Scream's Macadamia Nut Sorbet Is Surprisingly Locavore
By Darya Pino
For an ingredient as exotic as macadamia nuts, the word "local" may require a little loosening here in the Bay Area. But the fact that Emeryville-based Scream Sorbet found a California macadamia producer at all is surprising, especially considering that its first experiments required sourcing organic nuts from Kenya. For Scream's latest macadamia vanilla sorbet, owners Nathan Kurz, Noah Goldner, and Stephanie Lau turned to MnM's Nuthouse, a macadamia nut grower in Fallbrook, a quiet farming town in northern San Diego County.
Anyone who has tried them will tell you MnM's nuts are special. Farmer Mark Marchese attributes much of that exceptional flavor to the nuts' freshness. Delicate Omega-3 fatty acids quickly turn rancid during shipping at nonoptimal temperatures. With California-grown macadamias, you can actually taste the freshness.
There are other factors, too. California macadamia varietals — cultivars developed by farmers returning from Hawaii after World War II — are themselves unique. Their flavor and texture are slightly different from those from Africa, Australia, and even Hawaii. According to Marchese, the raw food movement may have also affected the taste of MnM's macadamias. To meet the demands of raw foodies, they've altered their roasting, reducing the temperature from 104°-110°F to 90°-100°F. This requires longer roasting, but preserves the nutrients and flavor of the nut in its natural state.
Fortunately, MnM's is now producing enough nuts to make Kurz, Goldner, and Lau hopeful that macadamia vanilla will become a mainstay. The nuts' naturally high level of saturated fat, combined with the smoothness Scream achieves via the Pacojet, makes the nut-based sorbet almost indistinguishable from ice cream. Add to that the buttery, nuanced flavor of macadamias and whole vanilla beans (infusions aren't necessary with the Pacojet) and Scream has created something that should make both vegans and omnivores rejoice.
Scream Sorbet appears at various Bay Area farmers' markets, including Thursdays at Ferry Plaza, Sundays at Fort Mason Center (ends Oct. 31), and Wednesdays at Castro and Upper Haight (both end Oct. 27). The Scream shop in Oakland's Temescal neighborhood is projected to open later this month.
Bread Basket's Pan de Sal
By Jonathan Kauffman
Pan de sal, the old-timers say, is nothing like it used to be. Once a crusty, airy bread related to Mexican bolillos — the Spanish brought pan de sal to the Philippines in the 16th century — it's now more like a dinner roll: vaguely sweet, with a dusting of toasted breadcrumbs giving it a sandy surface and slightly nutty flavor. A pan de sal is a sop for coffee or soup, a breakfast treat smeared with butter or liver pâté, the shell of a slider-sized sandwich.
Bread Basket, a tiny corner bakery in Daly City, distributes pan de sal to local groceries, and you can find bags and bags of the rolls stacked around the periphery of the shop, whose case displays 20 or 30 kinds of sweets, cakes, and other breads. The point of driving to the bakery is not to pick up one of the plastic bags of bread baked hours ago, though — it's to ask the hair-netted attendant whether she has any warm rolls. She darts back to the oven room and returns with a paper bag. It is incubator-warm, the womblike smell of fresh bread emanating from its top.
This is a risky proposition. A hot pan de sal doesn't crumple as much as disperse into bread-flavored mist. One bite leads to a second, and it's gone — these are small rolls, mind you. A second and third roll evaporated by the time I got to the car. I realized just why the woman gave me a knowing grin as she handed the bag over, saying, "I left it open just in case you wanted to eat some."
That was the first risk. The second is more dire: As gently as the counterwoman handled the hot rolls, and as much as I tried to keep the bag from tipping over or knocking around on the way home, the rolls jostled and crumpled by the time I got there, and there was no way of inflating them back into shape. A cook who planned to serve the pan de sal to a group of people would buy the already cooled rolls and gently rewarm them, or at least treat the warm bag as if it contained a dozen baby chicks. By contrast, a selfish eater would scarf as many of the pan de sal as he could before they cooled, then hunt around the kitchen to see whether he could rustle up any fruits or vegetables, yet another feeble attempt to redeem himself.
Bread Basket: 7099 Mission (at Moltke), Daly City, 650-994-7741, www.breadbasketca.com.
Rocky's Frybread Has All The Right Bumps and Lumps
By Tamara Palmer
We met the affable Rocky Yazzie of Rocky's Frybread when he unexpectedly set up in front of Fabric8's "Local Flavor" a few weeks ago, next to the gallery's frequently appearing street food vendors Soul Cocina, Good Foods Catering, and Sweet Constructions. Yazzie explained that he is of Diné descent ("Navajo" is the Spanish name for Diné people) and recently moved to San Francisco from a reservation in Shiprock, N.M.
Over a sign reading "Authentic Navajo Frybread," Yazzie hand-stretched his vegan, organic dough; sizzled it in oil; and drizzled it with honey and powdered sugar. (Obviously, if you want the frybread to stay vegan you can order it without honey.) The dimpled, round frybread has its own version of nooks and crannies, yielding alternately soft and chewy bites. He often also offers savory varieties with additions like Hatch Valley green chiles as well as Navajo tacos.
Watch out for Rocky's Frybread on the streets of the Mission at spots such as Amnesia and Fabric8. Yazzie also sets up in front of El Rio starting at 9 p.m. on Monday nights. He doesn't have set prices for his food and instead accepts donations.
Kitchenette's Short Rib Sandwich
By John Birdsall
A short rib sandwich minitrend is gripping the city, San Francisco! Maybe nobody has done it quite so good lately as Kitchenette. Off the loading dock Monday we scored one that took inspiration from sauerbraten. Really, though, it made us think of pot roast. Really good pot roast, the kind where the meat fibers hold together by the flimsiest web of delicate connective tissue, and the flavor is in danger of having leached into whatever liquid the meat braised in, only with just enough left to taste like beef.
Far as we could tell, the sauer part kept to the heap of buttery melted cabbage and bronze fennel, which tasted like it'd been goosed with a good slug of good vinegar. We didn't even notice the apple butter that must've been smeared on the sandwich's Acme baguette, except as a vague sweetness we thought, as we ate, that comes from general virtuousness alone. Shows you what we know.
Kitchenette: 958 Illinois (at 20th St.).