A couple of things. First is that J has the best insight about a great dining experience – you have to leave happier than when you came in. Isn’t my hubby smart? The thing is, that happiness doesn’t just come from the food. Back in DC we went to a certain Capitol Hill fine dining establishment where the service was atrocious. Like they asked “sparkling or still” and didn’t let you know the still water was bottled water they would charge you for. The food was incredible but I can’t ever go back after our horrible experience. There’s another place we’ve gone to in the East Bay that has amazing southern food but leaves you waiting forever for anyone TO PAY ATTENTION TO YOU. It’s a bit of alchemy to combine good food and good service but it’s all in the service of making people happy. If I weren’t looking for a little happiness with my meal, I’m a good enough cook to cook at home.
That being said, I’ve gone on the record about my deep love for the folks at Aunt Mary’s in Temescal. But now they’ve upped their game with barbecued ribs on the menu. Not just any BBQed ribs, SMOKED cola braised BBQed ribs. SMOKY RIBS THAT TASTE LIKE SMOKE. That’s a huge rarity on the West coast and Aunt Mary’s is doing it right. The best ribs I’ve had outside of Texas bar none. Adding to the happiness quotient is the fact that they were happy to make a substitution for their watermelon salad with a regular salad. I’m allergic to melon so I would have to miss out of the ribs if I couldn’t make the substitution. Our awesome server actually steered me away from the braised greens I would have originally gotten and a swap because “you need something light and fresh with the ribs.” LOVE!
Oh, one reason why the Berkeley Bowl West is so awesome is that they have a bargain bin for their fruits and veggies. These are produce that are about a day or two from going bad but if you can use them quickly, you will get a great deal. Case in point – two pounds of asparagus I turned into an asparagus salad with sorrel for 99 cents.
Finally, I will let you know I will be recapping French Food at Home soon because Laura Calder is the SH&%^ and those of you without the Cooking Channel need to experience her awesomeness.