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pastryqueen's Profile

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tortilla chips

I second the tortilla chips at La Borinquena. . they also make tostada and taco shells. .they are truly delicious!

The third time isn't the charm ... need help with a muy important meal

Corso? I would choose that over Rivoli . .. not that Rivoli isn't great but I think Corso is better. . I dream about their risotto with ragu.

Table 11 at Commis. .. it's the one that is a two top that is in one of the "cubbies" of the storefront. . .have taken a VIP and they LOVED it. I managed to get that table by coming at opening and requesting it.

Good luck!

"Serious" coffee, 2010

Sightglass, Remedy on Telegraph (which brews ritual and has a Clover machine), Philz - some don't think of it as "serious" coffee because he only does the individual drip but I think the coffee is delicious, Blue Bottle (really depends on the blend - I have had quite a few that I did not like), and a little cart outside of Farmer Joe's on Fruitvale where the owner roasts his own beans and makes his own blends. . Obama Blend is amazing. . he uses an Aero press which makes a very fine cup of coffee.

Robert Lauriston's New Restaurant in East Bay - "Locanda da Eva"

Casa de Eva might have been there for decades but the building has not been very lucky for restaurants since then. . that fact has even been mentioned on this board a few times.

Robert Lauriston's New Restaurant in East Bay - "Locanda da Eva"

I really loved Mazzini and went there often. Can't wait to try this new place! I have read others say that the space is cursed but people said that of the former Grasshopper place which is now Wood Tavern so. . .it isn't the space, it's the people behind the space. . .I hope, hope, hope!!! My only words of wisdom would be to make sure service is on point. . I think that's what ended up sinking Mazzini in the end. . or at least it was for me. . I loved the food but eventually could not get past the service (or lack there of).

Good LUCK!

Top 10 Tastes 2009

In an effort to save money this year, I didn't eat out very much but I managed to scrounge up some tasty tidbits:

The oca salad with avocado & persimmon, etc at the Ubuntu Tuesday night dinner. . I still daydream about this salad. . so simple and yet so perfect at the same time (okay actually ate three meals there this year and each one was wonderful. . .I am especially enamored with Ms. Fox's desserts. . .always order all of them and leave very, very happy)

The departing gift of fleur de sel caramels from Manresa (with a nod to those foie gras croquettes and the arpege egg. . .I know that's a standby signature dish but there's a reason - it is phenomenal!)

The fresh avocado rolls @ Champa Garden. . .summer rolls simply filled with the usual suspects. .. what makes this dish special is the creaminess of the avocado against the crunchy herbs and vegetables in this refreshing roll and the dipping sauce.. . really lovely.

Caffe con Dulce de Leche from Lush. . .rarely on the menu these days but this is the flavor that got me hooked initially. super yum

Pisco Sour from Sidebar. .I am not much of a drinker but these could turn me into a straight up lush. Delicious!

Roasted Vinegar Chicken @ BarBersQ - worth the wait!

Bread & Butter Pickles from LouLou's Garden - AMAZING!

Give it To Me Guava - chocolate from Socola Chocolatiers

Prawns and Scrambled Eggs from Fountain Garden Restaurant - hole in the wall, dreary Chinese place in the Laurel District. . this dish is just comfort on a plate for me. . fresh tasting prawns scrambled in eggs with scallions, ginger, garlic and bean sprouts atop steamed rice with hot sauce just about makes my toes curl with happiness. :)

The tlayuda with tinga de pollo at La Oaxaquena. . . muy rico!

gift certificate for vegetarian semi-foodie?

The best vegetarian restaurant I've ever been to is Ubuntu. . not sure if you'd want your sister to have to travel all the way to Napa but it's worth the trip - it is awesome and it might be something she might not try on her own. :) Also, you can pay for and print their gift certificates on-line which is pretty cool! No full bar, though.

Encuentro just opened in Oakland. . by the same folks that do Millenium. . this restaurant is vegetarian but not vegan like Millenium. . i have yet to go but a good friend who is really into food said it was fun. No full bar either. (I wonder why).

Aziza also might be a good choice. . .it's Moroccan and not strictly vegetarian but they have many vegetarian friendly items on their menu and it's a gorgeous restaurant with inventive cocktails. . in fact as I am writing this. . I think this might be the perfect spot for your sister! :) Happy Holidays!

The Inaugural Tuesday Dinner @ Ubuntu

Yes! As simple as it was, it was bursting with flavor - they also put fennel seed in the salt so that accent was there and it made the flavor somehow deeper. Really, really good. . I even ate the skin as it was very soft and tasty.

The Inaugural Tuesday Dinner @ Ubuntu

I think that would be the hottest ticket in town! :)

The Inaugural Tuesday Dinner @ Ubuntu

I was fortunate enough to get four seats for the first Tuesday night dinner at Ubuntu with guest chef James Syhabout of Commis. I have enjoyed dining at Ubuntu a few times prior and was looking forward to this free form dinner. They took 18 reservations and the guests were seated at the large communal table that runs through the center of the restaurant.

Chef Jeremy Fox and Chef Syhabout worked as co-Sous Chefs at Manresa and are good friends. They never worked together on the line as they were on separate sides of the kitchen at Manresa so this was an opportunity for them to work together.

The dinner started out with an amuse bouche of sunchoke veloute - a warming cup of smooth, creamy puree deeply perfumed by the earthiness of sunchokes along with a restrained addition of vanilla. The foamy top layer was dusted with the tiniest smidge of finely ground ritual coffee; the bitterness of the coffee rounded out the innate sweetness of the sunchokes perfectly. This was the only course besides dessert to be served individually - the rest of the meal was served family style.

Next came a crunchy oca salad. Oca, citrus, fuyus, avocado and macadamia came together in a textural fireworks display - crunch of the oca, silky smoothness of the avocado, acid from the citrus, toastiness of the macadamias and the tart sweetness of the perfectly ripe fuyus made it one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Next was a platter of "big ass" beets - a variety of different - a few of them GIANT, cooked in a salt crust. The dinners were instructed to break the crust and scoop out all the different kinds of beets. This was great fun. The beets were gorgeous and quite tasty - served along side an absolutely delicious quince soffrito and a horseradish green salsa - the sweetness of the beets matched with the savoriness of the soffrito and the pungent blast of horseradish was a revelation.

Then we were treated to a platter of deeply flavored Pinnacle Farms potatoes roasted in hay served with savoy cabbage, brassicas and fried eggs - really a simple dish but so complex at the same time. . .the potatoes had a bright earthiness from their own natural flavor and the hay. The eggs were gorgeous - bright yolks perfect for dipping potatoes into! The platter was layered with a deep purple rough puree of purple cauliflower - it was utterly delicious. The savoy cabbage was perfectly cooked leaves scattered about the platter.

The next course of the evening showed the chefs' playful side - Roasted Riverdog Farms "misfit" carrots - gnarled orange and red carrots steamed until just tender with little divots dug out along each carrot and those divots dotted with teeny tiny raw carrots - served simply with a little creamy carrot puree on the plate, caraway salt and carrot top greens - simple and playful - the carrots having an amazing depth of flavor.

Next came a deep bowl of mashua that had been cooked by burying the root in ash and embers - it was smoky and tender. It was served atop a purple yam puree that was rich with coconut milk - the dish was accented with cilantro and marash pepper which accented the smokiness but added a nice kick to the overall flavor of the dish.

The next dish to the table was a yin & yang "risotto" made up of a creamy black barley risotto swirled into the dish's namesake symbol with a white barley risotto - this dish was deeply flavored creamy and rich. The richness was countered by crystallized sunflower petals and crunch was added with sunflower seeds. Lots of cream and parmesan cheese in this dish made this the richest dish of the evening. It was really delicious.

They saved the biggest and best for last. A giant Lunga di Napoli squash filled with an absolutely stunning savory brioche stuffing. . . studded with port soaked sultanas, rich brioche, and crunchy pine nuts. The two halves of the squash were so massive that they had to fashion makeshift platters with full sheetpans, burlap and string - it was a joy to watch the kitchen "McGyver" the solution!

Last course (by now we were all begging for mercy) was a delightful dessert of a masterfully fried beignet topped with a mulling spice roasted fuyu persimmon, thinly fanned atop the beignet topped with chamomile ice cream sitting atop a burnt mandarin caramel. As spent as I was, I managed to eat this beautiful dessert.

Wine was donated and served by Jamie & Michelle Whetstone - they were wonderful wines that paired perfectly with the food - the wine flowed freely and generously.

While the food was incredibly good, I think the best part of the evening was watching the chefs interact with each other and with the guests - they were truly having fun. If you've ever been to Ubuntu or Commis for regular service, you know the intensity with which both these chefs cook - this was a chance for them to let loose a little and have a lot of fun all the while serving incredibly delicious food. Chef Jeremy asked for a song list from each guest, made a playlist and that was the music for the evening - it was great fun trying to figure out who requested what song. The service was casual but still attentive. All in all, I felt like I was experiencing a once in a lifetime event and am very happy to have been there. Chef Syhabout was asked if he'd host a similar dinner at his restaurant and he said yes and that it would include a lot of meat!

Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

Hot Chocolate 2009 - Open season

Humphry Slocombe is making a Mexican Hot Chocolate with Vanilla Bean Marshmallows that is actually worth a trip to the city for me! :)

btw. . they are offering a manischewitz sorbet in "honor" of hanukkah.

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream
2790 Harrison St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Epic birthday dinner at Commis: just jaw-droppingly delicious (and beautiful) food

I love this place and think the desserts are some of the best out there. I will say again that I cannot believe that food of this caliber is happening in Oakland!

Mac and Cheese in SF

Blue on Market has great, straight forward Mac N Cheese that comes in a deep, bubbling ramekin that you have to wait to cool down before you can eat it. They have add ins and different versions but my favorite is the straight up traditional one they serve.

I am also partial to the mac n cheese at Boulevard Cafe in South San Francisco. . .super old school. . no crispy crust just elbow macaroni and lots of cheese. You can get a child's serving which is plenty. . the regular serving is giant and so rich!

Both these restaurants are simple - nothing of note other than their version of macaroni and cheese. But please take note, I am a purist in that I like elbow macaroni and regular cheese. . .bacon, smoked cheeses, non-elbow macaroni are abominations to me.

The only exception is the mac n cheese at BarBersQ in Napa. . they have the slightest hint of sage steeped into the bechamel. .. but it's so delicious!

Boulevard Cafe
2 Poncetta Dr, Daly City, CA 94015

3900 D Bel Aire Plaza, Napa, CA 94558

2337 Market St, San Francisco, CA

Oakland: Coe-me (Commis) – very deserving of its Michelin star

I agree 100%. The whole time I was sitting there I kept thinking that I could not believe that this caliber of dining is happening in Oakland. . .and within walking distance of my home!

I had the farm egg and really enjoyed it - make sure to have a piece of their lovely rolls at the ready to sop up the deliciousness that remains in the bowl. I had the duck dish which has rotated off the menu (replaced by the guinea fowl) as well as bites of all my companion's dishes. . .we ate the whole menu (not difficult to do between three people) with the soup course being sent to us by Mr. Syhabout. Excellent. Everything. Most notably the service as well.

I have read elsewhere that the desserts are challenging but I did not find them so. We had all three dessert offerings and all were quite delicious with my favorite being the celery root cake which I took as an interpretation of Ants on a Log. . peanut butter, celery and that intensely flavored but not too sweet grape jelly acting as the raisins. Really wonderful and the texture on the sorbet was like velvet.

I for one am so excited to have this restaurant in Oakland!

My Favorite Cafe
2110 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94121

Cheez Waffies at Yo Philly in Alameda

The few sandwiches I have had from there have not looked like Soupnazi's. . .the onions and meat were not cooked together. . in fact i had to wait while he grilled fresh onions. . maybe it depends on what you order? I always get the Angelo's Special. the owner is super nice so I am sure if you gave him specifics, he'd make you the sandwich of your dreams. . . his sandwiches are miles above The Cheesesteak Shop's.

Best Bo Tai Chanh?

Thank you! I haven't been to Pho 84 in quite a while so it will be nice to go back and I look forward to trying your recommendation.

Blue Bottle Oakland?

I usually drink lattes from Four Barrel or Ritual which I think of as good espresso cafes and while their milk based drinks are not as scorchingly hot as Peet's, they are warmer than BB. It's not to disparage Blue Bottle in any way but the fact is that their milk based drinks are simply not hot and anyone getting them should be aware of that.

Blue Bottle Oakland?

lukewarm milk is how they roll. I always either get a plain drip coffee or an au lait - their espresso is very, very mild but the drip coffee just about takes my head off. !

Looking forward to trying the pastries. . hope they are good.

Best Bo Tai Chanh?

There was a thread in Home Cooking regarding a recipe similar to Bo Tai Chanh which got me thinking about this fabulous dish. One of my favorites these days is at Rang Dong on Webster (site of the former Vi's). . . in fact, the topic sent me to Rang Dong for lunch where I had the Bo Tai Chanh along with an order of Chai Goi and Lemongrass Beef Bun all of which were quite tasty. My only suggestion besides the Bo Tai Chanh is to visit Rang Dong during the day because it tends to be ice cold in the restaurant in the evening. . to the point that the servers are wearing jackets!

Where else in the Bay Area has notable Bo Tai Chanh?

Vietnamese Lemon Beef Salad

one of the few dishes I find passable at Le Cheval. . . altho sometimes the beef is over marinated and it gets "flabby". . . I like the little matchsticks of fresh ginger they use.

Oct 15, 2009
pastryqueen in Home Cooking

Vietnamese Lemon Beef Salad

everything else on the menu is just "fine". Not horrible, but not great. But that Bo Tai Chanh? REALLY good!

I also mourn Vi's on a near daily basis. . the chicken salad, the depth of their broth, the duck leg soup, the pork won ton soup and great conversation with the oldest brother. . . Vi's hold a very special place in my heart and I miss it so!

Oct 15, 2009
pastryqueen in Home Cooking

Vietnamese Lemon Beef Salad

believe it or not, the bo tai chanh at Rang Dong on Webster is very, very good.

One of my favorites!

Rang Dong Restaurant
724 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607

Oct 14, 2009
pastryqueen in Home Cooking

Top Chef -Season 6 - Episode 7 - 10-7-09 (spoiler)

All I can say about this episode is that I actually cried when they eliminated Ashley. I like her approach to food and found her to be a great competitor.

I am sorry but that fact that Robin is still there is insane. INSANE!!! I am sure she's a lovely lady but she just does not have "it". . whatever "it" is, she's got none.

I think Kevin or Jen will win. Jen leaves me cold as far as her personality goes but I think she's a solid cook. Kevin has "it" and so he will go far no matter what.

Oct 09, 2009
pastryqueen in Food Media & News

Next Iron Chef Episode 1 10/4 [And subsequent episodes] (spoilers)

I found it lame that Appleman was using a mixer to make pasta dough. . .and lamer that he had so little respect for the equipment. Sure, he is definitely getting the villain edit and I think that when you make a dish, you should stand by it but when he told chef Smith that his dish was not salty I thought it was outrageous. . .it's all about someone ELSE'S tastes when you put food out and I always found his food too salty at A16 & SPQR. He's mister salt bomb and if you think that grinding up country ham and then rendering it down and then putting that much into a dish isn't going to be salty, that's absolutely nuts. He's really young, he got lots of praise for stepping into someone else's shoes and he's full of himself. .. I guess it makes for interesting TV but it worked my nerve.
I enjoyed Chef Mehta's attitude. . he's very respectful of everyone but in shows like this nice guys seem to finish last.
I am rooting for Chef Garces as his soup with queso fresco set my palate into overdrive. . in fact, I am making that for dinner tonight! :)
Mr. Steingarten has become quite crotchety lately, more so than usual. I am not a fan of Donatella but thought it was good for her to stand up for herself.
I'll keep watching though. . . all the while missing Chefs Besh & Symon from two years ago who took this seriously but managed to be civil and actually have fun.

Oct 05, 2009
pastryqueen in Food Media & News

What's your favorite way, way out of the way food obsession (Bay Area)?

also if they have the plato de venado or torta de venado, get it. . it's hard to come by and they do it well.

What's your favorite way, way out of the way food obsession (Bay Area)?

yes. . that little deck overlooking the pond is quite rickety. . .I did not realize it was now private property. . .I have never had anyone say anything as I enjoyed my warm fougasse. There is also this really great quail sculpture made out of can lids and pressure gauges. . . not nearly as well kept as it was when it was the nursery but still a point of interest. . . .maybe if someone catches you there, you can offer them a piece of your fougasse. :)

Maria. . we are acquainted. . .via blancmange. ;)

What's your favorite way, way out of the way food obsession (Bay Area)?

I feel so unoriginal but I must second BarBersQ for the fried chicken (and vinegar chicken and mac n cheese).

And Wild Flour . . I am especially obsessed with their Fougasse. . .nothing better hot out of the oven. . we like to stroll over to the Statue of Liberty and eat it all while it's hot.

We also make the occasional drive to Fairfax Scoop especially in the summer when they have strawberry ice cream and Blossom Bluff Peach ice cream.

I drive from Oakland to San Francisco regularly for pupusas. . .I am partial to the ones at Balompie. . .I think because they are the first ones I ever had so I just like them best. Also, if I am in the city early enough I like to stop at La Oaxaquena for pan dulce and maybe, if I am hungry a tlayuda and one of their stellar licuados.

Top Chef and we're off! (possible spoilers)

I don't find Jennifer C.'s comment distasteful as I know from personal experience that she is a product of her environment. . .if she can eat guys like Michael for breakfast then good on her. . .I am sure she dealt with things from macho line dogs that you can't imagine - be a woman in a kitchen run by the likes of guys like Michael and you're either going to leave the profession or turn into someone like Jennifer. I don't necessarily like that Jennifer has to be tough as nails like that but I understand it.

Aug 21, 2009
pastryqueen in Food Media & News

Top Chef Masters Finale 08/19/09 (spoilers)

sounds on par with a good friend of mine who worked for him. She can't talk about him without getting teary eyed. Not a legacy I'd want to leave behind as a chef.

I find that kind of behavior absolutely vile. Bullies are cowards.

Aug 21, 2009
pastryqueen in Food Media & News

Top Chef Masters Finale 08/19/09 (spoilers)

just got a chance to sit and watch. What a wonderful show. My only quibble is that Keller came in third to Chiarello. . I think he should have been second. I would have been happy if Bayless or Keller won. . .

What a wonderful theme! I would have loved to sit at that table. My favorite comments came from Harold who always seems to have respect for other chefs and for food in general.

Keller's first course was beautiful. . .what a great story!

I am a giant mushy marshmallow - when Bayless talked about his dad being a pit master, etc. .. I got teary eyed. :)

Aug 20, 2009
pastryqueen in Food Media & News