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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.

3 Thai Restaurant, Pleasant Hill CA

We used to live near 3 Thai Restaurant and drove by it all the time, wondering what it was like.  Now we know, but had we known back then, it would have been one of our favorite places a long time ago.

combo plate appetizer

combo plate appetizer

The Combo Plate offered four different items for a very reasonable price.  The chicken satay is marinated and skewered, cooked with Thai herbs, spices, and coconut milk, served with peanut sauce and cucumber salad.  It was juicy, succulent, and flavor packed, plus the grill marks added a good visual appeal and enhanced the flavor.  The peanut sauce is one of the best August has tried (as Zach had never had Thai food before tonight).  The other chicken item, “3 Thai wings,” is deep fried chicken wings marinated with homemade sauce and served with crispy basil.  The wings were cooked really well, so they had crispy skin but the meat was still juicy and not at all overcooked towards the middle.  The sauce was mildly sweet and tangy.  The item opposite the chicken satay is deep fried sweet potatoes served with plum sauce and ground peanuts.  They were crispy, tender, and soft, yet still had substance so the sweet potatoes weren’t mushy.  Its sauce had a good texture contrast from the crunch of the roasted peanuts, and also a delicately sweet flavor from the plums.  The fourth item is “goong sarong” – deep fried marinated prawns, rapped in wonton skin and served with plum sauce.  Not only were these tender, juicy, and large, but also very pretty to look at with a rice noodle wrapped around the wonton.

roasted duck curry

roasted duck curry

You can select your spiciness level from 1 to 5 for the roasted duck curry, with 1 being not spicy at all.  We ordered a 2, and that was enough to open August’s sinuses, so we’re curious about what 3, 4, and 5 are like!  This dish is boneless roasted duck in coconut milk and red curry paste, with a mixture of tomatoes, pineapple, bell pepper, lychee, and basil, served in a clay pot.  The broth was nice and spicy with great coconut flavor.  It was perfect for ladling over the jasmine rice.  The duck was tender, and the fruit and vegetable mix was pleasant.  If you like duck, they give you a good amount in this.

pad thai

pad thai

The one dish that pretty much everyone is familiar with from Thai cuisine is pad thai.  Pan fried thin rice noodles cooked with chicken, prawns, egg, beansprouts, and Chinese chives, with shredded carrots, red cabbage, green cabbage, half of a lime, and ground peanuts on the side, is how 3 Thai does theirs.  There were two elements that particularly impressed us about this plate.  For one, all the vegetables were still crispy, so there was lots of texture up against the proteins and the noodles.  Secondly, Zach cannot eat unprocessed nuts or seeds, so we really appreciated that the peanuts were on the side automatically and we didn’t have to ask for a special order.  The flavor was a great balance of salty and sweet, with a mild but refreshing sourness if you choose to squeeze the lime over it.

barbeque pork shoulder

barbeque pork shoulder

Also known as kho moo yang, barbeque pork shoulder is a “Thai favorite” according to the menu.  This marinated pork is served with a four-flavor dipping sauce that is strongly spicy and mildly sweet and salty, with cilantro, Chinese chives, shallots, and some sort of pepper.  August didn’t touch the sauce because Zach knew it would be too hot for her, but the pork was deliciously sweet.  There was a good char and it was cooked really well so that it was still juicy and not dried out.

thai iced tea and thai iced coffee

thai iced tea and thai iced coffee

We drank these with our dinner, but they could have easily been a dessert beverage.  Zach surprised himself at liking the Thai iced coffee, since coffee isn’t really his thing.  Although they are pretty to look at with the cream floating on top, make sure you thoroughly mix before drinking.

Our server was also a classically trained chef and owner of 3 Thai, so we had a great time talking with him and learning about Thai food.  We are certain to be coming back to try some other items, as surely they will be as tasty as what we had tonight.

The Cheese Steak Shop, Concord CA

We’re happy to see that this chain is expanding, as it was limited to the Bay Area for a long time.  On the Cheese Steak Shop’s website they have locations, the menu, their mission statement and slogan – CAUTION: May be habit forming.  It is.

oh, the variety

oh, the variety

For you, dear reader, we ordered way more than we needed.  We wanted to show you all of the wonderful possibilities.  And no, we didn’t eat all of it – there was a man outside who was hungry, so we donated one of the sandwiches to him.

7" deluxe

7″ deluxe

Reportedly a popular pick, the Deluxe Cheese Steak features pizza sauce, mushrooms, and provolone cheese.  You have a choice of including sauteed onions, sweet peppers, and hot peppers, mixed in or on the side, for all of the sandwiches.  For this one we got it all, and now we know why it’s called the Deluxe.  FYI – for you cheese steak purists, the Cheese Steak Shop offers traditional cheese sauce, aka cheese whiz, to pour over your sandwich.

10" spinach

10″ spinach

If 7 inches isn’t enough, try 10.  The Spinach Cheese Steak also comes with mushrooms mixed into its meat and cheese, so you can fake yourself into thinking it’s “healthier.”  Undoubtedly, though, it is tasty.  The bread they use here for all their sandwiches is directly shipped from Amoroso’s Bakery in Philadelphia, as they do their best to serve “original Philly style” cheese steaks out here in the West.

15" garlic

15″ garlic

Enough to feed two people (or one active adolescent), we got this 15-incher Garlic style.  Whole roasted garlic cloves abound throughout.  For the picture we put hot peppers on the left and sweet on the right – Zach sits on the left, August on the right.

tastykakes in california!

tastykakes in california!

The first time August heard of Tastykakes was reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, and she thought they were fictitious. They are only available in Southern, Midwestern, and Northeastern states, so growing up in California, August had never heard of them.  So if you’re a fan of these but you have relocated to the Bay Area, find them at your nearest Cheese Steak Shop!

deals and specials

deals and specials

For over 30 years this chain has served delicious food, and they show their appreciation in a number of ways.  They know their sandwiches really are habit forming, and there’s no cure except more.