Thursday, July 31, 2008

Well known and good

The Dipsea

The Dipsea Cafe has been around since 1986, but it has the air of being an original fixture of Mill Valley. It has a full and interesting breakfast menu, so it's a good place to bring people of varied taste, and please them all.

Eggs Zorba

So I took my Dad, niece Erika, and the twins Colin & Collette one morning. I fancied Eggs Zorba, two poached eggs over a bed of spinach, sliced tomatoes, feta cheese, oregano and olive oil. It was just right!

The Dipsea Special

Dad had a feast with the Dipsea Special, two buttermilk pancakes, one egg, bacon, link sausage and home fries. He liked the maple syrup so well he requested seconds.

Blueberry Pancakes

Erika opted for something 'simple', two plate sized blueberry pancakes. She didn't realize how large they would be!

Huevos Rancheros

Colin took it south of the border with Huevos Rancheros, two poached eggs on a fried corn tortilla with red and green salsa, Jack cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream - served with black beans, chips and steamed tortillas! He must of liked it since he left nothing on his plate.


Collette ordered a dainty cup of oatmeal with all the fixings, and enjoyed creating the perfect mixture of it. We all enjoyed ourselves and would come back for more!

Previously reviewed:
July 19, 2007
June 6, 2007
December 15, 2006

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Essence of Gooseberry Pie

Gooseberry Pie bubbling

Wish I could capture the scent in my kitchen and permeating my house right now! Old fashioned gooseberry pie! I've caught the photo of it still bubbling above. This is thanks to my great-nephew Colin who requested gooseberries when he came, remembering gooseberry jam from his last visit. Actually, its thanks to my mother who always planted a gooseberry bush where ever we lived, and made many a gooseberry pie.

Rinsed Gooseberries

Knowing Colin was coming, I snapped up a few clamshells when I saw fresh ones at Molly Stone's. Since they needed to await his arrival I prepared them - first rinsing and pulling off their little dry brown tails.

Preparing Gooseberries for freezing

Pulling off those little tails from each small gooseberry was more work than I remembered. Of course, my mother was pulling most of them off the last time I had gooseberry pie! I measured the amount for one pie in each container, and froze them.

Gooseberry Pie filling

So at last, I make the pie filling from the frozen berries. This is a very simple recipe.

Gooseberry Pie

2 crust pie crust
3 cups gooseberries
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca

1. Crush 1/2 cup of gooseberries in the bottom of a saucepan.
2. Add sugar, tapioca and salt.
3. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes, set aside for 15.
4. Add the remainder of the whole gooseberries into the sugar mixture, and stir gently.
5. Put the bottom crust into a 9" pie pan.
6. Pour the filling into the crust.
7. Top with the second crust, cut off extra pie dough and crimp crusts together, adding vents.
8. Bake in a preheated 400F oven for 35 minutes.
9. Let cool a few minutes for the filling to set up before serving.

And I'm going to submit this unusual berry post to , originated by Kalyn's Kitchen, and hosted this week by Kelly at Sounding My Barbaric Gulp. These are used to bring down fevers in parts of Europe, and in India these are prized for chutneys and ayurvedic medicine. It is also prized as a hair oil in India!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summer Fun

Crow's Nest

Collette, Toran, Aurelia, Jonathon & I spent a day in Santa Cruz recently. Jonathon, having lived in Santa Cruz, remembered the Crow's Nest fondly, so we went there for dinner. We had a stunning beach side view on the deck, while being protected with high class walls.

Clam Chowder

Toran & I started out with a nice cup of clam chowder. It could have used a tad more salt, but was tasty nevertheless.

Half a kid's fish & chips

Collette & Aurelia split a kids fish & chips and seemed to enjoy it.

Yellow tail special

Jonathon, without further ado, went directly for the yellowtail special. He said the fish was great!

Kid's salad

Next arrived Toran's salad completing his kids soup & salad set.

Sesame Ahi Salad

And I was simply bowled over by my sesame ahi salad. What's not to like about that beautiful bowl of greens with broccoli, rice noodles, fresh ginger, almonds and seared ahi sprinkled with sesame seeds? And the flower garnish was lovely too. I assure you, it tasted as good as it looks.

Ice cream

Strawberry ice cream was a hit with the under 12 set.

Key Lime Mango Pie

Jonathon & I found the key lime pie with a hint of mango irresistable. It was good, and could used a bit more mango.

Santa Cruz beach

The beach was extraordinary.

Collette, Aurelia, Toran & Jonathon

And the company couldn't have been better.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Tempura Green Tea Ice Cream

Green Tea Tempura Ice Cream

"Auntie - you have to blog this!" My nephew said to me after tucking in to dessert at Sweet Ginger one evening. It looked more nicely arranged before he tasted it, however, I think you can still get the idea.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Learning new gardening skills

Pruned tomato plant

Thanks to Chuck stopping by this blog and inviting me to watch his tomato video, I learned a new thing or two about tomato gardening. The first was that I should prune back leaves that had no flowers to improve the fruit yield. So this morning I snipped an armful of 'terminal branches'. The photo above is the 'after' snap. You can see the fruit a lot more clearly, and I suspect the sun can ripen the fruit better this way too. I probably could have cut more back, but I'm still a little chicken. Thanks Chuck for the great instruction!

Ripe tomato

Thanks also to all my blogger friends who've encouraged me along the way. The tomatoes are ripening in a cascade now.

Harvest to come

And there are still more to harvest. These are as local as possible, and it's nice to completely understand the growing conditions and soil inputs. With food shortages around the world even though this is a small contribution, every tomato I grow myself is one freed up in the market to feed someone else. And I have to say it's a real shame that so many tons of healthy tomatoes were destroyed because of lack of traceability of the source of the salmonella outbreak.

I enjoyed this video that Chuck also highlighted on his site. Viva la Revolucion!

Colin at San Jose Tech Museum

I can't resist posting this photo taken yesterday of my great-nephew Colin enjoying the robot spelling his name at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. It's really a great place to take kids for engaging their imagination in a hands on way. By way of restaurant review - we had lunch at the museum's Cafe Primavera. Clean and bright it has some interesting and healthy choices. However someone must really teach them the difference between spaghetti, angel hair pasta and linguine. I ordered "Spaghetti Pomodoro", which was described as 'angel hair pasta...'. When it was served it was actually linguine with a fresh tomato sauce, which was quite good, but the pasta was limp and overcooked. Colin enjoyed his penne with meat sauce and Dad pronounced his cheeseburger with fries, great!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

First Fruit

First Tomato

My first tomato seemed to be ripened to perfection, so off the bush and into the mouth it went. It was so sweet it tasted like candy. Wow. I think I'm hooked on tomato gardening.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Anna's Map

I've made progress on the mapping! Most of the reviews on the side bar are now associated with a post on Anna's Cool Finds. Each pin has the address and phone number of the point of interest (usually a restaurant) as well as a link to my most recent review of it. I hope you find this useful! There is one quirk that I've found with the mapping system. Once you've exceeded about 200 locations, a second page is created. The pages seem to go in order of entry, not by location or place in the alphabet. So if you click on the map, you'll want to scroll down and look at the map's other pages to find all the locations on the map. I hope there is a workaround as it would certainly be more convenient to have it grouped geographically. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Old Style Italian

Caesar's Restaurant

We were in San Francisco Sunday morning, and stopped for lunch on the corner of Powell & Bay Street, at an old style Italian restaurant, Caesar's. There were city notables framed on the wall, and there was a visit by a previous pope documented there as well. The restaurant has a history of over 50 years!

Mixed Green Salad

Dad began his meal with a Mixed Greens Salad which he said was BIG with the crunchy vegetables he likes.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

He then enjoyed some Spaghetti with Meat Sauce.


Meantime Collette & I had some Minestrone soup. This was totally tasty, and the hostess kept turning people away at the door as they only provide take-out Minestrone on weekdays!

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

I went on for some Linguine with Clams in White Sauce. There were no clams in the shell included, my preferred way, but the amount of clams was well balanced to the al dente linguine, and these were tender and sauced well.


Finding out that it was my Dad's 88th birthday, the staff surprised him with a song and a slice of birthday cheesecake with candle. Dad got his wish.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008



This flaming Greek cheese dish is called Saganaki. It was one of the 'hit' dishes of Dad's 88th birthday party at Papa's Taverna in Petaluma. This dish is made with kasseri cheese flamed then doused with lemon juice. Upon flaming, you yell "OPA", and then proceed to squeeze the lemon juice over it. This photo captures the first drop of lemon juice heading toward the flames. It is a fun dish!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Moved and still good


I went to visit Jason's the other day, which moved from San Rafael to Greenbrae a few months ago. There were familiar menu items, and many I haven't yet tried.

Dragon Prawns

I started with some Dragon Prawns, which were large, succulent and very tender. The wasabi aioli sauce was refreshing and the tobiko which were scattered over the dish artfully made a nice finishing touch.

Triple Mushroom Gnocchi

For the main dish I chose the Kitchen Made Gnocchi in a Triple Mushroom Sauce. This is a sensual sauce that slides gracefully over the tongue. It also had pieces of sauteed garlic in it that were so soft and rich in the cream, that I thought for a moment I was tasting bacon parts. I detected portabello, shitake and cremini mushrooms (possibly). Naturally I couldn't finish all this richness, but every bite I took was satisfying.

Apricot and Champagne Sorbet

I ended with a light Champagne Apricot Sorbet. Cold and refreshing, it was the perfect end.

Previously reviewed:
April 11, 2007

Monday, July 21, 2008

Future attraction

Napoli Pizzeria Restaurant

Seems like a new restaurant, Napoli Pizzeria Restaurant will be opening in San Rafael on 4th Street. I've been very tied up with family, naturally with the 88th festivities yesterday. And my nephew, Colin will be staying with Auntie Anna from tomorrow for a week or so... So blogging will take a backseat, although I'll try to keep some new content going!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Dad's 88th Birthday Party

Dad having fun

Doesn't this say it all?

Belly Dancer

Or maybe this?

Greek Dancing

We all had fun, young and old.

Birthday Cake

And Papa's Taverna in Petaluma was the perfect space for family celebration. The finale was Dad's chocolate on chocolate party favor cake!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fresh pasta

Vin Antico

I had a lovely lunch the other day at Vin Antico in San Rafael. The ambiance is warm, and the staff friendly.

Caesar Salad

I started with a Caesar Salad. It was in classic style with the bite of anchovy. Fresh and good, I'd certainly start with this one again.

Linguine & Clams

The Linguine and Clams not only featured fresh Manila clams, but fresh pasta as well. I thought perhaps the fresh linguine was made on site, but it is delivered fresh to the restaurant every day. It was very tender, as were the clams and the simple white wine and garlic sauce was perfection.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Valor: Dark Chocolate 70% with mint

This Spanish chocolate a dark 70% chocolate with mint, made by Valor, is simply deep and delightful. Cocoa from Ghana, Panama and Ecuador combine with piperita mint to make a pure indulgence. This mint is more well known by the name peppermint. Peppermint has been shown to be a stress-reliever, muscle-relaxant, and additionally, a stimulant. It also packs a "Big Antioxidant Wallop". Who can resist that?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Italian Hobbit House

Sorella Caffe

When I walked to the door of the Sorella Caffe, I had the distinct feeling of leaving this world and entering an Italian Hobbit house. Cozy and charming, this place held nothing but pleasant surprises.

Parmesean Olives and Bread

First comes an array of complimentary appetizers. Green olives, bread, butter and a 'gouge' of real Parmesan cheese from a HUGE cheese wheel that is walked around the restaurant by the waitstaff. A nice welcome indeed!

Eggplant Parmagiana

I ordered the Eggplant Parmigiana for my entree. The accompanying vegetables were cooked hot/crisp and were very fresh. The parmigiana was so rich, I could only finish about a third of it. It was delicious.

Gummy Bears and Cookies

Just when you think you have finished, out comes twin parfait dishes with gummy bears and cookies - chocolate chip and animal cookies! Not haute cuisine, but a cute gesture. I thoroughly enjoyed the meal here and will definitely visit again!