Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spirit of Children seeking donations to make hospital stays less scary

There is a nice article on by my colleague Nicole Thompson about Spirit of Children - The organization needs donations, so if you have a heart for these matters, consider them. Here's what Nicole wrote:

"Since 2006, Spirit of Children has supported Child Life departments to make hospital stays less scary for kids and their families and touches hundreds of thousands of pediatric patients each year by providing both fun and funding to hospitals at Halloween and all year long. Spirit of Children enables hospitalized children to celebrate Halloween ... read more on 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Zagat Releases 2013 San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants Guide; Voters Name State Bird Provisions Top Newcomer (via PR Newswire)
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Zagat announced the results of its 26th annual San Francisco Restaurants Survey today. The new Survey covers 1,636 restaurants based on the combined opinions of a record 15,502 diners. The iconic burgundy guidebook was released today after the 2013 San Francsico (sic) Restaurants guide was recalled three weeks ago (oops!). Ratings and reviews are also available for free across Google Maps, Search, Google+ and mobile.
Noteworthy Newcomers: The people have crowned State Bird Provisions in the Fillmore as this year's Top Newcomer, earning an extraordinary 27 for its American food on Zagat's signature 30-point scale. Rubicon alums Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski are behind this hot spot that's "spinning heads" with "clever" "small plates." Flying behind State Bird on the Top Newcomers list are AQ Restaurant & Bar in SoMa, Rutherford's Alex Restaurant, the Italian Redd Wood in Yountville and Park Tavern in North Beach, all with a food score of 25.
Winners: Gary Danko, the "truly American classic", again pulls a hat trick winning Top Food, Top Service and Most Popular. Toques off to chef Thomas Keller, who runs the No. 2 restaurant in the Bay Area (the French Laundry). Both Gary Danko and the French Laundry win nearly perfect 29 food scores. Sierra Mar in Big Sur's Post Ranch Inn wins for Decor (helped out by that knockout view of the Pacific Ocean), while the Mission's Bi-Rite Creamery, offering "phenomenal" "organic" "creamy" "goodness", wins Top Bang for the Buck with a 28 Food score, albeit average tabs hovering around $7. The Cheesecake Factory is San Francisco's Most Popular Chain – a new category in this year's guide.
Best Values: While many of the city's top restaurants come with a sizeable price tag, the new guide includes 917 restaurants that offer a dinner with one drink and tip for less than $35 and 593 places that offer a meal for less than $25. Lunches typically cost 25–30% less.
Habits and Preferences: Bay Area diners report eating out an average of 2.9 meals per week vs. the 3.1 national average. The reported average tip is 18.6%, which is tied with Seattle for the lowest among major U.S. markets and below the national average of 19.3%. When asked to rate San Francisco's overall culinary diversity and creativity, diners awarded their restaurants a 27 and 26 respectively, out of a possible 30. Comparatively, hospitality only received a 19 – not surprising since service remains the dominant complaint (cited by 56%), followed by noise (22%) and prices (7%).
Favorite Cuisines: When asked to name their favorite cuisines, diners said Italian (24%), followed by French (15%), American (13%) and Japanese (13%). But in examining the overall Food scores by cuisine, we find that diners awarded the highest scores to French restaurants (23.89 on Zagat's 30-point scale), followed by Japanese (23.74), Mediterranean (23.67), Californian (23.66), Thai (23.62) and Italian (23.47).
This year's winners in key cuisine categories are:
American (New) - Gary Danko (Fisherman's Wharf)
American (Trad.) - Ad Hoc (Yountville)
Barbeque - Buckeye Roadhouse (Mill Valley)
Burgers - 900 Grayson (Berkeley)
Cajun/Creole/Soul -Brown Sugar Kitchen
Californian - Erna's Elderberry (Oakhurst)
Chinese - Mingalaba (Burlingame)
Continental - La Foret (San Jose)
Dim Sum - Yank Sing (SoMa)
Eclectic - Della Fattoria (Petaluma)
French - Marinus (Carmel Valley)
French (Bistro) - Bistro des Copains (Occidental)
Indian - Ajanta (Berkeley)
Italian - Seven Hills (Nob Hill)
Japanese - Kiss Seafood (Japantown)
Med./Greek - Kokkari Estiatorio (Downtown)
Mexican - La Victoria Taqueria (San Jose; Redwood City)
Middle Eastern - Saha (Nob Hill)
Peruvian - Pasion (Inner Sunset)
Pizza - Cheese Board Pizzeria (Berkeley)
Sandwiches - Fatted Calf (Hayes Valley; Napa)
Seafood - Passionfish (Pacific Grove)
Spanish/Basque - Piperade (Downtown)
Steak - Cole's Chop House (Napa)
Thai - Sea Thai Bistro (Mult. locations)
Vegetarian - Millennium (Downtown)
Vietnamese - Slanted Door (Embarcadero)

Tech at the Table: San Francisco continues to be among Zagat's most tech-savvy U.S. markets, with 67% making reservations online, while 25% call the restaurant. Forty-six percent of respondents have a restaurant-related app on their smartphone, while 14% are posting on social media when they arrive at a restaurant. And while 87% of surveyors say it is "ok" to take photos of food or companions, 58% consider it "rude and inappropriate" to talk, text, tweet or e-mail when at the table.
Hot and Trendy: Surveyors have named the Mission (Namu Gaji, Wise Sons) as the neighborhood with the best restaurants this year. Valencia Street has been particularly hot of late (Abbot's Cellar, Amber Dhara, Farina Pizza, St. Vincent Tavern & Wine Merchant, Tacolicious, West of Pecos, Wo Hing General Store), while there's been a rise of tequilerias throughout the Bay Area (Comal, Copita, La Condesa, Mateo's Cucina Latina, Nopalito, Mosto at Tacolicious, Rumbo Al Sur).
Survey Details: The Zagat 2013 San Francisco Bay Area Restaurants Survey was edited by Cynthia Kilian, with local editor Meesha Halm. Zagat's scores and reviews of San Francisco restaurants are integrated across Google Maps, Search, Google+ and mobile. Guidebooks ($15.95) will be available wherever books are sold.

PR Newswire (

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chefs Mazar and Corcos from 'Extra Virgin' share Tofu Tiramisu recipe

Wow! I haven't tried this recipe since I'm off sugar these days, but it looks very yummy and I wanted to pass it along.  If you try it, send in a review.

The recipe comes our way from celebrity chefs Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos who are about to debut the third season of Exrta Virgin (on Cooking Channel November 7, 2012).
The celebrity duo says, “House Foods Tofu works really well with the Tuscan cooking style that incorporates a very simple list of ingredients and flavors.  Our craft is to enhance the taste of the food by making the most of a small number of this small number of fresh ingredients.”

Tofu Tiramisu
Created by Debi Mazar & Gabriele Corcos, stars of Cooking Channel’s show Extra Virgin

2 cups brewed coffee
1 (14 ounce) package House Foods Organic or Premium Tofu Medium Firm
1 cups sugar plus 3 tablespoons, divided 
5 eggs, separated 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
14 ounces hard lady fingers
2 tablespoons cocoa
Shaved dark chocolate, for garnish

Add 3 tablespoons sugar into hot coffee and stir until sugar dissolves. Let cool.

Drain and add Tofu Firm to a food processor; blend until completely smooth (about 1 minute).

Add egg yolks and 1-cup sugar in a bowl and whisk until fluffy and light yellow in color. Whisk in the tofu until smooth and well incorporated.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt with an electric hand mixer until they reach medium stiff peaks. Fold into the tofu mixture.

Dip the ladyfingers into the hot coffee and lay them into a single layer in a 9x13 glass-baking tray. Make sure you don’t completely soak the cookies, as you want to retain some crunch. Spread a layer of the tofu on top, and dust lightly with cocoa powder. Repeat layering with cookies, tofu, and cocoa powder. Garnish the top of the cake with shaved dark chocolate. Cover with plastic wrap and let refrigerate for 3 hours so the flavors can marry.

Serves 8