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BellaCalabrese's Profile

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Most edible canned/packaged soup?

You can find where Moosewood soups and entrees are sold locally by entering your zip code here: http://www.fairfieldfarmkitchens.com/...

Feb 22, 2007
BellaCalabrese in General Topics

Can't Get Enough Splenda

I like that it is nutritionally better than sugar because it is less processed. But my understanding is that it is said to still spike blood sugar, or at least more than the alternatives under discussion. Also, it retains the molasses in sugar, and that's a flavor I strongly dislike. If I'm mistaken, I'm certainly willing to give it a try, but Xylitol seemed a better fit for my criteria.

Feb 21, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Not About Food

Can't Get Enough Splenda

I have been curious about Xylitol, and had been planning on trying it next in my quest for a sugar alternative that 1. doesn't cause the blood sugar spike of sugar and 2. has fewer calories and 3. is relatively less harmful given the context of sweeteners, in that order. So far I've found that I am mostly okay between Splenda and, to a lesser extent, the honey-like Agave Nectar, though I try to also use stevia where I can tolerate it's particular taste, since it seems the most healthful. I still use sugar in my coffee however, since I haven't found anything else with the "transparent" sweetness of sugar. Can you taste the flavor difference between Xylitol and sugar in coffee? If so, how would you describe it? Does the flavor itself compare to any of the other sugar alternatives?

Feb 21, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Not About Food

Looking for Greek food.

I've heard about a good Greek restaurant in Orinda, near the theatre. You can forego the little Greek place on Piedmont Avenue in Oakland, though there is a marvelous Turkish restaurant on Piedmont that has some Greek fare. There is another thread now running about Greek Festivals, which are where I've found the best Greek food since moving from back East. Searching "Greek" will yield many other restaurants.

What is your most useful/best beloved non-mechanical device in your kitchen?

I am really enjoying my new Oxo measuring cup with the measurements on the inside so you can easily look down into the cup to see them and get the correct amount straight off. I wouldn't have gotten it except my old glass one broke; but now I'm glad it did.

Feb 19, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Cookware

Bin Min Quan Chowdown, Oakland

Thank you, Hounds, for introducing me to Binh Minh Quan! My best friend just returned from three weeks in Vietnam, and had a hunger for more of the wonderful cooking. This place is marvelous; We've now been there twice in the past two weeks, and she went yet another time. She traveled quite a bit, including to remote villages, and says the food at BMQ is quite authentic. Everything was delicious, but my favorite is the crepe. The venison was also a treat. The only thing I'd say is that the tender catfish, though good, was not as flavorful as Le Cheval, and the weakest of all the dishes we've had.

Food Franchises That Don't Suck

I came across Legal Seafood while waiting at Logan Airport and was astonished to find how good it was. The fried clams were ever-so-tender, and the coffee bon bons were to die for! I don't think I've ever been pleased eating in an airport before.

Feb 19, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Chains

Food Franchises That Don't Suck

I adore the tomato bread!

Feb 19, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Chains

Beautiful new coffee grinder woes...

If you can't find a solution here, you might want to try searching or asking over at coffeegeek.com. It's a very useful site.

Feb 19, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Cookware

Peet's Coffee & Tea: been to the store?

Tea in the stores is available loose in tins. I frequent both Oakland Peets and the original for coffee to brew as well as drink there. (I like being around beanhounds; many acquainances are made in Oakland.) They always have a pot of coffee and tea for sampling. This week, they have Gunpowder, a nice green tea that I realized would be great to have with my best friend who is always asking for black, which I never seem to have, and I'm trying to push her to have more green or white. I figured I'd ask about other green teas, and was offered to try free samples of whatever I wanted, and the very helpful clerk brewed three for me. They have a useful wheel to help make selections (of both tea and coffee) based on the key criteria. (Something like it is on their website too, but I can't get Firefox to load it.) I got a tin of Jasmine Downy Pearls that is the most delicious tea I've ever had. (To put that in perspective, I've had a lot of tea over the years, but mostly from mass-marketed companies available in supermarkets and health food stores. This is my first foray up the ladder, and my standards will now be much higher!) I've always appreciated how informative and patient the Peets staff is. Plus they have good biscotti and other tasty treats. If you like what you've gotten online, I think it's worth at least checking the store out.

Feb 19, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Chains

Portion Problems

I am delighted to have the leftovers! I also like calculating the actual cost per meal, because the financial savings are an added bonus. In order to prevent myself from overeating at a restaurant I frequent, I will ask them to hold half, or perhaps some particular part of the meal, to take home. If I don't know the portion size, I actually make a discreet separation of each item on my plate if possible because so doing makes it more likely that I will stop there.

Feb 19, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Features

Greek Festival?

The Oakland Greek Festival will be May 18-20 this year. It's generally small, but the food is great. Here's where you can find information: http://www.oaklandgreekfestival.com/

There's also a Greek festival held in Belmont in September, but I've never been to it.

Blue Bottle Nirvana at Temescal

Hey Gary, you nailed me! I'm an ex-New Yorker. As a matter of fact, my initial response when trying the Blue Bottle was, "This reminds me of that drek back in New York, only a bit better." BTW, I don't take my coffee NY "regular;" I've progressed from the old "light and sweet" to something that takes little less like milk and sugar. Of course there's the requisite sip test for each new variety.

Blue Bottle Nirvana at Temescal

Thank you for sparing me more trials with Blue Bottle. It is difficult to get a strong coffee that's smooth, not acidic. I didn't realize when I went to Bittersweet that they used Blue Bottle; no wonder I was not enamored of their Mocha the way I adore their Classic and, to a lesser extent, Bittersweet Hot Chocolate. (If only their prices came with the chance at a seat!)

Thank you for the rest of your suggestions. I will definitely give them a try. I haven't had Graffeo; how's it's acid level? (I don't just prefer smooth coffees; I require them because my body reacts poorly to the highly acidic ones.)

I haven't had chicory since the early '70's when coffee prices spiked and many of us were forced to use it to cut costs. I never did acquire the taste but, perhaps like many foods, better options might be available today and I should give it a try. Just don't suggest Kona!!! As for drinking coffee black, no can do. I would if I could. I need the dairy & sugar to cut the acid. Heck, I'd drink hot high-quality coffee ice cream if it weren't such a nutritional nightmare. (That's the one area, BTW, where I'll buy Starbucks: Their java chip is the strongest coffee ice cream with the darkest chocolate chips I've ever found. If I were so inclined, it would be my drug of choice. It's even surpasses the quite delicious Coffee Coffee Buzz! Buzz! Buzz from Ben & Jerry's, whom I'd much rather support.)

Blue Bottle Nirvana at Temescal

I didn't even think BB compared well to Starbucks, which I avoid. To my taste, it seemed like a somewhat better version of many of the old supermarket standbys.

I understand Peets is still being lobbied on the 2005 Holiday blend, so you might want to zap them an email. They have been known to release their Holiday or Anniversary blends as regular offerings, so it's worth the try. I loved it so much that I tried to blend some myself, but the closest I got, while quite nice, was not worth the effort with the exquisite memory of it's inspiration.

Blue Bottle Nirvana at Temescal

I stopped by Guerilla Cafe today to try this vaunted Blue Bottle coffee, after reading about it here. I didn't realize they served French press, or I certainly would have requested it. I was sorely disappointed with the cup I got and will have to find out the blend so that I can give BB a chance with another variety I might like more. I prefer my coffee strong, full bodied, rich, smooth, low-acidity; maybe fruity, nutty or with a hint of chocolate. I tend to go more for Pacific & African beans, and I use a French press. My go-to coffees are Peet's Garuda or Major Dickenson's. My favorite of all time (for you Peet's fans) was their 2005 Holiday Blend, which many lobbied to have regularly. I generally use 25-50% more coffee than Peet's recommends in my brew, so you know I like it s-t-r-o-n-g. Anybody have any suggestions of what BB (or other yummy coffees) to try?

Oliveto or Chez Panisse?

I've had mixed reactions to Olivetto's food and service over the years, but everything was perfect the only time I ate at Chez Panisse Restaurant years back. If you are going to choose between the two, you might want to check out their websites for the current menu, especially for the restaurant at Chez Panisse, since you don't get to make your own food choice.

FWIW, my two favorite East Bay restaurants for similar foods are Soizic in Oakland and Rivoli Restaurant on Solano.

Sugar in food

Salt is the next frontier for me, having tried and failed to cut back over the years. I sampled a few salt substitutes and spice alternatives that didn't cut it. But switching to the milder Kosher salt, as a result of some other Chowhound posts, has been a step in the right direction toward reducing salt cravings.

But I guess I'm now digressing to what should rightfully be a new post, another helpful healthful topic for 'hounds.

Jan 27, 2007
BellaCalabrese in General Topics

Sugar in food

I no longer trust anything much unless I can learn the ingredients. Makes eating out less exciting, though occasionally I live dangerously if it seems irresistible or there are no appealing alternatives, figuring I can afford it since I otherwise eat so healthfully.

Coffee is the only thing I use sugar in at home. It's really the single beverage I truly love, and I haven't found any other sweetener that doesn't distort the taste in a way that makes it not worth drinking. But the fact that I do like it sweet has made me limit myself to a cup or two, unlike the old days when I'd swig it down from dawn till dusk!

Jan 27, 2007
BellaCalabrese in General Topics

New Smyrna Beach Restaurants

I have to agree with you about Norwoods. The only thing I appreciate about it is that it is such a step up from the usual ilk my family in the area insists on frequenting. Being from California, I had to trust their insistence that it is among the area's finest. But now that I've got Chowhounds, I can take part in dining decisions. :)

Jan 27, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Florida

New Smyrna Beach Restaurants

My sister lives nearby in Edgewater and likes The Patio on US 1 in NSB. She's also heard good things about The Garlic by Publics. I haven't been to either, but when I mentioned this post she suggested these additions.

Jan 27, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Florida

Sugar in food

I actually bought a dedicated pair of reading glasses in a prescription stronger than normal so that I could read the super small print they generally use for ingredients. When I know I'm going to be doing a lot of exploring for new items, I make sure to go to the market at the least busy hours; having a 24-hour Safeway nearby helps on that score.

I searched the web to find a comprehensive list of foods containing HFCS; the best list I could find was from 2005, but it's still interesting: http://www.accidentalhedonist.com/ Click on the HFCS Product List link on the left.

Jan 27, 2007
BellaCalabrese in General Topics

"Liverwish" sandwiches? (New Jersey-isms)

I gather then that we both grew up near St. Henry's, the main Irish church (w/St. Vinnies running in 2nd place.) The neighborhood also had a lot of Jews. I am Irish, Italian Catholic and Jewish, My mother made an Irish/Italian stew with stewed tomatoes in lieu of the usual sauce. It was fabulous!

Jan 26, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Not About Food

Sugar in food

When people who have been eating poor mainstream diets tell me they are trying to improve by choosing sugar-free and low-fat alternatives, I warn them to read the ingredients because low-fat items are so often high in sugar, and sugar-free foods tend to be high in fats. Increasingly we see ridiculous laudatory claims, such as I did today on a box of fresh berries boldly advertised "Fat Free!". What's next, "fat-free" spring water and "sugar-free oil?" Actually, we could use a lot more of the latter in the salad dressing aisle, especially since women in the U.S. get as much as 50% of their calories from salad dressing that contains HFCS.

Jan 26, 2007
BellaCalabrese in General Topics

What does "healthy" mean to you?

Though refined flour has a long history, that doesn't mean it's the healthiest choice now, in very different times with radically different diets. Historically, people had more physically active lives, and ate more vegetables that gave them, among many things, larger amounts of fiber than today's grossly inadequate diets. A lot of money is going into the coffers of those who make certain remedial products to relieve the conditions created by the lack of fiber, which could be greatly alleviated by eating complex carbs, drinking sufficient water, and exercising. I find it is not easy to get sufficient fiber, 25-30 grams daily without the added fiber benefit in complex carbs, especially on a low-calorie diet. I look for every source possible and can't imagine what I'd have to resort to if I were eating refined carbs instead.

While oil can slow absorption of refined carbs, it comes at a high caloric cost, making complex carbs and acids better alternatives for the job. Because refined starchy carbs are absorbed more quickly, they spike blood sugar and cause cravings for more carbs and sugar, whereas fiber can slow absorption as many as 18 hours.

Refined carbs are more likely to convert to body fat than complex carbs, requiring one to compensate through reduced caloric intake, nutrition and/or exercise for their indulgence. In order to keep sugar from increasing body fat, it can be absorbed no faster than it is burned for energy. The less a person exercises, the less they can afford refined carbs.

Jan 26, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Not About Food

"Liverwish" sandwiches? (New Jersey-isms)

You know he'd be in for a load of sarcastic teasing if he ever asked for pair-UGH-ees in Bayonne - those people are relentless once they latch onto something like that.

BTW, Italian Blimpies were the best as far as I'm concerned. Togos is as close as it gets here in CA, but you basically have to design it yourself or they'll throw American cheese and other non-Italian contaminants in.

Jan 26, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Not About Food

Help Me Cook for My boyfriend the Health Nut!

When I've been in such mixed culinary matches, I've found common ground by serving fabulous salads (with high-fat items optional add-ins) as well as yummy soups that together have all the necessary meal nutrients available. These offer an alternative or healthy offset for whatever else is being served and enable each to be happy if the entree doesn't please.

Jan 25, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Home Cooking

Great Italian Food w/ Good (up-lifting) Ambiance

I don't know how it is these days, but I used to be a regular at Minetta Tavern on McDougal at Minetta Lane in the Village. I understand it appears to still review well, and I've seen some positive posts from Chows about it. I fell in love with their Veal Marsalla as well as their hearty Minestrone. The place is full of history, was a favorite of NY literati, and has a wonderful mural of the Village in their quaint dining room, which I have spotted in a number of movies. The last time I was in the Village about a year ago, I was surprised to find the place practically empty on a weekend night.

Jan 25, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Manhattan

How did you find Chowhounds?

Chowhound is the best match I made from an online dating service!!! The first restaurant I tried was Soizic in Oakland. I fell in love with the place...but not the guy. You all got me instead!

Jan 25, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Site Talk

What does "healthy" mean to you?

I like stevia theoretically, but have problems with the aftertaste, so I only use it when it can be overpowered. I use Splenda a lot, but that too has an aftertaste. If I want something with a more transparent sweetness, I go to Agave Nectar, which has a very light flavor and doesn't spike blood sugar. It's only major shortcoming is caloric: 60 cal./Tbsp., but I find that a little goes a long way.

Jan 25, 2007
BellaCalabrese in Not About Food