chef cam is live!

photo courtesy

photo courtesy

The James Beard Kitchen cam made its debut today with Daniel Boulud and his team cooking from his cookbook Daniel:  My French Cuisine. I found myself watching as much to see talented chefs making beautiful food as to see if they display the temperament of the many chefs whose kitchens I spent time in many moons ago.

When I first heard they were putting a live camera in the kitchen at The James Beard House I was reminded of the year that one of the football leagues (not the NFL…USFL maybe?) put microphones in players’ helmets. Remember how well that worked out?  Well hopefully this will be a more productive use of the technology and there will be less cursing….or at least the cursing will be in French! I’ve been in an awful lot of restaurant kitchens (often back end toward the kitchen as I was beating a hasty retreat after relaying a less than welcome customer request). Of course I was never in the kitchen of the Daniel Bouluds of the world.  Now you and I and all the rest of them can spend some time in the James Beard Kitchen with the professionals.

So far things are looking very civilized. I admit it, I’m looking for a few fireworks. It’s a kitchen for goodness sake!

cheese, beautiful cheese

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photo courtesy

Here in Marin we are lucky to have the best cheese on the planet in our very own neighborhood.  And my friend and food writer Brooke Jackson, who was kind enough to invite me to attend the Cowgirl Creamery cheese event that she discusses in her article, wrote a lovely piece on this most amazing food and this most amazing place. So check out the article, then take a drive out to Point Reyes Station and visit the girls and their cheese.  There is a huge lawn in front, so pick a sunny day, take a blanket, bring your fancy picnic basket and a nice bottle of wine, and buy some of the best cheese you’ll find anywhere. You’ll thank me for sure. And if you take home leftovers, I’m told by the Creamery gals that the plastic you’re cheese comes wrapped in is very very bad.  Use paper instead. In my case there is rarely anything leftover…

Hope you’re having a great weekend,

painting in bars

images courtesy

images courtesy

paint nite2

If facebook is any indication, then everyone is painting in bars these days. Have you noticed? So many renditions of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Hawaiian sunsets and flowers a la Georgia O’Keefe posted on my wall in the last few weeks. Even the AP has noticed. I’m starting to feel a bit left out and think maybe I need to get on this. Wonder if the new bar in my ‘hood would be agreeable?

Based on my extensive research, if you do this with Paint Nite, the largest organization I’ve found, it’s about $45 plus the cost of whatever reduces your inhibitions. Check their website and choose by date, location or the piece of art you want to (try to) recreate. They provide all supplies and an artist to teach. You can also contact Social Artworking to purchase supplies and organize your own event, which means you need to teach the painting techniques from written instructions.  Eek.

Sounds like fun….anyone want to try it with me?

Keep in touch,

ny and dc recommendations?


Tell me where to go (and be nice!)

I’m off to NY and DC this summer for a quick visit and a wedding (aack….what are they thinking?…planning an east coast wedding in the summer is a little bit mean!). 5 days in NY split between Miller Place on the north end of the island and Brooklyn/Manhattan.  Do you have a recommendation for a hotel in Brooklyn? We’ve always stayed with family and are looking for a bit of adventure. Also, where must we eat? Then 5 days in DC.  I’ve never been to DC so am looking for food recommendations and anything else you think I should know. Help me people!


awards time!

One of the things that I love about San Francisco is that people will forego paying the heating bill if necessary in order to eat great food. There is so much amazing food going on in Bay Area restaurants that sometimes something has to give. I can always burn old chairs for heat, but never in this lifetime will I be cooking like Kim Alter or the Rich team. This time of year is always a little frustrating because there are so many great places that I still haven’t eaten and they’re all in the news at once…awards time. So I’m just starting a list of who’s in contention for which award in the Bay Area and I’ll start pecking them off one by one.  Please don’t let on to Steve that this plan is in the works.  He might shut me down.

Food & Wine, the People’s Best New Chef (Bay Area contenders)

Matthew Accarrino, SPQR

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photo courtesy

Kim Alter, Plum

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photo courtesy


Brett Cooper, Outerlands*

*but the restaurant is closed for renovation and Chef Cooper won’t return, so guess this might save one chair

Evan and Sarah Rich, Rich Table

Ari Weiswasser, Glen Ellen Star

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photo courtesy


James Beard Foundation Award Nominees (Bay Area contenders)

Best restaurant design or renovation:  Jensen ArchitectsShed

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photo courtesy

Best Chef: West

 Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, State Bird Provisions

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 Corey Lee, Benu

 Daniel Patterson, Coi

Best New Restaurant: Coqueta

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photo courtesy


Outstanding Wine Program:  A16

Outstanding Bar Program:  Bar Agricole

Outstanding Service:  QuinceThe Restaurant at Meadowood

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photo courtesy

Outstanding Pastry Chef: Belinda Leong, b. patisserie

Outstanding Restaurateur:  Cindy Pawlcyn (Mustards Grill, Cindy’s Back Street Kitchen)

Rising Star Chef of the Year:  Jessica Largey, Manresa

Outstanding Restaurant:  The Slanted Door

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photo courtesy


Outstanding Chef:  David Kinch, Manresa

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photo courtesy

It’s a long list!  Congratulations to all of our local semi-finalists. I’m looking forward to trying at least a few before Steve catches on.

Keep in touch,

a feast in the field

my weekly produce box from Capay Farm

my weekly produce box from Capay Farm

weekly produce

I love getting my weekly box from the good people at Capay Farms.  It’s like a present every Tuesday. Sometimes I get something new….something I’ve never tried before, like kiwi berries. Party in my mouth people! So when I received an email from Farm Fresh to You last Friday about a party in their field I turned on my best ‘please please honey’ smile.  How could Steve say no when I was looking at him with such pathetic beggary? So yes, we are going.  Let me know if you are going as well….this will be our first time and we’d love to go with friends!

photos from last year's event courtesy

photos from last year’s event

farm fresh2

outstanding in the field

Outstanding in the Field throws those awesome parties that you see in magazines where there is a very long table in the middle of a field or farm with people yakking it up and drinking wine and eating food that you are just certain they picked off the trees moments before. And everyone is all smiling and happy. Well I’ve been to the farm that provides my weekly produce and I know how beautiful it is, and how lovely are the farmers that own and work those fields. A group of brothers who are carrying on their mother’s legacy of growing and sharing her organic produce. So attend if you can…I’d love to sit with you…

ps…and by the way, this is NOT a sponsored post. I truly love getting my produce from Capay Farm. Every week they send me a discount code to share. If you want to try them out use code 6164 and mention my name. Farm Fresh to You (Capay Farm’s delivery program) will give you $10 off your first box. Or stop by their booth at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. That’s where I met them!

Happy Monday….keep in touch,

Farm City, Novella Carpenter

Farm City by Novella Carpenter

Farm City by Novella Carpenter

“I took a deep breath and plunged the little yellow seeds into the ground that was not mine.  I snaked the hose around from our backyard and sprinkled water onto the bare patch of soil.  Lana and I stood and watched the water soak in.  What I was doing reminded me a little of shoplifting, except instead of taking, I was leaving something.  But I was worried.  Couldn’t these plants be used as evidence against me?”
~Novella Carpenter, Farm City
I know….Novella Carpenter wrote this book years ago. And I’m finally reading it now. With my ridiculously destroyed back garden (see my facebook page for the reason behind that!), I am ripe for a new start. On top of the mess, we are having a drought in California, so unless it feeds my family, I’m not watering it. Eventually the grass will die, which won’t break my heart.  Then I will follow Novella’s lead and plant food which I will water very carefully so as not to waste a drop. Who knows where this will lead?


The Little Chihuahua in my new SF hood (nopa) is now serving brunch and they have chilaquiles on the menu! Steve and I cruised the neighborhood yesterday morning and found the Grove Street farmers market (complete with a little cooking exhibition!), about three hundred cafes serving breakfast, and every shade of neighbor.  It was awesome.  But we haven’t made it to The Little Chihuahua yet….next weekend.

The backstory:  chilly killys. That’s what my coworker Shirley called the dish she was famous for. I was the new designer in the office and had no idea what to expect. The next morning Shirley arrived at the office with a giant pyrex filled with a blend of tortilla chips, cheese and eggs. It was good, but I was still not as impressed as my office mates. And I was still confused by the name.

photo courtesy facebook/john ater

photo courtesy El Huarache Loco facebook/John Ater

A few years after my first exposure I saw chilaquiles on a menu and finally understood the name, although I’m sure I still mispronounce it. It’s a ‘leftovers’ dish of fried corn tortilla chips, verde sauce (although some use a red sauce but I much prefer verde), Mexican cheese and crema, cilantro, onions, lime juice and over easy eggs. I’ve come to love this dish as much as those office mates of long ago, just not the casserole style that I was introduced to. I order it whenever it is on the menu and have found the absolute best rendition at El Huarache Loco in Marin Country Mart. Not only are these the best chilaquiles so far, but the story behind El Huarache Loco is pretty sweet too.

best chilaquiles EVER! photo courtesy El Huarache Loco facebook page

best chilaquiles EVER!
photo courtesy El Huarache Loco facebook page

can they match El Huarache Loco? photo courtesy The Little Chihuahua facebook page

can they match El Huarache Loco’s chilaquiles?
photo courtesy The Little Chihuahua facebook page

So next on my breakfast agenda is to hit The Little Chihuahua on Divis. Fingers crossed it’s as good as ELH….dang….so many days to pass before my next fix!

Please please please let me know if you have a spot with awesome chilaquiles….I’m always up for another go. Have a great week,

a trabocco in Alameda

trabocco photos courtesy Dyer unless noted otherwise

entry and dining patio
photos courtesy Dyer unless noted otherwise

Giuseppe Naccarelli, the chef/operator at Trabocco Kitchen and Cocktails in Alameda, grew up in Abruzzo, Italy, a region bordered on the east by mountains and on the west by The Adriatic Sea. Naccarelli was raised in the kitchen and after moving to America spent nearly 20 years at Il Fornaio. With his first foray into restaurant ownership he hearkens back to the coastline of his childhood and the wooden fishing machines that dotted the shore. Working with my friend Lev Weisbach (and yes, I even helped a bit with the original space planning), the design team used these fishing machines, or trabocci, to color the textures and details of Naccarelli’s first restaurant. The end product is elegant and yet comfortable and exciting at the same time.


Trabocco signage reminscent of the wooden sticks of the seaside trabocci


Bar area.  Wine wall beyond defines private dining room.


Dining area with fireplace. Sparkling crystal netting reminiscent of fishing nets.

Trabocco. photo courtesy

An Italian fishing machine, or trabocco. Photo courtesy


buried in taxes

I’m up to my eyeballs in taxes today, so am just posting a few links that I’ve enjoyed from around the web.  Hope you do too!

Miss Ko

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photo courtesy

Check out the latest from Philippe Starck.  Miss Ko (the restaurant) was branded by GBH and designed by Philippe Starck and lies smack dab in the middle of Paris (49/51 avenue George V – 75008 Paris).  It is one out of the park crazy design that features Miss Ko in all her yakuza glory and is infused with symbolism that should keep you on your smartphone for hours trying to figure out what it all means.

Homemade Ricotta

Allison Eats is a beautifully crafted website.  Lovely graphics.  And some pretty amazing recipes as well.  I was just at a talk last week (thanks to my friend Brooke over at Too Many Apples) featuring the good people from Cowgirl Creamery and Strauss milk, two of my local favorites.  I love cheese more than anything, and that’s what they talked about for an hour.  So Allison’s recipe for Ricotta hits me right where it counts.  I’ll be trying this once I clear all the papers away…

Humphry Slocombe’s new location

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photo courtesy

A special note to my good friend Errol, Humphry Slocombe is now open in the SF ferry building.  I’ll be checking this out in the next few days!

believe it or not I have two complaints about Coi

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photo courtesy caruso

If you’ve been reading Parti* Notes (my newsletter and blog) for any length of time you know that I’m a bit of a Daniel Patterson groupie.  I’ve eaten at his restaurants, bought his cookbook, follow him around when he speaks, and scavenge the restaurant rags for any item pertaining to the esteemed DP.  Steve and I had the awesome good fortune (and I seriously mean fortune) to spend some well earned dinero at Coi in December.  So when I saw that Coi had received a facelift last month I suggested that we might, just maybe, have another go?  Please?  Steve just laughed.  But the seed is planted.

Eater SF visited the newly updated space and provided some nice photos.  In December there was only one thing, well maybe two, that I found less than absolute perfection.  Of course the food was awesome.  But I’m a bit of a lighting nut when it comes to restaurants.  And the lighting at Coi was not great.  The tables were not lit properly to really show the beauty of the food.  DP prides himself on appealing to all of his guests’ senses, and in most cases he is spot on, but not with the lighting.  Pun intended.  And apparently this is one of the things that he fixed with this update.

The other very minor complaint that I had on my visit was the restroom.  While it was most assuredly eye catching (round mosaic tiles everywhere, cloth towels for hand drying, gray rocks in the sink to catch the water), the tile work, while interesting, was not well executed.  In addition to lighting in restaurants, I’m also a freak about bathrooms.  I would never complain about this bathroom at all except that it was at Coi where most everything is perfect and it was just slightly less than so.  And apparently during this reno it was taken down to the studs and redone.

So the seed is planted and I’m very much hoping that my hubby will surprise me with another visit so I can check out what’s new in person.  In the meantime, let me know if you get a chance to visit and tell me what you think.