The Pulled Pork Sandwich @ Slow, Berkeley


The pig has many forms.

Submitted for your approval, this sandwich from Slow in Berkeley represents my last unmentioned morsel from 2012. This post has been on my back-burner since December, and its completion kind of got lost in the holiday shuffle. I should mention that, in the realm of pulled pork sandwiches, the version at Slow might not have show-stopper looks, but it is very well made, and it’s under $7. In terms of accoutrements — that is, bread and fixins — the sandwiches at Slow can vary quite a bit, which is to the restaurant’s credit (Slow sources its bread from Acme, not a bad choice, either). On this day, the Niman Ranch pork was adorned with coleslaw, and the side of potato salad was delicious and bountiful.

Scouting Bay Area Sandwiches, and a Couple Other Half-Formed Thoughts

Brazil Fresh

Hella Tasty: The Tri-Tip Sandwich with “The Works” (#84) @ The Brazil Fresh Squeeze Cafe, Berkeley. In this case, “The Works” includes fresh cheese, grilled onions, pineapple, jalapeño, lettuce, tomato, and cilantro-garlic sauce. One of the great sandwiches of the Bay Area, for sure.

Personally, I don’t think the apocalypse is upon us. If the world didn’t implode when Sandra Lee prepared her infamous Kwanzaa cake in 2003, then I think we’re probably good through 2012, and well beyond. However, with December 21st less than a fortnight away, it’s still as good of a time as any to clear out my “to do” folder. And why not? A couple of these photos have been in turn-around for months, so it’s time to finally give them some daylight. Other pics were part of a sandwich run-down that never really developed a decent angle or hook. So, yeah, I just [… read more …]

Chelsea Gems @ The Hog Island Oyster Company, San Francisco

Brought to you today by the letter R: Two dozen Chelsea Gem oysters.

Maybe it was because it was happy hour, or maybe San Francisco just loves oysters, but Hog Island Oyster Company was doing brisk business on Monday at the Ferry Building. Sam and I were lucky to grab a seat at the bar when we did, and it was her idea to sip some Cava until the oysters went half-price at 5 o’clock. Sancerre and Muscadet followed and flowed. If you consider the old rule of thumb — that oysters are best in months that contain the letter “R” — then early January falls right in the middle of the sequence (the fattest part of the bell curve, where the curve is a function of flavor). If you’re ever going to slurp an oyster — I will NOT use that silly little fork — then now’s [… read more …]

Culinary Espionage in Koreatown, Los Angeles?

I thought this was an interesting snippet from one of Jonathan Gold’s latest columns in the LA Weekly, regarding the prevention of culinary espionage among some of Koreatown’s most venerable cold noodle joints:

“As generations of K-town denizens have discovered, it may be easier to steal gold from Fort Knox than it is to smuggle naengmyon out of the Corner Place: Nobody is going to reverse-engineer the broth on Corner’s watch. Chil Bo Myun Ok, the other famous Koreatown naengmyon specialist, also forbids takeout orders of the noodles — the last time a friend tried, I was sure that we would all be permanently barred from the restaurant, although we got away with a warning instead.”

I love the idea of that — a different type of soup nazi. And a great article overall. Jonathan Gold is easily the best in the business.

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Urban Foraging, Los Angeles: 10,000 Calories in 48 Hours

Before last month’s trip to Los Angeles becomes as hazy as when I actually lived in Southern California, I need to address my sojourn down to the 405 and the 10. I’ve been dragging my feet far too long on this one, so allow me to begin by stating that I once enjoyed a 10-year, love-hate relationship with the L.A. Westside, at the end of which, I had finally had enough. But there were definitely some good times along the way, which is why I tell people, “It’s still a great place to visit.”

My advantage as a visitor to Los Angeles, however, is that after 10 long years of residency, I can still remember most of the shortcuts along the side-streets, I have decently instinctive knowledge of every single turn along Sunset Boulevard, and most importantly, I know where I can get a good bite to eat. Of [… read more …]

Urban Foraging: A trip through 99 Ranch Market, Richmond, CA

Although the “language” of cooking is essentially universal, the “vocabulary” itself can be very different. As a born-and-raised Westerner, some of the fundamental ingredients of Asian cuisine remain exotic to me, although cooking professionally and living in California have certainly both helped to foster my assimilation. Even so, I didn’t grow up in a household where shrimp chips and salty plum candy were the norm — it was more like Cheetos and chocolate chip cookies for us. I may have mentioned this anecdote here before, but my very recent appreciation for red miso paste actually began with a lemon-miso pork belly glaze, which we featured on the menu at Auberge du Soleil (if I remember correctly, the belly was part of the skate wing set, but maybe not). The glaze itself presented a tremendous yin-yang combination of dark miso earthiness and bright citrus acidity, and it demonstrated to me [… read more …]

Urban Foraging: A trip through the Ferry Building, San Francisco


Pink Oyster Mushrooms @ Far West Fungi, San Francisco Ferry Building.

I had a fantastic dinner at Boulevard last night, which is what I’ve come to expect from this perennial San Francisco favorite. The foie gras appetizer, in particular, was extremely well-executed, with components such as vanilla sour cherries, root beer jelly, and candied nuts. Without a doubt, this dish is going to remain in my memory for quite some time. Everything on the plate worked in terrific harmony, great flavors and textures, and the foie gras itself was a generous portion, pan-seared to a perfect shade of mahogany. But I have already digressed.

Before my dinner revelation at Boulevard, I arrived in San Francisco in the early afternoon with some time to kill. Since the Ferry Building is just a couple blocks away from the restaurant, I decided to find some all-day parking [… read more …]