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Thursday, March 30, 2006

Ruth Reichl Q&A

For those of you who missed Ruth Reichl, the good news is her talk will be broadcast on Writer's Voice Radio on KALW . When I have a date I will post it. In the meantime here are some highlights: What do you cook at home on a Tuesday night? Fast things. Spaghetti carbonara, lamb chops, potatoes, steamed fish. Gourmet Everyday recipes from the magazine. What projects do you have coming up? HBO has bought and is developing a series based on Comfort Me with Apples and Garlic and Sapphires . If not New York, what are the great food cities right now? Hong Kong, Sidney and London. What's happening in Asia is stunning. There are well-trained chefs, lots of money and an obsession with the regional cuisine of China. It seems to be percolating into Australia. Favorite restaurants in London? St. John and Moro . Favorites in New York? Telepan and Pearl Oyster Bar . What food writers do you admire? AJ Liebling, MFK Fisher, but also non-fiction writers who happen to w...
Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ruth Reichl Speaks!

Last year I had the pleasure of hearing Ruth Reichl speak as part of the City Arts and Lectures series. Her third memoir in the series, Garlic and Sapphires had just been published and in addition to reading selections from the book, Reichl shared her favorite cookbooks , told stories of reviewing restaurants in disguise, revealed what it's like running Gourmet magazine and recalled memories of living and eating in the Bay Area in the 1970's. This evening Ruth Reichl is speaking at A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books at 7 p.m. Do show up early, her appearance last year was sold out and I'm sure it will be a packed house. If you get there before me, save me a seat! I have already gobbled up Ruth Reichl's first two memoirs, Tender at the Bone , and Comfort Me with Apples . In each of them Reichl took me into her confidence with deeply personal stories, her warm and witty style and charmed me with her wonderful food writing. Not surprisingly she's just as engag...
Sunday, March 26, 2006

Is there anything tastier than reading Pim's Thai cooking posts? Probably not. She shares secrets you're not likely to find elsewhere unless you have a direct link to Thailand. Savor her latest series which begins here , continues here and here . Cookie Crumb of I'm Mad and I Eat has taken on the most valiant effort in the kitchen, "The Ice Harvest" . Track her progress, which began on March 18th. When will it end? Ask Amana Freezerburn. Heidi at 101 Cookbooks beat me to the punch. I was going to write about The Itty Bitty Kitchen Handbook but she got to it first! Let me just add, this friendly little book has tons of strategies to help you cope and thrive in a tiny kitchen. Perfect for someone with an RV, a boat, studio apartment, you name it. While Heidi's post focused on solutions for cleaning, author Justin Spring's strategies for shopping and cooking were my favorite parts of the book. I loved his tips for doctoring cornbread mix, his toa...
Friday, March 24, 2006

Zagat Survey

It's that time again. If you register with Zagat , then rate three or more San Francisco restaurants, you will receive a free copy of their popular guidebook. The survey has been streamlined this year and it's much easier to fill out. This year you can even win $100 if your comments are witty and insightful enough. Enter the survey by April 16, 2006 . If you're not a subscriber, sign up for free, here . And go here to enter the San Francisco survey. Do it today, before you forget! Other active surveys include: New York Los Angeles Philadelphia London Though some people prefer the online edition, I like to have the guidebook around because it's a convenient way to search for restaurants by neighborhood or type of cuisine. On the other hand, it's by no means comprehensive or entirely accurate, especially when it comes to prices. The ratings are democratic in nature which may or may not be the best method of evaluation. With the Zagat, you end up with a popularity con...
Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Cinnamon Balls: Recipe

Oh the trials and tribulations that come with spending holidays with the family! Will they never cease? The trials and tribulations that is. With so many relatives around it's easiest to just go with the flow. This year due to some changes in plans, it looks like Lee and I will be celebrating Passover three times. Oh joy! Lee loves the holiday so it's no big deal for him. And actually we will be spending the first night together just the two of us which will be a first in our five years of marriage. A first time celebrating the first night of Passover means I can try a bunch of new recipes. New to me anyway. I have a couple of books I am eager to try out. One is Jewish Food: The World at Table and the other is The Healthy Jewish Cookbook . Both books have tons of exotic recipes that will allow me to wipe out the memories of the Jewish food I loathe most--gefilte fish. Neither book has a Passover section, so I will delve into each book to find recipes that fit the specific...
Monday, March 20, 2006

Kappa: Restaurant Revisited

When I went to Japan I thought I knew what Japanese food was. Boy, was I ever wrong! Going to Kappa is much the same experience. In addition to the kimono-clad hostess, the menu written in Japanese and the virtually all Japanese clientele, the food is koryori style, a traditional small plate cuisine from Kyoto not found anywhere else in town. Sure most of the dishes are familiar, but if you order the prix fixe meal several of the items are quite out of the ordinary. Lee has been wanting to go back to Kappa ever since we went two years ago for his birthday. Since the prix fixe meal is rather special that was his choice again for this year's birthday. As I mentioned the last time around, there is no sign in English for the restaurant and the wooden door slides open so you really don't know where you are going. Lost in Translation anyone? The monkfish liver was one dish I remember from our last meal, creamy and mild yet firm almost like a Japanese foie gras. Dungeness c...
Saturday, March 18, 2006

Check out Gastronomie's oh-so-cutting-edge meal at WD-40 WD-50 . If you haven't had a meal that qualifies as "molecular gastronomy" reading this post is the next best thing. Guess what's still languishing in my fridge? Rutabagas and leeks. So the soup made over at Albion Cooks was just the inspiration I needed. Those parsnip pancakes look pretty luscious too. Finally if you are dying for more details of the opening of Trader Joe's in New York, Apartment Therapy: The Kitchen reports back and even took photos. FOOD...
Thursday, March 16, 2006

Contest Winners

Here are the answers to yesterdays quiz: What's the most popular cheese on a pizza in Ohio? A. Parmesan B. Ricotta C. Mozzarella D. Provolone What's the signature pizza in Boston? A. Pepperoni B. Clam and Garlic C. Mozzarella and Basil D. Lobster Marinara Which pizzeria is the longest continuously running in one location, by the same family in the U.S.? A. Giordano's B. Totonno's C. Grimaldi's D. Lombardi's Congratulations to Sharon, Amy and Anu who each won a copy of Pizza by Diane Morgan and Tony Gemignani. FOOD + PIZZA...
Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Pizza Contest

Italy may be the birthplace of pizza, but it's plenty popular here in the U.S. where there are over 61,000 pizzerias, and 350 slices of pizza are consumed a second. Just how much do you know about American pizza? Take the quiz below and find out. The first three people to correctly answer all three questions below will win a copy of Pizza by Diane Morgan and Tony Gemignani. Choose the correct answers and post your guesses in the comment section, be sure to include your email so I can contact you, if you win! Mailing address must be in the U.S or Canada. Only one entry per person so choose carefully. Good luck! What's the most popular cheese on a pizza in Ohio? A. Parmesan B. Ricotta C. Mozzarella D. Provolone What's the signature pizza in Boston? A. Pepperoni B. Clam and Garlic C. Mozzarella and Basil D. Lobster Marinara Which pizzeria is the longest continuously running in one location, by the same family in the U.S.? A. Giordano's B. Totonno'...
Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Pizza: Cookbook Review

The Bay Area is not really known for pizza but maybe it should be. After all we are the home of pizza throwing champion Tony Gemignani. No one is more passionate or knowledgeable about pizza than Tony. Perhaps you've seen him on TV doing tricks or teaching others how to toss the dough. He's the captain of the World Pizza Champions and even invented a silicon based glow-in-the-dark pizza dough practice disk called " ProDough ". He has a pizzeria out in Castro Valley called Pyzano's Pizzeria and has written a book called not surprisingly, Pizza . He studied at a pizza school in Italy and speaking from personal experience, he makes a great tasting pizza. Most of my cooking is the quick and easy variety. But every once in a while I take on something that requires a little more planning, a little more time, a little more effort. Not brain surgery by any means, but not one of those I'm-hungry-what's-in-the-fridge meals either. While certain things I won&#...
Sunday, March 12, 2006

This week my choice of posts range from sensible to shocking to sublime. I hope you enjoy them. Can you make a delectable meal completely by shopping at Trader Joe's ? Sure you can! Stephanie of The Grub Report frequently does and shares her top picks. While out shopping with the very same Stephanie , I came upon a butcher's counter with huge slabs of pork belly. The first little voice said "go for it". While the second little voice said "you have jumped off the gym bandwagon you may NOT buy that". Apparently the first little voice had more luck with Derrick at Obsession with Food, who shares his handiwork with a ten pound slab . Want to be your own Pierre Herme? Ok then check out Food Musings chocolate truffle adventures . After Catherine's success, I am tempted to try this one with orange or kumquat peel instead of lime...that is if the second little voice doesn't win out again. FOOD + TRADER JOE'S + CHOCOLATE...
Friday, March 10, 2006

Cooking with Amy Survey

I'd like to invite you to take part in a short online survey so I can get a better sense of who is visiting and how I might improve Cooking with Amy. Just to be perfectly clear, I have no plans on accepting advertising, the survey is only to help me to improve the site and better understand what you are looking for when you visit. I'm not interested in making money from the site, just in making it better. Take me to the Cooking with Amy Survey! If you take the survey, you will also have the opportunity to join a panel of food experts. From time to time Cooking with Amy will be conducting surveys and soliciting your opinions about food and beverages, products and services that might be of interest to you. In return for your participation, I will occasionally be offering incentives such as products to try, gift certificates or cookbooks. Stay tuned and next week I'll have a trivia contest where you will be able to win one of four copies of a terrific pizza cookbook. FOOD ...
Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Brightest Sunshine in a Jar:McQuade's Elgin Habanero Chutney

What happens when Scottish creativity meets a Central America chili pepper in San Francisco? My choice for the Taste Everything Independent Food Festival Awards is what: McQuade's Elgin Habanero Chutney . Alison McQuade handcrafts chutneys that are bright and deliciously spiced with just the right amount of heat. She uses only natural ingredients and doesn't overcook the chutney keeping it chunky and fresh tasting, not gooey. All her chutneys reach the perfect balance of spices, sweet and sour flavors that gives them their distinctive tang. Alison began making chutney as a gift for friends and neighbors, using her grandmother's Spiced Apple Chutney recipe. But she quickly went beyond the traditional with seasonal flavors like Cranberry and Mandarin, Melon and Peach and even Persimmon. Now her chutneys can be found on local menus and in shops, although they are still popular with her neighbors. Look for them in places like Cowgirl Creamery at the Ferry Building Marketpl...
Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Trader Joe's Hall of Fame

What's the most anticipated store opening in New York City? Based on the blogs I'm reading ( Gawker , Gothamist , etc.) I'd have to say Trader Joe's . What makes Trader Joe's so special? It's a store with personality, quirky and slightly goofy, but endearing to most just the same. It's not best as a one-stop shop grocery store, but there are lots of great products lurking. For the quality of the products they carry (not to mention the money-back satisfaction guarantee) their prices aren't just competitive, they are often cheaper than you can find anywhere else (check out the prices on Valrhona chocolate for example). I've been a Trader Joe's shopper for years but it wasn't until the third San Francisco store opened just a stone's throw from my house, that I started shopping there almost weekly. Everyone's got their favorite picks at Trader Joe's. Here are my Top 10: 1. Plugra Butter 2. Chicken Sicilian Sausage with To...
Sunday, March 05, 2006

I've only recently discovered the thoroughly wonderful blog, Matt Bites. This week his post on artichokes answered a question I posed about Fiesole artichokes almost a year ago to the day. Do you only have one bottle of soy sauce in your pantry? Well shame on you! Me too. But I've learned what I need to know about soy sauce from the latest primer over at Tigers & Strawberries and so can you. You've heard of dessert for breakfast, crepes, fruit salad and the like, but how about breakfast for dessert? Check out a la cuisine who documents Smoked Bacon and Egg Ice Cream, Pain Perdu and Tea Jelly. FOOD...
Friday, March 03, 2006

Eat Me/Delicious

Meccadonald’s, Kenneth Hung, Digital Media, 2002 A tasty coincidence? Eat Me and Delicious are two art exhibits occurring this month in San Francisco. Check them out in person or online. Currently on view at the Frey Norris Gallery Eat Me : Emerging Artists on Consumption is an exploration of consumer culture, and features the work of five west coast-based artists, Susan Bettag, best known for illustrating the "“Bad Girls Guides", Trek Thunder Kelly, "Super Pop" LA artist, Ema Harris-Sintamarian, nominee for SECA-SFMOMA award, Kate Eric a hugely popular local artist duo and Kenneth Hung, digital media artist who has recently shown in over 20 countries. Over thirty five new works include interactive digital media, “consumer objects utilizing knives, condoms, and lunch bags, oil and acrylics on canvas and works on paper. Eat Me opened yesterday and runs through April 15. Delicious is the second annual group show of art inspired by food and drink at STUDIO Gallery...
Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Favorite Things: Charles Chocolates

You probably think you know what this is, right? A box of chocolates, with some missing. Oh, but it's so much more than that. First of all, this box of chocolates is a box of Charles Chocolates . If you're lucky enough to have had Charles Chocolates you know that these are some of the best, premium, handcrafted, fresh chocolates made in the Bay Area. But there's still more to this story. The box you see is one I got from Chuck Siegel, the Charles of Charles Chocolates. I got it at his facility in Emeryville where I got to see his talented pastry chefs in action making and creating brand new delicious confections. While Chuck is self-taught his staff is strictly professional with experience from top-notch restaurants like the Fifth Floor and Farallon. Better than a golden ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, visiting a real chocolate factory, meeting Chuck, tasting and even taking home confections so new that they have yet to be officially launched, is what m...