Monday, March 31, 2008

English by the Sea

Pelican Inn

I went with family (while ago now, time flies!) to have some lunch one weekend at the Pelican Inn, near Muir Beach. It was a gorgeous day, and we were all primed for some English pub fare, which is what this place excels at, besides beautiful surroundings of course.

F&C with Peas

I enjoyed their Fish & Chips, and always love the peas they serve with it.

Bangers and Mash

And one of the men enjoyed Bangers & Mash, and offered up bits of bangers to others who all agreed it was great.

Shepherd's Pie

Another person hankered after the Shepherd's Pie and enjoyed it as well.

Chicken Salad

And the report on the Chicken Salad came back that the chicken was tender yet well grilled and the greens fabulous! And the locals among us decided we'd definitely come back for their weekend brunch soon. A lovely place to get some sea air and country relaxation.

Previously Reviewed:
September 19, 2007
July 29, 2005

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Persian Resources

Persian Food

There have been some changes in the Marin Persian restaurant scene in the last year as we've seen Hatam change hands, and Papillon cease operations. Hatam and Jasmine Market both have grocery sections for making your own Persian delights.

The Persian Restaurants in Marin are:

San Rafael
Apadana Restaurant

If you are in Sausalito, and hungry for kabobs, the Bridgeway Cafe makes a kabob sandwich and some superb Perisan appetizers, although 99% of their fare is American. If you know of any Perisan delights I've missed in Marin, please leave a comment!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Great neigborhood Italian Place

Milano Ristorante

I used to come to Milano Ristorante quite often before I began my roving and sampling of all Marin has to offer. I missed it. So Dad and I decided to have dinner here one evening.

Hot garlic & cheese bread

And as I recalled the server promptly served us some of their customary garlic and cheese bread - yum!

Caesar Salad

I thoroughly enjoyed the well dressed and fresh Caesar salad.

Meatball sandwich

Dad's salad came with the meatball sandwich he ordered. He was shocked at the size of the sandwich, as was I. It made two meals, and heated up nicely. The sandwich that is, he enjoyed the salad at the restaurant. The photo doesn't do justice to the size, probably 6" each side.

Smoked Salmon Fettucini

I tried a special which has gone from the old blackboard method to a printed page (now you know how long it's been since I was last here). I ordered the smoked salmon and fettucini, which was delicious. A little heavy on the cream as it left some soupiness in my bowl, but the flavor was spectacular and the noodles perfectly al dente. If you want an old fashioned good neighborhood Italian place with standard items in generous portion, you can't go wrong here.

Previously mentioned:
November 15, 2006

Friday, March 28, 2008

Succulent Kabobs


Hatam's changed hands last year and although I've been there to pick up Persian goodies from the grocery section, I'd yet to try their new dining experience in the front of the store. Although I loved the cobwebbed and authentic peek at much loved things under the old ownership, the new owner has brightened it up and moved the groceries to the back and a fresh breeze has encircled the place.


I decided to stay for dinner this time, and I was served a lovely fresh appetizer of lavash bread and fresh greens (green onions and copious amounts of fresh mint leaves), butter and feta. I must have been Perisan in a past life as I so take to rolling up fresh mint leaves in the soft lavash and eating it.

Sour Cherry Juice

I ventured to a new drink choice, sour cherry juice and found it quite sweet/tart and refreshing.

Ashe Anar

Being venturesome, I next tried the Ashe Anar, a 'rich' soup of rice, herbs and pomegranate paste. The name literally is Pomegranate Soup. In the Iranian tradition, many special occasions are marked by different kinds of soups, and the bonds of friendship are thought to be forged by sharing a bowl. According to my favorite Persian cookbook "New Food of Life" Ashe Anar contains an amazing array of herbs and seasonings. It MUST be healthful with all of the following represented: onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, turmeric, parsley, coriander, mint, beet, chives, pomegranate paste, and angelica seeds. The richness came from this thick mix of ingredients (with the others like lentils, rice and beef stock), as there was no cream involved. Honestly it was a little too exotic for me, but I very much appreciate the authenticity and clarity of flavor of this ancient soup. Apparently this soup has been served since antiquity.

Joojeh Kabob

Next up was the Joojeh Kabob, or chicken kabobs with rice and saffron rice and grilled tomato. Fabulous! Especially with a liberal sprinkle of the fresh, fragrant sumac in the shaker on the table. And it has liberal anti-oxidant properties.


So then I ventured on by Bastanee, enticed by the rosewater flavor. A very smooth and refreshing end to a delightful meal served by a most friendly hostess.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Presses its own olive oil!


Although I've been to Frantoio many a time, I have not blogged about it for one reason or another. Since it's between where I live and where I work it's too easy to think 'it's too easy', and then the visit gets put off. But I did make it there one evening - it's only open for dinner - and then it took me a bit to go back for a photo in the daytime as the ones I took of the outside that night didn't turn out. The most unique feature of this restaurant is that it has a operating olive press behind glass walls you can view from the inside. In fact, it is the only restaurant in the U.S. with an in-house state of the art Certified Organic olive oil production facility. Of course, pressing season is long since over, but the bottled olive oil is used in the restaurant, and it is flavorful!


I had a Caesar Salad to start which was fresh and good. I loved the Parmesan slices on top.

Shrimp Risotto

I had a lovely Grilled Shrimp and freshly wilted Spinach Leaves Risotto. This was flavorful with a creamy Parmesan flavor and the shrimp were perfectly grilled with their heads still intact.

Panna Cotta

And the Panna Cotta with fresh berries was over the top. What a splurge! It was quiet, the service was impeccable and it had a lovely modern decor that is great for special occasions.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Splitting allowed


Dad and I went to Toast the other morning, ok late morning for a meal. I say a meal since I was in the mood for breakfast, and Dad for lunch. Luckily, Toast is easily able to allow for such meal splitting!

Toast Signboard

Of course we checked the signboard for specials before entering. And lucky for us, since this is a very popular Mill Valley place, we were cheerfully seated right away.

Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Omelet

I stuck with breakfast plans and ordered an asparagus, wild mushroom and havarti omelet. It was fabulous, and I think that the mushrooms were cremini. This tasted as good as it looked, and smelled.

Turkey Burger

Dad wanted lunch, so he opted for the turkey burger with salad. He said it was great, but the portion was too much to eat at one sitting!

Previously reviewed:
March 4, 2007

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Relaxing deck


A favorite spot in Tiburon has been Guaymas, especially their deck, once the weather makes it not-too-hot and not-too-cold/windy. Last week there was such a day, and I was excited to get reacquainted with the deck.

Fresh corn tortillas, thick with special sauces

Once you've placed your order, a fat stack of housemade corn tortillas arrive with three tasty sauces.


After tasting a couple, I settled in to enjoy the view.

Plato Vegetariano

Wanting a more creative option than the vegetarian tostada, I decided to try the Plato Vegetariano. This I would recommend sharing with friends rather than having as an entree meal. The positives were the plantain (wow!), the grilled corn and the spinach sauteed in garlic. Less appealing were the zucchini (cut too thick and barely warm), green onions (just not appetizing grilled), and chayote (cool, crisp and too bland). The cold black beans and corn salad was ok, and the tomato slice was nice and ripe. I've had many a nice meal at Guaymas, plan to enjoy their deck in the future as well, and probably will go for seafood next time.

Monday, March 24, 2008

In search of good couscous


So my experience with the not quite right couscous the other day had the effect of making me crave the real thing. So I tried looking around the bay area, and came up with Tajine on Polk Street in San Francisco as a place to try not so far from Marin. (Chowhounders also recommended Aziza which I will have to try too). I wasted no time getting there.

Mint Tea

First up was a large pot of mint tea. The server poured it with a flourish, which was the first good sign. Then I sipped it, and I KNEW I was in good hands. Slightly sweet with deep mint flavor, this took me back to another place and time.

Vegetarian Bastilla

Next came our appetizer, the vegetarian bastilla. The description read that it is made of baked fillo dough stuffed with sweet vegetables, raisins, and topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. This was delicious and very satisfying. I'm wondering what the actual vegetables were as I had a hard time identifying them all. I do know that one was yam.

Vegetarian Couscous

Then on to the focus of my attention, the vegetarian couscous. It looked right, large chunks of vegetables (these are simmered a long time so larger pieces hold their shape better) floating atop very fluffy couscous! Brilliant! The vegetables had obviously simmered long enough to have an intense deliciousness. It contained garbanzo beans, turnips, carrots, squash, zucchini and tomatoes. I never imagined myself waxing enthusiastic about turnips, but the chunk of turnip in this was so well flavored it provides a new and improved relationship with that healthy vegetable.


The server also brought us some fresh bread.

Chicken Kebab Sandwich

Dad tried the grilled chicken kebab sandwich. He was thrilled with it. Not only did it taste good, but it was wrapped up such that it made it easier for him to eat. And I have to say the mint tea was a hit with him as well, I've never seen him drink so much tea before! Another staff person (or owner?) came in part way through our meal with a cheery "Bon Jour" to all. There were also three travel posters about Morocco in French (one in Spanish) on the wall. So it looks like there is some French influence although this is a Moroccan place rather than Algerian. This is definitely a good place to enjoy very genuine and delicious food in comfortable surroundings.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter 2008

Happy Easter

Lunch with a view

As I write this, I've just finished an evenings prep for an Easter picnic on Sunday. I've prepared organic veggies for grilling - asparagus spears, green beans, mini sweet peppers of bright colors all marinating in an e.v.o.o. and fresh lemon mixture. I've also prepared fresh cremini mushroom caps and 'scored' them - those will be the 'hot cross buns' stand in. I'll be making kinpira gobo (braised burdock and carrots), and bringing some sakura mochi (fresh an {red bean} filled mochi wrapped in a fresh edible cherry tree leaf), mini cream puffs and Calpis (a sweet fermented soda drink). I made up some Easter bags full of fun Japanese chocolate and cookie treats for the kids, and some matcha (bitter green tea) chocolate for the adults. Jo-Ann and Jonathon, their kids Toran and Aurelia and their grandfather Hal will be meeting Dad and I up at the same place we had an Easter picnic last year on Mt. Tamalpais. So conveniently, I have some photos from last year. It will be another 70F sunny day, so I'm sure it will be much the same. Jonathon informed me that they'll be bringing some wild salmon to grill, hummus, and some other goodies and Hal is bringing some rosemary bread. Sounds like a feast.


It's Easter, not Thanksgiving, but still I am very thankful for living in such an abundant place where you have natural beauty, high quality food and water (not to mention wine) all around. Despite all the bad news in the press, business couldn't be better and life is good! I hope life is good in your part of the world as well.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In search of Greek food

Fair Fix Cafe

A friend of mine had a taste for Greek food and all I could think of in Marin County was Fair Fix in Fairfax. So we went to find that it was not Greek, but Mediterranean. Close enough for me, but not for my friend, so I made a mental note to come back and try it. Fair Fix has been a fixture (pun intended) for a long time in the community, and locals feel comfortable hanging out here with an eclectic mix of suits, barefeet in sandals and dreadlocks.

Vegetarian Couscous

Noticing a Couscous plate on the menu brought me back to student days in Paris, enjoying couscous on the Left Bank. Unfortunately the comparison left this plate wanting. The couscous of my memory had flavorful stewed vegetables while these, although fresh and good quality, were rather watery and bland. The couscous rather than being a soft and fragrant foil for the vegetables was rather crunchy and tasted dry. I really loved the fresh carrot-orange-ginger juice though! It has other interesting Mediterranean dishes I'd like to come back and try. I understand Aroma Cafe in San Rafael is a sister cafe. The cafe is cash only, and they offer free Wi-Fi (it also occurs more as a coffee house than a cafe).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Only gets better

Table Cafe

I couldn't believe that it has been over a year since I visited Table Cafe in Larkspur. The owner, Suzanne, was there making sure all the details were well in hand. And it is still superb due to the care and attention that permeates this peaceful stop on the quiet side of Larkspur. At the top of the specials blackboard it reads that all produce used is local sustainable and organic. You know that anything you order here is good for the body, good for the soul. Well, some may take exception to that description for the dense Scharffen Berger brownies, but it wouldn't be due to their pure ingredients. And hey, don't healthy eaters deserve a treat now and then too? And what better testament to the purity of the food than the visage of the clientèle. While I was there I only observed the most dewy fresh faced women and cherub children coming through the door.

Carrot soup with Creme Fraiche

Dad started with the Carrot Soup with Cilantro Creme Fraiche. He said he wished that he could lick the bowl.

Steak dosa

He followed the soup with the Steak Dosa (grilled shirt steak, caramelized onions, teleme cheese) with Avocado Orange Chutney. It looked so good, I was tempted to trade him a half.

Fennel soup with Goat Cheese

I started off with the Fennel Soup with Goat Cheese. The flavors fairly sang to the extent I could almost see musical notes rising off the surface. This had to be nourishing.

Crab dosa

My main dish was Crab Dosa (Dungeness crab, cilantro citurs aioli, arugula) with Apple-Onion-Ginger Chutney. It was light and a fabulous medley of flavors. Another thing I noticed that has changed in the past year is that the list of specials has only gotten longer and more interesting. And there are more choices on their take-out section as well. I guess I'm also going to just have to make a 'resolution' to get here for their Saturday brunch soon too as that has been an experience on my 'to have' list for some time now. This is one of the best places in Marin for a casual and healthy, not to mention reasonable (for this kind of food) meal.

Previously reviewed:
February 9, 2007
September 10, 2005
June 24, 2005

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My sofa is new again!


I sent my sofa and some chairs out for reupholstering -- after a month or so without, I'm ecstatic to have the sofa back today! It looks new, and really it is since all the padding and cushioning was replaced too. If you are looking to support a local new business, and want some reupholstering done with great detailing at a reasonable price, look up John Frayer! By the way, you can see a little peak of my computer network in the corner. My home office is just behind this sofa where I write these posts every day :-)

African spirit


My adventurous friend Sachiko and I went to a Eritrean Restaurant on Geary in San Francisco called Assab. We were immediately greeted by a friendly man who I believe was the owner. He looked for every way to make us comfortable and to understand Eritrean cuisine. For example, when we noticed on the map that Eritrea borders Ethiopia's north and has a coastline on the Red Sea, we wondered why there were no seafood dishes. Apparently until just recently the colonials have kept the native people from fully enjoying the bounty of the sea, so they do not have seafood dishes. And interestingly, they do not have desserts either (although there is cheesecake on the menu here). He said that some elders live healthily surpassing 100 years of age, and have never tasted anything sweet (and maybe that's why they were so healthy). He told us that Eritreans enjoy spicy and sour tastes.

Ethiopian Tea

Since it borders Ethiopia, there are a number of shared traits in their cuisine. And there were some things of Ethiopian origin on the menu, such as this tea, which Sachiko mentioned had a bold flavor. It reminded me of tea I had in Kenya.

Ambo Ethiopian Mineral Water

And I went Ambo, an Ethiopian mineral water. It was fresh and sparkly and tasted a little softer than a Perrier.

Combination Plate

We ordered two dishes which came on a BIG platter on top of injera, a fluffy slightly soft and sour traditional bread. It is made of teff, cornmeal and a self-rising wheat flour. Besides the overlapping pieces on the platter, we were each served an additional piece on the side. We each also received a fork, although it is traditionally eaten by tearing off strips of injera and picking up the food with it to transport to your mouth. We ordered the vegetable combination plate and the Kelwa-Derho. The Kelwa-Derho is made of chunks of chicken breast sauteed with clarified butter, specially seasoned hot pepper, jalapenos, onions and tomatoes with a little yogurt (housemade). It was tender and delicious. The vegetables were vegetable alicha (mildly seasoned carrots, potatoes & peppers), seasoned okra and zucchini. The traditional red and brown lentils, salad and some cooked spinach were garnishing the edges as well. We enjoyed our out of the ordinary dining experience and would recommend it to other curious eaters.