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December 23-31, 2008
|Wednesday, December 31, 2008
2008 was a year of extremes, we had the most disgusting food we had ever eaten:
... as well as some of the best:
...and blood-soaked toil:
Chefs were in forts:
... and on the move:
Wine country beckoned for brunch:
We went vegetarian:
...and pigged out:
...and amazing agave:
... were offset by culty comestables:
...and an absence of ambience:
... fishy fry frontiers:
...and marvelous meat merchants:
...and cooked up some phat fowl:
Cheap and cheerful bites were taken al fresco:
...and at our favorite happy hour:
We had rustic and satisfying American:
...and polished and pristine Japanese:
There were demonstrations:
...and wonderful friends who made every morsel and sip that much tastier...but next year, we’ll skip the balut.
|Tuesday, December 30, 2008
We loved the Valrhona fudgesicle and Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee:
... but my favorite of these ice creams was the Guinness gingerbread with a stout flavor and chunks of dismembered ginger people embedded in the permafrost awaiting excavation with a compostable potato spoon.
There were eight flavors on offer today including Straus yogurt, coconut, a Thai chili lime sorbet which had both a cooling citrus and lingering hotness, while the delectable interplay of vinegar and sugar in the balsamic caramel ice cream is required eating.
Their opening “pay what you’d like” structure is a social experiment that I hope results in cold, hard consummation and not an exercise that can be dismissed as a churning experience.
Government cheese, Pistachio-bacon, Andante chevere-strawberry jam, Foie gras and salt and pepper are some of the flavors that will be on rotation on a list that may lack tose, but not imagination.
|Monday, December 29, 2008
Ad Hoc chefs brine Fulton Valley Farms’ birds before they coat and deep fry them to a perfect doneness with a shatteringly crunchy crust with perfectly seasoned, moist and flavorful meat. No other fried chicken comes close to these cult following worthy golden-brown nuggets.
... was roasted and filled with pepitas in a bath of sage-infused, brown butter and tender, sweet cipollini onions sat atop braised red cabbage:
... in these wintery side dishes to the flocking goodness.
Since Ad Hoc has a set menu, you can’t expect to drop by for this buttermilk fried fowl willie nilly, it is typically served every other Monday (or thereabouts.) They used to feather it in the Wednesday rooster roster, but their Thursday thru Monday winter schedule will take effect in January so if you are peckish for poultry perfection mid-week, you will be out of cluck.
Bookending this bounty of brilliant bird bites were paper thin slices of Prosciutto di San Daniele:
... (that melted over our tongues like porky butter) eyeball-sized spuds with greenbeans, toasted hazelnuts, frisee and watercress:
... and a cheese board.
The Mt. Townsend Creamery’s Seastack:
... is the Neil Patrick Harris of cheese. You don’t expect something so young to have an advanced degree, and yet you find that this is just what the doctor ordered. Though this cow’s milk round has had only a brief residency, it has the smoothness, tang and depth of a more senior rack-titioner.
The chocolate brioche bread pudding:
... wasn’t our thing. A raspberry pastry cream didn’t deliver the boost needed to perk up these parched pucks. We had one bite and deserted dessert for coffee.
Equator coffee has a different l’attitude at each Keller-teria due to the distinct roasts created for Bouchon, The French Laundry and Ad Hoc. The medium roast of the Ad Hoc blend was just what we longituded for.
The dining room and bar were filled with faithful fowlerers munching to the beak of the Ad Hoc drumstick. At $48 (prix fixe) for a meal fit for a la King, it’s well worth the migration to Yountville.
|Sunday, December 28, 2008
Certain gifts can be easily misconstrued, luckily our good pal L. knows are porclivities and presented us with a pot of solidified, porcine lipo liquid:
Lard is the greasy magic wand that converts Cinderella’s ropas viejas into a slick ball gown with porky petticoats of flavor.
Pretentious presents are nothing compared to snooty sentiments. Sweets for the sweet have been replaced by tubs of lard for...hey...wait a second!
|Saturday, December 27, 2008
Most goal oriented players stick with the idea that tooth marks in a puck are body sacrifice - not so with Recchiuti peanut butter pucks.
These peanutly boxes of organic peanut butter, fleur de sel and chocolate are a slapshot into reese-esses of your palate (which may rebound with a hip check, but these Stanley cups are worth it.)
|Friday, December 26, 2008
... as a nostalgic, old school pizzeria while also warning us not to expect anything that compared to our Marin favorite, Picco Pizzeria.
... and slices of combo:
... and margerita pizza (around $3.00 each):
Our meaty hot pocket was served with a bowl of tomato sauce, and while okay, the thin crusted ‘za was more to our textural liking but we wished that we had gotten slices of the basic cheese pizza instead.
The father and son team who run this friendly, casual and clean eatery keep the vibe lively and although we can confirm that this isn’t a wood-burning oven, artisanal ingredient focussed pizzeria, it’s a handy place to grab a slice and a beer.
The Menu for Hope deadline has been extended to December 31st. This means that you still have time to chip in ten bucks to feed hungry school kids while buying a chance at a fabulous raffle prize.
Check out the cookbooks that Ten Speed Press will send to the US address of the lucky winner. Enter code “UW31” in the “personal message” section of your donation on the firstgiving site for a virtual raffle ticket.
|Thursday, December 25, 2008
Our neighbor arrived unannounced at kitchen door (to him, the scent of cooling liver is a kitty evite.)
It was then that we realized that our Christmas dinner could cat-agorized as feline friendly. Oysters:
... liver crostini:
... duck in a nest of soft bellied sweet potatoes:
... with caramelized surfaces crisped in duckfat and a pavlova wreath with tangy cranberries and green tomato preserves:
... sent us into a catatonic stupor.
Our pussistent neighbor nipped off as we polished off our fancy feast.
From today’s Bunrab email, Mike writes:
Merry Christmas - and more posts, please.
|Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Oyster House Rules
Usually when you see a sign in a food venue that indicates that guns are unwelcome:
... it’s next to a Billy Bass plaque and a list of blonde jokes, but there were only barren barbecues and benches beside the behavioral blue-point-prints for the Tomales Bay Oyster Company.
We shelled out $14 per dozen for our bag of medium sized buy valves which were each given a whack by the oysterman to insure that they weren’t sounding corpsey in their calcium coffins. The only other customers were picking up for restaurants since it was too rainy for holiday makers to pull over from the coastal highway without getting their gunpowder wet.
Maybe the original oyster shooter is based on a rogue tourist that went against Marshall law and all that was left from the scuffle was a blood-filled shot glass with an oyster at the bottom. Anyway, don’t bring your gun unless you want to pay some hefty cockage fees... and do time.
We gunned it south with our pearl-loined loot to discover that the Pine Cone Diner closed early for the holiday so we crossed the whey to wrangle some curds at the Cowgirls’ cheesy rodeo center aka Tomales Bay Foods.
We chose a couple of ready made sandwiches, one with eggplant ($7.95):
... and Cowgirl fromage blanc with tapenade and arugula. I scraped off most of the dried tomato so the other flavors could come into balance. The other had Fra‘Mani salami and mozzarella ($8.25):
... with broccoli rabe and aioli. Next time we’ll skip the virtuously vegetarian fare and go with this delectable savory offering.
Although you’d think Cowgirls would have some sort of “check your gun at the door” policy as a precaution against rustlers, we saw no posted notice. Maybe it’s the difference in mentality between the customers in an establishment that offers prepared foods and another that requires you to knife open your living snack.
From our Bunrab email bag, Jeffrey writes:
Being a fan of good food and bad puns, I really enjoy your blog. Thought you might want to check out Napoli on 4th in San Rafael. I haven't tried anything but the pizza, but there is a pretty full menu of old school Italian. You'd expect to see plastic grapes above and straw chianti bottle candle holders below.. matter of fact, I wish it were so. But mainly, the pizza is darn good in a New York style. The crust - thin, crispy outside - chewy inside with a pure flavor, balanced toppings. This is not pizza to compare with wood oven beauties from Picco, but with, for me, childhood memories of n.y. style satisfaction. friendly, unpretentious.. just right.
BYOCB and plastic grapes? We’ll have to give it a try.
Thanks for the tip.
|Tuesday, December 23, 2008
We entered Jack’s Club:
...along with a delivery of Leidenheimer New Orleans French Bread destined for Yats PoBoys:
...(which is a tiny kitchen sandwiched in the corner between the bar and the pinball nook.)
A nice pink haired lady took our order before we sat down in the smoky room with Leave it to Beaver playing on one of the television screens accompanied by a soundtrack of Billy Idol’s White Wedding over the speakers.
The half shrimp poboy ($6.99):
... and half oyster ($7.99):
... were soft buns filled with lettuce and tomato and capped with fried seafood. I preferred the cornmeal coated, deep fried, crispy shelled oysters to the fried shrimp. The side of mac and cheese ($3.00) was a big bowl of gooey, melty‘roni.
This food does not worship at the altar of local, sustainable, organic fare. It’s for those who want to chow down on a PoBoy without being a RichBoy while simultaneously getting their money’s worth out of their Lipitor.
Yats New Orleans Original Po Boys
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