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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Taste of Taiwan

When I drive down to the south bay, I stop in Milpitas to have lunch. On Barber Lane off McCarthy Blvd, there is an area of little Asia--2 entire shopping malls made up of Asian restaurants, grocery stores and retail stores. One of my favorite places to eat is China Palace Restaurant. This is my kind of place--specials are written in Chinese and there are pictures of the dishes plastered on the walls. I had been craving the Fried Oyster with Egg Pan Cake and was terribly disappointed when I found out they didn't have oysters today. My second favorite is the Salty Fish and Chicken Fried Rice. This is definitely an acquired taste. My husband, who will try snake bile, durian and mopane worms, won't eat this. He thinks it's too stinky. Well, salty fish is stinky but it's good stinky. Just don't heat up the leftover in your microwave. You and the microwave will regret it.

I always order take-out to have for the next few days. I had a craving for fish fillets and beef chow fun. Make sure you add the bill yourself. They scribble some numbers on the bill and give you a grand total. Tax in Milpitas is 8.25%--make sure they don't overcharge you. Bring cash--they don't take credit cards.


Salty Fish & Chicken Fried Rice $6.25

Sauteed Fish Fillet with Snow Peas $7.95

Beef Chow Fun $6.25

2012 06 30

Friday, June 29, 2012

Certaldo, Italy

Back to our Italian adventure...From Rome, we drove to Certaldo, a small town in Tuscany, 50 km southwest of Florence. The upper walled town hosts the annual Boccacessca Food & Wine Festival, typically on the 1st and 2nd weekend in October. Cost is 5 euros to enter and another 5 euros for a wine glass, with unlimited wine pouring. Booths offering samples of wine and cured meats are set up throughout the town.

Lunch was mozzarella, tomato and basil bruschetta.The mozzarella was creamy, the tomato was flavorful and ripe and it was yummy!

Arugula salad with cured meat and cheese. Loved trying different types of cheeses--this was a hard mild cheese which complemented the peppery flavor from the arugula.

Assorted meat and cheese platter. I loved the salumi--smoky and just the right amount of spice.

2010 10 10

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Another Dinner with Alan and Sandy

It's Thursday night and another dinner with Alan and Sandy.

Crispy Pasta Wafer Topped with Smoked Salmon, Cucumber, Arugula and Creme Fraiche paired with 2011 Kenwood Sauvignon Blanc--loved the smoky salmon with the cool cucumber and the toasted pasta wafer

Risotto with Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Sweet Basil and Local Mozzarella served with 2007 Benziger Syrah--very concentrated tomato flavor with the al dente risotto

Herb Marinated Flat Iron Steak Served in a Red Wine Jus and Garnished with Roasted Garlic Potato Puree and Onion Confit served with 2010 Renacer 'Punto Final' Malbec Clasico

Puff Pastry Filled with Chocolate Mousse Served in a Creme Anglaise Sauce served with Fonseca Reserve Bin 27 Ruby Port

2012 06 28

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sonoma Farmhouse Table

Every Wednesday night at Flavor Bistro there is a casual family-style supper at the community table with white and red wine for $18.95. Play the "wine game" and guess the varietal for a chance to win a gift certificate to Flavor. It's great fun!

Dinner tonight was a Caesar Salad, Insalata Caprese, Shellfish with Homemade Garlic Pecorino Noodles, Eggplant and Zucchini and Stone Oven Flatbread. Delicious!

Shellfish and Calamari Gauzetto

Grilled Marinated Eggplant and Garlic-Herb Zucchini--sliced paper thin and drizzled with reduced balsamic vinegar

Strawberry Galette

2012 06 27

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

An Italian Food Adventure

The lasagna reminded me of our trip to Italy in October 2010. We started our food adventure in Rome, rented a car and worked our way north.

Fountain of the Four Rivers by Bernini in Piazza Navona--it's one of my favorites. 

In Rome, one of the best meals we had was at Old Bear. I know it doesn't sound very Italian but the patrons were mainly locals and ex-pats. The restaurant is difficult to find but it's located at Via de Gigli D'Oro, 3 near Piazza Navona.

Fresh Raw Mushroom Salad with Parmesan Cheese for 8.90 euros. Light and refreshing.

Rustic starter with Wild Boar Sausage, Parma Ham, Salumi, Quiche Lorraine, Speck Ham and Mozzarella Cheese for 10.90 euros. I love any meat that is cured.

Baked Parmesan Aubergine Lasagna with Buffalo Mozzarella and Parmesan Cheese for 10.85 euros.

Baked Pumpkin Lasagna with Speck Ham and Smoked Cheese for 10.85 euros. Delicious!

2010 10 08

Monday, June 25, 2012

Lasagna Bolognese

We learned how to make sugo di carne from an Italian nonna this weekend. Yesterday, we had it with ravioli. Today, it was layered with cheese and bechamel sauce in a lasagna, Bolognese style. I was never a fan of ricotta and never liked how heavy it made the lasagna. This lasagna is light and moist. Yummy! I could eat a whole pan.

2012 06 24

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meat Ravioli with Sugo di Carne

Yesterday, we stopped by Genova Delicatessen in Napa and picked up a box of meat ravioli for $5.95. There were 48 small raviolis filled with meat and spinach. They were tasty but I would have preferred less fillers.

I heated homemade sugo di carne, added the ravioli, included a side of salad and it was a quick meal last night.

2012 06 23

Saturday, June 23, 2012


It was a gorgeous day in wine country--sunny, mid 70s, light breeze. A perfect day to visit Yountville.

First stop was Bouchon Bakery for one of its buttery, flaky croissants. These are giant croissants--not a bad value at $3.25.

Lunch was at Redd--one of my favorite restaurants. Its Michelin star is justly earned.

Loved the Sashimi of Hamachi, Sticky Rice, Edamame and Lime Ginger Sauce for $14. The hamachi was fresh and buttery and the lime ginger sauce was light. There was a layer of sesame-seasoned seaweed under the fish and a crunchy cucumber accompaniment. Just a hint of spiciness in the chili oil.

The Yellowfin Tuna and Hamachi Tartare, Avocado, Chili Oil, Fried Rice (actually toasted rice) and Cilantro was equally delicious. Cost was also $14. There was just a hint of sesame oil and the cilantro and chili oil were barely discernible.

The Simple Forni Brown Green Salad with Warm Goat Cheese, Hazelnuts and Beets cost $12. There were orange and red beets--there's nothing like fresh sweet beets. I'm also a fan of goat cheese and this one was warm, soft and smooth.

Next up was Caramelized Diver Scallops, Cauliflower Puree, Almonds and Balsamic Reduction. Starter potion was $14 and entree portion was $27. There was a layer of roasted cauliflower--delicious. The scallops had been sliced in half but were still tender inside.

The Shortrib Sandwich, Horseradish, Aioli and Onion Rings was a huge portion at $16. The shortrib was tender and the horseradish provided just the right kick to the sandwich. It was served on a brioche roll so the sandwich was very rich. The onion rings were lightly battered and the onions were sweet. The small accompanying salad was perfect to cut all the fat on the plate. I didn't think I'd be able to finish the sandwich but since my starter of hamachi was so light, I cleaned the whole plate. Couldn't stop since the horseradish called.

The Mushroom Risotto with Spinach and Truffle Oil was $18. I expect my risotto to be served al dente and this one delivered. I also love anything with truffle oil, even if it's just a bunch of chemicals. The dish was creamy and the mushrooms were large enough to identify.

The Molten Chocolate Cake, Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream and Bourbon Caramel was $10. The cake was moist but could have been more gooey. It must have been good because by the time I returned from the restroom, the entire plate had been devoured, save for 1 bite. Good thing I'm not a dessert fan.
2012 06 23

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ode to Foie Gras

California's ban on foie gras goes into effect on July 1. When you know you won't be able to have something, you want it even more. I decided I better eat it while I could and convinced my brother and sister to join me. Our mission--eat foie gras at as many restaurants in our 3-hour time limit (babysitting duties called after that).

First stop was Bistro 29: Pan Seared Foie Gras with House Made Pain D’├ępice French Toast & Apple-Honey Compote for $15. The foie gras was fatty, thick and seared just right. The fruity sauce was a nice accompaniment. We had a 2nd serving.

Just down the street was Rendezvous Bistro--our 2nd stop. The Seared Sonoma Foie Gras with Dried Cherries, Watercress and Salt Trio with a Champagne Gastrique was $16.50. The foie gras was just as fatty as at Bistro 29 but the slab was thin and it was seared just a tad too long. It was still tasty and the trio of salt balanced the sweetness of the champagne gastrique.

Petite Syrah was our 3rd stop. Their Seared Sonoma Foie Gras with a Smoked Blueberry Jam, Maple, Banyuls and Pain Perdu was $16. The foie gras was not as fatty and had the most liver taste (not good). The smokiness was a different twist on the classic preparation for foie gras--it got mixed reviews.

By now, we were pretty full but we had only been out for a little over 2 hours. We decided to go to Willi's Wine Bar and have the Foie Gras Poppers for $15. A trio of foie gras arrived. The menu listed avocado, honey and soy but there was pineapple and honey with no hint of avocado or soy. We liked the pineapple and felt the avocado and soy would have detracted.

It was a wonderful evening and we decided the best foie gras was at Bistro 29. Sigh, too bad we won't be able to have it again after July 1.

2012 06 22

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Dinner with Alan & Sandy

In August 2011, I discovered Dinner with Alan & Sandy at Flavor Bistro in Santa Rosa. Every Thursday night, patrons gather at the communal table and share a four-course dinner with wine pairing for $24.95. How can you beat it? I've been coming every Thursday since. You meet wonderful new friends and share a fabulous meal.
First course was Seared Dayboat Scallop served in a Salsa di Vino Bianco garnished with Sauteed Organic Endive and Crispy Potatoes, accompanied with 2010 St. Francis Chardonnay. The sauce was amazing with a slight lemon tartness and the scallop was perfectly cooked.

Second course was Pan Roasted Garlic-Herb Marinated Quail served wit a Petite Risotto flavored with Onion Confit in a Zinfandel Reduction Sauce, served with 2008 Alexander Valley Vineyards "Redemption" Zinfandel. The quail was perfectly cooked and so moist and the risotto was perfectly al dente.

The main course was a Sweet Potato Ravioli topped with a Roast Duck Breast, Toasted Sage and Parmigiano-Reggiano, served with 2008 Allegrini Palazzo Della Torre. The duck was fork tender.

Dessert was Chardonnay Poached Pear served in Puff Pastry and filled with Hazelnut-Chocolate Mascarpone Cream, served with 2010 Ceretto Moscato d'Asti. The Ceretto is one of my favorites. Just the right amount of sweetness and bubbly.

Can't wait for next week's dinner.

2012 06 21