Wednesday, November 26


It's a lazy Wednesday morning and while I should be memorizing the functions of the Stomach meridian I find myself nestled in borrowed boxers with a plate of leftover Chinese food in front of me with no desire to read about wind heat and borborygmus. Ladyfriend tried to make me one of her "delicious" green drink smoothies (frozen strawberries and bananas, protein powder, green..powder...of some nutritional sort, and almond milk), but I was having a distinct craving for leftover mu shu vegetables (I credit the midnight tequila, but that's subject matter for another post). Which reminded me of this draft of my gastronomic guilty pleasures.

I started this list months ago, before I had a real kitchen in San Francisco, and continued it through the days when memorizing muscle attachments took precedence over, say, purchasing produce. In the absence of free time I found myself taking shortcuts and falling back on my less sophisticated preferences. In fact, I distinctly remember pondering my Gastronomic Guilty Pleasures while sitting in a cafe that happened to be playing a (cough, country) song that falls into the category of Musical Guilty Pleasures. Hm. I'm also going to share that I seem to be falling for Ladyfriend, and even though this feels like an incredibly healthy dynamic it seems apropos to enumerate the less-than-healthy foods that I fall for every time.

* Leftover mu shu vegetables,
generally without the rice wrappers and potentially cold.

* Mayonnaise. I could practically eat it with a spoon, but I usually make myself scrape it off the spoon onto some sort of bread product and top with salt. Maybe tomatoes if I'm feeling lypocene-deficient.

* Spaghetti-O's. From the can. With the same spoon (see above).

* I know organic, natural peanut butter is delicious and nutritious, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a weak spot for super-processed sugar-laden peanut butter (chunky). Jar --> spoon/finger --> mouth --> stomach.

* Macaroni salad from the Safeway deli. This should probably be a subset of "mayonnaise" but I do feel it warrants it's own line.

* Onion dip. You know. Marie's? The stuff that's basically sour cream and artificial flavors? Yeah.

There. I said it. Don't judge.

What are your guilty (gastronomic) pleasures?

Tuesday, November 25

Tuesday Review: Range

My posts have been rather sporadic as of late, as you may have noticed. I seem to have gotten a) overcommitted, and b) involved with a very nice lady, hence a predictable lack of blogging time. I additionally seem to be entering some sort of unexpected cooking hibernation, and I'm honestly not putting up much of a fight. However, ladyfriend and I have been exploring the gastronomic options throughout San Francisco and she recently had the brilliant suggestion to post lurid details about our adventures here. Thus: Tuesday restaurant reviews.

Last night we struck out to Range. I've been eyeing Range since I first moved to the Mission, and passed Range every day on my way to yoga. I sensed that they had particularly inveigling culinary delights to share, but I needed the appropriate occasion and dining partner to venture out.

I was so right. The atmosphere is warm, home-y, and inviting -- plenty of dark wood and brushed silver, pleasant lighting, and perfect acoustics for dinner conversation. We started with the Quercus Harmonia Pinot Noir 2007 since ladyfriend was looking for something sweet and light, and the Andre Brunel Cotes du Rhone 2006 on the server's recommendation, since I was leaning towards something earthy. We subsequently swapped wines but both were excellent, with a mutual pleasant dustiness that complemented the autumnal flavors of our meal.

The menu looked lovely, but since we have a host of dietary restrictions between us (gluten-intolerant, loosely lactose-intolerant, pescatarian) we selected an array of appetizers. We were hesitant to order the barley-vegetable soup with gruyere croutons, but we weren't disappointed: it was fantastically seasoned and chock full of greens and root vegetables. The Bartlett pears with arugula, celery root, goat cheese, and hazelnuts were the real star for me, showcasing a melange of flavors that synchronized beautifully against the backdrop of rosemary vinaigrette.

For our next course we shared the raw California Yellowtail with pickled beets, meyer lemon, and tarragon which was...a disappointment. Ladyfriend insists the cut of fish was sub-par, and I didn't particularly care for the preparation. Fortunately the sweet-potato-stuffed pasta with sage, lemon, and pecans made up for it -- the lemon in particular added a lovely bracing quality against the sweet heaviness of the wintry fillings.

For dessert we chose the bittersweet chocolate espresso souffle with cinnamon-caramel swirl ice cream, paired with Ottimino Zinfandel 2005 and the Taylor Fladgate late bottled vintage port 2000, and every single one of those flavors worked together so incredibly well. Port and chocolate have to be one of my favorite decadent combinations, and I give Sam the server major props for pushing me that direction.

Ladyfriend additionally notes the excellent service and lovely food presentation, for an overall score of 9.0 (our highest yet; retroactive restaurant reviews to come). I loved it all that and a little more for a 9.1.

A question for you, kind readers: what do you think about taking cameras into restaurants? I know certain New York establishments have banned photography at the table, and I do feel disgustingly overt/tacky/touristy/amateur whipping out my little Sony Cybershot before each course. But, I know that reviews with a view are significantly superior. Thoughts?

Thursday, November 20


Eggs should be consumed:

* With copious amounts of cracked pepper and kosher salt.
* In tandem with sourdough toast.
* Accented (color, flavor, spice) with sriracha; any hot sauce will do. I suppose.

Avocado should be consumed:

* Whenever possible.

Thursday, November 6

Gardenburger Porta(/o)bella(/o) Patties

Remember that Gardenburger I had last Tuesday? It catalyzed not only the subsequent yam fries, but seems to have reversed my aversion to Gardenburgers.

Traditionally I like neither Gardenburgers nor portobella mushrooms, either as a sandwich or an entree, largely due to fourteen years of vegetarianism, which included the dark years when most tofu was only served in Chinese food restaurants and Starbucks didn't offer soy milk. Back in the day, vegetarians were stuck with the ubiquitous Gardenburger at every family BBQ, camp dinner, team function, and school lunch. Pretty much the only place you couldn't find a Gardenburger was at fast food joints on the way home from away games with high school sports teams, so you'd make do with a large milkshake and fries and remind yourself to bring an apple next time.

Times have changed, and I generally prefer to take advantage of the more exciting (and often more nutritious) options now available to the vegetarian crowd. However, portobellas (the spelling of which can't seem to be agreed upon -- variations include portobello, portabella, and portabello) are now treated as the "steak of the forest" (credit Ruth Ryus).

But for some reason as I was browsing through the grocery store these Gardenburger Portobella Burgers caught my eye, and when I got home from class this afternoon I knew exactly what I wanted. Layered with avocado, thick slices of tomato, spring mix, and mayo and mustard on whole grain bread, this managed to satisfy my lately insatiable appetite.

Next time, I'm using sriracha, kim chee, and alfalfa sprouts. Other good burger-topping combinations?


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