CONFESSIONS OF A                                                                  
A San Francisco Girl's Down and Dirty Adventures in the Culinary Playground

Thursday, June 30, 2005

No Rest for the Weary

So I realized that I owe you guys a decent post since it's been awhile. I apologize; My show has moved to a theatre in the middle of fucking nowhere for a week and I'm gearing up to start the summer program I run. Adding to that, I had a Mesh deadline this week, so I've been writing for you -- just not here. Not sure when that will be published. Brian? Any thoughts?

As I've been such a bad whore, I thought I should clue you in on what's to come. So I've got another Thailand post coming and then I finally feel ready to hunker down and do the mammoth post about The French Laundry. I promise not to disappoint.

And the interviewer from the Asian Wall Street Journal called with follow up questions last night. He told me the interview is being published next Friday, July 8th. Woo hoo!

Lastly, I've been hearing so much buzz about this place, that I've started to believe it is the only new restaurant that opened this year. It looks so ridiculously fucking pretentious that I could puke. I can't wait to go. Anyone up for a trip to Chicago?


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

My Soulmate

I found this quote today:

"Great restaurants are, of course, nothing but mouth-brothels. There is no point in going to them if one intends to keep one's belt buckled."
Frederic Raphael, (1931-) British author

Amen, brother!


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld

It's New Year's Day, and All the Restaurants are Closed -- (Utensibility Meme)

This is part of a meme called "Utensibility" started by Sam over at Becks and Posh, who, lucky girl, is trying to decide how to spend a $300 gift certificate at Sur La Table.

From time to time, a whore needs a night off from the bright lights and big city. When that happens, I spend the time in my own kitchen. And the one tool I cannot live without is the Asian skimmer. You can find it just about anywhere these days, from the aforementioned SLT down to the kickin' Kamei household wares store on Clement Street. Side note: Kamei rocks my world.

Anyway, this will replace the strainers and colanders in your house. We use it to drain fried items (like squash blossoms stuffed with ricotta or french fries) before we set them on a cookie rack above newspaper to drain some more. We use it to drain small pasta, such as ravioli, without dumping the whole pot of water. We also do this with blanched vegetables. This is very handy when you need to reserve the water for another use later in the recipe. You can practice this same technique in reverse, dropping your goods into boiling water or fat, using the skimmer so you don't burn yourself. And, I guess, you can also use it as a skimmer.

At around $8 a pop on the high end, Sam can buy 35 of them and still have money left over to buy me dessert at Aziza. Awesome.

Happy spending, love!


Monday, June 20, 2005

A Whore is Hitting the Street

I have no idea when it will be published, but I was interviewed for the Asian Wall Street Journal last night. How fucking cool is that? A writer there is doing a story on blogs that do restaurant reviews. He's reading reviews, eating at the restaurants and seeing what he thinks of the advice. He saw my review for Bed Supperclub, had a good meal there and then requested the interview. And since the Asian Wall Street Journal was pretty much everywhere we went in Thailand, I was pretty excited. So excited, in fact, that I jumped around like that freak, Tom Cruise. Then, I did some research to make sure it was legit. It was.

Once it's published, I'll let you know. Until then, you know where to find me.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Going Dottie (Dottie's True Blue Cafe -- San Francisco, CA)

It's absolutely shameful that I call myself a restaurant whore and that, until recently, I had never been to Dottie's True Blue Cafe. Boy, was I missing out.

I don't know what it was that made me take so long to get there; I've done the wait-all-day-in-line-for-breakfast deals before at places like Mama's and Ella's (seems like all the good breakfast spots have ladies names: Dottie's, Ella's, Kate's Kitchen, Mama's...). The thing about Dottie's, though, is that once I reach the front of the line, I'm just plain grateful and excited to be eating there, whereas at the other places there's a good dose of pissed off in there, too. Perhaps it's because Dottie's is in the Tenderknob, and it's hard to be pissed off about waiting for your breakfast when several folks who NEVER get breakfast pass by while you are in line.

Dottie's is teeny tiny. And the line is not. That said, the wait always seems to take about 45 minutes during peak hours (10 a.m. - 1 p.m.). The line is kind of fun though, and if you are lucky, you'll have friends that get there before your lazy ass (Thanks Garth and Ariana) and save you a spot. I wouldn't recommend making this a habit, unless you want everyone else in line, including your friends, to hate you.

The first time we went there, we witnessed the most impressive display of cooking I've ever seen. We were seated at the counter, behind which was a lone chef furiously churning out the orders for the ravenous dining room. This kitchen is smaller than the one in my old apartment. The refrigerator is just a regular old fridge -- no Sub Zero, no walk in. Next to that is a small work surface, a griddle, a few burners and the mise en place (little canisters of ingredients ready to be thrown into a tasty concoction). That's it. It is, and this is being generous, about 8 feet long. And Mr. Chef Man is using every square inch of it, every single second.

Now, why, children, do the masses flock to Dottie's? Because the food is off the hook. On that first visit, Jon got the Southwestern Scramble, which has Andouille sausage, onions, cheese, salsa and a whole bunch of other stuff. I got the cornmeal blueberry pancakes, and just so we could get our entire carb intake for the week, we also got some of their signature spicy cornbread with jalapeno jelly. I'm a sucker for cornbread. And Dottie's is delicious. It's on the drier side, but with the jelly, it's just right. The scramble gets an A+. And the pancakes were so good, that I spent my next visit trying to talk our friend into ordering them just so I could have a bite.

Dottie's has a lot of specials, which don't seem to change very much. One of these specials is the smoked chicken apple sausage with eggs, potatoes and (fanfare here) cornbread. The sausage is by far the best chicken apple sausage I've had anywhere, ever. My two eggs (scrambled) were light and fluffy and perfect, except that it appeared to be about eight eggs rather than two. My only complaint is the potatoes, which are cubed and a little mushy. That's just a personal preference thing, though, as I prefer hash browns.

One of the other specials are black bean cakes with salsa and sour cream. This comes with eggs and cornbread as well. They are perfectly tasty and what's more, they are unusual. I've never seen anything like them before. I'd also imagine that they are pretty nutritious, except for the pound of sour cream on top, and you really can't leave out the sour cream, so...

There is also a chalkboard just for baked goods -- how fucking cool is that? Try the sweet potato honey bread served with cream cheese. Make sure you finish eating it in time to get to that angioplasty you'll need afterwards. This was so good that it made me feel dirty (more so than usual, I mean). Their pecan cinnamon rolls are also deliciously luscious. They are soft and chewy. Jon bit into what he thought was a pecan, which actually turned out to be brown sugar. After discovering this he looked like someone who had just been healed at a religious revival.

I have yet to have anything bad there. On top of that, the staff is great. The servers are always cheerful and sweet, despite having very little space to move in and no down time between serving tables, taking and filling orders, and dealing with checks. On top of that, Mr. Chef Man is super chill and was extremely gracious when we let him know how much he rocked our world.

But the coolest thing about Dottie's is how it inspires people to be on their best behavior. There's no pushing, no attitude, no hierarchy of any sort. In fact, during our first visit, the man next to us at the counter ordered a huge egg plate and a side of French toast. This was a pretty thin man, so I was impressed he could eat so much. We chatted with him while we waited for our food, and when it came, he cut up his French toast and gave it to the people who were still waiting in line to get in. So rad.

Next time you want to get your eggs (or pancakes or sausage, etc.) on, hit up Dottie's. She'll leave you wanting more.


"To eat is a necessity, to eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Redemption Song (Update on The Slanted Door -- San Francisco, CA)


If I be a restaurant whore, then Slanted Door is my ex-boyfriend that I know is bad for me, but I keep going back to sleep with him anyway because I can't let go, and, let's face it, the sex is good.

If you read my original review, you know the deeply intertwined relationship that Jon and I have with SD. We've been regulars since Valencia Street, got all the perks that came with that and stayed true all the way to this current incarnation in the Ferry Building. For us, it wasn't just about the food, but also the people who were our friends.

Lately, we've been finding it difficult to get in because they are so freakin' huge and popular. Now, back in the day, when we expressed concern over not being able to get in once they expanded, we were told time and time again "Oh, you guys will always get in." About a month ago, when we were turned away by a new host, Jon said to me, "If I had a nickel for every time someone said (see above)." It is important to note that we can still call for a reservation pretty much anytime and they'll accomodate, but then I have to play a card I don't like to play -- the "Can I speak to so-and-so?" card. God, I'm a slut. I hate doing that, but I will if we have family in town or it's a special occasion. I don't feel too bad, as I'm pretty sure they were able to build their bathrooms based on the money we've thrown down there alone.

Here's the problem, they are freakin' huge. The staff has expanded enormously and not everyone was kickin' it with us back on V Street. And we can't really expect them to accomodate us jerkwads who show up unannounced. Except that they told us we could, so there's the issue.

Lately, we've been hitting Out the Door, which I must admit is pretty sweet. It has a lot of things that I love such as spring and/or imperial rolls and banh mi. And Mutsumi's super desserts are there, too. I've been pretty pleased with the vittles we've tried so far and it was better than the heartbreak of going into the main restaurant and being turned away. Or having my heart bleed profusely every fucking time I walk by the old Valencia Street location (that is *supposedly* still going to re-open), only to see it housing a Goddamn clothing store. That's right, a mother fucking clothing store.

As we approached Out the Door recently, we saw "F" (name protected). Now F has been true to us through and through. He gets the loyalty thing. He'd walk across China to get us a table. And when we saw him at OTD, he promptly marched us into the main restaurant and told the hostess she needed to seat us. Mind you, we didn't ask. He just took charge. And as it was 1:30 on a Saturday (Farmer's Market hell), we were glad when bar spots opened up and we didn't have to consume precious table space. The hostess was visibly relieved as well. Can't blame her. She's got a line out the door (yeah, stupid pun, I know). Besides, we got to hang with our favorite bartenders so it was beginning to feel like the early days of our love affair with SD. As he headed back to OTD, F said "Anytime you need anything, you tell me. I mean it!" And we ate our clams and soup and such and schmoozed with our friends and then sat in the afterglow.

It is important to note that the servers are feeling the change acutely as well. One came over, hugged us and said "It's not like the old days. I don't have any time to stop and talk!"

I sent F a thank you later that week. And he responded, again, with "Call me if you need anything!!! I mean it!" He's like my SD pimp.

Dear readers, I'm torn. The highs are so high but the lows are so low. And I keep going back for more, trying to replicate the highs and redeem the lows. It's a vicious cycle, my friends.

Now here's something for you to hang on to until my next update, where I'll undoubtedly be at another crossroads in my highly complex love affair with SD: We got wind of some new happenin's from Phan and Co. I can't tell you what just yet, but it's not what you think. And I'm sure it's going to be a welcome addition to the world of the rich and lazy. As soon as I can share, I will. Promise. A girl's gotta leave you wanting more, though...


"To eat is a necessity, to eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld

Friday, June 10, 2005

Porkin' Out (The Pork Store -- San Francisco, CA)

You wouldn't think a vegetarian would be willing to eat in a restaurant called The Pork Store, much less a place that uses one griddle for just about everything, but we have several vegetarian comrades who love the other vittles that are available there so much that they throw caution to the wind and say "Serve it up, bitches!" Oops, run on sentence alert. Sorry.

Anyway, the original Pork Store is located in the Haight in, well, a former Pork Store. Let me tell you, this is definitely the place you want to be the day after a bender. Their menu has everything to lube you up, flush you out and keep you satisfied.

Now recently, they added a location in the Mission, much closer to where we live, in the old Bitterroot space. But we still seem to go to the one in the Haight. The Mission location doesn't always have all the specials and it's right next to Ti Couz so if we hit that one up, I end up feeling like I want two breakfasts, which is OK if you are a hobbit, but not if you are a human.

In the Haight, expect a wait. Wow, that was a super lame rhyme. Anyway, the line can get pretty long, but the sweet folks inside will bring you coffee, and they're pretty good at keeping the line moving. CAUTION: In the Haight street location, there are a few tables and some counter space. You are not allowed to go with a group larger than four. That's my rule, not theirs. You'll thank me for it, trust me. If you don't heed this warning, you and your 18 closest buddies from college will be standing outside the restaurant for the better part of your Sunday.

Now that we have that all sorted out, let's get to the food.

The glorious, gluttonous, fatty bo batty food.

Jon is partial to the corned beef hash special with green onions and garlic and cheese and eggs and some other tasty things. When he feels like mixing it up, he goes to for the pork store special: two eggs, two pork chops, hash browns and biscuits or toast. The pork chops have a tasty spice rub, they'll cook your eggs however you like them and the pile of hash browns rivals Mt.Everest. And they are super great. Sometimes they're underseasoned/undercooked, which is disappointing, but 90% of the time they are crispy and salty and just one big pile of heart attack inducing goodness. I prefer my breakfast potatoes shredded (as opposed to cubed) so this is right up my alley. Jon always gets white toast. Always.

I usually get the same thing: two eggs, over medium. Some kind o' meat, usually bacon or chicken apple sausage. That fabulous pile of hash browns. And I usually go for the biscuits, which are are as light and fluffy as Britney Spears' brain cells. Sometimes I get an English muffin. But only when I really have a hankering for some nooks and crannies.

You want to hear something really gross? While we usually go for some sort of egg and meat filled love fest, we occasionally can't resist the lure of the oh-so-enticing pancakes. They always look so perfectly golden brown and springy. But we also can't give up our grease and salt, just for a little extra carbo lovin'. So we sometimes each order an egg dish and then split some pancakes. Oh yeah, baby, I can slut it up real good at the Pork Store.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Northern (De)Lights (Huen Phen -- Chiang Mai, Thailand)

I'm back from my week o' hell. Let the games begin.

Let me again mention how fucking balls hot it was in Thailand.

On our first day in Chiang Mai (Northern Thailand), we set out to find a little lunch. We met an ex-pat who said it hadn't been that hot in two years. Super. Anyway, I had heard a little about Huen Phen, so we set out to find it. Streets are not so logical so it was with great determination that we trudged along in the 105 degree heat, thighs sticking together, piecing together what little Thai we could to try to find HP.

Turns out that it was right down the street from our hotel. Dumbass Americans, we are.

We knew we were getting accustomed to the heat because a) this was a hole in the wall with no air-con, save for a small dining room in the center that we were NOT in, b) all the food was kind of sitting out -- a strict no-no for Jon based on his mama's germ obsession and c) there was no air-con.

We sat down and ordered thusly: Pork Curry (red), sticky rice, khao soi, som tum, a Singha (beer) and a coke.

The pork curry was made without coconut milk, as is traditional in the north. This was some of the most tender pork I've ever had. It melted in our mouths like buttah. The only thing that made it better than it was already was that we were able to soak up the curry with fistfuls of sticky rice. I love sticky rice. Something about the rice being all clumpy makes it taste better. I'm serious.

The khao soi we ordered was noodles in curried fish sauce. Khao soi is extremely popular in Chiang Mai and is any soupy, curried noodle dish. This was fantastic -- spicy, noodle-y and the fish, which looked shredded, was tender and tasty. Just writing about it makes me sad because although you can find almost any type of Thai food here in SF, I have seen Khao soi in only one spot (Burma Superstar) and I want some more of it. RIGHT NOW.

Som Tum is just magical when you are sweating like cheese left on the counter after a party. Som Tum is the traditional spicy green papaya salad. And HP's version was perfect -- crisp, spicy, refreshing and yums.

Service was extremely friendly and helpful, despite our limited language skills and their limited ability dealing with Western folk. And our 20B ($.50) tip was so appreciated that I almost couldn't believe it.

We enjoyed this meal so much that we kept meaning to go back. But I'm a whore, and well, I only had a few days to spread my love around in the totally rockin' city of Chiang Mai (more on that later). So we peeled our butts off the seats, thanked the kind folks who cooked and served our meal and moved on.

Our meal? 150B, or just under $4. This included the 20B tip and the drinks were 60B. If you're following, that means our food was just under $2. Pardon me while I weep into my bowl of tapioca pudding that cost twice what our entire meal cost at HP. Nothing's more pathetic than a whore sobbing into her pudding.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld