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5:32 PM - Snack

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The last glass of the Ravenswood Zinfandel. This has held up well in the fridge, maybe a little more boring than when first opened. A good showing.

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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Walt:

Nice blog. Did you go to one of the Claremont schools by any chance? When I lived in the US, Liquorama was one of my favorite places to hunt for bargains amidst the myriad selection of wines.

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And if I may ask a potential random question, is your name related to a quote, "I am so smart! S-m-r-t! Doh!" ?

I'd love to claim that as the truth, but actually "SmartAss" was taken the first time I tried to use it as a log-in (about 8 years ago), so I settled for SmrtAss. Now I'm so used to that spelling that the correct one looks wrong to me, and I am SmrtAss all over the internet. Well, almost all over. :raz:

Back to the foodblog - I am so envious of the fabulous produce available to you! Thanks for all of the great photos.

Dear Food: I hate myself for loving you.

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7:00 PM - Dinner out

My wife is out seeing the NASCAR IMAX movie with her dad as a Father's Day present, so I'm on my own. Usually, that means some kind of non-Western food, because I adore Chinese, Japanese, and Indian, and she merely likes them. I considered going to Tomo Sushi in Pleasanton, which is what I did the last time (fantastic omakase, including my first fried shrimp head!) but decided to go for something a little closer to home. We're around the corner and down the street from a huge Hindu temple and so apparently there is enough of an Indian community to support this restaurant:

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I fell in love with what I thought was Indian food the first time I had a curry. The other Indian restaurant in town is excellent and pretty friendly to Western palates. Udupi Palace, not as much. There's no rice, for one thing, everything is made out of lentil. There's no meat for another. :shock: And no Indian beer. Still, this is the third time I've been, and it's really growing on me. I live deep in suburbia, but this restaurant is within walking distance, and it was a pleasant night, so I strolled over. I was seated promptly and ordered a salt lassi:

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This is a yogurt-based drink that seemed to have a bit of cottage cheese blended in. I'm still getting used to the idea that unsweetened yogurt is a beverage, but I knew I would need some milk proteins to help with the spice to come. Not really knowing what the hell I was ordering, I started with an Utthapam combo:

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The donut is a fried lentil cake, and the white disk is an Idly, a sort of sourdough rice flour cake. Both of these were very good. The brown sauce is sort of a vegetable stew with squash and eggplant and curry. I saw other folks dipping into this, so that's what I did. The white sauce is slightly cooked, slightly sweetened coconut. Yummy. However, you'd think that the soothing coconut puree would be the thing to go to if your mouth was overheating. You would be wrong. One of the things it's cooked with is chiles, as you can see from the one sticking out of my dish. Underneath it all, literally, is the utthapam. It's a lentil and rice flour pancake with the fillings cooked in like a frittata. The waiter asked if I liked spicy food, and I said yes, so he recommended this one with sliced green chiles and onion. This tasted every bit as delicious as it looks.

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I was pretty full but wanted to try something else, so I ordered a Masala Dhosa, yet another kind of lentil pancake, but much larger and thinner. The filling was oversalted onions and potatoes. Not bad, but compared unfavorably with the utthapam. The server kindly brought me a complimentary mango lassi to try as well, and it was delicious. The yogurt flavor didn't intrude on the sweetness or flavor of the mango.

This was a good meal. Service could use a little help, and decor is nonexistant, but I'll definitely be back. For one thing, it's the only decent restaurant within a mile's walk. The server brought the bill (they only take cash) and so I went to get a twenty out of my wallet, only to discover that it was still back at the house. Doh! I offered to leave my camera as collateral, but they would have none of it. So I jogged back home and returned via automobile to settle up. They couldn't have been nicer about it. Sadly, by this time the Laxmi Grocery next door was closed. Good thing I didn't have an urgent need for rosewater or a Bollywood flick.

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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But most of the wine geeks I know in person prefer Scotch...

Does this mean that fruit spirits (raspberry, cherry, plum, etc) are in general not much requested by wine lovers? Too soft for real men?

Thanks for you wonderful pictures of the farmer market. If there's a food sci-fi gadget I'd really like to own it would be a portable kitchen. You could visit every market of this world, buy some interesting ingredients and start cooking right away.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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This is uncanny...while thinking about curd rice recently, I was flipping through my cookbook and wishing I could see a photo of an idli, a dhosa, an appam, etc., and there they are!

We went to a South Indian restaurant on Friday, but in our case, it had unfortunately been sold out to a Japanese guy who had no clue what he was cooking. I'd been meaning to tell the original owner (who was very shy) that business might be better if he made it easier to tell exactly where the door into his restaurant was, but too late :wacko: .

I can practically smell the beeswax in that honey photo...

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I believe it is the sugar in the cabbage that creates that mess on the bottom of the pan. The only way out of that is to add water and steam it some. Or cook it in lots and lots of oil....bad idea I guess.

I was afraid you would say that. I love the browning, but I'd prefer to get it without having to add a lot of insulating fat.

They're a bit expensive, around $110, but if you invest in an All-Clad pan you can brown stuff to your hearts content and easily clean it up afterwards. We've been buying one pan a year (from Santa Claus).

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Beautiful photos Walt. Thanks so much for giving us a virtual tour of the market.

I didn't see any pictures of the garlic guys, though it might be a little too early in the year for them.

When I was last in Plesanton for the Northern California Basenji club specialty I had a chance to visit the market and was very impressed with the quality of the produce. The two guys who had the garlic/onion stand had seven or eight varieties of garlic including a rose colored hardneck that has to be the best garlic I have ever tried. It was so sweet it was almost like candy. The garlic flavor was there but not overpowering. (I was there in late August)

Thanks again for the spectacular walk-through.

What year was this? I've only been consistently going to this market for a year, but I haven't seen anyone selling pink hardnecks (whatever that variety is, it's my favorite). I usually get mine from the nice Greek lady at the organic stand ($2 each!) or from the Asian produce stand ($.50). I'll keep an eye out for garlic guys, though.

Nice blog. Did you go to one of the Claremont schools by any chance? When I lived in the US, Liquorama was one of my favorite places to hunt for bargains amidst the myriad selection of wines.

Yep, you got me. I went to Harvey Mudd, and there was a bar set up in one of my friends' suites, so we were at Liquorama pretty often. I assume that now they are listed in winesearcher all the obscure dusty bargains are gone...

And if I may ask a potential random question, is your name related to a quote, "I am so smart! S-m-r-t! Doh!" ?

I'd love to claim that as the truth, but actually "SmartAss" was taken the first time I tried to use it as a log-in (about 8 years ago), so I settled for SmrtAss. Now I'm so used to that spelling that the correct one looks wrong to me, and I am SmrtAss all over the internet. Well, almost all over. :raz:

Back to the foodblog - I am so envious of the fabulous produce available to you! Thanks for all of the great photos.

Aw, oh well. There's another wnissen out there, so sometimes I have to pick an alternate as well. You and everyone else can thank Paintshop Pro for the pics. It has this neifty contrast enhancement mode that lets me get away with stuff like shooting half in shade and half in bright sun. The produce is a blessing, for sure. It can get a little tough in the winter, when the selection is mainly apples and winter veggies and lettuce, plus whatever people grow in greenhouses, but most of year I am just so thankful to get fresh, delicious, seasonal stuff.

Does this mean that fruit spirits (raspberry, cherry, plum, etc) are in general not much requested by wine lovers? Too soft for real men?

Thanks for you wonderful pictures of the farmer market. If there's a food sci-fi gadget I'd really like to own it would be a portable kitchen. You could visit every market of this world, buy some interesting ingredients and start cooking right away.

I can't honestly say what makes winos go for stuff like scotch. I like kirs and kir royales, but I don't think I have anthing besides cassis in the house. Wonder why that is...

I like your idea of the portable kitchen. I've often thought that the only way to really be at home somewhere far away is to have someone to take you to the market, and place to cook a homemade meal.

This is uncanny...while thinking about curd rice recently, I was flipping through my cookbook and wishing I could see a photo of an idli, a dhosa, an appam, etc., and there they are!

We went to a South Indian restaurant on Friday, but in our case, it had unfortunately been sold out to a Japanese guy who had no clue what he was cooking. I'd been meaning to tell the original owner (who was very shy) that business might be better if he made it easier to tell exactly where the door into his restaurant was, but too late .

I can practically smell the beeswax in that honey photo...

That is hilarious. I'm glad I was able to serve as photographer for another cookbook! If you want the full-res pictures, which show the texture better, I can send them to you. Sorry to hear that your south Indian restaurant is now run by a non-south Indian; around here most "ethnic" restaurants are run by folks of the same ethnicity as the restaurant. Come to think of it, the only exception is sushi, which often seems to be run by Koreans...

They're a bit expensive, around $110, but if you invest in an All-Clad pan you can brown stuff to your hearts content and easily clean it up afterwards. We've been buying one pan a year (from Santa Claus).

What I usually brown with is a cast iron skillet, Le Creuset roasting pan, or most commonly, Sitram Profisserie stainless lined skillet. The latter two always seem to burn the worst, and I end up having to scour it off. I love the browning, but if I could find something that didn't burn on, that would be great. If you cook a diced onion for ten minutes on medium-high, does the All-Clad not get that ugly burned stuff:

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That Indian dinner looks delicious! And I love the Domaine de Fontsainte - that was my house rose last summer, although I haven't yet seen the new release here.

Glad you enjoyed the pics from Udupi Palace, and to hear a recco of the Fontsainte. With the unseasonably warm weather in Europe last summer, I've been worried about the acids, so we'll see how this one is.

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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Nice blog. Did you go to one of the Claremont schools by any chance? When I lived in the US, Liquorama was one of my favorite places to hunt for bargains amidst the myriad selection of wines.

Yep, you got me. I went to Harvey Mudd, and there was a bar set up in one of my friends' suites, so we were at Liquorama pretty often. I assume that now they are listed in winesearcher all the obscure dusty bargains are gone...

How funny. One of my oldest friends (we grew up together in Madison, WI) and his wife both went to Harvey Mudd. They would have been there considerably before your time (85 through 89). I remember stories about a big, honkin' warehouse liquor store they used to frequent. I'll have to ask him if it was the Liquorama.

Stephen Bunge

St Paul, MN

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10:15AM - Breakfast out

We always go to Sunday breakfast on our bikes, going for a ride and then stopping somewhere on the way back.

Here's the view about 9 miles southwest of our house:

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We go to IHOP a lot because it's close to our house, and there's also the usual chains: Baker's Square, Coco's, and also small chains or independents: Country Waffles, Gianna's, and Emil Villa's Hick'ry Pit.

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This is a small chain, and has been around forever. Even this location I think has been in Livermore for forty years. It seems almost stuck in time; they have a lunch counter, specialize in pork, and show almost no signs of realizing that they are in competition with IHOP. Sometimes, like today, that means waiting well over ten minutes after seating for someone to come and take our order. I usually don't mind slow service, as long as it seems intentional, but we needed to get back home. As usual, someone came by just seconds before I was about to climb on the table and ask, "Is anyone here interested in taking our order?!

I started with orange juice and cole slaw. Somehow every time I order it (going on a half-dozen times, by now) I'm surprised when it comes as freshly shredded cabbage with sweet horseradish salad dressing:

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A bit overdressed, but since I'm always expecting a cup of slaw on the side, I never remember to ask for it on the side.

It's early, but I really like their barbecque:

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BBQ pork loin (hard to see, but the smoke ring goes almost all the way to the center) that is moist, just the right amount of fatty, and less strongly smoky than you might expect. The sauce is a pretty standard, slightly spicy BBQ sauce, and since this is nominally a sandwich, two slices of white bread are underneat the meat and sauce. I pulled out one of the slices, because, this being eGullet, I was also in the mood for a side order of bacon. They make damn good bacon here. Thick but not too thick, not too crispy, not too chewy, and really smoky. I wish I had a better picture, 'cause this is some of the best bacon I've had. To quote the cowboy on the front of my menu, drawn by seven-year-old Ashley, "Yee haw!"

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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3:20PM - Lunch?

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Pizza and beer. The pizza is from my wife's trip to Gordon Biersch, accompanied by one of their garlic fries. The beer is a homebrewed porter. Porter is a dark style using lots of heavily charred flavoring grains, and in this case, a good dose of hops as well. This beer is not quite a year old, and is just starting to come into its own. The hop bitterness has moderated, and it finally seems to be a single unit. One of the things that I never expected about homebrewing is that my beers would take more than a couple weeks to be drinkable. The ability of the commericial guys to get theirs out the door in a month amazes me.

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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What year was this? I've only been consistently going to this market for a year, but I haven't seen anyone selling pink hardnecks (whatever that variety is, it's my favorite). I usually get mine from the nice Greek lady at the organic stand ($2 each!) or from the Asian produce stand ($.50). I'll keep an eye out for garlic guys, though.

It was 2001, all of my basenjis are getting up in years and now too old to show. Since my daughter is moving to Scotland it is doubtful I will get up to that area soon. I do envy you.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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It was 2001, all of my basenjis are getting up in years and now too old to show. Since my daughter is moving to Scotland it is doubtful I will get up to that area soon. I do envy you.

Hmm, that must explain it. The only place I've found the pink garlic lately has been the SF Ferry Farmer's market. Sorry you won't be in Pleasanton, but in all fairness Scotland is probably more scenic...

Snack around 5PM:

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Henry Weinhard's also makes a non-alcoholic root beer. Odd as this sounds, it has this buttery aspect to it that I really like, and the foam is much creamier than a regular non-brewed root beer.

Dinner around 7PM:

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Start with a skin-on filet of salmon, seasoned with salt, pepper, and whatever aromatics you have handy (we love fennel fronds or thyme) and drizzle with a thin coating of olive oil. Sear on high (550F in this case) for two minutes, then turn off all but one burner at med-low. It usually takes about 17 minutes all told, but the result is extremely tender salmon that shows no sign of being cooked entirely from one side. This cooking technique, like many others, came about by accident. I was searing the salmon, then left it to cook on the grill. After a while I went to check on it, and it wasn't done. I checked five minutes later, and it was barely cooked. Then I realized that the propane had run out, and the salmon had just been cooking on the residual heat from the grill. We couldn't believe how moist it turned out.

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I served this hot on Caesar salad, a dish we first had at Araxi, a restaurant in Whistler, British Columbia. Cold poached salmon on Caesar is OK, but this is much better. Good contrast between cool and hot. I served this with the Domaine de Fontsainte, which smelled amazing, like watermelon and mango. Unfortunately, it wasn't crisp like I was hoping. It tasted good, but didn't quite deliver on the mouthwatering promise of the aroma. Not that this stopped us from finishing the bottle.

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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I order the Tehama Gold from

this place

It is unfiltered and very fruity. You have to use it up rapidly, it loses a lot if left to stand for very long.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I want some of that great-looking olive oil...any of the farmer's market folks mail order??

I am so jealous of you californians...

Bariani has a website with a number to call in San Francisco for orders. So they might ship. They also list some retail outlets outside of California, if you happen to live near them. But yes, I'm even jealous of myself sometimes. I just don't deserve to be able to buy such good stuff so cheaply and so easily. I mean, there is a Whole Foods twenty minutes from my house, and I almost never go there!

7:08 AM - Breakfast

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One last bowl of Grain Shop, followed by a bowl and a half of Lucky Charms. With as much as I eat, I'm surprised I didn't run out of Lucky Charms and switch to the Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Speaking of which, I saw "75% less sugar" versions of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Trix in the supermarket last night, using Splenda as a sweetner. Yay! But the calorie content was the same as the regular stuff; all the removed sugar was now listed as "other carbohydrate" on the nutrition label. WTF?

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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OK, I held out as long as I could, but it's a Foodblog tradition:

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Grapey and Persimmon, our two- and one-year-old cats, respectively. Persy absolutely loves the basket I use to carry goods at the farmers' market, and hops in any chance he gets.

Hey, it's food related, they're named after food... :biggrin:

Walt Nissen -- Livermore, CA
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Charming kitties, Walt! Thanks for sharing -- I'm glad of that tradition.

And, to set the record straight, not ALL Wine Geeks like Scotch!

Maybe its 'cuz I'm a GIRL, but the joys of scotch have never thrilled me. I was briefly engaged to a man who prided himself on his 100-bottle collection of scotch, so no one can say I haven't tried good ones. By all accounts, I've had some of the most rare and expensive scotch available and all I seem to taste is burned tar (I'm told that is the peet moss flavor?) Whatever.

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That's a good looking porter. How long have you been homebrewing? My husband brews - has been doing it for about four years now. You must bottle all your beer if you're still enjoying a year old porter. How did you get started homebrewing?

My husband does a barleywine every year for Christmas. He just brewed this year's. I think we might still have a bottle or two of the 2002 vintage around, and definitely some of the 2003. Highly recommended.

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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Those tomatoes look amazing. I'm so jealous that you have them already. I can't wait for them to show up at the NYC greenmarkets.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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