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Michael’s Santa Monica

4 Dec

Michael’s Santa Monica. I recently ate here for dinner with some business associates and sat outside on the beautiful garden patio. Michael McCarty, the Proprietor, was very cordial and stopped by our table to make sure our dinner was enjoyable. It was delicious and the service was excellent!

Michael is recognized for supporting the local Farmers Markets and the menu reflects fresh and seasonal fare.

I’m always on the look out for restaurants that provide a farm-to-table experience, supporting organic, local and sustainable cuisine, so if you know of any, please leave a comment and share your favorites.

P.S. There is another location too…Michael’s New York at 24 W 55th in Manhanttan.


Truffle Dinners 2011 at Oliveto

13 Nov

Remember to bring your Truffle Shaver to the Truffle Dinners 2011 at Oliveto. It’s exceptional to shave your own! This year’s annual event begins November 16th and ends on the 19th. I am looking forward to what Chef Jonah will create for his first Truffle Event!

Breakfast at MarketBar in San Francisco

30 Oct

I recently enjoyed breakfast, along with very good service, at MarketBar located at the historic Ferry Building on San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront. Sitting on the sunny outdoor patio, with bright yellow umbrellas, is a perfect place to start any day. They open at 8 a.m. on weekdays and at 9 a.m. for Brunch on the weekend. If the Farmer’s Market is happening, good luck getting a seat!

Aside from people watching and awesome views, I really appreciate their use of fresh produce, meat, poultry and fish sourced from purveyors practicing sustainable methods. For example, the breakfast menu includes a bacon bar with 3 choices, including Zoe’s Dry Cured Bacon. You can read more about Zoe’s Meats or buy their Charcuterie or bacon via this link

Other breakfast items include Crepes with Carmelized Apples and Marscapone, MarketBar Granola, and Hobbs Smoked Salmon Bruschetta with Red Onion, Capers and Goat Cheese. I thoroughly enjoyed the Farmer’s Omelette with Far West Organic Mushrooms, Onion and Gruyère with a pot of Prosperity Herbal Blend Tea.

After breakfast, be sure to save time for strolling throughout the Ferry Building. There are so many high quality food purveyors. My favorites will be a Post for another day so I hope you’ll read the blog again.

Where is your favorite breakfast spot?

Seattle – Restaurant Week and Reviews

22 Oct

There are 4 days left (10/23-10/27) to take advantage of this delicious event! Over 150 local restaurants are offering 3 course dinners for $28 and many are offering 3 course lunches for $15 (per person, not including drinks, tax or tips). You can go to the Seattle Times for details and list of restaurants participating.

Wild Ginger is one of my favorites on the list. Another one I tried recently was Michael Mina’s restaurant RN74 that opened in June 2011 (Mina has numerous restaurants, including the original RN74 in San Francisco). I started off lunch with a few oysters on the half shell. Next I tried the velvety Roasted Tomato Soup (served with 2 small triangles of Grilled Sourdough and Gruyere), and for a light main course, enjoyed a Green Salad with Grilled Steak (I’m trying to avoid too many carbs these days and it has definitely helped my waistline!). The Steak was grass-fed (although like most grass-fed meat, it was grain finished). I recommend it!

Another new favorite in Seattle is Anchovies and Olives at 1550 15th Ave. @ Madison. I liked the creative twists and loved the small plates–rating it 5 stars! I absolutely loved the seasonal Vegetable Crudité with Bagna Càuda, a classic from Piedmont, Italy. It was traditional yet addictive and intense, with olive oil, butter, tons of garlic and anchovies.

I’m also adding Szechuan Peppercornsto my grocery list after trying them in a new way–crushed and sprinkled onto thinly sliced Hamachi with shaved Fennel, diced Cucumber (I might try Asian Pear if doing it at home), and Preserved Lemon (Da Vero Lemon Olive Oil would be a nice alternative too). The Peppercorns were lemony and floral, without the bite of a Black Peppercorn. The combination of ingredients was outstanding!

What are your favorites in Seattle?

Good Airport Food?

15 Oct

I know what you’re thinking…it sounds like an oxymoron, but I’ve tried Vino Volo on several occasions and I can honestly say it’s good!

They have about a dozen locations in airports (mostly on the West and East Coast). It’s a perfect place to relax while waiting for your flight to board, especially if you’ve experienced any stress getting to the airport on time or any aggravation getting through security (anyone?!).

My favorite dish is the small bowl of Ligurian Chickpea and Chorizo Chili. It definitely has a bit of heat, but a nice balance of flavors from the smokey Paprika and sweetness of diced tomatoes. I think it pairs nicely with a glass of Pinot Noir or Sparkling wine. On my last visit, there was no Sparkling wine on the menu, but when I asked if they had any by the glass, I was offered a choice of two–one of them was a J Sparkling Rose, made in the traditional mêthode champenoise…delicious!

Other menu items include Marcona Almonds, Mixed Greens with Vinaigrette, Brie and Prosciutto Sandwich with Fig Jam, and Braised Pork Tacos.

I will be posting more about food on the go, so I hope you’ll keep reading…and remember, you can also subscribe to the blog to get notified when there are new posts.

Hot Pastrami on Rye

12 Oct

When I was in college, I waited tables at New York Stage Deli in Century City (in Los Angeles). It was a super busy deli and I made some pretty decent tips as a student. It also set the standard for me, in terms of what a great deli should be. 

I remember serving up many bowls of hot, steaming Matzo Ball Soup, and some of the best Pastrami and Corn Beef on the West Coast, served with delicious, crunchy, garlicky spears of Dill Pickles. If you couldn’t decide whether to have Pastrami or Corn Beef, a classic Reuben (with both), topped with sauerkraut, swiss cheese and Russian dressing never disappointed! Most customers ordered their sandwiches on Rye bread. I never liked Rye bread until I had it there–I recall it had a tanginess like sourdough and the crust was always nice and chewy.

There was also cole slaw, Russian dressing, Beaver Sweet Hot Mustard or a grainy mustard to top the sandwiches (I love the Sweet Hot!). You can read more on Chowhound for details for some interesting debate about whether Russian dressing and Thousand Island dressing are the same. Unfortunately, that location didn’t stay in business (but you can still shop online or go to NYC!).

What brought me down this memory lane was a trip this summer to San Diego where I stumbled onto Tommy Pastrami. I ordered my Pastrami lean and To Go, then walked to the harbor where I sat in the warm sun and enjoyed a beautiful view. I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was!

If you’re Downtown and craving some good pastrami, I recommend you give it a try. There are other locations in Orange County and Los Angeles.

What is your favorite deli?

Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch

7 Oct

You’ve probably heard that seafood is healthy for us and should be part of our diet (although there are some concerns about elevated levels of Mercury in certain fish, like Tuna and Swordfish). The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides valuable information about seafood recommendations to promote sustainability. They offer a seafood watch program suggesting what seafood to buy and what seafood to avoid. Download the pocket guide or get it on your iPhone or Android via Apps.

One sustainable fish is the Anchovy. You probably love ’em or hate ’em! If you like them but haven’t tried Anchovies in recipes other than topping a Pizza or in a Caesar Salad, I highly recommend the House-cured anchovies at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco or create your own version at home, although the House-cured Anchovies are more mild than canned.

Try this simple appetizer with a few staple ingredients:

Good quality anchovies (note, a small bottle 0r can of anchovies will be more salty than Zuni’s house-cured so I would suggest rinsing then drizzling Extra Virgin Olive Oil over them and let them marinate about 10-15 minutes before eating. Save the oil to drizzle over the dish)

Celery, sliced thinly on a diagonal

Nicoise olives (Kalamata would be a suitable substitute if you can’t find Nicoise)

Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced

Coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Lemon juice, to taste (optional)

Serve with sliced Acme Levain bread (or other Artisan Sourdough) and a glass of Champagne or Sancerre. It’s great for  a light lunch too!

Bar Agricole

2 Oct

My new favorite restaurant in San Francisco…Bar Agricole.

Located South of Market on 11th between Folsom and Harrison, in between Slim’s and DNA Lounge.

Drinks: I recommend a Brown Derby or Paloma.

Food: Try the Armenian Cucumbers with Za’atar (a Middle Eastern blend of herbs, sesame seeds and salt…to be blogged about another day), and Country Style Pork Pate with Mostarda. The menu changes to reflect the season and these were the only 2 items still listed on their site since eating there.

Andreas Willausch, formerly the Maitre d’ at  The Farmhouse Inn in Forestville, CA ( has succeeded in creating a a top notch restaurant. Andreas, hope to see you next time we visit!