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

Monday, November 28, 2005


Also known as my living room. Or the kitchen. Or the whole house in general, really.

Thanksgiving was a hit. Just ask these sexy bitches. It's just that between the gluttony of Thursday and the chauffering of the in laws on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I have not had time to get my shit together. In the moments that I have, there were always 1, 2 or 4 people trailing me with more mess.

I'm so fucking tired today that I can't even see straight.

My coffee table is littered with sushi take-out and unwritten Christmas cards. The fridge is stacked high with every starch invented, but yet we still needed our fix of "food prepared by others." Anyone want to tell me again that I don't have a problem?

Despite the complete and total disarray of my house, my life, my underwear drawer, I am a quarter of the way through that French Laundry post. Maybe it will be your Christmas present. Because Jesus Christ it's taken me a long time to write that freakin' thing, don't you think?

If you don't hear from me within the week, it means I'm buried under leftover pecan pie and guest linens.


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

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I've been feeling all thankful and crap as of late, it being the season for that shit and all. Plus, I just love the holiday because it's about food and love and so am I. And really, I have a just a crapload of things to be thankful for. Here's a little sample:

  • My kickass husband. He's just so super rad. And he just bought me a pretty pretty princess bracelet as a 10 years together present so I think I'll keep him.
  • My students. They rock my world. Let me tell you about how I blubbered like a baby when I saw the kindergarten present their Thanksgiving program that we worked on yesterday.
  • My friends. The old ones that for some reason still want to be friends with me, and the new ones who treat me like an old one (got that?).
  • Jobs that I love.
  • Food, shelter, clothing, etc.
  • Most of my family
  • All of Jon's family
  • An editor who lets me do what I want and never makes fun of me for being the dorkass that I am.
  • A city that I love living in, every minute of the day, every day of the year.
  • Restaurants (big shocker there).
  • The 300+ of you that take time out of each day to visit me in my little space on the web.
And now, dear readers, I have one more thing to be thankful for. I present you with an e-mail I received this morning:

elBulli restaurant
to me
More options 6:34 am (1½ hours ago)

Apreciados Señores,

We have an option to please your reservation request on

Monday September 18th of 2006, table for 2 people at 8.30 p.m. under the name:


Ferran Adrià will prepare a personalized tasting menu. You will try many different elaborations and it means many different products. It is very important for his confection to know in advance if some problem exists, like allergies or any other product that we could not include for anyone of you.

I wait your news to fix the date and also with regard to this question to fix all the details at your reservation.

I also ask you to give us a direct contact phone number during your time in our area.


Luis García

Restaurant El Bulli

Cala Montjoi - 17480 Roses

Tel. +34 972 15 04 57

Fax. +34 972 15 07 17



HOLY FUCKING CRAP! I had tiptoed out of the house so as not to wake my mother in law (who is so completely rocktastic that she did ALL of our ironing while we cooked last night). On my way to my car, I peeped my e-mail on my phone. It was then that I saw the above e-mail and just about peed my pants. In fact, I no longer cared about waking anyone, I just dialed up to Jon and screamed "WE GOT A RESERVATION TO EL BULLI" in his sleepy ear.

It is taking every ounce of energy I have right now not to run naked through the streets screaming exclamations of sheer delight.

The added bonus? We were planning to rendez-vous in France with Jon's family around that time anyway. Two birds, one stone and all that shit.

I am so lucky that it should be declared illegal.

Happy Thanksgiving -- I'm sending out some loves for you.


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

Monday, November 21, 2005

I Am Thankful For Mistakes

You can bitch and moan all you want about restaurant mistakes, and most of the time you should. But since I've been slacker post lady due to impending Thanksgiving activities chez moi, I thought I'd list a few mistakes that were, well, TOTALLY AWESOME.

  • My first visit to Eccolo, when I asked them to leave the coleslaw off of my fish and chips. I'm not down with the mayo, yo. Just ew. I can do it sometimes but not smeared all over cabbage. The slaw came anyway and had zero mayo. Instead it had a delightful lime dressing. Hells yeah!
  • Last night at Delfina when the lady next to us didn't want her fries and then gave them to us. We haven't eaten the fries in YEARS, despite fries being my favorite. This is because, originally, I actually thought the fries were a (*gasp*) weak spot. Mind you, this was in 1998. I was pleased to discover last night that they are now some of the best in the city, hands down. And they come with tasty fried herbs.
  • The folks at Manresa brining me veal sweetbreads despite me telling them that I don't eat foie gras or beef (taste issues and nothing else before you start hollering). For me, that math would equal no sweetbreads. While I didn't love them, I still ate some and was glad I had challenged myself.
  • La Suite being out of pate, and then offering Jon foie gras instead (it was a set menu for the Beaujolais Nouveau). Jon loves him some foie. He got the pate by mistake, which he loved, but our cutie pie waiter felt so bad that he brought him the foie, too. Score!
  • Any number of times my order has been fucked up. We usually get a bonus prize (ie, a comped dish) for this one. And I usually like the fuck up anyway.
  • Any time that something I want is not on the menu (unless it's, like, EVERYTHING on the menu). I usually then try something a little more daring. Also, the above bonus sometimes applies in this case as well.
I hope to get one more post on here before T-day. If you want to post your vote for what I should review next, stick it in the comments. Your choices are: The French Laundry, Bix, Zachary's Pizza, Buckeye Roadhouse or La Suite.


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

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Rockin' It Mesh Style

C'mon, you don't want to spend ANOTHER Friday night at home now, do you?

Mesh Magazine 2-Year Anniversary
Friday, November 18th
@111 Minna
The Mall
Calling All Monsters
DJ Nako (Popscene/Shutter)
DJ Rooster (Ugly Sundays)

You Must be 21+
Sponsored by Fernet & KALX 90.7

Come on out to the Mesh anniversary party and help me celebrate the fact that this mag is way cooler than I am and yet they still let me write for them.

If you make it out, make sure you come say hello so I can give you a smooch. I'll be waiting...


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

You Know You Are in the Restaurant Whore Household When...

To counteract all of this fine eating, I've been, literally, working my ass off. When we got into bed last night, Jon commented on my new buffness. I responded with "Yeah, but there is still a layer of fat over all that muscle." Wanna know what my husband said?

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

His reply, without missing a beat:

"Just like duck!"

It is becoming painfully clear to me just how limited our world view is, ladies and gentlemen. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to throw myself over some polenta and call it a day.


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

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Threat to the System

I've got a restaurant post or two coming 'round the bend, but for now, I present you with a little vignette from my living room.

I belong to this salad club at work. Basically, there are ten people and each person makes a salad once every two weeks. This was appealing to me because it meant I wouldn't have to plan ahead and bring a lunch every day. I suck at planning ahead when it comes to food. Even with restaurants, I probably make reservations only when I am positive that walking in is not an option. It also meant I'd get something healthy at least once a day. You really can't count on me to take care of that for myself otherwise.

This salad club has it's benefits and drawbacks. For instance, one member always brings the same crap salad that all of us hate. We can't tell him not to, but I'm tired of not eating every other Monday. Then we have the superstars who bring in full on eggs florentine and crap with their salads. And then we have the people who are not in the salad club who stare longingly at our spread each day and whine about how elitist it is. Dude, you snooze, you lose, that's what I say. This fucker has been going on since last year and I didn't join until this year, so where were you? Huh? Huh?

Usually people bring bread and cheese or pita and hummus or some sort of carb side dish. I should note that my place of employment keeps Kosher, and vegetarian to make it simple, so our options are somewhat limited, and, like most things vegetarian, somewhat lame (before you start flaming me I should let you know that I love the veggies. I just think it's a little, um, limiting. How's that for PC?).

Yesterday was my day. It was actually only my third turn all year since the bombdiggity Jewish holidays got us out of a lot of school and a lot of those days happened to be Wednesdays. Sweet. Still, when I have my day, I know how to bring it.

I sort of half assed it this time around since I was super busy. I decided to make a fall salad. So I whipped up some pumpkin squares for a little dessert action, bought some cheese and an Acme batard (sweet, not sourdough -- could we all please just get over the fucking sourdough thing already????), and threw my salad contents in the bag.

The final result was some mixed greens with persimmons, satsuma tangerines, fennel, pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds. I brought two huge bowls and brought home about one cup of leftover salad. Score.

Last night, Jon, who may or may not have been entirely sober, noticed the tiny salad in the fridge. He took it out and started eating it with his hands as we watched the greatest TV show ever made.

The conversations was as follows:

HIM: This salad is soooo good!

ME: Are you fucking with me?

HIM: NO! I'm serious.

ME: (getting all mushy like) Awww, baby, that's the nicest thing. Thank you so much.

HIM: I think this is the best salad I've ever had.

ME: Even in a RESTAURANT?????

HIM: Yep! Even in a restaurant. You should make salads like this at home more often. I'd eat them all the time.

ME: Uhhhhh, what's that now?

HIM: You should start making these at home more.

Well fuck fuckety fuck fuck fuck. After all the cakes that our friends have demanded, the cookies that food bloggers have clamored for the recipe over, the soups, the meringues, the pate-a-choux, the meats, the everything-under-the-sun, the thing that opens my husbands eyes to the fact that I can *really* cook is a SALAD. And while, I do love to cook, I need my restaurant fix.

Looks like it's time for me to burn some pot roast.


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

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Hot Coco (Coco500 -- San Francisco, CA)

Yeah, so I totally suck for not getting up more content on this piece of shit in a timely manner. Wish I could say I was doing something more exciting than touching myself over the prospect of going back to French Laundry this weekend, but then I'd be lying.

But looky looky here -- I've got some love for you, oh yes I do.

When I heard that Loretta Keller was closing the beloved Bizou and re-opening it as Coco500, my initial reaction was, "What the fuck kind of name is Coco500?" I mean, really. But I stayed open minded and I am glad I did.

The name kept me away for a good long while until I found myself performing in a show (titled "Pomegranates," no less) with Scott, who happened to be a bartender at Coco500. "You HAVE to come in," he said. "It's reeeeeeally good."

Now my chats with Scott had led me to believe that he knows his shit (he later proved me right on this). Plus, Loretta had rocked my world when, at the tender age of 22, I ate a pizza with GRAPES on it at Bizou. Doesn't sound too crazy, right? But at that point in my life, it was and it changed the way I looked at food forever and for better.

So it was on a Monday evening that Jon and I found ourselves sitting at the bar with Scott (where I also saw Jason Alexander, who is on my favorite sommeliers ever list, as you might recall).

In addition to Jason, Elizabeth Falkner was there, as was Gordon Ramsay. So something had to be going right.

On that first visit, we had some really great wine, and Jon had a killer Margarita. Jon had the mole tacos (beef cheek mole on little tortilla chips), a pizza with delicious corn that must have been hand picked by virgins to taste so good, a salad with extremely voluptuous Santa Rosa plums and some English pea ravioli that I pretty much licked off the plate. The star of the evening, however was the calamari with black rice and stewed garlic. In a word, YUM. So yum, that I tried putting it in my pockets when I couldn't eat anymore. In hindsight, a take-out container would have made more sense.

We had no room for dessert, so we passed, which I now know was a mistake (more on that). Our service was great. I am so biased with this, though, because, well, Scott's my homeboy.

After hearing that both Catherine AND Fatemeh had good food but bad service at the double Co, we three decided to go back. Me, because I liked it, and they because the food was that fucking good that the bad service didn't deter them.

After going to see Julie Powell and her neuroses at a book signing, we found ourselves at Coco. While waiting for our table, we spent some quality time with Scott, who broke it down for us.

"Now I don't know who your waiter is, so I can only tell you what I know. No confit, no prosciutto and melon -- you guys are above that..." Nothing like a little flattery to butter us up right. He gave us the lowdown on what not to miss and what to skip, and then he mixed us up some cocktails. I let him do what he wanted and ended up with a lovely little margarita with a splash of grapefruit juice (who knew?), Fatemeh had a sidecar and Catherine got a surprise that I can't remember after Scott decided that the Coco500 cocktail she ordered wasn't going to pass muster. So he just told her he'd make her something else, which she was cool enough to go with.

In all fairness, Scott knew that my homegirl, Fatemeh, had had a bad experience. I'm not sure if he knew about Catherine's equally shitty service. In any case, I know he made it a personal mission to get our hot asses treated right. And so he did.

The GM paid special attention to us, just as he had to the notorious table of giggly girls that caused him to ignore F and her loverboy on their first visit. We looked around to make sure no one else was suffering due to the attention we were getting. They weren't.

Cat noted that we got the "cute, perky waitress." She was all of the above and then some. Not a misstep in the service all night.

We formulated a game plan, which included mostly fish so we settled on a bottle of white. Upon inquiring about the Jurancon Sec on the menu, the GM/sommelier got an elated look on his face and dashed off to grab it.

We were brought some bread, which none of us had experienced on our prior visits. This was the only "what the fuck?" moment of the night. The little rolls looked so promising and then just tasted like little flour lumps. As Jon's relatives in Minnesota would say, "Ish." How those can be so shitty and the flatbread so good I'll never know. We cut our losses and moved on to bigger and better things.

The first of those things was the fried green beans. Now I'm all for fried, but I didn't expect these to rock my world despite Cat's fervor for them. I should have heeded her hot flashes because these were off the chainsaw (to paraphrase Brian, who stole it from Audrey). What made them so special was SALT. Freaking brilliance right there. The salt content was PERFECT. The olive tapenade for dipping was fine but nothing to write home about, but that didn't matter because these bad boys are super on their own.

We also had the endive salad with mushrooms and creme fraiche. This was very good but very mild. This wouldn't have been a problem except the squash blossom flatbread with truffle oil was set down at the same time and they were difficult dishes to bounce between. Were it not for the irresistable flatbread, the endive would have been a star. Unfortunately, she was overshadowed by perfect little squash blossoms sprinkled with truffle oil on yeasty happiness.

We continued with a whole fish in fennel saffron sauce. Very delish. And then the calamari that I so love and F had been cheated out of on her visit. Honestly, this is a dish I could eat every day and probably not tire of it. It has so many of my favorite things: squid, spice, starch. I mean how can you go wrong, really?

Despite being really full (and happy) we decided that not one, not two, but THREE desserts would be the right number to order. I am such a slut.

Cat went for the brownie, which is more like a chocolate cream cheese cupcake. You get two teeny ones for two dollars. That's cheaper than a date with your sister. I went to take a little taste and almost bypassed the chocolate sauce on the plate when Cat practically stabbed me with her fork and made a guttural warning noise that indicated not taking any sauce would be akin to not washing one's hands after peeing (you know who you are). She was so right.

The vacherin consists of meringue, coffee ice cream (my all time favorite flavor), chocolate sauce and almonds. Basically, it's like Delfina's profiteroles with meringue instead of profiteroles. I don't know who was first, and I don't much care because in both cases, it works.

The real star, however, was the fifty-fifty. This is not always on the menu and all I can say about that is FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHY? This had passionfruit, then panna cotta (vanilla), then more passionfruit. Holy fuck this was good. I think I ate most of it. It was bring-tears-to-your-eyes good. LOVED. IT. I think I drooled in Fatemeh's lap. She's so good to me. And I adore passionfruit. I may just start calling on a daily basis to find out when they have it. According to Fatemeh, it changes, so it doesn't always have the PF even when they do have the dessert. Are they TRYING to kill me?

In this case, the company didn't hurt either. I loves me my girls.

Verdict: Go. Maybe you want to sit at the bar since table service seems inconsistent (although F's waiter has been fired since her visit, so...). And I know my boy Scott will take good care of you 'cause he's really fucking good at his job. And if nothing else, the flatbread, squid, the fifty-fifty, Scott and Loretta Keller will keep me wrapped around their little finger for a good long while.


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