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Pathos: Organic Greek in Berkeley

I’d definitely recommend this spot! Fresh tasty food, good service.
We went on Saturday, having seen the place under construction.
The menu has fairly traditional offerings but very nicely made, fresh, lighter than their run-of-the-mill equivalents in Greece, good balance of flavors.
We started with drinks. I like pisco sours but am not the biggest fan of anise, but Marcel the bartender persuaded me to try their variation on the sour with metaxa and some anise. It was delicious.
Then we got several small plates: the horiatiki, the standard salad of tomatoes, onions, cucumber, feta, and olives. They forgot the olives but made up for it with a small bowl on the side. The salad was really nice, tempered onions, with a tasty feta whose perfect balance of tang and creaminess was the right note against the vegetables. I’m not a fan of the really strong barny tasting fetas (prefer French over Bulgarian, for example), so this was perfect.
The grilled octopus (flown in from Spain) was the best I’ve had in the Bay Area—tender, smoky-charred but not too much, just perfect. As good as any we had in Barcelona this summer (different seasoning, of course).
The fried smelts were very tasty, accompanied by trendy but also tasty grilled slices of Meyer lemon and nicely cheesecloth-wrapped lemon half for squeezing that needed acid over the mild little fishies.
The last dish we tried was the keftedes, lamb meatballs in a very savory sauce of tomato touched with oregano and sprinkled with a bit of feta.
The side plate of pita arrived warm, had a hint of crust but wasn’t dried out, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkle of marjoram.
All in all, excellent food. The service was great, thoughtful and attentive. They made up quickly for a few small mistakes (forgetting the olives and the lemon) and kept us plied with whatever we needed without intruding.

What normally storebought items would you only ever make from scratch?

I'm surprised there isn't one already!

Nov 11, 2013
nurban in General Topics

What normally storebought items would you only ever make from scratch?

It's not at all complicated, and I recommend it, mostly a matter of time, because you have to get your culture started, and then give it time to work, and then ideally give the finished vinegar a bit of time to age. But it's so much better than store-bought that it's absolutely worth it.
Lots of great online resources, including


Basically you get yourself a starter culture (from, e.g., a wine/beer supply place), called a "mother" (and if you're in the Bay Area I'll happily provide you with one); feed it periodically with decent wine, keeping it in a light-proof, wide-mouthed vessel with a cloth over the top to keep dust, bugs etc out. I started with red wine vinegar, but from that (with the same culture) branched out to white wine, cider, sherry, and others. All delicious!
If you want more information let me know.

Nov 11, 2013
nurban in General Topics

What normally storebought items would you only ever make from scratch?

vinegar! homemade is better than anything
all breads, including sourdough (have years-old starter, eep, probably needs feeding right now)

Nov 11, 2013
nurban in General Topics

Good place for sweetbreads?

Excellent! Thank you, both of those sound like great options.

Jun 30, 2009
nurban in San Francisco Bay Area

Good place for sweetbreads?

I'm looking for a nice restaurant in the Bay Area--pref East Bay or SF, but will go farther--to have sweetbreads. I see that Quince has them and I'm sure they're excellent but someplace a bit less pricey would be nice. This is for a birthday, mine that is, for tomorrow night. Any recommendations?

Jun 30, 2009
nurban in San Francisco Bay Area

Zuni roast chicken on spit? [moved from SF]

Has anyone tried this? I'm going to make the chicken tonight (after only 24 hours of salting, alas I should have looked at recs here earlier!) and I'm wondering if the process would be simplified (I know, not usually aligned with equally good results) by cooking the chicken on my rarely-used little oven spit--just a rack that sets up in a roasting pan, clunky and a bit of a pain to rotate the bird 45 degrees but it does work. Mightn't it save on all the splattering when moving the bird? Mightn't it allow the skin to crisp perfectly? Not that I'd suggest I could improve that recipe. Just wondering.
I'd much appreciate the benefit of anyone's experience in this!

Jun 26, 2009
nurban in Home Cooking

Seeking vinegar mother--preferably East Bay--please?

I'm starting out on the homemade-vinegar path. I have a fine vinegar pot that I made, and some good red wine which seemed like it was thinking about vinegaring, and I've tried the Bragg unfiltered apple cider addition but that doesn't seem to be working.

So if you have or have a friend who has some mother to spare I would really really appreciate a chunk/dose/glop/whatever the appropriate part name is. Red wine preferred but I gather opinions differ on this, so I'm flexible. I will come and pick it up, container in hand, at a time convenient to you.

Email nurban@berkeley.edu. Thanks!

Aug 25, 2008
nurban in San Francisco Bay Area

Looking for Pili Nuts

I have a recipe that calls for pili nuts (aka kenari, java almond, kekuna, galip nut, ngali), and I have read all about them in the Oxford Companion to Food and on Wikipedia and so on but I can't for the life of me find them, for love or money. Not in stores--went to Vallejo's Filipino-oriented Seafood City, even--and not online. Are they just not imported here? Does anyone know where to find them?
Help would be much appreciated!

Sep 19, 2007
nurban in San Francisco Bay Area

Thomas' toaster cakes where are they in CT?

I have been craving the bran version of those, which I haven't had in probably 30 years...do they still exist, and if not, has anyone ever tried to recreate them at home? I would love a recipe...

Food to make someone whose relative has just passed

If they're not vegetarians, arroz con pollo makes a nice tasty but comforting food that lasts and that (I at least) don't get tired of over a couple days. Saute chicken (skinless if you want the dish less greasy), add onions, garlic, rice (brown is good too but then you should precook it at least halfway), saute all of that awhile, then add chicken broth (2x the volume of the rice) and a can or two of good tomatoes, with juice. Oregano, marjoram, salt, pepper, paprika. The cook (on stovetop, low heat or in oven) for about twice as long as most recipes will tell you--probably an hour? It's a really warming dish.

Aug 01, 2007
nurban in General Topics

I need a primer on marrow

Hey Ben f,

I know this is an old post but...I'm about to make these ravioli and I wanted to know if (1) you liked them, indeed thought they were the exquisite experience Olney suggests they are and (2) if you think they could be constructed a bit in advance (say, 4-5 hours) and held cool, and then cooked. Any help is very much appreciated!

Aug 01, 2007
nurban in Home Cooking