LA hound long weekend roundup. thanks hounds!
after an extremely helpful dialog with the SF hounds here:
this is what i did:
friday night i drove up to santa cruz and hung out with one of my best friends who is a professor over at the UC. we drank til 6am.
drove up to woodside and ate home cooked jia jiang noodles for lunch with my dad uncle and aunt. picked up my friend and booked it out to napa valley. arrived and met my friends at zuzu around 4pm where we had fancy beers and some tapas (bachalau, skirt steak and boquerones) all was tasty...
we then booked out of there and headed to white rock caves where my buddy has 15 barrels of petite syrah gettin good.. we thieved some young juice and tasted his current wine which is tannic to the max.
i then headed out with my date to ad hoc for dinner. the place is nice, the food is well prepared and of obviously good quality ingredients, but kind of uninspiring.... we had an ice berg lettuce wedge salad with lardons and a nice dressing.
strawberry hill braised beef was good but somewhat boring.
cowgirl creamery cheese course was delicious
and ended with a do it yourself sundae of home made ice cream peanuts, chocolate sauce and a caramel sauce... my date literally picked up the caramel sauce container and drank it! this gave me an immediate boner.
after dinner we drove down to bouchon (it was cold!) and met friends for oysters and wine. (four of us ate 60 oysters! i tasted the boudin blanc which was good and the sysco fries were good too.. there were all sorts of napa valley wine power players there that i met but didn't know who they were... auctioneers, wine list award winners, wine makers etc. the food and vibe was as i expected. good shit!
sunday morning i had brunch at canteen with my dad. i had papardelle with veal meatballs and my dad had some type of fish (trout?) with a mild curry sauce on potatoes with a poached egg....
i didnt like the amount of cream in the papardelle, and the veal meatballs and the curry breakfast dish i thought the flavors could have been revved up a bit.... still, its a good 12 dollar brunch, but i guess i was expecting a bit more...
in the afternoon i trucked it out to tomales bay and waited for my fucking friend for an hour but his alfa gtv broke down and i shucked oysters by my lonesone and that bastard had the booze too! i ate 25 kumamotos. (all the other types besides the pacifics were sold out) then went to the marshall store had a 1/2 dozen baked and a 1/2 dozen raw and a small bowl of clam chowder... needless to say i was stuffed....despite being alone, the drive was nice and was fun shucking oysters for the first time. went to my friends house in oakland and had some wine then did a pub crawl... ended the night at el farolita with the gauchos, hookers and indie hipsters and an al pastor torta which was inauthentic but delicious...
monday i had lunch at PPQ... beef papaya salad and a pepper crab... i was the only one eating crab because my friend was not feeling well, however i managed to eat about 75 percent of it but ultimately was defeated by that delicious bastard.
dinner was at incanto with two friends. we had the piedmont flight and the toscana flight.
lets see if i can remember the dishes:
frisee salad was good.
qual with liver crostini. the quail was sort of dry, but the crostini was pretty good.
the mosciame was painfully salty.. my friend drank like 5 glasses of water just after this.
we had an appetizer portion antipasto plate which i enjoyed.
capellini with steelhead roe was good.
pigs trotters with foie gras was very rich. and to me tasted a bit like bad chinese food. i guess i'm used to having my pigs feet with structure. i like the chew of the tendon and when its all gooey, to me it just isn't that appealing... i've had cueritos cemitas sandwhiches which i thought was similarly gooily oppressive. i've had mario batalis crispy pigs trotter "cake" which i think benefits from having a textural counterpoint. i guess its unfair to compare italian to chinese cooking.
i didn't really like the wine flight much but i think that i've totally spoiled myself for wine in the past month...
hit the road at 10pm, got home at 3am, and got to work at 7.
i wont be driving to SF again anytime soon! i'll stick to flights thank you!
the weather was amazing and as usual i had a great time and will be back sooner than later...
oh yes, the olafur eliasson show fucking kicked ass!
thanks, i was rolling out with my dad. so it was sort of a road trip and, i wanted to roll through santa cruz too.. but yes. virgin america and jet blue all the way!
if you're interested, i'm also writing individual, slightly expanded, restaurant reviews on my "blog" which you can link to on my profile...
Funny ... I'm sure Keller is turning in his grave (which you put him in) for the 'sysco fries' comment about Bouchon.
Glad you got home in one piece ... good travel time ... missed the traffic everywhere. Good strategy for your Santa Cruz stop.
Thanks for reporting back. Also, if you get back up this way we have an idea about what you do or don't like so can give better advice (just link back to this report)
well they are sysco fries are they not?
i believe thats been reported on and "neither confirmed nor denied" by staff when i asked if that was true or not.
and yes, perhaps it was a case of high expectations not being totally met... of course. it was a great trip overall and none of the meals were that expensive and i was with good friends...
New York magazine quoted Keller a year ago:
"One of the top reasons Bouchon uses frozen French Fries is consistency. The quality of the frozen fries we use, and that of frozen fries in general today, is very good. We use fries which are 100% potato, which do not contain additives. The consistency in these fries is often better than that of fresh potatoes.
"The second reason is capacity. Bouchon would need to use over 200 pounds of potatoes a day to fulfill French Fry orders. In addition to space in the kitchen, it would require an exorbitant amount of manpower to process this large of an amount of potatoes into useable French Fries."
re: Robert Lauriston
Never knew that. Well, I don't want to use an exhorbitant amount of my money to pay for frozen french fries at Bouchon then. I can get that at McDonald's for less. Thanks for the info. Why would anyone want to buy frozen french fries at Bouchon then ... they do something special that McDonald's doesn't ... or am I just paying for the atmosphere? Heck ...even In-N-Out uses fresh potatoes ... and I'm sure they have less room than Bouchon and sell more each day. They don't seem to have a consistency problem and they have HOW MANY restaurants?
$4.25 isn't a lot for an order of fries at a restaurant where entrees are $22-30, and $32 isn't a lot for a good steak-frites.
For french fries, freshness isn't the issue it is with most vegetables. You don't want truly fresh (i.e. new) potatoes, they have too much moisture. Russets, which work best, have typically been in storage for months. And for best results you need to soak them in chilled water for a few hours to dissolve the surface starch.
Given all that, plus the fact that russet potatoes freeze well, it seems perfectly reasonable to me that frozen might give more consistent results. Especially if Thomas Keller says that was his experience. Anthony Bourdain grudgingly concluded that Bouchon's fries were the best he'd ever had, edging out his own. And modernist liked them, too.
In N Out's fries are no good, though, and part of the reason is the fresh potatoes (and the way that they treat them). You can make great fries with fresh potatoes, but as Robert says, you need to soak them in chilled water for a while, then dry them well, in order to do it, and In N Out's fries aren't good because they don't do any of that. I can see why Bouchon may not have the capabilities in their kitchen to store the fries in chilled water for a while, then dry them, then fry them perfectly...but I'm glad that there are other restaurants that do.
Hilarious read. Thanks for the report back. I'm sorry to hear that you didn't fall in love w/ any one meal or dish during your visit; sounds like you were underwhelmed by some of the places that I've really liked--Canteen and Incanto, in particular, although I've ordered different dishes. One thing's for sure--you can eat a helluva lot of shellfish! Next time when you visit Santa Cruz during crab season, go down to the yacht harbor during the late afternoon and fetch some live ones off of the boats and steam at your friend's house. Pure and simple...
For something cutting edge and of course on the pricey side, you could try the chef's tasting menu at Manresa in Los Gatos on your next visit. Cheers!