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Potstickers : SFBA Dish of the Month May 2015

We went to dinner @ Z&Y last night with relatives visiting from out of town. After the disappointing pot stickers at China Village, I was reluctant to order them in another Sichuan restaurant. But our Aunt wanted to order some and we saw some pass by that looked promising. They were pretty good! The wrappers were thin and crunchy with a satisfying bite. The filling was moist and flavorful. They were almost more like a fried dumpling than pot stickers. Not as good as better versions of the gingery ones we have had at Koi Palace but satisfying. The rest of the meal was excellent. Everything was spot on perfectly executed. The Dan Dan noodles were addicting. Better than versions I have had here in the past. The Ma Po tofu had the perfect amount of Sichuan pepper and also tasted like their was a touch of acid that livened it up and made the flavors pop. Better than the version we had last week at China Village. Cumin lamb was excellent, crispy cuminy with sweet onions.

May 24, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Potstickers : SFBA Dish of the Month May 2015

Last night we went to China Village. I was anxious to try some pot stickers so against my better judgment and warnings of my husband we ordered pot stickers in a Sichuan restaurant. They looked promising and nicely seared on one side when they arrived. The wrapper was thick and gummy. The filling was bland, mushy and just wrong. They were served with a bland brownish dipping sauce that tasted oily watery and bland. I can say they were the worst thing I have eaten at China Village and the worst version of pot stickers I can remember eating in a long time. We didn't finish them. Luckily the rest of the dishes we had: Mapo tofu, General Zhang beef(!), wok charred kale, sesame flatbread were delicious.

May 17, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Cheese good for your heart?

People don't think of Cheese as health food but real cheese has qualities that are healthy:

1) probiotic- full of good bacteria. Shown to have health benefits including recent studies that they
improve your mood.

2) enzymes in some cheeses break down the fats. In goat and sheep cheese you have shorter chain fats. These MCTs (mid chain triglycerides) are also found in coconut oil and have health benefits.

3) low in carbs and makes you feel full.

That said cheese is best enjoyed in moderation. It also can have compounds like tyramine that can have negative effects on blood pressure (I feel weird and wired if I eat too much funky cheese)

May 13, 2015
Ridge in Cheese

Best Brûlée of the Bay

Well, I haven't had it in ages and I am not sure if they still make it, but Sushi Ran used to make a half chocolate (bottom 1/2 was chocolate) creme brûlée that was excellent.

May 11, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Aatxe review [San Francisco]

I will probably go back sometime this summer to see how they are doing. I agree it would be nice if there was more of an emphasis on traditional Basque food.

May 04, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Aatxe review [San Francisco]

Went to Aatxe for dinner last night. This is a Basque tapas place started by the Flour and Water people. It's only been open a few weeks. It's on Market street in the Castro.

Overall we enjoyed it. The setting is nice and service attentive. There was a loud hip-hop soundtrack that seemed out of place and was not at all conducive to the Basque vibe or even conducive to a pleasant relaxing dinner. It's an expensive place and the price to portion ratio of some dishes seemed off. Dinner for two came out to about $175 which included $25 corkage. While tapas are by virtue small plates, we felt some plates were too small. They need to calibrate portion size better and they seem to be working on this since at one point I heard the chef tell one of the sous chefs to make the portion of one of the dishes bigger. Overall our feeling was that the place is very new and still a work in progress. Nevertheless there were several standout dishes and we will go back. We sat at the Chefs counter which has views of the sous chefs preparing the meals.

Here is what we ate:

Pintxos (small bite) flight- this came with 4 small bites (pricy for $13):

Olives on a toothpick with anchovy.

Deviled egg. This was really a good deviled egg. The last time I had a pricy deviled egg was at Urchin Bistro in the Mission. That version was mediocre. The Aatxe version was very satisfying: creamy with deep layers of egg, spice and umami.

Rye toast spread with dark chocolate and topped with chorizo. This was a revelation. What a wonderful combination: crunchy rye toast, dark chocolate and dry very high quality spicy chorizo. Will definitely get this again.

Morel mushroom croquette. Very tasty but neither of us could taste even a hint of morel mushroom. Note to chef- increase the amount of mushroom till it's discernible or leave it out.

Next we got:

Mussels escabeche- very good. My husband especially was wild about this. Tender earthy oceany mussels in a spicy citrusy escabeche broth.

Flatbread with green olive spread and greens. This was the only thing we ate that was an unmitigated disappointment. The bread seemed undercooked and doughy and bland. We almost sent it back to ask them to give us one cooked longer. The olive spread was meh and the greens were excellent.

Octopus salad-very fresh tasting with a nice tarragon flavor but this was one of the dishes were portion size seemed out of whack. The octopus was very thinly sliced, which is a good thing, but there were too few smallish very thin pieces.

Charred spring onion and gem lettuce in romesco. Vegetables charry and juicy. We enjoyed it.

Gambas al Ajillo. Actually a good sized portion. But somewhat disappointing. When this dish is good it's so satisfying. This shrimp tasted good but the sauce was bland and watery. It was missing the olive oil - paprika kick that elevates the flavor of the shrimp.

Trumpet mushrooms ala palcha - Delicious! Husband said it qualifies as a dish of the year for him. Served with a runny egg. The combination of the smokey umami mushrooms with the runny egg was just amazing.

Radishes with anchovy and lamb belly. Spectacular! So much going on here. So many mingling vibrant flavors. The lamb flavor was pronounced and blended exquisitely with the peppery radish and umami anchovy flavors.

Spanish fried rice- kind of like a blend of paella and fried rice. Excellent though the portion was a bit small, though not as bad as the octopus.

Tasting Menu Recs

MW not too far from SF depending on the traffic. It's a perfect in-between spot if one was traveling between SF and Napa.

May 01, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Greek bakeries in SF?

Galatoboureko is one of my favorite Greek deserts. I like it more than the ubiquitous baklava which is too saturated with sugar for me. Haven't seen galatobouerko in the Bay Area that I recall really. It's actually not too difficult to make-reading this has prompted me to think about making a batch.

May 01, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Check Please: Cosecha (Oakland); Bull Valley Roadhouse (Port Costa); Michael Warring (Vallejo) aired 4/16/15

I went to Bull valley roadhouse last fall for the first time. Before going I was thinking I would post a review on Chowhound since I don't think it's been discussed here. But it was one of those middle of the road dinning experiences that is difficult to write about (much easier to write a review of a place you unambiguously loved or hated). It has a cool funky vibe and the service was very good. In terms of the food, I liked it but not as much as I had hoped. It was all good, but fell short of being a really memorable meal. I left wanting to go back to give it another chance but haven't yet.

I am a huge fan of Michael Warring. It's a hidden gem of a place and the food is very innovative. And it goes from modernist to simple cuisine. Someone recently pointed out here that it's a set course menu and they enjoyed the later dishes more than the early ones. It is a set course menu that is always changing. On any given night I have been there I uniformly love everything or some nights there there might be a dish or two that I don't enjoy as much. He is really into having an early course involve smoke and these especially are prone to being hit or miss. But mostly the food is really delicious and vibrant. Some of the most memorable pasta dishes, meat courses and desserts I have had in recent years have been here.

Apr 27, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Papaya Salad: SFBA Dish of the Month April 2015

I'll jump in since no replies.

The most memorable one I had was from a vendor at the Chatuchak market in Bangkok during the winter of 1999-2000. Served in a paper cup. It was assertive, funky, spicy with these amazing large dried shrimp pieces. Versions in the US seem to omit or skimp on the dried shrimp and the quality of the shrimp is often poor. I can still remember the Chatuchak papaya salad like it was yesterday. I haven't had one as good since.

Good ones i have had in the Bay Area have been at Ran Kanom And Sabuy Sabuy II. I was expecting to be eating more Papaya Salad in April but it didn't work out that way. I only had it once this month from Buddha Thai bistro in Vacaville where I occasionally get take out on my way home from work. The papaya salad was good but nothing special. I asked for spicy, and it was, but it was lacking in fish sauce funkiness. It was a fine version but not nearly as good as other salads I have tried at Buddha Thai.

Apr 27, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Napa report Feb 2015

Glad you like Michael Warring. I always highly recommend it. You are right about the tasting menu. The place is experimental, especially the first course or two and sometimes they work better than others. But on the whole the meals are always excellent .

Apr 22, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Blue Bottle swallows up Tartine.

I haven't had BB in a while because lately I have been getting beans from Temple coffee (a great roaster in Sacramento). But I was working in Berkeley when BB first started and used to get beans from them at the Berkeley Farmers market. Back then it was only the founder Freeman and I thought he was a very nice guy and very enthusiastic about coffee. I wondered back then if they would be successful and I am happy they are.

Tartine is the best bread I have tried in the US. Maybe i am secretly a hipster who wants to wait on long lines at trendy places but i have to say I absolutely LOVE Tartine bread. And for those who don't know: you can order the Bread over the phone a day or 2 in advance. This allows you to bypass the lines. You just go to the front, give your name and pick up.

Apr 20, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Blue Bottle swallows up Tartine.

Good for them. They are just trying to be successful. I don't understand some of the vitriol. There are worse things in the world than BB coffee and Tartine Bread. Give them a break!

Apr 20, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Weekend Raclette at Cowgirl Creamery's Sidekick Cafe | San Francisco Ferry Plaza

Wow I definitely need to try this!

Apr 19, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

3 days in San Francisco

A new place for Dim Sum in SF that is good is Dragon Beaux.

http://www.dragonbeaux.com

I love walking around the area around the Cliff house. The ruins of the Sutro baths are on one side:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutro_...

And Ocean beach is on the other side where you can take a walk and hear the soothing roar of the Pacific Ocean. You can walk as far down the beach as you like. Another option for a beach walk is Fort Funstun which is the same stretch of beach but at the south end of SF. It's less crowded and the fossil studded cliffs are stunning.

I have never actually eaten at the Cliff House (it's not known for its good food) but we sometimes go to the downstairs bar which has huge windows and a stunning view and have a relaxing cocktail.

A combination of walking around the Sutro baths, ocean beach and then having a pre-dinner drink at the Cliff house would make for a relaxing afternoon.

Apr 17, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area
1

Bay Area Food Festivals and Events, Spring 2015

I found out about it listening to the cheese podcast someone had recommended on the cheese board. I don't think I will be able to go to any of the events because I am supposed to go to dim sum for a friends birthday (3rd weekend in a row of dim sum, can't complain about that).

Apr 16, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Raw milk cheese appreciation day April 18

This Saturday (April 18) is the first annual raw milk cheese appreciation day:

http://www.cheeseofchoice.org/#!appre...

Apr 16, 2015
Ridge in Cheese

why cant americans make cheese ?

Wizchee,

Try this and report back:

http://www.jasperhillfarm.com/winnimere/

Apr 16, 2015
Ridge in Cheese

Bay Area Food Festivals and Events, Spring 2015

April 18 is the first annual Raw milk cheese appreciation day. They are having special tastings at the Cheeseboard in Berkeley, Cowgirl creamery in the Ferry building and Bi-rite in SF. See the complete list here which lists all the events in the US:

http://www.cheeseofchoice.org/#!appre...

2 Days in Berkeley

I have never liked the fish tacos at all. The breading, the preparation, the salsa. They are maybe the worst fish tacos I have ever tried. Weakest item on their menu.

We always tend to order the same thing: carnitas tacos and chips and guacamole and are always satisfied.

Apr 04, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

2 Days in Berkeley

I may need to give Comal a second chance. Maybe we went on an off night.

The nice thing about Picante is that it's very affordable (within a students budget) compared with other places and high quality. And FWIW the chips and guacamole is better there than the one we had at Comal.

Apr 04, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

2 Days in Berkeley

Well the food at Vic's varies. But I went a couple of weeks ago with friends and everything we ate was spot on and delicious. Certain things we ordered, like this ground lamb pancake thing, I forget the name, were much better than on previous visits, so i think there is variability in the QC at times.

Apr 03, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

2 Days in Berkeley

I agree with the recommendation of Ajanta.

I wasn't that crazy about Comal the 1 time I went.

Picante in Berkeley is a reliable standby for good guacamole and carnitas tacos.

If you want a good meal in Oakland go to Duende for tapas and spectacular paella:

http://www.duendeoakland.com

Apr 03, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

McDonalds collaborates with Bay Area chefs

It's true I tell you! They are going to do all sorts of innovative things: the apple pies will be made with heirloom orange Sunshine pears from Yasgur's farm in NY. Egg McMuffins with guanciale and Mendocino Uni. Imagine the possibilities.

McDonalds collaborates with Bay Area chefs

This is a weird development. McDonalds has been trying to turn around slumping sales by hiring chefs to update their menu and make them more chic. They have achieved a recent coup by luring famous Bay Area chefs Thomas Keller and Alice Waters. Keller will help design fast food versions of signature FL dishes like Oysters and Pearls. Waters will work to incorporate small organic gardens in every McDonalds restaurant. What do people think of these developments? Would you be willing to try Oysters and Pearls at McDonalds?

Cutting the Curd, Heritage Radio podcast program

Cool program! Thanks for the suggestion.

Mar 30, 2015
Ridge in Cheese

Best Sandwich in Berkeley?

The California style sandwich on Long Island sound hideous. I am always surprised when I see California pizza kitchen there. Talk about unclear on the concept.

Mar 30, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Sandwich in Berkeley?

If you are in Davis, Village pizza & grill makes a mean BLT. It's my favorite sandwich in Davis. They are associated with a great bakery (Village Bakery-makes an awesome Persian flatbread) so it's made with really good French bread and generous good quality bacon. And Bernardo's makes a good Salmon BLT.

Mar 30, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Sandwich in Berkeley?

Yes, it's weird isn't it? The components are here but they just can't get it right. I used to work in Berkeley and don't remember ever eating a sandwich there I liked except for the mini pre-made sandwiches at the 4th street market. Now I work in Davis and there are actually some good sandwiches here.

Mar 30, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area

Best Sandwich in Berkeley?

Not taught it schools but clearly they need to add it to the curriculum in California! (along with driving but don't get me started)

Mar 27, 2015
Ridge in San Francisco Bay Area