Monday, June 30, 2008
That's what Tudo means in Vietnamese. And Tudo was quite a cool find, right on Clement Street in San Francisco.
I tried the Salt Plum Soda, which I actually didn't care for, but I'm sure some would. I loved the use of a red onion skin as a votive cover.
Dad throughly enjoyed his lemonade. He said it tasted quite fresh.
We both enjoyed the creamy Crab Ragoon. The mayo sauce was as spicy as promised.
The Crab Spring Roll with shrimp was fresh and pretty and tasted as good as it looked.
The Giant Prawns with Garlic Noodles was an aptly named dish. The big prawns were grilled and superb.
The Steam Fish in Banana Leaf with Vegetables was amazing. The fish was a white 'basa', and now I know what it means 'to pick the bones'. We went after all the little pieces of sweetly flavored tender fish flesh.
The Banana Spring Rolls with Coconut Ice Cream were a very sweet and tasty finish.
And we were surprised with a treat on the house of a very rich custard with an amazingly deep caramel sauce. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this place for its special dishes and friendly staff.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
My little niece Collette is a poet and wanted her own blog. So guess who helped her start Collette's Creations yesterday? I also wanted to broaden her food horizons, and so took her to Tajine for her first official photo shoot.
Since she had photos on her phone camera from previous fun times, I was able to teach her how to transfer them from her phone to her blog. Here she is taking her first intentional blogging photo, of the Moroccan bread at Tajine.
Here's my photo of the delicious bread. The proprietor and chef stopped by to talk a bit, and we discovered that we lived in Paris at the same time, both arriving in 1980. However, he stayed a lot longer than I.
The Vegetarian Bastilla was as lovely as delicious. Collette is a vegetarian, but still being 11 found that sugar and cinnamon in a savory dish with vegetables was too 'weird' to try. Someday she'll be excited to try this, I'm sure.
However, the Vegetarian Couscous was a hit! The proprietor explained that he cooks the grains three times before serving, the first being a steaming step that can't be left out for authentic and delicious couscous.
I asked Collette which vegetables were her favorites out of the Tajine choices, and she said green beans. So we tried the Casa Tajine, which had green beans and potatoes. However, it was a bit spicy for her taste, while Dad and I liked it very much. It is traditionally eaten with the Moroccan bread, which we did. I also enjoyed giving Collette a little cultural background about Morocco -- how mostly food is eaten there by scooping up with bread rather than using utensils, and bits about the colonization by France so everyone speaks French as well. She associates Morocco with Casablanca and naturally thinks it must be a very romantic place.
We really weren't hungry for dessert, but were quite tempted to try what to us was an unusual dessert - Shepakia. They added a little piece of baklava since there were three of us. Made of flour, almonds, sesame seeds, boney and orange blossom water, it was sticky, yet wonderful. The friendly waitress brought over flower water to rinse my hands with afterwards. And oh, I didn't mention that we had the best mint tea poured into little glasses. I could go just for that.
Collette was fascinated by the eclectic collection of Moroccan lamps inside and out. Besides the food being delicious, it was friendly and authentic and easy to recommend.
March 24, 2008
Since we were in San Francisco already, and Collette wanted to get some more blogable photos, we drove around a little bit. The first stop was China Beach.
And I prefer taking photos with her smiling face showing.
She enjoys art, so we drove past the Legion of Honor, and she wanted to stop to get a photo of Chihuly's glass sculpture in the courtyard. This is a must see since Collette was so excited about it. And naturally, being from Seattle, I've enjoyed his work for some time.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Last weekend we tried staying indoors because of the heat -- back to back movies. This weekend I have Collette, my great-niece staying and playing on a summer holiday, and we're trying to stay indoors because of this unhealthy air from the forest fires. Between movies last weekend, Dad & I tried the vegetarian family meal at China Villa in San Rafael's Northgate Mall.
It started with a tofu and vegetable soup, that had a nice medley of flavors.
Next came the appetizers, vegetable spring rolls and fried won ton skins. We enjoyed crumbling up the won ton skins into the soup.
Then the entrees arrived all at once. First, the Vegetarian Fried Rice.
Then the not too spicy, but delicious Stir Fried Green Beans.
And the Vegetables in Garlic Sauce was really great too. We enjoyed our meal and the friendly service, and were quite happy with the number and variety of vegetarian choices we saw on the regular menu as well.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Finding myself in Tiburon at mealtime one evening, I decided to give Servino a spin.
I was tempted by their clam chowder. The passing waiters were so helpful, suggesting interesting adds, like Tabasco sauce. Now, I didn't try it, but they were such upbeat people it added positively to the dining experience. The chowder also had yellow summer squash in it, which was an inventive way to lighten it up a bit.
I guess I was in a creamy mood, because I gave into temptation to try the Gnocchi Viola. The Gnocchi Viola was made with Idaho blue potato dumplings, gorgonzola and crispy pancetta with a light cream sauce. It didn't immediately look as blue as I expected.
But when I cut into one, it was obvious. These were tender and tasty in the light gorgonzola, however, I had to take more than half home as it was also rich. Servino's also has a deck with an expansive view of San Francisco, so between the view and the food, Servino's is highly recommendable for a happy dinner by the bay.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
This is the final dish, a Asparagus Rice Noodle Egg Bake. And it was good!
It all started with an experiment gone awry. I imagined that rice noodles mixed with tuna, water chestnuts, green onion tops and bulldog sauce would be good. However, in reality it seemed no matter how much Bulldog sauce I added, the noodles stayed white, and tasted bland. Dad and I made one lunch of this before I figured out a better way to use this mixed up mess. I decided to make a brunch appropriate bake by layering fresh asparagus at the bottom of a square glass pan (after spraying Pam on it), putting some leftover rice noode/tuna/water chestnut mix over the asparagus, then whipping up about 9 whole eggs and pouring over the top. I covered it in foil and baked it till the eggs looked nearly set, then added some shredded cheddar cheese to the top for melting to a nice finish. Now this was GOOD. I'll make it again, although I may make the steps more direct, not going through the failed dish phase!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Dad and I dropped in to Ai Sushi on Geary in San Francisco one evening, and enjoyed some dinner. We noticed immediately that it was geared more to sake & sushi parties than diners. From the photos on the wall, it looked like there is quite a party crowd enjoying the bright ambiance here.
My dinner started with a nothing special but OK salad.
And Dad's started with a warm miso soup, which he liked.
The Sunset Roll was really good -- it was essentially a California Roll topped with eel and avocado. This was the most impressive thing we had.
Dad enjoyed the Chicken Teriyaki and Tempura Bento box.
I had Tempura Zaru Soba. The tempura was served first.
Closely followed by the Zaru Soba part of the equation. The Tempura and Soba were fine, but not remarkable. The dipping sauce for the noodles was quite snazzy and inventive as well.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The scoop is posted on the windows of the old Cafe Amsterdam in Fairfax.
Cafe Amsterdam is no more, however, the original founder of Cafe Amsterdam with a partner are opening up the same venue as "The Sleeping Lady". Stay tuned!
Monday, June 23, 2008
Maria Maria in Mill Valley FINALLY opened. I visited when I saw some life there, and came back 5 times at the appointed 'opening' time, until finally, on Saturday night, we struck the jackpot! Keep in mind that this is its first week in business, so they are still working out the rhythm. This being said, this was our experience.
After a 15 minute wait for seating (everyone wants to try the new place), we were seated. And menus were brought out promptly, as was a complimentary bowl of chips with three original salsas. The chips and salsas were great. The interior has been completely transformed from the former "The Cantina". It was dim and crowded, with live music competing with a very loud dining crowd. There were an unusual number of toddlers running wild in the halls and generally making noise as well as the usual chatter. If the seating wasn't so cramped, the kids were behaving and the noise level settled a bit, it could be a romantic atmosphere.
The waitress took our order, and took a very long time bringing our iced tea. We never saw her again until the end of the meal when I requested a check as she was passing by. In fact after an hour of being seated, we still had not been served our food, and Dad flagged a passing server. When I told him how long we'd been waiting, he immediately took action, and we had our meals in the promised 3 minutes later. Dad had the Chicken Enchiladas "Suizas" ($15). He loved every bite, and the chunky pieces of breast meat I saw as he tucked into it looked very high quality.
I was excited to try an innovative sounding vegetarian Maria's Chile Relleno ($16). This dish consisted of ancho chiles stuffed with roasted zucchini, red onions and potatoes served over melted cheese and roasted tomato chipotle sauce topped with crispy sweet potatoes and zucchini. Unfortunately it was rather burnt, the underside of the cheese as well as the ancho chiles. For my personal taste, there was some spice that seemed over done in this and overpowered the flavors. I tried to identify it. Perhaps the chipotle sauce, but I'm not familiar enough to be sure of it. I've had chipotle sauce and liked it before. The crispy bits on the top were not easy to identify as sweet potato and zucchini, could have been regular French fried onions for the non-existent distinguishing flavor.
It surprised me that rice and beans were not included in meals at a Mexican restaurant. Rice and Beans are separate side dishes - Black beans with Orzo ($2) and Guajillo Rice ($2). I was told these come in separate bowls, and would be large enough to be shareable. So I ordered one of each. The above is the two side orders of rice and beans ($4) which didn't seem like a portion for two (I thought these would each come in a separate bowl). These were ok, but nothing to write home about. The meals did come with a choice of corn or flour tortillas, and the flour ones were hot and fine.
The waitress came back when I wanted the check, and she asked if she could box my Chile Relleno, and I replied, no, it's burnt. She replied by asking if I'd liked it!? I said, no, it was burnt. I pointed out that my Dad loved his, cleaning his plate completely. With no words of regret for my food issue, she took my credit card and came back with the check. Including the tip, the tab for all the above came to $50 and change. Hmmm... I do hope the management gets the wrinkles out of the food and service as it would be great to have a good Mexican restaurant around the corner from my place again. I'll be back in a few months to see, and give it another chance.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
I knew Eric's Tsing Tao had changed hands some time ago, but it's taken me some time to get to the new Tsing Tao in San Rafael. Tawainese street food no longer is featured as part of the menu, but the standard Chinese fare is done well.
I had Walnut Prawns, which tasted so sweet I felt like the staff must have just caught them from the ocean. Of course these were in a sweet sauce, but I'm talking about the flesh of the shrimp inside. It was a WOW!
When I was vacillating between dishes, I mentioned that I'd love to try the Walnut Prawns but I was torn by my desire to have some veggies, and the server offered a side of steamed broccoli for $2. I couldn't pass that up!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
It was a glorious day for breakfast in Sausalito. It had been some time since I'd been to the Bridgeway Cafe, and it seemed like just the place the morning I visited.
The water view nearby was great.
The interior was cheerily decorated with bright paintings.
I had a delicious soy latte which was delivered bubbling fresh.
And the Vegetarian Benedict was over the top. Not only beautiful and color coordinated (catch that knife handle matching the cantaloupe!), it was delicious. The Vegetarian Benedict comes with your choice of avocado, spinach or sauteed mushrooms, and I chose the mushrooms this time.
June 24, 2005
"There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way."