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Everything posted by tanabutler

  1. Merle, while the idea of Highway 49 and Gold Country is a great one, I caution you against taking it up in the summer. Unless you like perishing heat, you will roast. September or October would be better bets, unless of course the heat doesn't both you. Or say, at the end of May. We did that, and cherries were in season. There are few things on earth as beautiful to me as an orchard full of ripe cherries. It was ridiculously pretty. Amador and El Dorado counties are beautiful.
  2. I do not recommend eating at Fifth Floor until Melissa Perello gets a few more miles under her belt. I had her cooking at a farm dinner, and the salmon was neither raw enough to be sushi nor cooked enough to be edible. She'd never grilled in her life, nor heard of mesquite. How is it possible to be twenty-seven years old and never have heard of mesquite? Especially if you are a chef?! I advise waiting until some spectacular meals are reported there, and don't be a guinea pig. She is not Laurent Gras. You might peruse this thread; my post #8 specifically asked which of the restaurants in the (now past) Dine Around Town promotion were near Moscone Center, and which were worth eating at. Based on those recs, I'd go to Fringale (I know and love the chef there—he knows HIS way around a grill, let me tell you) and Bizou (where I've not eaten, but have heard many raves at other food boards). Your mileage may vary.
  3. I didn't want to be disappointed in our meal at A16. We went there as the last hurrah of Suzi's visit to California (which included not one but TWO meals at Manresa, neither of which I could attend). I took her back to San Francisco on Tuesday night, and we intended to eat at RNM, but chef Justine Miner wasn't there that night. Squeat Mungry had the idea to go to A16, since Quince was out—and I leaped at the chance. Both Divina Cucina and Ore (eG'ers with an Italian food expertise I admire) recommended it, so I figured it would be great. I am slightly obsessed—hardly worth mentioning, really—with Italian food, to the point where Ore has promised me 14 chef's tastings for all the help I've given him setting up his blog about his stage in Italy (potentialgold.typepad.com). That kid has just GOT to set up shop in San Francisco, and not in Los Angeles! As I said, it was a disappointment. Maybe the chef wasn't in the kitchen that night. The best of the plates was the fresh burrata. We also ordered housemade sausages with sautéed greens, and a funghi pizza (because Squeat's such a fun-guy). The sausages were pronounced "too fatty" by both Suzi and Squeat, and the pizza had burnt spots on the bottom, as well as being quite greasy. Tasty—but still, greasy and burned on the bottom. The best part of the meal was the wine the sommelier, Andrew, recommended: a D-Cubed zinfandel that we all three really liked. Prosecco, at $9 a glass, was a stingy pour, in my opinion. Anyway, I will give it a second chance because I really WANT to like it. Catherine, what do you recommend at A16? Also, I realize I have to revise my list. Remove Manresa and add in Le Petit Robert (Polk & Green in SF), where I had lunch on Wednesday. I had the cream of mushroom soup and a roasted beet salad with mâche, blood oranges, pistachios, and a wonderful vinaigrette. I'll be taking Suzi there on her return to California, because I think she'd love it as much as I do. I wish we'd gone there on Tuesday: it's so much less of a noisy scene than is at A16. (But armed with new recommendations, I shall return!)
  4. Almost matches mine exactly. A-16 (San Francisco) Fiesta Tepa-Sahuayo (Watsonville) Manresa I don't count the café at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, where Suzi Edwards (aka Tarka) and I ate on Monday. A-16 was a disappointment, but I will give it another chance.
  5. Hosteria Il Carrocio is in the city center. Face the town hall at the Campanile, point your arm to one o'clock, and head in that direction, going not too far up Casata di Sotto. It is directly across from the automat (lavanderia). Here is a report I wrote up for it at IgoUgo.com, with contact information, etcetera. (No photos of food: this was before I belonged to a food forum.) It's where I had an Italian food epiphany—though if you've been to Italy many times, you probably have already had your own. Glad to see you made it there, Adam. Anyone else who goes should not miss the Tuscan bread soup or the house dessert, a molten chocolate confection that is swoon-inducing. Beautiful work on the photos, too.
  6. In Santa Cruz, there is the wonderful Donnelly Chocolates. Their truffles, especially....cardamom, Tahitian vanilla, rose, mint, rosemary, Meyer lemon... Swoony. You will be very very happy.
  7. What a nice respite this thread is. Creativity, envisioning, daydreaming, and opening the doors to food and friends in the future. --sigh.-- Thanks, Dean.
  8. tanabutler

    Dinner! 2005

    I also do the potato thing or, sometimes, I will break pasta (usually spaghettini) into the pot. The starch from the pasta will add body too. ← I reluctantly would use pasta instead, as it will have eggs in it, and gets me gummed up. Since I often turn to soups to clear out the sniffles, pasta is a bad addition. Eggs/wheat = glue in the nasal passages. And I've got a fairly bad cold (for me) today. I'm thinking some spicy soup with lots of broth. And lemon and garlic. Oh, hell, I might throw a box of Kleenex in there, too.
  9. Thanks for the report, Amy—it really does sound wonderful. (And for anyone who's been living under a rock, Amy's food blog—very broadly focused on cooking and dining, not just the latter—is one of the best in the San Francisco area, if not the country. Congratulations on making KQED's list. Long overdue!)
  10. tanabutler

    Dinner! 2005

    My experience with soups is that, if you purée them fine enough, they will be creamy even without adding dairy. I make a carrot soup and throw in a potato or two (yellow Yukons or small white potatoes: never Russets). It adds body without adding fats.
  11. tanabutler


    Add the peels to a canister of sugar, to infuse it with the scent. Oh, how I love the fragrance of bergamot: I have Earl Grey tea every single morning of my life.
  12. Here is a San Francisco Chronicle article from May, 2004, on Michael Pollan: why corn-fed beef (and corn-based agriculture) is a Very Bad Thing. There is a large section about Monsanto in there—Philip Angell, the director of corporate communications, actually uttered these words to Pollan: "Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible." Also: And this: Corn is also at the root of the nation's obesity epidemic: the increase in corn-based sweeteners has increased something like 7000% since I was a child in the Sixties. It is a fascinating article, and it's what convinced me to give up corn-fed beef much the same way that I gave up "rainforest burgers" at Burger King back when that was an issue of social conscience. There are some ranchers who feed organic corn to their beef, and I don't have an issue with that meat. But the other risks of eating beef (especially since they feed cows to cows) is not worth it. One chef I know says that it's going to come down to beef having pedigrees. If you don't know where your meat is coming from, the health risks are just too great. We used to live in Boulder, Colorado, and one of the scary things nearby was a cattle ranch next to Rocky Flats nuclear power plant. A few months after we left Colorado, the plant was closed due to "environmental and safety concerns." It took $17 million to clean it up. Meanwhile, where did all that beef get sent? Safeway? Vons? Glow-in-the-dark burgers, anyone? See what I mean? I'm not saying corn-fed beef doesn't taste good, but I can't stomach it for all the reasons cited.
  13. If eGullet were like Readerville.com, and had a Posting Hall of Fame, I would put this entire post in there so fast your browser would spin. (Not that I don't understand how godawful it must be to live in Manhattan in January and be bored with food and fruit. ) Russ, you always make such good sense. I am not judging this like a debate or, god forbid, a legal case, granting points to either side. It's not a competition for me. I just find myself resonating. "The heart has its reasons..." (though Russ's post is not without sound reason). Side note (really more to the person who mentioned Brix upthread): I do believe that the nutrients in fruits and vegetables (not to mention the complexity of flavor—including Brix, which I did not name in conjunction with apple farmer Bill Denevan's report to me) deterioriate as soon as the produce is picked. I defer to you in the realm of science, but if you do disagree, I will have to take your refutation to my friends at CAFF, so they can take a look. But really, Russ: a beautiful and poetic post.
  14. Cheers to RJWong: above and beyond the call is right. That is mighty indeed. Welcome, and thanks for saving the collective ass.
  15. Isn't this normal? Though Les Halles was a different kind of restaurant, Bourdain documents this in his book, no? There's a lot of crazy stuff that happens in the back. I know someone who has worked some kitchens in L.A. and this person also said swearing, screaming, bitching, hissy fits, etc. start when you walk in the door. But there's so much riding on the kitchen to be perfect every time. I can see how it can be hard to maintain decorum in such a pressure cooker situation. ← There are some kitchens that come to mind that are reputed to be calm, almost orchestrated. Blue Hill in NY, for one, and Thomas Keller's kitchens, as well.Justine Miner, of RNM in San Francisco, earned that praise from Patricia Unterman, as well. "I could sit in her calm kitchen and eat my way through the menu." Not everyone needs to be drama kings.
  16. FWIW, Chef David Kinch (no slouch, he) is building a menu entirely around Navarro wines for an upcoming dinner on January 20. That would impress me sufficiently to make a visit there.
  17. I'm thinking of a certain scene in The Witches of Eastwick...with cherries...lots of cherries...lots and lots and lots of cherries....It's a very visceral scene. Be careful, Fat Guy. I know you've got a redhead in your entourage, so take inventory. If you spy a blonde and a brunette, put the cherries down. Just put the cherries down, man! EDIT: to make something plural and to get you all to look. Isn't it silly when someone tells you why they edited a post?
  18. Interestingly enough, the first reason of "buy local" ("Local produce tastes better and it’s better for you") is something that I can address directly, specifically in relation to apples. A friend of mine, the über geek of appledom, is Bill Denevan. He's been farming apples organically for decades, and from him I learned these galling facts. 1) Because the apples in Santa Cruz come ripe in September, and the harvest moves northward on the Pacific Coast slowly, the apple farmers in Washington got pissed that they were missing the harvest by a couple of weeks or more. Their solution was to hold their apples back TEN MONTHS, and then release them on the market ahead of Santa Cruz. That's right, folks, your Safeway apples are sometimes a year old. Bill said that, of the 31-something elements that go into creating the flavor of a good apple, 25 or so are destroyed as the apples sit in storage. The brix is compromised seriously. You are getting the ghost of an apple, not only flavorwise, but in the decreased nutrition. I suppose the nutrition aspect wouldn't bother a lot of people, as some consider "food" as little more than caloric entertainment. But the flavor will be seriously eroded by long-term storage. 2) Bill also said that so-called "Delicious" apples (which you and I know are the farthest thing from "delicious," unless your idea of "delicious" is mealy and sacchrine) are only sold in supermarkets because they're what the average consumer thinks an apple is supposed to look like. "Oh, look, a red apple." Reminds me of those people who won't let the guy sell his Ugly-Ripe tomatoes. Neither of these things is that surprising, is it, at least not if you're as cynical about the economics of food and marketing (and supermarketing) as I am. However, like many people at eG, I have had the joy of standing in an orchard in late autumn, in upstate New York, picking and eating apples straight from the tree. Likewise, I've had a tomato still warm from the sun, and corn, and peas straight from the pod. Those of you who know what I mean, know what I mean. Those of you who haven't, I encourage placing yourselves in the path of opportunity for this to happen. Go to a U-Pick. Visit a farm. Go to a farmers market, if you can't do either of the above. Striving for quality is a good thing. Undercutting local farmers is not (anyone who thinks local farmers can compete with megalithic supermarkets is missing some information). Not that buying cherries in January is affecting any farmers in New York. Not this week. But it still has repercussions on the environment.
  19. Heh. I think of Carmel as Mrs. Thurston Howell III meets The Stepford Wives.
  20. I'm sorry, but this is so not what "buy fresh, buy local" is about. There are myriad reasons not to eat out-of-season produce that traveled thousands of miles to get to your table. Chief among them are environmental reasons (the cost of shipping in terms of wasted resources), which, believe it or not, is a huge factor that deserves consideration. Environmentally, the chances that those berries you're eating from Central and South America are also coated with a lovely dusting of some toxic chemicals that you won't necessarily taste—and are you aware that berries especially retain residues of pesticides, and are therefore recommended to eat when only grown organically? (I'm not such a purist, believe me, but I will no longer eat any berries grown with pesticides, period.)There are the costs you pay out of pocket, but there are the hidden costs you are paying by depleting natural resources and, hey, your local and national economy when you give your money to a megalith supermarket, even though very little of your money will benefit the farmer who grew that food. From the Community Alliance for Family Farmers web site (QUOTED IN ITS ENTIRETY WITH PERMISSION FROM CAFF TO ME): Five reasons to buy local: Primarily, in terms of flavor, there is another component for local/seasonal. Russ Parsons dialogued with Mimi Sheraton in this Q&A, after she complained about the terrible Driscoll strawberries she ate in New York this year: Hello? What?! You ate a strawberry that was designed to travel 3000 miles: why didn't you just salt a pingpong ball instead?Russ Parsons countered: But Mimi missed the whole point, clinging to the idea that Driscolls are the best California can do to bring a decent strawberry to the world. Which makes me think she needs to visit here some spring or summer, and go to a U-Pick or a farmers market and find out what she's missing. Meanwhile, like Melkor (though I haven't recently enjoyed an expensive tropical vacation), I'm enjoying root crops, too, but we still have basil and other local stuff to make me happy. Citrus, oh yeah. Even canned tomatoes—if they're good enough for the Italians, they're good enough for me. Finally, Food Routes: more on why buying local is so important. EDITED to fix formatting.
  21. Yes, indeedy. These beans are from Madagascar. Not to be confused with NASCAR.
  22. Not to detract from Berkeley Bowl, but I can get a pair of fat and sassy vanilla beans from Trader Joe's for $3.29.
  23. We had dinner at Manresa last night. (Just 20 pictures.) That is some of the citrus they picked yesterday at Gene Lester's farm, for the upcoming six-course citrus dinner on Thursday.
  24. I'm not from either! I'm a rube of the worst kind!
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