KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: New Discoveries
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006
New Discoveries

This month has been one of discovery. We have some fun new food items in our household, and there are a lot of new things going on out there in the food world. I thought I'd share a few of my highlights with you today.


Seltzer Sisters is a Bay Area company that has been around since 1984. The company carbonates Hetch Hetchy water, puts it into reusable spritzer bottles and delivers it to your door. We are new customers, and are loving having seltzer water in our house. Bottles that we receive from Seltzer Sisters keep the water carbonated, so the water doesn't go flat once a bottle is started.

Seltzer Sisters offers you a choice of a 26 ounce glass bottle, shown above, or a 50 ounce plastic bottle. Both plastic and glass are priced at $2.50 each, so the plastic bottle is a more economical -- if not as pretty -- choice.

Though I have known about Seltzer Sisters for years, I finally was pushed to try their delivery service after lugging home another case of one-time use bottles of sparkling water from the store. The choice to have seltzer delivered instead is a more environmentally friendly one, and the water is just delicious. Many of their customers are New Yorkers who are nostalgic for the taste of egg creams or other seltzer drinks from home.

You may have tried Seltzer Sisters water in restaurants around the Bay -- their water is being offered at Elite Cafe, Slanted Door, Flea Street Cafe, and Cyrus where the seltzer is offered as a palate cleanser between two courses.

Their deliveries cover the entire Bay Area, including deliveries to Santa Cruz, Walnut Creek and Healdsburg once a month.


After what seemed like an interminable wait, Paul Bertolli's new line of salumi started showing up in local markets a few months ago. The line includes sausages, salumi, and salumetti so far, and everything that I have tried has been delicious. Bertolli was formerly the chef at Oliveto Restaurant in Oakland, where he was known for his "Whole Hog" dinners and his deft treatment of all things pig.

The salami shown above is a hefty 1.5 pound salami that measured over a foot long. When I called Cowgirl Creamery last week, I stupidly asked if they had the "large Fra' Mani" salami in stock. What I meant was a smaller salami that I had bought there a few weeks ago that was larger than a salametto, but only about 6-8 inches and under a pound in weight. I laughed when the woman brought out this giant salami, and decided to take it home anyway, as I have people in town this week who can help me eat it. The salami was about $29 -- a price that is not too outrageous when you consider the size.

The salami Gentile is marbled with fat and is seasoned with only salt, pepper, and white wine. Every taste in the salami is deliberate and clean. Eating this salami makes me realize what salami should taste like, and how many fillers I taste in other salumi that I have eaten in my life.

Anytime you see one of Paul Bertolli's offerings, I highly suggest you taste it as everything I have tasted from the new Fra' Mani line has been fantastic.


In January, as part of a post about restaurant review sites, I implied that while Chowhound has some of the best content around, their software and site management made the site almost impossible to use. Much of that has changed, as Chowhound was recently acquired by CNET and has completely changed their software platform.

The transformation occurred over the past few days, so I have only had a chance to briefly look at the software. My current evaluation of the site is one of cautious optimism. The differences between this site and the old are vast, and the new platform is very user friendly. There is a search that works, and the content going back to at least 1999 seems to have all been migrated successfully.

The new chowhound site is well worth a few minutes of your time. After almost a year of not paying much attention to Chowhound at all, I believe it may once again become a part of my browsing ritual.

photos by: flourphoto


Anonymous jeanne said...

thumbs up on the meats from THE man--quite delish; on chowhound I have to say that it was an improvement--tho as you inferred anything would be an improvement. all kiddin' aside it's quite an easy on the eye site and if you use firefox it makes for browcilious chowing.

6/27/2006 7:26 PM

Blogger Passionate Eater said...

I agree that the new Chowhound is has visually improved quite significantly. Much better than that weird entry page with the cartoon dog and also the gray discussion forum pages. The old Chowhound reminded me of how the internet looked in the Caveman Age, or in tech-speak, "in the 90s."

6/27/2006 7:45 PM

Blogger Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic said...

It's all because of Jen that I had to hide one of those sausages at Cowgirl for myself -- they are so damn good and now I'm addicted!

6/28/2006 9:37 AM


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