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Catherine Nash

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Everything posted by Catherine Nash

  1. In North Carolina, just about 20 minutes past the VA border, if you take the exit for Weldon/Roanoke Rapids, there are two fantastic holes-in-the-wall: Ralph's, for BBQ, and Second Street Lunch, for awesome hot dogs and burgers. Ralph's is at 1400 Julian Allbrook Highway, which is the road you're on when you exit 95 (I think). Think NC-style 'cue, brunswick stew, cole slaw and sweetened ice tea. They also sell it to go so if you love it, you can take some extra with you. Second Street Lunch is located in the city's downtown (abandoned though it may be) at 22 E. 2nd street. No menus so know when you go: you can order a hamburger, or a hot dog. Full-dressed means you get cole slaw, chili, raw onion and mustard. Ketchup is on the table. Order two of whatever you get - they're small. Fries are crinkle-cut and come in red-and-white checkered paper boats. The waitresses also cook the food behind the line. They have bottles of ANY KIND of soda pop imaginable. You'll be in and out for less than $3. There are a few other good suggestions on this web site, Restaurant Row. I can't say for sure if they're right off 95 though.
  2. Since you've already decided my post is a wee bit late, but why not New Orleans? Talk about food...oh, my! Maybe for your first anniversary.
  3. My vote goes to the hot dogs at Second Street Lunch in Roanoke Rapids, NC. They're that bright red color, and come squashed in a warm bun "full-dressed" with raw onion, hot dog chili (no beans), sweet cole slaw, ketchup and mustard. I usually leave off the onions for the sake of the neighbors. It's a little more down-home than the other answers but hey, I gotta tell the truth. It's the one restaurant I visit EVERY time I head back east.
  4. I checked out Besos Foods last week and have to say that I was impressed. Delivered right to my doorstep was the makings of a meal, all cleaned and prepped and recipe included. Wild Steelhead salmon, shitake mushrooms and potatoes diced small for hash (along with mushroom stock, leeks/shallot/ginger, and mustard greens) plus a Satsuma mandarin orange glaze and a "salad" of pickled daikon and edamame for the fish. 75% of the products were organic. Total cooking time was 25 minutes. Anyone else heard of this/used it? Or any other similar service? It's the only such service I know of in SF. It's great for lazy nights when you want to tuck into a wonderful home-cooked meal but are too lazy or busy or tired to shop and chop.
  5. I recently visited SD and the places I most enjoyed were: Crown Bistro (Coronado) - gorgeous breakfast, seating outside near a host of blooming bushes. Coveted my friend's artichoke and green onion scramble. Sweet, wonderful homemade jam was to die for. I ate it from a spoon when the bread ran out. Indigo Grill (in Little Italy, I think) - huge portions, the biggest I have EVER seen - so share. Nuevo Tex-Mex, if I had to pin it down. Great tamales. Voyage near the waterfront - all I ordered was a salad with grilled scallops but it was divine and the menu looked worth checking out - a mix of French/Mediterranean and Asia. (P.S. If you are so inclined, you can read about all the places we ate in detail at http://foodmusings.typepad.com/food_musing...her_city_.html)
  6. I was disappointed not to see Chapeau on there (maybe he felt Clementine was enough in the way of French bistros in the Richmond?) Noticed that big omissions in SF were Masa's, the Ritz and Fifth Floor (maybe b/c Bauer has yet to review it under Perello?). Was surprised by the two steak places: El Raigon and House of Prime Rib (no Harris? no C&L Steak?) I appreciated the variety in terms of price and atmosphere; I think he did a good job offering a breadth of choices across the spectrum. Maybe it's just me, but I don't care for Bacar or Aquerello. Have been both places and was thoroughly unimpressed. Antica Trattoria was a surprise, but a nice one and well-deserved, in my opinion.
  7. I have been a frequent visitor to Bistro Jeanty (and, for a while, Jeanty at Jack's) over the last two years since discovering it on a weekend visit to Napa. It's the perfect spot for a long lunch - you can always get a spot and it's open all day. Favorite dishes that haven't yet been mentioned are the oft-presented special of pappardelle with rabbit, thickly chopped onions and rugged hunks of carrots in a barely-there cream sauce. If it's on the menu, get it. It was my inaugural bite of rabbit but I've had it several times since, each with the same degree of pleasure. The sweetbreads are wonderful, too, ethereal and fragrant and just too damn good for this feeble writer's words. I don't much like Jeanty at Jack's - it has none of the atmosphere of the Bistro, nor any of its own. The food is good so it's a shame.
  8. Thanks so much for the insight. Guess I'll have to set my Palm alarm for June!
  9. two questions: 1) Can anyone speak to how difficult/easy it is to get a reservation (and if it's getting any harder of late)? 2) How much of an insider (if at all) do you need to be to be treated to an 18 course feast? My sense after reading about Manresa ad infinitum is that the long and impressive tasting menu is available to any Joe Schmoe who walks in the door but I want to be sure I don't need to ask when I make my reservation. I plan to go in August for my birthday and want to know how best to plan ahead.
  10. Exotic Mushroom, that's interesting to hear because I, too, was not her biggest fan after eating at CNH. I may have to give Fifth Floor a go with Perello at the helm despite earlier misgivings. And just to clarify - it's hard to tell what is directed at whom in these threads - but I don't want anyone to think that I was bashing Perello's skills. I just pointing out that L. Gras was no longer behind the stove and that the recommendations for the restaurant likely were made with his menu/cooking in mind.
  11. I love this topic - it's very voyeuristic, n'est-ce pas? I was visiting friends this weekend and we ate all our meals out (my friend has an eensy kitchen and no dining room table) but normally I cook all week long, 3 meals a day, and then we eat out on the weekends. Then there are weeks where it's reversed. So, last three cooked dinners (I'll include tonight since I already bought the ingredients): Tonight: tomato pie (an old French recipe with Dijon mustard and gruyere) with sauteed okra and a green salad Monday night: potage Saint-Germain, which is just a fancy way of saying pea soup with fresh lettuces and mint, and chunky homemade croutons Last Tuesday night (I had food events Wed and Thu): lentils topped with freshly wilted spinach and goat cheese (Hmmm. All very vegetarian, completely by coincidence. Must grill a fat juicy steak soon.)
  12. I just finished doing a ton of research on butter. What I found, and what an independent tasting panel found, was that for the money, the best tasting butter is Challenge Dairy's European style, unsalted. Now that's mainly a West coast brand, with LOL being something you can find anywhere. That said, for baking I have to recommend the European or European-style butters. Those have a minimum of 82% butterfat, which means even less water than the regular stuff. And you can tell a big difference. There are some premium butters, like one made by Vermont Butter & Cheese Co., that have up to 86% butterfat! If you're a serious baker and you're making something where the butter flavor is showcased, you might think about giving that a go. But it does get expensive.
  13. For me, it's all about the carbs. Pasta pasta pasta! Any kind will do.
  14. I've baked with a variety of salts but once had a disaster occur when I used coarse salt in a honey cake - it was unbearably salty and inedible. I wrote to the magazine who published the recipe and they stood by their measurements and salt specification, so it scared me away from using any sort of coarse salt - basically, anything but finely-grained salt - in baking recipes. Anyone have any recommendations on how I might incorporate coarse/sea/kosher salt back into baking without another disaster? Or is everyone out there ignoring the "in vogue" coarser salts in favor of simple table salt?
  15. There's also supposed to be a butter counter where they'll cut off as much as you want to order (a pound, two pounds, whatever) and where you can add fresh herbs and spices. Anyone tried it yet?
  16. Regarding Mexican food, you must stop by the SF Ferry Building and go to Mijita. The carnitas tacos are really wonderful - handmade corn tortillas, a huge hunk of tender and juicy pork (so juicy your plate might drip as you carry it, watch out!) and a sprinkling of fresh onion and cilantro. Um-um-good!
  17. I'm with you! Last 3 for me, also in SF: Chez Nous (lunch) C&L Steak A16 All are all-time faves of mine.
  18. If this is the Moscone Center then you are really close to the 5th Floor- one of the best restaurants in SF (its in the hotel Palamor). Also, one block over (depending on what part of the convention center you are at) is Annabelle's (sp?) Bar and Bistro (in the Mosser Hotel.) Simple but good. ← Not sure if you know this, but the chef and sommelier at the Fifth Floor have both recently quit. I don't think I'd eat there at this stage in the game since they were what made it so fabulous.
  19. One more thing - if you do hit the Ferry Building, you MUST eat at Mijitas. It's the best taco you'll ever eat in your entire life. Get the carnitas. You'll think you died and went to heaven.
  20. The best new spot within walking distance of the Argent is Oola. Hands down. Please go. I think Thirsty Bear is ho-hum and wouldn't waste my time, but if you're in the mood for casual tapas, hit Bocadillos instead in North Beach. Walkable if you're mildly energetic, easy cab ride if not. Another fun location that's nearby is Belden Lane - it's a European-style alley tucked away downtown with a hip vodka bar and 5 great restaurants to choose from. Not going to break the bank either. My favorite is Plouf - the mussels are tres bien. Baraka is fabulous - Moroccan/mediterranean small & large plates. Inconvenient location in Potrero Hill, but well worth it. As for the go-for-broke spot, I'd skip Masa's. They have a new chef - the old one is over at the Ritz. For my money, I'd go to La Folie. Just got renovated and the food has always rocked. Or you can sit at the bar at Michael Mina, the most talked-about place in town, for a lobster corn dog. Yum. (Don't eat there at the table, though, it's pretentious and exhausting to have to make your way through scallops 6 ways.) Town Hall is a boisterous place, the food has a sense of fun and is some of the best in town. New Orleans influence on the brothers who cooked at Postrio. Best steak: C&L. Most quintessential SF: Zuni Cafe. Great oysters, great martinis, best-looking bar around. All-around-favorite: Chapeau in the Richmond - long cab ride but the most reasonably priced/high quality bistro food in the Bay Area. The owners, Philippe and Ellen, are the nicest people you could ever meet.
  21. Touche. It did get to be sort of a tangent. The net net is that I think it's interesting SF got nary a nod (or so, so few) in the general discussion.
  22. I definitely think of NY as the #1 food town in America. Not necessarily the most interesting (though it has plenty of nominations from others) but for a myriad of reasons - availability and variety of cuisines, celebrated chefs, access to ingredients, propensity for dining out v. staying in, even the hours the restaurants keep and the rich, if overly American, proliferation of street food. It's interesting to me that the top spot is being questioned and I think that says a lot about where we are today and how our views on food are evolving. It seems that most people who participated in this discussion value as their influencing factors (1) hitherto unknown or less well-known (to them) ingredients, (2) a certain amount of hustle-and-bustle which equals vibrancy, and (3) a representation from foods around the globe - all this valued over creativity, for instance, a la Keller, Adria, Aschatz and the like. I'm not saying I disagree - discovery makes food fun again, and there's a reason you can't open an issue of Saveur without reading a feature about China, Hong Kong, Vietnam or Thailand. I think it's very cool actually that classical French training and execution no longer rule the day (hmm...or do they...?)
  23. Wow. It is both startling and humbling that San Francisco was only nominated by about 3 or 4 people - and in nearly all cases, as part of a long list of other contenders. It's not that I'd like to nominate SF for my most interesting food city - Lord knows I don't have enough round-the-world eating experiences under my belt to willingly cast a vote - but it does say something about one of America's most preeminent food towns. So, if what many think of as traditionally the 2nd top food city in the US (one could argue if it's 2, 3, 4 etc. but you see the point) is barely even mentioned in this survey, has something gone dreadfully wrong? Perhaps SF is considered too provincial? Hey, we're smaller than LA, Chicago and NY but we can duke out the so-called ethnic battle with the best of 'em. Afghan? Check. Vietnamese? Arguably one of the best in the US in Slanted Door, plus tons of pho shops all around town. Tibetan? Yep. Iraqi? Coming soon. Basque? Some of the best both in pure form (e.g. Piperade) and as influences go (e.g. Aqua). I could go on and on. Or is it that folks think no one here is trying hard enough, but just resting on their organic local vegetable-clad bums? Keller aside, I think SF boasts its more than its fair share of experimental food. Try Michael Mina who, like Gray Ashutz (sp?), designs his own china to match his meals, which are served in triplicate and meant to be eaten in a specific order. Even at a classic like Zuni Cafe, I have yet to eat dinner there (which I do fairly often) when there isn't something on the menu that I cannot identify as vegetable, mineral or animal. I think SF deserves more than an honorable mention, and not just for the sake of California Cuisine's influence on culinary history.
  24. How about when your response to "What did you do this weekend?" inevitably produces a long list of foods you bought, cooked, ate, wish you'd had time to eat, or restaurant visits you made? Or when the only question YOU ask your friends when they travel is where they ate?
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