Friday, April 26th, 2013
“Chuch n kep!” “Rosca la whit!” Ishiwanee chan tsis!” Overhearing these extremely offensive phrases hurled around in San Francisco kitchens was my rude introduction to the Mayan dialects of the Yucatan. Like any other immigrant group, normally one pioneer comes to America and once they find work, their village follows. In the Mission District and the Tenderloin, many of the recent immigrants have come from the Yucatan and Chiapas, once the epicenter of Mayan culture.
While many of these immigrants cook in restaurants serving food from a wide range of cultures, their desire to eat the flavors from home has spurned an explosion of Yucatecan restaurants in San Francisco. It is now not uncommon to find panuchos or salbutes, or perhaps the more well-known cochinita pibil. In English, cochinita pibil translates as “buried pig”. Traditionally, a pig is wrapped in banana leaves, buried underground with coals and slow cooked.
Our version is rubbed with achiote, onions, orange and lime juice, and braised in the oven wrapped with banana leaves. Served with the traditional black beans, pickled red onions and queso fresco, these tacos will make their debut appearance on the menu tonight.
As for the phrases above, it is better not to know their meaning, unless you want from your mother a mouthful of jabón!
Saturday, April 6th, 2013
New taco on the menu tonight only: beef cheek barbacoa, guajillo salsa & pickled onions.
Saturday, March 30th, 2013
When the days begin to get noticeably longer, we see the first strawberries of the season. For most chefs, this first sighting brings much excitement, as we no longer have only citrus to rely on for our pastry needs. While considered by many strictly a spring fruit, here in the Bay Area, the strawberry season begins in spring and runs through most of the summer. Many of the local strawberries are grown between Santa Cruz and the Salinas valley, where the coastal fog keeps the berries cool at night, even when the daytime temperatures soar. I’m always amazed to find still delicious strawberries in September as we are turning the corner into fall.
One of the Mixtec farmers in Salinas, who is growing chiles for us this year, offered us the first picking of their strawberry crop. They will be accompanying our Arroz con Leche as “Fresas Locas”, strawberries tossed with lime juice, sugar, chile arbol and mint. Spring has arrived.
Saturday, March 23rd, 2013
Click here to read the Wall Street Journal piece featuring Matt Gandin’s recipe for matzo brei chilaquiles.
Thursday, March 21st, 2013
I could eat artichokes every day of my life. In addition to being arguably my favorite vegetable, they also hold many fond food memories for me. When I was growing up in Orange County, there were still many farms. And each spring, in addition to strawberries, most of the farm stands also sold freshly picked artichokes. My mom used to just simply boil them whole. As a family, we would sit around the table, picking the leaves, dipping them in drawn butter, and scraping the tender bases off with our teeth. My dad would claim the meaty hearts for himself.
Although not a commonly eaten vegetable in Mexico, I couldn’t live with myself if I let artichoke season pass by without putting them on the menu. I have taken inspiration from a dish that is a traditional vegetable accompaniment to a meal in Mexico, potatoes and rajas (roasted Poblano chiles) stewed down with onions and garlic. I have replaced the rajas with the tender inner parts of the artichoke, and flavored the dish with Serrano chiles and epazote, a strong herb similar in flavor to the Italian herb nepitella. This side dish is currently coming with our wood-grilled ribeye steak, but can also be ordered on its own.