Hello FoodDiggers,

The official FoodDigger blog has been moved to http://www.FoodDigger.com/blog

Head over now to see the latest!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

How to Edit Your Reviews

I've been asked a question recently about how you can edit a review you've submitted on FoodDigger. The first thing you need to do is make sure you are logged in to FoodDigger. Once you are logged in, you will see that on the restaurant page for any restaurant you have reviewed the "Write a Review" button has been replaced with an "Edit Your Review" button.

For example, I have not been to Cut in Los Angeles yet (although it is on my Try List) and haven't written a review for it. Therefore, when I go to the Cut restaurant page on FoodDigger, the button underneath the restaurant reads "Write a Review".

However, one of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco is A16 and I have written a review for it. So when I go to the A16 restaurant page the button now reads "Edit Your Review". (If you are not logged in though it will still say "Write a Review" because we don't know if you have reviewed it. That's why it's important to log in first.) Click on this button to edit your review at anytime.

To get to a restaurant page for one of your reviews you can use the Search box or click on the restaurant name when browsing through your reviews from your MyFD page. I hope this helps!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Are you a wine-o?

I think we all know what wine is...fermented grape juice. It's such a simple concept, really, but in reality, wine is so complex.

I don't think there's enough space here to go over every aspect of wine, and quite honestly, I'm the last person to give a wine class. My knowledge of wine is limited to my consumption...which I guess can be considered quite vast(if only based on consumption!). Truth is, I love wine. I love pairing it with different foods, I love drinking it on its own. I even love learning about it. I can see, however, that wine drinking could seem daunting to many people.

I hear and read about a wine's tastes..."possesses that liquid minerality that denotes a great terroir, along with a tremendously sweet liqueur of black currants and cherries intermixed with melted licorice and spice box. Dense and full-bodied yet remarkably elegant and delineated, this is a stunning achievement for the 2002 vintage."

This is Robert Parker's description of the above pictured Chateau Pavie from St. Emilion in Bordeaux. 'Sweet liqueur of black currants and cherries intermixed with melted licorice and spice box.'? We drank this at French Laundry, and I remember none of that. All I remember is that this wine was good!

Truth be told, I am far enough along to know a few things, but when I'm eating a great dinner, the last thing I'm looking for is hints of creme de cassis in my wine. I'm still not certain what creme de cassis is, much less what it tastes like.

That, though, is the great thing about wine. You can drink it and enjoy it; but if you choose, you could spend a lifetime mastering it. You could learn about the infinite varietals, like cabernet sauvignon, cabernet frank, viogner, marsanne, merlot...to name a few. You can learn about terroir, which is the piece of dirt and the climate the vines grow on. You can learn about the 5 classes of Bordeaux, or about the difference between Left Bank and Right. You can argue why LaTour is a First Class while Pontet Canet a Fifth Class, even though they're spitting distance away from each other. Or...you can just enjoy a few different varietals with dinner amongst friends, and judge which wine goes with which dish.

We at Fooddigger have had many a wine pairing since the idea of our site was born. The best meals have been the ones where the conversation bloomed from the pairings. Wine is a beautiful thing...something that is close to our hearts. We've even created a Fooddigger wine pairings card with a tip chart on the other side as a giveaway to help people with food pairings, and with the tipping in case you're too drunk from the wine. If you'd like one, let us know and we'll see if we can get one to you. Otherwise, grab yourself a glass of pinot noir and pair it with an aged Gouda.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival - September 19, 20, and 21

Who knew that the world's largest lobster festival takes place in Los Angeles where the lobsters eaten are shipped in from Maine? The reason for not serving Pacific lobster? Well it is not in season, of course. At least that's what they claim on the website for the Port of Los Angeles Lobster Festival which starts today at 5 p.m. and goes on through Sunday in San Pedro. The main draw is the discounted Maine lobster meals for only $17 but that is not the only draw foodwise - many other seafood delicacies as well as roast corn and other festival goodies can be found at this annual event. I've never been and the low priced lobster meal gave me pause but I was told by a friend that it was actually quite good last year.

Entertainment: For families, the Lobster Festival has a free magic show (2 pm) and a treasure hunt (3 pm) at the pirate camp for kids on both Saturday and Sunday. There will be street performers, and a full musical line up with performances going as late as 9pm on Friday and Saturday.

Good to know:
Cash only is accepted at the gate. Tickets are $8 for adults, reduced to $6 with this coupon. Children under $12 get in free. Once inside, there is an ATM to get cash for your food and other purchases but I'd bring plenty of cash as standing in line may not be fun.

Monday, September 15, 2008


This past weekend, we stopped by the LA BBQ fest. Situated in the parking lot next to Santa Monica Pier, it was not difficult to find. The smallish event consisted of a number of local bbq joints, two out of town joints, a cupcake stand and various other booths selling vacations, and what not.

Strolling passed the booths, we quickly decided to focus on the out of towners. The first thing we noticed was a line forming for LC's BBQ from Kansas City. No other booths had a line(except for the beer line), so we hopped right in. We were fortunate on two counts. First, we had about 5 people ahead of us, but by the time we were served, the line was about 50 behind us. Second, LC served up some mean ribs. They were pork spare ribs, smoked over hickory with a dry rub. The meat was slightly charred on the outside, and moist and tender on the inside. Delicious, especially with the baked beans that accompanied them.

While we were waiting in line, I slipped over to Bandana's BBQ of Louisville. The baby back ribs were dryer, and it was also seasoned with a dry rub. I'm pretty sure they used hickory, as well, for smoke. They offered 4 different sauces, all of which were a bit more vinegary than LC's. Bandana's also came with baked beans, but they were too sweet.

After gorging on these ribs, we hit up the cupcake booth, or Leyna's Kitchen. They offered two mini cupcakes, one a pink velvet, the other a strawberilicious, for four dollars. These delicious cupcakes were a welcome contrast to the smoky ribs.

We were there for just an hour or so, but we walked away full and satisfied. If you missed the BBQ fest this year, mark it on your calendars for next year. Ten dollar entrance, ten dollars a plate, and they have a beer stand.

Friday, September 12, 2008

How to Add a Restaurant to FoodDigger

I've been asked this question many times so I thought I'd write a quick post about it. The question is: "How can I add a restaurant to the site?" or "I searched for a restaurant that I wanted to review and it wasn't there." Although we would like to have every restaurant you are looking for already in our database sometimes things slip through the cracks. I'm sorry about that but please help us make the site better by adding it to our list.

We are working on making it more visible but right now I thought it worthwhile to point out that there is an option to add a restaurant to the site. If you scroll down to the bottom of any search results page, you'll find our "Add a restaurant" button. In the above screenshot, you'll see a search results page based on my search for African restaurants in San Francisco. Only two results currently appear. Right under that you'll see the option I'm talking about. See the words "Don't see the restaurant you're looking for?" and the "Add a restaurant" button? Click on that button and you'll be on your way.

After you submit a restaurant it goes to our administrator who checks for errors and possible duplicate entries before it gets approved. We don't want more than one entry for the same restaurant as that just gets confusing. Approval can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours depending on what time you made the submission. Sorry but there are actual people who review these submissions so you might have caught us while we were sleeping or (what's more fun) out eating. Thanks for asking the question and I hope this helps.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Now back from the 2008 Summer Olympics - Here's the Scoop on Beijing Eats

[Guest post from Snooshiking.] Before going to China for the Olympics, we weren't exactly looking forward to the food in Beijing. Sure, I've had Peking Duck, but aside from that (and real authentic Chinese Ja-Jang Mein, not the Korean version), what else was there to eat there? The northern part of China is not known for its food. Aside from hearty dumplings and stews, what else was there? I've been to the Northern Chinese restaurant in San Gabriel before, but only when I was in the mood for rustic, peasant food.

Day 1: The first few days in Beijing confirmed my fears. At a friend's suggestion, we went to Hua Jia Yi Yuan (Flower Family Garden) on DongZhimen Inside Road. It was a really nice location, felt like a '30s style grand courtyard with natural lighting and chirping birds in cages. Mostly northern Chinese, with a few Szechuan dishes thrown in. Tried their famous Mandarin fish, fresh bamboo, hot and sour cabbage, vegetables with mushrooms, and even their Peking Duck. But the food was a bit rough around the edges, a bit too salty and a bit too oily. Decent, but not great. The duck - definitely not great. In fact, not even good. (I later learned that to really have good duck, you have to go to a place that specializes in duck.)

Day 2: On the second day, we tried the Red Capital Club, located down a small alley in a traditional hutong. A few years ago, it was named as one of the hot 60 tables in the world by Conde Nast, so we thought it would be good. The vibe is fantastic - an old, restored courtyard home filled with Communist memorabilia, including furniture from Lin Bao's office (former defense minister under Mao) and Madame Mao's Red Flag limousine parked in front. The menu features interesting historical tidbits, and the owner just might be one of the longest-residing Americans in Beijing (25 years). A real friendly guy with great stories. But the food - just so-so. A mixture of different cuisines. Mao's pork is bland. Spicy chicken - OK, but not that special. The best dishes - the cold vegetable appetizers. Clearly made for the western palate.

Day 3: It wasn't until the third day that we finally had something good. Lu Lu, right near the entrance to the Military Museum, is a Shanghainese restaurant that can almost compete with the best from Shanghai. Thoroughly modern, clean and authentic. We had a group of 10 people and ate almost 15 dishes, so I can't remember any with any particular detail, except that it was all pretty good.

Day 4: Next up, authentic Peking duck at Ya Yuan, in the City Hotel. Not the most modern place, vibe is a bit "local," but my friends told me this was the best duck in Beijing. Not as well known and not as big as the mega-duck restaurants, but the best because it's prepared the old-fashioned way. First came the appetizers. Duck tongue - amazing! Cold sliced duck liver - sublime. And then came the actual Peking duck. Sliced in front of you, the duck skin and meat is rolled into something like a thin flour tortilla, along with green onions and sauce. Most important is the skin - the best I've ever had. A rich dark brown, it has a crisp yet resilient texture, but once you place it in your mouth, it almost melts. The meat is infused with the taste of apple wood, which is the traditional way of roasting the duck. The chef explained that each duck takes approximately 1 week to prepare, drying and refrigerating, to get the skin just right. And the sauce is rich and multi-dimensional, almost like a fine Bordeaux. He explained that he gets it from one particular small producer, then adds his own secret ingredients.

Day 5: That night, I go to sleep craving for more duck, so the next day, we go to DaDong one of the most famous (and many people say the best) duck restaurants in Beijing. Now, this is a big, fancy restaurant. Four floors, private rooms, nice tablecloths. Their menu probably the thickest thing I've ever seen! Imagine a wedding album, full of beautiful photos, but triple the size. It must have weighed 15 pounds! The opening courses were fantastic! Seared foie gras, cold numbing hot sesame chicken, prawns, etc. All were amazing, and almost French-Chinese fusion in their execution. I was getting excited, and I later learned that they're particularly well known for having great dishes aside from the duck. They even have good Chinese wine (the price is directly proportional to the quality in China, and the expensive wine (by local standards) can actually be quite good. Now, about the duck - it's just OK, especially compared to Ya Yuan. The skin is crispy, but the texture is like a shrimp chip - a bit too crisp. The meat is almost flavorless. I mean, it's definitely good, but is it the best? For me, no.

Day 6: On the sixth night, we stumbled onto a restaurant right by our hotel. We had just finished watching Track & Field, it was almost midnight, and we were starving! Luckily, Beijing has lots of late-night choices (like most Asian cities). We choose this restaurant, Meizhou Dongpo, because the large number of government plaques on the outside. (In China, the government will give awards to certain restaurants, and you'll see these plaques proudly displayed by the front door.) Once inside, we knew we were in the right place. It's Sichuan food, but in a refined style. Supposedly, the famous poet who invented Dongpo Pork (otherwise known as Pork Pump, or Roasted Pork Leg) was actually from the city of Meizhou in Sichuan before he moved to Hangzhou (near Shanghai), where the dish eventually became more famous. This restaurant's version of the Dongpo Pork is roasted with ginger, picked green peppers, and other assorted goodies that, in my opinion, make it much more interesting than the typical Shanghai version. In the Beijing Food Olympics, before the actual Olympics, the dish even won a gold medal! In fact, three of their dishes had won a gold medal award from the city, including their Bang Bang Chicken and smoked numbing sausages.

Day 7: The next night, when we came there again, we enjoyed a spicy buckwheat noodle as well as this amazing fish. It was a live fish, cut into a fan shape, and steamed with fresh green numbing peppers which impart almost a pine-like fresh scent with just a little bit of numbness.

What started off badly definitely ended well. Overall, I think Beijing offers greater variety than Shanghai in terms of cuisine styles, and if you know where to go, you'll definitely be rewarded.

Hua Jia Yi Yuan
235 Dongzhimen Nei Dajie
(two other locations as well)
Phone: 6405 1908

9 Fuxing Road, West side of the Military Museum entrance
Phone: 6858 3661

Ya Yuan
Inside the City Hotel, Beijing
No. 4 East Gongti Road, Chaoyang District Phone (hotel): 6500-7799 Call 1 hour ahead so that they can begin preparing your duck

Da Dong
Bldg 3, Tuanjiehu Beikou, Dongsanhuan Lu, SE corner of Changhong Qiao, Chaoyang District (Other locations as well)
Phone: 6582-2892

Meizhou Dongpo
Multiple locations

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Take a Bao - Asian Fusion?

Generally, I'm not a fan of Asian fusion. To label a place Asian fusion is equivalent to giving it a death sentence - I will never go there. Asian fusion was the code word for Westernized Asian food. So if you love authentic Asian dishes like I do, the bastardized Asian fusion versions represent a step backwards. But lately I've been grappling with places that seem to be less about fusing two different cuisines and more Asian inspired. I started thinking that unless we allow Asian food to evolve in the United States, will authentic Asian dishes be limited to those recipes brought by immigrants to this country? Can true Asian food evolve outside of its native country?

This brings me to Take a Bao. Although there are probably better restaurants to illustrate my point, it recently opened and the thought came to me as I was biting into my Pomegranate Steak bao. I love the traditional Chinese bao filled with bbq pork or chicken. And I've also always liked peking duck where the same bao pancakes hold delicate slices of peking duck skin, with a bit of fresh scallions to cut the richness, and a brushing of hoisin sauce to extend the sweetness. So why not take the bao dough and fill it with other Asian ingredients?

The owners of Take a Bao thought of this concept and ran with it - using Asian inspired ingredients for filling such as miso braised beef, teriyaki chicken, japanese radish, pickled carrots, and marinated cucumbers. If that was done in China by an up and coming chef no one would say it was Asian fusion. But we are not in China.

So for now, Take a Bao is under Asian Fusion on FoodDigger.