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Dinner near Lake Merritt

I can second Michel Bistro as being excellent. It's Provencal cuisine.

Shakewell, practically next door, is very hot right now and has been getting rave reviews. North African and Spanish.

I am also in the class of people who LOVE Camino. It's a bit further up Grand Ave towards Piedmont, just a few blocks.

And of course there are the Pizzaiolo brethren, Penrose and Boot'n'Shoe. Penrose is a turn away from pizza/pasta although they do have flatbreads.

I think all of these have been reviewed on CH so you can search ...

about 3 hours ago
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

Whole pig dinner similar to Incanto?

SoMA ... in the old Zuppa space (4th street near Brannan).

http://eater.com/archives/2014/02/13/...

ETA: more recent coverage http://sf.eater.com/archives/2014/08/...

Authentic chiles en nogada - any in the Bay Area?

I noticed on the Eat Real schedule that the chef from Tamarindo is going to do a Chile En Nogada demonstration from 6-7pm on Friday the 19th.

I might brave the crowds to go see this.

Sep 16, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

Hopscotch (Oakland)

Report from Dinner on 9/12 ...

Amuse -- picked daikon -- nice little palate cleanser

Yonsei oysters -- Pretty and tasty

Chicken liver mousse -- some crazy umami in this. It tasted like parmesan to me, but it seems more likely to be miso. Perfectly smooth texture, and guess what they actually gave us enough bread to eat the entire portion.

Halibut sumonomo -- this was a gift from the kitchen for my friend, who was having a birthday -- the pickled veggies were all very nice, but I prefer the crudo preparations at Dopo. I wouldn't personally order it again.

I think we had another appetizer, but I can't remember now (!).

Mains:

Fried chicken -- delicious, as described by others, and I loved the floral note of the chrysanthemum slaw.

Maitake risotto -- unfortunately, undercooked. Mushroom flavors were good, but this really needed a few more minutes in the pan, to absorb more liquid. It came with a quail egg, which was cute but too small to provide much in the fairly large dish, and some nice tempura mushroom.

Dessert:

Chocolate thing (I have forgotten how it was described, but it was kind of like a drier marquise) with marinated blackberries and chocolate sauce -- the chocolate itself was very good, the marinated blackberries melded nicely with the sauce although were not that exciting in themselves.

Donuts and cream -- as others have described, quite delightful.

Service was very good; attentive but unobtrusive. I will definitely return, but will stick to the fried chicken for a main.

If I'd been in the mood for alcohol, I'd have been sorely tempted by the Uptown Egg Cream.

Sep 16, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

A "special" dinner in SFBA -- your thoughts much appreciated

I think central kitchen is well worth a visit. It's not that difficult to get into, but the food is very good, and the price point represents a good value IMO. The dining room is very pleasant. If I were to go with a significant other rather than a large group, I would piece together my own tasting from the a la carte menu, just splitting plates as I went along. It's California cuisine, but I think the chef has a point of view.

Sep 16, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

What are you baking these days? September 2014, part 2!

Molasses crinkles (from Mollie Katzen by way of another food forum). These go spectacularly well with ginger tea, show off those nice spices you've got hiding in your kitchen drawer, and are perfect for fall.

A friend baked some banana bread and subbed in almond butter for part of the fat (don't know precisely how much she subbed), gave me a slice ... very tasty and moist! Dense, but flavorful. I'd try it myself.

Sep 15, 2014
Torina in Home Cooking

Whole pig dinner similar to Incanto?

Not done to order, but some restaurants will do whole hog roasts from time to time. This summer I saw announcements from Oliveto and from Hopscotch; I'm sure there are others who do this. Let's hope that when CC's new restaurant opens (november), he will do whole pigs again.

Sep 15, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

Help finalizing restaurants, deserts, cocktail/speakeasy, as well as opinions on SF staples

If you cross the bay...

Flora in uptown (the bart station would be 19th st) does excellent fried chicken and also has gazpacho on the menu. Everything I've had there has been good, although I've mostly been for brunch. Bonus! What an adorable art deco dining room.

And guess what, next door is Xolo, which serves burritos.

Tamarindo Antojeria in Old Oakland is one of my favorites, consistently good but also on the clean side, and with fresh masa (we always order chilaquiles, I'm sure their guacamole would be excellent), and it has nice cocktails as well. I bet some are named after wrestlers.

Also, do you like Indian food? If so, you should try Curry Up Now. They have several trucks, as well as a brick and mortar in San Mateo (but that'd be a bit of a journey). Mexican-Indian fusion, quite tasty.

Sep 15, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

Good Italian food for an Italian's birthday dinner near BART?

A16 in Rockridge would fit the bill nicely. Nice dining room, the food is consistently good, the menu changes often, and it's pretty close to the Rockridge Bart. Buon compleanno a lui.

Sep 15, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

Downtown Oakland Lunch Spots [split from Stag's Lunchette thread]

Rio California

Thanks for the reminder about this lovely spot. Went last Thursday for the Feijoada and it was just as good as I remembered from many years ago, and Preservation Park is so charming. Deeply flavorful beans. I just love this dish, it's big enough for 2 meals for me as well, which makes it a great deal at $10 or $11.

What a great spot to bring visitors, to show them one of the little gems of Oakland. And if you have limited time, like we did, it's not all that expensive to park across MLK in the garage, and it saves time looking.

Sep 12, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

CSA Reviews

Those peppers look beautiful! I'm also jealous of your radicchio.

Sep 12, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

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

After following your link, I was looking at Catahoula coffee and noticed that they are opening a new location in the old Sketch space on 4th street (at Addison, south of the 'main' 4th st stroll).

So, a little closer for those of you based in SF, Berkeley, or Oakland.

Sep 12, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

Altu's Ethiopian (East Lansing, Michigan)

Oh yes, sorry, meant to say that I happened to order vegetarian, and therefore cannot comment on the quality of the meat, but I certainly wouldn't hesitate to try it.

Sep 11, 2014
Torina in Great Lakes

What are you baking these days? September edition, part 1! (2014) [old]

Sounds like you want a homemade graham cracker!

Unfortunately, I don't have a recipe. But I can attest that friends have made them and they are SO good homemade.

Sep 10, 2014
Torina in Home Cooking

Altu's Ethiopian (East Lansing, Michigan)

Not a huge amount of action on the board for Lansing, so I wanted to give this place a shoutout, based on my one meal there.

Altu's is more Americanized than other Ethiopian restaurants I have been to in DC and in Berkeley/Oakland, where there are significant Ethiopian populations. But Americanized isn't always a bad thing! I think they're doing a great job of bringing in an unfamiliar cuisine to the area. Specifically, I felt it was Americanized because the fare is less greasy, the bread is lighter, the spices don't have quite the same depth, and they offer silverware.

However, the food is excellent, and what is more ... they have a special family recipe for lima beans that should not be missed -- it is subtly spiced with an insanely great texture in the beans. Subtly spiced cloud puffs.

For myself as a traveler, this was just what I needed. A nice, tasty. clean meal. Great place to get a vegetarian meal. It's also dead cheap.

Service was great, relaxed but checking in with lots of refills, etc. Should I find myself in Lansing again, I will definitely return.

Sep 10, 2014
Torina in Great Lakes
1

Box and Bells Eating House - Oakland

We tried the porterhouse pork chop mid-August and it was dynamite. I'll have to go back so you guys can have a full report :)

Plum > Ume [Oakland]

D***it, and I have reservations for Friday.

Pre-show dinner near Orpheum [San Francisco]

I wrote a while back about enjoying Nojo in Hayes Valley pre-symphony. Nojo is part yakitoriya and part fusion small plates. The food and service are good and it's a fun experience.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831360

Sep 08, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

CSA Reviews

If anyone has a chance to buy the new (yukon gold) potatoes from TFF at a farmers market, jump at the chance. I simply steamed these and buttered them, and they had incredible flavor. Almost a coconut note to them.

The peaches are definitely on their way out and not as good as earlier in the summer. I would not say that stone fruit are their strongest suit.

Sep 08, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

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

As a bonus, Highwire carries Starter Bakery kouign amann with espresso custard, mmmmm.

CSA Reviews

I don't consider this to be off topic at all!

How much are the mystery boxes? So that isn't a subscription? Kind of nice, if not. You have to be a TFF member (or a recipient of a gift) to get access to the special prices on bulk items.

I don't remember exactly how much I paid for flats of strawberries at the farmers market earlier this year, but that seems comparable. The tomato prices, however, for buying in bulk seem great at both farms. Usually the stands at the market don't advertise a discount for buying in bulk ... I should start asking. TFF doesn't guarantee the variety of tomato that you get, some of them wouldn't necessarily be great for canning.

Sep 05, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

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

bbulkow, cappuccino is a classic Italian breakfast coffee drink. Does dairy turn it into a coffee-flavored dessert drink?

We combine ingredients all the time to enhance flavors. Milk is fairly neutral, and the sugar content is pretty low, but it rounds the coffee. It enhances the coffee experience for many.

Are you making a judgement on individuals who drink their coffee any way other than as a pourover or espresso shot, or are you saying that milk may hide otherwise evident flaws in roasting and pulling technique? So that a pourover or espresso shot will give you the best data point for judgment of shop techniques?

I hope you're not indicting nations' worth of coffee drinkers :)

Sep 05, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

Irrationally far-in-advance bookings: an increasingly general trend

Ha! I think you miss my point ... which is that a bit of chance can lead to serendipity.

Sep 05, 2014
Torina in Not About Food

Honeymoon October 4-12: SF, Napa, Carmel, Big sur - please help

Also, for the dessert lover, a visit to Recchiuti's Chocolate Lab might be fun:

http://thelabcafesf.com/about/

It's in Dogpatch (bay side of Potrero Hill), which isn't an area that many tourists make it to, but it's definitely accessible since the Muni runs south from the area by the ballpark.

When I have been, I haven't been all that enthused by the savories, but the desserts ... oh, the desserts.

Also in that area:
Mr & Mrs Miscellaneous for ice cream with unusual flavors
Marcella's Lasgneria (lunchtime weekdays only
)Serpentine (great brunch, also an okay dinner, nice bar)
Piccino (very close to the Chocolate lab -- pizza and pasta, totally fine and a very pleasant atmosphere)
Olivier's butchery (just to pop in and look around, nothing is served "ready to eat" but you could pick up fancy condiments as a souveneir)

There's a cheese shop too, but I haven't been.

Sep 05, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

Central Valley Pies

Definitely good to know. The above just happens to be territory that I've traversed a lot in the past couple of years.

Sep 05, 2014
Torina in California

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

In the east bay, I really like SubRosa, which serves Four Barrel. The space is tiny, but the baristas really know their craft and the caps there are deeply flavorful, served at the correct temperature, and beautiful. But it's not really a hang out spot, sadly.

A good friend and coffee fiend swears by Modern Coffee in the Tribune building. They have a new second location close to 19th st BART as well. I confess that I haven't been yet (I think they have now expanded their hours, but originally it was just weekdays or something similarly limiting.

I do find a lot of 3rd wave coffee (Sightglass, I'm looking at you) to be overly acidic. I know a lot of people are looking for those bright flavors in their joe these days, but not me. I like sour in other foods, but in coffee it somehow turns my stomach.

Sep 05, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area

Irrationally far-in-advance bookings: an increasingly general trend

Maybe from the restaurant's point of view or, perhaps, the server's ... the "most dedicated" doesn't necessarily denote the best customer!

Many people still prize spontaneity, and some of the most wonderful and fascinating people I know can't (or won't?) plan their way out of a paper bag, even if they make fantastic art or conversation, and have excellent palates.

Planning does not equate to appreciation.

Sep 04, 2014
Torina in Not About Food
1

What are you baking these days? September edition, part 1! (2014) [old]

Greek pita does seem a bit different from pita from further east. I also find it's softer, richer, and dusted with a little something.

Sep 04, 2014
Torina in Home Cooking

CSA Reviews

Last week, I had suggested doing more thorough comparisons of CSAs by posting pictures and box contents. (Reference: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/986846

)

Here are the contents of the Medium box from Terra Firma Farms that I received September 3rd 2014. This box currently costs $27 per week, and I get a small discount by prepaying quarterly (3% bonus).

Overall, we really like the variety of TFF. As usual, they have their strengths and weaknesses. I find myself stocking up at the farmers' market on stone fruit, strawberries, avocado, and eggplant. But mostly we are very happy with the quality and variety of the veggies. The nuts and citrus are great. You can often buy surplus fruits and vegetables at a good price -- I bought 12# of organic yellow tomatoes for $15 earlier in the summer for canning, it's hard to beat that price.

I weighed everything on my kitchen scale, and tared for any containers:

Shisito peppers -- 5 oz
New Potatoes -- 1 lb 9.6 oz
Painted Serpent cucumber -- 7.2 oz
Yellow Onions -- 1 lb 4.1 oz
Peaches -- 15.4 oz
Heirloom Tomatoes -- 1 lb 9.3 oz
Green Beans -- 8.2 oz
Gypsy peppers -- 1 lb 6.5 oz
Seedless Grapes -- 1 lb 10 oz
Seeded Watermelon -- 8 lb

Next time I go to the Lake Merritt market, I'll look for these items (or the closest thing to them) and post equivalent prices.

Honeymoon October 4-12: SF, Napa, Carmel, Big sur - please help

If you pass through the East Bay at all, hit La Fournee bakery on Domingo (near the Claremont hotel) for amazing croissants and derivative laminated goods. They usually have a kind of tartlet made with croissant dough with fresh fruit (recently, blackberries) and custard, but it sells out pretty early. They also have great eclairs.

I love the innovation of the bay area, but sometimes traditional pastry is just soooo satisfying.

Assuming that you will hit at least a little of the tourist circuit ...
If you like museums and science, go to the Exploratorium while you're here and grab lunch at their cafe, it's suprisingly excellent. The museum itself is unique and has fascinating, interactive exhibits.

For a wonderful picnic in Golden Gate Park, get takeout from nopalito and then go spread out on the grass by the conservatory of flowers.

If you *must* go to Fisherman's wharf, you can revive yourself with Three Twins' ice cream (organic, local).

Sep 04, 2014
Torina in San Francisco Bay Area