The Weekly Whisk - 12/31/18

Musings from a foodie…

I recently had the opportunity to visit San Francisco and on the last evening ended up alone in the Mission District.  So, I decided to do a search of restaurants in the area and found this little bistro – Brenda’s French Soul Food [* * * * * ] over on Polk Street.  It was a charmer of a restaurant. First and foremost, it had the ambiance and feel of a bistro in New Orleans.  When you enter, you write your name on a chalk board near the maître’s table and sit down on a bench to await your turn.  It didn’t take long once I figured out what to do.  Chef Brenda is the Proprietor and grew up in the small town of Harvey, Louisiana on the West bank of New Orleans. It’s near another town I absolutely love - Lafitte, Louisiana which is known for its fishin’ boats and crawfish trapping.  She picked up the cooking bug that incorporated the wild blackberries, pecans and local fish (“rad fish” – red fish) and the cuisine styles imbued with her Sicilian, French and Filipino ascendants.  She eventually landed in San Francisco and earned three stars from the SF Examiner, the SF Magazine, and was listed as among the Top Five Bold Newcomers in the New York Times. She’s also been invited to cook at the James Beard House in New York City – an honor I’m still looking for to add to my repertoire :-) . But, I digress – as usual.

The food was true comfort.  It was indeed French Soul Food.  I adorned my plate with Crawfish Beignets and French Onion Soup for starters and went to heaven.  I then went for the Crawfish Etouffee but instead of the pilaf – asked (actually begged) them to serve me a half portion of red beans and rice.  It was at this point that I went back to heaven for the second time in the same evening. Perhaps it’s because I’m such an easy mark when it comes to Southern French cookin’ but Brenda’s is on my list of “go-again-as-soon-as-possible” places.  You will not be disappointed.  It’s casual.  It’s fun.  And the food is fabulous. And, the wait staff were very accommodating.  Brenda’s French Soul Food – 652 Polk Street – San Francisco, CA 94102 –www.frenchsoulfood.com – (415) 345-8100

The Weekly Whisk - 11/12/18

Musings from a foodie…

I recommend that everyone go out and get a Cheeseburger, Veganburger or hotdog of your choice this Veteran’s Day from your personal favorite restaurant [* * * * * ].  Do it with a friend who holds a different perspective than you on any number of issues.  Put the issues on the table. Then, I want you to listen intently to what they say.  “Practice makes perfect” as they say!

The Weekly Whisk - 11/5/18

Musings from a foodie…

Sometimes the best food is right in front of you – and, you don’t even see it.  Not for months…or, years…or, decades…or, even half a century!  So, it was brought to my attention that one of the places where I have become a regular, frequent devotee – Markie’s Place and Grill [****** ] – had been waiting to be mentioned in one of my reviews for a long time.  When the thought was shared (by none other than Markie himself) I was chagrined that I had not thought of it. 

Markie’s is a very special place where friends and family come together all the time.  Most recently, when I stopped by, Markie was serving a potpourri of meats brushed with a special thyme sauce (he would not share the recipe when I first asked).  He was busily engaged in preparing some special chicken parmesan sausages, chicken French apple sausage, spinach feta sausage and – the piece de resistance – pork tenderloin.  Boy oh boy were they good but, it was all in the thyme sauce.  And, I had to work hard to get the recipe.  But, before I digress, just note that the meats were accompanied by an assortment of vegetables including squash, mushrooms, Belgium endive and mild peppers. 

So, back to the sauce.  Knowing Markie I knew the dinner would be simple but elegant.  After much cajoling, he finally shared that it consisted of 5 tablespoons of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, 1 ½ teaspoons of freshly crushed thyme, 2 cloves of garlic with salt and pepper to taste.  It was liberally brushed on everything that was grilled.  And, it was not that difficult to concoct. 

But, after the meats and vegetables, there was “Mom’s Potato Salad”. It was exquisite.  You see “Markie” is my brother and he made this special dinner as a reminder of what family is all about.  And, he kept repeatedly reminding me how he wanted to make it into my restaurant review.  So, I’ll give him five stars with an extra big star for being my brother.  You made it buddy.  You were always there, I just forgot to recognize it.  Love ya!!  I’d share the address but then he would be overwhelmed with outsiders trying to get in so, I’ll keep it a (sort of) secret.  With a last name like “Fickenscher”, I’m sure you can find it.  BTW – the appetizers were rice crackers with American cheese – an All-American, Midwestern boyhood favorite…

The Weekly Whisk - 10/11/18

Musings from a foodie…

I know I’ve become an unabashed Mainer!  It’s because Maine is just like my home state of North Dakota – except it has ocean, mountains and trees.  Other than that – it’s just like home. But, my other home that I’ve come to love is Greece.  We visit there every year (it’s a long story…) and I’ve come to treasure the long, leisurely Greek dinners with friends and adopted family.  So, it was with some degree of surprise that we discovered Taverna Khione [* * * * * ] near Portland, Maine in Brunswick.  The chef, Marc Provencher, is a Greekophilic cook whose been a part of several restaurants in the area over the last number of years. The restaurant is off the beaten path on a side street and presents a cozy atmosphere with a casual style and open kitchen.  From the start with his grandmother-inspired bread and the traditional spreads the presentation of regional Greek classics, his menus fosters an enthusiastic desire to try everything.  But, you can’t – so, it means you have to come back, again and again.  Check out the taverna if you get close to Portland, Maine (about 1 hour 15 minutes from Logan airport).  Taverna Khione – 25 Mill Street – Brunswick , Maine , 04011 – (207) 406-2847 – www.tavernakhione.com.

The Weekly Whisk - 9/14/18

Musings from a foodie…

This past couple of weeks offered up an opportunity to spend some time in my favorite city in the world – Paris!!  As always, when I travel to the city at the center of culinary excellence, I try to visit a variety of places from hidden gems to upscale once-in-a-lifetime experiences.  On this trip, I found four very different places that you might want to consider for different reasons if you travel to Paris. 

The first consideration is for those who are trying to find a gluten-free restaurant.  Paris now has a couple of choices so my friend and I selected Noglu.  It was located in a small inner sanctum walkway on the 7th.  The inside seating offered 6 seats at a bar overlooking the grill an cooking area with three four-person tables outside on the walkway.  Intimate.  We both had a burger with totally gluten-free preparation including the mayonnaise which they make at the restaurant.  It was a good place for its purpose [* * * ] and for those in need of gluten-free, a definite restaurant to consider but the food was not notable.  Noglu – 69 Rue de Grenelle – Paris 75007 - +33 (0) 1 58 90 18 12 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Another place to definitely consider for those without dietary restriction is Le Bistrot d’a Cote Flaubert [* * * * * ].  Adjacent to the famed Restaurant Michel Rostang, the Bistrot is managed by the same restauranteur.  The service was quite wonderful and the food way more than ample.  In fact, our group of four felt that there was literally “too much” food.  It all started with a coriander mousse followed by a pate with fruit and escargot with garlic emanating from every morsel!!  What a way to start an evening of dining.  We then “shared” the Bresse chicken which was served with a perfect au jus preparation and whipped potato.  This is where the meal got a little out of hand.  The chicken kept coming even when we had satiated our desires and with no place to take the food, we kept eating 😊.  Two our number passed on dessert but being ever the consummate foodie, I had to try the chocolate souffle. It was chilled and a perfect way to end the evening.  I can see why the Michelin star chefs eat here when they come to Paris.  Good value, good food, good atmosphere and friendly service.  What more could you want?  Definitely try it: Le Bistrot d’a Cote Flaubert – 10 Rue Gustave Flaubert – Paris 75017 - +33 (0) 1 42 67 05 81 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

After a day of museums, our group of four was wandering down the streets when we realized that we had not made any reservations for dinner.  So, I pulled out trusty Dr. Google and identified the restaurants within a couple of blocks.  There were multiple choices but everyone was thumbs up for Italian.  We headed for Ristorante Costa d’Amalfi [Service = * / Food = * * * * ] which was only a very short distance from the corner where we were standing.  We arrived to a very small restaurant of six tables of four each in a very cozy place.  Simone was the chef (I apologize – I did not get his full name) and he opened the place in 2016.  The food was quite good.  The waitress was horrible at best.  And, it wasn’t the language barrier that got in the way.  Rather, it was the unorganized and disorderly approach to managing the whole dining experience.  I must say that the tagliatelle with porcini and prosciutto was exceptional as well as the saltimbocca served with fresh sage and a perfect sauce.  I was truly impressed.  But, the service was less than lousy.  In fact, it was so bad that it precipitated an “Italian discussion” in the open kitchen right behind our table between the chef and the waitress.  We weren’t sure who won the discussion but the both went about their business.  Regardless, the next time you are in Paris, consider this place.  If the waitress has not been replaced, enjoy the “discussions” between the chef and his help.  It’s sort of like having Italy in Paris. Ristorante Cost d’Amalfi – 65 Rue de l’Universite – Paris 75007 - +33 (0) 1 45 56 03 71 – No email reservations available

 Finally, for a great Parisian dining experience you will want to consider Le Dome [ * * * * *] .  It is a seafood place of distinction.  I don’t know where to start.  It was all excellent and a bit pricey – but worth it.  Everyone picked their favorite seafood and we discussed global warming and the changing patterns of fishing over a wonderful meal.  The pate with fig was over-the-top wonderful for starters and we were off and running.  We then moved on to the main course.  I’m a huge fan of Dover Sole Meuniere and was not disappointed.  Located in the Montparnasse area, you should definitely try it for one of the penultimate Parisian dining experiences.  Restaurant Le Dome – 108 Boulevard du Montparnasse – Paris 75014 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - +33 (0) 1 43 35 25 81

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