This week, my adventures in broke scrounging yielded a gem. For under $4 per serving, I made a Thai green curry chicken with pumpkin, bell pepper, and cabbage over vermicelli noodles (based on a recipe from the Marnee Thai cookbook). My neighborhood corner market, Evergreen, yielded a beautiful array of simmerable veggies, herbs, chicken breast, and my new best friend, Mae Ploy curry paste. A 14-ounce container of the stuff will only set you back about $2.50—it’s a sweet deal whether you’re budgeting money, time, or calories. —Sosha Young
On Sunday night, I had dinner at State Bird Provisions and ate more food than I can possibly remember, but one thing that does stand out in my mind like a shining beacon of gustatory benevolence is the savory sweet corn pancake. Shot through with scallions, speckled with black pepper, and topped off with a little slab of pungent, salty Mt. Tam cheese, it provided three of the best bites I've had this year. Although small in stature (it's not much bigger than a poker chip), it's brawny in flavor, thanks particularly to the cheese, which has enough umami to knock out a pro wrestler. Wham, bam, thank you, Tam. —R.F.M.
Earlier this week I checked out Shakewell, the new Lakeshore restaurant from Tim Nugent and Jen Biesty. Their menu is Spanish-inspired, which means beautiful things like boquerones and Manchego cheese end up grilled romaine hearts, which came draped with both of those ingredients, along with tangles of luminous pickled onions, and slices of avocado. The little fish were so fresh and perfectly vinegared that I could have eaten them all on their own, but they played so well with their accompaniments that I wouldn't have changed a thing. The salad was a case study in perfectly balanced flavors and textures, not to mention generous portioning. You could make a meal of it, if only the rest of the menu weren't so appealing. —R.F.M.
In November, San Francisco's Feast section will be devoted to Thanksgiving pies, which means that we're in the midst of sampling a number of very fine specimens. Among them is Marla Bakery's pecan pie (pictured above), a perfect example of the form if ever there was one. Where most pecan pies err on the (very) far side of saccharine, Marla's is sweet without threatening to rot your teeth straight out of your skull. Its lush filling is almost jammy in texture, and its shortbread-like crust packs lots of satisfying crunch and has an enjoyable grittiness to it. It is, simply put, pie par excellence. —R.F.M.