Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Saylor's Landing

Sunny and Pleasant. That was lunch at Saylor's Landing the other day. I last reviewed Saylor's Landing on Valentine's Day. There are a lot of high ceiling windows that light the whole place with natural light, and the service is sunny too.

Mixed Seafood Grill

I chose a Mixed Seafood Grill in lobster sauce from the specials menu, and they were so accommodating as to switch the mashed potatoes for extra veggies. I liked that the veggies included chard as well as the usual suspects. The sauce was great, and the seafood cooked just right. Did not feel like being on a diet!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Chez Pierre

Historic Moment.
Turning French. It's not often that you show up just as the signs are changing. Novato's Peter's Restaurant has become Chez Pierre, with the change of a sign on Sunday morning. Our waiter told us that Peter's had been open for five months. The new owners have spiffied up what used to be a Denny's, transforming it into a more formal place. There are white tablecloths on the tables, even the counter! There were cheerful gladiolas in vases, and glad buds floating in smaller clear vases all about the restaurant. There was French music playing in the background. When Dad and I opened the breakfast and lunch menu however, we were hard pressed to find French dishes among the very typical American fare. Yes there was some brioche listed. The Frenchness aside, I was delighted to see that Chez Pierre is open for breakfast every day.

Buttermilk Pancakes

Dad ordered some fluffy buttermilk pancakes, which he said were delicious with the maple syrup.


He also enjoyed the generous slice of ham, and provision of a steak knife to make the cutting effort easier.

Spinach, Mushroom & Swiss omelet

I ordered a omelet of spinach, mushrooms and Swiss Cheese. It normally comes with potatoes and toast, but they kindly substituted tomato slices. The omelet was delicious, the spinach tender and sauteed just right, as were the fresh mushrooms.

I had to query the waiter about French items on the menu as everyone was so attentive, the details of the decor and music were well thought out, and the food was hearty and good. It is obvious the owners are paying attention. The waiter replied "Oh, you'll want to see our French Specialties Menu available for lunch and dinner!". And sure enough there was a one page menu with French dishes I'd like to come back and try, including some French Onion Soup and Salmon Quiche!

I Googled for a website, and found that there is not one currently, but I found an interesting item relating to the restaurant on Craig's list:

"NOVATO. Finally a French conversation group is forming in Novato!
We will meet at “’CHEZ PIERRE” on the last Tuesday of the month. This is a new restaurant serving French cuisine. The owners French Isabelle and Pierre will warmly welcome us on the LAST TUESDAY of each month around a “French speaking table”. All levels welcome. The restaurant serves delicious French dinners or you can simply eat a fabulous home made dessert like a crème brûlée, profiteroles or perhaps a crème caramel.
Please RDV July 31th 07 at 6.00 PM

Places limited – Reservation required
RSVP (415) 408-1134 - 7330 Redwood Blvd – Delong exit. "

So if you wish to practice some French, here's a great venue!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

WHB Banner

Weekend Herb Blogging Week #93.
I am lucky enough to be chosen to host again, that very enjoyable medley of what's happening with herbs around the world. Next week the host is again Kayln, the originator of this weekly event. There are 29 lovely entries, you'll enjoy each unique post, so click on the links!

First out of the gate is Joanna from Henley on Thames, UK with her recipe for Beetroot and Lentils. I knew that lentils came in colors, but was not attuned to varieties and their subtle distinctions as outlined by Joanna on her journey to making a dish in tune with her family's tastes.

Next up is Maninias: Food Matters own Maninas's delightful Warm Lentil Salad with Walnuts and Goats' Cheese. She flavors it with both thyme and bay leaf, with notes about the pretty thyme that grows in the pine woods in back of her home in Dalmatia, Croatia.

Raaga hailing from The Singing Chef, located in India wows us with not one, but three entries! First is her Conchiglie Mushroom Saute featuring mushrooms. Next is Cinnamon French Toast. And then she wows us with Beetroot Chutney in which she uses curry leaves. The only curry I knew about was powder, so it was a revelation to find it is a leaf!

Chris, located near Atlanta, Georgia and host of Mele Cotte brings us Moroccan Slow-Cooked Lamb which features fennel. We learn a few new things about this herb and which dishes it naturally pairs with, as well as links to other recipes using fennel 'round the web.

Next checking in is Kalyn, from Kalyn's Kitchen, the originator of this event. She brings us a lovely dish, Sauteed zucchini with Spinach and Basil Pesto. This recipe looks like an awesome way to take advantage of the abundance of zucchini available this time of year, and its full of important vitamins and minerals which she notes in the post.

Then comes Pam from Australia of The Backyard Pizzeria, with a Seafood and Cheese Starter. Pam uses both thyme and garlic to punch up the seafood flavor! But don't tell the Italian food police about that seafood and cheese illegal pairing!

Toronto's own Kevin from Closet Cooking brings us Tinga. Kevin has changed his mind about cilantro which he used to hate as a kid.

Coming back to the US, Emily of Superspark in Southern California brings us Pappa al pomodoro. She pairs tomatoes with bread in an amazing way. So simple, it's tempting to try it right now!

Next checking in is Katerina from Vancouver, B.C. one of my favorite cities. She's the one behind Daily Unadventures in Cooking and this recipe for Broccoli and Corn Salad. Using cilantro and left overs, she creates a fabulous dish!

To the east of Katerina, Sarah sends us something good from Ontario. HS hosts What Smell's So Good? and sends us a irresistible Chocolate-Mint Chocolate Zucchini Bread. She has an abundance of mint growing in her garden, including her featured chocolate-mint! She thoughtfully includes some hints for those who would like to make this mouth-watering creating vegan as well.

kelp salad

With all these entries pouring in, I had to get on the stick and make mine! So Friday night I sheared off some basil from the plant I've been nursing on my deck and combined it with an unusual sea vegetable, kelp noodles, to create Basil Kelp Salad.

Katie, living the lovely life in France writes about alliums in from Thyme for Cooking. She also includes a recipe including these interesting vegetables related to onions and garlic, Chicken Salad with Roasted Potatoes and Alliums. Visit her post to find out about the varieties and health benefits. None required actually to want to eat this lovely looking salad!

You just must follow Ros on her interesting journey to make a Mexican meal! Posting from Living to Eat in London, in a post entitled "Tomatillos Galore". Ros recounts her journey with hints for singles on attracting attention. However, it's not the tomatillos that are the star of her first Mexican meal, it is nopales, in a red pepper and nopales salad.

Pam of Sidewalk Shoes in Tennessee joins us for the first time with Grilled Chicken with Gremolata. She used parsley, thyme and oregano in her dish and describes so well that "Eureka!" experience we've all had when something newly attempted works so well! Welcome Pam!

Explore the madness of eggplant with Simona, who splits her time between Humbolt County and Berkeley California. She writes about melanaza from her blog Bricole with an Italian twist. Many unique and interesting facts are engagingly set forth in the post, and she even gives you the option of hearing the correct pronunciation of melanaza.

Realepicurian's Scott, who hails from England, writes of his soggy strawberry experience and yet leaves us with a most delightful recipe for Strawberry and Champagne Soup. So simple, yet elegant!

Y from Sydney who writes Lemonpi, uses my favorite fruit, figs to bake up White Fig and Pecan Bread. And surprises us with the real botanical classification!

Claudia with Fool for Food located in Germany, sends us a delightful recipe for Panna Cotta with Rosemary and Lavender. This looks exceptionally cool and refreshing!

Next up is Sher with Zucchini, Tomato, And Basil Couscous Salad, perfect for a summer day. She and I agree that her herb of choice, basil, makes a salad taste like summer! Sher writes What Did You Eat? from Davis, California and is owned by one cat and two birds.

From Melbourne, Australia, Ed at the Tomato blog, shows off a very cool find indeed, a fresh wasabi root! And you'll just NEVER guess what vegetables this root is related to! You'll have to take a look for yourself.

Next we hop across the globe to Andalucia, Spain to meet up with Zorra from 1x umruehren bitte aka kochtopf. Zorra brings us a recipe for Verjus, which is a culinary ingredient dating back to medieval Europe. Don't miss it!

Haalo brings us Chicken and Sweet Corn Soup, back across the globe in Melbourne, Australia and Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once. Like Katie, she chooses a member of the allium family and teaches us a few new things, not the least of which is how to make this delicious looking soup!

Riana in France, writing the blog Garlic Breath, offers up Avocados For Bébé and Me! and some interesting facts about those beautiful green avocados!

Next up is Ulrike from Küchenlatein in Kronshagen, Germany about Tonka beans. I won't spoil the fun of finding out what they are, you'll have to visit her site and also enjoy the Tonka bean mousse recipe she offers.

The Chocolate Lady in Greenwich Village, New York who writes In Mol Aran, and she brings us Stuffed Summer Squash with Dill and Hemp Seeds. I must admit, it's one combination I'd never imagined and it sounds like a fabulous pairing.

When My Soup Came Alive's Sra from India, has so many herbs in the two recipes in her post Sunshine and a Bird, that I'm not sure what to mention here. You'd better go take a peek yourself!

Peter writing from Toronto writes some interesting notes about thyme, which he uses in his recipe for Courgette Carbonarra. If you don't already know what courgettes are, you'll have to take a look at his site to find out. In keeping with the name of his blog, Kalofagas - In Pursuit of Delicious Foods, the results look delicious indeed.

Anna from Australia in her 50th Weekend Herb Blogging post! brings us Thon à la Provençale (Provencale Tuna). Anna had trouble posting photos to her Morsels and Musings today, so I'm using a little flower photo I did a little artsy editing to for a course I'm taking, and using it for this post so it stands out, since 50 is really a milestone!! Thanks for being with us that long Anna!

Our final entry is from Newport News, Virginia, and Deborah of Play with Food has cooked up some very herby fish. Using cilantro, she makes Herb-Crusted Mahi-Mahi that look like each bite would be a fresh burst in your mouth.

Well that's it for this week. Remember, this upcoming week Weekend Herb Blogging goes back to its home port at Kalyn's Kitchen.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


As local as it gets. "Everything" seems to dry up and blow away on my deck, so I was a little hesitant to attempt to keep a basil plant alive out there. And since I've managed to keep it alive for about a month now, I thought I would proudly unveil it to you. How much more local than food grown on your deck? I thought it would be an extra-special kick off to my post the week I'm hosting the round up. Naturally, basil is my herb of choice.

Basil is originally native to India and other warm Asian climates, and has been cultivated for over 5,000 years. Basil comes from a Greek word meaning "King". Basil is often paired with tomatoes, as in my recipe, and is best used fresh. It loses its savor when dried. Wikipedia has an interesting cultural note "...African legend claims that basil protects against scorpions, while the English botanist Culpeper cites one "Hilarius, a French physician" as affirming it as common knowledge that smelling basil too much would breed scorpions in the brain." Well, I don't think Northern California has scorpions so the African legend won't be useful, and I've been smelling my basil a lot, and there are no symptoms of scorpions in the brain! And this is not the end of surprises for this post!

kelp noodles

Those who have been following this blog can't have missed that I'm on Phase I of the South Beach Diet. No pasta! I've gotten over the yearning for the carbs of noodles, but not with the form factor or mouth feel. Kelp noodles to the rescue! The entire 12 oz package has only 18 calories, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, and is full of trace minerals, especially iodine. These noodles also contain calcium and iron! The transparent tendrils are tasteless and take on the flavor of the broth or dressing you use. However, these are not very absorbent, so it's really the seasoning that briefly clings to the outside as you bring them to your mouth that gives the flavor.

kelp salad

Why do I include that detail? Well, if you follow the recipe here that replicates the Basil Kelp Salad I made for dinner last night, you'll think you've put in too much dressing. But it is designed that way to intensify the flavor, otherwise the salad is pretty bland. As it is, it's very light and refreshing, a perfect dish for a hot summer day. I served it with grilled halibut steak. The noodles are also "raw" food, for those trying that kind of diet.

kelp salad distance

Basil Kelp Salad

1 12 oz package kelp noodles, rinsed in cool water and drained
1 large yellow tomato, diced
1/4 cup fresh sliced basil leaves
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/3 cup walnut oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Put the first three ingredients into a bowl and toss.
2. Combine the white wine vinegar and walnut oil in a container with a leak-proof cover, and shake together to blend
3. Pour dressing over the salad, salt & pepper to taste. The dressing will look like soup in the bottom of the bowl.
4. As it is served pull the portions from the bottom first to bring more dressing with the noodles.

Next week, Weekend Herb Blogging goes back home to its founder for the round up, Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. Watch Sunday afternoon for my round up of the week's herb blogging creations!

UPDATE: Simona gave such an excellent resource on seaweed that I wanted to include a working link in the body of the post to Kelp Wanted.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sushi Boat

I have nearly always succumbed...
to the cute little boats circling around the sushi bar and not tried a real 'dinner' from the menu at Sushi Boat. I'd reviewed it when visiting it with Paul before a movie in January, and Dad and I were on our way to a movie that perfect summer evening too.


Since I cannot have rice on this phase of the South Beach Diet, I had no desire to be tempted by those little boats, and Dad has never acquired a taste for raw fish. So we were seated at a table, and I had the vantage point of enjoying the rich red of the lamp in the corner with the amusing jumping dolphin statue.


A refreshing salad accompanied the meals.

Miso Soup

As did some very flavorful miso soup, steaming hot!

Prawn & Vegetable Tempura

Dad ordered prawn and vegetable tempura, and it came in a huge basket! The coating looked light and crisp, and Dad confirmed that it was not too oily and that the vegetables tasted very fresh.


I ordered sukiyaki, and also was brought quite a large pot! The beef was sliced rather thicker than usual, and there was about half of a tofu cake embedded in it as well. Far too much food for me too, but it was of high quality and expertly cooked to the right amount of doneness before bringing it tableside. This is a great place to come before enjoying the movies at the cinema on Smith Ranch Road.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Burritoville Cafe

Surprise breakfast place.
I was driving through Larkspur rather early on Tuesday, and was thinking about breakfast, when I suddenly saw a large "Breakfast until 11 am" banner across a place I'd never visited, Burritoville Cafe. That was enough! The friendly counter gentleman suggested I may enjoy a half-order while holding up a large platter which represented the regular order. I went along... and ordered a chile relleno scramble. It was plenty! There was a nice sized scramble with a generous amount of green chile pieces and cheese. It normally is accompanied by tortillas, beans and rice. I asked for black beans only. I snapped a photo, but for some reason, my camera didn't save it. Next time!

Speaking of surprises, I was awoken yesterday morning by a good friend calling from Norway who is planning a visit... the future is full of happy surprises!