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Tag Archives: San Francisco

SF’s Version of the Ramen Burger

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Ramen chef, Keizo Shimamoto first introduced the world to the “ramen burger” last summer at Smorgasbord food market in Brooklyn, NY. I was immediately intrigued by this hybrid fad, and was somewhat envious (for once) of my New York friends who had such easy access to such a unique food item. This envy intensified after my friend and fellow food lover reviewed her ramen burger experience in a blog post. She enjoyed the burger, and agreed that it was a novelty that should be experienced if you have access to it – which I did not. Alas, I had since forgotten about the ramen burger until KDD sent me a pic of one last week… from a restaurant that is a ten minute walk from our apartment. Could it be true? Do I finally have immediate access to this culinary delight that has taunted me for months?

The Club Burger at Shabu Club

The Club Burger at Shabu Club

It is true. The restaurant is Shabu Club, located on the corner of Clement and 11th Avenue in the Inner Richmond district of San Francisco. They primarily serve shabu-shabu, a Japanese hot-pot dish that allows you to cook vegetables and thinly sliced meat in two different flavored broths (also delicious). But Sunday through Thursday they serve the $9 Club Burger: a 1/2 lb angus burger sandwiched between a crispy ramen bun and topped with red pepper aioli, scallions and arugula. The burger was surprisingly not very hard to eat, and I loved the crispy exterior texture of the bun with the soft noodles in the center. The red pepper aioli was creamy and savory, and it tied the burger together perfectly. I definitely would not have this with cheese because I don’t think it would fit well with the other flavors in the burger, but the addition of a fried egg might be interesting.

I’m not sure how the bun is made, but YumSugar suggests using an egg to bind the cooked ramen noodles, then molding and pressing it in ramekins to be refrigerated for 15 minutes before frying in a touch of vegetable oil. I may attempt to try this at home, but in the mean time I’ll happily devour the $9 version at Shabu Club.

Boulette’s Lardon

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On Thursday I met my friend (who will be known as Annie P from this point forth) for lunch at the Ferry Building. She lives in London with her British boyfriend (side note: I am partly responsible for the existence of their relationship. In Judaism, I would be called the “Shidduch“), but visits San Francisco often because her family is here. This is good news for me because I get to meet her for lavish lunches at the Ferry Building, the perfect middle point between her house and my office.

We settled on Boulette’s Larder for this particular lunch, another recommendation from Panini Girl. Since her last recommendation proved to be a delicious decision, I trusted that this would be no different. Annie P and I opted for a table outside on the pier. I sipped on a 2010 Les Domaniers Côte de Provence Rosé (of Grenache) while she stuck with coffee, her vice of choice. Before the waiter could even tell me what the special was, Annie P mentioned that there was a delicious sounding stuffed quail recipe that I might be interested in. The waiter then mentioned that they had once left. After glancing over the rest of the more-than-appealing menu for half a minute, I put my order in for the quail special. Best. Decision. Ever.

stuffed quail

The quail was stuffed with Bloomsdale spinach over a bed of braised lentils, topped with fresh parsley and a type of Chimichurri. My description doesn’t do it justice. The quail was tender, the lentils were perfectly cooked and seasoned, the amount of food was Goldilocks perfect (not too big, not too little, just right), and the flavors melded together harmoniously. I also had an opportunity to try Annie P’s halibut over mixed greens with a Parmesan-lemon dressing. The fish was cooked perfectly, and I loved the light dressing on the radicchio. It was almost like an egg-less, anchovy-less Caesar dressing. YUM.

halibut

All in all, the meal was beautiful and scrumptious, filled with the freshest ingredients put together in simple yet innovative ways. I would definitely second this recommendation to anyone looking for a class-act San Francisco dining experience.

Match Made in Food Heaven: Salt House and Chenin Blanc

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Last night my friend and I dined at Salt House. Although it was both of our first times dining at this San Francisco gem, we had both been to the sister restaurants, Town Hall and Anchor & Hope (where I had previously dined on the most visually memorable dish of my lifetime: sea urchin and dungeness crab). Based on my experiences at those restaurants I had very high expectations for Salt House, which were met deliciously. Lucky for us, I know the hostess at Salt House so she hooked us up with a good seat in the back and let the waitress know that we were “VIP” – thanks, Kat!

I had decided to bring a bottle of wine to dinner the night before. It took me nearly a half hour of menu reading, winery web surfing, and food pairing research but I finally settled on a bottle that I had purchased this past weekend at BevMo under the suggestion of my father. He urged me to look for a South African Chenin Blanc, and I found and purchased Simonsig Chenin Blanc for a mere $11.99. I didn’t have that much exposure to South African Chenin Blanc (or Chenin Blanc in general), but based on what I had read about the grape I knew it would be the perfect fit for the majority of the menu options at Salt House – most of which consisted of seafood, soups, salads, chicken and a couple of read meat dishes. I figured if we stuck to the lighter stuff than this wine would go with just about anything we ate. And boy, was I right!

After Kat seated us at our VIP table, I told her to ask the waitress to bring an ice bucket for my wine. She quickly appeared with a bucket, added the wine, and went back for more ice. My friend and I let it cool as we sipped on our water and caught up on the latest in our lives. After about fifteen minutes of chatting, we decided it might be time to look at the menu.

We selected to share the crispy shrimp dish and wild arugula salad with blue cheese, English peas and Hazelnuts. She ordered the scallop dish as her entree and I ordered the Fulton Valley chicken with sausage and sunchoke puree. After we ordered we sampled the wine that I had brought (thankfully it was a screw top so I didn’t have to worry about any corkage issues). The wine had a bouquet of slight floral notes, but was outshined by the luscious tropical fruit flavors of pineapple and pear. The taste was crisp and fruity with a hint of honey. I immediately loved it and couldn’t wait to pair it with our meal.

The crispy shrimp arrived first (they split it on two plates for us – so VIP) and looked and tasted fantastic! The dish consisted of battered shrimp over green beans, Serrano ham and almonds with sprinklings of mint and parsley (or maybe it was cilantro?). The flavors blended perfectly with the Chenin Blanc, and the crunchy texture of the meal was a nice juxtaposition to the smooth, silky wine. I was midway through gobbling up my shrimp when the arugula salad arrived. Once I finished the crispy shrimp, I dug into half of the salad. It was very light with a citrus vinaigrette, and the hazelnuts added a nice sweetness to the salad that was juxtaposed to the soft, salty blue cheese. I was excited for the English peas in this dish, but I think they got somewhat lost in the fuss of all the other elements – or maybe my dining partner got more peas than me. The tropical fruit flavors in the Chenin Blanc complimented the sweet and salty flavors very delicately, and brought out a deeper complexity in the fruit of the wine.

Our entrees arrived about 10 minutes after they cleared our appetizers. I appreciated this break in the meal because we could savor the wine a bit, and let ourselves get hungry for more food. I hate when restaurants rush the courses and try to get you out the door to seat someone else. Salt House was so relaxed and the service was so smooth and attentive, that I didn’t even notice we had been there for over two hours by the time we left!

I used to be weary about ordering chicken at restaurants, because I felt like I was missing out on something more exciting. However, the Fulton Valley chicken at Salt House was the second best chicken dish I have had in San Francisco (any San Francisco foodie knows that the roasted chicken for two from Zuni Cafe is the best in the city. Order it as soon as you sit down, as it takes about an hour to cook). The chicken was presented in six 1-inch slices over a blend of sausage, Chinese broccoli, and sunchoke puree with a delicious brown sauce spread on the side of the plate. I wish I took a photo! Initially, I was a little concerned about the size of the dish but of course I ended up practically licking my plate clean (after I gave a hefty portion to my dining partner). As I expected, the wine paired perfectly with the juicy chicken and spicy sausage. I also tried a bit of my friend’s scallop dish. The shellfish was cooked perfectly in a rich puree, that also would have been suitable for a Chardonnay or Sancerre.

We finished off our meal with a bit of mason jar cheesecake with pomegranate and a crumble – the perfect way to end the meal. The pomegranate brought out new flavors in the Chenin Blanc, such as peach and nectarine.

Overall, the meal was quite delicious and I would definitely recommend this restaurant to someone looking for a place to dine close to the financial district. I would also recommend their other two restaurants: Anchor & Hope for some of the best seafood dishes in San Francisco, and Town Hall for a fancy lunch date with clients (don’t forget to order the pot de creme).

I will most certainly go back to BevMo and pick up several bottles of the Simonsig Chenin Blanc, and I won’t have to worry about breaking the bank! But who am I kidding? There is no doubt that most of my spending money goes to wine. I consider it an investment.

Cioppino & Pinot

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Last night I made a large pot of Cioppino for a group of 10+ for dinner at my house. For those of you living on the East Coast who have never heard of Cioppino, it’s an Italian-American seafood stew that originated in San Francisco. Italian fisherman who settled in the North Beach neighborhood developed this dish from the idea of cooking the leftovers from the day’s catch in a tomato and wine based broth. It’s commonly served with toasted sourdough and a Caesar salad – which is exactly what I did!

The recipe I used was based on this one from the November 1997 issue of Bon Appetit. I changed the proportions a little because I was making it for 10-12 people and used different fish than suggested, but otherwise followed the recipe pretty closely.

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 large celery stalks
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup red wine (I used a California Meritage)
  • 3 TB red wine vinegar
  • 3 6.5 oz cans of chopped clams in their juices
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white wine (I used Pinot Blanc)
  • 1 lb of Prince Edward Island mussels
  • 1 lb of cod (about 3 fillets), cut into 1-inch pieces (cut around the tiny bones)
  • 12 oz shrimp, peeled and deveined*
  • 12 oz bay scallops

*I purchased all the fish yesterday at my favorite gourmet grocer, Falletti Foods. The butcher will clean the shrimp for you if you ask (and if they don’t already have cleaned shrimp ready), but you will still need to chop it into bite size pieces before throwing it in the pot. I opted to get smaller, cleaned shrimp that were bore bite size and still full of flavor. These were perfect for the stew and I would recommend using them if you can find them.

  1. Using the pulse button on a food processor, chop the onions, celery, garlic and parsley. I did each separately so it didn’t turn to mush. Combine these four ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl (or tupper ware of your low on bowls and trying to save them for the actual meal – like me), combine the red wine, red wine vinegar, 3 cans of clams and their juices, rosemary, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, bay leaf, cinnamon and allspice. Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil in a LARGE stock pot. I’m talking like 12 inches tall… the largest pot you own.
  4. Add the onion, celery, garlic and parsley and cook over medium-high heat until soft, about 8 minutes.
  5. Add the crushed and diced tomatoes and their juices and simmer on low for 10 minutes.
  6. Add the bowl of the red wine/clam/spice mixture and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, slice the sourdough and preheat the oven to 300. Spray the bread with some olive oil and toast in the oven about 10 minutes before serving the Cioppino.
  8. Also meanwhile, cut the cod if you haven’t already. You can also start to prepare the croutons for the Caesar salad if you’re making that and following my recipe (highly recommended).
  9. Once the broth has simmered for 30 minutes, add the water, white wine and mussels. Simmer until the mussels begin to open, about 8-10 minutes.
  10. Add the cod, shrimp and scallops and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until fully cooked through.
  11. Ladle into bowls and serve with toasted sourdough and Caesar salad.

I wouldn’t change a thing about this if I made it again (except maybe the portions if it was for a smaller group) – which I will! The flavors in the base were so harmonious with each other. I was apprehensive about the inclusion of cinnamon and allspice, but I think those were flavor elements that contributed most to the stew. I also loved the use of the canned clams, which is also something I was apprehensive about (canned clams? ew.), but I loved the texture it gave to the stew. The addition of the bay scallops were delicious, and cod is the perfect light fish for this stew. I think seabass (as the original recipe suggested) would have been too hearty, and also too expensive. Be warned, this isn’t a cheap dish to make! But if your friends chip in with wine, appetizers, dessert and maybe even a little cash it will all round out.

I served the Cioppino with a selection of California and Oregon Pinot Noir and California Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc. The white wines went perfectly, softening the spice with their rich and fruity flavors. Pinot Noir is also perfect for Cioppino because you don’t want to pair it with anything that is too rich or full-bodied that will compete with the flavors of the seafood in the stew.

As a side note, I just had a bowl of leftovers for lunch and it’s even better the next day!

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