December, 3 pm – Zut!

Sometimes you just have to cast away all manners and enjoy a day in town like a tourist. After a few cups at Teance, Kristen and I were famished. As student I’ve gone lunch-less almost daily without problems, but drinking oolong without lunch is definitely the quickest way to wake up the hungry beast in you. We planned on gorging down pancakes at Bette’s across the street but we missed it by 6 minutes (why on earth do they close at 2:30 on a Friday?), so we dashed back to the other side of the street to Zut with exclamation mark and chose an appetizer and two entrees before the waitress could ask what kind of drinks we wanted. This, in our book, was record fast. However, despite our effort, the food didn’t come out fast enough. On a normal day, we would say the appetizer indeed got out in a really reasonable time, but one thumb-sized stuffed squid plus our extreme tea-induced hunger plus the lack of bread commonly served at Western restaurants really brought out the best of us: we stared longingly in the direction […]

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Duck for Thanksgiving! (Stealing ideas from Double Duck Dinner at Bay Wolf)

Today. Big glistening birds. Crimson cranberry sauce. Mashed sweet potato with a crusty marshmallow top. Green bean casseroles. Gravies. The all-American classic holiday dinner table that every grocery store has a picture of on their website. Once upon a time I was enticed by such beauty, much like how I engulfed a chunk of ham the first time I saw real ham after years of seeing ham in old American cartoons (Tom and Jerry I think?). To be fair, save for the turkey, I do like the marshmallow sweet potato, the green bean casserole, and sometimes the stuffing if the gravies’ done right. But the turkey… I don’t get it. In a bird, the best part is the brown meat: legs, thighs, wings, that’s all. (Ah yes, I love the offals too, but today I’ll speak from the American perspective for a change.) Yet, the turkey leg is a monstrosity of toughness that my weak 20-some-year-old bone-gnawing cartilage-grinding gizzard-and-heart-loving teeth have trouble handling. Were all the turkeys I sunk into Olympic weightlifters or something? Well they have to lift their 30lb+ body every minute anyway, so no wonder. Conclusion: I don’t like turkey(*). I like duck. […]

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The Duck Restaurant in Piedmont

Ever since the steamed duck at Shanghai Dumpling King, I’ve been haunted by the juiciness of a duck done right. When my friend Kristen and I walked down Piedmont looking for dinner, we passed several doors but like shopping for clothes, as Kristen pointed out, none “jumped out” to us. There was one sign that we read “Pork Avenue” and crossed the street all excited for, but it was “Park Avenue“. On the way was also the curiously crowded Fenton Creamery, to me their selections aren’t that interesting. When the street started to look devoid of both restaurants and humans and hope had dwindled from a tteok in tteok bokki to a strand of angel hair, we found Bay Wolf. The duck liver flan and roasted duck with polenta sold us. Bay Wolf specializes in duck. Their menu changes weekly but they always have two duck dishes, one appetizer and one entree. Both sing. Even the polenta was good, must be that honey-lavender gastrique that we had to wipe clean with bread after we ate the duck leg […]

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More Peach? Make Peach Sauce.

[…] now the hand is coming back. And I think that has a lot to do with food. Farming is gonna be hip again and people are going to think about the things they’re contributing to society. […] Hopefully what this is leading to is people learning to shop like all good chefs do: We go and get all the best [stuff] and come home and figure out what we’re gonna make. Italy became cool in the gastronomic world in the ’70s because people went there and the what-the-[stuff] moments or the holy-[stuff] moments were never based on truffles or super-intense technique. It was more like, “God, this is spaghetti and zucchini, and it’s this good?” It was because there was no noise in it. It was spaghetti and garlic and zucchini in season. – Mario Batali, Batali Beat, Lucky Peach Issue 3, 2012 – […]

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Indulge in the dark

Pretty is the right word. Hearsay, or “Heresy” as Aaron calls it for some reason, warms your senses with a large yellow glass chandelier dangling several meters above the bar. The old walls, now lined with artsy thin bricks, bring to mind the image of a mahogany cascade from the high ceiling; tiny specs of light from the chandelier reflect off them like a meteor shower. It feels like a church almost. The only thing that could be remotely heretic here, if you understand “heretic” in its broadest meaning of “being different”, is if you don’t drink and you’re dining with a group of alcohol-appreciating friends just five feet from an alcohol-sparkling bar. Which is exactly what I was doing. But I found plenty of things to occupy myself with, taking pictures of food being one of them, which would not have been possible without the flash light from Harshita’s iPhone (there was practically no light beside the chandelier). Eating was another possible activity. Our group of odd number managed to share the even number of pieces in the Chef Nick’s Appetizer Plate without too much a fight: the beer-batter-fried asparagus is the […]

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Revival in Berkeley with fruit jellies

Thank you, Kristen Sun, my dear friend who has shared many great meals with me in Berkeley and definitely many more in the future, for sharing a post here with us today Halfway through our meal, Mai and I turned to each other and we agreed, “I’m not that full yet” and “I can still eat more.” This was after a small plate of charcuterie (which wasn’t that small) and two small plates, which again, were not that small. It solved, however, the main question that had been bugging us since we arrived at the restaurant: which entrees should we get? And if we get more than one entree, could we still do dessert? Turns out indecision works very well at this restaurant; sampling the diverse offerings of the menu is definitely the way to go! Eating with Mai is always a treat – for the mind and for the stomach! Thank you Mai for the great honor of being a guest blogger for Flavor Bouvelard! Simply put, Revival Bar & Kitchen, located right in the middle of Downtown Berkeley, is gorgeous. The tall ceiling, the rustic decor, the feeling of open space, and best of […]

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Friday afternoon, Bistro 1491

The sky is grey. The ipod plays Gustav Mahler’s piano quartet in A minor. One hand turns the page to Der Prokurator. The other hand maneuvers the fork into a stack of three pancakes. Oozing chocolate chips and a thick strip of bacon. Bistro 1491 sits, in fact, at 1491 Solano Avenue. Somehow I keep thinking that the name is 1941. It feels so. The burn orange walls, the abstract paintings, the white-haired ladies by the window. The pancakes are fluffy, soft, good at first, the bacon is at the right saltiness. The maple syrup errs on the watery side, or maybe it’s just overwhelmed by what’s supposed to be dark chocolate but turns out too sweet. About 60% dark. A heavy feel sets in after the pancakes are gone, what’s left on the plate are messy streaks of brown chocolate and faint yellow syrup. It could almost make a hasty painting. But hasty does not suit this scene. Address: Bistro 1491 1491 Solano Ave (between Santa Fe Ave & Curtis St) Albany, CA 94706 (510) 526-9601 Breakfast at noon: dark chocolate & bacon pancakes – $8.65 […]

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Slice of Happiness and Houston food truck events

If you’re a student, you know the significance of frozen pizza. It comes only second to instant noodles, i.e., packaged ramen, and on some days I might even argue that it’s better than instant noodles in terms of efficiency. There are three sections that I always check when I go to the groceries: the noodles, the ice cream, and the frozen pizza. Yesterday when I first learned of Annie’s, I went to their website and found out that Berkeley Bowl carries their product, so I’ll be looking for it, but if you’re in Houston and got some time to kill this weekend, why not beat me to a slice of “the first-ever-certified organic rising crust frozen pizza”? Annie’s will hold their “Slice of Happiness” tour during lunch hours at four Whole Food locations from this Friday to next Monday: 4004 Bellaire Blvd – Friday, March 23 (11 am – 2 pm), 11145 Westheimer Road – Saturday, March 24 (10 am – 1 pm), 701 Waugh Drive – Sunday, March 25 (10 am – 1 pm), and 2955 Kirby Drive – Monday, March 26 (11 am – 2 pm). The tour will feature their […]

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FIVE and a Flavor Giveaway

Dressed in black and white patterns from walls to chairs, FIVE spots a slightly older, more refined atmosphere for casual hotel dining just above the Berkeley BART station. I meant to go here after someone said that he finally understood the rave behind “chicken and waffle” after he had it during FIVE’s After Hour Happy Hour. If that dry white meat and cake-like bread at FIVE was that good, then surely the other things wouldn’t disappoint. Now nothing on the regular dinner menu costs 5 bucks like the Happy Hour (7-9 pm) nosh, but I got hungry before 7 pm, so I dashed in on what seemed to be a busy night. The hotel is hosting some conference. Nobody wanted to eat with me today, but one beauty of going alone is that you can always get a table. That said, if you have a party of 4 or less and would like to raid FIVE, which you should, I have a FIVE Vip Card “valid for a 20% discount in FIVE” to give you. Here’s how to get it: Leave me a comment below by midnight March 31, and if […]

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At the Waterbar

Going to the Waterbar on a nice-weathered Saturday afternoon is a silly idea: everybody and their twice-removed cousins are also hawking for the same precious seats around the bar to get the 1-dollar featured oysters. It’s crowded. Very crowded. It’s like parking in San Francisco. Mr. Global Eats recommended the place during the weekdays, I heeded not his advice and here we were, standing fidgetily, looking awkwardly at people eating oysters, hoping to stare them out of their seats. A couple finished their lunch date; we three hopped in before the server could even wipe the table clean. Today’s featured victim was the Cove Miyagi, a California native with a “clean lettuce flavor”. The first time I was ever fooled by the juicy appearance of a raw bivalve (an oyster) to eat one, I had to gather every ounce of self control in me to swallow it down. The second time was a raw clam, and it wasn’t a whole lot better, but I knew what to expect. Today was actually the third time, and I had more than one oyster, so I’m proud of myself. Something […]

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