Tuesday, December 30, 2008
We were greeted right away and asked to wait in the bar area for a few minutes. Chips, salsa, and water were served right away by a friendly busboy. After about 10 minutes, we were seated at our table. We weren't greeted by our waiter for several minutes, but when he did show up we were not only ready to order our Maya Margarita, but we were also ready to order our lunch. The food took a little bit, as it was obvious that the kitchen was busy since the restaurant was a full house.
I ordered the house salad, which was green leaf lettuce, jicama, mango, and a chipotle papaya vinaigrette. I opted to add the 5 grilled tiger prawns, and it was a delicious addition. For my entree, I ordered the cheeseburger, which was served on a soft roll, and with yucca fries. It was very, very rare, but I still enjoyed it. The waiter never asked how I wanted it cooked, and I didn't even think to order it medium. I gave half to my husband, and he shared his carne asada tacos with me. The meat was tender and flavorful, and served on top of a corn tortilla, with finely diced red onion and a spicy red sauce. The tacos were served with a side of rice and pureed white beans.
The service was a tad slow, but the food was delicious as always. I will definitely return in the future! :)
Monday, December 8, 2008
I just couldn't find a recipe that would work for me, so I decided to wing it. Usually I like to follow a recipe and adapt it, but all the recipes I found called for a bunch of ingredients I either don't have or don't like.
(Americanized) Vietnamese Pho Noodle Soup
2 TBSP sesame oil
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 TBSP whole pepper corns
1/2 tsp sea salt
10 thin slices of fresh ginger
2 carrots, julienned
2 mini bell peppers, thinly sliced
4 cups beef broth
1 bundle of rice noodles
cilantro, loosely chopped
lime, cut into wedges
1 red and 1 green chili peppers, minced
Sriacha or homemade hot chili pepper sauce
Saute the cinnamon stick, onion, garlic, peppercorns, salt, ginger, carrots & bell peppers in sesame oil until soft, about 8 minutes. Add beef broth, bring to boil, simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, add the noodles and cook until soft..mine took 4 minutes.
Divide the noodles into 4 soup bowls, ladle the broth over the noodles, garnish with cilantro, lime, and hot chili sauce.
There is a lot I would do differently next time. For one, I would get some lemon grass in there, and the other is that I would strain out the ginger, peppercorns, & garlic from the broth after letting those simmer for a few minutes.....and then I would add the rest of the vegetables and let them simmer for 15 minutes or so.
Other than the annoyances of biting into the garlic, ginger, and especially those peppercorns, the flavor was really, really good!!! Even my kids liked it....course, they didn't add the hot sauce or chili peppers...those really added some major heat.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Bean Salad w/Citrus juice & Hot sauce:
- 2 pounds store-bought, trimmed fresh green beans or mix yellow wax and green beans, coarsely chopped on an angle
- 1 orange, juiced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Fill a high sided skillet with 1 inch of water and bring to simmer. Liberally salt the water. Add beans and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and cool under running cold water.
Whisk juices and hot sauce together in a shallow salad bowl and stream in olive oil. Add beans and toss to coat. Season the beans with salt and pepper, to taste.
I got this recipe below from Alosha's Kitchen, but she got it from The Kitchen Sink. I've made it about 3 times and its just so tangy and yummy!!! I'd never bought chipotle in adobo sauce before, but now I always keep a can on hand!
Chipotle Corn Salad
courtesy of The Kitchen Sink
4 ears of corn
1 medium Vidalia or Walla Walla onion, thickly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for garnish
1 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chives, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 head of romaine, sliced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the corn and onion slices with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat until charred in spots but still slightly crisp, about 7 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut the kernels from the cobs and coarsely chop the onion. Add the sliced tomatoes.
In a medium bowl, mix the sour cream with the lime juice, chopped chipotle chiles, sliced chives and salt and pepper, to taste. Add the sliced romaine to the bowl and stir to coat the lettuce with the dressing. Arrange the dressed romaine on a platter.
Top with the corn mixture. Arrange the sliced avocado on top of the corn mixture. Garnish with chives and lime wedges.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
My mom used to bake this bread every Christmas and put into individual tins wrapped in colorful cellophane to give to family, friends, & neighbors. It was a big hit and everyone looked forward to it every year. The bonus was that the lemons came from our lemon tree in the back yard.
Nancy's Lemon Bread
1 med. lemon
2 1/4 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar, plus 2 tsp more for glaze
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 c. butter or margarine
3/4 c. milk
From one lemon, grate all peel, squeeze juice, set aside. (I like to put my lemon in the microwave for about 10 seconds and then roll it around on the counter to make it juicer)
In large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, & salt with fork. Cut in butter until mixture resembles course crumbs. Stir in lemon peel.
In small bowl, slightly beat eggs with fork, stir in milk, then stir this mixture into flour mixture just until flour is moistened.
Spoon into greased pan, bake 1 hour or until lightly browned. Cool in pan 10 minutes.
In small saucepan over med-hi heat, whisk lemon juice & 2 tsp. sugar to boiling. Cook, stirring until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Brush with pastry brush evenly over top of bread.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Grandma Tillie's Barbequed Pork Tenderloin
4 TBSP ketchup
3 TBSP Hoisin sauce
1 tsp 5 Spice
5 slices of fresh ginger
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 TBSP Mirin (or sherry)
1 TBSP sugar
3 pounds pork tenderloin
Chinese Hot Mustard
Toasted sesame seeds
- In a large glass dish, mix Hoisin, 5 Spice, ginger, garlic, ketchup, & salt. Add the pork, and smother.
- Marinate overnight.
- Put water in bottom of roasting pan. Arrange pork on rack. Bake in preheated oven, 350 degrees, for one hour and 15 minutes. Turn once during roasting and baste with extra sauce.
- Cool, then chill. Serve thinly sliced with hot mustard, ketchup, and toasted sesame seeds.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Anyway, several years ago, a good friend of mine invited us over for dinner. She made a chicken pot pie. I must have made a funny face, because she picked up on the fact that I was not too thrilled about her menu! So, I admitted my dislike and told her my reason, but like a trooper, agreed that I was open to trying her homemade version. I have to say, it was actually very, very delicious!!! I always wanted to ask her for the recipe, but never did. Last week I was looking for a new chicken recipe in my new Taste of Home cookbook that I won over at Dine & Dash a few weeks ago. I adapted this recipe that is actually for a turkey pot pie, but I had chicken, so chicken it is. You can use either one.
Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust (should sit out for 15 minutes)
1 large potato, peeled & diced
4 carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP butter
1 -14 oz can reduced sodium chicken broth
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
2 cups cubed cooked chicken (I used a store bought rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp pepper
- In a large saucepan, saute potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in butter for about 5 or 6 minutes. Add broth, cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine flour and milk until smooth. Gradually add to vegetable mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add the remaining ingredients; simmer 5 minutes longer.
- Fit crust onto a pie tin. Pour hot filling into crust. Place the second crust on top; crimp edges. Cut slits in top of crust.
- Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes or until crust is light golden brown. Serves 6.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Adapted it from a crockpot recipe and I made my own variations.
- 6 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 3 tomatoes, diced
- 2 cup stewed tomatoes
- 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 12 oz pkg small whole wheat seashell pasta
- Parmesan cheese for garnish
How easy is that? Feel free to mess around with the liquid and spices, etc. More, less, navy beans instead of kidney beans, throw in some carrots if you don't like celery, etc.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Buffalo Chicken Soup (adapted from A year of Crock Potting, who adapted it from RecipeZaar.....but you know me....I always have to make my own changes! :)
* 1 yellow onion, finely diced
* 3 stalks celery, finely diced
* 3 TBSP butter
* 3 TBSP cup flour
* 3/4 cup milk
* 3/4 cup chicken broth
* 2 cups diced cooked chicken***
* 1/4-1/2 cup chicken wing sauce
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
* 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
* 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
1 tbsp. EV olive oil
1 large Walla Walla onion, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1 large leek, sliced, white part only
salt & pepper
generous dash of ground Thyme
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
4 cups vegetable broth
3 tbsp. white wine
2 sm. celery stalks with leaves on
1 bay leaf
4 potatoes, peeled & quartered
Saute the onions, shallot, & leek in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the spices & melt in the butter. Add the flour, mix to make a roux. Stir in the broth & wine. Add the celery & potatoes, bring to a boil, simmer until the potatoes are cooked. Discard the celery & bay leaf.
Normally I'm not a fan of the blender and I prefer my soups chunkier, but in this instance, because of all of onions, etc., I used the blender in an attempt to fool the kids. I'm calling it Baked Potato soup as far as they are concerned! LOL Also, you can first brown some bacon and add the onion/leek mixture to that as oppossed to the olive oil. I'm still trying to avoid red meat. Its really hard!!!
Update on my bleu cheese/pecan dip: I bought some from Trader Joes today and checked the ingredients. I was pretty damned close except theirs has milk, more spices, and preservatives. I tasted the TJ's dip and damned if mine isn't much better! ;) Theirs is a thinner consistency, whereas mine was much thicker. I'd probably thin my down a little bit next time, but I'm thinking I will stick with my home made version from now on!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
*First, you want to preheat your oven to 400, carefully cut your squash into quarters, seed it, dot it with butter, sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar on top, then bake for about 45 minutes or until its soft. OMG yum. And if you're lucky, you'll have some leftover for another use. Be sure to discard the skin before adding to the soup.*
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup (1/4-inch) diced onion
- 1/4 cup (1/4-inch) diced celery
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Sea salt, preferably gray salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- About 4 cups reduced sodium chicken stock or vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon ground toasted coriander, optional
- 1 1/2 cups roasted butternut squash (see above)
- 1/2 cup half-and-half, optional--but I recommend it!
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, celery, and cinnamon stick and saute until soft but not brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the stock/broth and the coriander, if using, and bring to a boil. Simmer for several minutes. Stir in the squash until smooth, then simmer gently to let the flavors meld, about 10 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Mash the squash inside the pan, or if you want you can put it in a blender. I didn't. I like a chunkier soup.
Add the half-and-half, if using. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serves 4-6.
Now I'm dying to try Cowgirl Yoga's Curried Pumpkin Soup! It sounds delicious and I have all the ingredients on hand. I've been slowly dropping subtle (and not so subtle) hints to my husband that I really want to go to a retreat next summer in Big Sky, Montana! It sounds so amazing!!! Keeping my fingers crossed!
Trader Shelley's Blue Cheese & Pecan Dip:
8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
2 oz low fat sour cream
3 oz bleu cheese crumbles (you could adjust more or less to your tasting)
1 oz pecans, smashed up into pieces
Cracked pepper to taste
Mix thoroughly and enjoy! I love it with celery, in particular.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Their parking lot is really tiny, so we had to park up the street, which gave us a nice little walk on a beautiful evening. We were seated promptly in a lovely booth in the small dining room next to the bar. Its a very lively place and the patrons were all very well dressed. I had heard that its one of those seen and be seen kind of places, and it was. I loved the ambiance.
We were greeted right away by our very attentive waitress. We finally decided on the "Double Dip" onion rings and the Heirloom tomato flatbread as our appetizers. Both were very good, although, I've had much better onion rings before. These were thinly sliced and very light, but I guess I prefer a thicker slice and a little more batter.
It was challenging to find something for the kids to eat, but it turns out that they did have a kids menu. Bella ordered the cheeseburger and so you know I had to try it! Delicious!!! Rori had her usual pasta with butter and cheese. Boring child. My husband ordered the Steak Frites and the bite I tasted was delicious. I ordered the Filet Mignon with Pt. Reye's Bleu Cheese & Broccolini. I didn't think it would be enough, so I ordered a side of creamed spinach. My steak was perfectly cooked, but the broccolini seemed a bit tough to me. Everything was absolutely wonderful. We even ordered dessert, seeing as how it was my birthday! Bella and my huband shared the Butterscotch pudding, while I eagerly attacked my chefs selection of cheese. It had sliced apples and a few pieces of toasted artisan bread. I couldn't finish it all; it was too huge! I didn't even mind the one cheese which was doused in honey and golden raisins.
I give Bungalow 44 5 stars and I really look forward to returning. Next time we'll go alone or with another couple. Its not that its not kid-friendly, but its just more of a party scene. Lively and bubbly. A great place to spend my birthday!
Today we head up north to shop for costumes and to pick some pumpkins. After that, we're stopping in at Guy Fieri's place, Tex Wasabi. Yum! Can't wait!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
2 Tbsp EV Olive Oil
2 lbs stew meat
1 large Walla Walla Onion, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
2 Pasilla peppers, diced
2 red jalapeno peppers, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tomatoes, diced
1 bottle of dark beer
2 cups stewed tomatoes (fresh, homemade :)
5 cups chicken stock
salt & pepper
4 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tsp cumin seed
1 Tbsp Chipotle in Adobo sauce
2 lgt.cans black beans
2 sm. cans kidney beans
1 sm. can garbanzo beans
Brown beef in olive oil. Set aside. Saute onion, peppers, & carrots in reserved oil from meat until soft. Add garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add beer and cook until liquid evaporates. Add stewed tomatoes, chicken broth, and spices. Bring to boil, simmer for an hour. Add all the beans and the diced fresh tomatoes, cook for another 3o minutes. Garnish with cilantro, toasted cumin sour cream (see below) and avocado.
Toast 1 Tbsp cumin seed in a saute pan over medium high heat, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a bowl, add 1 cup sour cream, salt, pepper, and cumin seeds. Mix, chill for at least one hour so the flavors can marry. This was also adapted from Bobby Flay, but I omitted the lime juice because I didn't have any lime.
This was delicious!!!!! Maybe a little too thin of consistency, so I would add less liquid next time. The beer was a great flavor enhancer! :)
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
4 large tomatoes, chopped
2 red jalapenos, seeded & minced
1 small shallot (any onion is fine)
1 tsp ground cumin
a few whirls of freshly cracked pepper and salt
Mix together in bowl, check spices, chill.
Last night I made spaghetti. It turned out pretty good. I winged it and did not follow a recipe, but i sort of followed my grandmas recipe from memory.
Sweet Italian Sausage
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large Walla Walla onion, chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 carrots, sliced
8 oz mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 cups stewed tomatoes (mine were fresh from my garden! :) or a 15 oz can.
28 oz can tomato sauce
6 oz can of tomato paste
15 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp each: oregano, thyme
8-10 basil leaves, torn
1 Tbsp sea salt
2 large bay leaves
1/4 cup red wine
1/2 cup water
Fresh pepper to taste
Brown sausages; set aside.
Saute vegetables in until soft, about 10-15 mintes. Add remaining ingredients (except for the sausages), bring to a boil, turn to low, and simmer for about 2 hours. Add more water if needed, check frequently for spices. Add the sausages the last 30-45 minutes. Yield: 8 servings.
Serve over hot pasta. I used half regular linguini, half whole wheat linguini. Its a good way to trick the kids. :)
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I made a beautiful Caprese salad with more tomatoes from my garden. I chopped up 4 medium tomatoes, threw in some pearl mozzarella, torn basil (from my window garden), freshly ground salt & pepper, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and some red wine vinegar. Its all marrying together in the fridge, so in about an hour it will be perfect. Its also good at room temperature.
First, you boil some water then drop in a few tomatoes at a time. Leave in until the skin bursts (I scored the "belly button" first), remove with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl filled with cold water until they are cool enough to peel.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, saute some bell peppers & onion in butter until soft. Hand crush the peeled tomatoes into the pot, add some salt, pepper, a little bit of sugar, some basil, & a few bay leaves. Bring to a boil; simmer for about 2 hours, covered. Remove bay leaves, let tomatoes cool, then transfer to quart size freezer ZipLocks and store in freezer until needed for your next recipe that calls for stewed tomatoes.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Buffalo Chicken Soup:
- 1 medium Walla Walla or Vidalia onion, chopped
- 3 stalks, celery, chopped
- 2 TBSP butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 3/4 cup skim milk
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken
- 1/4-1/2 cup chicken wing sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- Saute onions and celery in butter until tender.
- Stir in flour until smooth.
- Slowly add milk and broth.
- Add remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally, until cheese has melted.
I think we're going out to dinner tonight, so I'll do a review next. And hopefully, I'll have some race training details to add....since my race is in 14 days!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
"Dang Cold Asian Noodle Salad, by Guy Fieri:
1 package soba noodles (I used 2 bundles and it was plenty...there were 3 in the package)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon hot chili oil
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (I cut it down to 4)
1 carrot, thinly sliced or julienned
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced or julienned
5 green onions, bottom 4 inches, thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced napa cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced or julienned
1/2 cup julienned bok choy
1 cup bean sprouts, optional
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted, for garnish
4 tablespoons unsalted peanuts, for garnish
In a medium stock pot, boil water, add salt and cook noodles. When finished, place noodles in an ice water bath to cool. Drain and set aside.
In a medium bowl combine, sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, hot chili oil, hoisin and extra-virgin olive oil. Mix thoroughly and then combine prepared vegetables and noodles.
Garnish with sesame seeds and peanuts."
I did not use peanuts, and I would let it chill for an hour or two next time, so that the flavors have a chance to marry. I didn't take pictures. I'm trying to remember to do that. I think this salad would go amazingly with Guy's Wasabi Sake-Tini!!! He puts powdered wasabi on the rim of the glass, mixes vodka & sake, and garnishes it with a pickled ginger stuffed olive. OMG! Yum! Guy, can you feel my love?
Tomorrow I'm going to make the Buffalo Chicken Soup that Stef at 365 Days of CrockPotting posted a few days ago. I marinated the chicken in the buffalo sauce before I baked the chicken tonight. I would have made it today, but I'm out of Velveeta. Well, its just not something I always have on hand. What can I say? But God, this soup...it looks so good!!! Can't wait to try it.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
The goulash turned out really good. I had a bunch of mushrooms so I added those in for the heck of it and also to make up for the fact that I didn't have enough tri tip. I made a gorgeous cucumber salad, too, which turned out good. The Basil-Lemon sorbet? No so good. It was just way too sweet! And I cut the sugar from 2 cups to 1 and 3/4!! The basil was weird, but interesting. I should have used more mint, too.
My husband and I went to see "Burn After Reading" this afternoon. OMG, it was hysterical!!!! I was dying! There was this little old lady sitting by herself in front of me and she was laughing so loudly it cracked me up. She was laughing so loudly and for so long at this one scene where it was not even funny! It was sad, actually, but I won't give it away! Oh, why not? No one reads this! LOL It was when Brad Pitts' character was "offed"! I was bummed because he was so funny!! I won't tell "you" who else died, though! ;)
I am tripping out on how Twitter works. I mean, I get it, but I see something that sparks my interest and I try to follow the "conversation", but can't. Its kind of frustrating. There was some buzz about someone being on some talk show and I was finally, after lots of searching, finally able to figure out that a few of my favorite food bloggers are going to be on Martha Stewart on Wednesday. How fun! I'll have to tape it.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I made the best Tiramisu yesterday! Its the first time I made it and well, it turns out that I'm really good at it! LOL You just beat together 3 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 TBSP strong coffee or espresso, & 2 TBSP brandy or cognac for about 3 minutes. Fold in 8 ozs Mascarpone cheese and beat for about 4 minutes until smooth & creamy. Then in a separate bowl, you whip 3 egg whites & a apinch of sugar until it forms soft peaks. Dip the bottom half of 10-12 lady fingers into espresso or coffee, then layer the cheese mixture on top, sprinkle some cocoa powder ( I used Green & Blacks organic), keep layering, and Well-a! Tiramisu! My kids complained that it was too wet on the bottom, but I think its perfectly delicious and my husband agrees.
I put the freezer barrel in the freezer two days ago so I guess I ought to get busy and make that Basil Lemon Sorbet I've been meaning to make. Doesn't that sound good? It has mint in it, too. Yum.
I'm not keeping up with this blog much. I love reading all the other great food blogs out there!! I'm totally addicted to it. Between the weight loss blogs and the food/recipe blogs, I am on the computer way too much!! So, having said that, I better get myself into the kitchen and figure out how to do goulash in the crock! My meat is still frozen, sooo.....yea, I'm kind of screwed. I wanted to brown it first, but this was a last minute idea..well, I've been putting it off for over a week now, so not so last minute. I'm rambling, but who cares? I have no readers! LOL
Monday, August 25, 2008
The birthday dinner was held at Ca Bianca in Santa Rosa. It's in a gorgeous white Victorian House with the most beautiful garden in the front yard, which is surrounded by a white picket fence. We had a reservation for 9 since 3 ladies missed spa day and were just meeting us there. We were greeted and seated right away in a small room located near the back of the house. Our waitress was great, the service was excellent, and the food was delicious. Now, I had not eaten all day and I was famished, so it may be that reason that I felt that the portions were small, but in retrospect, I still do think they could have been larger. Especially since we had 9 people sharing appetizers. We started with Beef Carpaccio, Caprese Salad, Eggplant, and Polenta. They were all amazing and delicious! For my entree, I had the Chicken Picatta. The chicken itself was delicious, but the sauce could have been more lemony and the side was a tiny portion of salty, diced potatoes & bell peppers--it reminded me of a breakfast hash. Again, the portion of the entree was very small for this ravenous girl. The waitress brought out a trio of desserts with a candle for Melissa: Chocolate Mousse w/ mini Biscotti, Apple Tartlette w/ Vanilla Ice Cream, and Tiramisu. Delicioso!
Thursday, August 7, 2008
We went back to Picante's the other day because we were in the mood for fish tacos. I should have tried the pork to see if it was any better than last time, but I just wanted a fish taco. It was really good with grilled Mahi Mahi, red & green cabbage, a slice of avocado, and salsa verde. They have the best salsa! I really do like Picante and I'm sure we will continue to go there.
We finally had a chance to try Bobby's Cafe in downtown San Rafael a couple of weeks ago. I was not very impressed with either the ambiance nor the food. The service was ok until our waiter disappeared for about 15 minutes at the end of the meal, making us wait way too long for our bill. We couldn't wait to get out. We ordered 2 items off of the "Specialties" section of their menu: Fish & Chips and a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. Both were just terrible. The fish was overly battered & greasy. The chicken was like a frozen chicken tender and the baguette it was served on was too hard to bite into. I wish Bobby and his crew all the luck, but we won't be returning any time soon. Maybe they serve up a good breakfast; I don't know.
Now Jason's, on the other hand, was delicious!! His old space was in an industrial area of San Rafael and did well there for a little over 3 years. Well, when Giorgio's moved out a few months back, Jason didn't waste any time moving in. And I have to say, maybe he should have. The decor was a little bit tired and I would have liked to seen at least some new, updated carpet. I have a few complaints regarding the service, but the food was actually pretty amazing.
We did not have a reservation, so we put our names in around 6:40 pm on a Saturday. We were quoted a wait of 40 minutes, then they said 45-60. Not a good sign especially since there were clearly several unoccupied tables. We decided to wait in the bar and have a cocktail. At about 7:30, we were offered a deuce that we saw at least 2 couples refuse (they did not appear to have a reservation, and I even asked one couple if they did, and they said no), so we of course refused. It was right in front of the kitchen and I wanted to be in the dining room or the patio. Well, at 8:00, I was quite upset. I was hungry and cranky. I told the hostess, who I think was Jason's mom, that we had been waiting well over an hour and we'd seen many people who came in after us being seated. Turns out the other, younger hostess was somehow under the impression that we were waiting for the patio. No idea how she thought that, but whatever. So, we finally get seated, waited at least 10 minutes before we were greeted by our waitress, Jennifer. I'm just going to leave it at this: the table service did not improve and was very, very slow. She didn't seem bombed, just not in a hurry, I guess.
We ordered the Dragon Prawns appetizer which was out of this world!!! Tempura prawns are drizzled with a wasabi aioli sauce, chili oil and tobiko on top of a cucumber salad. Yum! We also shared a delicious bleu cheese salad. Then for our entree's, my husband ordered and enjoyed the Seared Cajun Ahi Tuna, which was served with a mango salsa over a bed of garlic mashed potatoes, and these amazing crispy tempura fried green beans on the side! I ordered the Blackened Rib Eye Steak, which was cooked beyond the medium I asked for, but it was still delicious, and served sliced over a bed of jalapeno mashed potatoes that were to die for. We did not have room for dessert, but next time--and there will be a next time--I'm going to have the Bananas Foster.
Bottom line: Check out Picante, avoid Bobby's, but run as fast as you can to Jason's...but be sure to secure a reservation!!
Saturday, August 2, 2008
We were greeted immediately & seated at a large booth right by the front door. Next time I wouldn't mind getting a bit more into the dining room, but we were content. The decor was nice and warm, the walls were adorned with artwork by local artists, and the place was packed! And a bit loud. I think it would also be nice to sit outside on the lovely patio on a nice day. Our waiter, Luca, was so sweet and attentive! We loved Luca. His Italian accent was adorable.
For starters, we ordered my favorites: Beef Carpaccio & Caprese salad. They were delicious! The beef was thinly sliced and had capers and a slight drizzle of dijon mustard, and the Caprese had thick slices of tomato topped with thick slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, strips of basil, and a drizzle of olive oil. My daughter had a Caesar salad and it was light and devoid of anchovies, which we appreciated!
On to the entrees. My daughter had the Mushroom & Sausage Pizza, without the mushrooms. She liked it alot. My husband and I decided to share two dishes: the Tortellini with Proscuitto & Peas in a creamy white sauce and the Chicken Saltimbocca, which was served with some steamed veggies & what appeared to be scalloped potato slices. Both dishes were excellent!!!
We even decided to order dessert, which is rare. I had the tiramisu (lady fingers, rum, espresso, & marscarpone) my daughter had the affogato al caffe (vanilla ice cream with whipped cream and espresso), and my husband had proffiterol (tiny cream puffs, chocolate sauce, & ice cream). Again, they were all absolutely delicious and made in house by their passionate pastry chef!
Aurora & Carlo Scatena also own Arrivederci and are co-owners of Caccicucco Cucina Toscana here in Marin. We've been to both places a few years back, but those visits were not as memorable as this visit was. Aurora rocked our socks!
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
So, I'm a runner. It took me a long time to get here, but I do love to run and I've already done a half marathon, a 10K, and a 5K. I've been shopping around for another 10K and I think its gonna be either the Golden Gate Presidio Trail 10K or the Embarcadero 10K-they are both on November 9th. I wanted to do the Napa Valley Stomp 10K on September 27th, but we have tickets to the Giants/Dodgers game on the 26th. And there will be beer involved. My husband I are planning on staying over so we don't have to drive home. We usually take the ferry, but its a night game, and I don't think it will be running that late. It doesn't matter because I won't fee like running the next morning anyway. I'm excited about seeing my beloved Dodgers! I hope they win again like they did when we went to the game on July 6th. I'm from Los Angeles, what can I say? I like the Giants, too. After all, my favorite color is orange.
Anyway, the problem is that I've been slacking off on the running. Big time. I've only run a little over 6 miles this month!!! I have 2 more days, so I could probably get in another 4-6 miles, but still. On average, I like to run 3-4 miles a day, preferably 4-5 days a week. My goal is to get back to that. Which is why a race is in order....I need something to train for!!! I have had all kinds of excuses not to run: its too windy, its too hot, too humid, etc. But the real reason is I'm just too lazy. Sometimes the gear is just too much of a hassle! Those sports bras are torture chambers, the lycra sticks to my skin when I sweat, and every time I put my running shoes on the dogs start barking and jumping because they know that I will be walking them as my warm up. You know, just writing this makes me realize that those are such lame ass excuses! LOL Just lace up my shoes and go running already!
Ok, so I enjoy running and love the Dodgers. I also love the Rolling Stones. I love the beach and love to shop. Oh, and I'm on a womens doubles tennis league that I enjoy. I also love to cook and have been obsessed with some really great food blogs that I've found. I've been adding them randomly-without permission. Oops. I think thats ok, though, isn't it? I mean, when I see my name on someones friends list I get a little smile on my face. I love all my friends over at extrapounds.com. I've lost 44 pounds with the help of that website and all the friends I've made. But I've been blogging there for over 2 years now and I am feeling like I've worn out my welcome. I still need to lose about 10 pounds, but its not happening. I'm eating ok but I am not exercising as much as I should. That needs to change.
I'm excited that I have a new place to write! I still need to review Jason's new restaurant in Greenbrae. The food is fantastic! Next time!
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Anyway, we headed to downtown San Rafael and stopped for a beer at the Broken Drum Brewery. Its been there for several years now...I remember when they first opened. Boy does time fly! We each ordered a different beer, and they were all good. I had the pale ale and it was lighter than your average pale ale. We also shared an order of onion rings, which were light and airy and yummy! Not greasy and the crust was very smooth. It was served with Ranch dressing....I'm not sure what else I would have preferred instead. I guess usually I just eat those plain.
Next we headed down the road a bit to Fujiyama, where we had reservations, unnecessarily. There was only one or tables seated, and we were greeted right away by one of the owners. Apparently, its husband and wife owned and operated. I saw no other employees, in fact. We sat down and were served a small bowl of steamed soybeans...we had no clue where to put the shells, though. Then she brought us a small bowl of a spinach salad that was really delicious! It had a sesame seed dressing and a tan/brown-ish curly little vegetable that I have no clue what it was. It was kind of nutty tasting. I could have eaten the whole bowl myself. 2 orders of seaweed salad were ordered, too, but one taste and I was done.
Next came the sashimi: yellow tail tuna and albacore tuna. I preferred the albacore. We had to wait quite a while before I finally got up and asked for some plates.
We all sort of agreed to order some large rolls: the Marin Roll, the California roll with real crab (ordered by me), and the Rainbow roll. The problem was that we forgot to order all of them with real crab. That put a huge damper on things for me. So, I ended up going home hungry since all I had was a few soybeans, a few bites of the spinach salad, 3 pieces of sashimi, and about 3 pieces of the roll. I didn't want to be assertive or offensive by ordering something more to my liking. Also, I would have tried more if they hadn't used imitation crab in the rolls. And clearly, there just wasn't enough to go around, anyway. I mean, I didn't want to eat all 6 (only 6!!) pieces of California roll.
Although the service was for the most part very attentive, I felt that the sushi was just average. I don't think we will return. The owners were most gracious, though.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
There were several patrons there, and many of them were Latin, so I took that as a good sign! :) The overhead fans were loud and windy and the music was also very loud, but other than that, it was a fun atmosphere.
Rory had a cheese quesadilla, which was really, really cheesy, to the point of being super greasy. Bella had a rice, bean, & cheese burrito. They don't have a kids menu, so it was a huge burrito and she wasn't able to finish it. She said it was perfect. My husband had a "super" carne asada burrito and he loved it. It had steak, rice, beans, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. I chose the regular carnitas burrito, but I didn't "love" mine. It would have been delicious if the pork had not been so dry and hard. It had good potential, though. It was stuffed with tasty Spanish rice, salsa, and pinto beans. Their homemade bottled hot sauce was really good with a nice kick to it.
Maybe it was just a bad "pork" day at Picante. I'm sure we will go back again some day; maybe I'll try the fish tacos next time.
I'm dying to try the new Jason's in Greenbrae so I can review it. I never had the opportunity to visit his old location in San Rafael, and I'm glad to see he got better "digs" in the old Giorgio's spot by the water. And we will have to give Bobby's a try sometime, too.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I ordered a mini cheese pizza on the NY thin crust for Rory and a mini cheese pizza w/black olives and mild Italian sausage (regular crust) for Bella. They raved about it. I also got them some Minestrone soup, which is always good, even if it is 100 degrees out. The soup was more on the warm side, but full of huge chunks of veggies (cabbage, carrots, green beans, etc), pasta, & kidney beans.
I ordered the Amici's Combo for us. It has pepperoni, bacon, sauteed mushrooms, & black olives. Since theres so much stuff, it isn't wise to go with the thin crust, so I went with the regular. I also ordered an antipasto salad with salami, mozzarella, pepperoncini's, red onion, kalamata onions, & mustard Italian vinaigrette. Yum. At first the guy said he left it at the restaurant, but thankfully, he left it in the car and I got my salad!
I give Amici's a big thumbs up. Its not as good as Mulberry Street Pizza (they won the Food Network Mushroom Lovers award!!), bu they don't deliver. One of these days, when its not 100 degrees out, I'll drive down and pick it up. Its worth it.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
The menu was pretty basic with some good surprises tossed in. I had a house salad, which was served with mixed greens, red onion rings, tomato, cucumber, and bleu cheese dressing. It was delish.
My entree was a hot pastrami sandwich served on light rye bread with swiss cheese, a generous portion of pastrami, pickles, mayo, and much to my surprise, avocado! It really wasn't the best pastrami sandwich, but I think the main problem was that the pastrami was kind of dry and a bit tough/fatty. I had my choice of side salad, potato salad or fries, and I chose the fries. They were a little greasy, but they were good. The service really couldn't have been friendlier or better, honestly. We weren't completely blown away by the food, but I think I just ordered badly. We've already decided that we will come back and give dinner a try.
Monday, May 12, 2008
We were seating immediately at a table with a gorgeous view of Belvedere, Angel Island, and of San Francisco. We were greeted right away, our cocktails arrived in a timely manner, but they were not garnished and my husbands vodka tonic was lacking vodka and the tonic was flat. So he sent it back and ordered red wine instead. I was bummed that my dirty martini was lacking olives, and my daughter was equally upset about the lack of cherries in her Shirley Temple. No garnish? I ordered her another one and had to request cherries in this one
Our next disappointment was that they were out of steamed clams. However, they kept enough on hand for the paella & bouillabaisse. Hmmmm. We were all looking forward to some steamed clams, but instead, we ordered fried calamari & a Colossal prawn cocktail. I loved the presentation of the calamari. It was battered and breaded, fried a golden brown, and served in a newspaper printed paper cone inside metal spiral cone. It was served with cocktail sauce, a chipotle aioli, lemon remoulade, & cocktail sauce. It was good. The prawn cocktail was not very "colossal". There were only 4 prawns, 3 of which were decent sized, one of which was considerable smaller, and they were very tough. The cocktail sauce was described on the menu as "spicy", however, it was not spicy at all. We love spicy. The hotter, the better.
My girls ordered pasta: one with marinara, one with butter & parmesan. These portions were very tiny and the parmesan was absent. They were still hungry, so we knew dessert were in their future. My husband ordered the Seared Sea Scallops with ravioli and he was very happy with the flavors, but again, the portion was small. I ordered the Surf & Turf after much consideration. I wasn't sure how the quality would be based on our appetizers. But it actually had potential. It was an 11 oz New York steak which I ordered medium well, but came extremely well done, and about a 3 oz lobster tail. The flavor of the steak was good, but because it was so over cooked, it was a bit tough. If I order my steak medium, its always too rare, so its always hit or miss with my medium well preference. The lobster was also tough. The mashed potatoes were of good consistency, but rather salty. The green beans were perfectly cooked and delicious. My entree was a good size portion, and I took home more than half of my steak.
We rarely order dessert, but we did last night. My daughter chose the raspberry & mango sorbet duet, I ordered the Tiramisu, and my husband and other daughter shared a "Fishbowl hot fudge sundae". The desserts were all very good, but the word "fishbowl" implied a larger portion than what was actually served.
The service was slow and just plain bad. It was a holiday and our waiter was busy, but it just took longer than necessary. I know he was trying to be attentive, but he only did what he had to do and was just not overly helpful. I was content just enjoying my time with my family on Mothers Day, so I did not complain. I don't think we'd go back, though. Maybe if we just want a beer and some fish & chips after a long day of touristy sightseeing when in the area, but we won't have high expectations. We really should have gone to my absolute favorite, The Spinnaker. But we went there last year for Mothers Day and we wanted to try something new. One thing I've learned is to not try new places for special holidays. Go to somewhere tried and true.
I've been ignoring this blog for too long. Honestly, dining and writing reviews is a passion of mine, so I need to get here and blog more often.