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LA/SoCal airplane friendly gifts to shlep across the country

This might sound a little bit odd, but have you considered getting Zankou's garlic sauce? I moved away from LA five years ago and this is one thing that I miss terribly and have not been able to find anywhere else. On each trip back to LA, I make a point to stop at Zankou's and leave with at least 4 sauces. They're 50c each, I think? But if you buy a meal there and ask nicely, they usually give you a few free. They are tiny and easy to pack. Have had no problems going through airport security. They'll last a few weeks in the fridge (though I think Zankou just keeps it below the counter.) With some fresh pita bread and some roasted chicken, your friends will be in heaven.

Agree with See's Candies. My Florida friends always ask for the nuts & chews and peanut brittle.

See's Candies
1301 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica, CA

Jan 29, 2011
cyleater in Los Angeles Area

Spot prawns in Victoria?

Hello! I'm swinging by Victoria for the weekend and was wondering if there was a decent place to try spot prawns? I've heard a lot of mention of them, but mainly in relation to Vancouver, so was wondering if I can get some while in Victoria. If it helps, I'm coming up from SF, staying in the Inner Harbor area, and will have access to a car.

Thanks for any tips!

Sabor in San Rafael - other Nth Marin suggestions?

4th St has a lot of options but the only place we regularly frequent north of downtown SR and the 37 is Boca Steakhouse (off Ignacio) and Mulberry Street Pizzeria (off Smith Ranch Road). Neither are destination restaurants, but if you're in the area, they're good and reliable.

Where to Buy Mariage Freres Tea

The Pasta Shop definitely has that blend. They also sell other blends by the 1/4 lb, which is nice.

Also, I saw it recently at the Williams Sonoma stores in SF and in Corte Madera.

Marin - Dinner for birthday? Good food, festive.

I second the Buckeye and Bungalow 44 recs. The food, while not top-notch, is reliably good and both have a fun, festive atmosphere. If you go to Bungalow 44, ask to sit in the back patio near the fireplace.

Another option is Ora in Mill Valley. It's Asian fusion. I've been there plenty of times and liked most everything I've had there.

SB help! Girls lunch & night out ideas

Thanks so much for all of the replies so far. Sent the recs over to the bride and other girls (there's 8 of us altogether), and we'll see where things land. I'll post a review after the festivities.

Mar 12, 2008
cyleater in California

SB help! Girls lunch & night out ideas

I'm helping to plan a bachelorette party in Santa Barbara for a friend. Problem is, neither the bride nor anyone in the bridal party are from SB!

I know there are plenty of options on State St, but we need help choosing places sight unseen. We're all approaching 30 and don't want to be harrassed by frat boys but a little bit of rowdiness for the bride is fine. What we DO want: lunch place <$20pp, any food type, with cozy, quiet atmosphere for girls...something along the lines of a Marmalade Cafe (a chain that's available in LA). For dinner, the bride requested Mexican, with good margaritas.

We're staying at Hotel Santa Barbara, so anything within walking distance is an added bonus.


Mar 08, 2008
cyleater in California

Dinner around Beach Blanket Babylon Area?

Joe Dimaggio's and Moose's are within walking distance. We did Moose's last time I went to BBB, and it was fine, something for everyone but nothing spectacular.

Recs for Las Vegas-- 6 girls

I like Fix at the Bellagio. Been there several times with my gfs, and it's always a hit with everyone. Good drinks, good food (fun takes on comfort food, like lobster tacos, mini grilled cheese with an espresso cup of tomato soup, so it's conducive to sharing, which is always fun on a girls night!). Location is also great because the restaurant has no windows and basically spills out onto the casino floor. Since it's near Light, it's great for people watching.

Mar 01, 2008
cyleater in Southwest

Pesce Review - Polk Street/ Russian Hill SF

Was at Pesce for the first time about two weeks ago. Went with 5 friends and we had a wonderful time. It was a holiday get together and we stayed at our table for 2.5 hrs and we were never rushed, even though the restaurant is small. The service was attentive but not obtrusive, and the waitress steered us towards some great dishes. Standouts were the octupus starter, scallops, and the pastas (a "tuna bolognese", linguini with crab). I would go back for those pastas alone, but I also really enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant. If this restaurant were in my neighborhood, I'd be there often. Alas, parking is terrible in that area....

Good fast eats between SF and Sonoma

If you're driving around breakfast time, I'd suggest Pier 15 in San Rafael. Service can be a little slow if they're busy, so just make sure you flag them.

Sol Food is a good bet. For something even faster, there's Taqueria San Jose on 4th St or Taqueria Mi Familia (in the Ross square, right off of the Andersen Dr. exit) or Taquera San Jose.

Pesce for dinner on Monday?

Last-minute plans will bring my sister into SF on Monday. She wanted to try Pesce, but it's a Monday night and I always heard to never order seafood at a restaurant on Sun and Mon. Is that still the case in a seafood-centric restaurant like Pesce?

If not Pesce, any other ideas on where to take her while she's in town? We're both adventurous eaters, and she's from LA so she's well-versed in Asian and Mexican. She's staying in Pac Heights and we don't want to go anywhere too far. Thanks!

Recs for a girls brunch/lunch in Marin?

I second the Buckeye. Was there a few weeks ago with the in-laws and was pleasantly surprised at how nice and uncrowded it is compared to dinnertime. Note though that they only serve their brunch menu on Sundays.

You can also try Pier 15's patio if the weather is nice. Definitely not as fancy as Buckeye, but they make a the best pancakes in San Rafael. Breakfast is served all day.

Belden Lane in SF

I've only tried Plouf and Cafe Bastille. Loved Plouf, have been back twice. Cafe Bastille...all I have to say is, there's a reason why it's more empty than the rest...

Larkspur for 2 more nights...need some more recs

Hop on the 101 freeway in either direction and within 2 exits you'll hit the exits for either downtown Larkspur or downtown San Rafael. Both have plenty of options.

In Larkspur, also add to the above list Picco and Picco Pizzeria.

In San Rafael, check out Sol Food, Om, or Il Davide. All are within a block or two of 4th St (the main drag).

Why do chowhounds like tacos and dumplings?

I love dumplings and tacos because, well, they're like comfort food. Simple food that you could find at your Chinese or Mexican's grandma's house, not a fancy restaurant.

They're also dishes that most everyone can enjoy. I can share these meals with even my most pickiest friends (who can't be bothered to try, say, an Indian restaurant that doesn't serve tikka masala).

Plus, I just like the snack food part of it. You know, the tapas/small plate craze. It's something fun to pop into your mouth.

May 09, 2007
cyleater in General Topics

Pinkberry or something similar?

I'm a semi-recent SoCal transplant, and as far as I know, Pinkberry hasn't expanded to Northern California yet. With this warm weather, I'm missing me some yogurt with fresh strawberries and mango. Anything similar to Pinkberry up here? Extra bonus to places that are in Marin or the East Bay. Thanks!

Report on Pier 15, San Rafael

Pier 15 shines at breakfast. Hubby and I have been almost a dozen times now usually bringing in new friends and everyone has enjoyed it tremendously. We took my mom, a notoriously picky eater, when she came to visit and she's already said that next time she's in town, she wants brunch there again. I have yet to find a place to match their pancakes. Other hits are the apple and berry dore (which is what my mom ordered ad loved), and the California omelette. The corn beef hash was a little dry, but serviceable. They have good, thick bacon. The fresh OJ is meager, esp at $3. You only get about half a glass of oj with a ton of ice.

We tried it for lunch and weren't impressed. The food is fine, but not special. Stick to the breakfast items.

Proposing this weekend....NAPA suggestions?

Sterling Vineyards is a nice visit for first timers to Napa. Wine is only ok, but it's a beautiful winery with great view of the valley. It's $20pp ride (you can get a coupon at their website), but you also get about 5-7 tastings with that. When I was there on a weekday two years ago, the place was almost deserted and we came across a man proposing to his gf on the huge deck overlooking the valley. Needless to say, our group hurried out to give them privacy, but it was so sweet to see.

Eats near Beach Blanket Babylon?

We have tickets to this show and as a semi-newbie to the Bay Area, I don't know where to make our dinner reservations. It'll be for a group of 8, including both sets of inlaws which means we need a restaurant that's relatively quiet so we can hear each other's conversation. Nothing too fancy or expensive, with good, solid food. Would Rose Pistola fit the bill? Or Calzone? Any other suggestions?

Lark Creek Steak Report: new show in town...

I ate a Lark Creek Steak a few weeks back and the steaks were perfectly cooked and seasoned. In fact, we didn't need the sauces our table had 3 different ones, all of which were pretty good. Concur about that soup with scallops--divine! We sat at the closest table to the kitchen and caught glimpses of the cooking. It was fun to watch, so I'm glad to hear they now have counter seating.

FWIW, I think that 3-course meal is a stellar deal. My father-in-law had the pot roast and pronounced it one of the best he's had. He said it reminded him up his childhood, growing up in RI. Also, the butterscotch pudding is one my husband's favorite desserts, ever. We get it every time we go to any of Bradley Ogden's restaurants. If we're too full, we even pack one up to go.

Restaurant for a group of 12 in Berkeley/Oakland?

I concur about Pizzaolo. Good place for groups.

Another suggestion: Six Degrees on Solano. I was there a few months ago with a big group and we shared various small plates and a few entrees. The total bill was about $20pp, not including drinks. Very reasonable prices, food was good, and nice atmosphere too.

Furenzu in Emeryville - what to order

Definitely the edamame. OMG, who knew that soybeans could be so good? Lipsmacking, finger-licking good. We also enjoyed the honey ribs and shrimp in the nest. We had a lot of other dishes too, almost all of which were good but apparently not great enough to job my memory! However, I do remember that we finished with the gorgonzola and peach flambe. Very dramatic presentation. The taste was a little too mellow for me, I was expecting more oomph from the gorgonzola. All in all though it was an excellent meal.

FYI, I don't think the menu online is the most current one.

Chayote chronicles part 1 – raw, fried, boiled, microwaved ... wonderful and so pretty

I love chayote! Growing up, my mother would slice it thinly, brown it a bit and add it to stir-fries. I never knew that was uncommon until friends saw it and had no idea what it was. It gives the stir fry a nice, satisfying crunch.

Oct 21, 2006
cyleater in Home Cooking

Sunday Brunch- Mill Valley- Sausalito

Toast is my current favorite for brunch in the area. Be prepared for a wait, no matter what time you go.

Mambo Cafe - San Rafael

Had dinner there last week. I really really wanted to like it, but our meal was uneven so I think I'll give them another month or so to get situated before I go back.

Our coconut shrimp app (recommended by the waitress) was good but 2 out of the 5 shrimp were undercooked and completely gray inside, which horrified my non-sushi eating friends. The mojito was very very sweet, with a tang at the end that I didn't particularly like. I'm guessing they used sugarcane juice, instead of simple syrup? Maybe that's the authentic way to do it, but it wasn't for me. The moro rice (sp?) was dry and bland, but the side of black beans was heavenly. Great fried bananas. I had the pork in mojo sauce which, to me, exemplified the entire meal: Some pieces of the pork were very dry (the tops were totally browned out) but others were moist and tasty. I packed up the leftovers and the time did wonders for the sauce; the onions were unbelievably tasty the next day. So in sum, the meal was promising but uneven. Still, it's a nice addition to San Rafael and I'll likely go back in a few months to try other dishes.

Want to use a slow cooker to make congee/jook, any advice?

Really? My slowcooker jooks always turn out fine... I make it with leftover roasted duck bones, and the only downside I see is that the bones practically disintegrate because of the long cooking process, so next time I'm going to try putting the bones in cheesecloth.

Also, my mother makes turkey jook in a slow cooker for the day-after-Thanksgiving breakfast. It makes me drool just thinking about it, and to be honest, it's the meal I look forward to most during the holiday season! I think the rice-to-water ratio might be 8:1 (might be higher, it's usually just eyeballed). As long as you add some meaty bones in there and keep it on low (~8hrs/overnight) it'll be fine.

Oct 12, 2006
cyleater in Home Cooking

which champagne glass to buy?

I'd like to buy a nice set of champagne glasses as an engagement present for a friend. The couple are beginning to develop their palate for wine and have started stocking up on Riedel glasses. Should I purchase Riedel flutes, or is it ok to buy something from Waterford, Lenox, Mikasa, etc? I wasn't sure if nice champagne glasses have similar requirements as nice wine glasses (ie, the material used, no etchings in the glass, etc)

Thanks for any insight.

Aug 16, 2006
cyleater in Wine

Can you please identify what I ate?

While in Paris for the first time, I ordered a fish dish that came with a side item (a mollusk of some sort) that I couldn't identify. I ate it anyway and really enjoyed it! It was a little salty and had a firm, slightly rubbery texture similar to abalone. The shell it came in was spiral-shaped with a tip. What was it? I thought it was a cockle while eating it, but then I came home and googled cockles, and know that's not what I ate. Here's the picture of my dish, with the 3 unidenfied mollusks:

And a close-up of the unknown item:

I feel silly not knowing what I ate. Can someone help? Thanks!

Aug 15, 2006
cyleater in General Topics

Afternoon Tea in Beverly Hills or OC

I've had afternoon tea at the Beverly Hills Hotel--great ambience since it's served by the piano in the lobby of the hotel (which means, there's good opportunity for people-watching and you'll no doubt see a celeb walk by). Food and tea were both decent, but a notch below the Ritz in Pasadena. Still, I'd recommend it and go back myself.

Aug 15, 2006
cyleater in Los Angeles Area