Shan Shan Pulled Noodles Restaurant in Parsippany, NJ

1_Bowl.jpgI am always amazed how connecting with people can bring unexpected treasures in the future. When we were at the Wine & Food Festival Event at Mohonk Mountain House in April, my wonderful writer friend, Susannah Applebaum, recommended a Chinese restaurant in Parsippany, New Jersey that featured homemade and hand-pulled noodles. So after a morning appointment in the area, we stopped at the Shan Shan Restaurant for lunch. As we walked in, owner/manager Lili and her family and some friends were having lunch and she greeted us with a warm welcoming smile. She went over the menu with us to choose the spicy hot pulled noodles with pork, steamed pork buns, and scallion pancakes. We were also encouraged to watch the chef as he pulled our noodles. Through a window looking in on the kitchen, we watched the chef rolling out a 2 inch thick cord of noodle dough, which he sliced off into about a 16 inch long piece. He then rolled it on the counter to lengthen it. Then the amazingly dramatic pulling began with him grasping each end of the dough, extending his arms to each side of his body to stretch the dough, folding the dough cord in half, and repeating the stretching and folding a couple more times. As we watched, the noodles began to form and separate more and more with each stretch and fold. After the final fold, he tossed the noodles into the boiling pot. 2_noodles.jpg 3a_pull.jpg While our noodles were boiling, our side dishes arrived. Both the pancakes and steamed pork buns came with a dipping sauce. 5_cakes.jpg 4_buns.jpg Then our noodle dish arrived, which was just the right amount for us to share for lunch, with an unusual accompanying serving device--kitchen scissors! Since the noodles can be over a foot long, and we were sharing, the scissors came in quite handy to make serving and then twisting a reasonable amount of noodles onto our chopsticks possible. scissors.jpeg We were absolutely delighted by all the flavors and textures, especially the delicacy of the soup dumplings. The Chinese tea was the best I have ever tasted. Afterwards, I talked to Lili and her husband Gary who does the accounting. The name of the restaurant, Shan Shan, is their daughter who does all the art work for the menu. This is a fantastic find. Here is the website with address and menu selection.

A Great Lebanese Find in Hackettstown, NJ

Mezza_House.jpgMezza House has been on Main Street in Hackettstown for 2-1/2 years but it only caught my eye last week. Loving Lebanese and Mediterranean food as I do we lost no time in making a reservation for dinner. The restaurant is cozy/small and run by chef owner Nellie, who makes you feel so at home it's like having a Lebanese mother cook your dinner. Everything is made from scratch including the kibbeh (a savory mixture of ground beef and spices stuffed with lamb and pine nuts) so popular there was none available which means we have to return as soon as possible! We loved the hummus, and the M'Jadara, a traditional dish of lentils, rice, and caramelized onions served with a copious amount of creamy, snowy white whipped garlic so delicious I actually asked for more. Nellie shared that it is garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, pureed in a food processor. She would make a fortune if she bottled it. We were too full for dessert but had to try to baklava and so glad we did. It was the least sweet baklava I've ever experienced--deliciously crispy and flavorful---some with whole pistachios. Mezza House is open for lunch and dinner and reservations can be made on Open Table or at (908) 269-8141. It is a bring your own bottle restaurant and your wine will be enhanced by the most beautiful wine glasses I've seen in any restaurant in the area.

An Evening of Exquisiteness at Blue Hill

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ELLIOTT AND THE FLATWARE AWAITING OUR MULTI COURSE DINNER

Several years ago, I introduced my cousin Marion Bush to Dan Barber at his extraordinary restaurant Blue Hill in Tarrytown, NY. Marion is a gatherer and purveyor of wild edibles and lives fairly nearby so I suspected it would be a perfect union. A few weeks ago Marion and her husband Marty, Elliott and I met at Blue Hill for dinner. We were served a vast array of amazingly imaginative dishes, each presented artfully in/on equally unique presentoirs. They arrived and were described at such a fast pace it was all we could do to document them while enjoying consuming them but with the "division of labor," (Marion writing and me photographing and crying out "don't touch it yet") we managed to do it. Here is just a mere fraction of the highlights (I missed photographing the little glass of cantalope tears as I was so stunned by the intensity of the very essence of the melon that I forgot to take the photo): 2_veg.jpg

VEGETABLES FROM THE FARM WITH BABY FENNEL FRONDS

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RADISHES WITH POPPY SEED BUTTER & POPPY SEEDS FROM THE POD

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BABY KOHLRABI WITH MARIGOLD PUREE AND RASPBERRIES

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"NEEDLES IN A HAYSTACK" GRISSINI

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CORNCOB LEMONADE

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DEEP-FRIED LONG ISLAND WHITEBAIT ON SKEWERS

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WILD FIELD GREENS WITH TARRAGON PESTO

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TOMATO BURGERS

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GAZPCHO JULEPS

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COPA WITH MALTED BARBER WHEAT BREAD

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BRIOCHE OF BARBER WHEAT SERVED IN BREAD ROOM, WITH FRESH CURD CHEESE AND VEGETABLE RELISH

*See Below. 13_mill.jpg

THE AUSTRIAN FLOUR MILL

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CHEF BOBBY SCHAFFER--BREAD MAESTRO

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LAMB, BEET BOLOGNESE, SQUASH; SAUCE OF CHARCUTERIE & VINEGAR

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WITH BEEF TALLOW POURED ONTO THE LAMB AT TABLE

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WHEY & BASIL, PUFFED GRAINS & BERRIES, PEACHES, POPPED CORN WITH WHITE CHOCOLATE

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ZUCCHINI CAKE

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CHOCOLATE MINT, STRAWBERRIES, GRAPES, PLUMS, HONEY & GRAINS

The accompanying wines were: Langhe Arneis 2012, de Forville, Barbaresco, Italia, and la Demarrante Maxim Magnon 2011, la Vallée du paradis, Languedoc. * Chef Bobby has sent me the recipe for this incredible 100% Barber whole wheat flour brioche which I will be sharing on the blog after making it.

Serendipity on the Road to Toronto

FullSizeRender.jpgphoto credit Owen Daw (our tall and wonderful grandson) Our granddaughter, Haley, is a Paralympics swimmer training for the World Paralympics in 2016. The Toronto Parapan North American Summer Games gave Elliott and me the opportunity to cheer our Haley on her road to Rio. We decided to break up the drive by overnighting in upstate New York, about 4 hours from Toronto. When we arrived at the motel in Victor, NY my heart fell when I saw that it was nestled between Wendy's and Taco Bell and despaired over what Elliott and I could possibly find to eat for dinner. But it was late afternoon and coffee was my first thought so I asked Suri (my iphone voice of wisdom) where the nearest Starbucks was located (the lesser of all coffee possibility evils). To my delight it turned out to be only 1-1/2 miles away in one of the largest malls I've ever encountered. We entered the part of the mall that housed a vast food court with all the usual fast food type of eating possibilities. Starbucks turned out to be located a few steps away from Williams Sonoma, and in a moment of inspiration I went in and asked the manager for a restaurant recommendation, figuring that someone working in this food centric store would be our best bet for good advice. Between assisting paying customers, he graciously made two recommendations, so within short order we found ourselves at Compané Bistrot in nearby Fairport and experienced, to our total amazement, one of the most perfect restaurant dinners we've had in many months! We entered through a very lively and noisy bar but to my vast relief were seated in one of the quiet side rooms were we were offered a small paper bag containing a few slices of ordinary looking and tasting bread. But when we dipped the bread in the accompanying plate of olive oil, graced by a little spot of balsamic vinegar and a dusting of Parmesan, it metamorphosed into ambrosia. I don't remember ever tasting a better olive oil and I have tasted many! I would have been content to have made that our entire dinner, especially accompanied by one of the best sauvignon blancs I've ever tasted: Matua Valley, from Marlborough New Zealand described as fresh fruit aromas of stone fruit lemon zest, and a hint of gooseberry. It was the gooseberry that grabbed my interest and though I'm not sure I detected any of the suggested flavors, it did offer the classic fresh and slightly grassy flavor of the varietal that I adore. We went on to share an appetizer of fried calamari with small pickled cubes of Kalamata olives and cherry peppers, accompanied by both aoli and tomato dipping sauces, The calamari was perfectly cooked and minimally breaded and the garnishes provided just the right amount of added zing. We also shared a main course of lemon shrimp with linguini in a cream sauce--just enough to cloak the pasta, and also containing little cubes of fresh tomatoes. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and the flavor of the entire dish was absolutely fabulous. Elliott and I were both stunned to discover that our fortune had taken the leap from fast food restaurants to this spectacular meal. I used Waze to navigate back to the hotel and it took us through beautiful country roads which was a world away from the highway we had taken to get to the restaurant. What an unexpectedly great start to our vacation. Update: Haley won 1 bronze, 2 silver, and a gold medal!

A Dinner Made by a Legend ~~ Tempura Matsui

IMG_2771.jpgIt has been fourteen years since my last visit to Japan when I was researching Wasanban sugar for an article for Food Arts Magazine. It was my last memorable tempura experience. In Japan, the tempura coating was an impossibly thin crisp veil through which one could see the fish or vegetable and I longed to experience it again. When I read in the New York Times that Masao Matsui, a renowned tempura chef from Tokyo, had been tempted out of retirement to open in New York I was eager to experience his rendition of this fine art. Chef Matsui started in the restaurant business in Japan when he was 18 . Reviews highlight how over the years he has perfected his zen-like tempura mastery to achieve a batter that is as thin as possible--just thick enough to coat the ingredient. Each ingredient glistens through its light and crisp coating, which he refers to as "My Tempura." Over the years he has owned several tempura restaurants in Tokyo. In July, we were in New York City to attend a memorial get together for my dear friend, colleague, and editor Gary Tucker for Food Arts magazine. Everyone who attended was invited to bring an appetizer. Our contribution was Pepperkakors, a spicy cookie from The Baking Bible which makes an appealing appetizer, especially when coated with a soft goat cheese. Some of us also contributed special memories about Gary. After the memorial was over Woody and I went on to dinner at Tempura Matsui. IMG_1312.jpg We were given an exceptionally warm welcome from the hostess and then were ushered to our seats at the tempura counter where we could enjoy seeing the master and his sous chefs work their magic. Chef Matsui serves his guests with a prix fix, Omakase experience with several stages for tonight's dinner. Omakase transalates as "I will leave it up to you." Before our eyes, we watched the preparation of the oil, the precise mixing and testing of the batter, and the wooden boxes bearing Chef's choices for us to relish. Every course was served in an exquistely unique vessel. This first course was sea urchin with Japanese yam and wasabi. IMG_2762.jpg Over the next two hours was a fascinating dining experience of 9 small courses, with Chef personally placing his "My Tempura" delicacies on our serving platters. Some of our favorites were the scallops wrapped in nori, the maitaki mushrooms, and the seasonal fish kisu. IMG_2769.jpg IMG_2770.jpg IMG_2774.jpg

Other favorites were the Zensai appetizers (tofu, octopus, and egglant): IMG_2763.jpg The Conger eel: IMG_2775.jpg and the Ten-don (cluster of shrimp tempura over rice) IMG_2776.jpg The entire staff worked as a seamless collaboration. When our dessert course of peach compote appeared, we were both inspired to honor Chef Matsui with some of our reserve of Pepperkakors. Suddenly he appeared at our side, politely tried one, and smiled. Woody gave him the bag of 24 cookies to enjoy and share with his staff. As we opened the front door to the busy New York night atmosphere and stars above, Chef Matsui gave us a farewell bow, which we graciously returned. It was like being back in Japan. Tempura Matsui

Return to the Fort

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To conclude our Denver trip to Craftsy, we invited Jen and her husband, John, for dinner at The Fort. They picked us up at the hotel and Jen and I were both wearing our hand-knit sweaters. Located in Morrison, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, a 30 minutes drive from the city of Denver, when darkness falls, one can see the sparkling lights of Denver in the distance. Almost as soon as we were seated, my dear friend, Holly Arnold, owner of The Fort, sat down to join us. It was Holly's father, Sam Arnold, who created the Fort in response to a request from Holly's mother to build him a castle. And it was here, in this incredible setting of the American old west, that Holly spent her childhood. Holly treated us to my favorite bison bone marrow to accompany our dinner of elk chops. (Julia Child was said to have once ordered a second helping. I tried that on my second visit and then was too full for the rest of my meal. I knew better this time.) Holly also regaled us with delightful stories of the history of the Fort which was created by her parents. She also gave a tour to show us the many photos of the family (including her pet bear Sissy), dignitaries including Boris Yeltsin, George Bush, and Bill Clinton, and food world people including Julia Child, which populated the restaurants' walls. We had the pleasure of meeting John, "The Mountain Man," who is a weekend presence at the Fort. He is a extraordinarily skilled leather-worker and when he showed me the rose barret, Holly exclaimed that since it was my name, she wanted to purchase it to offer to me. But the "Mountain Man" said with his eyes that the gift was coming from him. To my delight, Holly gave me a copy of her father's leather-bound "Frying Pans West" television cooking series with its companion cookbook. Sam was a dear and long-time friend so this was very special to me. Sam Arnold's Frying Pans West cookbook & DVD'sPhoto credit: Jenn "Knitty Baker" and Woody Wolston

My Birthday Cake at the Lincoln

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As so many people asked the inevitable question: who is baking your birthday cake?here is the answer: To begin with, we had an astonishingly delicious dinner at the Lincoln Ristorante at Lincoln Center. This was my first visit for dinner, having had a glass of wine at the bar awhile back accompanied by an assortment of bread and one of the best olive oils I had ever tasted. I have to confess that I had made a serious error by reserving at the Smith at Lincoln Center and only discovered this when I called the Lincoln to tell them that after driving 2 hours from NJ we were still caught up in traffic. They had no reservation whatsoever under any of the names I always give (usually just Rose as spelling my last name over the phone is always an exercise in irritation. My cousins Bill and Joy Howe, who were meeting us, also having driven a long distance, were already at the Smith wondering why I had chosen such a noisy and casual restaurant for my birthday dinner albeit they reported that the people there were absolutely lovely--even when they discovered that none of us was staying for dinner! But the Lincoln came through for me. I could tell that they didn't recognize my name as being in the food profession but they did recognize my sincerity and panic. So we sat down to dinner in the elegant and quiet dining room. Elliott and I chose the special of the evening which was a dry-aged rib steak, the juices and beef marrow added to the panzanella salad accompanying it, along with that above mentioned fabulous olive oil. The star dish of the evening, however, was ordered by Bill. It was a tian of eggplant and zucchini slices with a tangy tomato sauce that caused Bill and me to turn to each other (after I got to taste it) and pronounce it to be the quality of taste we are always looking for in Italian food. Up until that point I was entirely incognito but that ended when Bill got the idea that if revealing my identity as a food writer we might find out the secret to the sauce. Chef Jonathan Benno arrived at our table and graciously explained that they used San Marzano tomatoes but that it was the technique that gave it the extraordinary flavor. Then I remembered (from experience) that the secret to its intensity is seriously reducing the juices to the near dry consistency. We ordered one dessert to share but thoroughly enjoyed the three that arrived. thanks to pastry chef Richard Capizzi. The birthday cake was: Tortino al Gianduja con caramello al pompelmo chocolate cake, hazelnut praline, gianduja ganache, salted caramel-campari crema, grapefruit variegato gelato

A Most Perfect Dessert Chez Per Se

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I first met Thomas Keller's exquisite little donuts at the end of an endlessly wonderful dinner at The French Laundry several years ago. They were the most ethereal and perfectly balanced in flavor doughnuts I had ever encountered. So when they appeared on the menu at Per Se, accompanied by a coffee semi-freddo, I suggested to my dear friend David Shamah that we share it, having eaten our full of lunch, and making a small stab at discipline. All I can say is that we both regretted not having ordered two of them! The semi-freddo was the essence of coffee and a far more interesting accompaniment to the doughnut than cappuccino or espresso could possibly have been.

The Ultimate Iced Café

Iced_Cafe.jpgThe Nespresso Boutique, in New York City's So Ho neighborhood, makes my favorite indulgence which they call iced café, but is actually so much more! It is a scoop of excellent ice cream with a double shot pour of Arpeggio espresso, topped with a cloud of whipped cream, sprinkled with a pleasing crunch of semi-sweet chocolate mini curls. It is served with a long spoon so that one can reach down and grab a little of each harmonious element with each sip or should i say bite. Truly it is half way between the two and no doubt a good part of what makes it so very irresistible.

IACP San Francisco--A Peek Behind the Scenes Part 2

Bruce Aidell, the sausage maker extraordinaire of Aidell Sausage Company, and his wife, Nancy Oakes, hosted eleven of us for a dim sum lunch at Yank Sing, my favorite Chinese restaurant. We had an extraordinary array of dim sum. Bruce imperiously vetoed one after the other of the serving carts and chose instead to have the manager fill our table with various dim sum of his selection off the menu. They were too numerous to remember and we were far to busy grabbing with our chopsticks and eating to list them all. Favorites were the Peking Duck, Pork and Shrimp Siu Mye, Seafood Basil Dumplings, and Pork Buns. The one that intrigued me the most was a super flaky lard pastry turnover filled with chicken curry.IMG_0947.jpg IMG_0945.jpg Our food fest continued with dinner, interrupted only by another cappuccino at Blue Bottle in the late afternoon. Nathan "Mr. Vancouver" Fong took over the annual intimate friends' dinner from me 18 conferences ago, and it's grown so much it's become a conference within the conference. This year's dinner was at the Perbacco Ristorante. We were happy to be seated next to our friends Hayley and Michael Matson Mathes from Hawaii. Hayley had arranged our baking demonstration and accommodations this past December. Tuesday's breakfast at Boulettes Larder in the Ferry Building, with fellow bakers Caitlin Williams Freeman and Liz Prueitt, was another "old home week." We ran into several friends including beloved photographer Ben Fink and dear friend Corby Kummer, who writes for the Atlantic Monthly, and whose two page feature on the Cake Bible almost 25 years ago launched 18,500 copies in one day! Caitlin's new book, Modern Art Desserts, featuring renditions of iconic works of art, was coming out the following week.(I posted my foreword and also the spectacular book signing on the pub date titled: A Very Special Baking Book.) Liz, pastry chef/co-owner of Tartine Bakery & Café in the Mission district has contributed a wonderful lemon curd to our next book, using an unusual technique. Boulette's is a deliciously informal meeting place with its main community table situated right next to the open kitchen. IMG_0987.jpg I ordered the Poached Eggs served over Middle Eastern greens and chickpeas, in browned butter. IMG_0972.jpg Liz had a delightfully impromptu first meeting with Corby who is a dedicated dessert fan. IMG_0986.jpg We bakers three then strolled to the other end of the Ferry Building for some of Caitlin's Blue Bottle Coffee. IMG_0994.jpg Our afternoon seminar was Techniques from TV Pros for Producing Top Quality Food Videos. Ben Fink was one of the presenters and his video of me, "A Moment with Rose," his very first video was part of the presentation. We were delighted to run into Rachelino, one of my favorite bloggers and member of the Beta Bakers Team for the upcoming "Baking Bible." She was a volunteer on the San Francisco host committee, for this seminar. IMG_1006.jpg IMG_1007.jpg This was the first time that Woody and I had seen my eating a delicious bite of my "Deep Passion Cake" on the big screen. (You can view this video by clicking on "A Moment with Rose" in the upper left hand corner of this blog). Seeing my eating the cake prompted a return to Blue Bottle Coffee for a dish of their Affogato - with Humphry Slocombe Brown Butter ice cream and espresso. IMG_1011.jpg The evening was the event most anticipated by authors and publishers alike--the Awards. The award categories keep increasing yearly. There are now over forty-three, with digital technology and the web having become a major resource for foodies to writers to restaurant owners. The Best Baking Book Award went to "Flour Salt Water Yeast " by Ken Forkish. The Cookbook of the Year went to "Jerusalem: a Cookbook" by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. (Although, I was nominated to the Culinary Classics Award, I still have a few years to wait as this year's inductees were published at least ten years before "The Cake Bible.") Natalie Chapman, GM of cookbooks at Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, invited us and several associates and writers to a late evening of conversation and treats at the new Prospect Restaurant. Bruce Aidell was again our host. Chef owner Nancy Oakes, arranged for her staff to serve us wonderful appetizers and this divine banana, chocolate, and caramel Ice Cream Sundae. IMG_1019.jpg IMG_1026.jpg I was happy to learn from Nathan Fong, long time executive member of IACP, that our organization is growing stronger every year. There will be hundreds of new connections, new authors, and new winners taking their walk to the podium in the upcoming years. Stay tuned for more on the S.F. adventure with friends and family in two weeks!

Ode to Exquisite Dining Chez Per Se

Thomas Keller is one of my top favorite chefs. I've had amazing experiences both at The French Laundry in Nappa, and at Per Se in New York City so it seemed like the perfect place to celebrate my partnership with Gary Fallowes of NewMetro Design and my new Rose™ product line. And it was indeed a glorious dining experience. It was also a celebration of my imminent move from New York to Hope, New Jersey where eating like this will be happening much less frequently.

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Yet Another Reason to Return to Il Buco

Every time I lunch at my favorite neighbor restaurant Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria I go with a plan to order what I loved on the last visit and invariable am tempted by the latest addition to the menu. Fortunately the bread basket is always available along with excellent olive oil but if butter is requested it is my favorite from Vermont Butter & Cheese.

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Ode to Exquisite Excellence: Daniel's COI

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Photo of the Original Cake at the Wedding, Epiphany 2007

Those of you familiar with the Deep Chocolate Passion Wedding Cake in RHC already know what a fan I am of chef Daniel Patterson for whom I made this cake. I made the cake in the kitchen of his then newly opened restaurant Coi (pronounced kwah) but it wasn't until last month, on my first return to San Francisco since making the cake, that I had the pleasure of experiencing a full dinner there. (When I asked for walking directions from the Prescott Hotel the concierge said: Coi! An excellence choice! I smiled and said: I know! I have followed Daniel when he was chef at two other San Francisco restaurants, the last of which was Frisson, but Coi is the first one he owns and he has already opened a less formal second restaurant, Il Cane Rosso (the red dog) in the Ferry Building. Coi is an arcane French word which means homey. The restaurant is indeed that but it also is a rare combination of comfort, elegance, and exquisite deliciousness. A dinner at Coi is an experience--a unique adventure. Daniel is the soul of originality married to idealism, intellect, and artistry. He has a finely tuned sense of balance of textures and flavors. I couldn't begin to know how to duplicate the mysteries of a single dish we enjoyed except, of course, the lovely dinner rolls, perfectly round, soft, and wheaty, with a fine crisp crust. Because Daniel's plating is equally exquisite I'd like to share these photos and description of each from the Spring menu.

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OYSTERS ROCKEFELLER, CALIFORNIA STYLE

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(Bloomsdale Spinach Vegetable Mignonette, Horseradish--We adored the thin, flavorful, gelatinous encasement of the oysters)

CALCOTS

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(New Onions, Smoke and Spice, Hazelnut-Almond Puree--Our favorite)

DINNER ROLLS

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(Flecked with spelt flour)

EARLY SPRING

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(Our Buttermilk, Cherry Blossoms, First Shoots of Wild Fennel)

ABALONE/ASPARAGUS (RAW & COOKED)

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(Veal Jus, Seville Orange. Mint)

YOUNG CARROTS ROASTED IN HAY

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(Sprouts, Radish Powder, Shaved Pecorino)

STEAK BEARNAISE (SORT OF)

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(Aged Marin Sun Farms Beef, Marrow, Herbs)

TOMME CRAYEYSE (RODOLPHE LE MEUNIER)

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(Wild Greens)

LIME CURD AND MERINGUE

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(Aloe Vera, Shiso)

CAKE AND ICE CREAM

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(Caramelized Chocolate Cake, Raw Milk Ice Cream--OMG was that ice cream remarkably fabulous!)

BLUE BOTTLE COFFEE

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(Individually Brewed in a Chemex Drip Pot)

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(My Favorite in All the World--how extraordinarily rare it is to get even good quality coffee in even the best restaurants not to mention the very best coffee lovingly prepared) A few years ago, when Daniel was between restaurants, soon to open Coi, my visit to SF happened to coincide with my Dad's and Daniel invited us to his home for dinner. I remember two things the most vividly: The veal roast was the best roast I've ever tasted, and my 90+ Dad, who sat through the entire dinner mostly in appreciative silence, said in parting: If your cooking is this good at your new restaurant you will make a million! I have profound respect for everything Daniel does and feel fortunate indeed to count him and his wife Alexandra as friends.

Doggy Bag Fit for a Piggy: Moi! (Maialino, New York City)

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When I saw Gael Green's writeup on her blog Fork Play on Danny Meyer's newest restaurant Maialino in the Grammercy Park Hotel I lost no time in making a dinner reservation to enjoy the suckling pig from which the restaurant derived its name. I always knew in my heart that pig potential was far greater than any rendition I had yet to experience--after all, that Chinese farmer and son in Charles Lamb's tale had to have a better reason to burn down their farm than the dry flavorless meat suckling pig so often turns out to be. Yes!!! Braised in rosemary, garlic, and white wine, with crackling skin true to its descriptor--it was rich, succulent, and perfectly fabulous. And, the potatoes had imbibed the delicious juices! Our exquisitely charming waitress (and the service could not have been better) suggested an excellent and affordable burgundy from the Alto Adige. The restaurant was packed (including Danny and his family) so it was especially impressive that no one in any way suggested that the two of us give up our four seat banquette in which we were happily ensconced for all of three hours. I was so ridiculously content I didn't even manage to feel too guilty! We were seated close enough to the panini station to smell the enticing aromas emanating from it and the promising aromas from the coffee station caused me to break my no coffee at restaurants rule (as it invariably disappoints even at the best of them) to end the dinner with an excellent cup of capuccino served with a chocolate biscotti--so delicious I didn't for once add any sugar whatsoever to the coffee and didn't miss it. But I can't close without mentioning the divinely creamy and intensely pistachio ice cream, fiore di latte ice cream, and refreshingly palate cleansing campari/grapefruit sorbet (which when combined with the fior de latte was reminiscent of the best possible popsickle). We walked out into the cold January night air and felt no chill--we were radiating heat and happiness. Forgive me for raving--I just couldn't help myself. P.S. And while I'm in raving mode I might as well confess that Erika's linguini alle vongole (clam sauce) first course was also the best I've ever had including my own.

Doggy Bag Fit for a Piggy: Moi! (Maialino, New York City)

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When I saw Gael Green's writeup on her blog Fork Play on Danny Meyer's newest restaurant Maialino in the Grammercy Park Hotel I lost no time in making a dinner reservation to enjoy the suckling pig from which the restaurant derived its name. I always knew in my heart that pig potential was far greater than any rendition I had yet to experience--after all, that Chinese farmer and son in Charles Lamb's tale had to have a better reason to burn down their farm than the dry flavorless meat suckling pig so often turns out to be. Yes!!! Braised in rosemary, garlic, and white wine, with crackling skin true to its descriptor--it was rich, succulent, and perfectly fabulous. And, the potatoes had imbibed the delicious juices! Our exquisitely charming waitress (and the service could not have been better) suggested an excellent and affordable burgundy from the Alto Adige. The restaurant was packed (including Danny and his family) so it was especially impressive that no one in any way suggested that the two of us give up our four seat banquette in which we were happily ensconced for all of three hours. I was so ridiculously content I didn't even manage to feel too guilty! We were seated close enough to the panini station to smell the enticing aromas emanating from it and the promising aromas from the coffee station caused me to break my no coffee at restaurants rule (as it invariably disappoints even at the best of them) to end the dinner with an excellent cup of capuccino served with a chocolate biscotti--so delicious I didn't for once add any sugar whatsoever to the coffee and didn't miss it. But I can't close without mentioning the divinely creamy and intensely pistachio ice cream, fiore di latte ice cream, and refreshingly palate cleansing campari/grapefruit sorbet (which when combined with the fior de latte was reminiscent of the best possible popsickle). We walked out into the cold January night air and felt no chill--we were radiating heat and happiness. Forgive me for raving--I just couldn't help myself. P.S. And while I'm in raving mode I might as well confess that Erika's linguini alle vongole (clam sauce) first course was also the best I've ever had including my own.