Soup bowls at the ready.
I’m slowly digging my way into the foodie world here on the east side of the San Francisco Bay, and as always, Meet Up has proven a good resource for meeting like-minded lovers of food and wine. In particular, I’m enjoying the Tri-Valley Foodies group run by Miggi Demeyer, a local chef and sommelier with a beautiful Chinese cookbook available on Amazon. Miggi is a force to be reckoned with, a charming event host who’ll sweep you right into her circle of friends without hesitation. Such was the case at her annual Lunar New Year Celebration last month at BK’s Bistro, a dim sum restaurant in Fremont.
Miggi making announcements at her annual fête.
For $35, we enjoyed at least twelve courses (it was hard to keep track!) and the entertainment of watching Miggi declare us all to be celebrities in our respective fields as she made introductions. She then held applause contests for the Most Festive and the Best Dressed of the night.
Miggi awarding the Most Festive award to a friend.
Then the feast commenced! First up was a selection of appetizers, a cold-cut plate if you will.
I was quite happy to enjoy both jellyfish and octopus for the first time. I say first because it was the first time I enjoyed them, not that I had them. Both are often ridiculously chewy, but BK’s did a nice job with them. Though I valiantly ate a whole slice of head cheese, I still am not a fan of that meat concoction. But I was a huge fan of the bamboo and mushroom soup with shredded chicken and scallop that came next.
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I’d been watching the Coming Soon! sign for this coffee shop with interest since I moved to Hayward in August. Downtown Hayward has few coffee options aside from the usual chain suspects. Though I enjoy both Snappy’s Café and the Bistro for my caffeine needs, Snappy’s is pretty small and the Bistro is more of a bar and music venue than a spot suitable for working. Sometimes, I just need that coffee shop escape from the home office.
Éko, which will have been open about a month at the time of this post, fits that bill. The contemporary atmosphere is appealing, especially the mod, black, circle chairs. Those are mixed in with marble tables, bursts of marsh green fabric along the booth row, and rust red and white walls. Excepting the fixed sunburst mirror and white decorative lamps in the alcove, the shop is decorated with local artwork.
But atmosphere is only half the battle, and at a coffee shop, the coffee itself is of primary importance. Éko uses Mr. Espresso beans, which is based in Alameda and roasts its coffee over oak wood. You can taste that oak, whether having the coffee steeped through French press, pour-over, or cold brew. The baristas haven’t quite mastered all those techniques yet, but they’re getting there.
I’ve had both a pour-over and a café au lait thus far and enjoyed the smoky and woodsy qualities they imparted. Those elements particularly shined in the pour-over; I’m still not entirely sure the café au lait’s milk wasn’t burnt, but I pretended otherwise and was perfectly happy with the drink. My husband had no complaints with his cappuccino.
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This was my second visit to Ribs ‘N Things, and I was as impressed by this soul food and barbecue joint as I was the first time. That first time, we were waited on for dinner in their modest dining room decorated with jazz paintings.
The dining room is roped off sometimes, but they are happy to seat you whether or not it looks unavailable. Service was lacking when we ate in, but that’s because this is a small, family-owned operation and chances are the person taking your order is also the one who’s going to cook it for you.
Both my husband and I were starving and had our own helpings of the steak tips dinner.
That was a giant mound of steak swimming in a luscious barbecue sauce that held plenty of spice and enough tang to make it unique. It was just what we’d both been wanting. And boy did Ribs ‘N Things satisfy again the next time I had a craving, this time for fried chicken. The chef/cashier made sure I knew he’d cook the fried chicken fresh so it would take a good 10 to 15 minutes, which I didn’t mind one bit. I minded even less after I took it home.
World, that was some amazing fried chicken. Just this side of too salty, so my taste buds craved that next bite of the rich, red, fried coating and moist chicken. The leg disappeared within seconds of my opening the container. There’s a healthy dose of pepper in the coating that contributes to its savory siren’s call.
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