Monday, January 25, 2010

Whoa.

Okay, I let this blog fall to the wayside. But I just came back from a month-long eating vacation through Asia and Australia, so I'm hoping to post up pictures slowly of all the great meals I had. So bear with me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Super backlogged

I have posts from:

Roadtrip from Napa to San Diego
Roadtrip from San Diego to New York
Trips to Hong Kong, Taipei and Beijing
And various foods in New York since I've been back

TONS of good food!!!

I need to do all of these 101 posts... but part of the problem is that the pictures of a good portion of the food is on my mother's camera which I didn't have a chance to download before I left Asia. And I've lost my camera cable to download my pictures as well. Oops.

Thus, I'll have to get back to you later...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Back soon...

I have so many dinners to post thanks to a roadtrip down the coast of California and a roadtrip across America. I think this will keep me occupied for a good while. Bear with me.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Napa Valley Day 3: Terra

For dinner this evening, after a day of some really delicious wine (V. Sattui and Castello di Amarosa were our faves!), we headed into St. Helena to go to Terra.

Neither of us were that hungry, but the menu here looked fantastic.

For appetizer, my mother ordered the kampachi carpaccio with radish salad, yuzu tobiko and ponzu sauce. It was good, although the kampachi should have been sliced much thinner I think. Again, while it was a good rendition of a Japanese dish, I kept thinking that it would have been fantastic at a real Japanese restaurant.



I ordered the monterey grilled squid with chickpeas and chard. It was good, though a tad on the salty side. Also, the micro greens on top turned out to be micro cilantro. It had a very delicate flavor which my mother loved, but as a hater of cilantro, I picked it off.



For entree, we both had the lobster tail with abalone and scallop in a escargot sauce. No escargot was actually present, but the sauce actually had the slight flavor of escargot. It came with a couple sugar snap peas and oven dried tomatoes that were delish, as well as mashed potatoes and trumpet mushrooms. Everything was really delicate and delicious, perfectly balanced. I didn't finish my potatoes because I was trying to avoid the carbs, but it was creamy when I tried it. The oven dried tomatoes were extraordinary... firmer and fleshier than a regular stewed tomato, but not quite as raisiny as a full on sun-dried tomato. This dish was very very good.



For dessert, my mother ordered the orange risotto with passion fruit sauce. It actually came out kinda like a cannoli. It was good, but heavier than we expected. The plate was dotted with fruit though, including wild strawberries. If you've never had a wild strawberry before, they are amazing. Completely bursting with a flavor slightly different than the strawberries we've come to know.



I had the strawberry soup with ricotta fritters. This also was different than I expected. I expected more soup, less fritter, but was presented with four donut-type balls dusted with sugar in a strawberry sauce pretty much. It was good, but I'm not a fan of fried dough balls (not a donut person), so I wished there was more soup. But if you like this kind of stuff, it's very good.



Overall, I'd say this restaurant is very good, and I wouldn't mind coming back to try some of their other stuff. A lot of interesting combos and seasonal ingredients.


Terra
1345 Railroad Ave.
St. Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-8931

Napa Valley Day 2: Risibisi and Redd

Day 2. We decided to venture into Petaluma to check out the town. We had lunch at an Italian restaurant overlooking the harbor called Risibisi. Very cute. Since we had early dinner reservations, we decided to go light.

We started off with bruschetta. The tomatoes on this were fantastic. Sweet and flavorful.



Then I had a salad with avocado, bay shrimp, grapefruit and yellow tomatoes with a light citrus vinagrette. Light and summery and just what I wanted.



My mom had the crabcake salad. She said it was good, but she wished there'd been less dressing on the salad and less remoulade on the cakes.



Overall, this place was nice. I liked how fresh the ingredients were.

For dinner, we went to Redd in Yountville. We sat outside in the patio facing a waning sun, which was nice, except for these two bees that seemed to take an unusual interest in our table and ours only. It became so distracting that we moved inside right before dessert.

To start off, my mother had the special salad, which was arugula, figs, plums, proscuitto and bits of pecans. She loved it. It was so bright and summery and colorful, and had such a great mix of flavors that I can't see how it couldn't have been good!



I had the lobster risotto, with watercress, truffle oil and a touch of lemon. Like last night's risotto, it was really light, thanks to the brightness of the acid.



For entrees, we each got the duck confit. This was offered in a smaller portion as well, which we did. It was atop a nice lentil bed that also had some bits of thin pork belly. It also came with foie gras meatballs, which were unusual but good. It had the taste of foie gras, but not fatty the way foie gras is.



For dessert, I got sweet corn fritters, which came with cherries and a vanilla corn ice cream. For people who think corn as dessert is gross, don't knock it! I love the sweetness of corn, though this dessert did make me feel like I was half eating some savory fair food. But it was quite delicious.



My mother got the summer peach "pudding". It had white and yellow peaches, sabayon, shavings of white chocolate, mint, fried almonds, small pieces of bread pudding and this light peach granita ice. She took a bite of it and groaned, and I asked her quickly, "Is it bad?" She shook her head and then declared it THE BEST DESSERT SHE'D EVER HAD IN HER LIFE. No joke. Throughout the whole time as she was consuming it, she kept marveling at how light and summery and delicious and perfectit was.



I really liked this place. The decor is very minimalistic, but I thought the food was quite good. I wasn't overly full after the meal, and everything was really satisfying and fresh without being too rich.


Risibisi
154 Petaluma Blvd N
Petaluma, CA 94952-2905
(707) 766-7600

Redd
6480 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-2222

Napa Valley Day 1: Auberge du Soleil

So here I am, spending the next few days in Napa Valley, San Fran and then making my way down the coast. I'm certain there will be some good eats along the way. Definitely so in the Napa/Sonoma region -- I love Californian cuisine.

Our first night, my mother and I had made reservations at Auberge du Soleil. The view here is freaking fantastic as it overlooks the valley. We had an early reservation - 5:45 - so the sun was still out and hitting the valley.

We took a look at the tasting menu which seemed really interesting, but my mother doesn't like lamb which was featured on there. Instead we opted for the 4 course menu which had options.

They started us off with a mushroom consomme soup with some vegetables. This was really light and delicate, a perfect starter.



For our first course, my mother and I both ordered the seared foie gras. This was on top of a slice of pain perdu, with apricots and almonds and a chamomile sauce.



For the second course, my mother had the risotto. This was with heirloom tomatoes, shrimp, parmesan, tarragon and yuzu emulsion. The sauce around it also had a hint of lavender. I loved the brightness of the flavors - it made the risotto a lot less heavy than it normally is.



For my second course, I had seared ahi tuna. This came with some seaweed, tapioca pearls, tempura mushrooms, glazed pork belly, and a dashi broth. This was really tasty, though the pork belly was a bit salty for my taste. It didn't come together nearly as well as I'd have liked -- maybe it's because it seemed to be Japanese inspired, and so I was looking for something much more authentically Japanese. Nonetheless, still good - flavors for the most part were well balanced.



For the third course, my mother had the prime beef with corn, romano beans and shallots. My mom said this was good, but to be honest we were so full at this point that I think she barely registered what it tasted like.



I had the spiced lamb for my third course. Included was a squash blossom stuffed with goat cheese, gnocchi, and summer veggies. The flavor of the lamb was delicate yet exotic, and so good. But again, I was so full by then, I don't think I could have fully appreciated it.



As a palate cleanser, they gave us a blackberry soup with lemon cream.



For dessert, I had trailside strawberries with a basil ice cream and these little nuggets of pastry (not sure what they were made of but they were good) and light cream. It was so good and summery, exactly what I wanted.



My mother had warm bing cherries with almond ice cream and cocoa nibs. The flavor of the dark chocolate and the sweet cherries worked together really nicely.



And here (with the pistachio off the top of the truffle and half a bite of the jelly) are the petit fours we were left with when the check came.



All in all, this was a really nice dinner, especially the service and atmosphere. However, I'm not sure the price justified the food. It was very good to be sure, comparable to pricey places in Manhattan. But I'd say that it's not quite on par with a Le Bernardin or a Bouley quite yet. I'd have been happy to pay say $90 for the 4 course tasting, but over $100 seemed to be pushing it for food that for the most part is pretty straight standard classical fare.


By the way, we came here because I couldn't get reservations at French Laundry. :(


Auberge du Soleil
180 Rutherford Hill Rd
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 967-3111

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Last Play Day in SD: Mama Testa's, 1500 Ocean, and Alchemy

It was my "last" day in San Diego this past Sunday. I put that in quotes because I'll be back a few more times this month to pack, move, and clean, but it'll be a lot of business (though I'm hoping to fit in quite a few more meals). So this Sunday was my last day to play with my "BFF" and partner in crime here in SD, CM.

In the morning, I dragged him to Mama Testa's so I could have one more taste of that salsa bar, their amazing guac and some tacos. I got the three taco combo, which has a carnitas, an alpastor (with pineapple!), and a my favorite yucatecos tacos. So good.



Later, around sunset, we decided to stop off at the aptly named Sunset Bar at 1500 Ocean in Coronado for drinks and some light bar food. This was my yummy blackberry julep.



I then went on to order two oysters. They were British Columbia oysters, and that's all I remember. It didn't come with any horseradish, but the mignotte was nice enough, and they had the most peculiar limes (the flesh was a light grapefruit color) that made it nice.



CM, who loves olives, got a plate of mixed marinated olives. This plate was HUGE.



We hung around for a couple of hours. The restaurant food that was passing by looked fantastic and we made a pact to come back one day when we were a little more well-off, and have dinner out here instead of sitting out by the bar.


Believe it or not, after that, we went to dinner. At Alchemy (yes, after our aborted attempt the day before). Immediately, I really liked the ambiance of the place. Very low key, cool. They were showing silent films in fact when we got in.

CM loves absinthe and so had to get it when he discovered the served it. It was cool to see the water carafe thing so that you could control how diluted you wanted it.



The menu was really enticing, with tons of small plates and seasonal ingredients. Reminded me a bit of Whisk n Ladle, though seemed to be much more low key than that. We ordered a bunch of things:

Peppers stuffed with Berkshire pork (shredded). It was very tender and good.



Grilled asparagus. We couldn't figure out what the sauce was but it was good.



Cabarnet soaked olives. Of course we had to get them!



Corn and avocado salad. I was so excited by this because I love corn and avocado. It had toasted pumpkin seeds, a "green goddess" sauce (whatever that is), cucumber wrapped around it, some lettuce and red onions... The flavors were fantastic.



Spiced chickpeas. So good. I think there was some cardamom in it that made it taste like Christmas. Haha.



More oysters, believe it or not, with a green gazpacho in a shot. The gazpacho was nice and light and the oysters were sweet.



I was kinda sad we'd discovered this place so late, because it was seriously good, and definitely some place I'd like to revisit one day. It's got a great ambiance, interesting menu, and cocktails, without being overly pricey. All the things I like for a restaurant on a fun weekend night.


I'm coming back to SD in a week with my mom and sister, and am hoping to squeeze in a meal or two more before I go. It went by so fast! So much left to eat, but ran out of time...



Mama Testa
1417A University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 298-8226

1500 Ocean
1500 Orange Ave
Coronado, CA 92118
(619) 522-8459

Alchemy
1503 30th St
San Diego, CA 92101
619.255.0616