I know I can be a little slow getting new recipes up here so to hold you over, you can get some ideas from The Random Recipe Generator. It may not truly be FoodPorn but it’s worth sharing just to spread the laughter!!
Archive for 2008
I made a summery version of this. Similar recipe, dropped the saffron. Instead of topping with pesto, I topped with fresh tomatoes and basil.
I picked up some snapper at the farmers market the other day with the plans to make fish tacos. When I went to actually prepare the fish tacos I realized I’d forgotten to go to the store to get anything else for them such as tortillas, salsa, etc. So I had to move on to plan B. I whipped up a fish soup. I, unfortunately, spaced out taking a picture of it but I did note down the recipe:
1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 smallish fennel, 2 stalks celery — all diced or chopped
Throw all those in the pan and sauté them until they are soft.
Add 1/4 teaspoon saffron, 1 bay leaf, 2 diced tomatoes, and a pinch of chili flakes.
Let those cook together a few minutes.
Add 2 cups white wine and let that cook until it reduces down to about 1 cup.
Pour in 1 1/2 quarts chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add 3/4 pounds snapper cut into bite size pieces and let that simmer until the snapper is cooked.
Serve the soup poured over garlic toasts and garnish with pesto (I made my pesto with marjoram, parsley, basil, garlic, pecans, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper)
I usually don’t make it to the store on Tuesday. Wednesday is Farmer’s market day so I try to just hold off and eat what we’ve got. Last night the fridge was pretty empty. But from the garden I picked this lovely plate of Brandywine tomatoes. I grow Winter garden, so I can pick things to cook when it’s cold out too, but nothing is like good summer tomatoes! I’ll be so sad when the season is over.
Wednesday nights are my night to experiment with different ingredients within a similar dish. I get Ahi at the farmers market and see what I can dice together. All the ingredients except the salt, pepper, pine nuts and nanami togarashi are from the farmer’s market or my garden.
1 clove garlic
1 medium shallot
1/2 of a cucumber
a handful of toasted pine nuts
juice of one lemon
4 baby green onions
a handful of basil from the garden
a few sprigs of parsley (also from the garden)
yummy olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
nanami togarashi sprinkled on top
Everything minced or diced accordingly.
Mix, eat on toast and love life.
September 24, 2008
This week, and didn’t realize that I didn’t have many crunchy things to mix into my tartare. So what I put in it this week where shallots, avocado, celery, pine nuts, and of course olive oil, salt and pepper, and I topped it with nanami togarashi as usual. What I did have this week was another Brandywine tomato from the garden to accompany the ahi. Wednesdays are yummy.
In the Hard Rock Casino
Las Vegas, NV
When we found ourselves planning a trip to Utah, we couldn’t be within a few hours of Vegas and not head there for dinner. We are not gambling people, we are not 110 degree heat people, I do not dress like I just stepped out of the Frederick’s of Hollywood catalog. Las Vegas is not a place we would typically migrate to. However, given that the majority of the world’s best chefs have decided to open up restaurants there, it is now a vacation destination for me. I booked a hotel (sans Casino– a rarity I know) across the street from the Hard Rock which houses Nobu. Across the street when it’s 114 feels like a marathon, but we made it.
We had a reservation for the first seating at 6pm. If you make it there, note that they don’t open their door until six o’clock sharp, so no point getting there early except to look at the music memorabilia around the casino (which is pretty cool!). We had a reservation for a table, but my four year old wanted to watch them make the sushi so we moved to the bar. That was a great move!
We ordered the Omakase (Chef’s choice) and got to watch each dish being prepared, minus the hot dishes from the kitchen. The first dish was Nobu-style Tuna Poke. It was tossed in an acidic miso dressing, topped with some cherry tomatoes, little dollop of mild caviar, and a taro chip. This was incredible. It really made me want to up the ante on my Wednesday night farmers market creations.
Round two was mackerel. I hate mackerel, oily, fishy, I avoid it. This was the best mackerel ever but, having said that I hate it, that’s not praising it enough. It was one of my favorite dishes of the meal… mackerel! It was topped with a dry miso that tasted like some of the best, gourmet, Top Ramen powder… I know that doesn’t sound like a compliment, but it is, and I couldn’t think of any other way to describe it. There was also some curry oil and a little round fruit that we couldn’t identify, it turned out to be some sort of baby peach. It functioned as a palate cleanser, it wasn’t very sweet but very refreshing.
The third dish was the one “miss” of the evening. It was Tako Sausage with an overwhelming number of other flavors tossed together on the plate: feta cheese (yes, cheese in Japanese food!), hard-boiled quail egg, corn, broccoli, peas, and a ceviche sauce. Not the masterpiece of the evening.
The meal quickly got back on track with Otoro and scallop with a sauce made of dried shrimp, dried scallop, and chili oil. Both the Otoro and scallop were like butter. Scallop is another thing that I typically avoid these days, I get a heavy metallic taste from it, but not this one. Next came a palate cleanser of strawberry-Mango sorbet on champagne granita with a white chocolate tuille (which the waiter told us was shizo–what?!– he came back apologizing profusely for being wrong).
We were now moving on to the hot dish, kitchen portion of the meal. Crab stuffed zucchini blossoms with passionfruit Ponzu sauce and golden pea shoots: well-balanced and flavorful, the pea shoots were perfectly salty. Another amazing dish. The Kobe beef with seared foie gras, kabocha puree, asparagus, and shizo oil was next. I am not a foie gras fan, so I felt incredibly guilty leaving this huge chunk of foie on my plate — I tried to eat it but it was just too much. The Kobe however was tender and flavorful and the kabocha puree tasted very similar to butternut squash and added a sweetness and freshness that was balanced and excellent.
Out next was a cilantro-lime soup with grilled squid. This didn’t taste Japanese to me, it tasted almost Thai-like but it was very refreshing after the heavy Kobe dish. I did think the squid was a little too chewy though.
We moved back sushi bar portion for an incredible plates of nigiri: Chutoro (AMAZING), snapper with shizo, sake with mild jalapeno (incredible), Spanish saba with sweet kelp (unbelievably good — again with the Saba!) , amaebi (creamy) and tamago (like a little soufflé on rice).
They brought us the dessert that was apricot gyoza with almond ice cream. This was good, a fine dessert… We could not end this fabulous meal with a dessert that was just “fine.” We ordered our real desert: Hamachi and otoro sashimi. having chatted with the sushi chef for most of the meal, we got a little bonus with our Sashimi, fluke fin. Very thinly sliced in a little mirin and soy dressing, it was chewier than fish, not as chewy as squid, unlike anything I’ve ever had really, and quite a treat. The sashimi plate was truly the best dessert we could have possibly ordered. That’s the way to end a meal.
Oh, the sake! I’m not sure how I managed not to write down the names of the sakes that we got, but I don’t think you can go wrong. They have numerous sakes brewed just for them and something for every palate, sweet to dry.
I was not surprised by the quality of ingredients or incredible knife skills of the chefs but I was impressed nonetheless. I was unimpressed with the other patrons wearing their perfume, ordering spicy tuna rolls — seriously, in Nobu, spicy tuna… what?! So there is a downside to the location, and they don’t have a restroom within the restaurant, you have to go into the casino which deadens your sense of smell with all the perfume and smoke lingering about. But I gladly got past those problems and will excitedly return to Nobu again.
Update: We excitedly returned to Nobu in November. We again got the Omakase. I’m sad to say that it didn’t live up to our July visit. The front of the house seems to have slipped. Our waiter wasn’t knowledgeable about the sake list and when handed a list of things we were allergic to, asked if it was a tempura order. The items that came from the kitchen were lackluster. Having said all that, they do still have some of the best fish at the sushi bar that I have ever experienced. The men behind the counter know what they’re doing, their purchasers know with they’re doing, I’m just afraid the front of the house is falling victim to Vegas. For future reference though, if you ever see Tasmanian ocean trout on a menu, order it!
A quick visual summary:
B & B Ristorante
In the Venetian
Las Vegas, NV
I used to watch Molto Mario religiously. I have a hard time deciding which I enjoy more, Italian or Japanese food. So on our trip to Las Vegas, I booked dinners for both. The second night we were at Nobu, but our first night was at B&B run by my favorite Italian chef, Mario Batali.
First things first, a bottle of Brunello please! Yum Yum!! The wine list is impressive, if not overwhelming, and they’ve got quite the mark up — holy my gosh!! — our sommelier called it the “Strip tax.” But, the wine was pure bliss. As usual, I didn’t even get to the second page of the menu. I ordered as many antipasti and primi dishes as I could. Oddly, the dishes I was looking most forward to from watching Mario’s shows were the least interesting to me when I actually ate them. The Calamari and Seppie Fritti was fine but really not the best calamari I’ve ever had. The Marinated Fresh Anchovies “alla Giardiniera” were incredibly fresh (not surprisingly), not fishy like you would think anchovies to be, but they were all about the vinegar they were marinated in. It made drinking wine with them incredibly challenging. They were really good, but not a dish I would return to the restaurant to get. Those two dishes aside, the rest of the meal was fantastic.
The Roasted Beet Salad with Ricotta Salata was the antipasti winner for my husband. It seemed they had every kind of beet known to man on the plate and they were all perfect. The ricotta salata was a nice touch, it balanced the dish well and wasn’t too cheesy.
What really blew me away about the dinner was what I ordered from the primis. The blue ribbon winner for me was the Spaghettini with spicy budding chives, sweet garlic and one-pound lobster. It was so simple, pasta in a spicy red sauce, but none of the flavors were lost to each other. The spice didn’t overpower the sweet, tender lobster. The chives and garlic were a fragrant addition to the sauce but weren’t too strong. If I wouldn’t have had the Beef Cheek Ravioli coming next, I would’ve loved another dish of this. But, alas, I finished off the spaghettini and the large, rich plate of ravioli was put in front of me. This was really amazing. It was like a rich, slow cooked, stroganoff (but a really good one) wrapped up in a perfectly cooked pasta. The truffles were sizable but the truffle flavor was really in the sauce. The Brunello worked tremendously well with both the beef cheek and the spicy spaghattini so that was an excellent choice. The only problem with the ravioli dish was that it was too incredibly rich for me to finish. I didn’t want to send any back to the kitchen but I couldn’t eat another bite.
Actually, that’s not entirely true, I did order dessert. I got the Cioccolato, the Italian chocolate death, with raspberries and espresso syrup — heavenly! My son got the chocolate malt gelato and the Mint Stracciatella which was thoroughly enjoyed (the Mint Stracciatella should be a palate cleanser for them), and my husband got the cannoli. All three desserts were lovely. I still think I would’ve liked to have ordered in other spaghettini for dessert though!!
Balzac – inside La Stampa Hotel & Spa
35 Dawson Street, Dublin, D2, Ireland
Phone: (353) 1 677 4444
I couldn’t eat at Boccaccio every night, so I poked around online to try to find somewhere else in Dublin with edible fare. I found a few good references to Balzac so we decided to check it out. Like the rest of Dublin, it follows the trend of ridiculously high prices and exorbitant wine markups. Unlike most of the other places we’ve been to however, the food was good as well (not just expensive).
I ordered the Poulet Vert – Herb Roasted Poussin, Watercress and Lemon. This is not “first date” food, at least not for me. I can’t have a whole bird served to me and dissect it with only my knife and fork; I dive in with my hands and I’m a mess. But luckily this time I was a mess of flavorful juicy poultry. On the side I got the green salad which was supposed to be served with the French dressing (which I hate) so they dressed it with a simple vinaigrette for me which was very tasty. There are much more elaborate dishes available on the menu but I took the safe route based on experiences of other Dublin restaurants falling short. I think I chose wisely, they did this classic dish very well.
Along with the meal we got a bottle of Gevrey Chambertin Burgundy. Overpriced but familiar, a very good bottle.
For dessert I also chose what I thought was a safe route. I got the Raspberries with Lemon Cream and Lavender Shortbread. The lemon cream was inedibly sweet. I just stuck with the raspberries and the buttery lavender shortbread.
Of the fancy pants restaurants in Dublin that we’ve been to, I think the food here was decent. If told I had to return to one of the pricey places I’ve been to, I’d choose this one. How’s that for a backhanded compliment?
Boccaccio Ristorante Italiano
18 Dame Street
Dublin 2, Ireland
Phone: (+353) 1 679 7049
I’ve been to Dublin twice now. The first trip was in the summer of 2006, the latest was just this past June. Sure, there’s the Book of Kells, churches that are nearly 1000 years old, but what about the food!? Both times I tried to do my research as to where to eat, and although Dublin is coming into its own as a tourist destination with a couple of Michelin stars, I could not find a restaurant I wanted to return to for a second meal. That is until we found Boccaccio.
It has very much the same atmosphere as Limoncello, in fact every meal at Boccaccio closes with a complementary shot of limoncello. So in brief it’s everything I love about Italian cuisine: a relaxed atmosphere, a family feel, and phenomenal food.
We went there twice in the week that we stayed in Dublin. The first night I ordered Linguine al Granchio (Pasta with crab meat claw, spring onion and fresh tomato concasse). The crab-tomato sauce concoction can easily be muddled. Either you can’t taste the crab, or the crab takes over with the fishy/wharfy taste — neither of these problems existed at Boccaccio. The crab was fresh and added a creaminess to the tomato with more than a hint of spice.
We ventured back the night before our plane was to leave which was a busy Saturday night. We didn’t have reservations and the place was packed. After giving my sob story of wanting to eat there one more time before flying back to the states, they fit us into a table as long as we could order, eat, and get out of there before a huge party was arriving at nine o’clock. Deal! I don’t need to linger, I just want the food!
This time I ordered the simple dish that so many restaurants don’t seem to be able to master, Spaghetti alla Bolognese. This was a classic ground beef version, nothing fancy, but high-quality meat that wasn’t drowning in sauce; a perfect ratio. With it we ordered the house wine: “Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Perugino Rosso” which, like in any good Italian restaurant, was highly drinkable and didn’t break the pocketbook.
Both nights I closed my dinner with the Tartufo Limone with Limoncello (Lemon ice cream with a soft lemon liqueur center coated with chrushed lemon meringue). I was in lemon heaven. It was creamy, it was tart, and with a shot of limoncello poured over it, it had a kick! I highly recommend it, along with the light-as-a-cloud Tiramisu.
I don’t know if I’ll find myself in Dublin again anytime soon. It’s an incredibly expensive city to visit. But at least now I know that if I do go back, I have a place to eat… and eat, and eat.
Black China Cafe
1121 Soquel Ave.
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Given that I just grabbed a sandwich to go, this review is based on very limited input. Having said that, the sandwich was exquisite. They called it an open faced sandwich, but it was really more like three pieces of bruschetta. Toasted francese with a large pile of delicious hummus (not at all bland or pasty) topped with cucumber, cherry tomatoes, basil, fennel seeds, and sesame seeds. It was the perfect sandwich for a lovely sunny spring day.
Keep an eye on this page, I have a feeling I’ll be adding reviews as I go back more often. I have to go back, I didn’t come home with any of their famous dessert!!
910 Cedar St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
It had been a while since I’d been to Gabriella Café, they seemed to have a slight downturn in the kitchen a couple years ago, but that is the case no longer. We had an outstanding meal.
Since it was my husband’s birthday, we started the meal off with a 1998 Roederer champagne. It was lovely with the amuse bouche sent out by the chef: an oyster with lentil “caviar.” The oyster was a perfect size with excellent flavor but I think I needed a squeeze of lemon or a dash of vinegar to bring a little acid to it. Nevertheless, it was a great opener.
We stared at the list of antipasti and salads for quite awhile not able to decide which ones to get. The way we solved that problem was by getting all of them! Well, all but the Pigs Blood which just grossed me out. Anyway, the first to come out was the Chili Mint Shrimp (with green garlic anchovy white bean purée). The shrimp had a good char on the outside, and was cooked flawlessly. Served at the same time, the Seared Kampachi Spine had tremendous flavor but was quite the challenge to eat, seemingly having more bones than flesh. The flavor was so good however, we sucked the bones clean!
The winners of the evening, without question, were Hamachi and the Marinated Asparagus dishes. I eat as much raw fish as I can, so I have a lot of palatial experiences (experiences with the palate) to compare this to. This was some of the best hamachi I have ever had. It was on par with the Ahi we ate in Hawaii that was just an hour out of the water. Complementing it were two fried sides: a shrimp polpettini that wasn’t overwhelmingly shrimpy just scrumptious, and fried spring onion, both of which added a good contrast to the freshness of the fish by being fried and crunchy (and I’m not typically a huge fan of fried food). The asparagus dish was served with a rustic salsa verde which was acidic, smoky, buttery and overall just yummy. The asparagus was perfectly crunchy and a wonderful, fresh reminder that it is spring. It also included “Upland Cress” which is a type of cress I’d never tried; it had a nuttiness similar to arugula but with an almost musty flavor, I’ll have to keep an eye out for this market, I very much enjoyed it.
Having moved on from the Roederer, we needed a hearty red wine to go with our entr&actue;es. The chef recommended a Ridge Lytton Springs, and although we would have loved it, we’ve got that in our cellar and wanted to try something we didn’t have. So we went with a 2005 Alfeo Super Tuscan.
I have to say, it went very well with my braised beef cheeks. If you would have told me a couple of years ago that I would be ordering beef cheeks, I would’ve thought you were insane. I remember watching an Iron Chef episode back when it was on the Japanese station and just subtitled—pre-Food Network bastardization of the show—entitled Hohoniku Confront! a.k.a. Battle Beef Cheek. They were so excited about the portion of the cow that they got to use for this battle, the commentators had the on screen drawing tools they use for football games, which they were using to point out the perfectly gelatinous-looking areas of the beef cheek that were the best to eat. I think I may now understand the love. The meat had all the flavor of a slow cooked stew meat, but was amazingly tender and buttery, not at all stringy, with the ideal amount of texture. It was supposed to have been served with polenta, but that already had cheese in it so that was out for me, so they substituted a braised Umbrian Chicerchia herb salad instead. The Chicerchia is a cross between a fava bean and a chick pea and that is exactly what it tastes like. I would say that’s another thing I want to look for in the market but fava beans are so much work to shuck, if these are the same, I will never make them! I’ll leave that to the fancy-pants chefs at places like Gabriella.
The dessert menus came and I was shocked to see that there wasn’t a single chocolate dessert on the menu… what was I to do? Well I wasn’t disappointed. I ordered the “peas and carrots” which I was pretty positive didn’t involve peas or carrots. It was gelato prepared in a way that reminded me of a terrine without the wiggly-Jello aspect: pastel layers of gelato. I much prefer this preparation!
We had a meal without disappointment, with a few surprises, and a desire to return soon to an old favorite haunt.