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Rosamunde Sausage Grill, Oakland CA

rosamunde 035

various meat and vegan links (say that five times fast)

Open now for just over a month, the Swan’s Marketplace location of Rosamunde is the fourth (after two in San Francisco and one in Brooklyn, NY).  Each shop has something that sets them apart from the other three – the one on Mission St. in SF has 27 beers on tap! – and the Oakland Rosamunde, being so new, has yet to figure out its niche.  We ordered five different sausages to taste the variety, and there’s still so much left on the menu, including several vegan options.

duck with grilled onions

duck with grilled onions

All of the sausages come with your choice of up to two sides (sauerkraut, grilled onions, sweet peppers, hot peppers, and beef chili), so we mixed it up with each one to best suit the different sausages.  With the first, we noticed the French roll was fresh and grilled well, resulting in a nice crispy, crunchy outside but still soft on the inside with a good chew.  The two duck and fig sausage links were juicy and flavor-packed with a mild sweetness, but definitely more savory that sweet.  There was no gaminess to the taste, so the true duck came through.  The onions were tender and beer-braised, a tangy complement to the duck.

truffle sausage

truffle sausage

We got the truffle sausage plain in order to savor the flavor.  The meat was finely ground for a super nice texture, and the truffle flavor was more than a mere essence, as there were visible slices of truffle within the link.

mission street with beef chili

mission street with beef chili

The “Mission Street” is a knockwurst link wrapped with bacon, and for this one we tried the beef chili.  The knockwurst itself had a mild spice with a lightly smoky garlic flavor, and it was juicy but with a good snap.  The meat of the chili was tender, and the chili flavor was spicy in its own way, with cumin and curry to make the meat just slightly sweet.  August said, “The curry makes me almost like chili!” (she usually avoids it).

boudin blanc

boudin blanc

Boudin blanc here is Cajun style, as opposed to French, meaning it has a mix of rice, pork, and special Cajun spices.  This one we also ordered plain in order to see what the Cajun spices were like.  The flavor was mildly spicy with a nice green onion background.  The meat was soft and tender with some good, tasty char marks.

wild boar with grilled onions and sweet peppers

wild boar with grilled onions and sweet peppers

The wild boar sausages we dressed up the most, with grilled onions and sweet peppers to go with the apples and cranberries inside the sausage.  There was no gaminess at all which was nice since wild boar is one of the gamier meats due to the diet.  In fact, the meat taste was very mild and spiced in the same way as the duck but with a sweeter aftertaste from the fruit stuffing.

german potato salad

german potato salad

This was a good version of a German potato salad – creamy from the oil, vinegar, and mustard as opposed to loads of mayonnaise.  Traditional bacon and green onions were there, and the potatoes were cooked but still had a little bit of give to the bite.

tasty, real soda

tasty, real soda

Tonight there were about 18 beers on tap, as they were getting rid of the last of the leftover kegs from the SF Beer Week.  We couldn’t quote you the menu, since Mieko the friendly manager was swapping out the beers as they ran dry and adding new ones.  However, standard is the wide variety of real sodas, which were helpful to sip between tasting the different sausages so as to clear the palate.

Brian, Bobby Moon, and Peter were a great team behind the counter, pumping out tantalizing meals for the numerous patrons, since there’s something here for everyone  Brian helped us navigate the best options for each sausage, and Mieko was effervescent and very knowledgeable about the quartet of restaurants.  With good beer, great sausages, and the anticipation of the something-special that the others won’t have, you can bet we’ll be coming back.

La Sen Bistro, Concord CA

Once upon a time there was a Californian-French restaurant on Shattuck in Berkeley called La Rose Bistro.  Then, not too long ago, La Rose was transplanted to Concord, and is now named La Sen Bistro.  Todos Santos Plaza has a decent bevy of varied restaurants already, and La Sen Bistro is a great addition.  Of all the Todos Santos Plaza restaurants, this one likely has the best wine selection, also.

cilantro dipping sauce

cilantro dipping sauce

Instead of butter in an American restaurant or olive oil and vinegar at an Italian restaurant, we were surprised with a cilantro sauce for our bread.  With garlic, olive oil, rice vinegar, and a hint of sugar it was like a mild chimichurri.  The bread was rustic and fresh from Semifreddi’s, and we like businesses that support other local businesses.  Zach was super impressed as he hadn’t tried something like it before, so well balanced with the sweet, the herbs, the rich olive oil, and the tang that complimented the bread.

soupe a l'onion

soupe a l’onion

A traditional soup and one of the most well known dishes from French cuisine, onion soup is a true classic.  What set this one apart was the garlic croutons and broiled Emmentaler cheese (a variant of Swiss cheese).  The beef broth base was a rich backbone for the other ingredients, like the super tender savory and sweet onions (Zach “can’t believe how tender they were!”).  The croutons soaked up the surrounding flavors, including the gooey cheese with a caramelized top.

escargot de bourgogne

escargot de bourgogne

Escargot served in shells can be scary if the dishwasher doesn’t do his job in cleaning out the reusable shells.  Fortunately, we enjoyed our snails tonight without any hindrance.  Served with garlic, butter, and parsley, our six helix snails were very large and tasty.  The menu didn’t call them helix snails per se, but Zach believes they were helixes due to the size and flavor, and August believes they were because of the name – “Bourgogne” is French for Burgundy, and “Burgundy” snail is a nickname for helix snail.

côtelettes de porc à la polenta

côtelettes de porc à la polenta

This was likely the fanciest pork chop August has had.  Garlic confit, a white balsamic reduction, polenta cake, eggplant, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and a caramelized apple joined the moist and tender pork chop.  The polenta cake was deliciously crispy and crunchy on the outside, but delicate and smooth in the middle.  It soaked up the sweet and tangy sauce, but August sopped up any remaining drops with some of the Semifreddi bread.  The vegetables were al dente yet fork-tender.  She could have had a bowl of veggies on the side, they were that good.

confit de canard

confit de canard

Zach’s duck confit came with many of the same vegetables as August’s pork, plus mushrooms, an assortment of roasted potatoes, and ratatouille with red pepper and a trio of squash.  The duck was, in a word, phenomenal.  Beyond fork-tender, there were no grissly or inedible pieces.  Zach ate the whole thing and wishes he could have eaten the bone somehow.  The Madeira sauce was delicious; there are many restaurants that will make it too sweet, but this one at La Sen was balanced correctly and went really well with the ratatouille and potatoes.  The potatoes themselves were roasted beyond perfection, which resulted in flavorful caramelized sides and edges.  For the vegetarians, ratatouille with potatoes is something you could be very happy with here.

This was our first time at this new restaurant, but we both want to go back.  There were two other dishes that August and Zach each wanted to try, and we can imagine that they’ll be amazing just like tonight’s dinner was.  Everything tasted scratch-made, so hopefully next time we’ll have room for a dessert, as well.

Honey Balsamic Glazed Duck and Couscous Salad

sliced duck breast and cold couscous salad

sliced duck breast and cold couscous salad

We went to Lunardi’s today (an excellent grocery store about which we will write in a future post) specifically for the meat selection.  Duck was on the list, and we found a two-pack of breasts of Muscovy duck (aka Barbary duck) from Grimaud Farms, perfect for our dinner.  To go with one of the leanest of duck breeds, Zach made a raw vegetable couscous salad with Mediterranean inspiration.

Makes 2 (and lots of leftover couscous)

• For the couscous vinaigrette:

1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 finely minced garlic cloves

1 tsp. of dried oregano

1 tsp. of dried thyme

1 tsp. of kosher salt

1/2 tsp. of freshly cracked black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and whisk profusely until emulsified.

• For the couscous itself:

1 cup of RiceSelect couscous (we like that they work with stophungernow.org)

1 cup of water

1 large zucchini

12 grape tomatoes

1/4 cup of sliced black olives

1/8 cup of toasted pine nuts, aka pignolia

2 tsp. of butter

1 tsp. of kosher salt

Boil water, salt, and butter in a medium saucepan.  Add couscous, stirring quickly so that it doesn’t immediately settle into the water.  Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork and set aside so that it can cool.

Slice the tomatoes in half and put in a large mixing bowl.  Cut the zucchini in half, the half the halves, so that you get quarter sticks.  Dice the sticks into 1/4 inch pieces, and add to the tomatoes.  Add the cooled couscous, olives, toasted pine nuts, and vinaigrette, and gently toss so as not to break the tomatoes.  Keep cool until serving.

leftovers!

leftovers!

• For the glaze:

4 tbs. of honey

3 tbs. of balsamic vinegar

In a small non-stick saute pan on medium heat, cook the two ingredients for 4-5 minutes until the consistency is thickened like a light syrup.  Turn off the heat and let it stand.

• For the duck:

2 duck breasts (we used Muscovy for the lower fat content)

1 tbs. of peanut oil

1 tsp. of kosher salt

1/2 tsp. of freshly cracked pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Score the duck breasts (meaning: lightly slice across the skin in lines about a half-inch apart, crossing to make a checkerboard pattern) and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat the peanut oil in a large oven-proof saute pan over medium.  After about 1-2 minutes of warming up, place one duck breast skin side down; wait about 15 seconds before placing the second so that the oil doesn’t cool down.  Cook for 6 minutes, then flip over and paint the skin and sides with the honey balsamic glaze.

Bake for 8 minutes for medium-rare, 10 minutes for medium, 11 for medium-well, and then 12 for well (ha, that rhymed).  We recommend medium-rare.  After reaching your desired doneness, rest on a cutting board for 4 minutes before slicing on the bias (meaning: diagonally, like at 45 degrees into the cutting board instead of perpendicular to it).