Panucho de Pollo al Pibil and an Empanada from Nopalito
When I first began writing this blog, I had no idea where it was headed – I started merely to keep my family across the country updated with stories of my adventures in San Francisco. I'm not sure who else reads, who simply looks at my photos, or who even knows that NoshWithJosh exists.
Then, I had the honor of being recognized by Refinery29
, and suddenly my inbox was flooded with emails. Not in some sort of celebrity fashion, but rather with invitations to events, offers for cookbooks and requests for features. I was weary to accept any of them – both because I wasn't sure which brands with which I wanted to "align" myself, and second because, due to my readership reach, I didn't want to take something that wouldn't be equally reciprocated.
One email in particular did catch my eye, however – an invitation from General Motors to attend a curated tour hosted by Joe Hargrave and Telmo Faria of Tacolicious
. The two would show a few food bloggers some of their favorite San Francisco restaurants, chefs, meals and culinary inspirations as part of GM's new blog called Drive the District
. Despite rave reviews and gorgeous photos (I'm looking at you Sonya
!), I had yet to eat at Tacolicious. So, I decided to take a chance and go along for the ride.
Joe and Telmo were incredible hosts, and after I got over the awkwardness of a camera floating around the entire night, it truly was a fantastic experience. Throughout the evening, we ate, drank, talked and learned about each other, as well as what made these places stand out to Joe and Telmo. We began with a delicious start at Nopalito
before making our way to Zaré at Fly Trap: another San Francisco staple I had yet to try. Here, chef Hoss Zaré came out to greet us with open arms.
Famous for his, "Hossy Hugs," he gives his friends (or anyone who is willing, really) gigantic bear hugs. In fact, he lifted me off the ground! After we dined on impossibly soft braised lamb, sipped Minted Memory cocktails, and finished with goat cheese cheesecake with kumquat and baklava, Hoss let me in on his secret, sage advice for success:
"Every day, hug someone, make someone smile, make someone feel wanted."
I still have that sticky on my phone.
We ended the night at Tacolicious, where I was finally able to experience just what makes Joe's and Telmo's restaurant so special: at least in the form of albacore tuna tostadas and a variety of tacos – in short: culture, history, and authenticity mixed with California flair. If you haven't been, change that as soon as possible to experience what I mean.
Check out the video from our evening, and read more about the night on the District Drive page.
Salty Bea Arthur: Vanilla Soft Serve, Dulce De Leche and Sea Salt Rolled in Crushed 'Nilla Wafers (Big Gay Ice Cream)
Three weeks ago, I took at job with an amazing startup as a copywriter and content production manager.
On Thursday, I was let go.
This was one of the first times in my life where I truly believe I had failed. I gave it my all, worked atrocious hours in an attempt to keep up, and ultimately just couldn't cut it. I was a bit inexperienced and, despite learning quickly, I was not learning quickly enough. To my credit, they did recognize that I was improving and mentioned that in another environment there was tremendous potential for me to succeed. They just didn't have the luxury of time. I lasted all of seventeen days at a tech startup in San Francisco before being fired.
And that's alright.
After my departure, I wasn't quite sure where to go. So, I called my family and started walking – somewhere, anywhere. Until I ended up at Bi-Rite
and ordered myself a double scoop of rhubarb cheesecake and ricanelas (cinnamon ice cream with snickerdoodle cookies) – which tasted like an amazing fruit pie in ice cream form. Not as some sort of reflexive emotional reaction that women seem to always have after a bad breakup or fight (at least, I don't think...), but as a comforting consolation from something familiar.
Ok fine. Women: I get it now.
The next morning, I woke up, and brewed myself some fancy coffee...
Stumptown's Holler Mountain in the Aeropress
Kale Omelet, Acovado, Bacon and Sliced Picnic Pork
...grabbed a strawberry and cherry buckle with vanilla almond streusel from the Blue Bottle at Heath Ceramics while reading the newest issue of Kinfolk Magazine (which has a phenomenal article on page 105 you should check out)...
...and had myself the BIGgest, GAYest Ice Cream
I've ever had. Seriously, that Salty Bea Arthur (which was the normal Bea Aurthur with my requested addition of sea salt) was outrageous: simultaneously creamy, salty, sweet, and crunchy.
Then, during a quick run to Whole Foods Market for a few groceries, I finally met Wes Anderson
in person (no, not that one...), who directed me to Golden Road's Among Weeds IPA
So, here I sit – on my patio, drinking a beer, writing to those of you who read, and thinking about what my future holds.
Perhaps it was a revelation, or perhaps I was all hyped up on sugar and emotion-enduced adrenaline, but in the 24 hours since my...um...'parting of ways' with the corporate startup world, my activities have centered around the very core of what launched my writing career here: food. Maybe it is time to recognize that this is my calling – be it long-form writing, teaching, or even working in a kitchen. Somehow, I keep falling back on what got me started here, and it might just be the case that this was the lesson I needed to learn: no matter how hard it was.
I've always said that there is no such thing as failure if we learn from it, move on, and grow. Now, it's time to start believing it.
The other week I met Ilana Freddye
, culinary school graduate and food blogger extraordinaire. She was on her way through San Francisco before starting a six-month stint as a traveling member of Outstanding in the Field
For the longest time, I had been wanting to attend an Outstanding in the Field farm dinner. However, be it timing, cost, or distance, I simply couldn't make it happen. Until, seemingly out of the blue, Ilana sent me this text message on Friday afternoon:
"Funny question: any chance you want to work the event tomorrow?"
This was it – my way of attending a dinner at long last. Sure, it wasn't going to be exactly
what I had envisioned but hell, I was going to be there! Plus, I was even getting paid – eliminating my previous financial concerns.
I arrived at McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma to an open farm, two trailers full of tables, chairs, linens, an entirely deconstructed kitchen: not to mention a dozen wonderful, easy-going, hard working staff members ready to give 163 guests a meal they would never forget.
Only Half the Chairs to be Placed
I understood Outstanding in the Field's premise of converting a farm into a fine-dining experience.
But after four hours of hands-on hard work, sweat (lots and lots of sweat), heavy lifting and meticulous attention to detail, the transformation from rugged agriculture to pristine elegance can only be described as magical.
Magic Through The Trees
Chef Mourad Lahlou of Aziza was our guest chef, and knocked it out of the park with a killer four course menu including a chilled English pea soup with grapes and a hazelnut "soil," alaskan smoked salmon (smoked the night before) with fennel roasted beets, radish, toasted almonds and greens tossed in a sherry shallot vinaigrette, ras-el-hanout braised short ribs, and an olive oil cake with whipped cream, albion strawberries, tarragon, nasturtium, cinnamon streusel and anise syrup.
Olive Oil Cake, Whipped Cream, Albion Strawberries, Tarragon, Nasturtium, Cinnamon Streusel and Anise Syrup
From my end, the evening was phenomenal. I had an absolute blast with my two tables, and I can only hope they had half as good a time dining as I did serving. Speaking of the local and sustainable ingredients in the dishes, the qualities of the wine, and the meal as a whole was more enjoyable than I could have imagined. Conversing with the diners was as natural as if we had been friends for ages.
The ambiance was familial, genuine, and sincere. It radiated with charm and class without remotely touching snooty. Roosters crowed and geese honked every so often as a reminder to everyone of their surroundings - as if being inches from the same olive trees that provided the table's oil weren't enough.
An experience here is unrivaled. We were mere miles away from the gardens that grew many of the vegetables we enjoyed that evening. We were mere miles from vineyards where grapes for the accompanying wines were grown. We were back to the roots of our food, our farmers, and ourselves.
Outstanding in the Field has honed in on something truly unique, and over the next six months will provide this same quality evening over 75 more times: and there is no doubt in my mind that each one will be as magnificent as the last.
While sitting shiva after my Grandma Doris's funeral, my mother finally asked my grandfather a question that had been plaguing her since she was a child. After all, she has three older bothers, the youngest of whom is seven years her senior.
"Dad, was I an accident?"
"No - your mother planned you."
"Well...how about you?"
"Me? I was drunk."
Poppy Harold had many gems in his day - some slightly racist (merely a product of the times, I'm sure), and others as direct and straightforward as, "That son of a bitch rat bastard stole my laundry." Yet of all quips, puns and sayings, the one that stuck with me the most was one I didn't hear until just yesterday. My uncle vividly recalled sitting at the kitchen table as a child, stressing out over a major exam he had the next day. Poppy Harold, simply turned to him and said, "Just do the best you can do: that's all anyone can ever ask of you."
On Sunday, my grandfather, Harold Hills, passed away.
The man was 91 years old, and lived one hell of a life - perhaps even two! On what we presumed to be his death bed, we told him he could have whatever he wanted to eat: anything at all.
"Moo shu shrimp and hot and sour soup with lots of spicy mustard."
...AND THE MAN LIVED FOR ANOTHER MONTH!
Lately, I feel as though I haven't always been putting my best foot forward: slacking on posting regularly, not responding to emails in a timely manner, and becoming lazier with my photographs. People become busy, tired, social. Life gets in the way.
But I refuse to accept that as an excuse any longer. Yesterday, I finally took an active role in changing all of that. I had the opportunity to shoot with one of my favorite photographers, Sonya Yu
, as she taught me invaluable tips and tricks of the trade. She taught be to become more cognizant of my surroundings, and how to look at subjects differently through the lens of a camera. She taught me about the importance of light, and how to recognize its power, its presence, and its beauty. She taught me shoot, and shoot, and shoot some more, to be comfortable with failure, and to use it as a learning opportunity for the next reel.
So, this is my pledge: my resolution to be better, to try harder and to work my ass off every single day. The only variable in the equation of life over which we have control is our level of effort: beyond that, we are at the mercy of a million other factors. I'll almost certainly fail, and I may even succeed, but when I am positive that I've given 110%, the outcome is out of my hands and I've done all that I can do.
After all, that's all anyone can ever ask of you.
Asparagus In Season
I rarely set foot in grocery stores anymore: I find them to be cold, irritating, and fake.
A vast majority of my home-cooked meals are made with produce from farmers' markets. Spring has sprung, and as I peruse the aisles lined with vendors, I become giddy with excitement spotting asparagus in season, strawberries adding vibrant red hues to the lineup, and gladly welcoming the first peaches and blueberries popping in to say hello.
During any given week, there are between 25 and 30 markets from which I can purchase local, seasonal, organic goods from farmers who bring their crops to my city. Not to mention that as I shop, I am able to physically shake the hand of the man or woman who, just days or hours prior, plucked my carrots from the ground and cut my kale straight from the plant. I can listen to live music, watch cooking demonstrations, enjoy my choice of hot food and buy flowers just because I can.
From Mission Mercado to the Upper Haight, and the Castro to Fort Mason, every neighborhood has a home for those who appreciate the importance of such high quality ingredients and who care about supporting their local communities. But if it weren't for one market in particular, none of this would be possible. An integral reason we are able to enjoy such luxuries due is thanks in no small part to, "The Grandaddy of them All," the pioneer market in San Francisco: The Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market.
Until recently, I failed to grasp just how fortunate I am to have this tremendous bounty at my fingertips each and every day. I simply assumed that markets had always been a standard part of San Franciscan life: never really thinking twice. Yet as it turns out, when the market debuted in September of 1992, it was only billed as a temporary offering after the freeway running across the Ferry Building was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. However, thanks to the outpouring of chefs who now had easier access to some of the finest, freshest ingredients around, the market's popularity grew exponentially, people clamored for more, and simply everyone demanded that it become a staple each and every week, thus providing the impetus for what we expect, and often times take for granted, today.
Ginger Scone, Carbonated Strawberries, Almanac Beer Honey Saison Foam, Candied Kumquats
is much more than a market organizer. They are committed to sustainability in both the vendors they choose and they phenomenal programs they run. Their "Schoolyard to Market" initiative is a youth development, entrepreneurship, and gardening program that allows students to grow vegetables at their own schools and sell at the market. "Foodwise Kids" targets a younger demographic, children grades 1-5, and introduces them to the items available and facilitates a cooking class with the ingredients they had just purchased. Lectures, farm tours and "Discovery Stations," are also available adults year round.
So swing by and wish Cuesa a Happy Birthday, thank a volunteer for keeping the markets friendly and clean, and take a moment to wonder what life would be like without that first market down at Ferry Plaza 20 years ago.
The Original, The Party Girl, and Brothers Not Lovers
"Sweet" is hardly the first word that comes to mind when talking about the Tenderloin. But for the past three years, David Williams has been changing all of that, one sweet treat at a time.
Healthcare professional turned graphic designer by trade (because that's a normal progression), David fell victim to the economic downturn in 2008. Looking for that next step, he, "simply had a craving for caramels," and four months home experimentation led him to develop some killer recipes he felt proud to share. When his two close friends started The Perish Trust, David's first opportunity to showcase his new creations presented itself at the opening party.
People clamored for the candies, asking where they could buy more, and David thought more seriously about opening a spot of his own. Having lived in the Tenderloin for a spell, he watched a "For Rent" sign hang for more than five months before he contacted the landlord, who loved his concept, and pulled the trigger.
David "Hooker" Williams Turning This...
At any given time, David has about four different caramels, each of which has a fun little tounge-and-cheek story behind it. The "Party Girl" is named for both an old painting of a woman he found and restored as well as for a friend in Reno who sends along party mix every Christmas. Studded with toasted pecans, coconut, corn and oat cereal and pretzel bits, this caramel sits atop a smoked sea-salted dark chocolate base for the best-of-both-worlds sweet and salty combo. The Brothers Not Lovers caramel is an ode to his close friends and Sightglass Coffee'
s Justin and Jerad Morrison, who were often confused as a couple instead of siblings, and contains the company's Owl's Howl infused inside. As for the 3rd Nut Caramel, David just had trouble deciding on the third nut to use.
Bread pudding is always on the menu, and was a no-brainer as an homage to his New Orleans roots. Still using his mothers secret recipe, he tweaks the flavors based on the season. When nothing is really shining, he falls back on his staples like banana salted caramel or bourbon chocolate chip, served warm from the oven, and smothered with a rich sauce and loaded with nuts.
A Smörgåsbord of Sweets, Including Strawberry Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
As for the name? It has absolutely nothing to do with the Tenderloin tenants - that part was just a (somewhat happy?) accident. David's nickname is Hooker, which evolved, oddly enough, because he used to call his friends hookers when shooting pool. Thus, he became "Hooker Dave," until people just dropped his real name.
I won't try and sugarcoat it - the TL is still somewhat sketchy with its share of crazies. In fact, while chatting with Hook, there was a man doing his version of parkour (a.k.a. - jumping and spinning from the street to the curb...continuously). But Hooker makes a great point by virtue of his success - when things seem at their worst, remember that we each have the power to actively make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of those around us by following our passions. They radiate onto others, and can turn even the most uncertain futures (or neighborhoods) into something special.
Trust me, brave the 'hood during daylight hours, snag a sweet treat, and get "hooked" on these mind-blowing caramels.
After all, there are certainly worse addictions to have in the Tenderloin.
Ten months. It had been ten months since we had shown our families around San Francisco, taken them to Local Mission Eatery
, and cycled across the Golden Gate Bridge. It had been ten months since we had tried to redeem the certificate we were gifted as a an incredibly generous gesture of gratitude. Finally on Monday, after ten months, we landed our reservation at The French Laundry.
Monday was also the day that tragedy struck the Boston Marathon.
I awoke that morning giddy with anticipation of what was to be one of the greatest dining experiences of my life. In an instant, that feeling was ripped away and replaced with gut-wrenching horror. See, from the prospective of a marathon runner, there is no better feeling than seeing your family at the finish line, cheering your name with smiles 26.2 miles wide. To think that someone was determined to take that away from me and every other racer made me physically sick to my stomach. Paralyzed with fear for my sister, my friends, and people I didn't even know but for whom my heart broke regardless, I spent the rest of the day in bed, teetering between sadness and anger, refreshing my Twitter feed and listening to news for so much as an inkling of good news.
Mere hours after the incident, we arrived at The French Laundry to a symbol of respect and honor:
Flag at The French Laundry Garden at Half Mast
Because emotion plays such a vital role in the meals we consume, I was nervous that this gift that was given to me - meant to be enjoyed and savored - may have been tarnished in some way: that I would not have been able to fully appreciate the experience to the fullest. Yet as I walked through the cottage-like doors to the very pristine dining room I had only dreamed of, a sense of calm overtook me under the wings of our server Angela and our sommelier Patrick (visiting from New York's PerSe). For the next three hours, I was able to forget - or at least, push away - all of the bad in the world and simply enjoy an incredible meal with stellar people.
Bouchon Bakery Brioche...
...and Butter Buddies! Salted from Washington (Honeycomb) and Unsalted from California.
"Oysters and Pearls" // Creamy, Custardy Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon Caviar. There is a reason this is a staple.
"Salade De Choux-Fleur" // Intensely Fresh and Floral Cauliflower, Sweet Poached Field Rhubarb, Split English Peas and Mint-Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
"Grilled Guinea Hen Ravioli" // Sprouting Spigarello Kale, Farm Broccoli, Cherry Belle Radishes and Black Winter Truffles (plus an extra dusting of truffles mid-plate!)
Clos Rougeard, Saumur Champigny Blanc, Breze 2008 - Best White Of My Life
Lopez de Heredia, Rioja Vina Tondonia Gran Reserva 1994 - Best Red of My Life
"Atlantic Halibut 'Confit A La Minute' // Melt-In-Your-Mouth Halibut with Sacramento Delta Green Asparagus, Butter-Poached Morel Mushrooms, Pickled Ramps and 'Sauce Noilly Prat'
"Sweet Butter-Poached Maine Lobster Fricassée" // Caramelized Green Garlic, Young Artichokes, Carrot Buttons and Barigoule Broth.
"'Ballotine' of Four Story Hill Farm Poularde" // Moist, Tender Chicken with French Laundry Garden Beets, Celery Branch English Walnuts and Royal Blenheim Apricot Purée
"Marcho Farms Nature-Fed Veal 'Calotte'" // Wrapped in Applewood Smoked Bacon, Romain Lettuce, Pickled Cucumbers, 'Bread and Butter' Turnips, Green Tomato Relish and Dill Jus
"Herb-Roasted Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Saddle" // 'Panisse,' Marinated Jingle Bell Peppers, Eggplant Confit, Garbanzo Beans and Burnt Lemon Jus (Photo Credit: Jeff Solomon)
"Salers Reserve" // Pickled Green Strawberries, Young Fennel Bulb, Piedmont Hazelnuts and Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette
"Verjus Blanc" // Demi-Sec Grapes, Jasmine Tea Ice Cream and Caramel Crisp
"Dark Treacle" // Devil's Food, Valrhona Chocolate 'Marquise,' Lyle's Golden Syrup and Marshall Farms Burnt Honey Ice Cream
"Princess Cake" // Animal Farm Buttermilk, Navel Orange Marmalade, Toasted Marzipan and Cara Cara Orange Sorbet
"Cappuccino" // Coffee Ice Cream, Milk Foam, Sugared Donuts and (not pictured) Candied Macadamia Nuts
And that is what dining among friends can be: a way to exist in the moment and be cognizant of the food we have, the company we keep, and the ability to enjoy experiences such as these. I am so fortunate for the opportunities in my life, and Monday made me realize that fact perhaps more-so than ever before. The dichotomy of the horrific morning counterbalanced by gorgeous evening - both unforgettable in their own respects - made me take a step back and truly appreciate the beauty of food, family and friends.
We must move on, but never forget. We must live our lives normally, but as we do, occasionally take the time to recognize and be thankful for all that surrounds us.
Whether you dine at The French Laundry, your local coffee shop, an In-N-Out or in your mother's kitchen, be sure to thank someone involved for all that they do, because at any instant, it can all be taken away.
Take-Home Truffles: The Inner Workings of the PB&J
Tin of Shortbread Cookies for Breakfast
The Giuseppe, Modified on Josey Baker Bread...Bread
It's no secret that NoPa is exploding on the food front - both a blessing and a curse.
With great popularity inevitably comes longer waits and increased hassle: a rigidity that gives our once fluid, leisurely morning brunch unnecessary weekend structure. The neighborhood's namesake restaurant sees lines around the corner come Sunday morning and patrons of The Mill mill about awaiting their tasty toasts.
Luckily, all hope for a relaxing weekend meal is not lost just yet.
Having been graced with tremendously glorious weather and the company of out-of-town guests from chilly Chicago, I decided to put my professional picnicking skills to good use, take advantage of my up-and-coming surroundings, and show off my new and improved, four-step process for a successful Sunday sit-down in the park.
Step 1 - Peruse the farmers' market at Grove and Divisadero for fresh, easily sharable fruits like strawberries and oranges.
Oranges and Tangelos
Strawberry Baskets Forever
Step 2 - Stroll back down Divis and enter the spacious, welcoming new Bi-Rite location for sandwiches, salads, and your bottled beverage of choice.
Sandwich Counter, Bi-Rite Market
Wine Rack, Bi-Rite Market
Step 3 - Head one block east to Alamo Square Park, plop down your finest picnic blanket (or that spare bed sheet you just so happened to have lying around from college), and unload your bounty.
The Feast is Ours!
Step 4 - Wrangle up a few close friends and remember why you wanted to picnic in the first place: to enjoy your company, both old and new. To soak up the sun and breath in the picturesque city that surrounds you. To be able to bring your dog along for the day and watch him frolic through the grass and make acquaintances when he isn't begging for food. To have the freedom to kick off your shoes and run around - just because you can. To look at the Painted Ladies and blast the theme song from Full House (not that anyone really does that).
We totally did that.
To break away from the formality, and from the lines in which we find ourselves standing both for food, and sometimes, in life.
Packaged Nopalito To Go
Contrary to popular belief, I do in fact have hobbies other than food. I grew up playing every sport I could, majored in sport management, and competed in collegiate ultimate frisbee for three years at Michigan - not the hippie kind, but the, "We-were-all-athletes-in-high-school-and-want-to-stay-active-and-competitive-but-aren't-good-enough-to-play-at-the-NCAA-level" kind. Joining that team was one of the best decisions I have ever made: it resulted in my traveling, staying fit, and meeting my three best friends.
When I moved out here straight after college, I sought out a league in which to play with the hopes of meeting a similar group of people and starting my new life with fun new friends. After the first game at the chilly, windy fields of Golden Gate Park, fellow teammates and competitors alike asked the same question:
"Going to the bar?"
One of my favorite parts of this league is the post-game bonding. Everyone, regardless of team, heads over to the Little Shamrock on 9th and Irving for a few pints. As an added bonus, they allow you to bring food into the bar and since I hadn't yet eaten at the Sunset's Nopalito
, the timing seemed ideal for a visit.
Lindsay behind the bar walked me through my to-go order and steered me toward the Picadita con Suadero y Chorizo as an appetizer, while local patron and Sunset native John could not speak highly enough about the Birria Tradicional.
Packaged perfectly and ready to devour, each aspect of my dinner was compartmentalized to preserve each food's flavor, temperature and texture. I dug first into the Picadita where black beans, braised beef brisket and chorizo sat atop a thick, round, pastry-like tortilla. Spicy and filling, I could have eaten this alone and been just fine.
But...I also ordered the Birria.
The short ribs fell off of the bone as I plucked them from the rich, complex, not-too-spicy sauce in which they swam and mixed them with the accompanying rice, salsa and a spritz of lime to stuff in my warm corn tortilla. But after the beers and the Picadito, I could only manage one.
Thought the leftovers made for a fantastic breakfast taco.
Leftover Birria, Bacon, Fried Egg and Avocado Breakfast Taco
To Lindsay and John, thank you for your killer recommendations!
When I was a kid, my family always kept kosher for Passover: brei for breakfast, sandwiches on matzoh for lunch, and burgers sans buns for dinner.
We simply ignored the fact that our morning matzoh brei had bacon, ham and swiss were tucked between our oversized crackers at lunch, and the patties were in fact double cheeseburgers. It's no wonder that today I continue that tradition in full force:
Bacon, Egg and Cheeseburger on Matzoh
...and by day four, it becomes necessary to find other ways to palate the cardboard tasting squares:
We followed the "holiday" never ate leavened goods, but the traditional kosher aspect stopped when my grandfather, a kosher butcher, passed away. For me, the many ancient rules of kashrut were created at a time when such measures were necessary, but today no longer seem relevant: the same logic applies for the eighth night of Passover.
In Israel, Passover lasts for seven nights. However, when Jews spread to the diaspora it was often unclear as to when the sun set in the holy land, so the rabbis determined that those outside of the holy land tack on an extra night: essentially, "Just in case."
Thanks to the wonders of technology, the weather channel, and text messages I know precisely what time the sun sets in Israel, thus I keep Passover for seven nights, and when my good friend Nefaur invited me to celebrate his birthday on said evening at Ad Hoc for fried chicken dinner night, I was pleased to oblige.
Baby Iceburg Wedge: Red Radish, Bread and Butter Pickles, Golden Beets, Shaved Rainbow Carrots, Caraway Dressing, Spiced Chickpeas
Buttermilk Fried Chicken: (not pictured: Green Bean Casserole, Mushroom Veloute Crispy Shallots, Whipped Yukon Gold Potatoes), Buttermilk Biscuits, Blueberry Jam in the background
Shrimp and Grits Supplement Piquillo Peppers, Diced Ham, Parsley Vinaigrette
Seascape: Wild Arugula, Palladin Toast Granny Smith Apples, Crushed Hazelnuts
Ready to dominate every wheat and grain product in sight, I was at first disappointed with the salad, but once I took a bite of the extremely well-seasoned lettuce surrounded by southern additions like chickpeas and pickles, all was forgiven. The fried chicken certainly lived up to its reputation - not only for the incredibly crisp, crunchy coating, but more-so for the impossibly moist chicken itself that melted away with the chicken skin in my mouth. Probably the least kosher aspect of the meal found creamy, cheesy grits as the bed for tender, juicy shrimp. I wanted more tartness and acidity on the seascape: a cow/goat cheese served alongside butter toast with hazelnuts, apples and arugula.
But hell, it had bread.
For the caliber of food served at Ad Hoc, it skyrockets on my list. Solid execution of the staples, inventive twists, gigantic, family-style portions and a homey vibe made this the perfect night to celebrate a birthday the end of Passover.
P.S. - The vanilla panna cotta topped with strawberries and accompanied by cinnamon shortbread cookies was the damn best I've ever had: a deep, rich vanilla custard that had an almost cheesecake-esq flavor, sweet macerated strawberries and butter shortbread left my sweet tooth beyond satisfied, though with no decent picture to share.