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I had heard of Perbacco and its spinoff restaurant Barbacco but hadn’t had a chance to check out either until recently. A friend was in town and staying not far from my office in the financial district so I thought this would be a great chance to finally go. I couldn’t get a table at Perbacco (plan early if you want a reservation) so Barbacco it was. The vibe is a little different at the sister restaurant. It’s a little more casual and the menu is different but it does not disappoint.

The restaurant can be a good date choice (it’s dimly lit at night) but it’s also great for eating with friends and during the weekdays it looks more like a typical FiDi lunch spot. We sat at the bar and quickly noticed the iPad in front of us (according to Eater SF, Barbacco was the first West Coast restaurant to utilize iPads for wine orders). When it comes to wine menus I just like having options, but the iPads were a nice touch.

Photo credit: Barbaccosf.com

Once we decided on wine it was time to tackle the menu. Everything sounded so delicious and all the items were sharable so it was difficult to choose. I loved everything we ate but my favorites were the Mushroom Risotto Croquettes, the Lasagna Bolognese and the Roasted Pear/Rucola/Gorgonzola bruschette (pictured below – sorry for my horrible picture-taking!). Man, I’m getting hungry just reminiscing about it!

The service was great, the atmosphere was perfect for a relaxed night out and the food was really, really good. No complaints (well, it would have been nice if the bar had purse hooks but you can’t have everything). I would definitely go back to Barbacco but I want to eat at Perbacco first!

Barbacco
220 California Street, SF
p: 415.955.1919
takeout: 415.955.1960
M-F lunch 11:30am-3pm
M-Sat dinner 5pm-10pm
http://www.barbaccosf.com/
 

~Christina

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Yes, ladies and gents, I am stalking Top Chefs. First Carla Hall, and now Mike Isabella. My review of Graffiato to follow soon.

Enjoy!

~ Dana

Nope, that's not me. It's my Mom and my Aunt Donna in Ireland.

Every year, my mother goes to Ireland. The group always changes — it can be my aunt, my grandfather, my dad, me, or whoever — but my mom is always part of the mix. My mother has been there 11 times in total and considers herself somewhat of an experienced traveler. She goes there for the live music (accordion and flute anyone?), the food and the people. Irish people have a great sense of humor, are very friendly and very welcoming. I remember going to Ireland my second summer living in NYC and a man randomly came up to me, bright and bubbly. I was sure he was either about to rob me of my wallet, try to ask me for my number, or, by the way he kept smiling and my experience with naked people on the subway, was mentally ill. It was none of those. He was just being a typical friendly Irishman.

Dingle

But my mother also goes there for the food. Surprising, I know. But I’m telling you, I witnessed the food renaissance that’s going on there. I personally had the best steel-cut oats I have ever eaten, and the food at Cullinan’s Guest House in Doolin rivals many of the restaurants in NYC. No, New York, I’m not talking about The Perfect Pint, I’m talking along the lines of The Prune. Cullinan’s is owned by a husband and wife team who are chefs and musicians. (How that combination worked out, I have no idea…) My mother wanted me to let people know that Irish food is actually amazing. It is no longer just corned beef and cabbage. It’s so much more. Ireland sent their chefs to France for training, and you can get the most amazing food in a castle repurposed as a restaurant in the middle of the countryside. They use local ingredients from the farms there, and most will let you know on the menu where they came from. In DC we think it’s cool that Blue Duck Tavern lists the farms on the menu. The Irish have been doing it for years.

Here’s an idea of what they have to offer:

Shellfish Risotto

Shellfish Risotto: prawn and scallop risotto, roasted red pepper, spring onions, aged parmigiano-reggiano and green herb oil

Warm goat cheese bruschetta

Warm goat cheese bruschetta: char-grilled crusty bread, slow oven-roasted tomatoes, warm goat cheese and basil pesto

Thai-style mussels

Thai-style mussels: steamed Glenbeigh mussels with white wine, shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, sweet chili, coconut and coriander

Pan-roasted monkfish

Pan roasted monkfish: pan roasted monkfish with stir fried oriental vegetables, pickled ginger and coriander.

Delicious, trust me. But what’s better than food? To me, it’s cheese.

While in Dingle, a small fishing town on Dingle Bay, my mother stumbled upon The Little Cheese Shop.

The Little Cheese Shop is owned and run by Maja Binder who trained as a cheese maker in Switzerland.  She founded Dingle Peninsula Cheese, where she produces semi hard and hard cheeses. A woman who makes her own cheese and runs her own shop? Kick ass. I thought it was cute that her husband runs On the Wild Side charcuterie, and his goods are sold in The Little Cheese Shop – paté, smoked fish, seafood, pickled sea vegetables, salamis, and more. Her cheeses have been written up by Neal’s Dairy Yard. When the famed Neal’s Dairy Yard takes notice of you, you’re doing something right.

My mom, being the great mother she is, brought me a chunk of cheese, which, to my husband’s horror, had mold on the outside. I wasn’t grossed out. I was excited. Mold is responsible for forming many, many cheeses. Most times when there’s mold on the outside of a cheese, the inside is perfectly fine. See exhibit A, below.

I paired this smoked cheese with a savory spicy mustard. Interested in how I did it? Click here.

Enjoy!

~Dana

For me to consider a city legit, I need it to have a kitchen store that’s really cool. I’m talking more than a Williams-Sonoma and Crate and Barrel. I’m talking a home-grown kitchen store that proves to me that residents in the area care about food. For New York, once I visited the Broadway Panhandler and saw Chef Marcus Samuelsson doing a cooking demo in the window, I knew that as NYU/student-y as it seemed, Union Square was serious. So after looking a bit, I found this same phenomena in DC. No, not a top chef cooking in the window, but a kick-ass kitchen store where you can get anything you’re looking for, and some things you’re not. What is this place? Hill’s Kitchen. Cute play on words, since the shop is located in Capitol Hill, but also a shout out to Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen and the area in New York that has fabulous food. Creative all around.

Hill’s Kitchen is a retail store that has kitchen supplies: cake stencils, spatulas, honey stirrers, pepper grinders, paella pans and more. If you are a foodie, you will love this place. I almost cried a little bit seeing how much amazing merchandise was in the store. In every nook and crannie, there were more and more things to discover.

Leah, the owner, is actually a Capitol Hill resident from birth, and her parents still live around the corner. She mentioned that she is yes, a foodie, but first a retailer. She ran a bookstore previously, and brought some of those concepts and learnings into this 3-year-old location. What she loves the most about the store, she says, is that the shop is neighborhood-centric. She said a lot of her traffic is from local residents that live in the area and love the shop.

What I thought was really cool was that Leah and the girl working the register gave me the lowdown on places I needed to visit in the area. They gave me a great perspective on the food scene in DC: acknowledging that it’s still developing, but that it has so much promise. I left with a list of 10 shops to visit, and a really positive outlook on the scene. They were so enthusiastic.

Hill’s kitchen is also the sole providers of the Capitol Dome Washington Monument Cookie Cutters. If you ever want to make cookies shaped like the White House, you can get it here as well as tools to decorate them and sugar to sprinkle on them. I asked the girls to find me the most random thing they sold in the shop. They came up with this cupcake corer. Which I happen to think it actually pretty useful, and not so random.

They also have classes, taught by local food professionals. Leah’s favorite? The knife skills class. Not a knife skills class through a recipe — this is a legit class. They also have classes on homemade pasta (which I love), Homemade Baby Food, Homemade Ice Cream and more. Check them out here.

Enjoy!

~ Dana

I was lunching the other day in Tribeca, which I rarely do. I am so much a Union Square/East Village girl. But I had heard of this Bubby’s Pie Company, and my friend who works up the street visits there a lot. Shoot, having pie in the name didn’t hurt as far as I was concerned. I was all for giving it a go. Bubby’s prides themselves on serving true American food — definitely comfort food — that is made up of dishes shared by family members and passed down for generations. Their menu includes burgers and fries, mac and cheese, split pea soup and chicken pot pie. Basically anything my grandmother would make.

Bubby’s Pie company is true to their name in that there are a million pies in a glass case by the front door. You can order their Michigan Sour Cherry Pie, Apple Whiskey Crumble Pie, Pumpkin Praline Pie and Pecan Maple Pie online. They also make their own soda pop, which I think is pretty cool, and are soon going to be offering these for sale to take home.

I had a veggie burger — packed with lima beans and lentils. Yum for sure. It was served with mac and cheese. As you all know, I am a mac and cheese connoisseur, so not much can get by me. The macaroni had a cheese sauce and a baked cheese topping. I myself love a good, thick Béchamel sauce, but this one was kind of runny. Not the best mac and cheese ever, but good. My friend had a regular burger with fries. The fries were divine.  Or so I thought. After the meal, I took a look at their website. And I was slightly traumatized at this entry on their blog:

“Here at Bubby’s we do not shy away from lard.  We render our own lard from pastured heritage breeds of hogs.  We make pie crust out of our own rendered lard and organic, grass-fed butter. We also use lard in our biscuits, as well as the baked beans.  We brown the pork for our tacos in lard. We find it to be an amazing fat to work with since it has a much higher smoking point than either butter or vegetable oil. That tends to make for a better crust on the foods we fry. “

What?? Lard? As someone who doesn’t eat pork or pork products, let alone LARD, I will be staying away from the fried foods there. I think it’s an interesting position, which they recently (December, I think) decided to do. Yes, it’s a throwback to traditional American cooking, but is it really necessary? Butter has slightly less fat than lard, but lard is praised for its richness in flavor, and in texture, especially with pie crusts. (Update: Bubby’s contacted us, and their fries are fried in Canola Oil. Whew…)

What do you guys think? Am I being too harsh on the lard users? I am from the South, and lard, hog-mog and fatback is on and poppin’ there….

Check it out at:

120 Hudson Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-0666

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