susancinsf's Profile

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Favorite Ice Cream 2014

Quick trip passing through Oakland on our way to Sonoma this weekend and hubby and I tried Lush for the first time. I tried the mint/chocolate chip and orange cardamom; hubby had chocolate. I loved both flavor and texture, but oddly enough I thought it was way too cold, even on a warm day. (This was especially odd given that I thought the texture was great, neither too hard nor too soft, and definitely not icy) I found myself wondering how they kept it so cold without impairing the flavor...or is there something wrong with my tongue's temperature gauge?

As for favorite bay area ice creams generally, my sentimental favorite remains the baby coconut at Mitchell's...

about 8 hours ago
susancinsf in San Francisco Bay Area

Help needed: Bethesda for a smallish group

I realize that options might be limited, but I am looking for a place to take a party of eight, on a Wednesday night in late April, that would appeal to a variety of palates and dietary needs, none of which I will know in advance. Prefer mid-range with entrees of up to $25 and a good list of wines by the glass, but flexible on price point. Also flexible on type of cuisine: as I say, the group may have differing tastes, but I suspect most will be reasonably adventurous.

Bonus points for proximity to the Metro. We will be staying in North Bethesda and taking Metro might be easiest, although a cab is also a possibility with a group that large.

As for myself, I'd love seafood, but good food, reasonably quiet (meaning we can talk without shouting) tops all.

Thanks for any help!

Susan

about 18 hours ago
susancinsf in Washington DC & Baltimore

Noah's Vietnamese Fusion Merced?

Thanks Melanie! I should have remembered to put the address...now that I've had a chance to look at the FB page photos, I am wondering if dishes like the shrimp ceviche are the source of the 'fusion' in the title. The banh xeo is definitely calling my name.

Mar 27, 2015
susancinsf in California

Noah's Vietnamese Fusion Merced?

Just found out that a new Vietnamese place opened in town, on 18th Street (where La Nita's used to be. No big loss there.)

Anyway, of course I would find this out while I am traveling...so I won't be able to get there for at least a week or two, but it has been opened for several months, and most exciting of all, has a full menu, not just a pho place...menu includes Banh Xeo, one of my comfort foods of choice but which until now I've had to drive at least sixty miles from home to get. The friend who finally spilled the beans on this new place and whose taste tends to match mine says the food was delicious. He vouched for the cornish game hen. Could that dish be the source of the 'Fusion' in the name?

Please report back if you get there before I do!

Mar 27, 2015
susancinsf in California

Oso Restaurant, Sonoma

Up in Sonoma visiting family, Hubby and I had a late-ish dinner at Oso last night. It is crowded and noisy (although at least tables are reasonable well spaced along the wall) and hubby would still willingly go back, which attests to the quality of the food. :-) Service was great all the way around: friendly, attentive and well-paced. I didn't notice any tables bigger than four tops; not sure if it would be a good place to take a group.

The deviled eggs and cheese plate are still on the menu (we didn't try either, though the cheese tempted as always), but I wouldn't call the menu limited at this point. Emphasis on seafood options which made us valley-living-good-seafood-deprived folks happy. No tasting menu though.

We tried: oysters rockefeller, shrimp and grits with bacon, clams and chicken meatballs in broth with buttered toast, lamb merguez meatballs. Yes, you can see a theme for us: seafood and meatballs, my favorites. Those chicken meatballs, flavored with ginger, were particularly good, making the dish memorable even if the broth was a bit salty, and the lamb was delicious. The shrimp and grits was light on shrimp, but that is probably fair since bacon was advertised on the menu as the lead ingredient, and the bacon was great, shrimp cooked perfectly.

We shared everything small plates style, portions were more like medium plates as is mentioned in another post. Too full for dessert after sharing four plates.

Hubby wasn't drinking, but I enjoyed two local wines by the glass, generous pours. Not a huge BTW offering, but nice. I barely glanced at the list of bottles but prices seemed reasonable.

Total with tax, generous tip, two glasses of wine and a large bottle of Perrier (only $5, kudos for taking care of the non-drinker, though he would have preferred a local sparkling water), was $104. I think that is reasonable for the location right on the square, quality of the seafood, and care in the kitchen. Will definitely return.

Los Pepes Reno

I'm there. Encourage them to keep the albondigas on the regular menu. :-) I hope the huevos rancheros also use those tortillas.

Mar 12, 2015
susancinsf in Southwest
1

Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park - Boysenberry Pie (summer dessert) for over 50 yrs - who's tried it?

FWIW, my fairly recent (October) brunch at the Ahwahnee was very good. To be honest, I didn't pay much attention to the desserts on the brunch spread: I was more interested in the roast beef and the blintzes. :-) Eggs Benedict were also quite good.

After all, it isn't boysenberry season, as verslibre points out. How was the rest of the meal?

Mar 06, 2015
susancinsf in California

Best tacos along Hwy 99?

Hubby and I recently stopped for an early dinner at the Sal's in Madera, and wasn't that impressed, although the service was lovely. based on your comments below, perhaps i should have tried the short ribs.

Feb 28, 2015
susancinsf in California

Lemon thief

I have had fig trees in two different homes (I count my current home where it is technically actually the neighbor who has the fig tree, but he doesn't trim it and several large branches are well over the fence and within my yard...). In any case, birds have never eaten the figs (though as I mentioned earlier, they love those cherries!). Sadly, what we don't eat or give away falls off the tree and becomes compost.....

Jan 29, 2015
susancinsf in Gardening

Best tacos along Hwy 99?

of course it is closer to the bay area :-) but yes, one more indication that secretly, I LOVE LA! :-)

Jan 20, 2015
susancinsf in California

Best tacos along Hwy 99?

A place I really want to try one of these days is Birria Apatzigan, off the Ave 200 exit near Tulare...I've driven by several times and it is calling my name. Next time I will stop. Would love reports if anyone gets there before I do...

Birria Apatzingan
1066 Rankin Ave, Tulare, CA 93274

I had another excellent meal at La Perla Tapatia on Delano on my last trip up/down the 99.

Jan 20, 2015
susancinsf in California

The Hundred-Foot Journey

-If you put your mind to it, you too can make the 5 mother sauces with no training and be spot on the first time!-

My take on that was quite to the contrary: that he actually read about and practiced those sauces for quite some time before presenting them, and in any case, he wasn't untrained. Untrained in French techniques perhaps, but not untrained as a chef (and the entire movie was based on the premise that he had exceptional talent besides).

- When in doubt, open an Indian restaurant directly across the street from a Michelin-starred restaurant, and be sure the smell of curry wafts up every patrons nose as they tuck into their foie.

Yeah, well, that was the basis for the story line, no?

- apparently, when you're from India, and now the lead chef at one of Paris's most revered restaurants, you have no idea how to satisfy that Indian food craving. WTF??? Again, because Googling doesn't exsist?

Again, perhaps I read more into it, but I took this scene to mean something else entirely: it wasn't that he had no idea how to satisfy the craving...rather, it was that he was so engaged in what he had become that he (temporarily) forgot or rejected his roots....and hence until that moment didn't have any (or wasn't aware of) Indian food cravings.

I thought it was a cute movie. Not the greatest food movie ever, certainly, but cute.

Lemon thief

and then there are the birds that steal my cherries....hubby says I look like a crazy lady each spring when I chase after them yelling and waving my rake/cherry picker contraption he made for me to get the cherries on the higher branches (basically a rake with a bucket attached to catch the cherries I rake....). Of course, since the birds can easily reach the higher branches without a rake contraption, I'd be perfectly fine with sharing if they limited themselves to the cherries at the very top of the tree. No such luck. (although this thread has me wondering if perhaps the birds had help from squirrels...)

We had perhaps a hundred lemons this year: quite a haul. I was upset when hubby took it upon himself to harvest almost all of them at once, as I much prefer OPs planned approach of picking a few when I need them. After reading this thread, I am not so upset. Lots of lemonade and preserved lemons in my future!

Jan 19, 2015
susancinsf in Gardening

Lemon thief

I have a producing lemon tree, although I've never had this problem...I was sure you were wrong to not suspect the neighbors (it isn't near one of those fences, is it? ) but sources on the internet claim that small and not so small animals, including rabbits, squirrels, possums, raccoons and even deer and coyote will eat lemons....

Jan 19, 2015
susancinsf in Gardening

Problem with crashing/exposed code OS 10.10.1 & Safari

I've been having the same issue.

Jan 19, 2015
susancinsf in Site Talk
1

Little Saigon, Sacramento?

No need to apologize, just wanted to paint the picture for others who feel like exploring the area. I spotted several interesting possibilities, but one definitely needs a car for the explorations! Hope you have a chance to try the goat curry soon....

Jan 18, 2015
susancinsf in California

Little Saigon, Sacramento?

REPORT BACK: My appointments took longer than expected and we ended up at Thein Phu at dinner time….they close at eight, but happily we made it there by 7:30. As a side note, overall Little Saigon (at least what we could see of it on a foggy night) was somewhat of a disappointment: I was hoping for an area where one could walk up and down the street, checking out the shops and restaurants and such, but it appeared to me to be a series of strip malls, scattered over a large area.

Then Phu Is located in a half empty strip mall, and was a large bare-bones room. To be honest, it appeared a bit unwelcoming from the outside, and the neighborhood seemed a bit lonely in the fog, (especially since we were the only customers most of the time we were there) but as noted in the Bee Review, once inside the welcome we got was warm, and service was very fast and friendly, with smiles all around.

The menu is more limited than I would have hoped, but there are a number of goat dishes, obviously the specialty. Other than the goat options, there is pho, a very few appetizers, and some rice plates. No banh xeo here. No alcohol either, but I had a lovely fresh coconut juice; lemonade for hubby.

Started with spring rolls: an average version, but with above average, flavorful fish sauce for dipping. Of course we had to have goat curry soup, served with rice noodles on the side, and hubby, who was craving beef, also ordered a kalbi rice plate (just listed as ‘Korean bbq rice plate’ on the menu).

The goat stew, not surpisingly, was the winner, although it was a yellow curry (not the deep orange/red in the restaurant review photo). Still, it was rich and delicious, and spicy. The goat meat was in small chunks and was very tender, although unlike noted in the review, pieces were off the bone. Somewhere in between a stew and a soup in consistency. Every drop disappeared in a hurry. The beef short ribs were average, served with a scoop of rice, fresh lettuce, cucumber, carrots. Total for our dinner including tax and tip was about $40. A satisfying and quite filling meal on a cold night.

I’d definitely go back to have the goat curry again and to try more of the goat dishes.

I will be back in Sacramento soon and also hope to try more options in the area, which is convienent when one is coming to or from Merced (because of its south side location off the 99). Any more tips? Thanks all!

Jan 17, 2015
susancinsf in California
1

Little Saigon, Sacramento?

that goat curry looks pretty good, I have to say. Thanks! Any other leads?

Jan 12, 2015
susancinsf in California

Restaurant for a smallish post wedding dinner - 4 children included

There was a party of six or seven in that room when I was there a few weeks ago. And yes, I've seen larger parties there more than once; including at least once when they wouldn't seat me back there because they said a group had the entire room. (it is my favorite room at Aziza). Note that by 'back room' I mean the one at the higher elevation, up a ramp and furthest from the bar. Depending on how one defines 'back' there could be two back rooms, so just want to be sure we are talking about the same one.

Little Saigon, Sacramento?

Driving home from an appointment in Sacramento the other day, I was surprised to see signs directing one to 'Little Saigon' at the Stockton Ave. (I think?) exit off of 99...apparently this was a fairly recent designation: http://www.saclittlesaigon.com/

So, I will be back in Sacramento Wednesday, and Vietnamese food is nearly impossible to find in my new home town of Merced (we have many SE Asian restaurants, but they are almost all Thai or Laotian). So, always interested in Vietnamese when I travel. I would love to hear your suggestions on the best of Little Saigon, especially for Vietnamese crepes and for places open mid-afternoon, since that will likely be my best window for exploration. I promise to report back on wherever I go. Thanks hounds for your input!

Jan 12, 2015
susancinsf in California

Restaurant for a smallish post wedding dinner - 4 children included

I don't know if you'd call it too 'ethnic' but I'd consider the back, upper room at Aziza. Parking not easy but they have valet. Ten to twelve would be a significant chunk of (but probably not all) the back room, and it has a private, cozy feel with long banquettes, lots of pillows, room to stretch out and is quieter than the rest of the restaurant. It also has a special feel with terrific service, and the food is definitely celebration caliber. Hubby and I had dinner there not long ago, everything was delicious.

Retire where?

As I say, I'd rather have rain than humidity. And some areas of Oregon are actually quite dry (although those are the areas away from the coast for the most part, if you want to be on the beach. They are also the cheaper areas to live. Generally speaking in the Western US the further you are from the coast, the cheaper the housing).

Keep in mind that. unlike on the East Coast, rain is more common in winter than in summer and comes in the form of storms. Not necessarily an everyday thing, but that does depend upon where you are.

Personally, I think people in Oregon gripe about the rain because they need some sort of weather to gripe about and well, that is about it, other than mild winters, long summers....and they don't want the rest of the world to realize how good they have it and move there.

All that said, while I've considered Portland for retirement, right now I am leaning towards staying where I am (Central California, not ideal by your standards but close to more expensive ideal locales) or going further west to a place it rains even more (the wet side of the Big Island of Hawaii :-))

Jan 08, 2015
susancinsf in Not About Food

Retire where?

"The search goes on. I understand I will not find a place with perfect weather, great walkability, a population of 25,000, two bookstores, a college, farmers market, low crime, a Trader Joe's, and a downtown loft condo for $90,000. But that sounds good!"...

I don't know....other than the fact that you won't find a population that low with a Trader Joe's and two bookstores (and personally I'd not care about the TJ's), there are places that come pretty close to that description in Oregon. Even in California if you look hard, though costs are higher: still, you could probably get a condo for $100K in my small (80,000) California town, and of the items on your list we have walkability in the right neighborhoods, decent weather, one independent bookstore and one big chain bookstore, one college and one university (I don't include the university book store in my count), and a farmer's market (two farmer's markets, actually, and a lot of farm stands, since we grow so much of the nation's produce around here). You can't have everything but IMO walking in cool rain is more pleasant than walking in the humidity.

Personally, especially if weather is important, I think you are concentrating on the wrong coast.

Jan 08, 2015
susancinsf in Not About Food

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

darn search function (or non search function): I can't find anything I posted about Montreal. Google not much help either. I know I ate at Laloux, which at the time was highly regarded (not sure about current status, I see they've had some chef changes). Anyway, I remember it as being fine, but not remarkable. I seem to remember that my best meal in Montreal was at a Portuguese restaurant. I ate alone at the counter, and suspect based on the description and location on Rue Peel that it was Ferreira Cafe, but I can't swear to it. ..

Jan 04, 2015
susancinsf in General Topics

March vacation with good local produce?

Did you see this post:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1000...

Difference is, that OP is from California, and wants to go somewhere other than CA. But for you assuming that you are in Boston as your profile implies, almost any California location would work. I'd consider Sonoma, personally....

Jan 04, 2015
susancinsf in General Topics

Mandatory municipal composting: how do you handle your food scraps?

Shortly after SF went mandatory, hubby found a compost garbage bin, and I love it. It is SMALL, about the size of a gallon milk jug maybe (but shaped like a garbage bin). Think pail with a liner. It fits under my sink, and has a plastic liner with a handle that you just pull out (so can empty whenever you want into the bigger compost bin that goes out with the garbage). The plastic liner is hard, can stand on its own on the counter when I am cooking, and scraps just go right into it. Empty when full, put it back into the bin. No need for compostable bags! After emptying, rinse it out. Now that we are out in the boonies, we have a compost pile in the very back of the yard, so we just rinse it with the garden hose.

I recently house sat for someone with the type that takes a bag liner. Didn't like it nearly as much. More hassle, and it was smaller than ours, plus it was designed to fit on a cabinet door (not free standing) A bit of online searching should come up with something similar. Edited to add: I just looked and see they now make similar ones with charcoal filters for smell...once we got used to it, I never looked back, even now that composting is not mandatory where we live (although the garbage company does provide a compost bin and will take it; again, because we have our own pile, and a garden that loves the compost, we almost never use that bin...)

further edited: regarding your concern re: dampness/condensation: granted we live in a fairly dry climate, but that hasn't been an issue, perhaps because the outer bin is ventilated.

Jan 04, 2015
susancinsf in Not About Food

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

I will try and look up where I ate in Montreal..I may have reported back because I really did try to look to CH for guidance. And by the way, while the neighborhoods I was in may have been a factor (I was there for work, and stayed mostly downtown although I did venture out a bit), I heard at least as much English on the street as French. (since you mention wanting a French atmosphere). and the best low end restaurants I ate at (still nothing outstanding, but better than average) were Asian and Middle Eastern, not french. The old town is supposed to be more European but I thought it was just touristy. (Although at least the shops were cute, not just tacky t-shirt places...)

I do have Tunisian in laws in Montreal and know there is a vibrant Arabic/North African community. (same could be said of Paris, of course). If you do end up going there I could probably come up with some North African recommendations for you. As for 'out of the way' in NOLA: when I was there even the places well away from Bourbon street had a party atmosphere (and we were with locals btw; at the time my nephew lived there and showed me around. I loved NOLA, but just not sure the kids would love it as much...).

Jan 03, 2015
susancinsf in General Topics

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

yes, thanks, I somehow missed that paragraph, and apologies. That said, it doesn't really change my thinking much, especially since the OP mentions liking to spend time outdoors. NOLA and Austin, IMO, can't hold a candle to Vancouver or Portland when it comes to outdoor activities, although they definitely are high on the list for activities of the indoor type (but many of those of course tend to be more adult-oriented activities...). In that regard, weather would be a factor, depending upon the time of year for this vacation. I wouldn't want to do NOLA or Austin in the summer....

Jan 03, 2015
susancinsf in General Topics

North American destination city for culinary vacation with young kids?

One big question that you might want to ask yourself: is this trip really primarily about food, or do you want fun, family centered activities along with great regional food? Since you say you want a culinary vacation perhaps it is the former, but even with the most adventurous five and eight year old I'd think that activities for the kids would be important to keeping everyone happy between meals, and I think it could make a difference in your final destination decision.

My thoughts, for whatever they are worth:

I tried to follow hounds' advice for places to eat, but generally speaking, Montreal was one of my more disappointing recent trips (or fairly recent, I should say: my trip was perhaps four years ago). Granted, I had high expectations (Perhaps too high?), but they weren't met. Apart from the food not wow'ing (and of course, I could have chosen all wrong, even though several of the places I tried came highly recommended on these boards) I didn't find it to be nearly as interesting of a destination as I'd hoped. For that matter, if it is the french atmosphere you are seeking, I didn't get as much of that as I'd hoped. From a food and from a tourist perspective I've enjoyed both Vancouver (which is always at the top of my list of favorite places anywhere) and Toronto much more (and apologies to the Montreal hounds, but that was my experience....). If I were to go back, I'd head straight to Quebec City (which I haven't been to and would like to visit) and probably skip Montreal. I am sure someone can explain why I am wrong.but...

Speaking of Vancouver: it is one of the world's most beautiful cities, IMO, with lots of fun stuff for kids and adults to do, and you could eat wonderfully even if you chose to avoid the Asian places due to the peanut allergy....

Portland is also high on my list, both for food and for activities, and very kid friendly, I think.

Regarding New Orleans: great food on three visits, most recently not quite two years ago, but really, for me it is about the food and the music and the party atmosphere, so unless all you will be doing is eating (and if that is your plan, I'd *definitely* choose it over Montreal!) I don't know whether or not kids would enjoy it as much as some of the other options. (but then, I've never been with kids, other than grown up ones, so I am possibly the wrong person to judge).

Austin is mentioned in replies: I was there two years ago, and was very, very impressed with the food scene, even then. However, when I visited it as a kid (regularly) I didn't find the non-food activities to be that interesting: Barton Springs is great in summer, but then you are dealing with summer weather, no small thing for someone from California. Again, you'd have to research what is new in the fifty years since I was a kid ( :-)) but on my recent trip it struck me as being more akin to New Orleans: all about the food, and the music...

Have to say though, back when my kids were kids, which is a LONG time ago, my most successful food centered trip with child was the one I took to New York City with my son when he was ten. He had a blast, and so did I, and of course the food possibilities are nearly limitless..

Have fun wherever you end up!

Jamestown, Sonora and other Gold Country options?

Thanks so much for the report on a few places not too far from us in Merced. Friends have told me that they think Louie's Saloon is a fun place, and I've been meaning to check it out, but they neglected to mention the prime rib sandwich! It just went to the top of my list to try...

One small nitpick, just to give the Central Valley its due: Hops of Wrath is actually brewed in Turlock, California, in Stanislaus County in the heart of the Valley (not Tuolumne), at the Dust Bowl Brewery: http://www.dustbowlbrewing.com/beers/

And speaking of the Dust Bowl, it really isn't all that far from La Grange, so if you like Hops of Wrath you might find it worthwhile to check out the rest of their selection. Good pub food as well, right on Main Street in Turlock.

In Sonora, I've enjoyed lunch at Talulah's. And, if you check out Columbia, the bakery right in the State Park, Columbia Kates, has very good baked goods. Columbia can be very crowded and touristy, but the front yard at Columbia Kate's is a nice respite....

Jan 02, 2015
susancinsf in California