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Friend and Tablehopper Marci Gagliardi recently asked a bunch of us night owls where they like to eat late-night for Refinery29.

“If anyone knows a thing or two about late-night eats in San Francisco, it’s bartenders, chefs, wine directors, nightlife writers, and drag queens. So, we hunted down these nocturnal experts to share their favorite post-midnight haunts (and what to order), for the next time your hunger strikes during the wee hours. People love to complain about S.F. restaurants closing their doors at 10 p.m., but the only way to promote a vibrant after-hours dining scene is for us to support the one we already have. So, click through these pro tips on where to head after last call, whether you’re craving pupusas, potato skins, or even kale salad. (Yes, really. Because — San Francisco.)”

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I just love the ring of  ‘Juanita’s Carnitas’. If you’ve haven’t prepared carnitas at home you are in for a treat. There is really nothing like the smell of the slow braising pork coming out of your kitchen. San Francisco has a taqueria on just about every block and they are featured on every menu. I mean a great taqueria is  judged by their salsa, pickled jalapeños and the carnitas – right? These are very simple to make at home.

Juanita’s Carnitas

½ white onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups water
6 garlic cloves
1-teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
4 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1-tablespoon kosher sea salt
1-tablespoon lard
4 1/2 pounds boneless pork butt, cut into 4-inch chunks
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, about 3 oranges
1 large piece of orange zest
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk

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pork

In the jar of a blender place the water, onion, garlic cloves, thyme, black pepper, cumin, cloves, bay leaves and 1-tablespoon salt. Puree until the liquid is smooth.

Salt the pork chunks lightly while heating a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the lard and brown the pieces of pork on all sides about 15 minutes.

Once the meat is brown pour the onion and spice mixture into the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes. Add in the orange juice, zest and sweetened condensed milk, stir and let it come to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low to low and cover.

Cook covered for 1-½ hours, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and check meat for tenderness. Let the meat continue to cook and the liquid reduce about 10 minutes.

Remove the carnitas with a slotted spoon and shred with a fork, if desired before serving you can refry the meat in a separate pan with some lard until crispy. Or serve them straight from the pot.

They make delicious tacos.

Juanita's carnitas tacos

Juanita’s carnitas tacos

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News today of bar Jules closing after brunch this Sunday is a sad thing for Hayes Valley. It’s been my favorite burger spot for lunch for years. Here is an interview I did with Jessica for Apartamento Magazine.

I’ve always loved a neighborhood restaurant. I’ve actually met some great friends at local eating establishments – you know you’ll at least have one thing in common, and thats the food.

When you eat out in Hayes Valley it feels more neighborly than almost any other district in San Francisco. Many restaurants here have seemed to find their niche and become great staples in our city, garnering cultish obsession and faithful followers in the devoted eaters that call this neighborhood home. A great example is Hayes Street Grill which has been serving opera, symphony and ballet patrons for more than 30 years and continues to stay true to its clientele with its passionate staff and their signature dishes.

Resting on the western edge of Hayes Valley at the end of the strip, bar Jules is six years old. To the uninitiated, this little 38-seat restaurant may be just another in a burgeoning atmosphere of San Francisco institutions committed to serving sustainable fish, meats, and produce from the best small farmers in the area but for all of the years that I’ve been dining and shopping on Hayes Street bar Jules has managed to virtually redefine the lines of what is considered to be Hayes Valley. The location offers a feeling that is both edgy and sophisticated.

Owner Jessica Boncutter has worked at Zuni Cafe and as the chef at Hog Island Oyster Co, two of my favorite places to eat in San Francisco. Here she spends her time working the restaurant as a mother would in her own home. The menu at bar Jules isn’t fancy or punched with tons of trendy ideals – in fact they don’t even bother printing one out for you, it’s written on a blackboard.

The wonderful thing about bar Jules is that it feels so much like an integral part of the community, you’d think it had been where it is longer than it has.

How long have you been in Hayes Valley?
Bar Jules opened in November of 2007.

What attracted you to open your business in Hayes Valley?
I loved that it felt both edgy and sophisticated at the same time.

More than any other Hayes Valley restaurant, Bar Jules appears to be a classic model for a neighborhood institution. Was this your intention when you opened it?
Thank you! Yes that was my intention above everything else!

Your menu changes so often – what have your regulars made you keep on it?
I think the regulars like that the menu changes. It feels like going over to a friend’s house for dinner.

What have the challenges been in basing your restaurant around a menu that changes daily?
Writing menus everyday can be hard. Sometimes you think dang it would be much easier if I had opened a Houston’s.

Hayes Valley seems to be in a constant state of evolution. Would you say the ever-shifting menu is reflective of this?
I hope so. I feel very proud that Bar Jules still feels fresh and unique after being open for 6 years.

Who are some of your culinary heroes?
Some of my culinary heroes include Julia Child, Rose Gray and Ruthie Rogers from the River Cafe, Judy Rodgers from Zuni Cafe, Carol Bever from Zuni Cafe,  Diana Kennedy and Margot and Fergus Henderson from St John, and Rochelle Canteen respectively.

Is the menu at bar Jules reflective of what you actually eat on a day to day basis? Describe your ideal lunch or dinner.
Yes it is. I usually eat very simply with a lot of vegetables.

Do you have any aspirations on opening up another restaurant in San Francisco?
I do and I don’t. Sometimes your personal touch can be lost if you are running more than one restaurant at a time.

Is there or has there ever been something you love that has been unsuccessful on the menu?
Beef tongue for obvious reasons. It is so delicious and anyone brave enough to order it is solo happy.

Many of my good friends are frequent diners at the restaurant and all of them talk about it as though it is there second home. What has inspired you to create that atmosphere at bar Jules?
I have always loved the idea of a canteen or a neighborhood restaurant. Nothing makes me happier than to have regular customers.

You have worked at two other local San Francisco restaurants that are staples for me – Zuni Cafe and Hog Island Oyster Company. What did you take away from those experiences?
Zuni Cafe and Hog Island Oyster Company were very different from each other. What was similar about the two of them was the dedication to the best quality ingredients.

I’ve been toying with the idea of opening a cafe / restaurant in San Francisco for years. Can you give me a sage piece of advice?
Don’t do it! Ha ha just joking. Like anything that is worth something in life, it’s a ton of hard work.

I have a blog titled Juanita Eats Out and I like to ask friends a few questions about their eating habits. What is the strangest or most inspiring thing you’ve ever eaten?
Casu marzu – it is a sheep cheese that has worms (live insect larvae) in it from Sardinia.

What was your favorite breakfast cereal as a kid?
We had to eat grape nuts growing up – but I loved Lucky Charms.

What is your favorite dessert?
My favorite dessert is simple – cheese.

What is your favorite food to pig-out on after a late night?
I love to grab Chinese food after a late night.

What is always in your refrigerator at home?
I always have Champagne in my refrigerator.

Where did the name bar Jules come from?
Bar Jules is named after my old lady dog Jules. She is an 18 year old basset hound that I have had since she was three months old. She is the love of my life.

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Musician Rod Thomas (Bright Light Bright Light)  is coming to San Francisco to play at The Independent on Friday, April 10, 2015. The last time he was in town we took Jackson for a walk and ended up sitting at Farm Table talking about life, travel and our love of food. His voice just bursts with hope and joy on his new work Life Is Easy. So many of our mutual friends are part of his great sound including Del Marquis, Xavier Smith, Bridget Barkan and oh yeah – Elton John. His debut album Make Me Believe In Hope won him critical acclaim and this second offering looks set to be his best work yet.

Rod Thomas (Bright Light Bright Light) answers my foodie questionnaire here:

What is your favorite dessert?

Most people’s dream desserts feature chocolate it seems, and most places I go the most interesting dessert always has chocolate. It seems to blow people’s minds but I don’t eat chocolate, but I still love a good dessert. My favorite is usually something more classic, like a vanilla cheesecake, or a really good hearty crumble – rhubarb of blackberry – with some custard, or ice cream. For all its “boring” connotations, put the word vanilla in a dessert recipe for me and you’ve got me.

What restaurant would you call your home?

I used to have a place in Soho (London) called The Blue Room that I went to all the time. The owner was the kindest woman in the world and they always made you feel so at home. She even used to play my CD in the place sometimes. I remember the night it closed I went in and she was so upset. She was so sad to leave the cafe because it really felt like a huge part of my life in that city at the time had been cut off. These days, in Brooklyn, I really love a place in Prospect Heights called Sunshine & Co. The staff there are really, really lovely (and good), the food is great and the cocktails are dangerously good. It has such well appointed decor, and a really welcoming atmosphere. I love that place.

What is the strangest or most inspiring thing you’ve ever eaten?

My friend Adam’s lasagna. We lived together for my first year in London. We all used to cook together and his trademark dish was a lasagna with really avant-garde ingredients. Potatoes, parsnips, swedes, mushroom soup, sunflower seeds (in kernels) instead of cheese was a truly unique stroke … so I guess he inspired me to be a little less conservative when it came to ingredients in a recipe. Thing is, it always tasted great!

What was your favorite breakfast cereal as a kid?

I remember that I used to pretend to like slightly more adventurous cereals to get the cool free toy that often came inside, but I remember really, really loving simple Cornflakes or Rice Crispies with ice cold milk. When I first went to Momofuku Milk Bar they had a cereal ice cream with cornflake crunch and I was taken RIGHT back. So simple, so delicious.

What is your favorite food to pig-out on after the club?

OMG a bagel with turkey, swiss and bacon. It’s my favorite thing in the world. Like you need all that after drinking for hours right … but it’s perfect. I can’t resist.

Rod and his Christmas turkey.

Rod and his Christmas turkey.

Taco MORE! Custom Apron

Taco MORE! Custom Apron

 

This limited edition custom Taco MORE! apron is available by following the link on the image.
100% Cotton Canvas with black cotton twill tape straps
Black ink / heat transfer silk-screen
27″Wx34″L
Artwork by Dave Davenport, 1996
Custom made by Mr. David Couture

The HECHO Valentine Dinner staff!

The HECHO Valentine Dinner staff!

Thank you to everyone that came to the Valentine Dinner at HECHO – it was such a huge success. I want to give some special love to the great talents of Chef Cory Armenta for executing my families simple home recipes with so much respect and style. Our sous chefs Cole Church, Sean Lackey & Michael Christopher made working in the kitchen such an absolute joy. And, a special thank you to HECHO owners Dana Gleim and Jesse Woodward for letting me do it!

You can find most of the recipes right here on my food blog. The Tomatillo & Chipolte Salsa, Anaheim Chile and Chicken Stew and my grandmothers Capirotada (we served it with Humphry Slowcombe Tahitian Vanilla Ice Cream.

I so enjoyed cooking for you and look forward to more food projects in the future! You can join my mailing list HERE to get updates about all kinds of amazing events!

Images by Uel Renteria from the event can be found in this ALBUM on my Facebook profile.

Loads of Love,
Juanita

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