Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wild Oyster Mushrooms, Frittata

For many Americans, the day after Thanksgiving is often spent either trampling other shoppers to death or simply on the couch in a food hang over. This year a small group of us headed for the mountains for a hike and hoped civilization would fall while we were away. It never seems far fetched.

We set out for the Santa Cruz mountains and took a day long hike amongst majestic redwoods. Along the trail we encountered hundreds of mushrooms. I am not an expert when it comes to identification so I don't take mushroom harvesting lightly. However we came across oyster mushrooms which our housemate had brought home just the week before so we knew how to identify them. Actually, I was already very familiar with their characteristics. They are fan shaped. They like to grow on dead logs. They have scales that run up and down the entirety of the body. Also, as I understand it, there is no poisonous cousin or look alike. All types of oyster mushrooms are edible. Please, don't just take my word for it though. Get a book, have someone take you out, and be careful!
The following morning I decided to make a simple frittata with these fresh, delicious oyster mushrooms.
I cut the them into strips and dry sauteed them. Heck, this is my go to method for cooking all mushrooms. I added butter, a little salt, and after they had cooked a bit, I threw in whole cloves of garlic and thyme.
When they were mostly cooked I added five eggs and put the skillet into the oven and baked until the eggs were cooked.
When it was just about ready, I  sprinkled it with smoked paprika and grated Parmesan, and placed it under the broiler for a couple minutes.

I served it with fresh persimmons and seasonal Vital Vittles persimmon bread. Not too shabby.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


For most of the year, I'm mostly bored by the American food culture that I am surrounded by. I'm tired of food trends and fashions that are so prevalent in San Francisco. I miss vibrant street scenes and markets. Our streets are wide and for cars and our markets are few and far between.  You can get a lot in this big mixing bowl of America, but something has defanged a lot of imported flavors. Call it the wild wild west meets the great blanding grounds. I'm mostly bored by it all and my mind is often elsewhere save for one day a year.

Thanksgiving is not about some supernatural happening thousands of years ago or a day dedicated to buying useless shit on credit. It's about food, friends, and family. This is the holiday for me. This is also incidentally, the one day of the year where I would not want to be anywhere else. Each and every year I savor it.

This year, for a variety of scheduling mishaps, we ended up staying in San Francisco for the big day. We enjoyed a lot of the usual suspects. But instead of turkey, we opted for a large cut of wild boar recently shot by a housemate. A Chinese friend brought some excellent dumplings. Otherwise, most of what we had would be familiar to my largely North American audience. I've included a slide show for you to enjoy, or not.

Until next year...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving

Today I picked up the only turkey I will be having this Thanksgiving. While I'm not always crazy about the burn of this 101 proof whiskey, this is a tradition too important to let slide.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chinese Food?

Once a week I tutor a group of Chinese students at San Francisco State University. As food is one of my favorite subjects, I've started working lunch into our weekly meetings. A few weeks back I decided to join them at "Asia Express" come lunch time. One of the things they suggested I try was the MaPo Tofu. It's a dish I am familiar with but feel that good versions are lacking in the area.  They assured me this one was good.
Well, um. It just kinda looked and tasted like what I affectionately call "mall Chinese food" if you catch my drift. Just yesterday I again asked one of the women about the food and she assured me that it was "really good".  I'm still scratching my head.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Hunt is On

A couple weeks ago I took part in my first mushroom hunt of the season. A quick drive from the city and we were somewhere in the Marin Headlands. It's not a typical spot of mushroom hunting, but it's close. The outing was as much an excuse to enjoy the landscapes as anything else. We thought we might find a few (top secret mushrooms) but we struck out. No matter, it was a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful day. We took a hike to Kirby cove and got to see a less familiar angle of the oft jumped from Golden Gate Bridge.
On the way back we came upon a curiosity upon a hillside. Mr. O decided to check it out.
He returned with a few gorgeous looking yet unknown boletes. O knows his mushrooms but these were a curiosity even to him.
In the nearby gulch on the side of the trail we found some watercress, which we all chewed on while looking at the strange mushrooms.
Foraged food is all the rage right now. It seems to be the logical progression of the currently over hyped and increasingly boring local, organic food fetish. San Francisco's ever enlightened diners have latched onto wild food like emaciated leeches at an anorexic's birthday party. There's not enough to go around, but for the right price those with money can get a piece while it's still available. A foraged food box has even become available in the city which has some environmentalists and established foragers rather concerned. Our small party spent a few hours tromping around having a wonderful time, and while I was chewing on this water cress I realized what money and an explosion of interest could do to our wild spaces. The watercress was nothing more than a nibble, so I got to wondering what the price is of trying to bring this back to the city to feed San Francisco's increasingly particular diners.
Along the side of the trail as we neared the end of our hike I spied a few very young mushrooms with beautiful scales.
They turned out to be an edible variety which are in fact the type of mushrooms commonly eaten in France. After dinner that night we dry sauteed the handful that we found and found them to be highly enjoyable. More to come.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sundown on Page Street

Several Mondays ago at about sundown I realized it was time to take the compost out as it was garbage night. I walked out onto my street, which looks very striking at sundown I might add, and came face to face with neighbors, strangers, my neighborhood enemy, and tourists on bicycles. I went to lift the lid on the green bin and one of the aforementioned tourists stopped his bike and made to take a picture in my direction. I dumped my mess, closed the lid and fled. It was really quite shocking that I was about to be immortalized in a photo while placing organic matter in the bin. "Look here, as a local takes out his coffee grounds, orange peels, and dead goldfish. Isn't it romantic!" And so it goes. I find myself stumbling into the frame quite often, ruining or making many a tourists photo, I can't tell which.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Calorie Deficit, Rosamunde Sausage

As of late, I'm constantly running at a troubling calorie deficit. My diet's recently changed owing to my commute. Most days I'm putting at least sixteen miles on my bike. I'm not saying that this is a lot of miles or takes a ton of effort, but recently, Ive started finding myself hungrier than before. I'm often eating two lunches, an extra dinner, or at the very least, a surprising number of snacks.

Fortunately(?) for me I live about a block from Rosamunde gourmet sausage shop.  Long time readers will likely know, I'm a huge fan of what's in the 'hood, so I always make it a point to frequent those businesses before schlepping across town. Often this journey defeats the whole point of being able to eat when you are actually hungry. I've mentioned this conveniently located shop before and how it relates to beer. But today it's all about getting the body caught up on necessary sustenance. I was out the door and in the shop in under two minutes.

I like the business model at Rosamunde. I want a sausage, and they sell it to me with gourmet toppings. They don't serve burgers, sandwiches, salads, or other things found on most bloated menus. They do one thing and they do it well. The sausages are made to order, so you just might have to wait Porky.

I ordered the the special: The Fresh Sicilian. Made out of pork, green bell peppers, provolone and Romano cheese.

I get tired of being asked what want all the time. I love personal choice, really I do. However, does each sausage have an ideal topping combination? Left to my own devices I would always order sauerkraut and grilled onions. This time I asked the sausage hawker to dress it up as she saw fit. She thought about it for a moment then added: Grilled onions, sweet peppers, brown mustard and just a bit of ketchup. I walked my sausage home. It lost something in appearance being wrapped up for the block long walk but I still find its appearance rather enticing.

Two hours later I ate another dinner, then had dessert.

Rosamunde Sausage Grill
545 Haight Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 437-6851