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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

Overheard on the San Francisco Bay Area Boards

“The turnover is like the best croissant ever, buttery, flakey, and crunchy.”

“Pizza doesn’t get any simpler but more satisfying than this.”
-TNT Adventures

“This place puts the Burmese restaurants in SF to shame.”
- outrig8

Perfect Porchetta

“Funny how just a few years ago we were whining on this board about our unmet cravings for porchetta. Now it’s everywhere,” comments Melanie Wong.

So where should a lover of Italian roasted pork start?

Robert Lauriston says one of the best he’s had locally is at Sea Salt. It doesn’t seem to be a regular menu item, though. Great roasted pork can also be found at Oliveto, Camino, and Corso, he says.

jillyju reports enjoying “a quick but transcendant dinner” at Il Cane Rosso in the San Francisco Ferry Building, where the porchetta dinner is a way better deal than the $9 sandwich.

“For only $12.95 I was given a generous pile of the meat, with lots of crispy pieces of skin scattered on top and a juicy quality that I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced in a piece of pork. I don’t know that I have ever had such delicious pork, anywhere. It was incredibly well-seasoned, every bite was tender, and the skin was a decadent, crispy, fatty delight.” It comes with a small salad of microgreens in a lemony dressing and roasted Mariquita Farm potatoes with whole cloves of roasted garlic.

Several hounds recommend the porchetta at Napa’s Fatted Calf, and Robert Lauriston says, “I’ve had his roast pig at events, he’s a master.” But Melanie Wong disagrees: “I liked the flavor, but the piece of meat was quite dry and lean on the cut we tasted.” She also dings the tough skin, but thinks maybe a slice from a different part might’ve been better.

Melanie’s favorite is RoliRoti, the rotisserie truck that can be found at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market (they also have a storefront, Rotisario, at the Oxbow Market in Napa).

“I love Kitchenette’s porchetta sandwich,” says carfeng.

Sea Salt [East Bay]
2512 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley

Oliveto [East Bay]
5655 College Avenue, Oakland

Camino [East Bay]
3917 Grand Avenue, Oakland

Corso [East Bay]
1788 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley

Il Cane Rosso [Embarcadero]
1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco

Fatted Calf [Napa County]
644-C First Street, Napa

RoliRoti [Embarcadero]
1 Ferry Plaza, San Francisco

Rotisario [Napa County]
610 First Street, Napa

Kitchenette [Dogpatch/Potrero Hill]
958 Illinois Street, San Francisco
No phone available

Board Links: Where’s your fave porchetta?
Il Canne Rosso at the Ferry Building, SF

Ghosts of Piroshkis Past

At the Golden Orb in San Rafael, the family of a beloved piroshki maker is using her recipe to make delicious piroshki in five flavors: beef spiked with dill and chopped egg, Italian sausage with mushrooms and peppers, chicken pot pie, spinach Parmesan, and cabbage vermicelli, says Cynsa.

The piroshki progenitor is Caroline, of the now-closed Moosetta’s Russian Piroshki in Sonoma. (“Moosetta’s had the only piroshki that I considered even close to the quality of the long-closed House of Piroshki in SF,” says Mick Ruthven.) Caroline’s son, his daughter, and the daughter’s fiancé are collaborating on Golden Orb; it’s a real family business.

Golden Orb [Marin County]
811 Fourth Street, San Rafael

Board Link: Piroshki at the Golden Orb in San Rafael?

Gilding a Gold Rush Classic

The Gold Rush–era dish hangtown fry is taken to another level at Serpentine, says SteveG. Perfectly browned diced pancetta, briny Hama Hama oysters, and tender scrambled eggs contribute to the intense, balanced flavors. The home fries stand up too: crisp on the outside and fluffy and delicate inside. Hangtown fry is on the weekend brunch menu.

Serpentine [Dogpatch]
2495 Third Street, San Francisco

Board Link: Amazing Hangtown Fry at Serpentine, San Francisco

As Seen on TV!

As Seen on TV!

Roxanne Webber's Thanksgiving tips on timing out your dinner, what to do with the leftovers, and more. READ MORE

Why Can’t I Find My Favorite Wine?

Consumers tend to imagine wine being produced at a bucolic Napa vineyard by a guy in an apron, but that’s not necessarily so, says the Hungry Beast in “How Wine Became Like Fast Food.” Wine and spirits stores like Total Wine and BevMo! are making and marketing their own private-label wines now. “Such brands are highly lucrative,” writes Keith Wallace, “with profit margins often 20% higher than comparable wines.”

The trend isn’t limited to dedicated booze stores: “Trader Joe’s has its ‘Two Buck Chuck,’ Wal-Mart has its Alcott Ridge, and 7-Eleven has its Thousand Oaks Vineyards.” Retail chains love the private-label wines because Joe Glug-a-bottle starts to associate this wonderful grape beverage with the company that introduced him to it—and is tempted to stop by more often to get more.

Why Does Pumpkin Pie Weep?

Why Does Pumpkin Pie Weep?

Because it's sad that you're overcooking it. READ MORE

More Fake Diet Chocolate

More Fake Diet Chocolate

This week's mission: an aerated candy bar. READ MORE

Positively Degenerate Flourless Chocolate Cake

When it comes to flourless chocolate cake, there are two main types: dense and intensely chocolaty versus lighter-textured and -flavored. The dense type is made with whole eggs, while the lighter type calls for separated eggs, with the whites whipped and folded in. “I guess it comes down to whether you want a truffle-like experience, in which case you’d go with the whole egg recipe, or something a little more subtle like the ones with beaten whites,” says bear.

Among the rich and dense types, bear is a fan of David Lebovitz’s “lusciously smooth” chocolate idiot cake. “It’s incredibly easy,” she says. BobB loves Lora Brody’s bête noir, which is also easy (it’s made in a food processor) and “so rich that a one-inch slice is plenty.”

fern makes a different dense flourless chocolate cake, also called la bête noir. Lynndsey Rigberg tried it, and says it was almost too intense: “The Beast is indeed, the Beast. It had a wondrously smooth texture…it was almost like a chocolate pot de creme.”

Lynndsey Rigberg prefers the texture that comes from incorporating beaten egg whites. Martha Stewart’s recipe has “a light, but surprisingly chocolaty and rich texture,” she says. Nigella Lawson’s chocolate cloud cake is also fabulous, says bear.

Board Link: best flourless chocolate cake recipe?

Don’t Toss Your Fennel Tops

Don’t throw out fennel fronds and stalks once you’ve trimmed them from the bulb. Fennel fronds can be used like an herb to add a punch of fresh flavor to salads, or to finish dishes. “I sprinkled the chopped fronds over a sweet potato bisque and it made a huge difference in flavor,” says danna.

coll uses fennel stalks and fronds to stuff chicken or turkey cavities before roasting, and suggests adding an orange or lemon, too. ChristinaMason uses fennel trimmings to stuff whole fish before roasting, or lays them under fillets before cooking. goodhealthgourmet adds the stalks to the liquid when poaching fish.

Board Link: How do you use fresh fennel trimmings? Or do you?