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Craving Morning Glory

Ran Kanom, the excellent organic Thai take out place in 99 Ranch in Richmond makes an amazing morning glory and pork belly curry.

about 23 hours ago
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Bar Tartine, Nick Balla era [San Francisco]

The bread is so damn good. We waited an hour at their Bakery yesterday to get a few loaves.

We had some of the same things you had on our last visit. The tartare with oat porridge bread and tonnato sauce is one of my best bites of 2014.

Cheese Board

I don't have an answer really. I am also disappointed with the lack of participation.

Here are some thoughts:

There is more participation in internet discussion groups on controversial and heated topics. There are studies that show that dopamine is released when people post and read responses on controversial things. So it gives people a high of sorts. On the cheeseboard a recent discussion on FDA rules drew much participation and I lamented in a post "where were all you people when we were doing COTM?".

The idea of COTM is good in theory but hampered by the abysmal way cheese is labeled. It's not like wine where you always know the winery where the wine is produced. Most markets have minimal labeling on Cheese. "Brie" or "Bulgarian feta". This makes it hard to compare cheeses because there are so many different producers of Bulgarian feta. In our Brie COTM for example I saw a cheese labeled as Brie Fermier and thought Fermier was the producer. Fermier actually just means farmhouse and there are many different producers. I tried two different Brie Fermier cheeses and they could not have been more different. Another thing: Batch to batch variability and the way cheeses are stored can also make cheeses from the same producer different. All these things make comparing cheeses on COTM more complicated than one would expect. On COTM people may think they are eating the same cheese but they are eating something different. And that takes the value away from the discussion.

Crab season is upon us

It can vary depending on what the crabs are eating. Toxins can also concentrate in the crab fat so if it tastes too strong or has off flavors I wouldn't eat it.

Having said that it is pretty strong stuff and not for everyone. I love it but my husband, a very adventurous eater, hates it. Adding a good squeeze of lemon juice and a small drizzle of good quality olive oil will help balance and elevate the flavors.

Dec 20, 2014
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Palm Springs Splurge Meal

Very interesting. After reading your post I wish we had ordered differently. We will have to go back again next time we are there.

Dec 18, 2014
Ridge in California

China Village (Albany) is open!

The beef with golden broth was very different. We wouldn't have ordered it except it was recommended by our favorite waiter there who knows what we like and steers us to good things. The beef was thinly cut and very tender. In addition to beef there were big pieces of chewy mushrooms which we think were abalone mushrooms. The contrast between the texture of the beef and mushrooms was satisfying. The beef and mushrooms were in a peppery soupy broth. The broth was rich and savory with flavors of onion, mushroom and green bell pepper.

2014 Top Ten Tastes

Marshmallow dessert. Michael Warring: captured the best aspects of marshmallows toasted by the campfire.

tagliatelle with pork belly and black truffle. Michael Warring. truffle flavor was seamlessly integrated and perfectly complimented the rich umami flavors from the pork.

Porcini donuts. Rich table. Savory donuts laced with porcini and served with creamy raclette cheese.

Mango is the new black. Dosa. spicy cocktail with Rye and mango juice.

scharfe maxx Swiss cheese. Cheeseboard. powerful full flavored unctuous funky chee.

Pork with hot pepper burger. Terra cotta warrior. pork contrasted nicely with the sharp spicy jalapeños.

Yaki Omusubi. Yuzuki Japanese Eatery. Rice triangles topped with Uni. We almost ordered a second helping.

Beef tartare on oat toast with tonnato sauce and bottarga. Bar Tartine. The tonnato sauce was very impactful and the combination with the creamy beef was ethereal.

beef noodle soup. Dragon Gate. Delicious homey comforting.

Green curry rabbit. Kin Khao. Fantastic curry with great rabbit meatballs.

MaLa crab at China village. Rich, delicious spicy.

Various curries at Ajanta on Berkeley.

Sushi at Sushi Sho.

Coffee made at home with beans from Temple coffee and Old Soul coffee both in Sacramento.

Dec 17, 2014
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

China Village (Albany) is open!

Wanted to mention that we went a few weeks ago and had a delicious meal. Seemed back to the pre fire standards. Loved the MaLa tofu with crab and also Beef with golden broth , a new dish was excellent.

Palm Springs Splurge Meal

We tried Johanne's last night. It was very good overall; but I liked Tintos better. We decided to order a bunch of appetizers and share them rather than ordering main courses. The pacing of bringing out dishes and drinks was a bit off. The dishes were all brought out all at once before the wine we ordered. We really enjoyed the seafood appetizers and there was an interesting meatball curry we tried as well. Sadly the spetzle dish was cold by the time we got to it.

While we were in Palm Springs we also enjoyed date shakes in the dessert and had very good and inexpensive Goat burritos at Talaqepaque.

Dec 17, 2014
Ridge in California

Crab season is upon us

Some friends invited us for dinner to The Thomas at fagianis, a restaurant in downtown Napa. The menu was very beef centered and the only main course that appealed to me was one of the specials, dungeness pot pie. In theory I thought this could be an interesting lobster newberg like dish. It was just ok. It was one of the heavier dishes I have eaten in a long time. The portion was very large and the dough was very thick. Several of us got this and none of us came close to finishing it. The inside was chowder like and buttery with a pleasant enough taste. The only vegetables seemed to be potatoes, it may have benefited with more vegetables and a squeeze of lemon to cut through the richness. But the biggest problem with the dish was the minuscule amount of dungeness, especially given the $30 price of this dish. Sad because I think done correctly with more crab and more balance it could be a dish that showcases the crab rather than hiding it. The weakest of the crab dishes I have tried this season.

Dec 17, 2014
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Palm Springs Splurge Meal

We are on a short stay in Palm Springs from the Bay Area. We loved Tinto. We enjoyed our first meal there so much we went back the following evening.

It's pricy but worth the splurge. The service was excellent, the setting is nice, the cocktails are great. Good selection of Spanish wines by the glass AND for dessert Pedro Ximinez sherry by the glass.

The food is hearty full flavored basque tapas. We enjoyed everything we ate. We especially liked the octopus which was extremely tender, sliced into rings and dusted with paprika. The padron peppers, lamb meatballs and grilled chorizo sausage also delicious.

We were too full for dessert but a glass of unctuous Pedro Ximenez sherry was a great way to end the meal.

Dec 16, 2014
Ridge in California

Crab season is upon us

In the past couple of weeks I have had 4 Dunganess crab dishes at different restaurants in the Bay Area.

Dunganess congee at Koi palace. Good but not as complex and interesting as some of the other congees we have tried here.

Dunganess tacos from C CSSA in Oxbow market In Napa. The tacos were good, with fresh tasting crab and excellent quality ingredients, but the crab didn't stand up as well as other taco choices to the cabbage and other accompaniments. Good but not as successful as their other choices.

MaLa tofu with Crab at China Village in Albany. This used to be called MaPo Tofu with Crab. This used to be one of our favorites dishes at CV. We were disappointed in versions we tried after the restaurant reopened after their fire. We hadn't been to CV probably in about 6 months or longer. I am happy to report the MaLa tofu with Crab we had last Friday was outstanding, reminiscent of the good versions we had at CV in pre-fire days. The crab itself was delicious and very fresh tasting. It paired perfectly with the creamy tofu. This dish has bold and complex layers of flavors-hot, numbing, black bean. The crab works like an added flavor element that elevates the dish to spectacular new heights. I think we will be returning to CV to have this again soon.

Sunomono. Dunganess and seaweed salad at Yuzuki japanese eatery. Served in a savory broth with Chrysanthemum flowers. This was excellent. The flavor of the fresh crab was elevated by the subtle seasonings of the dish.

Yuzuki Japanese Eatery (Mission District, San Francisco)

We went Saturday night and really enjoyed it. it's somewhat similar to Kiraku in Berkeley but less experimental. Compared to other Japanese restaurants we like (most of them are in the East bay) I would rate it at the same level as Kiraku(though we haven't been in ages), slightly above Ippuku and above Iyasare.

The service was excellent and the atmosphere very conducive to a relaxing and enjoyable experience. They have a good Sake list.

This is what we ate:

The homemade Tofu starter. This was very good but not as sublime as the version at Kiraku.

Sunomono. Dunganess and seaweed salad. Served in a savory broth with Chrysanthemum flowers. This was excellent. The flavor of the fresh crab was elevated by the subtle seasonings of the dish.

Big eye tuna sashimi special- I thought it was excellent, very fresh tasting. Husband thought it was good but didn't like it as much as me.

A hamachi kama like dish that was one of the specials. Excellent.

Lotus root dumpling special - very interesting

Burdock root and fish dumpling. Very rich umami fish dumpling on top of burdock root. Interesting textures and flavors.

Yaki Omusubi- this was our favorite dish of the dinner. Rice triangles topped with Uni. We almost ordered a second helping.

SF Trip: Nice East Asian Restaurant Suggestions?

We tried Yuzuki last night and LOVED it. Thanks Melanie.

Dec 07, 2014
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

SF Trip: Nice East Asian Restaurant Suggestions?

I have not been in a few months, but if you find yourself back in Berkeley Kiraku is very good Izakaya:

http://www.kirakuberkeley.com/

Dec 01, 2014
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Brie: Cheese of the Month (November 2014)

I should have tasted it but we were in a hury.

Dec 01, 2014
Ridge in Cheese

Brie: Cheese of the Month (November 2014)

This has been so informative. Sucks that it is probably next to impossible to get the AOC Melun and Meaux cheeses here because of the FDA rules.

Nov 30, 2014
Ridge in Cheese

Brie: Cheese of the Month (November 2014)

According to the book "Mastering Artisan Cheesemaking" by Gianaclis Caldwell, Brie de Melun is a Lactic-set Bloomy rind cheese. The recipe for this class of cheeses involves a combined fermentation and coagulation step. The bacterial fermentation and coagulation step uses very small amount of rennet (4 drops per gallon of milk) and takes 18 to 24 hours. Brie de Meaux is a rennet curd set bloomy rind cheese. The recipe for this class of cheese involves an initial fermentation with lactic acid bacteria for 35 to 45 minutes. This is followed by the addition of 1.8ml rennet per gallon of milk. This causes the cheese to coagulate in 30 to 35 minutes. I have ever seen Bries labeled with these designations. How can one tell what kind of brie one is getting?

Nov 30, 2014
Ridge in Cheese

Brie: Cheese of the Month (November 2014)

According to Wikipedia there are different varieties of Bries the two biggest classifications being Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun:

"Varieties[edit]
There are now many varieties of brie made all over the world, including plain brie, herbed varieties, double and triple brie and versions of brie made with other types of milk. Indeed, although brie is a French cheese, it is possible to obtain Somerset and Wisconsin brie. Despite the variety of bries, the French government officially certifies only two types of cheese to be sold under that name: Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun.

Brie de Meaux[edit]
Brie de Meaux is an unpasteurised Brie, with an average weight of 2.8 kg for a diameter of 36 to 37 cm. It is manufactured at the town of Meaux in the Brie region on northern France since the 8th century, was originally known as the "King's Cheese", or, after the French Revolution, the "King of Cheeses," and was enjoyed by the peasantry and nobility alike. It was granted the protection of Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) status in 1980, and it is produced primarily in the eastern part of the Parisian basin. There is a pasteurized version that is imported to America.

Brie de Melun[edit]
This Brie has an average weight of 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb) and a diameter of 27 cm (11 in).[5] It is therefore smaller than Brie de Meaux but is considered to have a stronger flavor and more pungent smell. It is made with unpasteurised milk. Brie de Melun is also available in the form of "Old Brie" or black brie. It was granted the protection of Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) status in 1980.

French Non AOC Bries[edit]
The following French Bries do not have AOC certification: Brie de Montereau, Île-de-France ; Brie de Nangis, Île-de-France ; Brie de Provins, Île-de-France ; Brie noir, Île-de-France ; Brie fermier, Île-de-France ; Brie de Melun bleu ; Brie petit moulé ; Brie laitier ; Coulommiers Île-de-France ;"

Nov 30, 2014
Ridge in Cheese

Brie: Cheese of the Month (November 2014)

About the lactic Brie, I am not a cheese expert (but trying to learn more and more) by any means but I will take a stab at it, although I could be wrong. Most cheeses start off with the milk fermented with lactic acid bacteria. This acidifies the milk and helps coagulation. Depending on the cheese the fermentation time may vary from 1 hour or less all the way to 24 hours. After this stage rennet is added to coagulate the cheese. The longer the lactic acid fermentation the less rennet you need. I think the term lactic Brie means the initial fermentation with lactic acid bacteria is longer so less rennet is needed. But I don't know for sure. I have a book on cheesemaking and I will see if they discuss this in regards to Brie.

Nov 29, 2014
Ridge in Cheese
2

Brie: Cheese of the Month (November 2014)

So it seems like fermier is a designation that doesn't hold that much meaning except that the cheese is produced on a farm. So there could be lots of different producers.

My last experience with the Brie fermier was so satisfying that I have wanted to try one again. I saw one tonight at the cheese shop at the Oxbow market in Napa. Labeled as Fermier Tremblaye. We brought a slice home and tried it. It was nothing at all like the first fermier we tried. You can see from the picture that it's much firmer than the picture of the last fermier we tried. Like the one you tried it was too young. It was good but not great. Certainly not as sublime as the last one we tried.

Nov 29, 2014
Ridge in Cheese

Cream Cheese-Is there a World Beyond Philadelphia Brand?

The Gina Marie is good. But my favorite is the organic Nancy's cream cheese from Oregon. It's perfect.

Nov 27, 2014
Ridge in Cheese

Crab season is upon us

Last weekend we tried the house special spicy crab at Z&Y. It was very good. The preparation seemed simpler and less saucy than I remember in the past. The focus was on the crab itself which was very fresh tasting and well prepared.

Nov 27, 2014
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Re-thinking Berkeley icons at holiday time

Found myself at the cheeseboard today and the line for pizza was not too insane. Since we were discussing this and it's been a few years since my last slice I decided to get a couple of slices for lunch. I tried to really focus on what I liked and didn't like. Here is my review:

Wild mushroom pizza. Bottles of pesto ( I think cilantro or parsley) were available to drizzle on.

Overall: I liked but didn't love the pizza. And I pinpointed one thing I really didn't like about it. More detailed impressions:

The crust: better than I remembered. It was thin and crunchy. Not stellar but very decent.

The mushrooms: tasty mushroom topping. When you drizzled on the pesto, the acid from the pesto cut through the greasiness of the pizza and enhanced the umami flavors of the mushrooms. You could watch people try the pesto and them immediately reach for more. The combination of the mushrooms and pesto was the highlight of the pizza.

The cheese: the cheese formed a coagulated hard plasticky bland network on top of the pizza. Thinking back I remembered that this is usually the case with cheeseboard pizza. This was the biggest flaw in the pizza and the reason I liked but didn't love it.

Nov 26, 2014
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

[UPDATE] Vote for your favorite restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area for "Best of 2014"

Ran Kanom & Ran Kanom Thai noodle

http://www.rankanom.com

Authentic bold rusticThai in the east bay

Nov 22, 2014
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

[UPDATE] Vote for your favorite restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area for "Best of 2014"

Sushi Sho

http://www.sushi-sho.com

Masterful sushi by an awesome chef

[UPDATE] Vote for your favorite restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area for "Best of 2014"

Dosa

http://www.dosasf.com

Great cocktails, great Indian food, nice atmosphere, a guaranteed good dinner experience.

Nov 22, 2014
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

[UPDATE] Vote for your favorite restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area for "Best of 2014"

Koi Palace

http://www.koipalace.com/mobile/index...

World class dim sum

Nov 22, 2014
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

[UPDATE] Vote for your favorite restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area for "Best of 2014"

Bar Tartine

http://www.bartartine.com

An alternative to the usual French influenced fine dining experience.

Crab season is upon us

Many Chinese restaurants have crab most of the year that is imported from out of state. When local crab season starts how can one be sure the crab they are getting from such places is local? I think we are going to have crab at Z&Y tonight.

Nov 22, 2014
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area