Coco500 - Brannan - San Francisco...
...Inspires a Recipe for Truffled Cauliflower Cheese Flatbread
Photograph of my own healthier take on the flatbread, recipe after the review:
Coco500 | 500 Brannan Street | San Francisco | CA | 94107 | 415 543 2222
Last Monday, just before I had even thought about trying to lose a little weight, Fred and myself met our friend Penny at Coco500 in San Francisco's SoMa district for dinner. The little corner spot that used to be Bizou has been reincarnated by Chef Loretta Keller and so far the whispers around town are that Coco500 is a spot worth checking out.
We had a mostly fabulous time. The room is modern, warm and welcoming without being too flashy. Sleek lines and a subtle toffee-brown and sky-blue colour scheme accented by beautiful a golden-hued pattern of lights above the bar makes for a comfortable location in which to sip on one of the serious cocktails and peruse the playful menu.
Penny and I ordered to share whilst Fred stuck closely to his own agenda. I can only imagine that Small Starts refers more to the prices than the portion sizes. Where else could you find five, exquisitely presented tacos topped with succulent beef-cheek mole and a smidgen of avocado puree for just $4? The bite-sized morsels make great finger food but they don't last long. Duck liver terrine, a large, slab of country-style pate served with generous accompaniments of toasted bread, mustards and pickles soon finds its way into any space not filled by the tacos. I can't quite believe it is only $6. Slightly pricier, the $8 coriander-seared ahi tuna didn't live up to expectation. Although the whole coriander seeds, sticking to the edges of the glistening red fish like artsy brown bubbles, looked imaginative, the taste sensation was far more pedestrian.
From the wood oven, a truffled flatbread with caramelized cauliflower, parmesan and sea salt was the suprise hit of the evening. The marriage of truffle with al dente cauliflower and strong cheese was more delicious, more moreish, than a previously cauliflower-impaired couple of Brits like myself and Penny could ever imagine. Wow! Inspiring stuff indeed.
The wood oven didn't work its magic as well for Fred's mushroom and fontina pizza with prosciutto and olives. Not only was the crust too crunchy and hard, the prosciutto was cooked with the dough, so when paired with the olives, the resulting pie was overly salty. He was none to impressed.
Duck confit, mango, hazlenuts and frisee, on the other hand, was nicely done. The duck was fatty and moist and the skin crunched to perfection. Mango made a surprisingly good combination, especially with the addition of the hazlenuts. Two little triangles of puff pastry seemed superflous to the plate and we couldn't work out why the Chef had thought to put them there.
We looked to California Dirt for some side dishes. Chanterelle mushrooms with bacon and thyme, as you can probably imagine, were decadence on a plate. In contrast, pea tendrils with a confit of garlic and ginger were barely cooked for a healthier and somewhat less indulgent experience.
For a sweet kiss to end the meal I enjoyed, in true retro fashion, the classic Vacherine, swiss meringue, crème anglaise, bittersweet chocolate sauce, ice cream and candied almonds. Because the kitchen kindly switched the coffee ice for a vanilla one for me, the dessert resembled a large, poufy white wedding gown that had been dribbled with shining, dark ribbons of chocolate surrounded by a sea of haphazardly dispersed almond confetti. There was nothing complicated about this wondrous, combination, apart from trying to explain the reason why something so simple could be so satisfying.
The only talk, as we departed and went on our separate ways, was of how soon we could find time to return to Coco500 again.
Truffled Cauliflower Cheese Flatbread
This is a healthier, eat at home, version of Coco500's flatbread using less oil and cheese. It's not as sinfully delcious as the restaurant version, but it makes a satisfying alternative nevertheless.
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp truffle oil
1/4 oz Parmesan cheese
1/4 head cauliflower
-Preheat pizza stone in oven to 450F
-Mix 3 tbsp flour with 2 tbsp water in a small bowl
-Using the remaining 1 tbsp of flower to dust the board, your hands and a rolling pin, roll out the dough to make a flat, circular pizza shape. It should be very thin.
-Heat up a frying pan and 'dry-fry' the flatbread for just a minute on each side. Put to one side.
-Break down the cauliflower into tiny florettes, discarding the thick stalks.
-Heat the 1 tsp of olive oil on high. Add the cauliflower and a good sprinkling of salt and continue stirring, keeping the heat high, for several minutes until, the florets are golden brown and al dente. Leave to one side.
-Grate 1/4 oz of hard parmigiano regiano (or other strong, hard cheese)
-Stir 1/2 tsp of truffle oil in with the cauliflower and then top the flat bread with it.
-Cover with the finely grated cheese and transfer onto the pizza stone in the pre-heated oven.
-Leave 2-3 minutes until the flat bread starts to turn golden brown.
-Remove from the oven,season to your taste with salt and pepper.
Serves 1: 5 Weightwatcher points.
Experiment with all sorts of different toppings on your flatbread.
PS. My heartfelt thanks to all the readers who voted for me as the winner in the 2005 Food Blog Awards for Best Restaurant Reviews. I find reviewing restaurants to be the most difficult part of what I blog. I struggle with it, I experiment with different styles and I sometimes lack confidence in my ability to be a reviewer. So, your support is sincerely and gratefully appreciated. I am humbled. Thank you.
Links, Resources and Further Reading
Bay Area Resources:
Cauliflower from | Iacopi
Cheese from | Cowgirl Creamery
The official website | Coco500
Coco500 | Blogged by the Restaurant Whore
Blogged by Fatemeh | Coco500
Coco500 | by Ms Food Musings
Recipes | For Flatbreads
Pictures | of Cauliflower Cheese
Equally Deserving of Accolades:
2005 Food Blog Award Restaurant Reviews Finalist | Grab Your Fork
2005 Food Blog Award Restaurant Reviews Finalist | The Delicious Life
2005 Food Blog Award Restaurant Reviews Finalist | NYC Nosh
2005 Food Blog Award Restaurant Reviews Finalist | The Tasting Menu
My Favourite Examples of my 2005 Restaurant Reviews:
June 2005 | Cafe Gratitude
December 2005 | Campton Place
Daily weight loss, weightwatchers and diet notes:
Yesterday was a good day. I wasn't fixating on any food. During the day I was super healthy - fruit, salad and vegan soup. In the evening pig went back on the menu when I discovered that lean pork tenderloin is only one point per ounce. I adapted a favourite recipe to use less oil and it was delicious. I even had an ounce of gruyere cheese as a treat (3 points an ounce!!!) and still didn't eat all my points for the day. I certainly don't recommend starvation, and I know I should really eat all of my points on a daily basis, but yesterday, for some reason, I just didn't feel hungry.
|Archive Alert! On this date in 2005: Union Square District; Scala's Bistrot|
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