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Why don't people just use good olive oil?

I too cook with olive oil for the supposed health benefits.

Vegetable oil is a “polyunsaturated” oil and polyunsaturated oils may have negative health effects. Olive oil, by contrast, is rich in monounsaturated fats – which are supposed to lower cholesterol – and in antioxidants.

As to shezmu’s original question, as I understand it, more expensive olive oils and extra virgin olive oils are more expensive because of their superior taste. That taste, however, purportedly does not survive the heat of normal cooking, so there’s no point in cooking with an expensive olive oil or extra virgin olive oil.

Mar 02, 2012
KS1 in General Topics

Pat's or Geno's for cheesesteak?

Well, since we're still replying to this 2007 post, I might as well add my two cents! ;-)

My wife and I just returned from Philadelphia, and we've never had cheesesteaks, so we thought we should start with Geno's and Pats -- no matter how touristy they might be. Like others mentioned, they’re literally right across the street from each other – maybe 50 feet apart, so we decided to split a cheesesteak at Pats and then split one at Geno’s, so that we could compare.

We decided on a “cheese whiz, without.” That is, a chopped steak sandwich, without onions, topped with cheese whiz.

Our experience matched the description of muusiz’s experience (written above), so I’m copying it here:

Less meat, meat slightly tender and more seasoning
Cheese wiz thinner - more runny
Bread is softer, I think they steam the bread but because it's Italian bread, a little chewy after steaming
Sandwich is presented tightly wrapped - easy to carry around. The wrapper is bigger and non-porous
General appearance is cleaner and brighter

More meat, less tender, not seasoned at all
Thicker chess wiz
Bread is more crunchy
They give the sandwich to you un-wrapped in a much smaller piece of wrapper. The wrapper is porous - oil sip through makes eating messy.
General appearance darker and less clean

So for us, because Geno’s uses meat that I think was also sliced thinner and that was more tender and runnier cheese wiz and softer bread, our general impressions was that Geno’s cheesesteak was…squishier. It tasted more fast food-y and less deli-y (yes, I realize that they are both fast food, but I’m trying to convey my impressions of the two sandwiches).

By contrast, Pat’s steak was cut rougher and thicker (more country-style, if that makes any sense) and the bread was a harder French or Italian-y roll and the whiz was thicker, there was more texture to the sandwich. It tasted to us more like we were eating a steak sandwich, as opposed to Geno’s, which to us had less substance and seemed squishy steamy.

Hope that helps anyone trying to decide between the two, but I guess my bottom line response to the original post (“Pat’s or Geno’s for cheesesteak?") would be to echo those who say, they’re right across the street from each other. Try both and decide for yourself.

I think comparing the two made us appreciate both much more than we would have simply just trying one.

Jan 24, 2012
KS1 in Philadelphia

Rookie Mistake

One actual rookie mistake and one almost.

The almost was when my wife and I first stated cooking, and a recipe called for mincing a clove of garlic. I turned to my wife and asked whether she thought when it called for "a clove," did she think they were talking about one of the little parts that snap off or the whole thing of garlic (this was in the days before Google).

We went back-and-forth on that for a while before we decided to start with the (actual) clove and then add in the rest if the recipe didn't taste right. Whew! Almost!

The actual rookie mistake was that growing up, the only time we had spinach at home was when my Mom would prepare a Japanese version that involved steaming the spinach, cooling them, and then taking the leaves and rolling them with a sushi roller into a sushi roll looking round and then cutting them so that you would get what was essentially a sushi-size, cylindrical piece of pressed, cooled, steamed spinach, which you would eat with soy sauce.

Being the son of a traditional Japanese woman, I had never been in the kitchen during the preparation of dinner (for example, I found out to my amazement at some point in elementary school that my classmates actually made their own lunches, which was such a novel idea that the next day I tried to make my own, to which my mother responded with tears and the accusation that I must think she was a bad mother who would not make her own son's lunch), so I had no idea that she made this dish; I assumed that spinach came this way.

Flash forward to one day away at college. I had a hankering for "spinach" and went to the supermarket and asked for spinach. When the grocery guy pointed to the spinach leaves, I then asked if they had Japanese spinach, and I explained what I was looking for. The poor guy tried to explain that I was probably talking about a dish made with the spinach leaves, but since they looked nothing like what I was thinking of, I refused to believe him.

I later complained to my mother that the local grocery store didn't carry Japanese spinach and explained what happened. I thought she was going to die laughing.

I still hear about that.

Aug 19, 2011
KS1 in General Topics

Benu / Crenn / Coi / Saison [San Francisco]

I am sort of reluctant to mention it, but Commis over in Oakland -- -- caters to an industry crowd on Sundays. You can get the tasting menu option, at least at the counter seats, which runs to about five courses. If you go, I definitely recommend the counter seats in front of the open kitchen. Think sushi-bar with the chefs about that far away from you on the other side of the counter. It is a Michelin one-star.

The reason I hesitate, however, is that, while I love the food, I am not sure that it meets what I perceive as your definition of "Wow!" Chef Syhabout is an alumnus of Manresa, staged at Fat Duck and El Bulli, and was one of Chef David Kinch's assistants when Kinch appeared on Iron Chef America (if that matters). He has the chops, and it shows in his food.

That said, Chef Syhabout is very understated, and his restaurant is very similar. It is on an unassuming block in Oakland. The restaurant is chic-ly simple, also in a very understated and stark sort of way.

If you are looking for a vast team of servers engaged in the "ballet" of service, that is not Commis, although the staff is very professional, courteous, and knowledgeable. If you are looking for a 20-course menu where no single ingredient is repeated, that is not Commis. Instead, Commis is great food, prepared exquisitely, served in a low key way by a low-key chef. Indeed, Chef Syhabout is so seemingly shy that it is quite possible to dine at the counter (and be 3 feet from him the entire time he is working in the kitchen) and have him never say a word.

That said, I like Commis a lot. I hope others post with either their reviews and/or their pictures so that you can get a better sense of the experience. Again, while I think Commis is great, I am simply unsure if it's what you are looking for with your limited time here.

Manresa Restaurant
320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611

Jul 24, 2011
KS1 in San Francisco Bay Area

Benu / Crenn / Coi / Saison [San Francisco]

OK. I must respectfully disagree. To give you a sense of my tastes so you can evaluate the rest of this post, I too am a huge fan of Manresa. I was more of a fan of TFL in the early days, but the last time my wife and I visited in 2009, I felt that it had become a little "Disney"-fied, if that makes sense. I am more of a fan of Per Se.

I respect what Chef Crenn is trying to do at Atelier Crenn, and I am rooting for her to succeed. Based on our visit last March, however, I just do not believe it belongs on the same list as the rest. I agree with the reviews that refer to her food as “art.” Unfortunately, I feel like in the process of creating dishes that are beautiful to look at, Chef Crenn forgot to bring the “yummy.”

Of the rest of the restaurants, Saison at the chef’s table is my current favorite, competing with my love of Manresa. I would say that Chef’s table Saison has a similar feel to Manresa, and it is hard to say who is executing better. Even if you have tried Manresa, however, Saison is sufficiently different that it would be my top suggestion for your visit.

I would follow next with Benu. I think that Benu has the potential to be on List, but at this point, they are still developing their point of view. As my wife says, if Saison and Manresa are naturally beautiful people, Benu is that person who is beautiful because of a team of stylists working for hours. Saison and Manresa have a sense of effortless elegance. Benu is in the same class, but you can feel the effort.

Finally, I would follow with Coi , which my wife loves. I feel like Coi is doing what Atelier Crenn is trying to do, but Coi actually achieves it. If you are interested in that variation of cuisine vanguardia, I would suggest Coi over Atelier Crenn.

Manresa Restaurant
320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

2124 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94110

22 Hawthorne St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Atelier Crenn
3127 Fillmore St, San Francisco, CA 94123

Jul 16, 2011
KS1 in San Francisco Bay Area

Help! Custard-filled Bambolini in SF?

OK, this is very exciting news, if a little confusing. So if I can summarize my understanding, it seems from SteveG's post that since the old Arlequin chef is at La Victoria, they may have bambolini's available there (although, they do not seem to be listed on the website ( menu, but that does not seem to be a full pastry menu.

Then, it appears that at least back last November, the former chef was also doing a popup of sorts at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market so the bambolinis may also be available there. (I wonder if he will continue given his gig at La Victoria.


Finally, singleguychef below has found bambolinis at Village Market at the Ferry Building, but possibly made by a different supplier.

Still, three possible places to check out for bambolini is certainly much happier than the situation when I first posted the question!

Thanks to everyone for keeping your eyes open for bambolini and for coming back and posting your finds! This place is the best! Happy munching!

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market
One Ferry Building, 200 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

Village Market
4555 California St, San Francisco, CA

La Victoria
131 W Santa Clara St, San Jose, CA 95113

Jun 20, 2011
KS1 in San Francisco Bay Area

Do you write in your cookbooks?

OK, this is probably going to brand me as way too anal-retentive, but I copy the recipe from cookbooks of the recipes that I like, and I collect them in a two-hole punched on top set of Recipes We Like (with table of contents of course).

So then I can write myself notes to my heart's content, because I am just writing on a copy of the recipe. Then, when my notes become so much that the page becomes illegible, i just retype the recipe into a Word document and then put the cleaned up copy in the notebook, on top of the previous copy (in case I need to go back to the original to clarify something that I wrote, which I have had to do on a number of occasions).

Also, I need to write notes because my wife likes to muck with recipes, and I have a couple of recipes that say "past-Jeannie says not to let Jeannie muck with this recipe because it's better as written" or some such. My wife won't listen to me if I tell her that I don't think her particular mucking will improve the dish (to be fair, she IS a better instinctual cook than I am; but, I am a better follower of the recipe than she is, so it works out between the two of us). She WILL, however, listen to past-Jeannie saying to let it alone.

Mar 18, 2011
KS1 in Home Cooking

Scottish Meat Pie Company

I think that this describes the one the we got from the Scottish Meat Pie guy, Alec. There seemed to be a lot of grains (not oatmeal, more of a small, quinoa-ish grain) and it was not particularly gamy. I like liver, and I eat a lot of other organ meats, and in comparison, this was not like that. Sausage filling is a good way to describe it, although with a slightly different flavoring than any other type of sausage. I also picked up a blood sausage (it appears to be made by some other company from the wrapping) and that was definitely gamier and less refined, but quite tasty if you like that sort of thing (my wife refused to eat it because of the smell, if that helps.)

Sorry, I can't be any clearer than that, but I'm not very good at describing flavors that are unlike any others I've tried. Overall, however, I found it to be a very worthwhile experiment!

Feb 24, 2011
KS1 in San Francisco Bay Area

Scottish Meat Pie Company

OK. Just got the full story for Alec, the former owner. He did close the Scottish Meat Pie Company because it was too much work, but he moved all of the commercial kitchen implements to his house. If you call the number for Scottish Meat Pie Company, Alec is willing to make you a haggis. We ordered one up and then stopped by in Davis and met him and picked it up. Haven't tasted it yet, and as I am Japanese and I have never had haggis, I don't feel qualified to offer up a review once I have. Also got a meat pie and blood sausage!

Jan 03, 2011
KS1 in San Francisco Bay Area

Help! Custard-filled Bambolini in SF?

I Preferiti di Boriana in the Ferry Building used to have this wonderful bombolini. Light, airy, and filled with creamy custard. Sadly, for the last couple of months, they have not had the bombolini.

My wife and I recently visited the Ferry Building, and we eagerly ran over to I Preferiti di Boriana. Hazaaa! Bombolini are back! Except we were informed that they had been "improved." The new version was dense, tough, and underseasoned, with an odd lemony waxy curd inside in lieu of that sublime thick smooth, creme anglaise-type custard they used to contain. Sad.

Does anyone have any recommendations for custard-filled bambolini in San Francisco? Thanks!

Oct 09, 2009
KS1 in San Francisco Bay Area

Tony's Pizza Napoletana Restaurant Review, San Francisco

My wife and I visited the other day. If you have read the press, you already know that Tony was the Neapolitan Champion at the 2007 World Pizza Cup in Naples, Italy for the Best STG Neapolitan Pizza Margherita.

A while back, he got permission to have a wood-fired oven in the parking lot outside his pizzeria in Castro Valley for only one day, to serve the pizza that won the competition. My wife and I made the trek out from San Francisco to try this pizza, and it was well worth the effort.

That pizza was a revelation. Thin, chewy, sweet crust. Wonderful sauce. Creamy mozzarella. Luscious basil. And, in an interesting twist, more than a dash of salt. While startling at first because it was saltier than the Margherita pizzas that we traditionally get here in the Bay Area, after a couple of bites, it became apparent that the salt brought out brightness in all the other wonderful component, uniting them in a wonderful gooey whole of pizza-goodness.

Sadly, the Margherita pizza that we had the other Friday was a sad shadow of that pizza that we remembered. To be fair, we came on a Friday lunch in the second week of business, so perhaps Tony was back at his Castro Valley pizzeria. The pizza was...okay. The crust was thicker than and not as chewy as the crust we remembered from the parking lot. Also, it was not nearly as tasty. The sauce was bland to the point of needing salt, which was in total contrast to the brightness of the original pizza that we remembered.

All in all, it was fine. A perfectly nice pizza. Good, but not better than the pizzas that we have had at either of the Delfina pizzerias, A-16 (back when Christophe Hille was making the pizzas), or Pizzeria Picco. And that made us sad, because the pizza we had in the parking lot would have given all of these pizzerias a run for their money.

Combined with the pizzeria's location in the heart of the touristy part of North Beach with impossible street parking, I don't know that we will be making a return visit. Unless Tony comes back and starts making THAT pizza that we remember. Then we'll come over and refuse to leave. Until then, there are many better pizzas in the area

Jul 20, 2009
KS1 in San Francisco Bay Area