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Saturday, August 31, 2013


Caponata is a Sicilian eggplant dish that is best served cold. I like it over Trader Giotto's Rosemary Crackers.



½ cup olive oil
2 small eggplants, diced
2 onions, sliced thin
1 cup diced celery
2 cans diced tomatoes (14 oz)
2 Tbs capers, drained
12 Spanish green olives, chopped
2 Tbs sugar
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ tsp salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
1 Tbs pine nuts, toasted

Heat the oil in a large skillet, fry the eggplant, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Remove the eggplant from the pan with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the onion and celery to the frying pan and sauté until soft and slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Puree the tomatoes. Add to the onions and celery and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the capers, olives, sugar, wine vinegar, salt, pepper and the reserved eggplant. Cover the skillet and allow mixture to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pine nuts.

Allow the caponata to cool, then chill in the refrigerator.

2013 03 12

Friday, August 30, 2013

Thursday Night Dinner

This week's dinner was especially good.

Capesante--Seared Day Boat Scallops Served in White Wine Heirloom Tomato Broth Flavored with Sweet Basil & Topped with Saffron Aioli paired with 2012 Quivira Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek Valley

Quaglia Arrosto--Stone Oven Roasted Quail Served in Garlic-Thyme Jus Flavored with Honey Cured Bacon, Served with Braised Organic Escarole & Creamy Polenta paired with 2011 Sean Minor Pinot Noir, Central Coast

Agnello Alla Griglia--Grilled Marinated Lamb Loin Chop Served in Gypsy Pepper Coulis Garnished with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Sweet Corn & Alba Mushrooms, Topped with Crispy Sage Butter paired with 2011 Easton Zinfandel, Amador Valley
Limone Cagliata Vol-Au-Vent--Puff Pastry Filled with Lemon Curd Topped with Glazed Mixed Summer Berries paired with 2012 Ceretto Moscato d'Asti DOCG, Vignaioli di Santo Stefano, Italy

2013 08 29

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesday Night Dinner

Last night, we went to Wednesday Night Dinner at Flavor Bistro in downtown Santa Rosa. Dinner is $18.95 and is served family style. A white wine and a red wine is served and if you guess the varietal, you are placed in a drawing for a $25 gift certificate. I won last night!

Italian Style Pork--this was delicious. It was so tender, it fell apart with a fork.
Blue Lake Beans
Local Tomatoes & Mozzarella--sweet, juicy tomatoes with balsamic vinegar
Olive Pasta--this was my favorite part of the meal. The pasta is homemade and had just the right chewiness.
Organic Caesar
Zuppa--Tomato Soup. Sweet & creamy.
Onion Pizzetta--this was delicious. Nice flatbread with caramelized onions.
Late Summer Peaches with Vanilla Custard--the peaches were sweet and the custard was smooth and creamy.

2013 08 28

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Cooking Papa, Foster City

Had lunch at Cooking Papa in Foster City. I sure miss good Chinese food.

Steamed Pork Dumplings with Soup--$5.95 for 6. This is juicy and delicious with ginger in vinegar. Carefully peel the dumpling from the tin foil, dip it in the vinegar and gently place in a soup spoon. Bite the top, suck out the soup and then eat the tender skin along with the delicious pork dumpling.
Rice Noodle Roll with Fish Paste--$4.50. The fish paste is so tasty and flavorful. I typically don't order rice noodle rolls but I love this one.

Shrimp Wonton Noodle Soup--$6.50. The wonton is stuffed with shrimp and the noodles are perfectly al dente.

Special Egg Tofu with Assorted Vegetables--$11.50. This is another one of my favorites. The tofu is so soft and silken.

Hong Kong Style Egg Puff--$3.95. These are delicious and one of my 10 favorite things in the SF Bay Area. It's a giant deep-fried puff coated with sugar. So Good!

2013 08 25

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Best Things I Ever Ate, Part 2

Continuing with my list ...

5. Bun Bo Hue—Bum Mam Soc Trang, Oakland. This is definitely the best bun bo hue in the Bay Area. It's the green leaves and broth that make it so good.

4. M'Shakaleh—DishDash, Sunnyvale. I crave this dish every once in a while. I love the sauce with the eggplant and mushrooms.

3. Orenchi Ramen— Orenchi, Sunnyvale. It's worth the long line to have this delicious ramen and perfectly prepared soft-boiled egg.

2. Sticky Bun—Downtown Bakery, Healdsburg. So good! Crispy outside, tender inside.

1. Porchetta Sandwich—Ferry Building, San Francisco. Definitely the best pork sandwich I have ever had. The pork is flavorful and the rosemary salt really makes it a great dish.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Best Things I Ever Ate in the SF Bay Area

It's been over a year since I started this blog. In that time period, I've eaten at a lot of great places and I thought I would list my all-time favorites in the SF Bay Area.

10. Baba Ghannouj--Falafel Drive In, San Jose. This is creamy and has a great smoke flavor.

9. Nonna's Tomato Braised Chicken & Polenta--Scopa, Healdsburg. The chicken just falls off its bone and the polenta is creamy and delicious.

8. Alfajores—El Porteno, San Francisco. I just loves these cookies. Flaky shortbread-like cookies with a nice filling--I like the strawberry ones.

7. Chocolate on Chocolate Cake—Prolific Oven, South Bay. Such a special treat--moist chocolate cake with rich ganache.

 6. Egg Puffs--Cooking Papa, Foster City. Light egg puffs with crispy sugar coating.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Camp Nelson Lodge

Camp Nelson is located in the Sequoia National Forest, on the western side of the southern Sierra Nevada. The lodge boasts 10 rooms, which are incredibly comfortable. There are no TVs or phones.

One of the 10 rooms. This one has a king bed, a pull-out futon and a fireplace.
Nearby are giant sequoias. The Stagg Tree is the 5th largest tree in the world and is believed to be over 3000 years old. Reportedly, there's a hollow room inside its trunk at the very top.

2013 08 10

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Diana's Classic Armenian Cuisine

My husband has 7 brothers and sisters and every year we gather for a family reunion. This year's reunion was at Camp Nelson in the Sequoia National Forest. On the way, we stopped in Fresno to have lunch. I read on Yelp about Diana's and decided to give it a try.

Lunch plates come with either lentil soup ...

or salad.

Sharma--grape leaves stuffed with ground beef, rice, vegetables, onion, tomatoes and spices-$4.95. These were okay. The rice was too mushy.

Koobideh--special seasoned ground beef barbecued with tomato--$9.95. There wasn't much spice on the meat. I liked the basmati rice but then how can you go wrong with it.

Joojeh Kebab--chicken breast marinated with olive oil, lemon juice and saffron, served with barbecued tomato--$9.95. This was their signature dish. It was tender but not well spiced either.
I have to disagree with Yelp's 4 1/2 star rating. I think at best, it was a 2 1/2. There's a great Persian restaurant called Yaz in the south bay and this definitely pales in comparison.
2013 08 09

Friday, August 23, 2013

Scopa, Healdsburg

I've been wanting to try Scopa for some time and we finally got a chance to eat here. It's located at 109A Plaza St. in downtown Healdsburg. Don't be fooled by the façade--it's an old barber shop.

House-Made Ciabatta Bread with Dry Creek Extra Virgin Olive Oil--$3.50. The olive oil is very flavorful.

Baked Goat Cheese Salad with Mixed Greens, Roasted Beets, Toasted Hazelnuts, Pickled Onions & Balsamic Vinaigrette--$11.50. Loved the warm goat cheese and sweet beets. This worked well together. The salad was large enough to share.

Nonna's Tomato-Braised Chicken with Sautéed Greens & Soft Polenta--$18.50. This was delicious. The chicken was tender and the polenta was so creamy.

Eggplant Parmigiana--$22. This was a special for the evening. It was a huge portion and the eggplant was very tender.

Chocolate Torte--$8. Rich dense dark chocolate--delicious!

Overall, we loved it. We'll have to go back and try some of the pasta dishes as well as the Napoli-style pizzas.

2013 08 20

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Boonville is a small town in Anderson Valley, about 115 miles north of San Francisco. We've been driving through it for years on our way to the coast. The town is growing and each time we pass through, there's another new establishment.

We decided to stop in Aquarelle recently. The restaurant opened in November 2012 and specializes in small plates.

Point Reyes Blue Cheese, Organic Baby Mixed Greens, Toasted Walnuts and Pear Slices, tossed in a Raspberry-Shallot Vinaigrette--$8. This was a nice salad. It was large enough for 2 people and the vinaigrette was delicious. It was overly sweet despite the Raspberry in the Vinaigrette.

Moroccan Style Meatballs, Fresh Ground Beef, Israeli Cous Cous, Micro Greens--$9. This was not good. The meatball was too dry and didn't have much flavor.

Duck Tostadas, Smokey Raisin Mole, Fresh Cucumber, Cotija Cheese--$6. I'm not a fan of mole but this mole did have a good flavor. I didn't think it worked with the duck though.

Roasted Garlic Mac 'N Cheese--$6. This was a tiny portion with not enough noodles and too much sauce. The noodles were limp and overcooked.

Panko Crusted Crab Cakes, Pan Fried, Lemon Basil Aioli--$15. This was canned crab and there weren't large chunks of crab.
Overall, I was disappointed. I was told this was the first time the chef was not in the kitchen so I may give it another try on another visit.
2013 08 19

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Empanadas at El Porteno

Back at the Ferry Building, I stopped off at El Porteno to pick up some empanadas.

Mushroom on the left and beef on the right. The fillings were flavorful but not quite like the empanadas I had in Argentina. Besides, the crust was limp. These were $4 each.

Last time I got the Alfajor stuffed with dulce de leche. This time I tried the strawberry one for $1.50. I like the strawberry filling--it's my new favorite.
2013 08 04