Food and Drink

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Did You Just Say “Let’s Have Lunch in Marin City”?

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 4:00 AM

Well indeed I did.

But first, a digression. To another city.

They used to have this joke about the “Indian Row” on 6th Street in Manhattan that there were dozens of restaurants on the block but one central kitchen, hidden, that connected them all. This was a way of saying—there’s nothing special about this tourist-lure of bustling and popular 6th Street, the Little Italy of its culinary persuasion, a place for the rubes.

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But there were of course places that stood out on 6th Street in the East Village—just like there were other sadsack curry shacks that always seemed to get the leftover crowd, if any. After awhile, you’d sort of pick one and that would be the regular. Mine was a place that had the spiciest, cleanest vindaloo I’ve ever had, and I once saw John Malkovitch bang his head on the ceiling there. Tall man. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant—but man, that was some memorably spicy vindaloo. And that dude had a huge head, too.

Competing vindaloos is not a problem or even an issue in Marin City. It’s not even worth talking about. Because BBQ ’N’ Curry House is not only the only Indian restaurant in this town, it’s the…well, under some definitions of the word, you might have some trouble rolling the word “restaurant” off of your tongue to describe the…hmm…the culinary scene that is Marin City.

OK, Outback Steakhouse. Technically, yes, you are a restaurant. I’ve yet to sample your wares, but I have been known to drop in at your cohort Applebee’s on occasion—and indeed you might call me a TGIF’s man from back in the day. I got no gripe with you. So OK. Two restaurants.

Oh, and I’ll eat some of that Panda Express super-gloop Chinese in the Marin City shopping center. Next time. Sure, you can be a restaurant too, ya cute little cuddly bear.

But that other place in the shopping, with the burgers, and the crown? Love those flame-broiled fumes in the Gateway parking lot, but that stuff can’t be good for you? Can it?

So yes, BBQ ’N’ Curry house on a Saturday in Marin City, on a journey between here and there, waiting for the man—actually, the bus.

And yes, the vindaloo, always the vindaloo curry. The platter arrived with chunks of potato, a pair of moist and currified drumsticks and some boney thigh on which to chew. The curry was earthy and spicy but not nuclear, a little on the thick side and with an undercurrent tomato tone that stayed around awhile.

A Frisbee of crunchy-chewy garlic na’an played the role of sauce clean-up crew—and if you asked me to pick favorites, I’d give the nod to the na’an. The menu’s got all the Indian usuals—biryani to tandoori and beyond—and salmon pakora is at the top of the to-order list next time.

<1>BBQ n Curry House

<1>160H Donahue St., Marin City. 415.289.0786

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Monday, August 18, 2014

Wagyu beef, chicken fried chicken and more at Taste of Petaluma

Posted By on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 8:00 AM

Wagyu beef at Seared
  • Wagyu beef at Seared

The annual Taste of Petaluma draws about 1,000 curious diners to the city of butter and eggs, and this year is primed to be the largest in the event's history, says organizer Laura Sunday.

“This year we have the most restaurants ever participating,” she says during a preview tour last week. Over 100 different participants will be offering food at over 50 locations in downtown Petaluma this year, with options ranging from high-end steakhouse cuisine to traditional diner fare.

Glazed ribs at Zodiacs
  • Glazed ribs at Zodiac's
Zodiac's is the site of this year's after party, a first for the Taste of Petaluma. Also a participant in the food tour, the restaurant and bar is offering braised baby back ribs with mango coleslaw. The meaty ribs are sweetened with a house made sauce that gives them a tasty Carolina-California hybrid flavor.

Seared Steakhouse is celebrating its one-year-anniversary this year, after taking over the former Graziano's space downtown. Their offering is a surf and turf of South American-style ceviche on a tortilla chip and Asian-style Wagyu new york served rare on a house made potato chip. The beef is more like land sushi, melting in the mouth like it's made of butter.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Fire’d Up at Cochon 555

Posted By on Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 9:28 AM

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Heritage Fire by Cochon 555, the Valley’s premier hyper-local, whole animal live-fire outdoor food and wine event, returned this last weekend to Napa’s Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena. A cavalcade of roasted meats was on hand, and renowned local restaurants from Ad Hoc to Zazu dished out succulent treats on small plates. Wineries from around the Valley accompanied the culinary outpouring, themselves pouring generous tastings of their seasonal varieties, often offering a white or red, depending on your palate.

Really, though, this event was all about the meat. A line of open fire pits snaked across the back row, next to Krug’s grape vines. Whole pigs, ducks, rabbits, even seafood was laid out on grilling racks. The diverse array of edible options began with sliced salamis and pates. There were even scrumptious donut holes with foie gras inside, maybe the tastiest dessert at the event. The main dishes were all incredibly imaginative. The Beef Cheek Carnitas with pork belly and avocado salsa was a melt-in-your-mouth experience. Peking Guinea Hen wrapped in a steamed bun was served with Kim chi for an Asian influenced dish. Whole roasted rabbit was served along side a bunny bratwurst hotdog in a bun for a most traditional American experience.

New this year were seminars hosted in the carriage house at Krug, with presentations on fire and cheese, and a preview of the Food First series debuting on PBS in September. Also new this year was the Chef’s Pantry, an open market where the local producers and farmers that these Chefs depend on had their goods available to the public. Lastly, he Pop-up butcher shop was offering five pound steaks at a hundred bucks a pop when I walked by, tempting to say the least. All in all, it was a perfect day of fire and meat under the big oak trees.

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Friday, May 2, 2014

Review: CIA Launches 'Eat, Drink, Learn' Winemaker Dinner Series

Posted By on Fri, May 2, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Chef Russell Scott and winemaker Rob Mondavi
  • Chef Russell Scott and winemaker Rob Mondavi

Rob Mondavi makes some damn good wine—but you already knew that. The news might be that he’s equally as adept at talking about the process.

At the first in the new “Eat. Drink. Learn.” series last night at the Rudd Center at the CIA’s St. Helena campus, we learned the winemaker and son of Michael Mondavi (yes, of the famous Napa wine family) did not rest on his laurels after the family winery was sold in 2004, instead he set out to make wines under a new label that represented his family. There’s Isabel, the line crafted with to mother’s tastes; M, the classic, bold cabernet made with his father in mind; and Emblem, a line for he and his sister’s modern, more adventurous spirits.

Part winemaker, part Tony Stark doppelganger, Mondavi detailed the process of each of the six wines we tasted, from soil to maturity. The hour-long session never dragged, thanks in part to Mondavi’s energized presentation, passion and lack of PowerPoint slides. He answered questions and offered the personality behind the wines rather than force feed predetermined tasting notes, allowing, for the most part, the wines to speak for themselves.

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The standout for me was the last wine, the Emblem Oso Passito NV 2012. It’s a dessert wine, in the way that it’s sweet, rich and is sold in small bottles. But this wine is more than just a nice finish to a great meal, it’s contemplative and deep, great for any time of day, and it does not have to be chilled. Its grapes are dried on the vine, and it’s quite labor intensive, but the result is well worth the work.

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After the lecture was a meal prepared by Russell Scott, CIA education dean and one of only 66 Certified Master Chefs in the country.

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Pliny the Younger Release Draws Crowd Despite Rain

Posted By on Fri, Feb 7, 2014 at 1:16 PM

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The annual release of Pliny the Younger by Santa Rosa’s Russian River Brewing Company was not dampened by rain today, with hundreds lining up around the block to taste the triple IPA style beer many refer to as “the best beer in the world.”

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Taylor Maid Opening This Weekend

Posted By on Thu, Aug 22, 2013 at 12:28 PM

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There’s a buzz at the Barlow, and it’s not just from the press. Taylor Maid Farms Organic Coffee, one of the largest boutique roasters in the North Bay, is opening its flagship coffee bar at the new commercial complex Saturday, Aug. 24.

The roaster began in Sebastopol in 1993, when organic coffee was almost unheard of in a world where Starbucks was often the only roaster that could tell the origin of its beans. Now, it’s snobbishly hip to ask “where are your beans from?” Taylor Maid call tell you that as well as the climate, method and roasting style of their beans. And they’ll grind and brew cups to order.

The coffee bar and roaster hosts a celebration August 24, 2-5pm with munchables from Undercover Baking Agency, Cookle Take-A-Bite, East West Café and brews from Lagunitas and Revive Kombucha. There will be games, raffle prizes and a DJ spinning your favorite tunes from the 90s (here’s an early request for some Limp Bizkit, Mr. DJ). Nineties attire is encouraged. Pshh, yeah, whatever.

Taylor Maid Farms Coffee Bar & Roastery is located at 6790 McKinley Avenue, Suite 170. 707.824.9110.

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: Cochon 555 Heritage Fire Napa

Posted By on Mon, Aug 12, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Not an Ozzy album cover

I took an extra long shower this morning. It’s not so easy to get deep, penetrating smoky meat aroma out of one’s pores with just one scrub, and considering where I was yesterday, I might be taking another shower in the middle of the day.

Cochon 555’s Heritage Fire event at Charles Krug Winery in St. Helena celebrates chefs who specialize in cooking a whole animal, over open flame, with just the right amount of crazy-eye to make it look like they’re having too much fun. The carnal display of butchery drew groups of salivating, bloodthirsty human savages to the demonstration station, eyes glued to the knives carving up cuts of whole pig, goat and rabbit as if they were watching the Super Bowl. Abundant wine and hard cider didn’t hurt the desire to watch, either. There’s something alluring about raw meat, and I think that’s what the organizers of this event have figured out.

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We started off with a nice juicy pinot and the first food in our path was heirloom tomato salad from the Culinary Institute of America (which is located across the street from the winery). Then we had lovely toast with cheese and other toppings from Jacobsen Orchards. I was beginning to get worried that the meat wasn’t ready yet, or that we had misunderstood the idea of the event and it was somehow, for some ungodly reason, celebrating the absence of meat.

But the next table over had lobster salad, and next to that was a crispy fried beef tendon. Once the tendon flavor hit my taste buds, I could feel the transformation taking place. My placation of vegetables and their place in society jumped out the window, tumbled down a mountain and sunk to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. My eyes rolled back into my head and reemerged as white orbs with beady red pupils in the shape of a cleaver. I had a sudden urge to watch “American Psycho” and “Gangs of New York” simultaneously.

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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Warren Wonka Auctioning Off Tour of See's Candy Factory

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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I’ve always thought the Willy Wonka scenario, where an eccentric candy maker holds a contest to win a tour of his mysterious factory and a lifetime supply of its beloved chocolate by issuing golden tickets in five random chocolate bars around the world, was a genius idea. Even seeing it for the first time as a child, I asked my parents if it was real because if so, I wanted to go buy that chocolate. Well, if someone’s willing to give me about $75,000, I could actually come close to that dream.

The auction for a tour of the See's Candy factory in South San Francisco (with unlimited tasting) is currently bid up to $40,000, though it’s estimated value is $75,000. That’s a lotta chocolate, but the exorbitant price is really for the tour. You see, See’s is like Wonka’s chocolate factory: noooobody ever goes in. And nobody ever comes out. Well, I’m sure the employees do, and probably other relevant people, but not the general public. Though if I worked there I might just set up a little cot next to the dark truffle station at night and never come out.

The tour is for up to four people and includes a meet-and-greet with Warren Buffet. Buffet, probably the smartest investor on the planet, bought See’s for $25 million in 1972. In 2011, it made $376 million, and $83 million of that was pure profit. He won’t be leading the tour, though. The guy doesn’t make the chocolate, he just makes the money from it. He will, however, show the proper way to eat a Bon-Bon, which will make for a great story to tell at every food event ever. “You had dinner with the Dalai Lama? That’s cool, but let me tell you about how Warren Buffet showed me how to eat a Bon-Bon…”

This is a great idea, but here’s an even better one: just copy the Willy Wonka scenario. Mr. Buffet, I promise you will sell SO MUCH candy that it will be worth leading the tour yourself. Just don’t make it about finding a young boy to take over your candy factory, and refrain from taking a crazy flying elevator out through the glass ceiling and flying around town (insurance, as you know, would be a nightmare for this). All I’m asking is to be the official media correspondent for this tour. I’ll need a photographer as well, but I’ve already got one lined up. We most graciously accept your offer in advance. You have my contact info. Let’s make it happen.

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Friday, July 12, 2013

The Forgotten Waldos: It All Started in San Rafael

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2013 at 12:09 PM

They weren't trying to get famous. They weren't looking for attention. They were, however, in existence, and they mattered. They were the Waldos, a group of San Rafael high school students, and they were reppin' Marin County like nobody's business. In fact, it was nobody's business, especially if you were the fuzz out to bust them for what they were up to. "Smokin'," "blazin'," "weed," "marijuana." Didn't matter what you called it, the Waldos just wanted to have a good time, and 4:20 pm seemed like a suitable time to do so. So they did.

Now, Sweetwater Brewing Company has an issue with this so-called "420" label, but the Waldos are too hardcore to take up a complaint with, so Sweetwater decided to accuse Lagunitas Brewing Company of ripping off its trademark label.

Wait, huh?

Exactly.

Yesterday, Lagunitas announced its dropping of any future use of the term "420" in its labeling after the Atlanta brewery claimed a trademark on the term. Sweetwater has a long-standing pale ale known as “420” and founder Freddy Bensch was angered when he learned of Lagunitas' use of the term, such as in its seasonal beer known as “The Waldos' Special Ale."

How could a shout-out to the Waldos, the widely-attributed "420" founders, be taken as stealing a trademark that wasn't the company's to begin with?

In a series of Tweets, shown below, following a letter received by Bensch, Lagunitas founder Tony Magee pokes fun at the idea of "stealing" the marijuana-term.

Magee shows off his witty humor and even asks if his company's change will let Sweetwater win, because, who really wins in this dispute? Certainly not the Waldos, who weren't even asked how they felt about the situation. No big deal though. Competing companies will always have something new to argue about.

The infamous stoners will simply go mellow out somewhere at 4:20 pm, knowing the truth, and blow more smoke into the haze of ignorance.


































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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Boudin Gives Away the Dough

Posted By on Thu, Jul 11, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Tent City in Montgomery Village
  • Tent City in Montgomery Village

I went to sleep last night with yeasty dreams full of sourdough skies, piloting a yellow submarine through a claymation sea of clam chowder in a giant bread bowl. I admit, I wanted free bread. I thought I could have it by waking up early enough and driving to Boudin, where they were giving away free bread for a year to each of the first 100 people in line to celebrate their grand opening of the Santa Rosa restaurant. Just as I was getting the hang of the submarine’s controls, after I had nailed Ringo with a really good zinger about ratamacues, my alarm goes off. I awake in darkness and pick up my phone angrily. My sassy finger swipe to turn it off says, “Bitch, please, there ain’t even light outside.” But I get up anyway, throw on clothes and a sweatshirt, grab my camera and head out the door.

There are people sleeping in tents, sleeping bags and under blankets as I pull up to the well-lit parking lot of the new store. “I’ve got a shot, there aren’t too many people here,” I think as I walk up to what looks like the end of a short line. A man wearing a large beard and a laminated badge with the number 53 on it smiles at me as I ask, “Is this the end of the bread line?” He replies in the negative, informing me that all the spots were filled last night by 10pm. There was no line, but everyone had to stay in the parking lot. Several other people came and asked the same question to any waking souls around this time, but I stuck around to chat with a few lucky carb-o-loaders.

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