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Posts posted by annachan

  1. My eating habits have been by where I shop, my work schedule and my kitchen set up.


    In SF, I worked in schools. I got home relatively early (4ish). Even though I do most of the shopping on weekends, I was able to still do some shopping at my local produce place and butcher shop after work. So planning for the week was not so important. My kitchen was nicely equipped, always stocked with pantry stables. However, I was more limited in what I cooked. Mainly due to lots of restaurants and take out places available. I rarely bothered cooking Asian food.


    When we moved to Canberra, I cooked a lot more. I cooked more time consuming dishes. I cooked more complicated dishes. I made salted duck eggs and pickled vegetables. Thing that I never bothered before. Why? Decent restaurants were hard to find. Fine dinner was a joke. I didn't like going out because I was tired of being disappointed. And there weren't much to do so I had plenty of time to cook. We ate a lot more beef as we're able to get some really great quality stuff from this wonderful couple at the farmers market. More roasts. Used a lot of puff pastries for making pies and such. Ate a lot of cheese (not the good stuff) because of all the morning/afternoon tea at work.


    Now in Melbourne, my cooking has gotten simpler. I work more and I'm getting home later. Much smaller kitchen with many of my machines in the storage cage downstairs. Lots of restaurant/take out options once again. I cook more Asian food because I can get the ingredients easily. More tofu and noodles for some reason. More fish than before, but still only once or twice a month. More French butter, charcuterie, fine cheeses, artisan baked goods, and dumplings. As we live close to downtown and can get there quicker on the tram than driving, I can drink freely when we're out - so, a lot more alcohol! Oh, lots of coffee. Big chain fast food does not have a place in our lives here. I was tempted to get an egg mcmuffin one morning, only to walk out empty handed after being shocked at the price (over $7 for an egg mcmuffin meal). Still a lot less fine dining than in SF. You just can't get that fine dining experience here, even though you're paying an arm and a leg. And Mexican food sucks.

  2. If you're at Cookin' (on Divisidero, near the Panhandle), another two interesting spots nearby are Falletti Foods and Nopalito (both a block away, on Broderick).  Falletti's is a market, Nopalio is perhaps our best Mexican restaurant (good ones being surprisingly hard to find in this town).  Another good restaurant nearby (same owners) is Nopa, on Divisidero (at Hayes).


    Falletti was the first place I was able to buy Jamon Iberico from in SF. I tried not to frequent the place because of that. The hot food bar has some pretty good stuff as well.


    If you're around Castro, Bisou Bistro is lovely. Nick creates some beautiful food at extremely reasonable prices. He is now bringing produce in from their farm in the wine country.


    Amelie is another favorite. Very nice wine bar with great food. You can hop across the street to Bob's Donut late at night for the best fresh out of the fryer donuts. The team behind Amelie opened Michel over in Oakland recently. It offers great food and lovely wine. Glad we were able to make it there when we're back in SF in May.

    • Like 1
  3. So, here are some places you may like:


    Ferry Building - Recchiuti is a must for chocolate. Really some of the best stuff around. Love Miette Bakery (though I love the Miette in Hayes Valley even more because of the candies - who can resist gourmet cotton candy?). Plenty of other foodie stuff to browse. Il Cane Rosso (Daniel Patterson) is my go to breakfast place. You can get Blue Bottle coffee there without having to stand around waiting for half an hour.


    Japantown - Soko Hardware and a few surrounding shops for great Japanese housewares. Look there if you want great Japanese knives. Benkyodo is where you will find a variety of fresh mochi.


    San Francisco Wine Trading company - for fine wine and spirits. Knowledgable and friendly staff. Happy to give you samples of stuff they have open.


    Le Sanctuaire - haven't been able to make it there but I've always wanted to go. Got stuff for the very serious cooks.


    Cookin' - if you like to browse through used/antique cookware.


    Omnivore Books - this is the place if you want cookbooks.


    Off the Grid @ Fort Mason - if you're into food trucks, that is where you want to be.


    Farmer's Markets

    Alemany - my favorite market in SF. Not much of a tourist attraction, but has some amazing food. That is where the locals go.

    Ferry Building - you can find nice stuff there, for $$$$.

    Stonestown - it smaller than the other 2 but it has a nice mix of stuff.



    Artis Coffee for serious coffee - live roast coffee and various brewing methods.

    PIQ - my favorite Italian bakery. Love, love, love the mushroom bread.

    Cheese Board - the cheese rolls!


    This is making me miss SF....

  4. We cook duck about once every other week. We usually have crispy duck confit. For duck breast, I make stir fry. I take the skin off, cut it in strips and fry til crispy. The meat sliced thin, marinaded and goes in whatever vegetables we have. Crispy skin goes on top once the stir fry is done.

  5. Growing up, we ate what our parents ate. There wasn't a separate meal for kids. Didn't know vegetables are supposed to be healthy or that kids are not supposed to like them. There were certain fruits/vegs I didn't like as a kid (still don't), but since I ate most of the other fruits and vegs, there was not need to force me to eat the ones I didn't like. There was never a discussion about you needing to eat this because it's healthy. You eat it because it's what everyone at home is eating. For me, shopping and learning to cook from my gradmother probably helped.

    • Like 4
  6. I have dined at a couple restaurants lately that compute tips for the bill at different ranges (e.g., 15, 18, 20 percent) and print the amts at the bottom of the check. Hint, hint, hint. I'm OK with this practice, BTW.


    It may be convenient, but beware of restaurants that abuse this. I've seen receipts where the tip amount listed is actually higher than the percentage stated.


    Frankly, tipping is a choice. There should be no expectation of how much a server should get. If you want your servers to have a guarantee minimum amount of tips, add a mandatory service charge. If you do not work in a place with a mandatory service charge, then deal with the fluctuations. In the US, tipping has gotten way out of hand. You don't tip in many countries. In others, 10% is standard. As others have said, 9% is better than nothing, as your customers do have the right to not tip.


    If the customer is being abusive, refuse service. That is your right. The question is, is he really being abusive or is your server just upset at the amount of work she has to do for someone who she doesn't think give her enough tips. Would she be crying about it if he's been tipping her 25% regularly? If yes, then stop serving him. If no, it's your server that's the problem. Think about it this way, should customers who require "less" service tip her less? Should there be a scale of how much you should tip based on how many trips your server have to make to your table?

    • Like 1
  7. I love various egg + porridge combos:

    Century egg + salted pork ribs porridge

    Boiled salted duck egg + plain porridge

    Raw egg yolk (chicken or quail egg) + beef porridge


    Love marinated soft boiled eggs. Like the ones serve with ramen. Or any boiled eggs in stew.


    Steamed water eggs is a childhood favorite.


    Runny egg yolk + pasta is also lovely.

  8. Stir fry - cabbage, garlic, Chinese sausage/cured pork belly. Seasoned with soy and a little sugar. Chinese wine optional.


    I also like cabbage in soup, especially something beefy, like oxtail soup.

  9. Spring Street has a few truffle things, as I recall. I'll look next time I'm there. They had truffle cheese (brie) before. I might have seen truffle honey of sort. The waygu rump is under $40/kg, which is cheaper than just about anywhere I've seen. Though I haven't seen them there for a little while. With some of the best gelato around and Melbourne Supper Club right there (fried cheese curds - the real curds!), I'm at Spring Cheese about once a month.

    I have mixed feelings about Essential Ingredients. there are some stuff that I found to be reasonable. I like the porcini powder there - $32 for 200g is not a bad price. Their bulk chocolate prices are reasonable, as I recall. But I was in need of some butcher strings the other day and had to pay $8 for it there.

    Vanilla beans and paprika - Costco is where I go. They had Tahitian beans a while back that was about $1/bean (10 or 20 in a pack, I think). They also have vanilla paste sometimes. I got Hungarian paprika from there - 400g for ~$4. Or yeah, you can get a large jar of dried mix mushrooms (300g) for under $20. I could be wrong, but I think I remember seeing duck fat there....

    Oh, if anyone is interested in the best cured meats you can find in Melbourne, give Skinner & Hackett a try.

    Williams-Sonoma is supposed to open a store at the new shopping centre in the CBD (by Melbourne Central). I can't wait to see what they will carry there.

  10. I go in the store when we're at Chadstone. Browse, mostly. Free coffee, when they're making them, are nice. Prices are quite outrageous. I only buy the stuff when I really need something right now and don't have time to look elsewhere. The cheese room is nice, but the one at Spring Street is much nicer.

    I went to the warehouse sale last year. Had to queue to get in. Some prices were quite good, like the Valrhona (they were expiring within a month or so), and others, weren't great. As Chris mentioned, the price for Ortiz as Spring Street is $10, which is the same price they were selling them at the warehouse sale.

    I got a couple of jars of mayo and aioli, Simon Johnson brand. They were before the best by date. Frankly, they weren't very good. Not any better than Best Foods....

  11. At a local cafe, they make these wonderful pesto mushrooms. They are oven roasted. Instead of the traditional pesto, the pine nuts are coarsely chopped, mixed in with the herbs. Those pine nuts get toasty and nutty, adding so much flavor and texture to the mushrooms.

  12. I don't bother with the nails but I do skin them. By that, I mean the very thin yellowish skin that can be easily peeled off, not the thicker layer under. I skin them because the outer layer is not pleasant to eat.

    Stock using chicken feet is commonly used in Chinese cuisine.

  13. I like my 1800 reposado. I'd like to get some more of the Kirkland anejo but Costco hasn't had it in a long time.

    I have a bottle of that at home - drinking some right now.

    Chris: you can now get Clase Azul here. Casa de Vino in Port Melbourne has them. They are planning to ship some of the anejo here. But it will be $$$$....

  14. I use dried shitake quite a bit, and save out the stems for stock.

    Since quality dried shitake can be quite pricey, practice in my family is to save the stems for stock (as they aren't edible) and use the caps for other dishes.

    I have porcini powder on hand if I need to add flavor quickly.

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