Thursday, December 29, 2011

Outerlands in Winter

They have a new chef.

Great cocktails
*Celery root soup with delicious bread.
Little gems with a well balanced buttermilk dressing.
Cavatelli - pasta a bit heavier than I like.
Petrale Sole - not my taste.
*Duck confit w/ pomagranate, very good.
Espresso Financier - good dessert, nicely accented with citrus.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Xmas Lamb Roast2
Lamb Roast

Xmas Korean Feast
G's Korean Feast

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Saturday, December 17, 2011

NYC Winter

Chinese Xmas signFrom most to least favorable:

Torrisi Italian Specialties –  The food was excellent.  A sophisticated neighborhood restaurant with food that was familiar yet original.  Both the decor and food showed a respect for the past and the personality chefs. I was a little apprehensive when I read that I needed to come at 5 pm toget a reservation. Would this be one ofthose annoying places full of attitude and not much substance? I was so pleasantly surprised that yes, while there was a line at 4:45, it wasn’t too long and the very pleasant and professional hostess came out and took everyone’s reservation for that evening. When we returned for our reservation, the front of the house was welcoming. Team service executed very well. The place is cozy and though the food and service was top rate, therewas something very down to earth and unassuming about the whole operation - charming and subtle in its sophistication. Presentation was simple but the food both tasted great and had sort of an intellectual whimsy to it. I would definitely return. I’m crossing my fingers that overwhelming popularity doesn’t turn this into a complete scene or an empire selling $40+ pies.

Red Rooster – brunch was a great experience. Very warm atmosphere, from the hostess to theserver, everyone was warm and welcoming. The décor, ambiance and everything about the room I would ratehighly. They had a band and a singing Christmas music and carols. I loved it. The fried chicken was crispy moist and camewith a flavorful hot sauce. Plenty of moist dark meat. We also tried the smoked fish plate which had great pickled vegetables and a variety of smoked fish. The place got really packed after noon, but before then, it was fairly easy to get a seat at the bar. This is the sort of neighborhood restaurant I love, good food, good service, I’definitely return.

Kajitsu – great place, delicious Shojin Ryori, JapaneseBuddist Temple Food. The first two dishes were absolute knock-outs. Presentation and execution is top notch. A few of the dishes were good and a few were just o.k. Despite it’sbeing vegetarian and seemingly devoid of most fat, I left very full and satisfied. Overall it’s a great experience and value.

Mile End – it’s becoming a tradition for this to be my pre-flight lunch. Nice to see that atmosphere hasn’t changed much. This time I had the matzoh ball soup, delicious. Poutine was not as well executed as last time because the cheese curds were cold and unmelted, but it still tasted good.

Prosperity Dumplings – this was a few blocks down from Frankie’s. A little outpost of Prosperity offering four for a dollar dumplings –the cabbage and pork fried dumplings were good.

Parisi Bakery – for bread and focaccia. Good bread.

Di Palo’s – got some fresh buffalo mozz, the clerk did not know the difference between all their imported buff mozz. The mozz actually turned out to be cream filled (burrata) though I didn’t like the flavor or texture very much. On the bright side, they were out of sheeps milk ricotta, so I got some of their house made ricotta and it was pretty good.

China Café – Szechuan in midtown, liked the beef tendon starter and the dan dan noodles, the rest of the items were just o.k. I think Szechuan Gourmet is much better, though I would eat here again if stuck inmidtown east.  Chili boiled fish was notas flavorful as the one at OMI in SF. Service was efficient though they did make a few mistakes.

Community – Neighborhood restaurant with upscaleprices. Warm Lentil Salad good, fish ofthe day was over seasoned. Shrimp and grits were tasty, huge prawns, though overall the food is overpriced, so I wouldn't return.

Frankie’s 17 – Frankie’s in the LES for brunch.  I was not a fan of their crostini – the toasts were a bit cold and the toppings were refrigerator cold.  Out of the three we tried, the ricotta with honey was the only one I’d order again. Caesar was decent.  J had eggs over easy and bacon.  The eggs came in apool of clear liquid – we asked the server whether this was water, grease, or uncooked white.  She seemed undisturbed by the presentation and said she thought it was probably uncooked white.  Upon J saying that she asked for over easy –the server said, oh, would you like it cooked harder.  It was clear that either the kitchen or the front of the house didn’t know or didn’t care what a plate of bacon and eggs should look like. The bacon, however, was delicious and L enjoyed the egg sandwich which is done on pizza dough.  I had plans to stop in to Prime Meats which is run by the same crew, but I decided not to after this lackluster meal.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Clue Dinner


More Photos

Hosted by C&J

A dish to hint at clues drawn from the classic board game.

Autumn Salad

Pasta bundle en papillote

Roast Pork with Fruit and Nut Glaze

Shrimp grits on burnt toast from The Gift of Southern Cooking

Pimento cheese with cherry pits on celery

Fried Salmon Balls with a Soy Dipping Sauce

Ice cream-centric dessert

Sunday, August 21, 2011



Venice, Florence, Siena, Perugia, Assisi, Rome.

Italy Album


Antica Ostaria Ruga Rialto on Ruga Vecchia s. Giovanni for some cicchetti.  We found this cute little bar where some gondoleres were having beer in the bar and ended up for a sit down dinner in their restaurant.  The place was small and homey.  It is clearly on the tourist guidebooks as everyone in the restaurant section was a tourist.  We had a mixed plate of cicchetti - sardines, octopus, a bit of fish, shrimp and an order of calamari fritti.  Both were fine, the mains were spaghetti al Nero a very nicely done squid ink pasta with pieces of squid, and a pan fried sea bream topped with shrimp.  The shrimp were just ok, but the sea bream was nicely cooked and fresh. 

La Furtola Restaurant a very nice little place, that was empty at 6:30, but filled with Italians within an hour.  The servers were so nice and spoke little English, very charming.  Started us off with a complimentary sparkling rose, perhaps because we dared eat at a completely empty restaurant. We had a Bollito of seafood which was prawns, big shrimp, little shrimp, the most tender calamari, octopus and a bit of dogfish, and some polenta with mini-shrimp on top.  The polenta was so creamy and delicious, S thought it was just a thickened butter.  Mains, were the chefs pasta which was a tagliolini, obviously freshly made, with mixed seafood and the grilled monkfish and fried vegetables.  The monkfish was well cooked, but the vegetables were very tasty, barely battered, but crunchy and flavorful.  The server suggested we get a mixed tasting of all their desserts, one torts with ricotta another limone a chocolate, and a blueberry.  I liked them all except the blueberry. I'd definitely return.

AI sportive pizzeria Lunched at a place in Santa Margarita Campo, behind one of the churches anchoring the campo. We had an o.k. rustic pizza w salami, artichoke hearts and black olives as well as a salad with artichoke hearts.  I noticed their menu had several offerings of horse meat "strips" for pizza, the pasta at the next table looked pretty good, and this place was one of the cheapest we'd eaten at, only 7 euro for a pizza and the beer was 4 euro.

Casa Nobile this cute little place with courtyard dining.  The food was mediocre, we had a maccheroniti with squid that was a bit too salty and a whole branzino with potatoes artichokes and capers, that was simple and relatively flavorless.

Bancogiro I thought the food was very mediocre and prices on the high side, but the canal side atmosphere was wonderful.  Lots of folks hanging out in the nearby square and the dock drinking and picnicking.  We had a cod carpaccio with a rucula salad and strawberries, a spaghetti Nero and a monkfish with some sweet and sour vegetables.  We ended the night with a Venetian cream dusted with amaretto cookies.  Wouldn’t return.

Da Sandro Café good place to stop for cappuccino in a tiny square.


Burrata w shaved truffle - Cipolla Rosa
Burrata with truffles from Cippola Rossa

*Cippola Rossa, Burrata with truffles and tagliarini with herbs and almonds, bistecca alla fiorentina served with some roasted potatoes.  All excellent.  Dessert was a fantastic fresh ricotta cheese cake with summer berries, smooth creamy and perfectly balanced.  One of the best meals of the trip.  (note: there’s a café across the square w/ good sandwiches)

Lupen e Margo a lampretto sandwich and trippa at a street stand outside, really good and spicy, tender, tho the bread was nothing to speak of.

Il MagazzinoTripperia The waiter, though very nice, wasn't too helpful with recommendations. We went for an antipasto tripaio which was carpaccio of the cheek, the most tender meatballs made from offal and a piece of the heart. Lamprotto came with side pots of herbal salsa and hot pepper in a bottle. The homemade pasta carbonara di mare, a creamy seafood pasta dish was nice, though not particularly remarkable. Overall a good meal, with more down to earth prices, with wine and cover it came to only 40 euro.

I Due Fratelli for a prosciutto goat cheese and rucula sand, mom had the pot betts, bread was better here than other places and wine is cheap.

'Ino a little sandwich shop near Uffizi, with good ingredients, though I have ton say I don't love the panino in Italy, the bread here is really poor compared to what I'm used to. I had a wild boar salami sand and she had a scarmoza and tomato sand. Scarmoza cheese was nicely melted from the toasting, but in general, I thought this place was just ok. I think I'd just as soon have one from Fratellini.

Perche No Gelateria had some interesting flavors. They were still too sweet for my tastes, not the best, but better than the other calzuoili places.  I tried fiore di latte with amarene, yogurt, and pistachio.

Due Fontana Pasticceri near Accademia Good pinoli and yogurt gelato, not too sweet! Walked down past dante's house and church then to

Trattoria Marione worst meal, probably recommended based upon the low prices. 

On a brighter note, the Gelateria Lorenzo across the way, had some very nice gelato.  I loved the cantada de ricotta flavor, a sweet ricotta with dried fruit found in spumoni and pannetone - well balanced, not overwhelmed by sugar.

Closed in August: Procacci Truffle Sandwich Shop, Nerbone. Ended up grabbing a tripe sandwich at a little stand and grabbing some gelato at the Coronus place on Calzuoili near P Republica. I thought it was far too sweet, later got another gelato nearby lemon and yogurt, better though still quite sweet.


Tagliarini w Truffle
Truffle Tagliatelle from L'Osteria

*L'Osteria My favorite meal of the trip. Pici with cinghale Ragu and tagliatelle with tartufo. Both dishes were great, I loved the fresh pici and the wild boar Ragu was just perfect, deep meaty flavor. The truffle tagliatelle had a beautiful shaving of whole truffle on top, in a simple buttery sauce, with fantastic egg pasta. I loved this simple and pure taste and smell of truffle. The truffle dish was only 12 Euro! ( I couldn't help but think how much better this truffle dish was than than the one we had at 11 Madison park, where we payed 6x the price.)

*Il Caroccio off the campo.  Nice pici pasta with a pork Ragu, I love pici's chewiness. I had the bistecca la CICCIA (not fiorentina), it was just o.k.  Tried a spinach sformato topped with chicken livers, I enjoyed it but S found the livers too pungent.  Dessert was a ricotta topped with cream and chocolate and also fruit topped with custard and whipped cream.  Both obviously house made, but just o.k.  I'd still return here for the pasta.

Birra La Pizza in the walkway to the Campo near the Etruria hotel. Pizza pomodoro salciccia and stuffed pizza fromaggi and salciccia from Birra La Pizza in the walkway to the Campo fro, Etruria hotel.  The stuffed pizza was pretty good.  We picnicked on the campo and liked it enough to get some more for our backpack snacks the next day.

Grom  I actually liked their yogurt flavor and a crocante flavor, which i never liked in NYC.

San Gimignano – I would not return to this town, it has interesting towers and architecture, but it is more a carnival for tourists than anything else.  Grabbed some Porchetta from a street stand with a whole pig on a carving board that said "Porchetta di Montepuciano". It was fine if a bit salty.  S also sampled the potato chip looking stuff sold every ten steps in the market, which she said was dry and not that interesting, so we got some candied hazelnuts and peanut brittle instead.  Good candied hazelnuts.


Umbricelli alla Norcina - the best thing I ate in Italy
Umbricelli alla Norcia from Osteria Coccode
Il falchetto was closed on Mondays.  Good looking menu of regional dishes.  Heading off to a side street we discovered:

*Osteria Coccode with a chalkboard showing umbricelli trota i tartufo, just the sort of regional cooking I was looking for.  We settled on Tagliatelle Ragu all a Umbria and a Umbricelli Norcia, a cream sauce with sausage and norcia truffle that was only nine euro.   This was the new best pasta of the trip. Umbricelli turned out to be a thick spaghetti similar to pici. The sauce was perfect not too creamy really well balanced with little morsels of pork sausage and flecks of black truffle.  The dish had a strong truffle aroma and flavor.  Loved loved loved it.  The Rugula Salad was fine, just some rucula, and the fruit tart dessert was definitely an after thought, probably bought in by the restaurant.  We spied a very good looking steak on another table and agreed we should come back for dinner again.  A half liter of house white and the bill came to thirty eight euro, best value of the trip.  Such a good eating day, I kept proclaiming how happy I was.  

At our second dinner the umbricelli alla norcina was delicious, but the pork cutlet covered in mushrooms was a disappointment, undercooked pasta and a thick goopy sauce that was sort of what you’d get in a cafeteria.  So, ordering carefully is important.


La Fortezza Lunch at a Micheline place, with excellent service and decent food.  We had the ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta in a pesto, and a  strogarizzi with tartufo.  The ravioli were good and the strogarizze were a shade too al dente, though the sauce was delicious full of mushroom and truffle flavor. I’d eat here again.

Gelato a half a block up from hotel fortuna - cassata di sicialiana and pinoli, was actually pretty good.

Pizza - Da Remo

*Da Remo - Pizza As we approached there was already a huge crowd waiting. We put our names in and the guy said 20 minutes. We waited for an hour, but enjoyed the completely Italian crowd of couples and families waiting for their turn. Got a fried bacala which was great, if salty, nice crispy on the hard side, fish! Then a 30 min wait for a marg, diavola, and a zucchini flower w anchovy pizza (bianca) Loved the marg and the pizza zucca, crispy super thin crust with a great balance of toppings. The beer and the warm summer night atmosphere of the crowd was awesome. 

*Flavio di Valdovetto for lunch, very friendly service and dines in a ac room with a view of the ancient walls. We ordered carbonara, recommended by the server, and the house ravioli with spinach, ricotta, herbs and cream. A fried squash blossom and a mixed salad. And importantly a half liter of house red which lead us to a two hour siesta later that afternoon. The ravioli was delicious as was the carbonara, it had a lot of delicious chunks of meat and was a wetter style than Perilli. I would definitely return.

Carbonara - Flavio

Il Gelato Very good, G had sesame almond, and al morra (blackberry) with panna, I had il Gelati fantasia, which was pinoli pistachio and orange, along with yogurt and bosco (berries), both good a little less sweet than other places and full of flavor. Walkable from Perill, but in an area without much commercial activity needed to walk a bit to take a taxi back.

Testaccio Market We went early so it busy with a lot of local people doing their weekly shopping. We found a stand where a lot of older Italian ladies were shopping. The other people shopping were really nice to let us jump ahead because we were only buying a few pieces of fruit. On our way out of the market, we stopped by the butcher and after an enthusiastic round of giving us tastes, we ended up with a whole sweet salami, a small spicy salami and two balls of buffalo mozz for 21 euro, hmm that seemed steep.

00100 a pizza pocket place, good a/c and interesting trapezzino with coda vacherri (oxtail stew).


*Volpetti a gourmet provisions shop full of prepared foods and cheeses. Great store and generous with giving a lot of samples – they know how to hook you!

Perilli we were in a super old school place served by a man who was perhaps 75 years old wearing a tux with a back brace shuffling around. Something about it reminded me of a Woody Allen movie. We ate carciofi all a Romana, rigatoni carbonara the best I've had, rigatoni pajata and acchiobacco (intestines and lamb). The carbonara was outstanding. A bit of sautéed chicory and roasted lamb with potatoes, great lamb very tender and gamey, trippa romana which was stewed tripe in a tomato sauce with Romano cheese on top. Both very good, though the lamb a bit more special. I prefer the florentine tripe prep.

Campo Di Fiori area

Forno Campo di Fiori for pizza bianca that was excellent, you tell them how much to cut for you off of a big piece, and we got a fresh one from the back.  Bravo.  We picnicked at Piazza Farnese then headed to Trastavere.  Gelato place on our way to Trastavere right before the Garibaldi bridge, not great and they tried to over charge us.

Roscioli Started with burrata and despite its dop label and 17 euro price tag the best part of the dish was the dried tomatoes on top and the delicious Marfuga olive oil. Then came rigatoni amatriciana and a spaghetti with anchovies capers in a tomato sauce. The amatriciana was ok, nice bits of meat, not memorable, spaghetti was just o.k. The whole thing was overpriced and considering that the burrata should've been their strong suit, and the one at I had at Cipolla Rossa was much better, I would not return.

Forno La Renella – cute little neighborhood pizza place with good ingredients. 
Cafe next to the one that had a sign that said "we are against war and tourist menu."  We got free wifi (with a ridiculously long and convoluted password) and some very refreshing prosecco with strawberry spritzers.

Gran Caffe w Panna

St Eustachio for cappuccino and a cream filled cornetti. I had gran cafe con panna - delicious.

Wine Bar nr CDF - I had an artichoke and grace an anchovy stuffed pepper. Nice wine bar.
Back to Testacchio for

Sora Margarita in the Jewish Ghetto and had a nice meal of spaghetti caio e peppe and carciofi alla giudea (fried artichoke) and fiori di zucca and agnolotti in a meat sauce.  Nice neighborhood hole in the wall.  Would definitely return but I think the their homemade pasta with ricotta and pepe is probably a better bet than the cacio e peppe.


Pizzarium near the Vatican.  Pizza tagliolini, we tried Marguerita with basil, a caponata of eggplant tomato pine nut and raisin and an anchovy with some type of green, all good , though I liked the Margarita the best.

Gracchi  a gelateria near the Vatican.  Good.

*Taverna de Fori Imperiale near the Coliseum. The dining room is charming, cellar like with arches but very warm lighting and fun tiny red checked table cloths reminding you that as nice and somewhat upscale the surroundings, this is a taverna. The menu if the day consisted of a house made spaghetti fruiti di mare with an eggplant antipasti, mussels, clams, shrimp and lobster, two types of ravioli one stuffed with bureaus and ricotta and the other stuffed with meat and covered in a truffle sauce, there was a gnocchi and a special carbonara with some beans or other items mixed in. We opted for the spaghetti and the two ravioli dishes. The spaghetti was a familiar flavor, a generous amount of seafood and excellent pasta noodles. The Raviolis were my favorite, the burrata and ricotta was a perfect blend, though a bit of the texture of the burrata was lost in the cooked format, nice simple tomato sauce to balance it out. My favorite was the ravioli with sausage and truffle sauce, this reminded me of the pastas in Umbria, the umbricelli all a norcina so good and possibly the best food experience of the trip. Grilled boar topped with a blueberry juniper berry sauce, a sweet and sour flavor. We went for it and ordered the swordfish Sicilian style off of the regular menu. Chicory was the vegetable of the day, we went for a grilled radicchio. We ordered another half liter of wine, this time the house red, they offered a chilled version, but we went for regular. Out of the secondi, I liked the boar, a chewy slightly gamey pork chop like piece with the look of a small beef steak. The juniper berry sauce matched it perfectly slightly sweet and acidic, accompanying the chop was bit of rice, the sauce was delicate enough to go on the rice and the boar bringing everything together. Loved it. The swordfish was a smallish piece and Just o.k. The radicchio was surprisingly bitter. I was ready for dessert, but mom was tuckered out almost falling asleep at the table. The whole kit and kaboodle was 97 euro. For me, this was an exceptional meal. We skipped dessert and went outside to find rain. The chef who must've been taking a break outside came upon us, I told him molto buono and he was very gracious. He went in to call us a cab.

Urbana 47 in Monti which had surprisingly modern Italian food.  I had a Malfatti pasta with arugula pesto and green beans.  Then a Pollo alla Romana two pieces of chicken the thigh and the leg with roasted red and yellow peppers on the side were simple and delicious, presented in a setting and style similar to what I get in SF. Also had an interesting Roman beer which came in red or white version,  I opted for the white and it was very happy.

Closed: Trattoria Monti, L'Asino D'Oro, Da Baffeto.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Oliveto Oceanic Dinner 2011 ****

This year Oliveto did two Oceanic dinners one sourced from California and the other from the Mid-Atlantic.  At each dinner we had the majority of the menu.  Here were the highlights:

California Coast

Oyster Shooter nice and briny though bitter finish I still liked the texture.

Halibut crudo great balance texture perfectly seasoned.

Sea Urchin panna cotta crostino w/ vanilla sea salt, awesome creamy texture deep urchin flavor.

Trompetti w/ clams, I liked this very much, the texture of the trompetti very nice and the wheat worked well with the clam.

Steamed petrale sole w spumato a delicious delicate sauce over a great piece of fish.

Sand Dabs stuffed with fregula was also excellent, the savory fregula adding a meatiness to the sand dabs and the heat from Calabrian pepper.

Mid Atlaantic

Crudo of fluke with roasted Gypsy peppers, fried shallots and Piccolo Fino basil - nice though slightly underseasoned.

Lobster roll on house-made brioche - good filling, though the brioche was a bit too sweet and flavorful distracting us from the sweetness of the lobster.

Cold-smoked salt-cured striped bass with horseradish crema, oil-poached Yellow Finn potatoes and arugula - we loved these sashimi sized pieces of fish.

Three large razor clams in a umami packed sauce with octopus tentacles.

Tajarin with butter poached lobster - this was a beautiful pinkish colored sauce with chuncks of lobster on a tender noodle.

Lumache with house-smoked green eel and summer savory crema - the meat in the sauce had a delicate clammy flavor with a clam texture, perhaps we had a clam version of the dish.

Spit-roasted bluefish with creamed corn and crab stuffing - we liked this but it was a little overwhelmed by the bacon wrapping, overall meaty and flavorful.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Filth of July

filth of july
Achiote Barbecue Chicken with Three Sauces by RSun (c)

More Photos

Hosted by R & N.

A summer picnic with no-utensils-required foods.

Deviled Eggs with Basil Aioli and Fried Capers

Deviled Eggs with Sriracha Mayo and Furikake

Pickled Shrimp

Fragrant Lamb Pita Wedges

Achiote Barbecue Chicken with Three Sauces

Lamb Ribs

Corniest Corn Muffins

Ice Cream Sandwiches: mint chip with chocolate cookies; peach/nectarine with ginger cookies

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Alder Carts

Pdx Food Slides

Portland has smaller population than SF, but with almost as many great places to eat.  Not only are there a high number of restaurants,they were consistently good.  There's a homey soulfulness in the NW style of food.  No hesitation to use bacon, butter or drink out of mason jars!  My picks in order of preference:

Wildwood - decor seems sort of staid and out dated, but great service.  The menu catches northwest cooking at it's best - seasonal ingredients prepared for heart eaters, sauces and other big flavors.  If sf allows it's ingredients a delicate sonata, this cooking is sort of an Aaron Copeland composition, food I imagine a hungry chef would prepare for his family.  Highlights, creamed morels with polenta gnocchi, fava puree accompanying halibut, milk braised pork shoulder, everything very flavorful and acting together rather than distinct nots delicately balanced. The cherry fennel hand pie was nice, but more impressive were the ice creams - one anise walnut, one candied cashews, very well balanced.

Nong's - second round of chicken rice this time I noticed the sauce loved it particularly the fragrant rice. The soup I had this time had cabbage and pork meatball and was not as salty, it was their first batch of the morning.  They don't really get going until 10:30.

Podnah's BBQ - both the pork ribs and the friendly hospitality reminded me of my southern BBQ experience.  Smoky and tender pork ribs were excellent with or without the sauces.  The beef brisket was moist and tender and smokey, but lacked any other flavor and was a bit overseasoned.  Sides were good and I appreciate honey on the table to go with the cornbread.

Whiffie Pies - a cart in the Cartopia pod in SE, specializing in fried handheld pies.  I wasn't expecting much, but I loved this pie.  The peanut butter and chocolate pie was crisp on the outside and beautifully flakey.  There's no mistaking that this is a fully fried, it is rich, though not greasy.  The molten peanut butter filling streaked with chocolate was well balanced and addictive.  I had not intended to finish the whole pie, but it was gone before I knew it.  I'd come back here to try one of their savory pies.  It's simple straightforward comfort/junk food.  Mounds pie, coconut cream w dark chocolate streaks, good crust, I pref the pbc.

Portland Farmers Market - ancient heritage dairy valentine great cheese.  Also had a spicy sausage from one of the vendors, coffee pulled from coffee monkey a little bitter.  Col... Bros - selling sweet or spicy sausages in the farmers mkt spicy one was delicious.

Ned Ludd - a cutesy Barn inspired decor in a nondescript strip of mlk between neighborhoods.  There was something a little precious about the decor, but the food and service was very good.  The hook is that everything is prepared in the wood fired oven.  Charcuterie plate had bacon, pork rillete, pate di campagne, rabbit terrine, ham - good, L preferred it to OP. Little gem salad nice nuggets of bacon, but the buttermilk dressing was overly acidic.  Peas and carrots w pistou ok fresh simple if a bit over seasoned, stuffed trout w lemon lots of dill, parsley and fennel, fragrant well balanced and good.  The s'mores for dessert was well executed, good quality chocolate.  Service was well meaning and nice, though they did drop the check on us.

Olympic Provisions - great charcuterie plate, fish served with a rich seafood sauce, and squid w rice overwhelmed by the salami in the dish too salty,  fried cardoons well fried not greasy, nocino w vanilla good, espresso panna cotta good.

Tasty & Sons - cheese biscuit w egg and bacon, now this is the type of biscuit I love, light and airy, good bacon, also tried the sausage and polenta Ragu, which was essentially a  sausage Ragu topped with cheesy polenta sever in a baking dish.  I shudder to think about how much cheese was in that polenta.  Would definitely return.

Ken's Artisan Pizza - Delfina-like crust blistered on top, but not much char or smokiness, really great tender chewiness to the crust and nice flavors. Enjoyed the tartness of the tomato sauce, high quality mozz, and calabrian peppers.  All that was missing was a drizzle of olive oil to finish.  Other items coming out of the oven looked great.

Gruner - downtown German food done with a lightness of hand in a modern environ. Spaetzle w chicken was nice toasted tender spaetzle lightly dressed in a mushroom thyme cream sauce with pieces of chicken, light and dark meat taken off the bone.  Delicious and filling.

Spaetzle w chicken from Gruner


Evoe - This is a little eating counter next to a gourmet food shop.  The food is prepped and cooked in front of you.  Great selections on their menu.  I'd lunch here often if I lived in PDX.  Spring Onion Tortilla w Romesco nicely executed.  Artichoke, Fennel & Guanciale nice combination.

Beast - great food even though its not really cooked a la minute.  Every dish was a hit, no misses.  The place and service is not as warm as welcoming as other PDX restaurants, there's definitely an attitude that you are lucky to have us serve you.

Paley's Place - Every dish was very good, with the bone marrow as a standout.  The food was very rich and put L over the edge, but I thought it was an excellent French style NW food.  A great place for a nice dinner with guests, warm welcoming professional service. Set inside a house almost across the street from Wildwood.

Bunk Sandwiches -a hole in the wall serving gourmet sandwiches.  Lots of choices, I went for the roasted chicken salad w bacon and avocado and added some house marinated hot peppers.  Very good sandwich served on a kaiser roll.  I'm not a big fan of kaiser rolls, so that aside, it was very good moist chicken.  Also had some creamy tomato soup which was not as good as the sandwich, it lacked balance, too tart, and was one note, not creamy. Still Bunk is worth returning to for a sandwich.

St Jacks Patisserie - could not resist the hot out of the oven ham and cheese croissant, delicious even  though there were not as many interior layers as a traditional croissant. Roasted cherries with toasted pound cake and almond ice cream was delicious especially with the candied almond sprinkled on top.  Service at lunch hour is painfully slow, though they are nice people.  Would love to try dinner.

Toro Bravo - long wait, but ok to sit at the secret society bar next door.  Comped goat cheese and bread nice.  Duck liver mousse very good, salt cod fritters - ok, fried green tomatoes - no, spicy octopus and shrimp stew - ok, squid ink pasta - interesting lots of umami flavor, braised lamb w apricots and noodles - ok, jamon wrapped chicken - good jamon.


Coava Coffee - My favorite espresso in PDX.  Great pull , super smooth, very focused menu.  Loved it enough to have two caps. The yirga Jaffe was being dripped instead of poured.  The drip isn't that good.

Barista NW - cap, using heart espresso delish. Also an interesting little neighborhood.
Spella Cafe - latte smooth, rich a nicely pulled drink.  
Stumptown - nice light roast style.
Coffeehouse NW - cappuccino, nice service, pull was o.k.


Cheese Bar - nice people, great selection of cheeses. Good selection of beers.

Eurotrash - cart in the good food here pod. Fried anchovies nice crispy well executed.

Alder Pastry - nice pistachio ice cream, Earl grey peanut, cherry cacao, pbj, everything ok, gelato good.

Garden State - chickpea sandwich was good, not as crunchy as I imagined, but well seasoned with a bright aioli that brought it together, a dash of jalapeño vinegar and I was all set. I would be happy with this as a lunch, if I was nearby.

Eat Oysters - gorged ourselves on kumamotos. I liked the WA kumi's better than the Oregon ones, Hama hama's also good.  Olympia's not very tasty.  Good bloody mary's nice and spicy.  Frog legs with comeback sauce, decent. Nice staff if a bit understaffed.  Good for the bloodies and a snack.

Pok Pok - cool place really has the feel of a Thai food shack. Boar nice flavors, tart and spicy, Khao soi curry noodles w chicken just ok, duck larb over seasoned, whole fish stuffed w lemon grass nice, fish sauce wings far too sweet, clay pot Woon sen nice pork belly glass noodles a bit too sweet. Overall, the wings were not spicy enough, though the food was flavorful I felt that it didn't really speak to my palate.

Laurelhurst Market - 1:15 wait. Nice bar. Piedmontese flat iron tender though not med rare. Tapenade overwhelms beef flavor, short ribs were better. Nice duck confit salad.  The wait is long because the staff and kitchen seem in no hurry to keep things moving along.  I think the time from ordering to receiving food was about 40 mins - and that was for steak.  I appreciate a laid back style, but I have my limits.  Thank goodness for having good company.

Pine State Biscuits - nice traditional biscuits & gravy, biscuits are the substantial hearty style.  Sausage gravy was fine, though I think I prefer the honey butter on plain.  Def would not go out of my way for bfast here, let alone wait in a long line.

Pixie Patisserie - a few blocks from pok pok had an interesting blue cheese ice cream with chocolate, surprisingly well balanced and not overly sweet.

Ziba's Pitas - ok burek Bosnian style pita, not very flavorful or interesting.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

Pasta Making

More Photos

Hosted by D & H.
Dishes from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

Apulia's Olive Bread
Layered Crespelle with Tomato, Proscuitto, and Cheese
Pappardelle w/ Broccoli
Asparagus Frittate
Lasagne with Artichokes
Braised Carrots with Parmesan
Chicken Fricassee, Cacciatora Style w Mashed Potatoes, Bolognese Style
Walnut Cake

Monday, April 11, 2011


JJ Tang Bao2
Jia Jia Tang Bao



I lost my main notepad from the trip, so I've included a few notes below.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Breakfast in Shanghai

Dan Bing Lady

What is she doing?  Video Here
Every morning people lined up for an egg crepe at this stand.  The crepe called dan bing is a very common breakfast consisting of eggs, herbs, savory sauces, some pickled vegetables and stuffed with a yu tiao (donut) or a crisp fried sheet that gives it a crunch. I like mine spicy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Farewell to Mario's La Fiesta

After reading an article that the original owners of Mario's La Fiesta were retiring after 52 years of running the restaurant, J and I headed back for a bit of nostalgia. As we searched for the address we discovered that they were no longer at their original Telegraph location, but across the street nearer to People's Park. When we arrived and looked over at the original Telegraph location, we immediately felt out of date.

Any concerns that things had changed substantially were quickly dispelled when we discovered the present location had the same decor, tables and benches that made the booths in the original location. The menu looked exactly the same as it was over a decade ago, even the prices appeared unchanged. We both looked at each other in disbelief. It was a bargain back then, so much so that one of my closest friends on a tight budget would always get a super burrito which probably weighed about two or three pounds to have food that would last him for the next few meals. I remember loving the vegetable soup they served at the beginning of each meal and that this was the place that introduced me to agua fresca.

I ordered red beef enchiladas and an agua fresca and asked whether they were still serving the vegetable soup. The server smiled and said yes of course. We were excited to find that the soup tasted exactly the same as did the salsa always sitting on the table and the unsalted bowl of chips. At that point I started to remember what the red enchiladas tasted like and the times I had eaten them, once an infamous night when I had overdone it. Then our dishes arrived and I felt transported back in time. The red sauce that I had forgotten was now completely familiar like having a chance meeting with a long lost friend and finding that you can pick up exactly from where you left off so many years ago. J said that her favorites were the same as well. We talked about the old days and the amusing things we did as kids. I'm not sure whether it was all the memories tied up with Mario's or the idea that as much as I've changed over those years something somewhere had remained exactly the same, but these were some of the best enchiladas I've had in a long time.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Souley Vegan*

We had a sampling of various items, mostly traditional soul food side dishes. Everything had a lot of flavor, though not necessarily to my tastes. One thing I really enjoyed was the toastie. It's a burger of sorts with a fried tofu patty crunchy exterior with a creamy interior and a sweet tart and spicy barbecue sauce to cut through the tofu. Items I'd get again: toastie w/ fried tofu and bbq tofu, potato salad, collard greens. Oakland.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Oliveto Whole Hog 2011 ****

Highlights were the terrine of pork trotters with spiced fruit compote, the proscuitti and the alla reuben preparation. Last night they were preparing the reuben with shoulder instead of tongue. We also enjoyed the polenta with ragu of pork heart and the chocolate caramel tart.

The presentation of the zampone was fitting for the occasion, cross sections of the leg cut into large rounds of cotecchino wrapped in skin and then one entire trotter -- toes and all on the plate. I liked the flavor of the cotecchino though others were overwhelmed by the fat of the dish and preferred the other items. Same with the gnocco fritto, which highlighted the excellent lardo and guanciale, but was overshadowed by other excellent dishes.

Everything was excellent to very good. This was my first time back since the chef change and it feels like the kitchen hasn't missed a beat. Looking forward to returning for the regular menu.

Crisp terrine of pork trotters with spiced fruit - excellent

Corned pork tongue "alla Reuben" - excellent

Tasting of prosciutti*: Olli Ossabaw, La Quercia acorn-fed Berkshire - excellent

Gnocco fritto: small pillows of fried dough with lardo, guanciale, and pancetta - good

Red Flint polenta with ragù of pork heart - good

Pancetta-fried potatoes - ok

Zampone - trotter stuffed with cotechino - ok

Prosciutto Wrapped Sea Bass - ok

Chocolate Caramel tart w/ candied bacon - excellent

Puff Pastry w/ blood orange and raspberry - good

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


We had everything on the menu except for the salad. Starters were better than the mains. The Tuna Tar Tar and duck liver pate was excellent particularly on the house brioche - dense yet light. The house bread basket was also a hit with the ultra soft and fragrant honey bread and the savory foccacia. Also enjoyed the smoked trout latke - good balance of flavors and textures. Difficult to go wrong with the maple glazed pork belly and perfectly poached egg, though I think the proportion of belly to egg was a bit off -- needed more pork belly.

The only appetizer that didn't strike my fancy, was the white bean with asparagus soup. It was just little too heavy creamy muting any asparagus flavor.

Out of the entrees, I liked the halibut the best, well cooked flavorful, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, nicely seasoned sauce that paired well with the fish. I also enjoyed the black soy glazed sea bass w/ foie gras, full of umami flavor but the delicious glaze somewhat of overpowered the foie gras and the fish -- though I'd still get this one again. Two dishes that were less impressive were the duck, which had a very strong punch of orange zest that overpowered the other flavors. The farro risotto was fine, nutty and had good texture, but I didn't like the sweetness of the sauce.

XXX Chocolate Cake was excellent.
Apple crisp with cheese ice cream - o.k though the texture of the crumble on top was a bit dry and not actually crispy.

Overall its a nice neighborhood restaurant. There were some good appetizers, and all the baked goods and pastries were very good.  I'd be interested in returning to check out the bakery.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous

My current favorite ice cream shop in the Bay Area.  Creative flavors that are well executed and consistently good, not overly sweet - full of flavor instead of sugar, nice texture, love the feel of the shop and the people.  Candied Violet, Earl Grey, Pistachio, Peanut Butter Malt, Ball Park.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


This place was packed on a Saturday night but cleared up by around 8, I guess folks in Oakland eat early.  Excellent pizza - Margherita buffala w/ calabrian peppers.  A NY Neapolitan style, thin, soft and chewy crust with some char and light crispness on the edges, not soggy in the center.  Delicious bright tomato sauce a drizzle of oil on top would've have made it perfect.  J&A love the clam pizza.

Monday, February 7, 2011

POC CHUC Tamales

Poc Chuc has two types of tamales. "Colados" -- the wet and soft type were a daily special earlier this week. Only the second type was available when I lunched there the other day (she said I should try on a Friday to get the others).  Although I was disappointed that they were out of the colados tamales, I got a taste of their other tamale.  It was delicious, a nice balance of masa and filling, very moist and flavorful.  Definitely worth getting again.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


They did a nice job of redesigning the former Myth Cafe space.  As a Tusk restaurant, it was no surprise that pastas were the standout.  The pasta w/ crab dish reminded me of the same dish in Cooking by Hand.


Ricotta crostini
Pickled sardines crostini
Pasta w/ rabbit 
Pasta w/ duck ragu
Tortolloni w/ beet

Sides of cauliflower, pumpkin and onion w/ fonduta - all rather bland.  Squab w/ pork belly - just o.k.

Overall, it was an enjoyable night, good service very accessible wine list. I'd return if in the neighborhood.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Making Old New Again

Hosted by HM & B.
Favorite dish from childhood, but adding a new twist to it.

Ca ri ga (Vietnamese chicken curry)

Mandoo Dumplings

Confit of carrot and cumin

Roasted carrot and red lentil ragout

Taiwanese Five Spice Chicken Wings with pickles

Filipino fresh lumpia

Chocolate Killer Cake / King Cake

Friday, January 28, 2011

PLUM - January 2011

The food keeps getting better and better.  I'm becoming a fan of Chef Charlie Parker.

We had the whole menu.  Many of the dishes we had had before though the names sound the same they are all tweaked a bit.  The chicharrones had an added bit of flavoring. The oyster stew was very creamy (the one item where I prefered the prior version).


Wild Greens Panisse
Braised leeks - though it was different this time with an added bit of cheese
Short Rib 
Squid dish with smoked lentils - my favorite of the night

Desserts were not as impressive as on previous visits.  Cheesecake in a jar was not nuanced and not up to our previous visits.   Chocolate parfait dessert was just o.k.  Plating of the gingerbread cake dish was odd and though the flavors went well together it was a bit of a pain to put it all together in one bite as everything was strewn about -- kudos for the mini merenge batons.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Arrived five minutes before their dinner service and there was already a small line, surprising for an otherwise empty strip mall in Santa Clara.

Tonkotsu Ramen - broth was excellent with a layer of flat floating on top.  The noodles had great texture, springy with a slight chewiness.  Very simply topped with a  slow cooked egg and a little sprinkling of togarashi.

Orenchi Salad - nice starter, light miso dressing refereshing - get again.

Karaage - fine, nothing out of the ordinary.

Orenchi and Santouka are my current favorites in this area.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Westlake Lamb Dumplings
Extremely Spicy Peppers #28
Tofu w/ Parsley - appetizer
Hot Braised Beef Tendon
Warm Pot with Fish - sour good

Raw Potato dish a little too oily and overcooked, but still pretty good.
Vegetable pancake fry - not exciting

Open for lunch every W, F.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Brunch at Prospect.  Modern space, professional, if somewhat formal service. Standouts were the baked goods, but everything was fine.  Worthwhile if in the vicinity.

James Beard's French Toast
- great, textures and delicious - only slightly sweet. 

Egg Sandwich - nice egg with beautifully cooked pork belly and a pepper jelly to round it out.

Biscuit - excellent, get again

Corn cake - moist and airy

Ricotta donuts - light moist and airy - though lacking in a sweet element.  A cake-like donut hole without much flavor.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

SPQR - January 2011

I had not been to SPQR after the arrival of Matt Accarrino. We finally made over and were not disappointed. The cooking has a more refined balance to it.  I'm not sure it's because my memory has fadedm but the food was better than ever.

California burrata crostino chili, blackberry honey, hazelnut, fried herbs - nice, creamy burrata balanced perfectly with the honey and hazelnut.

Crispy pig ears pickled vegetable, dandelion, chili oil - pieces of pig ear about one inch squares crispy exterior and soft interior not chewy at all really well balanced with the sweet and sour and spicy pickled veg dandelion and chili oil.

Fried surf clams had more fried batter than clam flavor - not greasy at all, but probably would pass on this one.

Slow roasted carrot salad umbrian lentil, medjool date, carrot marmelatta, lardo - loved this very rustic presentation of carrot, cut into about two inch pieces along side some baby carrots and a sweet and sour lentil with the lardo very nice.

Hand cut tagliatelle sea urchin, spicy tomato sauce, green onion a very large piece of sea urchin which I mixed in, this was good though not as creamy and urchin flavored as I expected.

Squid ink spaghetti, had nice chew and structure though there was a little bit of graininess in the pasta I need to check the menu as it might've been buckwheat pasta.  Nice bits of crab but I felt like their flavor was a little lost in the strength of the sauce.

Pasta with duck ragu a bit spicy - my favorite of the night

Sonoma rabbit warren pear, chestnut, parsnip, dandelion, mustard - was two rolls of rabbit meat rolled in a skin, the chestnut puree and the combination of flavors was nice though overall it was not too interesting.

Butter torte with meyer lemon almond and orange was outstanding. When we asked who the pastry chef, we were told that Accarino does the pastry too.

We'll need to return soon.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bay Area Pizza Taste Off

Pizza taste off

The cooking club decided to do a little series of pizza tastings, one in the East Bay and another in SF. In order to taste pizzas from a variety of places we had to do take out pizza only. Each of us were assigned to pick up pizzas with no specification on toppings. In other words, this was not intended to be a scientific comparison, but rather a fun exercise in overindulging on pizza. Each taste off had more than 14 eaters.

Summary of Results
East Bay overall winner was Pizzaiolo.  It won the thin crust division and then went on to beat Zachary's, the winner of the deep dish division. Eaters had a set number of votes they could cast. We were all a bit surprised by how much we enjoyed Zachary's. Some folks were disappointed by the pie we got from Little Star in Albany, feeling that it wasn't as well executed as pies from the Mission location.

San Francisco's overall winner was Little Star with Pizzeria Delfina's Margherita coming in a close second. We decided not to divide between deep dish and thin crust and Joe conducted very scientific computerized rank choice voting. This seemed like a very close contestant views were fairly divergent except for the top two. Because we had a variety of pizza styles, Chicago, Neapolitan, NY Neapolitan, NY Street, it was difficult to compare as most felt that they had a preference based upon style though thought that all of the pizzas were good representatives of their particular style.

East Bay - hosted by C & J

Thin Crust Division
Pizzaiolo - Monterey squid, tomato sauce and aioli - 21
Cheeseboard - jalapeno and something I've forgotten - 20
Arizmendi Lakeshore - forgot - 19
pizza sample

Deep Dish Division
Zachary's on College - Special, sausage, green pepper, onion and mushroom - 29.94
Little Star Albany - forgot - 29.06

Overall favorite between the winners of each division.
Pizzaiolo 7
Zachary's 5

SF - hosted by E & P

Overall Rank
1. Little Star (deep)
2. Pizzeria Delfina Margherita
3. Zero Zero & Pizzeria Delfina Clam
4. Patxi's (deep)
5. Tony's Pizza Napoletana
6. Arinell's & Amici's

There were a few well known places we would've included, but we discovered that not all places offer take out and some were closed on the particular evening of our gatherings.