Where Have I Been?!

Yes, I’ve been remiss in my FoodPorn duties. I’ve still been cooking, traveling, eating amazing things but writing has not been happening. Truth is, I’ve just been overcommitted. I took on contract jobs that filled my every waking hour and some of my sleep as well (or lack thereof).

So, what’s been up in my world for the last year? How about a quick visual year in review, sans explanations. Then we’ll start anew!

Now, I must check on my ribs on the grill (see Trogdor above!)

We’ll be talking soon.

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My Interview with Brian Viglione

I emailed Brian before they came to the Mountain Winery to play with the Barenaked Ladies. We already had tickets. I’m a life-long Violent Femmes fan, am in awe of Brian’s drumming, and my 11-year-old son’s also a drummer and really needed to see Brian play live. I was pleasantly surprised when Brian wrote back saying we could meet. We maneuvered our way through the maze of security who didn’t know where I should go or who I should talk to and eventually found our way to Brian. He was the sweetest and we sat in the venue to chat before the show began.

Brian and Chantrelle Chantrelle:I usually like to do this over a meal but that wasn’t going to happen this time so…

Brian: Well, I’ve got my coffee and danish!

Chantrelle: It’s your turn to cook dinner at home, what do you make?

Brian: That depends on the purpose of the dinner? Is it to woo somebody?

Chantrelle: You’ve already wooed!

Brian: True. For me, right now, specifically….When this has been posed to me before, maybe just a few years ago, when it was for my neighbors in the band Human Wine, I would cook a sort of thanksgiving dinner: roast a bird, make some mashed potoates, sauteed vegetables, asparagus. All that sort of stuff out on the table.

Cooking dinner for myself? I like to cook Italian. I have the Vigione family recipe for sauce. It has that special feeling of home to me.

If it’s simple with just the wife and I at home, we’ll do steamed fish, steamed vegetables, a beer or a glass of wine. Nothing extravagant but I’m all about making really delicious food in relatively short amounts of time.

Chantrelle: Which is not as hard as people think it is.

Brian: Yes! I love being able to cook for people and demonstrate that. Get something in a pan and several minutes later you have that add some salad, some of this, that.

Chantrelle: It’s all about good ingredients.

(Photo from Brian's Facebook page!)

(Photo from Brian’s Facebook page!)

Brian: Yes, and being able to get inspiration. When we came back from our honeymoon in New Orleans we were doing this creole style open-faced fish sandwich. Sort of like a po’ boy. It was so good!! It was still relatively cold out, it was early March when we were making them and it was a satisfying, homey, sort of comfort food. With a little bit of hot sauce on it. Yum, just so satisfying.

I also just love to bake cookies and things like that. I guess I get most inspired in the months of October through March to cook. I think that’s when I do a lot of that. One of my favorite things to cook around the holidays is an old Neapolitan dessert called Struffoli. A lot of Italian families would be familiar with it. It’s a holiday thing. I guess it started when the nuns used to make it and bring it around to poor people. It’s basically little fried dough balls glazed in honey and then sprinkled with candy sprinkles, toasted almonds and candied cherries. It goes great with nearly every meal of the day. I eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Chantrelle: Sounds like fancy doughnut holes.

Brian: Yeah, it is. When it’s done right it’s very light. The honey keeps it respectfully sweet without being overbearing. Not an overly rich glaze.

Chantrelle: What’s your best childhood food memory?

Brian: Oh man…I have so many. I guess the most deep-in-my-heart ones would be when my dad would make some sort of pasta dishes. That just tasted like home. I remember clearly in my early 20s, when I’d moved out of the house, the first recipe I requested from my mom to get was that family sauce. Whenever I’d feel homesick or if I ever needed that little oomph emotionally sometimes. It just had that particular taste to it that I just absolutely loved.

Not a happy occasion but at my grandfather’s funeral. We’d all gone to dinner and it was the first time I’d had flounder. I was about 6 years old. My grandmother would say, (in old New York Italian grandma accent) “You LOVED that flounder when you had it” That made a big impression on me.

I’ve always loved food. Lately I’ve learned to love cooking even more. I guess my first foray into the kitchen was when I was 19 or 20. My best friend Chris who was the singer in the crust punk band I was in at the time was a vegan so after band practice we’d be hanging out and he’d want to cook up some rice and vegetables. We’d start getting creative in the kitchen. I think that’s when I started to learn to experiment and go with my intuition and pay attention to the timing of cooking things. Going by instinct a bit. When you have a very limited budget, you have very limited ingredients. That became a great creative challenge. How to stretch a limited budget for a week or two.

Chantrelle: Especially cooking vegan.

Brian: I wasn’t vegan but yeah. Cooking that way.

Chantrelle: Favorite comfort food? We’ve covered a lot of those but are there others?

Brian: Yes. For a while I had a comfort food ritual. When I’d come back from tour, the deli around from my house made a phenomenal roast beef sandwich on ciabatta bread. I’d get it with lettuce, tomato, provolone and horseradish sauce, toasted so that the outside was crunchy and the cheese was a little bit melted. I would sit down with a pint of Hoegaarden and watch the Big Lebowski with a bag of the New york kettle chips: cheddar flavor. That was my post tour [ritual]: sit down with Lebowski, just relax and let it all hang out.

Chantrelle: You can only eat food from one region for the rest of your life: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and drinks. What do you choose?

Brian: Like forever? Ok…if the question was for, like, a month? I’d say New Orleans. If it was eternity, I’d probably have to say California. I love the Mexican influence. I love the fresh ingredients. It’s got a little spice. I think I could do that.

Chantrelle: If you did New Orleans for more than a month you’d probably die of a heart attack.

Brian: Exactly. Middle of the country is a little bland for me. Northeast is nice especially in the fall with the apples, the fresh seafood, chowder and all that. I’m also starting to eat a lot less meat. I don’t have a problem with that.

Chantrelle: I go in waves. I didn’t eat meat besides seafood for 15 years and then one day I really wanted a steak.

Brian: Sometimes you just have to go for it. I’m so put off by the articles about how fucking abhorrent the factory farming is. The torture that those animals live in. It just makes me enraged. I’ve just been feeling better eating less meat and just less disgusted by the chickens pooping on each other and the bacteria everywhere.

But that aside, dietary and flavorwise, I still balance things out with a little meat, being more careful about where I get it. When I see where the food is coming from that also affects my decisions.

Chantrelle: What’s your last meal?

Brian: What a sad question!

Chantrelle: Someone I interviewed twisted it around and said it was their last meal because they were about to be shot into space so it’s the last meal on Earth.

Brian: How much can I eat? Can I extend the meal over the course of 12 hours?

Chantrelle: Sure!

Brian: Great! I’d have all my favorite dishes from all my favorites: Mexican, Japanese, Italian, French kinds of cooking. Line them all up in a row and just procrastinate and savor every single bite. It would be too hard to narrow it down to just one.

Chantrelle: This is usually the hardest question for everybody.

Brian: I’d have to finish off with a nice black coffee with a little amaretto in it just to sweeten the deal.

Chantrelle: The last question…the epitome of food porn questions: What is the sexiest food?

Brian: Well, aside from oysters. Figs. The fig is a very erotic fruit in my opinion. The texture. The subtle taste. They way they can explode in your mouth. I find them absolutely sexy. Figs are great.

I’m also a big oyster fan. I definitely get that aphrodisiac effect. Olya and I have a plan to go out right when I get back from tour and fill up on oysters. Do you get that feeling when eating oysters…that glowing feeling? I get that. I get the oyster glow. A little wild eyed.

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Chantrelle: Do you eat well on tour?

Brian: Yes, they’ve been really strict on the bus actually. No sugar. Close to no alcohol and very little salty snacks. I started realizing how much less sugar I’ve had in my diet in the last 2 months and now going back to it it’s almost too much. One or two bites is enough. I used to be like Cookie Monster at the house. Love ‘em, snack on ‘em throughout the day. But now one or two bites of a cookie is plenty.

Chantrelle: I’m kind of like that because I’m a supertaster so everything is super sweet.

Brian: The Femmes have been great. The Dresden Dolls were super health conscious. Amanda was pretty much vegetarian so the backstage rider had fruit, juice, whole grain. Pretty healthy eating on the road. You have to. If you load up on heavy stuff your energy level plummets. You’re already getting run down from performances every night. Being on tour actually makes me live a healthier life rather than the cliche of it all being drugs and alcohol. It has the opposite effect.

We ran out of time to talk as they introduced Colin Hay who then came on to play his set. If you’ve never seen Brian on stage with Dresden Dolls or the Violent Femmes, you MUST. He is, I believe, one of the best drummers out there…ever. I was mesmerized. He doesn’t just sit back and bang things with sticks, it is a full-body experience. It’s not just drumming, it’s performance art.

Maybe next time we can chat over a meal!

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Spicy Soba Noodles with Mixed Fish Crudo

Spicy soba noodles with mixed fish crudo

Yesterday was not a cheery day. I am in the middle of a self-imposed, home office, crazy rearrangement of life. The office is a disaster. I’m trying to make it less so. In the process I moved out the old air conditioning unit from the closet, sorted out the rest of the junk on that shelf then got too busy and had to leave it for a week. Yesterday I returned to the project to remove the “shelf” (two boards on milk crates just like college!) and found the A/C had been leaking and the boxes underneath along with the carpet and wall were covered in black mold. Joy. I changed into junky clothes, got gloves, tied a bandana around my face and pulled out the boxes, cleaned the wall and ripped out the carpet. GROSS GROSS GROSS!

Anyway, all this is leading up to this dinner. After the gross afternoon, I wanted something beautiful. Oddly, this dinner was basically leftovers. I went to my favorite market on Sunday, Mitsuwa in San Jose. I got sushi fish, pickles, sake, the essentials. I made sushi on Sunday night but only used about half of the fish. Instead of just making sushi again (1st world boring problem), I wanted something different.

It was all inspired by these Sesame Quail Eggs. I’d also bought quail eggs with no plan and no intention of eating them raw. I googled, I found. It’s a Korean recipe. I have Korean chili paste. It fell into place from there.

Serves 4

3 “bunches” of soba noodles, cooked and rinsed with cold water

Sauce for the noodles
1/8 c soy sauce
1/8 c usukuchi soy sauce
1T gochujang (Korean chili paste)
2t sesame oil
a bit of water to mellow it if needed

Mixed fish crudo
1 lb assorted sushi grade fish, large dice
1/2 cucumber, large dice
1 avocodo, large dice
1 medium shallot, diced
handful of roughly chopped pea shoots
1 clove garlic, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1t sesame oil
1-2t chili oil (i used olive oil based chili oil. If you use sesame-based oil, omit the plain sesame oil)
salt to taste
a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top

Toss the soba noodles with 2T of sauce per serving. Place in bowl, top with crudo and a quail egg from the above mentioned recipe.


That’s what you do with leftovers ;)

Posted in ahi, amateur, asian, avocado, dinner, flavor, food, recipe, recipes, seafood, self pleasuring, sushi | 1 Comment

Italic – Austin, TX

123 W. 6th St.
Austin, Texas

Seared Calamari olives, blood oranges, mint, escarole, almondsI didn’t come to Austin for the food (although many people do). I also didn’t come to Austin for very long. I landed at 4pm on Tuesday, taxi’d to the hotel, got my computer onto the wi-fi and I got an email saying I could check into my flight. It’s a 24 hour trip.

I came to Austin to see Amanda Palmer. My husband says I fly to see angry women with pianos (Amanda and Tori Amos), he’s right! The show was fantastic and totally worth the flight.

I sent out a feeler on Twitter asking for food advice. A friend of a friend recommended Arro as well as a couple of others. Arro was just a few blocks away so I looked into that and was about to head down there when I found an Eater article about a new Italian restaurant by the Arro folks called Italic and it was literally a block away. That seemed even better! Then I sent out another tweet, tagging Amanda, asking if anyone needed dinner plans. Two fellow Amanda fans took me up on it and we had a great time eating the great food and getting to know each other. There’s not many fanbases that can support each other like that.

Anyway, back to the food. Italic opened just 2 weeks ago but you can tell this is not their first rodeo. Everything ran smoothly. I started with a very refreshing Aperol spritz. We had to move tables to accommodate another person who replied on Twitter and our waiter was just awesome about it. Then 2 other Amanda fans coincidentally sat right next to us so we had a little AFP party. Once we all broke away from conversation long enough, we attacked the menu.

We started with shared plates of Seared Calamari with olives, blood oranges, mint, escarole, and almonds. These weren’t your bar-bites-fried-bits of squid, they were perfectly cooked, not breaded, dressed beautifully bits of squid. The orange and almonds were a wonderful touch of acid and crunch. This was actually my favorite dish of the night. My tablemates got the Shaved Brussels Sprouts parmigiano, walnuts, fresh herbs and devoured a rather large portion so I’m assuming those worked well too!

I was going to get a white bean soup but my attentive waiter found out that there was parmesean rind cooked into the soup so I opted out. I moved on from my spritz and got a glass of 2007 La Gerla-Brunello di Montalcino. It was gorgeous. It had a decent amount of age on it and was drinking beautifully. I had it with the Fregola & Shellfish with mussels, cockles, fennel, chili, and tomato broth. I don’t think I left a drop of the broth. Licked that plate clean!

We skipped dessert since we were, one, full and, two, pressed for time. The show was going to start so we paid and headed out but if I come back to Austin for some odd reason, I will go there again.

Before I left this morning I wandered around downtown. I walked down to the Capitol building, which is just beautiful, except for the presence of the Tea Party rally out front. I fled. Part of me wanted to confront these people but I didn’t. Mostly because I’m not that brazen but also because I knew it would ruin my day to get that angry. My taxi driver to the airport said I made the right choice and reminded me about Texas’s open carry law. Yeah, Don’t Mess with Texas.

I’m goin’ home! ;-)

Posted in calamari, dinner, flavor, food, restaurant, review, table dance | Leave a comment

Going to Sydney?

Circular quay

My husband has to travel to Sydney a twice a year for work so whenever people are heading there, we have plenty of recommendations. Finally, here they are, compiled for easy reference!

Tetsuya’s in downtown SYD (if you can get in; this is the French Laundry of Australia with a Japanese twist and is as popular as it is expensive)

Jugemu Shimbashi in Neutral Bay, just across the SYD bridge (house made soba from their own buckwheat mill, okonomiyaki (try the genki dama), top shelf sushi…ocean trout!!!)

Ryo in Crows Nest (authentic Ramen experience — authentically good bowl of noodles, authentically long wait, authentically scantily clad young Japanese girls waiting the tables)

Shiki in the rocks (touristy sushi bar, but with some interesting twists: they put a small amount of dashi in their soy sauce to make it a little smokey, and they have wagyu you can cook on himalayan salt blocks at your table)

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Din Tai Fung (world square, and elsewhere) — Shanghai style dumplings, the only chain restaurant in the world to earn a Michelin star. This place rocks. I go there from the airport when I land and on the way out as well; usually several times between. Xiao Long Bao like no one else can do it.

Stuyvesant’s House — (Note: not sure what’s happening here now, there was just a fire.) run by Rudy and Max Dietz since the early 70s, this place serves very authentic German food — not fancy, but good, but the reason to go here is their unbelievable wine list. These guys were buying bordeaux and burgundy by the case before Asia cranked the prices up and their inventory is now worth tens of millions. The list is a book an inch thick, and represents the local stuff quite well, while covering the planet pretty thoroughly. One caveat: this is dinner *and* a movie — Rudy works the front of the house and is a rather raunchy fellow who is not shy; easily offended people should not eat here.

Mecca — on King St makes a decent cup of coffee.

La Renaissance patisserie — Get your coffee at mecca, get your fatty French carbs here.

Deus Ex Machina — coffee, motorbikes, good cafe grub… Worth going a bit out of your way if you like any of those things.

Nazdrowie — authentic polish cuisine with interesting vodka selections

General recommendations:

EAT MANGOES….constantly. They’re amazing down there. Kingston Pride variety if you can get them (short season, and short shelf life limit supply)
Rock oysters
EAT OYSTERS…if you like them. If you haven’t had them before, Sydney rock oysters are a much mellower flavor than pacific oysters, and are really light textured; people who like oysters *love* sydney rock oysters, and many people who thought they didn’t like oysters are swayed by this variety.

Avoid local beer except for James Squire or anything at the Lord Nelson (oldest pub in SYD); no idea why this is, but Australians insist on drinking light lagers with no flavor.

Avoid restaurants on the Circular Quay or Darling Harbor. They are tourist traps that charge for the view and don’t pay enough attention to the food.

Posted in dinner, flavor, food, restaurant, restaurants, review, table dance | Leave a comment

Miso-Glazed Cod with Fried Rice

I’ve made Miso’d cod in the past and it was good. This was better.

Miso-glazed cod

1lb cod cut into 2-3 fillets depending on your appetite

1/4 c white miso
1/4 c mirin
1T rice vinegar
2t sesame oil
1T Gochujang (Korean fermented red pepper paste)
1″ ginger, grated

Whisk together and pour over cod fillets. Turn fish and spoon marinade around so it covers all surfaces of the fish. Let the fish marinate for 30-40 minutes. Let the fish sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or so before cooking.

Heat a (preferably cast iron) skillet to medium-high heat. Add 1T canola oil and coat evenly. Place fillets carefully in pan, the miso mixture may pop and spatter. Cook for 5 minutes or so on each side of the fish until it is just barely cooked through (warm in the middle but not dry). When you flip the fish, spread a little more of the miso on top.

For the fried rice:
1 medium-large shallot, sliced
4 cloves garlic
1/2 c pine nuts
4-6 cups cooked rice
1T soy sauce
1 egg

Soften shallots in a large skillet. Add garlic and pine nuts. Add rice and soy sauce and then the egg, stirring continuously to evenly distribute and cook egg. Add a handful of chopped green onions.

Serve the fish atop the rice and add green onions atop both.

Posted in amateur, asian, dinner, flavor, food, rice, seafood, self pleasuring | Leave a comment


chocolatDo yourself a favor, don’t watch Chocolat without having some good chocolate to grab part way through the film…you won’t be able to stand it if you don’t have some! Why not some Valrhona Chocolate?!

Posted in chocolate, movies | 1 Comment

Give Me Gin or Give Me Death – My Interview with East Bay Ray

I really wanted to incorporate “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables” into the title of this interview since it’s, well, a food title but could not come up with a spin that was appetizing. So, Give Me Convenience or Give Me Death it is…I’m a dork, I know.

Ray and I have mutual friends but we’d never met. I didn’t just reach out and ask for this interview, I bought it. Ray did a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for his wrist surgery. I sympathize with wrist issues, I’ve had them for years and was out of work for three years, unable to use my hands for much of anything. When I saw one of the offered rewards was getting a drink with Ray, I grabbed that one. I could help out a phenomenal guitar player continue to play his classic, historic, punk band and I could meet the guy. WIN-WIN!

We met for drinks Vesuvio Cafe in San Francisco. The plan was to meet at a much less divey bar/restaurant but the first place was closed so we crossed the street and, really, if you’re going to get a gin and tonic with a member of the Dead Kennedys, shouldn’t you go to a dive bar?

I have to say, it took a little convincing to get Ray to agree to the questions. He was suspicious. Once we got into the questions though, I think he had fun with it.

Chantrelle: What is your favorite comfort food?

East Bay Ray: Canned California Lindsey Olives from the supermarket. They’re the black olives that you could put on your finger. But they have to be Lindsey brand, they’re higher quality than the other kind. It’s the flavor. I liked them as a kid and I like them as an adult.

Chantrelle: I don’t like olives so as a kid I’d put them on my fingers and feed them to my mom because I still wanted to put them on my fingers! You just have to do it!

EBR: You should try them now, but they have to be the Lindsey ones.

Chantrelle: I don’t like olives…any of them…they’re on my list. I have a list!

EBR: And you’re a foodie?!

Chantrelle: I don’t like cheese and I’m a foodie! There’s a perfectly good explanation though, I’m a supertaster.

EBR: I’m a supertaster too. Brussel sprouts are poison. I think you’re using the supertaster thing as an excuse.

Chantrelle: I actually dyed my tongue blue and the most of my tongue was still white because the tastebuds don’t dye.

EBR: Yeah, but I’m a supertaster and it’s mostly the alkaline tastes that are a problem. Stuff that is related to poisons.

Chantrelle: I guess my extra tastebuds are in a different part of my tongue.

Our drinks arrive, cutting short the argument about whether or not I’m actually a supertaster! ;-)

EBR: Second comfort food…GIN! Cheers!

Chantrelle: Cheers!! OK, What is your best childhood food memory?

EBR: My grandmother would babysit my brother and I and she’d make this thing called Italian delight which was a spaghetti casserole: spaghetti, hamburger, and black olives sliced up, with tomato sauce. She’d bake that and it was really good.

The other thing that she and her sister made, during the depression, they had an enchilada stand. They made and sold enchiladas during the depression. She had a recipe where the gravy was made for 24 hours. In the east bay there was a restaurant with handmade tortillas. It was fabulous. The recipe went with her though. My uncle tried to revive it but he really couldn’t.

Chantrelle: Was she in the East Bay at that time then?

EBR: Yeah, she was. She was born in California too. She and all of her sisters. I’m third generation.

Every once in a while I’ll run into something in the same style but…

The other thing she made was sourdough bread. I still have some of her sourdough culture. A long time ago Alfred’s Steak House used to make the same style of bread. It’s not French style, it’s really a California style. They don’t make it anymore. That’s another comfort food. I guess all my comfort foods are dead!

Chantrelle: Acme sourdough bread just doesn’t do it?

EBR: That’s really good but that’s different. A different style.

Chantrelle: If you could only eat food from one country or region for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

EBR: That’s EASY! Italy. Middle and Northern Italy.

Chantrelle: I’m all about Tuscany. I want to live, breathe, eat, and drink Tuscany.

EBR: I remember at the corner store, the equivalent of a 7-11, they were selling fresh tomatoes on the vine. Tomatoes that are green but ripe. Here people think they have to be red. Fresh mozzerella. And who was the first to put prosciutto and melon together?

Chantrelle: A GENIUS!

EBR: There were probably a thousand other combinations that didn’t work but that one worked.

Chantrelle: That’s one of our son’s favorite things on the planet.

EBR: Years ago a historian wrote a book about how you can tell a civilization by its tomatoes. American fruits and vegetables are made for shelf life and to look good but not for flavor.

Chantrelle: We tend to do farmer’s markets and CSAs. I get a box every week from a local farm. I don’t know what will be in it, it’s always a surprise.

EBR: That’s like, when we first went to Italy, the restaurants didn’t have menus. It was what they had that day which was what was at the market. That unfortunately seems to be rare now.

Chantrelle: It seems to be more Americanized now.

Wine Asshole (Chantrelle’s hubby): Some things don’t change. We were in Siena earlier this year and apart from the steady flow of Priuses that are the local taxi, it’s the same as 100 years ago. If you want to find the places worth going to, you have to ask a local. There’s no facade, no advertising. Anything on a piazza, forget it!

EBR: We were in Rome at a restaurant on a side street near Campo di Fiorio, it had a sign but it didn’t open until 9:30 at night. That’s old school.

Chantrelle: OK…Your last meal?

EBR: Truffle Pasta. I had a $40 plate of pasta they grated truffles on to. Best pasta ever. Worth the $40! But can I add my grandma’s enchiladas, her bread and those black olives?

Chantrelle: Of course! It’s your last meal, you can have whatever you want.

The conversation spiraled away from food and into a rant, justified it seems, about Google and the revenue that doesn’t go to artists. Ray’s opinion has been documented extensively, this article is a good one so is this one. If you follow him on Facebook you’ll get caught up on the problem pretty quickly too. I think it’s fitting that we got to be a part of an anti-corporation rant by the DK guitarist.

You’re a star-belly sneech
You suck like a leach
You want everyone to act like you
Kiss ass while you bitch
So you can get rich
But your boss gets richer off you

–Dead Kennedys, “Holiday in Cambodia”

Chantrelle: It’s your turn to cook dinner, what do you make?

EBR: What do I make?! I guess can grill a steak. I know how to taste food. Learning to cook takes time, I just don’t take the time.

Chantrelle: Grilling is a skill! That counts. Not everyone can grill a steak.

Chantrelle: Last question: What’s the sexiest food?

EBR: (Looks slyly at his girlfriend…) Do you mean food or flavor?

Chantrelle: Oh my! Well, let’s just leave it at that!

Posted in celebrities, celebrity, interview, San Francisco | Leave a comment

Coi 2.0


The first time we went to Coi in August was a romantic dinner for our 15th wedding anniversary. We were blown away, it was delicious. The GM, Zion, after we were apparently drunkenly bragging about how adventurous of an eater our 10 year old son is, said we should bring him, they would modify the menu for him if need be. Well, we were planning on having a nice dinner there around, maybe, Christmastime.

Dressed for dinner

On Friday, my husband said that it was too bad that our friend Tom didn’t get to go to Coi before he flew back to Sydney. “When does he fly home?” I asked. “Tomorrow morning,” my husband replied. “We don’t have plans tonight,” I added. So, in response to Zion’s generous offer for our son, we’re going to show up, with 4 hours notice with a vegetarian (Tom) and a 10 year old. THANKS! I talked to Zion before we committed to the reservation, I didn’t want to blindside them and wanted to make sure they knew they could tell us we were nuts and too difficult on that short of notice. He basically told me BRING IT ON!

Enjoying the pillows at the entry

I couldn’t pick my son up early from school (that didn’t seem appropriate!) but I did decide to drive up and get him and not wait for his carpool. I got him right as they walked out of class and he announced that he’d won his class election for Treasurer so we should celebrate. I said, “That’s great! Congratulations!! How about we celebrate at Coi?!” He thought I was nuts and was totally game. We sped home, grabbed my hubby, jumped back in the car and scooted up to San Francisco. I knew my son would be in shorts and a t-shirt from school so I threw dress pants, a button up shirt and some not-so-grungy shoes in the car. He changed there. Luckily traffic was minimal for once and we got to our hotel at 5:30, hopped in an Uber car and made it to Coi just in time. Zion greeted us at the door, Tom made it up from work and we proceeded to have our minds blown once again.

Coi Menu - October 3, 2014

I fully admit, this really isn’t going to be a review of the food, I’ve done that, this is more about the experience of sharing something as magnificent as Daniel Patterson’s menu with our son.

Grape Ice

Ben trotted in wearing his orange and blue plaid shirt, pin-striped dress pants and chartreuse shoes, hungry and ready to go. He checked out the menu and immediately declared that it looked AWESOME. The first thing we got was one of his favorites: salty grape ice. He was stoked from the first bite. Then came the smoked egg with caviar and creme fraiche and he finished his then the last of mine too!

Smoked egg, creme fraiche, caviar

There were many highlights for him but he couldn’t stop raving about the geoduck. I’d told him the story about the first time I’d had it at Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island and how I thought it was cucumber and got quite a surprise to get a chewy, fishy mouthful. When I went over the menu with Zion, this was a dish he was concerned about. I assured him that Ben will eat most anything raw from the ocean. I was right. He devoured it and wished there was more.


The only thing that may have edged out those three dishes was the bread. Ben declared, “I could eat this bread for DAYS.” Yes, me too. Me too. But then we’d be too full. There were many courses to go. He did so amazingly well. For every course they’d bring us new silverware and Ben would get excited, predicting what dish that meant he was getting. “Oooh! A knife! That means we’re getting the beef!”

BREAD for days!

The only things he didn’t like were the corn pudding dish, which he tried a few bites of but just couldn’t get into it…Tom finished that for him with no argument. And the cauliflower sides with the beef. I have to admit, I didn’t like the cauliflower. I keep trying to like cauliflower. It seems so innocuous. But it’s so cauliflower-y. I guess Ben got those tastebuds from me. The beef, however, was a thing of beauty. It had just the slightest sear on it, so slight, I don’t even know how they got that so perfectly even.

Starting to fade

Even though our dinner started at 6pm, he’d been at school running around in the crazy heat all day and winning his election. He was getting tired but powering through. Dessert was a good motivator. He gobbled that up and when all was said and done, he asked the waiter for another bowl of the grape ice to finish off the evening. Who can say no to that?! They didn’t, he got more. He was so stoked.

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The evening concluded with a tour of the kitchen for Ben. He went in with Zion and saw the pastry chef chopping pistachios for the topping of the poached pear dessert. He saw chefs plating the beet dish with tweezers. He thought that was pretty cool. I’m so happy we are able to share experiences like this with our kid. I know we are insanely lucky to have the opportunity to expose him to such opulence but also making sure he understands the hard work that goes into a meal like that.

Thank you to the entire staff at Coi for making this such a memorable evening for all of us. They really went above and beyond what most fancy-pants restaurants in their league would do. They were fantastic and we appreciate their efforts and their skills.

We’ll hopefully be seeing them again soon ;)

Posted in beef, decadence, dinner, flavor, food, restaurant, restaurants, review, San Francisco, seasonal menu, table dance, tasting menu, wine | Leave a comment

Mostly Martha

220px-MostlyMartha I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT!!! This movie was so good. The *first* lines are about porcinis, chantrelles, truffles…See this movie!! It ranks up there with Tampopo and Big Night. Did I say I loved this film? It *NEVER* should have been remade. It was perfect as it was.

You can watch it on Amazon Prime or if you don’t have prime you can buy it. It’s also on Google Play and iTunes.

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tampopo-poster I used to have a movies page on my site and it was outdated so I removed it. I’m reviving it so there should be more movie posts to come! Most of you have probably seen the movies I’ll highlight but maybe you haven’t and it’s important that you do!

Tampopo is, in my opinion, the best food movie ever made. Of course, it’s about one of the best dishes ever created as well: RAMEN!

Still, it’s not just about ramen, it’s about food in every aspect of life: Love, pain, childhood, sex, death.

It’s not currently available on any streaming service I can find but it’s a DVD you should own anyway.

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Oustanding in the Field – Secret Sea Cove 2014

Ready to go

My favorite Outstanding in the Field to attend is the Secret Sea Cove dinner. It’s a popular one. You have to be on it to get tickets and I was…right when they went on sale! The food is awesome of course, the people are really fun to chat and eat with but, for someone who doesn’t care about ambience at a restaurant, I’m into it here! The pictures speak for themselves…

Lamb tartare in a cucumber…my favorite appetizer:
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Beautiful squid salad:
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The table looking down the beach…
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The table looking up the beach…and nearly into the ocean!
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The bus ready to travel around the country:
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Plank-roasted salmon. The chef tried this Native American cooking technique for the first time here!
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I look forward to this dinner every year and will hopefully get to go again next year. We are planning on attending the mysterious Big Sur Outstanding in the Field dinner this year too. I say mysterious because the location is still a secret!!

Posted in dinner, flavor, food, organic, seasonal menu, table dance | Leave a comment

Pabu – San Francisco, CA


I usually write all the content on FoodPorn but my husband wrote up a post about Pabu and I’m just going to steal it. I couldn’t say it better. (I edited it slightly to make it work on the site as opposed to Google+). I present the first guest-post of FoodPorn written by my hubby…

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Our first encounter with Ken Tominaga was at his hidden gem of a restaurant in Rhonert Park, Hana, which Chantrelle found quite by accident. I was up at Sears Point for a track day and she put the word “lunch” into a Google search, the result for which was Hana– which you would never find without being pointed to it, and if you did, its location and lack of curb appeal would probably prompt you to keep looking; inside, however, we found what has become our favorite sushi in the bay area, and despite it being a bit of a haul from Santa Cruz, have found many occasions to return.


Pabu is Ken-san’s long awaited co-conspiracy with Michael Mina, and is everything we expected: Ken-san’s authenticity and finesse in executing dishes with uncompromisingly good ingredients, matched with Michael Mina’s practiced skill in packaging the whole experience to get attention and acclaim from the demanding SF upscale foodie demographic.


As is our habit when trying a new place for the first time, we both went with the omakase/pairings menu, though there was plenty of interesting/tempting stuff on the a la carte menu. The highlight for me was the shabu-shabu polished off with miso-sesame udon — great way to cap off a meal of great sushi, leaving only enough room for a light dessert like sorbet and fruit, which is exactly what they served. Fish-wise, the highlights for me were the best chu-toro I’ve had, and a couple other slices that were exceptionally good including golden eye snapper and amber jack.

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It was a really well executed meal from start to finish, and if there was a low-light at all, it would probably be the cloud of perfume wafting from the neighboring table that prompted me to keep my nose in my sake glass for much of the evening. Restaurants shouldn’t care about jackets and ties, but they should stop the stinkbombs at the door and give them tables outside, or private rooms, or tables under HVAC inlets, or something.

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All told, Pabu checks out, and lives up to the high expectations we had; we look forward to going back and seeing what our son thinks of the omakase menu. For Hana fans and/or folks who don’t want to pay the premium for the SF venue and all its pomp, Hana is still in full effect; you just need to find a reason to get to the north bay (as if good sushi isn’t reason enough).

Posted in ahi, asian, dinner, flavor, food, restaurant, review, Salmon, San Francisco, sushi, table dance, tasting menu | Leave a comment

Coi – San Francisco, CA

Cherry Tomatoes

We had our 15th wedding anniversary this year. Our 20th first date anniversary is on the same day….awwwwww! On our actually anniversary we were in Montana not-camping with our son (we got thunderstormed out of our camping adventure). But I had already planned a weekend in San Francisco to celebrate our milestone anniversary. The special dinner? Coi.

I’m going to say up front, with no hesitation, that the quality of the dishes coming out of Daniel Patterson’s kitchen is on par with the French Laundry. The attention to detail is amazing. Case in point: the *hand-peeled*, not-blanched first, raw cherry tomatoes. I actually like tomato skin. But what happens when you take that skin away is that you get all the flavor, all at once. There’s no delay in the delivery of the awesome. Yes, summer tomatoes are one of my favorite foods on the planet. I truly appreciated the time it took for 4 poor kitchen grunts to peel somewhere upward of 700 of those suckers for service.

Cherry Tomatoes (puree of grilled zucchini and wheatgrass, herbs and flowers
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The highlights of the evening for me besides the tomatoes, were the lamb, the chanterelle-potato dumpling (it looked like dessert, tasted like a fancy forest), and did I mention the lamb…GOOD LORD, the lamb was so good! The chilled eggplant soup was like nothing I’ve had. It didn’t taste like eggplant, I ate and enjoyed the green bean (not my favorite veg) and the spice was unique and unusual. Oh, and the salmon. Perfect. The last flavor that we were left with was amazing too: Frozen Dark Chocolate-Yuzu Marshmallow. OK, it was all good!! You’ll notice that the pictures taper off. Yes…wine. I’m not a professional journalist, I’m a diner and we were celebrating. We had some absolutely lovely French wine. I didn’t write it down. My husband remembers. Whatever it was, as you can see from the kitchen photo at the end of this post, it was great and we had a good amount of it ;-)

Every dish was beautiful, the flavors were spot on, the salinity was perfect. The only dish I wouldn’t rush back to get again was just due to my taste, not the execution, and that was a caviar-smoked egg yolk starter. It was lovely but I’m just not a runny-yolk fan and that was the heart of the dish. Still, if the only way I would get let back in was to eat that dish again, I wouldn’t hesitate!

The last thing that made me appreciate Coi was a conversation with the manager as we were leaving. As I said, we’d had plenty of wine, so I don’t recall exactly how this came up but he told us if we ever wanted to bring our son (who is 10) to eat there, just to contact him ahead of time and they’d make sure they set up a menu that would work for him. I was amazed by that. I’ve never had a high-end, fancy-pants restaurant offer something like that before. I don’t see taking Ben to The French Laundry any time soon but I think he would enjoy and appreciate Coi. I sure do.

California Bowl (fancy guacamole and rice chips)
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Sno-cone (plum ice, black lime)
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Seared Spot Prawn (watermelon, cucumber, opal basil)
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Chilled, Spiced Eggplant Soup (pole beans, charred okra, fermented chile, flowering cilantro)
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Wild King Salmon (crayfish bordelaise, tarragon, fennel pollen)
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Steamed Chanterelle-Potato Dumpling (brown butter, lovage)
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Emigh Ranch Lamb (chard leaves and stems, garum, rosemary)
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Not pictured: California Sturgeon Caviar (smoked egg yolk, creme fraiche, chives), Ha’Ogen Melon (olive oil, holy basil), Peach Tart (caramelized honey, yogurt, candied ginger), Frozen Dark Chocolate-Yuzu Marshmallow

Lots of wine….
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Posted in avocado, decadence, dinner, flavor, food, restaurant, review, Salmon, San Francisco, seasonal menu, table dance, tasting menu, wine | Leave a comment

Granola that Rivals Blue Bottle

My husband and son both agree that Blue Bottle’s granola is the best anywhere. I don’t like granola, I’ll have to believe them. It’s become my challenge to make granola that is as good though. It’s always interesting to try to master a recipe for something I don’t like. I rely on feedback from my husband and son to tell me more salt, more cinnamon, etc.


The last batch they said is still not as cinnamon-y as Blue Bottles but they also said not to change it…it’s good:

5 c oats
1/3 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. chopped nuts (pecans and/or walnuts)
2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon

1/3 c. canola oil
2/3 c. honey
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 300°

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Warm the oil and honey on low heat until the honey liquifies. Stir in the vanilla. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Mix well.

Put granola mixture on a cookie sheet (or 2) and bake for 40 minutes, making sure that you stir and rotate the pan every 10 minutes or the edges will burn.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Posted in amateur, recipe, recipes, self pleasuring, sides and sauces | Leave a comment