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araminty's Profile

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Oases in the South Bay food desert?

Have you tried Parcel 104? It's pretty solid, we've consistently had nice food, well prepared and tasty, and reasonably good service, apart from what I'm hoping was a blip last week (a few small things combined let them down). I don't tend to notice other patrons much, but this place, since it's in the Marriott and close to the convention center, seems to be mostly frequented by business travelers and techies. The bar is nice too, and has decent happy hour nibbles and competent drinks.

A new hot spot in Campbell, in the Pruneyard, is Orchard City Kitchen, an enormous trendy space which reminds me a little of A16 Rockridge. The crowd probably trends younger. Decent brunch on Sundays, too, but no espresso (!?!) so it's off our list.

Other Campbell places to try would be Naschmarkt (Austrian and Liquid Bread (gastropub both on Campbell Ave.

I haven't been for a while, but you might like Dio Deka in Los Gatos, for modern Greek.

How is Santana Row lately? I have mostly found the restaurants there to be comfortable and the food tasty, but it seems to skew a little bit style over substance. The Amber India offshoot here does interesting modern Indian with thoughtful service. Would like to hear others' takes on the other places here - is Straits still to be avoided? We were disappointed at Lark Creek Kitchen, but it's been a while.

about 2 hours ago
araminty in San Francisco Bay Area

Sunday South Bay breakfast

Stan's in Santa Clara for old-school great donuts, especially the glazed and maple bars, IMHO.

Milohas is a good choice, but that's pretty much nowhere near Cupertino. Not breakfasty per se, but nice.

Pick up some high-class nibbles and picnic goods and head up the hill for a picnic at Pichetti Winery? Tasting room opens at 11.

Back A Yard, Menlo Park: Killer Caribbean

There's a big Back A Yard in downtown San Jose. It's quick and delish, great option before seeing a show. I've tried lots of things, my favourite so far being the jerk pork. And yes, the plantains are great!

Closed on Sundays.

Pi Day - best South Bay option?

Hi all, just realized I've not made a pie for the big day tomorrow. Can anyone recommend a lovely place where I can have a quality slice? Bonus points if I can also have an espresso.

Manresa dress code plans [Los Gatos]

My comment isn't about the dress code, rather, the commute. The last couple of times I've driven from Big Sur back to the south bay, I've been delayed, significantly, on Hwy 1 past Carmel and Monterey. Be warned!

Ethiopian food

Am I missing something? The recipe linked calls for 3-5 tablespoons of berbere.

Orchard City Kitchen (Pruneyard, Campbell)

We had a nice meal here tonight. Nothing hugely memorable, but all the plates were reasonably well executed. We shared 5 dishes between us: roasted cauliflower, root veg hash, duck meatballs, lamb riblets and pork belly.

The seasoning was quite light, bordering on underseasoned, especially the roast cauli, which was also a little unevenly roasted - the darker pieces were much earthier and more delicious. The duck was served in a piping hot cast iron pan, which kept the meatballs and sauce nice and hot as we nibbled. The hash was interesting; I enjoyed the umami broth, but the veg themselves seemed a little toothsome still, and they weren't at all browned as I might have expected from the name - they almost seemed to be steamed? The 63dg egg was a nice accompaniment.

I also had a cocktail, which was more interesting than delicious. I can't remember the name, or even its components, which doesn't bode well.

Nice, unfussy service. Our res was 8:15 and we heard a server telling some walk-ins who followed us through the door that the kitchen closes at 8:30, which surprised us. Why have an 8:15 seating at all in that case? The servers didn't seem to be rushing us, and all the food arrived in a timely fashion, all at once, rather than spaced in courses.

We'll try it again soon, and maybe brunch, which starts next weekend.

Special occasion dinner in the South Bay

We had a lovely meal at Chez TJ, thanks everyone. Foie was evident in force, and we splurged on the truffle supplement and a few glasses of wine, and a kir royale. Service was very warm and attentive, especially the somm, although she went off the rails at one point and offered us a sparkling shiraz... :)

Special occasion dinner in the South Bay

Thanks, everyone. My sister and I looked at some sample menus and we've chosen Chez TJ.

Special occasion dinner in the South Bay

My twin sister is visiting from Australia, and our birthday falls on Friday. It's the first birthday we'll have spent together for over 10 years. I'd like to take her out for a meal.

She thinks she wants French. I think she just wants something "fancy." (There's not a lot of fine dining where she lives. Lots of amazing food, of various ethnic cuisines, though...) Maybe a tasting menu? We both eat everything.

I've had variously enjoyable meals in the South Bay, at Parcel 104, Alexander's Steakhouse, Le Papillon, Dio Deka, Manresa, Naschmarkt, but none seem right for this occasion.

Any guidance appreciated!

Best Dinner Buffet - SF Bay Area (South Bay?)

What about a Brazilian churrascaria? We went to Taurinus for my husband's birthday last night, and although it was expensive ($150 for 2) we ate very well. Along with the meat on skewers, (esp v. good lamb), there's a reasonable selection of salads and a few hot dishes on the buffet.

Need to find green bananas in Bay area!!

My local Save Mart (in the South Bay) gets their bananas in very green, they were just putting some out this afternoon. I keep them for at least a week before they're ripe enough for me to enjoy. Just how green do you need them?

Pho Ga : SFBA Dish of the Month November 2014

I was feeling under the weather with a rotten headache last night, so my kindly husband stopped on his way home and brought me pho for dinner. Our local place is Pho Thanh Long, on the corner of El Camino and San Tomas in Santa Clara. I didn't have much appetite (me?!) but I enjoyed the small serving I helped myself to out of the enormous bucket of pho ga. The noodles were nice, tender but not clumpy, and the chicken was slices of breast, poached and quite flavourful. The broth was quite strongly flavoured, and, peeking this morning, has gelled solid in the fridge overnight.

We never eat in, it's kind of... utilitarian in appearance, not a lot of atmosphere. But if you want pho to go and are in the neighbourhood, this will do.

Hardly a rave review, but my itch was scratched, and my head feels much better this morning.

Anyone tried any of the "health food" at 49er Levi Stadium? [Santa Clara]

We biked to the Earthquakes game at Levi a few months back and had the steamed buns. I don't know if that's what you meant by "health food." They weren't that healthy. They also weren't that delicious. I wouldn't bother again, and might go for something deep fried.

Stupid-hot chili peppers

Hi, through some connections in the pepper game, I have half a dozen super duper hot chilis. I believe they are bhut jolokia and moraga scorpion. I don't really want them - do you? I live in Santa Clara and could meet nearby, maybe on Sunday. I don't want any money for them, but if you feel like giving back, a donation to Second Harvest or another food bank would suffice.

Nontypical wedding food

We did Ethiopian from Zeni in San Jose for our reception picnic. It was great!

Oh, and dessert was the Dolce Spazio gelati cart. Perfect end!

Smitten Ice Cream now open at Whole Foods Los Altos

Burnt sugar and true caramel, salted or not, are very different flavours. I think the Smitten flavour ought to have been labeled more accurately.

And there is no way that this product is healthier than soft serve. Sugar is sugar, and fat is fat. We ARE discussing ice cream, after all :)

And I'm sure you're aware of this, but organic food is not healthier than non-organic:

Smitten Ice Cream now open at Whole Foods Los Altos

We stopped by tonight after a nice pizza at Napoletana, which I'd go back for.

I wouldn't, however, go back for more Smitten ice cream. Maybe because I've worked in informal ed for 10 years and have had the chance to make and eat a bit more more LN2 ice cream than most. I found it TOO creamy - maybe overbeaten? - almost a buttery mouthfeel, which was greasy and unpleasant after a few bites. My earl grey tea with milk choc was pretty nice in terms of flavour, maybe a little bit heavy on the bergamot, and the choc was really very nice,

But my husband's salted caramel tasted more like burnt sugar, very bitter and smoky. I was also a bit put off by the chocolate crispies he had sprinkled over, they seemed a bit like smashed up chocolate crackles - an Australian kids' treat of chocolate, coconut shortening, and rice crisps. (


We ate it right away, and the texture was nice, but I've also experienced the same kind of softness from a regular ice cream, right on the verge of melting. At $5 a serve, I was a bit appalled to see parents shelling out $20 for a family's ice cream treat. Surely kids don't know better than soft serve... :)

Chobani passion fruit yogurt?

No. The Noosa brand yoghurt is made in Colorado with Australian cultures. And the Wallaby brand is made in Napa. They're branded "Australian Style."

Actually, real Australian is better :)

Rich Table panna cotta recipe? [San Francisco]

Her reply:
We use organic cane sugar.

I think this refers to the unrefined, large crystalled sugar that we call "raw" in Australia.

Rich Table panna cotta recipe? [San Francisco]

I thought it was a bit strange too, I've emailed back for clarification.

Rich Table panna cotta recipe? [San Francisco]

I got a reply from Katrina at Rich Table, she was kind enough to share the recipe.

Thank you for your note.  Of course, we will share the recipe.  It will yield 8-10 panna cotta.

Butterscotch Panna Cotta
750 grams Cream
250 grams Milk
150 grams Sugar
9 grams Gelatin (leaf gelatin)

Mix cream and milk together.  

Bloom the gelatin in ice water (just enough to cover it)

In a deep sauce pan, over medium heat, make a dry caramel.  Add half of the sugar, swirl the pan until dissolves, add rest of the sugar, continually swirling until sugar has dissolved.

Once caramel has been reached, add half of cream mixture, it will bubble and seize up.  Whisk until all caramel is reincorporated into cream.  Add the bloomed gelatin to the caramel mixture until incorporated.  Pour this mixture through a chinois into the remaining cream mixture. Blend with hand mixer to make sure all is mixed well.

Season to taste with salt.

Pour into desired serving bowls to set.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Rich Table panna cotta recipe? [San Francisco]

We had a lovely meal at Rich Table last night, topped off with a butterscotch panna cotta. My husband, who is not generally a dessert guy, completely LOST IT over this dish! He did relinquish a taste for me, and I agreed, it was pretty great.

Any idea where I could find the recipe? Are Rich Table's chefs usually accommodating of such requests? Any tips appreciated, too - I don't think I've made a panna cotta before, although I have used gelatine in the past.

The Table, Willow Glen San Jose - great brunch!

Hmm, mostly avoiding the things that define a diner! Espresso coffee as default, a small, simple menu with interesting takes on classic brunch food, table service, local art on the walls...

I read recently that most Italian immigration to the US occurred before espresso machines were commonly available; and to Australia, after. So Australian cafes evolved with the coffee as central to the experience.

The Table, Willow Glen San Jose - great brunch!

In search of a Melbourne-style cafe breakfast, this morning we tried the almost un-Googleable "The Table," a relatively new little place on the corner of Willow and Lincoln in downtown Willow Glen.

Nice! I give it a solid 8/10 judged by St. Kilda standards (trendy beachside suburb of Melb, featuring myriad magic cafes) - nice menu, prepared quite well (some slight seasoning issues), great service, and reasonably good espresso - a bit too dark a roast for my taste, but hey, this is America.

My (American) husband enjoyed his first Scotch egg, followed by a chewy caramelly monkey bread. My eggs benedict was served in a big slice of Acme green onion bread, with little holes cut out for the yolks to nestle in, very cute presentation. Good hollandaise, but there could have been a little more of it.

(An aside: why are American benedicts so often served with a big pile of potatoes? The muffin/bread usually carbs enough for me at breakfast.)

I didn't try the early libations, but the mint juleps and bloody marys both looked appetising.

We'll be back for lunch or dinner some time. Our choir (currently in summer hiatus) rehearses nearby, so if the dinner service is quick, perhaps we'll have a new go-to place.

South Bay salads

I don't know what it is about winter, but it makes me crave salad. Anyone got a recommendation for a fantastic salad in the South Bay area? I used to really like the pan-Asian salads at Red Lotus in Portola Valley. I prefer lots of flavourful greens as a base, with crunchy things - anything! - on top. Dressing should be light and not too sweet.


Catering in SJ

Hi all,

We're having a party on Jan 16. Our venue is close to downtown SJ, and we're looking for ideas for a catered light lunch, for probably around 30-40 people. We have a couple of picky eaters (no fish, nothing spicy) but could of course work around them... We will also probably pick up the food ourselves.

Our last bash we had Zeni bring us tibs firfir yebeg, which went down a treat. So now we have a reputation to uphold!

Any suggestions? Thanks!

Proper cafe in the South Bay

Hello. I'm a transplanted Australian yearning for my Melbourne weekend brunches. Can anyone recommend me a place:
- with proper espresso in proper espresso cups - not paper cups
- with nice house-made classic eggy dishes, preferably with some unique twists or takes
- with outdoor seating, and dog friendly
- interesting decor, but not frilly or fancy - no tablecloths!
- table service, or at least not those awful buzzers - a nice lad asking if I need another flat white would be best. (Oh, a flat white! Basically a no-foam latte, but I can scarcely bear to say that... and then they might put it in one of those awful glasses...)

Anyone? I'd be eternally grateful!

Critique my bolognese

Hi guys, long-time reader, first-time poster. Hoping to get some input on my pretty standard bolognese recipe... any easy little things I could do/add to make it yummier? It's already pretty yummy, but there's always room for improvement, right?

Araminty's bolognese
Olive oil
1 onion, chopped
Garlic, 3+ cloves, chopped
Anchovy fillets/paste
1-2lbs ground beef, lean
Mixed Italian dried herbs +/ fresh basil (if it is in season)
1 lg/2 sm tins of chopped Italian tomatoes
Tomato paste

Fry onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent, then add 3-4 anchovies/equivalent of paste and stir to break up. Add the ground beef and stir thoroughly, breaking up the clumps as much as possible, until the beef is cooked through. Add the dried herbs, tomatoes and tomato paste. Check seasoning, add vinegar/sugar if required to balance flavours. Simmer as long as possible, at least 45 min.

What do you think? Any tips for me?


Nov 12, 2008
araminty in Home Cooking