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Albion and Anderson Valley

My lucky husband and I rented a house in Albion next week for about 8 days. Although we go up to the area a few times a year, we rarely stay that long and we are always on the lookout for great plaves we have not yet found.

In the past, our favorite area restaurants have been Moosse Cafe and MacCallum House. This time, we are loking in particular for great casual restaurants and takeout places or grocery stores, as well as some new Anderson Valley wineries to sample. I'd also love some recent thought on the restaurants actually in Albion: Ledford House and the Albion River Inn; and in Little River.

We have tasted and enjoyed the wines at Tolousse (the best tasting experience!), Navarro, Husch, Handley, Roderer and Goldeneye. We also really enjoy Pacific Star and the tasting bar at the Wine Shop in Mendocino. For this trip, we are planning to visit Esterlina and would love to add some other wineries we have not yet tried.

All suggestions appreciated!

May 28, 2008
Jamie Rudman in California

Recommendations for Homosassa?

I am going to be in Homosassa and Crystal Springs next Sunday and Monday and would appreciate any recommendations for tasty chow in the area for dinner (Sunday) and lunch (Monday). I've seen mentions on this board of a great Cuban sandwich in Homosassa, which would be a perfect Monday lunch, but couldn't find the name/address of the restaurant that serves it. Thanks!!!

Jan 22, 2008
Jamie Rudman in Florida

Cask-conditioned ales in Berkeley or Bay area?

Barclay's on College Avenue in Oakland also has a rotating cask ale. It is also of varying quality, but always worth asking about.

Oct 24, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Monterey Penninsula Sports Bar?

I am going to be staying in Pacific Grove this weekend and am looking for a good sports bar on the Monterey Penninsula to watch the Cal v. UCLA football game. Good food/drink a plus, but also want a place with good viewing options. All suggestions appreciated. Thanks!

Oct 17, 2007
Jamie Rudman in California

"Best" local whole or multi grain bread?

I really enjoy the Henry's Harvest from Grace Baking Company. Its widely available. My other favorite is a round loaf from Artisan Bakers that I buy at the Market Hall Bakery. As a round, it may be a bit more awkward to make sandwiches from, though the off-size bits could be turned into great, wholegrain croutons. The whole wheat breads at the Bread Garden are also worth a try. As for the Acme breads, I don't think that the ones I have seen have been 100% whole grain. If that is an issue for you, I strongly suggest careful label checking or contact the bakeries themselves as many of these artisan whole wheat/grain breads also contain regular wheat flour.

Oct 08, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Help -- quiet SF Sunday dinner for 10-12

I nicest large group dinner I've been to in the last several years was at Jeanty at Jack's. Great food, very quiet and the service was attentive without being intrusive. I believe that it is open on Sundays. Located in the Financial District, so not TOO far from Union Square or BART.

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Jeanty At Jacks
615 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA 94111

Jul 20, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Bridal shower in Napa - advice appreciated!

I planned a similar party in March, though we focused our tastings in St. Helena. The number of people in your group may limit your options also, as many of the smaller wineries can't accomodate a group that size. We used the limo services of Beau Wine Tours, which did a very good job and helped to recommend the stops. Wine tasting fees in Napa can be quite expensive, and they helped to pick places thery weren't. In fact, the per person limo price was roughly the same as 2-3 tasting fees, had we not gone to the places that Beau selected for us. In particular, everyone enjoyed Reverie, where we had a tour of the facilities, including their caves, and had our picnic in Reverie's lovely redwood grove. Although Beau offered to get food for us (at a rather steep rate), they were perfectly fine with our bringing along our own supplies from Oakville Grocery.

Specifically, on the Silverado Trial, I enjoyed tastings recently at Miner (which may be too small for your group) and Darioush. I really want to go back to Darioush for their wine and cheese pairings, which require reservations. You may also want to consider Paraduxx, which may be able to set up a wine and food pairing for a reasonable fee. I did this for my party at Duckhorn, Paraduxx's parent, and it cut down nicely on the amount of picnic supplies we needed.

Jul 17, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Anniversary Dinner Sunday East Bay

Wood Tavern is loud, but I think that the noise can create a more intimate space for private conversation. I had dinner there with my husband Saturday night and we both loved it. As a previous poster stated, the food was very good (he had steak, I had the seafood stew and we split the pork belly confit app.) and the drinking options were great. Very reasonable for the quality and the area. But the best and rarest feature for me was that the service was absolutely wonderful. Thanks again to our server, Shannon, who was helpful, knowledgeable and a lot of fun. The whole evening was a pleasure and we can't wait to go back.

Jun 13, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Caterer in Sunnyvale for a BBQ (cheap)

I had a terrific BBQ party in San Jose a couple of summers ago that was catered by Absolute Barbeque from Redwood City. I just took a quick look at their current menu, and their packages range from $12 (burgers) to $16 (tri tip) per person, with kids meals at just $6.50, plus service charge and tax. We had tons of food leftover and I really cannot recommend the company strongly enough. A few weeks before this party, we attended one catered by Armadillo Willies, and it was not nearly as good. http://www.absolutebarbeque.com/menus...

In the same price range is Asqew Grill, which specializes in skewers, but I have not been to one of their parties so I cannot comment about the quality.
http://www.asqewgrill.com/

May 04, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Help! Another Berkeley/Oakland Graduation Dinner Query

I don't think that Dopo takes reservations, even for groups that size. Pizzaolo does, and lots of people on this board recommend it for large groups. However, I want to warn you about my three experiences with making reservartions there, for groups of 4. Each time, we were not seated until 30 to 40 minutes after our reservation time, and there is really no comfortable place to wait, particularly for older relatives. The host has never been apologetic at all about the wait; in fact, quite the opposite. The closest we ever got to an apology, after standing outside in the rain for 30 minutes, was: people without reservations have to wait much longer. I understand that reservations are not an exact science, but at this restaurant, the waits with reservations have been consistently too long for me me to consider going there on a special occasion. Or anytime with my husband, who refuses to ever go again, after our last 3 experiences. Perhaps they would be better able to accomodate a reservation for a large group, but I would not risk it unless other people report better experiences.

In contrast, I've had wonderful experiences with group dinners at Zax Tavern. They have a lovely small room in the back, that perfectly holds 10 people. We had a terrific 10 person dinner there Thanksgiving weekend. Parking nearby on Telegraph is almost always very easy. There service is consistently great, and the food is very good. I would not put it in the same league as CP and Zuni (2 of my absolute favorites), but it is really, really good. Prices are reasonable for what you get, and there are choices that would appeal to folks of all ages. Loud, happy dinner conversation would be perfectly appropriate.

Apr 09, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Quality meat in Mendocino County?

The website www.eatwild.com lists a number of small, California grass-fed meat producers, many of whom are on the North Coast. Perhaps if you contact sopme of them, they can sell direct and/or advise you about where their products are available.

http://www.eatwild.com/products/calif...

Apr 06, 2007
Jamie Rudman in California

passover baked goods in SF or Oakland/Berkeley?

I hope that you don't mind if the desserts are merely traditional, as opposed to kosher. I am not aware of any local bakery that makes kosher for Passover desserts, but there are several good options for very tasty, Passover-style desserts. The macaroons from Grand Bakery are quite good. We picked some up from the bakery itself (on Grand) Friday, but its kosher and will close for the holiday, if it has not already. They are not certified Kosher for Passover. Grand Bakery products are available at a number of grocery stores in the area, including Berkeley Bowl. I think I have also seen them at Piedmont Grocers, Andronicos and Farmer Joe's, but you might want to call first, to make certain that they have macaroons. In the past, I have also gotten Passover style desserts (macaroons, meriengues and flourless cake) from Sweet Adeline and Crixa. Both were fine. Sweet Adeline seems to take the most interest in the Jewish holidays of the local bakeries; she has offerings for Rosh also. I'd probably call there first. The Pasta Shop has a Passover menu, which includes some desserts. I read somewhere (maybe on this board) that Saul's Deli is offering a large, first-come-first-served Passover takeout menu. Not sure how impressive their options will be. Last year, Katrina Rozelle on College had some spcial Passover desserts as well. I did not try them, but generally enjoy her stuff. Enjoy!

Apr 02, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Looking for LA style mexican in SF

I think we lived in basically the same neighborhood in LA (I was last in Mar Vista) and I am familiar with all of the places you mentioned. Your message was a wistful reminder of how many good-to-great places there are in a small area there, with nothing equivalent here. I think most of the folks on this board who are criticizing the type of food that you are seeking have never been to the restaurants you list, all of which offer fresh, well-prepared quality food, in a fun atmosphere equally suitable for families, a young crowd looking for drinks and value and casual date night. As I said before, we really have not found anything comparable here, though occasionally go to La Pinata, at least for the drinks. I get the impression that when most folks in the Bay Area hear "LA Mexican", if they think of anything at all, it is El Coyote and its ilk. Which is why you are getting recommendations for Juan's and Celia's, as well as some uncalled for insults. Please report back on what you find, as there are many of us immigrants from LA in the area.

Apr 02, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Looking for LA style mexican in SF

What were your favorites in LA? Given the wide range of places in LA, that info might help. We moved here from LA a couple years ago, and had the same problem finding comparable Mexican restaurants. My favorite spot there was Gilbert's El Indio on Pico in SM. Nothing quite like that here. The closest we have found is La Pinata in Alameda, which actually reminds me a bit of El Cholo, in that it is large and loud and has lots of big families. La Pinata has a bunch of east bay locations, but we have only gone to the Alameda location. I suspect that this suggestion will get a mixed response on this board, but it may be what you are looking for. Particularly great margaritas and lots of cheese on everything. If your LA mexican tastes ran more toward the La Serrenta-type of restaurant (which is not really typical LA in my mind), you may like Dona Tomas on Telegraph in Oakland. In fact, you may like it even if you were not a La Serrenata fan. I really love this place. It is much more upscale and uses better quality ingredients than the typical LA Mex, but I can't fault it for that. These two places (along with an ocassional visit to Tamarindo Antojeria in downtown Oakland) hold me between visits south. Now, if I could only find a great Persian restaurant, along the lines of places in Westwood like Shamshiri . . .

Mar 30, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Proposing this weekend....NAPA suggestions?

One of the most special places I've been to recently was the picnic area at Reverie, a family-owned winery in Calistoga. It would be perfect for a proposal picnic. Their wines were good and affordable and the tour (for my group of 11) was relaxed, entertaining and FREE (very rare in Napa). The tasting room itself is minimal, but they invited us to taste outside among the trees. The wide, "family circle" of second growth redwoods, which you access by crossing a bridge over a little creek, would be a truly beautiful place to propose or just discuss your future. I suspect that the outdoor tasting experience is generally for groups, but if you contact them in advance, and they have room on the schedule, I suspect that the family that owns the place would provide a great expereince, and be honored that you chose to include them on this special weekend. Particularly if you hint that you'd celebrate each anniversary of your engagement with their wine! Good luck this weekend. I hope that you both enjoy every minute of it.

http://www.reveriewine.com/index.htm

Mar 20, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Whiskey/Bourbon for a beginner?

I started getting into whiskys several years ago, as my then boyfriend (now husband) has a large collection of single malt and blended scotches. My "starter" whiskys are still two of my favorites: Balvenie Doublewood (a single malt) and Johnnie Walker Black Label (a blend). Both are available in my area at BevMo and Trader Joes for around $30/bottle. Feel free to drink over ice and add dashes of water; it certainly acceptable in Scotland to do so, so you might as well enjoy it that way. I'd recommend starting your exploration in a bar that is knowledgable about whisky or at a whiskey tasting event, as the range of styles and flavours is quite wide and it can be expensive to invest in full bottles. I also frequently see miniature bottles in good liquor stores, some of which are worth trying (for example, Glenfiddich and Macallan).

If the Scotch Malt Whisky Society has an event in your area, it would be a good opportunity to sample: http://www.smwsa.com/calendar.html

Enjoy!

Feb 09, 2007
Jamie Rudman in Spirits

bakery delivery

Delessio delivered wonderful mixed platters of mini cupcakes for a party I had last summer. According to the website, delivery is free with a $200 purchse, and they are willing to discuss discuss delivery on smaller orders. http://www.delessiomarket.com/Caterin...

Feb 01, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

East Bay Wedding Cakes?

Yet another vote for Katrina Rozelle. She made our cake for our wedding last June. I had not planned on spending that much money on a cake (about $1000) but nothing else we tried compared, in terms of the quality of the cake and the quality of the service. From the tasting at the Oakland shop (which was fantasically generous) to the delivery, everyone we dealth with with gracious and helpful. As an added bonus, they almost always have the same cake flavors available in the store, by the slice. So, we were able to pick up a number of slices to bring home after the tasting for friends and family to try, to help us narrow down our selection. And, for special times (like Valentines Day), we can pick a slice the same flavor of our cake to share.

In contrast, just trying to make an appointment at Montclair Bakery was such a pain that I never even bothered to schedule a tasting.

Feb 01, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

vegetarian and lactose intolerant

Medicine is great and fits your requirements perfectly. I am not a vegetarian (more of an omnivore, really) but I have enjoyed several meals there. They also had some terrific teas the last time I visited several months ago.

Feb 01, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Round or square table for a group in or near downtown SF?

Jeanty at Jack's has some good round tables.

Jan 03, 2007
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Pumpkin ice cream & gelato

I had the pumpkin ice cream at Lapperts on Bridgeway in Sausalito last weekend. Had a good but mild pumpkin flavor, strong spices and a good texture. I'd definitely go back for it, though I would have liked a stronger pumpkin flavor. In past years, I have really enjoyed the version put out by McConnell's, which is from Santa Barbara and which Berkeley Bowl sometimes carries in the Bay Area. It is less spicy and more "pumpkiny" than Lapperts.

Oct 11, 2006
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Can You Recommend Cooking Instruction DVDs?

The PBS show "America's Test Kitchen" has several seasons out on DVD. Most of their offerings are fairly easy to follow and focus on technique.

Oct 04, 2006
Jamie Rudman in Food Media & News

Creative Dining in Mendocino

The Garden Bakery in Mendocino next to the MacCallum House Hotel has wonderful cookies, breads, filled rolls and pizza slices. I can't recommed this place strongly enough. Also, the folks at the Wine Shop in Mendocino are very friendly and will likely have great ideas, both for wine and a picnic to accompany it. Enjoy!

Sep 22, 2006
Jamie Rudman in California

BBQ catering company (peninsula)?

Absolute Barbeque in Redwood City did a great job on a party for me about a year ago. http://www.absolutebarbeque.com/

Sep 18, 2006
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Best place for dinner in/around Oakland?

When my relatives from NY visit, they almost always beg for great Mexican food, which I guess is still harder to find in NY. For a particularly tasty, somewhat upscale take on Mexican, you may want to try Tamarindo Antojeria, in the Old Oakland area.

http://www.tamarindoantojeria.com/

Sep 07, 2006
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

need LA recs and advice

Try the Wine House in West LA on Cotner. Great prices and good advice.

Sep 05, 2006
Jamie Rudman in Wine

reco for wedding dinner for 30 guests max

We hosted our reception for 90 people recently at the Cliff House, and they did an incredible job. I had been reluctant to have the party there because I was concerned that the food would not be good enough, but our guests raved about it. The out of town guests also really loved the location. The private room might be a bit big for 30, but it is worth looking. If you are willing to head up to Healdsburg, when we were shopping for locations we discovered that Madrona Manor had surprisingly affordable, elegant options for small parties. The packages even included wedding cake and simple flowers. The room options were just too small for our group, but would be perfect for 30. The only "extra expense" would be the room fees, but in February that might be negotiable. http://www.madronamanorweddings.com/

I also really liked some of the rooms at the Casa Madrona in Sausalito, but if I recall correctly, it was closer to $100 per person, though that might have included wine and there may be less expensive packages available.

Congrats and good luck!

Sep 01, 2006
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Monterey/Pacific Grove Update?

I recently had a very tasty calzone at Stokes and the little pizza also looked good. I agree that the fries were fantasic also. I've only been there once (about 2 weeks ago), and we went more for wine than food, but I thought that the menu was great as it had options for elegant dining, a casual evening and a terrific wine list. Service was wonderful and the room lovely. Passionfish is still my hands down favorite in the area, but Stokes is now tied with Robert's White House for the #2 spot. You may regret trying to improvise in that area on a holiday weekend; the good spots book up.

Aug 30, 2006
Jamie Rudman in California

Chez Panisse or Gary Danko---if you had one night, which would you choose?

Sorry! Should have known someone would want this information! She said that it was a wilflower honey from Marin. Looking at the Marshall's website, they have both a "Marin" wildflower and a "Marin Mix" wildflower. I may call for further clarification, but its more likely that I'll just get both and experiement.

Aug 29, 2006
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area

Chez Panisse or Gary Danko---if you had one night, which would you choose?

The food at CP may be simple, but every time I go (generally to the Cafe), there is at least one dish that amazes me and causes me to rethink a recipe or an ingredient. We had dinner there this past Saturday and both my husband and I were absolutely amazed by the honey ice cream (served with figs). While honey ice cream may sound simple -- even plain -- CP's version stared creamy yet light then exploded with rich honey flavor in the back of the mouth. Everything else we ordered was also perfect, but this ice cream was superstar. I agree with everyone else about the consistently wonderful, unobtrusive service. The staff seems to truly love the food and take great pleasure in sharing it with guests. This time, when I mentioned to one of the servers how much we enjoyed the ice cream, she told us the brand of honey CP uses (Marshall's) so that we could try to recreate it at home.

Aug 28, 2006
Jamie Rudman in San Francisco Bay Area