Mom Food in Portola, Blogging Tips from Bay Area Bites

Categories: Talking Points
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Today's notes on national stories, local trends, random tastes, and other bycatch dredged up from the food media.

Tops_Cafe_Pork_Patty.JPG
Jonathan Kauffman
So not photogenic. But good.
1. Notes from Portola. Every Friday, Science Friday's Ira Flatow and I drive out to a different part of town to wander around and eat whatever comes my way. Last week, that meant San Bruno Avenue, where I picked up a loaf of red-bean-swirled bread from New City Bakery and some tamales I'll write about later in the week.

I stopped for lunch at Top's Cafe BBQ House (2460 San Bruno, at Silliman, 715-6868), which serves homestyle Cantonese food and barbecued meats. The $5.50 special I ordered off the placard in front -- steamed, salted egg with pork patty -- turned out to be the Cantonese equivalent of a patty melt: coarsely chopped pork mixed with oyster sauce and a salted egg, then steamed. The egg whites formed a glossy, silky sheath on the patty, while the yolk coalesced into a salty, umami-dense disc. Total mom food. The server told me that the chef makes his own salted eggs, and that if I wanted to try another one of his specialties I should order a dish with the preserved vegetables he makes in house. Next time.

2. Blogging Lessons. On Bay Area Bites, Sarah Henry, recently back from two big food-blogger gatherings, posts her five tips on how to be a successful food blogger. Many of the suggestions are familiar -- tell good stories, take great photos -- but they're nicely annotated with links, creating an online study guide. I might have another suggestion: Though I'm not a successful food blogger, it also seems to me that the successful blogs (at least the ones I visit) have a consistent viewpoint and a mission -- a topic or tone readers visit those blogs for.

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The "Chinese patty melt" is the first time I've seen that dish on any menu.  It is usually made only at home.  And the Chinese translation of that dish literally means "Pork Cookie" or "Pork Biscuit".  The ground pork is actually pounded with two cleavers, so you get a smooth consistency.

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