Friday, June 30, 2006

How I Make Lemon Curd

End of the Month means Eggs on Toast with a Twist of Lemon

photograph picture how to make recipe for lemon curd on toast
Last week, when the Bay Area was basking in a glorious heatwave that now seems like it was just a dream, Fred and I were invited to a "Summer in Rabbit Land" dinner up in Marin. Our gracious hosts, Donna and Juan had prepared a wonderful Spanish spread for fifteen people. Arbequina olives and embutidos (spanish cured meats) accompanied by dry fino and manzanilla of Jerez, tomates y anchoas (ripe tomatoes, white anchovies in an ybarra vinaigrette), ensaladilla rusa (summer potato salad), tortilla de patata, rabbit with peppers in white wine sauce, iceberg lettuce salad with ybarra vinaigrette, lemon sorbet, quesos y membrillo (cheese and quince jam), chocolate 'sandwiches', andaluzan almond cakes and aguardiente. Wow! Did I really eat and drink all of that? Everything was totally delicious.

It was such a perfect evening. The summer solstice ensured us natural light for as long as is possible on this line of latitude, and the unusual heat meant that we could dine outside in their pretty garden, surrounded by fruit trees, oranges figs and lemons... Donna and Juan know that I am exactly the kind of person who cannot refuse when offered homegrown lemons, so it was with a smile on my face that I travelled back to San Francisco that night with a small bag of fruits, freshly plucked from their little orchard.

A few days later, Donna and Juan set off to cycle from San Francisco to LA. So, because I wanted to make something with their lemons that I could share with them later, I decided to make some lemon curd which also happens to freeze exceedingly well. Because it is made with fresh butter and eggs it only lasts a short while in the fridge, although I have never had a pot that went off, it always gets eaten long before it starts to spoil.

I used to make lemon curd as a child, but I can't remember the recipe I used. More recently I made a Tarte au Citron using a recipe Pierre Hermé from The Cooks Book and found that the excess filling made an excellent curd and so it is a slightly lazy version of Hermé's method that I now use.

photograph picture how to make recipe for lemon curd on toast
A Recipe for Lemon Curd
Before starting, please note that this recipe requires your dedication. It isn't difficult, nor is it a particularly lengthy process, but you will be required to stand and stir and not be multi-tasking some other chores in the meantime.

Special Equipment:

- An instant read or candy thermometer
- Electric Immersion Hand Blender
- Glass jars heated in the oven to a temperature of 250F
(I used four x 6oz jars and fully filled all but one of them)

Grated rind of five unwaxed lemons
1 1/4 cups Bakers (castor) Sugar
1 1/3 cups room temperature unslated butter cut into cubes
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 room-temparature eggs


- In a large, heatproof bowl first rub together the lemon zest and sugar
- Set a pan of water to simmer.
*Important* This pan should be able to fit your bowl on top without it touching the water.
- Add the four eggs and whisk everything together
- Stir in the lemon juice until blended
- Place the bowl over your pan of simmering water. If you have a candy thermometer only, then attach it inside the bowl at this point.
- Constantly stir the mixture with a whisk until it reaches a temperature of 180F (check with an instant-read thermometer if you aren't using a candy thermometer).
- Set the mixture aside to cool to a temperature of 140F. This important. If you proceed to the next stage when the mixture is too hot you will end up changing the structure of the butter in an undesirable way and your curd will be ruined.
- Add the butter and mix everything together using an immersion blender for five minutes to make sure the curd is smoothly blended.
- Transfer to glass jars, cool, top with a lid and then refrigerate or freeze for future use.

To serve, spread on hot toast. Yum...

PS - This was intended to be an entry in Jeanne at Cook Sister's EOMEOTE (End of the Month Eggs on Toast Extravaganza) but the event is taking a hiatus for June. EOMEOTE will be back with a vegeance at the end of July, with a theme based on newspaper headlines (as well as the eggs and toast, of course!)

PPS - A new Foodography challenge has been launched here by Andrew at Spitton.

PPPS - Those readers who were interested in the Hangar One Kitten will be pleased to know she is doing well, growing fast and that her "mom", Laurie, has started a flickr set dedicated to pictures of her progress. She has a kitten aid just like mine. Check it out!

Links, Resources and Further Reading

Bay Area Resources:
Organic Butter | Straus Creamery
Fresh Farm Eggs | Marin Sun Farms

Other Resources:
Currently my favourite recipe book | The Cook's Book, Jill Norman
Parisian Pastry Chef | Pierre Hermé
EOMEOTE | End of the Month Eggs on Toast Extravaganza

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: The Helmand, Afghan Cuisine

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How I Make Lemon Curd

Thursday, June 29, 2006

How to Make Bakewell Tarts

Moist, crumbly, rustic and so, so delicious,
especially if you are an almond-loving type of person.

photograph picture how to make recipe for english/british bakewell tarts

Blog save our gracious Tart
Long live our noble Tart
Blog save our Tart.
nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah,
Send her victorious,
Bakewell is glorious,
Long to weigh over us
Blog save our Tart!

After reading an article in the Independent, (expired unless you want to fork out a pound to read it from the backlogs), about the decline in popularity of certain British foods, Andrew from Spittoon took it upon himself to try and save the Bakewell Tart from extinction. The tarts made the list of endangered species due to reports of a decline in sales of Mr Kipling's Cherry Bakewells which I honestly don't give a toss about. I couldn't care less if I never ate another one of those machine-made monstrosities for as long as I live. Mr Kipling's production-line Bakewells deserve to be extinct. Let 'em die out, I say, with their thick, pale, mealy pastry, their measly spread of jam and their miniscule cake centre laden down by a deep, sticky white fondant topped with an ungainly glace cherry. If Mr Kipling made his Bakewells more like Jamie Oliver's, I can assure you he would be worrying about being able to meet demands, not declining sales.

photograph picture how to make recipe for english/british bakewell tarts
Clockwise from top left: baking blind, June Taylor's fabulous strawberry conserve with rose geranium, the tarts filled with the frangipane, a teaspoon of conserve in the bottom of each pastry cup.

I have made Bakewell Tarts on this blog twice before, each time using Jamie's recipe as a guide and thereafter adapting it slightly, until now I have a method which is still his at heart, but even better.

Usually I make one big tart, but this time I decided to adapt the recipe to make individual tarts so they could be more easily and elegantly presented as gifts to several different friends, as well as my downstairs neighbour. Planning to give most of the Bakewell away negates the need to exercise restraint, particularly useful if you care about your waistline. But be sure to save a little bit for yourself!

First off, the pastry. The original recipe for Jamie's pastry works well, is easy to manage and is very forgiving. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it, especially if you lack pastry confidence and this is your first time making the tart. That said, this time round, I actually used a pate sucree recipe that I found in The Cook's Book for no other reason that it's my personal favourite type of pastry. Using pate sucree is totally unnecessary since it includes ground almonds and sugar, ingredients that are abundant in the filling anyhow, so unless you have an incredibly sweet tooth, Jamie's less decadent dough is probably the way to go.

I buttered my muffin tin well, rolled out the chilled pastry, cut into circles then lined each tin with dough. I then popped the tray into the freezer for half an hour to chill before lining each pastry-case with parchement paper and a few pie weights to bake blind in a 350F oven for 15 minutes.

A teaspoon of jam is added to the base of each pastry shell before the frangipane topping is added. In his book, Jamie's Dinners, he recommends using top quality jam. Lucky for us, here in the Bay Area, top quality jam is a doddle to get hold of, thanks to June Taylor, British goddess of jam-making. Check out her wares at The Still Room. So far I have made Bakewells with her strawberry conserve, her boysenberry conserve and her strawberry/geranium conserve. Naturally, all of them worked out superbly.

The main difference between Jamie's recipe and my adaption of it, is the amount of butter. I think he calls for too much of it. The first time I made it, I had butter running everywhere and I ended up cooking it for three times as long to try and dry it out a bit. I have found that by reducing the amount of butter by just 5 tablespoons Jamie's recipe works much better and is still deliciously moist. I also add a teaspoon of almond extract to the frangipane to enhance its almondness. This tip is especially useful if you use less falvourful pre-ground almonds instead of grinding them yourself.

Adapted Frangipane Filling:
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
12 oz ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 fresh, free-range farm eggs, lightly beaten together

to finish:
flaked almonds

- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
- Fold in the eggs, extract and almonds until well blended
- Fill your pie up to the top of the pastry shell with the frangipane
- Sprinkle top of your tarts with almond flakes
- Bake in a 325F for at least 40 minutes until firm to the touch with a golden brown crust.

A note about the filling: This recipe produces a lot of filling. Maybe, even too much for your pie tin to cope with as foodaholic recently found out. I recommend using a deeper pie dish, like this one. Rather than over-fill, bake any excess filling mixture in a separate ramekin or souffle dish. The result is a delicious crustless almond pudding that makes a fantastic breakfast when gently warmed and then served with jam.

Blog Save our Tart!

Links, Resources and Further Reading

Bay Area Resources:
Quality Jam | by June Taylor
Organic Butter | Straus Creamery
Fresh Farm Eggs | Marin Sun Farms
Flaked Almonds | Lagier Ranches

Other Resources:
When Sam | met Jamie Oliver and he called her "sweetpea"
Almond Extract | Star Kay White
Andrew's | Almondless, strictly traditional Bakewell
Baking for Britain | A brilliantly informed Bakewell Post.
Alanna's | Rhubarb Bakewell
Helene's | Bakewell Tart
Foodaholic | Tries Jamie's Recipe
The Recipe Book | Jamie's Dinners
The Old Foodie | On Baked Puddings (and other things)
Found on Flickr | Jamie's Bakewell Picture
Leite's Culinaria | reproduces Jamie's original recipe here
Bakewell Tarts | By English Pastis, Caper Berry Gravy, Sarah and fellow Bay-Area Brit, Catherine.

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: The Mystery Vegetable

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How to Make Bakewell Tarts

Where to Watch World Cup Football in San Francisco, Take 3: England!

Mad Dog In the Fog, 530 Haight Street, San Francisco, CA 9411, (415) 626-7279

**UPDATE** July 07: Check here for updates about where to watch the world cup final 2006 between France and Italy in San Francisco on Sunday July 9th.

photograph picture mad dog in the fog pub san francisco world cup football 2006, where to watch english football soccer matches and league in the san francisco bay area

At 7.19 am last Sunday morning I found myself on a bus heading in the direction of Haight Street. I am not sure quite how I got there. Let's just say that a kind Frenchman, who had my best patriotic interests at heart, cajoled me into early action. Before the little hand had even struck eight, (don't forget, this is a Sunday, people), I was standing, dazed, in a hot, crowded pub, surrounded by England supporters and nursing a bloody mary back to health. (Or was it vica versa?) Mad dogs and Englishmen can apparently be found at "Mad Dog in the Fog", San Francisco's most well-known soccer-centric, English-style pub at these crazy early hours, at least whilst England's World Cup chances are still alive. (And long may they live.)

I guess I went to Mad Dog, looking for a little piece of England. Hoping that it would help me remember some part of myself long since left on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. It's a really friendly pub with great staff. The female waitresses, who were delivering beer orders into the crowd, deftly balancing huge trays of bottles above their heads as they snaked their way through the jostling, exciteable footie fans, carried out their job with remarkable patience, sharp wit and humour.

The place was full of English people, But! Despite England's win, I left the pub with an empty feeling. I had watched the game amongst strangers. Simply being Enlgish wasn't enough to knit a feeling of special camraderie between me and the rest of the anonymous crowd. I mean, let's face it, the miserable buggers didn't even laugh at my t-shirt. What the hell kind of English people were they anyway?

So, unless anyone out there has a better idea of some drinking-hole with great spirit and atmosphere, I am going to watch the next England match from the comfort of my own home, lolling around on my sofa, drinking tea, eating marmite on toast and just being my regular little quirky English self. Once we've gotten the Portugese taken care of, I will head over to Cafe Bastille (it's gonna be packed folks, get there early, but don't take our table), to watch France trounce Brazil. If England get to meet France in the semi-finals, then there is certainly going to be some fun on this blog and maybe, even, a little bit of rivalry between myself and Fred. So even though we don't usually like to fight, please keep your fingers crossed for a France/England battle ahead...

Alternative: Watch France play at Couleur Cafe or at Cafe Bastille

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Cafe 222, San Diego.

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Where to Watch World Cup Football in San Francisco, Take 3: England!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Where to Watch World Cup Football in San Francisco, Take 2: France?

Cafe Bastille, 22 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

**Update** July 08: Just so you know, there will be NO ALCOHOL served from Belden lane on Sunday for the World Cup Final, but there will be a huge 4x3 metre screen set up at the Bush Street end of the alley.

**UPDATE** July 06: Since France's win yesterday, I spoke to the owner of Cafe Bastille about his plans for the World Cup Final on Sunday. He will probably not serve food or have tables set up as usual. Expecting a larger crowd the TV screens will probably all be set out on Belden alley itself so as many people as possible can view the game. The weather is set to be *hot* on Sunday so it should be a good time to be outside celebrating, especially when France win! Allez les bleus.

**UPDATE** July 07:
Check out the Football Party in Dolores Park, too. I would be there if I wasn't already planning to go to Bastille to support the Frenchies. Allez les Bleus!

photograph picture couleur cafe san francisco world cup football 2006

Fred and I are very supportive of each others' teams in the World Cup. France have always done me good with soccer: In 1998, when I still lived in London, during the very earliest stages of the tournament, I randomly declared that France were going to win. Some guy I knew down the pub laughed in my face and bet me an ample sum of money that it simply wouldn't happen. I completely forgot about that conversation and didn't think the bet was serious, until the day after the final. With the red, white and bleus still celebrating on the other side of the channel, I arrived at work to find an envelope waiting for me at reception, filled with crisp pound notes. I like a bloke who honours his bets, and I like a country who wins them for me!

A couple of years later, still in London, I was freelancing at a company that was full of guys. Literally, I was the only female out of about 22 people. I was working there during the European Cup when they decided to run a sweepstake. Lucky me, huh? Guess who picked France out of the hat? Did they win? Yes. Did I get all the money? Yes. Yes! So you see, I like France.

Cafe Bastille is our regular Friday night jaunt. We know absolutely everyone there, from the boss to the busboys. For the World Cup, Bastille have set up TVs inside the restaurant, so where better to watch last Friday's crucial match against Togo? The French are a little different to the English. Although there was plenty of jeering and camraderie, it was still a civilized affair. Those of us lucky enough were seated, with menus and waitresses serving, apperitifs, steak frites sandwiches, hot dogs, salads, beer, coffees and teas. Even so, Bastille was packed with an audience passionate and excited enough to give the game a thrilling atmosphere. So, we'll be heading back to Bastille tomorrow to see how France fare against Spain and I'll be rooting for the French...

PS. Check out a sweet French Girl who really hates the World Cup.

Alternative: Watch France play at Couleur Cafe


Watch England play at Mad Dog in the Fog

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Homemade Egg Sandwiches and Crisps

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Where to Watch World Cup Football in San Francisco, Take 2: France?

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Bay Area Blogger of the Week # 41

Mary Ladd's Food Finds: Anthony Bourdain, a bit of a Tasty Dish!...

photograph picture of the San Francisco bay area food bloggers mary ladd friend of Tony Bourdain

Do you keep up with Mary Ladd and her San Francisco Food Finds? You really should, because she a food professional who writes engaging posts. And if you don't read her, you are going to miss out on priceless snippets, like the fact she is actually friends with Anthony Bourdain!

I am not kidding you, just the other day, Mary was sharing a dinner of testicles, tripe and chocolate blood gelato at Incanto with the world's favourite bad-boy celebrity chef himself. Of course, that gets you wondering - how did she wangle that? You can satisfy your star-struck curiosity with her explanation here.

PS. Bourdain has been hanging around with another blogger too: Read Michael Ruhlman's account of Bourdain's surprise 50th Birthday Party over at Megnut.

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Bay Area Blogger of the week # 12, Bunnyfoot.

Previously Featured Bay Area Food & Drink Bloggers:
2 tasty Ladies | Dessert First | Ms Glaze's Pommes d'Amour | Hedonia | Dive | Sweet Napa | Cupcake Bakeshop | Tea & Cookies | Albion Cooks | Blogher | Bay Area Bites | Hungry Hedonist | Mighty | Chez Pim | The Blue Bottle Clown College | The Novato Experiment | Amuse Bouche | Feeding Fashionistas | All In | Dr Five Pints | SF Gourmet | Small Farms | In Praise of Sardines | Life Begins @ 30 | Gastronomie | Confessions of a Restaurant Whore | Bunny Foot | Sweet & Savory | I'm Mad and I Eat | Yummy Chow | Nosheteria | Vivi's Wine Journal | Epicurian Debauchery | Food Musings | Pfiff | Marga's Food Blog | Where the Wild Things Are | Eggbeater

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Bay Area Blogger of the Week # 41

Friday, June 23, 2006

Got Him on Milk and Alcohol?

Got Milk for the Cat, Got Vodka for the Grown-Ups

photograph picture little baby fluffy grey gray kitten drinking milk from a bottle

This little guy was found abandoned in a bag. Luckily he was discovered and is being nursed back to health by his new mom. We caught up with him at our favourite local distillary, Hangar One. Hangar One is a great place to spend the afternoon tasting eleven of their distinctive vodkas and spirits. But remember, if you are a kitten, or under 21, milk is a much better bet!

Don't drink and drive - if you live in San Francisco you can take the ferry from the Ferry Building to Alameda. It's about half a mile walk to the Hangar.

PS. World Cup 2006: Bonne chance a France aujourd hui!
Links, Resources and Further Reading

Dr Feelgood | Got Him on Milk & Alcohol
Hangar One | Raspberry Vodka
Ferry | Oakland/Alameda
website | Hangar One
website | St George Spirits
Eatstuff | Weekend Cat Blogging

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Got Him on Milk and Alcohol?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Does Norma's, at Le Parker Meridien, really serve the Best Breakfast in New York?

First Impression: "I am Sure NY Can do Much Better Than This"

Norma's: 118 W. 57th Street, Le Parker Meridien Hotel, New York, NY 10019, (212) 708-7460

photograph picture scrambled eggs and bacon at normas at le parker meridien hotel in new york city, not the best breakfast in new york

It is clear that Norma's has its fans. I am not immediately one of them. I don't think it is totally 100% terrible either, I obviously made a bum choice, but there are a few things I think you need to be aware of if you are thinking of going there for one of their famous all day breakfasts.

When you call them to make a reservation, they bark at you "We only accept reservations via Opentable". Fine, I respond, I will do it that way then. No problem for me, I am not a foreign tourist who is unlikely to have an Opentable Account. I have my laptop with me and a WiFi connection so it's easy for me to quickly login and make the arrangements. I am a little unnerved by their credit card policy though. Be warned:

Norma's at Le Parker Meridien requests a credit card number to hold this reservation. Please make sure to cancel your reservation at least 24 hours in advance to avoid a $30. charge per person to your card. Please note we can only hold your table for 10 minutes past your reservation time. Please call ahead if you are running late. Thank you! There will be no charges by Norma's at Le Parker Meridien except in cases of a no-show, late cancellation, or required deposit per the restaurant's policy. Online cancellations are accepted before 5:00 pm [two days before your reservation].

Now, when you make a reservation via Opentable (a service I generally love and find extremely useful on a regular basis) there is a little box where you can add any notes for the restaurant. As it was the day of my 40th birthday I figured it would do no harm to mention the fact. Don't expect them to do anything with that information though, not even so much as a "Happy birthday" was muttered by the miserable Maitre D, when we arrived to take our place in the dining room, which was only a quarter full. On a weekday I am not even sure you need to worry about making a reservation at all.

photograph picture 3 eggs benedict at normas at le parker meridien hotel in new york city, not the best breakfast in new york

"Would you like some orange juice?" the server asks as you are handed the closed menus. Hesitating slightly, because you haven't actually had a chance to explore other options just yet, you nonetheless agree because you assume it might be part of the deal. GOTCHA! Oh yes, they gotcha alright. You open up the menu and notice that the orange juice costs a whopping $7 a glass. At least it is good orange juice. Excellent orange juice, in fact, freshly squeezed and served at room temperature. Perfect. They even keep refilling your glass throughout the meal, so guzzle as much as you can to ensure you are getting good value for your money.

Another thing you need to be aware of is that Norma's doesn't serve any alcohol at all. Not even a mimosa. (That orange juice would make an excellent mimosa.) They have a Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata priced at $1000 on the menu, that they even go so far as to dare you to expense, but any fool who ordered it wouldn't even be able to wash it down with a glass of champers. Where the hell is the fun in that?

Ok, it's my 40th birthday and I am destined for a sober lunch. Not exactly what I had in mind. But I am a big girl now and I can handle it. But I am not a big enough girl to handle Norma's portion sizes. The dishes are obscenely enormous. From the menu, I am having a little trouble deciding between Norma's Eggs Benedict with asparagus and bacon served on pancakes or the Artychoked Benedict with Truffle Porcini Sauce. Our server raves about the latter so I decide to give it a shot.

There is only one thing worse than a plate of mediocre food, and that is a large plate of mediocre food. Three artichoke hearts, each crowned with a poached egg arrive swimming in a sea of creamy mushroom sauce dotted with little cubes of potato were positioned in front of me. A basket of toast and jam was left on the side of the table. Time to eat. Albeit very rich, the mushroom sauce was delicious, there is nothing I don't like about the combination of porcini and cream and the volume of porcini was generous. But the artichokes were unevenly cooked, one of them was so tough my knife couldn't cut it so it ended up as a reject on the side of my plate. The eggs, oh the eggs. I love poached eggs. I can take a great deal of pleasure from piercing a yolk then watching its glorious yellow run to form a golden pond on the bottom of my plate. Egg number one a little over cooked, only a 50% pool of yolk, egg number two, even more cooked, only a 25% yolk run, egg number three, totally hard boiled. What the heck? Not even the potatoes could save they day, they were as hard as bullets. Pah!

I turned to the basket of toast. Toast, hum. I think the bread might actually have seen the toaster before running a mile in the other direction for fear of actually being toasted. By the time it arrived chez nous it was looking a little pale and wane. Thank heaven for the jam. They saved the day. There were two jams and they were both excellent. Really excellent. Especially the one that tasted like peach with a hint of almond. "Is this peach and almond jam", I asked the Maitre D as he passed by my table. He didn't have the foggiest. He tried to make something up but he really didn't know what he was talking about. I hate it when the staff are clueless about the food they are serving, especially in a place that purports to be kind of fancy.

To be fair on old Norma, whoever she is, Fred loved his simple scrambled eggs with bacon and home fries. His potatoes were not only cooked properly, they tasted good too. I wish I'd had what he had. Oh well.

Norma's is one of those places that leaves a questionnaire with the check. You know the kind of thing: Blah, blah, blah... how the opionions of the customers are of the utmost importance and what can we possibly do to improve, etc. So I filled it in like a good girl. I told them, just like I told you, why I was disappointed about some aspects of my meal, ie it wasn't even cooked properly. You might think they would have taken the opportunity to apologize to me or make ammends, but oh no. I haven't heard a thing back from them. I don't think they really care one jot. Apparently Zagat says they do the best breakfast in new York and so perhaps they actually believe it too.

PS - Since the service at Norma's was markedly lacklustre, they did not make it into my recent piece about how wonderful we generally found the service to be at dining establishments in New York City.

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Tartine, Coronado, San Diego

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Does Norma's, at Le Parker Meridien, really serve the Best Breakfast in New York?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Farmer Brown & Coco 500, San Francisco

Quick Bites

Farmer Brown: 25 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, (415) 409-3276

My good friend Brian Sullivan has been busy designing and creating the very cool interior for new Soul Food restaurant, Farmer Brown. Last night Brian treated us to a very tasty dinner there. I am not going to say too much about it since Tablehopper wrote such a great review of it only yesterday and I couldn't put it into words more eloquently. It's funky, it's fun, my shrimp po-boy was very tasty, Fred's fried chicken could not have been more juicy and cocktails were totally slurpable. (Thanks Brian!)

500 Brannan Street, San Francisco, CA 94107, (415) 543-2222

Yesterday really was my lucky day. Lunch was the belated birthday gift from a dear blogging friend. But it was more than just lunch, you see, we needed to settle a dispute. Catherine claimed last week that Coco500 just might be her favourite restuarant in town. I have no argument with that, having been there no fewer than four times this year, it's obvious I am pretty fond of it too. The argument, you see, was about which was better - their squash blossom flatbread or their new cured salmon pizza which I described, just after eating it for the first time last week, as follows:

"It was a really thin pizza topped with thin slices of lemon, creme fraiche (I think), capers and wafer-thin slice of fennel. They covered it with slices of house cured salmon just for the last minute of cooking- leaving it in the oven long enough only to gently warm it, the salmon didn't really 'cook' at all. Then they topped it with dill, tarragon, some little green sprouts, chicory, flat leaf parsley and celery leaves. It was so unbelievably divine, words can hardly express how delicious. I loved the way the bitterness of the lemon and chicory played against the softness of the salmon and cream."

Naturally we ordered them both and pitted one against the other. They are both so tasty, it isn't easy to pick a favourite, but I am still siding with the salmon, and Catherine still gives the squash blossom the edge. It's a tough call either way. (Thanks Catherine!)

Want to bump into a food blogger? Coco500 might be a good bet. Quite by chance, Catherine and I bumped into our partners in crime, Fatemeh and Joy, there yesterday and we know that the mysterious NS is regular too, although we haven't had the pleasure of actually meeting him just yet.

PS - Apologies to those of you who are reading Becks & Posh using Safari on an Apple Mac. I have received reports that on recent posts the type face is appearing to be very small. I have no idea why this is happening. I wasn't aware that I had changed any setting that would cause this to happen and since I don't have a mac, it is difficult for me to track down the problem. Thank you for your patience. You could try and use the Cntrl + keys to resize my blog in the meantime. Thanks.

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Farmer Brown & Coco 500, San Francisco

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Balthazar - Spring Street - New York - NY

First Impression: Le French Brasserie de mes rêves...

Balthazar 80 Spring Street New York, NY 10012

photograph picture Balthazar in New York City and dishes including asparagus fricasse with garlic flan, bar steak and frietes plus delectable duck confit

Dishes from Balthazar, Click to enlarge

Whilst I was reading Garlic and Sapphires, it's author, Ruth Reichl, surreptitiously as her disguises were want to make her do, pinned Balthazar somewhere on my cerebral map. So when the time came to pay my first ever visit to New York, I could hardly ignore the presence of the restaurant that Gawker suggests is over. Over-hyped, over-mentioned in the New York Times and over-exposed. Determined to make up my mind for myself rather than fall prey to the critiques of others, I called Balthazar sufficiently far in advance to secure a table for myself, my mother and the bona-fide Frenchman who could share his perspective too.

On our way to the restaurant in a taxi, I received a call from a well-travelled San Francisco-based friend who did not realise I was vacationing in the Big Apple. When I told her I was on my way to Balthazar, excited, jealous-sounding exclamations escaped from her mouth. "You absolutely have to have the steak", she insisted, "they do the best steaks ever, I always get the steak when I am at Balthazar". The call piqued my expectations and increased my level of excitement so as the taxi pulled up outside Balthazar's inviting, warehouse-style brick building and I swiftly said my goodbyes to the Bay Area, I could hardly wait for the dinner to commence.

Walking into the lively, busy room, we were expected, we were welcomed by a friendly hostess, and we were asked to wait just a few minutes. I began to soak up the atmosphere as we started to wend our way to the bar. For all intents and purposes the place looks as French as any stereotype would have you believe. On the walls hang huge panelled mirrors that magnify the sense of bustle by repeating the action at every angle. The tables are divided into sections by long banquettes and staid panels with glass screens that separate one dining area from another. Rows of shiny glasses glisten on shelves next to the door. Throughout the restaurant enormous, beautiful displays of fresh cut flowers accent the view. Seafood menus are chalked on giant blackboards. Dozens of bottles of wine are arranged well out of reach on shelves that snug under the high ceiling to the side of the bar and the signs beneath them, for the Toilettes, are spelt out in French which make them almost sound charming.

Before we had even managed to attract the attention of a bartender, the hostess came to inform us that they were ready to seat us and we were led to a table in the centre of the restaurant. Simple white table cloths and close proximity with our dining neigbours were the order of the day and not too long after we took our places our friendly French server for the evening arrived to see if we would like to start with a drink. Fred quickly established his own Frenchness during a tête a tête en Francais avec le waiter and soon a genial relationship for the evening was set.

Over a Scotch and two Kir Royales, we perused the menu. Fred and and my mother displayed a great sense of decorum in choosing only to have an entree. Not me, oh no. I was on a Birthday-week bender and was determined to fit in as much of the menu as I could possibly manage And anyway, who in their right mind could possibly resist the allure of an hors d'oeuvre dish called Fricasee of asparagus and morels with a sweet garlic flan? The thick, tender spears of asparagus in a thin creamy sauce accented with a few morels and plump cloves of garlic then crowned with a light, delicate flan garnished with tender chervil leaves was a satisfying start to my dinner, that I was loathe to share.

Had I not taken the steak-recommendation call from San Francisco in the taxi on the way to Balthazar, you can be absolutely certain that I would have chosen the Duck Confit with crispy potatoes, wild mushrooms and frisee salad as my entree. As it was, I left my mother to experience her first rendition of this classic French dish instead. She could not have chosen a better place for a duck confit inauguration. I have eaten literally dozens of versions of this dish in both Paris and San Francisco, but never have I come across one so absolutely perfect. The crispy, crunchy skin cloaked tender, flavoursome meat that just melted on the tongue. "Where can I get this in Bristol" my mother implored of me, hopelessly, imagining her Provincial English home town would be able to provide her with such a treat. The crispy potatoes, surprisingly, actually turned out to be crisps or potato chips which made a less heavy accompaniment than more traditional duck-fat roasted potatoes would have done.

There are no less than three steaks on Balthazar's menu. Steak au poivre at $36, Steak Frites at $29 and Balthazar Bar Steak, pommes frites and bearnaise sauce at just $22. Whilst I was grappling internally over whether price was any indication of quality, the waiter arrived and I asked his advice. "Ze Bar steak, a bavette, eez my personal favourite, it az a lot of flaveur", he announced with confidence. One Bar Steak, sold to the girl with the long brown hair. Sure enough, it was perfect. I am usually hesitant to order steak when dining out because so often it turns out to be a bad choice. Not so at Balthazar. I couldn't fault this tender piece of juicy, tasty meat and the wonderful fries that came with it. So what if Balthazar's food is not adventurous, challenging or particularly creative? Sometimes we need comfort to make us content. The Balthazar experience made me extremely happy and everyone of my plates went back to the kitchen clean.

And what about the Frenchman? Why on earth would a man who 99% of the time migrates towards the beef option on any menu, suddenly decide that he wants Spaghetti Carbonara when dining at what must surely be one of the best, classic, French-style brasseries in the United States? I afraid I can't answer that, but I am going to put money on him not making that mistake the next time.

We finished off our meal with a perfectly-baked, warm, fresh, moist blackberry financier and then ambled a while over after dinner drinks before disappearing into the humid New York night. It doesn't take much for me to realise why the New York Times keeps on mentioning Balthazar. I think if I lived in New York, I would too.

Links, Resources and Further Reading

A previous Becks & Posh post | highlighting the service at Balthazar
Ruth Reichl | NYT review of Balthazar, 1997
Orangette | on Brandon's bastardized Balthazar Salad
Tasting Menu | LOVE Balthazar rating
The Amateur Gourmet | Breakfasts at Balthazar with my friend Fatemeh
Balthazar | on Flickr
Michael Bauer | Perennial Favourite

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Baking Bread from the Avoca Cookbook

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Balthazar - Spring Street - New York - NY

Monday, June 19, 2006

I 'poached' an idea from Daniel Patterson...

...for Scrambled Eggs

photograph picture poached scrambled eggs madeby the method described by chef daniel patterson in the new york times

Just before you remove the eggs from the pan

Back in January, Daniel Patterson the San Francisco-based chef who has recently opened Coi, a restaurant which I am dying to try, wrote an article in the New York Times about scrambling eggs. He had been forced to experiment with new cooking methods at his fiancee's insistence he get rid of his beloved teflon pan.

After trying all sorts of things and even consulting food scientist Harold Mcgee who told him, for example, that he needed to let the 'thin white' of the eggs drain away before whisking, Patterson discovered a failsafe method of poaching his scrambled eggs in water.

My sister Beccy and her husband Joules kindly gave me the saucepan of my dreams as a gift recently and I needed a suitably important recipe with which to christen it. Patterson's poached scrambled eggs, which had been waiting patiently as a bookmark for six months, won the assignment hands down.

Patterson has recently written an article for Food & Wine in which he asked Do Recipes Make You a Better Cook? In that article he muses on how much detailed instruction he was required to spell out when he was writing his recipe book. Luckily, I am with Patterson - being one of those cooks who is usually comfortable using a recipe more like a road map, just needing a guideline to get from A to B. Of those people who need a more literal description of how to cook, Patterson says

"...telling someone to cook a piece of fish for exactly five minutes is like saying, "Drive for exactly five minutes and then turn right." Sometimes you'd hit the road, other times the side of a building."

In the light of the Food & Wine article, what's funny about Patterson's scrambled egg recipe, is that it largely goes against the grain of the way both he and I cook by laying out terrifyingly precise instructions. Although I am generally intuitive in the kitchen, I found myself on tenterhooks as I tried to get to grips with this particular cooking method. All my instruments and implements were laid out as if on an operating table. The recipe had been read several times to be sure of the timing. At one point I needed to rest the lid on the pan and count to twenty. This threw me into sheer panic - should I count to twenty slowly or fast? Patterson didn't tell me. Should it be a twenty seconds-ish count to twenty, or a regular type of counting to twenty? [For the record I went for the counting to twenty fairly slowly: one elephant, two elephant...etc, and it seemed to work out ok].

The scrambled eggs were ready in a flash. I served them on buttered wholewheat toast with a dribble of creme fraiche and a shaving of truffle, salt and pepper.

photograph picture poached scrambled eggs made by the method described by chef daniel patterson in the new york times served with creme fraiche and white truffle

Poached scrambled eggs served on toast with creme fraiche and shaved truffle

Sadly, my poached, scrambled egg breakfast disappointed me. In my book, scrambled eggs are the ultimate comfort food. I need salty butter on my toast, I need cream and butter in my eggs, I need the texture to be slightly runny and not quite set. This is what my brain expects when I sit down to a plate of scrambled eggs on toast and Patterson's method didn't deliver my personal preconception of what scrambled eggs should be.

His poached, scrambled eggs are definitely a dish for the egg purist. They are egg, nothing more, nothing less and if you try them you will need to be prepared for the simple, unadulterated taste of egg. Adding cream and butter to them after they are cooked creates a radically different sensation to when these sinful ingredients are actually part of the cooking process.

So would I make them again? For sure. The resulting egg is so fluffy and light, it is quite an incredible method for cooking. But - next time I am not going to try and use them to replace the traditional scrambled eggs that I rely on to comfort me. I can't get the idea of a Mexican-style breakfast out of my head. I think those Poached Pattersons, as I am going to call his scrambled eggs from hereon in, would be really fantastic with some spicy tomato salsa, maybe a tortilla and avocado instead...

PS Looks like they almost got what they wished for.

Links, Resources and Further Reading

Bay Area Resources:
Fresh Happy Farm Eggs | Marin Sun Farms
Bread | by Acme
Creme Fraiche | by Cowgirl Creamery
Truffle | Far West Funghi
Butter | Straus

Others' Musings on Patterson's Eggs:
Eat, Listen to Your Mother
Red Chuck

Daniel Patterson's articles
New York Times | The Way We Eat, Which Came First by Daniel Patterson
Food & Wine | Do Recipes Make you a Better Cook? by Daniel Patterson

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Chive, San Diego

And on this day in 2004: Suppenkuche, San Francisco

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I 'poached' an idea from Daniel Patterson...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Boating on the San Francisco Bay

It's Tomato Season Start Day

photograph picture fred and sam and the recipe for tomato panzanella salad to take for lunch on the Bay

Sam's new season Tomato Panzanella salad against a backdrop of Angel Island and the San Francisco Bay

For more than six months of the year I don't eat tomatoes. I don't buy them fresh, I usually don't even buy them canned. If a restaurant sends me a winter or spring-time salad garnished with a slice of the red fruit, I just push it to one side and ignore it. When early tomatoes creep their way into the local farmers markets, I turn and look the other way, knowing that I need to hold out just a little bit longer.

Yesterday, woken prematurely at 4am by the early rising sun, and the promise of perfect, balmy, very non-San Francisco weather day ahead, I suddenly decided it must, surely, by now, be safe to eat tomatoes. I was at the market by 7.40 am. Fresh basil, beautiful deep red heirloom tomatoes, spring garlics, ripe avocado, fresh mozarella and young onions were soon filling my basket.

Lucky us, a friend of ours has a brand spanking new power boat. Whenever he invites us for a day out on the Bay, (he used to have a yacht), I always make sure to take something delicious for lunch. What could be better to mark the start of my personal Tomato Season than a Panzanella salad? I completely made up this salad as I was going along without consulting any books or researching panzanella traditions, so the result is far from authentic. But since the recipe was enthusiastically requested by my gracious hosts, I can only assume that they think sharing it might be worth my effort. It's totally easy, it can be knocked up in a few minutes. Just the thing for when you want to get out of the kitchen quickly into the rare sun...

Recipe for Sam's Tomato Panzanella Salad

1 loaf stale white artisanal bread
1 spring garlic (equivalent size one one fat garlc clove), minced.
1/4 cup of oil
salt and pepper
2 large, ripe, heirloom tomatoes
1 ripe avocado, cut into small chunks
1 small purple torpedo onion, finely sliced
1 fresh buffalo mozarella, thinly sliced
1 handful fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup oil
salt and pepper


-preheat the oven to 350F
-Remove crusts from bread and discard.
-Tear or cut the bread into bite size chunks and put in a bowl
-Add 1.4 cup of olive oil, half of the garlic and season with salt and pepper.
-Mix the bread with the oil mixture using your hands until all the bread is coated.
-Transfer the bread to a baking sheet and bake until crispy and golden (about 10 minutes). Toss the bread about half way through the cooking time to ensure even colouring. Remove and leave to cool.
-Slice tomatoes and put in a bowl to one side with onion and remaining garlic. Season with salt and pepper
-To make the dressing whisk together the vinegars and 1/2 cup olive oil until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
-Just before serving, mix together the bread, avocado, mozzarella with the dressing. Leave for five minutes to soak up the dressing before introducing the tomato mixture and then serve immediately.

Note: If you are taking this salad on a picnic, transport the various elements separately in your cooler and combine together at the very last minute.

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Sweet & Savory were my Bay Area Bloggers of the week

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Boating on the San Francisco Bay

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Bay Area Blogger of the Week # 40

Two very Tasty Ladies...

photograph picture of the San Francisco bay area food bloggers tejal and martha aka two tasty ladies

Two Tasty Ladies, Martha and Tejal, met at college in Boston where they became firm friends, both writers with a shared love of food. Fast forward a few years and the pair can be found living in the Bay Area where they now blog beautifully about their eating experiences, both separately and together.

Tejal spent some time in London, so I love it when she writes stories that include an English food memory, like her recent piece about cake in the park, Squish Roll and Cake.

Martha can always be relied on to create some really great-looking food. Take her pea and asparagus soup, for example, described as a smidge elaborate for a Tuesday. It makes me hope that there will be some late season asparagus waiting for me at the market this morning.

Talking of the market, I ought to be on my way, but if you are sticking around a while longer, there is a lot of reading to catch up on over at Two Tasty Ladies.

Upcoming Additions to my Bay Area Food Roll:

Eating Suburbia
Days of Bacon

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: You tart, thy name is Bakewell!

Previously Featured Bay Area Food & Drink Bloggers:
Dessert First | Ms Glaze's Pommes d'Amour | Hedonia | Dive | Sweet Napa | Cupcake Bakeshop | Tea & Cookies | Albion Cooks | Blogher | Bay Area Bites | Hungry Hedonist | Mighty | Chez Pim | The Blue Bottle Clown College | The Novato Experiment | Amuse Bouche | Feeding Fashionistas | All In | Dr Five Pints | SF Gourmet | Small Farms | In Praise of Sardines | Life Begins @ 30 | Gastronomie | Confessions of a Restaurant Whore | Bunny Foot | Sweet & Savory | I'm Mad and I Eat | Yummy Chow | Nosheteria | Vivi's Wine Journal | Epicurian Debauchery | Food Musings | Pfiff | Marga's Food Blog | Where the Wild Things Are | Eggbeater

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Bay Area Blogger of the Week # 40

Friday, June 16, 2006

Where to Watch World Cup Football in San Francisco?

Couleur Cafe, 300 DeHaro St, San Francisco, CA 94103

**UPDATE** July 07: Check here for updates about where to watch the world cup final 2006 between France and Italy in San Francisco on Sunday July 9th.

*UPDATE* Watch France play also at Cafe Bastille


Watch England play at Mad Dog in the Fog.

photograph picture couleur cafe san francisco world cup football 2006

Top right, the man who helped me name my blog, David Beckham, England's captain.

It's not the manner in which I am accustomed to watching Eng-er-land play world cup football. A cramped pub, full of excited fans, decked out in the team's colours of red and white, lots of beer, cheering and chanting is what I am more used to.

Yesterday we decided to watch the game at our local French Cafe. At 9am in the morning, biting nails over a bowl of cafe au lait with fresh baguette and merguez sausages was an unusual way to see the match. Just a handful of well-dressed Brits, who had perhaps snuck out of their offices for a very early lunch, watched on tenterhooks as England very slowly managed to clinch a win over Trinidad and Tobago, ensuring a place in the next stage of the tournament. I think that deserves a chilled glass of 1664! How very civilised? Maybe... but, of course, we all hollered and screamed when the necessary goals were scored.

Links, Resources and Further Reading
Reviews of Couleur Cafe:
Pengrin Eats

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Edible borage flowers

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Where to Watch World Cup Football in San Francisco?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Magnolia Bakery - Bleecker Street - New York

Brits just don't 'get' cupcakes, sorry :(

photograph picture magnolia bakery new york cupcakes

When we were in New York recently, I made no plans for cupcakes. But when we were strolling through a village (?) I suddenly spied a charming little cafe with the words Magnolia Bakery above the door.

"Oooh!", I exclaimed to my English mother and sister, "This place is really famous, we have to try it".

Inside the wistful, old-fashioned and charmingly cluttered bakery we helped ourself to a little box of extremely large cup cakes from the limited choice still available on the various trays lined with grandma's paper doilies. It looked like those creations had, literally, been selling like hotcakes.

Later that day, when we sunk our teeth into the collection of moist cakes with their pale pastel crowns, sprinkled with itsy bitsies, we were sadly unimpressed. You see, Brits are brought up on Fairy Cakes, not cupcakes and we are not used to a sickly frosting that towers as high as the cakes themselves. My personal preference is for a thin water-icing, preferably with a lemony tang. Even when a Brit uses buttercream to top her fairy cake, she is more likely to spread it very thin. How on earth do you New Yorkers stay svelte on these things?

Anyway, I have learnt my lesson. Next time I visit New York and drop into the Magnolia Bakery, you can be sure I am going to take the advice of a local, who knows that the charm of the place is about a lot more than just cupcakes. You'll see...

photograph picture magnolia bakery new york cupcakes

Magnolia Bakery Inc
(212) 462-2572
401 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014

Archive Alert! On this day in 2005: Cafe Bassam, San Diego, California

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Magnolia Bakery - Bleecker Street - New York

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

This Post is for Me, not for You!

Spring Cleaning the Pantry

photograph picture unidentified spices

The mystery spice. Indian? Can anyone tell me what it is? Could it be fenugreek seeds? I am flumoxed. Click to enlarge for a better view.

I have some spare time on my hands so I started spring cleaning. Always the procrastinator, I started with the thing that would please me [as much as spring-cleaning can please anyone], rather than do the thing I ought to do first. My mother wants some information, that is scribbled on a napkin that I believe is in a bag of papers that really needs to be sorted. But who wants to sort through papers when there is a pantry, full of food, that needs to be dealt with as well?

I am afraid I got rather anal about my tidying endeavour. I decided to make a list of every item I had in the pantry plus all the jars of stuff in the fridge. I found the exercise to be theraputic, totally satisfying and, not least, very useful. I am sure no one else in the world has the slightest bit of interest, but I can assure you, the following list totally fascinates me. I don't need to go to Wholefoods ever again, I can 'shop' for ingredients in the comfort of my own home. There are food items I didn't even realise I owned. There are even some that I don't know what they are! I simply can't recommend this exercise enough, you should try it sometime. Now, please excuse me, whilst I work out which of these things am I going to cook for dinner tonight...?

Sherry Vinegar(vinagre de Jerez) - Roble Viejo - 25cl - unopened
malt vinegar - Gilway - 19.2 flo oz (568ml) - half-full
Balsalmic (Apple/Pomegranate) - Hare Hollow - 250ml (8.45 fl oz) - 85% full
Rice Vinegar - Marukan - 12 fl oz (355ml) - 90 % full
Red wine vinegar (Cabernet Sauvignon) - Kimberley - 12.7 fl oz (375ml) - 40% full
Distilled White vinegar - heinz - 32 fl oz 946 ml - 60% full
Verjus de Perigord - Verjus - .75 L - 90% full
Sherry Vinegar(vinagre de Jerez) - La Bodega - 750 ml (25 fl oz) - unopened
Red Wine Vinegar - Vilux - 750 ml (25 fl oz) - 60% full
Champagne Vinegar - O - 200 ml (6.8 fl oz) - 70 % full

lemon pepper oil - Boyajian - 8fl oz (236 ml) - 80% full
CA Extra Virgin Olive Oil, fall '05 - Bariani - 65% full
CA Sevillano Olive Oil - Sciabica - 5fl oz (147 ml) 5 % full
Extra Virgin Olive Oil - Santa Chiara - 0.9 flo oz (500ml) - unopened - gift from Penny
Black Truffle Oil - Italian no brand - 55ml - 35% full - gift from Violaine
Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Truffle - Casina Rossa - 100ml (3.5 fl oz) - gift from Penny
Roasted Almond Oil - La Tourangelle - 0.9 flo oz (500ml) - 95% full
EV Olive Oil - Puget - 30 floz - approx (Fred's Favourite, need more)
Virgin Coconut Oil - made in Indonesia - 4 floz - unopened

Sauces & Syrups & Essences
Pomegranate Concentrate - Carlo - 375 ml- 80% full
Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce - 10 fl oz (296 ml) - unopened
100% Organic Maple Syrup - Blis - 375 ml - 80% full
Golden Syrup - Lyles - 11 floz - 90 % full
Hot Chocolate Sauce with Chilli - Linns of Cambria CA - 150 ml - unopened (gift from zoe)
3 x nested coffee syrups - Wild Appetite - 50 ml each - unopened (gift from Zoe)
Rose Water - Ahmed - 250 ml - barely opened (don't like this product much)
fond de veau - Maggi - 110g - unopened (import from France)
Light Corn Syrup - karos - 16fl oz - 20% full
pure vanilla extract - Nielsen Massey - 4fl oz - 50% full
peppermint flavor - simply organic - 2fl oz - 75% full
Almond Extract - Star Kay WHite - 4 fl oz - 80% full
pure rose extract - Star kay White - 4 fl oz - 70% full
chocolate extract - Star kay White - 8 fl oz - 80% full
Organic rose water - Benedetta - 80ml - 99% full

orzo pasta - unknown origin - unknown weight - loose in jar
couscous - unknown origin - unknown weight - loose in jar
organic breadcrumbs - Edward & Sons - 15 oz - 40% full
wholewheat Panko Breadcrumbs - Ian's - 9 oz - 50% full
Instant Oatmeal - Arrowhead Mills - 12.5 oz - 3 boxes
Steel Cut Oats - unknown origin - unknown weight - loose in jar
Cellophane noodles - China Bowl Select - 3.75 oz - 40 % full
Spaghetti - Garofalo - 500g / 17.6 oz - 50 % full
Spaghetti Barilla 454g / 1 lb - 50% full
Sushi Rice - Lundberg Family Farms - 2lb - 50% full
CA white basmati - Lundberg Family Farms - 2lb - unopened
wild red rice - unknown origin - unknown weight - loose in bag
Spring Rolls Skin - Golden Pacific Inc - 24 oz - 75% full
risotto rice - unknown - unknown - loose in jar, very small amount

red lentils - unknown origin - unknown weight - loose in jar
Green Lentils - Sabarot - 500g - unopened
Green Lentils - unknown - unknown weight - loose in jar

Canned and Boxed
Lite Coconut Milk - Thai Kitchen - 14fl oz - unopened
fat free mushroom broth - Health Valley - 14 fl oz - unopenend
Vegetarian French Onion Soup - ShariAnn's - 14 fl oz - unopened
Spaghetti - Heinz - 130g - unopened
Organic Vegetable Broth - Imagine - 15fl oz - unopened
Light Shredded Vegetable Suet - Atora - 250g - unopened (British import)
Dahi Vada mix - Gits - 200g - unopened (from Bombay Bazaar)

Jams, Preserves, Honeys & Spreads
Dried Fig Compote - The Girl and The Fig - 10 oz - unopened (gift from Amy)
Boysenberry COnserve - June Taylor- 8 oz - unopened
Medlar Jelly - Parrett Preserves - 340g unopened (British imported)
Paradise jelly - Bakerina Kitchens - 8 oz - unopened
Alfafa California Honey - Meeks Honey - 1 lb 8 oz - 50% full
Hawaiian Organic White Honey with Ginger - 8 oz - 90% full (gift from Alan)
Honey and Cranberries - Worker Bee - 250g - unopened (gift from Lynette)
Preserved Meyer Lemons - homemade - unknown weight - jar 50% full
apple apricot sauce - santa cruz organics - 5 x 4oz - unopened
yeast extract - Marmite - 125g - 90% full

Dried Fruits and Vegetables
Organic Pacific Sushi Nori - Emerald Cove - 9oz - 50% full
Organic Black Mission Figs - Woodstock Farms - 10 oz - 90% full
Dried Orange Slices - from SF farmers market origin - unknown weight - loose in bag
Dried red chili peppers - unknown origin - unknown weight - loose in jar
Ancho chillis - Tierra - unknown weight - loose in bag
Coconut Flakes - unknown origin - unknown weight - loose in jar (small amount)
Dessicated Coconut - unknown origin - unknown weight - loose in jar (large jar)
Dried rose petals - unknown origin - unknown weight - loose in jar (small amount)
Dried Chipotle Peppers - unknown origin - unknown weight - loose in bag (smallish amount)
100% organic sweetcorn - sensible foods - 21g - unopened (gift from Amy)
ground dried candy cap mushrooms - far west funghi - weight unknown - half a spice jar?

Herbs & Spices
Dry Bay Leaves - unknown origin - unknown weight - loose in bag (large quantity)
English Mustard Powder - Colman's - 4 oz - 90% full
Mulling Spices - unknown origin - 4oz - 10% full
madagascar cloves - wholefoods - 1oz - 90% full
saffron - unknown origin - unknown weight - small box
mixed peppercorns - Morton & Bassett - 2.1 oz - 10% full
onion seeds - unknown origin - 2 x spice jar - 90% full
cayenne or chilli pepper - unknown origin - 1 spice jar - 40% full
tumeric - wholefoods - 1 oz - 25% full
ground nutmeg - McCormick - 31 g - 80% full
caraway seeds - unknown origin - 1 jam jar - 60% full
ground white pepper - unknown origin - 1 spice jar - 5% full
Cinnamon sticks - The Spice Hunter - 6 sticks - n/a
mustard seeds - unknown origin - 1 spice jar - 40% full
le moulin 5 baies - ducos - 1 spice jar - 80% full
white pepper corns - unknown origin - 10% full
dried thyme - wholefoods - 1 spice jar - 50% full
fennel seeds - wholefoods - 1 spice jar - 60% full
fenugreek leaves dried - unknown origin - 1 spice jar - 90% full
ground ginger - Gourmet collection - 1 spice jar - 40% full
coriander powder - house of trading international - 7oz - 60% full
cumin powder - house of trading international - 7oz - 50% full
asafoetida - Gaay - 50g - unopened
wasabi powder - eden - 25g - 75% full
garlic powder - rajah - 3.5 oz - 90% full
cayenne pepper - morton and bassett - 1 spice jar - 98% full
crushed red pepper - spice islands - 1 spice jar - 70% full
whole nutmegs - wholefoods - 1 spice jar - 90% full
vietnamese cinnamon - wholefoods - 1 spice jar - 90% full
ground allspice - morton & bassett - 1 spice jar - 99% full
cumin seed - morton and bassett - 1 spice jar - unopened
ground coriander - wholefoods - 1 spice jar - 20% full
garam masala - wholefoods - 1 spice jar - 50% full
pimenton de la vera - El Rey - 75g - 90% full
juniper berries - origin unknown - 1 spice jar - 15% full
homemade crushed chili pepper - homemade - 1 tsp - 1 tsp only
ground cumin - unkown origin - 1 spice jar - 60% full
whole green peppercorns - morton & bassett - 1 spice jar - 50% full
whole cardamom - wholefoods - 1 spice jar - 95% full
fleur de sel whit smoked red pepper - guerande - 1 little bag - 90% full (gift from laura)
fleur de sel - guerande - 500g - 80% full
whole allspice - McCormick - .75 oz - 90% full
tandoori mix - the occasional gourmet - 1 sachet - unopened (gift from Amy)
ground cardamom - McCormick - 1 spice jar - 90% full
seasalt - Baleine - 2 x 1 lb - 1 x 50% full, 1 x unopened
garam masala - unknown origin - large pouch - unopened
cardamom seeds - unknown origin - large pouch - unopened
whole black peppercorns - unknown origin - bag-full - unopened
whole coriander seeds - House of trading International - 7oz - 90% full
dried mint leaves - unknown origin - unknown weight - small bag full
Hungarian Paprika - Szegeo - 50z - 30% full
Poppy Seeds - Morton & Basset - 1 spice jar - 50% full
8 cinnamon sticks unknown origin - in a jar - n/a
more cinnamon sticks - unknown origin - in a sealed pouch - unopened
sesame seeds not hulled - santos - 8oz - 70% full
cayenne? - unknown origin - unknown weight - n/a
Kasoori Methi - Peacock - 8oz - 50% full
Sea Salt - Maldon - 250g - 50% full

Flours & Powders
Besan Gram Flour - Santos - 2lbs - 90% full
Unbleached all purpose flour - King Arthur - 2 x 5lbs - 1 bag unopened, 1 bag 50% full
Pastry Flour - Arrowhead Mills - 2 lbs - 75% full
100% organic wholewheat flour - Arrowhead Mills - 2lbs - 50% full
Bread Soda - Shamrock - 500g - unopened (imported from Ireland)
Cornstarch - Kingsford's - 2 x 1 lb - each approx 50% full
corn meal - Quakers - 1lb - 40% full
pure baking soda - Arm & Hammer - 1 x 1lb, 1 x 8oz - 80% full & unopened
baking powder - rumford - 4 oz - 90% full
cream of tartare - origin unknown - weight unknown - a little bagful

Organic Ground Cane Sugar - Alter Eco Fair Trade - 1 lb - 30% full
Unrefined unbleached organic whole cane sugar - Rapunzel - 24 oz - 60% full
Bakers Sugar - C&H - 2 x 4lbs - 1 x unopened, 1x 8-% full
Pure Cane Sugar Cubes - C&H - 2 x 1lb - 1 unopened 1 x 50% full
Organic Powdered sugar - wholesome- 1 lb - 20% full
Organic powdered sugar - hain pure foods - unopened

Confections & things
Cocoa powder - Valrhona - .26 lb - 65% full
Cocoa powder - Scharffen Berger - 6 oz - 40% full
Cacao Nibs - Scharffen Berger - 6 oz - 98% full
62% Semisweet chocolate - Scharffen Berger - 5oz - total weight
unflavoured gelatin - Knox - 2 x 1 oz boxes - each 4 envelopes unopened
Pectin - Pomona's - 1oz - 50% full
party decoratifs - India tree - 3.5 oz - unopened
Food colourings - green, blue, yellow, peach, fuchsia, holiday-red.
cake decorations - sliver and gold balls - gift from Lynette
cake decorations - sliver, blue, pink & green balls - gift from Beccy

Nuts and seeds

Organic Almond Slices - Lagier Ranches - 1 lb - unopened 90% full
Dry Roasted Unsalted Peanuts - Safeway - 16 oz - unopened
whole pecans - wholefoods - weight unknown - small handful only
Extra Fancy Mixed nuts - Kirkland - 40 oz - 50% 20%full (party leftovers, most of cashews picked out)
white sesame seeds, hulled - origin unknown - 1 jam jar full - 100% full
sesame and sea vegetable seasoning - Eden - 2.5 oz - 50% full

Coffees and Teas & Beverages

Tasters Choice - Nescafe - 4oz - 30% full
tea Bags - Tetley - 2 x 120 bags - 1 x unopened, 1 x 50% full (British import)
Ceylon looseleaf Dimbula - HR Higgins - 125g - unopened
India looseleaf Sikkim - HR Higgins - 125g - unopened
Tradition afternoon tea, loose leaf - Twinings - 125g - unopened (British import)
Green tea selection - origin unknown (japanese) - weight unknown - (gift from Keiko)
looseleaf earl grey tea - Twinings - weight unknown - half a tea caddy full
looseleaf ceylon tea - Mariage Freres - 3oz - 30% full(gift from Del & Presd)
Hot Chocolate - Jacques Torres - weight unknown - (gift from Catherine)

Processed Foods
custard powder - Bird's - 300g - 90% full (British import)
Peanut Cookies - Hellema - 175g - unopened (imported via Britain)
digestives - McVities - 300g - unopened (British import)
Angel Delight - Bird's - 47g per pack - 12 packs, various flavours (British Import)
organic water crackers - wholefoods - 5.3oz - unopened
Biltong - cruga - weight unclear - unopened - gift from Jeanne
Hot Oat Cereal - Ready Brek - 2 x 250g - 1x unopened 1 x 50 % full
zupa wisniowa - Winiaty - 50g - unopened pack (gift from Lynette)
1 packet Walkers roast chicken crisps (gift from Zoe, British important)
several bags of olde-fashioned English sweeties including sherbert pips and rhubarb and custards - (gift from Zoe, British important)
Bistro Bar - 2 x chocolate Moderne bars - (gift from Julie)

Misc Jars in the fridge
English Devon Double Cream - 2 x 6 oz - unopened (longlife)
pure ghee - Mohan - 8 oz - 70% full
chipotle en adobo - homemade - small jar - 40% left
veggie chutney - homemade unknown origin - unopened
dried fig spread - dalmatian - 8oz - 10% full
Gloucester honey - peter grudgings - 4oz - 50% full (British imported)
worcestershire sauce - lea & perrins - 50z - 50% full
chicken tikka paste - homemade - half a jar
red curry paste - thai kitchen - 4oz - unopened
fish sauce - thai kitchen - 7 oz - 60% full
hot sauce - choula - 6 oz - 70% full
minced ginger - the ginger people - 6.7 oz - 80% full
tamarind concentrate - neera's - 5oz - 95% full
demi-glace gold - more than gourmet - 1.5 oz - unopened
preserved lemons - mustapha's moroccan - 2lemons - unopened
silken lite tofu - mori-nu - 12.3 oz - unopened
lavender jelly - sage kitchen - 190ml - unopened (gift from Liz)
organic apricot jam - wholefoods - 12oz - 80% full
toasted sesame oil - eden - 5oz - 50% full
organic veganaise - follow your heart - 16 oz - 95% full
concentrated mushroom stock - aromont - 7.4 oz - unopened
clementine marmalade - june taylor - 8oz - unopened
spicy honey mustard - homemade, Voigt family - 1 jar - 95% full
blood orange marmalade - june taylor - 8oz - unopened
orange marmalade - bonne maman - 13 oz - 60% full
lemon curd - duerr's - 1.25oz - unopened
Reduced Sodium Soy Sauce - 10 fl oz (296 ml) - 25% full
cornichons - maille - 7.5oz - 50% full
smoky chile jam - Tierra - 12 oz - 10% full
sweet red chile jam - unknown, Alemany farmers market - 1 jar - 90% full
Medlar Jelly - Parrett Preserves - 340g - 90% full (British imported)
veloute - Maille - 2 x 385g - 1x 10% full, 1 unopened 95% full
page mandarin marmalade - june taylor - 8oz - unopened 70% full

PS - Do I feel anyway ashamed about the items I found in my pantry? No,not at all, I'll come right out and admit it - both good things and bad things happen in there.

Links, Resources and Further Reading

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