Wednesday, January 23, 2013

San Francisco: Mission food crawl

Continuing to recall the start of this month, when I was up north....The afternoon of January 2 was sunny and clear, and so Andrew and I drove up to San Francisco for some fun.  First, we soaked up the gorgeous weather and worked up a bit of an appetite by meandering around the SF Botanical Garden.  Then, we drove down to the Mission, parked on Valencia, and walked east on 24th Street toward our first stop, Dynamo Donut & Coffee.  Below is the "Hibiscus heart beet" donut, which was indeed a little tangy with hibiscus flavor and pinkish from beet juice.  Look at the cute little heart!

The donut was very tasty for a baked good and great for a donut, but not mind-blowing.  Then again, my expectations may have been too high, especially as they were almost sold out by the time we arrived (there were only two flavors left).

Then, retracing our steps backward, we stopped at La Palma Mexicatessen and ordered chiles rellenos stuffed with meat.   I had never had chiles rellenos before, and these turned out to be a messy, delicious concoction.

Third stop: Humphrey Slocombe.   We shared an ice cream sundae of one scoop "Secret Breakfast" (bourbon caramel) and one scoop of balsamic caramel, with a brownie, whipped cream, and preserved cherries.    This was certainly some of the best ice cream we'd ever had, and not cloyingly sweet despite the two caramel flavors.

Our final stop, up on 18th Street, was Pizzeria Delfina, where we shared one tricolore salad with grana padano and one margherita pizza.  No pictures, but we'd been before.  This time we were seated cozily at the bar, where we could watch the pizza makers moving rapidly and gracefully around each other in the small kitchen, somehow managing to avoid collisions.

After pizza, we headed home.  The grand total for this culinary adventure: just under $50, and worth every penny.  We'll have to do it again sometime!  There are plenty more donuts, Mexican food, ice cream flavors, and pizza to enjoy along that same route.

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year's Eve 2012

Happy New Year to all!  After a very relaxing winter break, I'm back at school for the last six months of second year (which includes Step 1 of the USMLE.  Yeah, that's going to be fun).  But as for cheerful culinary memories from break, here's a recap of the dinner that Andrew and I cooked on New Year's Eve.  In preparation, we made several grocery stops:

1) Pedrick Produce (in Dixon, i.e. a convenient stop on the way from Davis to Stanford), for zucchini, squash, giant white mushrooms, and pearl onions.

1) Dittmer's Gourmet Meats & Wurst-Haus.  We bought two pounds of pork butt (which is, as I just learned, actually a particular cut of pork shoulder), after telling the butcher what kind of preparation we had in mind.  Andrew picked up a bottle of hot pepper sauce that looked quite epic.  Dittmer's also has a sandwich counter, and so for lunch we shared a sandwich of mortadella, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, pepperoncinis, and Dijon mustard on Dutch Crunch bread.

2) Whole Foods, for sourdough bread, honey, tea, blood orange bitters, and sweet vermouth.

3) Target, for a meat thermometer.

4) The Milk Pail, for Brie, rosemary, and red currants.

While cooking, we enjoyed a cheese plate of Brie, sourdough, and red currants, as well as an apertif of Prosecco with blood orange bitters.

We started preparing the pork butt with some salt and pepper, as well as some sliced garlic placed into slits cut into the meat, and began roasting it at 350 degF with some pearl onions.  To follow on our success with a rosemary honey sauce back in November, we wanted to try a more balanced honey sauce this time: rosemary bourbon honey, with the rosemary providing some sharpness to counter the sugar.  The three components were simmered together for a while before being poured onto the pork after a little less than 1.5 hrs of cooking (when its internal temperature was nearing 150 degF).  We put it back into the oven until it reached 165 degF.

The vegetables were sliced and roasted with some salt, pepper, and olive oil.  

The pork was perfectly tender and richly flavored by both the sauce and the salt/pepper/garlic, the onions had caramelized, and the simply prepared vegetables provided a delicious complement.

With Manhattans and candles, dinner was complete.  This was certainly one of the best meals that we have ever cooked, and a wonderful way to close out 2012.

Credit to Andrew for the pictures (except the cheese picture, which is quite obviously subpar).