Food in California vs. food in NY

Everything about food, from matching food and wine to recipes, techniques and trends.

Moderators: Jenise, David M. Bueker, Robin Garr

Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Dale Williams » Tue Aug 01, 2006 3:28 pm

A couple thoughts re California food vs. NY (I posted outline of meal at Manresa in wine notes):

I hear people say that Asian food is better in California, but my experiences with Japanese, Chinese, or Korean haven’t born that out (I’m willing to keep experimenting). But the one Asian cuisine where CA seems to clearly kick NY’s butt is Vietnamese. Any random place in Westminster is likely to be better than any Viet food I’ve had in NY. On the way from Los Gatos to Laguna (after lunch in Cayucos, below) we had dinner in a non-descript restaurant we’ve stopped at before. Huge bowl of excellent steamed clams in broth as a starter, a large Pho (with tripe, sliced beef, and tendon) , and shabu-shabu-ish do-it-yourself dish of sliced beef- all for under $30. Even better deal with the banh mi we always grab from Top Baguette on way to Long Beach airport – for under $2, fantastic sandwiches stuffed with meat, herbs, daikon, carrot , etc.

Certainly one of the clearest edges California has over NY is Mexican food. Even a cheap little neighborhood café/cantina in Sacramento (Flores, I believe) has better food for my tastes than upscale Mexican restaurants in NYC. Fantastic carnitas.

An article appeared in the NY Times just before I left detailing a writer’s search for tacos between LA and SF. We detoured off 101 to the coast highway to Cayucos visit Ruddell’s Smokehouse. Gringo tacos, but well-worth the detour. I was especially fond of the smoked pork tacos, piled high with meat, lettuce, apple, and more. A smoked ahi taco wasn’t far behind. The loquacious owner was surprised that he was getting so much attention from an article in an East Coast paper. The cute thing was he had a maybe 10 year old boy (grandson?) helping him out. The Ruddels tacos were better than the fish,calamari, or carnitas tacos at Taco Loco in Laguna Beach, but even the Laguna tacos are ahead of NYC.

I can’t say that my summer experiences in upscale Laguna places are getting any better. Betsy’s grandmother took us to lunch at Splashes. Betsy’s $18 Kobe beef burger was good if overcooked; my Cobb Salad was artistic but a little short on substance for $17. The worst part was when I asked for salt. The waiter brought a shaker, then shook his head helplessly when the humidity kept it from pouring. I said nevermind, but with lunch courses between $17 & $30, one should be able to get salt. Every time I eat in an upscale place in Laguna, I think "this place wouldn't make it in NYC."

Wine in grocery stores (excluding Corti Brothers et al). There is (or was?) discussion of allowing wine sales in grocery stores in NY. On the one hand that seems great to be- better access to wine for everyone. But a week looking at grocery store wine aisles in CA is just a tour of corporate Cali wines, with a few Oz interlopers. Not much in the way of interesting CA producers, and the very few French & Italian wines were on the lines of Laboure-Roi, Ch. Bonnet, or Santa Margherita. As I didn’t want to spend 30 minutes each way driving to Hi-Times, or close to an hour to Wine Exhange, I made do. But if an affluent large town like Laguna Beach can’t support a wine shop, I’ll pass on the supermarkets having wine!
User avatar
Dale Williams
Compassionate Connoisseur
 
Posts: 7881
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:32 pm
Location: Dobbs Ferry, NY (NYC metro)

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby John Tomasso » Wed Aug 02, 2006 9:07 am

Dale, your observations are interesting. Yes, we do Mexican food pretty well here, though it is getting better in NYC lately.

Re your riff on wine in supermarkets, I'm pretty sure that individual managers have some say in what gets stocked - so selection will vary from store to store. Here in the Santa Ynez Valley one can find better than decent choices of local producers in a Long's Drug Store - of all places. The local markets, and especially the independents, carry some nice wines.

So don't give up so quickly on wine in supermarkets in NY - something I think is going to happen sooner or later for sure. When it does, I'l bet savvy store managers will try and separate themselves from the pack.
User avatar
John Tomasso
Too Big to Fail
 
Posts: 1202
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:27 pm
Location: Buellton, CA

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Carl Eppig » Wed Aug 02, 2006 9:29 am

The last time we were in Carmel we went into Long's for some drugstore things, and were amazed by the wine selection. Better than any Right Coast supermarket we have ever visited.
Carl Eppig
Our Maine man
 
Posts: 4001
Joined: Tue Jun 13, 2006 2:38 pm
Location: Middleton, NH, USA

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Jenise » Wed Aug 02, 2006 5:59 pm

Carl, John--Long's is one of the best kept secrets for wine shopping (at least of the kind Dale's doing) and it will always best virtually any supermarket that it shares a shopping center with. I don't understand why it's so, but it was true even in non-wine country Huntington Beach. Wonder if there's a Long's in Laguna? Hmmmm....

Dale--you say California vs. New York, but it seems what you're really doing is comparing Laguna to NYC and that's not a fair fight. In aggregate neither L.A. or S.F. is the equal of NYC, but there is certainly some great eating in both. When I lived there we used to continually say that Laguna (or fill in the OC city name) restaurants wouldn't "last a week in L.A.". We didn't have to go all the way across the country to find better examples. Why things suck so badly behind the Orange curtain was reflexively a mystery until we drove past the teeming parking lot of a Claim Jumper or an Olive Garden and reminded ourselves that Orange Countians seem to thrive on chain-store mediocrity. I'm not sure what it is about being predominantly Republican and hopelessly straight that makes people crave boring food, but it would appear to be so even to the point of infecting beautiful, artistic, semi-liberal Laguna. You'd think there, at least, there'd be hope. But all the dozens of meals I've there over a lifetime, even the most ambitious, ended up like the one you describe at Splashes--only my very first meal at Five Feet totally hit it out of the park. Oh, and there was an Indian restaurant there for a time that was great--probably didn't last, though.

Best combo in town? Ceviche, a Herradura margarita, and the view on the patio at Las Brisas.
Last edited by Jenise on Wed Aug 02, 2006 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
Jenise
FLDG Dishwasher
 
Posts: 26330
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm
Location: The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Wed Aug 02, 2006 6:58 pm

I agree with Jenise. Laguna food is not representative of the best California has to offer.


Mike

"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a very narrow field" - Niels Bohr
User avatar
Mike Filigenzi
Known for his fashionable hair
 
Posts: 6969
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 5:43 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Dale Williams » Wed Aug 02, 2006 8:34 pm

Whoa, folks.

This wasn't intended to dis CA at all. My thoughts as I was starting were only about how much better the Vietnamese & Mexican (and Mexican-influenced like the gringo tacos) food was. But once I was writing, I threw in a few thoughts that I had that I hadn't put in wine notes.

As to Laguna dining, I never for one second thought it was representative of the best of CA (if you read my report on Manresa on WLDG, you'll see a rave - as good or better than any place I've eaten in NYC). These were just random thoughts continuing a rant I made last year (after a horrible meal at French 75, where the capper was the fact it turned out the surf & turf special Betsy ordered was $68- at a place where highest printed main course was $36) about the dangers of dining in a tourist town in summer. I've had pretty good meals at 5 Feet, but always marred by some bad experience. I really love Betsy's grandmother, otherwise I'd just go someplace else!

As to wine in groceries, I'll look to see if they have a Long's next visit. But my point still is valid I think- if the 90% of people who don't really care about wine buy their wine in big markets, it makes it harder for the speciality wine stores to survive. I know CA has LOTS of great wine stores (I shop at Winex, PC, K&L, Wine House, WHWC, and several others from NY!), but it seems comparatively low in the neighborhood wine store with a mix of big maker and more artisanal wines that seem pretty common around here).

Mike, next time I'll ask you for dining recs in Sacto. I enjoyed Biba's in the past, didn't care for Rio Cafe, and 55 Degrees was mixed. Or possible an offline. Hope you survived last week's heat!
User avatar
Dale Williams
Compassionate Connoisseur
 
Posts: 7881
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:32 pm
Location: Dobbs Ferry, NY (NYC metro)

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Jenise » Wed Aug 02, 2006 11:45 pm

Dale, didn't take it that you were dissing California, but your title kind of suggested that you were thinking Laguna representative, and that's what I had to respond to. You really are not to blame for thinking there should be some consistently good food in that town: it way underperforms expectations based on both the wealth and the gay population thereabouts. Both typically draw/demand better. But that said, there have been both in Palm Springs for years and it's as much a foodie wasteland as Laguna.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
Jenise
FLDG Dishwasher
 
Posts: 26330
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 3:45 pm
Location: The Pacific Northest Westest

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Thu Aug 03, 2006 12:27 am

Dale Williams wrote:Whoa, folks.

This wasn't intended to dis CA at all. My thoughts as I was starting were only about how much better the Vietnamese & Mexican (and Mexican-influenced like the gringo tacos) food was. But once I was writing, I threw in a few thoughts that I had that I hadn't put in wine notes.

As to Laguna dining, I never for one second thought it was representative of the best of CA (if you read my report on Manresa on WLDG, you'll see a rave - as good or better than any place I've eaten in NYC). These were just random thoughts continuing a rant I made last year (after a horrible meal at French 75, where the capper was the fact it turned out the surf & turf special Betsy ordered was $68- at a place where highest printed main course was $36) about the dangers of dining in a tourist town in summer. I've had pretty good meals at 5 Feet, but always marred by some bad experience. I really love Betsy's grandmother, otherwise I'd just go someplace else!

As to wine in groceries, I'll look to see if they have a Long's next visit. But my point still is valid I think- if the 90% of people who don't really care about wine buy their wine in big markets, it makes it harder for the speciality wine stores to survive. I know CA has LOTS of great wine stores (I shop at Winex, PC, K&L, Wine House, WHWC, and several others from NY!), but it seems comparatively low in the neighborhood wine store with a mix of big maker and more artisanal wines that seem pretty common around here).

Mike, next time I'll ask you for dining recs in Sacto. I enjoyed Biba's in the past, didn't care for Rio Cafe, and 55 Degrees was mixed. Or possible an offline. Hope you survived last week's heat!


Ah - gotcha!

I haven't been to 55 Degrees yet, but yours isn't the only mixed review I've heard. I very much agree regarding Biba's - it's one of my absolute favorites here.

I was in Wisconsin during the worst of the heat. It was not as hot there, but man was it humid!! It probably wasn't as bad as things were here (at least people weren't dying in Green Bay) but it sure was uncomfortable!

Mike

"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a very narrow field" - Niels Bohr
User avatar
Mike Filigenzi
Known for his fashionable hair
 
Posts: 6969
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 5:43 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby wnissen » Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:50 pm

Dear Mike,

Have you heard anything about Enotria? We'll be in Sacramento briefly Friday to tour the new Mormon temple, and were planning to go there afterwards for the wine tasting and dinner.

Walt
Walter Nissen
User avatar
wnissen
Wine guru
 
Posts: 793
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:16 pm
Location: Livermore, CA

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Lou Kessler » Thu Aug 03, 2006 9:55 pm

Jenise wrote:Carl, John--Long's is one of the best kept secrets for wine shopping (at least of the kind Dale's doing) and it will always best virtually any supermarket that it shares a shopping center with. I don't understand why it's so, but it was true even in non-wine country Huntington Beach. Wonder if there's a Long's in Laguna? Hmmmm....

Dale--you say California vs. New York, but it seems what you're really doing is comparing Laguna to NYC and that's not a fair fight. In aggregate neither L.A. or S.F. is the equal of NYC, but there is certainly some great eating in both. When I lived there we used to continually say that Laguna (or fill in the OC city name) restaurants wouldn't "last a week in L.A.". We didn't have to go all the way across the country to find better examples. Why things suck so badly behind the Orange curtain was reflexively a mystery until we drove past the teeming parking lot of a Claim Jumper or an Olive Garden and reminded ourselves that Orange Countians seem to thrive on chain-store mediocrity. I'm not sure what it is about being predominantly Republican and hopelessly straight that makes people crave boring food, but it would appear to be so even to the point of infecting beautiful, artistic, semi-liberal Laguna. You'd think there, at least, there'd be hope. But all the dozens of meals I've there over a lifetime, even the most ambitious, ended up like the one you describe at Splashes--only my very first meal at Five Feet totally hit it out of the park. Oh, and there was an Indian restaurant there for a time that was great--probably didn't last, though.

Best combo in town? Ceviche, a Herradura margarita, and the view on the patio at Las Brisas.


My sister and her husband moved to San Clemente a few years ago and when we visit them I haven't been able to find a restaurant worth recommending. They are not foodies and when I told her that Orange Co. is considered a culinary wasteland she was miffed, as family members can get. Oh by the way they are Democrats. Their three grown boys constantly tease them about going over to The Dark Side.
Where do you hold a meeting of the Democratic party in Orange Co. Answer= "In a local phone booth."
Lou Kessler
Doesn't buy green bananas
 
Posts: 2974
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 4:20 pm

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:16 am

Walt - I know Enotria quite well. We've been there a number of times and it's always been quite good. They have an excellent wine program with many selections that are hard to find anywhere and with very fair pricing. The food has always been very good when we've been there although I know at least one person who's had a bad experience (I don't know the details of it). In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I know the guy who runs the place and like him a lot, so I may be somewhat biased.

I highly recommend it. (And if I weren't already booked on Friday, I'd try and invite myself along for a glass or two!)

If you go, let me know how you like it.


Mike

"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a very narrow field" - Niels Bohr
User avatar
Mike Filigenzi
Known for his fashionable hair
 
Posts: 6969
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 5:43 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby wnissen » Fri Aug 04, 2006 1:08 pm

Dear Mike,
So glad to hear it. The wine list they have online is one of the finest I've ever seen when it comes to balancing quality and price, and they have full-on geek selections to boot. There's enough passion visible in that list that the food must be at least good. I'll try to post when I get back. Thanks for your input.

Walt
Walter Nissen
User avatar
wnissen
Wine guru
 
Posts: 793
Joined: Wed Mar 22, 2006 2:16 pm
Location: Livermore, CA

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Fri Aug 04, 2006 2:25 pm

Walt -

Mike Chandler is the guy who's put the wine selection together. You're absolutely right about the passion that he's put into their list. He's a wine geek of the highest and finest order, and a really nice guy to boot.

Mike

"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a very narrow field" - Niels Bohr
User avatar
Mike Filigenzi
Known for his fashionable hair
 
Posts: 6969
Joined: Mon Mar 20, 2006 5:43 pm
Location: Sacramento, CA

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby TimMc » Fri Aug 04, 2006 3:14 pm

Dale,

Just as a point of reference....how often do you visit California and how many cities have you visited there?


Correct me if I am wrong, but based upon your initial post, the quality of your dining experiences seem to be based on only a select few restaurants.
TimMc
 

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Dale Williams » Fri Aug 04, 2006 4:39 pm

TimMc wrote:Dale,

Just as a point of reference....how often do you visit California and how many cities have you visited there?
Correct me if I am wrong, but based upon your initial post, the quality of your dining experiences seem to be based on only a select few restaurants.


Did you read my second post in this thread? As noted, my only real point in comparing NY to CA was the consistently better quality of Mexican and Vietnamese food in California.

I'm in California once or twice a year. I consider SF one of the finest dining cities in the world. I think LA is a bit more up & down, but the highs are quite good. I'd personally put up Manresa against just about any place I've been in NYC (which would be most established big name places, except Per Se, Jean-Georges, and Alain Ducasse). When I knock Laguna dining, it's based on quite a few meals, at quite a few restaurants. I have high hopes for Studio, but haven't been yet. But as noted most of Laguna's restaurants wouldn't make it in NY (or LA, or SF, or ...).
User avatar
Dale Williams
Compassionate Connoisseur
 
Posts: 7881
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:32 pm
Location: Dobbs Ferry, NY (NYC metro)

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby TimMc » Fri Aug 04, 2006 10:45 pm

In California once or twice a year.


Hm.


No offense, but I think I see the problem here.
TimMc
 

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Dale Williams » Sat Aug 05, 2006 12:32 am

TimMc wrote:In California once or twice a year.

Hm.

No offense, but I think I see the problem here.


Just out of curiosity, what is the problem? I'm assuming you're arguing with my conclusions. Which are:
California has better Mexican food than NY.
California has better Japanese food than NY.
Laguna is not a great dining town.

Are you arguing that NY has better Vietnamese or Mexican food than California? Would love recommendations on NY restaurants, thanks!
Ditto on those undiscovered Laguna treats.

My theory on wine in groceries is certainly more debatable. But as you questioned my dining experiences I'm assuming that's not what you were referring to.
User avatar
Dale Williams
Compassionate Connoisseur
 
Posts: 7881
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:32 pm
Location: Dobbs Ferry, NY (NYC metro)

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby TimMc » Sat Aug 05, 2006 12:43 am

No, Dale...I'm saying your first post is rather presumptuous and it is based upon very little experience with professionally prepared food in California.

That is all.


No offense.
TimMc
 

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby John Tomasso » Sat Aug 05, 2006 9:43 am

I thought Dale's post was fine. Why are you busting his chops?

He related his experience and offered his observations. One can do that after one visit, or one hundred.

You say, "no offense" but you call into question his judgement? On what grounds? His number of visits here? He didn't damn CA cuisine - he offered his thoughts on the places he visited

I don't think your dismissive "I think I see the problem here" brought anything worthwhile to the discussion.

No offense.
User avatar
John Tomasso
Too Big to Fail
 
Posts: 1202
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:27 pm
Location: Buellton, CA

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Aug 05, 2006 10:18 am

John Tomasso wrote:I thought Dale's post was fine. Why are you busting his chops?

He related his experience and offered his observations. One can do that after one visit, or one hundred.

You say, "no offense" but you call into question his judgement? On what grounds? His number of visits here? He didn't damn CA cuisine - he offered his thoughts on the places he visited

I don't think your dismissive "I think I see the problem here" brought anything worthwhile to the discussion.

No offense.


Well said, John. And Tim: Tsk! Nobody loves a troll. (No offense.)
User avatar
Robin Garr
Forum Janitor
 
Posts: 17108
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm
Location: Louisville, KY

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby TimMc » Sat Aug 05, 2006 11:46 am

John,

The thread topic suggests otherwise: Food in California vs. food in NY. That covers a much larger area than Los Gatos to Laguna Beach.

As a naitive Californian, it is just my position on the issue, I have no intention of busting anybody's chops, as you put it.

Robin,

Sorry if I offended...a troll I am not.

I'd like to think my posts on a variety of topics on this BBS have proved as much.



Peace.
TimMc
 

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Aug 05, 2006 12:02 pm

TimMc wrote:a troll I am not.

I'd like to think my posts on a variety of topics on this BBS have proved as much.


Tim, I don't think you're a true troll, but - honestly, really, meaning no offense - it would be awfully easy to mistake this thread, the $500 wine thread and some of the cork-debate threads as, er, an emerging pattern of contentiousness.
User avatar
Robin Garr
Forum Janitor
 
Posts: 17108
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 2:44 pm
Location: Louisville, KY

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Dale Williams » Sat Aug 05, 2006 1:19 pm

John & Robin, thanks for "defense," but I find myself less offended than bemused.

Tim, I'm sorry you found my post presumptious, but on a discussion group I wasn't aware that there was a particular number of restaurants one must visit before offering an observation. I posited some opinions (and my reasons for making them), and by doing so opened up the subjects for discussion. I certainly welcome substantive disagreement with any post I put up here or WLDG, that's why they're called discussion boards. I often disagree with others' opinions of wines, but post why, not call into question their ability to comment. Maybe my title was slightly overreaching, but before you had ever commented I had clarified that with my answer to Jenise et al.

Should your poll on wine been limited to those who have tasted say 25 $250+ wines? I'm guessing (just guessing, no empirical evidence) I've experienced more California restaurants than most of those voting in that poll have experienced ultra-expensive wines. But frankly I still value the opinion of those who say "I've never tasted a $250 wine, but to me it could never be worth it." It's a valid viewpoint.

In 4 paragraphs of opinion on food in the original post I managed to be pretty clear (I thought) that I was offering my impressions:
A couple thoughts, my experiences, I’m willing to keep experimenting, seems , likely to be better than any Viet food I’ve had in NY, better food for my tastes, my summer experiences, Every time I eat in an upscale place in Laguna, I think

Sounds like opinions to me.

Oh, and because I got sidetracked by the lunch in Laguna, I forgot one of the three points I intended to make originally (besides CA having better Vietnamese and Mexican food in my limited experience than NY):
Fast food. On the old FLDG there was a discussion of burger joints a couple years back. Some vocal proponents of In'n'Out made me want to try. Meanwhile, a few weeks back a NYT reporter did a cross-country burger pilgramage. In'n'Out did not make her list, she found it too "salady." I had a double-double somewhere between Sacramento and Los Gatos, and I disagree with her. I felt that the In'n'Out was probably the best chain burger I had ever had. I was not in the least enamored of their fries, however (tasted like they had been sitting). Definitely good for road food (is In'n'Out franchised, or one corporation). Disagreement welcome!
User avatar
Dale Williams
Compassionate Connoisseur
 
Posts: 7881
Joined: Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:32 pm
Location: Dobbs Ferry, NY (NYC metro)

Re: Food in California vs. food in NY

Postby Stuart Yaniger » Sat Aug 05, 2006 1:28 pm

In'n'Out, notorious bumper stickers and all, is a single family-owned entity.
User avatar
Stuart Yaniger
Stud Muffin
 
Posts: 4422
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 8:28 pm
Location: Big Sky

Next

Return to The Forum Kitchen

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests

cron