A popular topic at Bay Area Bites, East Oakland’s Lao cuisine has been featured in previous coverage. This roundup focuses on other fine Lao restaurants located throughout Oakland, San Pablo, El Sobrante and Albany.
Archive for February, 2010
Do Canadians eat anything that is distinctly Canadian? What, if anything, defines Canadian cuisine, let alone Canadian breakfast? Poutine? No, that’s Quebecois, which simply won’t do since, Olympically speaking, it smacks of Montreal and is therefore too 1976 for my tastes. I cornered a Vancouverite the other evening at work, asking her if she could help me think of anything that was distinctly Canadian and, more specifically, British Columbian I could prepare. All she could come up with were Nanaimo bars. At least it was something. I decided to stop asking questions when her boyfriend suggested Hawai’ian pizza might do, since it had Canadian bacon on it.
Nothing says comfort food like a chicken pot pie. After all, this relative of the savory meat pasty contains the homiest of ingredients: butter crust and gravy (oh yeah, and chicken too). As I mentioned last week, making a pot pie is a great way to use leftovers from a roasted chicken. But you shouldn’t think of this dish as only a method for getting rid of that dark meat or white meat no one wanted on baked chicken night. After all, pot pies — with gravy bubbling out of the cracks of their buttery crusts — are so good that I often roast a chicken simply so we can have pot pies the next day. And, unlike other dishes, this meal tops the favorites list for both kids and adults alike, so everyone is happy on chicken pot pie night.
February 14, 2010. Doily valentines, conversation hearts, and sugar-coated smooches, step aside. This year, you’ll have to share the spotlight with the Tiger. On New Year’s Eve, Asian families all over the world will be celebrating with a dinner feast full of dishes that will bring good luck and prosperity into the new year.
To play with the idea, I’ve come up with a few unique fast food concepts — inspired appropriately by San Francisco — to diversify the field.
Offal promises to stay hot in the food world. Falafel is a fast food Americans outside of cities don’t know or trust yet. I was thinking a restaurant serving both could be both excellent and successful. Chris Cosentino and the proprietors of Old Jerusalem would have to consult. I would call it Fal-off-All in honor of Chik-fil-A and serve lavash wraps stuffed with fried sweetbreads, kidneys, and liver.
Los Angeles-based SusieCakes has been open about a month in the Bon Air Shopping Center in Marin, and I’ve been meaning to visit with each passing day. I was doing errands in the area the other day and decided to stop in and see what all the fuss was about. I’d heard about their “frosting-filled cupcakes” and I thought it was a genius idea for all of us who use the cupcake as a socially acceptable excuse to eat frosting. And lots of it. What I didn’t expect to find was the huge celebration of Valentine’s Day in full effect–from sweet little cookies to festive whoopie pies.
But there was something else tucked into that crispy tortilla which made my tongue heated up. A lot. He threw in peppers. Scotch Bonnet peppers. Craig and his girlfriend Shannon had just started dating and were trying to out-macho each other on the Scoville scale. As an occasional participant in their bizarre, heat-related courtship ritual, I considered myself a wimp when it came to such things, but I continued to eat. My eyes burned, my nose began to run. After a couple of bites, I was in discomfort; after a couple more, I was in pain.
The gulping of hot tea did nothing to help. The swishing of orange juice around my gums only seemed to spread the heat everywhere. I had never eaten anything so hot in my life. It was horrible, yet oddly delicious. And then something unexpected happened.
Now I realize that many people don’t like to make a whole chicken because they think it’s difficult and time intensive. But, just like pudding and pancakes, nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike boneless and skinless breasts, which often need to be dolled up in a pan with other ingredients because they become dry and a bit tasteless when baked on their own, a whole chicken is a simple endeavor that has juicy results. In the name of full disclosure, I need to admit that baking a chicken takes between an hour and an hour and a half, but other than the first 5-7 minutes of prep work, this is all baking time.
I’m excited about the Super Bowl, not just because the game should be good, but because party hosts all over the country will have such a stellar culinary tradition to mine for inspiration. The kitchen table face-off on Sunday will be as interesting as the on-field action: on one side, offerings from one of America’s most storied indigenous food cultures — and on the other, perhaps a cornucopia of delicacies from a less-celebrated bastion of gastronomic excellence…
I set out researching some free Wi-Fi which brought me to the following neighborhood gems in the NOPA/Western Addition neighborhood. While the free Wi-Fi is what initially attracted me to these coffee shops, I love each for different reasons and still go frequently despite the fact that the wireless is up and kickin’ at home.