Friday, May 15, 2009

ESF's Final Feast. Best Meal of the Year!

Your delicious dish must be made from local, seasonal ingredients.

Document the process.

Your project must rest upon a platform that: a) supports multimedia, b) is open to the public, and c) allows visitors the opportunity to comment on your work.
When finished, thick tweet your project.

After days of flipping through a plethora of cooking magazines and more websites than I have fingers and toes, I finally decided to prepare two delicious sandwiches, with my partner-in-crime Austin.

The recipes:

Double-Decker Strawberry Chicken Club Sandwiches
Serves: 4 Prep: 20 Min Cook: 15 Min

12 ounces thick-cut bacon
1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halvesSalt and pepper
1 avocado2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup mayonnaise
12 slices whole-wheat toast
2 cups romaine lettuce1 ½ cups hulled and sliced strawberries (10 ounces)

Open-Face Chimichurri Skirt Steak Sandwiches
Serves: 4 Prep: 25 Min Grill: 15 Min

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled1 Serrano chile, seeded if desired
1 packed cup parsley sprigs1 packed cup cilantro sprigs
Grated peel of 1 lemon and juice of ½ lemon
Salt and pepper
One 16-ounce loaf ciabatta bread, sliced on an angle in 12 pieces
2 pounds skirt steak¼ cup mayonnaise
3 tomatoes, thinly sliced

As I explained in my previous post, on Tuesday, Austin and I ventured to the Ferry Building, where we hit up a few of the amazing specialty shops for local and seasonal bread and meat. We also took advantage of the weekly outdoor Farmer’s Market for all of our fruit and vegetable needs. The recipes called for three types of meat and an array of produce. The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market is a California certified farmers market operated by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), and is open two days a week—Tuesdays and Saturdays. The market’s produce and flowers are from small regional farms and ranches, many of which are certified organic, and also pass the criteria for my assignment.

“Started as a one-time event in 1992, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market's popularity led to the opening of a year-round market in May 1993. On Saturdays, 10 - 15,000 faithful shoppers attend the market because it reconnects them with their food sources. Shopping at a farmers market provides a forum for learning how food is grown, who grew it, and why it tastes so good. “ Ferry Building

The Prather Ranch Meat Company, where we purchased the skirt steak, bacon, and chicken, offers a wide selection of organic, sustainable, humane and pasture-raised meats. The company regularly carries beef, buffalo, pork, lamb and vitellone, a meat that is tender like veal and often found on menus in Tuscany. Raised on the 11,000 acre Prather Ranch, just north of Mt. Shasta, the beef is certified humane and organic. The Prather Ranch Meat Co. also raises pigs on pasture in Capay Valley, California. The pigs diet includes only organic fruits and vegetables from many nearby farms, which is comforting, especially after reading Omnivore’s Dilemma, and thinking much more critically about the idea—you are what you eat. These humanely and organically raised cattle and pigs, whose meat became the star of the sandwiches, rivaled some of the best I’ve ever had. There is just something about knowing that the food you’re eating wasn’t fed petroleum, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals during its short-lived miserable life.

Purchasing the ingredients is only half the battle when making a delicious meal; however, I thought that colorful and descriptive photographs were better suited to showcase the delicious sandwiches and ESF’s Final Feast.

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook: The Final Feast ESF
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Goodbye ESF, I will honestly miss spending Wednesday nights with 17 incredibly creative and inspiring people. But this is not the end of my food blogging, so stay tuned. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mmm mmm delicious!

On Tuesday, I spent  $36.96 on two pounds of organic grass-fed skirt steak. I purchased this top-notch beef to be the star for the dish I am going to prepare for ESF’s Final Celebration. Austin and I ventured down Market St. toward our destination dodging buses, Benz’s, and bicyclists, and luckily we snagged a metered parking spot just around the corner.

As the assignment required that all ingredients be local and seasonal, the Ferry Building’s Farmer’s Market and specialty shops provided the perfect spot to grab everything I needed. The Golden Gate Meat Company at the Ferry Building in San Francisco proudly boasts: our cattle are pasture-graze with plenty of room to roam, fresh air, and sunshine. Their feed is 100% organic, with no animal byproducts.

I included this little story to point out just how expensive organic groceries can cost. While I wish I could shop at the Ferry Building everyday, my minimal student funds don’t always allow it. Cooking and documenting the meal will follow in my next post.

Eating San Francisco’s final excursion to Zazie in Cole Valley for dinner and McDonald’s on Haight Street for dessert most definitely brought the course full circle. The original plan was to pig out at McDonald’s; an outing inspired by the Bay Area’s very own Michael Pollan and his book Omnivore’s Dilemma, which was required class reading. Pollan’s manifesto provides readers with a complete natural history of four meals, requiring them to think about the moral and ethical ramifications of America’s eating habits. More simply, Pollan followed food from its inception all the way to his plate or lap, as was the case for his first meal, Industrial Corn, in the form of an American staple—namely, McDonald’s.    

Realizing the class bank account could afford to fund a classier (and healthier) outing we decided to enjoy our last meal together at a quaint French Bistro in the heart of Cole Valley.  Zazie is everything that McDonald’s isn’t.

The 17-year-old establishment sits on a tiny lot on Cole Street, which is typical for the neighborhood; however, the cozy garden patio and carefully arranged tables for two, makes dinners feel like they are dining in an artsy Parisian cafĂ©. 

Open for breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner Zazie proudly serves only organic milk and free range, antibiotic and hormone-free eggs from local farms. In addition to using organic dairy products the menu at the bistro features seasonal and regional fare, dishes depend on what produce is available from local farmers. I feasted on a 21 dollar grilled hanger steak, served with portobello mushrooms, a brandy cream sauce, and grilled asparagus.  The perfect medium-rare steak I devoured came from “Happy drug-free animals with an ocean view!”—according to a blub on the menu. In complete contrast, the Big Mac I might have eaten at Mickey D’s that night, would have sported “beef” patty that Michael Pollan explained came from a corn-fed cow raised in a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), Three glasses of wine later our delightful waitress, thankfully, began bringing out each of the 17 main courses.  The salmon, shrimp ravioli, and steak dishes looked almost to pretty to eat, as each element was placed meticulously on the plate and chopped parsley adorned the stark white rim. The fresh ingredients including, pea pods, tomatoes, and asparagus were brightly colored and smelled delicious; this meal was not only satisfying to eat, but was also a feast for the eyes and nose.

 After two hours of witty conversation and culinary excellence we headed to McDonald’s for a sweet treat. Runaways and transients are the typical clientele at the Haight Street McDonald’s; however, the McDonald’s employees were graced with the presence of seventeen college students and their professor. Most of my classmates decided to top their nights off with ice cream treats including McFlurries, ice cream cones, and classic sundaes complete with chocolate syrup and peanuts. I ordered medium French fries, which were as greasy and salty as I expected them to be, but satisfying nonetheless. 

To be honest, I would have been just as satisfied eating a #10 (McNuggets, fries, and a pop) as I was with my steak dinner from Zazie. So that’s just what I did. A few days after our outing and an in-depth discussion of Omnivore’s Dilemma, my boyfriend and I decided to take a trip to Marin and eat at the very McDonald’s where Pollan and his family ate. We got it to go, and just like Pollan ate it in a moving car driving 65 on the freeway. I thoroughly enjoyed it!