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Bringing a Bottle to French Laundry

The one missing piece of advise is that you can drop it off ahead of time -- say earlier in the day. That way you can have them chill it, and even enjoy a glass while you review the menu.

May 11, 2007
SteveT in San Francisco Bay Area

High Praise - Ristorante Milano

MEA CULPA, mea maxima culpa...yikes, one litte 'R'.

Yes I bRought truffles, and a shaver.
Outrageous? Sorry, this is a neighborhood restaurant. Much as in Rome or Manhattan, or SF. Someone drops his/her fork, you go to the station (or nearby empty table) and grab a new one.
I wouldn't bring truffles to Oliveto or Acquerello or Delfina when they are selling them. I wouldn't bring a bottle of wine I just bought. My cell phone is never on. But I was hanging out at a friend's apt. less than two blocks away, I have eaten at Milano at least thirty times since 1980; I didn't find it odd, and neither did they.

I'm (only) 46, but geez I remember dating women who carried sweet 'n low before it was commonly found in restaurants. It isn't cheating them out of money/anything and it is enhancing my meal. Where is the downside?

Nov 20, 2006
SteveT in San Francisco Bay Area

High Praise - Ristorante Milano

You are right that it is a great neighborhood restaurant, but it has been uneven over the (gulp) decades. I'm not withing walking distance, but often have had friends in the 'hood. Last time I was there was 2-3 years ago and I brought the truffles (and shaver). They didn't have them, and seemed oblivious to the concept.

And that's what I mean by uneven...never bad, but (while I've eaten there once every 2-3 years) it's been 15 years since I had a great meal there. Still, neighborhood places are there to be good, not great.

And neighborhood places that 'do what they do' don't get the praise that a brand new restaurant (often with a publicity campaign) gets. For good or bad, the quality of the food is only part of the total experience.

Nov 19, 2006
SteveT in San Francisco Bay Area

Delfina - Menu Changes?

I was there 2-3 weeks ago when both the steak and chicken were on the menu. One interesting menu 'occurance' was a dish I was interested in was on the menu T-4, T-3, T-2, then pulled the day before. It was back on meal day (though they mis-identified the bitter green/red they used).

As to price, can't restaurant dollars go elsewhere.

Nov 09, 2006
SteveT in San Francisco Bay Area

Local Ostrich?

As per previous posts, I assume you want to buy meat. Polarica in SF has it ( They are mostly wholesale, so most any butcher in the Bay Area who sells fans is getting 'em are $17/lb. Frozen, I assume, but so are the ones from PA I trust. They are M-F 9-5 for the store, but (again, mostly wholesale) do deliver and ship.

Nov 07, 2006
SteveT in San Francisco Bay Area

Cheesemaking kit

First the question or observation about all kits being cheese specific. That is largely because cheeses are made in different ways. Soft and fresh cheeses (ricotta, mozz, farmer's, cream cheese, mascarpone) can pretty much be made with the simple kits you find. The kits are probably rennet, cheesecloth, thermometer, instructions, and a mesophilic starter.

When you get into hard cheeses, the complication goes up hugely. You need a climate-controlled area (the regular fridge is too cold -- room temp way too hot) and usually forms, a press, the ability to apply molds regularly, etc.

As to a specific recommendation, sounds like you've seen some already. I like that Jenn recommended for supplies, though I started sans kit.

Not that you asked, but Trader Joe stores in the Bay Area carry goat milk.

Oct 22, 2006
SteveT in Cookware

Getting the right texture of sorbets?

Taking it from the other end...your freezer's temperature is a factor. Actually two factors. You could adjust your freezer's temperature (or where you store the sorbet in the freezer). Also, frost-free freezers (all modern freezers except inexpensive chest freezers) cycle the temperature. This melts everything slightly, then refreezes it on a regular basis.

Certainly easier to adjust the freezing point by altering the ingredients (I own a refractometer to measure sugar) but storage matters too.

Oct 10, 2006
SteveT in Home Cooking

looking for szechuan/sichuan peppercorns

I believe that I saw them at SF Herb Company on 14th street last week. About $8.75 for a one pound bag. Definitely call to confirm (415.861.7174). I didn't examine them, so don't know quality (ok, I wouldn't know what to look for anyway), but the company always has fresh spices.

Oct 09, 2006
SteveT in San Francisco Bay Area

Chopped Chicken Liver

I've only sauteed them. Warning, though, a skunk in a rendering plant probably smells better. I can't offer a recipe since I don't use 'em, but saute chopped onion and cleaned (whole) liver in butter, breaking up the liver with a wooden spoon as it sautes. Saute until pink is gone.

Chop. Strain to remove any membrane. (This is chopped chicken liver, so not a fine strainer).

Add mayo, salt, pepper, several chopped hard-boiled eggs.

I never watched a relative make it, and don't follow a recipe, but by eyeballing it it always seems to come out right.

Sep 30, 2006
SteveT in Home Cooking

any mushroom hunters out there?

They are the ONLY source. Finding mushrooms is easy...knowing the poisonous ones in a given region is the hard part. There are AT LEAST a half dozen people each year who come from somewhere else, hunt mushrooms, and end up with transplanted livers, or pushing up daisies.

Certain mushrooms are no-brainers, but others have poisonous cousins that apparently (since I've never hunted elsewhere) look alike.

Arora has written the authoritative books, small you have, large referred to below. But would you trust your life, quite literally, to a book? The Mycological Society runs hunting weekends, lectures, etc.

Sep 24, 2006
SteveT in San Francisco Bay Area

Notes from IMW Champagne Tasting in San Francisco

In a similar vein, K&L is holding a Fete du Champagne -- Champagne Tasting -- in San Francisco, on October 21.

I know nothing in addition to the info on the website, but they are clearly pouring wines currently available from the Champagne region (no Cali/Spanish/etc).

Wish I had known about this event, but I'll cross-check Melanie's ratings against my own for any that are poured at the K&L event.

Sep 22, 2006
SteveT in Wine

Mosaic Forestville

Well there have been at least two previous reviews of Mosaic, pre-site 'upgrade'. I posted one, but was known as SteveT (not SteveT) and we aren't linked??????

Anyway, the food is really good. It is basically a neighborhood place except that there is no neighborhood.

I would recommend reservations, but I've never made them, having friends who live just around the corner.

Sep 22, 2006
SteveT in San Francisco Bay Area

sauce pan or saucier?

Hard to come up with a single pan response. Risotto does work well in the saucier due to the curved bottom. And while I do own a 2-qt saucier, I don't use it for risotto. I use a 2-qt sauce pan. For grits (polenta) I use a non-stick 2-qt.

Given that grits/polenta are cooked covered and risotto uncovered, the point is rather different. But in either case, it is a relatively slow cook, so the larger base would seem to be called for.

I use my sauciers for ingredients (tomato paste most recently, but also balsamic onions, reductions). I never use them for finished dishes. Not that they don't work...they just look like a 7-up 'uncola' glass that is wrong.

As to the 1 qt pan, All Clad and others used to offer it at $30 as a teaser intoduction to the brand. Not sure if they still do.

Sep 15, 2006
SteveT in Cookware

Henckel versus Wusthof knives

Yikes, maybe it's your fault for posting on Chowhound, or thinking like one. She wants a label. Functionality doesn't matter. And why should you care? Functionality is the same, cost is the same.

You can prove this on paper until you explode, but that won't change what she wants, however reasoned. She wants what she wants, end of subject. Get it for her and she'll be happy (less crabby). You won't be out any/much extra money.

FYI, I believe Bed Bath & Beyond carries Wustof.

Sep 10, 2006
SteveT in Cookware

Raw Edamame

Skipping the fancy name, you are talking Soybean. OK, there are different types of soybean, but like all beans, they grow in a pod, are edible young, can make an oil, and dry to something that can later be reconstituted.

The pod can offer more fiber than your digestive tract wants, but the beans are generally edible raw. Note though infants shouldn't eat the beans raw.

Cooking is done primarily because few people have access to fresh beans, and at limited times in the year. Oh, and wash them once shelled, even if organic.

Aug 27, 2006
SteveT in Home Cooking

Making ice cream.....proportion of eggs, heavy cream, and milk

Eggs act as an emulsifier, thus reducing the ice crystals. Or at least making them smaller and less noticeable. Hence, as you noticed, smoother.

They are certainly not necessary. Actually, it is egg yolks only, I think you will find. Anyway, to point out the non-necessity, egg yolk is the difference between Vanilla and French Vanilla (FV has eggs).

Personally, I don't use eggs because I hate having to come up with a use for egg whites, or tossing them. At the same time, I don't exactly follow a recipe...while 50-50 cream/milk is traditional, I stock 2% (never whole), sometimes have half-half, not enough cream, etc. And heavy creams can vary a few percent in fat. So your answer is 1:1, but with sugar and fat it is never going to be awful. And if you creaminess of the custard, you can lighten it by using more milk/less cream.

Lastly, gelato does require egg yolks.

Aug 26, 2006
SteveT in Home Cooking

Any recent experiences at Ristorante Raphael (Berkeley)?

Gosh, I never thought the prices classified it as destination, but as neighborhood. And for that it is serviceable-plus. Add the kosher for those who care, and it would make it desination friendly.

Within the past six weeks I sampled the food. (Long story, but I had bites of several other dishes but didn't order my own). All was quite pleasant. The easiest dishes were best, and the rest were well executed but the concept was a bit off. So pizza was good. Pasta had good tomato flavor, but too much of some veg, not enough of others. Lasagne (ok also a pasta) similar. Fish cooked well, but also with an odd combination of 'salsa'. Service good. Time between courses on a Saturday night -- molasses. (the reason I actually got to try everything).

But the atmosphere was nice -- not too noisy. If you want to chat and have decent food, it fit the bill. I may be wrong about the pricing, but I had the impression of low-ish.

Aug 22, 2006
SteveT in San Francisco Bay Area

Homemade Tofu Making

I do make my own on occasion. It really is a trade off of loving to tinker vs 15 cents a block (7/$1 here in San Francisco).

The two ingredients are somewhat correct. You can shortcut the dried soybean soaking by buying Soy Milk Powder ($1.49/lb at Whole Foods bins).

As to coagulant, there are two common ones. Nigari is the Japanese name for the seaweed extract that chemically is Magnesium Chloride. It is cheap, but wasn't easy to find even in San Francisco's JapanTown. The other common coagulant is calcium sulfate. I haven't looked for that, but it is preferred for the calcium benefits. I drink plenty of cow milk and don't really believe in vitamin (mineral) supplements, so p'shaw.

What else? You specifically asked about Nigari. Mine was $1.78 for 4 oz. Not a lifetime supply, but enough for a decade. (well that could be a lifetime) Natural Import Co, 1-800-324-1878

Recipes? I have been measuring, but even with the gram scale, the stuff is too light for me to tell. Oh, you could just buy soy milk and add the coagulant. Results? It tastes good, and I still do it, but in 40 minutes I can walk to and back from an asian market where the fresh daily tofu is 7/$1 (1" x 3" x 3") so it really is more the study than the practicality.

Perhaps the essence of a ChowHound.

Feel free to ask specific questions.

Aug 18, 2006
SteveT in Home Cooking

ricotta cheese

Sure, I make ricotta. I was going to say "all the time" but that isn't really true. I can say that I never buy it anymore. There are two versions...that made with the leftovers from making Mozzarella and that made straight from milk. Same process, but lower yield if you first get a batch of mozz out. Personally, mozz is lost on me, so while I do make it, I don't do so for personal consumption.

So, it's as easy as milk, salt, citric acid heated to 190F; turn off heat and let the curds form; drain in a very fine membrane (like a coffee filter, or layers of cheesecloth). You can use lemon juice (or even vinegar, but yuk) if you don't have citric acid. Figure 1/4 tsp citric acid per qt of milk. Lemons vary, so I can't provide a recipe. The easiest way to use lemon juice is to keep adding until the whey is rather clear and all the curds have formed. Like a tablespoon, or so. Doesn't hurt to add more, just makes the lemon flavor more pronounced.

Aug 15, 2006
SteveT in Cheese

Cameron Hughes Wines - Anyone Tried?

Not sure what "just a bit too good to be true" is about it. But anyway....

There's a guy who buys surplus wine from other wineries, blends it, packages it, and sells it for $10/btl at California Costcos and on-line.

He isn't a winemaker (though there is some blending involved sometimes). He is a marketer. He does what two-buck chuck does. Does he do it better; is his stuff five times better? Well perhaps. Personally, I find his hype iritating, and the two wines I've tried mediocre. (lousy)

But if you are in a Costco on a day the wine is available, buy one, try it in the car, and decide whether to go back for a case or five.

Aug 10, 2006
SteveT in Wine

Finding Deals on KitchenAid Stand Mixer?

Bed Bath and Beyond does transfer between stores, and, I think, special order. I've even had them ship to my home something that the chain carries but the SF Bay Area does not. And the 20% off coupon was valid. It may take a week or two to arrive, but if the person in the department finds it on the computer, and takes my order, they have always come through.

Aug 03, 2006
SteveT in Cookware

Can My Yogurt Be Rescued?

I would think it can be saved. An alternate to using culture is just using yogurt. Even a teaspoon into a quart. Based on your write-up, I think you have a stuck fermentation. Just a technical term for the batch getting cold before completing. And if so, you should be able to start it up again by heating (to 115F, not to 185F). No need to add more culture, but stir to mix through the part that is cultured.

I'd be interested to hear your results.

Jul 23, 2006
SteveT in Home Cooking


Also, you can get the Pinot from PJ's ( in NY for $53. Shipping will be less than the sales tax you save. (just make sure they don't ship in 100F weather).

Jul 23, 2006
SteveT in Wine

I hate to be dense - but how can I tell what I have read?

Let me just say that I spend about 10% of the time on CH that I used to because of this abscence. And withdrawl is surprisingly easy.

First rule of an upgrade is 'don't screw it up'. I appreciate pretty, but I want functional. And this isn't.

Jul 20, 2006
SteveT in Site Talk

Original Joes- First Visit

I agree 75%. Spag w/meat sauce is the way to go.

OK, I agree 90%, but it was your lack of knowledge in ordering. The ravioli are awful, but no one ever orders them. I'd guess my grandfather tried them (once), but not my dad, nor me. And now, never again will you, nor your offspring.

The place is a classic.

Jul 15, 2006
SteveT in San Francisco Bay Area

Made-to-order zabaglione?

Marin Joes. You hear it being hand whipped after you have the Ceasar prepared table-side and the slab of beef (or lamb). And BYO to use up a 70's/85/90/91/92 (ok even '94) Cal Cab. I've had custom-made Zab other places, but never had a better complete package. Oh, and the Zab is like a Mel's/Bill's place shake (or McDonalds Fries) in that it overflows the glass.

Jul 08, 2006
SteveT in San Francisco Bay Area

B'day Dinner at Green's - Any Recent Reports????

All I can say is that Annie is at Ferry Plaza every Saturday morning picking up flats of everything. Well, of the best of the season, but definitely in volume. And when I chat on occasion (I'm NIB, just a consumer) she has a passion for the food. On the other hand, I've never seen her spontaneously snap up something. Perhaps the volume doesn't allow for that.

Green Gulch (the farm part of Greens) has been back for 3-4 weeks.

So I would go with seasonal (lettuces, new potatoes, peas, etc).

I too am worried by the poor reports. Especially when I see the best of the best produce going into the kitchen.

One last item...Ft Mason began charging for parking on June 1. Not exhorbitant, but just so you know. I'm sure details are on a website.

Jul 07, 2006
SteveT in San Francisco Bay Area

"Lite" coconut milk

I have a COMPLETELY different take on things, though I can't guarantee that I'm correct.

First off, coconut milk is non-homoginized. OK, it isn't milk, but the point is that it separates. Open a can of regular and there is a half-inch of dense white and below is several inches of thick gel.

Some recipes call for coconut cream which I believe is the layer at top.

If one skims some of the top layer, the rest is lower in calorie, and healthier (in the way that smoking two packs of cigarettes is healthier than smoking a carton). And you give up both flavor and texture. Add some flour, and you retain the thickness. Still less flavor, still healthier.

Oh, and the does, but since it separates, you will want to thaw and attempt to emulsify before using.

Jul 07, 2006
SteveT in General Topics

artisan tofu makers

Add, in the Bay Area (notice a trend?) Hodo Soy Beanery.

I make my own. Tofu only. Hodo Soy was my inspiration, never having paid attention to the 15 cent commercial tofu I bought precisely because it was 15 cents.

I did some research when I started my quest and found some restaurants that make it, but don't recall if there were commercial vendors. Never checked into Miso.

Jul 06, 2006
SteveT in General Topics

Repairing a KitchenAid Mixer?

They survived, but moved to Folsom. street, not prison ;-)


Jul 04, 2006
SteveT in Cookware