The design elements at Parallel 37, in The Ritz Carlton San Francisco, are local, reclaimed, salvaged. Sculptural wood slabs were sourced from a single, wind-felled cedar tree from the Bay Area. Images of live oaks were photographed in the East Bay Hills. Cocktail tables were made from reclaimed urban salvage handpicked white oak. Bar countertops were created by stone masons in San Francisco’s Dogpatch Neighborhood.
It is beautiful and sustainable, yet none of that would matter if the food wasn’t so good. But it’s delicious. Recently named a “Hot Hotel Restaurant for Locals” by Zagat, the menu is globally inspired and—no surprise—locally sourced and market-driven. “The farmers do so much work, you just need to highlight that, and keep a minimalistic approach to the ingredients,” says Chef de Cuisine Michael Rotondo, photo left, who has created what he calls “a casual fine dining experience” that is laid-back but elegant at the same time.
A New England native, Rotondo worked at the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, then moved to Michelin-star restaurants in Europe, including l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges in France. He moved back to the U.S. and worked with Chef Charlie Trotter, at his eponymous restaurant in Chicago, where he eventually became Executive Chef.
Rotondo is bursting with innovative ideas—tuna tartar on a bed of kimchi, seared octopus with caperberries and chilled shiso—and lucky guests get to benefit from the overflow with a generous helping of amuse bouche. Try the three-course prix fixe menu with wine pairings. You will savor every bite. parallel37sf.com —Rona Berg
Kabocha Soup with Toasted Pistachios & Pickled Ginger
From Chef Michael Rotondo, Parallel 37,
Ritz Carlton, San Francisco
2 kabocha squash
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon salt
6 tablespoon maple syrup
4 cups vegetable stock
4 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoon chopped ginger
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoon five-spice powder
Salt & pepper to taste
¼ cup pistachios
6 tablespoon pickled ginger
For the Soup
Cut the squash in quarters and place onto a sheet pan, brush the flesh of the squash with the butter and season with the salt. Place in a 325°F oven and roast for 30 to 35 minutes or until the flesh is soft and tender.
Scoop the flesh from the skin into a six-quart pot. Add the syrup, vegetable stock, honey and the chopped ginger (not pickled). Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, approximately seven to eight minutes. Using a hand-held blender, puree the mixture until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream and return to a low simmer. Season with the five-spice powder and salt and pepper to taste.
Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least five minutes. Transfer liquid to a blender and mix for six minutes, until the soup is perfectly smooth.
Place the shelled pistachios in a preheated oven at 285°F. Cook for 25 minutes until they start to turn golden brown. Remove the nuts from the oven and let cool down until you are ready to plate.
Toss the pickled ginger and the toasted pistachios together and scatter around the soup. Pour into bowls and enjoy!
The Soup Cleanse
Nicole Chaszar wanted an alternative to a Juice Cleanse, one that offered more fiber and less sugar, and was jam-packed with veggies. So she created a Soup Cleanse—“a whole foods way to detox and cleanse,” at The Splendid Spoon, a non-GMO, vegetarian, micro-soupery based in Brooklyn, NY.
The Splendid Spoon sources ingredients from small, local farms and works with a registered dietician to create nutritious recipes that are loaded with flavor. They ship frozen soups—and seasonal soup cleanses (one-, two- and three-day versions)—in delicious flavors like Lentil & Kale, Mushroom with Steel Cut Oats, and Sweet and Spicy Beet. All soups are vegan and gluten-free. thesplendidspoon.com —Rona Berg
How Does it Grow?
As journalists, Nicole Cotroneo Jolly and Mark Jolly were used to getting to the bottom of things—so it surprised them to realize how little they knew about what they were eating. “I’ve been involved in various aspects of food over the years—writing, recipe development, television—but it began to bother me that though I knew a great deal about cooking food, I didn’t know much about how it grew,” explains Nicole. “I just couldn’t picture what many of my favorite foods, like lentils, chickpeas, or cashews, looked like as crops growing in a field.”
After internet searches yielded few comprehensive sources, the couple came up with How Does It Grow?, a “multi-platform initiative that aims to bring agricultural literacy to ages 10 through adulthood” through engaging videos that each tell the story “of a single crop, from field to fork,” plus web-based games, printable worksheets, recipes, shopping guides, demos and more. One successful Kickstarter campaign later, the project is well on its way: as of press time, four videos have been released—highlighting mushrooms, garlic, cauliflower and cranberries—and the site is packed with tips and recipes.
Making the videos has been a “mind-blowing experience,” says Nicole—and one full of revelations. The cauliflower episode, for example, was filmed at California’s Lakeside Organic Gardens (one of the largest organic farms in the country), where ladybugs play an important part in pest control. “Thousands of ladybugs are released into the cauliflower fields, and alyssum flowers are grown among the crops to keep them there,” explains Nicole. “The adult bugs eat the alyssum’s nectar, but their young offspring eat other insects,” including aphids which would otherwise eat the cauliflower plants—thus helping to protect the crops.
In addition to coverage in magazines like Food & Wine and Bon Appétit, they’ve received tons of emails detailing viewers’ personal food revelations. The most common one? “We’ve received a lot of photos of Brussels sprouts still on their stalk with the caption, ‘I didn’t know they grow that way!’” howgrow.org —Sandra Ramani
In the dead of winter, it isn’t easy to find a perky bunch of fresh herbs in the market. That is why I love these delicious frozen herbs from Daregal Gourmet, an American subsidiary of the family-owned Daregal France, which has been growing herbs for over 125 years. Just launched in the U.S., they are free of GMOs, preservatives and gluten. U.S. bestsellers are cilantro, parsley, basil and garlic: just sprinkle and enjoy! daregalgourmet.com —Rona Berg