World Dinner Club

World Dinner Club
World Dinner Club

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lers Ros Thai - Plal Kra Pong Nuang Manow Sea Bass | Foodspotting

Lers Ros Thai - Plal Kra Pong Nuang Manow Sea Bass | Foodspotting

Superb dinner last night at the new Lers Ross in Hayes Valley, SF.

S, Jenny and I had appetizers of Chicken Satay, Succulent pork shoulder, fragrant and delicate Tom Yum Koong Soup (below).

Our main course was steamed sea bass with discs of garlic and ginger and heaps of fresh lemon grass (below), which stole the show and some terrific sweat chili clams with basil that packed amazing sweet and spicy flavor.

I'm psyched that Lers Ros is now so close. I can't wait to go back.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

AP News: Analysis: Tiny desserts, bacon backlash shape 2011

AP News: Analysis: Tiny desserts, bacon backlash shape 2011:

'via Blog this

Those strangely contradictory food trends continue!

"Perhaps that is where we should look for our 2012 trendy "it" food. Breakfast. We could even have tiny gluten-free pancakes made in countertop cookers. Perhaps topped with kale."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Choosing Your Airline Seat Based On Your Social Network | TechCrunch

Choosing Your Airline Seat Based On Your Social Network | TechCrunch:

'via Blog this'

Dear fellow travelers,

Would you like to be seated next to someone with whom you share something in common or do you just want them to shut up and let you watch the movie?

Curious to get your thoughts and comments!

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Short Order: Chef Gaston Acurio's Guide to Lima, Peru: Restaurants + Bars: GQ

The Short Order: Chef Gaston Acurio's Guide to Lima, Peru: Restaurants + Bars: GQ:

'via Blog this'

Had a sumptuous lunch of cebiche, causas and empanadas on Saturday at Gaston Acurio's La Mar on San Francisco's Embarcadero. Peruvian food is dynamic, diverse and bursting with flavor, which S appreciated after a week in Zurich. This tour of Lima by Gaston himself on has the perfect, simple description of Peru: food is the most important thing.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Commonwealth: Respect for ingredients and a love for the diner

A restaurant I recently took Sam, a food-obsessed friend, to was Commonwealth in the Mission area. The tasting menu is very reasonable  at $65 (and the foie gras bon bon is on Alan Richman's best of SF list ). However, even a la carte you won't be disappointed: the sea urchin and the coffee braised beef cheeks are incredible. The service was warm, the staff truly knowledgeable as well as sincere and above all the food was exceptional. 

The arancini on a schmer of lettuce cream was slightly crisp and contained a silky center of truffle cheese.  The sea urchin stole the show.  It was unctuous and powerful served crostini style with ginger, kimchee, cauliflower and wild greens on a seaweed brioche.  We followed these small plates with cubes of duck confit with delicate squash agnoletti, savoy cabbage and sweet young turnips with a refined star anise broth. Coffee rubbed beef cheeks were a close runner up to the urchin.  The meat melts in your mouth with the luxurious beet-horseradish gemolata that accompanied it. Somehow an Alexander Valley, CA carignan was able to get me through this complete meal. Given the complexity of the flavors it's hard to pair a single glass of wine to a meal, but this carignan was rather versatile. Dessert was a rich peanut and chocolate semifreddo bar with texturally-impressive frozen popcorn that was marshmellow-like, which capped the meal perfectly. 

The way the staff welcomed and guided us through their wines and dishes was generous and charming. It's delightful to dine somewhere that loves its customers.

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Nigella Lawson Loves Salted Caramel

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

S'mores when you want them in Healdsburg, CA

Moustache Baked Goods is a gem of a bake shop in Healdsburg, CA. S and I discovered it as we were exploring Sonoma. Their S'mores cookie is warmed up and a perfect accompaniment to your cappucino. Alas, there is no drip coffee.
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

Is There Such a thing as a Hole in a Hole-in-the-Wall?

I would often see people lined up inside a convenience store on the corner of New Montgomery and Minna Streets in the San Francisco Financial District. What was the fuss all about? Curious as to what new flavor of Funyuns that they and only they must have, I went in to investigate....

I was pleased to find that The Store on the Corner has a small Korean kitchen in the back serving bulgolgi sandwiches and bibimbap. An nice, old lady was chopping up cabbage and a helpful, elderly gentleman prepared my non-stone bowl from various rice cookers and plastic containers. I paid at the register and hurried back to my desk at work.
The rice was just sticky enough, the pickled vegetables were tasty without being funky and the spicy, red gochuyang sauce breathed life into the mass of allegedly bulgolgi (it was under flavored).  Not an epic meal, but a fun discovery no less, especially for $7 (cash only).  It's not everyday you find a secret restaurant of sorts.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gobble, gobble

It's that time... time for the best holiday of the year! I'm off to Baltimore with S for Thanksgiving.  I'm packing some roomy corduroys for Thursday.

I'm thankful for what a great year its been blogging and eating as well as for greater things to come.

Happy Eating!

A new game to keep the kiddies busy this Thanksgiving: Turkey Matador!

Who says they need an Xbox?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sonoma Weekend

Since moving to the Bay Area from the East Coast, I've missed the scene of fall leaves brightening-up the woods.  I used to drive through DC's Rock Creek Park and along the George Washington Parkway and appreciate this every year.
Fortunately we were still able to experience some fall colors with a weekend trip to Sonoma County, north of San Francisco.
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The contrast and change of the vines may not have been the bright woods of Maine, but it was equally beautiful and scenic. Here are the delicious vines at Porter Creek, a biodynamic winery producing lovely pinot noir.  Nearby is the town of Healdsburg, where I ate the best Parmesan truffle fries of my life at the Healdsburg Bar and Grill. It's also know for having one of the best burgers in America, which I can confirm.  
Dinner was at Jack and Tony's Restaurant and Whiskey Bar where I had a delicious Manhattan and superb cornmeal crusted Rainbow Trout on wild mushroom-potato hash with bacon & molasses butter sauce. 

We found a superb value in the chenin blanc over at the very hospitable Dry Creek Vineyards.  This is destined to be our Thanksgiving wine.  Some of the most impressive wine was at Gary Farrell where I was wowed by the pinot noir and zin that expresses so much variation of terroir from Sonoma.
We also enjoyed a visit to Korbel, nestled among the Redwoods of the Russian River Valley.  

This structure built of Sequoias and free standing brick has stood for over a hundred years despite the series of earthquakes in that time.
One gets an appreciation of what it took to produce wine in the late 19th century seeing the oak casks that were shipped around Cape Horn from New England. The champagne, excuse me sparkling wine, was great.  The Korbel XS brandy was a fun surprise... very citrusy. 
These lovely golden hues are chardonnay grapes in front of Korbel on the edge of the Russian River.
In a miss-guided and eventually fruitless effort to find an out of the way winery called Hirsh, we saw a bit of wildlife and lots of sheep and cows.
However, on the bright side we managed to get to the Pacific Coast Highway and enjoy stunning views of the ocean.
It was a fun way to end whirlwind trip around wine country and the coast.  
It's easy to forget the abundance and agricultural productivity of California and refreshing to get out into the countryside and  feel it up close.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Prosciutto di Iowa?

"Shall I make a flat bread?" I asked last month. "What's a flat bread?" my mother responded.  I explained.  "Oh, a pizza. Well, why didn't you say that?"  Why indeed? I guess it only comes down to shape (round vs. rectangular) and perhaps the presence of yeast to tell the difference. But if there are Sicilian pizzas and Provencal flat breads like pissaladierre that have yeast in the dough, where does that leave us?

S and I used to love the different flat breads at Founding Farmers in DC.  Perhaps missing that she and I made a flat bread dish as a late lunch of sorts yesterday. While we were shopping we bought some goat brie (triple cream!), organic red pears ('tis the season) and prosciutto. However, as I knew this would be baked, the idea of using superb up-market prosciutto would be unconscionable. That's when I discover La Quercia's Prosciutto Americano at the local gourmet store. I told my sister who grew up there how interesting it was to discover prosciutto from Iowa! Some dogmatic devotees of Italian food may be wincing, but I can assure you, I regret nothing.

S rolled out some dough on the pizza peel. I brushed on some olive oil and dusted on some dried, sweet basil. After some quick and coarse slicing and assembly, the pizza/flatbread/whatever went into the oven. Soon a crispy and bubbly circle of molten goodness came forth.

I decanted a bottle of Côtes du Rhône while it cooled. It was hard not to wolf it down. This crust was chewy yet crisp and the pears suitably softened (i.e. only slightly).  The lumps of brie had oozed around the ham; the brie rind crisping-up like phylo.  The "prosciutto di Iowa" had thankfully not turned into jerky and proven the right semi-salty balance to the richness of the cheese.  This is Sunday done right.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Zanzibar Food Odyssey

"Where is Zanzibar?"  people would ask me.  "Is that in the Caribbean?"

As avid readers will remember (based on unique page views, I think that’s about 11 people), a year ago, S and I were in Tanzania for our honeymoon.  We did a popular tour of the country: starting with a safari in the Ngorgoro Crater and then in the Serengeti, climbing Kilimanjaro, and finally flying to Zanzibar in a tiny prop plane. 

Zanzibar is an Island in the Indian Ocean and a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania.  The name formally refers to a collection of islands.  The main one, Unguka, is commonly known as Zanzibar.

I'm not normally a beach person, but after climbing a mountain, even I needed a break. We found tranquility at Pongwe Beach far from the noise and dust of Stonetown and the rest of the city.  The service was warm, food was sensational, and the drinks ample.  

From ancient times, the island was known as a stopover on the Indian Ocean voyages that took people from the Middle East and India to Africa in search of spices, ivory, and other precious commodities.  We of course just wanted to snorkel and eat. One day we took a dhow out into the stunningly clear waters. The fish were not as plentiful as I would have hoped, but fun to see.

Our ample breakfasts ranged from the full English breakfast to continental breakfast with fresh fruit. 

Dinners showcased Swahili cuisine superbly. Swahili food is an exciting fusion of Africa, Arab, and Indian flavors incorporating the spices and ingredients from the land and sea.  This especially means delicious seafood and fruit.
My favorite dinner at the hotel must have been this Kingfish cooked in banana leaf with cumin-rich masala that was was hearty and spicy and paired remarkably well with a full-bodied South African Merlot.

On our last day we passed through Stone town.  The old quarter of town was settled by Persians in the 10th century and subsequently drew many people from around the region as traders and conquerors arrived over time.  Today it is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is known for its Zanzibari doors; beautifully decorated heavy doors with brass decorations.  Similarly, ornate, wooden chests are decorated the same way.

We found a great restaurant in the middle of the day in Stone Town that specialized in Swahili food called Monsoon.
We had a sumptuous lunch, washed down with Serengeti beer. I had a massive plate of local langoustines with spinach, beans and rice and fruit chutney.

 The grilled tiger prawns with rice that S ordered were sweet and succulent.

After lounging around for a few days and seeing the old streets of Stone Town that remain trapped in time, we reluctantly began our trip back to Washington.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Saturday in Napa

S and I had a very nice day up in Napa last month on our anniversary.  We stopped by three wineries, including the famed Opus One, which wasn’t necessarily better than some cabernet/merlot blends at other wineries especially in light of the $200 per bottle price tag. Similar wines from Pine Ridge were just as good. In the end, we just took home a modest half bottle of fume blanc from Grgich!

Lunch at Bouchon was very nice. I had Kushi oysters from British Columbia on the half shell, a delicate lobster bisque, hearty steak frites that look just like those on the back cover of Thomas Keller's cookbook with a Remy Napa cab, and profiteroles with tea.

I like Thomas Keller's philosophy of food (above), even if he is a bit too detail oriented to replicate at home.  Nevertheless I love his sage roasted chicken recipe from the Bouchon  cookbook, as seen on "No Reservations" (below).

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Moments of Zen

For the last few days I have run out of the house without pausing to have my ritual cup of coffee. Forcing myself to slowdown, I made a cup this morning.  It was wonderful. What was I thinking?

I haven't traveled for work in sometime, which is quite alright.. it's rarely glamorous and even when it is somewhere cool, you don't get to enjoy it much.  (I had imagined it was quite the contrary when I was a student).  However, I'm committed to finding the fun in my day when I can enjoy it. Last year in Miami  for 10 minutes every morning I would pretend (at sunrise) to be able to relax over breakfast and feel like I was getting away from it all... before starting a 15 hour work day.  Thank goodness the coffee was strong. A reminder that life's not too busy to stop and smell the French press.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cooking Revealed at TED

Modernist Cuisine is a epic book by Nathan Myhrvold and a novel contribution to cooking literature.  You gain an appreciation for the creative photography in the book from this video.

The 10 Most Annoying Restaurant Trends | Zagat

The 10 Most Annoying Restaurant Trends | Zagat:

'via Blog this'

I really agree with the number one complaint here. The communal table is frequently annoying or even awkward more than it is charming.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Enjoyed this Spin the Globe article by Jorma Taccone of Lonely Island in Afar (which is awesome by the way) earlier this year.  The video doesn't inspire me to get into Swahili rap soon, but this is still kinda funny.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Other Cheese

Boxing Room's Justin Simoneaux on Boucheries and Gumbo - San Francisco Restaurants and Dining - SFoodie:

'via Blog this'

The Boxing Room is a great Cajun place we discovered here in Hayes Valley, San Francisco.  The beer list is superb and the oysters at the raw bar are delicious.

I liked trying the hogs head cheese, which is the other white meat rather than cheese. Head cheese is basically cooked down calf, sheep or pork head (no brains, but there is sometimes tongue) that is set in aspic (in this case, gelatin from the pig's foot) and turned into a terrine.

You can see the final product of old school pork charcuterie on a bed ofrisée below.

Head cheese is well known in much of Europe, but rarer here in the U.S. with the exception of Louisiana.

Here you can hear a nice old lady describe the step by step Cajun way of making this:

The Shark Fin Soup Controversy Heats Up

Excuse me waiter, there’s a shark in my soup -

'via Blog this'

An excellent column in today's Financial Times, by David Pilling

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

It's not just about the cheese in Milwaukee

So I was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for a wedding over the weekend.  Raquel and Teo threw quite a party and we had a truly great time. When not enjoying the festivities.  I investigated the obvious....There were lots of great places to drink microbrews, sample cheese or both!

Our friends Karl and Katie who live in Wisconsin explained the finer points of cheese curds. These are solid parts of soured milk that are battered and deep fried. I've decided that cheese curds are a easily addictive when they are hot, lightly battered and served with ranch dressing.

On a surprising note, we drank some good boody marys at brunch at Wicked Hop in the Third Ward with beer chasers; another Wisconsin thing. This concoction was truly a thing of beauty.
Who knew that Wisconsinites were so big on crazy garnishes on bloody marys? The liquid brunch included a beef jerky stick, mushroom, olive, gherkin, shrimp, lemon, lime and string mozzarella garnish on a bloody mary.... well done Milwaukee, well done. They also have this available in a glass boot! I'm not making this up!

Home - They Draw & Cook

Home - They Draw & Cook

Love these very visual recipes.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Garlic Fest

S and I spent yesterday afternoon at the Gilroy Garlic Festival  in Gilroy, CA—the garlic capital of America.  The festival is world renowned and has been featured on the Food Network.

The turnout was pretty impressive.  There must have been thousands of people there.

I ate garlic pizza, bratwurst, kebabs, garlic buttered corn, and stuffed mushrooms. It was the best carnival food you could imagine.

The open kitchens behind the stalls in Gourmet Alley were no joke.

Bad Ass award goes to this group with the awesome smoker from the Bethany Community Church.  They had some nice looking BBQ chicken and ribs.

There was lots of Scope on hand, but it was a lost cause.  My breath may be deadly for the rest of the year!

Thursday, July 28, 2011


"Videos of the traditional Japanese dish ika-don are making their rounds on the internet after the sushi restaurant Ikkatei Tabiji in Japan's Hokkaido Prefecture began to prepare it in a unique fashion renaming it odori-don or "dancing squid rice bowl." Instead of slicing the dead squid and laying it over rice and fish eggs, the squid in odori-don is served in its whole form resting over the bowl tentacles still attached. All you have to do is pour a little soy sauce on top and let the show begin!"

CBS News

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Finally got over to Burma Superstar last night.  We were not disappointed!  It was a fun excursion to Inner Richmond with friends from out of town.  The cult following is extraordinary. We waited over an hour for a table on a cold San Francisco evening, but it was well worth it.

We had refreshing beers with ginger and lemon, hot vegetable samusa soup that warmed us up, crisp and crunchy green tea salad and surprisingly light roast calamari salad to start.  Our main courses were a tangy mango and chicken stew, a very rogan josh-like lamb curry that was heavy on the cardamon and a shrimp and chicken biryani (Burmese casserole) with loads of nuts on top. The garlic noodles had what were totally superfluous pieces of pork in there, but were suitable for scarfing down with the chicken and lamb curries. The food is amazingly authentic and does transport one away. The Inner Richmond area has extraordinary diversity and is an overlooked gem for travelers to San Francisco.  Do go check it out. If you are willing to sacrifice the atmosphere B Star Bar down the street has much of the same menu and does take reservations.

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5 Best Barbecue Restaurants in the Bay Area | Zagat

5 Best Barbecue Restaurants in the Bay Area | Zagat

Very happy to see that Memphis Minnie's made the list. Their pork is very smoky and flavorful and if your like sauces on your BBQ, they won't disappoint. The sides are very rich and satisfying too, especially the beans and mac and cheese.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tony's favorite Macau meal - Travel Channel

Tony's favorite Macau meal - Travel Channel

Loved Monday's No Reservations! It spoke to the incredible fusion of culture and food in Macau with such genuine warmth.

I especially liked how Tony taunted vegetarians while eating a pork shop sandwich!

Monday, July 11, 2011

American Pie: Alan Richman: GQ

American Pie: Alan Richman: GQ

Went back for the amazing Pana pizza at Delfina (tomato sauce, cream, basil, and parmigiano). The appetizers of calamari and chickpeas as well as cucumber, mint and garam masala were an unexpected treat. Their baba au rum was not too dense and nicely complemented with a raspberry sauce.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hot chocolate camelback? Why not?

There are so many cool things about AT&T Park in San Francisco. I got to visit on Friday with co-workers for a work event at a SF Giants-Cleveland Indians game, which the home team won.

While the garlic fries were quite intoxicating, the real novelty was the hot chocolate and Irish coffees on a chilly San Francisco June evening. Serving up the hot cocoa was a guy with a camel back like contraption on his back! (Don't think it was Ghirardelli). He also carried a can of whip cream. A really neat concept!
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Friday, June 10, 2011

New Banh Mi Discovery: Ba le Friends Bakery & Deli

My colleague Amanda announced that we were going to get banh mi sandwiches for lunch. I presumed that she meant Eden Center, which is the hub of all things Vietnamese in the Washington, DC area.  Instead we went to Ba le Friends Bakery & Deli, also in Fall's Church, VA

Unlike Nu Lan in Eden Center the place doesn't smell like a pickled vegetable larder. The pungent smell of that restaurant makes me gag. Here the pleasant smells are of cooked meat and fresh bread.

The combination of bakery and deli is fun as you see a great range of foods plus bubble tea.  There are 14 different kinds of banh mi, from shredded chicken to mystery meat "kebab."  I got the red roast pork, which was divine.  The bread was was and crusty without being too hard on the surface. The warm pork had a tangy glaze and the vegetables did not overpower the vegetables. There was not gnarly, stringy bits of meat in my sandwich.  Truly excellent.  I got the mango smoothie with tapioca bubbles, which was satisfying and a meal in itself.  I would definitely try and go back there.

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