Tag Archives: lamb sliders

Go Here, Not There: Counter Culture

“Counter Culture” is neither “here nor there” for the two of us.  Andy’s Corner today ties our last dinner party into one kind of counter culture.  For me it’s all about where we like to eat out.

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The French Laundry restaurant in the Napa Valley

Andy and I are not into fine dining.  We’ve never been to Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Napa (where Valentine Day dinners were priced at $650/person). Nor have we tried the $298/person tasting menu at Quince in SF or the $330/person menu at Single Thread Farm Restaurant in Healdsburg.

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Offering from Single Thread Farm Restaurant in Healdsburg

When we do go out – which is usually for lunch – you’re most likely to find us enjoying a meal at a super-casual little locally-owned spot, often where you order at the counter (Get it?  Counter culture!); it’s likely a place that’s always busy and cozy and bright – as in lots of windows – and with a friendly staff.  Oh, yes, the food should be good and it should be something I wouldn’t want to cook at home.

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“FAR OUT!”  Actually, from Glen Ellen to the coast and back, isn’t that far.  And along the way you can pick from amazing sweet rolls, enchiladas, burgers, bread pudding – then end with fish ‘n chips!  ALL counter orders.  It’s the Counter Culture!

The local owners of special little eating places need and appreciate your support (especially now!).  So if you’re in Sonoma – or visiting Sonoma – try out our recommendations below.  If you happen to be in Fort Collins, CO, you’ll love the Little Bird Bakeshop.  In Crown Heights Brooklyn, go to Peppa’s Jerk Chicken,  AND if you’re in San Francisco’s Financial District during the weekday anytime soon, try out the newest counter order spot: Tacolicious Chico!  Think Tacos de Guisados.  Think Chicken Tinga Tacos or Greens ‘n’ Beans Tacos. Think yum.  Think local.

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Now – what do we not cook well – and often – at home?  Surprisingly enough, I’d say we haven’t mastered the perfect all-beef hamburger. For that, we go to The Picazo Cafe on Arnold Dr in Sonoma…and order a Picazo Burger with extra order of spicy Picazo sauce to go along with it and the fries.  Damned if we can figure out the sauce ingredients – and they’re not about to tell us.  However, there may be hints of sour cream, chipotles, and mushrooms 🙂

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Picazo Burger with extra Picazo spicy sauce

I am crazy about deep-fried Baja-style fish tacos and fish ‘n chips but I don’t deep-fry at home.  So for that we’re off to Fisherman’s Cove in Bodega Bay (where we might also have some raw oysters before we move on to our fish dish).

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Fisherman’s Cove, Bodega Bay

Friends and family visiting us recently can’t say enough good things about El Molino Central on the north edge of Sonoma in Boyes Hot Springs.  We agree that homemade tortillas and chicken enchiladas suiza are not something we’d try at home – and are absolutely d-lish here.  Plus, if I could replicate their refried black beans, I’d be in culinary heaven; apparently lard is a secret ingredient.

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There’s a nice amount of light while we wait for our Chicken Enchiladas Suiza at fun little El Molina Central.

Yeast-y sweet breads are another item I don’t do often at home (though I occasionally get into the bread-making mode).  We’ve got our own little French bakery right here in Glen Ellen – Les Pascals.  Andy’s bicycling group stops there regularly – and small as it is – they manage to accommodate 20+ bicyclists.  Our favorite pastry there?  Kuniaman!

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Kuniaman – from Les Pascals.  SO good!

How can you not love the Water Street Bistro in Petaluma.  We’ve been enjoying their friendly staff, casual vibe – and pastries and bread pudding (served in hot cinnamon-y milk!) – with maybe some quiche and salad on the side 🙂 – for years.

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The friendly counter service at Water Street Bistro in Petaluma

To be honest, we’re not crazy about our homemade hamburgers; but we have two new burger recipes to share – both of which are great.  And we want to remind you to try our Zucchini Turkey Burgers from Yotam Ottolenghi, which are a hit whenever we make them and a hit with our friends who have tried them at their homes.

And as for meatless burgers such as Beyond Meat….I’m not ready to commit yet; I can’t quite embrace their mix of odd ingredients, but I’ll keep reading and experimenting as they evolve (update: an upcoming blog will reveal the unexpected result of my experimentation with meatless meat!).

Finally FYI: I was an English major but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen the word “demonym” before doing this blog.   In researching why we use the word “hamburger” for something which has no ham in it, I found this from Wikipedia: Hamburger in German is the demonym of Hamburg, similar to frankfurter and wiener, names for other meat-based foods and demonyms of the cities of Frankfurt and Vienna (in German Wien) respectively. Continue reading

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