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Everything posted by marie-louise

  1. What ever happened to the next installment? Did I miss it? I'm waiting to see if I make the grade as a decent hostess.
  2. The rubs and spice mixes are terrific. I have been meaning to try the infused stocks for ages, but never have. Mostly I read it for ideas. I love this cookbook.
  3. Wow, that is such an incrediblely romantic story. Better than the proposal on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, even. I have stayed at the Post Ranch Inn-during their "cheap" mid-week, mid-winter specials. The food was great, the view was unbelievable. A real treat. Do you two plan to go there every year for your anniversary?
  4. Yes, that is correct. There are only two seatings downstairs-way too early and kinda late. The early reservations go first. A relatively recent change is that you can also make reservations for upstairs a month in advance. They stagger these reservations so that you can eat upstairs in the 7ish-8ish range if you'd like. The food is more or less the same upstairs and downstairs. Downstairs is a more classic, formal service experience; upstairs is a cafe with a noisier, more casual atmosphere. It just depends on what you prefer; you will get the essence of the CP experience on either floor. You will hit a LOT of traffic heading east-if you come from your hotel you will hit ALL the city rush-hour traffic. I would recommend hanging out in Berkeley from 4 oclock on instead of driving over at dinnertime. Come and see some of our great food stores and have a piece of pizza at the Cheeseboard Collective (it is across the street from CP) Zuni is definitely worth a visit. I prefer Ton Kiang, but only because I love their steamed dumplings.
  5. Corn Chowder (corn, new potatoes, bacon, onions, jalapenos and other peppers) Mexican Vegetable Soup-the kind you get in Mexican restaurants, with chicken & tortillas in it.
  6. Thanks for that link. Well, I feel pretty dumb. I've bought Red Hawk a few times, right AT the Cowgirl Creamery, but they never told me that I should be doing this: "Most disks are sold unripe, and will be white and chalky. To ripen the cheese to the point that the coat is light red and the paste inside runny, golden and rich, remove it from its packaging and set it under a bowl at room temperature for at least 24 hours, or until it is just losing its shape and becoming pillowy." One time I bought it I was staying at a nearby B&B, and left it unrefrigerated in the room overnight. Now that I think of it, it WAS better the next day. I will give it another try, following these instructions.
  7. Yep, I think Katherine's meals win. God, what you did for that man should qualify you for sainthood. Were you spending the night there, or could you at least eat before and after you went there?
  8. We have a friend who like to think recipes are beneath him; it is much more fun to just make it up as he goes along, letting his creative juices guide him. There's nothing wrong with that at all, providing you have a clue. Alas, he doesn't. One of his more memorable creations was snapper, shiitake mushrooms, and polenta. Now at some point those three could have become a rather tasty meal. Not that night. He sauteed the mushrooms, made some sort of sauce (there was a LOT of liquid), then cut the fish into chunks and added it to the liquid. He cooked it for a VERY long time at a VERY high boil, but still there was more liquid than he wanted. So he came up with the inspiration of adding polenta. He boiled it for another ten minutes or so. The polenta? It was that vile, precooked log stuff, which isn't half bad if you grill it. He just cut in into little pieces right out of the package, like dumplings, and dropped it in. Oh yeah, and he doesn't cook with salt, because it's "bad for you." They don't even keep it in the house. He served it on a plate, not in a shallow bowl, so that it looked as bad as it tasted. I cannot tell you how hard I work at avoiding going to these people's house for dinner.
  9. marie-louise


    Yeah, here too. I only use Panko when I'm coating something like a piece of fish, otherwise it's stale fresh bread all the way. PS Acme bread crumbs, tossed w/ a little olive oil and garlic & toasted, makes a perfect topping for all sorts of pasta or vegetable dishes.
  10. The ideal way to get a great pizza crust is to preheat the oven and the stone for one hour at 500. (Yeah, I know, that's less than appealing on a hot summer day.) So...my advice is make more pizza!
  11. I used to do that. After once serving an almost inedible entree-well, actually, it WAS inedible, they were just polite and hungry guests-we made a house rule that we only experimented on each other. Now that you mention it, I realize I don't worry about it so much anymore. I haven't flopped that badly for years-through experience, I think I've developed a better eye for spotting a recipe that works well and that I'll like. Mostly, I tend to cook tried and true recipes for my friends for another reason: I prefer to be at the party, not off in the kitchen. If it's a recipe I don't know, it just makes it more time-consuming to cook it. My favorite time to test out new recipes is on days off, when my husband and I are cooking together. Then it is really fun to make a whole new set of recipes.
  12. SF Chronicle I've eaten a number of these, how about you? I do like Cowgirl Creamery's Red Hawk, but prefer their Mt. Tam.
  13. Hafner-I really like their Chard, especially the reserve. Cabs not bad either. The only way you can get this wine outside of a restaurant is to belong to their club. There used to be a wait to get on the list, but they've increased production so you can get on right away. Six bottles a year. Sausal Zin Club-nice reasonable Dry Creek zin and sangiovese. Being in the club gets you a discount. Good everyday drinking wine. Navarro-I think they send about a case a year. Lots of stuff that sells out immediately, even to just the members, that never gets released to the public. For a lot of the things they send you, you have to taste and order ASAP. Fun place to visit, we get up that way often enough to stock up without paying for shipping. Lots of nice wine for a weeknight-$10. bottles. I also am on "the list" so that I can buy A. Rafanelli and Williams-Selyem wine. No samples, just a mailing that allows you to buy their wine. Rafanelli is great zin; personally, I think W-S is overpriced. Good, but more expensive than it's worth. For the last few years, I've just recycled their mailings without ordering. I used to belong to Dry Creek vineyards wine club. For a while after 9/11 UPS was being very rule-oriented, and wouldn't leave wine unless you were home, so had to let all of them lapse. For some reason, I never signed back up for this one again. About 10 years ago, I belonged to a wine club called Ambrosia. It wasn't a particular deal, but it was a great way to learn about the different Napa wineries. Every month they sent 1 red, 1 white, from a different Napa Valley winery. I'd love to find one like that again. Anyone have any suggestions? PS I love the store The Wine Club best of all. Great, helpful staff that never are the least bit condescending or snooty, plus... they're cheap!
  14. A small plug for Chef's Choice. I had one of the first models, which did an okay job. I remember reading all the advice given here last summer and you all almost convinced me to buy a sharpening stone. At the last minute, I decided against it. I also realized that CC had redesigned their sharpeners in the 15 years or so since I'd bought mine. I called the company to get more information, and not only did they convince me to upgrade-they gave me a rebate on my old one and shipped me their top-of-the-line one for about $80. End of story, the new model, Edge Select 120, is night and day from my old CC. It sharpens all the way to the tang, it sharpens serrated edges (good for all that SF sourdough that gets cut in this house), it doesn't take off much metal, and best of all, it is much easier to keep the knife steady and at a consistent angle than the old models (assuming of course that you like the angle that it is set for). It is also faster; it only takes a few passes, not the six or so the old model recommends. So, for those of you that have tried one in the past, know that they have greatly improved their product over the years. I am certain it is no substitute for a sharpening stone, but for those of us not inclined to learn how to use one, it's a nice machine and a step up from using dull knives. (I also use a steel whenever I remember.)
  15. I'm wondering how much of it is regional? I like baking a cake or pie for dinner parties, but find that people rarely want it. Even if it right there on the table in front of them, they'll pass. And I can't remember the last time I went to anyone's house and was served a cake or pie. A cookie and a little ice cream/sorbet with some fruit seems to be standard dinner party fare among my California friends. I do notice that these same cakefree friends will eat one small homemade cookie after another if I leave them sitting in front of them.
  16. I go back and forth on this... In general, we like to eat out about once a week during the week. We like to think of it as "stepping out," a chance to do more than just come home from work too tired to much of anything. I find getting out of the house actually sort of rejuvenating after a long day at work. We like to go out to some of the nicer places close to my house for this-Bay Wolf, Jojos, and upstairs at Chez Panisse-but a nice pizza, burger, Thai, or Indian dinner also hits the spot just as often. When I'm really, really busy at work, two things happen: first, we eat out more. Just when I need to be sitting at home reading and relaxing, I'm sitting around-usually impatiently-for someone to bring me dinner because I was too tired to make pasta or a salad. So the pendulum swings and we decide we're sick of going out-plus the CSA vegetables start to multiply in the refrigerator-so we cook at home for a few weeks straight. Then we miss going out. So, we really try to faithfully plan to go out for a nice dinner once a week, cooking at home on the other nights. We spend our weekends up the coast, so going out to restaurants there is mostly something we do for social reasons, not for the food.
  17. It's just one more label for Americans to categorize their food into "good" and "bad." From a calorie and nutritional standpoint, your body doesn't know the difference between a lobster roll and a McDonald's fish fillet sandwich. The carbohydrates break down into sugar, the fish is protein, and the mayo, secret sauce and residual deep-frying oil is all fat. Have you ever noticed how often people use the words good and bad when talking about what they ate? "Oh, I was good, I baked a cake for my husband and didn't eat any" or, "I was really bad, I had butter on my bread today." It's a pet peeve of mine, that people label themselves by what they ate; our fast food favorites are our guilty pleasures, shared as confidences as if we're talking about sex. Collectively, we have become a nation with an eating disorder. And yet, collectively we are fatter than ever. Gee, I wonder if there's a connection? I've been carefully reading all the articles that have been posted in the past month about weight and junk food. Fat Guy, I particularly liked the one you posted from The New Republic. I'm one of the millions with an overweight but not obese BMI, and I'm active. I decided after reading that article that I was no longer going to worry about what I weighed-the evidence just wasn't there that those 20 or 30 pounds were really harming my health or shortening my life-and instead, I was going to eat what I wanted and try to be a little more consistent about exercising before work. I shoved my scale under my bed. What do you think happened? Did I balloon up and have to buy all new clothes by the end of the month? Have a heart attack because I ate red meat twice in a week? Give up my CSA box and start eating hog dogs every night? Nope, quite the opposite. A few days ago I noticed I was looking thinner so I climbed under the bed and dragged out the scale. I've lost about 5 or 6 pounds this month! There's one more article that someone posted in which there's a quote that said, the moment you go on a diet you stop using your hunger as a signal for when to eat and when to stop eating. I guess that's more or less what happened with me; as soon as I paid less attention to how much and what I was eating, and just ate whatever and whenever I wanted, I started eating less and lost weight. Seems paradoxical, but I think it is all tied into the good vs. bad, junk vs. "good" food.
  18. Non-spicy definitely narrows your options in the Bay Area. The entrees at Rick and Ann's in Berkeley are around $10 (maybe closer to $12.) The portions are huge, you could split one. It's a nice neighborhood cafe, across from the Claremont on Domingo Street. They specialize in comfort food-Macaroni and Cheese, Meatloaf, that sort of thing. They make a great burger, too. They always have a fish special, and it is usually quite good. Another splurge for those special occasions when you want to spend more money is upstairs at Chez Panisse. They have a 3 course prix fixe meal for about $25./person. Another Ton Kiang fan here, but clearly my appetite is larger than yours because we always spend a LOT more than that there. I also like their shrimp dumplings, but my favorite are the greens and black mushroom dumplings.
  19. My motto is, "Can't see it from the bedroom." Pile all dishes into kitchen. Pile the really dirty stuff into the sink to soak. Put away food. Scrape plates, throw out corks and such. Start one load of dishes. Turn out kitchen light. Next day, ignore the mess and the auditory hallucination of your mother's voice telling you should be ashamed of yourself for going to bed with a kitchen in such a mess-while making your coffee. Try to drink it in peace in the living room while ignoring what a sty that is. At all costs, do not enter dining room, and if you do, do not look down at your rug. Once awake and reasonably not hungover, clean house. You will be done in no time. PS I love my Miele.
  20. Well, yeah, but I bought my house a while ago. It still looked like a war zone up there from the fire. Typical California real estate saga-I couldn't afford to buy my own house again if I had to buy it today. Star Market is pretty nice, and it is handy to have that Semifreddi's right down the street.
  21. I LOVE Full Belly Farms; I've been getting a CSA box from them for years. Every week,we get an enormous box of the most perfect fruits and vegetables you can imagine, for $13.50 a week. (At the moment I am so busy at work I'm paying them another $5. to deliver it to my house.) You can pick your box up at that Tuesday Farmer's Market, or any number of other places. Yes, somewhere in the Bay Area there probably is a store that charges more than the Village Market, but I haven't come across it yet. However, it's right down the street, and it has almost everything I want, so I empty my wallet there on a regular basis. The owner is this nice old guy, he's there all the time, so it softens the blow a little.
  22. What a fun thread to read ! We got married on the spur of the moment at a Justice of the Peace, then went out to dinner at the Trader Vic's overlooking the water in Emeryville. I don't remember what we had, just that the waiter was rude. Whatever it was we ordered (the menu was a la carte), the chef didn't think went together-I think we ordered their onion rings or some such thing. The waiter brought us all these different dinner-sized plates, loudly telling us and everyone nearby that the chef refused to put our meal on one plate because he didn't think what we we'd ordered should be served together. Twenty-four years ago, and I still remember how humiliating that was, and what a damper it put on our special day to be treated like stupid childen who needed to be publicly scolded because they didn't know enough to order well in a fancy restaurant. We never ate there again... The next day we got a bunch of picnic food from a takeout place in Berkeley and took a hike at Point Reyes. Lesson learned: if you hike a mile downhill, then sit in the sun and drink a bottle of champagne and eat mass quantities of food for a few hours, the uphill walk back to your car is much, much, much longer.
  23. IrishCream, the Brentwood peaches at my local grocery store are Fitzgerald or Fitzpatrick. What do you think of that farm's fruit?
  24. It is fun to see once, but IMO, it's not worth the crowds. Even if it wasn't crowded, it is certainly not worth tolerating the heat. I went about 20 years ago, so can't recommend any booths. I think it is supposed to be cool this weekend, so it might be as good a year to go as any.
  25. I had a pretty nice meal at a place I think was called Stonehenge a few years back. (I was there on vacation, it was suggested by the hotel.) It used to be a B&B, now it's just a restaurant. It's on an unmarked dirt driveway somewhere outside Hood River-we were sure we were driving up to someone's house and not a restaurant. It was a beautiful, romantic, rustic dining room w/ good service. We'd driven all the way from Whidbey Island that day; it really hit the spot to be in such a warm and comfortable place. The food was not too memorable, but it didn't matter at the time.
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