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Archive for the ‘Foodies on the Town’ Category

Go Crazy with Psycho Donuts

In by Deanne, Dessert First, Foodies on the Town, Foodies Take-Out/Bring-It-Home on March 26 at 11:58 pm

Do you go insane for donuts, candy, and all things sweet? If you do, then you should be put in a straight-jacket and tossed straight into Psycho Donuts, a donut shop with an insane asylum theme. The entire Psycho Donuts store is decorated with a freakish sensibility, from the twisted, Tim Burton-esque pictures adorning its white walls to its employees dressed in white nurses’ and doctors’ uniforms. There is even a booth with white, padded walls and a box of assorted masks for you to take memorable pictures in like a patient. Of course, one wonders how politically-correct this all is, but the atmosphere is reassuringly colorful and light-hearted.

As for the donuts themselves, it is as if the milquetoast Krispy Kremes we have come to know and love have been manhandled and pumped up with a Frankenstein treatment (in a good way). This means that Psycho Donuts pulls out all the stops when it comes to combining sugary, fried treats with bombastic creativity:

The Kooky Monster: crushed Oreos and white frosting

Feng Shui: green tea frosting with dark chocolate chips!

Key Lime Pie: tastes like the name. A donut with a bit of a sour zing to it.

Crunch Hunch: packed with chunks of Crunch bar!

Manic Malt: crushed malt balls

And my personal favorite…

'Smores: crushed graham crackers on top of marshmallow on top of chocolate icing!

And these are just about the tamest donuts available. If you want to see the zaniest creations (which include the “Headbanger”–a donut that leaks red jelly when you bite into it), log onto http://psycho-donuts.com/ to check them all out!

Psycho Donuts is located 2006 S. Winchester Blvd, Campbell, CA 95008.

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Fenton’s Creamery, or: How Amy, John, and Eric Got Owned by Ice Cream

In by Amy, Foodies on the Town, This is Why John's Fat. on January 16 at 7:32 pm

There are a lot of Foodie Friday and Friends’ favorites around Berkeley that we are so used to going to, we never post about (Cheeseboard, Gregoire, and Ici are classic Foodie picks that have yet to be reviewed, for example). Fenton’s Creamery is one of them.

Fenton’s gained some attention last May when it was mentioned in Pixar’s animated feature Up:

Fenton's Creamery is also near and dear to the Pixarians of Emeryville.

That may have gained Fenton’s more recognition, but it was already a local favorite for decades. At 115 years old, you know that they’ve got to be doing something right.

If you like rich, creamy, old-fashioned ice cream, Fenton’s is the place to go. Nestled in North Oakland near Piedmont (a small village in Oakland), Fenton’s can often be identified by its bright awnings and the long lines snaking out of the door. Wait times can be long, but the place has large capacity and takes reservations for parties of 12+,  so it’s not too bad. It’s also well-known among Berkeley students for “the dive” special: finish a gigantic banana split in 15 minutes and receive an “I Survived the Dive” t-shirt and accolades from all your friends (the time limit used to be 20, but I guess it was too easy).

John, Eric, and I were bored after dinner yesterday and decided to drive out to Fenton’s. Eric had never gone before, and I haven’t personally been here since we went with a large group of friends in freshman year (via public transportation, take the 51 down Broadway and 42nd and walk for about 10 minutes), and had a craving.

Here’s the thing about Fenton’s: DO NOT BE FOOLED INTO THINKING THAT YOU CAN FINISH ONE BY YOURSELF. It is possible, but not advisable, as it will induce a considerable food coma after (not recommended). The scoops are enormous, and a single scoop should actually count for 2-3 normal-sized scoops. For some reason, John and I forgot that we couldn’t even finish a giant goblet of ice cream the first time we went to Fenton’s, and thus were overly ambitious and ordered one ice cream special per person.

John and Eric with their ice cream treats: John's "black and tan" has a scoop of toasted almond ice cream, a layer of fudge, vanilla ice cream, and caramel. Eric had a classic root beer float.

John's Black and Tan: Almond ice cream, hot fudge, vanilla, and caramel.

My dish: Fenton's "Hot Toppers": two scoops of vanilla, a banana, hot fudge, nuts, whipped cream, and a cherry on top.

That, combined with the fact that John, Eric, and I all have a smaller stomach capacity than before, and that we had just finished dinner, spelled our demise.

They look small I realize in the pictures, but believe me, these things were massive.

We tried to eat as much as we could, but ultimately only Eric could succeed in finishing (he had to break through the mound of ice cream before he could reach his root beer). In my defense, I thought mine came in a cup, not a dish. Nevertheless, while the ice cream did own us, we still love Fenton’s. Just be sure to order what you can actually eat.

Note to Apt 205: we need to get legit ice cream dishes like these.

Meaty Decadence at Alexander’s Steakhouse

In by Deanne, Foodies on the Town on December 26 at 11:20 pm

So my family decided to be extra-fancy this year and hold our Christmas dinner at Alexander’s Steakhouse, located N. Wolfe Rd in Cupertino. And, boy, do they deliver here. It is a $$$$ American/Japanese steakhouse that serves the most luxurious cuts of steak any foodie can imagine: dry-aged porterhouse, rib-eye, and, yes, the one and only Japanese-imported Kobe beef steak. Sold at over $120 per plate at Alexander’s, genuine Kobe beef is from Wagyu cattle, cows that are reportedly fed beer, massaged with sake, and entertained with classical music. The result is a very fatty, well-marbled, tender cut of steak that is absolutely BEAUTIFUL.

Check out that intense fattiness! (image from House of Annie)

Did I order Kobe beef at Alexander’s? Unfortunately no, since the parentals weren’t too keen on busting their wallet on Baby Jesus’s B-day. We still had a fantastic meal, since Alexander’s is solidly luxurious all around. Case in point:

Amuse Bouche: Fancy Crab Bites, compliments of the chef

At Alexander’s, there is always a small bite or shot of a starter, compliments of the chef. This time, the chef served a bit of a crab-salad, with sprouts and a caviar on top. Fancy!

Drinks:

An Old-Fashioned and Mint Julep

My sister and I were inspired by Mad Men, and went for an Old-Fashioned and a Mint Julep.

Intermezzo:

An intense Mango Sorbet with Raspberry

As with all fancy restaurants, Alexander’s also serves a sorbet before they present your main dishes. The mango sorbet was very intense and sour, so it certainly cleansed my taste buds!

Main Dishes:

The Mélange à trois: steak tartare, shortrib canneloni, and filet steak

I ordered the Mélange à trois, because it was decently priced ($41) and had three styles of beef to offer. The best was the filet steak topped with a mushroom ragout. It was perfectly cooked (medium rare), very tender and juicy. The variety of sauteed mushrooms (shiitake, etc) in a creamy sauce added a woody sweetness to the steak. Delicious! However, the two other dishes on my plate were slightly disappointing. The shortrib cannelloni (that’s braised beef rolled in pasta sheets) seemed uninspired, and the steak tartare (that’s raw fresh beef, people) had Japanese influences like soy sauce that just ended up tasting strange and too salty. But overall, the dish was beautifully presented, as you can see above.

Filet Mignon with a tarragon-mustard beurre blanc demi-glace. A whadda wha?

My sister’s filet mignon ($38) was delicious. Again, perfectly cooked at medium rare, very thick and juicy, high quality cut of beef. The sauce is a blend of mustard and a rich butter sauce (white wine, vinegar, butter, and shallots) which was very complex and very creamy. The creaminess got a little overpowering for me, but I still highly recommend this dish.

Mac 'n Cheese with White Truffle Oil, biatches!

This was by far my favorite dish of the evening. Call me a simpleton, but I am just a fool for comfort food with truffle oil drizzled all over it. I have never, ever, ever, ever, ever tasted better mac ‘n cheese in my life. On the first bite, I melted into a puddle of goo at the taste of rich and creamy cheese sauce with strong tones of white truffle wafting through. And then I just couldn’t stop eating it. My sister had to back me away from this flavorful side dish before I inhaled it all. I guess it was my personal Ratatouille moment! Verdict in all caps: YOU MUST ORDER THIS. THIS DISH ALONE MAKES THE TRIP TO ALEXANDER’S WORTHWHILE.

Dessert:

The O2 dessert. Melty goodness!

At the end of the meal, my family settled on the O2 dessert, or Oxygen. The presentation of this sweet treat was surprising and fun. The O2 is a unique concept: the bottom half of the sphere is chocolate cake, the top half is a hollow dark chocolate shell, and the center is a ball of chocolate pudding. The waiter then pours hot raspberry sauce all over the sphere, melting away the chocolate shell to reveal the pudding in the middle. Ingenious! There is also vanilla ice cream with malts on the side. The raspberry sauce was a little too sweet, but I was willing to overlook anything by that point because of the coolness of the experience!

Cotton Candy! Yay!

Just when you think dinner at Alexander’s couldn’t get any better, the waiters come and set up a huge swab of cotton candy as a complimentary after-dinner treat! Who knew such a serious and fancy restaurant had a sense of fun? :)

So, if you ever have a special event you want to celebrate at $$$$ Alexander’s Steakhouse, I highly recommend it! Bring your meat-lover friends and family for a night of all-out, luxurious carnage! This meat-lover was very happy and satisfied.

–Deanne

Bakesale Betty’s Chicken Pot Pie

In by Deanne, Foodies on the Town, Foodies Take-Out/Bring-It-Home on October 25 at 9:27 pm

We’ve all experienced chicken pot pie at some point in our lives. Some of us are lucky enough to experience chicken pot pie in its purest form: your grandma/mother’s home-cooked chicken pot pie, lovingly baked with roughly chopped carrots, celery, potatoes, and real chicken. Others, myself included, have only had its pallid, frozen cousin: the “mini” personal pot pie with a 4-1 ratio of artificial gravy to chicken. The frozen chicken pot pies are usually noxiously creamy, so I’ve avoided them ever since I first ventured to try one as a child after watching Chicken Run (2000). Although that movie should technically dissuade viewers from eating chicken pot pie, after an intimate hour-and-a-half sympathizing with chickens trying to escape pot-pie doom . . . But I suppose I wanted to see what all the hoo-hah was about.

The chickens dance too!

The chickens dance too!

Nonetheless, I had heard that Bakesale Betty’s Chicken Pot Pie is quite tasty, so I went ahead and bought one for a special Apartment 205 get-together dinner. And the results definitely surpassed expectations:

Creamy chicken stuffing... flaky crust... om nom nom nom!

Creamy chicken stuffing... flaky crust... om nom nom nom!

I bought the large pre-bake chicken pot pie at Bakesale Betty’s (located 5098 Telegraph Ave, Oakland) and left it in the freezer for a day. Even after freezing, the freshness of the ingredients used at Bakesale Betty’s really comes across in the scent and flavor of the pie. There is a generous amount of chicken chunks, carrot, onion, and celery in thick, creamy gravy. Traces of basil and black pepper are detectable. It is very filling, and I am sure that the entire pie will last me a week (a huge plus for busy college students). The winning characteristic of this pie is its delicious, flaky crust; it does not get soggy easily and remains in luscious, buttery condition above the mess of chicken stuffing. The only downside is that the pie was slightly more expensive than the usual, at $25 per large pie and $6 per personal pie, but Bakesale Betty’s is really the place to go for legitimate, generous pies! One day I shall return for their famed fried chicken sandwiches and strawberry shortcake.

Chez Panisse: The Best of Berkeley

In by John, Foodies on the Town, This is Why John's Fat. on October 5 at 4:43 pm
The front of Chez Panisse. Courtesy of neilpeterson.com

The front of Chez Panisse. Courtesy of neilpeterson.com

Ah… Where do I begin. I guess it all started freshman year when Katherine, Amy, and I were talking about this little gem. It’s relatively expensive pricing does not cater to the students of the area but it never fails to attract the locals. We made a pact to save up enough money to go downstairs and eat at this world-famous restaurant before we graduate. Well… I broke my promise with Katherine and reserved a table for two a couple of weeks back. For the upstairs cafe, or restaurant downstairs, it is almost necessary to book a reservation at least a week in advance. Their menus for the coming week are posted online the weekend before so we didn’t even know what to expect.

Their downstairs restaurant has a fixed-price menu that varies in price, with Monday being the cheapest and Friday/Saturday with the more elaborate (and pricier) menu. There is no strict dress-code but one Yelper describes it as “Berkeley-chic”, whatever that means. We went on Thursday so our meal consisted of:

  1. Salmon carpaccio with mustard and  capers
  2. Pasta e fagioli with fresh shell beans and pancetta
  3. Grilled Sonoma Liberty duck breast with wild huckleberries and fried polenta
  4. Cardamom Pavlova with Middleton Gardens raspberry ice cream

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An Afternoon Snack

In by John, Foodies on the Town on August 19 at 9:42 am

Today, we’ll take a break from the usual Foodie Friday fare and focus on a review of the delectable little pastry store called Crixa Cakes. Located on Adeline between Stuart and Ward, Crixa Cakes is a little slice of heaven.

We were first introduced to this gem when Amy bought an amazing Tiramisu for John’s birthday.

It has a strong expresso flavor from the soaked sponge cake that is balanced by a creamy brandied mascarpone. If you do get a chance to visit, make sure you at least try a slice. Hopefully, I have piqued your interest at this point because we haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. The beauty of Crixa Cakes lies in its charm. It is a small locally owned shop that stays true to its roots and provides a wonderful atmosphere to just relax, chat, and enjoy some good food.

Another one of their amazing cakes is the light, summery, Red White and Blueberry cake. It is the perfect pick-me-up after a long day at work. Red, White, and Blueberry cakeNot-too-sweet is Crixa Cake’s forte and this cake is no exception. The custard cream and vanilla sponge cake work well to provide a little sweetness, while the fresh raspberries and blueberries give it a refreshing tart flavor. Amy and I also coupled the cake with a pot of Chai tea for two. Chai TeaThey brought out a steaming pot of milk with their own homemade chai tea brew in a tray, complete with teacups and saucers. Needless to say, it was a very good end for a quick visit to Crixa Cakes.