March 21, 2006
geranium closes: march 31

Quick heads-up: If you've eaten at Geranium and want to again, now's your chance. If you haven't, and you've wanted to - there's (literally) no time like the present. Lorraine & Jim are closing down Geranium to focus on their family - the restaurant will be open through the end of the month. There's a great piece about what they do and why they do it up on their site right now. I encourage you to go read it.

You'll see us there a lot over the next two weeks. We'll definitely miss the food and the staff tons. (Geranium serves incredibly tasty vegetarian comfort food. Go. See them out in style.)

Posted by shock on March 21, 2006
March 20, 2006
Lazy Saute Pan Chicken with Sherry and Sundried Tomatoes

This is turning into my weeknight/lazynight/must clean the kitchen blue plate special. You can start dinner and then let it finish in the oven with minimal prep. I've been making a few variants: so far the sherry and tomatoes are my favourite. The tomatoes give the sauce a pretty colour and provide small bursts of salty-savory tomato goodness.

1 pkg. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 5)
scant tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/4 c. good sherry or marsala wine
1/8 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. oil-packed sundried tomatoes, chopped.
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F
Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a saute pan on med-high heat, then brown the chicken on each side. Add the onion around the chicken and cook together for another few minutes. Splash sherry into the pan and reduce for about a minute, then drizzle with cream and add the tomatoes. Cover and place in the oven. Ignore for about 30 min, or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the lid and return to the oven while you steam some vegetables or toss a salad together. After about 5-10 more minutes, the sauce will have reduced further and caramelized a little around the chicken.

The timing on this is highly approximate and quite forgiving.

So far, this was best over fresh spinach fettucine from Il Pastaio. When I don't have fancy pasta, I like to serve it with brown rice or potatoes.

Posted by naomi on March 20, 2006
March 07, 2006
IFF2: Best Reason to Go to the Farmers Market on Sunday Instead of Saturday

If you head to the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Market on Sunday, you miss out on all kinds of good stuff - Fatted Calf, my very favorite lettuces, the green garlic or fresh berries or perfect pears, the Blue Bottle guys pulling and pouring awesome coffee, the Tierra pepper people, and any number of other treats. But on Sunday? On Sunday, Boulette's Larder serves beignets - and you must eat them.

Welcome to day two of the Second Independent Food Festival Awards! We're so pleased to be participating again; this year the awards are being announced throughout the week. Gastronome is pleased to present Boulette's Larder with the "Best Reason to Go to the Farmers Market on Sunday Instead of Saturday", for their Sunday beignets.

beignetsfanned2adjust300.jpgBoulette's Larder is a special place - billed as "Mise en Place For Your Home Pantry", they're tucked away in a corner selling ingredients, building blocks, and even prepped main and side dishes for you to take home and eat. They're also a formidable restaurant, with a big, gorgeous communal table sitting just inside the door next to the huge stove. They serve a terrific brunch, full of tasty sweets and savories, good coffee & European hot chocolate. The decor is simple and charming - gorgeous flowers, piles of dishes on shelves, and a spice rack full of phials and jars. The blend of laboratory and kitchen sensibility makes my heart sing. On the best Sundays, Boulette sits on my feet while the staff smiles at me. If I take you to Boulette's, you know I love you. It's definitely my happy place.

beignetsraswithmenu300.jpgAnd on Sundays? On Sundays there are the beignets. They're round beignets, served piping hot, rolled in some sort of sugar. I've had them with pistachio sugar, with sugar & pimente d'esplette, with orange sugar, lemon sugar, and sugar mixed with ras el hanout (my fave so far). They release a cloud of steam when you bite in, and just about everyone at the table starts with a generous boatful. (If your neighbors don't have one, offer them one of yours. They'll order up some of their own, immediately.)

It's funny, how much & how instantly I loved the beignets at Boulette's. See, I grew up in a family that loves cooking, feeding people, and eating; my Mom is an excellent cook. I'm an adventurous eater, and an open-minded, scientific cook. Yet there remains a category of foods where it's just Not Right unless it's Mom's. I don't eat lasagne in restaurants. What they serve? It's not lasagne - and just makes me angry. It took me years to come to terms with the idea that while those tasty stuffed pasta dishes weren't Ravioli, they were delicious. (I still have to translate menus quietly in my head to avoid disappointment.)

My Mom makes beignets every Christmas morning (and some other special mornings, if we ask really nicely.) Here's the crazy thing - Boulette's doesn't make my mother's beignets. Mom's beignets are less eggy, more yeasty, and squarish. They're dusted in powdered sugar (good for blowing on your little brother). Cafe Du Monde beignets taste like my Mom's beignets. Boulette's are round, smaller, rolled in granulated sugar & spice, and are moister and eggier - they taste more like a brioche dough inside. And I love them both. And they're both beignets. No naming games necessary. I sit comfortably inside the thing that isn't cognitive dissonance, and happily share my beignets with a friend. And wonder what sugar will be on offer next week. That's magic.

(Also? They press Blue Bottle coffee, tableside - so even if you miss the BB crew on Saturday, you can still drink their coffee on Sunday.)


Posted by shock on March 07, 2006