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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mussels, Part 2

I had 2 1/2 lbs of mussels left and needed to use them up. I thought I would make a curry sauce.

Mussels with Curry Sauce

2 Tbs oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tbs green curry paste
1 cup light coconut milk
2 1/2 lbs mussels, cleaned & debearded
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Saute onion in oil until translucent. Add curry paste until blended then add coconut milk. Heat to boiling. Add mussels and put lid on pot. Cook until mussels have opened. Add chopped cilantro.

2014 08 25

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Jewish Apple Cake

A colleague brought this cake in and it was delicious. It was titled "Jewish Apple Cake" and I can't figure out why it's called that.

Here's the recipe:

I was watching the Pioneer Woman who was making a caramel sauce and I thought it would be perfect drizzled over the cake:

2014 08 24

Friday, August 29, 2014

Mussels with Ouzo, or is that Orzo?

I just bought 5 lbs of mussels at Costco and ran across this recipe in the Wall Street Journal. I read the recipe and needed just fennel so I thought I would give it a try. I bought the fennel and I was looking forward to serving it over orzo.

My husband came in the kitchen while I was making it and asked me where my ouzo was. I thought why would I need ouzo in my orzo mussels then I re-read the recipe and noticed that it was OUZO and not ORZO. Oh well, I'm not a big ouzo fan anyway.

I used Sauvignon Blanc and homegrown tomatoes which were very sweet. The dish was a little too sweet for me. Maybe, I should have used the ouzo to balance it out.

It did create a nice sauce for the orzo!

Ouzo-Drenched Mussels with Fennel & Tomatoes
(Wall Street Journal)

4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped shallots
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 fennel bulb, cored, halved and thinly sliced, plus 2 Tbs chopped fennel fronds
1/4 tsp chili flakes
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup ouzo
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
Crusty bread, for serving

In a large, lidded pot over low heat, saute garlic in butter and oil until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Increase heat to medium, add shallots and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, sliced fennel, chili flakes, thyme and pinches of salt and pepper and saute until vegetables soften, about 3 minutes.

Pour ouzo and wine into pot and simmer until alcohol cooks off, about 5 minutes. Stir in mussels. Quickly cover pot with lid and steam mussels until they open, about 8 minutes. Off heat, toss in parsley and fennel fronds. Gently toss mussels to coat in pan drippings, Serve immediately with good crusty bread.

2014 08 24

Thursday, August 28, 2014


I read about another ramen place in the south bay--Santouka, a franchise from Japan. They have locations all over the world but this one is located at the Mitsuwa store at 675 Saratoga Ave in San Jose. It's the first one on the left as you enter the store. The other restaurant serves curries and other traditional Japanese dishes.

Santouka opens at 11 am. We got there at 10:45 and within minutes, there was a huge line about 20 deep. They take cash only. Place your order and take your receipt. Find a place to sit and wait until your order is called. It takes about 5-10 minutes to get your order.

Toroniku (special pork) salt flavor ramen served with bamboo shoots, wood ear, small slice of fish cake, green onions (which i leave out) and a pickled plum. The small is $10.99, regular $11.99 and large $12.99. My parents shared the large and the rice with pork and couldn't finish it. The regular size was perfect for me. The pork is special because it is the cheek and it was so tender. This was definitely some of the best pork I have had in ramen. The ramen itself was served al dente but I've had better at Orenchi. I've also had better broth. 

Rice with Pork--$3.49. Soy braised pork over white rice. Order a bowl of ramen and a bowl of rice. Ask for a soy braised egg for free.

2014 08 23

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Thursday Night Dinner

Here's last week's dinner at Flavor Bistro in downtown Santa Rosa:

Bruschetta Con Calamari--Topped with Crispy Local Calamari, Spicy Saffron Aioli & Sweet Basil Salsa, paired with 2012 La Follette Chardonnay, North Coast. I just love Flavors spice saffron aioli--so garlicky and delicious.

Ravioli D'Anatra--Homemade Pasta Filled with Duck Mousse Served in Sugo D'Erbe Flavored with Gorgonzola Dolce & Walnut Gremolata, paired with 2012 Sean Minor Pinot Noir, Central Coast. The ravioli was delicious--great duck flavor in the ravioli.

Brasato Di Maiale--Country Style Slow Cooked Pork Garnished with Creamy Fontina-Fried Herb Polenta, Smoked Bacon Perperonata & Garlic Candy, paired with Preston Farm & Winery Petite Sirah, Estate Bottled (Organic), Dry Creek Valley. This is one of my favorite entrees at Thursday Night dinner. The pork is so tender and the polenta is creamy and delicious.

Crostata Di Frutta--Raspberry & Peach Galette Served with Toasted Almond Mascarpone Custard, paired with 2011 NxNW Late Harvest Riesling, Horse Heavy Hills, Wallula Benches Vineyard, Columbia Valley, Washington

2014 08 21

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Trattoria Cattaneo

We rarely go out for Italian food because I'm usually disappointed with the local restaurants. I like authentic Italian and most of the restaurants usually serve American-Italian, which is easy to make at home. I had read about Trattoria Cattaneo on Yelp and it got 4 1/2 stars so it was worth a try. Plus, they had a $40 voucher for $20 on Yelp. It's located at 2700 Yulupa Ave, Santa Rosa.

Bread & focaccia served with olive tapenade. The focaccia was oily but the tapenade was delicious.

Antipasto platter--$11.95. I did not like this. There were 2 of each--bruschetta with flavorless tomatoes, honeydew with prosciutto, tomato with mozzarella cheese, prawns that had been previously frozen then defrosted, mussels and a seafood mix with crab. The seafood mix had been frozen then defrosted at the last minute because it came out too cold. The whole thing was drizzled with balsamic vinegar but still lacked flavor. I would skip it next time.

Pasta vongole--$16.95. The pasta was cooked just a little longer than al dente and it was swimming in a creamy tomato sauce. The dish was loaded with clams and the sauce was tasty. Okay, but not the best I have had.

This was the special pasta of the evening--fettuccini with seafood pomodoro--$19.95. Again, nothing special and even less tasty than the vongole.

Special dessert of the evening. This was a chocolate torte with brûlée filling--$7.95. This was tasty and the best part of the meal.

2014 08 20

Monday, August 25, 2014


We walked the length of Pontocho then came back on Karawamachi. We passed an okonomiyaki place. I have been searching for good okonomiyaki since I had it in Osaka in 1997.

We started the meal with Grilled Squid Legs--Y 390. These were grilled table side and were delicious.

Okonomiyaki--Y 850. This was disappointing. I like my okonomiyaki with shredded cabbage, noodles and seafood on top. This had none of that.

Betayaki with Soba--Y 800. This dish at least had the noodles but was still lacking. I should have taken a side trip to Osaka. Oh well, I'll have to go back to Japan again to have good okonomiyaki.

2014 05 13

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Pontocho is a region in Kyoto that is known for geishas, restaurants and nightlife. We got there at dusk and spied many geishas rushing to their evening appointments.

Narrow alleys lined with restaurants and shops.

2014 05 13

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sanjo-Ohashi Bridge

On this trip to Japan, our goal was to hike the Nakasendo. The Nakasendo starts in Kyoto at the Sanjo-Ohashi Bridge.

Sign at the bridge that talks about the Nakasendo. Too bad it was mainly in Japanese.

Unfortunately, there's a Starbucks at the end of the bridge now.

2014 05 13

Friday, August 22, 2014

Fish with White Bean Paste

We couldn't check into the hotel until 2 pm. After we unpacked, we walked to Pontocho. On the way, we came across an indoor mall and found a stall selling a cake in the shape of a fish, filled with white bean paste. This reminded us of the ones we had in Seoul.

These were delicious and cost only Y 170.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hearton Hotel, Kyoto

I found a fantastic hotel in Kyoto--the Hearton Hotel. It was in the heart of things and convenient to the subway. We could walk to Pontocho and the Nijo Castle. The hotel had free bike rentals as well--just reserve the night before.

Double room--it was one of the more spacious rooms we had in Japan.

Good sized bathroom with tub.

Breakfast was included. You had your choice of a buffet American breakfast or a Japanese breakfast. This was one of 2 Japanese breakfasts that rotated. It was a piece of fish with pickled vegetables, salad, tofu, miso soup & rice.

The other breakfast offered--salmon, vegetables, tofu and miso soup.

2014 05 13

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Shinkansen to Kyoto

Back to Japan... After Tokyo, we took the 10:20 Shinkansen from Kyoto. It took 2 hours and 18 minutes and cost Y13,080, roughly $130. This was a non-reserved seat but on a Tuesday, there weren't too many people on the train. Reserved seats cost a little more. We got the tickets at the station. Ask the ticket agent which cars are non-reserved. Get on and find an empty seat.

You can research the train schedule online at This is a fabulous website and I couldn't have planned our trip without it.

Hold on to your ticket until you exit your final destination. Either insert it into the exit turnstile or hand it to the station attendant.

Japanese bullet train--shinkansen. It can travel at speeds up to 200 mph. They run on time so don't be late.

The best thing about riding the train is purchasing bento boxes at the stations. Make sure you arrive early enough to make a good choice. This one featured pork tonkatsu and cost Y 1058.

There are triangular sushis everywhere. Carefully follow the directions and the seaweed wraps around the rice. Voila, no soggy seaweed. The trick is figuring out what's inside. Sometimes, there's a little logo in the corner with a picture of a cow, pig or chicken. Sometimes, there's no clue and it's a potluck what you get.

Inari--soybean pocket filled with vinegar-flavored sushi rice. This is always a safe bet. Each was Y86.

2014 05 13

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


After our Brazilian dinner in Oxnard, I wanted to make my own moqueca. I looked online and found this recipe:

It was pretty close to the dish we had in Oxnard but it wasn't as red. I didn't have the urucum to turn it red.

2014 08 16

Monday, August 18, 2014

Thursday Night Dinner

Here's last week's dinner:

Bruschetta Con Fico--Topped with Gorgonzola Dolce, Prosciutto Di Parma, Organic Brown Turkey Figs & Extra Virgin Olive Oil, paired with 2012 Argiolas Winery Costamolino Vermentino Di Sardegna DOC, Sardinia, Italy

Involtini Di Melanzae--Grilled Egggplant Filled with Ricotta & Sweet Basil Served in Roasted Organic Gypsy Pepper Coulis, paired with 2012 Tenuta Sant'Antonio Scaia Corvina IGT, Veneto, Italy

Petto D'Anatra--Garlic-Herb Marinated Duck Breast Garnished with Cannellini Bean Ragu Flavored with Slow Cooked Onions, Escarole, Roasted Tomatoes & Bacon Served in Chianti Reduction Sauce, paired with 2011 Hall Wines Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Semifreddo Con Fragole E Pesca--Italian Style Ice Cream Float, Homemade Vanilla Gelato, Organic Strawberries & Peaches, Cream & Cookies, paired with 2012 Ceretto Moscato d'Asti DOCG, Vignaioli di Santo Stefano, Italy

2014 08 14

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Kevin & Chris' Noodle House

On the way home, we stopped in Walnut Creek to have dinner. I love having soup after a long trip and we decided to have Vietnamese. Kevin & Chris' Noodle House is located at 2034 N. Main Street.

Goi Cuon--Fresh Spring Rolls--$5.50. Shrimp, pork, lettuce wrapped in soft rice paper. The roll was fresh and rolled tight. The peanut sauce had too much hoisin though.

Small pho--$5.75. My bowl had thin slices of steak, well-done brisket, tendon & tripe. I added bean sprouts, basil, jalapeño and cilantro. The broth had a deep flavor but could have been clearer.

Hu Tieu Bo Kho--medium for $6.50. Beef stew with thick wide rice noodle. This had a rich flavor and the beef was tender.

2014 08 10

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Moqueca Brazilian Cuisine

I was surprised to find a Brazilian restaurant in Oxnard. Moqueca specializes in Brazilian seafood dishes. It's located at the waterfront--3550 S. Harbor Blvd, Suite 201.

Eggplant Tapenade served with toasted baguettes--$3. The tapenade was delicious--chopped roasted eggplant. The baguette was too dry though.

Moquequinha--$12.95. Fish, shrimp or seafood mix (clams, mussels, calamari, shrimp, octopus) cooked in a clay pot with onions, tomatoes, olive oil, cilantro, urucum and coconut milk served with a side of white rice. This was so flavorful and the cilantro was dominant. I just wish there was more rice to soak up all the broth.

2014 08 08

Friday, August 15, 2014

Freebirds World Burrito

Freebirds is located at 5752 Telephone Road in Ventura. Go through the line and have your burrito made in front of you.

Spinach tortilla filled with cilantro/lime rice, grass-fed steak, refried beans, tomatillo sauce and cilantro. I chose not to add cheese. The rice was flavorful, the steak was tender and the tomatillo sauce was perfect for this combo. This was the Freebird (medium) size for $7.50.

2014 08 07

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Splash, Pismo Beach

On the way to Oxnard, we stopped in Pismo Beach and the Splash Cafe for lunch.

Splash Cafe is located at 197 Pomeroy Avenue. Look for the line.

They're famous for their clam chowder. It is thick and full of clams. A 12-oz bowl is $5.50.

Fish & Chips--$7.95. There are whole pieces of cod so this is very meaty. The breading is light and the fish juicy. The fries are crispy and perfectly made.

2014 08 07