Monday, December 31, 2007

Pierre Herme's Chocolate Inspiration?

Laughs in Translation

France 2 TV 2007 copyright of sam breach

Seen on the French news. Last silly, childish, foodie giggle of 2007...

© 2007 Sam Breach
Pierre Herme's Chocolate Inspiration?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

No Internet Access til the end of the year, sigh.

One of the reasons I couldn't help host Menu for Hope this year was because the place where I am heading today [see picture above] has no internet access. But that's ok...

I've already made my bids on the raffle.

I've gifted a load of tickets to family and friends as Christmas presents and asked them to forward details of the Menu for Hope to their own foodie friends and work news groups.

I have posted the Menu for Hope details on my own company newsgroup and Fred has posted it on his newsgroup too.

I've tried everything I can to get my readers to purchase more tickets for my own prize UW32 of an English Tea package. (Including bribery. Everyone's a winner with Becks & Posh.)

With the help of The Fatted Calf I have added another prize to the roster. UW36

Pim has kindly agreed to let me use the Menu for Hope money raising widget in this post, so you can keep track of how we are doing, whilst I am off line. The amount shown, is the total number of money we raise to help feed the children of Lesotho. If this number hasn't flown way past $60k by the time I get back, I am going to be disappointed. But my readers have never disappointed me yet. You aren't going to start disappointing me now, are you? Of course not.

Happy Holidays everyone. Thank you for sharing 2007 with me, here at Becks & Posh.

PS - You only have two more days to place your bids - the raffle closes on December 21st, so hurry!

© 2007 Sam Breach

Sunday, December 16, 2007

How to Make the Best Clotted Cream in the USA

Sharing a Secret, Shhhh....

picture photograph image english cream tea 2007 copyright of sam breach
Home baked Scones based on a recipe by Delia Smith, English Butter, June Taylor Red Cloud Apricot Conserve and Secret Homemade Clotted Cream.

...But With Only a Few of You

*Update February 2009* The recipe has now been published online. Read it here.

As you can see, I have discovered a method of making fantastic, fresh clotted cream in the USA. Everyone who bids on my English Tea Prize code UW32 in the Menu For Hope Raffle working to raise money to help feed the children of Lesotho, has the chance to be in on the secret too. I will have cards printed with the photograph above (taken in my kitchen yesterday), and the method for making the clotted cream, which I will send via regular mail. The secret will be revealed only to those people* who bid on prize UW32 and the email me at with their postal address and the Firstgiving display name under which the donation was made. I also promise not to reveal the secret of making clotted cream on my blog until 2009 at the earliest and then no guarantee. So if you can't wait to find out, you'll have to bid. Simple as that.

*This offer expires on December 31st 2007. Please make your UW32 bid by December 21st 2007 and email your details to me, as outlined above, by December 31st 2007. This offer applies to everyone who has already bid on prize UW32 too, just email me with your details. Thank you.

© 2007 Sam Breach
How to Make the Best Clotted Cream in the USA

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Serpentine - Third 3rd Street - San Francisco

Piss off From My Hood and Leave Serpentine for Me

Serpentine is really friendly and welcoming despite the initial crowds has really unfriendly staff, they are all inept.
Serpentine's bread pudding is all soft and oozing with cheese and mushrooms. The deep fried oysters and green beans [best I've ever had] are juicy and perfect, you'll only wish there were more on the plate. A potato salad with artichokes and warm potatoes and little gems would be totally awesome if only the shrimps were bought up to room temperature instead of chill and the lamb riblets rocked my world. America? can you take it? Can you take parsley root puree???? I love their range of liquor too - it's top notch.
The food sucks, honest gov. Go away. I don't want to share Serpentine with any of you.

= 1 visit. This review was a First Impression.

Serpentine 2495 Third Street San Francisco Ca 94107

PS Thanks to sf.eater for keeping me abreast of the gossip.

© 2007 Sam Breach
Serpentine - Third 3rd Street - San Francisco

Charcuterie for a Cause

$100 to Spend at the Fatted Calf for Menu for Hope

picture photograph image ALT 2007 copyright of sam breach

Unless I am out of town, I visit The Fatted Calf stand at the San Francisco Farmers' Market every week. I nearly always buy bacon, I often buy Soul Food Chicken Broth, I might also buy Saucisson Sec, Toulouse sausages, Petit Jambon and, if they have it in stock, every packet of bresaola I can get my hands on. I love -love- love the Fatted Calf. I shop there so often that its owners, Taylor and Toponia, have become friends. And you can guess what friends do, can't you? They offer you extra prizes for Menu for Hope, an annual Food Bloggers' Campaign to raise money for good causes around the world. For Bay Area Charcuterie lovers this prize is easily worth popping an extra $10 donation on. Not only will you get the chance to perhaps win some Fatted Calf meaty goodness, you will also help feed the children of Lesotho, our chosen recipients of all raised funds for 2007, at the same time. It's a great deal. It's a no brainer...

UW36 $100 Fatted Calf Gift Voucher

Gift certificates are good for any items from either the Berkeley or SF Farmers Market or from the new Fatted Calf store opening at the Oxbow Public Market in Napa this January. The new shop will offer a host of locally produced foods and house made charcuterie accompaniments in addition to the Fatted Calf’s menu of meaty goods.

Details on how to donate and bid here using the code UW36 for the chance to win this Fatted Calf prize.

Here at Becks & Posh we are also offering an English Afternoon Tea prize.

Other new West Coast prizes can be found here.

Visit Chez Pim for a full list of all available Menu for Hope prizes.

Thank you all for your support.

© 2007 Sam Breach
Charcuterie for a Cause

S.O.S: Save Our San Sebastian

For the Love of Bar Crudo

If it wasn't for the fact that my regular dining partner doesn't eat seafood, or cheese plates, or steak tartare, I would probably make Bar Crudo my second home. Since that is never going to happen, I save the treat of visiting Bar Crudo for girls' nights out. Yesterday an ex-local friend of mine, on a fleeting visit from her new home in New York, decreed that Bar Crudo should be the place to feed us, and with good reason: From raw favourites like wasabi tobiko-topped plump pillows of arctic char or tender, creamy scallops with vichyssoise and black caviar to lobster salad with burrata or the rich seafood chowder with potatoes and bacon, I am always satisfied with what I feast on when dining in this tiny little treasure of a restaurant.

Last night we tried a new special - a crab louis salad, with smudgy cubes of avocado, pale squares of beet, crisp green leaves, perfectly boiled egg, pink sauce and meaty flakes of white crab - and we were tucking in to it quite happily until the waitress told us it was probably slated to replace the San Sebastian on the menu.

What? No more San Sebastian? The same San Sebastian that was feted in 7x7 magazine? The San Sebastian of which I proclaimed, "this makes the raw tuna dish on every menu in town obsolete by comparison"? The same San Sebastian that perfumes the room with the delicious scent of grilled bread and garlic? The perfect picnic plate of oil-poached tuna confit, asparagus, roasted red peppers, olives, caper berries, Manchego, tomato bread and a boiled egg with a soft, gooey yolk? San Sebastian? No more?

I am not one to begrudge a chef who wants to change his menu from time to time, but please, San Francisco - get your arses down to Bush street for one last taste of San Sebastian, before it's too late. Don't say I didn't warn you.

I have eaten at Bar Crudo at least half a dozen times.

Bar Crudo 603 Bush Street (at Stockton)
San Francisco, CA 94108

My San Diego buddy Alice Q Foodie reports on a previous visit to Bar Crudo

San Sebastian on Flickr

Local Resources

Bar Crudo via Blogsoop

© 2007 Sam Breach
S.O.S: Save Our San Sebastian

Monday, December 10, 2007

English Afternoon Tea for a Cause

Supporting the 4th Annual Menu for Hope to...

White Hill is a very poor area. There is no electricity and most people live day-to-day. Many families do not have enough to eat and children often come to school too hungry to study.
Pupils lining up for lunch at White Hill Primary school in South Eastern Lesotho. The food is provided by WFP through a school feeding programme in this photo taken by Makhahlo Mosothoane, who is 26 and teaches Class 3. [Source Chez Pim on Flickr]

Menu for Hope is a yearly charitable Food Blogging event started by Chez Pim in 2004. This year I am excited to announce that Pim has earmarked a school lunch program in Lesotho, Africa as the recipient of all the money we hope to raise. She chose to support the school lunch programme because providing food for the children not only keeps them alive, but helps them stay in school so that they learn the skills to feed themselves in the future. Lesotho is a model programme in local procurement - buying food locally to support local farmers and the local economy. Instead of shipping surplus corn across the ocean, the WFP is buying directly from local subsistent farmers who practice conservation farming methods in Lesotho to feed the children there. I can't think of a better project to lend my support to and I hope you will join me in ensuring its success.

Since I have both US and global options for my prizes I would love for all of you, every single one of my readers, to buy a raffle ticket in a bid to win a charming English Afternoon Tea package including traditional goodies baked by me. And why stop at just the one ticket? If you to buy several, not only do you have a greater chance of winning, the prize could get even better. Read on and you will see why:

UW32 English Afternoon Tea Shipped to Your Door

If you live in the mainland USA my prize this year will be to ship the winner an English Afternoon Tea package to include the following:
+ A Bee House Teapot of your choice.
+ A pot of June Taylor Conserve of your choice.
+ A packet of Twinings Traditional Afternoon Tea
+ Homemade Scones
+ Clotted Cream
+ English Butter
+ Homemade Mini Bakewell Tarts
+ Surprise, mystery, shiny, very dark brown, delicious English item of my choice.
If you prefer or if you live outside of the mainland USA I will swap out the perishable items and ship the following package instead:
+ A Bee House Teapot of your choice.
+ A June Taylor Gift Pack featuring two conserves of your choice.
+ A packet of Twinings Traditional Afternoon Tea
+ Homemade British Biscuit Selection
+ Homemade Mini Bakewell Tarts
+ Surprise, mystery, shiny, very dark brown, delicious English item of my choice.

If this Prize, Code UW32, receives over $2,500 worth of bids, it will upgrade to homemade Afternoon Tea in the Bay Area by Sam Breach and June Taylor or an entire case of June Taylor products

June Taylor is a true artisan, a globally respected English preserve maker with twenty years of experience and a steadily growing business. I think it's safe to say that as fellow Brits abroad, both June and I have separately experienced a fair amount of frustration caused by people who have dismissed or scoffed at English food. I think both of us have an ingrained, and as I have heard June put it, "cheeky" desire to prove those people wrong. I was delighted, therefore, to be able to persuade June to join me in agreeing to help me host an English Afternoon Tea for a dozen people in the Bay area.
In the event that the winner can not travel to the Bay Area to collect this prize we will instead ship them a large casement of June Taylor's products including jams, butters, syrups and more, plus a Bee House Teapot of the winner's choice and a pack of Twinings Traditional Afternoon Tea

If you choose to bid on the Becks & Posh prize you can buy raffle tickets through First Giving, quoting the code UW32 for these English Afternoon Tea goodies. Go to the donation site at to make the donation.

Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section of the donation form when confirming your donation. You must note how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code, ie UW32.

Basic Order

Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 4 tickets for UW32 and 1 ticket for UW01. In that case you would write 4xUW32, 1xUW01.

Advanced Order

If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so the organisers can claim the corporate match.

Please check the box to allow the organisers to see your email address so that they can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

-Bids will be accepted until the end of play, December 21st 2007.
-Winners will be announced on January 9th at Chez Pim

To see the full scope of prizes available please visit Chez Pim
For US West Coast Prizes specifically visit Rasa Malaysia.
Where does your prize money go? 85.65% of it goes directly to Lesotho.

Thanks for any help you can give, thank you for your kindness and thank you for being a part of this community.

Terms and Conditions pertaining to this particular prize:
* Prize elements are subject to availability and will be replaced with an appropriate item of equal value if there is difficulty sourcing any of the items at the time of shipping.
* Prizes might arrive in more than one delivery.
* In the event that one or more items in the prize package are not shippable to the winner's country of residence we can negotiate a suitable replacement of a similar value. The onus is on the winner to declare any customs problems they foresee when accepting the prize and before the prizes are sent out. We will not be responsible for any prizes which are rejected at customs.
* If enough bids are received to upgrade to the grand prize, and the Bay Area tea is chosen by the winner, it must be taken at a time that is convenient to both Sam Breach and June Taylor in a Bay Area location to be decided by the organisers. The prize must be arranged and taken before the end of 2008 else it becomes void.

© 2007 Sam Breach
English Afternoon Tea for a Cause

Friday, December 07, 2007

A San Francisco Visitor Goes Out to Eat

AKA: Where did my Mum Wine & Dine when she visited the Bay?

picture photograph image photograph image of ubuntu cheesecake in a pot by sam breach 2007 copyright of sam breach
Ubuntu's Cheesecake tastes every bit as good as it looks

Back in July a certain someone asked me to name eight restaurants to which I'd take my foreign foodie visitors when showing off the tastes of San Francisco. The request was answered with rather more than eight suggestions in the post I wrote here.

Recently my mother spent the better part of nine days staying with us here in San Francisco and I thought it would be fun to compare the theoretical suggestions I made in that post with where I actually took her to eat. I didn't consult my previous guide before planning out our itinerary, indeed today is the first time I have looked at it in quite some time. So? Back in July was I putting my money where my mouth is? And what did my mum think of the places I took her? Let's find out...

1. Yield Wine Bar [website]
In an attempt to stop my mother succumbing to jet lag on the evening of her arrival I dragged her a couple of blocks down the street to my favourite local wine place, Yield, where we propped ourselves up at the bar and shared English bubbles with the staff, tasty flat breads (the vegan Tomato Sauce, Roasted pepper and Oregano was my favourite from the menu that night) and glasses from their list of biodynamic, organic and sustainable wines.
- Was Yield a part of my original Visitor Guide? YES!
Tried and Tested: Fred and I have visited Yield so many times that we now count the staff as friends.
Mum Delivers Her Sentence: A friendly place to drop in for a drink and snack.

2. Ubuntu, Napa [website]
Mum was desperate to meet a certain little dog and his wonderful parents so we made an outing of it and headed up to Napa to try out lunch at Ubuntu, an applauded new vegetable restaurant where the feisty, fresh, cured green olive appetizer turned a few heads. The four of us shared everything but found only one worthwhile item per course. After the bright olives, (and passing quickly over the sickly, salty-sweet lavender almonds which sat by their side) we were happily silenced by a homey warm salad of Little organic potatoes and torpedo onions whilst being concurrently non-plussed by a green salad (with brown edges), persimmon and pomegranate. Moving on, I'd suggest that visitors from San Francisco skip past Ubuntu's pizzas - be they Nettle and Crescenza or mushroom because you can find a better pie here, here, here or at your other favourite urban pizzeria. To make your hour-long journey worthwhile opt instead for the more unusual but satisfying Cauliflower three ways (puree, roasted and raw) - and served in a cute little cast iron Staub. This dish, with its contrast of flavour, texture and colour (smooth and tender through crunchy, creamy through spice-scented, white through purple to green), was exactly what I expected everything at Ubuntu to be. But the Brussel sprout dish, whilst equally unusual, was no near match on the satisfaction meter. Although I loved the creamy bed of grits on which the green orbs were perched, the bullyish smear of smoky sauce underneath was overwhelming whilst the adorning sticks of celery root perched on top seemed to have lost their usually bold personality.
We had all decided against dessert until a flippant (but in retrospect clever) comment by our server led to us caving in and ordering the cheesecake, along with four spoons. Whimsically, it arrived in a clamped glass jar that begged for a ceremonious opening. Once the lid was unbuckled, a rather polite battle for the cloudy billows of cream covering a strata of buttery crumbled crust, drunken cherries and smeary vanilla-flecked cheesecake ensued, with the opponents not putting down their spoons until the very last fleck had been taken care of.
- Was Ubuntu a part of my original Visitor Guide? NO!
First Impression: This was my first visit to Ubuntu.
Mum Delivers Her Sentence: The company was better than the food, the entree menu was disappointing, the chef spoilt the pizza with too much hot spice that was not so nice but the potatoes were moreish.

3. Moshi Moshi Sushi [weblinks]
The night before thanksgiving you need something light and sushi is the perfect choice. Luckily our local, Moshi Moshi, was open. It's not the best sushi in town, but for us it's the most convenient and it always hits the spot when I can't be bothered to cook.
- Was Moshi Moshi a part of my original Visitor Guide? No!

Tried and Tested: Fred and I eat here at least twice a month. He always has pork chop salad and/or gyozas.
Mum Delivers Her Sentence: Only my second experience of visiting a sushi restaurant and surprise, surprise I enjoyed it.

4. Stinson Beach Grill [previous visit]
When a November 23rd is warm enough for bare feet and paddling and the air is so clear that you can see as far as Mount Diablo, there is nothing else for it, except a drive to Stinson Beach. We don't go there to dine, we go there for everything else. But if we have to eat, we'll do it at Stinson Beach Grill where everything looks twice as good as it tastes and we'll be smiling anyway because of all the fresh air and the gorgeous scenery.
- Was Stinson Beach Grill a part of my original Visitor Guide? No!
Tried and Tested: Scene of Fred and my first ever daytime date, Fred and I have visited Stinson Beach Grill a few times since.
Mum Delivers Her Sentence: Eating outside in November is as memorable as the food. (Ed: I think she meant it was more memorable than the food, because the food wasn't up to much.)

picture photograph image photograph image of stinson beach grill by sam breach 2007 copyright of sam breach
Stinson Beach Grill's food looks much better than it tastes

5. Cafe Bastille [website]
You know you are a regular when the owner has left instructions for the staff to ply you and your special visitor with complimentary champagne, even though he knows you are only stopping by for a drink. These are people I truly love. I call them my friends.
- Was Cafe Bastille a part of my original Visitor Guide? Yes!
Tried and Tested: Scene of Fred and my first ever dinner time date. He's been eating here almost weekly for over 10 years.
Mum Delivers Her Sentence: We dropped in for pre-dinner drinks. I was surprised to see how lively it was with so many people eating outside, it had a great atmosphere. The staff were friendly and it does help that Fred is French and good friends with the owners who looked after us well.

6. Scott Howard [website]
Treat 'em mean, keep 'em keen, Scott Howard is like a temperamental boyfriend that I love, hate and am constantly drawn to for more. My visit number eight in six months and I still can't get enough of it. Do you think they might start a frequent diner programme just for me?.
- Was Scott Howard a part of my original Visitor Guide? Yes!
Tried and Tested: Eight visits under my belt in less than 6 months.
Mum Delivers Her Sentence: Good meal deal - delicious. Ahi Tuna tartare was the best, it melted in your mouth and I even got a recipe for the carrot broth.

7. The Ferry Building [website]
We didn't get up early enough. We were like tourists. Arriving at the Saturday market after 10am is a nightmare. I don't drink coffee but I queued at Blue Bottle for my mum anyway. I'd heard they do good coffee...
- Was The Ferry Building a part of my original Visitor Guide? Yes!
Tried and Tested: I do 90% of my shopping here every week.
Mum Delivers Her Sentence: Sam queued to get me a coffee from the Blue Bottle Coffee Co. I could not believe how long it took for staff to make one cup of coffee!, The best coffee in SF? Hmm not so sure about that. (slightly bitter rather than smooth).

8. Manresa [website]
Mine and Fred's third visit to David Kinch's Los Gatos restaurant in a year was, from my point of view, my favourite visit to date too. Maybe because I drove and didn't drink too much, I could remember the whole wonderful experience more acutely. We had the tasting menu (18 courses if we counted correctly). It was wonderful from start to finish. David sent us complimentary champagne to begin with and then the good food just kept coming. The highlights? For me, the vegetables from the garden get me every time and the oyster with urchin jelly wasn't far behind.
- Was Manresa a part of my original Visitor Guide? Yes!
Tried and Tested: will Pim and David adopt me, please?
Mum Delivers Her Sentence: I never thought I would manage 18 courses! A wonderful variety of tastes and textures and a wonderful dining experience all-round, particularly when you get to meet the chef.

9. The Carnelian Room [website]
Avoid the mixed drinks and just get a glass a bubbles. Stay only long enough to toast the fantastic view over North Beach, the Marina and the North Bay.
- Was The Carnelian Room a part of my original Visitor Guide? No!
Back for Seconds: And we'll come again with the next tourists to stay too - but just for one drink and then move on.
Mum Delivers Her Sentence: Good view, poor cocktails.

10. Oola [website]
We told mum she had to order the ribs. She didn't and was disappointed, perhaps, until Fred let her have one two of his. As she gingerly tasted this deep-fried meat-on-a-bone a huge, unforgettable smile broke out all over her face.
- Was Oola a part of my original Visitor Guide? Yes!
Tried and Tested: We first dined at Oola on their opening night and recently attended their third birthday party.
Mum Delivers Her Sentence: Oola's tuna didn't live up to expectation but I wonder why I didn't order the ribs? At least Fred was good enough to give us some of his.

11. Pres A Vi [website]
After a tour of Industrial Light and Magic where we met with Yoda, Darth Vader and some stormtroopers we needed somewhere close by and fast for lunch. Pres a Vi hit the spot with a huge choice of sandwiches a choice of huge sandwiches. Prices are more than reasonable, portions are gigantic, service is good and the bread basket (not that you really need a bread basket considering the size of the sandwiches), is wonderful. Especially the long, flattened cheese strips. If I still worked in that neighbourhood, there is no doubt I would be back for more based on this promising first visit.
- Was Pres A Vi a part of my original Visitor Guide? No!
This was a first impression.
Mum Delivers Her Sentence: Too much food for lunch.

12. COC0500 [website]
I was contemplating Zuni, but it was already booked so I took mum to COCO500 for her last meal in San Francisco. I had an exceptional off the menu appetizer - with pork belly, quail wrapped quail egg and little quail legs on the side. We'd eaten so much over the previous week, we couldn't even manage an vacherin between us for dessert. What has my world come to when it has no vacherin in it? No worries - there is always the next time and because it's COCO500, no doubt we'll be back.
- Was COCO500 a part of my original Visitor Guide? Yes!
Tried & Tested: I'd guess I've eaten at COC500 at least a dozen times by this point.
Mum Delivers Her Sentence: My final dinner (I almost feel I've been eating my way around SF). Delightful little spicy taco but quite filling and I could have shared half as a starter. Difficult to choose main course. I opted for beef which was very tender. Service questionable due to some staff inability to understand you don't mix sparkling water with tap water! However, Waiter was good.

In case you wonder, we did do a little eating at home along the way too, and I can vouch that my mum now also loves June Taylor tomato ketchup, Fatted Calf Bacon, Soul Food Eggs as well as the recipe for Heidi Swanson's home made muesli and St Benoit Yoghurt.

Now she's gone home, I am missing my mum, but I am not missing all
that dining out. Methinks I need a break!

Where would you take your family if they visited San Francisco for a week?

PS - I won't bore you with details of how excruciatingly painful it was to get this post up, needless to say I am having blogger publishing issues from home that I currently can not fathom and are driving me crazy. I really hope the issues won't stop me from taking part in Menu for Hope. If you come back on Monday to see what my prize is and find nothing, the reason will be because I simply haven't managed to get the issues sorted. Fingers crossed...

2006 | DC Duby
2005 | Tipping for Counter Service
2004 | Lotus of Siam

© 2007 Sam Breach
A San Francisco Visitor Goes Out to Eat

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Smoked Salmon and Caviar

Make for a Pretty Party Palette

picture photograph image ALT 2007 copyright of sam breach
Delia Smith's is perhaps not the most straight forward Blini recipe in the world, but it is one that turns out satisfyingly puffy little pillows of joy on which to bed smoked salmon and other fellows like Bellwether's creme fraiche dotted with Chue's Farm dill and a soupcon of caviar.

Little Organic Farm potatoes, both white and dark purple can be steamed and then chilled before being sliced into little disks big enough for a small blob of the cream and a fanciful dash of beet and saffron or wasabi whitefish roe. What these eggs lack in flavour, they certainly make up for with their eye-catching colours.

Jewels on a plate. Too pretty to even eat, perhaps...?

Today: A Happy 'Special' Birthday to Katja!

2006 | The demise of Foodography
2005 | Nature's Communal Oven, Fiji
2004 | The Best of November, 2004.

© 2007 Sam Breach
Smoked Salmon and Caviar