If there was ever a good excuse for a sugar
high, this is it!
|In honor of
Valentine's Day, we're indulging in sweets of all kinds - crepes
smeared with butter and jam, gooey eclairs, coconut cream pie,
Recchuti rose caramels... and maybe even a few of those
pastel-colored candy hearts that come in a cardboard box and
have barely legible words printed on them. Be Mine. Love 4-Ever.
So Fine. And the best one: Eat Me.
A LETTER FROM SAN FRANCISCO CHEF ANDREA FRONCILLO
theme this month is love, since of course February is the
month for lovers, and Valentine's Day is its Superbowl.
I don't need to give you any words of advice here; love
just happens - you cannot predict it or force it. You cannot
even make it go away. It comes when it wants to, and when its
course is through, so be it. The greatest, most heart-pounding
happiness in the world is felt during the moments and days when
you are falling in love. And the darkest misery is felt during
the hours and days when that love begins to slip away... there
is nothing you can do once the feeling is gone.
Life, love and even lust are just 4-letter words that mean
nothing unless they are shared with another. So here's to
love and sharing, and here's to you... Happy Valentines Day! May
Cupid be good to you. Even if you don't have anyone to spend the
day with, look in the mirror and remember that you're already
with the most important person you know... and hey, watch out!
you just might get hit with one of those arrows!
Did I say the theme this month was love? I meant love AND
a bit of frustration. Now then:
"What a difference a day makes!" That's the title of one
of my favorite songs, and also a phrase that proves to be quite
true, especially just after you meet someone or when a
relationship breaks up. It's also true in the restaurant
business; just last week, it was perfectly illustrated on two
consecutive nights at my steak restaurant, Boboquivari's.
The first night, I had the privilege of hosting a few
friends at the restaurant whom I respect and admire: Giovanni
Scala, the original chef and namesake of Scala's restaurant in
the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in downtown San Francisco, and now
owner of the wildly popular Bistro Don Giovanni in Napa; Mario
Ascione, chef/owner at Macaroni Sciue Sciue and the Purple Onion
in North Beach; and Angelo u Turrese, an incredible "fork" from
my hometown outside of Naples.
We had a wonderful evening together, and they gave me
some much-appreciated feedback about the menu and other aspects
of the restaurant. Happily, they raved about the steak...
illustrating why we take pride in offering what I truly believe
is the best steak in the City. I always appreciate constructive
criticism, and when it comes from talented and well-known
restaurant people, it is a double treat.
The night following was quite a different matter. A group
came in to dine during the middle part of the evening, one
member of whom announced himself as one of the owners of A***, a
high-end seafood restaurant in the city. Frankly, that was more
information than we needed, as we treat every single person well
who dines with us, regardless of where they come from or who
Our esteemed guests asked for their martinis "extra cold"
and the bartender complied by shaking them with ice for a an
extra long time. When, an hour after the martinis had been
delivered, one of the women in the party mewed that her drink
was warm, the server was tempted to ask if she would like an ice
bucket. Though the kitchen sent everything out as requested, the
party sent back every dish that they ordered, from the
appetizers to the steaks (one complaining that his Rare-Medium
Rare steak had a cold center, which is exactly how it should be)
and asked that every single thing be re-made. They did not care
for the way we make the steak, nor the side dishes, nor (it
appeared) anything at all.
Sad to say, I wasn't there that night. Sad because I
would have gladly applied my size-12 boot to the butts of each
individual at that table as I ejected them from the restaurant
in hopes that they would never, ever return. I myself have dined
at A*** several times in the past few years, always conscious of
the big-name chef and the steep price tag that comes with that
name. My own experience there has been mixed; the noise level is
extremely high, and the service varied. The menu has high point
and low points. But never, on any occasion, have I behaved in
that restaurant, or any other, like a spoiled rotten brat in the
way that this unfortunate table did while at Bobo's. I was sorry
that I did not have the opportunity to introduce myself (and, as
mentioned before, my rather sizeable cowboy boots).
All of our customers are important to us, regardless of
where they come from or how much money they make. But I designed
the menu to deliver the most delicious, delectable steak you've
ever eaten. I might suggest that the guest I mentioned above
should look elsewhere to have his ego stroked... there are
certain ladies of the night whose job is to tell clients
whatever their hearts desire, but that isn't available at my
restaurant. We're busy with the business of feeding people here.
And now, back to the love... Remember the song: "You
don't have to be a star, baby, to be on my show!" For the star
in your life, use this special month to make use of everything
that you've learned about what makes him or her happy, and do
whatever you can to make the day special. Make liberal use of
rose petals - scatter them at the door, down the hall, on the
bed, in the bath... If you're going to spend the night away at a
bed and breakfast, don't be shy to ask the proprietors to help
you make it special with flowers and champagne in the room; just
call ahead so that they can help.
Whether you enjoy dinner out or at home, reserve some
special time to spend with just each other. The single most
important thing is that you enjoy every single minute of the
time you spend together. Gaze at each other with admiration and
lust and curiosity... try something new. Use the corny nicknames
that you have for each other - be silly. Be crazy. Be bold. Make
your time together unbelievably sweet and romantic just by
suspending the cynic inside of you and opening yourself to
possibility... and it will repay you throughout the year, I can
guarantee you that.
I'm leaving for Europe at the end of the month, so I'll
have a lot of fun stuff for you in March. Tracy and I are going
to hit Paris, Venice and Naples... I'll have pictures and more
in a few weeks.
Ciao for now!
Love, peace and happiness -
P.S.: I wear my cowboy boots on Friday nights!
RISOTTO with ROASTED RED BEETS
recipe makes a delicious risotto with a gorgeous color and the
smoky-sweet flavor of roasted beets. For a fun touch, use a
small vegetable cutter in the shape of heart (try Williams &
Sonoma if you're in California) to cut the beets!
• 2 small beets, scrubbed & tops removed
• 1 medium shallot, diced
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
• 1/2 cup grated (best quality) Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
• Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
• Pink rose petals (optional, for garnish)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Farenheit. Wrap beets in foil
and roast in the oven for 1 hour, or until the flesh is tender
when pierced with a knife. Remove and let cool in the foil for
15-20 minutes. Peel and cut into cubes. If you have a
heart-shaped cutter, be sure to cut a few slices to make the
In a heavy skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat
and saute the shallots for 4 to 5 minutes, or until soft and
golden brown around the edges. Add the rice, stirring to coat
the grains with olive oil. Melt the butter into the rice, and
continue to stir until the grains begin to appear translucent.
Add the wine; reduce heat and add a half-cup of broth. When the
broth has been absorbed, add another half cup, repeating until
the rice is tender and creamy. When the last of the broth is
nearly absorbed, stir in the beets. The rice will turn a lovely
shade of rosy red-pink. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and stir in the cheese. Ladle into a
warmed serving bowl and add a dusting of freshly grated pepper.
Garnish with rose petals.
This is wonderful served with a rose champagne. I like
Laurent Perrier or Domaine Chandon - both affordable and
delicious, with a subtle sweetness that pairs beautifully with
Food for Sharing
advocate sharing plates and eating with your fingers all year
around, but especially so on Valentine's Day. There's no better
time for enjoying small, bite-sized foods that are fun to feed
to each other. With that in mind, here's a list of ideas for
simple, yet indulgent bites.
• Buy a dozen live oysters - here in the Bay Area, we love Hog
Island and Kumimoto - and shuck them carefully.
•For a sweet-tart shooter, combine 3 ounces of vodka with
the juice of 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 2 crushed
strawberries. Place in the freezer for 30-45 minutes, or until
the mixture is slushy. Place oyster into small glass; spoon 1
tablespoon of the vodka-lemon mixture over the top. Eat
•For a spicy shooter, combine 1/4 cup of vodka with 1/4
cup of spicy Bloody Mary mix; freeze for 30-45 minutes or until
the mixture is slushy. Place oyster into small glass; spoon 1
tablespoon of the mixture over the top. Eat immediately!
Fritto misto is an Italian favorite, made by coating vegetable
pieces in a light batter and frying them quickly for a light,
crunchy snack with a light aioli for dipping. Delightful!
• 1/2 cup white flour
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• 1/2 cup fine grain semolina
• Sea salt
• Freshly ground black pepper
• 2 eggs
• Artichoke hearts
• Zucchini, cut into thin spears
• Maui (sweet) onions, cut into thick rings
• Whole sweet green peas
• Fennel, chopped into rounds
• Green beans, ends snapped off
• Olives, pitted and soaked in water to remove excess salt
• Olive oil for frying
• Lemon wedges
• 1 bunch tarragon, coarsely chopped
Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pan over high heat until it
just reaches the smoking point, about 350 degrees.
Mix together the flour, cornstarch and semolina. Season
with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs together
and dip the vegetables into the eggs; then dredge them lightly
in the flour mixture, a few pieces at a time. Tap to remove
excess. Working in small batches, place pieces in fry basket and
plunge into hot oil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown
and crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.
Arrange on a serving plate. Sprinkle with tarragon. Serve with
lemon wedges or lemon aioli (see the web site for recipe).
In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt a 4-ounce piece
of best-quality chocolate (bittersweet makes a rich, dark
fondue, or use Toblerone for the old classic!), stirring with a
wooden spoon to prevent burning. Add 1 1/2 ounces of red wine,
and stir until smooth. Add one teaspoon of ancho chili powder;
stir to mix. Serve immediately.
- Use miniature graham crackers and marshmallows and make
- Whole strawberries, pineapple spears, cubed mango, cherries
- Miniature biscotti
Fondue is the ultimate feed-me food! Make the person who
is being fed close their eyes, which increases the sensation of
each object that they're eating...If you have a nice fondue set,
you may want to begin with a first course of meats and veggies
cooked in hot oil or dipped into warm cheese. For extra
inspiration, rent 9 1/2 Weeks!
Don't forget the cheese! Refer to the Love Notes
newsletter from December for all kinds of ideas on how to select
cheeses and prepare a delectable cheese course.
A MURDER MYSTERY DINNER...
I had the pleasure of attending my first-even Murder Mystery in
January... everyone dressed to the nines, and the script was
full of mayhem and mischief. The only thing not mysterious was
the menu... mmmm! Can you guess who the culprit turned out to
TAKE THE SWEETHEART QUIZ
Q. How do you like to be romanced?
- An intimate gift - jewelry or lingerie
- A special weekend away to a bed & breakfast
- A night out to a special restaurant
Q. What romantic spot would you most like to be whisked away
- Napa Valley
- His (or her) bedroom
Q. What do you look for in an ideal mate?
- Shy and bookish
- Confident and brash
- Quiet with a naughty streak
- Sugar Daddy
Q. Is it okay for him to nickname his private parts?
Q. When is it okay to discuss intimate preferences?
- After one week
- After one month
- On the first date
- Never; he/she should be able to figure it out!
Q. Describe a fantasy involving food and the person you
Q. How would you feel if your partner was best friend with
- No problem.
- No way.
- Only if I meet him/her.
Q. What do you most want after a night of passion?
- Breakfast in bed.
- Round two (or three).
- Send me a taxicab.
- Hot shower and an espresso
You are receiving this email because you're a fan
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