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BernalFarmer's Profile

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Private room for 20, Midtown West?

Planning a business dinner for ~20 people. Ideally within walking distance of our meeting at 57th St between 6thand 7th Ave. Want a private room. And of course very good food. Given the crowd, need to please a wide range, prefer simple excellence to overly fussy food. Also prefer casual elegance to a more ornate setting. Price not all that important, expecting to spend $150-200 per person all in, need not be opulent though. Looked at Molyvos, which would be just the right vibe/food/setting except it is not really a private room, just a private area and can get quite loud. Any ideas very much apprecaited!

Jul 14, 2009
BernalFarmer in Manhattan

Jamaican restaurants

I highly recommend Breadruit Tree in the middle of the Delta. I think it is technically in Stockton, but it feels a million miles from here. The food is great and the setting even better - as the sun goes down over the delta on a hot day it is pretty much paradise. And depending on where exactly you are coming from, it is not that far.

Fresh uni locally?

San Francisco Fish Company in the Ferry Plaza building usually has them live in all their spiny glory, allowing your inner sea otter to come out. They taste even better after you personally separate the uni from the extraordinary gloop inside the shell.

Wild Mushrooms

Far West Fungi in the Ferry Plaza building ( typically has an excellent selection - their prices vary depending on availabilty, but last week they had some beuatiful porcinis for about $30 a pound.

Why Incanto is great

Yum! Now I know what I want you to cook for me next time. I was there a few weeks ago and had a head cheese like thing - basically a cow's head that had been stuffed with brains and many other goodies, then cooked and sliced into cross sections - truly spectacular...

Goat Feast at Chez Panisse

We enjoyed another spectacular Monday night dinner at Chez Panisse last night. Attracted by the description of Chevreau Printanier on the website, I called just a week in advance and got a table for 3 at 8:30. As soon as we entered the dining room, we spotted two (cleaned but very recognizable) goats rotating on spits above the open fire. There is a visceral, almost spiritual reaction that occurs when one sees a large animal being slow-roasted over dancing flames. We sat down with great anticipation.

We were served some salted radish slices to whet (tease?) our appetite, and invited into the kitchen to take a closer look at the goats. They had been roasting for 2 hours and our server said they would soon be coming down. Of course we took him up on the offer, and were barely able to pull ourselves away. We also spied bowls full of gorgeous purple asparagus and green artichokes and knew they too were destined for our plates and tummies.

After re-sitting we recevied our appetizer, a delightful crostini with mashed potatoes and line-caught cod, served with a salad of rocket, celery root, and thinly shaved asparagus. The flavors were all light and the vegetables, as one would expect, were deeply flavorful.

With appetizers out of the way, our excitement grew. After a seemingly long wait that could not have been much more than 10 minutes, our plates finally arrived. On one side were the nettle flan and the spring vegetables (peas, artichokes, chard). On the other side was a large pile of assorted goat meat in a pool of vibrant juices. Each of us recieved a nice assortment of different cuts, highlighted by a double rib with crispy crackling skin on one side and moist meat falling off the bones on the other side.

The lone woman among us initially thought she would not care for the goat ribs, perhaps put off by the unmistakable anatomical connection. After eating the rest of her meat, he asked the other two of us (whose plates were licked clean) if we would care for her remaining goat. We foolishly suggested that she at least try the rib meat, which she did, promptly deciding that she had no interest in sharing with us and within moments had devoured each morsel and was sucking on the bones.

When the waitress came to clear our plates, we hopefully inquired about the availability of seconds. Unlike the Cassoulet night 6 weeks ago, this request met with a knowing smile and a promise to "See what she could do." Several minutes later she came back with a communal plate for us to share, complete with a flan, some vegetables, and some new cuts of goat that had different textures to our first servings but were no less delicious. All the goat had a deep, rich flavor that was something like lamb but both lighter and more interesting at the same time. Most of the goat I have eaten in my life has been older goat, typically stewed or braised with strong spices (ie Caribbean or Malaysian dishes) but I came away a big fan of young spring goat. We drank a very reasonably priced Westrey Pinot Noir (Oregon) that was juicy and balanced and went very nicely with all the food.

Dessert - tangerine sherbet and blood orange granita, with some delicious tangerine segments - risked being a bit of an anti-climax, but managed to be appealling and refreshing in its own right, a nice mix of tartness, sweetness, and even a little bitterness.

We left as happy with a meal as can be - a completely unique and special feast at reasonable prices and with minimal fuss and formality. We vowed to return soon, and certainly hope to be back for the same meal next year!

Sichuan peppercorns in Bay Area?

Just saw them at Whole Foods Palo Alto

Cassoulet at Chez Panisse

Very interesting. I clearly need to revisit the region and eat my way through all the cassoulet possibilities...a chowdown fieldtrip perhaps?

Cassoulet at Chez Panisse

I do not know. I know that Tarbe beans are used almost exclusively for authentic cassoulet in France, and would not be surprised if that is what CP used, buy cannot say for sure.

Just 48 hours have passed and the meal already seems like a dream...

Cassoulet at Chez Panisse

We all came to the same conclusion - Monday is a wonderful night to go. And it is cheaper on top of everything else. No problem on the reservation - we did call almost 4 weeks in advance, and were lucky to get an 8:15 table. They mostly have early (6 / 6:30) or late (9+) seatings.

Cassoulet at Chez Panisse

Last night a few fellow hounds and I had a near-religious experience at Chez Panisse. We made the reservation about 4 weeks ago, as soon as the January list of Monday menus came out and we saw the description:

Cassoulet toulousain
Classic southwestern French casserole of goose confit, garlic sausage,
and braised lamb with white beans and bread crumb crust

Who can pass up a good cassoulet on a cold winter evening? Also, it seemed a perfect fit for the Monday format at CP.

The meal began with a lovely salad of red and golden beets with orange and blood orange slices and escarole - a perfect, light way to whet our appetite. Then came the main event - big plates heaping with beans, each with its own sausage, goose leg confit and lamb. From the first bite of bean it was evident that this was a great cassoulet - each bean was cooked perfectly - tender but not at all mushy, overcome with the deep flavor of meat. The meat itself was all deeply satisfying, each piece with its own distinct flavor and texture. The overall effect was of rich, velvety luxuriousness, but magically not too rich, and never fatty or unctuous. We each devoured every last mosel and licked our plates clean.

13 years ago in Carcassonne I had a cassoulet that opened my eyes to the extraordinary potential of this seemingly simple dish. For 13 years I have craved a cassoulet as good, and eaten many decent ones, but none that rose to the full glory. Until last night.

We shamelseely asked our server if second helpings were available (despite having consumed an enormous quantity of meat-and-bean-goodness). He said that they would normally be pleased to offer us more, but were running low (he was actually a little embarrassed to admit that) and he offered to comp us a cheeses course instead, which we happily devoured.

The idea of eating dessert after all that sounded somewhat unnecessary, but then they brought out the prune-armagnac ice cream crepes with sauteed pink lady apples, and we proceeded to polish that off too.

Fellow 'hound JonesWineNo1 brought a couple of beeautiful bottles of mature wine that complemented our meal perfectly - a '95 Syrah from California and a '98 Chateauneuf du Pape. We also ordered a bottle of Cornas to go with our cheese.

All in all a spectacular, if slighlty gluttonous, evening. I just hope the cassoulet makes a reappearance next winter.

favorite little gem winery in Sonoma?

It is 30 minutes away in Kenwood, but KAZ ( meets all your crieteria and will exceed all your expectations.

Who will endure the Ferry Building this Saturday?

Golden Gate Meat has veal stock.

With a little luck it will rain in the morning and keep the hordes away.

Live Uni at Hamano

Finally had the live uni at Hamano last night. Truly an essential dining experience. Served on the half shell so you can play with all the spines. about 5 pieces of luscious meat inside - sweeter and more melting than regulr uni. Really had the taste and mouthfeel of ocean water ice cream. $12. Outstanding.

Farmhouse Inn or Seaweed Cafe?

The good news is that you do not have to weigh off convenience against quality, because Seaweed cafe is actually one of the most interesting, personal, high-quality dining establishments in the bay area. If it were a little closer I would eat there all the time. Very welcoming, very unpretensious, and supremely delicious. Very deft touch with a broad range of vegetables and local foods. Interesting, well-priced wine list with lots of by the glass options. Can;t recommend it highly enough.

Desperately Seeking Authentic Malaysian Food in Bay Area

Unforunately, you will be disappointed by all the options. One of the better bets is Banana Leaf, in Milpitas - it is decent, and reasonably authentic, but there are enough ingredients that just cant be found here to keep it from tasting like home.

I married into a Malaysian family. The best Malaysia food I have had in the Bay Area is when one of my many Aunties comes to town and makes Poh Piah or Prawn Mee. Yum! If you like Hainanese Chicken Rice, let me know - my version is pretty good...even the aunties agree...

Dinner for 150?

My brother-in-law is getting married in December and wants to hold the reception at a restaurant in SF that can accomodate 150 at large round tables. Western Food preferred, not super expensive.

Any ideas much appreciated

bottarga source?

I have seen it at Boulette's Larder in the Ferry Plaza.