"The sky is falling, the sky is falling," says Chicken Little. Depending on who you listen to or what articles you read, Chicken may be right. The Chronicle article Making Ends Meet (September 28) calculates how much it costs to live in The Bay Area. Add the astronomical increase in the cost of gas, it's no wonder I don't have money left at the end of the month.
In the food section of the Chron. GraceAnne Walden mentions the shortage of workers and addition of new S.F. restaurants ala the dot-com boom. In the L.A. Times Corie Brown laments about the Incredible shrinking restaurant scene. Which spin doctor do you believe? Restaurants like everybody else are in for rough times. There are not enough diners able to pay the high prices restaurants are charging. What's a foodie to do?
I think most smart restaurant owners will see the trend, and bargains will be the order of the day. A step back from labor intensive plates and expensive product. A return to simple, wholesome, inexpensive foods. Fixed price dinners with real value. Drinkable wine at reasonable prices. Come on gang, $10 a glass for wine I can buy a bottle of for $8! Too much to hope for maybe?
In the mean time I'll cut back on restaurant dining and eat more meals at home. Food cost at restaurants should run about 20 percent. If I dine at home I can eat for one fifth of the cost of a restaurant. No tip, no tax gotta like that.
If you gotta feed a crowd for breakfast here's a great low budget recipe. Congee, jook, rice porridge are a few of the names for this recipe. You can get it in Chinatown for a pittance, or make it at home for even less. The basic ingredients are rice and stock. I use a ratio of one cup rice to 3 quarts chicken stock. Simmer slow, as in a crock pot, for a couple hours till it gets to a thin porridge consistency. It is a great base to add what's leftover in the frig. I put crumbled bacon and green onion on top. Veggies, chopped chicken, and Chinese sausage are good toppers as well.