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Everything posted by ingridsf

  1. Ok, I have to be brief so I'm not even going to try discoursing on relativism and objectivity. Though Richard Rorty's words (I think it was him) apply: "Man only sees those values he is willing to serve." Meaning, different cities, such as SF and NYC, may have restaurants with similar cuisines but different values. So I am wary -- but not rejecting -- of comparisons if I don't know that the person comparing them takes this into consideration. Some folks groove more on technique, others on ingredient integrity. In the Incanto/Lupa comparison, I noticed Incanto bills itself as an Italian restaurant that features the seasonal, regional food of California. I just don't see how a NYC restaurant could be doing a superior job of this.
  2. Incanto's website states that the Italian region their restaurant represents is "California," and that they find this to be a valid approach because Italian cuisine is, at heart, based on region. This was my primary reason for questioning the value of comparing Incanto and Lupa. How do you decide whether an Istrian restaurant trumps a Roman one? Carry on.
  3. I forgot to ask -- is anyone going to Incanto's 3/6 "Dining From Head to Tail" dinner? It's 5 courses, $60. A good deal and should be done well.
  4. I'm still unclear about the relevance of NYC restaurants to a diner in SF. My response was upthread: "I don't see it as generic at all. Their wine list is Italian; it's unusual to find a Bay Area restaurant that doesn't feature local/regional wines. Offal is heavily promoted. The design is spacious and very easy to move around in. (Many restaurants, while technically accessible, are full of obstacles.) I haven't found all three of these variables at other mid-price restaurants. Incanto's website says explicitely that they consider themselves to be a California restaurant that serves Italian food. A restaurant in NYC is bound to differ and, if memory serves, there are lively disputes about their quality. Except that, in those cases, the judge tends to come from Italy. Are there more creative and original Italian restaurants in SF? At the same price range -- no Aquerellos, please. "
  5. I loved loved loved my dinner at the Slow Club http://www.slowclub.com/slowclub_01a.htm on Mariposa. I think they do a new dinner menu and special cocktail everyday. Only thing is that it's loud. But the food is so good I put up with it -- roasted blue nose bass in a beurre blanc on French lentils with a shaved fennel and red onion salad.
  6. I'm feeling protective of Incanto because I had such a great time there at the e-Gullet wine pairing meal JAZ organized. I don't see it as generic at all. Their wine list is Italian; it's unusual to find a Bay Area restaurant that doesn't feature local/regional wines. Offal is heavily promoted. The design is spacious and very easy to move around in. (Many restaurants, while technically accessible, are full of obstacles.) I haven't found all three of these variables at other mid-price restaurants. Incanto's website says explicitely that they consider themselves to be a California restaurant that serves Italian food. A restaurant in NYC is bound to differ and, if memory serves, there are lively disputes about their quality. Except that, in those cases, the judge tends to come from Italy. Are there more creative and original Italian restaurants in SF? At the same price range -- no Aquerellos, please.
  7. I was a little confused, are you open for lunch? Or if not, when will you be open again? Dang, I was JUST thinking about getting up there the week of 2/14 and you might be closed. Ingrid
  8. Me too! (It's making me hungry.)
  9. I don't know that I agree there *must* have been something off about the taste or texture. What struck me was that Harry Smith appeared delighted at hearing the words, "bacon ice cream," and nearly swooned when he took his first bite while Jay MacInerney said the notion of bacon ice cream freaked him out. And, unsurprisingly, said he didn't care for it when he did taste it. Steingarten's written about how food likes/dislikes are strongly influenced by familiarity. So it doesn't seem surprising that he was more pleased by the familiar, i.e., nice, crispy pork skin attached to said pork than to the unfamiliar, i.e., bacon ice cream. As far as the whole dish went, the component that seemed out of place was the cutlet. It was just...leaning there against the lard streusel, on top of the blueberries, ice cream cream melting away on top. I felt sorry for you, poor, lost-looking little cutlet. You should have been schnitzel. Instead, you were...I'm not really sure what. The protein element in Oinkberry Crunch?
  10. Cora, who lost big on taste to challenger Neal Fraser in the taste category, created an…unusual dish during Pork Battle last night. The dish also included sautéed blueberries, a sweet little pork cutlet, and a streusel topping composed of flour and lard, among other things. Only ICA Judge Harry Smith loved the bacon ice cream; even Steingarten demurred, and visibly calmed down when Burke soothed him with crispy pork skin, a more conventional fat-delivery system. The third Judge, 80s celebrity author turned wine writer Jay McInerney, said the bacon ice cream freaked him out. Well, scaffolding masquerading as shoulder pads freaked me out, Jay. We all have our fears. Am I the only one who saw it? Because I would have thought the words, “bacon + ice cream,” would spark lardophiles and dreamyfrozendessertophiles into a spirited debate. edited because I messed up on the challenger's name.
  11. Second evidence will be "Battle: Horsemeat." I regret to predict that all four involved will perform with good humor, some of it self-deprecating. It really is a shame. I also predict Flay will serve one dish with three sauces and one will have honey in it. One of Batali's dishes will be a type of involtini and he will bring out the bottarga. They better not have ol' KB as a judge because Flay's been one of her clients. I demand my ICA cheese maintain the highest standards of integrity!
  12. Wow. A friend gave me their menu this week and said, "Try it so I'll know if it's good." My office is close by so I, a true friend, got some stuff delivered for lunch. Oh boy oh boy! Didn't get anything too exciting but it was GOOD. And inexpensive. As a matter of fact, we ordered again the next day. As they say in the movies, "You had me at baked bbq pork buns." So far I've tried the BBBQPB, steamed BBQPB, siu mai, shrimp dumplings, potstickers, crab/chicken/corn soup, and the garlic chicken and kung pao chicken lunch specials. (These come w/ soup of the day, chicken/egg soup, and hot/sour, both good.) The menu's quite long with many dim sum choices. In addition to the very fresh/tasty dumplings, all of the broths in the soups were unusually flavorful. To me, that shows a serious kitchen.
  13. Finally saw the ep in reruns. Interesting response to Dufresne from roommatesf, who was passing through the living-room and got sucked in. Within moments, he pronounced Dufresne "frickin' cool," and was impressed by his plating. Surprised me, given he usually laughs at my food-tv shows and is still working on being open to potatoes and to eggs. I totally agreed; Dufresne mopped the floor with Batali. (Though if Dufresne "mopped the floor with Batali," he could probably figure out a way to combine said moppings with a little Xanax* gum so he could extrude a creamy, smooth, and considerably more relaxed Iron Chef. Unfortunately, I doubt the judges would be able to taste the difference.) I would have liked to see "Foster Farms chicken tenders battle" from these two. *I know, it's xanthum. It's all about being open-minded about playing with language, unusual combinations of words, being surprised by new juxtapositions of meanings....
  14. FWIW, I think the "molecular gastronomy" movement started in France with Herve This & Pierre Gagnaire. ← Good lord, that means the Coneheads COULD actually have been molecular gastronomists!
  15. Hands down, the worst judge I've seen is Martin Yan. Being relentlessly positive was bad enough but ALL the man ever says is, "Good flavor, texture contrast." C'mon! You watch car racing to see car crashes! Give me more moments like the judge's face as she was tasting Batali's ill-conceived unagi parfait. Pure gold! FWIW, whenever I hear the term "molecular gastronomy" I imagine the Coneheads wearing chef's toques, saying, "We are from Spain."
  16. Doc, I realized right after posting I've never checked those threads. D'oh! Indeed I should. If I could, I'd actually go to those places and see for myself. But that's exceedingly unlikely. Which brings me to your point about one style not being mutually exclusive, not better than the other. But I'm saying, Hey, there are only so many meals in this life, esp at that price level. Trusting the chef on a sense-level is not as difficult as trusting on a wallet-level, if I may be so crude as to say so. It's not impossible though. *** I'm going to return to an earlier question I put out there about how even the flawed execution of the new/different seems to carry greater cachet than superior execution of established cuisines. At what point do you quit forgiving in the name of applauding ambition and snap, "Just get me a steak frites, I'm starving here!" As dear Linda Richman would say: "Discuss." (If you want.) *** I, too, will be at Incanto. Can't wait!
  17. For whatever it's worth, if people like you, who really enjoy and admire avant-garde cuisine, want more people to give it a try, I'd talk about the pleasure it gives you sensually. I've been wanting to go to Manresa (I know, it's not avant-garde) because of all of the posts by people who focused on the food itself. Yeah, of course I want the other cylinders you mentioned; but they don't mean jack to me without having the food as my reference point. So use the food to convince me to get to the restaurant. I'm in a much better position to grasp its philosophy, etc. after I have some first hand experience of it. In my opinion -- and only in my opinion -- some of the descriptions of this cuisine are shooting it in the foot. I'm quite serious about avoiding phrases likes "molecular gastronomy" and "hypermodern." They may be accurate but they're about as appetizing as an episode of Sprockets. I know it wasn't meant this way but hearing that my not feeling the lack of whatever it is avant-garde cuisine provides means that I'm set in my ways, or not open minded, or not trusting is a little like hearing, "You're a fogey and you know what? THAT"S OKAY." Um, thanks?
  18. I'm pretty hungry as I write this. Hey, how about a cuisine that requires chefs to be dying for a nosh as they cook? We might see some very interesting concoctions out of that movement.... I don't think the original question was based on the idea that the avant-garde style was better than the considerable range of what we're already enjoying here. Why not add to what we have, right? My response: Okay. But thus far I'm not hearing much that moves me to seek such a restaurant out. And time requires choices. Look, there's competition to be Ingrid's Next Top Restaurant. There's a long list of what I already want to eat, going back to the first thing, which were more steamed clams in melted butter when I was three. Is it possible to get enough of them? I'd like to find out. There are innumerable things in their unadulterated states that I have yet to taste, like mangosteens. I'm all but a blank slate on Swedish cuisine; shouldn't I go to at least one Swedish restaurant before prioritizing the hot new thing? Then there's St. John's. Am I really supposed to blow off Fergus Henderson and fried pig's tails for a foam, however fascinating the philosophy behind it? Well, color me unsophistimicated because I will always pick a piece of pig.
  19. I'm gathering then that avant-garde is a pretty narrowly defined term. Not complaining, just checking. Took a look at wd50's on-line menu and compared to Manresa's. Can you elaborate on where they part company, and how they stand in relation to Spain? And what makes the avant-garde style so desirable strictly fom a taste perspective? Cause I've got a lot of taste options, from many cultures that would be new to me, as well. Naive questions, but there it is.
  20. It might seem significant that the restaurants I mentioned are not within SF city boundaries but, living here, it doesn't seem so. Getting from SF to Los Gatos is not comparable to getting from Manhattan to, I dunno, Nutley. Staying out of SF could be plain old good business sense, if you can get the customers to come to you. Assuming space is in fact cheaper in Los Gatos! I have no doubt hypermodern cuisine is not dry or tasteless. And, hey, I like me some wit. But avant-garde adherents might want to reconsider how the movement could be coming across to the uninitiated. If there was EVER a phrase destined to kill the mood for a meal of sweet sweet taste-making, it has to be "molecular gastronomy." ("To the re-flav-ulator!")
  21. What can I say. For all our reputation as debauched deviates (good times!) we’re just a bunch of food monogamists, some serial, some long-term, happy dontcha know, to order our roast chicken with Tuscan bread salad, foie gras lolly-pops, Tomales Bay oysters. “We’re a simple people, people of the land…* Anyway. “Innovative” is what I understand the term “avant garde” to mean. Unfortunately, avant garde has connotations of being overly intellectual, surreal, dry. An idea versus a flavor, an argument versus a taste. Like going to an art gallery where the pieces have cards mounted next to them that explain, explain, explain. Show, don’t tell! I don’t know that I agree with the premise that the Bay Area has fewer innovative chefs than other US metro areas. As mentioned, we have Manresa. But there's the French Laundry; that's not innovative? We used to have Roxanne’s, too. There used to be a place, now gone, called Flying Saucer. Not thought of as a fancy place but definitely fit the definition of avant garde. It did well for quite a long time. Are there really that many more avant garde restaurants of similar quality elsewhere in the US? Is seeking to create the perfect version of a classic recipe a lesser goal than trying to invent something new? (And whether that’s even possible is highly debatable.) The other thing I wonder is about the frequency with which chefs redo their menus. How many chefs in the Bay Area redo their menus seasonally, monthly, daily as compared to chefs elsewhere? Is offering a new menu every day "equivalant" to x units of new technique? It does seem that there’s greater cachet (though not financial success) in doing the new and different even with flawed execution than there is in preparing a well-known dish as perfectly as can be done. *”you know…idiots.” (tm Blazing Saddles)
  22. You're welcome. La Folie had a recent remodel and feels much morre elegant in the main dining room. I like the new look. Ton Kiang offers dim sum items from 10am-10 pm, though the carts only come out in the daytime. I get stuff delivered at home at least once a week, and even after traveling, the food's consistently first-rate. Eating there is of course even better. Their soup dumplings are de-licious, also the roast duck and roasted prawns (in shell with heads) with chilis and rock salt. I live for their green sauce which is made, if my experiments are correct, with green chilis, garlic, rice wine vinegar, and sugar.
  23. On the bargain side, try Burma Super Star at 309 Clement between 4th and 5th Avenues in the Inner Richmond neighborhood. Either the ginger salad and the smoked tea salad alone are worth the trip. The New Central Restaurant on South Van Ness at the corner of 14th Street has homemade tortillas, refried beans made with lard, and terrific carnitas. Whenever someone asks for recs for the haute places, I don't know whether to bother mentioning what I can only call the half-hautes. Places that in a smaller town would be whole-hautes. I'm going to do it! Try them! They're worth the trek away from downtown/Marina! -Clementine on Clement at 2nd Avenue. French bistro, excellent all around, esp for price. -Chapeau! on Geary at 15th Ave. Similiar to Clementine, but much louder. -Zazie on Cole between Parnassus and Carl. I have much affection for this place as I lived in the neighborhood (Cole Valley) for a long time. French/Cal. (And for whole-haute, I'm going to, as always, plug La Folie. Just don't plan on eating much until the next evening.) edited to add Manresa because, although it's location in Los Gatos (south of SF) is a schlep requiring a car rental, eGulleteers have been saying it's more than worth the trip. You said creative and innovative was what you wanted, and that's what folks say it is.
  24. Jaz, Turns out my other friend is available that night and would love to come. This would put me at two guests if that's all right. Can't wait to see the menu. Thanks and Happy New Year, y'all.
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