Ruth Lafler's Profile

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Grocery Outlet -- September 2014

I've seen those, but I haven't reported them because I don't think either of those prices is particularly good.

about 16 hours ago
Ruth Lafler in San Francisco Bay Area

A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

I think her point about the reservations is that there are places she's wanted to try but never been to because it's too hard to get a reservation, so she's planning ahead.

Talking Oakland, I think Haven might be an option as well. IIRC, grayelf is not a fan of loud restaurants, which would eliminate Boot and Shoe and Pizzaiolo. Also not sure either is worth a trip from SF, especially since they aren't walking distance from BART.

about 21 hours ago
Ruth Lafler in San Francisco Bay Area

Best restaurants in SF for 120-person wedding reception dinner and dance party?

I think you really need to go with a venue + caterer. For one thing, that gives you more flexibility to control costs. Oakland Parks and Rec has several lovely and reasonably priced facilities. http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government...

There's also the Kaiser Center, which is only two blocks from 19th Street BART. http://www.kaisercenterevents.com/wed...

about 21 hours ago
Ruth Lafler in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Mustards Grill: My Theory [Napa]

I'd put it slightly differently: there's been an increase in the volume of high quality ingredients, so more restaurants have access to them. And with the growth of farmers' markets bringing quality and variety to home cooks, more customers are demanding them.

I think we're all spoiled by just how high the *baseline* is here. I remember taking a friend from Virginia to a mid-level New American restaurant in Oakland. Her reaction was that she couldn't get food like this at home, or at least, nowhere except in a "fancy, expensive" restaurant.

SPQR or Perbacco? [San Francisco]

Pesce and Da Flora are Venetian. North Beach Restaurant claims to be Tuscan.

What is the best restaurant where the waitstaff does the most obnoxious birthday celebration?

Just clarifying that it's spelled Buca di Beppo.

Grocery Outlet -- September 2014

I bought the Hirten last year and liked it ("Very tasty, similar to an aged gouda"). Haven't revisited it this year, since I have a fridge full of artisan cheese I brought back from Vermont.

I wanted to mention that on the non-food side, they had the biodegradable disposable cutlery (cornstarch) for 99 cents a package. Also, I've been stocking up on the Happy Hips salmon jerky with glucosamine for my dog ($1.99)

69 cents/1.4 oz pouch CoCo Fresh coconut chips. I keep forgetting to mention these. I don't know how much they usually are, but the woman stocking up next to me said they were "really expensive at Whole Foods."

Grocery Outlet -- September 2014

Oakland still had a little of the President w/sea salt Sunday.

$1.49/qt Pacific Naturals organic cashew carrot ginger soup.

Cronuts?

After all the hype about cronuts last year, no one has posted about the fact that Jack in the Box now has cronuts (supposedly pretty good)?

First Dunkin' Donuts Lands in Santa Monica

After a few donuts on a recent trip East, I now understand why people say the donuts are better on the West Coast. They're all sad! The JitB cronuts look awesome, though.

Sep 15, 2014
Ruth Lafler in Los Angeles Area

Help! Is mini Bocconcini cheese supposed to taste like this??

Have you bought this kind of cheese before? Sometimes I do find fresh mozzerella/bocconcini to be bitter. Something about the brine. Obviously they shouldn't be THAT bitter. Just as an experiment, you might try rinsing them and soaking them in fresh water and see if the bitterness leaches out.

Sep 14, 2014
Ruth Lafler in Cheese

Mustards Grill: My Theory [Napa]

In a way it does, in a "greatest hits of the last 30 years," kind of way. Greatest hits are usually greatest hits for good reason, but it does read sort of like a giant cliche.

The Tyranny of the Home-Cooked Family Dinner  

I don't know any parents who feel that way -- that's just another form of parental paranoia. Maybe the real problem is that too many parents don't trust their own parenting judgement because they don't have realistic (i.e. not "experts" promoting perfect parenthood) parenting role models. Too many "experts" and too much TV and not enough wise grandmas!

Do you think wheat is "the root of all evil" or staff of life?

Ah, but I wasn't commenting on any specific remedy or type of remedy. I was commenting on the claim that "Any treatment that WORKS is automatically legitimate and effective." Because of the placebo effect anything *might* work, so using that logic, any treatment of any kind at all is "automatically legitimate."

Also, correlation is not causation: just because you got better doesn't mean the "treatment" was the cause of the improvement. I'll give you a personal example: many years ago I was suffering through the agonies of gallbladder attacks caused by tiny stones in the gallbladder and ducts. One afternoon during an attack I left work and was walking to my car when I caught the heel of my shoe on a crack in the sidewalk and stumbled forward with a sharp jerk. My immediate thought was, oh great, now in addition to my gallstones I have a sprained ankle, but a few seconds later, I realized that my gallstone attack was fading, and in a minute the pain was gone. Using the "if it works," argument, obviously stumbling and nearly falling on the sidewalk is a legitimate and effective treatment for gallstones! Everyone should try it! Who needs surgery, right? I mean, people might sprain their ankles or smash in their faces, but hey, it WORKS!

I actually mentioned this incident to my surgeon. He said he'd never heard of such a thing, but it was remotely possible I'd dislodged the stone. So see, even Western medicine agrees it might be an effective treatment!

Sep 12, 2014
Ruth Lafler in General Topics

The Tyranny of the Home-Cooked Family Dinner  

No kidding. When I was in school, kids didn't eat in class. You ate at lunch, maybe grabbed a snack after school. Now kids munch throughout the day.

Sep 12, 2014
Ruth Lafler in Food Media & News

The Tyranny of the Home-Cooked Family Dinner  

When you count elapsed time it's less, though. Part of it is just path of least resistance. Unless your kids are tiny, they can help make toast and scramble eggs (as can your partner). People are making the argument that as long as the family all sits down to eat, it doesn't matter how the food got there. But I suspect the reality is that people use convenience foods because they don't all sit down to eat: mom fixes food for the younger kids, the older kids fix something for themselves or grab fast food, mom and dad may or may not sit down and eat together, etc.

And then there's the idea that not everyone likes the same things. So freakin' what! Your house is not a restaurant. What ever happened to eating what you're served (or going to bed without, the two choices when I was growing up)? Parents would rather give up on the whole idea of having everyone eat together and let everyone eat what they want than tell their children to stop whining and eat what's in front of them. I blame television advertising for restaurants and convenience foods (or Gerber special "table foods") for promoting the ideal that every member of the family should eat exactly what he or she wants.

Sep 12, 2014
Ruth Lafler in Food Media & News

Mustards Grill: My Theory [Napa]

While I can't comment directly on Mustards, I made a similar argument about Chez Panisse not too long ago. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/980081

I will say, too, that there's a difference between choosing a restaurant as a local and choosing one as a visitor. As a visitor, the choice is between restaurant X and restaurants Y, Z, etc. As a local, it's between restaurant X, restaurants Y, Z, etc. and cooking at home, buying prepared foods, doing take out, etc. I live in the Bay Area -- delicious food is everywhere. So when I choose to spend a not-insignificant amount of time and money going out to eat, it's going to be for food that I can't make at home and/or get more cheaply and/or easily another way.

Do you think wheat is "the root of all evil" or staff of life?

You keep saying things like "My biggest gripe is the repeated, arrogant dismissal of things like diet and herbal medicines used to promote health, used successfully by many, including me and my family." But I don't see anywhere people are "arrogantly" dismissing things like that. Diet and "natural"/herbal treatments can have value, and I don't see anyone saying -- arrogantly or not -- that they can't. What they are dismissing is faddish, snakeoil-like panaceas .

The Tyranny of the Home-Cooked Family Dinner  

How is it any harder, though, than throwing a frozen pizza in the oven? It's not. Kids need to be fed every day, and some effort needs to go into that, regardless of how you ultimately accomplish that task. Furthermore, I don't know why it's suddenly impossible when women have been doing it for hundreds of years. Don't tell me that women didn't work before. Women have always worked. It's the post-WWII stay-at-home housewife who was not the norm!

Maybe instead of telling women it's tyranny to have to cook dinner, we should point out that it's tyranny that the bulk of the housework, cooking and childcare defaults to them while their husbands/partners "help" (I don't care how many of the guys here claim that they do all the cooking, etc. -- maybe you do, but you're not the norm: study after study shows that working moms spend a lot more time on those tasks than their husbands).

The Tyranny of the Home-Cooked Family Dinner  

Exactly. It's absurd to generalize from that example that home-cooked dinner is "tyranny" and "not worth it."

Sep 12, 2014
Ruth Lafler in Food Media & News

Suggestions for November Cheese of the Month

Didn't we do goat? I think we need to be more specific, like a certain class of goat cheeses (e.g., fresh, aged, soft ripened). I've noticed the more general topics don't get as good a response -- I think it's hard for people to get a good discussion going with a more general theme.

Sep 11, 2014
Ruth Lafler in Cheese

Local cheeses I bought on my vacation

Vermont Butter and Cheese Creamery Coupole and Cremont. I'm usually not a big fan of goat's milk cheeses, but I like both of these soft-ripened cheeses. The Coupole has a slightly firmer texture and has started to develop the gooey transitional layer between the exterior rind and the creamy interior. The flavor has a riper complexity. The mixed milk Cremont is aptly named: mild and lusciously creamy. I think I'd be more likely to buy the latter again, since if I wanted more aged character I'd buy a more aged cheese than the Coupole.

http://www.vermontcreamery.com/coupole-1
http://www.vermontcreamery.com/cremont-1

Sep 11, 2014
Ruth Lafler in Cheese

The Tyranny of the Home-Cooked Family Dinner  

Quote one: "Cooking is at times joyful, but it is also filled with time pressures, tradeoffs designed to save money, and the burden of pleasing others."

Just like anything having to do with running a household. Those same factors come to bear in any decisions you make about feeding your family. Time pressures, saving money and pleasing others are just as much a factor when deciding what prepared foods to buy or where to eat out.

Quote two: "While some wax nostalgic about a time when people grew their own food and sat around the dinner table eating it, they fail to see the invisible labor that goes into family meals."

Who are these "some" and why do the study writers believe these "some" don't see the invisible labor that goes into family meals? This is basically a strawman conclusion attributing unsubstantiated beliefs to unidentified people.

Quote three: "Being poor makes it nearly impossible to enact the foodie version of a home-cooked meal."

So? Does that mean they can't enact *any* version of a home-cooked meal. Even most foodies don't cook "foodie versions" on a daily basis. I think I'd qualify as a foodie. On the average day I spend 20 minutes (or less) fixing dinner. The microwave is my friend (slice up and nuke some veggies or a potato, throw it in a pan with some sliced up meat. Done). It doesn't have to be fancy to be tasty and more nutritious and cost-effective than fast food or convenience food.

Basically, this so-called "study" seems to be based on the flawed hypothesis that cooking dinner at home means putting on a foodie spread every night. Kinda makes you wonder how generations of humans managed to feed themselves if the only two alternatives are Taco Bell and Martha Stewart.

Am I the only one who lives in a magic house? A lighthearted look at ourselves & food safety

My housemate lives in my magic house -- her rice sits in the cooker -- unplugged -- for days. Which astonishes me because in my experience is like yours: rice will go bad pretty quickly.

Sep 11, 2014
Ruth Lafler in Not About Food

Am I the only one who lives in a magic house? A lighthearted look at ourselves & food safety

It's quite possible that putting food in the fridge leads to a false sense of security and leaving things too long (rather than eating them immediately). My housemate, who was born in China, has what I think are very odd refrigeration habits: she'll leave cooked food out overnight, and she'll leave cooked rice in the rice cooker for days, but she puts things like opened packages of crackers or potato chips in the fridge.

Sep 10, 2014
Ruth Lafler in Not About Food

Do you think wheat is "the root of all evil" or staff of life?

True. However, "placebo effect" is not a reliable basis for recommending anything to anyone!

Do you think wheat is "the root of all evil" or staff of life?

You could say that about a lot of conditions/diseases as well. As my sister once noted, since everyone dies, SOMETHING will always be the "major cause of death." The as causes of death are reduced and eliminated, others move up the ladder. More people die of heart disease than 150 years ago. That's because fewer people are dying of diseases affecting younger people (like childhood illnesses and childbirth).

Sep 10, 2014
Ruth Lafler in General Topics

Am I the only one who lives in a magic house? A lighthearted look at ourselves & food safety

Good for you! Unless they've been contaminated by bacteria during manufacture (which means they're unsafe regardless of the "use by" date), cheeses are pretty safe.

Sep 10, 2014
Ruth Lafler in Not About Food

Do you think wheat is "the root of all evil" or staff of life?

Where did I do that? You said: "Any treatment that WORKS is automatically legitimate and effective regardless of the presence or lack of any "gauntlet of replication, criticism, reevaluation and verifiable evidence" and I pointed out that there's such a thing as the placebo effect.

If something works for someone due to the placebo effect does that make it "legitimate" treatment that should be recommended for everyone?

I've actually argued that I don't care if something works because of the placebo effect, as long as it works (for me), but the fact is that the placebo effect is not reproducible or a reliable form of treatment.

Sep 09, 2014
Ruth Lafler in General Topics
1

Do you think wheat is "the root of all evil" or staff of life?

I think the pro/anti wheat issue is just a symptom of a larger issue with people being unable to make distinctions for themselves.

Clearly some people have health effects from wheat. Then someone comes along and writes a book, more people start to attribute whatever problems they have to wheat, and people start talking about gluten being a problem.

What happens next is what I see as the problem with people making distinctions: people who don't know anything about gluten hear on some talk show that gluten is bad. And so they start to believe that gluten is bad, with the corollary being that no gluten must be good. Thus, we come to the point we are now, where being "gluten-free" is presumed to part of "eating healthy."

How many posts have you seen on chowhound where someone asks about ideas for "eating more healthy," making assumptions about what that means (no fat, no sugar, no salt, no wheat, no red meat, etc.)(my favorite being the person who was concerned because all food seemed to have calories, and calories were bad!)? They don't understand anything about food, nutrition or their own bodies, they just want someone to give them some rules for what to eat (or not eat) that will automatically make them "healthy" in some undefined way.

Anyway, put me down with the people who point out that wheat has been a staple food for humans for milennia. To now believe that it's "poison" defies, among other things, natural selection, since it's clear that human digestive systems adapt to be more tolerant of foodstuffs available to them in their ecosystems: http://anthro.palomar.edu/adapt/adapt...