Monday, 21 August 2006
On our trip to San Francisco last week, my family and I managed not one, but two trips to Ton Kiang
, which has possibly the best dim sum I've ever come across.
My Dad turned me on to them a few years back, and it was a particular hit with my son, who's a huge dim sum fan, so we never would have made it out alive without at least paying a quick visit.
I've had a fair amount of dim sum, including places in SFO like Yank Sing, most of the well known places in Seattle and Portland, and even Hong Kong, and I've have to put Ton Kiang at the top of my personal list.
The individual dished are very well executed, and there is a ton of variety, including many dishes you don't see often. They have a whole series of shrimp dumpings, similar to har gau, but including different greens such as green onions, spinach, cabbage, and snow peas. It's well worth it to try them all. The dumplings are all quite small, which is nice because it means you can try more dishes instead of filling up on giant hum bao right off the bat. The fried taro was also exceptional. Not to everyone's taste, but one of my favorites.
Best of all, Ton Kiang is right down the street from the Wirth Brothers' Bakery, which is home to my wife's favorite poppyseed coffee cake in all the world.
I've long heard of this fabled Bay Area Asian fusion restaurant, and last week I finally got a chance to try it. We went to the one in Larkspur, not the one in SFO proper.
E & O Trading Co bills themselves as a "Southeast Asian Grill", but I'd have to go with "Pan-Asian" or Asian-fusion. There were elements from many different regions, including some Korean (great kimchee) which doesn't really count as "Southeast Asian".
They have two different sections to their menu, Small Plates, and Big Plates, and we ordered mostly from the small plates menu and shared around. My favorite dish was mussels in Thai red curry sauce, which made a very nice foil for the mussels. The calimari was also excellent, with a slightly spicy coating, and sweet green chile sauce on the side. My kids both love calimari, so it was a bit of a tussle, but I think everyone got some in the end.
The only downside to the experience was the fact that the restaurant was incredibly loud, but that may have been a function of the fact that it was Friday night, and there was an outdoor festival of some sort going on outside at Larkspur Landing.
E & O also makes a wicked Singapore Sling, if you are a gin fan. In fact, it's pretty sweet, so might appeal even to non-gin lovers. The mai tai was only so-so, but that may be just not my thing.
If you like pan-Asian food, and happen to be in the Bay Area, you will certainly enjoy a trip to E & O.
Monday, 24 April 2006
I finally made it over to Penzeys
in Portland this weekend. It was well worth the trip. I went to their store in Minneapolis many years ago, and have ordered from their web site a number of times, but it’s a much different experience being able to see (and more importantly smell) everything first hand. It’s a very nice little store in a strip mall over on 82nd, which is why I’d never been there. From the hinterlands here in Hillsboro, the other side of Portland is a good 45 minutes to an hour away, so it’s not a casual trip. I stocked up an some of their fantastic pepper (so good that after grocery store pepper you’ll find yourself thinking “wow, pepper tastes like that
?”) and some Ceylon cloves that are quite a bit bigger than the usual ones you see in the store. Powdered ginger, galangal, Mexican oregano, and ground Moroccan coriander were among my other purchases. The hardest part is resisting the urge to try one of everything. I was sorely tempted by the Russian sausage seasoning, which smelled really good. On the way back (since I was all the way out there an everything) I stopped by Bob’s Red Mill for some excellent grain products. When we moved a couple of months ago, I dumped large portions of my pantry, so I’m rebuilding all those staple ingredients I’m used to having on hand.
Monday, 03 April 2006
This weekend Vikki and I got a chance to go to a Scotch tasting event put on by the Scotch Malt Whiskey Society of America. It was held in the very lovely Ranier Club in Seattle. We had fun getting dressed up and hobnobbing over dinner, lots of Scotch, and cigars (although under WA state law, you couldn’t actually smoke the cigars ). While not an inexpensive event, it was an oppurtunity to try some Scotches I otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. I’ve been known to buy the (very) occasional ~$100 bottle of Scotch, but $250 – $300 is pretty much out of my price range. Some of the real standouts were the Balvennie and Highland Park 30yr., the Balvennie 25yr., and a Talisker special addition 175th anniversay bottling. The kind of stuff that would run you $25–$30 a shot in a bar, if you could find it. The Macallan 17yr “Fine Oak” was also very nice, as was the Glenrothes “Special Reserve”.
Anyway, much fun, good food, good friends, and some truly amazing Scotch to boot. What’s not to like. If you get a chance, and you’re into such things, check out their calendar of events on the website for a venue near you.
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