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Farmers' markets taking Easter Sunday off?

Don't know about Oakland, but I know for certain that the two Sunday markets in the "Marin Farmers' Market Association" (Marin Civic Center and Newark) will be open and having egg hunts for the little ones.

From their home page http://www.marincountyfarmersmarkets....
"The Marin Farmers Markets will be open on their regular days and times over Easter weekend, March 22nd and 23rd. Come celebrate the arrival of spring and its bounty. Our weekend markets will be hosting the following festivities. Hayward: Egg Hunt 10 AM -12 PM, Oakland Grand Lake: Egg Hunt 12 PM, Newark: Egg Hunt 9 AM - 12 PM, Sunday Civic Center: Egg Hunt 10:30 AM at Pony Hill."

Note that only "Sunday Civic Center" and "Newark" are Sunday markets.

No More Bulk Valrhona Cocoa at San Rafael Whole Foods

Mill Valley does NOT have plain bulk non-dutched cocoa powder ("brownie powder") in the bulk bins alongside the bulk flours, rice, nuts, dried fruits, etc. However, I'm confused by your post (I'm not a chocolate connousieur), so I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for. You mention premium chocolate brands (Valrhona, El Rey) near the "cheese case," not the bulk bins. Is that unrelated to your question about "bulk cocoa/baking chocolate"?

Anyhoo, if you're looking for unbranded (no brand on the bulk bin) non-dutched cocoa powder from the bulk bin section, I occasionally buy mine at the San Francisco (California & Franklin) Whole Foods location. The next time I go to the Mill Valley location (probably next week), I'll try to remember to re-check for baking chocolate (solid, powder, etc) in the bulk bin area.

Best wine you've had under $15

Gunderloch "Jean Baptiste" Kabinett ("off dry" German riesling). Forgot which vintage (maybe 2001, a good vintage). The 2005 is $16 at K&L. It was a relevation for me since I didn't think I liked residual sugar in wine. Turns out most CA wineries just can't make riesling the way the Germans do it. The very light sweetness was perfectly balanced by the acidity (which I think comes from the region's colder climate). I finally understood the appeal of "minerality" in rieslings. All that combined with the typical ripe fruit (mostly peach) and the most satisfying finish I can remember.

Jun 15, 2007
HungryMojo in Wine

Tapas, Oysters, Seafood, Asain...

Note that "tapas" has become a bit trendy and there's a difference between "authentic" Spanish tapas and Spanish-inspired California cuisine served on small plates. I guess either type can be good for "a few small plates" with a bottle of Spanish wine, sherry, or sangria. However, I cannot imagine omitting an order of paella to go along with the tapas.

It's been a few years since I went, but Alegrias (Lombard St near the Marina) was a very nice, cozy, traditional Spanish place that seemed family-run. A Chowhound search of "Alegrias" brings up mostly older posts, but a few posts from 2006/2007 seem to indicate the quality has been maintained. I highly recommend it.

As for West Coast oysters, I anticipate lots of S.F. recommendations from other posters, but if you're going to be here "for the next month" and you REALLY like oysters, you might consider "roughing it" by visiting an oyster farm in the Point Reyes area (or include this area with your wine country day trip). Picnic tables and barbeque pits might be first-come or by reservation. Bring a bottle of sauvignon blanc, a protective shucking glove, a shucking knife, and charcoal. Order a few dozen Pacific and Kumamoto oysters, then happily gorge. A Chowhound search will get you many results for "Hog Island" and "Tomales Bay Oyster Company" oyster farms. Here's a good recent discussion:

Delicious Food in Rohnert Park & Vicinity??

That was the first place that came to my mind (it's in Doubletree Plaza), but I don't know if it qualifies as "not-too-expensive." The serving sizes aren't whopping at most Japanese restaurants I've been to, so I'd probably rack up one heck of a check. Hana's menu and prices here (I don't know how current it is):

Besides, they're from Los Angeles. There's lots of great Japanese food in L.A.

Cane Sugar Coke at Costco SF

If you can't find it locally, Dublin Dr Pepper (cane sugar, no corn syrup) can be bought online:

They even offer glass bottles (at a significant price premium over cans) for your fancy parties!

When is peak season for buying rhubarb (for strawberry-rhubarb pie) in Bay Area?

I'm a complete rhubarb newbie. I've never considered or sought out rhubarb before this Spring, so I don't know when or where to look. Does anyone have a suggestion on the best time of year to buy rhubarb in the Bay Area (for my first attempt at strawberry-rhubarb pie)? Do specific varieties of rhubarb matter for this pie? Does it even matter if I buy "local" rhubarb? (I saw light-red Oregon rhubarb at United Market last week. I think $2.48/lb.)

I've read on other sites that the end of rhubarb season overlaps with the beginning of strawberry season, but no regional information. I already (suprisingly) tried some pretty tasty strawberry samples at the Marin Civic Center farmers market on Easter Sunday. (Swanton was there, but unfortunatley no sample tray.)

Royal Frankfurter and La Fayette Bakery.

Stopped by Lafayette French Bakery for the first time on Tuesday (to try real yeast-raised donuts made from scratch) after reading about it on Chowhound. I was pleasantly surprised by the light texture and not-quite-bread/not-quite-cake taste. Much different than the donut-shaped hunks of heavy cake I've eaten in the past. (There's nothing wrong with heavy cake, but I definitely like yeast-raised better.)

Man, I feel like I really missed out on a great place (I grew up in Marin and recently moved back). I haven't been much of a donut eater the last ten years (I average about one donut per year), but now I will be seeking out good yeast-raised donuts.

From the donut-related Chowhound threads I've read, I guess I'll try Donut Alley in Larkspur the next time I'm in that area. The next time I'm hanging out in SF at night, I'll try to convince my friends to stop by Bob's Donuts after the bars close. I never stop in Richmond (I occasionally drive by on 580), but after my Lafayette donut revelation, I'll be tempted to swing out to Andy's Donuts (about 2 miles off the freeway?).

And thanks for the heads-up on Royal Frankfurter's life extention. I'm always on the lookout for decent German sausage and I hope to try their version before they close. Dittmer's (Mountain View) is just too darned far away!

Smithwicks beer on tap in SF/Marin/Sonoma?

SONOMA: Not a recommendation (I haven't peeked in), but I know The Black Rose Pub in Santa Rosa should have Smithwicks on tap (just in case you're stuck "up north" and cringing for a Smithwicks).

MARIN: No places I know about. It's been a few years since I've been to The Mayflower Pub in San Rafael, but I know they did NOT have Smithwicks (I would have noticed it). Bummer.

Trader Joe wine bargains

After reading the replies, I think it would have been helpful to be more specific about the price range you're asking about. Are you looking for $6 and under (close to "Chuck" price)? Are you looking for any good bargain under $15?

Anyhoo, I think Columbia Crest (WA) Two Vines Shiraz is a nice dry red for its price range ($5.50 a few months ago in CA). The red Rosemount (Australia) blends (Shiraz-Cabernet, Grenache-Shiraz) have also been good for $5 ($4 for several months last year).

Apr 01, 2007
HungryMojo in Wine

Oakville in Oakville.

News from today:

SUMMARY: The company, not just the SF location, is in financial trouble. Dean & Deluca is interested in buying the stores.

Oakville Grocery (SF) CLOSED????

Update from "The Inside Scoop" at, for those who haven't read the SF Chronicle's Food section today:

Turns out Oakville Grocery is "teetering on the brink of bankruptcy," according to the article. It also says that all of the stores, including the original store in Oakville, are "on life support." Their attorney says they are trying to avoid Chapter 7 or 11. Article also confirms that Dean & Deluca, as mentioned in other replies in this thread, is interested in buying "the stores" (not just the SF location).

Good Value Pinot Noir

I vote for Sebastiani Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast. It's about $14 here in Northern California and I occasionally see it on sale for $11. The 2005 vintage produced 28,000 cases, so you might be able to find it in Canada.

Feb 23, 2007
HungryMojo in Wine

ISO "Buttery" Chard

There was a pretty good discussion on this subject last September:

Wanted: Buttery Chardonnay for everyday drinking -

If you're looking for a decent sub-$10 bottle to try, Columbia Crest "Grand Estates" Chardonnay was nice and buttery when I tried it a few years ago. I think the retail price is $11, but it seems to be available everywhere here in Northern CA and is often on sale for about $8.

Feb 23, 2007
HungryMojo in Wine

Don't Wanna Buy Oranges-Vit. C Alternatives?

I think Brussels sprout season is winding down, so you better hurry up if you want to try them. 4-6 of those little things contain the adult daily vitamin C requirements.

Feb 10, 2007
HungryMojo in General Topics

San Rafael (Novato/Santa Rosa) - Phyllis' Giant Burgers ???

QUOTE: "This review which has picture of the burger and restaurant says the buns are specially made locally. Given they have a Bordanave on the menu and I’ve seen (but haven’t tried) Bordanave bread in San Rafael groceries … I’m assuming that’s who makes their buns … right?"

Don't know, but I'd be surprised if Bordenave didn't make their buns. If you didn't know, Bordenave's bakery is less than 1 mile down the street (east) at 1512 Fourth Street. They have a nice little retail store at the bakery if you want to try out their stuff (you can buy single rolls). I haven't been there in 2 years, but back then I wrote the store hours on their business card: Mon-Fri 8-5, Sat 8-3, closed Sunday. I wouldn't be surprised if they changed their hours occasionally, since they seem like a "factory store" type of place (with their bakery and delivery trucks in the back).

Is Biodynamics the New Organic?

Biodynamic wine making is also practiced (a little) in the United States. Two good wineries (with tasting rooms open to the public) for biodyna-curious wine tasters visiting CA wine country:
Benziger Family Winery in Sonoma County ( - Some of their "Estate Wines" are biodynamic.
Ceago Estate in Lake County ( - Most of their wines are biodynamic.

I think some biodynamic methods and beliefs are nonsensical (ground quartz crystals, lunar cycles, "life forces"), but I'm also convinced that biodynamics's core (organic, sustainable agriculture) has a positive effect the health of the soil, the grapes, and the resulting wine. I'll gladly accept some nonsense as long as it doesn't adversely affect the wine. Also, while some agribusinesses use the term "organic" just to make more money, biodynamic farmers are much more likely to be "true believers" in organic, sustainable agriculture.

Jan 24, 2007
HungryMojo in Features

Beyond Uncle Ben's

I must add to the pro-brown rice comments. The nutritional benefits of the germ (which contains naturally occurring essential nutrients) and bran (fiber) are too important to ignore.

As "nutrition" stated, evenly distributed heat is more important for brown rice. Since brown rice takes so much longer to cook, stovetop cooking tends to scorch the rice at the bottom of the saucepan. Baking brown rice in a covered baking/casserole dish is another good method (learned from A. Brown's show):

1 cup short or medium grain brown rice in baking dish
add 1 2/3 to 2 cups boiling water
optional: stir in 1/2 tspn salt and 1/2 tblspn butter or other flavorful oil
cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for about an hour

Jan 24, 2007
HungryMojo in Features

baking flours

I think it would help if you were more specific. Are you new to the area? Can you give examples of flours that aren't readily available at supermarkets?

If you are new to the area, then you might not know about Whole Foods Market's bulk food section. Whole Food's bulk food section is significantly larger (and cheaper) than the bulk food sections at Mollie Stones and Andronicos. It is not as large, but almost as cheap, as the bulk sections at Berkeley Bowl (East Bay) and Rainbow Grocery (San Francisco). However, Whole Foods does have North Bay locations in San Rafael and Mill Valley (coming soon to Novato).

Unfortunately, the flour selection is a little different at different Whole Foods locations. The Mill Valley location's bulk section looks smaller than the San Rafael location's, but the Mill Valley location has more of what I like to buy. The San Francisco California Street location has an even better bulk section.

I don't know what you're looking for, but the North Bay locations should have a selection of organic and conventional pastry flour, whole wheat flours, bread flour (high protein), rye flour, corn flour, soy flour, rice flour, spelt flour, gluten flour, amaranth, buckwheat flour, gluten flour, garbanzo, etc. Again, note that some locations have a better selection than others.

Suggestions for wine at Costco

As a Costco member, have you tried Cameron Hughes wines? Hughes is a negociant who buys excess premium wine and blends/bottles them with his own label for around $9-$15. I'm pretty sure his wines are sold exclusively at Costco and his web site.

If you do a Google search for "Cameron Hughes" you'll find several articles about this Costco wine phenomenon. I haven't tried any of his current releases, so I can't recommend specific current reds. Since he's a negociant, his wines probably come from different vineyards/wineries almost every year. Many Costco shoppers trust his judgment, though. How often do you see a decent Amador County/Lodi Zinfandel for $11?

Jan 23, 2007
HungryMojo in Wine

free wine tasting in Russian River?'s Wine section (web version of SF Chronicle Wine section) has a "Wine Country Guide" search section near the top of the front page (right side):

This "Wine Country Guide" allows you to narrow your search by selecting "Special Features" from a drop-down list, one of which is "Complimentary Tastings." The other drop-down list is for "Locations," but unfortunately Russian River is not among the specific areas on that list. I guess it would be under "Other Sonoma County."

Note that the search results give very brief descriptions for each winery, but click on the wineries' names for more details.

A Good Place to Buy Liquor Between Downtown and the Mission?

The Jug Shop (Polk and Pacific) carries Pampero Anniversario:

I haven't even been to The Jug Shop, but my friend bought me a hard-to-find Napa Cab there, so I assume it has a decent selection. Here's the page with the rest of their spirits selection:

My personal favorite is K&L, which is recommended in other posts. They list their inventory and prices on their web site:

Help Me Experience Spanish Wine -- PLEASE!

If I were in Spain, I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to try fresh authentic Sherry (true Sherry must be from Spain). My friends who have lived in Spain insist that imported Sherry is not as good as the Sherry they had in Spain. Apparently, "freshness" is very important for Sherry and shipping/storage can damage this kind of wine.

Start with pale, dry Sherries like Fino/Manzanilla (you'll see it offered at tapas restaurants) and sample some darker ones (Amontillado and Oloroso) as "dessert wines."

Also, Spain is also famous for its sparkling wine called "Cava." Cava is made from different grapes than the ones traditionally used in France and California, so you might find the differences interesting. In California, I think imported Cava offers great bang for the buck. In Spain, I'd be stoked.

For still reds/whites, I think the other posts offer great advice.

Jan 17, 2007
HungryMojo in Wine

Great Raw Bar in North Bay????????

I'm surprised nobody's responded yet. I'd also like to know if there are any good raw bars nearby (I'm near Mill Valley/Tiburon). I guess the North Bay just isn't a very good area to open a raw bar (too "suburban?"). I only know of two restaurants in Marin County that have a raw bar, and I haven't tried either of them (the raw bars). Neither are "near the bay."

[1] Seafood Peddler ( located in the Canal District near the Central San Rafael exit
[2] Yankee Pier's Larkspur location ( in downtown larskpur near the Lark Creek Inn

Seafood Peddler has some negative testimonials on Chowhound (some bad service, undercooked fried food, bad salad) but positive reviews from the S.F. Chronicle ( and the Marin IJ ( I went there about a year ago for a birthday party, but I was too involved in the party to really judge their service and food. I didn't even have time to take a peek at their raw bar, which I wanted to do since the Chronicle seemed to like it. I thought the lobster bisque was good, but that was the first "bisque" of any kind I had ever tasted, so your standards probably differ. The place seemed very casual, even a little "quirky" (fishing village/harbor theme).

Yankee Pier's Larkspur location has positive testimonials on Chowhound, but they say it's a bit pricy. Their sample menu ( lists the following item:

"RAW BAR PLATTER Any 6 of the following: Today's Oysters, Littleneck Clams, Chilled Prawns $13.00"

Citysearch's profile ( says Yankee pier is "casual and intimate" (seats about 50 people).

If you go to a North Bay raw bar, I'd appreciate it if you posted your opinion.

Best Char Siu Bao in San Francisco?

I've never bought from Gourmet Dim Sum, but har gao (shrimp dumplings, a dim sum "standard") is important to me. I'll definitely try it out, even if har gao is the ONLY thing worth buying. Thanks for your opinion.

Best Char Siu Bao in San Francisco?

Was that other place Gourmet Dimsum (651 Clement St)? Anyhoo, I was disappointed by Good Luck Dim Sum's steamed buns (not firm enough, "cotton" texture). However, I thought their baked bun was a very good and tasty "sweet" version. The baked bun was a little "sunk in" (maybe not firm enough?), but both the bread and pork were very good, although on the sweet side (not in a bad way).

In the same area, for a good "less sweet" alternative, I recommend Wing Lee Bakery's (501 Clement St) baked bun. The bread's texture has just the right firmness, IMO, and both the bread and pork are a little less sweet (but still very good) than Good Luck's version. My only gripe is its pork-to-bread ratio being a little too small (the bun is bigger than average).

top three sparkling wines for under $30.00

A little off-topic, but I thought I'd mention this in case you hadn't thought of it: this is the time of year (New Year's) that many wine stores have their sparkling wine tasting events. For example, Beverages and More's Northridge store is holding an event called "A Sparkling Toast to 2007!" on December 30. From their web page (

"Called Champagne in France, Prosecco or Spumante in Italy, Cava in Spain, they come in a wide range of flavors, quality levels and prices. We've got a bevy of bubblies for you to try, including Piper Heidsieck Brut NV - 92PTS, Editor's Choice, Wine Spectator - a perfect wine to bring in the new year. Don't miss this one!"

I figured you might be able to try some of the recommendations from this discussion at a New Year's tasting event.

Dec 26, 2006
HungryMojo in Wine

New Wine Buy At Trader Joe's

Nobody's reading this discussion anymore, but I feel the need to submit my novice tasting notes after drinking this very interesting wine (2003 Foppiano Merlot, Estate Bottled, Russian River Valley) with my Christmas dinner. In summary, it was very different from other California merlots I've had (especially in this price range). These differences might not be appreciated by all merlot drinkers, but I definitely recommend it for open-minded wine drinkers at this "try me" price ($6), which I'm sure is a short-term deal since this wine retails for $15 (2002 vintage).

Bought the 2003 Foppiano Merlot at Trader Joe's in San Rafael for $6. I remember the bottle saying it contained 14.5% alcohol and 10-15% cabernet franc. Bright medium-red color and very fruity, almost Pinot Noir-like fragrance (the bottle notes say the cabernet franc contributes to the smell). The taste was very fruity (rasberry? tart cherry?) and my mother (who never drinks wine) perceived this fruitiness as "sweet," even though I'm sure this wine has almost no residual sugar. The other very noticable taste I got from this wine was a slight tartness, which I wasn't expecting. The tartness wasn't unpleasant and the overall taste was "clean" and "smooth." The high alcohol level was not noticable to me.

Again, this merlot is not for everyone, but I definitely recommend trying it for just $6. It intrigued me enough to add Foppiano to my "wineries to visit" list. Thanks, DavidT, for the heads-up. I wouldn't have looked at this wine if I hadn't read your post.

I'm not sure, but I suspect the unusual taste of this merlot is partly due to having higher acidity than most California reds. I can't find acidity stats for the 2003 vintage, but Foppiano's web page for their 2002 merlot shows a total acidity of 0.72 grams/100ml and a pH of 3.32.

BTW, this store also had shelf space labeled for Foppiano Cabernet Sauvignon for $6, but they apparently did not have it in stock (the space was completely filled with the two adjacent wines). And no, I did not see any bottles or shelf space for their famous petite sirah.

Dec 26, 2006
HungryMojo in Wine

Looking for SF source of large volume (5+ L) highest quality Spanish olive oil

I don't know if this is the quality/price you're looking for (or even if they have Picual in stock), but the (relatively) new Farmer Joe's Market has a bulk olive oil section with Delizia brand (local importer) oils. Here's a photo of some of their oil "pumps":

That photo above is from a KQED Food Blog article on the new Farmer Joe's grand opening last June:

A quick search of Delizia's web site shows that they do import "Picual, Early Harvest - Extra Virgin Olive Oil" but I don't know if Farmer Joe's has it. Here's Delizia's product info page if you're interested:

SF East Bay retailers carrying 2005 Duboeuf beaujolais crus (not Villages or nouveau)?

Have you tried Paul Marcus Wines in the Rockridge Market Hall? I'm just guessing, but they look like the sort of place that might carry Duboeuf beaujolais. They're small and have a decent seletion of reasonably priced European wine (Duboeuf's price range). I only took a quick peak in their store because they're next door to Enzo's Meat & Poultry.

Anyhoo, they might be worth a call. Here's their web site:

Dec 17, 2006
HungryMojo in Wine