Friday, March 29, 2013

The Feast of Scoma

imotiv, an amazing iPhone app (formerly known as NuffnangX) that works like an RSS feed (only better and with more features, collecting all your blogs in one app to read on your iPhone), invited a group of us food bloggers to Scoma's for a Seafood Extravaganza on March 23. It was the night before a busy day at the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon, but we just couldn't turn down such a generous invitation from such wonderful people! Angela and J.K. signed up for this event  and wrangled our new blog partner Mel into attending as well.

Picture perfect weather!

Their mural on the fish processing building. That's right, they own a boat!

Valet available.
Your portal to seafood heaven!

The Tea Time Adventurers (nickname coined by Ezen of imotiv) arrived early and decided to walk around the area behind the restaurant. It was a good decision. The sun was out, the bay was beautiful and we witnessed a marriage proposal, which was accepted. Attending the dinner with us were Jo of mahal to the macs, Ngoc of San Jose Food Blog,  and Melissa of Serving Seconds. Jerome, who blogs over at A Spy in the House of Food and is the organizer of the Bay Area Food Bloggers group, had a previous engagement, but made time to drop by and have a glass of wine with us before dinner.

Scoma's provided us with bottomless glasses of  a light, crisp chardonnay that paired well with all of our food from seafood dishes to dessert. While our dinner was being prepared, we sipped our wine and nibbled on breadsticks and sourdough bread. Scoma picked our appetizers, while Ezen and Gabriel from Nuffnangx conferred with the restaurant staff to decide upon our main courses and sides. We shared everything family style which was perfect since we could eat more! The portions (as you'll see) are ample for one person as a main course, so try to get a group together in order to taste as much as possible. Of course once you sample some items on the menu you'll have to go to Scoma again and bring Different friends.

Sticks of bread, butter.
Good wine, great company.

Our first appetizer was scallops, sauteed in a saffron cream sauce, with fried leeks on top.Our introduction to the seafood at this resto was a perfect example of the delights to come out during our meal. Verdict? Delicious. Next we had  two platters full of crab cakes and fried calamari with plenty of lemons to squeeze over our seafood. Plus three dipping sauces including remoulade, tartar and seafood sauce. The calamari was sweet and well-cooked, while the crab cakes were all crab baby!

You like scallops? Order this one.
Tender calamari and no-filler crab cakes, yum!
This was the tip of the seafood iceberg. But this group is full of professional eaters, some even tackling the 7x7 top 100 restos (and completing it, wow Melissa!) Scoma's brought out the bibs and we were ready to crack the crab. Our group was blessed with two kinds, sweet fresh crab (amazing with lemon squeezed on it!) and a garlicky, buttery crab. Silence descended. Perhaps we heard the bells of the boat that brought the crabs in from the bay, but either way the whole table was too busy savoring the crab to make idle chit chat.

So happy with our bibs!

Fresh Sweet Crab!

Garlic Crab, ah memories.
Ready to dig in!
After the triumph of fresh crab, how could it be topped by any other seafood dish? Bring out the lobster and scallops and shrimps and maybe we're even missing some other fishy goodness...because this was all in one dish. In fact we'll give two views of these tempting morsels, just so you can see the variety. Scoma's famous mixed shellfish saute, served with penne pasta, rice and tasty veggies has an amazing sauce as well. What's the secret, chef?

Starchy goodness to soak up the sauce.
More seafood and more lemons please.
We also got in some more veg and pasta before dessert. Of course we couldn't do it all justice. The grumblings of, "I'm getting full," started turning into, "I can just take one bite, sorry." One more reason we love Nuffnangx and their blogger outreach is that they aren't shy about taking home leftovers. (All the bloggers declined, most saying they were too full to carry anything home.)

Pasta Pesto

Pasta Pomodoro
Steamed spinach "action" shot.
Overall this meal lived up to its name of 'Feast'! Especially the camaraderie of new friends around the table. Tea Time is doubly excited about how this event turned out because not only do we now have a local "know" on where to go to eat local fresh crab, but we have a new group of bloggers to share resources and conversation with, possibly even blog collaborations for future posts.

We were all convinced that we were far too full to eat dessert, but one look at the platters changed our minds. Each group of four shared a plate that showed off the 'best of' Scoma's desserts, including Raspberry Cheesecake, Chocolate Torte, Spumoni Ice Cream and Black Cherry Sorbet. This many days later, we're all still chattering about the house made Black Cherry Sorbet. Angela thinks she'll just go sit at the bar, order some wine and a huge helping of this scrumptious flavorful dessert.

Dessert Platter
Scoma's was rocking with diners by the time our feast was winding down, but the wait staff was attentive and thorough, cleaning our detritus and refilling wine and water glasses almost as soon as you set them back down on the table. If you're looking for a local resto with fresh seafood and great service, Scoma's is it!

Crab shells were flying!
No leftovers here!
Plus! After all that, there were mints. Angela did take one to go.

After-Dinner Mints

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Giant Apple- Quit taunting me!

This giant apple. Wow. This giant apple is dipped in caramel and covered in chocolate and rolled in nuts. The 2.5 lb apple itself is a Fuji-- crisp and fresh tasting, complimented by the buttery caramel and milky chocolate, with the nuts adding a secondary meaty crunch so different than the apple itself.

The Big aka "Giant" Apple.

I met this amazing dessert made by Rachel Dunn Chocolates last fall at the Chocolate Salon. My friend Stephanie and I were so smitten by the samples we had to buy one for our extended friamily's (friends and family) Thanksgiving meal. The salon was about 10 days before Turkey day, so that apple sat and taunted me in the fridge. It was a good thing apples are self-contained. I knew I couldn't sneak a piece or the whole dessert would be compromised. Then the day came to gorge! There was lots of food, including desserts, but the people who were in the kitchen with me when I cut into that apple kept snapping photos and shouting to those still in the living room, "come see this Giant apple! Quick, we're eating it all!". I will admit that my carving prowess does not compare to the professionals at the Chocolate salon. However when I mentioned that to the giant apple mavens at the spring salon they pointed out that it still tasted great, and I had to agree with them.

Professional samples.
 I got it cut in half okay, but the rest was a bit, messy. Operator error, but delish!
I'm drooling on the screen right now, remembering.
 At the fall salon they were also selling chocolate bowls. They were not in evidence at the spring salon, but surely are still available to buy in stores or order online. Instead they brought Ebirds Perfect Peppermint Chocolate Cookies which were minty, crispy/crunchy and covered in chocolate! 

Peppermint cookies.

Make dessert extra interesting with a delectable serving dish!

Although the company calls their dessert "The Big Apple", I think I have to let the cat out of the bag with this post... People it is Giant!  And the taste is Delicious. Go. Buy it. Share it. Thank me. (and let your friends and family thank me too)

Setting up for the fall luxury salon.

Dessert bowls that you'll never have to wash!

Big Giant Apple, I think I loooooove youuuuuu.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tea Time enjoys good fish by B. Selengut

J.K. and I had a fishy lunch this week which featured a recipe found in this month's cookbook, good fish, by Becky Selengut. However, this selection for March cook the book doesn't have a single sweet recipe. Instead JK used her favorite shortbread recipe, Chocolate Liqueur Shortbread, from The Sophisticated Cookie, by Jeanne Benedict to create our dessert. We're going to split this post in two, getting fishy (part 1/Angela) and the cookies+cutters (part 2/J.K.).

For lunch we had Sardine and White Bean salad (p197). This appealed to me because I Love white beans and also the interesting introduction by the author, "I think you can get all the ingredients at a gas station." Which may or may not be true (I think it's possible!), but I definitely found them over at my local produce store. I didn't buy any bread as there were some leftover ends in the freezer which made perfect toaster oven croutons. The chosen Sardines turned out to be perfect for this cookbook recipe since they were clearly labeled as sustainable on the package. The opened tin contained lovely nearly whole fish, just minus heads, tails and guts. (I drained the oil and gave it to the cats for a treat, extra shiny coats this month!) I also love pickled red onion, but hadn't thought to make them myself as 'fridge pickles'. Thanks to the inspiration of this recipe, there is a batch of them chillin' right now. They are ready and willing to be tossed on any salad or used as garnish on a hot meal. Looking at ingredients, I subbed a nutty cow cheese (not aged) instead of Parm like in the recipe. J.K. and I really enjoyed this lunch. We ate the flavorful White Bean salad next to spinach leaves topped with olives and avocado. I also made a small compote of plain yogurt with walnuts and mandarin to go with our dessert cookies. This was a simple, yet tasty and satisfying meal. If you want a quick dinner, Sardines and White Beans with Fried Egg will hit the spot.

Sardine and white bean salad with fried egg!
and JK, not pictured here, fish cookies for dessert.
Table for 2=Angela

I bookmarked several recipes in this months cookbook, but I just couldn't find the time to get the ingredients and make them. One of them I wish someone one else would make so I can eat it is the chilled crab soup (p55). I love a good soup and this one sounds divine. I also wanted to make the Quinoa cakes with smoked fish (p157). On a Hawaiian vacation we stopped at one fish shop/resto several times to buy up their delish fish salad and I am hoping this recipe could fill the smokey hole in my life. Really though, I can't wait to see what everyone else has cooked up this month, especially ohbriggsy and Grow and Resist, our intrepid cook the book leaders. (In fact, they've just posted the next four cookbooks, so why don't you check them out with us?) When they go, they go all out! I'm also wondering what they made for desserts to go with their dinner party meal?
Here's the scoop on the Dessert from J.K.

I started by digging out my fish cookie cutters, but I also have a few new toys to play with. March 14 is Pi day, so I ordered all three sizes of Pi cutters from in Kansas. The Doctor Who cutters were made by WarpZone, who sells on Etsy. The fish aren't signed, so I don't know who made them.

There are only five ingredients for this recipe. I chopped my frozen butter before putting it in the bowl with the sugar.

Then I wisked the flour and cocoa together, and measured the liqueur.


Pat your dough into a more-or-less square shape. I used my ¼" paddywhacks for the outline cutters. Paddywhacks are no longer being made, but Perfection Strips are currently available.

I covered the dough with a piece of psychic–er, I mean silicone–paper, to keep the dough from sticking to the rolling pin.

A bit of dough did stick to the silicone paper.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper and place cut cookies close together to freeze.

Place frozen cookies far enough apart on cookie sheet and bake while still frozen. This will help them keep their shape.

The 3/16" paddywhacks worked better with the Whovian impression cutters.
That's just the end of the dough between the two K-9s.
Baked fish cookies-Chocolate Dessert Deliciousness.