Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thanksgiving help!

In my first attempt to be more grown-up, I am cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family this year. I'm not just driving over to Lafayette the night before to help out, I'm planning the menu and cooking everything and serving it in my apartment in San Francisco. Yowza. I'm only slightly nervous. My mom sounded bewildered when I first brought up the idea.

Me: Mom, are you doing anything for Thanksgiving this year?
Mom: I don't know...why?
Me: I'm thinking of cooking this year at my house.
Mom: Why would you do that?? No! Just come home! Don't be crazy!!
Me: Mom! You wouldn't have to do anything! I thought it would be nice if you all came over and had a relaxing Thanksgiving this year!

So I just gave up at that point, since my mom is pretty stubborn, and is convinced that by cooking Thanksgiving dinner I won't have time to "study." I think her idea of grad school is slightly different from mine.

The next day, I get a call.

Mom: You know Jungjoo, I was thinking about it some more, and I think it's a very nice idea to have Thanksgiving dinner at your house.
Me: See? It wasn't a crazy idea!
Mom: And don't try to do everything yourself. I can make something and bring it. Like pumpkin soup. Or the turkey! I'll bring the turkey!
Me: Mom!!

So now I'm cooking dinner. And I don't know what to do! I had all these ideas swirling in my head, like warm frisee salad with poached eggs and pancetta, or swiss chard gratin, or gorgonzola potato tart. And maybe I'll brine the turkey. The ideas started getting out of hand, and in about two minutes I had planned a 10-dish offering, where most everything involved bacon fat, cheese, heavy cream, or copious amounts of butter. Heart attack central. So I'm asking for ideas - what Thanksgiving dishes do y'all make that don't involve a truckload of saturated fat? Specifcally, vegetable offerings. And where would you buy a good turkey in San Francisco? Keep in mind, my budget doesn't allow me to get one of those fresh $130 heritage turkeys, but I'm willing to splurge on something that wasn't frozen a year ago. And how do you brine with little fridge space? I heard somewhere about brining in a cooler, but I'm afraid I'll wake up thanksgiving morning with rotten turkey and fodder for a year's worth of brotherly insults.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My brother...

...never ceases to amaze me. While I may have been the straight-A overachiever during high school, he has grown up to be the creative genius. I am in awe of his self-taught cooking and guitar-playing skills. And tonight he has made me burst with pride. He just called with his MCAT score - 36. Thirty-six!! I know, I know, it's totally obnoxious of me to brag about my baby brother, but dammit, I'm proud! I'm so excited for him. I know he'll be an amazing doctor. Or whatever he decides he wants to do. For all the insults he may throw my way, he is one of the sweetest and most caring little brothers anybody could ask for.
Congratulations Hyunjoon! I'll be sure to drink a Guinness in your honor when I'm done with this crazy 200-mile relay this weekend!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Pearl, part two...

On Sunday I trekked out to Berkeley to hear the amazing Takacs Quartet, and there was no way I was driving back to the city without eating some spicy smoky fries. Yes, I went back to Pearl. Yes, I loved it as much as I did the first time.

We started with the fall salad, which was a tangy jumble of frisee topped with raspberries, figs, and pistachio pecorino. Then we dug into the crispy squid with thai slaw, which if you go to Pearl and you don't order, you have wasted a trip. On my last trip I loved the bruschetta and this time they offered a version with figs. Although I love figs, I passed on this so we could try the moroccan fish cakes - and we were not at all disappointed. They looked like falafel balls - and they had the same crunchy outsides, but full of moist fish and zucchini inside, served on top of a yummy yogurt sauce with housemade harissa. And then there were the fries. Mmmmm...

We washed it all down with a huge bottle of belgian farmhouse ale. I was pretty full. But then we looked at the dessert menu, and had to order the hot fudge sundae. Yergh. Chocolate-hazelnut, triple espresso, and vanilla bean gelato. Valrhona and El Rey chocolate sauces. Banana. Whipped cream. Did we have to restrain ourselves from licking the inside of the martini glass it was served in? Yes.