Taco In Your Face

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I had the pleasure of being introduced to an excellent taqueria on Mission St. that I had never tried before.  The introducer was none other than Kyle Field, a kind bud of many years, and global path-crosser with the Trail of Crumbs.  He had just landed at SFO from a quick music tour in Spain under his musical moniker, Little Wings, and we converged in the Mission district to share some Mexican food and stories of recent adventures and discoveries.


Sometimes a plan takes flight like birds falling into a perfect "V".  It's rare, but when it happens you can feel the dominoes falling in the right direction.  Alan Watts would say that it's the art of sailing your life rather than rowing it.

The Best in the Whole Worl, indeed
Vegetarian Crispy Taco with Guacamole
Okay, the special thing about the crispy tacos at La Taqueria is the double layer of tortillas.  They fill the first tortilla with your filling of choice (we got vegetarian with guacamole and adobado pork) and grill it until golden and crispy.  Then a fresh, soft, pillowy second tortilla is wrapped around it and it is all topped with fresh and bright pico de gallo salsa.  The crunchy and soft combination is what brings this taco to the next level.  As our tacos arrived, we shared knowing and mildly shameful glances and confirmed under our breath, "Totally like the double decker at Taco Bell", "Yeah, I know, it's kind of rad."  These ones have that same soft crunch appeal, but made with good ingredients by real cooks.  And there's no shame involved.

Kyle Field is a prolific artist, both in the visual and musical arts.  You can see some of his artwork here, but really you should try to see his work in person.  He'll be showing his work here in Paris this May as part of a group show of California artists that Danielle is curating.  He has several albums out as Little Wings, and is constantly touring in many countries.  Next stop, Japan.

Video for the song Mr Natural from the album Black Grass

La Taqueria
2889 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 285-7117

post by Adrian Rubi-Dentzel

San Francisco's Dungeness Crab

On a recent trip to visit our old friends in the San Francisco bay area, we went to Sam and Anissa's house ( TofC contributors ) for yet another crazy-good meal. This time they brought home a couple live Dungeness Crab's from their local farmer's market in Marin County and made magic appear in the form of a rich and delicious naughty pasta creation.


Serves 6

Ingredient List:

2 live crabs
4 star asnise
2 fennel tops (reserve some of the green lace like leaves for final garnish)
2 smashed garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
8-10oz of fresh Tagliatelle pasta (or similar)
1 diced shallot
1 TB butter
1 1/2 cups half and half
1-2 sliced Habañeros ( seeds removed )
zest of 1 lemon
lots of fresh cracked black pepper

For Crab Preparation:

Fill a large pot with water and add the star anise, 1 TB of salt, fennel tops, smashed garlic cloves, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cook crabs ( one at a time if you don't have a big enough pot) for 15 minutes per pound. Allow to cool and extract meat.

For Sauce Prep:

Saute the shallot in butter and when soft and translucent, add the 1 1/2 cups half-n-half. Cook over low heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Add habañeros. Once its warm and starts to thicken, add crab meat, lemon zest and some cracked black pepper.

Boil the fresh pasta in salted water and drain. Add pasta to the sauce and cook/stir for 1-2 minutes more until the noodles have absorbed the sauce and the sauce has absorbed some starch.

Finally, garnish with the fennel leaves... Voilà !

Recipe by Sam Grawe

Omnivore Dinner at Au Passage


As some of you may know, the Omnivore World Tour food festival has been in Paris recently, synthesizing an array of culinary events.  Having just come back from a long California winter, we accepted the fact that we might have been just a little too late arriving home to Paris to book a table at any of the F***ing Dinners, which pair a local chef at his/her restaurant with a visiting chef for a one night set menu.  We had just seen that the F***ing Dinner at one of our new favorite spots, Au Passage, was fully booked ("please do not call!").   This dinner paired the resident Australian, James Henry with Brooklyn's Isa's Ignacio Mattos.  We sighed in defeat, but then my phone buzzed across the table. A text from our good buddy Josh Fontaine.  He had two free seats. And, yes, we'd take 'em.

Three Amigos: Josh, Carina, and Adam (of Candelaria)
On paper, the menu was very simple (see above photo).  Even though I knew that there would be more to the plates than the words lead on, the level of over simplification reached comical heights when "amuse bouche" turned out to mean: lardo with spiced candied almonds; then an oyster with shallot and ginger granita; followed by a small cube of fois gras in a delicate broth; finishing with some small slivers of uni on shaved fennel.  Now on to the first course...

The bread at Au Passage is from Thierry Breton, Chef and owner of Chez Michel, a respected Breton bistro in the 10th.
The recommended wine pairings, of which we only ended up ordering the cider.  
That is, after a white and a red from the regular wine menu
Chardonnay at 14%!
Scallop and Cabbage.  'Nuf said.
In contrast to the over-achieving brigade of amuses bouches, the first course was exactly what was described on the menu: scallop and cabbage, the former with just the lightest kiss of a sear, and the latter braised or browned in the most delicate way.  Though this might sound boring, it was as if I had been given the purest proof that these two flavors are wonderful together. 

Then came the tartare de boeuf, in a planetary arrangement of circles.  I don't know how else to say it, but this course of this F***ing Dinner was really f***ing good.  The perfectly seasoned beef surface gave way to a mantle of molten Jerusalem artichoke puree.  And when eaten with some crumbles of the fried flax seed crust, a wisp of cream and a crispy pepper corn, it reach a complete spectrum of textures and flavors; soft, meaty, creamy, crunchy, earthy, nutty and bright all at once.

Watch out for peppercorn asteroids!
The Prettiest Li'l Mackerel Filet in Town,
Dressed up in Multi-Colored Carrots, Horsradish Cream, and Crispy Capers

Pineau D'Aunis.  For those I-can't-decide-between-Pinot-Noir-and-Gamay moments
Magret de Canette with Mustard Greens and Jus
Heart and Liver of Canette with Mousse of Celery Root.  
The best little heart I've had in recent memory, 

Biodynamic Cider.  Not too sweet and totally right on.
Lemon Custard with Ginger Granita.  A moebius strip of palette saturation and cleanse.

All in all, it was a very fine meal.  It exemplified a progression in the new trend of sensibly adventurous bistronomy cuisine that's been happening here in Paris.  The doors have been opened by the likes of Inaki Aizpitarte for young, high-level chefs to experiment with unusual pairings of simple and traditional ingredients.  And now, rather than push the accepted new palette further into the unknown, the younger chefs seem to be focusing in closer on simple pairings and experimenting with a minimalist hand. 

Au Passage
1bis passage de Saint-Sebastien, 75011 / 01 43 55 07 52
Open Monday - Saturday, No lunch service on Saturday


TofC contributor Janella Fox recently discovered a beautifully shot short film featuring an international hotel group. Here it is...Enjoy!

I recently came across this beautiful short HERE from the director Luca Guadagnino of I AM LOVE and producer Waris Ahluwalia. What a nice and unexpected little journey. It's so stunning and poetic. I was surprised to read further and discover that it is a promotional collaboration between these talented men and The Luxury Collection Hotel Group. Of the 3 destinations featured in the film, I've had the pleasure of staying at The Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki and was happy to see it featured here. Don't you want to be her just for a moment? (Bonus, Jason Schwartzman does all of the music).

Photos: Royal Hawaiian Photo, J. Fox, Waris H. photo by Alessio Bolzoni
Text: Janella Fox 

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