a meal at Serious Pie. Any long time readers of mine know I love Tom Douglas-Seattle chef extraordinaire. Starting with Dahlia Lounge, Tom has created a restaurant empire that really is the pillar of Northwest cuisine. Tom calls the restaurant a 'pizzeria with a bread baker's soul'.

We arrived late on the snowy night and still had to wait a good 45 minutes. The place is small with long communal tables and stone floors-a nice rustic Seattle vibe. We were finally seated and ordered 7 of the 9 pies on the menu. We didn't sample any starters as Karen had made us too many yummy appetizers at her house before hand.

The laundry list of pizzas begins:
1) Special: Anchovy pie with Tomato and Olives-Big anchovy flavor-you loved it or hated it
2) Buffalo Mozzarella, San Marzano Tomato (a.k.a. Margherita) -nice, simple, clean flavors
3) Yukon Gold Potato, Rosemary, and Olive Oil-to me this pizza fell flat-bland and really one dimensional
4) Cherry Bomb Peppers, Sweet Fennel Sausage-delish! loved the peppers and lots of juicy sausage
5) Guanciale, Soft Egg, Arugula (although it came w/Dandelion Greens instead)-as we said, anything with a fried egg on top rates high-this fit the bill nicely
6) Delicata Squash, Roasted Garlic, Gorgonzola-good but, beware the roasted garlic-it was overly pungent at times
7) Venison Sausage, Caramelized Onions, Rustico-warm and rustic, this was a well balanced pie

The wood oven created a nice blister on the crusts of these pies but, in my opinion, it burned in too many spots. I know thin crust pizzas need blisters and even black spots-I'm used to that (Delfina does it perfectly). This was just heavy on the char, at least for me.

Sadly, we went to dinner having heard that the servers would let you order Tom's signature Coconut Cream Pie off the menu and grab it from next door at Dahlia. We did this, much to our server's chagrin, and were told Dahlia was closed and we couldn't have it. Hmmm...not sure that was true but, oh well.

Service was really mediocre and the food was good but not amazing. Would I go back? I think it would be a while. My list of other places to try up North is just too long.

Friday, December 12, 2008

What I Read on Wednesday

Sorry...on a short vacation so I stepped away from my blog duties a bit. Finally caught up on the Wednesday food sections and here's what I like. I think I'm in a baking kind of mood...

I am a HUGE fan of old fashioned American style cinnamon rolls. I love to eat them and love to make them. Not entirely sure how I feel about using frozen bread dough instead of making the dough from scratch but, I do LOVE Ubuntu so, I trust this recipe from their pastry chef Deanie Fox in the SF Chronicle. Any of you who are intimidated by yeast recipes should try this version.

Last Sunday I taught a class on Holiday Baking. One tip I shared with my students is the idea of making one butter cookie recipe and using the dough to make all kinds of different cookies-thumbprints, cut outs, rolled, etc. Well, Mark Bittman of the NY Times and I were obviously thinking alike. Check out his recipe for an all purpose holiday butter cookie. Even non-bakers will be happy about this one.

I say it all the time-people love gifts from your kitchen. Anyone can whip up cookie dough and wrap it in a log for giving. You can make caramel or hot fudge sauce. Or, can you turn to the LA Times and look at their ideas for 50 homemade holiday gifts. I love #1, homemade breadsticks, as well as #19, seasoned salt.

Bake your Pick. What a great title for an article on cookies! Check out the Washington Post's selection in their photo gallery of cookies. Caramel Crumb Bars anyone??? Yum

Happy Cooking and Happy Reading.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My New Favorite Treat


Mindy is a great cook. I know she loves to bake and she never ceases to surprise me with the amazing things she does. Check out these lovelies!!!

She calls them "Heaven on a Stick" which, let me tell you, they absolutely are. Ready for this? Take a marshmallow and put it on a lollipop stick, dunk it in caramel, dunk it in chocolate, then sprinkle it with colored sprinkles, chocolate jimmies, or crunched up Heath Bar. Not only do they look spectacular but they taste amazing. Of course kids go absolutely nuts over them but, I will tell you, grown ups get pretty damn excited too.

Next time it's your turn to bring treats, create your own seasonal version of "Heaven on a Stick"-I'm imagining red and green sprinkles for Christmas, white chocolate with blue colored sugar for Hanukkah, white chocolate with red heart candies for Valentine's day, or dark chocolate and sea salt for my own next birthday!

I emailed Mindy for the recipe this morning. In the meantime, I Googled "heaven on a stick" to see if I could find it myself. Ha ha ha-some hysterical results: corndogs, fried fish on a stick, lobster sandwich on white bread (not on a stick but, oh well), and frozen bananas. I think I'll stick with her version.

Here's the recipe she uses, adapted from Sticky, Gooey, Messy, Chewy: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth (how do I not have this cookbok?), by Jill O'Connor and Leigh Beisch.

Heaven on a Stick
36-48 large sized marshmallows
lollipop sticks
1 can (14 ounces)sweetened condensed milk
4 T. unsalted butter
¼ salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 bag (14 ounces) caramel candies (about 50 individual caramels), unwrapped
1 pound your favorite dark, white, or milk chocolate, melted
candy/sprinkles to decorate outside

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray

Combine the condensed milk, butter, salt, and vanilla in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook until the butter melts and combines with the milk. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in the caramels and cook, stirring constantly, until the caramels melt and mixture is smooth. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the caramel, stirring, for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat and dip the marshmallows into the caramel, rolling them around and coating them completely, except for on top. Place each skewer on the prepared baking sheet and store in the freezer until the caramel hardens and the skewers are easily lifted from the parchment, about 30 minutes.

When the caramel has hardened around the marshmallows, dip them in the melted chocolate, then roll them the candy coating/sprinkles. Refrigerate until hard (it usually hardens instantaneously).

Skewers can be refrigerated for up to one week, or packaged in cellophane bags and tied with a ribbon for giving.

Mindy buys all of the candy ingredients (sticks, caramels, melting chocolate, etc.) from http://www.anoccasionalchocolate.com .



Saturday, December 6, 2008

Holiday Baking

To me, nothing says it is holiday time more than baking. I go through pounds of butter, bags of sugar and flour, tons of vanilla extract, and lots of dish washing. I don't bake with a mission-I figure out what to do with the stuff after it's all done. The neighbors certainly benefit, as do the teachers at school. But, I'm the one who gets the most pleasure from it.

Whether it's late at night after my son is sleeping or during the day when no one is home, baking in the kitchen is one of my all time favorite ways to spend time. There is something so completely magical about transforming simple ingredients like sugar, flour, and butter into incredibly tasty sweets.

Lately I've taken to making candy. It sounds a lot more impressive than it really is. Talk about an amazing transformation! Today I cooked equal parts sugar and dark corn syrup to 300 degress ('hard crack stage' for you candy gurus), stirred in some baking soda, salt, and vanilla and poured it out on a baking sheet. Once it cools, it gets cracked into chunks and becomes the crunchy airy honeycomb candy I remember as a kid. Simple ingredients that yield an amazing result.

There is something so special about giving people your own baked goods at the holidays. I have the best memories of helping my mom pile dozens of her different home made cookies on to holiday paper plates. We'd wrap them in plastic wrap and my brother and I would deliver them to the neighbors. They loved it! My mom baked for months preparing those cookies but, she loved doing it and the neighbors appreciated it more than I can say.

If you're not a baker, step out of your comfort zone and give it a try this year. It doesn't need to be complicated, just home made. It could be banana bread, fresh cookies, or even my honeycomb candy (the recipe is below). What ever it is, you'll have a blast doing it and trust me, the person on the receiving end will be a very happy camper.

Chocolate Coated Honeycomb Candy

1 cup dark corn syrup
1 cup sugar
just under 1 tbs baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of kosher salt
4 ounces your favorite good quality chocolate (white, milk, or dark)
1 tsp vegetable oil

Before you start, cover a baking sheet with lightly oiled parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (Sil-Pat). In a medium saucepan, combine the corn syrup and sugar. Place the pan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved. Place a candy thermometer into the pan and continue to cook, without stirring, until the mixture reaches 300 degrees/hard crack stage. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully put the thermometer in your sink. Sprinkle in the baking soda and add the vanilla and salt. Stir to combine and pour the mixture in an even layer onto the pan. Do not spread or stir once it is on the pan as you will deflate the bubbles inside. You can tilt the pan to spread it but, don't worry, it won't cover the whole thing. Place the pan on a rack and let the candy cool until it is hard and room temp or cooler. Break it into pieces, 1-2 inches. Melt the chocolate and stir in the vegetable oil. Dunk each piece of honeycomb into the chocolate, coating it on all sides. Set the coated pieces on waxed paper and let rest until the chocolate is set.

Candy keeps in an airtight container (preferably tin v. plastic) for 3-4 days.

Enjoy and happy holiday baking! Hey, when you do actually bake something for the holidays, what is it? I'd love to know...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Eating at the Right Price

Is it possible to eat good, healthful, satisfying food without breaking the bank? These days, this is a question all of us should be asking. I've noticed many of the food magazines and newspapers writing articles on the subject. I've tried to be more conscious of what I'm spending at the grocery store while still putting great meals on the table.

I won't sacrifice quality so, for me its about shopping in season as much as possible and buying cuts of meat that are not too pricey. It really is the right way to cook for anyone, whether you're rolling in the dough or watching the pennies. I was at the market this morning (yes, Whole Foods) and was extra observant when it came to the prices, knowing I wanted to write this today. I was shopping for two dinners, plus leftovers, snacks, and general produce.

When it comes to produce, look for what's cheap and abundant at the market. This is usually a sign of what's in season. I bought a pound of Brussels sprouts for under $2! I'll slice them thinly, saute them in browned butter and sherry vinegar and have a side that tastes anything but cheap. Satsumas are a bargain at $1.49 a pound and these juicy, seedless orange are only around in the winter so get them while you can. They are a perfect snack, great in the lunch box, and just the right size for throwing in a salad. Think the Mandarin oranges you ate from the can as a kid but fresh. When it came to protein, I bought a pound of Whole Foods brand bacon-thick sliced center cut Applewood bacon. The pound was $8 which is not the cheapest bacon but, this will go a long way-weekend breakfast and Carbonara for dinner tomorrow night. Independent of their low price, I always prefer chicken thighs to the breast meat. At $3.29 a pound, I bought five of them for just over $5 and will braise them in beer, stock, and caramelized onions. It'll take under an hour and it's one of those winter dishes that tastes like it has cooked all day. The Carbonara I mentioned was in one of my recent food magazines, can't remember which now. I'll do the basic version with eggs and bacon, add broccoli rabe or broccolini, and top each portion with a fried egg! I have the picture from the magazine in my head and let me tell you, not expensive and it looked to die for.

When shopping for less costly cuts of meat, it's always better to look for the tougher muscles. These are the cuts that need long, slow, moist heat when cooking but, the result is that melt-in-your-mouth consistency that, to me, screams 'winter meal'. You really don't need a recipe-just season the meat well, brown it in a deep pan, remove the meat and pour off the fat, add some aromatic veggies and saute them, return the meat to the pan with wine and/or stock. The meat should simmer for several hours, until it falls apart easily with a fork. You can do this over low heat on the stove (covered) or in an oven at 325 degrees. At the end, I take off the lid, remove the meat and reduce the sauce to give it a bit more body. Try this with beef stew meat (chuck), lamb stew (shoulder), or pork stew (butt-it's actually shoulder too, don't ask me why they call it butt!). With beef I like red wine and beef or veal stock, lamb can go red or white wine and chicken stock, and pork is nice with white wine or even a hard apple cider and chicken stock.

It's easy to cook great meals for less. Just shop smart, cook at home, and take the time to find the produce and meat that fit your bill. If you ever get the stuff home and don't know what to do with it, you can always drop me an email-I'm happy to help

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

What I'm Reading Today

So, have you awoken from your turkey coma yet? I'm back and cooking (and of course eating) again. Here's what I'm reading today.

Salumi is all the rage everywhere these days. Huge varieties of salami, guanciale, and lardo are all showing up on restaurant menus. Today's SF Chronicle has an article about the porky trend and a great looking recipe for Salami Filled Gougeres. Gougeres are French cheese puffs, made with a dough called 'choux', the same dough used in profiteroles. This savory version is a perfect appetizer with a bubbly Champagne or Prosecco.

In today's NY Times, Mark Bittman writes an article about finger foods, rolled finger foods in particular. He has some of his signature simple and tasty recipes for snacks like Eggplant and Feta Rolls or Smoked Salmon Rolls with Ricotta and Chives. Quick ways to get big flavors when your friends drop by this holiday season.

Who isn't going to read an article called "Bacon Recipes Galore!" Gotta love the LA Times. There is a huge, growing, list on the site of Bacon recipes-you too can add your favorite. I'm totally intrigued by the Apple Bacon Coffecake. I'm generally not a fan of cooked apples but this I might just try.

That's it for today. Happy Reading and Happy Cooking


Monday, December 1, 2008

Eating in NYC

I love New York. I love the feeling I have when I'm peaking out the cab window, coming from the airport. I love that everyone always seems so much hipper than me, no matter how hip I think I'm going to look when I pack my bags. I love that anxious feeling I have when I mentally scroll through the list of places I want to eat and realize there will never be enough time. I love a lot about New York and the food is certainly high on the list.

This was a Thanksgiving trip so, there was certainly no shortage of good eats. Our Thanksgiving dinner was stellar-a juicy, juicy turkey, cornbread stuffing with Italian sausage, tender slow cooked root vegetables, Peter's famous hummus, the list goes on and on....That night we left stuffed to the gills but, by the next morning it was all about the next meal.

The night before turkey day we ate Mexican at Mama Mexicana. The food was really fresh and tasty. The best part was their creamy roasted pepper and tomato salsa that they actually emulsify with olive oil. I've never had anything like it and can't wait to try making it at home.

For dessert we walked over to Chickalicious Dessert Bar. They have a sit-down restaurant on one side of E. 10th and a take out place across the street. We went take out as we were too full for the three course dessert menu (but I love that idea!). We tried everything from cute frosted gingerbread men to 'adult chocolate pudding' (basically crushed up chocolate cookies top with a big scoop of pot de creme) and house made hot chocolate filled with house made vanilla soft serve. The place was jammed packed-clearly people are not worried about their waist lines the nige before Thanksgiving.

The day after Thanksgiving, we hit Momofuku Noodle for lunch. It was packed and smelled like a combination of five-spice, fresh ginger, and and pork-yum. We had the Momofuku ramen noodles in fragrant steamy broth with juicy pork and topped with a perfectly poached egg (my son ate the egg and most of the noodles but, I got my fill too). We also had the house made pork buns, which melted in your mouth, and the smoked stick-to-your fingers-but-you-can't-stop-eating-them chicken wings. It's not to be missed, especially on a cool NY afternoon.

Dinner that night was at Scott Conant's Scarpetta in the Meatpacking district. This was post-Thanksgiving and the place was no where near full, although when we called we got the 'sure we can take you...at 10pm' line. Oh well..we showed up at 8 and got in within a few minutes. The meal was delicious. We started with yellow tail crudo topped with crispy fried garlic then had two of the house made pastas: cavatelli with a ragu of rabbit and spaghetti with tomato and basil. Both dishes were clearly more than a primi-they were huge portions. The pastas were beautiful-perfect texture and well seasoned. The ragu was nice-savory, and rich. The spaghetti was out of this world. I know, spaghetti with tomato-how good could it be? It took on an almost creamy texture and it was just one of those dishes where each of the few simple ingredients were so perfect that when they came together they created an amazing sum. I'd go back just for that. We then shared an entree, which was tough after those giant pasta dishes. We had the black cod with caramelized fennel. The fish was amber brown and crunchy on top, perfectly seared. The sweet fennel cut the richness of the fish nicely. Overall, it was a really tasty meal but, I could get all of this in San Francisco so, with the exception of the spaghetti, there wasn't anything to draw me back.

We skipped dessert at the restaurant that night to detour a few blocks downtown and have a cupcake at Magnolia. Say what you want about the recent cupcake rage all over the country, I still prefer the homestyle version they make there.

The next meal of note was Saturday lunch. Have you been to Katz's deli? If not, GO! San Francisco is pathetic when it comes to good NY style delis. New York has many but, none are like Katz's. This is the deli from When Harry Met Sally and, while I didn't 'have what she's having', I did have a corned beef sandwich that was easily 5-inches high and brimming with tons of juicy tender meat. I slathered it with their briny Russian Dressing and old style coleslaw and quickly found myself eating the thing with a fork and knife. My son had Matzoh Ball soup with one giant ball, as big as his head. The place is loud, crowded, and a bit chaotic but, it is the quintessential NY deli experience and well worth it.

Tummies full, we got on the plane and made our way back to SF. It's good to be home. Both my husband and I realized we no longer had the burning desire to move to New York but, it will always be an amazing place to visit, and of course to eat.
 
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