Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Butternut Squash, Organic

We food bloggers often get ideas and inspiration from each other. I was happening by Sam's Blog, Becks & Posh, and noticed she was challenging us to take the Eat Local Challenge. I knew I wouldn't be able to make it through a month, but there is a 'Many Ways to Participate' section made just for people like me.

I'm pledging to be more conscious this month of where my food is coming from, and endeavor to buy locally more often than not. Then there are those inevitable trade offs. Tonight I felt like some roasted butternut squash. Considering that I don't want to add fuel miles by looking several places for the item, I stop by Mollie Stone's on the way home from work, which is right on the way. Ah.. there is some organic butternut squash available, and I have no idea where Tres Pinos, CA is, but I chance it as it is the only organic butternut squash, and at least it's from California. After Googling the place and checking how far it is from Mill Valley, I find it's 118 miles away. Hmm.. out of bounds of the 100 miles. But at least I didn't drive hither and yon adding fuel miles to find one within 100 miles. I wonder if I can average out my meal, the little red tomatoes I'm going to eat with it were grown on my deck, that should bring the meal miles a lot closer!

Butternut squash, baked

Technically, the challenge starts tomorrow, so it's not too late to join the challenge in a major or minor way - check it out!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

When Food Bloggers Picnic...

I was lucky to be invited to Zoomie's Food Blogger's Picnic which was held at her and her Beloved's beautiful home overlooking the bay. The day was clear and there were a lot of sailboats with their pretty white sails dotting the water between us and the Golden Gate Bridge. And you have to know that the picnic fare was completely delicious and unique. As were the people there. There's also something nice about going somewhere and having instant comradarie. I felt as though I was at a reunion of old friends where all snapped back into place although no time had passed. Cookiecrumb and Cranky were there, as were Dr. Biggles, Greg and April, and also a currently practicing professional journalist (food!). Also present was Moonbear, an urban farm blogger, and Nancy who blogs of art, as well as friends of the assembled bloggers.

All was set for a very lovely mid-day feast. And when a master comes in with his art, as Dr. Biggles did, bearing a tray of the most succulent smoked ribs, you forget you are a pesky-tarian for the day and enjoy all the masterful pieces offered. And what a treat to be able to taste some Crankers! And Cookiecrumb talked me through my early childhood trauma of witnessing my mother's angst at a failed batch of crackers. Apparently, baking crackers isn't really all that difficult. I didn't take any photos, but Greg did. And I succumbed to not having the most energy in the world, so brought the best fruits that I could find arranged in a decorative colander, and some Cypress Grove cheeses (Truffle Tremor & Midnight Moon). And Zoomie's mint tea was the perfect refresher, although there was a lovely selection of wines as well. Thanks to all for including me!

Photo credit: iStock Photo

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Post #1001

You've probably noticed I've been missing... I'm still not 100% and have no appetite. That doesn't work well with food writing. Not to mention my social life! I noticed my 1,000th post slipped by with the clams surfing. So this is my 1001st! What a journey. There's more to be written, that is when I recover my appetite. May the past 1000 posts have been a good practice for an even better next 1,000. And may the economy start rebounding so I have an expanding list of restaurants to discover, rather than finding the list contracting... otherwise, I may be writing in the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. (Would that I could write so well!)

photo credit: iStock Photo

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Clams surfing


Well I finally made it back to work, for at least part of the day. And then had my first blogging foray out. Had to make it nearby and thought Fish might have just what I'd like.

One of the items on the chalkboard was listed as Grilled Surfer Clams over Rice "alla Puttanesca". Never having heard of 'surfer' clams, my mind conjured up an image of a little clam trying to catch a ride on a foamy wave. The woman at the counter explained that these were large clams, typically 4" - 8" which were literally filleted and grilled, and were remininscent of abalone. That was enough for me!

Grilled Surfer Clams over Rice Puttanesca

The Rice alla Puttanesca was very colorful with chives, parsley, green onions, capers, fresh red onions, green olives, kalamata olives, yellow and also orange cherry tomatoes tossed in. The grilled fillets of surfer clam were tender and delicious and yes, reminded me of abalone. The portion is large and enough to take home for another meal. I'd not hesitate to have this one again.

Previously reviewed:

May 25, 2008
August 14, 2007
February 10, 2007

Monday, September 22, 2008


23andMe and the Geraniums

No not back in the normal world yet, but getting better. Did some reading.. thought what Sergey Brin did was rather interesting. And a long time friend, Zafar, has been encouraging me to try a similar service promoted by National Geographic, the Genographic Project. I succumbed to the price break and rich features of 23andMe. Since my grandfather on my mother's side is adopted, I'm thinking it may provide some interesting insights. And it might be good to see what the probabilities are of certain conditions in the future, which might perhaps be positively influenced by environmental factors I have control over. A foodie also finds it quite interesting that of all the ways to capture DNA - the test kit selects saliva. When I'm completely well, I'll be sending the little vial off and finding out in a few weeks what mysteries are solved or awaiting in my chromosomes.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Still havesting in September

Sweet MIllions in September

I just picked these a few minutes ago. These tomatoes are like the Energizer Bunny, and I have to wonder how much longer they will be growing and ripening. There are still quite a few green and orange ones on the vine. I'm still not well, although on the mend with some antibiotics, and thought having some fresh tomatoes would be rather health promoting. Also having not gone out since last Sunday, I have no new restaurants to write about, and I certainly haven't felt like cooking. And these red beauties always seem so photogenic. What I have had time to do is read. Are you familiar with the Ringing Cedars series? A friend recommended them, and I haven't been able to put them down. The books are like nothing I've ever read and rather fantastical. One of the interesting things written in the beginning of the story is how plants and humans are so connected that by growing your own food and talking to your plants and getting your hands in the dirt, the plant actually responds to this care by producing whatever particular substances that your individual body needs for healing at the time. So that was a second reason to pick and eat some of my hand grown tomatoes this evening. At any rate I'm still mending and thought I'd pop in for an update. May be a few more days before I'm back to regular posting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Haute cuisine it's not

Otter Pops

But when feeling hot, these kids treats are soothing. I keep Otter Pops around for the kids that visit, but having succumbed to some virus, and feeling feverish I helped myself. I'm taking a break to get better and until I feel like writing again... see you soon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Indian Restaurants in Marin

photo courtesy of iStockphoto

Apparently, I've made the rounds of every Indian Restaurant in Marin. Let me know if something new has popped up, or I've missed one!

Indian Restaurants I've explored

Cafe Lotus

Table Cafe

Mill Valley
Avatar's Punjab Burritos
India Palace

San Rafael
Bombay Garden
India Village
Lotus Cuisine of India
Om South Indian Cuisine

Gaylord India
Sartaj India Cafe

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tastes authentic!

Shabu House

Sunday was another day that did not go as planned, and had its pleasures anyway. I got up with a strange burning sensation in my lungs, and was low energy. I didn't feel 'sick' at that point, so kept going. Especially since I needed to do some cleaning and straightening before a small dinner party in the afternoon. An hour before a "Farewell to Summer" dinner was to start, my friend Jonathon called to let me know cute little Aurelia had a 100F fever. His wife and my friend Jo-Ann was on the way to Costco so he conferenced her in. She was turning around because the traffic was SO hideous that it wasn't going to be worth the trip. We decided to postpone given all the situation from several angles. Besides, it seems we have some summer left. And the other good news is that my house is much improved in appearance since I got the cleaning accomplished. Dad and I were a little hungry, so I thought I had more energy to drive and order than start cooking something else.

We hopped over the Golden Gate Bridge as Jo-Ann had already cued me in about the traffic in North Marin. It was a bit late, so there were mostly 'closed' signs at this mid-afternoon time. Ah! Shabu House looked lively and had an 'open' sign! And we had about an hour since the sign read closes at 3 p.m. NOT. The minute we got in we were informed that they were closing at 2:30 today so if we wished to have lunch we would have to order immediately. Whoah. He was very nice about it, however it really put a crimp in thoughtful ordering. We considered shabu shabu briefly, the dishes at the other tables looked very good. However, shabu shabu isn't a meal to be rushed. So we each ordered a lunch bowl.

Chicken Teriyaki

Dad ordered a Chicken Teriyaki bowl. He enjoyed it with some cold oolong tea. When I asked for iced tea, the server looked doubtful and said all he had was cold oolong tea. I smiled at him and said that is GREAT! Cold oolong tea almost always properly brewed and tasty.

Unagi Bowl

I ordered the Unagi bowl. I took a bite, and found myself in one of those 'jaw-dropping it's so good' moments. The sauce was so authentic tasting. The last time I recall unagi so artfully made was in Japan a couple years ago. I complimented the waiter on the sauce, and he said it was house made. Since it was so authentic and good, I asked him if he had any sansyo (which I misprounounced 'sanso'). He thought I must mean, shiso or shichimi. I replied no, it is a kind of green Japanese herb like pepper that is used on unagi, and this unagi dish was worthy of the real thing. (And I was certain he must have some since this was SO good). I really puzzled him, and he said he would ask the owner.

Another unexpected thing happened. I took a few glances at the blond man sitting next to me because he so resembled someone I work with in the RFID community. I couldn't determine since I could only see his profile, and I thought that it wouldn't make sense. Boris is in the San Jose area. What would he be doing on a late hour on a Sunday afternoon in this particular part of San Francisco? Especially seated right next to me? Well, guess what, it WAS Boris, and we were both pleasantly surprised. He was enjoying a shabu meal with a huge table of friends.

Green Tea Ice Cream

Our waiter reminded us that a choice of green tea or red bean ice cream came with the meal, so Dad and I both chose green tea ice cream. It was a nice finish.


Now I was so wrapped up in remembering sansyo (personally, I would romanize it sansho), and thought it would be nice to pick up some supplies in Japantown anyway, so Dad and I visited Nijiya Market. We were already on Geary, so it was a very short jag. Not only did Nijya have it, there were three different brand choices. I ended up coming home with one. It has a rather hot yet citrusy taste, and is green. It is made from the dried ground leaves of the sansho tree, which I've also seen translated as 'prickly ash tree'. This is the same tree that produces Szechwan peppercorns. Thus ended my adventure, and back to home for some warm tea, and checking on the apple butter I started making earlier in the day. The apple butter effort will be a future blog post :-).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

California story

After a busy and enjoyable day, there was no time for photos (especially driving to Napa for one), so I found this beauty at iStock photos. Besides swimming and a bit of hot tubbing, my Dad, a friend and I went to see "Bottle Shock". Having a close relationship with a winery that placed in the competition covered, I couldn't help but want to see it. It is a very enjoyable portrayal of the events.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Leisurely meal fit for a Maharaja

Gaylord India Restaurant

The traffic was at a standstill when I left Sausalito yesterday to go the two exits up to my home. Friday night traffic has come back with a vengeance. During the summer, it seems that Thursday night traffic is actually worse for so many enjoying the nice weather with a three-day weekend. Given I had also worked through lunch, I didn't feel like going very far away for dinner. So I picked up Dad and headed back into Sausalito to enjoy a view meal at Gaylord India Restaurant.

View of San Francisco

And what a nice view it was. We made it before the fog had completely obscured San Francisco, and a couple of seals danced in the water and played peek-a-boo with us during the meal as well.

House Green Salad

Dad and I each choose a prix fixe dinner for the evening to have a little variety. Both came with a Mixed House Salad. As with many places, the prices have shot up tremendously, and looking at building our own meal vs choosing a prix fixe meal, it seemed the better choice.

Thali (Vegetarian)

I chose the Thali (Vegetarian) meal, which they managed to stack up all on a platter. The breads are covering a large metal bowl of rice. The items on this tray are clockwise, Navaratan Korm, Sag Aloo, Raita, Mattar Paneer, Dal Makhani, Papadum and underneath the papadum, two Poori and the Basmati Rice Pullao! Even though it was all on one tray, it was too much food to finish.


Dad's Maharaja meal came in several dishes. The dinner plate came with his Tandoori Chicken, Basmati Rice Pullao and Sag Paneer.


When the brass double sided dish was set in front of him, he exclaimed, "Is this mine too?!". "Yes Dad", I said, "It's your Rogan Josh and Chicken Tikka Masala".

Onion Kulcha

Then his basket of Onion Kulcha was placed nearby as well. Needless to say we had a well-packed doggie bag.

Mango Ice Cream

But wait, choice of dessert and tea came with the meal as well. (And we did enjoy a sweet lassi to start). Dad chose the Mango Ice Cream, which despite packing the majority of his meal, he managed to finish off completely.


I tried the Kulfi, saffron flavored ice cream with pistachios. For the life of me, I couldn't find any pistachios in or on it. But there were plenty of ice crystals in it as the frozen dessert is house made. In general, the food was outstanding though. The dal was particularly wonderful having a depth of flavor and an interesting assortment of beans. The service was rather slow for being the only ones in the restaurant. Our waiter was delightful, and I chalked the delay up to perhaps all those little dishes needing to be prepared separately in the kitchen. But it is, as I imagine, the kind of slow meal in front of a dazzling view that a maharaja might enjoy. And the talented Brian Wallace was providing just the right musical ambiance with the sitar.

Previously reviewed:
November 5, 2007
November 30, 2006

Friday, September 12, 2008

Starter Chirashi

Sweet Ginger

I was just looking for a simple lunch to be enjoyed quickly. Sweet Ginger in Sausalito was a likely candidate, and it was close.

Salad & Miso Soup

The salad and miso soon arrived after I placed my order.


And out came the chirashi, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it would be a perfect starter chirashi for someone who was just starting a chirashi, or sushi adventure. No challenging choices topping the sushi rice. It was also a nice lunch portion with a reasonable $13.95 price tag (most local area chirashi dishes start at around $18). The fish was fresh and sushi rice nicely vinegared. Not as stylish as some, but a great lunch or starter set find.

Previously reviewed:
June 9, 2007
September 1, 2006
July 21, 2005

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I dream of creams

Violet cream

Violet creams. Now that I've found these British confections, I can imagine being quite happy in 15th century England noshing on these flower-fragrant exotic tasting chocolates. There are geniuses in all ages!

Box of Violet Creams

I learned that the aromatherapy use of violets is for insomnia and letting got of anger, while cleaning the kidneys and boosting the liver. No wonder I was drawn to these yesterday evening. If you've been following my blog for awhile you know that my father lives with me and has Alzheimer's. These past few days have been wild especially since Dad lost his wallet. He keeps forgetting he lost it, and gets upset anew when he can't find it. I really needed my night off. So I booked myself a massage... ahhhh. But imagine how I felt when I got out and found three voice messages, and my phone instantly ringing because my father was refusing to let his caregiver in the house and telling her to go home. He cannot get dinner by himself, take his meds or get to bed unaided. My sense of well being took a hit as I raced home to attempt to put things to right. And then I found those violet dreams, er I mean creams...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Retro all the way

Shoreline Coffee Shop

Dad wanted some old fashioned comfort food breakfast, so Shoreline Coffee Shop came to mind. A small sign over the door states "In business since 1964", and parts of the business sure seem to dwell in that timeframe.

Cheese omelet

The menu is very simple. On the omelet side the the choices are simply plain, cheese or ham and cheese. I chose cheese. The omelet style is a thin crepe of egg, cooked then rolled several times with the ingredients inside. I was disappointed in the processed American cheese filling, but it just goes to the 'retro' character. The waitress was perky and pretty and very helpful, although not a teeny-bopper by any stretch.

Two eggs and ham

Dad had two eggs over easy with ham. The hash browns that accompanied both our dishes were quite good, and we were brought not only ketchup, but hot sauce. In fact, the 'exciting' menu items were the two Mexican breakfast offerings. It's not the most exciting place to have breakfast, but it has a neigborhood following, and if you are hungry these simple dishes would taste mighty good.

Previously reviewed:
November 22, 2006

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Warm food - good ambiance


Yesterday was a coolish day in southern Marin, particularly Sausalito. I felt like Italian food, and decided to let the availability of parking decide where. That is not an uncommon deciding factor in San Francisco and its environs. I found a place not far from Poggio, and it had been too long since I last visited so the die was cast. There is very pleasant seating on the sidewalk, but it was a little too cool, so I took a seat just on the other side of the glass, rather in the more romantically lit inner interior.

Hot bread & butter

Don't you love it when the bread that is served is not only fresh, but warm? In this case, it was even hot! The butter was a very creamy one too, which made a very decadent start to the meal.

Linguine con vongole

Linguine with manila clams was a choice on the menu I couldn't resist. I even accepted an offer of some freshly ground pepper to top it. The clams were tender, and the juices at the bottom were divine. I used some of the extra bread to sop them up quietly since it probably wasn't the best of manners. But it was SO good.

Previously reviewed:
June 2, 2007
June 29, 2005

Monday, September 08, 2008

Neighborhood Bagels

New York Bagels

New York Bagels has been a good place to get a quick and tasty breakfast bite for a number of years. It's located in Mill Valley's Strawberry Village, and has a few tables inside and out to enjoy items for 'here'.

Egg & Cheese on Onion Bagel

I hadn't visited in a while so I was surprised to see it not in as perky shape as I'd remembered. The refrigerated case which used to hold various flavors of cream cheese and lox was completely empty, and many of the former menu items were blocked off by squares of white paper. Nonetheless, I enjoyed an onion bagel with egg and cheese at one of the tables outside the door. I would recommend sticking to the simple items for take out here, as it seemed to be in disheveled shape, both inside and out with the tables not cleaned off well.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Blooms at work


I had my big camera with me the other day at the office, and the light was wonderful. So I had to catch the beautiful bush of hydrangeas.


Not to mention the next crop of the ever-bearing lemon tree. The blossoms on the tree are so fragrant right now too. Fresh lemon water has been just the thing these past few hot days!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Sunny breakfast in Tiburon

New Morning Cafe

Wow, it is last weekend already that Dad & I took an notion for a sunny breakfast in Tiburon. Tiburon is a great place to go for breakfast because there are several great choices for enjoyable breakfast pleasures, so if one is too busy there are easy alternatives. The New Morning Cafe is one of those great places.

Hot Chocolate

Dad started off with Hot Chocolate that came with racing stripes.


Dad ordered a combo breakfast which he realized was just much too much food. We took some home. Fluffy buttermilk pancakes, tender ham, an egg over easy and home fries were all part of the plate. He said it was all good.


I had to order something with the audacity to call itself the "Scrumptious". And well, it was. It was a mix of potatoes, onions, some spinach and fresh tomatoes scrambled up with some melted cheddar, with an egg of your desire draped on top. I asked for a scrambled egg, and also chose wheat toast. The only off note in the morning is that the wooden benches were a bit too hard for my father to sit on very for very long. And unfortunately the service was VEERRRY slow. The servers seemed to be on break. There were four of them sitting on the steps of the building across the street. Staff deserves breaks, but it's hard not to feel annoyed when you can see them and you are not getting service at any kind of acceptable pace. The food was good though.

Previously reviewed:
September 22, 2006

Friday, September 05, 2008

New sushi place coming to north Sausalito

Tsukiji Sushi Sign

I stopped by the old Samurai place in north Sausalito yesterday as I noticed a sign had gone up. It appears a new Japanese restaurant will be opening there - Tsujiki Sushi. I'm glad, not only because it will be within walking distance of my office, but also that the building which is nicely done in a Japanese architectural style will be used that way again. I just hope they take that ugly brown paint off the lovely wood accents! And I hope even more that the food and service will be great!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Nice balance

Kitti's Place

Kitti's Place in north Sausalito was hopping inside when I sat down for an early dinner one evening. They are always so friendly, even when busy!

Praram Pak

I tried the Praram Pak with shrimp which was served over jasmine rice. It had a well balanced taste with plenty of vegetables and the shrimp was tender. The peanut sauce was very nicely blended, not overly peanutty. It's still a great place for a casual bite.

Previously reviewed:
February 23, 2008
June 4, 2007
September 19, 2006
September 25, 2005

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Comfort food

Hella Roll

It was a long day, and when very tired comfort food is required! For me, not the usual American fare, what I craved was a Hella Roll at Robata Grill & Sushi in Mill Valley.

Hella Roll zoom in

It's fresh and crunchy and comforting... and perfect with a bowl of miso soup. In Japan, miso is eaten after your entrees are done, and it soothes you at meal's end. The next 10 days or so are going to be incredibly busy.. I hope I can keep blogging through it all. If not, I'll be back shortly.

Previously reviewed:
December 28, 2007
October 4, 2006
July 17, 2006