Showing posts from 2012

Seeking Xiao Long Bao

One of my favorite foods is Xiao Long Bao or steamed dumplings.  It's a Shanghainese food and consists of a thin wrapping around pork and broth that is then steamed in bamboo baskets.  A few variations, of crab meat or vegetables exist, but my favorite tends to be the simple pork-based version.

Xiao Long Bao fans like myself consider a few things to be important when searching for a great xiao long bao.  1) the skin should be delicate and thin.  This isn't a thicker dumpling for frying 2) there should be plentiful soup or broth.  3) the quality of the pork, not too fatty, not too dry, is important.
In China, especially Shanghai, there are a multitude of top-notch restaurants serving this regional specialty with fans adamant about which they find the greatest.  Across the world, Din Tai Fung, started in Taiwan but whose founder was from China, is widely considered to be the best.  With outposts in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Unit…

Farewell, Foie Gras

On July 1st, 2012, California became the only state in the United States to ban the consumption of foie gras.  Foie gras, a French delicacy consisting of fatty duck or goose liver, is an extremely common dish used by high-end chefs and has fans across the country.

Although Chicago temporarily had a ban from 2006 to 2008, their ban was repealed after the City Council voted to overwhelmingly overturn it following comments made by their then Mayor Daley.  California's ban will be the only one in the United States and was actually passed in 2004, with 8 years for local producers to comply with the ban.

The controversy over foie gras largely is due to the production methods.  Ducks and geese are force-fed a rich diet such that their livers enlarge beyond normal size.  These fatty livers are then collected.

Animal rights activists have felt that force-feeding birds is an inhumane practice whereas foie gras producers and many chefs consider current methods to reflect a humane treatment o…

Little Star (Incognito)

One of the great joys for food lovers is discovering new food.  7x7 Magazine's long running The Big Eat San Francisco list of '100 Things to Try Before You Die' has been a great resource in figuring out, annually, some of the latest and greatest things that should be on your try list.  Combined with Foodspotting's excellent Guide, it's a well-watched and handy list for food lovers.

One perennial item that had intrigued me from 7x7 Magazine's first publication was the 'Brass Monkey' at Little Star Pizza.  It debuted at #60 on the list and this past year rocketed up to #33 in a healthier form as the 'Little Star,' essentially a 'Brass Monkey' minus the sausage.

So what exactly is a 'Brass Monkey'?  Besides the cool name, it's a deep dish pizza that features spinach blended with ricotta & feta, mushrooms, onion, and garlic.  If you're already drooling, the addition of sausage for meat lovers is the final touch on the fan…

In Search of Chowdah and Lobsta Rolls

My brother went to school and now works and lives in Boston.  Having had the opportunity to visit him, I've been lucky enough to try some of the great seafood that exists on that coast.  In particular, the creamy yet still brothy New England clam chowder and the decadent lobster roll are among my most memorable food finds from that trip.

Finding equivalent fare on the West Coast is a challenge.  Though we're blessed with some of the most diverse restaurant scenes in California, top-notch clam chowder and lobster rolls are a late arrival to our shores.  Though you can find touristy chowder restaurants in Half Moon Bay and Monterey and even an occasional restaurant serving a lobster roll, it's just not quite the same.

That's why it was so nice to recently find Billy's Boston Chowder House in Los Gatos, CA.  A relative newcomer to the restaurant scene, Chef Owner Bill Reynolds strives his best to recreate the Boston classics as faithfully as he remembers them from h…

For The Love of Steaks

For about the past six years, Alexander's Steakhouse in Cupertino has been my ALL-TIME favorite restaurant.  As an avid meat lover, it's no surprise that a steakhouse would be on the top of my list and, indeed, Alexander's serves among the best steaks in the country, ranging from certified USDA Prime all the way to A5 Wagyu beef.  Reflective of his Japanese background, Executive Chef Jeffrey Stout has imbibed Alexander's with a unique culinary vision beyond the traditional steakhouse and it's earned him numerous accolades.  In 2010, Alexander's became one of the few steakhouses in the nation (another is the legendary Peter Luger in NYC) to be awarded a prestigious Michelin star.

While top-notch cuisine is an expectation of any favorite restaurant, it actually is the phenomenal service at Alexander's that distinguishes it from the many restaurants that I've been fortunate to have visited.

I recall one of my early dining experiences at Alexander's when …