Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Taste of Terroir. Reading Food & Wine's "100 Tastes to Try in '07 ", it occurred that unless you were a heavy and well-heeled traveler, it would be difficult to achieve a taste of the entire list. Fellow blogger, Kristen at Dine and Dish , notes this in her blog as well, and asks for help to experience what she cannot. What this list brought up for me is that there is a world-wide community of food bloggers who have an eye for taste and aesthetics who might put together a much more unique list, grounded in their own bit of terroir. Wikipedia says this about terroir:

"Terroir (/tεʀwaʀ/ in French) was originally a French term in wine and coffee appreciation used to denote the special characteristics of geography that bestowed individuality upon the food product. It can be very loosely translated as "a sense of place" which is embodied in certain qualities, and the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the manufacture of the product. ...Some writers include history, tradition, vineyard ownership and other factors. The contemporary meaning of the term clearly goes beyond mere geography, but at that point disagreement begins. Some assert that terroir is distinct from the characteristics imparted by the plant variety, the vintage and production methods (vinification, etc.), and is the product of a range of local influences that are transmitted into the character of the product."

I think that terroir can go far beyond the traditional use in the areas of wine and coffee, and be applied to those foods and drinks which truly give a sense of place, or the taste of the place can be observed in them. Would you join me in documenting an edible piece of your locale that you have a special connection with and would like to share with the world?

To join me in this food blog event, here are the rules:

1. Between now and January 21, 2007, create and post an entry on your blog which highlights a food or drink, or food/drink product, or recipe which highlights terroir in your location which you can write about with a personal perspective including a photo. Describe how it relates to your locale. Thought joggers:
  • A special food only served at an annual event - like a fair.
  • Foods produced from ingredients from a particular farm.
  • A restaurant with an unique local dish.
  • An antique recipe from your area.
  • Etc.

2. The blog post should be unique to this event, not previously entered into any other event.

3. Entries should contain the words "A Taste of Terroir" with a link to this post at Anna's Cool Finds in the body. Use of a Technorati tag for "A Taste of Terroir" would be nice, but optional.

4. E-mail me (anna AT annalou DOT com) the your name, location, name of your blog (for posting on the summary) and a link to the post you are entering no later than 1:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on January 21st. I will recap entries compliant with the rules and make a summary posting on the 21st or 22nd. Please put "A Taste of Terroir" in the subject line so I don't lose any!

5. If you don't have a blog and would like to participate, e-mail me about alternatives.

Saturday, December 30, 2006


Floating Boats at Lunch.
I revisited Tenkyu with my father after a long hiatus. This visit showed the establishment as much improved. We came at the very end of the lunch period, so the little floating boats usually bearing sushi were empty.

Miso & Edamame

There were some plates of edamame circulating which we grabbed for an appetizer, enjoying with the promptly served and hot miso soup.


And about that time, out bounded (no kidding - bounded!) a very cheerful second sushi chef who was charming and wanted to make sure we were happy, so I couldn't resist ordering some maguro, my favorite sushi. I think he must have been an owner. The maguro was very fresh and had a clean smooth finish. It was rather thinly cut, but longer than typical sushi slices, so the portion was probably about the same as most places. It also suffered from the 'too much rice' syndrome, but most Japanese restaurants in the U.S. suffer from the same.. I guess Americans need that feel of 'large' portions in general.

chicken teriyaki

Dad enjoyed a lunch bento box with chicken teriyaki, gyoza and California roll. Once he got a fork - he was happy as a clam with the food. I did have to quickly stop his arm as he forgot that the green mound was wasabi and was bringing the whole pile directly to his mouth. A bad surprise averted!

beef teriyaki

I enjoyed a bento box as well, with beef teriyaki, tempura and california roll. The beef was a bit tough, and the sauce appeared to be added on at the end rather than the meat marinated (which also caused it to be a bit cool). The tempura was good and California roll tasted quite fresh. This is a place with a nice atmosphere, friendly and prompt service but the food is still a little uneven. It is also reasonably priced and not far from The Rafael theater that shows great artistic and independent films.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Hearts of Palm Dip

Hearts of Palm Dip.
I made this hot dip at Easter last year, and found it to be a favorite among friends. I have made it since, but it always gets snapped up so quickly, I don't even have a chance to photograph it. Yesterday evening, I took it over as my contribution to dinner at Sachiko's, so I had a chance to snap this photo. You can also vary the basic recipe by substituting other things for the hearts of palm, such as spinach, artichoke hearts, or water chestnuts.

Hearts of Palm Dip

  • 1 (14.25 ounce) can hearts of palm, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup chopped green onion
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a glass pie plate or square glass baking pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the hearts of palm, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, green onion, sour cream and mayonnaise. Spread into the greased baking dish.
  3. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

cuke asaurus close-up

Strange fruit.
Strolling the produce section of Safeway the other day, I was stopped dead in my tracks by an unusual looking melon. Bright orange with horny protrusions, it beckoned my curiosity to pick it up. Ouch! It was thorny not horny! Inca Gold "Cuke asaurus" the label read. Curiosity completely engaged, that was all I needed to put it in my basket. An instructional sign read that it was similar to a kiwi, and should just be sliced in half and eaten with a spoon.

I had my test panel try it out (Jo-Ann, Toran, Aurelia & Dad). The comments were: gelatinous, bitter seeds, limy-cucumberish, and from the Star Wars enthusiast- "a perfect food for Jabba the Hutt". Jo-Ann also thought it reminiscent of gooseberries, and we felt that strained of the seeds, it would make up into a good fresh-taste jelly. It is not rewarding to eat raw as it is rather astringent and full of bitter seeds.

A little research turned up a few more names for it: Kiwano, African Horned Cucumber, and Jelly Melon. It is native to the Kalahari Desert. Higher in potassium than a banana, and chock full of vitamin C, it would be a great fruit, except for the difficulty in eating, and as Purdue University notes: "A market for edible kiwano does not yet exist, because the fruit lacks taste. Increasing the sweetness and improving the aroma may give rise to a new product for a large-volume market." Enough said.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Signature Thai

Another great Thai place.
Daniel & Kit took me to Signature Thai for my birthday, and we were just having too much fun to photograph the food. When I was taking my shoes off to go to the raised platform area for authentic and quaint seating, a man leaned over to me and said that he lived in Thailand and this was the best Thai around, and very authentic. The food that evening was so memorable, when I asked Dad what he'd like for lunch, he said he wanted to go back a few days later. So we visited and enjoyed their lunch plates.


They serve a savory bullion as a house soup to start. It was nice, but it does have a salt taste.

Oriental Plate

Dad tried the Oriental Plate, which had prawns and diced chicken sauteed with vegetables. He said it was perfectly balanced and sized just right for him.

Pad Thai Combo

I had the Pad Thai Combo, which consisted of a Siamese Roll, Chicken Satay and Pad Thai. All the elements were good. The Pad Thai was glossy and the noodles didn't stick together the way some Pad Thai's do. The other night we also had Eggplant Delight, Garlic Prawns and BBQ Chicken, and Fried Banana with Coconut Ice Cream (with birthday candle :-)) all of which were delicious.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Report. Dad & I had a wonderful Christmas with friends. First, we enjoyed dinner and holiday cheer with Linda, Yalda, Olivia and Yalda's friend Tanya. We had a feast with ham as the centerpiece and more side dishes than could be managed in the oven. Of course, it was all topped off with a homemade pumpkin pie - creamy and luscious.

On the way back, we stopped in at Jo-Ann & Jonathon's and enjoyed some time with them. Jonathon & Aurelia had made an awesome less-sweet pumpkin pie where the flavors of the spices and pumpkin popped out and were recognizable rather than the usual too-sweet flavor clouding the taste. Another Christmas has whizzed past, but we enjoyed it from end to end.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Pomegranite Spinach Salad

Christmas Eve Revelry.
Daniel, Kit, and Kit's Mom Lynn joined Dad & I for Christmas Eve dinner. I took some early photos, but we were having too much fun for me to interrupt the meal with photo ops of the food. Everyone enjoyed the above holiday colored salad.

Pomegranate Spinach Salad

1 bag organic baby spinach
1 cup pomegranate Seeds
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Balsamic vinegar
Extra virgin Olive Oil

Wash and spin the spinach, arrange in a flatish bowl. Sprinkle on almonds, followed by feta cheese and finally the pomegranate seeds. Serve with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil table side so guests individually pour it as they like on their portion.

Minted Pineapple Banana Salad

The Minted Pineapple Banana Salad was a hit as well.

Minted Pineapple Banana Salad

2 cups fresh chunks of ripe pineapple
2 large bananas, sliced in rounds
1 lemon, juiced
3 springs of fresh mint, cut into pieces

1. Put pineapple chunks in bowl.
2. Squeeze the juice of one lemon over the pineapple
3. Add the mint, reserving one piece for garnish
4. Add sliced bananas and mix, making sure all banana pieces are coated in juices to prevent browning.
5. Add decorative sprig of mint and serve.

The remaining menu was dilled wild salmon baked with a creamy mushroom sauce, Swedish rolls, parsnips, mashed potatoes, roasted yellow peppers marinated in vinegar and olive oil, and black olives. Kit and Lynn brought a fabulous Apple Brown Betty for dessert.

Lynn, Dad & Daniel in conversation

So we ate and talked. And ate and talked some more, then opened gifts.

Daniel & Kit Relaxing

Kit and Daniel enjoy a moment.

Daniel & Kit dancing

Kit and Daniel dance Celtic dances for nearly two hours, Daniel teaching Kit some complicated steps to the Celtic CD Daniel presented Anna for Christmas.

After the Celtic dancing

They still look energetic after finishing up!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas season in Sausalito

Ship ahoy!
Sausalito is decked out in all its finery for Christmas. Even the elephant statues have been wreathed. Since I needed to get some ingredients for Christmas Eve dinner I'm hosting, we went to Sausalito, so Dad and I had lunch in downtown at Winship Restaurant.


Winship is open for breakfast and lunch only, and is a quick walk around the corner from the ferry terminal.

Winship Interior

Inside it is designed like a ship -- you can see the captain's wheelhouse in front and center.

Tortise shell lamp

It has nautical memorabilia all over -- and tortoise shell lampshades!

Chicken Burrito

Unfortunately, the food was rather touristy and the service uneven. (Friendly when there, but absent for long periods.) Dad had the chicken burrito with salad. He felt it rather so-so, but enjoyed the salad.

Crab melt

I enjoyed the crab melt; positive points for including a large portion of fresh tasty salad and a small portion of fries as the standard with the sandwich.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


My kitchen.
Ilva over at Lucullian Delights challenged the food blog community to fess up and post photos of their kitchens, admitting that her kitchen is messy. Well, mine is usually too, but events had it be otherwise. You see, when it rains in Marin, the ants head for higher ground, and since my condo is on the second floor, they climbed right up here. I came home to find a whole ant army marching around the counter and cupboard edges in a very organized constant stream! Eek! Time for battle! So I tried peppermint essential oil, making coordinated dive bombing attacks with precision (or not) droplets of the concentrated essence in the strategic places along the columns. Every ant it hit was a casualty. However, this seemed to be a labor intensive endeavor to drop a drop of it on EVERY ant... hmmm... time to go out and get some other non-toxic stuff. So I picked up some Orange Guard. It was much more effective, spraying a wide spray of the orange essence infused spray. Satisfied I'd gotten all the ants, and cleaned away the remains, I went off for other endeavors.


A few hours later, I came back to find an army as big as the original! Well, at least my kitchen smelled really quite good, the scent of peppermint and orange hit you as soon as you opened the outside door to the condo. I decided it was time to contact Jerrie, my neighbor, to check if she's had any. We often coordinate on these things as the ants tend to run from unit to unit. After a few back and forth e-mail and a conversation, since it was just before the holidays I decided to call in the heavy artillery, and because they hadn't shown up at Jerrie's we wanted to head them off at the pass. So a very affable pest control person showed up and used some non-toxic spray to end the war once and for all (or at least for the season I hope). The ants are gone! And the side benefit since I had to clear all my counters is a clearer than normal kitchen space. So, it was easy for me to enter my photos via this post into Ilva's challenge. You can see that I put some of the counter items in the bread rising bowl on top of the bookshelf in the background above. (Yes, I have a bookshelf absolutely full of nothing but cookbooks by my kitchen!)

Pluot Jam

As long as I'm blogging again this morning, thought I'd share about a lovely jam - Pluot - and a company that makes a line of great jams and jellies - The Humble Gourmet. Everything I've purchased from them is stellar. I usually pick up my supplies at a Farmer's Market, but they also sell on-line.

Pluot jam on waffles

Dad and I opened a new jar and used it on some frozen waffles I toasted for breakfast this morning. Have a Merry last day before Christmas Eve!! (I have to decide on a menu for Christmas Eve dinner tomorrow and shop).

Lydia's Lovin Foods

Lydia's Lovin' Foods.
On one of those very rainy days last week, Dad and I went to Fairfax for lunch at a favorite veggie hang-out, Lydia's Lovin' Foods. We enjoyed a taste of a number of things by sharing some plates.

Love Potion

First, we had some "Love Potion" which is fresh fig juice with orange essence. It was fresh and refreshing.

Spring Roll

We then sampled the Spring Rolls, which were composed of marinated daikon in sesame oil, tamari and ginger, with rice noodles, carrots, beets, lettuce, mint and cilantro, with tahini ginger sauce on side. These were wrapped in a rice paper wrapper, and very fresh, crisp bites.

Home-made Veggie Burger

Next up was a Home-Made Veggie Burger, split in the kitchen (how thoughtful!) for the two of us. The burger is made of beets, carrots, celery, fresh parsley, bell peppers, quinoa, sunflower seeds, brown rice, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, tamari, herbs and flax seed. Sound healthy doesn't it? And it tasted good.

Yam Fries

And to round it off, along with the Veggie Burger came the signature yam fries. These were much healthier and more flavorful than regular fries, and were oven-baked for added health benefits. Lydia's Lovin' Foods is a great choice for a health boost and good flavor.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Sartaj India Cafe

Refreshing breakfast.
How many Indian restaurants do you know that are open for breakfast? Sartaj India Cafe is the first I've seen. The photos of breakfast on their walls had my curiosity aroused for some time, and I finally succumbed. So off Dad & I headed to Sausalito early one morning to find that others are quite enthused about the breakfast at Sartaj, people who looked quite local. It was a full house!

Indian Egg Croissant

Dad tried the Indian Croissant, which was a herb scrambled egg with bacon stuffed croissant. He liked it so well that said he wanted to come back for this one again.

Spicy Indian Omelet

I ventured to try the Spicy Indian Omelet. It is a flat crepe-like egg concoction with green herbs, fresh tomatoes, onions and Indian spices embedded in the mix. It was just a bit spicy, enough to wake up your taste buds and appreciate the fresh taste. It is slightly browned on the bottom, and soft on the top. It was topped with some crispy bacon and served with whole wheat toast. I really liked having something so original and significantly different from the breakfast norm.

I also noticed primer on the inside walls, so it looks like they are going to do some painting and freshing up the interior. I will look forward to the results.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Il Fornaio Corte Madera

Life with Father.
Monday was filled with various appointments for my father, and I'm unfortunately learning the intimate details of what an insidious thing aging is, even with the best of lifestyles. The moral of the story is eat your veggies and exercise (including BRAIN exercise), and you'll be ahead of the game, but there is no 'safe zone' for aging (yet).

So at the end of the day I asked Dad if he'd prefer a newish fish restaurant, or an Italian restaurant for dinner. He chose Italian, and we headed for Il Fornaio. In reading through their website I found that the Corte Madera location we went to was in fact the first Il Fornaio restaurant. And what a success, it appears to be quite a chain now. Father headed for the restroom, just down the hall and to the left of where we were, and I saw him pop around the corner just fine. But I started worrying about 20 minutes later when he didn't come by... the waiter kindly checked the men's room and suggested I try the ladies room in case of confusion.. when he was no where to be found, I felt a bit of panic set in. The waiter suggested there was a door near the restrooms which perhaps Dad mistakenly exited which would lead into the center of the outdoor mall -- yep, that's where I found him a few minutes later cold and rather shaken up. But my Dad is a cheerful type and he perked back up and we set off for another culinary adventure.

Insalata della Casa

We shared a Insalata della Casa, a chopped salad of romaine, radicchio, cannellini beans, avocado, tomato and cucumber with gorgonzola dressing. It was a very fine blend of tastes and textures.

Gnocchi Emilia

Dad chose the Gnocchi Emilia, visions of my mother's homemade dumplings danced in my Dad's head when I translated the dish name. This gnocchi was an inventive housemade potato dumplings with butternut squash, Italian ham, porcini mushroom, truffle oil and cream. He let me taste a forkful, and it was quite smooth and wonderfully complex and comforting at the same time. He enjoyed most of it, as it was a bit heavy for him to finish having cream sauce.

Ravioli alla Lucana

I enjoyed the Ravioli alla Lucana, ravioli filled with Italian sausage, ricotta, parmesan and fennel; fresh tomato sauce with imported peperoncino, pecorino pepato cheese and fresh basil. I wondered where they found such flavorful fresh tomatoes at this time of year. It was quite good, and although the fresh tomato sauce made it a lighter choice, the fact that it was mad with whole wheat ravioli also made it rather more filling than usual.

I've been to this Il Fornaio and the one on Battery Street in San Francisco many times, and I've found it consistently good for service, well-executed dishes and good menus.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

wolf house holidays

Birthday in Glen Ellen.
As I mentioned, I went with friends Linda, Yalda & Olivia and Dad to Wolf House for celebrating my birthday yesterday. It was decked in it's best holiday finery.


We were seated by a crackling fire.

beet salad

Linda started with a special salad which included the magic word "beet". Linda loves beets, and loved this salad. What a beautiful presentation!

pear salad

I had an endive salad with Bosc Pears, Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese and fig compote. It was crisp and delicious. So inventive! I understand there is a new chef in the kitchen, Christopher Aiken.


Linda, Dad & I all ordered the chicken breast with savory bread pudding and rainbow chard. It was heavenly. The skin was crispy and the meat tender, moist and flavorful.

Olivia sings

We scrambled to get to Olivia's Christmas Pagent at St. Leo's. She was a cute angel singing sweetly. What could be better than having an angel sing happy birthday to you?