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From Sonoma County to San Francisco, Spring, 2024


weinoo

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Significant Eater and I recently spent about 10 days in California; the first 4 were in Healdsburg, and the remainder were spent in San Francisco. Flying into SFO, we rent a car (as we usually do - it's California, after all!) and drive straight up to Healdsburg, which takes about two hours (after a pit stop at a dispensary in Santa Rosa).  In Healdsburg, we stayed (for the 2nd time) at the historic Camellia Inn. Strangely, the Camellia Inn is known for its...camellias...there are alleged to be over 80 camellia plants on the property:
 

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On the corner, and basically everywhere one looks in Healdsburg, there are citrus plants and trees:

 

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The following posts will not be in the chronological order of our trip; I'm too lazy to do that!  I'm hopping over to the San Francisco portion, where on our first night back in the city, we met a friend for drinks and dinner at Tadich Grill.  Tadich is one of the oldest, continuously operating restaurants in the country (for this trip, I focused on dining at some classic San Francisco restaurants, with one trip to Berkeley). And Tadich Grill is classic.  We even got to take MUNI there. The Martinis are very good, and I like the bar...

 

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The food is...ok...especially sticking with a few standards (e.g.: Petrale sole, simply grilled, for my main). So a Dungeness crab salad, and some marinated squid:

 

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I am now the proud owner of a Tadich Grill swizzle stick. The day after we arrived in San Francisco, it was Significant Eater's birthday.  We did a double header, starting with a drive over the Bay Bridge, and up to Berkeley, for lunch at Chez Panisse Cafe. (I did have some second thoughts, as we drove right past one of my favorite BBQ places right on San Pablo, the great Everett & Jones. It was never passed by during my 16 years living west, after a concert at the Greek, or anywhere else nearby). But Chez Panisse it was.

 

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There really is nothing (in my opinion) quite like the salads in California. And Chez Panisse does an exemplary job.

 

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Healthy start: Star Route Farms greens with avocado, blood orange and grapefruit. And hers:

 

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Which included baked Andate Dairy's goat cheese. And which was quite splendid spread over Acme Bakery's sourdough. (And look at that chervil!)

 

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Chicken al mattone (moist and juicy), served not with the sides it was menued with, but with the sides for the pork loin (yeah, I'm a pain in the ass). Potatoes gaufrette and sautéed greens, carrots that taste like carrots. And fried sage leaves. Sig Eater wants and needs pizza.  I should argue?

 

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Olives, anchovies - what's not to like. We eschewed dessert - as mentioned, we were playing a double header. Which meant a revisit (for the 3rd or 4th time) to a slightly freshened up Boulevard, in the city. Our first meal at Boulevard was 26 years ago, on our honeymoon. I'm such a fucking romantic. And classy that I am, we once again rode MUNI. Our usual schtick - a drink at the bar before sitting down for dinner (cause the cocktails are always better at the bar than by the time they get to your table). Also - the bar at Boulevard is beautiful.

 

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I'm at Boulevard - and having a Boulevardier. My lovely wife - a Perfect Manhattan.

 

 

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Here's where the crab amped up:

 

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My Dungeness, with "valentine" pomelo, kumquats and the usual Cali stuff, like the flower thing. This was great, the dressing puddled at the bottom to be mixed, or not, as you wish. The Dungeness - simply perfect. And for she...

 

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A gorgeous pea soup, King crab, and a lemon souffle! Plus...flowers. Sig Eater wanted, and got, beef.

 

I wanted more...

 

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It wasn't all about these huge scallops, which I'm guessing flew 3,000 miles, yet were still fine. That little lasanga - sorry, lasagnette - stuffed with Dungeness - was really great. Plus...lotsa flowers. And those teeny turnips.

 

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She enjoyed her birthday greatly; it was a big one!

 

Oh - why can't more restaurants do this?

 

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Full page of red half bottles. There was another page of whites by the half bottle. The wine list at Boulevard is comprehensive.

Edited by weinoo
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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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I'm looking forward to this vicarious trip! It's been years since I was in Healdsburg and surrounds, and even longer since I ate anywhere in San Francisco. Keep it coming, and thanks!

 

Oh...if there's a typical salad dressing with the salads you showed, what is it? I'm thinking of the very first one, with avocado, at Chez Panisse Cafe.

 

...and I envy you the aroma of citrus blossoms, and the sight of those lovely camellias!

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Smithy said:

I'm thinking of the very first one, with avocado, at Chez Panisse Cafe.

 

That one was a ginger vinaigrette, probably by simply adding some ginger to Alice's classic Banyuls vinaigrette.

 

Quote

 

Recipe: Simple Chez Salad Dressing

 

This is basically the dressing I make at home, though I’m flexible about which types of acid I incorporate, often replacing the Banyuls vinegar that Chez uses with a bit of sherry or apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Start by placing a clove of garlic and ½ teaspoon of sea salt in a Japanese-style mortar (suribachi) or marble mortar and use your pestle to grind it to a translucent paste. Cover the garlic with 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and 1½ tablespoons of Banyuls vinegar and allow it to sit for at least ten minutes so that the acid has time to mellow the heat of the allium. Whisk in a scant ½ teaspoon of Dijon mustard and then add 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, beating vigorously to emulsify. Add a grind of black pepper at the end and taste, adjusting for acid balance and salt—I like mine on the acidic side, so tend to err on the more vinegar end of the spectrum. Use this to dress enough salad for six.

—Fanny Singer

 

Excerpted from Always Home: A Daughter’s Recipes & Stories

 

 

https://www.saveur.com/story/food/fanny-singers-litmus-test-for-good-restaurant/

Edited by weinoo (log)
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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Wow - that all looks lovely. We are having Dungeness tonight that my husband caught last night. Just steamed with lemon butter on the side, garlic bread and Caesar salad. Nothing better than fresh Dungeness. Does the "automatic 17% to ensure fair wages" bother you? I mean why print it, why not just add 17% to the cost of the food. Sorry, but curmudgeonly me really detests mandatory "tipping."

Edited by MaryIsobel (log)
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2 hours ago, MaryIsobel said:

Wow - that all looks lovely. We are having Dungeness tonight that my husband caught last night. Just steamed with lemon butter on the side, garlic bread and Caesar salad. Nothing better than fresh Dungeness. Does the "automatic 17% to ensure fair wages" bother you? I mean why print it, why not just add 17% to the cost of the food. Sorry, but curmudgeonly me really detests mandatory "tipping."


the thing that bothers me the most is that you’re having fresh Dungeness tonight, Dungeness that your husband caught!!

 

I left another 10% on top of the mandatory. 

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

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39 minutes ago, weinoo said:


the thing that bothers me the most is that you’re having fresh Dungeness tonight, Dungeness that your husband caught!!

 

I left another 10% on top of the mandatory. 

I probably would have too - I am a fair to generous tipper as I have worked as a server, as did my daughters. Too bad you are not close enough to share. We had 3 crabs between the two of us and I'm pondering what to do with the leftover.

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7 hours ago, MaryIsobel said:

I'm pondering what to do with the leftover

 

Crab cakes?  Crab Louie? I had a very good pasta (that picture is coming) at a very good restaurant in San Francisco (that report is coming) which included Dungeness.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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@MaryIsobel

 

I agree w you.  mandatory tips are no longer tips.

 

MT's are a way to slice up the actual cost to the dinner of the meal. 

 

into smaller units.  

 

why not add an ' energy surcharge ?'  

 

airlines do. 

 

business' are for profit.  and the owner or partners want a return on heir investment.

 

' All staff are partners in  this restaurant '  ?

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And we had a meal at one restaurant where it was stated (either on the check, or maybe on the menu) that a cash payment would result in a 3.7% discount (just about what the cred

it card companies charge the restaurant). 

 

I have zero problems with the kitchen staff making similar wages to the front of house staff; they work just as hard, if not harder.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Credit Card companies have spent huge amounts of money

 

( a very very small % of their surcharge )

 

banning cash discounts , 

 

and much more banning CC surcharges

 

through paying for legislation protecting

 

their golden eggs.

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Maison Rustique said:

Beautiful meals--thanks for sharing them. Did you manage to go by Rancho Gordo while you were there?

 

You're welcome.  We did not visit Rancho Gordo (in Napa) this trip. He used to have a dedicated stand in the Ferry Plaza Market;  that stand closed quite a few years ago.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Continuing on San Francisco portion of our trip; met a friend at another old favorite, for lunch, in the gorgeous...

 

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Rincon Center. Located within the center, Yank Sing...

 

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Sorry, no food pix.  It was enough dealing with the crowd, our old friend, and carts!  That night, however, another old friend (seems as if a lot of our friends are "old") joined us for dinner at:

 

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State Bird combines what they call dim sum, carried around by variously tattooed and pierced people, and food ordered via our wait person from the kitchen.  We ate a lot. Some looked like this...

 

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The gorgeously fried state bird (that's a quail - 3 pieces).

 

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Beef tongue pastrami.

 

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Yuba and Dungeness.  All in all, a really excellent meal - there were at least 5 or 6 more plates, dim sum sized. And lots of wine.

 

The next day, bright and sunny, we took a drive down the coast, only as far as Pacifica.  Friends we were going to meet in either Santa Cruz or Pescadero were covid infected, so that plan got scratched.  Picked up sandwiches at a place in the outer Richmond, and continued on out to the Great Highway.

 

As it often is, the coast in California is pretty awesome.

 

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Just don't get too close to the edge.

 

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This guy was gigantic.

 

Ever see one of these?

 

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It's the driverless car for hire. Not that bright, as it was stuck in the crosswalk of the Embarcadero after the light changed. Just stop already.

 

Back in the city, freshened up at our beautiful AirBnB - we stayed in a totally different part of the city than we have on all our previous trips; out in the Castro.

 

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It had a lovely private deck and yard, an organic chef's garden. Lemons and limes, figs, herbs, you name it.  Also, the hosts (who live upstairs in the other half of the house) were taking care of this little Yorkie, named Ziggy. Ziggy came down and visited us many, many times - it was delightful.  After naps, we set out to meet another couple of friends - yes, this was a trip reconnecting with many people; some from my old days in California, and a few New Yorkers who had moved out west. 

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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24 minutes ago, rotuts said:

OK , parts of the city , these days.

 

Not as bad as it has been made out in the press.  One thing we noticed was certainly less foot traffic and more vacant storefronts than ever before. Covid probably did that to many cities.  The homelessness is visible, but I have to say - it was always visible in the nice weather, west coast cities. 

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1 hour ago, Shelby said:

Before I die I want a turnip cake.

This is my death row turnip cake.... deep fried, topped with fried dried shrimp with a spicy sambal dipping sauce...

 

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15 hours ago, KennethT said:

This is my death row turnip cake.... deep fried, topped with fried dried shrimp with a spicy sambal dipping sauce...

 

 

 

Are your 'turnip cakes'made with turnip? In most of dim sum places here, what is sold as turnip cakes are actually daikon radish cakes. I've never seen a turnip in China.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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Posted (edited)

Our penultimate dinner in San Francisco, at a place we've been to 3 or 4 times in past visits, was slated to be sold to a South Bay restaurant group a couple of years ago. When that deal fell through, in stepped the real estate agent working on the deal; living a few blocks away, loving the restaurant herself, she ended up buying the restaurant. Many of the staff remains from way before the pandemic hit; heck, we even recognized our waitress from a prior visit! Welcome to Noe Valley's spectacular La Ciccia, one of the very few Sardinian restaurants in the country. (There is a place in Miami Beach, Sardinia Enoteca (which skews more generalized Italian), but that's the extent of Sardinian places I know and have been to).

 

There used to be a rule to not use cameras or cell phones at the table; I believe that rule has been changed (even though I used to sneak pictures), as no one seemed to mind my snapping away. No one, that is, except my dining companions - yes, we once again met friends for dinner!

 

We shared a number of starters:

 

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Classic Sardinian salad of celery and bottarga.  Funky and delicious, simply dressed. The high quality of the roe makes this dish special.

 

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Roasted Monterey squid, with basil oil and greens. I love this dish. Each of us had a pasta, with Significant Eater having her favorite spaghetti with bottarga. I, on the other hand, had a special pasta of the day:

 

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A spicy, fantastic fresh pasta with Dungeness crab. Which I could possibly eat every day.

 

Friends split the lamb loin drizzled with Saba as their secondo:

 

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We shared the oven roasted whole prawns:

 

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Cheese was had.  Desserts were had (gelati, panna cotta). Lots of wine, too; what can I say, we only see old friends once in a while!

 

And I am so glad this restaurants remains in good hands.

 

COMP DISCLOSURE: Dessert wines all around.

Edited by weinoo (log)
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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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