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Miss Otis's Profile

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Mustard oil—super fiery?

That may be the same sort of mustard oil used to flavor Italian mostardas (a sort of fruit preserve/chutney -- sweet and hot) and not available in the USA. The FDA is protecting us from it. Can't remember why. But, hey, if you find a source, please share.


Rijstafel in Bay Area

The Rice Table in San Rafael was my first taste, too. They did a shrimp dish with tamarind (udang goreng) that was memorably delicious and simple. And the after-dinner coffee was spiced to thrill me with cardomom and who-knows-what. Lovely people and place -- much missed.

Yehuda Matzos

Does anyone know of a place in Berkeley-to-Richmond to buy big 5-box packs of kosher-for-Passover Yehuda (brand) matzos? It tastes so good.

Steen's Molasses....opinion?

Lovely stuff. It has a smokey finishing taste which makes it a treat on biscuits or by the spoonful. That said, I've used it happily in cookies, cakes & baked beans.

Jan 22, 2014
Miss Otis in New Orleans

Favorite Berkeley Cheapish Dinner?

I'll second Cancun. It's on Addison between Shattuck & Oxford. They do the finest Carnitas tacos, a delicious carne asada torta and their salsa bar includes one with crushed toasted squash seeds and another with avocado. Tortilla soup is tasty and cheap and for some reasonable charge they'll put in hunks of avocado.


Metropolis Bakery in Berkeley makes a delicious rye bread with nigella seed (AKA chernushka, onion seed and various other names) as well as caraway. It's available at Berkeley Bowl West.

MARIGOLD Bouillon Powder?

Available on line via Amazon as 6-pack only for about $35. I'd like 1 to try it, but can't talk myself into 6 untasted.

Miss Otis

Pork fat

Um. I have a problem with $10/lb. so, yes, I'd like to do it myself. I've done it before with some combination of back fat and pig fat from unknown locations. It was easy to do and tasty and the crackling byproduct was a real treat.


Pork fat

I'm looking for an East Bay source for pork kidney fat to render for leaf lard. Any help will be greatly appreciated.


Osso Bucco - sub veal cutlet for shank

The poultry butchers in Catania, Sicily cut turkey legs & thighs across the bone and called the result "osso bucco di tacchino." It wasn't veal, and there's no marrow to play with but it tasted good treated as one would veal shank. It was best finished off with a generous handful of gremolata. I can see using the same cut for Chile Verde, or braised with salt-pickled lemons and harissa and whatever veg. over couscous, in a paella ...

Sep 25, 2009
Miss Otis in Home Cooking

Craving lamb sausages in the East Bay

Can any of you hounds recommend sources for tasty lamb sausages? I've done without since that fine deli at the corner of Hopkins and Monterey in Berkeley closed several years ago. I prefer shops to restaurants for the lower cost and higher entertainment value of cooking & serving my own food.

Thanks & cheers,
Miss Otis

Lamb sausage -- All sorts -- East Bay

Where in the East Bay can I buy lamb sausages? I'm missing the sort that were made & sold in the great deli that used to be on Hopkins St. in Berkeley where Magnani's is now. That being said, I'm interested in hearing about any lamb sausage you might have eaten and thought good.


Rye Bread in San Francisco

Metropolis Baking Co.'s New York Style Rye is the best I've had since I left Brooklyn. It has both caraway and 'black cumin' which is nigella or sometimes called onion seeds. The textures are good; substantial crust and a moist-but-not-soggy interior. Their web site includes a list of retail outlets in S.F. as well as elsewhere in the Bay Area.

Bread sticks/Breadsticks

Thanks for the suggestion, Anna. That's about the only place in Berkeley I didn't look for breadsticks during the past couple of days. I'll have a look or give them a call.

Bread sticks/Breadsticks

I used to get big, dry, rustic (lumpy, and sometimes a little too thick or thin or scorched) and delicious breadsticks from, I think, Malvina's bakery in North Beach. A few other places carried them as well, including at least one in Berkeley. Do they still exist? Does anyone know where I can get them or similar breadsticks in the Berkeley area? I want to take some to an S & B on Saturday.

The Great Bay Leaf Hoax

I have a Turkish/Greek/Mediterranean bay in a pot in the yard (in Berkeley, CA). When we got it, it was a stick. Now, 8 or 9 years along it's sort of Christmas tree shaped. I wanted a bay so I could have fresh bay leaves for a dish I read about somewhere 30+ years ago -- chunks of swordfish, tossed with salt, lemon and olive oil and threaded on skewers alternating with bay leaves all jammed together and touching. I use half a leaf between chunks which provides quite enough flavor and doesn't leave the tree bare. Grill over wood or charcoal. Don't eat the bay leaves -- taste them in the fish.

Yes, I know that swordfish is not on the mercury-free and sustainably fished lists. Fortunately, it's pricy enough to be a self-regulating indulgence.

Dec 22, 2006
Miss Otis in General Topics

Cooking Bear

Long time ago my sister gave me a bear shoulder roast. Her then husband killed the bear because it was hanging around their hippy trippy teepee in B.C. scaring everyone. He'd never shot a gun before and knocked himself out by keeping his eye to the sight (sp?) when he fired. Anyway, I braised it with a nice collection of minced veg & herbs & wine & tomatos -- and I braised it some more and then for a while longer. It never became less than inedibly leather-tough but it shrank considerably and we used the glorious gravy to dress papardelle. It tasted dark, meaty and a little gamey -- in a good way.

Aug 22, 2006
Miss Otis in Home Cooking

Sketch ice cream: help me get it right

I've eaten Sketch ice cream a a few times and think it's excellent. I take out-of-town visitors to wow them. The texture and level of butterfat richness are, as someone pointed out using real numbers, between gelato and ice cream. The flavors taste very pure and fresh and gentle compared with many other frozen delights. I had a scoop of rose geranium last time I was there and just purred. It was so ... wholesome and long Edwardian twilight.

Corn Rye Bread Nominations?

Metropolis Baking Company on Heinz St. in Berkeley makes a New York style rye in 2 sizes. It's been a long time since I've been in N.Y. but Metropolis rye comes close to my memories of the bread I used to buy from delis under the 13th Ave El in Borough Park/New Utrecht -- cut from a huge lacquered-looking loaf with a paper union sticker and sold by weight.

The corn in corn rye isn't really a major ingredient. It refers to the dusting of cornmeal on the bottom of the loaf to keep it from sticking to the peel.

Lovage anyone?

I can offer you a fistful of lovage from my Berkeley backyard patch. Email me at if you Need it Now. And by the way, the hollow lovage stems make great swizzle-stick straws for Bloody Marys.