Thursday, March 13, 2014

Food Cart Project Part III: Down to the Frame!

We've gotten a run of good weather this week (sorry, Midwesterners), and I was able to get out this afternoon and do some more demolition work on the trailer. Loosened the rest of the bolts, ripped out the rotten plywood that had been serving as a floor, and voila, the Cow has now been stripped down to her frame:

And a nice frame it is, I have to say:

A little rust here and there, but on the whole it looks pretty solid. Obviously, that tire in the foreground will have to be re-inflated or, more likely, replaced, and the bearings will probably need to be repacked. So, at some point in the next few weeks I'll take it to a shop and have it brought into proper working order.

In other food cart related news, I managed to get in a little more research last weekend in San Francisco. My friend Justin picked me up at SFO and we had lunch at Yamo in the Mission District. I sampled their lahpet thoke (very good) and their mohinga (also very good, but mine's better). I also have a pressure cooker on the way, which I'll be employing in the making of stock. So, things are moving forward...

Monday, March 10, 2014


Four friends and I had an outstanding dinner last Thursday at Daniel Patterson's restaurant Coi in San Francisco. The name, as Patterson explains in this YouTube video, is an archaic French word, from the same Latin root that gives us the word coy in English, which basically means tranquil. I don't know that I'd use that word to describe Patterson's food, though; I'd say it leans more toward bright, energetic and whimsical, but the word certainly applies to the space, and the atmosphere, in which we enjoyed it.

Eating food of this sort, it's often said, amounts to a conversation between the chef (and his or her cooks) and the diner. It's been said often enough, in fact, to have become a cliché by now, but in many ways it's still true. The tasting menu at Coi presented us with a twisting path through a landscape of acidic, rich, vegetal, sweet and earthy flavors that could only reflect the personality of an auteur with a deep love of exploration and surprise. The first surprise of the evening last Thursday was being led into our own private dining room at the back of the restaurant:

The menu involved thirteen courses in all (I'm using a somewhat loose definition of "course"; it could have been considered twelve, or even eleven), with five wine pairings. I'm going to hold off, for the most part, on trying to describe the flavors here, because frankly, I don't think I'm up to the task; better to let you imagine them from the photos and general descriptions. That being said, our evening began with a colorful amuse-bouche of blood orange ice with black lime and pink peppercorn:

This was followed by a poached egg yolk on a bed of creme fraiche and chive, topped with California sturgeon caviar, which was accompanied by the first wine pairing of the evening, a 2004 Gonet-Medeville brut from Champagne. I was a little slow to snap a photo of this, obviously:

Next up was oyster with meyer lemon, radish and green apple, paired with a 2011 Lucien Crochet Sancerre from the Loire Valley:

The oysters, radishes and apple were set atop a gel of, presumably, meyer lemon, but its flavor reminded me of something entirely different that I still can't quite put my finger on; passion fruit is the closest I've been able to come up with... Anyway, this was followed by a dinner roll accompanied by an excellent house-made cultured butter with maldon salt:

The next course was an inverted tart with goat cheese and beet:

I don't like beets, never have. I've often wondered if I just hadn't had them prepared in the right way. Well, I had Patterson's preparation of beets, and I didn't like that, so I must really not like beets. After this came a dungeness crab and beef tendon soup with asian pear, finger lime and cilantro. I have no idea what a finger lime is, but this was quite tasty. It was paired with a 2011 Rafael Palacios Louro do Bolo Godello from Valdeorras, Spain:

Next up was probably my favorite course of the evening, a "dumpling" of steamed sunchoke enrobed in black trumpet mushroom atop braised lettuce and a combination of brown butter and mushroom dashi which was nothing short of otherworldly. I was practically licking the plate. Well, okay, I might have *actually* licked the plate a little... It was paired with a 2011 Hirsch Chardonnay from Sonoma:

This was followed by a variety of brassicas, including broccolini and cauliflower, set on a puree of potato and dandelion with new olive oil and charred onion broth:

Next up was aged duck grilled over charcoal with cracked bulgar, young turnip and eucalyptus. This was paired with a 2004 La Rioja Alta Viña Ardanza Reserva from Rioja, Spain:

The next course, unfortunately, I failed to get a picture of. It was a transitional course between the dinner courses and the three (yes, three) dessert courses, and was a sort of taco of kiwi and shiso in a coconut mochi "tortilla". The first of the dessert courses was grapefruit and tarragon on a ginger and black pepper mousse. This was paired with a 2009 Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux from the Loire Valley:

After this came a vanilla cake with rhubarb and hibiscus:

The final course I also failed to get a photo of (by this time I was starting to feel the effects of all that wine). It was a yuzu infused frozen marshmallow covered in dark chocolate. Like everything else (except for the beets), it was excellent.

Also excellent was the service, which was of a level we're generally neither accustomed to, nor do we expect (nor care about, really, barbarians that we are), here in Portland. My friends and I had no fewer than five waiters, all of whom were swift, professional, informative and mostly unobtrusive. They, along with Patterson and his back of house staff, made for a very memorable evening.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Food Cart Project Part II: Let's Rip the Roof Off This Place!

And for that matter, the walls...

...and the window! And the framing!

I'll be able to reuse much of this lumber, if not the the plywood, and I'm actually getting a handful of pretty nice decking screws out of it as well. The rest of this shouldn't take all that much longer. Might even have it down to the frame by the end of the day!