Saturday, May 29, 2010

Baraka: This Lemonade is a Blessing

I have had the best lemonade of my life.

And yes, it will blow away even the best of any Southern grandmother's pitcher.

You can find it in a small, unassuming little Algerian-Tunisian restaurant called Baraka tucked away in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The drink is called Cherbat. What makes it so special? A blend of scrumptious ingredients - including orange essence, rose water, fresh mint and other spices like cinnamon and cloves. There's a beautiful garnish of rose petals, too. The result is a refreshing and delicate beverage that will cool, rejuvenate and cleanse your palette. And it looks quite pretty, too. You can try making it at home by following this recipe; just make sure you add fresh mint and finely grind the spices.

Baraka offers a wealth of other delectable food, too. The flavors are Mediterranean with a North African twist - lots of olive oils, vinegars, and capers complemented by flavorful spice blends like zaatar. If you can make it for lunch, I'd highly recommend the open face tuna sandwich, served on hearty Berber-style flat bread.

Many thanks to my dear friend Melissa for sharing this spot. If Bedouins really eat this well in North Africa, I just might consider becoming a nomad . . .

Baraka Cafe
80 1/2 Pearl Street
Cambridge, MA 02139

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Bisou - best new SF restaurant

I am breaking a cardinal rule of mine and spilling the beans on an amazing, yet-unexploited SF dining spot.

But only because it's so good. I'd say it's the best new restaurant in SF. The Yelp reviews agree too.

It's an awesome little French bistro with a modern chic vibe in the Castro called Bisou.

I can't sing enough praises for this place. The food is simple but scrumptious. The prices are very reasonable. The drink selection is varied and well-chosen. And the desserts come with beautiful sugar ornaments!

Nick Ronan, thank you for outdoing yourself and creating this adorable new spot. And thank your amazing wait staff for being so friendly. At dinner here last Sunday, we were gifted with champagne on the house, and a custom-made steak tartare heart. The service is lovely - warm and welcoming. And the entire three course experience came for under $40 a person.

Things you should definitely order while you're here:
- Ernst&Co Pinotage - rich blackberry flavors without the funky nose that these South African wines can have
- KBA Kobe Steak Tartare - the picture says it all
- Beef Bourguignon - Julia Child would swoon
- Frites - delicious, if you can order them before they run out!
- Desserts - try them all (but if you must pick one, definitely try the chocolate carresse, shown above)

So there you have it, one of my best secrets, no longer kept. Now before the place gets so booked it's impossible to get a table, check it out.

2367 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114