I have always liked clam chowder and now find myself in clam chowder mecca.  And not that icky tomato based stuff they sell in New York City.  I'm talking about the cream based delight that you can find at seafood restaurants.  They have clam chowder every where you go in the Bay Area.  I have tried it on the Fisherman's Wharf, in Sausalito, in Tiburon, in Monterey , Carmel, Santa Cruz, Napa, but I have found the best.  It has the perfect consistency and a hint of sausage plus clams that aren't too big and the right amount of salt.  You can find it at Stacey's at Waterford.  The restaurant just happens to be owned by Scott Adams of Dilbert fame and the menus are a riot to read. 

Who would have expected the best chowder to exist in an East Bay restaurant in Dublin, California? 

Now if I could just find some hushpuppies to go with that, I would be happy.





What is "Tri-Tip"?  I have never heard of the stuff before and now it is what passes for barbeque out here.  Everywhere I go, people try to serve you beef and call it barbeque.  But this tri-tip thing really floors me.

Let me set the record straight, there is only one kind of real BBQ and it has to involve pork.  There are disputes about the proper kind of sauce (whether it is mustard-based or ketchup-based) and the right kind of coleslaw to accompany it (mustard-based or vinegar-based) but the constant ingredient in the south is pork.   And you must always have a side of over-cooked, bacon flavored green beans to go with it or you just aren't havin' a good meal.  And don't get me started on Brunswick stew.  I can't find it anywhere out here.  Where's a good ole Sonny's BBQ when you need one?  I did finally succeed in locating a spot that had fried okra but  it closed a week later (the owner apparently suffered a heart attack from the greasy fare, but I bet he died happy.)



One weekend I had a hankerin' for grits.  And not just your garden variety grits (yes, y'all non-southerners, there are huge grit gardens all over the south) I wanted a good ole grits casserole with some of that fancy party plate kind of cheese.  So I set out to the local grocery establishment in search of some grits. 

A Piggly Wiggly was nowhere to be found so I had to make do with a Safeway grocery store.  After an exhaustive search, instant grits were the only thing I could find.  I don't know which city in New York birthed the inventor of this product, but I do know he has never been to the south.  Grits bear no resemblance to those freeze-dried things in a package. 

My next attempt was to try the nearest Whole Foods Store.  I figured they carried foods from foreign countries, so maybe they would think grits were exotic.  I looked high and low and couldn’t find them.  It’s then that I discovered a large bin labeled polenta.  They sure did look a lot like my favorite yellow grits.  I asked the nearest attendant about the ground corn particles in the bin and he informed me that they were polenta, NOT grits.  I thanked him and bought a pound of the so-called polenta and proceeded to prepare a large pot of yellow grits.  Oh happy day.  I just might be able to survive another month or two here. 

But don’t tell these people out here who think they are eating a fancy Italian gourmet food called “polenta” that they are actually eating good ole grits, which are at least a day old and fried in butter.  


This must be a southern thing because I can't find good ice anywhere around here. 

By good ice, I mean the kind of ice that you get at all of the finest eating establishments (places like Sonic, Zaxby's, Great American Cookie Company)and which has the consistency of snow in a cup.  It's not those perfectly sized cubes of ice, or those clunkers with the hole in the middle, no it's the ideal ice.  Fine, individually shaped particles of ice that actually improve the taste of the associated beverage.  For a person growing up in the South, that beverage of course would be either Sweet Tea or Coke.  

I have been known to make my dining choices based solely upon the type of ice provided, a fact which can make your dining options a tad limited, but this stuff is important. 

This is not a singular disorder of my own making, for I once quizzed my Mom on the "good ice" places in my hometown of Greenville, SC and she
was able to quickly add a dozen or so new dining options to my list.  This ice knowledge is clearly a deeply embedded part of proper southern upbringing.  Perhaps it has something to do with a genteel lady's inability to sweat in public.