Oakland Farmer's Market & Dim Sum
Melanie, Jennifer, Tida, Ruth, Alex and I had a lovely outing/field trip yesterday to the Oakland Farmer's Market and then Jade Villa for dim sum. It's so much fun to hang out with Chowhounds who can do lunch on a weekday!
We bought many varied purchases at the farmer's market - Thai basil, Thai eggplants, lemongrass, Italian basil, green and wax beans, heirloom tomatoes, ciopinni (sp?) onions (which I realized when I went to bake them last night, I'd left on the farmer's scale - bummer! Oh well, it was too hot to bake anyways), salted duck egg, lychees (not from market but from a store just down the street in Oakland Chinatown), and I can't remember what else. I know Alex had gotten some greens that none of us had cooked before.
There was a piroshki vendor there I hadn't seen before. Didn't get a chance to buy any but had a taste and am looking forward to going back and getting a few for the freezer.
Didn't get a chance to stop at Swan's market for sausages or anything (but last week I got some boudin blanc there - both plain and hot and would highly recommend them. We grilled them and they were moist and delicious and the spicy-hot ones were hot!)
Plus Dibrova has a booth/stand at this market selling their sausages in packages and also grilled as sandwiches. Love their spinach/chardonnay sausages.
Then we did the dim sum. Unfortunately none of us took notes (too busy eating!) so I don't have a list of dishes but from what little I know of dim sum they were pretty standard ones (or at least some of them were the ones I've had before). Maybe someone else can jump in with a better desription of dishes and comments?
Based on my enjoyment of lunch (the company and everyone's stories made it alto of fun!) I'd go back to Jade Villa. Prices seemed reasonable (came out to about $12 each for more food than we could eat) and service was fine.
We kicked around ideas for more get togethers and all agreed we have so many ideas and not enough time!
Happy eating all!
I'm sorry I missed the farmer's market part of the day. All your greens looked so exotic and spanking fresh.
First off, I must congratulate the group on snagging a prime spot in the restaurant only a table away from the kitchen. Almost always, we got first dibs on what was coming out hot and freshly made. I was impressed by Jade Villa's service - the cart ladies were pleasant and the couple requests we made for items not in circulation were brought out promptly.
The stars on the table were the siu mai, shark's fin dumpling (with none in evidence), pan-fried shrimp stuffed bell peppers, fried tofu sheets stuffed with shrimp, pan-fried turnip cake, steamed pork buns, and pan-fried chive dumplings. I also like the steamed pork ribs with black beans and chili. These are cut from the very tender small end on the cartilagenous part of the rib. But I noticed that I was the only one eating this. Perhaps the pool of greasey juices (typical) they were sitting in was a deterrant, but nevertheless they were as tasty and succulent as any. The other things that looked good on the carts but we didn't order were the snowy white blanched chicken feet and the feathery illium.
After choosing some tasteless fried tofu, soggy deep-fried shrimp pockets, and less than decent taro balls, we quickly stopped ordering the deep-fried items. With the exception of the rolls of tofu sheets, the fry station isn't using hot enough oil and the fried items are coming out oil-saturated and heavy. Another clunker was the foil-wrapped chicken which was didn't have the fragrant singed character it should and was pasty instead.
For dessert we had the peanut powder covered chewy rice flour cakes filled with black sesame paste. Despite my describing the insides as "sludge" but tasty, Alex wanted to try them and pronounced this delicious. We also had the small size of egg custard tarts warm out of the oven which were made with a butter cookie-like crust. The sesame balls were circulating around the room and starting to ossify so we skipped them this time. Our apologies to Jennifer for denying her the dish of multi-colored jello cubes - we knew she only wanted it for the paper umbrellas.
Many thanks to Jennifer Wilson for organizing #12 in this year's series of Bay Area meets.
re: Melanie Wong
Hey, I had several nibbles of the ribs ... they were delish! I've always liked the small chewy rib bones. They were a bit difficult to pick out of the bowl, though. Maybe people were shy of rooting around with their chopsticks.
I went to the Farmers' Market after lunch and bought some eggplant from a Southeast Asian woman who was a real character. She had a line for every customer: "Beans very fresh ... like you!" was mine, while the women next to me got a line about some other vegetable that was " ... white, like you!"
For those not familiar with the Friday Oakland Market, it's not as chi chi as some of the others. Since it is right next to Oakland Chinatown, it has a higher percentage of producers selling Asian vegetables, a smaller number of organic producers, and lower prices.
re: Melanie Wong
Yeah, I used the butt end of the chopsticks on the seaweed salad.
What I should have done, I realize now, was take the little dish out of the steamer and slide some ribs and juice onto my plate. But with all the lively conversation and food, I wasn't devoting much of my brain to solving food service problems! Next time.
The Oakland Farmer's Market was a revelation! Sweet potato vines, fresh peanuts, small green and white bitter eggplant, tiny bird's eye chilis; quite a few more Southeast Asian treats than I've seen at the Berkeley and El Cerrito markets.
I bought some vine-y greens from one of the Hmong stands and a small bag of tiny bird's eye chili peppers and handed both over to my daughter's Laotian (Mien) babysitter. The vine is similar to pumpkin and a family favorite. She has promised to cook some for me tomorrow, so I'll post the recipe.
Thanks again for organizing Jennifer. And Melanie, what is the name for the peanut "sludge"? ;)
re: Alexandra Eisler
Those vines were so beautiful - please do tell us how you liked them.
The sludge part is actually black sesame paste. This version didn't add so much of the oil, so it was more pasty and less sludgey/liquid. Sometimes it just oozes out when you cut into them. I don't know the actual name, you must have missed my charade with the cart lady asking in broken Cantonese for the sweet rice dessert with sesame oil and dusted with peanut powder. She figured it out, but I forgot to ask here what they're called.
re: Melanie Wong
Success! The unidentified greens are pumpkin vines and Nging promised to cook some for me next week after work, so I can watch. Last night, she left behind a dish of long beans cooked with pork and chilies that absolutely knocked my socks off. Spicy but with a depth of flavor I'm hard pressed to describe.
re: Melanie Wong
I was cleaning out my wallet and found a copy of the check-off dim sum menu from East Ocean -- it includes the sludge dumplings (i.e., "sweet rice dumpling stuffed with black sesame seed"). I'll be happy to give/fax it to you or someone who can render the Chinese characters into Cantonese for you.