"SF" news and stories
Spring-time calls for salads made of young greens. Recipes are for: Parsley Salad with Green Onions, Cherry Tomatoes & Spicy Lime Dressing, Truffley Salad of Arugula, Buffalo Mozzarella, and Salad with the Herbs of Spring.
The Working Cook turns to cous cous, coming up with two recipes with three kinds of cous cous: Warm Salad with Couscous & Grilled Coriander Chicken and Sea Bass with Seared Asparagus, Little Pasta & "Beurre Blanc".
East to West lets out the seaweed secret with a recipe for Wakame Cucumber Salad.
On a Chef's Night In, Jamaican is comfort food: Jamaican Curry Chicken and Jamaican Rice & Peas
Taster's Choice this week tests multi-grain waffles, and Van's eggless, dairy-free waffles come out on top.
The Accidental Vegetarian cooks greens galore with recipes for Pasta with Sugar Snap Peas, Asparagus, Ricotta & Brown Butter and Green Onion Crepes with Creamy Eggs & Wild Mushrooms.
Cinco de Mayo isn't just about margaritas. South to North has recipes for Guacamole with a Balloon Whisk, Grilled Sweet Potatoes with Orange Chipotle Glaze, Turkey Tenderloins & Sausages with Agave Marinade, and Salsa de Molcajete.
Other recipes this week include: Asian-Flavored Braised Pork Belly, Coin Toss Cocktail, Agricole Rhum Punch and Airmail Cocktail.
Increasingly, the under-10 crowd is showing up at Bay area restaurants, and the restaurants happily accommodate.
The Baja meets the Bayou with fish tacos and accompanying fiery salsas, beets get an undeserved bad rap, the Roving Feast goes to Berlin for Potato Salad and Big Meatballs, and a Hae-muhl Pah-jun, Korean seafood "pancake," pairs well with wine.
The liquor of the moment is absinthe, with recipes for Sacred Heart, Sazerac, and Death at Dusk.
Ten years ago, a ban on commercially harvested abalone was put into place, but today, eco-friendly farmers are able to cultivate abalone. Olivia Wu provides a 10-minute video on how to handle fresh abalone, and there are recipes from Bay Area restaurants: Koi Palace's Abalone Poached in Rich Sauce, Manresa's Abalone, Meuniere Style.
Other recipes this week: Sake-Steamed Tai Snapper, Tofu Miso Soup, Hearty Chickpea & Broccoli Rabe Soup and Lamb Chops with Turkish Carrots & Yogurt Sauce.
Out on the dining circuit, The Musical Offering Cafe combines food, music, and books in Berkeley. Karola Saekel gives it an overal two-and-a-half stars.
Michael Bauer, the restaurant critic for the SF Chronicle, brought up the subject of service charges at restaurants on his blog. Tipping, whether you like it or not, is still the standard in the US and diners are used to it. Up until recently, the only time that a service charge was included on the bill in lieu of a tip was when you had a very large party out for dinner. Some restaurants, notably higher-end places like Chez Panisse and Per Se, have flat-rate service charged tacked on to the bill regardless of how many diners are in your party, streamlining the process for those footing the bill and giving the restaurant staff an ample enough fee that some of that charge can be diverted to "tip" the back of the house staff.
More recently, in a strange hybrid between the two styles of gratuity payment, at least one restaurant has begun to add on a service charge to cover the back of the house, while expecting customers to tip the waitstaff. Incanto, in San Francisco, is the example that Bauer pointed to. He noticed that they added a 5% service charge to his bill with no explanation. When he asked his waiter, he was told that it was supposed to be in addition to the normal tip, although some customers deducted it from what they would usually leave. Clearly, having both additional fees wasn't working out well for the front of the house staff even if it did benefit those in the kitchen.
As Bauer points out, it sounds like we may be reaching a turning point in this country when it comes to tipping. He says he is "beginning to edge closer to the opinion that maybe an automatic service charge should be applied, or that prices of the menu should fully compensate the staff." It certainly sounds like a reasonable solution.