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Everything posted by tanabutler

  1. Here is a list of wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains: there are a number of gems near Manresa, or en route to Manresa, if you prefer. Testarossa's tasting room is in downtown Los Gatos, about a mile away.
  2. tanabutler


    Nice review in the New York Daily News: Dévi is the posh spice of India: Dévi's divine setting offers diners robust Indian fare with all the frills. A snippet: I'm still trying to nail down a trip to NYC this spring: first stop, Déví!
  3. EDIT: this formatting is not working at all!!! Big news: http://www.manresarestaurant.com/Top50.html From the link above: Manresa Restaurant in Los Gatos has been selected for inclusion in Restaurant magazine’s annual "World’s 50 Best Restaurants" awards. The London-based industry bible polled more than 300 international restaurateurs, chefs, critics, and journalists to rank the best restaurants worldwide. The complete list of award winners will be revealed on April 18, 2005, at an exclusive awards ceremony to be held in association with Penfolds Wines. David Kinch, chef and proprietor of Manresa and his partner, General Manager Michael Kean, will attend the event in London, where the world's finest chefs and restaurateurs will converge. This is the first year that Manresa has been chosen for the international award in the restaurant's three-year history. - - - - - - - Fantastic accomplishment, especially for a restaurant that's only three years old.
  4. Laurent left almost six months ago and Belinda left about 9 months ago. They have both been replaced with extremely talented people. I'd be interested to see if any of the people criticizing Melissa's skills have eaten at the Fifth Floor since she took over. Her food is very different than Laurent's, but I think it is every bit as fabulous. I have nothing bad to say about the meal I had there in January. I wasn't particularly a fan of her at Charles Nob Hill, but her new menu is quite spectacular. I don't really think her age is much of an issue. The woman has an encyclopedic knowledge of food and cooking techniques, and is far more skilled and creative than many chefs I have known twice her age. ← "Encyclopedic knowledge"? I don't agree, at least not to the extent that such knowledge might include familiarity with mesquite (which was unknown to her at the meal she prepared which I attended), and with grilling over charcoal. While most of her courses truly were spectacularly flavorful, the salmon was so undercooked as to be inedible (without being raw enough to be sushi, alas), and it was filled with a kind of wild fennel that looked and tasted like lawn clippings. I am not trying to be a snob of any kind, but those things left an impression on me that won't be dispelled easily. I'm sorry, but I won't be risking the expense of a meal at Fifth Floor until I hear the praises coming down the wire.
  5. Daniel Patterson has left Frisson. 31-year-old chef de cuisine Sarah Schafer has been named as his replacement.
  6. It's a premium link, meaning it's useless to people who aren't paid subscribers.
  7. Evan Kleiman, a glorious earth mother of a woman, operates Angeli Caffé on Melrose Avenue. Dinners on Thursday nights are communal—Evan tries all kinds of menus, though her specialty is Italian. Price is a mere $28 exclusive of beverages, tax, and tip. She is one of the most amazing people: I own two of her cookbooks and love them. She was the inspiration for both chefs who started the Outstanding in the Field farm dinners (for which I worked for five years). She was guest chef in October, 2003, at Coleman Family Farm in Carpinteria, California, and her meal was absolutely perfect. (There were five perfect farm dinners in the whole time I photographed them. Fewer than 20% had Every Single Course Perfectly Prepared.) I plan to come down and go there myself, very soon. I'll be hitting up AOC and Angeli Caffé. Go for it.
  8. You will be a few feet from Scala's Bistro--they have brunch. I have never had a bad meal there, myself. It's in the Sir Francis Drake hotel. Check out the paintings: the staircase ("La Scala") one, Paloma Picasso tried to buy right off the wall, but they refused her.
  9. I can't wait to hear how the class went. And if he made chai ice cream.
  10. We managed to find a restaurant in Arezzo open on Easter Sunday: Osteria dei Mercati. From the card: PIAZZAETTA SOPRA I PONTI (sotto i portici di Via Roma) Chiusura Domenicale Aperto la domenica della Fiera dell'Antiquariato • Saletta non fumatori • Terrazza Estiva Osteria dei Mercati Do NOT miss their chocolate house dessert. It was one of the best meals we had in Italy: just simple but perfect family fare. Enjoy!
  11. PCL, just yesterday I ate at a great (and I mean great) place in Berkeley, right next door to Chez Panisse. It's called César, at 1515 Shattuck. It's open from noon until 11 or midnight, same tapas menu the whole time (no night-time mark-up), and the bar has an amazing assortment of wines and spirits. (Like, three dozen kinds of grappa, for example.) We shared seven tapas plates yesterday, as well as three desserts. Everything was exemplary. It was delightful. Owner/operators are three Chez Panisse alumni. It's not in direct competition, as it's not the same thing. The night before we were there, David Byrne came in after lecturing at UCB...our waitress (a fetus, really) said, "He used to be an old-time group in the Eighties or something." Berkeley is just full of ethnic restaurants--we couldn't find "Kumar," which the hotel desk recommended to my friend (an Indian cookbook author and chef), so that's how we wound up at César. Much to my never-ending delight, that is. I loved Berkeley. I hope you do, too. (I love San Francisco, and drive two hours once a month or so to eat there, but I think I'll be dividing my time up in Berkeley, now, too.)
  12. Whoopsy daisies, I forgot that there was a story in the LA Times about the cookbook, too: "Passage to Indian cooking: Chef Suvir Saran demystifies the flavors of the subcontinent with home cooking that surprises." (March 2, 2005). If you can't open that, if you aren't registered, you can go here. Note: there are recipes for "South Indian-style chicken with curry leaves and black peppercorns (dakshin murgh)," "Mangalore fried shrimp (jhinga Mangaloree)," and "My sister's favorite corn curry (makayee noo curry)." I actually went to Ranch 99 market last night to see if I could get anything but was too overwhelmed by all the Asian labels. I need a translator!
  13. I have just spent two wonderful days. Monday night, I attended (as in, "paid for and attended") Suvir's cooking class at Sur La Table in Los Gatos, which is about a half hour from my house. A friend cancelled at the last minute, so I was able to bring my ex's wife, Peri, whose birthday is this week. Yay. We arrived a little early, and found Suvir—who had no idea I was coming!—who had spontaneously decided to make chai ice cream in the very fancy ice cream maker there. Pea samosas in puff pastry were already in the oven, and soon the sold-out class began. He prepared a total of six recipes, including eggplant raita, lemon rice, ground chicken with spices, and green beans with coconut. And then he fed the entire class. (Insert swoon emoticon here.) Besides being thoroughly knowledgable on the history of spices and food in India, he was also very articulate about medicinal aspects of certain spices (as discussed in the NY Times), and had a flotilla of facts and stories at his disposal that belied his state of mild fatigue. It was a very enjoyable evening: those who know Suvir know he's got an impish wit aside from his erudite delivery of factoids. We laughing plenty. Probably the single best thing that happened for me was losing the intimidation factor. He said he has all these Chinese friends who've written cookbooks, which he gets and then just closes, knowing he can't cook that way. But he admits it's his own brain stopping him. He asked if I'd yet cooked from Indian Home Cooking, and I said I hadn't, that I didn't have the spices and was sure I wasn't properly organized. I don't feel that way now; I still don't have the proper spices, but he's fixing me up with his favorite spice store, "Foods of India," in NYC to remedy that. His Indian mother buys her spices there! Yesterday, I drove him to Berkeley for his next class, and today he is in Santa Rosa. He's on a 16-city tour with Sur La Table. Next up are Kirkland, Washington (is that where Microsoft is?) and Portland, Oregon. Here are the dates: Kirkland • Thursday, March 10, 2005 • 6:00 PM Kirkland • Friday, March 11, 2005 • 11:00 AM Portland • Saturday, March 12, 2005 • 11:00 AM Los Angeles • Monday, March 21, 2005 • 6:30 PM Newport Beach • Tuesday, March 22, 2005 • 6:30 PM Carlsbad • Wednesday, March 23, 2005 6:30 PM Chicago • Monday, April 04, 2005 • 6:30 PM Cleveland • Tuesday, April 05, 2005 • 6:30 PM Columbus • Wednesday, April 06, 2005 6:30 PM Dallas • Monday, April 18, 2005 • 6:30 PM Arlington • Wednesday, April 27, 2005 6:30 PM Richmond • Thursday, April 28, 2005 • 6:30 PM I have no idea if they're all priced the same, so check your Sur La Table site for information. I hope some of you can go and report back. This is a very enjoyable way to spend the evening, I promise. Plus you get a coupon for a discount. Yay again.
  14. Bump. I spent a long, late afternoon lunch with Suvir Saran today at César, which came highly recommended from his friend who works at a winery out here. (Boy, does she have good taste.) Seven plates of tapas included (but not limited to) spicy cauliflower salad with caper vinaigrette, quail with roasted grapes and bacon (to die for), piquillo peppers with basil and queso blanco, fried potatoes with herbs and sea salt ("potato crack," as we called it), Spanish cheeses, roasted baby artichokes with lemon and garlic, and some kick-ass olives doled out from a treasure chest of olives that glistened in their lemony-good marinade. We also tasted three desserts: medjool date ice cream (with toasted almonds), torrijas con mermelada sevilla (like little French toasts with orange rind marmelade, not mermen), and the best of the lot: bread pudding with blood orange-caramel sauce. Our iced tea they kindly sweetened with their house-blend of lemon-mint syrup, so we felt quite Southern indeed. I don't know the final bill, as Suvir paid and I did not see it. (It also included two of César's cookbooks, one of which went home with me.) Our waitress gave impeccable and knowledgeable service, and (GOD LOVE HER) gave me a copy of the recipe for the sauce on the quail. It starts with "5 quarts of duck broth," so possibly I'll have to cut the proportions. The list of wine and spirits is 21 pages long, and includes something like three dozen kinds of grappa and Italian spirits. The room is very comfortable, and the entire front of the building is made of huge, heavy doors that open from ceiling to floor, letting in the light. Berkeley rocks for restaurants, and I think it's even prettier than San Francisco for driving around.
  15. Whoa, those are seriously gorgeous photographs! What an eye she's got. (The oven-dried tomatoes look like the ones I make!)
  16. (I personally don't think Reno really belongs in the Tahoe sector, myself, any more than San Jose belongs in San Francisco, and SJ is even closer to SF than Reno is to Tahoe. But whatevah. It's not that big of a deal.) South Jersey Epicurean: I finally remembered the name of the wine store/restaurant. It's Viaggio. I will definitely give it a second shot while I'm there next: the chef might have just had an off night. It could happen to anyone. You can tell from the website that it's a nice space. Worth a stop just to sit and have some really good wines by the glass. The owner is very friendly and (I think) knowledgeable. Also, for what it's worth, Reno's only Master Sommelier is at the Siena casino (I presume he's still there), where we always stay (and if you had a Princess and the Pea butt like I do, you'd only want to stay in those famous beds, too). We're going to Reno soon, laden with all kinds of perqs from the Siena, some of which include dining credits. I will report back. Siena web site Lastly, I really like the CheapoTravel.com websites for the skinny on Las Vegas and Reno. They're funny, and they're not really all about being cheap, but in delineating what is and isn't worth the money. CheapoTravel.com's Reno site.
  17. The other stupidest is that it's a bloody felony in California to make/sell cheese from unpasteurized milk (or to sell raw milk, period). My visitor from the UK was in disbelief when I told her that. And having had unpasteurized sheep's cheese that she brought, I'm ready to move to Great Britain and risk my health.
  18. http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=44734 <-- Go figger, the Reno thread is in California. Leave to Yankees to redefine geography. (Reno is an hour from Tahoe.) I wrote up two places that are DEFINITELY among the cream of the Reno crop: La Vecchia and Oceano, which is a seafood place at Peppermill casino. I had done my research, believe me, at Chowhound (fairly worthless--there is someone there who simply does not get the idea that La Vecchia is not the same place they say sucked; I think it's a not very bright person there pretends to be an expert just for being a Reno resident), also Google and so on. Let my research benefit you. We also tried a wine bar in Reno, the name of which escapes me, but it's very prevalent in searches on Reno. The owner and wines were great. The restaurant, alas, at our meal, provided food that was oversalted. I assume the chef was a chain smoker. We commented on it, and the owner liked the food salty. Ah, well. (You can always add more, but you can't add less.) This place is on the same thoroughfare as the Peppermill, on the same side of the street, but not as far down. I have more photos of La Vecchia, somewhere, and will send you links to that, and to a longish report I wrote up, if you like. (Anyone can PM me who wants the report; it's off-site and I can't link to it here.)
  19. Hmm, someone at another food forum said "leeks," but it sounds divine either way. Forgive the Threadus Interruptus, but do you grate the cheese or do thick slices? (I'd do slices, myself, but have no idea if my ways are transatlantic.) Grazie, Moby.
  20. One of the best websites for all things Vietnamese is one that Guppymo linked to: Andrea Q. Nguyen's VietWorldKitchen.com. Andrea, a Santa Cruz resident (and friend of mine) is presently hard at work on her own Vietnamese cookbook, to be published by Ten Speed Press in 2006. (Put it on your list!)She has a list of Viet cookbooks in English here. Hope that helps.
  21. Ruth Reichl's favorite bite in London: a grilled cheese sandwich made with Montgomery cheddar from Neal's Yard Dairy. Thanks to Ms. Suzi Edwards, I have a truckle (it's a real word! It means "piece of cheese as big as a giant fez!") of this cheddar in my cupboard this minute. I was waiting to have a big party but might have to crack into it sooner. I'm sure I can get bread worthy of creating my own version...word from an online acquaintance who visited London says it's not onions but sweated leeks. Any idea about that? Moby, you fonny, with that pig thing.
  22. It's not too bad up there in the summer. El Dorado Hills or Cameron Park, neither of which are at close to the same elevation as Hwy. 49, are both at least 10 degrees cooler than Sacramento in the summer. Nevada City is at 2000 feet, I think. ← I would disagree, but I am sensitive to heat. It was in the nineties there at the end of May, when we went there. That's too bloody hot for me, but I admit I don't like it that hot. I can handle the high eighties, but mid-nineties is a deal breaker.
  23. I just want to say that this post is one of the loveliest things I've ever read on eG. It is thoughtful, poetic, and inspiring. Having met the young woman who wrote it, I can see how much I've been missing, not reading more in the UK forum. I've got a plane ticket to Europe, now I just have to sell my soul to round up the funds necessary to travel. The dollar's never going to bounce back to the level it was at in 2001, when I visited, so I might be out of luck. Beautifully written, Suzi: a reflection of the diner, certainly.
  24. Pan, that is similar in nature to my epiphany, which is that some of the best food is the simplest. As Russ Parsons has said (I'm paraphrasing), there is little you can do to a perfect tomato to improve it. Good ingredients speak for themselves. As do Adam's sterling photographs. Such a treat, so uplifting!
  25. FZ, my compliments on your lovely photography and report. Very very good work: an inspiration to me.
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