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Kathleen M's Profile

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Tamales - SF Dish of the Month (Dec 2012)

I always steam them. They come out greeat.

Informal Foodie Suggestions in SF and Marin/Sonoma County

If you are travelling into west Sonoma County or to the coast, and you could plan a route along Hwy. 116 through Guerneville, I would highly recommend boon eat+drink. I think it fits your criteria to a "t". They have an extensive garden behind the restaurant from which a great deal of their produce comes. It's quite informal, yet has excellent service and a small but great wine list. The menu is seasonal and pretty reasonably priced. Some things I've really liked there include a grilled calamari salad, the brussell sprout side dish (which we shared as an appetizer) and the burrata with beet pesto. I have heard several people say that the burger was the best they have ever eaten, but I haven't tried it mostly because there are always so many more interesting things on the menu.

Tamales - SF Dish of the Month (Dec 2012)

Last Saturday I had one of the Oaxacan mole chicken and one of the pork tamales from El Molino Central. We got them to go along with refried black beans, sakil paak, an extra container of mole, chips and salsa verde. Absolutely heavenly dinner! I am a big fan of tamales, and consider them one of the dishes by which I judge the quality of a Mexican restaurant. These are the best I've ever had.

Tamales - SF Dish of the Month (Dec 2012)

Primavera tamales are made by El Molino Central in Boyes Hot Springs. They are slightly better, I think, if you buy them at the restaurant, where they will have been made the same day, but very good indeed from the refrigerator section at the market. See more under El Molino Central below.

Santa Rosa/Healdsburg: hoping for cassoulet or Dungeness crab

The best Dungeness crab I've had this year was from Spud Point Crab Shack in Bodega Bay. they have it live or cooked. It's just a shack wtih tables outside, so if the weather is bad, you could get cooked crab to go (they will clean it for you, it's good to tip them if they do) and find a dry place (your hotel room?) for a picnic. You didn't ask, but they also make the best clam chowder I've ever eaten.

Please help me be kind to a rude in law

ooh, I think I know her! Not really, but I know someon just like that! This is rough, but I don't think that it's fair that you have to do every Thanksgiving. My parents had hosted Chrstmas day for years and years. There are some branches of my family that don't get along with others, and several years ago I just told many relatives that my mother just wasn't up to entertaining a large group anymore (which was true) and that my husband and I would need to visit some family members on other days. It's actually working great, and I find that I enjoy several visits to smaller groups of people more. But the key is that the message of non-hosting did not come from my mother, so there was no perception that she was "un-inviting" anyone. Do you have another family member that you can confide in who might suggest a change in arrangements?

Nov 13, 2012
Kathleen M in Not About Food

Great food around the Russian River

On Friday afternoon, I met my friend at John Ash Front Room in Santa Rosa for happy hour. I've been meaning to post about this. There are wine, beer and drink specials at $4 each, Mondays through Fridays from 3:00 to 6:00, along with specials on bar snacks, including oysters for $1.50. The drink special last Friday was a dark and stormy, which was delicious and seemed festive. I had four oysters, beautifuly fresh, and an order of vegetable tempura, perfectly fried to a delicate crisp, not a bit oily. My friend had the tomato soup and sandwich special and a chicken flauta, which she loved. This happy hour is just so lovely, the room is warm and welcoming, the service friendly and efficient, and the prices unbelievable!

On Saturday, we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather and get some work done in the yard. So, we wanted a quick easy lunch, and hubby wanted fries. We walked to Rio Bridge Cafe, in Monte Rio on Hwy 116 where the bridge meets the highway. We've eaten here several times since it opened in April. They were in the news a few months ago because Jerry Brown stopped by to eat and learned about the problems they are having getting a permit for the "Flea Market" behind the cafe (I think "flea market" is an unfortunate choice of descriptions to be juxtaposed with "cafe" but that's another story) and Gov. Brown took it on himself to make a phone call to the county supervisor whose jurisdiction the cafe is in, and encouraged him to make the permit happen. Anyhow, we've found the food to be solid but it hadn't moved me to post about it. Until now. I ordered the calamari and chips, and that was way up there with the best fried calamari I've ever had! The coating was so crisp and light, with wonderfully tender calamari! It was just amazingly perfect. The fries were also just right, crisp exterior, soft interior. My hubby got his favorite, the chorizo scramble, and they were willing to give him fries instead of home fries and toast. This place is really worth stopping in, especially for that calamari.

On Monday we wanted a leisurely lunch by the ocean, and drove up to Jenner to River's End. It was a glorious day and we were seated by a window looking over the river flowing into the ocean, a fabulous view. We shared the oysters, perfectly fresh and wonderful. I had the duck confit salad, which is a delicious combination of slightly wilted spinach, LOTS of duck, tiny lentils, dried fruit, and almonds. It's so good, the flavor of the duck with the lentils is a great combination. DH had the beet salad because he can never go there and not get it. It's beautiful to look at, a very good version of what has become an icon. I was still working on my salad, which is really plenty for a main dish especially at lunch, and he got a burger. It was perfectly cooked medium rare as ordered and featured really crispy onions which were delicious (I got two bites). It's served on a brioche roll, which I know some of you feel is too soft for a burger, but it tasted great and held up well. The burger came with fries. I tasted a few, and they were just as good as the ones at Rio Bridge Cafe.

I guess I had my share of fried food this weekend.

Reverse "Worst Foodie Gifts"

Ya know, I also love lobster and mac and cheese, but always thought the combination was weird also. For one thing, I don't like cheese with seafood, and it always seems to me that the other tastes would overwhelm the lobster. But if someone brought me some, you know I'd eat it up1

Nov 08, 2012
Kathleen M in Not About Food

Best Seasonal/Holiday Trader Joe Items.. to hunt for in 2012

At the TJ's in Santa Rosa, CA last night they had the turkey gravy in tetrapacks, and the turkey broth. And lots of pumpkin goodies including the famous pumpkin butter. But, in the freezer section were pumpkin macaroons. They are outrageously good!

Oct 25, 2012
Kathleen M in Chains

Red Lobster continues to be a loser

That's kind of funny, I went on the chains board today to post about the really quite tasty dinner I ate at RL last Sunday night. We used to think that RL in Northern California was distinctly better than those in Southern California. But the past two times I've visited my parents in Thousand Oaks (Ventura County, southern Cal) we ate at RL, and both times I found it perfectly acceptable to good. I always order "wood grilled" rather than fried. Although I love fried food, I do find that it's generally the most risky thing to order anywhere. And, the grilled seafood at RL is, in my experience, quite tasty. It's true that the serving looks larger in the photos on the menu, but I can never finish my main there anyway, so I don't mind that. My seafood was tender, moist and very flavorful. Bonus points for the broccoli on the side, which was cooked perfectly. Even the salad, while pedestrian, was fresh and not overdressed. Nothing earth-shaking, but everything was well prepared and tasted really good. I hope my credibility on the SF Bay Area board is not ruined by this post!

Oct 23, 2012
Kathleen M in Chains

Inexpensive Sonoma

Agree with the above EXCEPT definitely skip Sonoma Cheese Company (touristy, nothing special available) and venture just off the square to Vella Cheese Company. Oak Hill Farm is excellent, fun, and very reasonable for shopping. I agree with all the recommendations for El Molino Central.

Help, being forced to go to Olive Garden.

I actually have to go fairly often because that's a "go-to" spot for office gatherings where I work. I totally agree that I would rather spend a little more $ and get better food, but the majority of our office group can agree to it and so I go. I know you said not salad, but in fact the soup, salad, breadstick combo is what I almost always get, with the minestrone soup. I don't eat the breadsticks at all (not horrible, but certainly not worth the calories) and eat the salty soup sparingly. Lately, though, I've ordered the lasagne. Pasta is certainly overcooked, but the overall taste is ok. They used to make canelloni that was actually pretty good, but I don't think it's on the menu anymore. They do serve wine, that will help.

Sep 27, 2012
Kathleen M in Chains

Looking for a baby shower location in Santa Rosa

How about the Front Room at John Ash? It's beautiful, and there's an enclosed sun room. How many people?

Foods from your childhood that seem laughable now

The first thing I thought of was Nuna and Toodles (tuna noodle caserole) made with canned tuna, canned cream of mushroom soup, and velveeta. In my memory, it still tastes good, but I don't know how I'd feel if I tasted it now. Another thing I used to love, that I invented myself, was to make cinamon toast with white bread, and then when the cinamon part was just crispy, cover the whole thing with marshmellows and put back under the broiler until the marshmellows were toasted. I also loved marshmellow cream, right out of the jar.

Sep 06, 2012
Kathleen M in General Topics

Done my research on this board, etc and now need some help for Sonoma/Napa wine country please!

I'm surprised you are staying at Farmhouse Inn but not planning to eat dinner there! Is there some reason why not? The food, atmosphere, and service are all excellent.

Breakfast etc. in Santa Rosa, Healdsburg vicinity

I would have thought it a little far afield from Santa Rosa, but since you mentioned you would go to Guerneville or Bodega, I would really recommend Cape Fear Cafe, in Duncan's Mills, for your breakfast. Just had a fantastic breakfast/lunch there on Tuesday. I was in the mood for lunch food and they gladly accommodated me at 10:30 am with the most delicious burger. My husband was in the mood for breakfast and really liked his omelette. I tasted the potatoes on the side, and they were perfectly cooked. On weekends, they offer benedicts with grits in place of the English muffin. I've tried several and they are wonderful.

For lunch, have you tried boon eat+drink in Guerneville? Guerneville is experiencing a bit of a culinary renaissance right now. You can see the gardens right behind boon eat+drink. Their food somehow seems to have a synergistic effect: the whole seems better than the sum of the parts. The last time I was there, I had a grilled calamari salad that was exquisite, with vegetables and greens fresh from the garden. The calamari tasted like it was caught that morning.

For dinner suggestions, I highly recommend Applewood Inn in Guerneville. For the level of cooking, I think the price is surprisingly reasonable. There's also Farmhouse Inn, in Forestville, where you will be spoiled with a beautiful setting, impeccable service and absolutely perfect food. Can you tell I'm from West County?

Live music in Sonoma???

First thing that came to my mind was Murphy's Pub, in the town of Sonoma. And, so that this is not too far off topic, they make great fish and chips.

Help whittle down Sonoma/Napa Itinerary

You are the first to echo my opinion of Mateo's Cocina Latina! I was waiting until I'd eaten there once more to write anything here, but reading that your friends felt exactly as I did made me want to post something. I ate by myself at the bar, and the service was really pretty offensively bad (the bartender took away the salsa I was using to give it to two handsome guys, never checked back with me, etc.) and the food was just ok. But, as I said, I will go back and see if my experience is more like that of others who rave about the place.

San Fran and Napa/Sonoma Trip in Sept Restaurant Help Needed

So, near as I can tell, Sonoma doesn't factor into this trip at all? I was confused by the title.

Napa and Sonoma last minute and with small kids

Can you be more specific as to where you will be? "Napa and Sonoma" covers a very large area!

What's good at Japanese Restaurants?

I don't think people are trying to be snarky towards you, but rather towards that sort of mash up of various somewhat Asian related dishes calling itself a Japanese restaurant. I don't recall ever seeing a soupy noodle dish at a Chinese restaurant that came with rice on the side, so folks are probably not sure what you mean.

Aug 15, 2012
Kathleen M in General Topics

What's good at Japanese Restaurants?

oh my. As others have commented, this isn't a Japanese restaurant. That said, it does look like if you have to go there fore some reason, you might be able to eat fairly well, Just me, but I avoid fried food any place with which I'm not familiar.

Aug 15, 2012
Kathleen M in General Topics

State Bird Provisions, SF - Bon Appetit named Restaurant of the Year 2012 - w/ Pics

The food looks good in the photos, but it doesn't sound like you enjoyed it much. You don't rate anything better than "fine" and most dishes "ok". Are you recommending the restaurant? Why or why not?

Sonoma: Favorite Purveyors?

I totally agree witb Columba that it is not necessary to leave Sonoma County, nor even to venture too far from where you are staying, to experience great food and wines. Sam B's list is indeed very informative. I'll second the recommendations for Oak Hill Farm, Vella Cheese and El Molino Central, as the three from his list with which I'm very familiar. I often stop at El Molino Central to pick up ingredients for a home made Mexican feast, or sometimes to buy prepared food from the refrigerator case. I'd let them do the refried beans either way, though. I don't know what is their secret, but they are the best! The sakil pa'k is amazing!

Is Avocado the new bacon?

I just had a very similar dish at happy hour at a very upscale restaurant near where I live. After the first few bites, I couldn't eat any more. There was just this weird disconnect between the coolness of the avo with the "fried" taste.

Jul 24, 2012
Kathleen M in General Topics

Healdsburg/Restaurants please for July 15th ,16th &17th

Have you checked out Ravenous? Not super cheap, but not really expensive either. I have had several very good meals there, and the service is excellent and friendly.


A while back I stopped into the WF in Thousand Oaks, where my parents live. I was looking for cardamom seeds out of the pod, which the Sebastopol WF always carries in the bulk section. I asked about them in the TO store, they didn't have them, and they asked where I had been getting them. When I told them I usually shop in the Sebastopol store, they acted like it was the Taj Mahal. "Oh! the Sebastopol store! It's famous as being one of the very best ones!" I rarely shop there because there are so many better alternatives, though, except for the cardamom seeds. For home cooking in Sebastopol, Andy's Produce is GREAT shopping.

Healdsburg/Restaurants please for July 15th ,16th &17th

A couple of budget-friendly suggestions are Taqueria El Sombre and Downtown Bakery and Creamery. At Taqueria El Sombrero, the chilis rellanos are excellent, although I found the tamales disappointing. Very simple taqueria ambience, just off the plaza. At Downtown Bakery, the salads and the calzones are really great. The pastry is incredible. I especially like the napaleons and the vanilla cupcakes with butterscotch frosting. I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't tried the ice cream, tho' I've heard it's great. I never can resist the pastry so haven't left room for ice cream.

If you were to compete in an eating contest, what would your "weapon of choice" be?

Holy Smoke! I'll bet you would have won even with beef ribs. Let's say that one beef rib has about twice the meat of a pork rib, that still puts you way ahead of the champ. I moved away from Santa Barbara many years ago, so I don't know if the contest continues.

Jul 05, 2012
Kathleen M in General Topics

If you were to compete in an eating contest, what would your "weapon of choice" be?

I entered a rib eating contest two years in a row. It was a benefit for MS research. You got pledges for each rib you ate, and people could also pledge at the contest. They were big beef ribs, from a really good bbq place in Santa Barbara. The first year, I really thought I had a chance of winning, and kept eating until I was absolutely so full I could hardly see. I think I managed 14 ribs. The guy who won ate over 20. I felt sick the entire rest of the day and had trouble sleeping that night. However, I was the only woman who had ever entered, so I got a lot of pledges on site.

So, the next year I entered again, but I didn't try to win. I stopped at 10 ribs (still a LOT of food) and ate slowly. I just told everyone that I asked to pledge to me that I would stop at 10, so they could budget accordingly. I still got lots of pledges on site and ended up earning a lot of money for research, and that time I had a good time and enjoyed the rest of my day. But I learned an important lesson: it's a very bad idea to eat all you can hold of anything.

Jul 05, 2012
Kathleen M in General Topics