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Your Favorite $5 or under bites in San Francisco

Chicken turnover at out the door at Ferry Plaza indoors.

about 10 hours ago
little big al in San Francisco Bay Area

SF Sourdough Revisited

Italian-French to my knowledge does not make sourdough, and in my opinion is the worst bread in The City. Neither crust nor crumb has any character. The only thing going for them is they make a wide variety of shapes of rolls. They all taste the same though. But don't take my word for it, try one.

Good places to eat/drink in and around the presidio. [San Francisco]

I just returned from my first and last visit to Arguello. While the tortillas were great and fresh and "meaty" and the chips and guacamole were fine examples the rest of the food was meager, bland and in one case totally not as described. I'm looking at you Mister Crispy Pork Belly, you flabby braised underseasoned pieces of pork on a plate. At least there was plenty of you, unlike the fish taco ($5.50!) with a piece of cod the size of my thumb (not including the fleshy bit) and one tiny tortilla. Carne asada taco was a bland mess of meat and beans (beans in a taco?) crying out for some salsa. Chilaquiles were good (my first taste of this dish) but the portion made me wonder where is the fine line between excess and insult. This was my first taste of a Des Jardins restaurant and I wonder if the empress has any clothes at all.

Good places to eat/drink in and around the presidio. [San Francisco]

I just returned from my first and last visit to Arguello Restaurant. I didn't know that it was a Des Jardins project. I have read so much about her love of "authenticity" but had never experienced her cuisine. Yawn! The best parts are the chips and quacamole. Tortillas are also great, fresh and "meaty", but my lord, served one per tiny tiny taco ($4.50-$6.50 each as I recall.) Fried cod the size of my thumb on the fish taco and a completely bland carne asada on my other one. Something called "crispy pork" was an underseasoned plate of flabby pork belly, not the chicharone (sp?)like thing the title would lead one to expect. Chilaquiles were good (my first taste of this dish), but such a tiny portion it made me wonder about where the perfect portion size between excessive and insulting would be.

throw-back saturday: old-style veal parmigiana

I think I'm from the same mill town (Lynn Mass., "The city that wasn't afraid to die") and my dad, big big Al was, among other trades, a union meat cutter at Finast (First National Stores). He told me that the way those huge dinner palaces along route 1 could serve such cheap veal Parmigiana was by using pork instead. Think about it, pounded,breaded, fried and sauced, who could tell the difference? Not in the east bay and not a red sauce joint, but Ideale in North Beach serves an excellent veal chop breaded and roasted that is much like a wienerschnitzel. Real veal.

4505 Meats to take over the former Brother In Laws/Da Pitt BBQ at 705 Divisadero [San Francisco]

Speaking of short weight, I once bought a "pound"(clearly labeled) of fresh sausage at 4505's stand at FPFM for $12,(a record high for me, but it is real good sausage) only to find that it was 12 ounces. Mistakes occur, but R. Farr's casual response (basically, "S**t happens") was unforgivable. When that same thing happened years ago at Aidell's stand the lovely Kathleen gave me a free 12 ounces the next week and had a customer for the duration of their stay. PS I hate this new trend of things that traditionally come in one pound packages e.g. beans, coffee, sausages, bacon,( pints of beer for gods' sake),coming as 12 ounces units. Even when they are properly labeled it seems somehow not entirely honest.

Brown Sugar Kitchen uses quick grits, wholesale vendors [Oakland]

To my knowledge Robert has run a restaurant, and moreover the menu does specificy organic grits.

SF Chinatown Pork Bun (Char Siu Bao) crawl - suggestions?

I think it was me who was so enthusiastic about Lai Hong. I was there last week for my birthday dim sum fest and while they are not quite as full as my earlier experience they are still the best I've had in Chinatown.

Yet another craft beer hall: Hogwash now open in Union Square [San Francisco]

Original Gangstah I'm sure. Gary be hip-hop fo real! Sorry about the limit.

Oyster Rookie

The safest but not fastest involves 2 tools. First one "pops" the hinge with an old school beer can opener, then (carefully) severs the adductor muscle with an oyster (or paring) knife. That way one is never forcing a pointy thing towards one's palm.

French Fries: SFBA Dish of the Month December 2014

For thin I nominate the fresh chips at Elmira Rosticceria (along with the elusive lampredotto panino) and for thick, crisp, and fluffy, Original Joe's, almost certainly double fried (rice bran oil?) and even good after they've cooled down. Their fritto misto is also wicked good.

Local source for Bulk Callebaut Chocolate

I realize this is not exactly the answer to your question, but on a recent visit to The Pasta Shop in Berkeley, i was delighted to see bulk giandujia (sp?) for sale for about $17 lb. Yum.

Dungeness Crab Prices 2014/2015 Season

Just this morning at Alioto-Lazio it was "almost" 2.5 lbs. for 12 bucks. Still time to reserve for T'day (or should that be C' day cause I don't really care for T' ?).

$14 lb. porcini fresci [San Francisco]

They've been at Far West Fungi at Ferry Plaza for a few weeks now. Not as good as the Italian ones, but good for the price. #ones are a little more, but these# twos are good enough for the likes of me, and not wormy.

Turkey: getting one this week to practice on, and spatchcocking

Using a small bird for practice reminds me of Gracie Allen's recipe for roast beef. "Take a small roast beef and a large roast beef and put them in the oven. When the small one is burnt the large one is ready." But seriously, the best turkeys I have ever cooked were brined and cooked butterflied on the Weber. Otherwise Julia's advise about cooking the white and dark meat separately is very sound.

Partridge in the East Bay or SF?

Likewise pigeon and guinea fowl at San Francisco Poultry on Grant. The cleanest poultry shop I've ever seen (or smelled). I tried to post earlier but failed. How similar is a chukar to a partridge?

Hash : SFBA Dish of the Month October 2014

I haven't been to The Eagle (once home of some of my favorite hash) since they went so hopelessly corporate and upscale. $15 hash is one good reason.

Claypot Rice in SF Chinatown?

"I usually order frog+ frog for extra frog meat" is without a doubt the chowiest phrase I've ever read.


Ditto Albona or Ideale in NB. Also the crespelle at L'osteria dal Forno are enough like pasta to perhaps qualify.

neighborhood restaurant recommendations for November in SF?

The Codmother on the wharf at Jones St. makes a very respectable fish and chips. Only thing worth eating outside of crab season.

Tadich Grill?? [San Francisco]

Agree on the halibut and ditto the petrale, but they often place the fish on top of the fries, which does them no good at all. See is you can get them, literally, on the side.

Worst Cooking Disaster Thread

After our wedding there was a huge tub of sour cream left over from the crudites (who eats those things anyway) that we baked into 2 large lemon cheesecakes before we realized it was infused with garlic. It smelled a little funny when we were cooking them, but I don't keep the cleanest oven, so I figured it was "jes' burnin' off a little drip" like they say in Texas.

Sep 27, 2014
little big al in Home Cooking

Clams or oysters for a big batch of chowda

If I may speak frankly to a fellow Yankee (I'm from Lynn, Mass.), canned clams in chowdah? In California you may have better luck at a lower price point using mussels. No shame, I do it all the time. Or you could go the "seafood" chowdah route and make a mix with shrimp, scallops, pollock or whatever. When should we come ovah?

Cornology (Popcorn shop) now open in SF North Beach, Livermore, Emeryville, Milpitas

Great. Just what the neighborhood needed. (Irony alert)

All-Star Donuts [San Francisco, Marina DIstrict location]

And overwhelmingly the ethnic group most closely intertwined in the donut industry currently is Cambodian. It's an associative thing.

Dim sum question- not a place but what to try

I have a dim sum app. on my I-phone which features pictures, descriptions/preparations, categories, names in english and chinese, and most important the name spoken in chinese. Called yum yum dim sum. It once was the only way I could get bean-curd skin roll at Dol Ho (my favorite bargain Dim Sum joint). Cart style, but you can also order.

Marina Meats Butter Clams and Spot Prawns [San Francisco]

Stopped by yesterday for some sausages for a "simple" dinner and was waylaid by the above. Prawns were fresh and pricey ($32 lb.) but I'd say worth it. Butter clams are new to me, but they were so fresh , with active necks, that I gave them a shot. Full of meat, I cleaned and chopped them up, and re-stuffed them with buttered bread crumbs and ground walnuts. We'll be doing that again real soon. Each clam makes two generous "half shells", about $5 each IIRC.

What is the most exciting restaurant you've eaten at in the SFBA recently?

I wouldn't have gone on my own, but some out of town guests had to eat at the new Tosca, and i really liked it (on their "dime"). Stand outs were pig tails (can't get those at home), crispy fried taters, and anchovy fritto (the best "value" on the menu.) Both the snap peas and artichokes were great, but minute portions. Drinkies were great, but at $12 expectations were high. I could live without hand-cut cubes and a little more Negroni in my Negroni.

Pheasant… any recommended places to eat out or buy?

I've seen pigeon.

Pheasant… any recommended places to eat out or buy?

San Francisco Poultry on Grant Ave. has pheasant, chukar (?) and guinea hen. Usually. Also rabbit. Very clean, not stinky.