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Everything posted by tanabutler

  1. I hate to be a wet blanket, but there is one thing about good berries that has been mentioned time and again here: they don't ship well. At all. Russ Parsons of the LA Times has discussed this before: how even the most careful and delicate packing on small berries renders jam in the mail the next day. It's hard enough getting them to the market without them getting battered and bruised, just sitting in the back of a truck. I don't know how much success you will have, but good luck.
  2. • Both Suvir (he is well-respected chef in New York City) and I thought the food was wonderful. We were just delighted with the whole experience. We were very grateful to the recommendation from his family friend who works at Iron Horse winery.• I didn't drive an hour and a half for the sake of going to César, but because I was escorting Suvir to his hotel in Berkeley. He was on a tour with Sur La Table, teaching cooking classes. I had attended the previous night at the Los Gatos store, and as he is my friend, I offered to drive him to Berkeley. He agreed, but only if he could buy me lunch. And because I'm not stupid, I agreed happily. • I'm sorry you didn't have the excellent experience Suvir and I did. I don't think what we enjoyed was out of the ordinary. We enjoyed the freshness of the ingredients especially. Our server went out of her way to guide us. I could not find fault with anything. (But then, fault-finding during what is supposed to be an enjoyable experience is not my default gear. It's why I would never want to be a reviewer. What odious work, to look for things to mention that are not ideal. I'd much rather praise and enjoy.) • The tapas experience at Manresa does not compare with César. They are not equivalent at all. For one thing, there is a full bar at César, and it's a completely different social environment. Manresa is an elegant and lovely restaurant, and César serves cocktails, is open until midnight, and is much more festive. Not quite apples and oranges, perhaps, but one could never stand in for the other, and they shouldn't have to. I loved César. I will go back, eagerly. Because I'm not stupid. (Note: I'm not sure the distinction is apparent, but my review won for its content, not for my high opinion of César.)
  3. Is it plainly stated on any of these links if the products are organic or otherwise sustainably grown? Signed, Curious and Supportive in California
  4. Wheee! I wrote a review of this place for a travel forum I belong to (not a food forum per se, though people write about restaurants, though with perhaps a slightly different focus than serious foodies, overall). They had a contest for "best restaurant review" last month, and I won.The review with four photos is here. My prize is a $150 meal, either there or somewhere else. It's been a long time since I won a contest of skill. Whee!
  5. Catherine, the à la carte menu is updated seasonally. My guess would be that it will have changed twice by the time you are dining there in August. I expect to post a new menu soon, and will try to be mindful of mentioning it here when I do so. I'm eager to eat there right now because the menu is between winter and spring. We're going soon, with birthdays coming up.
  6. You didn't get to Hosteria Il Carroccio? Sigh. It's supposed to be one of the places the locals know about, and love. Does this mean you also didn't get to the gardens? Double sigh.
  7. I like them better than Dean and Deluca.
  8. Y'all sure are gossiping A LOT about something, and sometimes hidden behind aliases. I like the Oakville Grocery. I like going there, I like their food, and I wish they'd remodel so that customers were less crowded together.
  9. I think the PBC series on jazz was brilliant: better than a college course. I thought it nuanced, subtle, well-written, and beautiful composed. It was difficult to breathe life into still photography, and to give a sense of drama from so little that was animate, but Ken Burns managed beautifully. I came away with a new found appreciation for a genre that previously had been an "acquired taste," to put it mildly. I even purchased the DVD set: I buy very few DVDs at all. If they bring half that quality to this programming, I will be delighted. And I'm fully open to the experience. I trust PBS with my brain. Thank God they don't show programs like "All the Doughnut Shops that John Ratzenberger Has Ever Visited" like they do on the "Aren't We Dumbed Down" Food Network. I'll finish reading the review after I see the show for myself. I don't like to go in with someone else's opinions in my head if I am predisposed to enjoy something on my own.
  10. Fifi, I grew up in Georgia, and often visited my grandfather's friend's farm, where the tomatoes were of the drip-down-your-chin variety if you had a tomato sandwich. I don't recall "GW" (I refer to the gentleman who farmed and no one else with those initials) complaining about spoilage. But maybe big farms have more worries, especially if they are farming with chemicals. And then, too, maybe global warming is creating more problems along these lines. The average temperate in Atlanta is, I believe, two degrees hotter on average than it was in my childhood, due to deforestation (aka "suburbs"). (Hmm, do we detect a theme here?) I know farmers all over the country, and I am going to ask them their opinions. These folks have their finger on the pulse of something good and true. I am curious as to what they will say.
  11. Shalmanese, I am dumbstruck. My mouth literally fell open at this point in your post. By a happy coincidence, I have turned my creative energy lately to producing a blog about small farms. Though I am focusing now on the farms in Santa Cruz County, where I live, there are hundreds if not thousands of small farms across the country and around the world that produce, as they have for probably a hundred years, glorious perfect stunning delicious tomatoes. And corn. And every other stripe of vegetable, fruit, herb, nut and food you can imagine, all without the use of toxic pesticides or chemical warfare or irradiation!!! You do not actually believe that modern farming techniques have improved on perfection, do you? Do you think anyone in their right mind will ever be nostalgia for the sour pingpong balls that pass for strawberries at Safeway, or for watery-yet-hard tomatoes that are grown hydroponically and without the benefit of soil to give them flavor? I don't know whether to laugh or cry, when I think of all the people I know who grow tomatoes every year, in containers on the decks of their high-rise apartments if necessary, so they can enjoy the glory that a homegrown tomato is. How many people at eGullet are fanatical about homegrown ((or at least, locally farmed heirloom) tomatoes? I bet hundreds, if not thousands. And those of us who lack the means or the green thumb are pretty good at finding the good stuff at our local farmers markets. Why do you think they call them "heirlooms"? Dictionary.com provides this definition for "heirloom": "A valued possession passed down in a family through succeeding generations." If you think irradiation is an improvement on perfection, or if you are so afraid of your food that you imagine maggots in it (though maggots are not likely to be found in perfectly ripe produce, but the rotting/decomposing stuff), then perhaps irradiation is the way for YOU to go. (I don't understand people who are afraid of food. I cannot begin to comprehend the kind of education that went into producing someone who thinks the gardens and farms of yesteryear produced "small, maggoty, uneven" tomatoes.) While I'm at it, let me pick apart the idea that a small tomato (strawberry, what have you) is an inferior tomato (strawberry, what have you). The best strawberries I ever had in my life were at K-Paul's kitchen in the early Eighties, in New Orleans in the first week of May. They were the size of the tip of my thumb. (I am a tall woman but I have average-sized hands...the tip of my thumb is about an inch long.) No strawberry before or since has ever tasted more like a strawberry. As a 25-year resident of California, I have suffered mightily with the nasty strawberries you find in supermarkets. These are the same strawberries Mimi Sheraton griped about, as though California couldn't grow anything better to send to the city dwellers in New York. They are huge, unripe-no-matter-how-red, sour, disgusting orbs that have to be drowned in sugar to approach palatability. They are an abomination, in my book. But gosh, they ship easily. People are so foolish that they BUY these things, thinking they're getting strawberries. Yes, I said foolish. It's foolish to buy food that doesn't taste good. It's foolish to throw money away on an approximation of flavor. If that was the best I could do, I'd look for frozen berries or do without. (I don't have a big problem with frozen berries if that's all you can get.) People are also foolish enough to buy "Red Delicious" apples (what an ironic name that is) in supermarkets, simply because they are red and look like textbook apples. They've been in storage for ten months, in all likelihood, and have about as much brix as a packet of Splenda. Not to mention that they're mealy and gross. But supermarkets sell them because people are sheep who buy what they're told is good without questioning if they can do better. We have fabulous berries in California, and they stay in California. They're too tender to ship without getting destroyed, so lucky us, we get them all at the farmers markets and local stores, and poor Mimi Sheraton gets imitation strawberries and blames California for not picking up the slack for the rest of the country. As if we're the ones who should be ashamed. I am not convinced about irradiation, with all respect due to the good doctor and others who have spoken up. Something just doesn't sit well with me about it. I'm going to talk to the farmers I know, and I'll see what they have to say. Having seen their farms and eaten their tomatoes, I know when I'm in good hands.
  12. Russ, I am quoting this because I somehow think everyone else here doesn't dare to address it.For my own personal curiosity, I would love to know if the Other White Dr. Kinsey (heh) works for a corporation. Or, in fact, what his/her affiliations are. I don't accept "scientist" automatically, any more than I accept that so-called news pieces from our government (in its collective totality) are produced from independent media. I am with many slow-minded simpletons on this: the people who swear irradiation is harmless are the same people who seem to have lied on multiple occasions in the past about the safety of products. Think "DDT." The industry developers of the technique, and the government regulators (the FDA), that is. Everything to do with radiation is fraught with danger, there is a huge red blaring icon that warns you BE WARNED OF RADIATION! But all of a sudden, on irradiated food, nothing? The food industry protests! HELLO? Pul-LEASE. And hey, how about that word, "irradiated"? Doesn't it sound nice and pleasant? It should simply say RADIATION. I ain't buyin' it. And I doubt my farming buddies will, either. They're pretty damn smart, and I think I'll get back to you with what they say. Sound bytes, uncoached, will be my currency.
  13. "Without Reservation: he price one pays for a world-class dining experience": a very amusing and very snarky piece in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle about "La Lavanderie du Paris."
  14. It's great, of course, though I wish Michael Bauer would stop referring to the egg as "scrambled eggs with maple syrup."
  15. Matterhorn just made the Best 100 Restaurants list in the Chronicle today. Matterhorn Swiss restaurant
  16. I really like Consuelo, too. I've been a couple of times -- their mojitos are excellent, unlike the mojitos at Habana Cuba, which are made with that nasty sour stuff that tastes like vinegar strained through gym socks. (I wish they'd get their liquor license. I wish I'd stop bitching about the horrible cocktail that shocked me so much. I wish I had sent it back instead of politely choking it down and paying $6 for it. It was like, "This food is terrible! And there's so little of it!") SK, I still think you'd love it at Habana Cuba. That pork is so tender you can eat it with a spoon. I love Cuban food, though.
  17. You mean skip Arcadia, right? Not Habana Cuba? She can't go to Manresa on April 21. They are full.
  18. I don't know about Arcadia, but I have to say that the prices and food at Amber of India were SO reasonable when we went. Three of us shared entrees, had four glasses of wine (generous pours!) among us, and the total with a generous tip was exactly $100. It's at Santana Row. Fabulous food, Steph. Another great spot, Habana Cuba. Just don't have cocktails, which are made with some substance that might involve pus from a demon. Stick to the wine list, which is good. That slow-roasted pork in citrus is a show stopper. Nothing fancy, but a great place for a group. The food is tasty and pleasing, and you can get louder than somewhere fancy. If you know what I mean and I think you do.
  19. FYI, I picked up this month's issue of San Francisco magazine, because of the cover story: "112 incredibly good CHEAP EATS: 24 hidden spots where the food is fabulous and the price is right." Plus: "Complete listings of the best bargain restaurants in the Bay area." On the list: SF Q Thai House Express Shin Toe Bul Yi Tortas Los Picudos Shanghai Dumpling Shop Shabu-Sen EAST BAY Jamaican Soul (Berkeley) Lanesplitter Pub & Pizza (Oakland) House of Chicken and Waffles (Oakland) Waikiki Hawaiian BBQ (El Cerrito) Gaters Specialty Grill (Fremont) Los Cocos (Oakland) PENINSULA AND SOUTH BAY Siam Royal (Palo Alto) Chaat Paradise (Mountain View) Hometown Noodle Vietnamese Restaurant (Redwood City) Da' Kitchen (Mountain View) Adandi Mediterranean Food and Market (San Mateo) Sun Tofu (Palo Alto) NORTH BAY Happy Dog (Sonoma) La Luna Market and Tacqueria (Rutherford) Avatar's Punjabi Burritos (Mill Valley) Drakes Beach Cafe (Inverness) Betty's Fish and Chips (Santa Rosa) Tabla Cafe (Larkspur) The feature story in the back is about Jack Falstaff. The Bay Area Restaurant Guide "features 88 reviews of easy-on-the-wallet restaurants. At many you can find a meal for less than $4, and there's not a single one where the entrées average more than $17." EDITED to include a few more details.
  20. This article in the Metro Silicon Valley just hit the stands. It's a free local paper (arts/entertainment/etcetera) serving the San Jose area. It doesn't show online, but the caption for the cover shot is "Is David Kinch going to be the next celebrity chef?" The answer might be contained in this excerpt: It's a very clear, straightforward piece. There was a definite surge in reservations today as a result.
  21. Alas, for those of us with ten thousand fonts (including Minion) loaded on our computers, the menu reads out entirely in Minion Ornaments, which are elaborate dingbats. I've put in a call to Website 911 and hopefully they will get it remedied soon.
  22. Catherine, as their web coordinator, I asked Manresa if I might help answer your questions. This is what I learned: OpenTable.com takes reservations no more than one month in advance. Manresa (408-354-4330) takes them no more than two months in advance. In my experience, it is harder to get in on weekends than otherwise, and I myself prefer eating on Sunday nights, when it's been quieter. On Friday nights, starting in May (I think), there is a flamenco guitarist on the terrace, which is quite pleasant. Given the surge of publicitiy that Manresa is about to receive as a result of its selection as one of the World's 50 Best Restaurants, they recommend securing your spot "sooner than later." The actual awards ceremony in April is when the official announcements are made, ranking the restaurants. (In my tiny opinion, simply being selected for this list is honor enough, but I imagine there will be great celebrating in the house that is selected Top Restaurant in the World.) Alexhills points out that he dined well without any special status. When you make reservations, you can request the "Grand Tasting Menu"--this is best done with advance notice to the kitchen. If you wish, you can do wine pairings at Manresa. Another option is to bring your own special wines; if you want to do this, you can e-mail your wine list to Michael Kean, the General Manager beforehand, as Alex did. Michael Kean can be contacted via this link. I hope that helps you, and that your birthday celebration is everything you are hoping for. EDITED to remove a redundant word.
  23. My ultra-foodie friend who lives in Ojai says this:
  24. Though I haven't eaten there (because I haven't been to Nashville in ten years), a client of mine owns the Germantown Café, which is featured in the pages of Bon Appetit this month as being noteworthy in Nashville. I'd go there in a heartbeat, as well as to the Capitol Grille. I think Chef Sean Brock is doing some very exciting stuff, even if Nashville locals are not tuned in yet to the "small plate" thing. He is a graduate of Johnson Wales, where Chef David Kinch went. Good recommendation, in my book.
  25. Go to Borders Grill at the Mandalay Bay. You can take the tram at least part of the way. We had a really great meal there, for not much money (comparatively). Flavors are bright and fresh, and the trio of housemade salsas kick collective ass over almost anywhere I've been in the last ten years. At the very least, they're tied for first with a couple of amazing Mexi places I've been to.
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