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The Tasty Memoir



The delicious account of 2 foodies



Updated: 2017-07-29T01:38:44.653-07:00

 



Wedding Food Tasting

2012-03-01T08:16:51.123-08:00

The Santaluz Club | http://www.santaluz.com/A few posts ago I announced that EHK and I would be getting hitched. It was quite an arduous task finding a venue. My bridesmaids, close friends and EHK can attest to my frustration at the limited amount of options available that presented a reasonable balance in cost, aesthetics and decent food. I had hopes for a June nuptial so of course the pressure was on to find a venue that was free and met our criteria. That proved quite a challenge as venue after venue we visited were either out of our intended budget, not free this June (we were looking last May so what the heck?) or there was just something off about the venue. We finally came across The Santaluz Club, a country club inside the Santaluz community after months of searching and it measured up to what we were looking for. Plus it was pretty close to home... 6 miles away. Why didn't we think to visit sooner?A while back we visited Santaluz to do a meal tasting (Sorry no photos of the venue since it was pouring rain and we were more interested in getting under a roof at the time). We were pretty happy with all the items below with the exception of the tomato basil bruschetta so I think we'll be switching that out for something else. I really liked the salmon as the fish still came out with the glaze instead of just tasting glaze. I was also a big fan of the crispy dumplings. The manager claimed it was all veg but it tasted meaty. Either way, I'm sure the guests will like it and not miss the meat if there really was no meat. Coconut shrimp wasn't bad either, plump and not too heavily battered. We'll be having a mashed potato bar too but its not pictured. Who doesn't like mashed potatoes though and the option to mix it with your choice of toppings? Now, I just hope I get to enjoy a few bites on our big night.{tomato basil bruschetta}{chicken satay with peanut sauce}{crispy vegetable dumplings with soy dipping sauce}{coconut shrimp with sweet chili sauce}{caprese salad}{mixed greens salad}{cedar plank salmon with citrus glaze}{carving of fillet mignon}{rolls}{grilled asparagus}[...]



Yokohama Yakitori Koubou: San Diego, CA

2011-11-01T16:13:57.025-07:00

Yokohama Yakitori Koubou | 3904 Convoy St. Suite 108, San Diego, CA 92111 | (858) 277-8822Tu-Su: 5pm-2am | http://www.yokohamayakitorikoubou.com/ Yokohama Yakitori Koubou (YYK) is where you'll normally find us kicking off our weekend. We realized its become sort of a start of weekend tradition to enjoy a meal here after noticing we come here just about every Friday night (barring plans with friends) since they opened. We used to be big fans of Yakitori Yakyudori (YY) but have since found the quality and service severely disappointing since they opened their new place on Convoy St. and the old place in Hillcrest we used to frequent and rave about has recently changed management and names. YYK is a little on the pricier side for sure ($3.99 for 1 beef tongue skewer?!?) but we feel that the quality of the meal and level of service we receive is leaps and bounds above YY and is therefore justified. We developed quite a big appetite for this particular meal as you can see by the amount of photos we took below. However, we normally don't order this much. Our must order list for YYK does include beef tongue, chicken skin salad, chicken karaage, chicken thigh, and grilled rice ball with miso soup, chicken gizzard (for EHK, I'm not a fan of gizzard). We think these items best highlight the skill of the chefs and we've always been more than happy with them. Here are a few photos from one of our latest meals. Enjoy!{EHK's foamy Asahi draft, the shot of milk they offer to ward off hangovers, Liz's grapefruit Can Chu-Hi}{the chef hard at work}{deep fried chicken crackers}{chicken skin w/ponzu sauce salad}{omakase skewers}{beef skewers}{deep fried free range chicken thigh/chicken karaage}{potato salad}{chicken gizzard}{pork with shiso}{chicken soba noodles}{end the meal with piping hot cup of green tea}_Yokohama Yakitori Koubou3904 Convoy St. Suite 108San Diego, CA 92111(858) 277-8822Tu-Su: 5pm-2amhttp://www.yokohamayakitorikoubou.com/[...]



Shaved Asparagus Salad and Grilled Rack of Lamb

2011-10-08T16:15:56.508-07:00

Its the beginning of October which brings to mind green leaves turning golden and amber, warm apple pie and colorful scarves to keep one warm. Well, its currently low-mid 70's in sunny San Diego. Not quite nippy weather that calls for cocoa and scarves ehh? On a recent warm evening perusing our fridge for a dinner idea... I spotted asparagus and rack of lamb. When we do food shopping we tend to buy things that appeal to us when we see it and not necessarily shop for a recipe. Thus the oh... we have asparagus and rack of lamb in the fridge so lets figure out what we'll do with it tonight. So we decided to make shaved asparagus salad and grilled rack of lamb.Shaved Asparagus SaladIngredients~ 1lb of asparagus2-3 scallion stalks~ 1/4 cup toasted marcona almondsjuice of 1 lemonolive oilsea saltfresh ground black peppershaved Parmesan cheeseInstructionsClean and chop off the woody ends of your asparagus.Starting from stalk end of asparagus, shave off ribbons of asparagus with a vegetable peeler. Try to use a peeler in which the blade is flush (or close to flush) with the work surface when you hold the peeler against it. You'll find that you can shave much more of the asparagus with such a peeler.Finely slice scallions.Roughly chop the toasted marcona almonds. We adore marcona almonds for the sweeter flavor and more delicate texture.Toss the shaved asparagus, sliced scallions and chopping marcona almonds with juice of 1 lemon (adjust to your acidity preference), a few dashes of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.Finish the salad with shavings of Parmesan cheese.{clockwise: our favorite olive oil, shaved asparagus and marcona almonds}Grilled Rack of LambRack of lamb is always a favorite treat of ours for dinner. We find that lamb can be a polarizing meat... one loves or hates. Surprisingly, its for the same reasons: its slightly gamy, rich and fatty. Fat is flavor so if you're in the "hate lamb" camp then try trimming off some of the fat and give it a try again. I find that its an elegant alternative to the usual steak, fish or poultry one might have for dinner. So why deprive yourself of an option which is rather easy to prepare and easy to wow your dinner guest?EHK is the meat guru of our duo so he's usually in charge of handling the protein portions of our meal. He rubbed the rack with some olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic and fresh chopped rosemary. Heated up half the gas grill to high. Seared one side of the rack on the hot side of the grill for 3 minutes then moved to the "cool" side for 5 minutes then flip and repeat process with other side of meat. Of course you can adjust your cooking time for your desired crustiness and doness. We just prefer our meat on the rare side. Dinner is served![...]



Seattle, WA: Dahlia Lounge

2011-09-27T16:53:53.736-07:00

Dahlia Lounge | 2001 4th Ave. Seattle, WA | (206) 682-4142 | hours vary depending on day, call or check website for hours | http://tomdouglas.com/index.php?page=dahlia-lounge{Gaspacho dugeness crab, cucumber and watermelon} On our last evening, we went to Dahlia lounge to enjoy a nice sit down dinner. It only seemed appropriate we patronize a Tom Douglas establishment given that he's pretty much an institution in the city. Chances are if you're walking around the downtown area, you've like passed by one of his restaurants... he owns 12 establishments. Serious Pie which we visited twice during our visit is another one of his establishments. I think the menu at Dahlia Lounge is what you'd think of when you think Pacific Northwestern with some Asian influence. Its fresh, and bright with with some Asian undertones.We arrived early enough to enjoy the happy hour. And what a lovely hour it turned out to be: and ode to the tomato. We ordered the gaspacho, anchovies, and squash blossom which all prominently presented the tomato as a star ingredient. I think of the three appetizers, the gaspacho was my favorite. The watermelon was a unexpected surprise and dungeness crab added a nice touch. Being from the Bay Area, dungeness is king of crabs to me.EHK and I usually order different dishes when we dine out so we can try different dishes and this meal was no different. He also usually lets me choose the 2 entrees we dine on. The roasted five spice duck is what brought me in the door and the pappardelle caught my eye when I perused the menu. Chinese BBQ style roast duck is probably my guiltiest pleasure. All the flavor and textures in the meat, fat and skin? How can one resist??? It would most likely be my last meal if I could request one. So I was all excited about this 5 spice roast duck but maybe it had too much expectation to live up to. I was underwhelmed by the flavor and doneness. It was a little blander than I expected and dryer than I prefer. I actually think the best part of that dish was the rice which reminded me of the scent of coconut. I was more happy with the pappardelle dish. Late summer in Seattle... I couldn't think of something so appropriate to eat. It looks like such a bright and happy dish with all the colors. I felt equally as happy and bright to consume all the fresh ingredients and homemade pasta. I'm a sucker for pasta made in house. If its made under the same roof I'm going to consume, I almost always order. EHK was craving fries. An odd thing to crave given the other items we ordered right? It was ok. Not the most amazing fries I've had and not the worst. I probably felt underwhelmed since it didn't really go with the entrees we ordered.Dessert? Ahh... the doughnuts fried to order is the second item that brought me in the door. If you haven't had a doughnut still hot and blazing to your fingers then you're missing out. As a child I loved doughnuts and I was so delighted when my parents were weighing the option of purchasing and running a doughnut shop. They even went to learn how to make doughnuts with a local mom and pop shop. My parents can make a decent glazed doughnut. Alas, they gave up that dream and went with laundromat instead... a better choice given today's economy and that people tend be more health conscious in their eating choices nowadays compared to 15 years ago. Doughnuts usually don't make the top 5 healthiest breakfast choices. One could probably give up that daily doughnut but give up the weekly wash? Back to these doughnuts. I can ignore the doughnut police for this case. As expected, they were piping hot heavenly light pillows of dough tossed in extra fine sugar. They were served with ramekins of vanilla marscapone and fresh peach jam. Oh I was delighted to make little warm peaches and cream sandwiches. I like an interactive dish every now and then.Come here for an overall lovely meal. Not all the elements[...]



Home is my favorite steak joint...

2011-09-16T18:06:10.480-07:00

  I was asked what my favorite steak place was a few weeks ago at work. Honestly, I have to say its home. I feel blessed to be marrying a steak artist (EHK) soon. I think really nice cuts of meat can be found in markets nowadays and with a little practice you too can make a restaurant worthy steak.For this particular meal we purchased 2 generously portioned Prime rib eyes from Costco for about $27. Why Prime? Well its the highest grade assigned by the USDA. Below is the hierarchy of beef grades in descending quality.PrimeChoiceSelectStandardCommercialUtilityCutter CannerThe Prime grade marks the finest quality. It has the highest degree of marbling and is the most tender, juiciest and flavorful. This grade can be found in the nicer restaurants and some meat markets (such as Costco). Its also priced significantly higher than its grade counterparts since its assigned to only a little under 3% of beef being sold. Choice graded beef is what you'll find most commonly as its graded for in about 50% of beef sold. Its got less marbling than Prime but its sufficient for taste and tenderness. Select is the lowest grade commonly sold and less flavorful, juicy and tender compared to Choice. Standard and Commercial have nearly no marbling and therefore even less flavor. If a package of meat is sold without a grade it is like one of these. Utility, Cutter and Canner are the lowest grades and least likely to be found in the market. They are generally used by processors or canners for soups, and other canned foods containing beef.My favorite cooking method is seared stove top in the cast iron oven. The Kirkland Signature 6.5 qt French oven is my favorite pot to cook in right now. Its the ultimate multipurpose tool for the kitchen.  We've played around with the Staub 7 qt oval cocotte and though it sound cool to say you own a Staub... we really couldn't tell the difference in results compared to the Kirkland other than the extravagant price of over $200. I'll take my Kirkland's comparable performance, also produced in France, also nippled lid, sub-$100 and Costco satisfaction guarantee any day. So heat up the oven to high. As the oven is heating up, rinse, dry and season the steaks with some oil, salt and pepper. When oven is piping hot, sear on one side for 2 mins, then cover for 3 mins and sear on other side for another 2 mins. This produces a lovely crusted medium rare steak given our oven and stove stop. Adjust your cooking time given your equipment and preferred meat doneness. Sides? We drizzled some button mushrooms and asparagus with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled some salt and pepper and popped in the top rack of the oven to broil till desired doneness. Dinner is served![...]



Shiro's Sushi Restaurant: Seattle, WA

2011-09-14T14:52:01.878-07:00

Shiro's Sushi Restaurant | 2401 2nd Ave., Seattle, WA 98121 | (206) 443-9844 |5:30pm-10:30pm everyday, no reservations for bar seats | http://www.shiros.com/{2 sweet shrimp on display to their eaters}To say that EHK and I love sushi would be an understatement. A sushi meal has always been a nice treat for us or something we look forward to for a special occasion meal. Seattle being known for it's seafood, we knew we had to dine on some seafood while in town. Then, CD highly recommended Shiro's sushi to us... a very well established, respected and tradititonal style sushi restaurant in the Belltown area of Seattle. Hmm. Seafood, sushi, traditional? We're in!EHK called ahead to try to reserve bar seats; however, we discovered they don't reserve those seats. We are big proponents of sitting at the bar for sushi since it gives you an opportunity to intimately interact with the chef and maybe even get some advice on what to order. So we made our way to the restaurant and luckily there was only a 15 minute wait for a pair of bar seats.Once seated we noticed the trays holding our eating implements for the evening. What's up with the trays??? I really wanted to ask someone. It just seems kinda clumsy and its one extra thing for the house to buy, clear after service, clean and store. Seems terribly impractical and nonessential to me.We had intended on ordering omakase (chef's choice) meal and it appears everybody else sitting at the bar had this in mind as well. So we had an opportunity to preview our meal as all the parties were in different stages of their meals. Once thing we noticed over and over again was that a party's respected chef would dangle their sweet shrimp in from of them and park it on top of the case just staring right back at their eventual consumer till it was preparation time. I'm not bothered by seeing my food in its whole form before consumption but it just seems like an odd ritual to me. Almost gimmicky and another unnecessary thing part of service.We are accustomed to receiving a meal filled with items prepared in a myriad of ways when we ask for omakase... whatever the chef believes is the best way to prepare the star ingredient of the course for that evening. However, we received almost all nigiri. A little disappointing. The seafood was of good quality; however, the knife skills on some of the fish in a few of the courses seemed a little off as the fish fell apart in a weird way/prematurely during consumption. We like to socialize with the chef over beers/sake as well but I guess buying for the chef is not allowed here. We were rejected when we attempted to buy a beer for our chef. None of the chefs wore name tags and there didn't seem to be an opportunity to ask for our chef's name. He seemed a little distant.... only conversing with us to introduce the next course. Maybe the awkwardness was due to us being newbies here?Overall, I would rank this a solid establishment and the meal above average. I didn't feel wowed by the knife skills but I've had worse sushi meals. It was a good experience overall. I would recommend if you're in town looking for a traditional sushi meal.{clockwise: 1. tray set up, 2. one of our neighbor's chu-toro, 3. tempura shrimp roll going to the general dining room}{the chefs}{local kumamotos}{halibut?}{salmon two ways}{giant clam and scallop}{albacore, marinated tuna, o-toro}{our sweet shrimps waiting for us to be ready}{sweet shrimp}{fried sweet shrimp heads}{ikura}{squid: raw tube and grilled tentacles}{fresh water eel}_Shiro's Sushi Restaurant2401 2nd Ave.Seattle, WA 981215:30pm-10:30pm everyday, no reservations for bar seatshttp://www.shiros.com/[...]



Serious Pie: Seattle, WA

2011-09-10T17:24:20.460-07:00

Serious Pie | 316 Virginia St. Seattle, WA 98121 | (206) 838-7388 |11am-11pm every day, no reservations | http://tomdouglas.com/index.php?page=serious-pie{slice of sweet fennel sausage, roasted pepper, provolone}Lets start the recount of our Seattle adventure at the place we literally went to right after we dropped our bags off at our room. Serious Pie! Why would a food so ubiquitous make us so excited? Well after hearing so many accounts of how gosh darn awesome the pizzas coming out of this place were and how long people were willing to wait in line to get some of this deliciousness... we just had to join in on the party too.We had been warned that wait times at this place can be atrocious and we were careful to plan our visit to avoid popular meal time. So we arrived around 2:30pm and the wait was only 20 mins. Thats awesome considering I've heard waits can get up to 3 hrs and people end up ordering takeout due to overwhelming hunger.They really don't have many pies on the menu- like 7 and 1 special of the day. There's actually more offerings to drink than to eat. There's some starter offerings as well but why start with a non-pizza starter when the place is known for pizza? I'll start my pizza meal with more pizza! The roasted chanterelle and truffle cheese immediately caught my eye as well as a soft egg, coppa, arugula. The soft egg, coppa, arugula was good but terribly messy with the soft yolk getting all over the place. I probably wouldn't recommend that pizza if you don't like most of the food ending up back on the plate as you try to eat it. But the roasted chanterelle and truffle cheese was oh gosh... out of this world *drool*. Crust was perfectly crispy and not terribly weighed down with topping. It was actually a good topping to crust ratio and uhh the truffle perfume emanating from the truffle cheese. Need I say more?The roasted chanterelle and truffle cheese pizza was so memorable we decided to come back for lunch the next day again. This time we ordered the sweet fennel sausage, roasted peppers and provolone to go with it. This second pizza was good like the soft egg, coppa, arugula from the day before but not good enough to beat out the roasted chanterelle and truffle cheese. It just hit the spot. It was everything I had ever wanted in a pizza - crispy, good topping to crust ratio, aromatic and pretty to look at.  I wouldn't have minded coming back to Serious Pie everyday just for some roasted chanterelle and truffle cheese pizza but there were so many other places we wanted to visit during our short trip so 2 visits would have to do. *Sigh*... I'm thinking about it now as I write this post. Serious Pie is kinda pricey for a meal. $16-$18 depending on the pizza you get, $8-$10 for starters, ~$8 for a sweet and ~$10ish for a drink then tack on 10% sales tax... don't be surprised if you get a little bug-eyed when the bill comes.  But we agreed it was probably the best pizza we've ever tasted... and its a relatively small splurge in terms of all the other things you'd spend money on while on vacation. I would recommend just getting the pizza and a drink here since its about enough to satisfy the average adult and if you've got a sweet tooth after your meal then head to one of the shops by Pike Place Market for your sweet fix if you want to avoid bill-shock. If you're in Seattle and not gluten allergic then GO! Trust me... you'll get hooked. Crack-pizza...{a view from the waiting area into the dinning room}{in house canned pepers}{yes that's slices of potato being placed on dough}{sweet fennel sausage, roasted pepper, provolone}{roasted chanterelle mushroom, truffle cheese}{watermelon lemonade}_Serious Pie316 Virginia St.Seattle, WA 98121(206) 838-738811am-11pm every day, no reservationshttp://tomdoug[...]



Back from Seattle!

2011-09-10T17:26:49.405-07:00

EHK and I just got back from a long weekend and Seattle and we're eager to share our experiences with you. Hope you had a lovely Labor Day weekend! Here are a few photos from our weekend till the full posts come. Enjoy!{Pike Place Market sign}{glass blown jellyfish}{pizza artist working on pizza @ Serious Pie}{EHK about to chomp on a slice of pizza}{vibrantly colorful veggies}{hot doughnuts with peach jam and vanilla marscarpone}[...]



Miso Glazed Pink Salmon

2011-08-31T09:25:03.619-07:00

(image)
{miso glazed pink salmon, stir fried sugar snap peas and baked  sweet potato}
We finally got around to making some of MK's salmon (remember Lotsa Salmon post from a few days ago?}. But we didn't feel like preparing the salmon as I had mentioned in that post. Instead we were jiving a sweet miso glazed fish. So we cleaned and portioned the two large fillets that came in a vacuum sealed bag, rubbed both sides with the marinade (ingredients below) and broiled skin side up on the top rack at 500 F for about 5 minutes. Note the type of miso paste used... its a pale yellow colored miso, with a short fermentation period, mild in flavor and sweet so it's awesome for fish and veggie marination.


     Miso glaze marinade

  • 1/4 cup saikyo shiro miso paste
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 2 tblsp brown sugar
  • 1 tblsp sesame oil


Sides? We shared a baked organic sweet potato topped with butter and cinnamon and wok fried some sugar snap peas with garlic, salt and pepper. Dinner is served!

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{MK's salmon}



Saturday Night Nijiya Snack Run

2011-08-29T13:17:22.324-07:00

{clockwise from bottom: salmon, tuna, cherries, terriyaki nori, muscat flavored black tea} We had plans for a mini date night on Saturday.... dinner out and catch movie at the theater. I had been wanting to watch One Day every since I caught a glimpse of the trailer and who doesn't like Anne Hathaway? Fast forward to Saturday. I had just finished work and I was suddenly in no mood to see this movie. I'm sure EHK felt relieved since its a total chick flick. So what did we do instead? Snack run and catch up on our DVR. It was approaching 8pm and EHK was craving sashimi. We normally shop Mitsuwa for our Japanese groceries but it was about to close. Option 2? Nijiya opens a little later so we headed down to Convoy.Now, I'll admit in the past we've written off Nijiya for whatever reason I don't remember. We decided to wipe the slate clean and went into Nijiya with fresh eyes. I'm glad we did. We were quite impressed with how great the produce and proteins looked and were presented. EHK collected some nice looking salmon and tuna to prepare as tasty sashimi at home. The tuna was ok but the salmon was great and something I'd purchase again... rich, buttery and sumptuous. He also grabbed a package of terriyaki nori which turned out to be addicting at home. We wandered into the tea isle where some teas were open to display to customers. The muscat flavored black tea caught our attention with its intoxicating perfume so that went into the basket.The cherries caught my eye. I'm a terrible cherries addict. At home, everybody in my family loves cherries so my dad planted a tree for each person in the family so we'd have an amazing summer bounty of cherries. These cherries were on the pricey side, $5.99/lb. That's quite a price when sale prices for cherries in season are about $1.50/lb at the major markets and sometimes I've seen it for $.99/lb. Costco is about $2.69/lb which isn't bad at all considering the quality of the fruit they sell but I was just at the Mission Valley Costco yesterday and there were no cherries in sight :(. Part of me was hoping these Nijiya cherries didn't taste the $5.99/lb I paid for and part of me was thinking they better taste amazing because they were $5.99/lb. Ugh... the dilemma. They were intensely sweet and the flesh was firm like biting into a firm mini plum. This is what I think cherries should taste like as the cherries I've had this season paled in comparison... either not very sweet or on the soft side or several in the package should not have passed QC.We spent about $40 for snack Saturday evening as you can see from our receipt below. I think this is the beginning of an expensive habit as we found our purchase more than satisfying and leaving us wanting more. We ended up visiting again Sunday and we have plans to peruse the meat sale tonight (20% off items except sale items and processed meats). But we don't mind the hefty price. We love a great deal but sometimes I think the quality of the product is worthy of the price paid such as we've experienced with this purchase. {$40 for snacks?} _Nijiya Market3860 Convoy St.San Diego CA 92111858-268-3821http://www.nijiya.com/9am-10pm everyday[...]



Lotsa Salmon...

2011-08-27T09:38:45.163-07:00

A few weeks ago MK went on a fishing trip with his family in Seattle. His trip yielded an amazing bounty and he brought back 40 pounds of pink salmon. Well unfortunately for him, his catch and bags were not awaiting him when he landed at Palomar Airport. Stranded since his keys were also in his bag, EHK and I rescued him from sitting on curb for hours till his things got routed back to Palomar. We took him to a dinner party BT was hosting till his bags arrived and he rewarded us with several vacuum sealed packs of pink salmon fillets. I'm ashamed to admit that we didn't immediately delve into such a bounty.... as you can see from our freezer drawer full of salmon fillets.

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{freezer drawer full of salmon fillets}
I think we'll be in a salmon mood this weekend and I'll be sure to post when we prepare some of these fillets. We do prefer a simple preparation of sprinkling with a light coat of olive oil, salt and pepper. Seared skin side down in a dutch oven for about 4 minutes +/- time depending on thickness of fillet. About 2 minutes into the searing we add a pat or two of butter to the mix, let it melt and continuously spoon the hot butter over flesh side of the fillet till it has reached desired doneness. Sounds yum right?



New Digs

2011-08-25T12:13:56.472-07:00

Hello!

Its been quite hectic since we last posted. 2011 has been a year of changes. Some professional changes, we moved into EHK's place in Carmel Valley and we got engaged at the Hotel del Coronado, a place that has held a special meaning in our relationship over the years (7 years). The move and wedding planning have taken center stage in our lives over the past few months leaving little time for blogging. Things are settling down and we are looking forward to regular blogging again. Like the new digs? We thought it was time for an update and name that would more aptly describe our blog. Looking forward to sharing our adventures with you again :). Below are photos taken the night we got engaged... enjoy!
(image)
{The Hotel del Coronado, Coronado, CA}
(image)
{The Ring!}
(image)
{Cool photo EHK took on the Hotel del  Coronado grounds}




Happy Birthday with Sprinkles!

2011-08-11T09:11:13.077-07:00


I've been such a terrible blogger. I haven't been on here for weeks. Well... my computer has been on the fritz and I finally gave up on it a few weeks ago and recycled it. Even if I did have a computer, long story short- the internet is also down. Ugh... I can't win! I'm in the process of computer shopping so any recommendations would be much appreciated and hopefully a real internet connection at home will be up by next week.

EHo's birthday was this past Monday so the JLC decided to spring a sweet surprise on her. She once expressed to me a strong want to taste every flavor Sprinkles had to offer. Well Miss EHo... ask and you shall receive. I coordinated the pickup and through this experience I became a huge believer in the call-in/online order service. Normally, EHK and I would wait what seemingly would be a lifetime in line for some cupcakes when the closest location to us was Newport Beach. I'm so happy that there's finally a La Jolla/UTC location. Is it me or is their business model centered around being in close proximity to a college campus full of kids with money to burn and no real responsibilities? The Newport Beach location is fairly close to UC Irvine, Bay Area location is at Standford Mall and La Jolla is within walking distance of UC San San Diego. See a correlation?

Anyways, minimum order to use this order ahead service is a dozen so I thought EHo's birthday would be a terrific opportunity to test out this service. So I ordered one of every flavor available for the day to fill a dozen and gave them my payment info. I ordered around 11 in the morning and came by to pick up at 3 in the afternoon when the line was wrapped around the building. Yes, I felt like a rock star waltzing by this gargantuan of a line to pick up my order and waltz right back out. Would I recommend this service? YES!!! There's no bigger pet peeve for me than waiting in an endless line and a Sprinkles line can seem like forever. Only con is that you gotta order at least a dozen. I wish they'd drop the minimum to half a dozen especially given the increase in price. It has increased $.25/cupcake from what I last remember. Oh well... can't have everything my way.


-
Sprinkles Cupcakes
8855 Villa La Jolla Drive
San Diego, CA 92037
(858) 457-3800
(888) 220-2210 (order line)
http://www.sprinkles.com/
other locations listed on website



Pre New Year's Eve celebration at Sushi Ota: San Diego, CA

2011-08-11T09:11:13.077-07:00

It isn't quite a celebration until we've stopped by Sushi Ota for an omakase fix. Since Robert had New Year's Eve off, we decided to have our celebratory dinner on Thursday and opted for a chill evening on Friday. We aren't the type to shell out for the overcrowded, overpriced club with a champagne toast experience. We'd rather spend that same amount on a thoroughly tasty and inventive meal. And inventive this meal was. We were treated with some old favorites but also surprised with some new creations. I think that's one of the things that keeps us coming back. Its the superbly prepared time tested dishes but also the new ideas that Robert tests out on us. Please enjoy the eye candy from our latest meal. It's sure making me hungry for our next meal already.[...]



Firefly Grill & Wine Bar: Encinitas, CA

2011-08-11T09:11:13.078-07:00

Happy New Year! Hope you all made good resolutions for the new year and are working hard on them. EHK and I rarely ever stick around North County to eat despite the fact that we live and work here. The choices just seem so unappealing for the most part. There are a few gems but we head south for the most part. So when M&OH were in town and MK recommended we all meet at Firefly, I have to admit I discounted it at first because of its location. I would be proven wrong by the end of this meal.SOUP OF THE DAYbroccoli and cheddar soupAfter browsing through the menu, I decided to go with pre fixe which turned out to be a fantastic deal. $30 for appetizer, entrée and dessert from selected choices. Ordering them separately would have cost well over. I decided to go with the soup of the day for the appetizer which turned out to be a broccoli and cheddar soup. What a rich, velvety and flavorful soup it turned out to be. EHK shared this soup with me since he got the seafood jambalaya (not pictured) by itself. We ended up battling over the soup. Definitely a winner.PAN ROASTED WHITE TUNAchive crawfish butter, fingerling potato hash, baby carrotsI choose the pan roasted white tuna for my entrée and I was just as pleased with it as I was with the soup. The fish was cooked perfectly to a medium doneness, the potatoes were well seasoned and tasted slightly crispy, carrots and beans were equally well seasoned and cooked. To top it off was the buttery sauce that I made sure every morsel got a nice coating of before devouring.  EHK didn't like his entrée very much so I let him eat some off my plate.ALMOND BROWN BUTTER CAKE caramel gelato, drunken fruit, almond streusel Lastly, I went with the almond brown butter cake for dessert. I was the only one who got a dessert since I ordered the pre fixe and everybody else went with entrée only. I was nice and passed the plate around with extra spoons. Every meal should end with a little sweetness :). It was an incredibly decadent dessert and I'm glad I shared since I wouldn't have been able to finish it. I think I could have done without the drunken fruit and gone with the fresh fruit instead. The buttery rich sauce and warm moist cake were great but the components together made it a little overpowering.What a delightful surprise this place turned out to be. I arrived here not thinking very much of it and left more than satisfied with a lovely meal._Firefly Grill & Wine Bar251 N. El Camino RealEncinitas, CA 92024(760)635-1066http://www.fireflygrillandwinebar.com/[...]



Kaito Sushi: Encinitas, CA

2011-08-11T09:11:13.078-07:00

seasoned seafood saladI don't consider myself an avid follower of Chowhound. I've tried in the past to regularly follow threads and get involved but honestly I just don't like the thread format as I easily stray into the tangents. I thinks its suppose to make it easier to follow discussions that stray from the original question/topic but I just don't like it. I do give it props for aggregating quite a bit of recommendations and I do find the recommendations to be a bit more on the credible side than Yelp. Anyways... I'm feeling like perusing Chowhound a few weeks ago and I come across a lot of trash talking about my beloved Sushi Ota. I see a lot of mentions for Kaito Sushi and how its far superior. So EHK and I decide to drop in and see what's the big deal. We had originally thought of ordering an omakase but weren't feeling terribly hungry so we decided to order some things we really wanted to try and maybe an item the chef would really like us to try.Promptly after sitting, we were each presented with a small plate of the house seasoned seafood salad. Alright, we are off to a good start with a gratis nicely seasoned refreshing salad.salmon bellyThe first thing I was jonesing for that evening was the salmon belly. I heart just about any type of belly. What's not to love about flavor and fat? The fish itself was quite fatty and flavorful as usual but the real downer was the rice. I feel that with nigiri, the rice should be packed in a fashion that I can easily pick up the piece and season with some soy sauce/wasabi if I choose and deliver to my mouth where it tenderly breaks. This wasn't exactly the case as the rice broke almost immediately when I picked it up. EHK had the same experience. I wouldn't consider us barbaric with chopsticks as its a eating utensil we both remember using in our earliest childhood memories and we are both regular sushi eaters. Something must be wrong with how the rice was packed.salmon skin hand rollThen EHK ordered a salmon skin hand roll... an item he orders to test the skill of the sushi chef. We were both disappointed that the nori was not toasted and the salmon skin was a little on the chewy side. I was even more disappointed with the behavior of the chef. I truly believe it's a sushi chef's duty to figure out what it is the customer likes especially when sitting at the bar since there's a chance for discussion and deliver it to the best of his ability. Instead he pokes fun at our salmon choices and comments on how much salmon we are eating and how its very un-Tokyo like. Uhm... if you tote yourself as a Tokyo style sushi place and you want customers to eat in that fashion then maybe you shouldn't carry the fish in the first place? Also, it's only been two order and I'm paying for this meal when I'm done. If I like salmon then it's my prerogative and just make the order with a smile. If you want to educate me than maybe suggest something else along that flavor and texture that I may equally appreciate instead of making me feel self conscious for ordering it.kohada - gizzard shadSo the next order we let the chef decide. The guy kept going on and on about how he's got kohada and its the shit and how he's the only sushi joint in San Diego county to carry it. Once presented, I was almost certain I've tried this before at Sushi Ota. The look, flavor and texture was so familiar to me but the chef refused to believe our claims that we've tried this in this county before. There was no breaking this man of his ardent conviction that he was the sole vendor of this prized fish in the area. The fish itself wasn't bad but the rice aga[...]



Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program: Wendy's Natural Cut Fries w/ Sea Salt

2011-08-11T09:11:13.078-07:00


EHK and I were recently invited to go try the new Wendy's natural cut fries with sea salt as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program.  We both ordered value meals but I'll just talk about the fries since that's what we came for initially. We should have known better than to order fries with salt. We always order without salt so we can control the salt content ourselves. This experience just affirmed that we really are fries without salt folks. It was nice that they made a fresh batch of fries for us so it was straight from the fryer. However, the salt was overpowering. I might as well have been eating straight out of the Morton salt container. The texture itself tasted reminiscent of McDonald's fries. Are they trying to go for that? EHK actually said he missed the softer texture of the old fries. We both found that the skin left on the fries didn't really do anything for it. Maybe if it was a thicker cut like steak fries I'd notice something different? Maybe we need to give this another run?  I don't know. Its a franchise and if anything consistency should be key. So should I brave overly salty fries again?


As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, we received a Wendy's gift card






Ubuntu: Napa, CA (Roaming Napa, Part 6)

2011-08-11T09:11:13.078-07:00

Last post from my Napa trip finally! LH had been hearing good things about this place for quite some time and wanted to go. Since we had to pass through Napa to head back to the City to catch our flights, why not stop by for lunch? To be honest, I was a little hesitant about a vegetarian place. I'm not a carnivore in the sense that I need a giant slab of meat to call it a meal but I do like a little meat in a meal.We told Kathleen at the Oleander House that we'd be paying a visit here on our way back and she told us we'd be in for a treat. She said everybody thinks they'll miss the meat but the flavors and textures are so inventive that you won't even notice missing meat. I've always had fears that vegetarian food meant food that's just missing meat. Hopefully Kathleen is right...An Ubuntu Steam Bun Stuffed w/ Burrata and Coated with Sunchoke DirtSunchoke tostones, roasted and raw fuyu persimmon, smoked green tomatoThe waitress that helped us told us that patrons normally order 2 dishes per person at the table.  That just sounded like so much food so we decided to go with 1 each and see how we felt after that. The one thing that caught our attention was the Ubuntu steam bun stuffed with burrata. Looks like such a pretty dish right? Oh it was as good to eat as it was to look at. I really enjoyed tasting the bun stuffed with cheese. It reminds me of the steamed buns I grew up eating like bbq pork bun or custard bun... only stuffed with burrata. What an awesome idea! The bread offered to us at the beginning of our meal provided a wonderful vessel for delivering the purees and raw persimmon. So far Kathleen is right... love the dish and haven't missed meat yet.Alubia Bianco Bean and Fermented Green Fig Ribollita, Parmesan Cracklingsruby streaks mustard, cavolo nero, smokey dried pearsAnother lovely dish arrived. The beans provided a hearty element to this dish but the star was the Parmesan cracklings. I hadn't had Parmesan prepared this way like chips before. I felt like a kid discovering something new, happily crunching away.Organic Arbuckle Grits, Whipped Chicken Egg and Crispy "Skin"Goat's milk ricotta, hong vit, chanterelle and green tomato chow-chowThis was my pick for our table. What got my attention was the "skin". I totally forgot to ask what the skin was and how its made. This ended up being a really rich dish. Thank goodness there was picked vegetables hidden in the grits like little treasures as it helped to cut some of the richness. I really liked dipping pieces of "skin" into the whipped egg and grits. Smooth, buttery, rich, crispy, sour, crunchy all in one bite. I alway enjoy a bite that hits so many tastes and textures at one time.A Simple Plate of Blackberry Leaf and Potato PillowsRainbow chard, loopy sunchokes, midnight moon goat's goudaEHK picked our ending dish. Potato pillows sounded so inviting. This dish was so perfectly named. Gnocchi-like but definitely more fluffier and pillow-like than any gnocchi dish I've tasted. The light broth that the pillows and other components rested on was so flavorful and inviting for some more bread sopping.The dishes we had here were so pretty to look at and equally a delight to consume. It just shows that presentation is as important as taste. Not to say that I wouldn't eat a dish clumsily put together. Presentation can make a great dish that much more special.  The presentation and flavors were definitely strong enough to stand on there on and wow me. I'd definitely recommend a visit to Ubuntu if you are like me... likes meat but looking for a place[...]



Ad Hoc: Yountville, CA (Roaming Napa, Part 5)

2011-08-11T09:11:13.079-07:00

After a long day of roaming around Napa and tasting some very fine wine, we were ready to get our grub on at Ad Hoc to continue our Thomas Keller eating trip. At one of our stops before dinner, the guys at Elyse Winery looked up our meal for the evening and told us if we finish our food, we could always get more. We didn't really know what that meant. EHK wanted to ask if it was an all-you-can-eat. We knew it was a set price for the dinner but didn't know what we were getting ourselves into portion wise.Upon arrival, we were greeted with a vastly different atmosphere from dinner the previous evening at The French Laundry. Where The Laundry was formal without being too intimidating, Ad Hoc was on the opposite end of the spectrum and trying to be very casual from the way the food was served family style to the way the staff was dressed.Albondigas SoupTFL garden cabbage, babby carrots, braised radishSan Marzano tomato conserva, Calasparra riceA glance at the evening's menu revealed a very Spanish or Latin inspired menu. The first dish to come out was an albondigas soup. It was a very nice treat to be getting some vegetables from the Laundry's garden in this soup. There was some inconsistencies regarding doneness of the meatballs. Some were a little under and some a little over so my dinner party had different reactions to this dish. I enjoyed the abundance of saffron and al dente rice at the bottom of the fragrant broth. It was actually quite soothing and perfect for the chilly temperature.Herb Crusted Lamb Sirloinbrava potatoes, haricots vertswild mushrooms with slow cooked egg yolkI was actually already satisfied after the soup as it was a more than generous serving. The next dish came out and I was feeling overwhelmed. Lamb was nicely seasoned and enjoyed the way the potatoes were prepared but it was just too much for me. I think I only had 1/3 of the portion I was suppose to eat.Herb Crusted Lamb Sirloinbrava potatoes, aricots vertswild mushrooms with slow cooked egg yolk  (cont.)The real star of this dish was the slow cooked egg yolk. Looks like a raw egg yolk right? Wrong!!!! It's an en sous vide egg yolk. When broken it slowly spreads out into a thick custard much like the consistency you would get when you break a nicely poached egg only except this consistency is all the way through.  This custard coats the other elements of the dish in its yolky goodness and just adds that touch of richness. I've become a huge advocate of en sous vide egg yolk because of this dish. Now... if only I had the equipment and time for such a decadent preparation.Garrotxaroasted baby beetscandied almonds (not pictured), petite greensBy the time this came out I was already bursting. Thank goodness it was a rather small serving. I would have preferred to skip the beets as it tasted rather plain to me. The cheese tasted delicate and slightly nutty. Good thing it wasn't overpowering or else I'd only be able to take a bite of it.Basque Cakeruby red grapefruitpomegranate gastriqueWhat makes a basque cake... basque? We were told it's made with a layer of pastry cream. Mmm... what a genius idea. The flavors of the cream seemed to permeate throughout the cake and made the overall cake very moist. I honestly didn't really taste the gastrique but enjoyed the pairing with the grapefruit.So would we have been ready for more food if they brought it out? Uhm... no! The servings are so generous. I think this is a great option if you find yourself in the area wanting some Thomas Keller food bu[...]



Oleander House: Yountville, CA (Roaming Napa, Part 4)

2011-08-11T09:11:13.079-07:00

This being our first adventure to Napa, EHK and I were a little naive about accommodation prices for the area. To say that we were shocked at what rooms were going for in the area would be an understatement. I'm used to shelling out for a room in the big city and I was expecting not to out here. Since we'd be doing most of our activities north of Napa, ML and LH convinced us to stay at the Oleander House, a French style B&B within the Yountville town limits since they had fond experiences there. OK... when I think of B&B's I think little old lady, cats and floral wallpaper. I guess thats why I thought this place was overpriced at first glance on their website. However, our friends vouched for her breakfast and the location was awesome for daytime activities and quick returns for resting before evening activities so we decided to place our fate in their hands.I've never been a person so awed by breakfast until now. We stayed for 2 breakfasts and honestly I was very impressed by the selection for both days. I really wasn't expecting much but Kathleen, the inn-keeper must have been reading my mind and pulled out the stops to blow me away with her morning spreads. I left wanting more and thinking about her made from scratch croissants slathered with orange butter. The oatmeal  crème brûlée was also a treat too. I failed to take a photo of the dish broken into to demonstrate the loveliness of this dish. Its essentially a layer of oatmeal topped with a layer of crème brûlée and all topped off with fresh fruit. It was truly a delight in a spoonful. Like having dessert for breakfast but I didn't feel at all guilty because of the oatmeal and fruit component.After assessing the convenience of the location due to our traveling back and forth all day I give this place a thumbs up but the breakfast totally won me over and this deserves 2 thumbs up! A definite recommendation if you are looking for a nice, convenient place to stay that will also satisfy your tummy in the morning.  OK... enough of me talking. Here are the photos from breakfast over the 2 days...1st breakfast spreadfruit saladcroissants made from scratchoatmeal crème brûlée topped with fresh fruitchicken apple sausagechicken frittata topped with olives, tomatoes, feta and basilsour cherry coffee cakeI stole the first slice of sour cherry coffee cake-Oleander House7433 St. Helena Hwy.Yountville, CA 94599800-788-0357707-944-8315http://www.oleander.com/[...]



Bouchon Bakery: Yountville, CA (Roaming Napa, Part 3)

2011-08-11T09:11:13.079-07:00

Happy Thanksgiving!I've got a few hours before I gotta take off to the airport so I thought I'd work on sharing this post before I head home for some much needed time with the family.So EHK and I woke up early the next morning hungry even after our monstrous meal at The French Laundry. Not wanting to wait around for the B&B breakfast, we headed into town to continue our homage to Thomas Keller and find something at Bouchon Bakery that would tide us over till the breakfast. We were greeted by a respectable line so we were expecting something good. Well something at least as good as Tartine since this is a Keller establishment. I kinda think that Tartine has ruined us for other bakeries. Every time we try a pain au chocolat or quiche or other comparable pastry we compare it back to our experiences at Tartine and I can't really think of a bakery that we've tried that measures up.We finally make it in and we notice all these flies flying over these beautiful pasteries. Everybody seems to ignore this. We've been waiting in line and famished so at this point I'm willing for the attendant to give me anything that a fly hasn't landed on. Usually I'd walk straight out. I don't really understand all the flies. Tartine is several times over cleaner and its in the middle of the Mission. I'd be very forgiving if I saw a few flies around given what they've got to work with. Bouchon Bakery ... hmm I don't really see any transients or gross looking gutters with stuff I can't make out. What's with the flies!!!So Its finally our turn to order and we first ask for a gougère for ML since she requested one. The girl looks at us blankly and asks us, "what's that?" Are you serious? I expect employees at Keller establishments to be familiar with the offerings at the other restaurants (especially when it's just down the street) even if they don't serve it under the roof they work in. So we decide to order a cheese danish and a slice of quiche. Ugh... cheese danish tasted like stale pastry with a dollop of slightly whipped cream cheese.The quiche was equally as disappointing as the crust was soggy like they had just stuffed it into a microwave to warm it (photos of the danish and quiche can be viewed at the end of these photos).After such a spectacular meal the evening before, we had high hopes for an early morning snack here. Boy were we let down. Am I grading this place too hard since it's got Keller's name attached to it? Maybe we ordered the wrong stuff? I've heard some really good things so I was hoping these recommendations would translate well. I had really wanted to come back and try the macarons later in the day but I just couldn't forget about the danish and quiche. Maybe next time when I'm in the area and have forgotten a little about this experience.cheese danishslice of quiche-Bouchon Bakery6528 Washington St.Yountville, CA 94599(707) 944-22537am-7pm dailyhttp://www.bouchonbakery.com/[...]



Private Dinning Room at The French Laundry: Yountville, CA (Roaming Napa, Part 2)

2011-08-11T09:11:13.079-07:00

Ok I have to give props to LH and ML for arranging this "holiday party" weekend featuring The French Laundry. Definitely the best holiday party I've attended so far. It probably would  have been several years before EHK and I tried to brave the reservation circus as slots generally fill up STAT 2 months to the date. LH was a genius for rounding up a party of 5 couples so we could bypass that silliness and grab the private room. The room takes reservations with a deposit up to a year in advance so its a pretty good option if you can gather a group of friends wanting to go. Minimum for this room is 8 people and max is 10 people fyi.This meal was definitely everything and more than I expected. The food overall was amazing. There were definitely some dishes that I really wanted seconds of. I can say that I was honestly blown away by the overall flavors. Execution? Excellent! Attention to detail? Nothing left amiss. The courses that really did it for me were the courses up to the kitchen tour which you can view below. Courses after the tour were excellent as well but I find courses before much more memorable.Service was phenomenal. I appreciated Matt, our sommelier who would come out with the introduction of a new wine to tell us a story about it. Shannon our waitress was also wonderful about coming in right after dishes were set down to introduce the dish in her seductively breathy voice. It made the course I was about to eat sound that much sexier. Was her voice for real? I'd like to see her use it outside of the Laundry. Even the delivery and pick up of dishes had an element of showmanship. 5 servers would come out and circle the table then pause in between each couple to signify something was about to happen, all placing one plate down at the same time and then the same thing with the plate in the their other hand. There was this same level of showmanship even when picking up the plates. I think this is where coming with a large party comes into play. It's hard to appreciate this level of detail in a smaller party but you can see the glory of this act of unison when sitting in a large round table and having a full view all around you.Pierre Gimonnet, Blanc de Blancs, "Cuvée Deux Cotes," 1er, Champagne 2005The party got off to a great start with a toast. Then pours 2 and 3 came of this champagne... and I think we were all getting into the holiday spirit. I know I was!CornetSalmon Tartare with Sweet Red Onion Crème FraîcheThese two starters were a nice way to being eating. I did prefer the cornet as the salmon tartare paired with the crème fraîche inside the cone were a delight on the tongue and just the right size.  The gougères were tasty and bursting with cheese but I did find them on the small side and wanting something slighting larger or maybe a handful to make an accurate assessment haha.Gruyère Cheese GougèresAlzinger, Grüner Veltliner, "Loibner Mühlpoint," Federspiel, Wachau 2008 "Oysters and Pearls""Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and White Sturgeon CaviarA rich and flavorful course. I thought the pearls for this course were referring to just the caviar but was surprised by the tapioca pearls in the sauce. The sauce was lick the plate good. So much that I saw T take her spoon and run it around R's bowl because she didn't think he did a good enough job of cleaning up the plate. You know its good s*** when someone other than yourself is willing [...]



Tartine: San Francisco, CA (Roaming Napa, Part 1)

2011-08-11T09:11:13.079-07:00

This post begins a multi-post coverage of our trip up to Napa Valley to pay homage to Thomas Keller.  Its probably best that I don't live within reasonable distance to visit this bakery every morning. I've tried several of their treats and have never been disappointed... in fact I leave wanting more! I've come to the conclusion that they must be throwing crack into the batter.{the line at Tartine ~ 11:30am-ish}So we took last Friday off to fly into San Francisco and make a morning stop at Tartine before we headed up to meet the rest of our party. The line snaked around the outside of the shop and I was terribly anxious as we had promised to meet LH and ML across the Bay in a little over an hour. I think we did wait in line for over an hour. Why in the world is the line so amazingly long? Its Friday late morning... aren't these folks suppose to be working?{hard at work making treats}As we waited in line we were teased by the sight of the staff hard at work to satisfy our tummies. There was also a little vent window strategically placed where the line snakes out, so that the sweet aroma of freshly baked goods can waft out to ensnare those who pass by. As I'm waiting in line with EHK, we notice that all these cars keep passing by and its passengers giving us the look of pity. They know there's no hope of drawing us away from this line and they drive away quickly before they too are drawn in.{pumpkin tea cake just pulled from the oven and teasing waiting patrons}We finally make it in and I begin snapping photos of the goods like I've never been here before. I think I annoyed the chick standing in front of me with all my snapping and getting into different angles. Whatevs... there were folks that lugged their D-SLRs in with crazy lenses intending to do much more damage than me with a point and shoot.{shortbread cookies}{almond rochers}{tres leches cake}{lemon bar}{lemon cream tarts with dollop of unsweetened cream}{butter croissants}{morning buns}After what seemed like an eternity, we walked out happily with our booty and I was able to snap a few photos of some of the goods before we devoured them. We walked out with 2 morning buns, an almond lemon poppy seed tea cake, an almond croissant and slice of quiche. Sorry no photos of the latter 2... I guess the camera didn't get a chance to document before they went into the tummy. So worth the wait and I'd happily do it all over again! {morning bun I'm about to devour}{almond lemon poppy seed tea cake}About 45 mins later we finally made it over the Bay Bridge and picked up LH and ML from R & T's home in the Berkeley Hills. Can you see the Golden Gate in the distance? I'm so jealous of this view that R & T get to wake up to... its views like this that make me miss living in the Bay Area.{View of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay from  R & T's street in the Berkley Hills}-Tartine Bakery600 Guerrero St.San Francisco CA 94110(415) 487-2600M: 8am-7pmTu-W: 7:30am-7pmTh-F: 7:30am-8pmSa: 8am-8pmSu: 9am-8pmhttp://www.tartinebakery.com/[...]



Incanto: San Francisco, CA

2011-08-11T09:11:13.079-07:00

I guess you could call this a lost meal now found.  EHK had been holding these photos hostage since Febuary and now I get to post about it. This was actually our "Valentine's Day" meal. We aren't big into this Hallmark holiday since everything is crazy expensive and booked for what? Because the card industry tells us that this is the one day that you gotta tell the special person in your life that you love him/her? So what did we do? We didn't go out on the exact date but we happened to both be in town to celebrate Chinese New Years with the respective families and wanted to do something special in the City after all the roast pork and fire crackers.I had been longing to check out Incanto after listening to a radio interview of Anthony Bourdain in which the radio jockey asked him what was the one place he always wants to go to when he's in the City and he emphatically said this place. So we made reservations and off we were later that week to a meal that would leave us wowed by the end of the night.gratis bread and olive tapenadeFirst came out the gratis, a spread of bread and cup of olive tapenade. A lovely offering which I wish I hadn't indulged so much in by the end of the night since there was so much food that followed this."Piglet" Baccalone salumi platterSince we planned to order a few things we decided to go with the smallest order of the salumi plate. A delectable savory spread of cured meats and accoutrements. Our favorite item on the plate was the spreadable andouille and we made sure that portion of the plate was spotless before the waiter took the plate away. It was creamy and almost raw in texture, flavored with various spices... we couldn't get enough of this over a warm slice of bread.Spaghettini, Sardinian cured tuna heart, eqq yolk & parsley (half portion)Next up was a half portion of the Spaghettini. Who knew a combination of a handful of items could blow us away? Pasta was cooked perfectly, the cured tuna heart lent a slight briny-saltiness to the dish and the egg yolk lent a velvety rich finish.Special for the night: Braised Yellowtail collar and grapesWe are huge fans of eating collar. Its so succulent and tender. The meat is tucked into little crevices, nooks and crannies so it requires a little work getting to the morsels. This work doesn't bother us though since the rewards are well worth it.  The braised grapes were interesting as I've never had grapes prepared this way... it definitely had a heightened sweetness. The collar wasn't what we really expecting though. A nice twist as we are use to a more simple preparation of broiled with salt and pepper.Yellowtail, endive, and blood orange agrodolceI was a little hesitant to order this dish since we were ordering the collar to share already. However, I was really in the mood for more fish that night and I'm really glad I went with my gut. I ended up licking the sauce off the plate by the end of the meal! The fish was well seasoned and the vegetables cooked perfectly but oh my ... it was all about the sauce. I think of sauce as analogous to the finishing touches a lady puts on before an evening out like the statement jewelry pieces and lovely shoes. A dish alone can be pretty good but its the sauce that elevates it.Calf's sweetbreads & kidney, farro, radish, and molasses sauceEHK wanted to go with a more richer dish to balance my lighter pick. Oh yes... it was rich. Love[...]



2nd Annual FoodBuzz Blogger Festival: San Francisco,CA

2011-08-11T09:11:13.080-07:00

If I could sum up the 2nd Annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival that occurred this past weekend in one word it'd be... commercialized. I attended last year's festival and the vibe this year has a definite big push on branding. I felt bombarded by all these signs and product give-aways instead of focusing on enjoying food which is what I came here for. I thought the vendor options were a little disappointing compared to last year as well. I was looking forward to parking in front of the Hog Island Oyster Co  booth again and gorging on Kumamotos but they were missing!!! I settled for gorging on RoliRoti's Porchetta sandwich instead... delicious and satisfying like I remembered. However it wasn't enough to erase the disappointment of so few vendors for the first night of the festival. The second day we decided to hit up the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market which turned out to be the highlight of our trip. We had a blast sampling the various offerings the purveyors offered and made quite a dent in our wallets picking up luxuries we had been wanting to bring back home (post on these items to follow). Saturday's afternoon event was when we got the brunt of branding overload. We felt like there were more sweet offerings instead of savory which wasn't what we had hoped for at this time of the day. We also collected quite a bounty of swag which is fun to tote and sort through but I honestly don't need any of it. I totally understand that this was a very expensive production and sponsors were needed to make it relatively little out of pocket for featured publishers but I just thought the amount of flashy banners and "brought to you by..." and "thanks to..." statements were excessive. I think I'd be willing to dish out a little to attend the next festival in exchange for less advertising and more emphasis on the food. Dinner was definitely different from last year's Outstanding in the Field hosted event. I much preferred the family style fare presented last year compared to Cooking Channel's plated spread. The one awesome improvement was the venue change. Last year was in a dreary cold produce warehouse and this year was under the glamorous strung lights in the Grand Hall of the Ferry Building. Ok I'll give props to the sponsors for this venue change. I did get to meet many bloggers this weekend including the people behind Kirbie's Cravings, KAT'S 9 LIVES, The Ms. Lin Guide, justjennrecipes, Cute Pig, the princess gourmet, The Catty Critic and Food Practice to name a few. I had a wonderful time trading stories with them and picking their brains for must eats. Hopefully we'll have an opportunity to meet up in person again.Below are photos from the event on the first night, the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market and part of the second day. The camera died right before the second night's events so I have no photos. However, I'm sure the bloggers I've listed above will have photo's from Saturday's dinner and Sunday's brunch. Enjoy![...]