Category Archives: naughty food

the party’s over… goodbye to tommy toy’s

Last night I had my very last crabmeat wonton, minced chicken lettuce cups, dumplings and mango mousse at Tommy Toy’s– the very same menu that was served at my baby shower; delivered to my hospital bed upon the birth of both my children, served at countless Christmas + birthday luncheons.

There was nothing quite like a Tommy Toy’s CARB-O-CIDE… It was such a delicious blowout loaded with trans-fats + MSG, and days of unwanted bloat. But there was something so wildly infectious about Tommy Toy’s that went way beyond the food. Tommy Toy’s was a throw back to an elegant era where waiters wore bow ties– and in this case gold lame ties, with honor; while theatrically wielding silver dome plate covers. It was such a mesmerizing experience– and we’ve yet to discuss the exotic cocktail menu that was in full swing during lunch.

Yes, it is true that Tommy Toys had grown long in the tooth, but that was exactly what I loved about it.

I hated for the night to end– as a world of sweet memories had come to an end, as do all good things.

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bob’s donuts

As my good friends will attest, I am passionate about Bob’s Donuts on Polk Street. I am such a connoisseur of their glazed donuts that I can tell — just by eyeballing the donuts — which of the two donut bakers were on the midnight shift making the morning’s donuts. The glazed donut is a favorite pastime/ discussion of mine– and the true litmus test of a good donut baker. Bob’s glazed donuts are fried with a delicate, light hand + an eagle eye to produce airy confections of raised dough that is light/ airy/ fluffy smothered in a layer of glazed sugar.

I first discovered Bob’s through my mother — who is now in AA for addiction to sugar — and who could always be counted on to sniff out the best donut in a 100 mile radius. For years, we fantasized about owning Bob’s, and the fun we would have. Luckily for us, our weight scales + husbands, we never did.

During the daytime hours, I don’t walk into Bob’s without thinking of my mom– it was one of the many sweet pleasures she taught me, that I treasure. Thank you, Panther.

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it’s that time of year…

I don’t know about you, but I take Girls Scout season very seriously…

As a young girl, I was introduced to the ways of entrepreneurial pursuits while being a Girl Scout In Southwest Florida. I quickly learned how to work a calculator and sell door-to-door: Business experience that would prove invaluable. As a result, cookie season has always held a very soft spot in my heart.

Over time, GS cookies have become a favorite annual anticipation, much in the same way as King Cakes at Mardi Gras, Rose wine during summer, or Eggnog at Xmas… There is something about the ritual and ceremony of Girl Scout Cookies that make them delightfully infectious and extra-special. For 6 weeks, these cookies are the most fantastic hostess, thank you, birthday, I-am-sorry, get-better-soon gift ever.

During the cookie season, I am laser focused about my cookie preferences and stockpile for the year. My personal favorites are: 1. Thin Mint 2. Do-Si-Dos. The Thin Mints are utter perfection, and best served frozen/ straight from the freezer, with a glass of red wine— late at night. The combination oozes sensation/ texture and the right amount of sweetness.

You should try it.

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lovers’ finger food: heart beets

A sweet care package of Farmer Bob’s old fashioned pickled beets arrived on my dining table today.   The charming presentation alone begs for immediate attention, and the idea of delicious ruby red beets in the shape of hearts might be the most memorable + perfect present for every occasion.

The perfect Valentine surprise!

Thank you, Hailey

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for the love of butter balls

Butter balls.

I don’t know about you, but I live for butter balls. I find them in the most unusual of places: hole-in-the-wall joints in the South OR country clubs in New England OR fancy occasions where the host/s are at least two or three generations older than I… Either way, I find them the hallmark of discerning + elegant proprietors… The very sight of them indicates people with good taste buds + loving hands are preparing whatever is going on in the kitchen.

These little butter balls shout-out for respect + glorify any kind of carbohydrate accompanying your entree.

For kicks, you might want to try to make your own!

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swanson + vosges haut chocolat = love

 

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what the hell… i am wearing my fat pants

“Ohhhh, what the hell… I’m wearin’ my fat pants tonight,” I once heard a lady next to me, with a deep southern drawl announce to her waiter and table as she struggled to choose from the breadbasket… There were at least half a dozen options, and within seconds of spying the bounty— she just CAVED and surrendered to a smattering of them all.  Who doesn’t cave and walk out with mild gout/ severe carb-face after hours of endless gastronomic temptation + debauchery?!

The devil is always delightfully lurking in the details at the French Laundry.  After years of being haunted, dazzled and smitten by the sheer talent and exceptionalness of every dinner had— I must confess that it is the little things that leave charmed + inspired…  I can’t go frequently because it usually takes me a full year to digest the 14 courses of excruciating perfection– that renders me fearful, that I too, could end up like Mama Cass in the night!

But, in truth, TFL is as good as it ever was; the service as impeccable, as was the night.

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the love affair continues…

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oh captain, my captain crunch cookies….

My friend Amanda owns Jane on Fillmore in San Francisco, and is known as the most spectacular baker in town… Her cookies have inspired the other best cookie bakers. And while she is ludicrously good at chocolate chip + peanut butter + snicker doodles + chocolate chip toffee etc– my favorite are the popular Captain Crunch cookies. In one bite these sinful cookies revealed to me Amanda’s true talent in kitchen– the kind that opens up cabinets and adds a little of this + a little of that; and out pops brilliance.

As you may, or may not remember– I am a chocolate chip cookie baker and take my craft mildly seriously, so when I spent the morning with Amanda while she baked up my Captain Crunch cookies– I P-U-M-P-E-D her for info, and learned something very new:  she ALWAYS beats her cookies for 10 whole minutes.  Any cookie for 10 minutes.

 

1. Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer till combined – about 3 minutes on high.

2. Add eggs, one at a time while mixer is running

3. Stop mixer when eggs are incorporated – about 2 minutes – and scrape sides of bowl with rubber spatula

4. Turn mixer back to high and cream about 10 minutes. Use this time to prepare the rest of the ingredients

5. Combine AP flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix with a fork or whisk to incorporate.

6. Measure out captain crunch cereal.

7. When the butter/sugar/egg mixture is nice and fluffy turn the mixer off, add the flour and turn the mixer to low to mix in the flour. Only mix until barely incorporated and add the cereal. Mix about 45 seconds more and remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Please do not over mix. It will ruin the texture of the cookies.

8. With a spatula finish the mixing by hand.

9. Scoop golf ball size pieces of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Put them close together as the dough will have to be chilled prior to baking.

10. Chill the dough at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

11. When you are ready to bake your cookies preheat the oven to 350. Remove the dough from the fridge about 30 minutes before baking.

12. Place the scooped dough 4 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheet. With your clean hands press the dough balls lightly to flatten.

13. Bake about 12 -14 minutes, rotating the sheet once during cooking. The cookies should be nice and gold but remain soft.

14. Remove from oven and let cool about 10 minutes on the baking sheet. Transfer cookies to a rack to continue to cool

Yields 14-20 cookies, depending on size.

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OMGOMGOMG…

O, my God… this could be the NEW favorite/ naughty/ when-no-one-is-looking comfort wine pairing. Just imagine all the wines that could be paired with this bad boy. I am salivating for BACON JAM on just about everything: on a burger, peanut butter sandwich, waffles, soft + hard fancy cheese, pizza, even on doughnuts… the list could go on + on….

What would you spread it on??

photo credit: skillet bacon jam

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cheese, glorious cheese

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jane on fillmore

 

Amanda Michael has taken San Francisco by storm,  slavishly lavishing Pacific Heights with damn good coffee + pastries, as well as a spectacularly tight breakfast + lunch menu that scratches all kinds of itches. Amanda serves old-school fare made with a modern hand… Things like egg sandwiches on sour dough, Italian salads with red wine vinegar dressing, and mozzarella/ pesto/ tomato grilled panini.

But here is the catch: everything there is made with LOVING HANDS.  And one can instantly see/taste food made with loving hands the same way you can taste food made with angry hands/ no love. Food made with loving hands is practiced/ thoughtful/ chosen/ seasoned/ dressed/ presented with the highest of care. My mother taught me the high value of food made with loving hands as a child and, more importantly, how to sniff it out.

For anyone craving + obsessing about the perfect coffee/ espresso/ french press/ iced coffee– the baristas here mean business + take their craft very seriously, all day long. My wet cappuccino is a lather of perfection– in weight, texture, richness, temperature and beautiful foam art– an intricate part of my daily ritual– thank you, Tom!

photo credit: nicole mcintosh bruce

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alexis announces 24-hour NAPA itineraries!

Who are you when you travel away from home?

Are you a bohemian? High roller? Bon Vivant? Foodie? Hipster? Traveling to far-off lands brings out the shadow-side in all of us– revealing one (or many) of the above personalities always. I live for the referral of friends to create my travel inspiration board + am always delighted to immerse myself in the beat of a temporarily adopted neighborhood, eager to bring home with me, a slice of that local flavor.

People travel to wine country to bask in the infectious flavor of the Napa Valley– the light/ air/ land/ smells/ vistas/ sunsets/ people/ talent/ architecture/ local markets/ wineries/ hotels/ restaurants / menus/ coffee counters/ wine shops/ bakeries/ culinary purveyors/ picnics/ healers/ churches/ back roads/ back alleys/ florists/ tiny shops/ food trucks. And after years of creating Napa itineraries for friends/ relatives/ friends-of-friends/ strangers, I realize that rarely are 2 itineraries ever alike.

Over the coming weeks, we are unveiling our CURIOUS + ECCENTRIC 24-hour Napa itineraries, curated to dazzle + please the every kind of traveler– but the best suggestion is to read them all and create your own Napa itinerary.

Kindly keep us posted and let us know your own thoughts/ suggestions/ tips.

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can’t live without

Deviled eggs are a staple in my fridge + at all my parties… They are the perfect hors d’oeuvre/ snack/ lunch, loaded with protein for all of you banning carbohydrates from your eye’s view.  There are hundreds of sinful ways to prepare deviled eggs, but I am a purist + insist on my eggs made with as few ingredients as possible… I deeply dislike any kind of pickled anything in my deviled egg, or fishy contamination. I like my eggs small-to-medium sized– dressed with a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and a drop of Tabasco, garnished with Maldon salt flakes for a crunchy finish.

They are humble specimens of American cuisine that always delight.

How do you like yours???

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comfort pairings are becoming ALL the rage…


For the past 12 months this blog has shamelessly illuminated the universal pleasure of naughty comfort pairing (with wine)– the kind of food + wine pairings you indulge in when no one is looking; or later in the evening. We have asked dozens upon dozens of people to share these sacred ceremonies – and their responses are as every bit as telling as the answers to Marcel Proust’s questionnaire.

Komforte Chockolates are “savory combinations that are easy to love”…  The modern riff on my beloved partners at Vosges Haut Chocolat, their chocolate potions are called Tortilla + Salt; French Toast; and Ramen Noodle. Being a girl who’s favorite comfort pairing is Frosted Flakes + Merlot— this whole concept is so up my alley, I don’t know what to say. And who doesn’t LIVE for chocolate, complete with texture/ flavor + grit?

Imagine how sinfully delicious these become when you add a glass of your favorite wine.

Read more about comfort pairings here.

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