Funfeasts is about enjoying and exploring life - through food. It's an attempt to chronicle my feasts of fun and the many tasty bites experienced along the way.
Showing posts with label Dinner. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dinner. Show all posts

Cool in Camas: Beacon Rock & Thunder Island Brewing Co.

I have made the trip from the Bay Area to the Pacific Northwest more times than I can count and it's always been the same:  hit the road early, stop at the Olive Pit (a family favorite) and drive all the way to Seattle in one long stretch.

Shasta 
This year I changed things up and stopped to meet a good friend in Camas, a town dubbed "Best Place to Live" by some and a well-kept secret that's not so secret when you see all the development buzzing around.  Either way, my experience hit all the high notes:  awe-inspiring hike, food combined with truly local, fresh ingredients and soul-filling relaxation due to the mellow vibe that's all Pacific Northwest.  It's like a spa at it's best:  expansive, nurturing and sporty...but without the barrier of entry fees (except for the state parks).

A few notables if you venture to Camas with friends or family:
  • Beacon Rock Trail.  Stunning and a must-see.  About an hour, steep in some places.
  • Thunder Island Brewing Co.  You can sit by the Columbia River and nosh on fine fare.
  • 360 Kitchen & Bar   A pleasant surprise with gourmet-chef worthy dining.
  • Burgerville.  518 NE 3rd Ave, Camas, WA 98607.  Seasonal menu addition:  Walla Walla onion rings.  Wow.
Every once in a while a detour becomes a huge blessing and in my case, a pretty mind-blowing one at that.  It's time to move on but the view from Beacon Rock is indelibly etched into my memory and a "greatest hit" from the Summer Roadtrip of 2016.


Bucatini carbonara at 360 Kitchen & Bar, Camas WA

Taken from Beacon Rock Trail, Stevenson WA






How to easily roast the perfect chicken

Think you need fancy equipment to roast the perfect chicken?  I did too, and then a friend gave me a small contraption that has come to be my favorite item in the kitchen. 

How it works
  • Clean your chicken and season with salt/pepper and herbs of choice.
  • Set over the vertical roaster (see photo below).
  • Add to a 400 degree oven or grill.
  • Roast for approx. 1 hour (depends on the size of chicken).  Otherwise, check the internal temp with a thermometer. 
  • Basting:  use the juices that collect at the bottom during cooking...yum!
Cooks' note:  I use my Weber Grill which results in less mess and keeps the kitchen cool.  If you set the dials to "low" you will get an even 400 degrees which is about what you need.  Otherwise you can use the oven but it will be a bit messy - and still tasty of course.

When you pull the chicken out of the oven/off the grill,  have a tray handy for the roaster.  Let the chicken rest for approx. 20 minutes and you're ready to cut up.

A few obvious added benefits of the vertical roaster
  • Fast clean up.  Simply remove the fat collected in the tray and wash the rest as usual.
  • Less space for storage.  I fold up the roaster, throw into a plastic bag and into a drawer.
  • Inexpensive.  You can buy a vertical roaster for about $5 on eBay.
  • Amazing chicken!


The best part:  everything is compact and lays flat.

Ready for roasting.

Could this be a little more beautiful?  I think not!
Enjoy!

Fast food my way - cooking salmon to perfection

My easy, go to method for cooking salmon relies on a hot oven and smaller slices of fish for more even cooking.

Here are the steps:

1) Pre-heat your oven or grill to 400 degrees.
2) Cut salmon fillets into 2-3 in pieces
3) Drizzle olive oil on top, then a light dusting of salt, pepper and dill (if using)
4) Add a sliced lemon on top (extra flavor, moisture and beauty)

Once the oven / grill is ready, put the salmon fillets in for 10 minutes.  The fish should be perfectly cooked and delicious!

Copper River Salmon - grilled


Saltbox in San Carlos CA

The transformation from hardware store to shiny new neighborhood restaurant didn't happen overnight.  But now the wrapper is off and the food is making a presence at Salt Box in San Carlos.
And the food - plus overall ambiance - is stellar. 
 
My favorite:  castelvetrano olives.  
 
While the space itself isn't cavernous, it's got an open, airy vibe that buzzes once the place - and bar - fills up.  Salt Box is one of those places that doesn't appear to take reservations so be prepared to wait with a glass of wine in hand.  We arrived on a Friday around 6pm and just barely nabbed a seat.
 
The menu?  A good sampling of California style fare; pork chops, salad, burgers and the like.  For me it was a toss-up between the pork chop and burger and the burger won.  In the end, I feel like I won because I had the perfect meal - an expertly cooked burger with melty cheese and fries on the side.  

Anything but classic, the burger was sooo tasty with carmelized onions, melted cheese and fries.
 
A word of caution:  don't be tempted to skip dessert.  We ordered the profiteroles which arrived with a small pot of salted caramel sauce for dipping which we were tempted to lick clean (but didn't of course.)   If you are tempted, I wouldn't blame you and promise not to tell!

Johnston's Salt Box
1696 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 592-7258

Vancouver vacation 2013 - summer fun now past


Oh Vancouver...how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways... 

1) Your scenery is always breath-taking but even more so during our August visit as the sun made the water sparkle...yes, like diamonds!  Made our kayaking and biking around Stanley Park just THAT much better. 

2) Eating options were numerous and within a stone's throw of our boutique hotel. Crazy-good ramen, down home Italian and fresh sushi made choosing a chore (but not really.) 

3) Friendly people, easy navigation and that cute little "jaunty man" signal which tells you it's time to cross the street. 

The burrata at La Buca
A mouth-watering menu at La Buca
 
 
Finally, how can I forget the really great boutique hotel on Robson Street?  The Listel features comfortable rooms, helpful staff and great location for walking to most of what we wanted to see/do.  Less driving and parking meant more time to chill and enjoy the city. 

 
We did take the car to North Vancouver with the intent of participating in the Grouse Grind before we left on Thursday.  My friend tells me it's a straight up hike on the normally-wintery ski trail with a convenient tram to bring you down when finished.  An un-named person forgot their hiking shoes so we found solace in The Bakehouse and the many pastries on display.
 
I'm back to my usual routine - work and some play - and my summer fling with Vancouver seems so far away.  But I will be back, with hiking shoes in hand!
 
Places to eat
 
La Buca
4025 MacDonald Street
Vancouver BC  V6L 2N8
604.730.6988
labuca.ca
 
Ramen Santouka (amazing)
1690 Robson St
Vancouver, BC V6G 1C7
Neighborhood: West End
(604) 681-8121

 The Boathouse
1305 Arbutus Street
Vancouver BC  V6J 5N2
604.738.5487
www.boathouserestaurants.ca

Eatery Takeout
3431 W Broadway  
Vancouver, BC V6R 2B4, Canada
604-738-5298

The Bakehouse
1050 W Queens Ave
North Vancouver BC  V7R 1H7
604.980.5554
 
Hotel

The Listel Hotel
1300 Robson Street
Vancouver BC V6E 1C5
604-684-8461
 
The lamb agnolotti - beautiful and delish at La Buca
 

Northwest Best: Bernie's, Full Sail Brewing, Roots and friends!

The food scene is definitely hopping in Portland and a quick weekend getaway to visit friends was the perfect excuse to indulge.   We started with a visit to Bernie's Southern Bistro in the very lively Alberta Arts district which was the perfect way to get the party started. 

Key highlight at Bernie's: sitting outside under the trees awaiting our very large portions of fried chicken and mac and cheese.    Of course we ordered way too much but we walked away happy and ready for the arduous task of shopping and hanging out (basically doing nothing.)  Note:  I am NOT complaining here.

Day two we hiked Hardy Falls which served up fresh air and a good dose of nature.  Next up, Full Sail Brewing in Hood River.  With a stunning drive along the water and then a big burger plus salad (gotta have something healthy!) our day was pretty much complete and our trip began to wind down.

Our last day we packed our bags and made a stop at Roots in Camas WA.    Roots is one of those places where you get food and service exceeding your expectations despite the  modest suburban strip mall location.  Don't skip the crab benedict or the Walla Walla onion tart - both amazing! 

Although I seemingly make light of the trip - but not my obsession with the Portland food scene - my true purpose was to catch up with longtime friends over many cups of hot coffee and meaningful dinners.  Past memories and meals tie our friendship together and continue to knit us close despite the many miles now between us.    

So thanks to my wonderful friends for setting aside precious time to connect and remind me what really matters in life.  YOU.

Bernie's Southern Bistro
2904 NE Alberta Street
Portland OR  97211
503.282.9864
berniesbistro.com 

Full Sail
506 Columbia Street
Hood River OR 97031
541.386.2247

Roots
19215 SE 34th Street Suite 110
Camas WA  98607
360.260.3001

Pican, Fine Southern Food in Oakland CA

Pican is quickly becoming one of my favorite restaurants despite the short drive from home.  It's not just because of the food (which the kitchen consistently delivers) but also because the sophisticated, comfortable decor and knowledgeable waitstaff make you feel right at home.   In short, everything works in concert to create a dining experience you want to take part in again immediately.

As for what to order, don't skip the fried chicken and macaroni and cheese combination.  The fried chicken sports a perfectly seasoned crunchy exterior while the mac and cheese is luscious and creamy when you poke through to the interior.  A "can't miss combination" that leaves me satisfied but a little sad when the bottom of the cast iron skillet signals the end to the mac and cheese.

The fried chicken and mac and cheese.  Whoa!
We also indulged in the fried green tomatoes to get started and were happy with the choice.  The tomatoes were light, crisp and accompanied by a creamy burrata and salad.   

 
 While we did not partake in dessert the menu looks spot-on in terms of the choices.  Oh well, there's always next time at Pican!
 
Pican
2295 Broadway at 23rd Street
Oakland, California 94612
510.834.1000

Outstanding in the field 2013 - Everett Family Farm, Soquel

Like many, I love summer.  I loved it as a kid (camping, no school, long days) and I love it now (camping, no school, long days)!  The main difference is that time seems to fly by and before I can blink; June is a far distant memory with August in full view.

Each year the past three years I've attended one event from the roster of Outstanding in the Field events (OITF) to fill my "summer activity passport" and which serves to remind me "what I did last summer".  This year I selected a dinner at the Everett Family Farm in Soquel.

I will say that this was one of my favorites to date for many reasons.   Obviously the farm is chock full of lovingly tended crops but in addition, the structures are beautifully maintained with amazing attention to detail (I noticed the carefully crafted wood doors immediately).  That detail carried over to the dinner table setting - the "baseball field" - and the food itself.

The dinner was cooked by Santos Majano of Soif Restaurant & Wine Bar in Santa Cruz and the lineup included pulled pork mini-sliders, fresh greens with a salty, piquant feta, a delectable duck with potatoes and rock cod with quick pickles and farro.  But the dessert capped it all:  goat cheese panna cotta with berries and a touch of super sweet honey.  I really wanted to snap a picture but the dish was gone before I could even half-heartedly gesture for my camera.

As with many memories, this one is now past and I'm thinking about that Yosemite camping trip in August (I know, sigh..what a life I lead!)  If only I could bottle the season to hold onto before it slips from my tenuous grasp.  Soon enough it will be time for pumpkins and all the fine visions of fall.  Until then...I plan to savor the delights of summer and the feeling of youthful freedom most abundant this time of year.

The honor system;  stop by the farm for just-picked produce and fresh eggs.  You tally the final cost, drop the money in the lockbox and go on your merry way!


Destined for a great salad somewhere.


Villa Valentina, Drunken Sailor and Cazuelas in San Jose del Cabo

Although it's summer in the Bay Area and my vacation now seems so long ago (really only a month ago) I'm still hungering for Baja and the food I love so much.  Tacos were the vision - and we did partake - but we also ventured out to restaurants for meals which captured the essence of the region and time and time again reflected the hospitality of the people. 

Martini-time at Villa Valentina
Three standouts on this trip include the following:

The Drunken Sailor 

Located near the new marina (look for Hotel El Ganzo) and sporting a casual, beachy vibe this place really delivers.  We ordered the taco chino; a tortilla filled with panko coated shrimp and topped with a cilantro sesame dressing.    In addition I tried the enchiladas verde filled with shrimp and just the right amount of tang and spice.   This was a nice start to the trip.... 

After dinner we hung on the deck of the very cool and sophisticated Hotel El Ganzo.  El Ganzo is jaw-dropping with it's chic decor, relaxed vibe and roof top pool.   The rooms vary from waaayyyy over the top (one has a ping pong table AND workout room) to more subdued but all boast views of the marina and on this night were served up by Gerry, our effervescent host and impromptu tour guide.  

Next up a trip to Todos Santos to see the real Hotel California.  Of course we were famished upon arrival and a taco platter plus ceviche with red pepper cream salsa was in order.  I admit I had an Eagles soundtrack playing in my head "Welcome to the Hotel California..." but it wasn't until we visited Hacienda Cerritos I felt the dream materialize.  Beautiful stonework, pools overlooking the Pacific and a friendly cat jumping around to greet us made for a delightful day trip away from the core. 

Villa Valentina

Part home decor store, art center and restaurant is the best way I can describe Villa Valentina.  Throw in well-prepared food and the sound of a local musician on his guitar and you've almost got your own romantic movie.   

My dinner companions ordered the huarache (chipped duck with mole, really terrific) and chicken with - you guessed it - more mole.  As odd as this sounds, I ordered the fish and chips thinking it would be fun to see how other cultures prepare this iconic American dish.  In this case, Villa Valentina nailed their rendition and put their own stamp on it with fresh local sea bass perfectly cooked and served alongside wedge cut potatoes.  And don't forget the tarter sauce (I didn't!) 

The huarache with chipped duck and mole.  Incredible!
 
Cazuelas del don

Located in San Jose del Cabo off the tourist loop this local restaurant is about as authentic as you can get.  The premise is that each day the owner slow cooks meat, vegetables and spices and then you get to choose how the concoction is served up.  On  this day we were treated to La Ira; arrachera, chile poblano and cebolla (plus a few other ingredients.)  I opted for the baked potato, my companions the torta (sandwich) and volcan which seemed to translate to "all piled up on a crispy tortilla". 

The torta at Cazuelas (check out the crispy cheese!)
This was probably one of my favorite places and not just because the food was so interestingly delicious.  It's because it was served with a dose of pride and much warmth by the owners themselves.  To this day my travel companion lights up when talk turns to Cabo, Cazuelas and that lovely torta!

Easy, breezy weekend getaway to Carmel and Monterey

We liked our first trip to Monterey so much we headed back for another weekend getaway.  It's no surprise this area is a very popular destination for tourists both near and far with something for just about everyone within arms reach.

This time we stayed in Monterey but spent our first day in Carmel meandering down Ocean Ave looking at all the shops.  We wandered into Il Fornaio which is tucked away off the street and opens up into a large comfortable atrium-covered dining area.  Here you can order a tasty margarita pizza - enough for two - with the usual toppings (cheese + tomato sauce) and a delightfully thin crust for about $7.50.   Add a cookie and coffee for the perfect midday meal.

Lodging this time was Casa Munras on, you guessed it, Munras Avenue.  The hotel is well-located and well-priced with most restaurants a few minutes walking distance.  Also within close proximity is the pedestrian-friendly foot path which winds past Cannery Row down to the Aquarium for a leisurely way to see the sights.

For breakfast try the Old Monterey Cafe located on Alvarado Street.   You might have a bit of a wait but the breakfast burritos and Belgian waffles are worth it!

Finally, we returned to Montrio Bistro where we ordered family style:  bacon-wrapped prawns, spinach salad and a sirloin steak accompanied by mashed potatoes.  All fairly standard but well done and served by the ever-friendly, knowledgeable staff.  The dessert - bread pudding - is simply a must-have!

The bread pudding with passion fruit ice cream at Montrio Bistro in Monterey.  Amazing!

La Tosca - San Carlos - a culinary charmer!

La Tosca doesn’t sport any gingham-covered tablecloths but you do get the feeling that this is an old-school dining establishment in the best way possible.  A nice casual setting with the sound of a piano playing in the corner, this is the perfect place to unwind, order a glass of wine and noodle over a big plate of delicious pasta (sorry, that one seemed like a given.)

Both times I visited I was delighted with my dinner choices:  prawns in a rich lemony sauce (amazing) and on my second visit, a lobster risotto where the presentation was simply stunning.  For dessert; the silky smooth chocolate mousse with house-made whipped cream.  Wow.
Lobster Risotto with clams
 
I can’t close this without mentioning the staff.  Not only was everyone friendly and welcoming, the waiter seemed genuinely proud of the food.  He literally beamed when describing the entrees which made us happy to accommodate HIM.  Seriously, it turns out great service – or food – never goes out of style and La Tosca offers it up with gusto.  Grazie!
Carpaccio
 
La Tosca
777 Laurel Street
San Carlos CA 94070
650.592.7749

Frances - SF - New year, same great food

There are some restaurants which are worth a second or third mention, and one of those is Frances in San Francisco.  Always challenging to secure a reservation,  loud and crowded once you arrive, Frances is worth the effort when you finally experience the unique flavor and texture combinations served on their beautiful ceramic (assume locally handmade?) plates.

Bavette with butter beans.  Love this dish!
We selected many dishes in an effort to try as many things as possible.  The server hesitated when asked "is that too many?" and proceeded to deliver one dish in error (which he left on the table and...we consumed.)  At that point, it was too many but not something I say with regret.

What we ordered:
  • Applewood smoked beignets - the creamy, bacon-y sauce makes these "double-dip worthy"
  • The little gem salad is NOT your average salad!  The petite young lettuce lightly dressed in a subtle apple vinagrette is a great way to start your meal.
  • Riso nero venero - risotto made of small black kernels and dungeness crab.  Wow.
  • The bavette steak with butter bean compote; flavorful, perfectly cooked and tender.
  • Ricotta gnocchi with nettle pesto.  Again, not your average gnocchi!  The gnocchi were light and puffy ("almost like baked cheetos" which didn't entirely amuse my dinner companion) with the pesto to add punch. 
  • Broccoli gratin - creamy farro, Montegrappa cheese and broccoli. 
As though this wasn't enough for two (it was) we ordered ice cream (maple, browned butter) which was a perfect ending to the meal.  In case you are wondering, the browned butter ice cream won out in terms of taste but we crossed the finish line and consumed everything in our path.

Frances is a top contender on my list of favorites and I can't wait to go back.  A really great gem!

Frances
3870 17th St.
San Francisco
California 94114
415.621.3870


Seasonal Snacking – Seattle Style

Every year it’s the same:  the holidays sneak up on me, I wait until the last minute to buy gifts and before I know it I’m on a plane headed to the Pacific Northwest to visit family.   The routine might seem, well, routine, but changes to the menu lineup make this “the most wonderful time of the year” for me. 

While Seattle hosts a bevvy of fine dining choices I actually think the unique quick-meal options – some would call this fast food  - define the area (yes, you are welcome to disagree).    Good food at a good price really does make me jolly J  Here’s a snapshot of our adventures…
Taco Time
Crispy meat burritos, housemade salsa and the “mexi fries” (tater tots) all make for a good quick meal at this Northwest classic.  Select from the combo menu and your wallet will thank you.  Oh and it's not just me. A co-worker commented that his first stop in Seattle is Taco Time as well (followed by Starbucks!)
Musashi’s
Nestled in a strip mall in Factoria (suburb of Bellevue) Mushashi’s is the second installment for this family-owned restaurant.   The food was good, tasty and reasonably priced.  My very-picky mother liked it and said she’d definitely return which is good as gold in terms of reviews.
3720 Factoria Blvd SE, Bellevue WA 98006

Sushi from Musashi's in Factoria

The Daily Grill (Seattle) and The Keg (Factoria) share the same paragraph simply because they have similar menu items (steaks, chops, salads) but the experience – and food – couldn’t be more different.
To be fair, we dined at the Daily Grill on Christmas so I have to cut some slack here.  But overall, food was just “okay” (steak wayyyy overdone) with service that seemed to amplify the subpar nature of the meal.  On the bright side, the huge slice of chocolate cake for dessert was decadent and delicious.

Chocolate cake from The Daily Grill - a nice holiday treat.
 

The Keg Steakhouse, located in the same strip mall as Musashi’s in Factoria is part of a long-standing Northwest chain that seems to have aged well and delivers quality in terms of food and service.   I have ordered the rib eye twice (once during my last trip and this time too) and it’s amazing; well-cooked and bursting with flavor.  At 20 oz. you might be tempted to pass up dessert, but don’t.  The Billy Miner pie -mocha ice cream on a chocolate crust with hot fudge, caramel and almonds - is fantastic. 
Now with the holidays soundly in my rearview mirror I am ready to embrace 2013 and all the food adventures I can find.  As always, I’m truly grateful for the people in my life who bring joy and laughter despite anything I might really deserve.  I am blessed and hope you – and those around you – are too!  Thanks for reading.
 

Zuni Cafe & B44 Catalan Bistro in San Francisco

I'm obsessed with the Ceasar salad at Zuni Cafe.  Not sure if it's the perfectly crisped romaine, the crunchy croutons or the zingy dressing but it all WORKS.

Other menu items that work:  the burger and shoestring fries dusted with the perfect portion of salt.

Zuni Cafe
1658 Market Street
San Francisco CA  94102
415.552.2522
www.zunicafe.com

Tasty tapas are on tap at B44 Catalan Bistro.  Nestled alongside Cafe Claude and Cafe Tiramisu on Belden Place you'll feel like a tourist in France or Spain (without the pricey airfare!)  Outdoor seating complete with a festive atmosphere make B44 a solid choice when dining downtown.

B44 Catalan Bistro
44 Belden Place
San Francisco CA 94104
415.986.6287
www.b44sf.com

NY favorites: Locanda Verdi and Peppolino

With so many restaurants to choose from in Manhattan deciding on dinner can be daunting.  This recent NY visit I opted to check out two of the same restaurants from last years' trip and was reminded why some always sizzle:  consistent quality, delicious food and attentive servers.
 
Locanda Verde
377 Greenwich Street New York, NY 10013
(212) 925-3797
 
Italian food in a sophisticated setting.  A few of the favorites: duck
meatballs, spaghetti all' matriciana and clam pasta.  The spaghetti was pure comfort food; a bit rich and just the right amount of spice.
 
Hint:  do make reservations if you can or you'll be in for a wait.  No matter of course given the busy, booming bar and scene that goes with it.
 
Clam pasta at Locanda Verde NY
Clam pasta - Locanda

Chocolate budino at Locanda

The perfect blend of spice and savory - Locanda
Peppolino
281 West Broadway New York, NY 10013
(212) 966-9983

Italian food seemed to be my cuisine of choice this trip so Peppolino was high on my list.  You can't go wrong with many of the entrees but  definitely don't skip the ricotta cheesecake.  This is not your
typical cheesecake; less sweet and vastly richer than most, it's their
signature dish...and rightfully so.

Ciao!

To broil or not to broil?

As crazy as it sounds I’ve always feared burning my food under the broiler.  That fear was put to test over Labor Day weekend on Don Pedro Lake while houseboating with friends.  The propane bar-b-que wasn’t working so well - really not at all - and we turned to the oven/broiler for dinner (even though the cabin seemed like an oven on some days.) 
 
Since that weekend soooo long ago (where DID the summer go?) the broiler has become  less daunting and more useful as a cooking method/tool in my kitchen.  Below is a simple recipe for roasted tomatoes (the broiling is the finishing component) which are delicious – and beautiful - on a plate and  your palate.
Roasted, toasted savory tomatoes
·         3-4 tomatoes, cut in half
·         2-3 slices white bread, crusts removed
·         ½ cup gruyere, swiss or parmesan cheese
·         ¼ t crushed oregano
·         Salt/pepper
·         Olive oil for drizzling 

 
Heat oven to 350 degrees.   
 
Run the bread through a food processor to make coarse crumbs.  Add the cheese and process until the bread and cheese are the same “crumb” size.  Combine with the oregano, salt and pepper (to taste). 
 
Drizzle the olive oil on the tomatoes and then place the tomatoes in the oven.  Roast until soft in the center (about 20-30 minutes).  Remove from the oven and turn on the broiler.  

While the broiler is heating up, mound the bread crumb mixture on each tomato half.    Place under the broiler until the crumbs are golden (about 5 mins) and crunchy.  Enjoy!


Broiled tomatoes with seasoned breadcrumbs and gruyere cheese.

A cheesemaker's dilemna

My new-found hobby, cheesemaking, has resulted in some winners and well, less-than-winners.   Even with the occasional clunker there's plenty of cheese to go around and a need for new ways to serve it up. 

A friend at work lit up when I talked about "excess cheese" (as if that's REALLY a problem) and he suggested a recipe from Alton Brown.  Using bits of cheese plus some of my homemade stash I made a batch that promptly disappeared at my next dinner party.

Super easy and super delish - I'm now addicted!

Alton Brown's Fromage Fort Cheese Recipe
Recipe courtesy of Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 pound left-over cheese*, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic

Directions

Remove any rinds from hard cheeses. Grate hard cheeses and cut others into 1/2-inch cubes. Place cheese, wine, butter, herbs, and garlic in a food processor and blend until smooth, approximately 2 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate for at least 1 hour for a firmer consistency. This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

*you can use most cheeses including cheddar, brie, parmesan etc.  I used semi-soft cheese and a little parmesan.

Cow's milk cheese  - slightly aged and served with figs

Yummy cheese

Outstanding in the field 2012

Over the hills and past the wind turbines of Vasco, the road I travelled led me to Brentwood CA in the East Bay. Once past all the traffic jammed on 580 I breathed a sigh of relief and some fresh country air before nabbing my seat (and the many excellent appetizers) at this year's Outstanding in the Field event hosted by Knoll Farm.

If you've never heard of it, Outstanding in the Field an organization dedicated to fostering greater connection with the land and those who nurture the food grown on that land.  After a short intro by the OITF founder and an overview of the farm from Rick Knoll we were seated at a long table right in the orchard with the setting sun. 

An amazing setting for a fine dinner
The dinner we were treated to was vegetarian and all dishes were prepared onsite by local chef Leif Hedendal.  With most ingredients just-picked and wine flowing the dinner courses moved along as easily as the conversation with our table mates.  I have to say that this is an event where the animated guests almost compete with the star(s) of the show - the super-fresh food - because everyone has a passion for food and an opinion about favorite places to indulge that passion.

A menu fit for vegetarians and those who just love food!
With the sun almost set and a chill in the air I began to walk out of the orchard and back to my car.  The host - Rick - walked with our group and chatted about the farm, food and Brentwood.  He too seemed as passionate about the food he grows and the land we were standing on. 

As we talked I thought about the fact that we should give more importance to people like him, people responsible for feeding us and ensuring our food basket is healthy and sustainable and the land is productive for generations to come.   With that revelation I gave a hearty thanks to Rick -and ALL farmers - then pulled out onto the busy country road for the trek home.

Starter plants patiently waiting in the summer sun

Knoll Farm, Brentwood CA
Outstanding in the Field

Good food and music in Berkeley CA

Freight and Salvage
2020 Addison Street
Berkeley CA 94704
510.644.2020

Combine one smokin' hot acoustic jazz group (George Cole Quintet) with a newly refurbished venue (Freight and Salvage) and you've got the recipe for a fun evening in Berkeley. The only downside? I wanted to get up and dance but the place didn't seem to call for it...

Le Regal
2126 Center Street
Berkeley CA 94704
510.845.4020

Le Regal serves up delicious Vietnamese food including traditional spring rolls, garlicky eggplant and tender, flavorful beef. Love this place - good food and great value (4 diners - $60)

Good food at Wierd Fish, San Francisco

Wierd Fish
2193 Mission Street
San Francisco CA
415.868.4744

Funny name but the food's no joke. Wierd Fish doesn't seat a lot of people and they don't take reservations so if it's prime dinner time be patient!

I ordered the very basic fish and chips figuring if they could make this seemingly ordinary dish fly off my plate I'd have to give it high marks. The fish was nicely fried, moist and accompanied by fries and the perfect condiment: tartar sauce.

Other items my companions ordered included Suspicious Fish (sea bass) in an Asian inspired sauce with chick peas and greens, a fried tofu (vegetarian) and the always welcome calamari.



Calamari - with a lemon aoli



Suspicious fish dish - sea bass with chick peas and brown rice on the side. Yum.