O-konomi-yaki – 14 December 2017

What a great day! We went into the city by BART, had coffee at Blue Bottle at the Ferry Building, walked to a gallery exhibition I wanted to see on Geary near Market (and added a second while we were in the building), then to lunch at Piperade.

I made what I had planned for dinner – O-konomi-yaki, using the recipe in the Tassajara Bread Book, that we used to make decades ago. This was prompted by our still having some of that monster red cabbage we got for I guess Thanksgiving dinner? Recipe uses 1/2 head of cabbage – but I think I used about 1/4 of this one at most, and it was still a lot. One large carrot, which I halved (in the thinner part) and cut into three parts (in the thicker part: one less-than-half cord, the more-than-half split into two) and then cut crosswise into very thin half- or quarter-moon slices. D sweetly ran to the Bowl about 6:30 to get celery, which I had thought we still had. It was terrible celery, actually – not like the Bowl at all, but it was on sale for 49 cents for good reason – the bases were split and hollowed, and I lost at least half of three stalks. Recipe calls for three, so I amassed that much celery and sliced thin. I also sliced a more-than-half onion, and the remainder of an old, now-soft onion, both yellow. Cut the half-moon slices into shorter bits, though per my notes in the book, I left the cabbage pieces a bit longer to make “lacy pancakes.”

 

They weren’t all that lacy, and I think changes could be profitably made to the recipe, not least of all b/c it just makes too much! The recipe has 2 cups flour, whole wheat and unbleached white – I used equal parts the King Arthurs white whole wheat and unbleached … all-purpose I guess. Plain flour. The reason I think of this recipe as un-reducible is that it has one egg, and one “tall can” evaporated milk. But then it asks you to add water to make a batter. It’s already a batter, the only question is how thin you want it. So I’m thinking: use the egg and the can of evaporated milk, but reduce the flour to maybe 3/4 cup each, and add more if the batter is impossibly thin. Then you can reduce the volume of veggies a bit, too, make many thinner pancaked, and not worry (as I did) about undercooking the insides. So they’re just spooned onto a hot frying pan – I started with med-hi, but ended up thinking slower would be good – medium – and spread a thin coating of vegetable (not olive – I think it was canola) oil on the pan. I used both our large (regular) and our medium cast-iron pan so as not to keep D waiting too long for dinner. I upped the salt, per my notes, from 1 tsp to 1 1/8 tsp, but I think it could even go to 1 1/4 tsp at the recipe-specified volume.

So, when we got home, tired from all that walking, and zonked from having actually had an entire bottle of wine at lunch, I took a nap, and got up only at 6pm. That’s why we ended up eating closer to 8 than to 7. Also why I suggested having our last Lakshmi lassi (mango) with dinner, instead of wine. It was great!

Lunch…

was especially notable. [This ends the veggie portion of our program, as the rice dish had bits of meat in it.]

I had wanted to see the photo show before it closed, and meanwhile D said we should really to go Gerald Hirigoyen’s lunch restaurant sometime. So said gallery, then lunch? He thought that was a fine idea (on a day when it would interfere minimally with their work on the studio) and we looked for Hirigoyen’s downtown restaurant – non ce! Evidently it closed. So we checked on Piperade, where we had been to dinner once, and there was definitely lunch available, so we planned on the 1+ mile walk from the gallery. B/c of the Google “when is it busy” bar graph feature, we didn’t worry with reservations, but when we arrived, it was packed! Several group tables. Later, the waiter said it was highly unusual, and probably everyone had decided to have their office parties there. There was one person dressed sorta like a bride, too. So we could sit outdoors, or inside at the bar. I decided it was too cold for outdoors (later, upon leaving, I wondered if that had actually been true, but probably that was b/c I had been quite comfy and still retained that) so we sat at the bar, which was a lot of fun as we got to chat with the server, who was mixing drinks. [Other server picks up two cocktails – which is which? D says “probably they couldn’t tell the difference anyway.” Server says “well, they’re really different – they could tell. For the first one, anyway ;)]

We decided on sharing one appetizer/small plate and one entree – which turned out not to be very big, either, but it was a fine amount for us to split. We had a “Seasonal Mushroom Tartlet” – (“Thyme, Garlic, Creme fraiche”) – which was something like puff pastry, no doubt baked on its own, filled with perfectly cooked mushrooms. We certainly identified hen-of-the-woods, and I thought there was a porcini in there, but maybe not. Eryngii? Hard to tell. thyme, definitely (the menu even said that, we noted later) and creme fraiche. I’m guessing cook the mushrooms – even separately, perhaps, according to their individual properties? – the thyme was clearly sauteed with them b/c looked like a teensy forest fire had hit it. Then mixed,warm, with creme fraiche and placed into the heated tart shell. It was superb!

I zeroed in on the Basque rice – “Gaxuxa” (my share pictured above – they kindly split it for us without being asked) – which had two kinds of meat strips (Benriner-thin), squash dice (“I don’t mind squash this way – mixed with stuff,” says D) bits of spinach (pretty!). Here are the ingredients, per the menu verbiage (photo kind of oblique, so I have to copy myself):

Chorizo, Squash, spinach, Ossau-Iraty [a cheese, we are told], Espelette

The food was excellent, but the wine was actually the big hit. The server suggested it, and gave D a taste, which I shared. D said yup, I want that and I said me too. I asked if I could see the bottle, and the server left it out for photos. It’s labaled Herri Mina 2015 Irouleguy, and the grapes listed online are Gros Manseng, Petit Corbu and Petit Manseng.

Later, the waiter said another glass? and D said sure, and then the guy started to pour me one too, and I said so are we just going to order the whole bottle now? And D, with only the slightest hesitation, said sure. He was the one who was all “we can’t have a whole bottle of wine at lunch!” so this may indicate how good it was. Anyway, it was super good and we will hunt it down locally (Importer: Martine’s Wines, Novato). It cost $60 at the restaurant, glasses $15 (yikes) so the actual bottle price is probably an affordable $15.

And then we walked down the Embarcadero to the Ferry Building again, bought some coffee beans from Blue Bottle (didn’t earlier b/c didn’t want to carry them all day and would be back nearby anyway) and strolled around a bit, and bought some funny cute plaid napkins – see photo – from Sur La Table on sale for $9.99. They’re cuddly flannel. Would make nice sheets, actually 🙂

This entry was posted in Asian, Meatless, Restaurant, Small plates, Uncategorizable, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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