Last week, I had the privilege of attending the grand opening of a new restaurant in San Francisco with one of my close friends Whitney… Here she is!
The restaurant is called Park Tavern, and is located in the beautiful North Beach, or Little Italy district of San Francisco, just adjacent to George Washington Square.
As we entered the chic restaurant, I couldn’t help but notice the old-fashioned ambiance, the dark booths, the long mahogany wood communal table, and of course the spectacular bar. In my opinion, Park Tavern’s interior designer was somehow able nail the time-worn, yet modern look perfectly! It was homey, yet hip…bistro, yet cafe. A place I would not only take out-of-towner’s to, but personally visit on a regular basis for a delicious meal.
As we walked further into this culinary oasis, Whit and I were immediately greeted with delightful smells from the kitchen and a very enthusiastic staff. To our delight there was an open bar! Don’t mind if I do help myself to the featured martini of the night, thank you!
With a drink in hand, I immediately noticed the delicately put together appetizers that had been strategically placed about… from colossal platters of cheese from around the world, colorfully curled vegetables, and crispy fried pork belly, to deep-fried polenta with sweet fig, and fried green tomatoes bites, we were in hors d’oeuvre heaven! Have a look below!
Playing it “cool,” I decided to hold off on diving into the app’s just yet, and chat with some of the bon vivant’s or food connoisseurs of the evening. Though enjoyable, that lasted for roughly five minutes, and I was already headed for the cheese platter!
A word if you will, by Dorie Greenspan, author and chef of Around My French Table, on fine cheeses.
“The rule of thumb when partaking in cheese is that you should cut each cheese so that after you’ve sliced off what you want, the remainder looks like a miniature of how it started out. This is because the middle of the cheese, or tip of the wedge is considered the best, and it is considered rude if you take the whole piece for yourself! Of course slicing the cheese perfectly is impossible and can’t be taken literally, but its good to keep in mind. You can’t cut domes so that they look anything like a dome after the first cut, so domes and pyramids and rounds, like whole Camemberts, are cut in wedges or slices like pie. ”
The cheese, just like the rest of the night, was simply divine, which brings us to our next recipe! When I’m looking for a quick way to impress, and do not have a lot of time to do so, I turn to this base recipe and mix in whatever sounds good that day! Today its roasted italian peppers!
* Roasted Italian Pepper and Goat Cheese Tart*
- 3/4 cup chopped shallots (3 to 4 shallots) –> I use these guys a lot!
- 10 1/2 ounces garlic-and-herb soft goat cheese or chèvre
- 1-2 large roasted italian peppers (from the jar is fine), thinly sliced, or any other veggie that sounds good!
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 extra-large eggs
- 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of salted butter
- 1 pre-made tart or pie crust from the frozen section of your favorite grocery store. (This is the big time saver secret, and I’m telling you, no one can tell the difference… (or will really care) once they taste this bad boy!)
1. Follow the directions on the back of the pre-made tart crust and bake it accordingly.
2. Once baked set aside, and chop your shallots.
3. Heat one tablespoon of butter in a saute pan and add the chopped shallots, sautéing for roughly five minutes, or until tender. Remove from the heat.
4. Place the goat cheese in a mixing bowl, and with a large spoon, break up the pieces of cheese until crumbly.
5. Next add the cream, eggs, roasted peppers, basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper and mix away until fully incorporated.
6. Scatter the cooked shallots over the bottom of the tart shell.
7. Pour the goat cheese mixture over the shallots to fill the shell, being aware that some of the mixture might not fit.
8. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees, until the tart is firm when shaken and the top is lightly browned. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and serve hot or at room temperature.
Why I love this recipe:
It is oh so very versatile!! If I have veggies I need to use up, this is a good way to do just that. Sun-dried tomatoes and zucchini are delicious in this recipe as well. It can also be made sweet by adding fresh strawberries and a little sugar, and drizzling each slice with a balsamic glaze once cooked. The possibilities are endless!
If I make a savory tart like the one above, I like to serve it with a small salad made of spring lettuce, add in any extra basil I have on hand, and pour over a light olive oil and balsamic dressing. Bon appetite my friends!