Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oliveto Tomato Dinner 2009 ***

Tomato Bloody Mary - good fresh tomato flavor, not a heavily seasoned style of bloody mary; Lightness on the spices showed off the tomato.

Insalate di carne cruda
of Watson Farm lamb loin with green tomatoes and grappa*

Crudo of salted Atlantic cod and local albacore with Black Cherry tomatoes, Lipstick pimentos, and almonds.

Half dozen Miyagi oysters with Marvel Steak tomatoes and rose vinegar mignonette*

Cornetti of Oliveto wild boar prosciutto and arugula with Pineapple tomatoes and Parmesan cheese*

Panelle with San Marzano tomatoes, basil, hot peppers, and aged Provolone cheese*

Fried green tomatoes with tomato mayonnaise*

Sicilian-style ravioli of tomato conserva with Oliveto ricotta, pinenuts and marjoram** - the conserva was excellent, an ultra concentrated tomato flavor created by reducing a huge quantity of roma tomatoes into a jam, balanced well with the ricotta and pine nuts, a favorite.

Cannelloni neri of Monterey Bay squid, tomatoes and breadcrumbs** - cannelloni with deep squid ink flavor, this was another favorite. (pictured above)

Tomato Polenta torta with garlic crostini, Rossa Bianca eggplant, and smoked mozzarella* - loved the textures and comforting flavors in this one.

Tomato Penne with Manila clams, smoked king salmon, and Flamme tomato coulis. - good pasta, these guys are masters at pasta making.

Pancetta wrapped Jones Farm rabbit braised in tomatoes confit with Flageolet beans - this was a rather small portion and did not stand out.

Spicy red tomato and red miso glazed black cod with Crostata Romanesco squash - this dish was a miss because the glaze was overly sweet and lacked other flavors to balance.

Green tomato and Gravenstein apple pie with honeyed Crescenza cheese ice cream - pie was good but the cheese ice cream was a bit overpowering.

Torta di Verdure with Sweet 100 tomato compote** - this torta was made with beets and that played well against the complex savory sweet compote.

Warm Marvel Stripe tomato jelly doughnuts with brandied creme anglaise - good doughnuts, though not much tomato jelly or tomato flavor.

The pasta dishes were outstanding. Service was excellent -- this is definitely worth a trip for tomato lovers.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Korea Night in Glen Ellen

Another great cooking group dinner, but this time at D's "Barnhouse" in Glen Ellen. The grounds were beautiful and the dishes come together nicely. The best Korean tacos I've had, bar none, and some delicious creative "Seoul Food."


Korean pickled cucumber, apple and ginger

Tteok 'n Cheese

Sesame Garlic Collard Greens

Mashed Korean Sweet Potatoes

BBQ'd Brentwood White Corn with Gochu Aioli

Korean BBQ'd: Bulgogi, Kalbi, Pork Belly

K Taco Fixings/Panchan:
-Ssam Jang
-Radish Kimchi

-Cabbage Slaw with sesame dressing
-Tortillas, Lime, Cilantro, Green Onion

Iced Boricha

Fresh Watermelon Soju

Ice Cream with Blackberries picked by H and J

Dessert Wine

The meats were marinated according to D's Grandmother's instructions (the 'secret' is Asian pear juice) and E's fixings were perfect the ssam jang, radish kimchee and the refreshing sesame cabbage slaw with the brightness of the lime - perfect. I could've had seconds and thirds of the tteuk n' cheese and those spicy greens. Orange zest was awesome in the mashed Korean potatoes (these are a purple potato that vary in size.) The watermelon cocktail with ginger was an ideal light refreshing drink for the day.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I went to Kabuto about ten years ago when it was on the North side of Geary and I remember it being very traditional, in fact, I don't even think they had spicy tuna rolls. It was a place to get nigiri, but I could be wrong. Apparently, that chef is gone and their current forte is sushi. This time we went for A's b-day and I'll definitely return. Loved the strong liver taste of the monkfish liver sushi. The 1849 Oysters has everything but the kitchen sink, an Miyagi with uni, ikura, masago, quail egg yolk and gold leaf. Get again: Monkfish liver, Foie Gras, 1849 Oysters.

We had uni as nigiri and as a special sushi, in both versions the uni was very mild, so I'd pass on their uni. Next time try the cooked dishes, I spied the Japanese family next to me chowing down on some izakaya type offerings.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I was resistant to have dinner at Flour + Water because I've been often disappointed by the pizza in SF and I usually avoid places where there's a wait. We arrived just after six and there was no wait. So far so good. Dug into three of the antipasti: tuna conserva, lamb's tongue and headcheese. The tuna conserva was well balanced. Crunchy thinly sliced celery and lightly cooked tuna which was good though not as complex as the similar dish at SPQR. The lamb's tongue was the standout of the night. Tender well seasoned tongue with rich egg yolk over it and a bit of crunch from the greens -- nice. We had a similar lamb's tongue dish at Babbo and loved it. This one was as good, it makes me wonder why there's not more lamb's tongue on menus around the city. The headcheese was fine, yay for thinly sliced fried pig's ear, but ultimately a muddle of meaty flavors that was forgettable.

Margherita pizza. A very nice neopolitan style thin crust with the ends showing off a stiff exterior and tender interior and a slight sogginess in the center. The moisture in the center was not from the dough, but from the excellent fresh tomato sauce that was on the wet side. The tenderness of the crust reminded me of the crust at Luzzo's, though missing a blistered crisp exterior. I prefer the crisper style, but wouldn't hesitate order this one again.

Next course was two pastas one fat ribbon herb pasta, the other was a tagliarini with lobster mushrooms. Both of the pasta noodles themselves were well made. The preparations were simple, one with a pork cheek sugo which had a slight sweetness counterbalancing the herbed pasta and the brocolli. The tagliarini was a bit less al dente than I like but that's typical of fresh pasta. The consensus at our table was that the dishes were somewhat oversalted. A minor distraction because the preparations were flavorful enough that we could still taste herb in the pasta, deep earthiness of mushrooms, and a hint of citrus.

Ended with the chocolate budino which was fine, if fairly straightforward. I'd order it again, but it's actually just two notes, rich chocolate with a hit of salt.

My friend commented that the server was rather brusque, the diner sitting next to us leaned over and agreed. Perhaps she was just a little overwhelmed by the wait that was forming, so I understand. Despite the lukewarm service, the food and prices were friendly enough to make it a good neighborhood spot. Next time try more of the antipasti.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Korean Tacos - sweet thinly sliced bulgogi in a corn tortilla with the usual taco fixings.

May 2009

Fried Fish Roll with avocado, slaw, fried peppers, lemon mayonnaise. Great combo, nice bright slaw with a spicy kick from the peppers.

More Kitchenette

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Who knew that so many restaurants in Oakland are closed on Sunday? Lucky for us, Pican is the exception. We sampled Southern Foie Gras - fried chicken livers with a nice bright slaw to counterbalance the crunchy fried goodness. Even Brett who normally doesn't prefer chicken livers, enjoyed them. Our second starter was Heirloom Tomato and Nectarine Panzanella another well dressed and balanced dish. Shrimp and Grits starter was also tasty, a few large shrimp and some very good grits. We moved on the Fried Chicken accompanied by a Mac n' Cheese. The fried chicken was well seasoned and delicious, with a thick crunchy crust. I think I prefer the slightly less thick crust at BSK, but I have plenty of room in my stomach for all styles of fried chicken! They brought us some of their house chili vinegar which was an innocent looking pale yellow vinegar with a hidden super punch of spicy chili. It was so good that we could not stop dipping pieces of chicken into it. The Mac n' Cheese was particularly good with the slight tang of the gouda cheese and a perfect sauce that was smooth and creamy without being overwhelmingly thick and cheesy. The Laquered Duck was excellent as were the light fluffy mashed potatoes. The decor and the atmosphere of Pican is upscale but not stuffy. The service was friendly and the courses well timed. We had a good view of the kitchen and it was very clear that it is a well run efficient operation. Dish after dish of picture perfect food coming out very quickly.

Photo by Rebecca

It was nice to see so many people enjoying Sunday dinner in downtown Oakland. The menu is fairly large and I'll definitely return to try some more, definitely the ribs and a few more of the starters.


I might take breaks from making ice cream, but I never take a break from eating it. To update my specific ice cream rankings, I'll need to add Tara's and Lush Gelato.

At the top of my list is Lush Gelato. I was hesitant when I was told that it was Argentine style gelato, I found many of the gelatos in Buenos Aires flavorful but too sweet for my palette. The dulce de leche at Lush was perfect for me. Excellent texture with very strong flavor. I sampled a few of the other flavors and found them just as appealing.

Tara's had interesting flavors, all of them deeply infused into the ice cream. It's an altogether different style than Ici, less sweet with more interesting 'savory' types of flavors. The only minor detraction is the texture of the ice cream which could be more dense. With that said, if I could blink my eyes and land on the doorstep of any shop in the bay area here is my current preference:

Lush Gelato - dulce de leche, basil
Humphry Slocombe - kumquat poppyseed, sesame or Vietnamese coffee
Bi-Rite Creamery - Salted Caramel with almonds, Cookies n' Cream, Lemon
Ici - the cone! lemon, any of their nut flavors
Mitchell's - lucuma, ube, coconut

Previous: Ice Cream Rankings April 2009

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Fried chicken sandwich, crispy, spicy, vinegary slaw, wish it had different bread. Nice outdoor seating using ironing boards as tables.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Sunday supper with J, A, and Jay. Wood Tavern has excellent food, generous portions and friendly service -- the makings of a great neighborhood restaurant, if I lived in that hood. Cutting board of pates and charcuterie was delicious, a nice variety of salty, pungent, sweet and savory flavors. Both the Burrata with heirloom tomatoes and the Pork Belly starters were good but very standard. The strength of this place was in the meat entrees. My favorite dish of the evening was Duck with cherries and a slaw with hazelnuts. The sweet tart cherry sauce complimented the duck and the finely shaved slaw was light and crunchy offsetting the richness of the duck.

The second entree of
Rib Eye Steak was surprisingly good. I rarely order steak at restaurants because I'm happy with the steak I prepare at home. This rib eye was cooked to a perfect medium rare, nicely charred on the exterior, extremely tender and dressed with a red wine reduction. The sauce was good, but the tenderness of the steak was surprising. I have prime cut rib eye at home, but this was one very well marbled piece of meat. Again, portions large enough for two. The only miss was the halibut. The fish was a little dry, though the dish was somewhat saved by the creamy corn accompaniment. I would not hesitate to return to this place for some of its high quality meat dishes.