Friday, September 28, 2007

Macarons Part Une

I had a TON of leftover egg whites because I needed a lot of yolks for the wedding food. I didn't want them to go to waste... and despite vowing not to make anything at home for a few weeks, I gave in and decided to make French macarons (not to be mistaken with the coconut macaroons of America)! I had never made them before, nor had I ever even tasted one... so I had to do my research.

According to the lovely internet, there seems to be a lot of people who spend their entire lives trying to perfect the macaron. I extensively read forums on this fragile little cookie, and went through a variety of recipes until I decided to go with Pierre Herme, because he's, well, Pierre Herme! My pastry chef at the restaurant made a sample batter to help me know what to look for - the consistency called "macarone," which basically means... looks like macaron batter... which obviously isn't the most helpful.

They turned out really well, although I think I made the batter a little TOO "macarone" because they came out pretty flat. The picture is of the cookies in a bag ready to show my chef. I was too lazy to take them out and make them look nice =P I will make some more tonight with some tweaks, and maybe make a filling for them to be sandwiched (that's how they're usually served).


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Modern Tea

602 Hayes St. (& Laguna)
(415) 626-5406

Tea Salon/Cafe in Hayes Valley

In place of my sister's bachelorette party, I planned a Spa Day for the day before the wedding. To go with the theme, I arranged to have lunch at Modern Tea (i.e. tea = relaxing). I've walked by this place many a time and have always wondered what it's like.

I must say that it's beautiful on a nice day since they have large windows and the light just pours in. The service is also great - very warm and friendly... the type of staff that reminds me of the comfortable chillness of Berkeley restaurants.

They have quite an extensive tea menu, but they're primarily hot teas. They only had about 5 chilled tea drinks, which was disappointing since it was a pretty hot day. I went ahead and got the iced soy chai which I sweetened to my liking with simple syrup. The two hot teas that my sisters tried were eh... I don't really have a palate for teas, so I can't really go into much detail. I don't remember what they were, either =T But they came in their own individual cute mini teapots!

The food is good here - I love heirloom tomatoes and got a sandwich with just those and cucumbers = light and yummy. My little sister got a chicken meatloaf sandwich (it was strange tasting meatloaf made out of chicken), and a friend got a savory bread pudding = yummmmy. I wish I had gotten that, but I didn't feel like getting anything too heavy.

I would definitely come back and try more of their teas and hopefully become more educated. They are also supposed to have good desserts, but we didn't have time to try them. Next time!


Sunday, September 23, 2007


I've been on hiatus from the interweb because, well, my sister just got married! Normal maid of honor duties... but moreover, I made her dessert table, enough for 220+ guests! Despite taking the entire week off of work, I couldn't have pulled it off without the help of my friends. It turned out beautifully, and I am definitely lucky to have gotten the opportunity to do this regardless of how stressful it was.

Pictures to come, but here's one of my sister's dog eating her food. =)


Friday, September 14, 2007

Cupcakes Must Die

I'm not completely against cupcakes. I mean, I make them once in awhile, mostly because I know people like them. However, it's random that a fashion blog would express my exact sentiments for the last few years.

It amazes me how people can pay so much money for a tiny little cake, even for uninspired flavors. I wonder if they'll ever go out of fashion....


Sunday, September 09, 2007


2221 Broadway St. (& West Grand)
(510) 451-4677

"Taproom" in Oakland (like real Oakland, not Berkeley-Oakland)

So this place is trying to be a neighborhood "brasserie," according to their website... which to me means upscale bar food. That's pretty much what it is, although Mike compared it to A Cote (does not even come CLOSE though). So the experience didn't start off very well, since despite the seemingly spacious area and lack of people there, we had to wait almost 20 minutes for a table when the host told us 10. He seemed nice, but while we were waiting at the bar, the bartender wasn't the most warm or friendly. Maybe it's just me, but it seemed like there was a trend with the female staff (i.e. bartender, waitresses) being cougar-ish and having plenty of attitude. Or maybe I'm just not used to the real Oakland (i.e. not right next to Berkeley, not Jack London's Square). Either way, I was kind of put off by the people there.

However, the food did come through. I'm surprised I've never heard of this place, but it was basically upscale bar food, which reminds me of that Top Chef episode. We had mussels in a cheesy chorizo-corn sauce - I've never seen mussels with that kind of sauce, but it was good. I was amazed by how plump the meat was that I took a very bad camera phone picture (left). We also had some Belgian cut fries with different dipping sauces (paprika ketchup, some kind of lime-herb aioli, and a chipotle aioli) which were ok. Another starter we shared was the seared gnocchi, which came with chanterelles and other butter-laden goodness. I thought this was the best dish of the evening, but I'm also a sucker for anything with chanterelles.

Part of the reason why we went was because I love mac n' cheese, and they have a pretty good one. A crunchy/breadcrumby top is always important to me, and Mike of course splurged and added the $2 bacon. With all that cheeseyness, bacon/fatty meat, butter, and beer (oh yeah, they have a pretty extensive beer/Belgian ale menu), I was about to pass out. But being the gluttons we are, we ordered dessert - an amaretto sabayon that came with some plums and sucky peaches. I can't really tell if they have a real pastry chef or not, because sabayon is something that takes a lot of effort to make (so much whisking!!), whereas the rest of the dessert menu was eh.

Overall, I thought this place had very satisfying food. They did have lighter dishes on the menu, but they were also a little more on the boring side. Although I was impressed with the food despite our mediocre service, I have to say that... I liked it because you cannot go wrong with bacon and cheese, you know what I mean? How can you make something with ingredients like that, and not have it taste good? I definitely enjoyed my meal, but aside from the gnocchi, everything was just overpriced bar food. Oh yeah, they have $1 oysters on Mondays. Sounds a bit sketch, but maybe they have high turnover and they aren't too bad?



1512 Shattuck Ave (& Vine)
(510) 549-3055

Pizza/Cheese in Berkeley

Cheeseboard is one of the true Berkeley staples (the others being Zachary's, Rick & Ann's, Gregoire, etc). If you're wondering, I go to Berkeley maybe like once a month. I'm just nostalgic like that (this time was for Arcade Fire though*). There's always a long-ass line, but it moves quickly since you don't really have to put much thought into ordering (one type of pizza, so you just decide how many slices/whole/half you want). The space is pretty cramped, and is even more so when they have live jazz, but it's a real treat while you're waiting. If you want to eat there, however, you can easily nab a seat if there are any open tables outside, or cop a squat on the grass in the Shattuck median - just don't get run over.

Some people don't like Cheeseboard's pizza because they don't use sauce (i.e. tomato). But you see, that's what's so great about it! It's all about the fresh ingredients of the day, which includes of course, the CHEESE. An example of a typical thin crust pizza of the day would be... 3 cheeses + onions + herbs (+ olive oil). Simple, but delicious. The pizza shop is just an addition to its next door cheese shop (which also sells a lot of drool-worthy pastries...

2:47 PM Michael: i just had the shattuck blue roll from cheeseboard
its a pastry with blue cheese, candied pecans and cream cheese
i think it might be one of the best things ive eaten!)

The location is also great - prime Berkeley foodie area, close to the "gourmet ghetto" (I don't know the real name for this food court... Epicurious I think?), Gregoire, Chez Panisse, etc.

* I've tried to do the whole matching food to music thing, but I just don't have that talent. Arcade Fire, to me, is like a cheese souffle or quiche because their music is so grand and just fills the air (hence, souffle)... whereas other people might think cheese+meat, heavy Eastern European/meat+potatoes, or Guerilla Cafe (??? I love that place, but that just doesn't make sense, sorry haha). So yeah, I'm just not going to try.

** Edit: Stopped by for lunch over the weekend and they've remodeled! I haven't decided how I feel about it yet. It's definitely a glossier and more spacious shop, but I feel like some of its original charm is gone now. Oh well, still good pizza! They had an heirloom tomato + asiago pizza. I had 3.5 slices droool (pictured above).


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Cote

5478 College Ave (& Taft)
(510) 655-6469

Californian/Mediterranean small plates in Oakland

Technically it's Oakland, but I still think of the Rockridge area as part of Berkeley. Regardless, this is an incredible restaurant. I don't know anyone who's dined here and left unsatisfied. Maybe I'm feeling generous, and have just been on reliving-Berkeley-glory-days overload, but I just couldn't think of anything bad enough about A Cote to give it less than 5 stars. The one thing is the hostess. She's kind of spacey - on a recent visit here, my friend and I walked in without a reservation, and after waiting a good 20 minutes, the hostess asked us if we were quiet people, or planning to cause a ruckus. I don't see the relevance in that at all, because the table she took us to was in the back in their outdoor patio area, surrounded by other tables talking loudly... whatever.

Even on a Monday night there was a crowded wait, so it would probably be good to make reservations for a more popular day of the week. The staff is great - our waitress was totally chill and friendly. They have a fairly extensive drink list (separate menus for Belgian ales and rose flights), and we decided to try some Belgian ales on tap. I don't remember what they were called, but one was blonde but pretty thick (Mike really liked that one), and the other was darker and Guinness-like, which I liked, except for the slightly metallic aftertaste. I can't imagine what the $20 bottled beer tastes like.

So this place is small plates style, and the website claims it's Mediterranean cuisine... yet it's just so Californian that I don't really see a strong Med influence. Regardless, the food is amazing.
- "tango salad" w/ hazelnuts, ricotta shavings, pluots (plum-apricot hybrid): the ricotta was sparse but salty enough to contrast the sweetness of the fruit (seasonal is always the best)
- mushroom+leek tart: basically a quiche, this was amazing. I LOVE quiche, and this was not too eggy or cheesy = perfect
- pancetta-wrapped quail w/ porcini bread pudding: the quail was ok (moist, tasted like quail...), but the bread pudding was laden with mushroom and buttery goodness. I had never really had a savory bread pudding before, but I like!
- grilled pork chop w/corn, fava beans, and this cherry sauce: juicy (Mike was in love). Alice would've liked the corn.

We were going to do a cheese course, but by this time, we were both incredibly full. However, being the dessert snob I am, I had to at least try one. I recently took a pastry class on seasonal fruit desserts, and it was coincidental that we went over clafoutis and noyau, which were both on the menu. I'm whatever about clafoutis because it's so easy to make, but noyau gelato? How often do you see that? So we got a "warm peach pie" that had that as an accompaniment, and it definitely hit the spot. The gelato was definitely spot-on for the flavor - basically tastes like almond extract (different from almonds themselves). Simple, but good stuff.

*** Edit: I went here again over the weekend for my sister's birthday, and as a party of 6, we sampled practically the entire menu! Since this restaurant changes its menu seasonally (if not more often), the only familiar item was the fries (pommes frites) which my dad really enjoyed. Since we tried so many different things, I'll just highlight the good ones.

- duck sausage (Karen's fave)
- gazpacho verde (Lucy's fave)
- fig (both green and black mission varieties) & pancetta flatbread
- chanterelles with fingerling potatoes, leeks, and truffle oil * (my fave)
- pink apple galette with mascarpone filling: a tad dry (needed more sauce), but we all liked it
- mussells (dad's fave)

* Mike began his bitterness towards truffle oil after reading this times article on what it's actually made out of. I still like it! =P


September = Summer!

Unlike the rest of the Bay Area (and the country), June-August isn't really summer in San Francisco. Our heat wave comes in September! What better way to kick off this lovely season than with a jam-packed Labor Day weekend?

Mrs. Foodie and the Feast has been on hiatus, partly because she has a bun in the oven! I made the food for her brunch baby shower, with a little help from some of the other ladies there.

L: Orange Oatmeal Pistachio Muffins, M: Deviled Eggs, R: Tea Sandwiches
(smoked salmon + cucumber + herbed cream cheese, garlic & artichoke hummus + olives + sundried tomatoes, chicken salad + apples + walnuts)
Not Pictured but very yummy: Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes! (some were stuffed with breadcrumbs)

L: Pate Sucree Fruit Tarts w/ Vanilla Pastry Cream (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, & white currants),
R: mini chocolate-vanilla cupcakes with cream cheese frosting)

Other weekend activities included a wedding, time with the fam, and the Cal-Tennessee game. I'm blog-happy and made a new one! Another random aside, this song is my official summer anthem. Yay for summer!


Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Barter... Arrrrrr

So almonds are kind of essential in pastry (particularly for tart shells), and one of my coworkers grew up on a nut farm that produces for companies like Blue Diamond. He brought me a ton of almonds (which he pronounces a-mons), and in exchange, I had to make him blueberry muffins. He ate 6 in one day! I was going to bring more the following day but my roommates ate them. Not a bad exchange to an endless supply of amons and walnuts! Sweeeeet