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Vietnamese Popup 8/03 at Stella Nonna/Berkeley

Just FYI if anyone's interested:

Per Bside Nosh: On August 3, chef Geoffrey Deetz will be bringing Vietnamese to Berkeley’s Stella Nonna. The formerly Oakland-based chef has been living in Vietnam since 2000 and is now planning on returning to the Bay soon. The East Bay Express did a lengthy profile on Deetz*; he spent time at Spettro and Gulf Coast Oyster Bar in Oakland and Dragonfly Teahouse in Berkeley in the 1980’s and 90’s before moving to Vietnam. There, he has been running a long list of restaurants including Vietnamese seafood restaurants, high-end steakhouses, burger and burrito joints, and a top-your-own-pizza place.
* EBay Express URL: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/WhatThe...

Tickets are $45 (URL: http://www.deetzpopup.com/). Stella Nonna is at 1407 San Pablo Ave. (at Camelia Street), Berkeley.

Baguettes from Buiphong in Oakland

Details:
BUIPHONG bakery (as in the title of this thread)
2800 International Blvd @28th Avenue
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone (510) 536-4581

Hours:
Mon 5:00 am - 1:00 pm
Tue 5:00 am - 1:00 pm
Wed 5:00 am - 1:00 pm
Thu 5:00 am - 1:00 pm
Fri 5:00 am - 1:00 pm
Sat 5:00 am - 1:00 pm
Sun 5:00 am - 12:00 pm

Korean Panchan in Oakland/Berkeley?

Details:

EM Deli & Catering
329 14th St. (b/t Webster St & Harrison St)
Oakland, CA 94612 (Oakland Chinatown)
Phone number (510) 834-3651

Hours Open per Yelp:
Mon 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Tue 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Wed 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Thu 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Fri 10:00 am - 7:00 pm
Sat 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sun 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Community Survey: Dan Dan Noodles (Simplified: 担担面 Traditional: 擔擔麵 Pinyin: dàndànmiàn)

eatzalot, I just wanted to thank you for mentioning Kenneth Lo. So few people remember his contributions to popularizing Chinese cooking. My copy of his 1972 "Chinese Food" cookbook is one of the prizes of my collection. A wonderful read!

Mourad (from Aziza) [San Francisco]

The menus for just about every Moroccan restaurant in the Bay Area are almost identical to the one served at Marrakech on O'Farrell St., which I believe was the first Moroccan restaurant here, back in the 1970's. You went down the stairs and if you weren't careful, ended up standing in the fountain in the center of their tiny foyer!

We lived just down the street from El Mansour in SF's Richmond district for 17 yrs. It never changed, except by getting worse (sloppier, sweeter, stale bread).

Aziza started out "fresh Moroccan" but gradually segued out into more CA style ingredients and cooking.

If you want "traditional" Moroccan food, then yes, best to go elsewhere. Lahlou hasn't been doing that for decades; he is more fusion than anything else.

Going to Aziza, let alone Mourad (which was never conceived as Moroccan), for a bad belly dancing experience/ossified honey lamb, is like going to Osmanthus/Oakland for salted dried duck pressed into sticky rice. Nobody's going to be happy with the result.

Moroccan cuisine is very heavy on salads, fresh fruit and seafood, something you see very little of at the El Mansour types.

A review: E&O Asian Kitchen in San Francisco

Good to know E&O remains delicious. Have to say we've had erratic experiences with the corn fritters, depending on who's in the kitchen. Sometimes they are perfect and other times....canned corn and greasy ungoodness.

Service is usually good, though; used to be one of my favs for lunch when I worked in the City. Thanks for the update!

Mourad's family-style lamb shoulder [San Francisco]

No, Mourad is in the restored AT&T building in downtown SF:

140 New Montgomery St #1, San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 660-2500

Mourad Lahlou's original restaurant, Aziza, remains at its location on Geary Blvd. & 22nd Ave. in the SF Richmond district: 5800 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121.

His flatbread and couscous have always been amazing. Melissa Chou is the pastry chef for both restaurants, a really brilliant chef.

First Oakland Wine Festival coming to Mills College

Another write-up, this time including both wine festivals, from East Bay Express:
http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland...

Reviewing: Meritage @Claremont Hotel (June 2012) [Berkeley]

Well, there is sweet and there is SWEET, lol. We have no problem with Sauternes and foie; some of our fav restaurants serve it that way (Bouchee/Carmel and Walter Hansel/Santa Rosa).

One doesn't always need acid; in the sauce you mentioned, demi-glace and alcohol would offset the sweetness from huckleberries if properly balanced. Also, Sauternes have a lovely acid balance so the sugar is never cloying.

For example, the best foie gras we've ever had was at La Folie: Passot's spiced peach consomme in 2011. We had the exact same dish again just a few weeks ago, but the peaches were too ripe and sweet, throwing the balance off. The dish is much better with peaches very slightly underripe.

We have gotten sauces with foie gras that were so ridiculously sweet, Smuckers could have jarred them for ice cream toppings. Ugh! Give me a nice light demi-glace with just a touch of Port, any day.

Comal - Berkeley

But staff turnover is a way of life in the Bay Area. Comal needs to come up with a better solution that is more customer-centric. 'Cause right now, it's creating a PR problem just by being discussed here.

Reviewing: Meritage @Claremont Hotel (June 2012) [Berkeley]

We have dined at Meritage four times since late 2009. Our last visit was July 2013. When we raved about Meritage in 2012, the kitchen was under ExecChef Josh Thomsen. Thomsen left for NYC shortly thereafter. The new chef de cuisine is Scott Quinn, whose food we tried July 2013.

We were NOT impressed. Although a couple of dishes were steller - fried calamari had a swoon-worthy vadouvan sauce and incredibly light batter - two chicken dishes were virtually inedible due to an excess of truffle oil. The beet salad was overwhelmed by too much of a strong bleu cheese mousse. A beautiful filet was unmanned by a cabernet gel so sweet it would have been banned at Fenton's.

My conclusion when I did my (private blog review) was:
"... Unfortunately, despite the occasional flashes of talent that showed in our meal, overall we have to judge Chef Quinn's cooking to be more in the style of Napa's Redd (a place we wouldn't go back to unless someone else insisted and was paying) than some of our favorites, such as San Francisco's Fifth Floor [gone], Lafayette's Artisan Bistro [downhill also], or even Sebastopol's classy little K & L Bistro [but Walter Hansel is better].*
* [brackets are updated opinions for this post]

There's talent here, as well as skill. But it's insistent upon the obvious, ending up sometimes going over the line into overwrought. We have had two dinners here that were close to perfect, and two dinners that fell short. Nobody hits home runs all the time, but this fifth dinner fell into the "like" category. We like Meritage, but this time we didn't love it.

A professional kitchen is a symphony when it works perfectly, but it's cacophony when it doesn't. Overseason with a heavy hand or add one too many ingredients, and it's irrevocable. The diner can't take the salt or the truffle oil out of a dish once they're added to excess. "

+++++++++

We have not returned since that July 2013 dinner, so take this for what it's worth. Quinn might be cooking better these days, but it's an expensive experiment if he hasn't improved.

BTW, don't waste your time at Meritage if the weather's foggy or it's dark. No view worth noting then.

Uyghur Taamliri -- Xinjiang/Kazakh Food comes to the Sunset. [San Francisco]

Oh, we are so going to make a note of this. We loved Omar’s Xinjiang/San Gabriel which we ate at during our recent SoCA driving trip. Any fried lamb ribs? Garlic cucumbers? Yum, yum....

SF can't miss..

Sometimes it can helpful to know more about what you and spouse DON'T like?

Oro Restaurant/SF preview dinners on Feastly

That's the link for Wed's dinner only. The links for Thurs & Fri dinners are all separate.

alaMar [Oakland]

Thanks for the detailed report! I'm a member of Christina Mitchell's MeetMe group but had to miss their outing to alaMar. Gotta push it higher up on our "list", lol.

Oops, always forgetting the details, aren't we?

alaMar
100 Grand Ave #111 (near Webster), Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 907-7555

Oro Restaurant/SF preview dinners on Feastly

Chef Jason Fox, who is opening Oro in the old Thermidor space in SF's Mint Plaza, just posted some preview dinners at Oro which I thought some of you folks might be interested in:

Wed July 15th, 6:30-9:30p
Thurs July 16th, same
Fri July 17th, same

5 courses, meal & wine $125
https://eatfeastly.com/browse/#/san-f...

Oliveto's Oceanic Dinner, June 23-26 2015 [Oakland]

The problem is that Oliveto is almost twice the price of other Oakland restaurants. But it's not twice as good. And they are far from being the only restaurant who subscribe to sustainability.

Berkeley to Petaluma via Richmond/SR bridge thence 101 north...midday Saturday 6/27/15, economy to midrange, easy on/off, character(s), Farmer's Markets, etc?

My bad, how could I forget John and Francesca! Delightful people and those grilled sausages are fabulous. Not much room inside though as it's very very tiny. But I believe you can eat in the pub next door if you buy some brews? Anyone know if that's still true?

Yanni's
10007 Main St., Penngrove, CA - 5 min. off Hwy 101 at Penngrove exit. Look for the pub, you'll miss Yanni's otherwise!

Oliveto's Oceanic Dinner, June 23-26 2015 [Oakland]

Thanks for the report! That is interesting about service, I agree we've always seen good service from the restaurant side (never been to the cafe). Also agree their pastas almost always excellent.

Wish more restaurants would include sound reduction in their budgets. Love Gaspar/SF but the moment I saw that ceiling, I thought, "Uh-oh." Noise when full was thunderous even though it's a small space. Glad to hear Oliveto's new system works well.

Linguica

My DH is Portuguese/Chinese. We like Silva's but it has changed a lot since we first started buying it. The best was Amaral but they were bought by a Boston-based company so can no longer be purchased here. I knew the family; there was some tension between the family generations so I think they just decided to take the money and go their separate ways. One of those "I love you, respect you, but just can't work with you!" situations we can all identify with.

Silva's is very, very lean now with less salt, compared to how it was in the 1970's/'80's. It did affect the flavor. Some spice compounds develop better in fat than they do in water.

Oliveto's Oceanic Dinner, June 23-26 2015 [Oakland]

I honestly hope you have a great experience. We went to three of Oliveto's special dinners in 2013. The first one, Whole Hog, was phenomenal. Not enough superlatives to do it justice; flawless from beginning to ending cappuccino.

But with the Hen and Oceanic dinners, Oliveto totally bombed on us. The Hen had two dishes so oversalted we returned one (and should have returned the other). We discussed this oversalting with both waiter and mgr. It did absolutely no good. The Oceanic 2014 dinner was even worse. We returned three plates to the kitchen due to oversalting.

A shame, because we do think the chef is very good; he proved that with the perfect Whole Hog menu. But someone was working the line who was getting away with ruining his dishes. After three experiences in a row - we came back for a regular dinner three months later and the same issue arose AGAIN, we gave up and have never gone back.

With the many new restaurants that have opened, we spent 2014 cycling between Trabocco, Desco, and Lungomare, when we wanted Italian LOL. We enjoyed Centouno as well but it has closed.

Please do report back. The menu for Oceanic looks wonderful!

Jenner/Bodega Bay-Healdsburg Area restaurants

We've eaten quite a bit in Healdsburg. I prefer River's End/Jenner over all of them. But haven't been to Terrapin, which is on our (ever-growing) list to try!

It has to be a nice day without fog, though. When it's clear River's End has a lovely view. Reserve in advance thru OT and you've a better chance of getting those prized windowside tables.

Berkeley to Petaluma via Richmond/SR bridge thence 101 north...midday Saturday 6/27/15, economy to midrange, easy on/off, character(s), Farmer's Markets, etc?

Yes, we got caught in last year's event traffic (Sonoma Raceway). Hideous is the only word to describe it! So do make a note of Melanie's warning.

Don't know how far up 101 you're going, but on our last trip (end of May) we hit BurtoNZ Bakery (9076 Brooks Road South, Windsor, CA). Did not try the SW Vegetable, cannot recommend the Egg & Bacon (bland and boring; I bought this the day before I brought my DH), but we tried every meat pie they had. Good short-crust pastry dough.

All are very good save for the Sausage Roll. Not that the latter was bad but it's just a skinny sausage with air around it as the dough puffs up when it bakes. We took it home, stuck a couple of long slices of cheese inside, and microwaved it was fine. But by itself as it stands, dull. Desserts are Twinkie-sweet and the croissants/fruit danishes are just okay.

Note they are VERY popular with locals and the line on weekends is said to be daunting.

Best were these two:
Chicken Pie - think pot pie without any veggies and just a skim of gravy. These are all hand pies, designed to be eaten without dripping all over your front. There is enough gravy to moisten but not enough to make a mess. The tasty pastry will leave crumbs, though!

Mince and Cheese pie: Very tasty and just enough salt to balance the pastry dough. We both liked this a lot.

Second place:
All the beef pies. Tender cubes of beefy goodness. There's beef & mushroom, beef & cheese, beef with a single crust topped with piped mashed potatoes. Spouse was in carnivore heaven.

Third place:
Mushroom and Goat Cheese pie: When we reheated this you could smell the goat cheese, but in taste it was very mild. It is finely chopped mushrooms, and a whole lot of them because mushrooms shrink like crazy when cooked, yet the filling is a solid 1" high.

Six pies, one roll pastry, $41.95

Advice re Napa area 2 day itinerary (2 dinners, 2 lunches)

Considering the weather, I'd eat dinner on the terrace at Auberge. Great view, great food, hard to beat.

Make sure Ken Franks is on site for the night you're at La Toque. Everything falls apart when he isn't there. Superb when he is in.

First Oakland Wine Festival coming to Mills College

I believe the Mills event is featuring wineries from all over Northern CA, including Opus One. Isn't the Urban Wine X only EBay wineries? Just asking to be curious, as I don't drink (at least, not much any longer, LOL).

The only reason I even noticed it is because when Mills has a really big event, people start parking all the up by our house!

First Oakland Wine Festival coming to Mills College

Per Berkeleyside Nosh: Oakland is getting its first ever wine festival. Next month, food and wine writer Melody Fuller, in conjunction with several high-profile California wineries and East Bay chefs, will host a day-long event of classes, panels and tastings July 18 at Mills College in East Oakland.

http://www.berkeleyside.com/2015/06/2...

Introduced some friends to La Folie last weekend [San Francisco]

We have been going to La Folie periodically for years. One of our friends is getting a new job so we treated them to La Folie for dinner. We have been gradually introducing them to French food and got them addicted, LOL.

Our last dinner here had slipped a little. Very minor items, but noticed. An excess of garlic(!) on the sauce underpinning the lovely goat cheese tartin; an overabundance of accompaniments on the beef, including a disgusting swirl of bright green pureed tarragon. I love tarragon, but I defy anyone to eat what tastes like grassy strong licorice soup, which added nothing to anything else on the plate. Fortunately it wasn't super runny so I managed to avoid it; everything else was fine on the plate.

But this meal went back to the excellent level we always expect here. One person had the tasting menu, the rest of us chose from the regular menu. We really love how everybody can pick whatever they want, in any combination they want.

Happy to report the goat cheese tartin and beef dishes were back to superb again. The foie gras with peaches was almost as good as before; the peaches were a little too ripe this time (the dish is better when they are slightly underripe and have more acidity). Weakest was the lobster risotto, which was not creamy in texture like before but instead, mixed with creme fraiche which was not mentioned on the menu.

Our friends flipped over the Edam cheese souffle with fromage blanc gelato. Really amazing, beautifully balanced flavors.

With four glasses of wine and a couple of cappuccinos, we got out for $200/pp. We felt it was a bargain. I'm always amazed Passot is still at it (admittedly the chef de cuisine Jeremy Wayne does the day-to-day cooking). But I believe M. Passot is well past Medicare age now, and it's wonderful that La Folie has been holding up the standard for great French food since 1988. So many others have closed down, but Folie is as reliable as ever.

Wed night specials at Spoonbar/Healdsburg

7x7 just posted that Spoonbar has a Wed night prix fixe 3-course dinner for $29. Also, they are waiving corkage fees that night only. Website says it starts now and runs through end of August 2015.

http://spoonbar.com/events/?event=win...

Trip Report to Zuzu in Napa, Meadowood in St. Helena, and Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford

Wow, I'm so glad someone else loved Etoile as much as we did! We were blown away by Perry Hoffman's amazing cooking. Very sad that he's taken a job as exec chef at one of the Napa catering companies rather than another restaurant. We wish him good luck, though, and hopefully one of these days he'll get back into the restaurant end again.

Yes, I think Auberge is one of the very very few places I can think of where the view and the food are equally good. Great service and free valet parking, hard to beat.

Firebrand Brick Oven Bakery [Oakland]

There is a nice selection of Firebrand breads available from Good Eggs delivery service, one of the few that serves Oakland. Sample page below - note that the selection varies depending on how far in advance your delivery date is. For best results I usually order at least 4-5 days in advance:
https://www.goodeggs.com/sfbay/bakery...

Ethan Fletcher profiled Firebrand & their move in Inside Scoop a couple of days ago: http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/...