Prowling for Chicago Street Food

While in The Second City I wanted some of its legendary dishes, but no fancy restaurants this time. I’m on the prowl for tasty Chicago casual food. Here’s some of what I found.

Manny’s is about 2 miles outside of downtown. They’ve been making Jewish deli food since 1942. You order your food at the counter then go find a table and you don’t pay until you’re on your way out. Must be a deli tradition – same M.O. at Katz’ in NYC’s Lower East Side.

Don’t hold up the line figuring out what you want to eat. The guys behind the counter will tell you they only have 9 items and everything’s on display right in front of you – so hurry up people are waiting. I got a corned beef sandwich. The counter guy who’s been slicing corned beef and pastrami here since he was a kid just kept slicing and slicing. I thought he’d never stop! He grabbed a fist full and dumped it on rye bread, cut it in half, and miraculously threw it all on a plate in one fell swoop.

“That’s crazy, who can eat all that?” I demanded.

“Not me anymore,” the counter guy said.

Manny's Corned Beef Sandwich, Matzo Ball Chicken Soup and Dr. Brown Cream Soda

Here’s my sandwich overflowing with about 2 pounds of meat! That’s a potato pancake on top.  You can’t even see the 2 dill pickles buried on the plate. A bowl of matzo ball soup and a Dr. Brown’s cream soda rounded out my lunch.

I did a pretty good job on the corned beef. It was lean but had just enough fat to give it rich flavor. The potato pancake was creamy inside with a nice crunchy exterior – fatter than I’m used to, but delicious. And the chicken soup and matzo ball were some of the best I’ve had.

Gino's East Deep Dish Pizza

Giordano’s makes a dynamite stuffed pizza but I wanted deep-dish. So what’s the difference? Deep-dish is made with a cornmeal dough and baked in a deep pan brushed with olive oil to give the crust an almost fried finish. Stuffed is built like a deep-dish but also has a top layer of regular dough that’s topped with sauce then baked.

Luckily, Gino’s East was just a few blocks from my hotel. My deep dish had a thick side crust with a distinctive cornmeal flavor that holds up well to the mozzarella-sausage filling and sweet tomato sauce. It takes 45 minutes to bake so don’t go when you’re starving! If you can’t wait for you next trip to the Windy City try Patxi’s in Hayes Valley, the Marina and several other locations for great deep dish or stuffed pizza.

Chicago street food sold from sidewalk carts or stands has a long and proud tradition. You can still see hot dog carts here and there as you walk the city. I was on the prowl for 2 of the best – Italian Beef and Chicago Dogs.

I love Chicago’s Italian Beef sandwich. One of my favorites is at Al’s Beef. Al Ferreri started Al’s Beef in Little Italy in the 1920s. Story is that during the Depression meat was scarce. At weddings and other large family gatherings they sliced the meat thin and made it into panini so everyone would get some. It was so popular the family started selling Italian Beef sandwiches from a street stand and then moved to the store still on Taylor. Italian Beef supported the family for 70 years or more – they sold the business in 1999 and now there are several places all around Chicagoland still using Al’s original recipe.

Al's Italian Beef Sandwich with Sweet Peppers

Here it is in all it’s sloppy glory. The beef is long-cooked – sliced thin and served with sweet fried peppers or with a spicy hot pepper giardiniera on a roll. Be sure to tell them to “Dip it!” so the roll gets dipped in the pan gravy to add more flavor. Al’s Italian Beef is tender and moist and the gravy is fantastic with just a hint of black pepper heat. Even being “dipped,” the roll held up well – the sandwich was 5-napkin messy but easy to pick up and eat.

Portillo’s downtown and other Chicagoland locations, and Billy Goat Tavern downtown and at O’Hare, make a fabulous Italian Beef sandwich as well. In North Beach, Tony’s Slice House on Stockton near Union makes a great Chicago Italian Beef sandwich. That’s where I go when I need a fix.

Gold Coast Chicago Dog

A Chicago Dog is a balanced meal on a bun. They take a boiled or charred Vienna Beef hot dog and drag it through the garden – resto talk for piling on all the veggies. Here’s a Gold Coast Chicago Dog on a poppy seed bun with dill pickle spear, hot sport’s pepper, tomato wedges, chopped onions, neon green relish and yellow mustard. The crowning glory is a heavy sprinkle of celery salt to tie everything together. To be honest I settled for Gold Coast. I wanted to go to Superdawgs but it’s all the way out near O’Hare and you know what that expressway trip is like. Ugh! And Hot Dougs usually has a line around the block. No way it’s just a hot dog.

Farmer's Market in the Gold Coast Neighborhood

Well, my diet this Chicago trip might not have been the healthiest but it was the tastiest. Fear not – Chicagoans eat healthy. Here’s a street farmer’s market I stumbled upon off State Street on a rainy morning. All is not lost – I stocked up on some fruit for my hotel room!

Next time in town I’ll try to temper my appetite for all this casual food and enjoy some of the great Chicago chefs and their restaurants.

Chicago’s Little Italy Ain’t There No More!

Marilyn Still Draws a Crowd

I love the Windy City – the architecture, dozens of distinct neighborhoods with their own character, diverse and friendly people, great cultural institutions, and fantastic food.

I’m in Chicago on business. Surprise – I wanted to visit Little Italy. Guess what? It’s hard to find.

Chicago had a vibrant Little Italy on and around Taylor Street southwest of downtown where 100,000 Italian immigrants once lived but it ain’t what it used to be. As in other cities this Italian community is all but gone. It was undone in the 1950s when the University of Illinois demolished much of the old neighorhood for a new campus and University Village. Another reminder of how lucky we are to have a still vibrant Italian community in North Beach.

Italian-American friends here don’t like my perspective – Little Italy is still there they say and, more importantly, Italian culture pervades Chicagoland. Italian restaurants and markets are spread all around. It’s true – a contained Italian diaspora – but the original vibrant core ain’t no more.

There are a few bakeries, markets, old-line restaurants and Our Lady of Pompeii Church, but they aren’t the big draw – San Francisco’s Joe DiMaggio is. They installed a statue of North Beach’s favorite son as part of the Italian-American Sports Hall of Fame. Joe never lived here but he’s a Little Italy magnet now.

(Sorry for the cheesy underwear picture. Seward Johnson’s giant Forever Marilyn arrived on Michigan Avenue near the river a couple of months ago and she’s as popular as ever. Most ooglers love to get under Marilyn’s skirt and take pix of her panties. You would think that there are plenty of famous Chicagoans worthy of a new statue – but it’s Marilyn who is the latest out-of-towner with big crowds.)

Sunday Recipe: Quick Beef Stew (Stufato di Manzo)

Stufato di Manzo--Beef Stew

Trim the beef, chop the vegetables, brown everything in a thick-bottomed pot. Keep an eye on it and give it a stir once in a while. This is a great recipe to make in the afternoon for a comfort food dinner that night.

The beef is fall-apart tender and the vegetables are soft with vibrant flavor all embraced by a sweet tomato gravy. Serve the stufato with just a hunk of rustic bread to sop up all the gravy. Or, serve it with polenta or even buttered fettuccine.

When I was a kid I liked to smash all of the vegetables with my fork to make a bed for the beef. That way I was sure to get some of everything in each bite. Sometimes I can’t help myself – I still smash the vegetables.

An Aglianico or a Nero d’Avola pairs nicely with the stufato. You need something gutsy to stand up to the rich flavors of the stew.

Fried Eggs My Father’s Way

Eggs Fried in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Every once in a while when I was growing up in Jersey my father asked my mother to make a simple Friday night dinner – eggs fried in olive oil. It was one of my favorite meals. The eggs take on a lacy edge and a nutty flavor from the olive oil.

I kicked this one up a couple of notches – shaved Italian fontina cheese melted on top, garlic bread, an edible flower and baby greens salad. I just sprinkle the salad with EVOO, a syrupy Balsamic vinegar and sea salt. I don’t even mix the salad. I like surprises – sometimes you get a drop of the sweet vinegar with the EVOO and salt – sometimes not.




Eggs Frying in Olive Oil

Don’t be skimpy with the oil – the eggs should almost float when they hit the pan. Make sure the olive oil is starting to ripple before the eggs go in. Here’s how they should look before you finish them off. See that lacy golden edge? That’s what you want.

Once the eggs set lower the heat shave on some of your favorite cheese and put the cover on for a minute to melt the cheese and finish cooking the yolks.

While you’re cooking the eggs grill some good rustic bread, scrape one side with raw garlic and drizzle with some EVOO just before serving.

Five minutes tops and dinner is on the table.





Exhibit: Rare North Beach History

Baccari North Beach Exhibit, Old Mint SF

What ever happened to the North Beach memorabilia collection at the North Beach Museum curated by Allesandro Baccari, Jr.? It was above Cavalli Cafe on Stockton until it suddenly disappeared several years ago. Rumors circulated all over the VIllage. Finally – mystery solved.

The answer was at the Old Mint downtown. All the North Beach Museum stuff was out of storage and on display. It took Al 3 weeks to install his fantastic private collection of North Beach’s Italian cultural and political memorabilia, ephemera and photos from the 1800s to present.

Baccari was born and raised in a prominent North Beach family and spent much of his youth with the Sicilians on Fisherman’s Wharf. He is an educator, businessman, museum curator and photographer. He founded the Fisherman’s Wharf Historical Society. His photography has been exhibited in museums around the world. He wrote a book on Fisherman’s Wharf and another on Saints Peter & Paul Church on Washington Square.

Al spent a lifetime collecting North Beach and Fisherman’s Wharf pix and artifacts. Photographs spanning 100 years of North Beach life–early 1900s vestments and altar pieces from the 2 churches in the Village – Italian Garibaldi and unification of Italia militaria–opera costumes, posters and musical instruments–prominent North Beach resident histories – and much more are all on display.

Al has a motto – “Keep the fish in Fisherman’s Wharf.” He’s a leader in the struggle to maintain the Italian and Asian fishing communities on Pier 43 near Scomo restaurant. Most people don’t even know it’s there but it’s the largest fishing fleet on the west coast! Al’s just as passionate about North Beach. The Old Mint exhibit is part of his effort to preserve North Beach history and share his intimate knowledge of our special Village with all.

Al tells all in this interview.

Despite the puny sign–don’t miss this exhibit. It’s only open next Friday to Sunday.

Back Building Old Mint SF




The Old Mint is a beautiful building. The Baccari North Beach exhibit takes up the entire main floor – about 12 rooms-full – really worth a visit.




Decaf (OMG)/Real Blue Bottle Macchiato




Mint Plaza is abuzz – stop in at Blue Bottle, Chez Papa or 55 Mint.





Here’s a peek of the Baccari exhibit. See which Village landmarks you can identify!

Saints Peter & Paul Rising Again”


Recognize these two towers? The original church burned to the ground in the 1906 earthquake and fire. Almost twenty years later the church is reborn as “The Italian Cathedral of the West”.







Figone Bros. Hardware



Remember this Grant Avenue store that closed a decade ago. I loved the wall of small wooden drawers. The Figone boys knew which one held the screw you needed.




Columbus Ave. Looking Towards St. Francis of Assisi Church


How about these twin steeples? One of the 2 churches that bookend my Village.








A beautiful accordian from the last century.








Ferlinghetti’s The Old Italians Dying North Beach Ode


North Beach’s Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s original wall poem The Old Italians Dying chronicles a generational transition in the Village.






Merola Opera Company–1920s


Song still fills the air in the Village–Neapolitan songs at Trieste–opera on Puccini’s jukebox–the opera singing waiter at Colloseo–rock and R&B in the Grant Ave joints.








Garibaldi & Italian Unification Militaria


It’s the 150th anniversary of Italia’s unification–some Garibaldi items from that time.






Mayor Rossi’s Bowler 1934


Wasn’t Angelo Rossi the Mayor who gave the orders to fire at the striking longshoremen on Bloody Sunday in 1934?









Buon Gusto on Columbus 1926


I hope Baccari’s extraordinary North Beach finds a permanent home–maybe at the Museo Italo Americano in Fort Mason or at the Istituto Italiano Culturale on Montgomery just below Broadway. If we’re lucky maybe some of the photographs will even make it back to North Beach. I’ll let you know if they do.

Friday Recipe: Halibut Roasted in Parchment

Halibut roasted with cherry tomatoes, potatoes and olives

A simple healthy dish that can be made in a jiffy any time of the year.

Choose the fish you like best–usually halibut or cod fillets for me. Quickly roast the potatoes and tomatoes put all the ingredients in a parchment or foil pouch and roast in a hot oven for just 15 minutes or so until the fish just starts to flake. Dinner’s ready!

If you like fish you’ll love this dish. Everything is bathed in the sauce created in the pouch while the fish roasts. The fish is moist and flavorful. The tomatoes add sweetness offset by the tangy olives. The creamy potatoes absorb all the flavors and bring the whole dish together.

How easy is this? And clean up’s a snap!


Strawberry Liqueur (Liquore di Fragole)

Liquore di Fragole (Strawberry Liqueur)

Making liquore di fragole is one of my end of summer traditions. I love strawberries–I want their flavor and aroma with me all winter long.

Hull a pint of strawberries and let them steep in grain alcohol or vodka–wait 24 hours and you have strawberry essence in a bottle. How easy is that?

When I can’t stand the cold winter rain anymore a sip of this aromatic nectar with a kick does the trick. Spring and the first strawberries can’t be that far away.

Serve the liquore di fragole in a cordial glass to top off a dessert course, or pour some liquore over vanilla gelato and you got the whole dessert course in a bowl!

So it’s just strawberries here. Make sure you get the last of the organic ripe summer harvest still at their peak. I like Everclear, a grain alcohol that’s 151 proof (75.5 percent alcohol) because it has very little flavor of its own. If 151 is too big a punch for you 80 or 100 proof unflavored vodka works well too.



Village News: Is It Fall Yet? North Beach Festa Italiana & Pizza

North Beach Festa Italiana

Saturday’s annual SF Italian Athletic Club’s Festa Coloniale Italiana on North Beach’s Washington Square was quite an event–food stalls, wine tastings, live music, even a fountain temporarily installed in the Club’s ballroom.

North Beach La Festa Italiana Pizza Toss

Guys from Tony’s Pizza from down the street pleased the crowd with a dough throwing demonstration.

All that pizza tossing inspired me to make a couple when I got back up the hill. They’re both really easy to make especially if you don’t have to make your own dough. Dough from A.G. Ferrari, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s will always work in a pinch. If you have an hour or so, try my pizza dough recipe–it can’t be beat.

Stretch the dough to your favorite thickness. Top the dough with a thin drizzle of EVOO starting in the center spiraling to the edge. Then scatter some thinly sliced ripe tomatoes and give them a sprinkle of sea salt, fresh basil, salami and smoked mozzarella. Sprinkle some torn basil leaves on top as soon as the pizza comes out of the oven. The other pizza has squash blossoms  (fiori di zucca), ricotta (fresh mozzarella works well too), a sprinkle of sea salt and a grind of black pepper on top of the EVOO drizzle. Heat your oven to its highest setting and bake on a pizza stone or baking sheet for about 7 minutes. Check out my video if you want to see me making pizza from scratch.The dough takes 90 minutes–not too much work–most of the time is just waiting for the dough to rise.

Calabrian Salami & Smoked Mozzarella/Squash Blossom & Ricotta Pizze

The heat of the Calabrian salami and the mild smokiness of the mozzarella blends well with the sweetness of the tomato and basil. You won’t believe the concentrated zucchini flavor that the blossoms infuse into the cheese–a simple 2-note pie.

I’m hooked on a few local cheesemakers and love that I can get locally made cheeses for my Italian dishes.

The ricotta for the squash blossom pizza came from Bellweather Farms, a family farm in Sonoma. The ricotta is packed in a basket for wonderful texture. It’s one of the best I’ve ever had–could be that this ricotta is made with Jersey cow milk! I love their sheep’s milk pepato and their Crescenza too.

The naturally smoked mozzarella from Belfiore Cheese Company in Berkeley has a light dusting of alder, apple and cherry wood smoke that gives it a light tan color–not like the liquid smoke bronzed ones you see in the supermarket. The taste of the mozzarella shines through. I love Belfiore’s mozzarella and fior di latte a fresh cow’s milk mozzarella. The ricotta is perfect for stuffing ravioli and lasagna.

Summer/Fall Transition

Finally got my first harvest of San Marzano tomatoes at the North Beach Sunday Farmer’s Market–a sign of the end of summer. The first crop was OK but not at peak–we’ll see how they are next week… I think this year’s crop will be less than ideal–didn’t get the hot sunny days they needed this summer. Some of my farmer friends said they weren’t happy with the San Marzanos they canned this year.

So, is it Fall yet?

The Festa Italiana in the Village on Saturday was the first sign for me to move on. It kicks off North Beach’s premier Fall festival season culminating with the Sunday Italian Heritage Parade on Columbus Day weekend. I have a table on the Parade route–can’t wait.

See what else is in the bowl with the San Marzanos? Yup, couldn’t do it last week but I bought some of the new crop of apples–another sign of Fall.

I don’t care what the calendar says–I’m declaring Summer 2011 over. It’s just clean-up harvests now. Get ready for some of these sweet and juicy fall grapes, apples and pears and lots of leafy greens, brocolli, cauliflower and root vegetables.

Figs will be around to enjoy for a little longer and the last of the summer strawberries are fantastic. They’ll be gone soon too. I’ll share a recipe to keep the strawberries with you all winter in my next post.

Friday Recipe: One-Pan Pork Chops with Potatoes and Sweet Cherry Peppers

Pork Chops with Potatoes and Vinegar Peppers

Tired at the end of a long day? You can make this full-flavored dish in one pan in less than 30 minutes. Easy to make and an easy clean-up too. You can even make it with cut-up chicken and it’s just as delicious.

Imagine we’re in southern Italia.  The golden pork chops, browned potatoes and carmelized onions are gently infused with the fragrance and piquancy of the sweet vinegar cherry peppers. No heat in this dish–just a plate full of flavor.

The key to this recipe is cooking it in stages and then assembling all the ingredients at the end to finish the dish. The pork chops are browned in a cast iron or heavy saute pan and when golden brown out they come to rest. In go the potatoes and then the onions to cook in a handy steam-saute method that reduces the cooking time. (The steam/saute method works well with a variety of vegetables.) Add the garlic and cherry peppers to finish the saute. Back in go the chops covered with the vegetables so while they heat briefly they will pick up the flavor of the cherry peppers. Pour any remaining pan sauce over the chops and vegetables and you’re ready to eat. How quick and easy is this?

The chops have a nice crust but retain moisture. The potatoes are nicely browned and full of flavor. I like to get a piece of cherry pepper with each bite. Heaven!



Tulare Giant Plum Crostata

Tulare Giant Plum Crostata

We’re nearing the end of summer and the plums have been superb. I wanted a final plum celebration to tide me over until next season.

I was on a mission–looking for those tiny Italian prune plums at the Sunday North Beach Farmer’s Market. As we tasted several varieties of purple plums at Inzana Ranch & Produce (Hughson, CA) we heard a story about the farmer’s visit to his ancestral village near Messina Sicily. For days they were constantly surrounded by family and villagers in awe of the special guests from America. With that Sicilian embrace how could you not get in touch with a part of your cultural DNA.

The prune plums weren’t quite at their peak yet. I needed something more mature for the rustic crostata I had in mind. The winner of our taste test were the relatively new varietal Tulare Giants–sweet as sugar and a beautiful purple-yellow in color. Not too juicy so they’re great for baking.


Tulare Giant Plum Crostata with Whipped Cream

A little dollop of whipped cream is all you need to garnish and finish the crostata. The crust is tender and lends a crumbly buttery finish to each bite. The plums caramelize on top in the open center and remain soft and sweet beneath the crust.

But I’ll have to make this again. The small Italian prune plums are my favorite and they may just be sweeter and riper next Sunday at the North Beach Farmer’s Market. You can go to market at noon or later and still have your pick of all the bounty.

Stop by Sunday–say hello to friends and neighbors–get some great local organic produce. Maybe you’ll hear a cello or maybe a guitar and song. You’ll be inspired for sure….

So here’s the crostata recipe many of you have been asking for since my Il Pranzo post last summer. Can’t believe it’s that time of the year again!



Village News: North Beach Labor Day & Gianni’s Best Burger

Labor Day Farmer's Market Vegetables and Fruits

The farmer’s market is still awash with the bounty of late summer and though it was crowded with neighbors and friends, I was still disappointed.

The San Marzano tomatoes weren’t ready for harvest, “next week, we hope”  –but I’ve heard that before. Please God, just a hot day or two would do it.

But all was not lost. See that big golden red heirloom in the picture? It weighed in at about 1 1/2 pounds–turned out to be the best I’ve had this slightly disappointing heirloom tomato season–meaty with rich sweet flavor.

So what else is in the picture? The jar holds Rusty’s Farm Daly City Wildflower Honey. Yeah Daly City–don’t laugh, it’s delicious. The purple fingerling potatoes are for a salad and the heirloom, cuke and onion for another. Sweet white corn may end up on the Labor Day table. I’ll bake a crostata (open tart) with the yellow-purple Tulare Giant plums. The white Calimyrna, striped Panache Tiger and Black Mission figs were picked yesterday and are at their peak. The sesame braid and the rolls are from the Italian-French Bakery (Grant at Union).


You gotta grill on Labor Day right? Here’s the single plate menu.

A Jersey Italian Labor Day Plate
  • My burger mash-up inspired by Venice, Jersey diners and meatballs
  • Heirloom tomato cucumber salad
  • Italian purple potato salad

Venice and Jersey burger memories inspired me to grill my special burger and share this simple recipe for you to enjoy. You’ll never eat a dry, tough, tasteless burger again.

It was late as we made our way back to our Venice apartment. We were tired. There it was–a McDonald’s. No way I said but the crew was determined. I got the Il Mac on the controversial new McItaly menu. Leave it to the Italians to add something really good to the standard McDonald choices. Il Mac was a special grind of locally-sourced meat grilled topped with fontina cheese served on a specially baked local ciabatta roll with lettuce and tomato. It was delicious.

At diners in Jersey, such as Buff’s, White Castle, or the Short Stop you just tell them what you want—no special instructions. Cheeseburger? The counter cook with the dirty waist apron took a ball of ground beef and threw it on top of grilling onions. With a rap of his spatula he smashed the meat into the onions, some now in the burger some still frying on the grill. The burger was cooked through with a crispy crust covered by melted cheese and served on a poppyseed kaiser roll. I always had 2.

My burger recipe is inspired by Il Mac, Jersey diner burgers and my meatballs and has 2 special ingredients to keep the burgers juicy, tender and flavorful. I top the burgers with Italian fontina sprinkle on sauteed cipollini onions and serve the big juicy burger on a toasted soft rosette roll.

The accompanying tomato cucumber salad with diced onion and fresh basil is sprinkled with sea salt and EVOO. It marinates for a while to form its own dressing. The boiled purple potatoes just get some EVOO, parsley, shallot bloomed in a little red wine vinegar and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.


Gigi the Giraffe from Woolbuddy

Retail Update–Upper Grant is exploding with new shops. I finally got a chance to visit Park & Pond and Therapy (Grant between Green/Union). Park & Pond is loaded with “Goods from Near”. A few weeks ago Bay Area sisters Jessica and Abbey Herman realized their dream to open a business of their own. They decided upon this unique shop when they realized a coffeehouse was not for them. Lucky for us. The shop is full of artisanal goods–jewelry, stationary, ceramics, soaps– all produced within 100 miles of North Beach. I was in the back of the shop with my new friend Gigi Giraffe when I espied the NT salted chocolate dipped bacon caramels. We ate them immediately. These Nosh This chocolates from Kai Kronfield are delicious.  We left with some great Olivina soap and my personal treasure–NT’s Bacon Crack. I’ll be back here soon.

Therapy is just across the street. It features an interesting mix of goods from clothes to toys. It’s a fun shop. I was surprised to learn that Therapy is a small chain. How did it open in North Beach where chain stores with more than 11 outposts have been banned since 2005? The controversial ordinance is designed to maintain the unique character of our Village by keeping out businesses that you can find anywhere. Therapy has 8 locations scattered around the Bay Area. Welcome to North Beach Therapy! Happy to have you in the Village.

Coming up this week–my plum crostata and all-in-one-pan pork chops with crispy potatoes and vinegar peppers.

Belated Happy Labor Day to all–especially in this difficult and tumultuous year. Good food with family and friends will help you get through it.

Friday Recipe: Tomato & Onion Focaccia

Cherry Tomato & Young Onion Focaccia

Off to a friend’s birthday party. He asked me to bring an appetizer. I had a hard time coming up with one that would work–too messy, won’t travel well, can’t serve it at room temperature….

It had to be something special–this was my birthday gift. I needed the inspiration I knew I would find at the North Beach Sunday Farmer’s Market. There they were–in the last stall at the bottom of the street.

The tiny tomatoes glistened like jewels. They inspired a gift to celebrate late August in San Francisco–a red and gold cherry tomato and young onion focaccia. These little gems burst with sweet tomato flavor when you pop them in your mouth. The gold ones were especially sweet.

They probably don’t need it but I knock the flavor up a couple of notches with an EVOO marinade. The tomatoes and onions will caramelize while baking on top of the focaccia for more sweetened intensity.

This focaccia recipe is simple and quick to make –especially if you don’t count the time it takes the dough to rise.


Cut Up Red & Gold Cherry Tomato and Young Onion Focaccia

Guess the focaccia turned out good. Several plates didn’t last long at the party. The crust was crunchy at the edges and the interior airy and light. The tomatoes and onions were reduced to their sweet essence. I drizzled some of the marinade on top to moisten the scattered dry oregano as soon as the golden focaccia emerged from the oven.

Ah you gotta love the late August bounty even if everything is 2 or 3 weeks late this year. It’s been a chilly summer. My tomato guy says he’ll have the first crop of San Marzano tomatoes next Sunday if they get some good sun and heat this week. He only watered them once all month. They’re gonna be meaty. I can’t wait.