SF CHEFS. FOOD. WINE. 2009 – FAVORITE VEGETARIAN DISHES
OK, we’re wrapping up the small detour to blasphemy, giving kudos to a couple chefs who knocked out super vegetarian dishes at SF Chefs. Food. Wine. 2009, the food festival that wins the prize for ignoring iambic pentameter and simplicity and being very difficult to say or remember. No matter; the food and wine and panel events were all great and worth the frightening investment of time and money for that all day pass.
Pole Bean Salad, Fish & Farm, SF CA
1. FISH & FARM’S POLE BEAN SALAD (Chef Chad Newton)
Beans, beans…sometimes a magical fruit. Mostly not, and long waxy beans among them for many of us. Texturally challenging those skinny legumes, but Chef Chad Newton’s “pole bean salad” was another little veggie-lovers wonder. Roughly chopped yellow and green beans with diced sweet 100 tomatoes were tossed in a dill creme fraiche were enough to make the plate captivating, but the thinly julienned curlycues of crisp fried onions pulled the thing to brilliance. It’s Newton’s clever play on a white trash classic–Southern green bean casserole–but without the Velveeta and with an urban, haute cuisine twist. Smartly delicious; the dish was really bright and summery and refreshing. (But better as a tease for some of Newton’s amazing meat dishes at Fish & Farm…) And chopping the beans diminished the potentially unnerving waxiness…a good way to go.
The Grade: Awesome
FISH & FARM – 339 Taylor, SF CA (415) 474-3474
Chef Chad Newton, Fish & Farm SF
2. FARINA’S PESTO ON CROSTINI (Chef Danny Bowien)
Given the fantastically rich French food from Roland Passot of La Folie and Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys, and some serious meat and seafood throw-downs from other chefs all over the tent, walking over to get “just pesto” from Farina seemed at first like “Gee, what a gyp.” Until the blazing Kentucky grass-green concoction was smeared across a perfect little crostini piqued your interest. Or maybe angelically lit-pea green…you get it; it’s bright and captivating.
Then it hits the inside of your mouth like a shock of bliss and you think, “Oh yeah, I get it. This is among the best pestos I’ve ever had. Right up there will all the other amazing stuff I had today. And maybe even past a couple I thought were my favorites.”
When chefs keep topping each other and ones rise in your estimation quickly and unexpectedly, you could say it’s a pretty good food festival.
And after the festival I learned that Farina’s Executive Chef taught his Chef Danny Bowien his mother’s Genovese pesto recipe, then Bowien goes out in April 2008 to Genoa and takes first prize at the Pesto World Championship there. Yep, just pesto on toast. (No pic; sorry…think VERY GREEN)
The Grade: Awesome
FARINA – 3560 18th St, SF CA (415) 565-0360