Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Oh, and...I'm a Jeopardy! Geek

And this? This was AWESOME.

We watched all 3 days of it and I was just amazed at what this computer can do.

Beef, It's What's For Dinner

We've been low on funding and motivation for going out lately. My boyfriend hurt his foot and then his knee so we have been laying low at home. That means plenty of cheap take out and a few steaks thrown in. He sure can grill a mean tri-tip, even with one gimpy leg!
It sat for a few minutes more than we would have preferred but still delicious and made GREAT steak sandwiches. Yummmmmy-yum-yum!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hawaii Aloha

We actually took this LONG awaited vacation in November of 2009. Brainstorming ideas for the blog, I came across some of the pics from our trip and remembered...We ate a LOT of good food when we were on the islands!

One of the main reasons we took the trip was to visit my aunt who lives on (The Big Island) Hawaii. She has a restaurant and coffee shop there, The Holuakoa Cafe and Gardens. (They don't have a website but the reviews kind of say it all!)
We flew in on Thanksgiving day and were able to share (their 2nd helping, our first!) some turkey and other traditional items with my aunt, her boyfriend (the chef) and a couple of their friends. The homemade pumpkin pie was a perfect ending. The conversation was pretty interesting as well, as one of the visitors is also a chef and was in Hawaii to scope out a possible new restaurant location.

The restaurant has only outdoor seating, which is really all you need in Hawaii! It is covered and shaded though. As with most island locales, everything is very casual and friendly here. But don't let that fool you when it comes to the food. It was definitely "fine dining" caliber!

Holuakoa Cafe is proud to be a "slow food establishment". Everything (and I mean everything) is locally sourced, organic, hormone free, etc. They get their proteins for local fisherman and farmers. No quick fixes here. Just fabulous fresh food cooked with lots of passion!

Unfortunately for my blog, I wasn't blogging then so I didn't get pictures at every meal. (Boo-hoo.) We had all 3 meals there more than once and were never disappointed. We had pork, fish, pastas, sandwiches, desserts....pretty much tried to have everything. And it was all delicious! I wish I could remember more of the details of some of the dinners.

On the day we went down into Kailua Kona we both had eggs for breakfast. (The french toast is awesome, too.) My boyfriend had the "Hawaiian Steak & Eggs" with a gorgeous Ahi steak. I had my favorite, traditional eggs benedict, and it was as good as I hoped it would be. The egg was perfect, ham and (locally baked) english muffin in perfect proportion, potatoes yummy and crispy, and the sauce...oh the sauce was soooo good, my mouth still waters every time I see the picture.

We explored the island, the town, the volcano road, the coffee fields,the southern most point in the USA! Blue Mountain Coffee Company is actually right down the alley from the restaurant.

On Saturday there is a small farmer's market that they hold in the "yard" behind the coffee shop (and next to the restaurant). There were maybe 10 stalls there, a few people selling crafts and artwork and such, but mostly people with awesome looking food! I have never seen so many fresh, exotic fruits! Some of them I had never even seen before.

We also met the baker who makes all the bread and pastries for the restaurant and the cafe. We took a loaf of his fresh bread with us to make turkey sandwiches for a picnic on our drive to the volcano! It was, of course, yummmm.

After spending 3 great days on the Big Island, we took the quick hop to Maui. While we were there I managed to crash on a bike ride and put myself out of commission for the last 2 days of the trip. BUT...we had some pretty damn good take out a couple of those nights. One night we had Maui Taco, which has a few locations on the island. It was REALLY good! We had fish tacos and a bean burrito and it was all delicious! (Being from San Diego, we know good tacos, and these were good.) One day rushing around we decided to stop in at an L&L Hawaiian shop. We have these in San Diego but for some reason the food was MUCH more tasty over there! The meat seemed better quality and the mac salad was really creamy and fresh. Maybe we were just high on being in Hawaii but I swear...

We also managed to make it to the Old Lahaina Luau (the night of my accident...before we realized how injured i was) that we had already scheduled and prepaid for! That was also REALLY fun and the food was not bad either, for a buffet. The large variety of drinks were yummy, had decent amount of alcohol, and they just kept coming. Watching the "ceremonial" unveiling of the pig was really fun. I loved all the dancing and music, too. This was our first trip to Hawaii and I am really glad we did the luau.

Overall the trip, and the food, was EXCELLENT! I really can not wait to go again. Aloha!

Holuakoa Cafe on Urbanspoon

Old Lahaina Lu'au on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cavaillon - San Diego Restaurant Week!

After getting over our two week holiday flu bugs, we decided to try a new restaurant during San Diego Restaurant Week. This is the first year we have taken advantage of this chance to try new places at a fixed price. I was hoping to hit a second new place before the week was done but we ran out of time.

I wanted to try something new and "Top Chefy", so all the standards (Ruth's Chris, Mortons, other downtown steak places) were out the window. I returned to the food/restaurant edition of The Reader from back in the fall. After debating the menus of the 3 "finalists" for two evenings, we decided to try
Cavaillon Restaurant. Chef Philippe Verpiand was another of the top chefs featured in the Reader, so I was glad to see Cavaillon as an option for Restaurant Week.

The restaurant location was strange, as people mentioned on Yelp. It is in the Carmel Valley area of San Diego, a few miles inland, in a small strip mall smack in the middle of a planned community. We actually parked in front of someones house! The drive seems longer than it really was, since you come through a lot of empty space which seemed to be hiking/jogging/horse riding trails. It was actually kind of relaxing and made us feel like we had gone "somewhere".

The dining area was surprisingly small, although there is outside seating available as well. We chose to be inside. There were numerous tables for two set up, a little too close to each other for my liking, but I understand it can be crowded during Restaurant Week. The decor was sort of a European, old-world style. Rich golds and reds, and dark woods.

Even though there are only 3 options for each course, they all sounded interesting so it wasn't anything to be concerned about. (fall 2011 RW menu here, looks to be the same offerings)

Our dinner...

Appetizers - I ordered the cheese tart. This was one of the best dishes I have eaten...well, ever! I told my boyfriend the next time we eat here I could order 5 cheese tarts and be happy. The tart itself was a little small but it combined so well with the small salad. The flavors were perfect. (fourme d'ambert blue cheese tart, poached anjou pears in red wine, wild aragula)

He had pre-chosen the pheasant when we were sifting through the menus. Neither of us knew what "terrine" meant though, so the dish was not exactly what we had expected. Luckily it was still yummy! It was sort of like a small loaf or roll of the ground up meat mixed with spices etc and then sliced and served with complimentary accompanying items. . (pheasant terrine, pickled winter vegetables, celery root salad)

Mains - I had the beef. I knew my boyfriend would have the fish and I didn't feel like going for duck. The beef was extremely tender and flavorful, and the veggies were delicious also! It was a comfort food kind of dish. (braised beef flat iron, pommes mousseline, carrots, red wine demi-glace)

He did order the fish, and it was really good, too. Personally I am not a big fish eater but the bites I stole were great. Cooked well, nice flavors, another hit. (petrale sole, almondine in brown butter, roasted cauliflower, fingerling potatoes and broccolini)

Desserts - Of the three options the chocolate actually sounded the least interesting, but after seeing other people eating it, I now know better for next time! I ordered the Floating Island. It was, beyond a doubt, DELICIOUS, but too light for my dessert needs. It was kind of like a meringue island sitting in the middle of a very light (and maybe a tiny bit too thin) vanilla custard. Still... YUM! Honestly, I can't complain about dessert! (Floating island, Tahitian vanilla custard, caramel sauce)

He had the Profiteroles. Basically 3 small cream puffs (minus the cream), with different types of ice cream spilling out! (pic below) Again, yummy, but nothing very exciting. Next time the chocolate will be on order!!

(full dinner menu here)

Cavaillon on Urbanspoon

Food, glorious food!

I have decided writing about the house is no fun. In fact, the house is a jerk.
It sits here with tons of unfinished projects and no money tree in the back yard.
Mocking us. Punk.

Moving on...
Three things I truly, madly, deeply love are books, travel, and food! So I'm going to focus on what I love. :-) yay!

I came across this world traveling lady a few years ago when I was browsing travel blogs. Based in London, she travels (and EATS fabulous food) all over the world! Also these girls have some pretty amazing experiences. (their food blog is here)

Who - me? Green with envy? 100% yes

So, inspired by these (and a few other) blogs, their wonderful photos and posts, I thought I would take a shot at some food blogging, myself. I may also stumble into travel (when/if i can ever afford to go anywhere again!) and BOOKS!! Are there book blogs for rabid readers? I'm gonna check that out.

I can't claim to be very knowledgeable about food. In fact, I never (really, never) cook. Once every couple months we make a big batch of salsa. (actual evidence seen here!)

My only qualifications are that we (my boyfriend and I) LOVE to go out to eat and I also love to watch shows like Top Chef to try to expand my knowledge. I have been a picky eater for a lot of my life but I have tried to keep an open mind lately, and it is paying off! New posts to follow with details of the last 2 great meals we have had!

Or right here...since, apparently, there is no cutting and pasting on Blogger and I don't know how else to keep the stuff I already typed before deciding it needed it's own post!
ughh...learning curve! I guess there is no question I am still new to this blogging thing!

After poring over the "restaurant and chef" edition of The Reader back in the fall, and then perusing Yelp for a few days, I settled on a restaurant in La Jolla for my birthday dinner back in October. (yes, it was that good, we still talk about it)
The chef, Jason Knibb, was touted as one of the new stars of San Diego cuisine. The restaurant, Nine Ten (named for it's street address) was located at The Grande Colonial Hotel in the old village area of La Jolla. Honestly, I don't remember a whole lot about the restaurant, except that it is small and seemed busy. We had a FABULOUS server, whose name I don't recall. Her husband is a chef (did not think to ask if he was THE chef at Nine Ten) and she was very helpful in making recommendations and answering our questions. We both ordered the Three-Course Market Dinner Special, and I got mine with wine pairings. (pics stolen from NineTen website, I didn't know then that I wanted to blog about it!)

Appetizers -
I ordered the foie gras (one of the specials). It was my boyfriend's first time having it and we both LOVED IT! (seared foie gras w/fennel salad, cocoa nibb syrup, tangerine froth, coffee oil powder, crostini) It was paired with a sweet wine (which are my favorite), Sauterns from Chateau Graves. I loved the combo.

He ordered the Jamaican jerk pork belly. It was amazing! This was our first time having pork belly, after seeing it on Top Chef quite often. We were not disappointed. (jamaican jerk pork belly, sweet potato puree, baby carrots, swiss chard, plantains, black eyed peas, spicy jellies). W-O-N-nderful!

Mains -
I ordered the beef short ribs. With a creamy and rich mushroom puree, it was melt-in-your mouth deliciousness. (port wine braised beef short ribs, roasted baby veggies, smoked shiitake mushroom puree) It came with La Cartuja Spanish Red blend. My boyfriend enjoyed it, I am not a huge red drinker.

He ordered the prime "cap" ribeye. Another hit, though not what we were expecting. We thought "steak" would be...well..a steak! It was closer to the ribs in that it was extremely tender and falling apart. We learn every time we go out! The figs were awesome with the meat. (grilled prime "cap" ribeye steak, grilled figs, brocolli, blue cheese potato foam, soubise, red wine reduction)

Dessert -
I, of course, ordered the "half baked" chocolate cake. Wow...yum! Similar to the volcano style cakes at some chain restaurants, but lighter. He ordered the cheese plate, which we shared, and loved! Our waitress gave us some other cheese recommendations to take home since we enjoyed it so much. Dessert was accompanied by a 10yr Tawny Port. Rich and sweet and just right.

We are looking forward to visiting this restaurant again. Maybe get the "Mercy of the Chef" dinner special! That would actually be quite brave of me!

(menus can be seen here)

Nine Ten on Urbanspoon