Friday, July 27, 2007

Bottled Tap Water

Recently, a lot of attention has been raised about bottled water and its negative impact on the environment. In addition to the obvious need to manufacture plastic bottles (much of which ends up clogging up landfills), a lot of energy is consumed transporting the water to the consumer. Bottled water opponents also argue that bottled water is far more expensive and no cleaner than tap water (which, in the United States, is quite clean). In many cases, it is simply bottled tap water.

In fact, PepsiCo just announced that they would be changing the labeling on the Aquafina bottled water product to say just that. Aquafina bottles will now have the words "Public Water Source" listed on the label. I wonder if Coca-Cola will follow PepsiCo's move toward corporate responsibility by updating the labels on Dasani, their line of bottled water.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Quick Update

I apologize for the recent drought of new posts. I was out of town for most of last week attending a work event at the Seascape Resort in Monterey Bay. With family in town visiting me this week, I haven't had much time to catch up on my favorite blogs, much less add to my own. I definitely hope to get back into the swing of things next week with some new blog entries.

However, I did want to pass along some unfortunate news coming out of the Chicago food scene. Grant Achatz, executive chef of Alinea, announced that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth. Achatz, who worked under the tutelage of Thomas Keller at The French Laundry, opened his restaurant two years ago to much acclaim, serving up unique and innovative dishes such as his "PB&J", the essence of the sandwich compressed into a single bite. Achatz is undergoing chemotherapy treatment which could potentially affect his sense of taste. Hopefully the treatment will go well and he will have a speedy recovery.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Introducing... What We Ate

Here's the first in what hopefully will be an on-going series of posts summarizing some of my dining experiences. I often find that when I am busy, especially with work (like I am now), I tend to let this blog go by the wayside. Hopefully, with this is condensed version, I can still share some of my stories, even when other things take over my life.

Friday, July 13

Lunch: Coco500, 500 Brannan Street; 415-543-2222

One of the perks of Karen's job is that they have summer hours, which means her weekend starts at 12:30pm Friday afternoon. This past Friday, I took a half-day off to join her in an early weekend.

What we ate:

  • Braised duck panini: shredded duck on lightly toasted bread - dee-lish! Came with a watercress-orange salad on the side.

  • Spaghettini: pasta with local squid in a ink-based sauce with a hint of lemon and olive oil. Also excellent.

  • Truffled squash blossom flatbread: Also very good, though it seemed that it would be more appropriate as an appetizer (which is how we had it) instead of a main course

What we drank:
  • Blueberry fizz: blueberry infused gin, milk, egg white, organic sugar, lemon, seltzer. The citrus was stronger than we expected, but it was still quite good.

  • Samuel Smith's Organic Lager


Dinner: Chutney Restaurant, 511 Jones Street; 415-931-5541

Ah, nothing like dinner in the middle of the Tenderloin at 10pm on a Friday evening (Friday the 13th no less).

What we ate:
  • Saag gosht: Nice tender pieces of lamb in a spinach-based sauce.

  • Chicken Biryani: The rice was nicely flavored, but the chicken was a bit dry.

  • Lamb Kofta: Tasty with a nice amount of spice and seasonings.

  • Naan


Saturday, July 14

Brunch: Mayflower Restaurant, 428 Barber Lane, Milpitas; 408-922-2700

Karen and I went out to dim sum with my mom, who flew into town late the previous evening.

What we ate:

Dinner: Out the Door, 865 Market Street, Westfield San Francisco Centre; 415-541-9913

Karen and I stopped by for a quick dinner before the Ani DiFranco concert at the Warfield.

What we ate:
  • Imperial rolls: With shrimp, pork, tree ear mushrooms, and glass noodles. Very tasty and quite filling.

  • Grilled lemongrass pork over vermicelli noodles with lettuce, cucumber, and mint: A nice, fresh-tasting dish.

  • Star Route Farm baby chard, kale, and mizuna: Sauteed with garlic just the way we like it.

What we drank:

Friday, July 13, 2007

Range: Our Dinner in Pictures

Last weekend, Karen and I were finally able to meet up with Tesha and Jeremiah for dinner out on the town. Even though my ex-pat friends have been back in the Bay Area for over nine months, it's been amazingly difficult find a mutually workable time to get together for a nice, sit-down dinner due to our exceedingly busy schedules. In fact, we were fortunate that Tesha had just flown back from Europe last Friday and was eager to meet up for dinner (despite the jet lag).

Karen and I thought that we would introduce them to one of our favorite dining spots in San Francisco, Range (842 Valencia Street; 415-282-8283), a Mission District destination featuring American cuisine. Karen has this knack for picking out up and coming restaurants before they become the buzz of the town. Range was one such find, a restaurant that we visited well before it received its Michelin star rating.

We started our dinner with a round of drinks. The ladies both opted for a peach bellini, while we guys went for the cocktails: Jeremiah had a Dark and Stormy, while I chose the Siren. While we were sipping on our drinks, we ordered a couple of appetizers. We put in for an order of the chicken liver mousse, the silky smooth and fabulously tasty starter. It was so good that I probably could have devoured the entire serving by myself. Since Tesha isn't a big fan of offal, she started out with a bowl of the lentil soup, which was also quite good as well.

After we polished off the starters, we each ordered a glass of wine to go with our main course. Rather than going through a detailed analysis of each of our entrees, all of which were very good, I'll let the photos do most of the talking.

Karen ordered the Alaskan halibut with a stew of pancetta, flageolet beans and fennel:


I went with the slow cooked pork shoulder with romano beans and a morel mushroom sauce:


Jeremiah ordered the special of the evening, roasted quail on a bed of trumpet mushrooms:


After some deliberation, Tesha picked the pan-seared hanger steak with fingerling potatoes and a horseradish sauce:


As usual, the food was fantastic. Each dish was generously portioned, full of flavor, and just well-executed. As delicious as the entrees were, the desserts, made in-house by pastry chef Michelle Polzin, might have been even a bit better.

The bittersweet chocolate-armagnac soufflé with chocolate sauce:


The strawberry shortcake with lemon cream:


Freshly made crêpes with blackberries and ice cream:


The Three Sister's Serena cheese plate with raw cow’s milk cheese with date purée and hazelnuts:


A snapshot of us, the happy diners:


Once again, our dinner at Range was excellent. It is simply a great place for dinner, whether you are celebrating a special occasion or just passing though the neighborhood during the evening hours. Range is one restaurant that I plan to visit again and again.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ratatouille!

I'm not talking about the movie, but rather the dish! My wonderful girlfriend surprised me last Friday evening by preparing this simple, but tasty French recipe for dinner. Karen opted to go with a quick version of the recipe with poultry sausage. She spent a good part of the afternoon shopping for ingredients and dicing vegetables, which included red bell pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, Japanese eggplant, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. In lieu of a hot pepper, Karen used a spicy turkey sausage with cilantro.

The recipe was very fast and easy to make. First, she sauteed minced garlic in olive oil for a few minutes. Then, she added in all of the vegetables except for the tomato and continued to saute the mixture until it began to soften, perhaps about 7-8 minutes longer. Then, she mixed in the diced tomatoes and cooked it for an additional 3-4 minutes. Finally, she put in the sliced sausage, and the chopped basil and parsley, and cooked the mixture until the sausage was warmed through, which took another 4-5 minutes.

To accompany the dish, Karen prepared some purple cauliflower that she had picked up at the Old Oakland Farmer's Market. She cut cut up the head into small florets, tossed them with some light olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them in the oven while we were preparing the ratatouille on the stovetop. The cauliflower was done just as the ratatouille was ready.

The results were fabulous. The ratatouille was colorful and delicious. The roasted cauliflower was crunchy and contrasted nicely with the colors and textures of flavorful vegetables in the ratatouille. This dinner combination was definitely a winner and something that we will make again (hopefully soon).

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Visit to the Kwik-E-Mart

On the way home from work tonight, I stopped at the local Kwik-E-Mart. Yes, the Kwik-E-Mart. In conjunction with Twentieth Century Fox, 7-Eleven has transformed 11 of its convenience store locations into Kwik-E-Marts to promote the upcoming The Simpsons Movie, which opens nationwide later this month. One of these temporary Kwik-E-Marts is located in Mountain View, CA, just around the curve from the Googleplex and, fortunately for me, on my way home from work.

As I drove up to the store, I noticed that the 7-Eleven signs next to the parking lot had been liberated of their newly applied store logos, undoubtedly the work of souvenir-seeking scofflaws. However the store itself, with its new facade, was left unscathed.


Not surprisingly, a lot of other people were also checking out the newly transformed store. I counted at least 25 people, both outside the Kwik-E-Mart, snapping photos and loitering about a la Nelson Muntz and crew, and inside the store, taking in the new decor.


In addition to the cosmetic changes, 7-Eleven Stores are also selling a special line of Simpsons-inspired products, including Buzz Cola and KrustyO's cereal. Unfortunately, this particular location had run out of many of these specialty items for the day. However, I was able to procure a Squishee (although not the all-syrup Super Squishee which I had wanted):


The Squishee helped to wash down the pink frosted doughnuts that I picked up. Mmm.... sprinkles.


While my mission for KrustyO's and Radioactive Man comics was left unfulfilled, I'm sure that I will have ample opportunity to pick some up. These Simpsons specialty items will be sold at 7-Eleven stores across the country, so even if you don't live by one of these Kwik-E-Marts, you too can pick up some of your favorite products from the town of Springfield.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Joey Brings the Mustard Belt Back Home

In a high noon showdown earlier today, Joey Chestnut took down six-time defending champion Takeru Kobayashi by downing 66 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes to win the 2007 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. Chestnut shattered his own world record of 59 1/2 dogs, which he set last month in the Southwest regional qualifier. Kobayashi was credited with eating 63 dogs in a losing effort, but there was a moment at the very end of the competition where it appeared that he suffered a "reversal of fortune". Karen and I were both surprised that he was not disqualified for this seemingly obvious breach of the contest rules.