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  1. I second cafe rouge, and fatted calf. Rouge's folks are extremely helpful (they obtained a piglet shoulder for cassoulet at the last minute), and fatted calf has yummy sausages. I'd also add Magnani's Poultry, on Hopkins in Berkeley, across from Monterey market. You can get a pint of duck fat for about 6 bucks! Also, Scalise's (in the Encinal Market) in Alameda is an old school neighborhood butcher (free cookies for the kids!) with wonderful service. With a phone call, they'll try to get you whatever you need (like caul fat for rendering lard).
  2. Hope this isn't too late for you, but I had brunch there a few weeks ago. I had the soft boiled eggs, my friend had the poached eggs, and his partner had the sourdough pancakes. They were all pretty good, but what we remembered most were the sides. The fried potatoes were just perfect - golden, crisp with the right amount of salt and a pinch of chopped parsley. I'm willing to bet that the sausages are house made. They were plump, juicy and fresh, and had a really marvelous texture. The only problems were that the service was pretty slow (the place was packed) and the portions were rather small, but we ordered enough sides to alleviate that problem. Plus, we made sure to stop next door at La Brea Bakery on the way out to pick up some goodies.
  3. I love Fourme d'Ambert, and that sounds fabulous. Do you make it yourself or buy it somewhere? Forme Sauternes is produced by a Belgian affineur, Jacquy Cange. I discovered it at the Cheese Board in Berkeley. I also saw it at the Cheeseworks booth at the Fancy Foods Show a few weeks back, but I haven't seen it anywhere else. Good luck finding it - you're in for a real treat!
  4. Forme Sauternes - a Forme d'Ambert that's been ripened in Sauternes for 2 months. Heavenly.
  5. I've had Kopi Luwat coffee... it's actually the best coffee I've ever had... but still not worth the price tag. I think it worked out to something like $12 per cup. Other than that, the most exotic thing I've had is snake.
  6. I just picked up a whole duck foie gras to take make dinner for Christmas. Since this is my first time cooking it, I've decided to just sear some slices. I've been checking in the French Laundry cookbook which gives a fairly thorough explanation on cleaning the liver for a terrine. My question is, if I'm just searing it, do I still need to take the lobes apart to remove the veins? The terrine method Keller uses calls for cutting into it, and I'm worried that if I do that, it'll fall apart on a hot skillet. Thanks.
  7. Dear Jeffrey, I submitted my request late in August (pretty much as soon as the Sept. Vogue hit the newstands). I figured I wasn't getting a response because you or your assistant were very busy. I didn't send another because I didn't want to flood the mailbox, and because I knew of several other people who were waiting for a response as well. But that situation has been corrected - I just sent another request. That "Cheese Crise" chapter, by the way, along with "Fear of Formaggio" and "Decoding Parmesan" has become my bible. My best friend's dog, Rusty (a Great Dane-German Shepherd mix) loves cave aged Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano rinds. He would probably love Camembert de Normandie, but we always finish it before he gets a crack at it. Thanks for answering my questions, and thanks once again, for honoring us with your presence. Connie
  8. Thank you for coming. I was offline for a couple of weeks, and I returned to discovery that you were doing this q&a! It was like an early Christmas gift! I write for a cheese weblog with some other friends (see the link in my signature), and we're all really big fans of yours. We loved your article about mozzarella di bufala in September, and have all emailed that earthlink address you printed requesting your tasting notes on domestic mozzarella, and have yet to hear back. Does this list exist? If so, can we have it? Also, do you think that with Homeland Security tightening restrictions in customs, that it's still possible to bring unpasteurized cheese into the country by simply declaring it? Traveling friends want to know. Thanks again, for your time.
  9. Wow - I go offline for a week, and here’s what I come back to… my favorite topic (you can read about it in my site down below). I’ll have to second whoever said hard, semisoft, and soft! Kidding aside, my current favorites are epoisses, camembert de normandie and fourme sauternes (forme d’ambert that has been soaked in sauterne.
  10. More East Bay Eats: As I work in the City, I don't lunch in downtown Oakland during business hours much, but my hubby confirms that Pho 84 and Take it Thai are decent. Also, Le Cheval is good. I used to go to Peony for dim sum (they have the best egg tarts), but unless you know the someone who works there, the wait is excruciating. I've heard good things about Legendary (redacted) too, and Vi's has excellent pho. I also like Vien Huong. I think it's on Franklin, between 4th and 5th... or is it 8th and 9th? Anyways, it's the $4 noodle joint with the huge crowd out front on Franklin. I've heard mixed things about the service at Oliveto, but damn, the man cures his own prosciutto! Someday, I'll have to check that out. Another small plates place is Mezze, down by Lake Merritt, and how can I forget the Parkway? It's a second-run movie house (tix are 5 bucks, and on Wednesdays, it's 2-for-1), but they also serve real food - mostly pizza, it's like, 12 bucks for a pie, and pretty good - during the movie. If you get there early enough, you can snag a sofa. I could do a whole thread on brunch, but besides the aforementioned La Note and Cafe Fanny, I also like Sam's Log Cabin (mmmm, Swedish pancakes) and Rick and Ann's, but I adore Thai brunch on Sundays. It's at the Thai Buddhist temple near the Ashby BART Station. You exchange your cash for these tokens, then you got to various outdoor vendors and “pay” for food with the tokens. You can get all sorts of Thai street foods you never see in restaurants, plus the standard noodles and curries. Of course, it's really cheap. You have to watch for hornets, though. Okay, now I'm getting hungry.
  11. I'm an Alameda girl too, and I've been to almost all the joints mentioned, and they get my seal of approval. My husband used to work in Oakland, and has told me all sorts of stories about Juanita's in Oakland. His coworkers dubbed that guy the "Burrito Nazi." Anyways, of the Mexican places in Alameda, I think that La Pinata is the best. They've got homemade corn tortillas and margaritas the size of swimming pools. Picante (in Berkeley and in Alameda) is good "Alice Waters-ized" Mexican fare. Sushi House is good, but a tad overcrowded for my taste. The new place, Tomodachi, on Park Street, has really friendly staff... whenever I pick up takeout, they give me a cup of sake and a plate of edamame while I wait. Kamakura, on Broadway, has pretty good sushi as well. East Ocean on Webster has excellent Cantonese-style seafood (some say it's better than the Emeryville branch). I like Huan Tha Bistro (Burmese food), but my hubby's been kind of resistant to going there, since it's some sort of an adjunct to that hair salon on Park Street (weird, I know). Oh, and Tucker's has the best. ice-cream. ever. Outside of Alameda, Kirala has great sushi (and robata), and so does Tachibana. I haven't been to Shen Hua (Szechuan) in a while, but I remember liking it, despite the deafening noise level. If you're willing to endure the wait, Trattoria La Siciliana has wonderful Sicilian food. I know quite a few more places, but I'll stop for now.
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