Wow, can’t believe it is the New Year already! What a crazy ride 2010 was. I had my first encounters with being on air, being in the air, and being in a cookbook. I ate ice cream with Jerry (yes, that Jerry), cooked with a legend, discovered Spam Masubi, and delighted in the earthly pleasures created by San Francisco’s finest chefs. It was a busy busy year, full of hard work, hustling, dreaming, getting married (!), and of course, eating As we ring in 2011, let’s take one last look at some of 2010’s tastiest moments:
1. Butternut Squash Soup with Gingerbread and Brown Butter — One of my favorite recipes of the year, if the comfort of sitting by the fire on a snowy day could be transformed into a dish, this would be it. Roasted butternut squash pureed to velvety perfection and caressed by warm sage notes, paired with a deep, dark, sticky square of thick gingerbread bread and a drizzle of browned butter. Heaven.
2. Namu’s Gamja Fries — The boys at Namu did it again, blowing my mind with their Korean take on chili-cheese fries. Amazingly crispy hand-cut potatoes topped with tasty bits of short ribs, gobs of kimchee relish, green onions, and a secret sauce trifecta of kewpie mayo, teriyaki, and gochujang (a spicy-sweet paste of red chili peppers and fermented soy bean). Haute Stoner Food at its finest.
3. Eggplant Parm of My Dreams — It all started with a case of petty theft, but you know, at my house ya snooze, ya lose. Especially when it comes to an unguarded Eggplant Parm. Although, now that I have the recipe to this pinnacle of creamy, cheesy, homey, Italian goodness, I guess I won’t have to resort to pilfering it off my brother any longer.
4. Big Ass Pot of Chili — 2 pounds of bacon, 4 pounds of sausage, 6 pounds of ground beef…sometimes excess is good. This chili is a staple recipe that’s great for camping trips, ski trips, and wintry nights. It’s complex, with a sweet savory tang, and layers of meaty flavor throughout. A multi-dimensional sweetness derived from grated carrots, ketchup, barbecue sauce, sugar, and baker’s chocolate makes this chili really special.
5. Brunch at The Girl & The Fig — I reached brunch nirvana at The Girl & The Fig in Sonoma. Grass-fed Steak Tartare with caperberries, chives, and lavender sea salt; Duck Confit & Potato Hash with poached eggs, applewood smoked bacon, and mixed greens; Brioche French Toast stuffed with Bellwether Farms fromage blanc, meyer lemon and huckleberry compote; and a killer Balsamic Bloody Mary. It doesn’t get better than this.
6. Kara’s Cupcakes — I dived face first into the cupcake craze and went gaga over Kara’s Strawberry Cream harlot of a cupcake. Fluffy vanilla cake filled with local strawberries and cream, and topped with a decadent cream cheese frosting. So smitten.
7. Vanilla Soft Serve + EVOO — As Zero Zero prepared to fire up its pizza oven, I got a lesson on the art of pizza making from Bruce Hill at sister restaurant Pizzeria Picco. Don’t get me wrong, the pies were delish, but what stole the show was the Vanilla Soft Serve with DaVero Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Sea Salt. It’s made from an organic soft serve mix created especially for Hill’s restaurants by Straus Family Creamery. Unlike the mix sold to other businesses, Hill’s mix has a fat content that’s been bumped up from 6% to 10%. Oh yeah…fatty. Poke a few holes in the mound of creamyliciousness, drizzle some liquid gold on top, and finish it off with a sprinkle of sea salt. This stuff is like crack. I think I’ve had a nonstop craving for it ever since my first taste of the stuff.
8. Dim Sum Feast — For all you #PFB2010 cognoscenti out there, this post was my entry for Challenge #3: create a luxurious dinner party. I pushed my culinary boundaries and tackled something I never would have thought I could pull off: homemade dim sum. Shrimp Bonnets (Ha Gow), Meat Dumplings (Siu Mai), Turnip Cake (Lo Bok Go), Barbecued Pork Buns (Cha Siu Bao), Egg Custard Tart (Don Tat)…I’ve never been so proud of a meal!
9. Chicharrones Two Ways — I have a whole new appreciation for the wonders of chicharrones. Exhibit A: Adobo Hobo’s Filipino-Mex Sisig Taco creation, full of juicy, tender, vinegar-seasoned pork, topped with onions, jalapenos, crema, and a crispity crumble of golden Chicharon Crunchies, all on top of a warmed tortilla. Totally brilliant. Exhibit B: 4505 Meats’ famous Chicharrones masterfully crafted by Ryan Farr. Salty, sweet, spicy…sweet baby Jesus, these hit all the pleasure points. Unlike more traditional chicharrones that have a hearty, hard crunch (like the kind used in the Sisig Taco), the texture of these are light as air. So delicate, they are a translucent color, and literally melt on your tongue, leaving just a trace of bacon-y flavor, spiked with a touch of chili powder and a kiss of sugar.
10. Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate Ganache & Salted Caramel Sauce — And now, to leave 2010 on a sweet note, I present, this pretty Southern Belle of a pie. A sassy take on the traditional Banana Cream Pie, featuring a buttery golden graham cracker crust coated with satiny layer of dark chocolate ganache, sweet bananas, thick vanilla-specked pastry cream, and pillows of soft whipped cream swirled with salted caramel. Purrrr.
Happy New Year, my loves! This year would not have been the banner year it was without all of you. Thank you Thank you Thank you, for reading this little ol’ blog of mine. Every comment that’s shared and word of encouragement given means the world to me. *smooches*