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Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Kumquats

19 Jan

Great combination of flavors…Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Candied Kumquats from K & L Bistro in Sebastopol.

I sure wish I could figure out how to get my Kumquat tree to be more productive!

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Duck Fat Breadcrumbs

29 Dec

I know this may not be all that healthy, but I just love this idea of using Duck fat to crisp up breadcrumbs. This dish was on the menu from Zazu Restaurant

Of course, using Duck fat to sauté potatoes is another delicious option!

Next time you cook up some Duck, I hope you’ll save some of the rendered fat and give it a try 🙂

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White Truffles – Mother Nature’s Best Perfume

22 Dec

There is nothing in this world like the aroma of a fresh White Truffle from Italy. This particular one is from Tuscany, and was served at Oliveto in Oakland. Lucky for us, since Antiquity, someone figured out that this ugly duckling is worth the hunt!

One of the best ways to enjoy them is thinly shaved over a fresh, buttered Tajarin Pasta or soft-scrambled Eggs (Parmigianno-Reggiano optional). So simple and so divine!

For a more affordable way to get that special flavor and aroma, I really like La Tourangelle White Truffle Infused Oil. It’s delicious when added to a vinaigrette (take any standard recipe and replace 1/2 of your Olive Oil with the Truffle Oil) or drizzled over Popcorn in lieu of Butter. If you can find 479 Popcorn in your grocery store, the Black Truffle and White Cheddar flavor is a real treat. They have gift packs online too.

Happy Holidays to everyone!

Restaurant Reviews for Los Angeles

18 Nov

Friday night, I had the good fortune to try Lukshon in Culver City for the very first time. It’s the kind of restaurant that is excellent to go to with friends–that way, you can share more of their delicious dishes. It was recommended by our waitress that we order 2 per person, and since it was hard to narrow down the choices, we ended up with about 9 dishes for the 4 of us. Here is a link to the menu.

Another new one for me this weekend was FarmShop in Brentwood. The restaurant is located in a marketplace where you can shop for gourmet food (both fresh or for the pantry) and there is a very tempting bakery as well. I couldn’t resist getting a blueberry streusel muffin for breakfast today! If you’re looking for brunch, this is definitely a good option.

And, if you ever want to celebrate a special event, Figueroa Hotel in downtown Los Angeles is a great venue. The decor is Moroccan and it’s a great escape from the ordinary and I especially loved the lighting. I was there for a party and we ate traditional dishes, like braised lamb, chicken with lemon and green olives, bastilla (with ground chicken, cinnamon, phyllo dough) and couscous…very tasty and excellent service! After dinner, we were entertained by beautiful and talented belly dancers…such a fun evening!

Where have you been lately? Would love to hear your recommendations!

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Mushroom & Gruyere Omelette

3 Jul

Omelettes are wonderful for a satisfying meal any time of day! I enjoyed this one for lunch at K & L Bistro. Eggs are a great option for eating vegetarian, and I prefer a meatless meal much of the time. I love vegetables and just about any of them go with eggs.

There are so many ingredients for filling them, such as sauteed red and yellow peppers, onions, spinach (one of my favorites in an omelette!), feta, peaches, sliced prosciutto, crab, and more! They are also a great vehicle for using up leftovers, like a ratatouille, or sausage ragu.

If you’re not comfortable with the idea if making an omelette, you could also use the same ingredients to do a frittata or even just scrambled eggs. Add a salad of greens and you’ve got a quick, delicious and affordable meal that won’t heat up your kitchen for more than about 10 minutes!

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Deconstructed Pork Tamale from Bocanova

8 Apr

It takes a creative chef to turn a Tamale, or anything for that matter, into something memorable. This dish definitely hit the mark! Imagine the inside of a delicious, homemade, authentic Tamale with stoneground Masa, slowly cooked Pork shoulder, seasoned with Onions, Garlic, Cumin, and Mexican Oregano, maybe some Epazote or Cilantro. But then, don’t hide all those delicious ingredients inside the Husk.

Instead, layer the Husk, Tomatillo sauce, Masa (think of a round slice of Polenta, but with more texture than a traditional Masa since this one had bits of corn kernels added), and Pork that has been cooked a long time so it melts in your mouth (think of Confit), then garnish with some Guacamole, Queso Blanco, Micro-greens and Red Bell Pepper. This modern and elegant dish would work well for a dinner party too. The other photo here is a Crab Pozole…also delicious!

Bocanova’s Executive/Proprieter Chef Rick Hackett provides an ever-changing Pan-American menu for brunch, lunch and dinner, including many great options for Vegetarians. The restaurant  is located on the waterfront at Jack London Square in Oakland, CA.  I highly recommend Bocanova!

A Seasonal Vegetarian Antipasti Platter

11 Mar

Whenever I think of an Antipasti platter, I think of various cured meats, such as Prosciutto, Salami, Sopresatta, and Bresaola. The one pictured here, from Peter Lowell’s Restaurant in Sebastopol (West County Sonoma) was all Vegetarian and I didn’t miss the meat one bit! I’m definitely going to be ordering it again.

This one included Grilled Radicchio with Balsamic Vinegar (I think it was White Balsamic), a head of Roasted Garlic, a small slice of Frittata, Roasted Potato sprinkled with some Parmesan, Roasted Beets, Bosc Pear slices, a Mustard Greens Pesto (delicious!) and Kalamata Tapenade with Kumquat (a very nice creative twist!), Olives (including Castelvestrano which are one of my favorites), Caperberries and a couple of Pickled Red Chiles, Brie, Crostini, a bit of fresh, lightly dressed Kale, Curly Endive and Watermelon Radish.

I recommend trying to put together your own Vegetarian Antipasti–I think you’ll love it!

And of course, if you’re in the area, visit Peter Lowell’s…it’s one of the best places in town (open 7 days a weeks for breakfast, lunch and dinner).

Seven Hills – San Francisco

22 Jan

Our good friends Katie and Michael recommended Seven Hills (named after the 7 hills of San Francisco: Telegraph Hill, Nob Hill, Russian Hill, Rincon Hill, Mount Sutro, Twin Peaks and Mount Davidson). We had an early reservation and after several minutes, the Chef came out to say hello to our table. As we were introduced by Katie and Michael, I had no doubt we were about to have a really special dinner.

It was such a pleasure to meet Alex Alioto and Alex Solomou, the partners of this fantastic restaurant, located on Nob Hill at 1550 Hyde St. Alex Alioto, the Chef, shared with us that he worked in restaurants in Italy and Germany, as well as The Ritz Carlton in San Francisco, working with Ron Siegal (who used to be the chef at Masa’s) and The French Laundry.

We shared Appetizers consisting of Salt Seared Monterey Bay Calamari with a delicious Eggplant Caponata, Roasted Niman Ranch Bone Marrow with a Parsley and thinly shaved Black Radish Salad (along side some Crostini and Hawaiian Red Sea Salt to garnish), and Grilled Mackerel with an Olive Tapenade. All outstanding!

The fresh pastas were light and delicious. I don’t order pasta often these days, but I had feeling their Carbonara would be worth the calories. It was amazing and I especially loved the generous, savory pieces of Fra’ Mani Pancetta.

One of the other stand out pastas of the night was a Tallegio Cheese Agnolotti with Squash Puree and Vegetable Broth. The Squash Puree was delicate and the infused green oil floating on top of the broth was a lovely sight. Thanks for sharing a bite, Jenny, and Victor for ordering some great wine!

For dessert, we shared some House Made Fresh Ricotta Cheese “Doughnuts” with an Orange Creme Anglaise. The Ricotta was mixed into the dough and they were lightly dusted with sugar. If you’ve ever had Ricotta Pancakes, they were similar, but even better since they were crispy all around. I especially loved the orange zest. Can’t wait to go back!

Hmmm…I think I need to make some Lemon Ricotta Pancakes soon!

Carne Crudo with Enoki Mushrooms & Black Truffle Bruschetta

7 Jan

This dish is from Manzo at Eataly in New York. It was one of the memorable dishes from my recent vacation and I feel it is worth blogging about for several reasons…it was beautifully plated, had an excellent combination of flavors, and for using Grass-fed Beef.

I had not previously heard of Piemontese Beef. It comes from a breed of cattle originally from the North-West region of Piemont in Italy, and considered among the best in the world for being especially tender and lower in fat.

I am a big proponent of Grass-fed Beef, especially after watching the video Food, Inc. (which I highly recommend),  and it’s my preference for the limited occasions when I eat Beef. As you probably know, Grass-fed Beef farms provide a more humane livestock system, a healthier human diet, less deadly E. coli, and elimination of feedlots that are filthy, require tons of antibiotics, and cruel to the animals. Manzo’s Razza Piemontese Beef is American-sourced, coming from Brewer Ranch in Miles City, Montana.

As usual, our preference was taking a seat at the counter rather than at a table, so we could watch the food being prepared and hopefully, get better service, which we did…the bartender was prompt, friendly and guided us in the right direction with his top recommendations.

I was quite surprised to see the meat for this Crudo being freshly ground up, right before our eyes, in the smallest, individual-size grinder that I’ve ever seen. I’m going to search for it and will put up a link in My Tasty Store when I find it (remember to check out My Tasty Store on the side bar of the blog when you’re viewing on a computer–unfortunately, it’s still not working well on mobile devices…it’s a project for the New Year!). The earthy flavors of Mushrooms and Black Truffles, together with the delicate Quail Egg Yolk, were divine.

We also enjoyed a Roasted Cauliflower and Romaine Salad with an Anchovy  Caper Vinaigrette. I will definitely be duplicating this salad at home!

Chef Michael Toscano, the former Sous-Chef of Mario Batali’s Babbo, definitely impressed me and I look forward to going back.

If you’d like to see some of the other dishes, here is a link to the Fall menu. Be prepared to get hungry!

What restaurant dish has given you inspiration to try at home?

Anatomy of a Burger

31 Dec

This post is actually about restaurant recommendations for Portland but I couldn’t resist the title! Check out  the link of this picture of a mouth-watering burger from Violetta. Yumm!

Our friend Dave in Portland suggested several places for lunch, before we landed, so of course, the first thing I did was inspect the menu of each restaurant.

To be honest, after having only coffee and a smoothie for breakfast, I was so hungry for lunch on Saturday before Christmas, that I don’t remember the details of all the menus, but what I do remember, and appreciate so much, is the effort that our friend made to send us a brief list of suggestions ahead of time. And, once we arrived, I was surprised that he had his Garmin GPS navigator programmed for us with directions to each of the restaurants so we could drive in the loaned vehicle to downtown Portland without any delays or hassles.

Along with Violetta, here are some more suggestions:

Tasty N Sons has great and unusual breakfast items. For example, brown rice, Kim Chi, steamed vegetables topped with a fried egg. It is located in North Portland close to downtown.

Violetta is in SW Downtown, has really good burgers and is in a great location if you want to do some shopping. Many nice stores and good for walking around.

Papa Haydn is in NW Portland and has good sandwiches, salads and desserts. Also good shopping and easy walking distance.

The Saturday Market for shopping was going on along the waterfront and it has some unusual folks to look at as well as fun gift ideas.

We ultimately ended up at the counter at Ping, in Chinatown. From 2-5:30, they have happy hour and served a menu of small plates ranging in price from about $1-$3 average. Such a deal! They also make an unusual, but delicious, drink from fruit vinegars and seltzer, with flavors like Pomegranate, Rhubarb or Tamarind. I’d go back there just for those…

http://tastynsons.com/brunch.html

http://www.violettapdx.com/

http://www.papahaydn.com/