Category Archives: Food & Booze

An old roommate and I started a list of the items we love, but fear ordering in restaurants, because when they are anything less than perfect, they are perfectly atrocious.

  • Fish Tacos
  • Calamari or Octopus
  • Gnocchi
  • Breakfast Sausage
  • Mojitos
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Pâté
  • Tapioca
  • Cheesesteak
  • Coffee Ice Cream

If we missed any, feel free to post them in the comments.

Radicchio Caesar

My last trip to Portland, OR was another culinary delight, and one favorite was the selection of salads at Nostrana and her sister restaurant, Oven and Shaker. The Dinosaur Kale salad at O&S was superb, but the Nostrana Salad, on offer at both restaurants, was absolutely killer. It was just a very rich radicchio Caesar, but it’s unforgettable. Here’s my best shot at an homage.

Radicchio Caesar

Note: all three components can be prepared a day in advance and combined (step 4) just before serving.

1 large head of Radicchio
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white wine
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (or less)
1 clove garlic, minced
5 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt and pepper
3 cups focaccia, cut to 1″ cubes
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

1. Slice the Radicchio and soak for 2 hours in ice water (it crisps the leaves and leeches out the bitterness).
2. In a mason jar or plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, combine vinegar, wine, mayo, yolk, garlic, anchovy, and sugar. Shake vigorously until emulsified, season with salt and pepper and shake again before serving.
3. Preheat oven to 400F. Toast bread on a baking sheet on the center rack until golden on all sides, 6-8 minutes. While toasting, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the rosemary and sage and saute until the herbs are fragrant, about 2 minutes. In a large bowl, pour the butter mixture over the bread and toss to coat. Store in an airtight container at room temperature if preparing ahead.
4. Toss radicchio with dressing, grate a generous amount of cheese into the salad and top with croutons.

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

The one time I don’t really enjoy cooking is when I am under the weather, but canned chicken noodle doesn’t cut it, so this is my solution, just in time for Cinco de Mayo. Despite including no fresh ingredients and using every Sandra Lee shortcut in the book, it’s pretty damn good, especially when you are sick.

Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 quart chicken broth (not low sodium; you’ll just have to add salt)
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (with jalapenos if available)
1 10-ounce can red enchilada sauce
1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
1 tablespoon minced garlic (from that jar in the back of your fridge)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 bay leaf
1 12-ounce package frozen corn
1 10-ounce package frozen onion
1 pound of rotisserie chicken (shredded)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Tortilla chips

Note: Fresh options for the garlic, onion, corn, etc. are great, but I wasn’t up to the challenge today.

1. Put everything but the chicken, cheese and chips into the crock pot, and leave it covered on low for 8 hours (if you are going to bed) or 3 hours on high (if you are just taking a nap).

2. Add chicken to pot before serving. Garnish each bowl with cheese and chips. Sour cream and fresh cilantro are also good garnishes.

January Fascinations

Here’s what’s held my attention of late:

While home for the holidays, I spent some time with my dad in the carpentry shop, where I made a french rolling pin for a dear friend who is starting her own cookie business, and a muddler for the guys behind the bar at Anvil Bar and Refuge in Houston.

Oh yeah, I drove through Texas over the holidays, starting with ten days in Vermont and 36-hours in NYC (one great night at Prime Meats and Bourgeois Pig). I was supposed to spend New Year’s in Manhattan, but I got a call at Christmas asking if I wouldn’t rather celebrate in the middle of nowhere, than attend the usual fete at Death and Co., so I flew to San Antonio, where I was driven through the night to a little town called Marfa.

We spent New Year’s Eve in a little honky-tonk called Padre’s watching Jimmy Dale Gillmore and Butch Hancock play to a sold out house of about 120 people, then David Byrne walked in around 11 o’clock. He seemed like a nice guy! He said hi to me when he walked in and waited in line for a drink like everyone else.

From there, we drove to Austin to see friends and Houston for a couple nights to visit the above-mentioned Anvil, to experience “Fancy Cocktails in Plastic Cups” at Fitzgerald’s and to linger well past closing with the gorgeous ladies behind the bar at Grand Prize.


What else? I got a new glass water bottle from Takeya that I love.  Drinking from glass is great because it never tastes off, and this model is slim enough to fit in any cup holder and has a wide mouth.  I also think their glass tea makers would be great for infusing spirits and making liqueurs.

The Skitch clothes hanger design opens me up to the idea of a hangar that holds a whole outfit, but rather than the creepy punk skeleton motif, I’d like to see something classier that holds a pair of pants, shirt, jacket and even socks, boxers and an undershirt.  The idea of just grabbing one hanger in the morning seems amazing to me, and it would save space too, so I may prototype my own design soon.




Strelein Warehouse by Ian Moore Architects

I would like to live here, or build my own little modernist hide-away. I’ve been into very small homes of late and wish I had a tiny plot of land on which to build.

This video amuses me, even if I don’t wear scarves.

Lunar New Year Party Planning 2012

The year of the Rabbit is coming to an end and the Dragon is upon us, so I should throw another party.

I generally invite 20-30 people to my tiny apartment and serve 8-10 courses over the span of the evening. This year, I would like to get out of the kitchen, so we are going to shake it up a bit, but be no less ambitious.


1. Since it is a Water Dragon year, there will be several interstitial liquid courses, and by that I mean shots.  Between courses, we’ll have a palate-cleansing round of Red Dragon Shots, Golden Dragon Shots, etc.

2. All of the utensils and dishes will be compostable, because I don’t wanna do dishes.

3. Food will be prepped to the heat-and-serve level. Nothing fried, as it requires too much attention.


So far, the menu is looking like something like the following:

Braised Bunny Banh Mi

Red Dragon Welcome Shot

Dragon Roll (sushi with some combo of bbq eel, cuke, avo, tobiko and tempura)

Dragon Buns (steamed bao full of bbq gator)

Dragon Ribs (probably just my OMG ribs again, but grilled instead of pan-fried)


Green Dragon Shot

Noodle Bar with lots of customizing options

Golden Dragon Shot

Magic Dragon Puffs (profiteroles filled with something fun)

Orange Slice Jello Shots


Looking back at previous invites, I also realized that I must craft another absurd illustrated invitation.  Hmmm… something with dragons and current events… Occupy Mordor?




Thoughts, questions or suggestions?  Please comment below!

Have You Heard About HeardAbout?

I’ve recently started contributing to HeardAbout, and along with my writing and photos of some of my favorite foods in San Francisco, they will also soon be featuring some of my favorite cocktails.

From the HeardAbout website:

“HeardAbout features one delicious dish each day handpicked by our community of passionate local food bloggers, chefs, and restaurateurs. Occasionally we provide offers to try featured dishes for less – this is free to the local businesses (we take no commission or fee) and the offers are free for users to claim. Our goal is to provide authentic recommendations and to motivate locals to try the great food their city has to offer. Every so often we’ll run a sponsored feature (we do have bills to pay, after all) – but we promise these will be relevant and may even include fun offers as well!”

Kindle Fire in the Kitchen

I’m pretty sure Amazon’s Kindle Fire will be my ultimate kitchen gadget.

It’s not a robust laptop replacer, but it will likely save my laptop from total destruction. I always have it with me in the kitchen to check a recipe, jot notes on whatever I am making, listen to music while I cook, or watch Top Chef while I wash dishes, and it always comes precariously close to total destruction.

The Kindle Fire can manage all those tasks and costs $200 (not cheap, but a lot cheaper than replacing my laptop), and it has extra-durable and scratch-resistant glass. It’s also flat and light, so I am probably going to just stick a strong magnet on the back so I can just slap it onto my fridge or the steel hood over my stove while I’m in there.


Have I ever mentioned that I’ve mapped out the concept for my first cocktail bar?  As incredibly pretentious as it sounds, the theme is Freudian, fin-de-siecle Vienna, but way more fun and playful than that makes it seem.

I won’t get into it more than that, because I have surely horrified you, but one of my favorite bar snacks from when I lived in Austria, which will certainly be on the menu, is Liptauer, a zesty cheese spread that’s easy to make in advance, and can be served simply.


  • 16 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 cups cottage cheese
  • 4 tablespoons capers
  • 8 gherkins, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 teaspoons course-ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  1. In a food processor, whip the cream cheese and cottage cheese until very smooth.
  2. Add everything but the oil and last 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and blend to incorporate.
  3. Transfer the spread to a quart-size bowl or a half-dozen ramekins.
  4. Drizzle the oil over the top and slap some plastic wrap over it and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  5. Serve cold with crisp bread or crackers and more gherkins. Some people like a little red onion as well.