One Word: Marrow

It was a few years ago that my coworker took me to Alameda to visit a food cart that she often frequented. Jon’s Street Eats was the name. I still remember having the grilled asparagus with prosciutto, Parmesan cheese, and a soft boiled egg. Jon was a one man show and it was enjoyable to watch him cook up food out in the open. When Jon’s Street Eats closed awhile back, it was a real disappointment, especially to my coworker.

Several months ago, my coworker excitedly came to me and told me that Jon from Jon’s Street Eats has just opened a tiny restaurant right across from our office called Marrow. His focus is the “whole animal”.
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We had heavy rain last week in the Bay Area and that was really what got me in to Marrow last week. I felt like having soup and I didn’t want to wander far. The soup of the day was split pea soup. The soup was not green in color or smooth in texture like other split pea soups I have had. It came with house cured bacon and a lemon cream. It was delicious!
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The soup was twelve bucks not including tax. Seems pricey, but it did come with a slice of grilled toast and a side salad made of romaine lettuce, pickled onions, radishes, and boiled egg. This salad was fresh and I loved the dressing.
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From the lines out the door at lunch, Marrow seems to be doing well. Jon is serving up flavorful and inventive food. Marrow is located on 17th Street adjacent to the parking lot on Harrison Street. Everyone is eating beef fat fries. What are you waiting for?

Lucky for Me, It’s Crab Season

Friday marked the official opening of Dungeness crab season in the Bay Area. I am very excited because I want to continue to cook my own crab. I steamed a live 2 pound Dungeness crab for the very first time about two weeks ago. At that time, it was probably the largest crab in the tank of Lucky Seafood Market in East Oakland. I think its called Lucky Seafood because its located on the corner of 12th Avenue and 12th Street.
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When I got home, the crab was still alive. I rinsed it a bit before putting it shell down into the largest pot that I had transformed into a steamer. I was a bit nervous that it would not fit, especially the legs and claws. I really had to use the lid of the pot and a pair of tongs to make sure my crab was covered completely and that I would not get clawed. Whew, it fit, but barely. The crab would now suffer a quick and painless death. 🙂
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I put the timer on while I made a sauce for it. Some people like melted butter, but I love crab with a simple soy chili oil. To make this, you would finely chop two or three Thai Chili Peppers and place in a small bowl. Serrano or Jalapeño will work as well. Pour a quarter cup of soy sauce over the peppers. In a small saucepan, heat about two tablespoons of vegetable oil over high heat. When it gets hot in about two or three minutes, pour over the chili and soy. So simple, yet so good.
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After about twelve minutes, I turned off the heat and pulled the crab out and placed it in a bowl so I could dissect the crab. I first removed the top shell. I was told that the gills are not edible so I discarded that next. That left me with the body and legs which I easily broke apart using my bare two hands. Although this was my first time making crab, I have a ton of experience eating it. The meat was soft and very sweet. It was delicious. I was quite proud of my achievement.
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Did I say how excited I am that it’s crab season? Lucky Seafood Market has plenty of other fresh fish if crab is not your thing.
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The Search is Over for Italian in Oakland

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When I consider where to go for good Italian fare, Oakland doesn’t really come to mind, at least not until recently. Desco is a fairly new Italian restaurant in Old Oakland that replaced the short-lived Borgo. Desco has been open for a few months and I have gone twice, once for lunch and once for dinner.

The borlotti salad has greens and beans in a light dressing. I enjoyed the heartiness that the plump beans offered.
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The biete is another salad made of greens, roasted beets, goat cheese, and hazelnuts. These ingredients make for a perfect salad to start off any meal.
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Desco makes thin crust pizzas in their wood-fired oven. On one visit, I enjoyed the margherita pizza with prosciutto on half of it. It had a wonderful crispy chewy crust. I give it two big thumbs up.
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On another occasion, I ordered a white pizza with mozzarella cheese, homemade sausage and broccolini. With some extra red chili flakes I added, this combination was wonderful.
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I also tried the baked eggplant that was presented in a skillet. This was also good, but I think because it was under the heading of “paste,” I assumed there would be some pasta in it.
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The beef loin came with a balsamic wine reduction and grilled potatoes. If you like meat and potatoes like I do, you wouldn’t want to miss this one.
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I tried a few desserts at Desco. My favorite was the zabaglione with strawberries and puffed pastry. I like light desserts especially after a big dinner.
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Although rich, I did enjoy the panna cotta in a jar. I had a few spoonfuls and thought it was creamy, smooth, and delicious.
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The warm chocolate cake with coffee sauce was my least favorite. It was not warm, nothing oozed out, and I didn’t like the texture. It’s okay as next time I can indulge in my own zabaglione.
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I am hopeful that Desco can succeed because I need a go-to place for good Italian food in Oakland.

Philly: Not Just Cheesesteaks

My time in Downtown Philadelphia lasted less than 36 hours, but I still managed to have two great dinners. Both were in the Rittenhouse district.

I had to solely use and trust yelp because my last trip to Philly was many years ago and I didn’t have a lasting impression in terms of food. Yelp really came through again.

My colleague and I arrived in time for dinner Friday night. I found a British pub called The Dandelion. The restaurant is beautiful with various rooms that were themed. I call our room the “horse room,” as there were paintings of horses throughout.
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As an appetizer, my colleague and I shared a pint of prawns which came with cocktail sauce and a lemon mayonnaise sauce. A pint equates to about ten large plump shrimp. The prawns come from the Gulf of Mexico and were super sweet.
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I ordered the popular dish from London, beer battered fish and chips. It was a nice filet of cod that was coated and fried to perfection. The batter was crunchy and the fish was flakey, and melted in my mouth. It looked as if each order of fries was one large russet potato that was sliced thickly. They call it triple cooked. I call it triple good.
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My colleague ordered the burger. The photos we saw on yelp looked great. She ordered a well done burger so I was not thinking too much of it. I did have a small bite and thought it remained juicy and was quite flavorful. She enjoyed it very much.
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For dessert, we shared the sticky toffee pudding. The moist cake was drenched in a toffee rum sauce topped with date ice cream. We both enjoyed it although we were quite full.
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Last night’s dinner was at Luke’s Lobster. my colleague and I shared the “Taste of Maine” menu which included half a crab roll, shrimp roll, lobster roll, a bag of Cape Cod chips, a gourmet soda, and a pickle. For an extra $2, we got two lobster claws. We also added two soups, the clam chowder and the lobster bisque. I felt like I was in seafood heaven.
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I couldn’t imagine two better meals on this trip to Philadelphia. I definitely have some lasting impressions this time around.