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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Magical Filipino Cookies, Thomas Keller Speaks

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 9:01 AM

click to enlarge House of Silvanas' cookies: pandan (top), ube, mango. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • House of Silvanas' cookies: pandan (top), ube, mango.

Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

click to enlarge House of Silvanas' cookies: pandan (top), ube, mango. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • House of Silvanas' cookies: pandan (top), ube, mango.

1. The Bay Area's other best cookie? On the way back from the Pacifica Fresh & Easy last week, I stopped in at a forlorn strip mall to visit House of Silvanas (2055 Gellert, Daly City), which specializes in a cookie many people call the Filipino macaron. As Tamara Palmer wrote on SFoodie a few years ago, House of Silvanas is an offshoot of a Manila-area bakery with several stores in southern California as well. Rows of its silvanas, two-inch cookies dyed Easter egg colors, glow in the light of the freezer case they're displayed in.

The silvanas ($1.15 apiece, discounts on boxes) are insane: Two cashew wafers sandwiching a layer of buttercream -- read: flavored butter -- are rolled in fine colored breadcrumbs. The reason for the freezing is clear the moment you bite in. They simultaneously crunch and pulverize upon contact, the buttercream melting a half-beat later in a brighter wash of flavor. While the original, ube, and pandan cookies I tried echoed the richness of the butter, the sweet-tart kick of the mango made it my favorite. I could see the cookies working in dozens of other fruit flavors.

Why aren't more people making silvanas? Why is there not a House of Silvanas in San Francisco? Why have I been contemplating a second trip to Daly City since the moment I fished the last silvana out of the freezer? If I proclaim silvanas the next cupcake, will someone get the idea?

2. Sir Thomas speaks. The national Eater ran a great interview with Thomas Keller yesterday in which he talked about his new legacy, how he has no plans to open another four-star restaurant in the United States, and why he thinks the difference between what the French Laundry and Ad Hoc serve is complexity, not quality.

Oh, and the whole pop-up trend? You children think it's something new, Keller scoffs: "My first experience with pop-ups was back in the

'80s, when Paul Prudhomme's restaurant in New Orleans burned down.

While they were reconstructing the restaurant, he took his restaurant on

the road. He came to New York City, did two pop-up restaurants in New

York, he went to Chicago, he went to L.A. before he went back to New


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