Did you know the foil-wrapped super burrito was a San Francisco creation?

Foil wrap and all. I had always assumed it was created elsewhere, but it fills my heart with joy to know that my very own hometown was responsible for bringing the concept of a foil-wrapped overstuffed burrito to the world.

Living in Seattle years ago, I could not understand why it was so hard to find the burrito I knew and loved. They always insisted in on drenching these perfectly good burritos in sauce.

I'm going to call it a San Francisco burrito from now on. But maybe that's not necessary... there's only one kind of burrito in the world for me.

Hat tip to @tkane for enlightening us all.

The Fig Cafe - all the laid back gourmet flavor of North Berkeley next time you go wine tasting

My girlfriend Steph and I took a little mid-week retreat in Sonoma this past week. After checking out a few wineries (St. Francis, Sebastiani and Gundlach Bundschu), we headed over to Glen Ellen for an early dinner at the Fig Cafe. It's a casual, pretty inexpensive restaurant in a sleepy village called Glen Ellen in the hills smack dab in the middle of Sonoma Valley. You know, the OTHER California wine country. There seems to be a bit of a rivalry with the Napa Valley-ites.

To start, we had steamed mussels, and I ordered the top sirloin burger with dutch crunch roll and cambozola cheese (breathtakingly good) and Steph had the Salmon with chestnut spaetzle. The burger was incredibly hearty, and the cambozola I think has now firmly taken the #2 spot in my list of favorite cheeses to put in cheeseburgers. American Cheese of course can't yet be beat. Overall, the place feels as much at home in Glen Ellen as it would in the gourmet ghetto of North Berkeley. And that's definitely a good thing.

I love prime rib.

Me and ten of my friends got together on New Years Eve at my place in San Francisco for a great dinner party. The main attraction: an 11 pound 18-day dry-aged prime standing rib roast, accompanied by an incredible array of creamy sides. Think House of Prime Rib, but way more high quality because you can control the ingredients 100%. Many thanks to my friends Sushmita, Theo, Molly and Grace for cooking, and for everyone coming out to hang out and celebrate the new year in style.

Here are the recipes, courtesy of Tyler Florence's Ultimate cooking show on Food Network. I saw this on Christmas day and was absolutely inspired -- I just had to make it right away!
I highly recommend these recipes, and I also highly recommend having great friends come over to help cook, especially if cooking for 11.

Happy New Year!

Guilty pleasure of the day: Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli

I am addicted to Chef Boyardee beef ravioli. How strange is that? Ever since I was a kid, I could never get enough of the stuff. The obsession continues to adulthood. I know it's not good for me, and I know it doesn't actually taste anything like real ravioli -- indeed, it's a culinary travesty and a gourmand's worst nightmare.

But marketing to kids works, both for Chef Boyardee and McDonalds. Sometimes when I just want to connect with my childhood, it's just a 3 minute microwave timer away.

On the menu tonight... Pan-seared Fresh Salmon with a Lemon-Herb Reduction and Buttered Brussel Sprouts

I got my new cast-iron wok tonight, and had Mark and Sanny over for dinner promptly after seasoning it. Cast iron woks are heavy as heck and require seasoning, but so far I've been impressed with the amount of heat the wok dishes out. This is the first time I've felt like I've had a wok that's hot enough to properly cook at the right temperature -- flimsy IKEA woks just don't cut it on an electric burner.

I bought 2 pounds (4 fillets) of Fresh Atlantic Salmon fillets from Safeway, descaled it with a serated knife, and dropped it on the very hot preheated wok with a tiny bit of oil in there. Literally dropped it, because I actually splashed hot oil on my arm have about 5 or 6 big red second degree burns on my right arm from it now. ARGH. Luckily Mark ran out and grabbed some aloe for me across the street. I seared the salmon in the wok on high heat for 3 minutes, then transferred the fillets to a pyrex baking dish for broiling 4 inches from the top heating elements for another 3 minutes. Salt, pepper, and top it off with a light lemon-herb reduction, brown rice and buttered brussel sprouts.

The lemon-herb reduction was a simple mix of about 1/4th of a cup of finely diced fresh sage, thyme and parsely, half a stick of butter, and 2 cups of chicken broth boiled down to a nice sauce. I threw in a table spoon of corn starch to thicken it just a tad.

Since moving to South of Market, I've basically become completely domesticated. The dearth of cheap good food in the area and the lack of a car has resulted in a 300% increase in my cooking. Now if only my cooking safety skills would catch up.

It's kind of like in The Sims when your sim only has 1 or 2 levels of cooking proficiency, and promptly proceeds to chop off his own hand or burn down the house. Yeah. Kind of like that.