Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of speaking with three of San Francisco's busiest chefs, the men behind the PlumpJack restaurant kitchens. Jack Falstaff's Jonnatan Leiva, PlumpJack Cafe's Rick Edge, and Balboa Cafe's Jose Lemus each stopped by Balboa to deliver a batch of their ultimate chili. The chefs, along with the firefighters of Station 16, are taking part in an annual chili cook-off, benefiting the San Francisco Firefighter Toy Program. Each chef submitted a recipe for a different type of chili. From now until Friday, November 7th, diners at Balboa will have the chance to sample all four and vote on their favorite. If you don't live in San Francisco you may not be able to taste the chili, but you could host your own chili contest! A chili cook-off is the perfect alternative to a formal Thanksgiving dinner or ideal for game day. To check out my ideas for hosting your own chili cook-off and the PlumpJack chefs' tips for making the best chili, read more
Last night I attended Jack Falstaff's first Farm to Table Grower's Dinner. The special menu features seasonal ingredients from local producers. The most exciting part of the meal (besides the delicious food) is that the farmers and wine makers dine with you.
I was lucky enough to speak with Audrey Sterling, the grande dame of Iron Horse vineyards. After fabulously describing the wines, she told me about how Iron Horse is served at the White House! Their varietals have been selected by the past five presidencies, dating back to Ronald Regan. It's a fun fact to tell guests when serving Iron Horse.
While I enjoyed all the wines they poured, my favorite was the 2006 Estate Pinot Noir ($40). It was subtly complex and incredibly smooth. Like the perfect little black dress, it's elegant, but stylish. It rolls through the mouth with fruity, earthy flavors and a rich aroma. The wine's made with a special precision-harvesting technique that closely examines each vines needs, resulting in a silky, wonderful wine. The wine was served with an intensely crispy, suckling pig porchetta, but I think it would be lovely with everything from comforting macaroni and cheese to braised beef.