Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mireillade (a bell pepper ratatouille)

Here's a unique recipe with multiple tastes that makes a great side dish with meat, or just eaten plain over rice.  It's a French dish called Mireillade, a bell pepper ratatouille. Although it features bell peppers, I find the grapes and lemons make the dish.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 180 minutes


3 red peppers
3 yellow peppers
3 green peppers
1/2 cup Black olives
1/2 cup Green olives (I used Castelvetrano)
1 to 2 lemons (according to taste)
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil
A large bunch of seedless grapes (I used Sun World's Adora Seedless® Black Grapes)


Wash all ingredients, cut the peppers into small to medium squares, olives in half.  Wash the lemons and cut into very thin slices leaving the skin on and quarter. Remove the grapes from the stems and wash, leaving whole. You can use other grape varieties, but you'll want to consider the taste blending when you also choose the varieties of black and green peppers to make a complimentary mix of flavors.  I do recommend grape varieties with a large size so they don't turn into raisins and have enough juice to blend into the lemon slices.

Take a large shallow sheet pan, one that you can layer the ingredients as flat as possible. Mix and layer all the ingredients into the pan.  Drizzle olive oil over the ingredients in the pan, and salt and pepper to taste.  The ingredients will be reduced to about half through cooking.

Bake for 3 hours at 300° F, stirring regularly (about every 1/2 hour).

Serves 6 (large servings)

Here is the finished product I kept warm in a small crock pot (not all would fit into the pot at a time). I served it with turkey to raves from friends.  The grapes add a sweetness and turn the lemon slices into sour candy-like pieces.  I learned about Sun World grapes while consulting (non-food related) for Sun World.  Sun World has developed proprietary varieties that are larger and more flavorful, in my opinion, than the usual grapes at the market.  These remind me of premium grapes I ate in Japan, and had not ever seen in the market in the US (back in the 70s).  I snatch any of their varieties up whenever I see them at Safeway.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Restaurants open, restaurants close. Here's a few more that closed since I last updated the closures:

Corte Madera
SEA Thai Bistro

The Tavern at Lark Creek
Yankee Pier

Mill Valley
Champagne French Bakery & Cafe
Small Shed Flatbreads

La Hacienda Taqueria
Phyllis' Giant Burgers (San Rafael location open)
Tuscany Country Grill

San Rafael


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Photo courtesy of Left Bank Brasserie

It's that time of year again -- Beaujolais Nouveau, the “first wine” of the harvest season is being fêted at Larkspur's Left Bank Brasserie November 20.  The celebration features Georges Dubœuf, Beaujolais-Villages, Nouveau, 2014 ($9.00 per glass, $27.00 per carafe, $36.00 per bottle), plus a celebratory $46.00 three-course prix fixe menu available for lunch and dinner in addition to the restaurant's regular à la carte offerings. The prix fixe price excludes beverage, tax, and gratuity and each course can also be served à la carte. The menu, with al la cart pricing as well is:

Terrine de jambon persillée, céleri-rave a la graine de moutarde
et croûtons à l'ail $12.00
herbed ham terrine, whole grain mustard, celery root salad, garlic crouton
Quenelle de poisson sauce Nantua $15.75
traditional baked fish dumpling, crayfish sauce

Main Course
Le bœuf Bourguignon $26.00
24 hour Beaujolais marinated beef stew with aromatic vegetables,
bacon, pearl onions, and mushrooms

La tarte amandine aux poires et cassis, crème a la pistache $8.00
Burgundy style pear and huckleberry almond tart,
pistachio whipped créme fraîche

Left Bank Brasserie Larkspur
507 Magnolia Avenue
Larkspur, CA 94939
(415) 927-3331

Find address/phone number/directions on Anna's Map.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Best Kept Lil Secret

Did you know the Best Lil' Pork House in Corte Madera now has brunch on weekends? One day running morning errands I saw a big sign announcing brunch from the freeway and thought that "I've got to try this!". Turning around swiftly at the next exit, I headed back. 

I popped in the entrance and the friendly staff seated me right away and noticed that even in the morning there are trays of popcorn and peanuts waiting on all the tables. There are new pool tables in the bar area.

I chose the ham and eggs that day which is basically scrambled eggs with chopped ham and cheddar cheese accompanied by potatoes, fruit and well-buttered thick Texas toast ($11.95). The eggs tasted real (as opposed to hotel free breakfast eggs I've been having lately) and I was satisfied with this weekend morning comfort food. The service was prompt, the place was clean and the staff checked in with me at appropriate intervals. All in all it was a great start to my day.

There are now three locations, the original San Rafael, the Corte Madera, and later this month Alameda. The Corte Madera location is the only one serving brunch at this time.

Best Lil' Pork House
60 Madera Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925

2042 4th Street
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 457-7675

523 S Shore Center West
Alameda, CA 94501

Find address/phone number/directions on Anna's Map.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Caviar & Champagne!

Sausalito's California Caviar Company will host a caviar and champagne tasting as part of the Sausalito Woman's Club Preservation Society (SWCPS) Harvest Festival from 3 to 7 p.m., Saturday September 27, 2014.  Guests will mingle around the communal table while SWCPS is pouring the champagne to complement the Caviar tasting at the same time as experts talk about the nuances and contrasting flavors of caviar. Among the caviars California Caviar Company offers is the highly coveted Premium Black Caviar, and their signature caviars include those that are infused with bacon, Bourbon, truffle and saffron.  

There is a choice of tastings:

$25 – Silver Tasting – One glass of MUMM Sparkling Wine and 3 tastes of caviar with the works (2 Signature caviars and 1 Premium Black Caviar)

$35 – Gold Tasting - One glass of MUMM Sparkling Wine and 3 tastes of caviar with the works (1 Signature caviars and 2 Premium Black Caviars)

There are limited seatings at different times to ensure the best experience for all.  For more information and to purchase tasting tickets, click this link:

You can also purchase caviar for delivery at the event at the date you choose (think holiday parties).

The event is a fundraiser and general admission is $40.  Other local artisan food, beverage and wine purveyors will also be there. Enjoy meeting them while enjoying works of local artists and live music with jazz artist, Francesca Lee.

The event will be held at 120 Central Avenue in Sausalito.  Go to for more information about the SWCPS Harvest Festival.

Find out more about California Caviar at

Monday, September 22, 2014

Left Bank Larspur Celebrates 20

Left Bank

It all began in Larkspur 20 years ago with the original Left Bank.  It has grown to be a family of three restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area headed up by Propriétaire and CEO Ed Levine and Chief Culinary Officer Roland Passot.

From September 18 through 27 the celebration will showcase on the dinner menu classic from-the-past items: La Quenelle Lyonnaise with scallop and salmon mousse and a saffron cream sauce; La Tarte Lyonnaise (in the style of Chef Passot’s hometown), a leek and onion tart with applewood smoked bacon; La Bouillabaisse, a fragrant seafood stew from Marseille served with rouille croutons; and Coq au Vin, chicken stewed with red wine, pearl onions, lardons and mushrooms.

Many alumni who have taken a turn at the Left Bank are now names in the industry. A press release notes, "On the occasion of this milestone anniversary, Levine and Passot note with great pride the number of culinary luminaries who have able to propel their careers thought their association over the years with Left Bank. These include Richard Reddington, Proprietor, Redd and Reddwood; Shelly Lindgren co-founder, A-16 and SPQR; Todd Kniess, Bistro Liaison; Ralph Hershom, formerly Beverage Director with La Cirque and now at Ralph’s Wine and Spirits in Rye, NY; Erik Romme, Executive Chef Menlo Grill at the Stanford Park Hotel; Erik Oberholtzer, founder Tender Greens; Sean Canavan, Regional Chef Tender Greens; Michel Tersiguel, owner and Executive Chef of Tersiguel’s in Ellicott City, Maryland; Jim Vandercook, CEO of Eddie V’s; and Mario Vega, Managing Partner, Eddie V’s Restaurants, Inc. Levine adds, "I vividly remember the day in 1994 when the New York Times' Bryan Miller heralded the restaurant and then Focus Magazine ranked us the top North Bay new dining spot, ahead of French Laundry. Later that same year we were featured in Gourmet Magazine.""

Currently Chef de Cuisine Fabrice Marcon is responsible for the menu, with emphasis on seasonal, often locally sourced organic ingredients.  

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursdan from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday brunch at 11 a.m.

Left Bank Larkspur
507 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA 94939
(415) 927-3331

Find address/phone number/directions on Anna's Map.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Bio- a little French twist in Sausalito

Bio started in San Francisco, and now its Sausalito location is not only open, but beckons with French hospitality.  The window denotes that its menu has an emphasis on crepes, and it is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Enjoy watching a French television channel while waiting for your order.  Bio is owned and run by Sylvie Krawec, who will greet you, seat you and do all the tasks, including cooking to bring you a meal which is local, organic, and with many gluten free options.

Sylvie is originally from Madagascar, although it's been 25 years since she's been there.  There has been a chalkboard sign outside touting the "Best Coffee from Madagascar" (usually $2, special price $1).  And it is really smooth, rich and delicious.

I think this is the only place in Marin to serve galettes, a buckwheat crepe that is gluten-free. The restaurant is also potato-free according to Sylvie.  The Galette with vegetable of the day ($14) has a choice of filling featuring chicken, jambon de Paris, duck confit or smoked salmon.  I chose the jambon de Paris.

I cut open the galette to find the filling also included a white cheese. The dish was accompanied by the vegetable of the day, a mix of finely sliced summer squash and red peppers which was sauteed in a little olive oil and herbs.

I also tried the "Natural Organic Berry Purée" ($4) which was made of organic strawberries the morning I visited.

I enjoyed the food, beautiful decor, and not to mention the French TV so much I had to return for a second visit the next day.  I changed it up by ordering a Bio  Croque-Monsieur ($8) with vegetable of the day. That day's vegetable was a ratatouille freaturing very finely sliced vegetables. Summer squash, zucchini, onions and I think eggplant that made a nice addition to the sandwich.  The surprise was that the sandwich base is a gluten-free thick slice of brioche, topped with ham, cheese and Béchamel sauce.

Bio is relaxing, inviting and the food is good too.

2633 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 324-7080

Find address/phone number/directions on Anna's Map.