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Krys Stanley

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Posts posted by Krys Stanley

  1. Most of what I've tried at Bouchon has been disappointing. People just get star chef struck. I haven't had macarons in SF for a while, so I don't have any suggestions there. If you are in the East Bay, Masse's in Berkeley has pretty good macarons. Even Virginia Bakery is better macaron-wise than Bouchon.

  2. Scoma's offers a three-course prix-fixe lunch for $25 until 3:30 pm.

    http://www.scomas.com/

    Normally I warn off anything in Fisherman's Wharf, but the prix fixe is a good deal.

    If you are here on a Saturday morning, there are lots of food vendors at the Ferry Plaza farmers market.

    SF has lots of 'gourmet' food trucks. I'd advise against most of them as the prices are almost the same as going to a sit down restaurant and, well, you are eating from a truck.

    You might find some other mid-scale restaurants that you are interested in and see if there are specials or prix-fixe deals.

  3. I saw this non alcoholic cocktail listed on the menu of a local African restaurant I googled and found these links

    http://www.kitchenbutterfly.com/2009/09/02/chapman-drink-recipe/

    http://thecrazynigerian.com/2010/02/09/how-to-make-chapman/

    It is a mix of Angostura Bitters, a black currant cordial, Fanta, Sprite and a few squeezes of citrus such as lemon, orange or lime. Garnish with a cucumber.

    It is pronounced 'shapman'. I haven't tried it yet.

  4. This was my first practice marmelade ... what is it that makes it well, marmelade?

    Is it sugar or the pectin in the peels.

    I tried scaling down a recipe as a first try. Most recipes have equal parts of sliced fruit, sugar and water. I tried scaling down the sugar.

    Here's what I did

    1 orange sliced thin (one cup)

    1 cup water

    4 teaspoons sugar

    Brought to a boil and then cooked until liquid was reduced. All it looks like is cooked oranges.

    Can I save this? Suggestions for the future?

  5. That sounds like an amazing combo. Oooh, I'm going to have to try a strawberry rhubarb jello.

    Is that muscat wine, grape juice or grapes.

    The blackberry cabernet was the first I tried which I found on Martha Stewart's site. If anything it intensified the juciness of the blackberries.

    Martha was overly fussy though. She had lots of unnesesary steps. The big thing is the gelatin to liquid ratio ... 2 cups liquid to 1 packet of gelatin. Nothing else matters.

    One experiment had too much liquid and didn't gel, so I froze it and it made a lovely little sorbet.

  6. Wonderful suggestions. Thanks so much, GlorifiedRice

    That is the point. The list is endless and you don't need the chemical, sugar-laden stuff in the box.

    What is Konnyaku or Alsa Gulaman? Where would I buy it?

    I'm thinking of trying agar-agar, but haven't worked up the nerve yet.

    Knox is surprisingly expensive. The least expense I've found is at Target which sells a 4 pack for $1. Usually it is $2 or more.

    I tried coffee ... a number of ways. Just didn't like it. However, I'm looking forward to using tea.

    Love ... LOVE ... that apple cider cinnamon idea. Will try that next. Also the ginger ale sounds fantastic. I wonder if adding fresh ginger would be a good thing?

    Can you tell me a little more aobut the jello w/ cucumber with onion, dill and sour cream? Do you just mix all of the above in it?

  7. Last year I learned to make fruit gelatins using Knox gelatin. The are super easy and usually contain no sugar or artificial sweeteners, just 2 cups of juice, fresh fruit and gelatin.

    The watermelon I made with watermelon juice was amazing and different from all the rest with a wonderful smooth mouthfeel, almost a a sherbert like consistancy.

    Here's a few of the best I've had. All use 1 pack of Knox

    Watermelon: 2 cups watermelon juice, sugar to taste, juice of 1/2 lime

    Blackberry merlot: 1 cup merlot, 1 cup apple juice, 1 pint whole blackberries

    Strawberry champagne: 1 cup apple juice, 1 cup champagne, 1 pint quartered strawberries

    Strawberry banana: 2 cups Juicy Juice strawberry banana juice, 1 sliced banana added as gelatin starts to set

    Peach Melba: 2 cups of Juicy Juice berry juice, 2 cups sliced peaches

    Fresh lemonade, red, white and blueberry: 2 cups of home-made lemonade, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. This is the only one where the fruit wasn't cooked. The fruit was added as the gelatin started to set.

    Here's how easy it is

    1. Put 1 cup of juice or wine and fruit in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes if using fresh fruit. If using juice only without fresh fruit, simmering is not necessary

    2. Put 1 cup of juice in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 packet of Knox. Soften at least 1 minute.

    3. Add hot liquid with fruit to gelatin mixture

    4. When slightly cooler put in serving cups and chill until set (2-3 hours)

    Sugar or honey can be included, but isn't necessary usually. After hot and cold liquids are combine, mix in sweetener to your own taste. What this tastes like warm is what it will taste like cold.

  8. Thanks.

    I made a fennel-themed diner the higlight of which was a fennel, radish, celery and parsley salad. The fennel bulb, radish and celery was thinly sliced. The feathery fennel leaves and chopped fresh parsley added and everything was tossed with vinagrette. It was an excellent blend of flavors.

    I also added some fennel to butter and put it on corn on the cob. The trout on a bed of fennel leaves was microwaved.

    All was wonderful with a nice white wine.

    The market must have mislabelled it. It was also very small fennel, maybe 2 inces across and 1/2 inch thick.

  9. A market near me was selling fresh organic star anise for 10 cents. At that price I figured I buy it and figure out what to do with it ... what DO i do with it?

    I have three bulbs. Also there is the frilly green top. Can I use that?

    Recipes I see on the web just use the dried version.

    Hope to get some help. It smells wonderful.

  10. I just found out about this holiday last year. Do any restaurants serve special menus? Is there special food I should look for in Persian Markets? Any special events?

    I found these events at the Persian Center in Berkeley which list events and Bazaars in Berkeley & Palo Alto

    http://www.persiancenter.org/events.html

    - "Chahrshanbeh Souri", TUESDAY, Mar. 13th from 7pm; Jump over bonfires in the street, Persian Style, at the 2000 block of Durant Avenue in Berkeley! There will be fire, food, & dancing.

    - Persian Center cordially invites you "NOROUZ 2007", SATURDAY, March 24th, 6:30 pm at Regency Center, 1290 Sutter at Van Ness, San Francisco. The evening will include cultural performances, traditional Persian Dinner, and lots of dancing!

    - Kahrizak Foundation is holding the 15th annual Norouz Bazaar on: SUN, Mar 11, 9am-5pm, Palo Alto Elks Lodge, 4249 El Camino Real, Palo Alto; Join us for a fun filled day of community effort to celebrate Norouz with the music of Ostad Nejad, traditional dance by ballet Afsaneh, Amoo Norouz, and homemade Persian food.

  11. ... chefs will have to articulate their alternative vision and philosophy, and how it’s expressed through what they put on the plates.  Although Thomas Keller’s and Alice Waters’ styles are about as divergent as you get, their approaches have a common quality of clarity.  For that matter, so was Roxanne Klein’s in regard to raw food, which was assuredly innovative.  I would be keen on hearing Patterson clarify and expand on his vision.  If he, or other chefs, can’t do that, then I don’t see how Bay Area food culture can be expected to evolve.

    Precisely. We await with much interest Patterson's expression of new cuisine as he invisions it and creates the menu of his next venue. No?

    I third that sentiment.

    IMO, the most profound statement was this

    “is foam the fifth horseman? because then we're all in trouble. think sabayon or zabaglione - those were new at one point as well, as was beurre blanc, hollandaise, etc. in foam's case, it fits the modern style of intense flavors combined with lightness of texture and less fat. it might be worth thinking about why it triggers such a vehement reaction, not just for you, but for many people - does the fact that it is not part of cp's repetoire mean that it shouldn't be anywhere? there are those who use new techniques like that in a way that fits nicely with their overall vision of food, and is not an artifical appendage.”

    After trying a good version of foam, I no longer have a fear and loathing of foam. It wasn’t a gimmick and it tasted good.

    I detest intellectualizing food, which is not to say that I reject being educated about food. I found Patterson’s explanation about the reason for foam fitting with modern life styles to make a lot of sense.

    And perhaps that is where Chez Panisse excels. Alice Waters didn’t just put a perfect tomato on the plate. She had the respect for us as customers to educate us as to why that tomato was so delicious.

    She continues that education to the next generation in her edible classroom. I don’t know if any of you have been to the Mandela Farmers market, under the Bart station in a seedy neighborhood in Oakland. Children are selling organic produce that they grew personally in the backyards of the inner city.

    If you read anything about Ferran Adrià, on a more limited scale, he does the same. He explains how to understand his food. He makes us share his passion. I would have no reservation about eating anything he cooked, but I am reluctant to try any copy cat who may be trying new techniques for the sake of innovation. Thus the initial rejection of foam.

    Patterson did not write an article as he said to simply advocate diversity. He concluded the reason for that lack of diversity, as he said in the second paragraph of that article. "You mean the tyranny of Chez Panisse?"

    It does not lend credibility to say that he like Waters and would eat at Chez Panisse every week, if possible, to take enjoy the “comfortable home cooking with no particular point of view”

    Even in the paragraph at the top of this post, he opines that rejection of foam is because it isn’t served at Chez Panisse.

    No. I did not reject foam on that basis. That never occurred to me. I rejected it initially because too often we are duped by food critics who eat out often and not on their own dime. I eat out often too, however on my dime. I know what it is to get bored with the same cuisine no matter how wonderfully it is prepared.

    So we go to those restaurants with glowing reviews about the creative chef or cuisine of the moment. Too often the food is a gimmick, overpriced and tasteless. Even worse, at times, it tastes bad. That is what it is all about .. taste. Food is not art. It is nice when creativity and taste meld, but the reason we eat is for the flavor.

    If sabayon, zabaglione, beurre blanc, hollandaise, etc. didn’t taste good, we would not be eating them today.

    Perhaps having grown up during the early feminist movement, I am too sensitive to this. But why are Chez Panisse, Zuni, Jardinière, Boulevard, all restaurants headed by women, labeled homey and without direction? Yet Thomas Keller, David Kinch, and Laurent Gras are lauded for their innovation. Even though it was the NY Times writing the headline, perhaps “To the moon, Alice” was too appropriate.

    Perhaps mine is not civilized and intelligent discourse. IMO, well-moderated online forums have given a different voice to people who never before had the chance to express themselves in person. In the past our only option was to vote with our pocketbooks. We no longer have to sit silently, listening to the experts tell us what we should be enjoying. We can speak up and say that the Emperor has no clothes. That doesn’t make some people happy.

    Yet I am not someone who wants dumbed down populist food either. I totally agree with the statement I read that said

    “I'm a strong believer in places doing what they do best and not trying to broaden to please clientele.....thereby hopefully attracting a savvy clientele that appreciates what they do best (and which will keep them honest).”

    So I am always open to be educated about why something should be appreciated … why we should like that perfect tomato or foam. Help us become that savy clientele and creativity and diversity will flourish.

    I would have appreciated an article with suggestions of how we could have more creative cuisine “in addition to” the wonderful food that is currently available in the Bay Area. Let’s hear some ideas for attracting the more creative chefs to this area instead of looking for blame for their absence.

  12. I thought it was a very self-serving and unprofessional article. There are chefs who are more concerned about expressing their own creativity rather than pleasing the diner. Most Bay Area diners are too savy a group to fall for it.

    I say most, because there are always that group that has a need for the most trendy place. The type that define eating out as more about the entertainment value.

    Patterson says "Today, there are two points on which most people seem to agree. The first is that the majority of the food in the Bay Area is delicious; the second is that it is not very innovative. "

    There have been a number of innovative restaurants in San Francisco. They failed not because of some imagined 'food tyranny' but because the food wasn't all that delicious.

    Currently, Winterland is not doing turn away business, despite the El Buli influence. Daniel Humm at Campton Place is very innovative, and yet you can walk in without a reservation on a Friday night. The staff seems to believe that people don't like to eat at Hotel restaurants. They sure did when Bradley Ogden or Jan Birbaum was heading the kitchen.

    While I agree that delicous and different can co-exist, so far no one in the Bay Area has really done that.

    An article like this could only appear in the NY Times. They don't get it. Yes. there are delicous and innovative restaurants in NY. The culture is different. Also, there isn't the availability to the spectacular produce other foods that California enjoys. The lettuce that has to be shipped accross country to NY in December has to be tortured into something creative, because the quality isn't there.

    It is also amusing that while critisizing the price of dinner at Chez Panisse and complaining about the price of a $5 heirloom tomato he says How can we build an egalitarian society based on a lifestyle that so few can afford?"

    Clearly, he is not going to be cooking for the masses. It is certainly not the dollars of the Food4less group that he is targeting. The movement that Alice started touches all levels of our society. Even working class farmers markets like Alemany have a organic, heirloom produce at affordable prices. It is a movement that has even filtered to McDonalds where they weill be selling organic coffee soon on the East Coast.

    I'd worry more about Patterson's point of view if the diners in the Bay Area didn't have such good taste and sense. We are not amused by gimmacky cooking ... unless it is also as delicous as what Patterson calls "comfortable home cooking with no particular point of view."

    I certainly hope that Patterson's restaurant will be the new beacon of both creativity and good taste.

  13. Thanks for mentioning that the show transcripts are on line.

    I liked:

    The shots of the restaurant and food

    The interviews with the reasaurant owners

    However, I thought the show a little slow and the first group perhaps a little too well spoken, almost like those Saturday Night Live paradies on PBS.

    What really annoyed me ... really annoyed me, was having people who have no familiarity with a specific cuisine, recommending a restaurant. As someone of Polish ancestry, I think that Old Krakow is a poor representation of Polish food. That comparison of the stuffed cabbage to haggis wasn't far off.

    Not to mention Eileen doing a Russian accesnt during her interview. How politically correct would it have been to have someone doing a Chinese or other ethnic accent while describing dinner.

    Here's my old eGullet post on Old Krakow: Old Krakow

    The problem for me with Old Krakow is that people think that is representative of Polish food. It isn't. Bruce articulated that very well.

    Actually the Bay Area has a WONDERFUL Polish restaurant in Walnut Creek called Chopin. Or for divine Eastern European pastries go to Crixa in Berkeley. It is Hungarian, but the idea is the same.

    I think it would be more interesting when reviewing an ethnic restaurant to have the person of that particular ethnicity recommending it. They would have more knowledge and insight to the cuisine. Or at the very least, someone who eats a particular cuisine a lot and can tell a good restaurant from a bad one.

    The other reviewers on the show could then react to how they feel about an autentic experience.

    So, my view of the show is colored by this poor choice of restaurant and ill informed reviewer.

  14. I had no intention of writing anything about Aziza. I heard so many good things about it that I just planned to stop by and enjoy a good dinner. The food was so exceptional that I'm almost stopping strangers on the street and whispering "For a good time, go to Aziza".

    This has to be one of the best restuarants in the city equalling and even exceeding places like Zuni, Boulevard, Piperade, Slanted Door, etc, etc

    Chef/ Owner Mourad Lahlou had done for Moroccan food what Slanted Door did for Vietnamese, Limon/Fresca did for Peruvian, and Piperade did for Basque. He modernized it using top quality California food vendors.

    Reading the reviews on the Aziza website, it seems that the consensus is that Lahlou is constantly refining and improving the restuarant.

    The pastry chef was the consulting pastry chef for Town Hall and other top SF restaurants. The professional staff is top notch.

    The focus is Cal-Moroccan food at its finest and the entertainment has been dropped. IMO, it would only distract from the outstanding meal and was one of the reasons it took me so long to visit.

    Must eats IMO are

    The mousse / flatbread appetizers. The hot fresh baked flatbread with grillmarks is the best I've ever had. The amazining light spreads are complex and intriuging.

    A NY Times review calls the Bateeya “ethereal”. I have to agree that this phylo pastry filled with safron braised chicken and spiced almonds when paired with Reisling is a one of the best dishes I have ever tried.

    Don't miss the couscous which is hand rolled each day and takes six hours to prepare. I don't like couscous, but this was in a different class.

    Fun drink list which gets a lot of recognition for it's stellar ingrediants and creativity. Check website for cocktails and reviews.

    I am still thinking about the dessert with hot, heavenly Frog Hollow Peaches paired with a goat cheese cheescake rolled in chopped pistachios.

    Aziza is also vegetarian and vegan friendly. Many of the dishes can acoomodate these tastes.

    The perfect end to the evening is the hot fresh Moroccan mint tea with a splash of rose water.

    They have rooms available for groups of 20 to a 130 and it would make a memorable and unique place for an event. I thouroughly enjoyed this beautiful, romantic restaurant and the outstanding meal.

    Thanks to Carolyn who first planted the idea of Aziza in my mind with her fabulous pictures.

  15. Nice dates should also be available.

    Thanks ludia. I forgot about Flying Disc Ranch since I don't buy dates that often. They should be in full swing about now with about a dozen varieties of dates.

    I also forgot about Van Mouriks's almonds and nuts. Absolutely the best, THE BEST, almonds in the world. I give these for gifts at holiday times. The reason they are so good is that after the nuts are harvested they go into cold storage. Then they are roasted prior to sale. This makes a lot of sense when you think about it because nuts have a lot of oil and oil can go rancid. If you roasted the nuts prior to refrigerating, well, it wouldn't be as good. I don't see them on the list of Ferry Plaza vendors. If Ferry Plaza dropped them, I would lose quite a lot of respect for that market.

    However, I see a fev vendors are missing from the list like Rancho Gordo and there are a few vendors that have long ago left the market because they sold the farm.

    Depending on your facilities, The Pasta Shop sells nice ravioli's, sauces etc. There are samples, as there are at many of the vendor stands. I particularily like the butternut squash.

    Oh, yes, bring LOTS of cash. It isn't cheap here. I've been known to drop $100 on a single trip. There are some bargains if you look. One of the best vendors in terms of price is McGinnis Ranch. I love his raspberries, red and golden, in season. Lovely little summer squash also. There is a rush when the market in the morning for his flowers. Poor Howard can barely get them off the truck when people a snapping them up. As I said, great, great prices and wonderful quality. Hmmm, I've been longing for dafodils, maybe I should drop by and pick some up this week from Howard.

    As melkor mentions, there is Far West Fungi for mushrooms. They also have a shop inside the building where they have quite a few glass jars of dried mushrooms. As the Ferry Plaza web site says of Far West "The array of wild mushrooms changes seasonally. In late spring there are fresh Morels and mountain-gathered Porcini, followed by Chanterelles and a selection of domestic and imported truffles. Dried mushrooms include Italian and domestic Porcini, Morels, Fairy Rings, Candy Caps and Matsutake. "

    Mmmm... wild mushrooms fried in Straus creamery butter. Or a quiche using the mushrooms and Petaluma Farm's pullet eggs. Ask Stan how he is doing today ... and he will tell you "Eggsellent". He never tires of saying it, I never tire of hearing it.

    I think I just planned my own menu this week.

    WAIT ... MAJOR FIND ... I just noticed on the website for the vendors inside the building that there is a monthly newsletter about special events each month. TONIGHT !!! Friday ... The public is invited to stroll the candlelit Grand Nave where the merchants and restaurateurs of the Marketplace will offer seasonal hors d’oeuvres and Slow Food* will pour wine from several wine bars ($5.00 per glass)." ... tango dancers and salsa (the music) is involved. CHECK THIS OUT

    April brings rhurbarb and strawberries as well, but it's a litlle early for them now...

    Thanks for the reminder. I am just SO ready for spring. I have strawberry dreams ... Actually, last year at this time, I lived in the San Diego area and the first strawberry stand opened in January. Cool little shack surrounded by berry plants.

  16. I'll be traveling to SF in a week and always love to spend my vacation cooking from local farmer's markets... I'd love to know (being from Maine where almost nothing is in season at the moment) what people have been seeing for sale at the SF Farmer's Mkt (the Tuesday one as well as the Saturday). I'm trying to get some sense of what I should plan, menu-wise. What's out there that's in season in CA?

    Link to post on the Thursday Berkeley Farmers Market

    How involved will you be in cooking? Are you renting a place with a kitchen that has all the cooking utensils as wel as major ingrediants like spices, eggs, oils, etc?

    Or are you just putting things together like salads, sandwiches, etc?

    In the Berkeley Farmers Market link above, I talk about my visit today and the veggies in season which are mainly greens and root vegtables (list at beginning of link). There was no fruit other than kiwis at the market I visited today, but I know that citrus is available at Ferry Plaza. There are some beautiful blood oranges this time of year. MAYBE the first strawberries will be creeping into the market. PERHAPS the asparagus will make an appearance. The market I visited today is very small.

    The Saturday market can be daunting. Here is a link to the vendors at the market.

    For a salad and fresh herbs stop by White Crane Springs Ranch. Ask for 'THE MIX". They keep it in back and if you don't know about it you'll miss it. It is salad greens all made out of herbs. Talk to the vendor. This is a unique product and delicous.

    Also, this is the only market that this vendor appears in and only on Saturday.

    For vinegar for your salad dressing - Bates and Schmidt - They have an oustanding apple balsamic vinegar ... Don't get the cider vinegar. It is ok, but not what you want in your salad.

    Nick Sciabica & Sons has the best olive oil. Tell them what you plan to cook and they will suggest the best oil. To take home, they have little samplers of various oils. I highly recommend the flavored oils.

    Hoffman's Game Birds have the best ckickens in the Bay Area. They sell out early. If you are not cooking your own chicken, you can get an excellent roast chicken at Roti, Roti.

    Happy Boy Farms has my second favorite salad mix with edible flowers. I think they are only at the Tuesday market.

    Iacopi Farm will have the best brussel sprouts this time of year. THey also have some interesting beans.

    Speaking of beans, Rancho Gordo has some lovely heirloom Mexican beans. Pozole anyone?

    Mariquita Farm has my favorite veggies and only appears at the Ferry Plaza Market and only on Saturday. The red carrots are great.

    Another vendor unique to Ferry Plaza and only appearing on Saturday is Small Potatoes. Wonderful ... well ... potatoes and many varieties of heirloom garlic.

    For cheese, you must stop by Andante. The cheese is named after musical terms. If they have it, the Figaro, covered in fig leaves is wonderful. Ask the vendor what is best this week.

    Marshall's Honey is not to be missed. Get the pumpkin blossom. Nothing in the world tastes like this. Ask what is in season. There are tastes of all the honeys. I like to give gifts of different colors and types of honey. Usually it will include the darkest honey ... wild, wild, west and the lightest ... usually orange blossom. And, of course, pumpkin blossom.

    June Taylor has the BEST jams and you can sample it all. The bing cherry has the true taste of cherries. She makes it from Langiers cherries, who is a Ferry Plaza vendor. Usually she puts a special kir in the jelly, but it was unavailable this year. It is still excellent, but that kir pushed it over the top.

    My favorite food stall for breakfast is Hayes Street Grill.

    Some vendors I personally avoid ... Miette pastries. Really inconsistant. You are paying big bucks for these very pretty cakes but the flavor is not there.

    I'm not crazy about many of the merchants inside the building. A few I like, Boulette's Larder, Ferry Plaza Wine (you can get flights of wine at 9 am ... the market scene can be brutal). Imperial Tea .. I love the red prosperity tea. Csar Niccoli Caviar Bar is fun. It has caviar samplers and usually some very good wines to go along with your caviar.

    Cowgirl Creamery has an excellent selection of Cheeses and right next door is Acme bread. In the Saturday market, I do like Downtown Bakery.

    If you have a car and have time and like Farmer's markets, go to the Alemany Farmers market after Ferry Plaza. It is the anti-ferry plaza ... the chickens are fresher than Hoffmans because they are live. You can get balut eggs at the egg vendors. Very ethnic. Very rock bottom prices. They are open until five. For the Ferry Plaza market the earlier the better. If you get there at 8 am before the official opening time, you beat the crowds and can pick up some unique items that might sell out early.

    Have fun in the city. I grew up in Connecticut and we would go to Old Orchard Beach in Maine to vacation.

  17. The thrills are found in the ethnic restaurants, but I’m really bad on the names. Walking in Chinatown, I can show you a terrific noodle place so many doors up from the fish shop on Stockton, but who’s the chef or what’s the name of that hole in the wall?

    I so agree that the best and least expensive food is to be had at the ethnic restaurants. I understand the question. However, perhaps what should be asked is what is the hot food in SF right now?

    Across all food forum boards, the same boring posts are being made over and over. It seems like Californians are a bunch of lemmings who follow who is hot, so they deserve the same Cal/Med cuisine over and over and over. I think if I see one more pork belly or roasted beet, I will scream.

    I wish the top chefs would get out of their comfort zones and start introducing white bread America to some exciting cuisines. While I don't like Slanted Door at the present time because I feel they have become sloppy with the move, it was different.

    Recently I dined at La Salette which does an upscale version of Portugues. Yet it seems the owner downplays the word 'Portuguese' because it is strange to the in crowd.

    There are exciting chefs in Mexico City that put out food on the level of a Gary Danko. Dishes you cannot even begin to imagine. Yet what is the best San Francisco can do ... Maya. Even that restuarant panders to mainstream tastes by serving guacamole and chips. That would be like Campton Place serving Lays potato chips with Lipton onion dip.

    I can tell you a restaurant in the Bay Area, a hole in the wall, whose food gives me the same pleasure as anything I have eaten in Chez Panisse. The woman has as much passion about food as Alice Waters. But people would not be interested.

    There is a hole in the wall, called Chef Jia. The SF Chronicle did a report a few years back and it became a hot dive, so to speak. I was at a group dinner at Bizou and people were talking about good restaurants in town ... the usual suspects ... Boulevard, Town Hall, etc... These strangers were patting themselves on the back for their adventure at Chef Jia. There were there, not for the food, but because the Chronicle said the restaurant was in.

    There is amazing Chinese, Indian, Japanese, etc, etc food in the Bay Area. I hope that a few famous chefs would be brilliant enough to bring these treasures to the top tier dining scene.

  18. The last time I was in Sonoma, on a Friday, The Vella Cheese store had a BBQ set up outdoors and a banner saying they had the best burger in town. Anyone tried these? Mmmm ... topped with melted jack ... that seems to have poosibilities.

    About Vaquero ... just cant seem to get there yet. How is the Sunday buffet?

  19. Great photos and thanks for reminding me that it is brussel sprout time of year. I may have to scedule a trip next Sat to the SF Ferry Plaza market and pick up some of Iacopi Farm's great brussel sprouts. There also seem to be some new vendors. Has anyone tried Achadinha Cheese Company or the smoked salmon at Shogun Fish?

    Has Zuckerman's started selling asparagus at any Bay Area Farmer's markets?

  20. I definately would try to get an earlier reservation though and maybe go Tues-Thurs rather than on the weekend. Seems like it could be a relaxing place although it wasn't particularly so the night we were there.

    Great review. Thanks for taking the time to post. I always like to see how people enjoy my favorite restaurant.

    What was an abberation was that crowd at 9 pm. Even on the weekend, that's usually the quietest time to go. The bad part about going that late is that some of the specials are sold aout.

    Noiest and most crowded time is usually Friday- Sat from 7 - 9. If you go on the weekend and don't mind early hours, showing up at opening is the most relaxing.

    Tue - Wed means that some of the more professional servers may not be there. Thursday is good. Everybody is there, the weekend specials are being introduced.

    However, you never know. Sometimes a party like the one you mentioned shows up out of the blue. Also not sure about the nights when there is a ball game. The regualrs seem to stay away. I've shown up occasionally on game nights, but usually just after the game starts and it is quite. However, on those days, parking is a bear.

  21. After the great recommendation on this board for La Salette, I was wondering what else was good in downtown Sonoma.

    Oh no, you say. Not ANOTHER Sonoma inquiry. I think I did my homework searching through previous posts. There are a few places I was curious about that were not mentioned. Also, I am only interested in restaurants on or in walking distance of the square, so that seems to leave out Deuce and The General's Daughter, correct? Also, is there a good breakfast place on the square?

    I was so blissed out on the food at La Salette that I forgot to stop by the Wine Exchange.. I did check out the wonderful little The Cheesemakers Daughter recommended by WineSonoma.

    Here’s some I’ve never seen mentioned:

    Fiorini Italian Pastry shop . It had a Emporio Rulli look to it as I was driving by. Any good?

    Cucina Viamga I may have the name wrong. I was driving by.It is the Italian place on the corner. It seemed to have some sort of deli type of display case.

    Maya

    Black Bear Diner … ok, ok, it’s probably the local Denny’s, but it’s slogan interested me “Good Old Fashioned Family Food”.

    Is that ice cream / candy shop next to La Salette any good?

    Here is what I’ve seen mentioned. I did leave out stuff not in walking distance of the square. These are the comments I found. It would be great if you folks added your suggestions for food at any of these places.

    Andalusia tapas resaurant

    Cafe la Haye

    Della Santinia It seems the food could be inconsistent. Any updates?

    La Basque Boulangerie morning pastries, coffee is mediocre. Is there anything Basque here?

    La Poste they make their own pate It's French bistro food, and they are supposed to have a chocolate mousse to die for. . i had deliciously flavorful duck and my friend swooned over the cassoulet. the tarte tatin was deeply carameled

    Meritage Seafood

    Rins Thai This looked lovely. What is good to eat here?

    Sonoma Savers

    The Girl and the Fig nice cheese selection, flights of wine, charcuterie and interesting menu selections

    The Red Grape decent CPK-like pizzas … What is CPK?

    Vaquero American with Great Cocktails Tell me more Winesonoma. You recommended it. I was intrigued by the sign that said "California Ranch Cooking"

    Just a bit about the Cheesemaker’s Daughter . When I walked in, I was initially disappointed by the small selection … well compared to Berkeley’s Cheeseboard’s 400 plus cheeses, the about 80 types of domestic and imported cheeses seemed small. I was interested though to see if there might be some small local unknown cheeses that this shop may carry. I phrased it wrong. I looked Ditty Vella in the eye and said “I’m from the Berkeley / San Francisco area. What would you have that I couldn’t find there”. Ouch.

    Ditty Vella was really nice about my gaffe and said that pretty much everthing in the shop you could find at the cheeseboard. I was trying to find a US blue cheese I recently heard of and forgot the name. She recited all the US Blues. She didn’t have the particular one I wanted, but said that Cowgirl Creamery in SF carried it. Then she took out some Rouge and Noir blue. Actually I had never seen that anywhere in SF or Berkely. Then she gave me tastes of a few other cheeses. I am so enthusiastic about the helpfulness and fine cheeses at this shop.

    Here’s a nice article from Sunset about Sonoma that includes a little info about Ditty Vella. Thanks WineSonoma for the tip to visit this charming shop.

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