I’m always set up for a basic Thai green curry

The chayote in the fridge should have been used a couple weeks ago, but there’s no time like the present. A Thai curry using curry paste is easy and quick to throw together, so I like to keep the ingredients around–at a minimum: coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, and limes. Luckily I still had some cilantro and mint garnish from the nam Kao I picked up at Chai Thai Noodles after my home inspection.

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Just cook the curry paste in a bit of oil (I use coconut), add a couple tablespoons of the coconut cream floating on top of the coconut milk, and cook until the oils separate. I’ve found it is too difficult to get the coconut milk to crack with most commercial coconut milks (and all coconut creams I’ve picked up in the US contain stabilizers) so the oil plus coconut solids plus curry paste is a decent substitute. After the mixture appears oily, add any long-cooking vegetables or meats, in this case the chayote. Cook for a couple minutes, then add remainder of coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice (I was lucky enough to have some makruts in the bottom of the drawer, so I added zest and juice.) and a pinch of sugar. Cook until vegetables are nearly done, taste and adjust salt (fish sauce), acidity, and sweet (I’m a sweet hater, and my end result never approaches sweet, but I do find it is always better and more rounded with a bit of sugar (or palm sugar or agave syrup). Add quick cooking vegetables, like carrot slices and cook until done. I ended up not adding the tofu, though it was open and would work, as I’m rationing it for a time I’m even hungrier, after all, this has appetite-suppressing coconut milk.
Served over jasmine rich, of which I have a couple servings under 10 pounds and will certainly prevent me from going hungry during this experiment.

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Breakfast is easy (if you’ve prepared nga yoke thee achin)

 

 

 

My usual quick breakfast of toast and almond butter hampered by my current breadless, almond-butterless state required a few substitutions, but resulted in a bit tastier, though less healthy than the original.

The stash:

Sesame bread, chunky natural peanut butter, and a tiny remnant of the excellent tart-sweet chile-garlic sauce (nga yoke thee achin) from Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavor

stash2

I just microwaved the hard, separated peanut butter in the chili-garlic sauce for 20 seconds so I could combine and spread, and toasted the split sesame bread.

toust

Worst first

Well, it is Winter, but one of the things I’ve liked best about Northern California is access to local fresh produce throughout the year (and not sweating in the summer). Unfortunately, since I’ve banned myself from buying any groceries for a month I’ll have to live like a pioneer family who forgot to do all their canning and who’s root cellar burned in a horrible fire. In my case, this means I will use whatever survived the confines of my refrigerator after 10 days of neglect, preceded by the usual avoiding buying too much produce because I knew I’d be gone for some time.

So, day 1 of project buy nothing involves using up the vegetables that are almost rotten, in this case a blackening cauliflower remnant. I also had a giant sesame bread from Happy Golden Bowl, which I had intended to bring back to my family to add a Sichuan touch to our traditional Chinese take-out Christmas Eve dinner, but my usual poor planning interfered.

I decided to do a Sichuan style sauce with the eggplant to serve on the bread with added peanuts for protein and because I’ve had a bag of unroasted peanuts sitting around forever. Add some cleaned up remnants of the cilantro and scallions that are about to go off and a decent meal is made.

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  • 1/3 head cauliflower
  • 1/3 cup peanuts
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cayenne peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • garlic oil
  • sichuan peppercorn oil
  • 1 t soy sauce
  • 1 scant T soaked fermented black beans
  • 1 T Shaoxing wine
  • 3 T chicken stock

Heat garlic oil (or just oil) over medium high heat. If peanuts aren’t roasted, add to pan and cook until they start to color. Chop cauliflower finely. Add cauliflower, peppers, fermented black beans, and shallot to pan and fry until the cauliflower browns, then add crushed garlic. Fry until fragrant and add soy, wine, and stock. Cook until mostly evaporated, but some sauce remains. Toast sesame bread and serve over the top.

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cauliFin

 

 

Pretty good for the bottom of the crisper.

And now for something a bit different

Well, it has been a while, but I might as well get back on the internet, since I have a lot of work and responsibilities to avoid. I just came back from visiting my family over the Xmas holiday with an offer pending on a cute California bungalow in Oakland and a big, messy, lived in apartment. Thoughts of handing nearly all my money over as a downpayment and having to pack all my stuff up to move have forced me to do something I should have done a long time ago–rely solely on the food items I’ve hoarded until they run out or a month, whichever is longer (I’m betting on the month). I’ll save money and space for the next month making for an easier move physically and financially. I don’t think it will be too much of a sacrifice for the first week, but I am considering allowing a $2/week vegetable budget since I started fairly deep in the hole on fresh vegetables, as I just returned after 10 day away. Maybe I’ll just allow foraging (which does include my winter garden). And I will be allowed meals out for social reasons, but not convenience. 

And so, in print, is my plan to turn my life into a Chopped + Hoarders show.

It’s Springtime for Salmon, if you can get it

The most refreshing, balanced salad as a meal I've ever tasted.

I hear it’s been hot across the rest of the country, but in the Bay Area it just warmed up a bit this Sunday. And in warm weather, it is hard to eat anything but a salad or a sorbet (though it wasn’t, actually, all that warm here. Nobody has air conditioning–it’s a bit of a disaster if it gets above 85 F, but even so it always cools down at night. Okay, no more bragging, but there must be some reason for the astronomical property values.)

This is a springtime riff on a healthy salad I’ve been making from my grad-school days. It’s based on a traditional Italian salad of white beans sauteed in olive oil and garlic, with olive oil-cured tuna, parsley, onions, and lemon juice. I often swap ingredients based on what I have on hand, or to create different flavor profiles, but the basis of the recipe remains–beans plus cured fish plus herbs/greens plus aromatics in a lemon/olive oil dressing. It is my favorite healthy lunch. I usually eat it on toast or on greens as a salad. I was actually inspired to make this by the salmon at the Farmer’s Market. This is the first year since I’ve moved to the Bay Area that salmon stocks were healthy enough for the department of fish and game to allow a salmon season, so I grabbed some when I had the chance. That plus these adorable red onion scallions and mini spring lettuces from the market made me think of my go-to lunch. Peas from the garden round it out, and fingerling potatoes make up for the carbs I’m missing from the dried beans.
Though I haven’t yet adopted any sous-vide cooking devices, or even a true vacuum sealer (my cheapo variety Seal-a meal present couldn’t last the 6 years since I’d gotten it, and is now made up of a vacuum device not held together by brittle, broken plastic parts), but I do recommend the “sous-vide” (cooking, in a water bath, at the ultimate temperature you want the product to obtain) technique in many cases, especially salmon. I find 50 C to be the perfect temperature. I came upon this after reading an aside in Thomas Keller’s Under pressure that “salmon cooked to 120 F (48.9 C) tends to be moist and slightly tacky), wheras salmon cooked to 123 F (50.6 C) is  slightly firmer and no longer tacky.” So much like Barbara Lee, my congresswoman, 50 C works for me.

Raw Pacific Salmon

50 C Salmon:

    1. Heat a large pot of water to 50 C (122 F), or if you have a sous-vide water bath, set the temp on that. This is near the temperature of hot tap water. Also, bring a couple cups of water to a boil in case adjustments of waterbath temperature are needed.
    2. Make enough 5% brine to cover salmon. For 1 liter, add 3/4 cup table salt to 1 L cool tap water.
    3. Place salmon in 5% brine for 10 minutes. This helps season the salmon and reduces the amount of albumin (white goo) on the surface of the cooked salmon.
    4. Lightly pepper the surface of the salmon. Feel free to add other herbs at this stage, but start with small quantities, as they tend to taste more concentrated than they would with other cooking methods.
    5. Add olive oil and salmon to a Ziploc or other sealable bag. Squeeze out air and seal.
    6. Place bagged salmon in water bath. Swirl and check temperature. Add boiled water if necessary to bring temperature back up to 50 C.
    7. Set timer for 15 minutes. Check on water temperature occasionally, adding more hot water to keep temp at 50 C.
    8. Remove at 15 minutes and serve, or refrigerate without opening for use in future recipes.

Salmon cooked to 50 C.

Springtime Salad:

    1. Bring potatoes to a boil in heavily salted water. Boil for 20-25 minutes or until tender.
    2. Blanch snow peas. I do so by placing them in a strainer and placing it over the boiling potatoes for 1.5-2 minutes. I like them fairly crisp.
    3. Chop scallions thinly. I use the bottom half and save the rest of the green parts for another recipe. I don’t mean just the white portion–I like a mix of crunchiness and herbiness for this salad.
    4. Chop dill and parsley (or other herbs) finely. Tail and cut snow peas into 1cm lengths or so.
    5. Combine scallions, herbs, snow peas, olive oil, and salmon in large bowl and mix to combine. 50 C salmon will break up while mixing, so no need to work too hard flaking it, though very firmly cooked salmon may need to be flaked. In any case, make sure you remove any remaining bones before mixing. Remove skin if still present.
    6. Cut fingerling potatoes into slices while still warm–a serrated knife works best.
    7. Add potatoes to bowl, season with salt and pepper, and mix.
    8. Add the juice of one lemon, remix, and taste for salt and pepper. I like to add plenty of each. You can also adjust the amount of herbs, olive oil, and lemon at this point.
    9. Serve in lettuce cups, or atop chopped lettuce.

      Seriously delicious

Lemongrass grilled chicken

A great marinade for Vietnamese or Western grilled meals.

This is one of my favorite grilled dishes from my favorite Vietnamese recipe blog. The original recipe is for pork, but I’ve used the marinade with chicken thighs, beef, and shrimp and all were great.
I’ve been a fan of Viet Work Kitchen for quite some time. One of the recipes that has made my regular rotation is the marinade for lemongrass pork that I use more frequently than called for. I started making it because I wanted to make great bánh mì (sandwich) and bun (cold noodle salad). The grilled pork works wonderfully for either application, but I can’t resist the flavor and caramelization of the marinade on several other meats and dishes.
Shown is lemongrass chicken with grilled asparagus (same marinade, though simple olive oil and garlic works as well) and garlic fried rice (I’ll post a recipe sometime) and a 60 C egg. All around a great meal, and one I’ll make many variations of in the future.

1 lb chicken thighs (or other grillable meat)

For marinade:

1 T brown sugar
1 T  garlic
1 T shallot
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and chopped (~3 tablespoons)
1/4 t black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 1/2 T fish sauce
1 T oil

Blend marinade ingredients in blender or food processor until texture is relatively smooth. Add meat to marinade and refrigerate overnight. Grill, preferably on a charcoal grill at medium – high heat. Remove when cooked through and caramelized.

And a confession: there was no meatless Monday this Monday, as I had a 4th of July BBQ and while I did BBQ plenty of vegetables and some tofu, I BBQed even more meat, including this lemongrass chicken and some more mu ping skewers.

Cooking Lucky Peach: Arpege Egg

This is it.

Lucky Peach, the magazine from two of my favorites from different worlds–McSweeney’s and David Chang, is one of the few things I have had high expectations of that has managed to exceed those expectiations. I am the sort of person who likes to keep my expectations low. For example, if many trusted friends tell me I have to see, and will love a movie, such as “Lost in Translation” and I think it is a good movie, but nothing particularly special (but better than most to all other movies out at the time) I’ll be disappointed. But if I’m dragged to a romantic comedy that I expect to be terrible and it is watchable to enjoyable I’ll be pleased. I’m fickle!! I think it is a matter of judging something not against everything else, but against how good I could imagine such a thing could be. And I was worried, because I couldn’t tone down expectations on this one, yet it was everything it could and should be and more–fiction, narrative, recipes, and travelogue. Not to mention the adorable and useful graphics.

Just like the phone pic of Weiner’s Wiener, I took this low res picture to prove I have this and you don’t.

As you can see from the above picture, the recipes in Lucky Peach are presented flowchart style. This totally makes sense to me, as not only are you often following several separate foci in recipes, I view the recipes as a guideline, not a prescription to be followed, which can often be better indicated by a flowchart indicating which elements/stages are important, and which follow under those.

I have never eaten at L’Arpège (as I have an income level which rarely makes high-end cuisine seem worth it to me) but was intrigued by the recipe–an egg with maple syrup, sherry vinegar, and whipped cream. My favorite dishes are those where I can’t quite imagine how the combination of ingredients will taste, or where the listed combination tastes much better than expected. So this piqued my curiosity (though I’m sure I’ll get to most of the recipes in this issue (ramen gnocchi, WTF?). I halved the recipe, just because (it was only I eating eggs).

2 eggs
1/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 tsp. sherry vinegar
3/4 tsp. sugar
4 tsp. maple syrup
salt
pepper
chives

Heat oven to 400F and prepare the whipped cream. In my opinion this is the best element of the recipe. I will definitely be making whipped  cream with sherry vinegar again, as I couldn’t stop licking the whisk from this preparation. And just in case people are wondering if you can whip just 1/4 cup of cream–absolutely yes. In fact, it took so little time to whip up that I was worried about over-whipping while adding the sugar and vinegar.

You can easily whip as little as 1/4 cup of cream.

So whip the cream, then add sherry vinegar and sugar. Refrigerate in a pastry bag, or, in my case ziplock bag.
Prepare the eggs by cutting off enough of the top to remove the yolk. Initially I was quite annoyed with myself for having an egg topper in my Amazon cart for months and not checking it out (let’s not even talk about the ice cream maker), but it was not as difficult to remove the top of the egg as I had imagined. Once I pierced the top of the egg with a large needle it was easy to cut and/or broke the rest of the top of the egg off.

My first attempt at egg topping.

So remove the egg top and the interior. The recipe says to clean the interior egg for all white parts,  but I find the chalaza (the white, ropy part) usually sticks to the yolk, rather than the shell so I did my best to pull it off the yolk. I returned the yolk and 2 tsp. maple syrup and a pinch of salt to each cleaned eggshell (which seemed like a ridiculous amount of sweetener, but who was I to question the guy who came up with one of my favorite recipes, Fuji apple salad:  Kimchi, Smoked Jowl, and maple labne)?

looks about right–thickened but not solid, though where did the white stuff come from?

I placed the eggshells in egg cups, in a pan with an inch of hot water (not actually covering the eggs, and placed in the oven for 6 minutes, 30 seconds. The recipe indicates 5-7 minutes, but I wasn’t  sure my oven was preheated adequately, so I went on the higher end, but the edges of my egg were overcooked (not traditionally overcooked, as egg yolks go, but definitely solidish, which was not what I expected from the proviso that the goal was to warm the yolks and give them some body.)

The opulent interior.

Finish the egg with freshly ground pepper and chives.

I thoroughly enjoyed the production. The flavors blended so well that even though I knew I was eating an egg yolk cooked at 400F with maple syrup, it just tasted like one of the most delicious egg breakfasts I’ve ever had.

Red curry pumpkin soup

I can't imagine anything more warming.

Yes, this does seem a bit out of season, but so does rain in the Bay Area in late June. I happened to have some roasted kabocha squash in the freezer, and I always have Thai red curry paste on hand, so I quick soup was just what I needed at the end of a long, rainy day. It is based of a true Thai dish, pumpkin red curry usually made with a kabocha-like squash and pork. This recipe is, in concept, that, thinned and blended smooth.

2 cups cooked winter squash or pumpkin
1-2 shallots, sliced
1-2 T red curry paste (I usually have a tub of Mae Ploy on hand)
a pinch of sugar (I use palm sugar, but that’s not necessary)
2 cups chicken broth
2 T fish sauce
juice of 1 -2 limes (or about 3 T prepared tamarind pulp)
1 can coconut milk

Cook the shallots in soup pot until they begin to caramelize. I used coconut oil, but any oil will suffice. Add curry paste and stir. I like things fairly spicy so I used more than 2 T, but 1 T will provide noticeable, but pleasant spice. When paste starts to become fragrant add some of the coconut cream from the top of the (unshaken) coconut milk can. For a true curry, I’d crack the cream (as described in the last paragraph here), but since this is a quick soup, cooking the paste in coconut oil then adding some of the coconut solids will have to suffice. After a couple minutes add the rest of the coconut milk and the pumpkin. If you had frozen pumpkin, like me, lid and cook until pumpkin is completely defrosted, otherwise cook for a couple minutes to bring pumpkin up to temperature. Add fish sauce, lime or tamarind, and 1 cup of broth. Blend with a stick blender and taste for saltiness, hotness, sweetness, sourness, and texture. If the texture is too thick add chicken broth and reblend until texture is slightly more liquid than desired. Balance with lime, sugar, fish sauce, or additional curry paste after dilution, then cook and additional 5-10 minutes. Serve with lime wedges and fresh herbs.

Meatless Mondays: Ligurian pasta salad

Perfect for picnics

I’ve always been a bit of a picnic grouch (I’m also a lot of a going out to brunch grouch, if anyone is wondering). Instead of enjoying a beautiful setting, I often can’t stop thinking about how much better the food would be if we had a kitchen to prepare and heat things. (And of course there is the issue of bugs, though that situation has vastly improved since I moved to California). I just don’t get that excited about cold or room temperature foods–maybe it’s their congealed texture, or maybe I’m just a terrible person, but for a long time I struggled to find a prepared dish I loved, which would still taste great at a potluck or picnic.

I have finally settled on a dish I like better at cool temperatures than fresh off the stovetop. This simple salad is good just after cooking, but it seems to me that some sort of magic happens both with the combination of ingredients and cooling. The beans taste sweeter, the texture of the potatoes improves, and it makes a great salad that is substantial enough for a meal (or a double-carb nightmare, to certain people).

I usually make pesto in large batches when I harvest basil from my herb bed, or find a good deal on basil. It keeps fairly well in the freezer, I add a thin layer of olive oil on top to prevent oxidation. I generally use walnuts instead of pine nuts–they are much cheaper and not likely to run into problems with rancidity or pine nut mouth. While I haven’t experienced the horror of having a metallic taste in my mouth for weeks, I have found that almost all of the pine nuts I’ve purchased in the US have some rancidity to them.

Pesto, it's time for your close-up.

Basil pesto

2 large bunches of basil (~3 cups leaves)
1/3 cup toasted walnuts
4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
~1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Wash basil thoroughly and pluck all leaves from stems. Process basil, toasted walnuts, garlic, and cheese until very finely chopped in food processor. Slowly stir in olive oil, without using the processor. I’ve read that high speed blades on food processors/blenders can cause extra virgin olive oil to become bitter. As a skeptic, I chose not to believe it until I experienced it, and I have. Add only as much oil as the mixture will absorb and become a smooth, fluid paste–this may be a bit less or a bit more than the 1/3 cup recommended.

Once you have the pesto made, the rest of the dish is easy and can be made in the time it takes to boil water and cook your pasta. Make sure you use a pasta that has a recommended cooking time of 12 minutes or more (and is actually al dente at that time), if you want to use the one pot meal technique. Trenette is traditional, but any shape you can imagine shoving in your mouth along with potato rounds and green beans will work. I’ve also made this without pasta when I didn’t want to double up on carbs, or decided to serve it as a vegetable dish with another pasta. Though it is a traditional Ligurian dish, it is as though the picnic traditions of pasta salad and potato salad

Pesto Pasta Salad

1 pound pasta
1 pound green beans
1 pound small, cleaned red potatoes
1+ cup basil pesto
Start a large pot of water boiling and add at least a tablespoon of salt. While water is coming to a boil cut the potatoes into 1/4 inch rounds. If your potatoes are much larger than a dollar coin, cut the rounds in half or quarters, depending on the size. Add pasta to boiling, salted water and set timer for the pasta cooking time. When water returns to a boil, in about a minute, add the potatoes. Cut the green beans into bite-sized lengths while everything is boiling. When there are 4 minutes left on the timer add the beans to the pot. Place about 3/4 cup pesto on the bottom of a large bowl. When the timer goes off, test pasta and potatoes. The pasta should be quite firm, but will be the perfect texture after standing. Drain, reserving some of the pasta water. Loosen the pesto with a small amount of the pasta water, just enough to ensure the cheese is melted and the sauce can coat the noodles. Add pasta, potatoes, and beans to the large bowl, adding an additional 1/2 cup of pesto to the top. Mix, sliding a spatula down the sides, through the pesto mixture on the bottom several times. If the pasta is not coated with pesto add a bit more until all strands are coated. Taste, and if undersalted add some more Parmigian0-Reggiano or salt. Eat some now, then see if you agree with me about it sweetening up (in a good way) after cooling.

Emilia’s Pizza

Everything looks good here.

I’ve recently confirmed that Emilia’s is my favorite pizza in the Bay Area. I doubted my first impression,as it was formed under extenuating circumstances. I had a dentist’s appointment near Telegraph and Ashby and discovered once I got out of the dental office it was unexpectedly raining and my front tire was unexpectedly flat. So I walked along Ashby to catch the bus, in pouring rain, and remembered hearing about a great, new pizza place, Emilia’s. I ran in, and luckily there was a pizza available about 10 minutes from when I ordered. At the time, I didn’t realize how valuable that was, as it was near the beginning of the business, when he transitioned from offering tempting slices to offering only as many pizzas as he could personally make and put in the oven, most of which were sold out by phone orders by early evening. But I got my Margherita pie in the quoted time, and saw the confusion of the neighborhood kids who came in after me, when told the first available pizza would be about an hour and a half from when they ordered. I tried one slice there, and the rest rewarmed when home. It was, without a doube, the best pizza I had ever picked up on the bus route home during an unexpected rain storm. But I needed to sample it again. But I’m horrible at calling for reservations, planning ahead, or dealing with such situation, no matter how egalitarian and straightforward they are (which they definitely are in the case of Emilia’s). Also, in the past year I’ve ditched the car, which has worked out well, but makes pizza transportation difficult. In fact, it’s one of my parents’ set stories how, on some early int the dating process date, my dad brought my mum a pizza, but rode his bike and carried it vertically, so I’ve always known the dangers of such actions. But I finally managed to order and transport another pizza from Emilia’s, and it confirmed my initial suspicion that it is my favorite in the area.
There are always heated debates about the best pizza, and many East Coasters claiming that nothing outside of their hometown is good pizza. There are many who say that you define good pizza as the pizza you grew up with, though I’d modify that to indicate that it is likely you will define good pizza as the first great pizza you encounter. I grew up in Iowa City, IA and while I don’t mean to disparage their good pizza places (Paglia’s) most of my exposure was to chains. In fact, I still have an embarrassing soft spot for Pizza Hut Personal Pan Pizza since their ingenious marketing scheme aimed at elementary school students. All you had to do was report to your teacher that you read a certain number of books that month and you would get the certificate for a free personal pan pizza. It was amazing, because the personal pan was only available to Book It winners at dinner hours. And of course you brought your parents who had to order something else, since they probably wouldn’t let you go to a restaurant yourself under the age of 12. A spectacular marketing scheme, and a spectacular “buttery” crust. Even now that I recognize that the substance crisping and caramelizing the thick layer of crust is an artificially flavored, butter-like substance I still salivate at the thought of a Pizza Hut Pan Pizza.
But don’t let that last paragraph fool you into thinking I have ridiculously low standards in pizza. I’m embarrassed about that portion of my personality. I first got really into pizza when I spent a semester in Rome and you could get a perfectly cooked, always flavorful, thin-crust pizza for about $9. Not to mention the carafe of wine for another $8 or so. The crust was always thin, tasty, and blistered slightly. The sauce was fresh, flavorful, and delicious, and the toppings were always harmonious. I even went to Naples, the supposed birthplace of pizza, and while I thoroughly enjoyed my pizzas there the thicker dough and less fluid buffalo mozzarella made me prefer the derivative (but tried first by me) Roman pizza to the ur-pizza, Neopolitan.
So, my preferences being stated, Emilia’s is like a giant, American-sized Margherita pizza. (speaking of which, one of the things that makes me most angry in life is when a “margherita” pizza is no sauce with fresh tomato slices on top of mediocre cheese. No. It’s as if the makers of this pizza just read the rules of VPN (Vera (true) Pizza Napoletana) which indicate tomato, mozzarella, olive oil and basil as the definition of Margherita. Though technically the poor-quality tomatoes atop bad cheese meet that sentence’s description they are nothing like the Margherita’s I had in Rome or Naples. And the poor interpretation of dried-out, flavorless tomatoes atop dried-out cheese is not appealing to me, and I can’t imagine how it would appeal to anybody.
So, with my background, Emilia’s is the best. The crust is thin like the Roman pizzas I tried, and flavorful (which means properly salted and raised). The sauce was delicious, one of the elements that most often rules out pizzas outside Italy. They either like to use a very cooked sauce, which concentrates flavor, but becomes too sweet and caramelized for my taste, or have a fresh sauce with little flavor (this is how I feel, in general, about my neighbor Lanesplitter, thought it still rates as decent on the overall Bay Area pizza list) . But Emilia’s hits all the notes I’m looking for:  tangy, flavorful, fresh sauce, blistered crush, decent cheese. And even though on many measures of surface pizza it is not the ideal Roman pizza I’m looking for (It’s cut in wedges, like NY slices, not little squares like Italy, it’s big, like the USA, and only available size, and offers only a few toppings and an ordering experience which is difficult for me) but because it is delicious pizza no matter where you are.
This makes it sound less than it is, but often in the age of pizza, less is more.
And I’ll never be a wine critic, but every once in a while when I come across something that is both delicious (to me) and interesting. I tend to judge wine on the same scale I judge art, because I don’t want to study either.  It’s a grid regarding “I like it” to “not so much” vs “this took skill” to “did you even google instructions on the internets?”

Fronton de Oro from the Canary Islands

And this wine wins on both accounts. It is quite interesting to me, as it different from anything I have tasted before. It  seems that the Canary Islands encourage growing in volcanic rock and this wine definitely had a more mineral flavor than I was used to (but definitely in a good way) and it was lighter bodied than I expected, almost like a Pinot Noir. Honestly my useless descriptions are why this isn’t a regular feature, but I enjoyed this and I got it at Paul Marcus Wines at Rockridge BART. And I’ll post things that are ususal to mem, but interesting in the future. I hope.
This wine is particularly interesting because it has a definitely different, in a good way, minerality. And it wasn’t just my imagination. The cork and my first glass had plenty of inclusions, which were clearly lava rock.

Look at the lava rock clinging!

I liked having the novel experience of this Canary Island volcanic wine, and it went with the amazing pizza I ordered above.