Category: Food - AM Musings
 
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Vega Cafe Blue Bottle Short Americano
My morning coffee at Vega Cafe is the best I can find near my office.  They use Blue Bottle coffee beans, but yet I find that Blue Bottle served at different cafes aren't equally good.  Maybe it's the machine or the barrista, but Vega almost always has a superior brew.

Although individually dripped coffee seems to be the new standard, I stick with the a short Americano which is an expresso with a little hot water.  That way I get this beautiful crema that needs to be sipped before its essense evaporates in the morning air.  What a way to start the day!

 
Bette's Oceanview Diner in Berkeley bustling 4th Street retail area doesn't really have an ocean view, but it have a fantastic apple souffle that Chris almost always orders.  We visited last weekend and the apple souffle is as good as ever.
 
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Buddha's Hand at Monterey Market
Monterey Market in Berkeley on Hopkins Street is off the beaten path, but well-known to Bay Area foodies.  It offers fresh local and unusual produce at very good prices.  A bit grungy, it makes no effort to cater to those who shop at pristine chic boutiques.

Citrus fruits are coming on the market and one of the most unusual are these "Buddha's Hands"  called that because with their multiple digits, they resemble a human hand.  Rare and beautiful.   I've never seen so many in one place.  Check out the Monterey Market  website.
 
You smell it when you walk up to the front  door.  With an open kitchen, you share the fish with the entire neighborhood -- but I like it and the sardines at the fish market looked really good.  I had some garlic chives in the refrigerator so I stuffed the  chives into the sardine and tied a little belt around them with string.  Pan fried them in olive oil, they were good. 
 
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Fat Choy
Happy Lunar New Year 4710!  It's the year of the dragon.  In Cantonese they say gong hay fat choy wishing people happiness  and prosperity.  Pictured above is a moss called fat choy and sounds the same as the words fat choy in gong hay fat choy --  it's traditional to include this in meals at New Years.  

Increasingly expensive, less and less is being used.  Sold dried, it is re-hydrated before using.  This small amount is floating in a bowl of water.
 
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Kim Chee Seasonings
Hawaii has absorbed Asian culinary influences for well over one hundred years.  This seasoning packette produced in Hawaii helps the novice kim chee maker along the Kim Chee path.  I'm still a grasshopper myself, but I don't rely on pre-packaged mixes.  

I show this image more for the graphics as I remember this brand in the Farmers Market  grocery store from my childhood in Reedley, CA.  The yellow blue and red bands evoke a typical Korean aesthetic.  The NOH with the "Chinese" character at the top is instantly recognizable to my eyes.  I saw this at a Chinese grocery store on Clement Street in San Francisco.
 
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Carved chestnuts on display
New Years in our household means a special feast and I do a small part by carving chestnuts to my Mother-in-law's specifications.  After many years, I finally developed a technique where the outer brown layer is removed first.  Only after that is done is the chestnut shaped in this distinctive faceted pattern. 
 
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Galette crust
 

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Ready for the Oven
 

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Apple Galette
I love apple pies, apple turnovers, chausson aux pommes, tart tartins, and apple galettes -- anything with baked apples and a buttery crust.  Chris made two beautiful apple galettes recently and I decided this combination has the perfect ratio of crust to apples.  The single layer of apples seems to cook to just the right degree of doneness just as the crust is browned and flakey.   

A technique she just learned to get a nicely browned crust -- pre-heat a cookie sheet in the oven until hot and set the galette pan on top of the hot cookie sheet. 
 
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La Mission Interior
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La Mission Mexican Grill
Winding up some last minute shopping at Berkeley's 4th Street, we saw that traffice on the freeway was completely backed up.  Not wanting to sit in traffic we decided to have a simple meal in Berkeley before heading over the bridge.  Yelping nearby restraurants brought up La Mission Mexican Grill on University Avenue at Chestnut Street.   

The reviews were tempting so we decided to try it.  La Mission is housed in what looks like a former Taco Bell - not very inviting and although I have passed this place many times, I never considered stopping.  Order at the counter and the food is brought to you.   What a great surprise -- really good food, the best Posozle and Mole, we've had in a long time.  Yelpers got this one right.
 
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Chris's Tart Tartin
Hard to beat Poilane Bakery's Tart Tartin in Paris, but Chris' comes close.  Tart Tartin is a French relative of the traditional American apple pie.  A lot of great recipes don't have too many ingredients.  Instead they depend on the quality of the ingredients and the technique.  This is one.  Our family has a long tradition of making apple pies starting from my father, who worked in restaurants as a kid and young man.  I made them for a while, but not any more. 

The tradition is now carried on by his daughter-in-law Chris.  Did I tell you that Chris makes a great apple pie?