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Gretchen’s Peach And Blackberry Galette

by James Stolich

May 29th, 2014


A really good fruit galette makes a beautiful dessert, particularly now when peaches and berries are in full season. Pair it with a bit of freshly whipped cream or really good vanilla ice cream, and you cannot go wrong. You might even go the extra mile and make your own pie dough, but I have a better idea. Go to Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco (there are two locations: 3639 18th Street and 550 Divisadero Street) and pick up some house-made pie dough. It will save you a lot of time, and it’s delicious.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)
-1 Bi-Rite frozen pie dough
-8-10 ripe peaches (peeled and cut into slices)
-2 small baskets of blackberries (rinsed and dried)
-1 egg (mixed with a little milk and a quarter of a teaspoon of vanilla extract)

Place the frozen dough in the refrigerator overnight or leave out on the counter for 2-3 hours. Roll out dough on top of a sheet of plastic wrap coated with flour. Roll to at least 1/8 of an inch thickness. Mix the fruit in a bowl and toss with a half-cup of sugar–more or less, depending on the sweetness of the fruit–and 2 heaping tablespoons of flour. Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and toss. Place onto the middle of the pie crust. Fold the edges up and around the mound of fruit. The edges should hold the fruit intact, but not fully cover it.

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Place the galette onto a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet or similar flat roasting pan. Brush the dough with egg and pour the remainder onto the fruit. Place into the oven and cook until golden and bubbling, approximately 35-40 minutes. If you make it in advance, allow it to cool and then gently reheat for a few minutes at 350 degrees. Serve with the whipped cream or ice cream.

Sunny Patio Beer Days

by James Stolich

May 20th, 2014

Photo courtesty of: Waterbar

If you are into artisan and crafted beers and patio dining—on those summer days when San Francisco is not foggy—Waterbar Restaurant is well worth a visit. Known for its spectacular oysters and seafood cuisine, Waterbar also has one of the best patios in the city, set right up at the edge of the Bay with stellar views. What’s more, the restaurant will host a special summer series to highlight our amazing local breweries during the summer months.

Diners will get a chance to meet a member of each featured brew team, and enjoy a brisk glass of beer while basking in the bayside splendor. And the chefs will provide a suggested food-pairing menu to accompany the refreshing artisan libations.

Upcoming schedule for the brewery event series:

Saturday, May 17th – Speakeasy Ales & Lagers

Saturday, June 14th – Almanac Beer Company

Saturday, July 12th – Pacific Brewing Company

Saturday, July 26th – Headlands Brewing Co.

Saturday, August 16th – Trumer Pils

Saturday, September 13th – Cellarmaker Brewing Co.

Sunday, September 28th – Anchor Brewing 

Hours: 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Price: $7 per beer; no event fee

Photo courtesty of Waterbar

The Burger Frenzy

by James Stolich

May 19th, 2014

The hamburger has always been an American classic and top chefs are now trying to distinguish themselves with unusual and non-traditional preparations and over-the-top ingredients. Some combinations work brilliantly, while others only offer shock appeal.

The Stonebreaker
It all started about two years ago when Prather Ranch retail shop owner Doug Stonebreaker opened his American Eatery inside the Ferry Building. In what appears to have been in homage to her boss, the chef created a monster burger called–The Stonebreaker. Though no longer offered, this writer recalls that it was at least a one-pound beef burger “poutine” with cheese curd, house-made gravy, and tallow fries (fried in Prather Ranch beef tallow) on an organic Acme bun. A 10-mile run or 50-mile bike ride would probably burn through most of the calories. Prather stopped making this one, but, yes, it was delicious! Here are a few more places that are currently offering burgers that have taken the concept to a whole new level of excess.

The Monte Cristo Burger
Take, for example, the Monte Cristo Burger created by the Top Chef contestant, Michael Voltaggio, (owner of Ink in LA) for the Umami Burger chain. The burger features deep-fried buns soaked in vanilla custard, prosciutto, Gruyere fondue, a beef patty, and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. It comes with a side of syrup. According to Voltaggio, he wanted to make a burger that appealed to those looking for something that is both savory and sweet.

The José Andrés Burger
Umami also announced a new burger, created by renowned Spanish chef José Andrés. The patty is made from pork and cured ham with a piquillo pepper confit, caramelized onion, Manchego cheese, and aioli. Yum.

4505’s Secret Burger
Okay, this secret burger at Ryan Farr’s just opened 4505 Burgers & BBQ (inside the former Da’Pitt and adjacent to a pot dispensary at 705 Divisadero Street) has got to take the award for the most towering burger with highest calorie count. Ryan has a way with meat and his basic burgers are absolutely delicious. Why he would create this monstrosity, well, let’s just say he must get a huge laugh watching his customers try and eat this thing. It’s essentially a “Big Mac” that consists of a double cheeseburger with the crazy addition of a wedge of his infamous “frankaroni,” which is deep-fried mac and cheese studded with chunks of house-made hot dogs all piled high on a pain de mie bun. I dare you.

Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop & Restaurant
Located at Point Reyes Station (10905 Shoreline Highway 1), the Marin Sun Farms restaurant prepares a burger that satisfies like no other—at least for this writer. Stake out a seat in the garden along the funky wooden table and put in an order for the signature goat burger (chenel chevre, mushrooms, caramelized onions) with fries. The goat meat is more delicate than lamb and goes so well with the earthy mushrooms and mild goat cheese. Pair with a glass of rosé and enjoy a small piece of heaven.

Photo credit: EaterSF

Celebrating Easter

by James Stolich

April 8th, 2014

It’s nearly Easter, and you might be wondering where to have brunch, lunch, or dinner to celebrate, particularly if you have family or friends in town. Here are two wonderful options for dining out, and one for eating beautifully prepared food at home.

Easter Brunch at Quince
Quince Restaurant at 470 Pacific Avenue is offering a very special brunch from 11a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at its flagship location. The pre-fixe menu is $125/person, excluding drinks (there is also a children’s menu for $50/child):

-Lobster, Fava Bean and Nasturtium Salad
-Zucchini Blossom and Mint Tortelli
-Suckling Lamb “Tre Modi”
-Herb, pecorino cheese sauce and “Carciofi alla Romagnola”
-Roman Style Whipped Ricotta and New Crop Cherry Tart

To make a reservation, call 415-775-8500 or go online to

Easter Brunch at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
Along with the regular brunch menu, Absinthe’s executive chef Adam Keough has created an additional a la carte menu item for Easter, inspired by Southern French flavors, while bar manager Jared Schmidt will offer a special sweet and festive cocktail. Easter brunch hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The menu includes these holiday dishes:
-Slow-Roasted Bone-In Leg of Lamb
-Egg Flip (rum, egg whites, candy cream syrup, Angostura bitters, shaved chocolate garnish)
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar is located at 398 Hayes Street (at Gough) in San Francisco. For reservations calls 415-551-1590.

Easter Supper at Cotogna
If you are not a brunch fan or prefer something a little more casual, Cotogna—next door to Quince—is a fantastic option. The following pre-fixe menu will be offered for dinner from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for $65/person.

-Insalate Verdi
(Chilled green jumbo asparagus, young peas and their shoots, artichokes & wild mint)
(Filled with essence of carbonara)
-Wild Halibut
(Fava greens & pecorino crust, ragout of fava beans, chickpeas & razor clams)
Roman Style Oxtails
(extra cost for this supplement)
(Filled with strawberry and passion fruit gelato)

To make a reservation call 415-775-8500 or go online to

Bi-Rite Market Passover Menu
If you prefer to host the holiday in the comfort of you own home the very talented chefs at Bi-Rite Market will make sure you are covered. Their 2014 Passover Menu provides you with plenty of tasty options. Some of the dishes include Jewish-style artichokes (white wine-poached, then fried with lemon, mint & sea salt) and fennel & garlic-crusted slow-roasted grass-fed lamb (with raisin, Meyer lemon & horseradish salsa verde).

You can view the complete Easter menu here:

Bi-Rite’s Easter menus will be available starting on Saturday, April 12th through Tuesday, April 22nd. Orders can be placed by calling either store:

Bi-Rite Market Mission District: 3639 18th Street ▪(415) 241-9760
Bi-Rite Market Western Addition: 550 Divisadero Street ▪(415) 551-7900

Dixie Re-visited

by James Stolich

April 1st, 2014
Photo by Brian Smeets

Photo by Brian Smeets

This writer visited Dixie when it first opened in the old Pres a Vi space in the Presidio (One Letterman Drive) about two years ago. Then chef Joseph Humphrey crafted a refined and sophisticated menu with subtle Southern accents. The food, however, was not traditional Southern, which confused customers given the restaurant’s name. Partner and general manager Dean Tinney made some changes this year and brought in chef Erik Hopfinger. The food is now American contemporary with strong Southern accents.

Go in for lunch and have a glass of the house chardonnay with a starter such as cheddar and scallion hushpuppies. If you like garlic, you will love the accompanying butter with plenty of thick pieces of chopped garlic. According to Tinney, the term “hush puppy” hails from the South and is derived from throwing a puppy a piece of fried corn meal to make it stop barking.

If you have an appetite for Po’Boy, the dish comes with oysters, shrimp, and house-made barbequed chips. The large platter of Dixie fried chicken is also delicious. The outdoor heated patio is dog-friendly, and there’s a daily happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Open Monday through Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; until 10 p.m. on Friday. Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; until 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Simply Roasted Farmers Market Cauliflower

by James Stolich

March 12th, 2014

At our local farmers markets at this time of year, it is common to find large, beautiful heads of cauliflower. Here is a very simple way to roast cauliflower as a beautiful side dish to accompany almost any main course.

Ingredients (serves 6):
-1 very large head of cauliflower–approximately 2 to 3 lbs–or several smaller heads
-4 sprigs of spring garlic (also called green garlic)
-Controne pepper (available at Boulette’s Larder in the Ferry Plaza Market Hall)
You can substitute red chili flakes.
-Coarse sea salt
-Extra virgin olive oil
-Coarsely ground fresh black pepper

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut and trim the cauliflower into bite-size pieces, keeping the florets as intact as possible. Arrange in a baking dish large enough to accommodate all of the cauliflower in a single layer. Sprinkle with coarse salt and grated black pepper. Clean the green garlic and chop into a small dice, including the green bits. Sprinkle the garlic over the baking dish. Drizzle cauliflower with a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. Add a few pinches of Controne pepper over the entire dish.

Put the cauliflower in the oven and bake until ready, approximately 35 to 45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve with your favorite main course. You will be amazed at how clean and true the flavor is when roasting cauliflower in this simple manner. The Controne pepper (if you can find it) adds a sophisticated element of heat to the dish.

The Shed in Healdsburg

by James Stolich

March 10th, 2014


When was the last time you visited charming Healdsburg? This quaint town north of San Francisco has a lot to offer food and wine lovers. One of the most interesting new establishments in the last couple of years is The Shed. Owner Cindy Daniel has been working on this ambitious project for the past decade.

Just off the main square at 25 North Street, The Shed is part café, restaurant, fermentation bar, produce market and eclectic kitchen shopping boutique. The open space—spanning two floors—is stunning. It’s a great place to go in the morning for your coffee and breakfast. Afterwards you can buy locally made bread and pick out your farmers market ingredients for dinner.

The Shed also offers weekly special events, seminars, farm dinners, and cooking classes. Cindy has also gone to great lengths to source a variety of interesting and hard-to-find cooking products. You will find first-rate cutlery, beautiful hand-made pottery, and a collection of lovingly sourced cooking items– most with a compelling story behind them. Would you like to raise your own bees for honey? Cindy and staff have you covered. And they’ve recently launched an online store. Even if you cannot make it up there right away, you can shop online for products. Visit

The Shed is open daily from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. Closed Tuesdays.

Upscale, Refined Indian Cuisine

by James Stolich

February 12th, 2014
Photo by James Stolich

Photo by James Stolich

When was the last time you visited Campton Place? And no, having a drink at the bar doesn’t really count. This writer went in for dinner just before Christmas and shared the nine-course tasting menu. It was fabulous.

During the past four years, executive chef Srijith Gopinathan has quietly refined the food at this iconic restaurant inside the Taj Hotel at 340 Stockton Street. Using classic French technique and local ingredients, as well as bold Indian spices and flavors from South Asia, Srijith has created a repertoire of sophisticated, light Indian fare. He was even awarded a Michelin star, something not commonly associated with Indian cooking.

While the tasting menu is impressive, it represents a substantial amount of food. Àla carte is also a great option. Some of the dishes that stood out include the cauliflower (Meyer lemon milk, kale, tamarind), the Maine lobster (edamame vada, sweet potatoes, coastal curry), and the slow-cooked lamb rack (panch phoran (five-spice blend), pine nut pilaf, pineapple nage). Every protein was perfectly cooked and paired with outstanding wines from master sommelier Richard Dean.

After a while, some of the flavors melded together and repeated, but everything was very light and flavorful. Perhaps most impressive was the dramatic presentation of each dish. Srijith is an artist and it shows. No one in San Francisco is cooking Indian food with this level of artistry and sensibility. Open nightly, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m..

Pigs and Pinot

by James Stolich

January 16th, 2014


I was recently invited to a media lunch and farm tour hosted by chef Charlie Palmer at the incredibly beautiful Devil’s Gulch Ranch in Nicasio, CA. The purpose of the lunch was to inform us about Palmer’s highly successful Pigs and Pinot fundraiser, now going on its 9th year. The celebratory weekend (which occurs this year on March 21 and 22 at Hotel Healdsburg) offers a series of intimate dining and educational events hosted by Palmer. A cast of master sommeliers and international celebrity chefs showcase some of the world’s greatest pinots noirs with perfect pork pairings. All net proceeds from the Pigs and Pinot benefit Share Our Strength, local scholarships, and charities.

Tickets to Pigs and Pinot can be purchased here: starting Wednesday, January 15th, for Visa signature cardholders, and on Thursday, January 16th, for everyone else. It’s the perfect event to sample Devil’s Gulch Pork and a slew of locally made pinot noir wines.

Devil’s Gulch Ranch
Mark Pasternak was just 19 years old when he purchased Devil’s Gulch Ranch in 1971. Since that time he has been successfully raising pigs, quail, and rabbits for Bay Area Restaurants and farmers markets. You can learn more about Mark and his farm here: You can find Mark at the Marin Farmers Market every Sunday in San Rafael (in the parking lot behind Marin Civic Center), from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. Bi-Rite Market also carries Pasternak’s pork and rabbits.

Osso Steakhouse & The Holidays

by James Stolich

November 21st, 2013


Our friends over at Osso Steakhouse (1177 California Street at the top of Nob Hill) have your holiday dinner needs covered. Not only are they open for regular business hours on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, they will be offering—in addition to their regular menu—several banquet menus for groups. For details visit and click on menu and then banquets.

Owner Jennifer Dal Bozzo has confirmed that the dining room will be decorated with poinsettias, a Christmas tree, and other festive elements to bring in the holiday cheer. Private rooms are also available for more a more intimate dining experience. The restaurant is open every day from 5 p.m. until 10 p.m.

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