Lots of Good Eatin’ Over Memorial Day Weekend!

What a fun Memorial Day Weekend we had...so much yummy food I’m almost sick of eating. Almost.  It started out with an afternoon at KQED filming the season 6 opener of Check Please! Bay Area...that’s right, yours truly is going to be on the show!  More on that as the air date get’s closer!

During the rest of the weekend we tried out three restaurants that we hadn’t been to before: Chouchou in Twin Peaks, Flour + Water in the Mission, and the new Bun Mee in the Fillmore.  We attended SF Carnival 2011 and even made it to the North Bay to go to the 22nd Annual Larkspur Flower & Food Festival after a 35 mile bike ride up Mt. Tam...gotta earn those calories somehow!

Phew, I’m tired, happy and full just thinking about it!  Since it was such a fun food-filled weekendI thought I’d give you a quick run down so you can decide which restaurants or events next year you want to check out yourself...
Weekly Menu: May 29-June 4, 2011
Sunday: Slow Cooker Tandoori Chicken w/ Rice & Veggies
Monday: Memorial Day BBQ!
Tuesday: Leftovers: Tandoori Chicken
Wednesday: Asparagus & Potato Frittata with Side Salad
Thursday: Leftovers: Frittata
Friday: YJI Fundraiser!
Saturday: Ginger Pepper Salmon with CousCous and Seasonal Veggies
  While the recipes linked to above aren’t the exact ones I’m using this week (they’re from my cookbooks Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever and SF Chronicle Cookbook Volume II and aren’t online) they are pretty close and a good starting point for those of you who want to make these.  
Summer Produce is Here…Great Time to Start Eating Locally!

As I was walking towards my neighborhood Fort Mason Farmer’s Market this weekend I felt a certain buzz in the air as I approached.  There were more people, more smiles, more laughter and a general uplifting feeling.  As I looked a bit more closely I quickly realized why...the start of the summer produce has arrived!

I grew up in Massachusetts, so to be clear eating only what produce is in season is not something that I was brought up doing but after 8 years on the West Coast this has become second nature to me (well except for my bananas and the occasional pineapple which are never in season here but I can’t seem to give up!).  In climates a bit less forgiving than CA, eating only what is in season is admittedly not quite as easy but I truly believe that it is still a worthwhile and rewarding effort...why?  Well, my reasons are...
Weekly Menu: May 22-28, 2011
Sunday: Beef Bulgur Bean Burgers & Baked Sweet Potato Fries
Monday: Shrimp & Balsamic-Orange Onions
Tuesday: Leftovers:Beef Bulgar Burgers
Wednesday: Leftovers:Shrimp & Balsamic
Thursday: Dirty Rice (DIY - see below)
Friday: Early Dinner @ Lovejoys Tea House
Saturday: Dinner @ Saha with Jen & Brent
For Thursday's dinner, I'm using the term “dirty rice” loosley.  I typically don’t have chicken livers on hand (which is what puts the "dirty" in dirty rice.) so I just use leftover rice and mix it together with cooked sausage, ground chicken or beef or shrimp and some seasonings...usually including a bit of tomato paste, chili flakes and garlic.  I often throw in whatever veggies I have on hand to use them up as well.
 
SG Video: Trying Crickets in Thailand
 

Here’s a fun video that I’ve been a bit slow uploading...me trying my first ever insect!  We tried thai-spiced crickets while in Chiang Mai, Thailand and here you get to watch my actual reaction as I take my first bite.  It was super hot and sweaty there and we had been walking around all day so while it’s not my best looking video it’s still pretty fun!

Link to the video here or with the rest of my videos on the videos tab of this site.

And of course, as always, I’ll caveat that until I get my own TV Show (anyone?  anyone?) my videos are definitely amateur but for me it’s really all about sharing the experience with you not creating a perfect video.  I hope you enjoy it!  
Slow Cooker Peach Sage Pork Loin (DIY)
This is a newly created dish based on some random ingredients I had in the house that I wanted to use up...but it came out pretty delicious so I thought I'd share!  Really easy and straightforward as long as you start it first thing in the morning.  This is the approach I took, but in the spirit of DIY feel free to experiment based on whatever ingredients you have on hand!
Smoky Pea, Prosciutto & Artichoke Pasta
The EatingWell website very rarely steers me wrong, and this recipe is certainly no exception.  It's a relatively quick and easy recipe, unless you've never worked with fresh artichokes to get the heart for a recipe.  That takes a little bit of time, but once you do it once or twice you'll breeze right through it!  The lemon water is imperative so you don't end up with brown ugly artichoke hearts.  Of course, you could certainly use canned artichoke hearts, but with the spring peas & artichokes in season and so great right now this is a great way to use local, seasonal veggies in a delicious recipe.
Weekly Menu: May 15-21, 2011
Sunday: Peach Sage Crock Pot Pork Loin  & Swiss Chard (DIY - see below)
Monday: Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup (DIY)
Tuesday: Eat Out - Doggone Comedy Fundraiser Night
Wednesday: Leftovers: Pork Loin & Grilled Asparagus
Thursday: Smoky Pea & Artichoke Pasta
Friday: Dinner with friends
Saturday: In Sacramento visiting family
  Sunday’s DIY - I plan to simply sear the salted/peppered/garlic pork loin then then sauté 2 whole onions sliced with a big bunch of chopped sage.  I'll pile it all in the crock pot pour a can of peach nectar and a bottle of beer over it set it on low and let it cook for 10 hours.  We'll likely serve it on top of grilled sourdough sage bread slices (from a bakery in the Outer Sunset...it was the inspiration for this dish) and a side of swiss chard sauteed and topped with toasted walnuts.   For Thursday’s dinner, feel free to use canned artichoke heart & frozen peas to make this a much quicker week-night dinner.  
Omnivore Books Talk with David Downie of Terroir Guides

If you haven’t been to Omnivore Books it’s a must for any foodie...particularly if you like to cook.  It’s a small bookstore housed in an old butcher shop (the back room is actually the “walk-in freezer”) and all of their books are food-related with a heavy emphasis on cookbooks.  Since it’s a small shop they don’t always have tons of copies on hand but they’ll happily order it for you if needed and they have lots of rare, older cookbooks as well, like a traditional Bahamian cookbook from 1975.  Fun.

Omnivore Books also has a great monthly events calendar with food authors coming in for talks and book signings...this is how I was able to hear David Downie of Terroir Guides speak about food travel writing this past Wednesday.
Atelier Crenn – Poetic Culinaria

Atelier Crenn is a relative newbie to the Cow Hollow end of Fillmore Street (in the old PlumpJack Cafe location) having only opened their doors in January of 2011.  While I don’t typically do restaurant reviews, Atelier Crenn is a unique enough experience that I thought I would share.

Atelier Crenn is the brainchild of Dominique Crenn (you may recognize the name from her Iron Chef win or her three Michelin Stars). Dominique spent her childhood in France and her French upbringing is certainly seen in her cooking.  The name of the restaurant references her father’s workshop Atelier Papa Crenn and his artwork can be found in the restaurant.  If you venture for a visit, be prepared, it’s an expensive night out even without alcohol.  The Chef’s 8-course tasting menu cost $115 (four-course menu is $72) with beer/wine pairings running you an extra $70. Since I was with two friends we opted to simply buy two bottles of wine instead (at roughly $60 each). So at the end of the evening the damage was about $180 including tip.  Each.  And to be perfectly honest, your not exactly full after 8-courses of “Poetic Culinaria.”  But it is a unique and entertaining evening that is different from most anywhere else I’ve been in San Francisco... consider it dinner and a show all wrapped up into one.