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Nom Nom Nom Nombe: Where a Japanese Izakaya Menu Meets California Cuisine

If someone would’ve told me five months ago that, by October, I’d be craving a chilled suimono salad once a week, I would’ve looked that person right in the eye and said, “What the hell a chilled suimono salad?” After hearing that it’s made with sea bean, cucumber, squash blossom, wakame seaweed, tofu, and served in a dashi broth ($14), I would’ve politely explained that I’m not the biggest fan of cucumber, seaweed, tofu, or dashi broth and proceeded to laugh at such a ridiculous prediction. Ah, silly, silly girl.

This unique salad, the ultimate expression of freshness, is one of many reasons why in a very short span of time Nombe has become one of my favorite restaurants. It was in the spring when Nombe first impressed me with its California-inspired take on traditional Japanese izakaya fare, offering both a fixed selection of dishes, as well as many that evolve with the season. Now five months later, even with the summer’s proliferation of much-hyped restaurants, Nombe has continued to stand out from the crowd...Continue Reading

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My Latest Examiner Article: Dish of the Month - August

The Dish: Chilled Eggplant Soup with fresh pole and shelling beans, preserved lemon, cilantro, and tomato water gelée.

The Time and Place: August 27th, 2010, Dinner in the Lounge at Coi

The Description: To say that I first tried this dish on the 27th at Coi is a bit of a lie. In fact, the first time I had it was August 9th at the Plum preview dinner at Il Cane Rosso - Chef Patterson had to step into the kitchen at the last minute and therefore brought a couple of his signature dishes along with him. Actually, the 27th wasn’t even the second time I ordered the dish; the second time I had it was as the third course of Coi’s tasting menu on August 24th - a course which proved to be my favorite of the night. What’s listed above is actually the third time in three weeks that I, again, succumbed to the soup’s advances. But there’s a reason for listing that date as the one that was truly revelatory. The night of the 24th was the first time that I was driven back to Coi by an overwhelming craving for the purity and freshness of the flavors contained in this dish; it was officially the night that a dish, a healthy, vegetable-centric dish at that, stripped me of all of my self-control and had me crawling back to Coi’s front door...Continue Reading

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Flour + Water Lives up to the Hype

[rating: 4.5]

If you've lived in the City in the last couple of years, you've probably heard that Flour + Water is kind of a big deal. With endless praise from local critics, a Beard nomination under its belt, and a young, good-looking executive chef (Thomas McNaughton, named one San Francisco's Rising Stars by Star Chefs), Flour + Water has clearly built quite the reputation. Plus, it has a cool name.

The problem is, because of its reputation, this small neighborhood restaurant has quickly become one of the most popular in the City. Nowadays it's nearly impossible to pop in for even a weekday dinner without having to wait 45-90 minutes for a table. Hell, even Steve Jobs was recently told he had to wait, or come back another time. Lacking a full bar and only offering eager diners an uncomfortable "waiting" area that holds roughly six people, waiting this long for a casual dinner frankly seems like a joke. So, no matter how good the food may be, it's going to be hard for any diner to overcome the expectations that come along with both the hype and the wait....Continue Reading

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Remember to Stop and Eat the Roses

As if writing for my blog and Examiner wasn't enough, I recently took on another amazing project that I just realized I haven't shared with hardly anyone - writing for Culinary Trends Magazine! The company line is that it's a magazine for executive chefs, so my audience is industry professionals. For me it's extra exciting/challenging because I have to make food interesting for people who are already in the business, a task which requires far more in-depth research than my usual reviews and commentaries on food and dining experiences.

My first challenge was to comment on the current trend of using edible flowers in all sorts of cuisines - from Spanish to French to Californian, flowers have been popping up everywhere, and not just for their looks, but for their flavors. Writing this article was truly a treat for me, as I had the opportunity to talk to some truly amazing chefs, Daniel Patterson and Joshua Skenes to name a couple.

Because the magazine is only available to subscribers, you wouldn't have had the chance to pick it up on the news stand. But, you can read my article by CLICKING HERE.


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Goats n’ Stuff

For the past two days, I've been thinking about one thing, and one thing only: goat's milk butter. I kid you not (get it? Kid? Ha food puns!).

In the middle of last night, I woke up with visions of goat's milk butter racing through my mind, and an overwhelming urge to go upstairs at 4 am, break out a cube, and dig in. And even after telling myself over and over "Kelsey, go back to sleep. Stop thinking about butter," the idea of spreading some over just warmed La Brea bread wouldn't get out of my head. That's not even true. I wasn't even thinking about spreading it on bread. I just wanted to eat it by itself...what's become of me?...continue reading

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My Latest San Francisco Examiner Article: Restaurants to Impress - August

I'm not gonna lie. I have been out a lot in the last couple of months. A certain stretch included 12 restaurants in 14 days, most of which I had never tried before. What I'm trying to say is that I've been able to try mixture of restaurants: fancy, cheap, established, just opening, under the radar, and extremely well-known.

My latest Examiner article for my Restaurants to Impress series calls out the three that have really impressed me, for various reasons, in the last few months: Saison, Jardiniere, and NOPA.

To read the full article (which includes some really stunning photos of many dishes), please click here.

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SPQR: A San Francisco Restaurant That's Always in Season

[rating: 5]

In my last article, written not too long ago, I asked enduring question, "SPQR u seriously this good?" and six months later I'm happy to report, SPQR is seriously this good. I know it has been a short time since I last reviewed this restaurant, but because I believe that it is truly a shining example of culinary innovation and refined, modern cuisine in the Bay Area, it’s hard to avoid talking about it. What has led me to place this restaurant amongst this country’s finest? Chef Accarrino’s unique approach to cooking, the philosophy behind the food he serves, is the primary reason for my complete and utter infatuation with SPQR...Continue Reading

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My Latest Examiner Article - a Review of Baker and Banker

The following is an excerpt from my latest Examiner article, a review of Baker and Banker. To read the way-more-interesting Examiner article please click here.

On opening day, Baker and Banker faced two problems. First, as there is no lack of mid-priced, neighborhood restaurants serving New American cuisine in San Francisco, how would their food stand out? Secondly, the previous tenant of this space was a lil’ ol’ restaurant known as Quince; Baker and Banker would need to find a way to avoid living in the shadow of such an immensely popular, critically-acclaimed restaurant by quickly establishing their own unique image and reputation...

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