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Posts posted by tupac17616

  1. I nominate restaurants that bill themselves as "regional", as in "regional Italian."  This seems to be a meaningless phrase.  It might mean that the restaurant specializes in the cuisine of a particular region, in which case they'd be better off, and more accurate, referring to themselves as "Tuscan" or "Emilian" or "Roman" or whatever.  Or (as seems more often to be the case) it means that they feature dishes from a number of regions.  In that case, "regional" just means "Italian."

    In practice, "regional" seems to be code for "not Italian-American" (or in another context, "Americanized Chinese".)  But it's a poor way of expressing that idea.

    Agreed, Andrew.

  2. Same experience couple of weeks ago at Zero Otto Nove.  They have this amazing brick oven and are now serving undercooked, soggy pizza. 

    I was also there a couple of weeks ago, and completely agree that it was undercooked. The more serious problem, however, was that the dough was just too dense. Combine those two issues and the result was basically no better than a frozen Tombstone pizza.

  3. Fornino operates in the same stylistic space as Keste, which is to say new-Neapolitan style pizza.

    Can you explain what you mean by "New-Neapolitan", Sam? To me, Keste is pretty darn old-Neapolitan.

    Keste's crust treatment strikes me as fairly traditional, but not so much all of their toppings. It's a fine line with Keste, though, I will admit. I put them as "new-Neapolitan" mostly because they don't seem caught up in dogma and creating a replica product.

    Makes sense. I suppose my choice to ignore those toppings (butternut squash, truffle spread, etc) doesn't mean they don't exist. :cool:

  4. Sounds very good.  But also, it's incongruous that this sandwich is from Oakland and not New Orleans, where it would be natural (more below).  There could even be a connection.  Many Oakland families had roots in Louisiana, wherefrom thousands of people moved for good jobs during the second world war.  That history is a reason Southwest Airlines has run inexpensive nonstop flights between the two cities for years.

    (By the way Tupac, you always wait "in line" in the Western US.  I never once heard of waiting "on line" in that sense until I lived in the Northeast.  I think that's still the minority US usage -- the AHD would say.  Might be a regionalism, like "duck sauce" -- Eastern -- or "frying pan" -- Western.  But I have often waited "on line" on the Internet, starting with 2400 bps dial-up modems in early 1980s.)

    Good to know because, having been born in Texas, I've waited "in line" and never on it (regardless of my location) all my life.

    Also, thanks for sharing with us the Oakland - New Orleans connection, Max. I knew nothing about that.

  5. Fornino operates in the same stylistic space as Keste, which is to say new-Neapolitan style pizza. 

    Can you explain what you mean by "New-Neapolitan", Sam? To me, Keste is pretty darn old-Neapolitan.

    Keste pushes the envelope about as far as it can go in the soft and wet direction.

    Agreed. For those that like that style (I do), I think Keste is probably the best in the city right now. For those that like a crisper crust, my allegiance is to Motorino.

  6. Co. last night for the first time.

    Been having a lot of pizza lately. Like, a LOT of pizza lately. Keste 6 times. Motorino, Trattoria 089, and now Co. once each. This is all in the last 2 1/2 weeks, mind you.

    Sat at the bar. Had the margherita. Traded a slice with a neighbor for a slice of her ham and cheese (minus the caraway, as requested).

    There's a fine line between heavily charred and burned, and this was right on that line. But to me, there's also a difference between heavily charred bread and heavily charred pizza. To me, this was bread. Quite good bread with quite good toppings, mind you. But a very different style -- not napoletana and not NY-style -- than what I usually prefer. I would have liked a thinner crust, at least in the middle. The crunch was great, though.

    Ham and cheese was also good. Much more ham than cheese, but I wasn't complaining about that.

    I definitely liked it, and would return. I am, however, more enthusiastic about a return to Motorino, which I think offers a very similar sort of rustic/crunchy/charred pie that I happen to have liked more than Co.

  7. Hmmm.  I have a recipe for that sandwich somewhere.  I think it was from a newspaper article.  It intrigued me, but not nearly as much as you have, tupac - beautiful essay.

    Thanks, Kim. Here is the recipe from the Chronicle a couple of years ago: CLICK. :smile:

  8. Bakesale Betty has been a love of mine for a long time, and I finally got around to writing about it since I sadly moved away recently. Over a dozen or so visits, pretty much everything was good, but it was the fried chicken sandwich that kept drawing me back. Below is my ode to that sandwich, and some pictures of this beauty can be seen HERE...

    Fiercely loyal to my previous home of New York, I was slow to embrace Berkeley. Skinny jeans and flannel predominated. I couldn’t squeeze my forearm – much less a leg – into the former, and I looked heroically stupid in the latter. The hippies had retired to expensive, wood-paneled cottages in the hills that looked down on countless trees they had once hugged. And neither the men nor women who inherited their wrinkly dashikis seemed particularly fond of shaving, but all looked ready to be extras should the producers of Forrest Gump wish to re-shoot any Vietnam War protest scenes.

    I was lost in a strange new world, and it took a blue-haired woman who double-dips to make me feel at home.

    Her name is Alison Barakat, but people call her Betty. I’d like to believe that she once held wildly successful bake sales, though I’m not sure. All I know is that she now owns Bakesale Betty in Oakland, and she double-dips her fried chicken.

    But first, she buries the bottom half of a torpedo roll from Acme with a mountain of cole slaw. Cabbage, onion, jalapeño and parsley are its constituents. They are shaved, sliced, and chopped before being tossed with piquant Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, and extra-virgin olive oil. Don’t even mention carrots; they have no place here. Mayonnaise would be heretical. Betty’s slaw is always crisp, vinegary-tart and jalapeño spicy.

    Her double-dipping method for the chicken yields a batter that is thick, but crunchy throughout. Cayenne pepper tickles your tongue as you crack through the crust. The breaded bird is so busty you wonder if it’s been surgically enhanced. They say there’s only one breast on each sandwich, but that depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is. In any case, the chicken is placed on top of the cole slaw, never under, before it’s crowned with the other half of the roll.

    The sandwich tastes like happiness, love, and world peace. And these sentiments are only enhanced with hot sauce. I’m a Tapatío man myself, but I don’t judge the Frank’s Red Hot fans too harshly, even if pouring a vinegar-based sauce on vinegar-dressed slaw seems to me like a deranged attempt at pickling the poor chicken. I apply several glugs of the spicy stuff, and nothing else is necessary. For the next few moments, nothing else matters.

    People line up for this chicken sandwich, and a veritable battalion of prep cooks pump them out warm all day. I still haven’t figured out whether one waits “on line” or “in line” in California, but I gladly queue up while I try to figure that out. Betty knows when the line gets crazy. Buttery pecan shortbread cookies may drop out of the sky to ease the wait, or a cup of sweet-tart frozen lemonade might mysteriously show up on your tray at the end, though none was ordered. The last time I went, they had run out of sandwiches — a harsh reality we must all face one day or another — but a thick slice of the darkest, finest banana bread I’ve tasted was sweet consolation.

    Some people don’t order the chicken sandwich at Bakesale Betty. Nobody is perfect.

    Some get the egg salad sandwich, which as much as I would like to slam, is actually pretty good. It’s got eggs and red onions, plenty of arugula, and — surprise! — no mayonnaise. I’ve seen others walk out with the chicken sandwich minus the bread. A friendly newsflash for them: sorry, but that doesn’t make it a “chicken salad”.

    The strawberry shortcake is a legend in its own time. That time, of course, is between April and July, when the berries are at their most beautiful. A crumbly vanilla shortcake gets mounded with fresh whipped cream before macerated strawberries are showered over the top. By the end, it all melds together into a cohesive bite of summertime. My only complaint is that the shortbread can get soggy. If they would assemble them to order instead of keeping in them in the refrigerator case, this would be a non-issue. But alas, you just have to be quick in disposing of the shortcake. This is rarely a problem for anyone.

    I always get a cookie for each hand, and it’s not always easy choosing between chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, and snickerdoodle. All of Betty’s cookies (except, of course, the shortbread) skew toward chewy. But my perennial favorite, the ginger molasses, is studded with fat nuggets of crystallized ginger whose sticky spice I can’t get enough of. It’s not a cookie you merely eat; it’s one you revel in.

    Tart lemon bars and dark, spicy gingerbread never disappoint. Brownies satisfy with or without walnuts. Sticky buns are moist, yeasty, and of pleasantly manageable proportions. Cupcakes come crowned with just the right amount of icing to see you through to the end without putting an end to you.

    It seems you cannot go wrong with a slice of pie. The crust is thick, sweet, and flaky-chewy every time I’ve had it. Pumpkin in the fall and olallieberry in late spring have been my favorites.

    But Betty is not infallible. There is exactly one thing that she offers that I don’t like — the Lamingtons . These sponge cake bars sandwiching strawberry jam, dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut. “An Australian favorite!”, the website exclaims. I cannot share the enthusiasm. Between the coconut and the cake, I found it very dry, like swallowing a mouthful of feathers. The chocolate and strawberry jam lubricated only enough to keep me from choking, I think. And the overall taste was really quite bland.

    Let’s get real, though. Encountering just one thing I wasn’t particularly fond of over the course of nearly a dozen visits is a very good batting average. And it almost goes without saying that the chicken sandwich has never failed me. Mrs. Barakat has published the recipe for it before, but tweak it at your own risk. If you do not live close to an Acme Bakery, do not even bother. It won’t be quite the same. Though you will have some very fine fried chicken, regardless.

    I can’t say that Bakesale Betty is the only reason I love California. But it was one of the first. I’ve come to realize that a lot of women here have blue hair, actually. But this one is special. And her sandwich will be a thing dearly missed when I move.

  9. I think it's safe to say that Ko's popularity has declined such that:

    1. While Ko used to book up in 10 seconds each day at 10am it now books up in 20 seconds.

    2. Where availability due to cancellation used to be rare, it is now a little less rare.

    The later is the case: I tired every day last week and failed and have from time to time just pinged the site to see if there was a lucky cancellation. Only today was there any success.

    I agree. I went a couple of weeks ago after trying for a week straight and failing every time. Finally hit a next-day cancellation. Very glad I did. I loved it.

  10. Strongly second Manresa. To me, it's the best restaurant in the US.

    Can somebody explain to the non-Californians among us what is offensive about San Fran, Frisco, and the like? I don't even like calling it SF myself, so I suppose I'm safe from ridicule. Then again, I know it's a context thing, but I have a hard time thinking of anywhere but New York when I hear "the city". :cool:

  11. 1. Beet salad with fresh ricotta. Damn fine fresh ricotta.

    2. Fried brussels sprouts. They are still over-salting this dish.

    3. Tuna conserva, puntarelle, garlic, anchovy and mojama; they have added garbanzo beans to this dish and I seem to prefer it the older way it was presented.

    4. Beef tongue with pickled horseradish crema. Fabulously tender and rich.

    5. Zuppa with porcini mushroom bread dumplings, chives, and pecorino. WAY too salty. Inedibly so for me.

    6. Bay scallops with agreeti, preserved lemon and chilies. Couldn't taste the chilies, but I didn't care. Perfectly prepared morsels of goodnes.

    7. Sweet potatoes with pancetta, fried chilies, and pecorino. Easily my favorite dish of the day (well, 'cept maybe dessert).

    8. Tripe with fennel, chilies, pickled onions, mint and parsley. I could taste these chilies -- almost too spicy for me.

    9. Jones Farm rabbit with frisée, carrots, pancetta and mustard. Still a great dish.

    10. Ricotta fritters with orange marmalade and crema fresca. OH.MY.GOD. 'Nuff said.

    1. Beet salad with fresh ricotta. The ricotta (from Gioia Cheese Co.) was nice and milky. Texture was a bit more coarse than I would have liked, but that's personal preference. Beets were boring.

    2. Fried brussels sprouts. Disappointed by this dish last time. Hated it this time. Terribly salty.

    3. Tuna conserva, puntarelle, garlic, anchovy and mojama. I prefer this newer way, but would've liked to have the garbanzo beans more cooked. Mojama nowhere to be found.

    4. Beef tongue with pickled horseradish crema. I liked the texture of the tongue. Really crispy edges.

    5. Zuppa with porcini mushroom bread dumplings, chives, and pecorino. Tasted like the "flavor packets" that come with ramen noodles. Terrible.

    6. Bay scallops with agreeti, preserved lemon and chilies. I didn't taste the chilies, either. But this was simple and good.

    7. Sweet potatoes with pancetta, fried chilies, and pecorino. My favorite, too. A little greasy at the bottom. Serving it on a little square of paper might prevent the bottom pieces from becoming soggy by the end.

    8. Tripe with fennel, chilies, pickled onions, mint and parsley. I liked the spice, but wanted more mint. When I had this on my previous visit, I liked it much more.

    9. Jones Farm rabbit with frisée, carrots, pancetta and mustard. I enjoyed this one, but wasn't wowed by it.

    10. Ricotta fritters with orange marmalade and crema fresca. Nice.

  12. I don't know if I answered your question tupac....

    That definitely answered my question, Kenneth. Thanks.

    I'd forgotten about the steep price tag at UPN. $21 for a pizza is pretty serious. Comparing to what you might pay in Naples, that price is downright depressing. The first time I went to UPN -- must've been maybe 2005 or 2006 -- I wasn't really blown away. But maybe it deserves a second chance.

    Keste is all but definite at this point.

    Hitting both on the same night sounds like a good plan to me.

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