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Everything posted by tanabutler

  1. Let this be the least of your worries! The two rules I follow for risotto are from Patricia Wells. 1) Heat/melt your butter/oil and stir in the risotto. Stir, pleasantly, until each grain is coated and translucent. The more you enjoy stirring, which you can certainly do whilst talking to your guests, the better your risotto will be. 2) Use a cup of decent white wine instead of a cup of stock. And use it first. Have your stock simmering, and be prepared to stir it in, one ladleful at a time. But use the cup of wine first. It should go without saying that both wine and stock should be the best you can afford, either with time or money. The quality of both will be reflected in your final product. Do you like lemon? I have a recipe for lemon risotto that is so easy, and so knock-socks. I also have a recipe for (gads) baked risotto that is just so easy, so delicious, and good even when it's left over. Risotto is not a big deal. It's a lot of stirring, but the gist of it is: add liquids and stir. When the liquids are gone, it's ready. NOW. I love stirring. I love that kind of diffuse attention.
  2. tanabutler


    I am delighted to read these reports. I was supposed to be in NYC this week but could not go. I hope to be there this autumn. Meanwhile, I am sending my friends in: they're staying right on 17th. Dévi web site is in the works, apparently.
  3. Bravo, Suvir. He is such a generous, kind, and talented man. His success goes towards renewing my faith in the United States.
  4. Tee, can you hone in a little closer on where they are in LA? Specifically, where do they live, and not work? People in LA are used to making hellish commutes, but that doesn't mean you want to make them do it. You can dine extravagantly in many locations, but if you're sending them out for a Very Nice Evening, and encouraging romance, keep it closer to home. No one wants to drive home for an hour after they just ate oysters and champagne. If you know what I mean and I think you do.
  5. Sorry to hear about your bad experience at Cafe Beaujolais. I will tell my foodie friend in SF about it. You were brave to do the mud baths in August. I much prefer Napa Valley in November, myself. Thanks for writing it up, ML. I love the vicarious thrill of reading about someone else's traveling.
  6. The Inn at Erlowest web site Whoops, cross-post.
  7. So I wonder if Ms. Marie-Louise will give up an update on her summer travels. Highlights? Low lights? Bright lights?
  8. Y'all keep your eyes peeled for Bravo Farms cheddar. It is at Cowgirl at Ferry Plaza market, and is distributed elsewhere. It's some of the best cheddar I've ever had, especially the sage.
  9. India Joze closed years ago. Dharma's (on Capitola Road off 41st) is vegetarian (nothing wrong with that, just giving Gary some information). Zoccoli's Pasta House closed, but the deli downtown is going strong. Pleasure Pizza is great, but on the pricier side. The Crepe Place, I think, is a little tired but maybe I'm just over crepes. I noted Tacos Moreno and Tacqueria Vallarta both in my prior post. Also, in Aptos, Sophia (it's at the shopping center with the Safeway and movie theaters). I really can't join in about Walnut Street Cafe being good. Hard fruit is such a turn-off, and they serve it consistently. Silver Spur is just about perfect, but you will wait in line. And they're closed on Sundays. Linda's Seabreeze Cafe is also another perfect breakfast, and the wait is justified.
  10. My daughter just got her first job...at Gayle's! (She is super-thrilled. What a great place. But on the student budget, not cheap. Still, it's a local treasure.) Busboy, I spend so much time yakking about how great the local produce is, the Santa Cruz Tourist and Visitors Bureau should pay me a stipend. It IS absolutely Eden here. With 78+ organic farms (for a population of only 250K), we lead the state in organic produce. A distant second (with a population of 850K) is Fresno County, and they only have 63 organic farms. Boy, one of the great deals of the world is at the Saturday market at Cabrillo. There is a bakery offering foccacia stuffed with tomatoes and melted cheese for $2. I tell you what.
  11. She will also likely be shopping at the various stores for things like vegetarian rotis with curry and stuff like that (wraps, etc.). New Leaf and the Food Bin are good bets. And the farmers' markets, too. Six days a week in Santa Cruz county: there's one on the west side on Friday afternoons that is supposed to be great, and the big one downtown on Wednesday afternoons. (It's another patchouli fest, swarming with Green Peacers who want to know if you're registered to vote..."Yes, since you were a fetus. Get out of my way, please, I need to get my basil!") She should do well at those places, Gary. (Edit to correct typo.)
  12. Happy anniversary, again, LMF. I'm so glad to hear you had such a wonderful time.
  13. If you aren't careful, people will call you "Plastered." heh
  14. After everything I've read about Pilar's, I would absolutely put that on my list.
  15. For some reason, the whole marketing thing smacks of copycatting Bonny Doon wine labels. But boy, have they got a long way to go.
  16. tanabutler

    New to Catering

    This is the part that gives me pause. I've been in my line of work (graphic design services) for over twenty years. Only twice have I had unhappy clients, and BOTH times, I knew going in that I shouldn't have taken the job. That little voice inside warned me early on, "Uh-oh." I should have resigned immediately. I won't ignore that little voice again. I hate seeing you get your footing with what might be an impossible situation. I second the vote against the "screaming deal." Be professional, cover your bases, and don't apologize for your lack of experience. Your education is worth something. A word about buffets. Don't lay out something like shrimp, or you will witness and honest-to-God feeding frenzy. When I catered, I controlled costs by tray passing the really good stuff. It's much more difficult for people to make complete pigs of themselves if someone is holding onto the tray. Unmonitored, it can be very very ugly.
  17. Solo Dining in San Francisco: I found the thread.
  18. Forgot to add: avoid Mayflower Chinese on Clare's Street. Godawful.
  19. Sometimes the wait staff at Saturn is overly pierced, with visible armpit hair (on either gender), and tattooed within an inch of their lives. If you don't mind a waitress with a barbell in her nose, then you are less squeamish than I am. It is the quintessential hippie student hang-out, though, and they serve late. One often smells the vestiges of clove cigarette smoke in the air, and the patchouli factor is undeniable. (Ah, youth.) O'mei and Hindquarter are not in a student's budget, for the most part. Even Gelatomania is expensive (the gelato, that is--they don't have prices on their menu items). DOWNTOWN I have liked the food at Asian Rose for years, and it's cheap--good bang for the buck. (It's downtown next to Oswald, which is one of the best restaurants in town.) I haven't eaten there, but Planet Fresh is always packed. Zoccoli's Deli on the Pacific Garden Mall is really good stuff. Zachary's is a hot spot for a generous breakfast on the weekends. Walnut Street Café is always packed, but I am just not that fond of it. The fruit is always hard, and clearly not local and fresh. The Bagelry (downtown and Capitola) serves more than just bagels, and I frequently take my teenager there. Their soups are especially aromatic and fresh. FARTHER AFIELD Charlie Hong Kong, in Seabright, is cheap and plentiful, and I think perhaps organic. Think giant servings of noodles ("Asian street food"). Also in Seabright is Parwana, which is Afghani food. Very tasty and fairly cheap. (Less tasty, but cheap and filling is the food at Sri, on Water Street just up from Ocean.) Rosa's, at the harbor, has generous portions of Caribbean and Mexican food, and it's well-priced. Great casual atmosphere and view. Burritos are best at Tacqueria Vallarta and Tacos Moreno. Out in Aptos, Sophia's has huge and good burritos. Avoid Tony & Alba's like the plague. They are ridiculously overpriced ($26 for a pesto pizza!). I am absolutely convinced that they stuff the ballot boxes when voting for "Best of Santa Cruz" comes around each year at the Good Times. Engfer Pizza Works comes highly recommended (they're in Seabright), though I haven't tried them yet. Eric's Deli Cafes are fairly cheap, and the food is good across the board. They started locally and went big. Things don't have that industrial restaurant taste to them, and the soups are fresh. ASIAN CUISINE Sushi I do know: Shogun is the best in the county. Mobo is cheaper and has variations, and is usually packed. Pink Godzilla, I hate to say, is not as good when the chef-owner is not there, and can get brayingly loud in the tatami rooms. It's the classic beach-party atmosphere (in Capitola on 41st). Takara is decent. I ought to be better versed in Thai and Chinese but only have halting recommendations. For Thai, on the west side is Sabieng, but it's not super cheap. There's a Thai place in Soquel, Star of Siam, that is (in my book) pretty dreadful. It's Bob's X's idea of a glistening spot, which is all I need to know. (Yes, we've been there. Mediocre Thai, mediocre sushi.) Last few times we went to Bangkok House in Aptos, we liked it very much but I hesitate to make that a recommendation since it's been so long since we were there. Most of the Chinese places we go are out in our direction. We just tried a new one this week, and loved it (China Little House). I don't know many on the West side, unfortunately, and it's not likely your daughter will be driving ten miles to get decent Chinese. I will not go again to China Szechuan, which is on Cathcart Street downtown. We do like Chinese Village (near the Capitola Mall). We also like King Chuan, though haven't been there in some years. It's on Ocean Street. Lastly, Cafe Brazil is a big student hang-out, but is closed temporarily due to a remodel. I believe they will reopen in October. Finally, why not buy the Entertainment coupon book, and use coupons? You can check out the books (I always get one) at Entertainment.com, and use 95060 as the zip code. Also, the Good Times and Metro usually have lots of coupons for dining out in their weekly issues. Gary, if you go to Omei, the basil eggplant is so wonderful that I had to teach myself to make it.
  20. This very topic was broached earlier in the year. You should be able to search and find it in the California forum. I believe that Gary Danko was the predominant recommendation.
  21. It is probably the scariest restaurant web site I have ever ever seen.
  22. Tragically, this is not the only scenario. Last month, a young cousin of mine choked on his dinner. No one knew the Heimlich maneuver and he went into a coma from which the only release was death. (They took him off life support after a few days.) Before he died, his mother came to the hospital. When questioned about certain aspects of her pregnancy, she recounted having had her labor delayed with an alcohol drip for weeks prior to his (premature) birth. We only learned while he was on his deathbed that he had fetal alcohol syndrome. (It explained a lot about his brief and tragic life.) They have since discontinued that method of staving off labor. As to why pregnant woman are afraid, I agree with the assessment that fear sells in the media. (Especially the American media.)
  23. Does anyone here use the divinely dark Buffalo chipotle sauce? Oh, it's good. It's stuck with the Mother Mary and Jesus candles in my nearby Safeway's special Mexican section. There's a main Mexican section, and then there's the real one, all the way in the back of the store near the water fountains. Whoever's hands are holding that burrito, yes, YOU in the yellow Izod...your skin looks about twelve years old. You can't be old enough to be a forum host or anything like that. Or maybe the carnitas are keeping you hydrated.
  24. Hell, yes. Joe Curry's tomatoes at Molino Creek Farm! These tomatoes, which are invariably Early Girls, are called "dry-farmed." The idea is to water them less and make their roots reach deep. Without the extra water, you have an extremely concentrated tomato flavor. Contrast that with a disgusting hard pink tomato in the grocery store that is "hydroponically grown." (I believe Rancho Gordo could address this very well.) Many farmers are dry-farming tomatoes now. Early Girls are just one of those very few "if you could choose only one tomato, which would you want" varieties. I know several farmers who grow only that kind. They are perfect and red and lend themselves to sandwiches, tarts, foccacia, pizza, and insalata caprese like nobody's business. We always have two plants in our tomato garden, along with two Black Krim, a Green Zebra, and two Sungold cherry tomato plants. Add to that a dozen or so other heirlooms. Molino Creek is a CASCC member. They are about to do one of the Harvest Dinners at Theo's restaurant in Soquel, paired with Bonny Doon wines (Randall Grahm and Joe Curry will be in attendance). As far as "the best tomatoes you will ever taste," I won't disagree. I would qualify: you might never taste a better tomato than a dry-farmed Early Girl. Molino Creek, Meder Street Farm, Dirty Girl, Jane Freedman's farm (I don't know the name of her farm in Corralitos, but she started Dirty Girl Farm), probably Happy Boy and Live Earth and Mariquita but I can't be sure without investigating. (Just as easy for other to Google). Yeah, tomato geek here. But it's for a good cause.
  25. tanabutler

    Dinner! 2004

    Our seven-month-old grandson made his way into the kitchen (doing the breaststroke) because (I swear to God this is true) he could smell Grown-Up Dinner. I made a homemade tomato sauce from the garden, with a little garlic and basil. I am not making this up: the kid came in three times and looked at me and looked up at the stove (while on his belly). I let him taste. Well, that turned into a tomato marathon. The kid loved it. I think he's going to be some kind of Jethro Bodine but with brains. Right now, he's walking around the house holding his Poppy's fingers and I mean, TRAVELING. Yes, I know, it's too early to encourage walking. You tell him no. He's a toothless grinning fool. So: dinner is shrimp with that sauce and angelhair pasta. And the hugest little baby you ever saw. Yes, I've gobbled him so many times his skin is chafed.
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