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.
I am terribly fond of martinis, Edward Gorey, and sleeping with many pillows.
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Michael Procopio's Latest Posts
No longer will I over-complicate my feelings toward cherries. I will do my best not to think of them as symbols of transitory beauty, who in desperate need to retain their youth, turn to alcohol for support. Instead, I will eat them and enjoy them as they come. And when I dip into a brandied one or two come winter time, I will no longer view them as Helen Lawsons-in-a-jar.
And it’s also due to the fact that I now understand where Thousand Island dressing is coming from. There is nothing tropical about it. Its success can be traced to a thrifty 19th Century New York housewife, a famous stage actress accused of getting a little too hot and heavy with her co-star, and a hotel magnate whose most famous hotel gave its name to another salad.
What the hell does it take to get a great waiter in this town? I have had so few. The only answer I could come up with is this:
Luck. Pure, unholy luck.
It doesn’t seem to matter much what type of venue you are patronizing. High end restaurants are no guarantee of great service, though one’s expectations are higher when there.
Having never been a fan of big business (or big business guys, for that matter), it struck me as odd that I should want to make something that pays homage to the grandfather of corporate culture and American oil-dependence. Of course, Rockefeller also donated vast sums of money for education (he was instrumental in the founding of both the University of Chicago and Spelman College, for example) and was dedicated to the eradication of both hookworm and yellow fever.
So there you have it.
My copy of Lebovitz’s book is already stained (with coffee) from just looking at it. It’s the best type of food porn available: high production values (great recipes and gorgeous photography by Maren Caruso); a cast of stars (Chocolate Orbit Cake, Kumquat Sticky Toffee Pudding, Apple-Quince Tarte Tatin) that are hot, but not out of reach; and a writer who supplies, if not a story line, then enough anecdotes to keep me interested (The Racine’s Cake recipe was, after all, found written on a men’s room wall). It’s one sexy book.
It was faintly powdery– more like a rice cake than a piece of the Son of God. I had somehow imagined it would take on the some Everlasting Gobstopper-like ability to taste like something other than it was. But I had no time to be disappointed– I was too filled with awe. And God.
The whole notion of kiddie cocktails centers around their ability to allow children to participate somewhat benignly in adult cocktail culture– preparing them in a sense for their futures as alcohol-swigging grown-ups to whom they look up, both physically and morally.
Maybe they’re not so benign, after all.
The idea of the Shirley Temple Black is entirely upside down. It is a drink that allows me to mix and mingle with the wee ‘uns from time to time without having them point at my Manhattan and ask what’s in it. With an innocent-looking, yet boozy Shirley Temple Black, I can gently tone down those shrieks of bouncy castle delight, or steel myself for the twenty-seventh consecutive screening of Thomas the Tank Engine more or less unnoticed.
At the next children’s party I am obliged to attend, when the host or hostess asks me what I’m having, you know my answer’s going to be:
“I’ll have a Shirley Temple, and make it Black.”
I never thought I had an issue with cauliflower. In fact, I’ve always enjoyed it, whether puréed into a soup, roasted to a nutty brown, or dragged through a bit of ranch dressing that always seems to accompany store-bought party crudité platters. Any time it is put in front of me, there is a good chance I’ll eat it.
And yet I’ve never in my life cooked it. At least, not that I can remember.
I’d see it in the market, buy a head of the stuff and bring it home where it would just rot in my refrigerator, not so much forgotten as avoided.
I’ve gotten as far as placing one on my cutting board, but when I took out my 10″ chef’s knife, I paused, changed my mind at the last moment, and put the thing back into cold storage. For some reason, I just didn’t want to cut up a head of cauliflower. I never gave it much thought until a few months ago.
And then I remembered Ben.
It is my new food crush. Yuba can be pressed into blocks, cut into noodles, fried, eaten like sashimi, and God knows what else. Loving the texture as much as I do, I was even tempted to paper my kitchen walls with it, which would have been lovely for about a day, until it started to decompose. I look forward to playing with it some more, perhaps even making my own.
So, instead of discussing the already discussed-to-death aforementioned film which, in my opinion, is only half a great film, I’m bringing you two wholly great ones: Babette’s Feast (Babette’s Gæstebud, 1987) and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie, 1972). Both films (conveniently enough for today’s topic) won Oscars for Best Foreign Language film. Even more happy-making, they both star one, particular actress– Stephane Audran.
Tapenade. I’ve been an enormous fan of it for years, since I discovered that it satisfies not only my near-constant hunger for salt, but allows me to honor my ancestors without having to try too hard. It’s a flavorful homage with a sharp, French twist, which suits me just fine. It is earthy and basic. Any sort of tarting up should be avoided.