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New chef at Wente Vineyards in Livermore?

Sorry for the delay, had to get the menu so I could list details. Started with beef tartare - truffle mustard vinaigrette, toasted walnuts, parmesan, aged balsamic. A real unami bomb, coarse chop which I thought was great but my wife found a bit chewy. Really good. Then deviled eggs - Spanish chorizo, crispy potato and cilantro. Micro cilantro was a nice touch, and the crispy potato gave some textural interest but it wasn't a complete re-imagining. Then potato leek soup - bacon-shallot relish, garden thyme, and chile oil. Finally California seabass - clams, housemade chorizo, potato, kale, and piment d'espelette. The last was a really good one, perfectly cooked fish and a good amount of piment d'espelette. One of our better meals there.

New chef at Wente Vineyards in Livermore?

Thanks, good to know. We went last Wednesday and things seemed pretty much status quo, though the kitchen was running behind, which is unusual for them.

New chef at Wente Vineyards in Livermore?

I notice that there's no chef listed on the page anymore, and they are having events with guest chefs. Anyone know the scoop? Nicholas Boer says "executive sous chef Mark Duesler" is "heading the kitchen until a new executive chef is found", but that was in March.

Manresa is accepting reservations [Los Gatos]

Funny, I thought it was one of their strengths, but we were usually served by Jeff himself and were known to the house, so it's possible our experience wasn't typical.
I didn't get to meet Jim last night, but his assistant Aaron was superb. Friendly, knowledgeable, great selections. It was truly a surprise that everything seemed to be as good or better than before after just a month. I look forward to seeing the direction the list goes under Jim.

Manresa is accepting reservations [Los Gatos]

I see on Jeff's Twitter that he's at Atelier Crenn now. I guess that's one of the few places in the Bay Area that you could make an argument he's moving up to.

Thanks for the info on the new guy, I heard good things about Cyrus.

Manresa is accepting reservations [Los Gatos]

Jeff is gone?

Bar de l'x -- still there?

It is no more. Absorbed into Les Pipos next door. Still, quite a good place to enjoy a couple different kinds of liver.

Jun 19, 2014
wnissen in France

Le Rendez-vous de Chasse

That's helpful, thanks.

Mar 29, 2014
wnissen in France

Le Rendez-vous de Chasse

How was it?

Mar 29, 2014
wnissen in France

Impressions from é by José Andrés

I was very happy at the end of the night. The blog I linked above (Kevin Eats) had the same menu as we did, and I agree with almost everything he said, so I won't mention all the courses unless I have something to say. There were a number of memorable dishes, but lately my fine dining has been limited to Manresa, so take that into consideration. There were some truly lovely presentations, such as the little cracker resting in the palm of José Andrés' hand:

A real favorite of mine was the "Apple 'Brazo de Gitano'" which was a light-as-air sponge cake filled with blue cheese espuma (a whipped cream consistency foam) and topped with dehydrated apple shavings. I felt that used the power of molecular gastronomy to add textural interest while keeping the interactions of flavors at the forefront.

There were also some more ingredient-focused dishes, like jamón ibérico de bellota wrapped in caviar, which was fantastic. The umami of the ham and the caviar together was really intense, I could eat a lot of it. That was accompanied by a crispy fried artichoke with a warm quail egg inside, a luxe Hot Pocket.

The next dish was also very strong, a "Bocata de 'Calamares'" which contained uni instead of calamari, in a banh-mi style mini sandwich:

I loved the "Cigala with Roses," a lobster-like crustacean served with rose foam, sauce from the head of the lobster and sauce Américaine. That was so good I asked for some bread to sop the remainder of the sauce.

There were some more out-there dishes, such as spherified oysters served with honey foam in a bowl filled with smoke:

The "catch of the day" was a sashimi-style presentation with "pearls" that I thought were white caviar at first bite but turned out to be citrus-flavored and crispy in texture. Really good.

The secreto of pork was beautiful both before carving:

and after:

It was as good as pork gets, coming from Ibérico pork shoulder, though I could have used quite a bit more truffle. A high-class problem, I know.

The 25 second bizcocho was light as air, and one of the prettiest things I've ever eaten. The picture doesn't do it justice:

Also, some cute little mignardises, served in a book:

The wines we were served were good, but not so distinctive to interfere with the food. Our sole dining companion (ironically from San Francisco) wasn't having alcohol, so they tried a variety of mocktails. I should have recorded more of them, but here's one:

For $250 inclusive of tax and tip, it's a bargain, especially when you consider the high-touch service (two servers taking care of a maximum of eight guests).

Feb 02, 2011
wnissen in Las Vegas

é by José Andrés

I emailed late this past Saturday for next Saturday at 5:30, and got an email today with a "yes." I guess they had a cancellation.

Jan 25, 2011
wnissen in Las Vegas

Michelin *** in the province?

Sure. Our favorite restaurant is Manresa, a ** south of San Francisco. Very, very creative food, tasting menu is $170. Not exactly super-luxe surroundings, it's more the service that makes the difference for us. The * Ubuntu in Napa is nearly its equal in food, though obviously the atmosphere is not up to the same standard. One Market (*) in San Francisco is very good, as is The Village Pub (*) south of San Francisco.

We've been to Taillevent in Paris a couple times, and it is an outstanding experience, but the food fell short the last time, in 2005, when it was still a ***. Blue Hill in NYC (*) was quite good, with more interesting food it could be **.

I guess my preferences are creative first, telepathic service second, luxe surroundings third, and view not even registering. Does that help?

Michelin *** in the province?

Thank you for that hint; they were on my list but I will have to wait for the replacement to get her bearings.

Restaurant La Chronique
99 Av Laurier W, Montreal, QC H2T2N6, CA

XO Le Restaurant
355, Saint -Jacques street, Montreal, QC H2Y 1N9, CA

Michelin *** in the province?

We'll be there the week of 29 May. I think we avoided all the festivals, actually!

Michelin *** in the province?

Dear Porker, We live an hour east of San Francisco. We spent our honeymoon in France, but for our anniversary we will fly into Montréal for a week. Once we're there, we plan to drive or take the train and see at least one other part of Québec. Part of the idea of throwing open our restaurant search to a large area is to choose where we'll travel. Even if there aren't restaurants « vaut le voyage » ("worth a journey") it will be a special experience. Thanks for your input.

Michelin *** in the province?

Not at all what I was asking for. However, it was also exactly what I was looking for. ;) That is a definite must-do, thanks for pointing it out. Man cannot live in the rarefied air of pricey hotel restaurants forever. Thanks.

Michelin *** in the province?

Thanks, we're looking for the best, in a style that may not exist, and I appreciate the pointers in response to my admittedly very broad request.

Michelin *** in the province?

Eoj, Thanks, I was not sure there was such a thing, and it is good to know so our expectations can be set appropriately.

Michelin *** in the province?


My wife and I are looking for a Michelin three star experience during our visit to the province of Québec. Hopefully the fact that there is no Michelin Guide Rouge will not be an obstacle, nor price, as we're willing to spend what the equivalent meal would cost in France. Location is also flexible, lets say within three hours drive of Montréal, to include Québec City. The right meal will hopefully be worth the journey, as they say.

I realize there may be too many options, so to help narrow it down: Lunch is better than dinner. A location in a city or with attached lodging is preferred. Luxe surroundings are nice, but creative food is better.

Your thoughts? Thank you.

Stainless or Anondized Aluminum: Which is easier to care for?

It's not a question of pan material, but the cooking surface. The Circulon will be much easier to clean because all the pans are nonstick. A metal cooking surface (whether All-Clad stainless or plain anodized aluminum) is going to take more time to clean.

However, please consider that nonstick coatings are hazardous when too hot. Pet birds are especially vulnerable, but in general it is a very bad idea to let a nonstick pan burn. The nonstick coating will break down and poison you at the same time. Also note that Circulon Premier Professional are only oven-safe to 400 degrees F / 200 C.

The wonderful thing about stainless steel pans is that you can clean them with anything. When something really burns on, I let it soak and then go after it with steel wool or even sandpaper!

Oct 14, 2009
wnissen in Cookware

Sweet lemons?

They're available around here as "Persian" sweet limes, and I find them lacking in sugar and acid. However, they juice easily, and once adjusted with citric acid and sugar I find the juice makes an excellent limeade with some pleasant added floral aromatics. I added 1 tsp. dried citric acid (carried at Indian markets for pickling) and 2 T. sugar to 1 cup juice.

Mar 16, 2009
wnissen in General Topics

Manresa on Iron Chef March 15

Re: Morimoto, that would have been a fairer fight. If the theme ingredient had also been a meat, that might have been a fair fight.

Chef Kinch's list of advantages was endless. Not one but two seasoned sous chefs, and all three accustomed to putting out hundreds of dishes every night in a small kitchen. Flay is talented, but he's not a cook.

Even though the outcome was never in doubt, this was fun to watch. I was really impressed how Chef Kinch's cuisine was unaltered; even the order of dishes was the same as it would have been in the restaurant. It was almost a surprise when there were no pepper/olive and strawberry/chocolate petits fours.

Mar 16, 2009
wnissen in Food Media & News

Why Is It Bad to Run Cold Water over a Hot Pan?

Calphalon pans are the worst for warping! No wonder they want you to be careful about putting the pan under thermal stress.

Pans that warp are worthless to anyone with an induction or electric stove, since they don't sit. I have a Sitram saute pan with an aluminum disk bottom that has seen thousands of uses over the years, and it still sits perfectly flat despite having cold liquids poured into it at saute temperatures.

In fact, that's my most common cooking technique! Get pan hot (oil slightly smoking), sear meat, deglaze with wine or stock. How am I supposed to stop my lovely "fond" from burning otherwise?

Nov 21, 2008
wnissen in Features

Fine weekend lunch in San Jose area?

Ah, the Tapestry menu does look good. We're looking for lunch, not brunch, so that's a candidate. Ironically, our kid doesn't mind sitting quietly while we eat outside, so indoor dining is more of an attraction right now. Thanks.


Fine weekend lunch in San Jose area?

Do no good San Jose area restaurants serve lunch on the weekends? A six-month old makes even an early dinner sometimes problematic. However, Chez TJ, Sent Sovi, Manresa, The Village Pub, and others have no weekend lunch. Currently I think we're going to California Cafe, which has a half lunch, half brunch menu. Help?


Local Crabs are Coming

Steaming is supposed to be better, though I've had perfectly good boiled crab as well. The secret is plenty of salt on the outside of the crab, because you've got to get it inside the shell and into the meat.

As someone from the Washington, D.C. area, can I put in a plug for "Old Bay" seasoning? A great seafood friendly mix of salt, celery seed, paprika, and other good stuff. Look by the seafood counter of your supermarket.

The unseasoned, unsalted dungeness I've had really make me wonder if the people who are cooking the crabs ever eat them.