definitive Bay Area restaurants

My top restaurants per category in the Bay Area:
If you think I’m wrong on some of these tell me and help me fill in the blanks if you can.

California – Gary Danko, Lalimes, Chez Panisse (is there a good everyday type place?)
French – French Laundry: tasting menu
Bistro style – Cafe Claude, Jojo’s: steak frites

Northern Chinese – Shan Dong: Shan Dong chicken, hand made noodles, dumplings
Vietnamese – Le Cheval, Slanted Door
Korean – Oghane, My Tofu House

Thai – Lotus Thai
Indian – still need to find
Italian – Trattoria La Siciliana

Taqueria – Cactus Taqueria: burritos, fish tostada; Taqueria Ramiro and Sons: super carnitas burrito
Mexican – still need to find maybe Guaymas, maybe Dona Tomas

Pizza – Zachary’s

Burgers – Christophe’s
Steak place – still need to find

Other

Bakery – Crixa cakes
Coffee place – Blue Bottle

spam musubi and other food thoughts

Not surprisingly, I came back from Hawaii about 5lbs heavier even though I was eating oatmeal basically everyday still. (sadly that was for real)

Laying on the beach and eating spam musubi — they’re kind of addictive, contributed to the problem.

It’s funny how one week you’re eating at the French Laundry, eating caviar and foie gras and baby lamb — going to hell but it was still good, and the next week you’re getting down and dirty with spam, rice, and seaweed. $250 meal vs. $2 worth of good, yummy, tasty spam. No contest.

We ate for $35 a day per person in Maui too, so Rachael Ray can kiss my ass.

  • In other food news, we got Paw Paws in our CSA box the other day. It’s the largest native fruit of North America and tastes like a cherimoya. Did not know that, that was a very cool new thing to learn.
  • I finished a pretentious food book called Near a Thousand Tables. You have to be dubious of a book that uses the word “masticate” versus “chew”. You like that. Dubious. I recommend it though, it just took a while to read and could have made the history of food a little more interesting. It was a bit too academic.
  • Part of Near a Thousand Tables I learned about the Thrifty Food Plan issued by the USDA. On the low-end, a single adult male can eat on $4.84 a day, females $4.37. On the high end, $9.42/$8.50 a day. We’re on the high end and want to get down to the more low and moderate cost plan. We’ll see. Apparently lots of vegetables, potatoes, and other starches will do the trick. Or, I can buy three spam musubis and I can live off of that. I bet if I make ’em myself, I can sneak in a bowl of oatmeal too. :)

Corey Lee @The French Laundry

For my 30th birthday, we celebrated it by going to the French Laundry. While crazy expensive, it’s quite an experience and fortunate to have eaten there once before. (I’d be happy to go again!)

The service is amazing, the tableware is exquisite, and the food can be described as a word 10x better than delicious. The meal took over 3 hours to enjoy and included salmon tartare, oysters and caviar, foie gras, truffles, bass, toro, duck, lamb, blue cheese, strawberry sorbet, chocolate, and more. I’m not the type to take pictures of food, so you’ll have to go elsewhere for French Laundry food photos. The presentations are pretty good.

We also had a 1/2 bottle of sauvignon blanc from Work vineyards, and a glass of Syrah from TOR. The flavors of the wine really came out apricots and peach for the Work sauvignon blanc, blueberries from the TOR syrah.

After the meal we were able to tour the kitchen, which was incredibly clean, apparently they clean as they go. We also got to meet Corey Lee, winner of the James Beard award for Rising New Chef, who’s also the chef du cuisine at the French Laundry. He’s pretty cool, Korean background, only 28 years old. I pretend I can cook, this guy takes it to many, many notches above. Though, the strawberry sorbet we had for dinner was something I was able to make a while (I have the French Laundry cookbook).

Anyway, it’s neat to meet folks who run the show, especially folks who seem down to earth. I had lunch w/ Kevin Rose and Daniel Burka the day before and it was the same deal — down to earth cool people.

Poor People Food

**draft** I had one of those curious moments and looked up “poor people food” in the various search engines and I got nothing good. I expected to see a list and then links to recipes. I guess there’s no such thing as “poor people food” just as there’s no such thing as an “oatmeal diet” so lets make it up (the reason for doing this list is to come up with the foods/recipes and such so we can eat a little better/tastier and a little more cheaply — we’ve been getting a little too crazy with our food budget). There is a bad connotation around “poor people food” but I also think that some of the best and most creative food around is based off of the need to eat cheaply — gumbo, collard greens, and red beans are rice are perfect examples. If all goes well I’ll turn this into a book. breakfast

  • oatmeal
  • grits, polenta
  • chilaquiles

lunch/dinner

  • gumbo
  • red beans and rice
  • ramen noodles
  • macaroni and cheese
  • mashed potatoes
  • quesadillas
  • hummus w/ pita bread
  • fried rice (rice w/ some meat or vegetable)
  • casseroles (?)
  • cheap meats and fish: skirt steak, snapper, mussels (in season), catfish

If you got other suggestions, comment or send me mail :) — Update 11/1 There’s a Thrifty Food Plan issued by the USDA. On the low-end, a single adult male can eat on $4.84 a day, females $4.37. On the high end, $9.42/$8.50 a day. They also have a recipe book. I don’t think their plans are really good though. The way we all cook and eat is make a big meal and then have left overs for the next day or two, in other words the same meal more than once either once for dinner and again for lunch, or two or three dinners of the same thing.

our local food vendors

**draft**

Here’s a list of the people that we get our food from (they’re within 100 miles from where we live in Oakland, California):

Other interesting farms:

We also like these local wineries:

  • Roshambo: sauvignon blanc
  • Cakebread: chardonnay
  • Navarro: riesling, gewurtzraminer, edzelweicker
  • Roederer Estate: sparkling wine
  • Chalone Vineyards: pinot noir
  • Calera Vineyards: pinot noir
  • Hanger One: vodka

Top 50 Foods and 14 Super Foods

I love lists and I’m seeing that I’m writing more and more lists too. I stumbled upon this site called Nutrition Data* and they have a list of the top 50 foods people search for. Number one on the list are bananas. Watermelons, apples, cantaloupe, and cheddar cheese round out the top 5. Mmm…cheddar cheese.

The first fast food people search for is surprisingly enough, a Taco Bell bean burrito. There’s some other weird foods on that list including Kix cereal, Snickers bar, and a Dairy Queen blizzard.

In related searching, I was also looking up Super Foods. Everyone’s got a different Super Food list but I guess it’s this plastic surgeon (?) Dr. Pratt that put together a list of 14. Do you now see why I think I can write an Oatmeal Diet book, the dude’s a plastic surgeon BUT I do find myself eating the foods below.

Anyway, here’s the list and a description by the good Doctor:

  • Beans – lower cholesterol, combat heat disease, stabilize blood sugar, reduce obesity, relieve hypertension and lessen the risk of cancer.
  • Blueberries – lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and help maintain healthy skin to reduce the sags and bags brought on by age.
  • Broccoli – boosts the immune system, lowers the incidence of cataracts, supports cardiovascular health, builds bones and fights birth defects.
  • Oats – lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of coronary heart disease & Type II diabetes, high in fiber and protein.
  • Oranges – support heart health and prevent cancer, stroke, diabetes and a host of chronic ailments.
  • Pumpkin – helps lower the risk of various cancers (lung, colon, bladder, cervical, skin, and breast) and supplies nutrients necessary for healthy, youthful skin.
  • Wild Salmon – lowers the risk of heart disease and cancer.
  • Soy – helps prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis, and helps relieve menopausal and menstrual symptoms.
  • Spinach – decreases the chance of cardiovascular diseases, a host of cancers, age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
  • Tea – boosts the immune system, helps prevent cancer and osteoporosis, lowers the risk of stroke, promotes cardiovascular health.
  • Tomatoes – lower the likelihood of cancer, raise the skin’s sun protection factor and seem to play a role in preventing cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.
  • Turkey – a perfect example of a Twenty-First Century “healthy” protein source, extremely low in fat, and provides multiple nutrients which help build a strong immune system.
  • Walnuts – reduce the risk of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
  • Yogurt – promotes strong bones and a healthy heart, another health promoting protein source, and a great source of calcium.

* What’s neat about Nutrition Data is that they’ve created a Firefox search plug-in AND they’re cool enough to recommend Firefox to their visitors. Here’s what they say:

IF You Don’t Already Have Firefox

Firefox is the new, critically acclaimed browser that many Internet Explorer users are switching to. It’s packed with features, and is faster and more secure than other browsers. We highly recommend it!

Well NutritionData.com, I highly recommend your site!! (owned by Conde Nast)

Restaurant Review: Gary Danko

Too much IE talk, so need to balance me out a bit. Tine and I went to Gary Danko for b-day dinner, one of the coolest dining experiences in San Francisco, and the cost reflected it. I had the 5 course dinner, she had 3, we also had champagne and a half-bottle of wine.

We had a sommelier recommend the wine, a 1999 Calera Selleck Mt. Harlan Pinot Noir. We had about 4 or 5 more people fussing over us too, serving us bread, water, food, the cheese course, welcoming us, open the door to the bathroom — service was pretty good.

I had caviar/oysters, lobster, duck, cheese and this killer chocolate mousse with marscapone sorbet. Tine had risotto, frog’s legs (yum), and souffle.

It was our second time at the restaurant and hopefully not our last. I’ll come up with an excuse to go there again next year. It’s a pretty ridiculous dining experience.

So back to the bathroom. Gary Danko is probably the best place to go to the bathroom in San Francisco. The bathroom is well decorated, they play new age music so if you need to go #2 you’re all relaxed, there’s a water fountain, lovely hand soap and lotion, rolled up individual towels, and little Gary Danko stickers on the toilet rolls that are folded up. I wonder if we can get some of this stuff done at the office.

The Post Club-Med-Cancun Diet

**draft**

The Post Club-Med-Cancun Diet (or the diet from hell)

So two weeks in Cancun with all you can eat, all you can drink, and all you can play (running on the beach, water ski, trapeze, tennis, weight room etc), I’m now at 189-190lbs. I was at 180-183lbs so I’ve gained between 6-10lbs in a couple weeks.

So here’s the Post Club Med Cancun Diet in the negative:
– no (little) sugar
– no red meat
– no milk
– no juice (except orange juice)
– no (little) processed foods
– no white bread/white rice

In the positive:
– *lots* of water
– lots of oatmeal, (kashi or smart start cereal)
– lots of fruits and vegetables