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What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

Stopped by the Local 123 airstream at Albany Flowerland- super pleasant on a warm afternoon, and noticed that they're roasting their own beans now- similar to Flying Goat, maybe a tad lighter than FG's "2.5 Wave" as I remember it. Haven't been to the San Pablo cafe in some time, but would assume that these beans are on offer there too.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

Don't believe so, though many have been influenced by their experiences as consumers.

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/...

Bouchon in Yountville

Had a really nice California Italian meal at Ciccio in Yountville last weekend. Guanciale and brussels sprouts pizza, porchetta, roasted cauliflower and Jimmy Nardello peppers were all outstanding (four separate dishes). Arancini were good. Compares favorably in execution to my local favorite Pizzaiolo in Oakland. Casual, friendly service.

Blood Sausage / Morcilla

Barlata has always had it on their menu, though they are closing soon.

Newish place Venga Paella also has it on the menu.

In my limited experience, the Korean product is not a good sub if you are craving Spanish/Latin sausages. Very different. Look into any Argentinian/brazilian places you can find, too.

Champa Garden (Oakland) report

Google is really great for public transit. Have used it all over the world; a lot of times they can even tell you when the next bus or train is etc. etc.

Bar Tartine Fall 2014 [San Francisco]

I understand your point about acidity. I am known for liking sour drinks and foods. I make liberal use of vinegar in cooking and as a condiment; I never fail to add lime to my pho or bo kho; I miss acidity as a component of my beloved boat noodles at establishments that don't include it by default. I love a good choucroute garnie and will eat it down to the last shred of sauerkraut.

That said, many of the individual dishes bordered on unbalanced in acidity, to me. And certainly the meal overall was notably unbalanced in that way. I don't make a fetish of balance; one of my most enjoyable meals recently was a starter of a loaf-style blood pudding with warm spices, and a main of a savory/spicy traditional blood sausage. That's a lot of the same.

I didn't mention the cocktail that I had that was also acidic without balancing body or sweetness. Many bad cocktails are very sour (too much citrus) and then have a ton of simple syrup to poorly balance that out. In contrast, the Bar Tartine cocktail was thin and spare, acidic from the fruit and lactic whey. It had very little body, I would not be surprised if there was no added sugar, and certainly nothing like egg white. I can totally imagine that some people would identify that spareness as a positive aesthetic choice, but to me I appreciated the conception but missed too much some balancing sweetness and/or body. The Linden St. Biere de Tartine, in contrast was an excellent complement to the food. It's a dark sour, but the heavy malt body provides a balancing sweetness.

The various threads are interesting in that they do seem to identify acidity and/or the perception of acidity as one of the key fault lines in terms of BT appreciation. I cannot tell based on one visit whether or not this is due to variance in cooking or variance in customer preferences or variance in customer taste perception. If I had to guess, I would rank in order of importance: preference; perception; cooking. But again that's just a guess.

Bar Tartine Fall 2014 [San Francisco]

I see that I was pretty confusing in that sentence. I should have wrote something like: "Like other restaurants at that level it sources high quality ingredients, is food centered and not a scene, but it is creative and its menu is differentiated from most." I don't necessarily mean that it is more creative than other places, just that it is different.

I had in my mind high-end casual California Italian like Pizzaiolo in the East Bay, but perhaps you're right, it should be compared more to the places you mention. It's certainly quite a bit more expensive than the places I usually go to.

The potatoes had the chewy skin you describe, due to the smoking no doubt. I wouldn't have described them as mealy, though they were somewhat dry, again due to the smoking I am sure. I kind of think they'd be better with a lighter smoke or different smoking technique so that they retained more moisture.

Bar Tartine Fall 2014 [San Francisco]

I was inspired to visit this place by last week's hilarious thread.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9900...

Having read some comments here on Chowhound I had some idea what to expect but didn't really know where I would fall on the scale. I have to say that I probably am right in the middle. Robert Lauriston and others noted a couple times that there is a strong emphasis on sour flavors and I certainly concur. The apple and beet soup was almost shockingly so, probably because of the addition of what appeared to be a very actively fermenting red cabbage sauerkraut. After I got over the tartness it kind of grew on me and my companion, which sort of surprised me. I have been known to snack on small bowls of sauerkraut in the evening, whilst she often complains about excessively sour foods. Other than the sour, each of the elements of beet apple and sour cream or whatever that dairy was were fairly mild and contrasted with each other without being super assertive.

Flatbread with mushrooms and farmer's cheese was surpisingly good. It looked like it was in danger of veering into oversauced soggy grossness but it actually held up very well and the thick layer of melting fresh cheese became like a very rich white sauce that managed not to overpower the mushrooms. Can't remember the spinach, though.

Beef tartare was pretty disappointing. The seeded crackers were too seedy for me and didn't enhance the tartare. The green tzatziki didn't have that much flavor other than sour from the yougurt I guess. Not sure what the green was. The tartare itself seemed kind of bland- the main element seemed to be tiny cross-cut rounds of pickled green beans.

I liked the smoked potatoes, the overall effect of the black garlic sauce plus smoking did make it seem like barbeque. Did not much appreciate the flavored mayo or aioli on the side.

The other dish we liked was the black cod with green chili sauce, greens and mushrooms. The broth had a fishy umami to it, I wonder if there was kombu or dried bonito used in it, or if it all came from the piece of black cod. Anyway it was very nice along with the very nice lightly cooked greens and mushrooms. Though again, with a surprising acid base, I think lemon.

I don't obsess over bread, but I do enjoy a nice Acme rustic or pain epis with decent butter. The tartine bread I can see is justly praised with a moist, fluffy flavorful crumb and crisp crust. I don't know about best in the world, but I won't argue. I thought the cultured butter was ehh.

Atmosphere was pleasant; service was also pleasant and largely unobtrusive, though a couple times it took a minute longer to get some attention when I wanted it. Overall I can totally see the judgment that Bar Tartine can be polarizing; everything was executed with care and skill and quality ingredients, but the surprising presence of acidity almost everywhere seems likely to annoy a lot of people. It surprises me only a little that there are so many people who love it- it's creative and fairly differentiated from most of the other restaurants at that level- high quality ingredients, food centered, not a scene; but honestly, it surprises me that there aren't more naysayers. The specific flavor profiles of the dishes I tried do not seem like they would go over well with even the majority of "foodie" types. I like sour stuff, and it started to get to me a little bit.

I'm glad I tried it and could go back again, but I'm not in a hurry.

Another recent try:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7841...

Lost & Found Beer Garden - Oakland

Thanks a lot.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

I haven't been for a long while, guess I'll have to stop by and check it out, thanks.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

Are you sure Cole roasts their own? I bought their beans for 15 years as Royal then Cole and always thought that they were roasted by McLaughlin, which has relationships with Royal Coffee (the Emeryville green bean importer). I used to go to the cafe all the time, and people used to tell me that Bette's blend at Bette's Oceanview is the same as Max's blend from McLaughlin. From my perspective it's all hearsay, I don't have direct knowledge, but I feel like I heard this many times over the years.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

In one of my other posts I mentioned that Cole is roasted by Royal Coffee, actually I believe the roaster is McLaughlin coffee in Emeryville. Cole Coffee used to be called Royal Coffee before an ownership change.

Anyone seen this brand? Sze Chuan chili Paste from Taiwan

Thanks for the tip. It's a good cooking fermented chili paste; works well in Sichuan cooking like ma po tofu. Good salty-umami fermented chili flavor in contrast to non-fermented sauces.

Anyone seen this brand? Sze Chuan chili Paste from Taiwan

Bought this some time ago at 99 ranch Richmond. Have not seen it since. It's our favorite for cooking, a smoothish paste of fermented chili with some seeds. It's possible I've missed seeing it as well; hints as to last sighting also appreciated.

East bay preferred but all suggestions welcome.

Lost & Found Beer Garden - Oakland

Any more recent reports? Reasonable to have a group meal here? Or eat elsewhere, stop by for beer?

Any clear images of a recent beer list? Yelp is pretty blurry for menus.

Baby friendly craft beer East Bay/ SF

I find that I can only get babies to take sweet porters and Belgians without sour. I have seen babies crawling about Hog's Apothecary, and agree that the Dock might work- certainly it seems pretty mellow in the early evening. Barclay's of course has a long list and is family friendly though the food is not as good.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

I'd definitely agree that there's still a large range of variation in the final product, a substantial amount of which lies within the beans. But at the same time the range of possible flavor profiles for a given bean is very large and contracts as the roast progresses.

Cronuts?

Donut Savant in Oakland has the Cron't. I brought an assortment to the office recently and while I didn't snag one, someone who did and has had the original has said the taste was very similar. I did not bring any filled ones though.

The donuts I did try impressed me with their sophistication in terms of batter recipes and ingredients.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

"Why do I like Four Barrel and Sightglass, but not Blue Bottle or Peet’s?"

Let me take a stab at it:

Second wave coffee as represented by Starbucks and Peet's is roasted very dark, typically right up to if not into second crack. There is more than a hint of carbonization present at these levels, and their coffee has typically been brewed with higher bean to water ratios than typical old school "bad" coffee. At more than twenty years old now, second wave dark roast is the reference style for many who are now coffee enthusiasts with their daily Starbucks or Peet's or others. At this level of roasting, differences in beans are greatly reduced, broadly reducing the differences between beans of varying quality not to mention terroir and acidity.

The Third Wave roasters, are generally and correctly thought of as lighter roasts than second wave. But to call it lighter is misleadingly simple, setting it up as a binary difference rather than a very broad range from barely into first crack to just short of second crack. In this style differences in bean quality are preserved as are differences in terroir, especially acidity. Especially at the lighter side of lighter roasts, acidic beans remain very acidic and if you don't care for that, it's going to suck.

I no longer care for Peet's or most Starbucks because I no longer really tolerate any hint of carbonization. I also feel like they brew their coffee a little too strong for my taste (too much beans per cup).

Four Barrel is one of my favorites because their main target roast seems to be on the darker side of Third wave; never reaching any hint of carbonization but definitely to the point that carmelization is apparent and a strong note on the same level as the beans' floral and fruity qualities. Because of this roast level and probably bean selection they tend to be low acidity as well.

Sightglass is similar in roast, maybe a bit lighter, though their bean selection sometimes seems to emphasize acidic "bright" coffees, which I enjoy less but maybe you like more.

Blue bottle roasts also into this range, lighter than Four Barrel perhaps. The problem I have with Blue Bottle seems to be some combination of bean selection and brew practice. I almost never drink the coffee and think, "oh that's tasty". To me it typically lacks any distinct fruit or floral profiles as well as carmelization. I think they also brew it lighter than I normally like (less beans).

A lot of newer roasters like Flying Goat and Verve, and a lot of Seattle roasters like Zoka seem to me to fall between Second and Third wave, distinctly darker with often a hint of carbonization but less than Starbucks/Peet's.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

If you guys like darker, that was probably the reason why you didn't go with the Behmor- they very clearly discourage you from going into second crack. That said, I've pushed beans up to and through second crack without fire, though if you have a high chaff bean it could be a problem.

Those were accidents where I became distracted; normally I stop the roast within 2.5 mins of the peak of the first crack.

Also you pretty much have to run their cooling program, so total time is longer.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

"you like what you know" is both regional and historical; witness the striking differences between the coffee culture in Seattle and Portland; two cities that to outsiders differ in size and scale but are otherwise remarkably similar. Even newer roasters in Seattle average much darker than the Portland players, and result of the strong second wave coffee culture already established where Portland I guess rode the third wave to become a or the North American epicenter of that trend.

Regarding brewing techniques, I've become pretty jaded by single pour over, but I still prefer paper filter over French press, and have enjoyed aeropress as well. I think it's interesting that a lot of the newer coffee bars that feature rotating roasters are going back towards commercial brewers, especially Fetco, that get they temperature and extraction just right on a commercial scale. I use a technivorm at home now but still do Clever dripper if i just want a cup at work.

What are your thoughts on the city's coffee offerings?

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6891...

Here's a 2010 thread that you may find relevant, though dated. A number of links and similar general discussion.

In that thread I describe a little my conversion to third wave over Cole Coffee (roasted by Royal Coffee). My favorites have been Four Barrel and Ritual, less so Sightglass (somewhat lighter and fruit forward) and Verve (somewhat darker perhaps closer to second wave). In the past year I've been roasting my own and have been struck by how much better it is than most bags of Four Barrel that I buy, depending on the origin. Because of the own roasting, I'm not up on the newer places, but I have liked Contraband (SF) and Chromatic (SJ). In general I find most darker roasts unpalatable now (Cole/Royal, Peets, Starbucks). It sounds like you prefer lighter roasts; once you swing into that range there's so much variation in the degree of roast and the bean origin and quality matters so much too.

I'm a Blue Bottle non-fan; I don't hate it, but it never really impresses. I sometimes go to the Webster headquarters, sometimes to the new Broadway location, which I find to be more consistent. I think it must be a combination of bean selection and brewing method (bean to water ratio) that throws it off for me.

If you're not getting good results at home, maybe you want to look into optimizing your brew method; if you like French press make sure your water is hot enough and you may want to get a "sweater" for your pot. I prefer paper filter and use a technivorm or a Clever pour over with water just off the boil.

Very high quality green beans are 5.50-7 a lb from Sweet Maria's in Oakland, if you're willing to learn to roast.

Another thread from last year highlighting the "rise" of Starbucks and conflict with indie coffeehouses in the bay; this is a separate issue than second wave vs. third wave.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/916444

Where I can I get good dry aged steaks?

FWIW I just had the $24/lb dry aged rib eye from Oakland WF and it was good. I don't think they are aged for a very long time, but enough to get some of the intensification of flavor, and either young enough or well trimmed to minimize the funkiness.

Not Dim Sum brunch after getting off plane

Sorry about that. It is the major surface road (CA highway 82) running north-south on the Peninsula, crossing through most of the towns along the way.

Not Dim Sum brunch after getting off plane

I would trust the city building garages, especially Embarcadero plaza, more than I would the open lots, though no place would be risk free.

In this case you might just drive to El Camino Real, just west of the airport running north-south. Lots of restaurants, many with parking out in front, surburban style. I don't really eat there, so have no specific recommendations though. Maybe some people can chime in. I see diners, Chinese, Viet, Mexican amongst others.

Pickings are thicker heading south, but it's a quick jaunt back to the highway.

Not Dim Sum brunch after getting off plane

If you click your own username it will bring you to a page of posts you made.

Saturday morning Ferry Plaza Market might be enjoyable, although later in the morning it's pretty crowded. I would recommend parking in the Embarcardero center parking lot and get validation. Or Golden Gate plaza. I would say most areas in SF, Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond it is not a good idea to park on street with visible luggage.

best dimsum in oakland?

I go to Happy Valley all the time because my wife likes dim sum and finds it satisfactory to good. Easy to park and very cheap. It get slagged a lot in these threads; I am highly aware that there is better dim sum available, but I like it enough that I don't have strong urges to go elsewhere. It's also the kind of place that you can go to in running clothes after a morning workout, which is a big +++ in my book. Sounds like Peony is worth a try again; I go to Emeryville East Ocean once a year or so and it's always good quality stuff but comparatively expensive.

Has anyone been to Joy Luck recently? It used to be the winner in cheapness and always seem to have enough good items to make it worth it to me, but once I started going to Happy Valley the relative ease of going to that side of the lake won out, and it was sometimes just as good to better.

My Taiwanese born mom and aunts visited recently and enjoyed it, even compared with the more expensive places they frequent in the Rockville, MD and Northern Virginia region. Not that they're experts or anything.

Probably depends on what items you prefer too. Har gow in particular have too thick skins here.

East Bay BBQ

BBQ Hut in Oakland opened a few months ago, Shattuck at Alcatraz. I was very impressed at about a month in; very high quality meats, consistently smoked, and a good portion for the price. More recently, the portion size has declined. Everything well smoked and seasoned, which is a big thing for me. Brisket generally not too lean. I enjoy the links and ribs. Solid ketchup based sauce, better spicy. Clearly they cater but they don't seem to have any particular catering menu, so best call in.

I did have a disappointing 4 meat combo recently, where the brisket was all dried out and oversmoked.

Don't care for their baked beans, potato salad or collards.

East Bay BBQ

I like Smoky J's and their distinctive sauce, though the brisket and ribs were not as good on a few visits over the last 6 months. Not bad, just not as good as before. Hopefully a temporary dip.

East Bay BBQ

Stopped in recently while in the Concord area; had links and beef to go. Links were a pretty tasty spicy smooth (red) ground. In general I prefer coarse, mixed, but these were pretty good. Hot was hotter than most. Was provided with both a red and a brown sauce, like many of the "Hickory Pit" style places in the East Bay, though here both were distinctly barbecue sauce, where the "Brown Sauce" at the other places is more like gravy.

Brisket was too lean and underseasoned for me. This was in the evening though; many places are only good for brisket at lunch. Smokiness mild but present.

Single visit review.