Melanie Wong's Profile

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Sonoma County Egg Hunt: I Brake for Fresh Farm Eggs

Dateline: February 16, 2014

Bernier Farms, purchased at the Saturday morning Original Santa Rosa Farmers Market. http://bernierfarms.com/

Laying hens are a new addition to Bernier Farms. The chickens are not pastured, but they are fed all the organic vegetable trim from the farms. A mix of colors including blue eggs. These were big and very fresh with good flavor. Well-priced at $6/dozen.

Bernier sells at the Saturday Healdsburg farmers market and Tuesday afternoon Cloverdale community market.

about 19 hours ago
Melanie Wong in San Francisco Bay Area

San Jose, Half Moon Bay and Sausalito

Thanks for the reminder. Here's the thread dedicated to Iroriya if you'd like to add your experience.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9255...

Verbena on Polk, SF

Trying to squeeze in as much fresh okra as possible during its short season, two weeks ago my brother and I had a late dinner (10pm via opentable) at Verbena, a first time for both of us. Neither of us has been to its sibling in Berkeley. It was easy to park on Polk Street at that hour. The room was about half-full when we arrived a few minutes early. It was notably more subdued than the other places we’ve been eating late, making it feel more sophisticated and special occasion. The soundtrack for the night was 70s and 80s soft rock.

We asked our waiter for advice on how many plates to order. He recommended four or five depending on the mix of smaller to large plates for the two of us. When I expressed my preference for a non-sugary cocktail with brown spirits, he suggested the Octavia Boulevard, $11, made with bourbon, Gran Classico, amaro and orange, that I enjoyed.

Sprouted seed bread, $9, chevre, peppers and onions. When I saw the two slices, I couldn’t help think of our city’s infamous $5 toast. Yet, this turned out to be incredibly dense with seeds, almost a nut bar, and a course unto itself with the roasted onions and peppers.

Padron and shishito peppers with okra, $16, fresh cow peas, fermented lime mayonnaise, curry leaf. Cut into smallish bits and seared, the dry-fried okra had very little sliminess. This dish, however, was all about the peppers and we did not run across any spicy hot ones. Overall this tasted like a well-made South Indian dal embellished with some creamy richness.

Tomato and fennel, $17, seaweed-cashew tonnato, lobster mushroom & saffron
vinaigrette, rice cracker. Hunks of yellow heirloom tomatoes had little flavor. But the cashew “tonnato” with a briny element from seaweed almost made up for it. The seaweed repeated in the dusting on the rice cracker “leaves” and some crackly pieces of sea vegetables. Carefully seared mushrooms added earthy depth.

Meatballs and clams in fermented green tomato broth, $17, frying pepper, bok choy, new oil. Call us cretins, this omnivore dish was our favorite of the savory items. Chicken-pork meatballs were lean but tender. The lilting acidity made the broth extra delicious and I wish a slice of toast had been served alongside.

Corn creamed in carrot juice, $24, huitlacoche, escabeche, serrano pepper, cranberry bean. Jokingly I asked our server the vintage of the beans (after reading the menu description of this year and last year’s shelling beans) and he confirmed that they’re fresh and harvested this year. William noted that the carrots escabeche had more nuanced seasoning than what I make at home or find at taquerias. The dish also had some whole mushroom caps and deliciously smoky potatoes. The creamed corn was too sweet to eat much of and we were pretty full at this point in the meal.

Strawberry with tomato cake, $9, angelica, white chocolate, buttermilk, lemon balm ice cream. Dish of the night and the one that did not feel overpriced. Triangles of light and crumbly tomato-studded cake were heavily toasted. The fragrance of the lightly macerated strawberries perfumed the plate.

The two-top table felt small, and it took some coordination to remove plates before serving the next dish, which the host and waiter managed to do without fail. I did have to request a change of share plates. Service overall was very good.

Everything we tried had some smoky, seared or charred notes that introduced the depth and complexity often missing from vegetable dishes. And emulsions or nut butters added satisfying richness. The cuisine was certainly enjoyable but I did not get the same “wow” factor of my first meal at Napa’s Ubuntu, for example. My next visit will probably be for dessert and a sweet wine at the bar.

While serving size is not huge and individual prices seem on the high side, our tab for two with one cocktail, tax and tip (and some food leftover) came to $137. That’s comparable to what we’ve spent at State Bird Provisions or Cotogna, so it’s not out of line. In fact for ambiance and service level, it tops both of those spots.

http://www.verbenarestaurant.com/

San Jose, Half Moon Bay and Sausalito

When I'm in the South Bay, I'm chowing on Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, or non-Canto Chinese. I'm sure I'm missing out on other things, but those have been the things that stand out for me vs. San Francisco.

Whole pig dinner similar to Incanto?

If it's a private party, have you thought about contacting Porcellino (Incanto's successor) and asking for a whole pig in the Dante Room?
http://www.porcellinosf.com/group-din...

Queso Pop Up Ad

Could you please explain your policy for pop-up ads that take over the whole screen?

It was helpful when Pat explained here about what's acceptable for size of ads,
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9875...

1 day ago
Melanie Wong in Site Talk

East Bay Seasonal Ingredients with Great Wine List?

It's been a number of years since my last meal at Acquerello.

From the website:

• Dress Code

Our dining room is a formal environment, jackets are suggested for gentlemen, and the equivalent attire for ladies.

Please, no t-shirts, shorts, sneakers or flip-flops.

East Bay Seasonal Ingredients with Great Wine List?

It's a lovely wine list, isn't it? I tried 1760 for the first time two months ago. I had a very hard time choosing our dinner wines, I wanted to order everything!

For an Italian list (and strong on Champagne and Vintage Port too), check out its parent, Acquerello.
http://www.acquerello.com/wine_list/w...

Sonoma County Egg Hunt: I Brake for Fresh Farm Eggs

Dateline: January 23, 2014

Field of Greens, 1777 W. Watmaugh Rd, Sonoma http://sonomafieldofgreens.com/ , following up sonomajom's tip. The farm was in the midst of setting up a new farmstand as the honor box had been hit too many times by dishonorable thieves, so things might look different now. The medium size brown eggs were $4.75 per dozen and looked on the small side of mediums. The eggs were fresh but rather bland in taste.

Sonoma County Egg Hunt: I Brake for Fresh Farm Eggs

Dateline: December 21, 2013

I returned to Wise Acre Farm to find the egg vending shed gussied up for the holidays and equipped with a refrigerator, not just an ice chest. And there's more information about their feed and husbandry practices. One of the owners pulled up while I was there and he talked about the plans for expansion. At that point the venture was still not large enough to be a full-time job and both had other jobs to make ends meet.

I wanted to see if these eggs were as good as I remembered, and they were even in winter. No double yolks this time of year, but still a very rich and buttery flavor.

are CHILES EN NOGADA available anywhere yet?

Just in time for El Grito de Dolores (Mexican Independence Day), September 16.

Spicy Legend, new Sichuanese on Clement -- anybody tried it? [San Francisco]

I've had the cold raw bitter melon with honey at Grand Hot Pot Lounge.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/929582

Pupusas : SFBA Dish of the Month September 2014

Here's my post from a couple years ago on the pupusas I've tried in East Oakland. The problem I had with Casa Jimenez is that the curtido and sauce was spooned over my pupusa before it was served to me.
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8762...

I've wondered the same about Los Planes de Renderos in Hayward. I had ambitions of hitting it after my stop at Las Cabañas, but I really can't eat more than one pupusa in short order. ;)

Pupusas : SFBA Dish of the Month September 2014

Pupuseria Las Cabañas, Hayward

Two weeks ago I had an appointment in Hayward and finally stopped in at this pupuseria that I've been meaning to try for a couple years now. It's a full-service restaurant, pretty large, with a full menu of comida Salvadoreña y Mexicana.

Pupusas can be ordered as singles here. Corn flour ones are $2.50 apiece and rice flour pupusas are $2.75. I almost always order rice ones when available, and I did again with the cheese and zucchini filling.

Cooked to order and scrumptious, the pupusa was filled generously and some of the cheese leaked out for a frico-like effect. The curtido's served in buckets and the red tomato salsa's in a syrup dispenser to help yourself. Curtido was on the fresher end of the spectrum with crisp cabbage cut into long, thickish strands, a moderate amount of Mexican oregano and some red chile flakes. I liked the tomato salsa which also had a little warmth to it. September's a good time for pupusas as DOTM as tomatoes are at peak for making this fresh style of sauce.

I started with an empanada de leche, $1.75. The milky custard layered between two slabs of solid plantain was too stiff. And to drink, atole de elote, $4.99 for a small size.

Pupuseria Las Cabañas
30030 Mission Blvd., Suite 113
Hayward, CA
510-489-0306

Rohnert Park to SF --- what to eat along the way?

Not breakfasty? A shame since Petaluma is the egg and butter capital...

Why reservations are so tough at State Bird Provisions, SF?

Yes. They're actually mostly large trays. There is a printed menu, actually two. When you sit down you're presented with a menu that has about half the dishes that are available that night. You can order those and also select from the circulating dishes. Then as things start to slow down, the second menu comes out that has the list of what was passed on the trays and you're welcome to order what you want. A couple or three items might be crossed off if they're sold out for the night.

Last week we ordered something from the passed dish menu that turned out to be sold out. Our server was extremely apologetic about this and that it had not been crossed off the menu. He asked us to pick another dish that would be on the house to compensate. I thought that was really above and beyond in customer service as I really don't expect everything to be available after 11pm at night. One of our desserts might have been comped too.

Both my dinners here have been at 10pm. Lingering until close to midnight, I've never felt rushed, and there have been other customers still at their tables too. This is in marked contrast to restaurants that accept reservations for that hour, then are stacking up the chairs and tapping their feet waiting for you to leave.

Mustards Grill: My Theory [Napa]

Mustards Grill is in Napa, not St. Helena.

Queso Pop Up Ad

I've run across other pop-ups on my iPhone for Target and Delta Airlines today. If I clicked "continue", then another ad came up! I could not get out be clicking on the back button and eventually just had to close the window and open a new one.

Sep 15, 2014
Melanie Wong in Site Talk

East Bay Seasonal Ingredients with Great Wine List?

I've not eaten there, but you might want to contact Heirloom Cafe and ask to see its list of older vintages.
http://heirloom-sf.com/wine/
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/897311

1760 Restaurant has 1999 Ponsot Griotte-Chambertin on its list.
http://static.squarespace.com/static/...

K&L (retailer) issued its older wine inventory today in case you want to buy something and pay corkage at a restaurant of your choice.
http://www.klwines.com/staff/3005pdf/...

The above are all in San Francisco.

Benkyodo in San Francisco's Japantown [San Francisco]

Reminder: Benkyodo is closed for vacation starting today, September 15 to September 27. It will reopen on Monday, September 29.

San Jose, Half Moon Bay and Sausalito

I haven't been to Gokaku yet, want to. ;)

Restaurant Guo Cui [Cupertino]

I just learned that it has closed and another restaurant has taken over the space. We tried it a year ago with my mom and aunt. We liked the food quite a bit but the service was terrible with wrong orders, mix up on the check, fumbling at the table, spilling food on us, and just about everything that could go wrong did. But I'm sorry that I won't be able to eat the Lanzhou style noodles again.

Photos:
https://www.flickr.com/search?user_id...

Search: Problems, bugs and suggestions

I just tried to find something. No results at all. The search engine must be down.

Sep 15, 2014
Melanie Wong in Site Talk

San Jose, Half Moon Bay and Sausalito

Oh, yes, I hear you on the inconsistencies at both places. Too much of that in San Francisco as well.

Why reservations are so tough at State Bird Provisions, SF?

One wrinkle with SBP's opentable rules is the 12:00am cut off time for same day reservations. No last minute bookings possible via opentable.

On Tuesday we were headed to another restaurant in the neighborhood. I noticed that there was no one standing outside SBP at 9:55pm and decided to check with the hostess about a table. We got a table for two as a walk-in. The hostess said that the best time for walk-ins is to stop by between 9:45pm and 10pm. Tables come up when reservations cancel, folks who got on the list earlier in the day don't return, etc.

Dim Sum Club (Russian Hill, San Francisco)

What's the turnip dumpling like? Did you order the baked or steamed barbecue pork bun?

Dim Sum Club (Russian Hill, San Francisco)

I asked the next time I was in. Western breakfast is served from 7am to 10am. It's $12.95 per person for the breakfast buffet. The only eggs are hard-boiled. I asked whether it would be possible to order dim sum then, and no, it's not.

Dim Sum Club (Russian Hill, San Francisco)

I've had the shrimp rice noodle roll three times now and it has been perfect in texture. One time I did have leftovers that I refrigerated overnight and then resteamed the next day. Though it returned to its former softness, it did break apart. So it sounds like what you were served might have been reheated.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/melanie...

I didn't have good luck with the steamed spareribs either. Though they were meaty, not much in the way of seasoning, not even salt. Here's the photo:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/melanie...

Did you order the steamed or the baked pork bun?

Denied moon cakes, Chinese iPhone workers strike

Some times we wonder if anyone really likes these things. Guess so.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101986770

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/912489

Pumpkins . . . on the vine?

The other reason for pumpkins not attached to the vine is that they're imported from elsewhere. The number of visitors who travel to Half Moon Bay to buy pumpkins far exceeds the number of pumpkins that can be grown there.