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Monday, February 17, 2014

Bok Choy Salad Recipe

Recently I learned that bok choy is the number one vegetable in China. It seems to be the number one vegetable in my CSA box lately. It's a very healthy vegetable with a ton of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K plus and is even a good source of calcium and iron, but I have to admit, after serving it steamed or sautéed again and again, I was looking for a new way to prepare it. As luck would have it, at a Chinese New Year's dinner I stumbled upon a terrific dish at Fang restaurant . It was served raw, as a salad with a soy and sesame vinaigrette alongside some chunks of short rib. Bok choy is very mild flavored but it has great texture. The leaves are tender and somewhat herbal without being bitter, and the stems are very juicy and crisp. I had never considered using bok choy in salad but after trying that dish, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Looking around online I found plenty of Asian inspired recipes for bok choy salad, and a few takes on coleslaw and even ...
Friday, February 14, 2014

A16 turns 10

A16 restaurant is celebrating a 10 year anniversary. That’s a huge accomplishment in any city, especially San Francisco. A16 focuses on the food and wine of Southern Italy. When it opened, the idea of a regional Italian restaurant was a bit of an anomaly in San Francisco. And Neapolitan style pizza was nonexistent. Needless to say a lot has changed in 10 years (including the expansion of A16 to locations in Oakland and Tokyo ). Recently I got the chance to speak with Wine Director and Owner, Shelley Lindgren to talk about Italian food, wine and the success of the restaurant.  How much does travel play a role at A16?  A lot! This year I’ll be going to VinItaly . I’ve been able to send people, but it’s been years since I’ve gone. Most people catch the bug when they go to Italy and want to get back there again. It’s important because it’s where things start clicking. We try to make wine trips happen. It brings the products to life. It’s the stories you hear and every winery...
Thursday, February 13, 2014

Is Certified Chocolate Better?

The  Rainforest Alliance  sent me a collection of Rainforest Alliance Certified and Verified chocolate. I liked some it, including fun candy bars from  Bixby  and chocolate bars from  Dagoba . I would love to be able to tell you that a simple logo like the Rainforest Alliance frog or one of the fair trade certifications like UTZ or Fair Trade USA guarantees that the products you are buying are better for people, animals and the environment. But I can’t. It’s just not that simple.  Certifications are all about transparency, but I couldn’t find details on the fees on the Rainforest Alliance website and a representative of the Rainforest Alliance didn’t supply them to me (some details on the comments section). In speaking with people who work both for companies that do and don’t carry the Rainforest Alliance logo I learned that the fees that are charged for verification and certification are not insignificant and it's likely those costs are passed on to consumers. The co...
Monday, February 10, 2014

The Lucky Pig Recipe

I am somewhat obsessed with a dish called the Lucky Pig, it’s served at Solbar in Calistoga and I order it almost every time I dine there. It’s basically tender roast pork served with a lot of other goodies—sesame pancakes, peanuts, jalapeños, herbs and lettuce, sauces, and even a little noodle salad.  SolBar is a Michelin star restaurant at the Solage resort, but it’s got an approachable menu that has both healthy light options as well as more indulgent food and the staff couldn’t be nicer or more accommodating. Speaking of accommodating, to order the Lucky Pig I have to cajole other diners at my table to share it with me. The size of the roast pork shoulder varies, but it’s quite a lot of food. I also have to convince someone to go to Calistoga with me and since it’s about an hour and half drive, !’ve been working on my own version of it to enjoy at home.  I’ve simplified the recipe quite a bit. In my opinion there are only a few elements that are really crucial, spec...
Monday, February 03, 2014

More Favorites from the Winter Fancy Food Show 2014

Here is another round up from the Fancy Food Show, the last one actually. It’s a mishmash of products that didn’t really fall into the other categories (or somehow slipped through the cracks).  While not new, I don’t remember ever tasting the fabulous Blenheim apricot preserves from B&R Farms in previous years. I’m pretty sure I would have remembered. The intensely bright, sweet and tangy fresh flavor of these heirloom apricots is such a treat. I liked the preserves best but all the products were great including the chutney and apricot red pepper preserve. A winner at the Good Food Awards , Rick’s Picks Smokra is a unique smoky okra pickle with a nice texture. I asked how they got the smoky flavor and was told “just smoked paprika.” These would be great in a sandwich or served as part of an antipasti. They really tasted like okra, not just pickling juice.  It’s been a few years since everyone went nuts for Skillet’s bacon jam an oniony bacon condiment that ...