Tag Archives: food

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Anthony Bourdain in Paris

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Skirt steak with shallots

This is a classic French dish. I hadn’t had it for a long time, and decided to give it a try over the week-end. It’s dead easy to cook, and so tasty. The secret is obviously the shallots. They have to cook super slowly (like most onions!).

If you cook for 2 people, you’ll need 4-5 big shallots, but just make sure you’re not short!

Slice finely (but not too thin as you want them to keep some consistency) the shallots. In a pan, melt some butter, and sweat the shallots at medium heat, avoiding the butter to burn. If needed, lower the heat. After a good 10 minutes (you may want to add butter if the pan gets too dry), add some red wine. I’d say a third of a glass, but you can probably do a bit more if you want to cook at higher heat. Then very slowly, bring to a simmer, and let simmer for 30 minutes. The wine should be almost all gone, leaving like a paste around the shallots.

During the last 10 minutes of cooking the shallots, cook your steak. I’m not going to tell you how to do that, I’m sure you know already! On the side, you can also prepare some potatoes (fried with persillade!).

Once the steak are cooked, let them rest for 5 minutes, to let the juice go all around. Put them on a plate. Lay down the shallots on top of the steaks. Place the potatoes next to the steak. And you’re done.

This is super tasty and will make a great quick dinner for you and your friends!

Oh, don’t forget the red wine. Very, very important!

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Omelette aux C├Ępes (Porcini mushrooms omelette)

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When my friend Pascal told me he had some real “Cèpes”, I begged him to give me some! This type of mushroom is actually common, and is better known as Porcini. But there is a big difference between species of the Porcini category. If you look at Wikipedia, you’ll see what I’m talking about. And the ones he had, were the good ones: dark in color, with an amazing smell! When you can lay your hand on some fresh and wild ones, don’t hesitate one second. Just get them!

I didn’t have a lot, but just enough to do an omelette. It took me less than 30 minutes to cook this amazing meal… Ready?

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First of all, an omelette requires great eggs. Make the effort and get some eggs from a farm as opposed to a supermarket. You will taste the difference. Big time! For two people, i’d say use at least 2 eggs per person. Break the eggs in a big bowl, and beat them. Add some salt, pepper and… a tiny bit of vinegar. Put aside.

To prepare the mushroom, brush them to get rid of all the dirt. Cut the very last bit of the base of the mushroom. Cut the head in pieces (i usually prefer lengthwise) and the base. Put some duck fat in a pan (like 1 table spoon) and sautee the mushroom. Make sure they turn golden – if not, increase the heat. When they start to get brown, lower the heat (keep under low heat for 5 minutes).

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Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Mince some parsley on the side and garlic. Mix with the mushroom and let cook for another 5-6 minutes. Then add the beaten eggs to the pan. Let cook slowly (don’t get impatient, or it’s going to burn). After a few minutes (once the omelette is getting to a solid base but still juicy on the top), bring the pan in the oven and let cook until done. At this stage, it really depends on your tastes. Some people like it very well cooked, some others very juicy. Keep an eye on it, and take the pan out of the oven when it feels good!

I like to serve this dish with some nice salad. It’s just so simple, and so good!

Enjoy!

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Couleur Cafe, Potrero, San Francisco

Yesterday night, we went for dinner at Couleur Cafe, a French restaurant in the Potrero neighborhood of San Francisco. As a disclaimer, I want to clarify that I actually didn’t go inside the restaurant. It was so warm that we ate on their terrace, in front of the building.

The menu is very simple, with traditional dish you would find in a French brasserie. The service is good and the atmosphere very casual. I like eating outside. In Paris, it happens so often. It’s almost a must do when the sun shines. For some reasons, they aren’t that many places in San Francisco with outdoors (Chez Spencer has a cool one). If you know any of them, please let me know! Now, let me tell you a bit more about what I ate at Couleur Cafe.

As a starter, I had a frisee with lardons and a poached egg. The salad itself was great, the lardon so so and the egg is always this magical thing in a salad. I just love to break the yolk and see it getting mixed with the dressing. It gives so much taste and consistence. Overall, that dish was good.

After that, I picked the Moules Marinieres. I love mussels. Well cooked, they can be a real treat. The traditional marinieres style is pretty basic, but can be very tasty. Usually, folks let some onions and shallots heat up in some butter, before throwing some dry whine wine, then the mussels. Cover. Cook under very high heat until the mussels have opened. And you’re done. Super basic. Super easy. Always tasty.

As far as I’m concerned, I always add celery (at the same time as the onions and the shallots). And of course, parsely at the very end (otherwise your parsley cooks and become all brown). Finally, the secret of mussels is obviously the fries! You can’t eat mussels without French fries!

The dish I had yesterday was good. It was not the best mussels I ever had, but it was very correct. I think I would have added some parsley and more celery, but that’s probably just my tastes. They actually have tons of other mussels recipes (including one with merguez!) and I’m quite looking forward to try them!

Readers often ask me to include the price of the dishes I have. As far as I remember (yeah, we had some wine!), the overall price was very correct. The mussels and fries were $18 and the frisee was $8. See, it’s not that bad!

Site:
Couleur Cafe

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The Slanted Door, San Francisco

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The Slanted Door, on the Embarcadero, or at the Westfield shopping center in San Francisco is by far one of my favorite restaurants. Modern Vietnamese food has been served in that place for years, and I’ve never, ever, been disappointed by a meal there.

It opened first in 1995, on Valencia Street, in the Mission. It was a huge success, and the owners, the Phan family, decided to move to the Embarcadero. They just opened a second location in the food court at the Westfield shopping center.

The vision is pretty straight forward: vietnamese food, with organic and local ingredients. This lead to the creation of some fantastic dish, like the noodles with dungeness crab. My favorite there? Easy!

The spring rolls! Honestly, there are some of the best spring rolls i’ve ever eaten! They have different versions, but the meat fresh ones are delicious, and I quite like the crispy ones, wrapped in salad leaves with mint. The fresh ones are accompanied by a peanut sauce from out of this world. I’ve tried to do the same at home and failed miserably. Luckily for me, the rolls are available at the “out of the door”, the take away store from the slanted door. Talking about “out of the door”, I heard they’re going to open one in the Fillmore area. Since i live near there, I just can’t wait!

I’ve tried many dishes in that place and I have yet to get one that I don’t like. It looks like I’m not the only one as the menu hasn’t changed in all those years. Why would you change a winning team?

The Embarcadero location is very nice. The best spot is the tables with the sofas facing the bridge, especially in the evening. Very romantic, and also very San Francisco! Mind you though, you do want to book in advance. There is very little chance of walking in and getting a spot, even though it happened to me once but I had to sit at the bar (which is not unusual for me!).

The Wesfield location is perfect for a break in a shopping day, even though it is not as pretty and nice as the other one. The menu is exactly the same, even though the service is sometimes a bit slow. Don’t try to get a table there between 12:30 and 1pm. It’s just packed and unpleasant. If you could get there a bit early, it’s perfect.

And you’ll enjoy it! Try it!

Site: Slanted Door

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Top 5 restaurants in San Francisco

I had the chance to talk to a group of French entrepreneurs/leaders today (tres sympathiques!). The minute I told them I write a blog about food in San Francisco, they asked me where they should go. Then it hit me: I need to write a post about my top 5 restaurants in San Francisco. So here it goes.

This post will focus on high end restaurants. The average price in those places is between $100 and $150 per person. I will definitely give my top 5 in a cheaper range later.

So interested? Let’s start!

1/ Gary Danko: lot of my friends tell me I’m crazy to think this is the best place in the city, but honestly, I don’t think I’ve found anything that I like more than Gary Danko. The atmosphere is great, the service is impeccable, and the food is just unbelievable. It’s not that easy to get reservations, but not impossible. As far as I’m concerned, if someone wants to make me a very happy person, just invite me there! I highly recommend the frogs legs, wrapped in pancetta, which is one of their signature dish (and one of the first one they had on the menu).

2/ Jardiniere. First, I love the fact they serve food until late, even though their tasting menu is served until 9:30pm only. The atmosphere is very chilled, with a piano bar in the middle of the room, and two floors of dining tables. Second, the food never disappointed me, even though I’ve been there several times since I used to live a few minutes away. It’s a great place for a quick drink, or a fantastic and elaborated meal. You don’t have to mind the opera or ballet crowed, as this is their primary audience target. Their wine list is also very comprehensive, and if you don’t mind the price, you’ll have a great time.

3/ Dining Room (Ritz Carlton). Very French. Very traditional. And yet, fabulous. The food is great. The decor very classic. And the service absolutely perfect. I remember when I went there, I was telling my wife that I would love to know the score of a game that was playing at the time of our dinner. A few minutes later, the waiter would come and put a piece of paper next to me with the score. Very classy. As far as I remember, the staff was French, which, when you’re French yourself, can make the experience much better. The cheese selection was phenomenal.

4/ Ozumo: On the Embarcardero, Ozumo is one of the those trendy and yet amazing place to have sushi. They have the finest selection of Sake, and delicious sushis. Reservations are quite easy to get, and the place is huge and can also accommodate working meeting (they have private rooms). I’ve never been disappointed with their sushi and some of their dish like black cod are a delight.

5/ Mezes: I’ve already written a review of Mezes, and I actually think it’s one of the best places in the city. Simple, delicious, tasty, it’s one of those places where you will always have a good experience, if you like mediterranean food. A good place to visit!

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Tortilla Heights, San Francisco

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I’ve been meaning to write this post for a very long time. Tortilla Heights in the Lower Pac Heights neighborhood of San Francisco, on Divisadero, was one of my first disappointment with Mexican food. I decided to give it another chance. Why? Because every time i walk by it, it’s packed. So sure, people can be “sheep” and all follow the stupid one. But it’s been very consistent over the last months: the place is packed.

The bar is clearly a reason why the place is crowded. Nice and beautiful people all around (yeah, I know, I was the exception!), kind of trendy, it’s a very good place for a night out. But still, the restaurant was crowded as well. There must be an explanation. The last time I ate there, it was just dis-gus-ting. As in HORRIBLE. Wanna know how this time went?

Well, it actually went ok. Much, much better than my first time. Still not worth those good old mexican places, cheap and delicious, but it was ok. Honestly, there isn’t much to say about the food. It’s decent. I find those trendy mexican restaurants over priced in general, but you can’t say that it’s not good.

It is actually very similar to Left at Albuquerque on Union Street. Nice, fun, but nothing that’s going to knock you out of this world. When you live in San Francisco, I actually question the need for those places. Really. Sure, let’s have some nice bars, but trying to build an upscale Mexican place, when for a fourth of the price, you have much better food at La Taqueria, is just something I have a hard time to comprehend.

Anyway, that place is probably going to be full tonight again. And I may go back there. Just for the fun though, not for the food.

Site:
Tortilla Heights

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Clos de Vougeot, 2000, Grand Cru, Nicolas Potel

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A friend of mine opened this bottle of wine yesterday night, with some duck confit and cheese. I have to say, this was just absolutely phenomenal. So yeah, it’s a bit pricey. Right, very pricey. But once in a while, you deserve it.

So if you want to make someone very happy, just buy a camembert, some fresh bread, and this bottle of wine. It will probably cost you less than taking someone to a nice restaurant for the evening, and you’ll have a much better experience. Yes, this thing can do a whole meal. And you’ll remember it for a long time!

Here’s where you can buy it (note that I don’t make any money from this transaction).

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Fish., fish restaurant, Sausalito

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I love fish and seafood. On this foggy day in the city, we decided to go to Sausalito to check out some tiles. And suddenly, i wanted fresh fish & seafood. Badly. I wanted to eat by the bay, watching the boats. Outside. And I wanted potentially some oysters, to go with a simply cooked fish. Does such a restaurant exist? Yes, and it’s called fish in Sausalito!

The setting (as the picture taken from my table can testify) is perfect. You’re right on the bay, watching boats go by. It’s a very casual place, far from being pretentious, except maybe for the price. You can’t say it’s cheap: a main course will cost you around $30, oysters are $3 each, and you can get a fresh trout salad for around $15.

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I decided to get a whole sea bass. I used to eat seabass all the time back in Europe and loved to grill it. It’s not the same type of bass as on the pacific coast, but they were offering to grill it as well, so i decided to give it a chance. Many times, in the US, they’re trying to make things too complicated. Fish is so simple, and at the end of the day, you can try all you want, but if the fish is not good, it’s not good. Fresh fish is the secret to cooking fish.

I was so surprised when the dish arrived at our table. Grilled fish, lemon, green asparagus and potatoes. That’s it. No artificial cream or ketchup or any kind of fattening sauce. Not just the fish. Second surprise was to see they actually stuff the fish with lemon and some parsley. Very basic, but that’s how you’re supposed to grill fish! In Greece, when they grill fish, they just add some dry oregano, lemon and olive oil on the fish and you’re done.

Right there, as I was looking at my plate, I was in heaven. The real deal though, was yet to come. How would it taste? Well, it was perfect. Perfectly cooked, and really fresh. Even though I had to pay $33 for that dish, it was absolutely worth every dollar of it! Also, if you’re not really hungry, you could share this dish easily.

So Fish. did it for me. I will surely go back as this is really the type of place I enjoy. If you know a nice and simple fish restaurant, please don’t hesitate to comment on that blog. I’d be happy to check your suggestions and try them!

Site:
Fish.

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Spruce, San Francisco

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Spruce, in the Laurel Heights area in San Francisco, was a big surprise for me. My wife actually decided to take me there for a nice dinner, but I had no idea what to expect. I actually vaguely heard of this restaurant.

We were in the car when we decided to go there. We called the restaurant to ask if they had a table available, and were told that they had nothing for us, except maybe a sit at the bar if we were lucky. Wait! That was a Monday evening. A restaurant fully booked on a Monday evening? That must be a good sign…

As we arrived there, the valet parking guys (even though we didn’t valet park with them!) welcomed us and were extremely polite. A nice gentlemen opened the door for us and we entered the world of Spruce. It’s really fascinating. Dark colors, big paintings, high ceilings, mirrors… It has its own style. Even the music was kind of unique.

We managed to get a table in the bar area, which was full of ladies with Hermes and Gucci purses! The minute after we sat down, a waiter came by and asked us what we would like to eat. We chose the scallops as a starter to share, my wife picked the sole as a main, and I had the halibut. All this, of course, with a nice glass of white wine.

Before they started to bring our food, they gave us a nice amuse bouche to eat. If you remember my post on Jack Falstaff, you know that I hate fried amuse bouche. Well, this one was baked. And so tasty that it did exactly what it’s supposed to do: trigger your appetite.

The scallops were from out of this world. They were caramelized, and serve with a fantastic pea soup and some brandade of cod. Hard to beat, and there is no way I’m going to be able to make this at home. The haddock was all right. I wouldn’t say amazing, but well cooked haddock is always good. On the other hand, the sole was fantastic. It was poached in fennel and served with nice mushrooms, and spinach in cream sauce, it was plain delicious. I absolutely recommend that dish to anyone!

We didn’t have desert, but I asked for the cheese plate as I really wanted to taste it. They offer a European selection or an American selection. Guess which one I picked? And I was not disappointed!

So yes, the place is far from being cheap. But I don’t think it’s the kind of place you go every night. If you have a romantic dinner to plan, or want to do a very good meal in the city for a special occasion, Spruce is definitely a place to consider.

Site:
Spruce

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