Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sign of the Horse

Some of you may remember the avopigs food blog I authored a few years ago.  I wrote a food review way back when about my favorite Vietnamese restaurant in Oakland, Le Cheval.

I am currently in the Bay Area for an antique show. Last night I spent an hour in traffic driving back to Oakland in order to get my annual Le Cheval fix.  I was joined by master chef Melissa Rossi and boyfriend Gary, cookbook author Denis Kelly and wife Cathie, BigDave and my buddie Ron Levine.

Le Cheval is a truly legendary and fabulous Vietnamese restaurant located in downtown Oakland on 10th and Clay. It used to be cash only but they are now accepting credit cards. Used to reportedly be visited by a lot of athletes and politicians and cops. What you get at Le Cheval is great food, relatively inexpensive, served quickly and piping hot.  Last night we started off with three quail appetizers, in a nice lemon and pepper dipping sauce. We then had a calamari salad that was delicious, the servers brought over rice paper and hot water and we made our own spring rolls with lettuce and mint and mung beans and pork. Melissa ordered a cubed steak dish.  We then had a lemongrass prawn dish.  Enjoyed a couple other great entrees. Usually we have the awesome clay pot chicken, with the scrumptious crusty rice that caramelizes on the side of the pot. Don't know how I forgot it? Finished the night off with a banana flambe.  It was a great night with great friends. Always nice to have uber foodies breaking bread together like Denis and Melissa.  Got semi plastered and the ride home took forever.  Think I was going 45 on the freeway.

Tonight I went out to dinner with my dorm roomate and drinking accomplice Cam who got sort of besotted on tequila at lunch.  I left while he got looped on three or four different bottles of tequila. He made a new friend with the cute bartender who was frankly young enough to be his daughter.

We went to another of my favorite places to eat up here, Creola in San Carlos. Our friend Eddie is the chef and owner of Creola, a cajun creole restaurant that is always top notch. I had the filet mignon with truffle sauce, Cam the pork tenderloin. I started with the shrimp and fennel bisque soup, Cam the Blue Note salad with pear.  Had a really nice New Zealand pinot noir with the meal.  If you are in the South Bay, definitely check out this restaurant.  Been going for years and it's always excellent.

Afterwards we met Bill and Dan at the bar at Max's. I had a shot of tequila to Cam's three or four doubles.

My birthday in a few hours and I am going to eat really good all week. Hope everybody else has a good week as well.


Friday Night: Dave Jacobs took me out for a birthday dinner tonight. We went to a very cool restaurant in San Carlos called Refuge. Refuge is a Charcuterie and Pastrami joint.  Started the meal with a duck breast with a cherry demi glace sauce appetizer. Ordered the garlic fries with a hot chile mayo. Had thickly cut pastrami sandwiches. Superlative pastrami. And duck. The menu looks very promising with fennel salame, Prosciutto, pork rillettes and a variety of other meats, cheeses and pates. Dave had an excellent beer and I had a delicious homemade black cherry soda.  If I lived near bye I would be a regular. Thanks, Dave.