Tag Archives: tasty taters

Four Fab FiDi Lunches for those not in Finance

28 Jan

When you work in the Financial District but your lunch budget is more Mickey D. than Michael Mina, there will come  a point where you swear you’d rather become anorexic than consume  another Subway sandwich. This is of course an empty threat because food is your main joy in life (at least on weekdays) but seriously, how those damn subs manage to taste exactly the same no matter what the hell you put on them has haunted me for years.

For my fellow flavor-concious but fiscally strapped worker bees, I am thrilled to present  five personally approved, well under $10 lunch options, carefully culled over my many years roaming these mean lunchtime streets.

Happy Donut makes my Post-it problem less sad, no?

  1. HAPPY DONUT (Battery @ Bush). Obviously the first thrill is picking up your brown bag lunch at a place called “Happy Donut.” The second thrill is the House Special Chicken Noodle Soup. For $6, you get 6x the soup you would at Soup Co.  Carry yourself to deskside heaven on the wings of a tiny takeaway Sriracha container (you have to ask for it,  plus then you get to feel cool because you were loving this spicy red elixir long before it became the next big food thing, right?). These Vietnamese soups also make perfect comfort food if you’ve caught whatever horrible bug/flu/cold of death thing is cruelly circulating. Thanks for the tip on this one, @Danibird!
  2. YO YO’S (Pacific between Sansome and Battery).  This is a yummy husband-and-wife microwave-and-hot-pot kind of operation. It’s practically a challenge to spend more than $5. They prepare the soup to order, so you can pick which kind of noodles (Udon), if you want spicy sauce (you do), tempura (natch), seaweed etc. Tack on a set of decent sushi rolls, $2.50 for 6 pieces.
  3. LEE’S DELI (lotsa locales, but the biggest/best is “Far East Lee’s” on Battery between Pine and Bush, dubbed by the genius Mr. Cumpston). I am kind of obsessed with this place. An Asian deli? I was dubious. For my East Coast sensibilities, a true deli sandwich means a meatball parm grinder from Fortuna’s, with acceptable alternatives limited to Jewish and Greek. Lee’s turkey sammy is a steal at $4.50 and the turkey is roasted. You know, like Thanksgiving, but with mayonnaise. Also, they have a great hangover buffet. Anywhere I can fix my own special sodium-craving combo of cafeteria-style tater tots doused in Sriracha topped with a couple stray strips of bacon for under $3 has my bleary-eyed approval.
  4. CHEZ CARLA (Pine between Battery and Sansome). The sandwiches made fresh at the counter in the back are well above par, but we’re not here to talk about $10 lunches. No, no, my friends, here’s the goods: come past 2 p.m. and everything in the salad and hot bar is half off. They even have daily themes, like elementary school, but fancy. How endearing is that? Best in show is Monday’s Chicken Linguini with Hazelnut Pesto. Spoon it over some greens and call it healthy. Shhh.

I was going to make this list five and include my favorite baked potato stop (Napa Ranch), but I found out it just closed (DAMN!) and I don’t feel right making a subpar swap. Luckily for my English major and the obnoxiously alliterative title of this post, four also starts with F.

The silver lining in this 9-5 tragedy is that it leaves a cheap eats opening – any reccs? Please share. It’s all the currency we have in this un-Financial world, after all.

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On Flowers and Food Processors: A Fall in Review

13 Jan

Considering I am The Ultimate Justifier (seriously, throw me your conscience’s roadblocks, I’ll blast them apart with my shaky moral chainsaw faster than you can yell VICE!), the truly bizarre San Francisco winter/summer parallel would be enough for me to jump right back in like no time had passed whatsoever since my last post. But, skipping over the many months of milestones that have kept me busy since – or at least the meals I made during – would belie the bite-sized lessons I’ve learned over their course. So, since you didn’t ask, some highlights:

1. Don’t be a tool. Or, don’t worry so much about yours.

The setting: A Friday afternoon that finds me deliciously not at the office, but rather in the midst of a Los Angeles Indian Summer. Relishing the idea of playing housewife to my beloved Telanor Kousman, out slaving away on his glamorous Hollywood set, I want to find a dish that’s not only appropriate for the heat, but that will showcase a true labor of love in the rare daylight I’ve stolen. Spying the base of a food processor under his butcher’s block, I decide to cobble together my take on Jamaican Jerk Chicken – more or less this New York Times recipe but with four hours of marinating instead of 12. Apparently, house-wifery requires advance planning.

So, I drag my sweating, sundressed-self to the supermarket to gather my fresh fixings (three different kinds of hot peppers, green onions, shallots, ginger, garlic and thyme), clean and prep them, de-shoe so as to be appropriately barefoot, and set them all triumphantly in front of the food processor, ready to grind them into the “course paste” the paper demands.

Only… where’s the damn blade? I look for an hour. Sticky and defeated, I’m about to give up and trek to Joans on Third for some absurdly fancy and correspondingly priced charcuterie (which let’s be real, I did anyway), when it dawns on me – did the Maroons dragged to Jamaica as slaves who created this dish  have food processors???

No. No, they did not.

So, two hours (/two conference calls) later, knife skills vastly improved, I had my precious paste. Did it look perfect? No. Did it taste incredible? Yes. Did I find the missing blade while cleaning up after dinner hours later? Of course.

Since I don’t have a photo of that particular creation (my Blackberry was angry enough at having to pretend to function while smothered in honey and hot pepper juices – this was my passive-agressive way of punishing it at this point in our relationship), here’s another following the same principle. Martha Stewart’s Winter Fruit Crisp, valiantly executed with not a cheese cloth or electric mixer in sight.

(what’s left of) Madge’s Winter Fruit Crisp

As you can see, it was enjoyed – with nary a comment on clumpy topping. Granted, I made it for my boyfriend, who is arguably obligated to tell me it’s delicious if he wants the real sugar… but he did have three servings, take the rest home and ask me to help him translate the recipe into Arabic for his sister, so I guess we’ll take his word for it.

2. Recycling: Not just for your Diet Coke can; Or, the Evolution of a Saturday Dinner.

Turns out, recycling is also ideal for the paella made for two that you both somehow thought would be a fitting amount:

Miss Aarti, or now truly “Spicy in the City” in her awesome new Marina digs, is one of my absolute favorite cooking buddies, but we do seem to share a rather unfortunate quantity-gauging problem…

In our defense, I’m not sure which 4 – 6 people Mark Bittman, whom I love, intended to serve this yellow rice abundance. Perhaps they are professional class salsa dancers? (I’d say sumo wrestlers, but Marky just seems more refined.)

In any case, I was able to add the ridiculous amount of leftovers (less the tomatoes which became a bit soggy) to a bit of sauteed garlic and tomato paste in my Dutch Oven, split a few cherry tomatoes over the top, and rebake for an even more flavorful, crispier go the following night.

In its second life, the rice served as the perfect base to soak up the juices from Martha’s Clam Pan Roast with Sausage & Fennel, which I made as a Sunday evening dinner for my seafood-loving boyfriend (should there be any other kind?). Seriously though, click through to Madge’s little photo. Great little serving for two, right? Ha. I was eating that rice and sausage (Moh took care of all the clams that actually opened like they were supposed to, briny little bastards) for lunch and dinner for the next two days.

And the potatoes? They were soaked in a slick, delicious broth too good to waste but hadn’t quite cooked through, so I saved them in their own Tupperware. Two nights later, the lovely Carrie came up the street and we halved them again and “olive oiled” them (it’s like pan-frying, but makes me feel better about my life – try it sometime) for a good long time. We ate those damn tasty taters alongside my favorite buttermilk chicken, with a cornbread-ing this time around, and a salad. Which I then had for lunch the next day, with the rest of the potatoes, sauteed spinach and poached eggs doing just fine for a quick, cheap dinner that night.

Moral of the long-winded story? What started as one meal rolled along into feeding me and several other people for the better part of the week. Your food might really hit its stride the second time around.

3. Stop talking, Katie.

Seriously. I had some more lessons planned but even I’m sick of me. And since I’m actually sick, I’m justyifing retiring with my Vitamin-C system shock smoothie (thanks Moh! He threw peeled fresh oranges, lemons and honey into my blender and I feel ten times better already) and last night’s Top Chef (although I swear if Jamie doesn’t FINALLY pack her knives and go, I will).

But I’ll be back, well before the SF fog at long last rolls out for the refreshing spring we all know will come soon enough. Promise.

You're right, EShea, this is pretty much my jam these days. Sometimes a picture is worth more than the 1000+ words that came before it 🙂