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Trip Report, May 10 - 17 (Fish, Le Villaret, Chez Casimir, A La Biche au Bois, Other)

Masterful shopping! I agree--handbags are so last decade (for me at least). Bordier butter is a more enjoyable souvenir. Thanks, too, for the packing reminder. I need to add the gel ice packs to my insulated bag.

(And thank you for the restaurant report, too. I like Chez Clement. Not Guide Michelin material, but they used to do good pork ribs and cold seafood platters, all the more appreciated when other restaurants were closed for their mid-afternoon break.)

Aug 26, 2014
pilinut in France

Canelés - simple but not easy - Part V

Hmmmm. . . You're on the wrong side of the ocean. Just kidding. I tried making canelés in Manila a few months ago, after having finally gotten them right in California several times in a row. The Manila ones were an unmitigated disaster. Only now can I speak of them without cringing. ;-)

They all souffléd out of the molds. I had used water buffalo milk (richer than cow's milk) and weighed the eggs to get the quantities as close as possible to the US ones. I suspect the richer milk may have trapped in more air, or maybe it was just mixing with a different whisk. I also used a new convection oven. I'm back to square one over here.

For what it's worth, the ballooning could be caused by air in the batter and/or over-filling the molds. I don't think that freezing the molds makes a difference. But putting the molds on a hot baking pan may well help.

Aug 26, 2014
pilinut in Home Cooking

Canelés - simple but not easy - Part V

What beauties, souschef!

Hong Kong - Yung Kee Roast Goose re-visited

I learned about pigeon brains too late! (I've probabaly grossed out a few hounds on the SF Bay Area board asking where I can find veal brains. But that's another story.) I finally attempted a squab brain in SF a couple of years ago, partly out of desperation, but it was sooooo tiny and dry, not creamy at all, though it did taste like brain. I tried again the other day, but again, it was so dessicated I could barely the little critter.

If and when I get another shot at pigeon in HK, I'll attempt to brain the bird. Tell me, do you eat the top of the skull as well, or just the brain?

Sicily Trip Report 2013 - Palermo, Siracusa, Taormina, etc. (way too long as usual)

Thank you very much, _emilie_! Like other posters here, I really appreciate the information you posted--the care and detail you put into dining and writing and detail make a huge difference, especially to someone who has never been to Sicily. I feel more comfortable now that I've jotted down some of your pointers in my ipad!

Aug 01, 2014
pilinut in Italy

Hong Kong - Yung Kee Roast Goose re-visited

Thanks for rekindling fond memories of Yung Kee, klyeoh! (BTW, I'm still waiting for you to show up at one of the weekend markets in Makati.)

I could almost taste those century eggs, which I look forward to even more then the roast goose. And I had almost forgotten how good their yangchow fried rice was! I'm glad it's back in good form again.

The other thing I used to like there was the roast pigeon. Family lore has the 8-year old pilinut and her favorite aunt returning from YK with a little doggie bag filled with 4 pigeon heads and a few wing tips.

The Kitchen Millbrae - any recent updates/comments?

Hi, Melanie, if it's any consolation, we've had at least 2 meals at HK Flower Lounge in the past few months, and it has improved. Cantonese restaurants on the peninsula are like the moon, waxing and waning. . . I must have been through at least 4 full cycles with HKFL by now. I hope they stay good for at least a few years.

The Kitchen Millbrae - any recent updates/comments?

Oh, KK, I wish I had checked with you guys before going there last night with a cousin visiting from NY! Especially after claiming that Chinese food here is better than Manhattan's. Embarrassing.

The Kitchen was not good. We ordered the Asian Pearl Empress chicken, the roasted pigeon, giant clam sautéed in special sauce, rib eye with sesame, and mustard greens with ham. The chicken was really tough. I like chicken--especially cold chicken--with some chew to it, but this bird must have run a few marathons in its day. The pigeon was probably boiled in brine a few days ago, fried, and fried again to make sure we got a less than mediocre bird.

The clam dish had the most flavor, but what kind of clam it was is a taxonomic mystery, and I suspect it was already cooked before they sautéed it. The mustard greens were passable, served in a ham broth with small chunks of thoroughly boiled and re-boiled odds and ends of ham bone.

Beef rib-eye was tender, cut into cubes and served atop fried egg tofu which would have been nice had the sauce been something like a rich black bean or black pepper sauce instead of a feeble, misapplied version of sweet coffee sauce. The sesame mention in the menu appeared as purely decorative sprinkle of seeds. The dominant flavor was sugar.

We did not attempt dessert, and we will not attempt a return visit to The Kitchen, nor to Asian Pearl, for a good long time.

Croissants - SF Dish of the Month February 2014

I'm glad to hear Bonjour is still good. Thanks for the reminder--I really should go back and check out what they've got. (Last time I went to buy some pastries, I noticed chicken and waffles on the menu.)

Walnut Butters from Old Dog Ranch

Hahaha! Thanks for the feedback. It is wonderful, isn't it? I hide the jar from myself because I have to have a spoonful every time I see the bottle.

I really must make it to the Mountain View market one of these weeks.

Walnut Butters from Old Dog Ranch

I haven't been very good about posting lately, but I think I will be forgiven by anyone who tries the Chocolate Walnut Butter from Old Dog Ranch.

http://olddogranch.com

They had a stand (sadly, not since last weekend) at the College of San Mateo's Saturday Farmers Market where they were giving out samples of their Chandler walnut products. And what walnuts! Real, unmistakable walnut flavor--none of that anemic stuff you find in groceries. The biggest surprise was the Chocolate Walnut Butter: just bittersweet chocolate, walnuts, and salt. All three flavors intense, distinct, and balanced; texture, a bit coarse. Probably not what you'd feed your 7-year old nephew. It's supposed to be a spread, but I've eaten almost the entire jar with nothing more than a spoon. A bit went on some bread, a waffle, and a scoop of Rocky Road ice cream, but I couldn't resist eating almost all of it straight off a spoon.

The maple walnuts, crisp and very lightly sweetened with maple syrup, are also excellent. The walnut butter with raw honey and salt is next on my consumable list. (Then it's back to the chocolate walnut butter.

)

Aside from mail-order, I was told that Old Dog is selling their wares at the Portola Valley and Daly City farmers markets, which is where I will have to start shopping in order to keep my pantry stocked with Chocolate Walnut Butter.

Tai Wu Millbrae

Hmmm, maybe it's time I forgave Jai Yun for starving me at a chowdown 12 years ago :-)

Tai Wu Millbrae

Scallop and crab sounds great, but plain scrambled eggwhites leave much to be desired. Where do you get the creamy/fluffy versions of eggwhites with seafood? The only place I've found it in the Bay Area, so far, is Tai Pan in Palo Alto, which does a version made with a whole crab--crab legs deep fried with garlic and meat from the body mixed into the custardy eggwhite.

Dim Sum at Champagne Seafood Restaurant, San Mateo

Thanks for the recommendations, foodnut8. My mother and I dropped by for a late lunch a couple of days ago, and we were quite pleased. We liked the place when it was Joy Luck, and when it was Champagne, but felt it was a waste of space while it was a buffet restaurant. Now we're very happy to have a good Cantonese place back in our neighborhood.

We had the dumpling in broth that you mentioned, and it was excellent! We also had the congee with chicken--that was a bit bland, but the chicken itself was meaty and very tasty. We ordered the poached surf clam with the glass noodle, but I think we should have had the one you ordered because the one we had lacked flavor, except for the bits of fried garlic sprinkled on the dish.

Overall, though, we think the place is very promising, and we look forward to returning soon! Thank you, again!

Half Moon Bay with Dog

You're most welcome Clyde! It's nice to have places that will accommodate chowhounds with 2 legs as well as 4, though they are often few and far between. If you find anything new, please post back.

Savarin

Is this the recipe in The Cake Bible? I have a 15-year old copy, and have been meaning to give the recipe a try. My problem is my savoring ring is in California. I have a kugelhopf mold that might need 2 recipes to fill, but am leery botching up a double batch.

Let me know how it works out!

Mar 10, 2014
pilinut in Home Cooking

Alessi Cookware?

That is the most beautiful citrus juicer I have ever seen! How well does it work?

Mar 04, 2014
pilinut in Cookware

Rafa's Fabada

So sorry! I just corrected the oversight.

Feb 28, 2014
pilinut in Recipes

Savarin

Hi, Souschef! Why am I not surprised to find you while looking for inspiration to make a better savarin au rhum?

I made Ina Garten's recipe once (maybe twice), and it was quite good, but I am looking for a bit more elasticity in the bread. A bit more chew. So I'm thinking of adding a tablespoon, maybe two, of gluten to the mix. Or maybe kneading the dough for say 10 minutes? What do you think?

On the subject of watery syrup, yes, I did notice that, but I found it wasn't so apparent after the bread had been glazed with apricot jam. Still, a richer syrup would be nice. . . I was thinking about adding some corn or golden syrup as a thickener.

Feb 28, 2014
pilinut in Home Cooking

Canelés - simple but not easy - Part V

I brought over a Martha Stewart oven thermometer, but I think there's something wrong with it. I tried checking it in 2 different ovens and it seems to be between 20-60 degrees under. So I'm hesitant to try making canelés (and anything else) in my new oven until I can figure out what the real temperature is.

As for washing out the molds--I'm a slacker, I wouldn't bother unless they were dusty. And beeswax will keep longer than we will, so if I'm not moldy, neither is my beeswax.

Blue cheese canelés. . . sounds divine! I love St. Agur--nice and mellow. Let me know how it works out!

Feb 13, 2014
pilinut in Home Cooking
1

Canelés - simple but not easy - Part V

That's a beautiful canelé, souschef! When did you make it? I'm psyching myself for my first attempt at canelés in Manila. New oven (haven't used it yet--not sure whether I can rely on digital controls to give me an accurate temperature), locally sourced ingredients (am going to try carabao milk), and old molds. Will let you know when I muster enough courage. . .

Feb 12, 2014
pilinut in Home Cooking
1

Christmas Holidays in Manila

To get the sad part out of the way, Sam passed away almost 4 years ago, but lives on in many a chowhound thread (and heart.)

To get to the happy part, I'm really glad you'll be back in town! Don't forget the weekend markets in Salcedo and Legaspi. They make for some delicious grazing and shopping. Are you still looking for enseimada? When will you (and any other hounds in town) be free to meet up?

Trip report Jan 2014, Philippines

Thanks for reporting back, digga! Having done my share of dive trips in the Philippines, I could almost taste the food as I read your report. (I agree, Sabang is icky! Local divers seem to prefer Anilao.)

Resort food in the Philippines is usually something I enjoy more because diving makes me hungry than because the food is good--it's rarely better than passable. I'm glad you are taking things positively, despite the disappointing quality of the cooking. There is definitely a tendency to overcook food, partly because a lot of Filipinos believe that undercooked fish/meat/veg will make you sick and cooking food to death will kill the bugs (along with the taste and texture of the dish.) Whenever I order fish, I make it a point to ask them not to overcook the fish (or whatever), and to make sure that the flesh is still moist. The special instructions work most of the time.

I hope you get a chance to have some really good meals while you are in the Philippines. Manila is definitely the best place for dining. Have an enjoyable stay!

Christmas Holidays in Manila

Hi, Diggs, I miss Sam, too. He'd have had something pertinent and colorful to add to this discussion.

Chinese New Year is not observed in the Philippines to the extent it is elsewhere in Asia, possibly because there are proportionately fewer Chinese here than in other Asian countries. The Filipino Chinese do maintain some of the CNY traditions and foods like tikoy, a sticky rice cake and a few other items.

Christmas Holidays in Manila

Check out this old link. Sam Fujisaka, quintessential chowhound, was always right.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/532298

Christmas Holidays in Manila

Hello again, artbycynthia, and Happy New Year!

My first choice for a Filipino meal would be Milky Way--the main restaurant on Arnaiz Avenue. The steam table branch in Rockwell is not in the same league, since they don't cook anything over there.

I haven't been to Fely J in several months, but the Larry Cruz group of restaurants, which includes Abe, Lorenzo's Way, Cafe Adriatico, as well as Fely J's, is usually quite reliable and I'm looking forward to returning to Fely J's myself. I'll have the dills rice (steamed rice with tiny, crisply fried dried fish and a few salted black beans), possibly the kare-kare, and definitely the crispy pata.

I haven't been to Namnam, so I can't comment on it. And if Dampa is the seafood market with restaurants attached just off Manila Bay, I'd have to say I'm ambivalent about recommending it: I haven't been there for several years, and while I can appreciate the attraction of buying your own impeccably seafood at the market and getting it cooked nearby, I was not very impressed by the restaurant we went to. I suspect one can do better by going to the Seaside Market, which is less touristy, and getting the food cooked at one of the restaurants behind that market.

I've been to Mesa Restaurant at the Rockwell mall only once. I have a theory that the smell of a restaurant when you walk will tell you whether it will be any good or not, and it was not promising when I walked into Mesa. I only stayed because I detest CPK and Shi Lin, the other nearby choices. But the food was actually pretty decent, and I was glad I took a chance.

If you want to try the Filipino equivalent to farm-to-table dining, Green Pastures in Shangrila Mall is very good. It isn't Filipino in the traditional "lutong bahay" (home cooking) sense, but it uses local ingredients in a very cosmopolitan way, with delicious results.

Don't forget to check out the Saturday and Sunday markets, if you are in town!

Have a great visit to Manila, and let us know how your dining adventures go!

Creative anchovy dishes (other than pizza)?

I really wanted the Filipino version of champorrado a few weeks ago and it isn't nearly as delicious without tuyo, salted dried fish. ( Yes, it sounds bizarre bordering on repulsive, but it tastes wonderful!). Since I didn't have any tuyo at hand, I rinsed a few salt-packed anchovies, cut them up, and enjoyed my champorrado.

Dec 27, 2013
pilinut in Home Cooking

Vietnam House - Excellent Banh Khot, special order Tamarind Crab and Grilled Catfish... [San Francisco]

With such careful preparation and excellent company, it shouldn't surprise anyone that meals with fellow chowhounds are so delightful. I suspect we share a sixth sense when it comes to picking out restaurants, and Vietnam House is no exception.

The banh khot was very good, though I'd say that the last ones I had at Vung Tau were crisper and tastier. Given charliemyboy's experiences, though, it is probable that the two restaurants are tied for first in this category.

The catfish was fried (not grilled, as originally advertised) to a crisp, and the accompanying herbs, noodle sheets, and rice paper wrapper were the perfect foil for the rich flesh.

I was glad we finally got to try the bo luc lac, shaking beef, and this was pretty good--not the best I've ever had, but certainly worth ordering again, especially with the garlic noodles which were very tasty without any raw or chemical garlic taste.

On the other hand, I had the excellent tamarind crab at Vung Tau some years back, and I'd have to agree with charliemyboy that Vietnam House's version could have used a lot less tamarind.

Ipoh Garden, Millbrae

Had dinner at this new place last night, and DH and I are quite pleased. They still have the big "Soft Opening" sign, and one should temper one's expectations as far as speed and service go. But the food is very promising indeed!

Since there were just 2 of us, we only had the roti canai, satay (2 beef, 2 chicken), Malaysian dry curry (lamb), and blachan string beans. The string beans arrived first, followed at length by the roti, then the lamb curry and lastly, the satay. To his credit the manager/headwaiter warned us when we first sat down that the kitchen was swamped and the food would be slow. Since we weren't in a hurry, it wasn't an issue with us.

And the meal was worth the wait. The green beans with blachan were full-flavored, the real, pungent, fermented shrimp deal. This cook was not dumbing down his flavors. And the roti was probably the best I've had in the Bay Area, the rolled, multi-layered, fluffed up kind served with a fairly thin curry sauce. The lamb, sliced thin, was coated with a thick, cumin-accented curry, lots of different aromas and flavors in this dish. The satay was decent, but the least impressive of the lot, the chicken being better flavored than the beef.

Ipoh Garden is definitely a welcome addition to the mid-Peninsula area. No longer do I need to drive down to Layang Layang in Cupertino for my Singaporean or Malaysian food fix. But lots of other people seem to think the same thing because Ipoh Garden was very busy, and despite the soft opening sign, the place and the clientele seem to have an air of assurance that Ipoh Garden is likely to be around a while. If the cook, who hails predictably from Ipoh, stays true to his roots, we chowhounds are likely to enjoy many very good meals at this place.

Ipoh Garden--100 El Camino Real, Millbrae, near the corner of ELC and Millbrae Ave.

Turkey Tails [Split from ISO Turkey Tails thread, SF]

Thanks for the link! I hadn't seen that before, but the adobo sauce looks similar, if somewhat lacking in garlic.

It'll be a week or so before we get around to cooking the tails, but I'll try to post back.

Dec 15, 2013
pilinut in Home Cooking