Saturday, June 30, 2007

Broccoli & Boconccini Salad

Broccoli & Boconccini Salad.
I made an enjoyable meal on the deck the other night, and I'm going to break out the posting from the meal to first highlight the salad, and submit it to . This event is being hosted this week by the event's founder, Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen. My herb of choice this week is broccoli.

Although a certain occupant in the White House is reputed to hate broccoli, this is a vegetable worth cultivating a taste for. (His dislike is documented at: LookSmart's FindArticles - W, like his dad, is no fan of broccoli). The World's Healthiest Foods has documented broccoli's virtues on a page that seems to scroll forever!

One tidbit that should have you serve this often to the men you love is a study that showed an incredible one-two punch against prostrate cancer when broccoli and tomatoes were teamed up in the diet! To quote: " The tomato/broccoli combination was shown to greatly outperform all other diets, shrinking prostate tumors by 52%.

Broccoli alone decreased tumor weight by 42%, and tomato alone by 34%.

Lycopene alone (23 or 224 nmol/g diet) came in last, reducing tumor weight by 7% and 18% respectively.

Only castration—a last resort option for most men, although it resulted in a 62% reduction in prostate tumor weight—approached the level of protection delivered by the tomato/broccoli diet."

This salad is no slouch for women's health either as both broccoli and boconccini are good sources of calcium.

Broccoli & Boconccini Salad

1 container fresh boconccini (small mozzarella balls), drained
1.5 cups of cherry or grape tomatoes, washed and whole
2 crowns of broccoli, broken into flowerettes and steamed to tender (to your taste)

Mix all the above in a salad bowl. Put an assortment of flavored and unflavored oils and vinegars on the table so guests can dress their portion to taste.

So simple! So summery!

I am also pleased to mention that I will be hosting Weekend Herb Blogging at Anna's Cool Finds the week of July 23-29!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Small Shed Flatbreads

Flatfooted it to Flatbread heaven.
Small Shed Flatbreads is a delightful, very local place where stylish flatbreads and other delicious and casual comfort foods await.

The Q

I ordered "The Q". No-nitriate pepperoni and pancetta, crimini mushrooms, cheeses and a light tomato sauce on a light crisp crust. Small Shed supports local, organic and sustainable farming and has a friendly atmostphere. It's worth navigating the sometimes difficult parking in that section of Mill Valley to arrive here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Taco Jane's Tortilla chips

Creative Caribbean.
Taco Jane's in San Anselmo is tucked away on a side street, a colorful and happy place. You are put in the cheerful Caribbean mood right away by the interesting "Black Gold Salsa" served with their fresh and crisp tortilla chips. I'm still struggling with learning how to use the camera on my Nokia N95. I took a great photo of the front of the restaurant with it's sign full of character, but the memory must have been too full as it was not on the camera when I downloaded the others.

Grilled Chicken Tostada

Nevertheless, I did get a nice shot of their inventive grilled chicken tostada. Layered like a cake, it has a base of crisp thinly cut cabbage with the next layer being the most icy iceberg lettuce you'd ever want to taste. A corn tortilla then divides the cool green stuff from the black beans, chicken and sauces. Topped with fresh cilantro! Sitting on their deck with this and a long cool glass of iced tea I would dare anyone to complain. Whether it's a a Caribbean inspired Mexican place, or Mexican inspired Caribbean place, I'll leave you to decide.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Two Bird Cafe

No birds killed here, although they do serve fowl.
Dad and I decided to take a drive through some Marin country scenes to have breakfast in San Geronimo at the Two Bird Cafe. We were greeted warmly and invited to choose to eat on their pretty patio, or sunny inside room by the skylight. Dad felt like being indoors, so we chose that option.

Whole Wheat Blackberry Pancakes

He also felt like pancakes, and they had just the special for him, blackberry whole wheat pancakes with organic pork and apricot sausages. It was chock full of blackberries tucked inside and Dad like it so well he doused it in pure maple syrup and ate every last crumb of both the large pancakes!

Table setting

I enjoyed the cute greens on the table as we waited to be served.

Tuscany Omelet

I ordered the Tuscany omelet, filled with wild mushrooms, spinach, herbs and fontina cheese. It was delicious, and I appreciated that the serving was reasonably sized. I often hesitate to order omelets since so many places make them too big. The wheat toast was warm and buttery too. If you happen to be going to the land where the Jedi once roamed (parts of Star Wars was filmed in the nearby woods) this is a nice stop along the way. The Two Bird Cafe serves breakfast every day of the week, as well as lunch and dinner.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Shangri-La Diet. My friend Daniel, who has instigated any number of my more interesting adventures has been a gnat in my ear about this new diet he's trying. A persistent gnat. I mean really, as a graduate of any number of goofy diets I thought I knew a silly one when I saw it. This one definitely has the hallmarks -- drink flavorless oil by the tablespoon an hour before having any 'flavors'? But I have to say, Daniel's well-researched things have had merit in the past. So 'oh well' -- here I go.


First, I decided that if I'm going to be inhaling copious amounts of oil each day, it would be 'good' oil. So which oils made the cut for the team? Raw sesame seed oil, walnut oil, flax oil and evening primrose oil. The Shangri-La diet recommends that you use either refined walnut oil or extra light olive oil. Oils high in Omega-3 and low in Omega-6 are recommended, and flax seed oil is also recommended but you have to clamp your nose to be sure there is no flavor seepage. Sesame oil is not recommended, however, from my days in Japan I heard a lot about its incredible health benefits.

morning view

So early Monday morning, I filled a measuring cup to its mark using the walnut oil as a base, and adding small amounts of the others. Bleah! I have to drink this much! So holding my nose, I downed it, getting past the gag reflex and chasing it down with some water. Within moments I felt nauseous, and went to recline on the sofa. The nausea, and absolute revulsion for food lasted about two hours, and I just gazed out the window at the morning view thinking about all the strange and sensible diets I'd tried and failed at over the years. Poor Dad had a late breakfast as I couldn't bear the sight or smell of food. Hmmm.. maybe there is something to this. I couldn't bring myself to eat breakfast at all.

So off I went about my daily activities, and in a few hours noticed that my skin felt very good, and the persistent dry spot on my forehead that had itched for the last couple weeks seemed to have healed. I also had an overall sense of my body running 'smoother' somehow. I guess like the tin man, I needed some oil! At least good for you oil. I noticed no desire for food at all, but when it came it was a real hunger pang and came out of nowhere. When I ate lunch, I noticed wanting something light, and not even finishing it. Hmmm... this is good. Daniel had quoted me some article about the difference between losing or not being the difference of one potato chip a day. Eeeek! I wondered if the one making the difference was the last potato chip eaten, or the one 5 chips back? I rarely eat potato chips anyway, but what a thin line of calories this represents.

I joined the forum at the diet creator's website, and created a little diet ticker. I'll post it here when it shows some movement in the right direction! Someone on the forum suggested titrating up the dosage slowly to avoid the nausea, and splitting it throughout the day. I was hoping to keep it simple, not wanting to carry around oil and think about the no flavors before or after by an hour. It's relatively simple just taking it all upon arising in the morning. But the drinking it definitely wasn't pleasant, so I searched around for an easier method.


I found a baby medicine syringe in a medical supply store which seemed to hold some promise, having a filler tube which could aim past my taste buds, and measuring two tablespoons. So that's what I tried this morning, only two tablespoons and I'm pleased to report the squirting it in the back of my throat quickly seemed to do the trick. I have no desire for food, but am not nauseous. The beauty of this diet is that beyond being strict about the no flavors and taking the oil, you don't have to think about your food choices, you are just naturally eating less and some report having a greater desire for healthier food. So I'm not turning this into a diet blog; I'll continue posting about the various food and adventures in Marin and beyond. And hopefully I'll be lightening up along the way.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Good Earth

Good Earth.
I am not in Fairfax that much, but when I am, I try to stop by a unique grocery called Good Earth. It's much like that store many of my friends refer to "Whole Paycheck", but on steroids. Or at least natural ones.


I find it unique that the produce is all labeled for food miles from store. And the locals are much more local than other natural food chain stores that I've been.


The yellow onion I bought there was colossal!


Good Earth also had a fabulous selection of sweeteners - from honey to molasses to agave and back. Really a nice variety and very tuned in to local items. This one bears replicating!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ignoring Mom's admonitions to stop playing with your food...

La Toscana

Italian Escape.
Tucked around from the Civic Center (on the other side of the freeway) is Ristorante La Toscana. I've been here before, and it has served consistently high quality food in a nice Tuscanesque atmosphere. I used my Nokia N95 phone camera for the very first time taking these photos, so the results are rather inconsistent-- I apologize. This phone can only be described as 'bleeding edge', only being available in Chicago, NYC and Europe. I'm still trying to get used to it. Having a 5.0 megapixel camera with flash as part of it was very seductive!

La Toscana interior

Getting back to La Toscana, the interior is very pleasant, and the staff prompt and friendly.

Spring Mix Salad

I had the spring mix salad to start. It did not taste blurry at all, rather it was crisp!

Petrale Sole Dore

I thoroughly enjoyed the petrale sole dore. It was a very fresh piece of white fish with an egg wash, pan-fried. Chard, broccoli and cauliflower with some buttered rice were the accompaniments. Will certainly be visiting this place of Italian interludes again!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Seoul Garden Assortment

Home again, home again jiggity-jig.
And this little pig took her Dad and his companion while I was in Chicago, Patricia, out to Seoul Garden for an eating adventure last night. I love introducing people to new experiences and tastes, and Patricia, originally from Nicaragua, had never had Korean food before. Since we no longer have a Korean restaurant in Marin, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and went to Japantown.

Hae mul pa jeon

We started with hae mul pa jeon, a Korean seafood and vegetable pancake for an appetizer. It was seasoned well and delicious. It had a soy sauce/vinegar/citrus dipping sauce. As we were enjoying it, all the small plates arrived as an accompaniment to the barbecued meats we'd ordered. In the leading photo you can see all the varieties, steamed broccoli, miso paste, kim chi, vinegared radish and carrot slivers, soy curd cakes, hot white radish cubes, nearly clear white starchy cubes with a gentle flavor, sauteed bean spouts in garlic, and a vinegared seaweed salad. What variety!

Lotus Root

and oh! They also served my favorite flavored lotus roots as one of the side dishes.

House Beef and Cabbage Soup

Then came the beef and cabbage soup. It definitely had the taste of homemade, long simmered broth offset by light napa cabbage leaves. It tasted better than it looks to be sure.

Jabchae Bokum

Next, the jabchae bokum warm salad came out... yam noodles with a couple of varieties of mushrooms, egg, vegetables and fish cakes with a nice sesame infused sauce stir fried into it. This is one of my all-time favorite Korean dishes.

Dak Gui

Then the barbecue items started arriving, beginning with the dak gui, marinated chicken.

Bul Gogi

Next came the perennial favorite, bul gogi, seasoned rib eye steak. It was tender, well-seasoned and good.

Wrapping Lettuce

The barbecued items were accompanied by lettuce leaves for wrapping. Patricia was mmming and ahhing all the way through, and declared, "You sure know how to feast!". She went on to say she'd never had so much fun with a client's family before. How could I not invite her for a treat when I saw how well she took care of my Dad while I was in Chicago? He was so bright, happy and alive when I came back, and looking impeccable (as well as my house) that my background worry turned into delight and appreciation.

Green Tea Ice Cream

Then came the finale, green tea ice cream and rice 'punch'. Actually, the ice cream packed the 'punch'. It seemed to be made of matcha -- the crushed and ground bitter green tea that is used in the Japanese traditional tea ceremony, which carries a stronger and fresher taste.

Rice Punch

I held the rice punch up and questioned the waitress about it. Indeed it is called "punch" in Korean, and it is non-alcoholic. It has the taste of sweet rice water, and the rice at the bottom added artistic flair and a little texture at the end. Needless to say, this was far more food than for one meal, so Dad and I enjoyed the leftovers for tonight's dinner after I returned from my Adyashanti intensive in San Rafael (I'll be there again tomorrow.) Seoul Garden was a nice experience, although I'm not sure what a real connoisseur of Korean food would think about it. It's also a bit on the pricey side. We certainly enjoyed ourselves and would not hesitate to come back. In fact, Patricia is looking forward to introducing it to her brother on his next visit from Toronto.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Chicago. I returned home today from a very good trip to Chicago (business). Didn't take the camera, meals were for business so I'm just going to describe a couple places. In Gurnee, we visited Steven's, which is a steak house in a strip mall. Fine dining in strange surroundings, however it was good. The signature crab and brie soup was amazing. It has good seafood in addition to steak. I had a sesame crusted ahi tuna salad which was very good. Last night I enjoyed dinner at Riva's on Navy Pier on Lake Michigan in Chicago. I had a wonderful copper river salmon encrusted in hazelnuts. Beautiful presentation and great flavor. It's the second time I've been to Riva's and it has been consistently good. The weather was outstanding too.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Orchid Thai

Pretty and tasty. Here I am in Chicago, blogging about Monday night's dinner with my father at Orchid Thai. (I went to a nice place in Gurnee, IL for dinner I'll blog about after I get home later this week.) The flower boxes and airiness and memory of another good dinner here drew me here after a nearby check in with Jack's Pharmacy.

Being in a veggie mood, Dad requested the Chef's Delight. Well the Chef delighted us too with this light celery, green onion, and tofu and mung bean sprout saute. Very healthy and light.

Jasmine Rice

And I'm always charmed by the Thai aluminum rice serving vessel with fragrant jasmine rice nestled inside.

Larb Gai

I ordered a Larb Gai appetizer as a main course. I always love the light, citrusy flavor of this dish anywhere I've had it. And it was good here too.

Gai Yang

We also had some Gai Yang, barbecued chicken. Usually I've had it served boneless and pounded, and this had the appearance of being a half chicken seasoned and barbecued and cut up. The flavor was excellent. One of my former supervisors from another country used to ask me to find him places that served chicken with bone in, apparently it is 'healthier'. I never realized until I met him how often we serve boneless chicken! He'd love this one on many levels, and it is quite recommendable no matter how you like your chicken.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bayside Cafe

Dockside Hang out.
The Bayside Cafe is located at the end of Sausalito, just before heading north to Mill Valley.

Chinese Chicken Salad

I reviewed this place for breakfast in November, and it looked like breakfast dishes are popular for lunch too, unless those visiting from the boat docks nearby are vacationing and having late breakfasts. I tried a Chinese Chicken Salad. The chicken was hot, moist and flavorful. The greens were crisp with a nice variety and the water chestnuts were crunchy as well as the rice noodles. The mandarin orange slices looked beautiful against the greens, and added a nice citrus bite. The dressing was brought in a bottle on the side, chilled and a well blended oriental mix. Verdict: Good for breakfast, good for lunch too!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Pasta Pomodoro

Good lunch value. Pasta Pomodoro is a chain reaching from Northern to Southern California, and Arizona, but it started in San Franicsco's Marina district in 1994. Pasta Pomodoro came to this location in Mill Valley's Strawberry Village a couple of years or so after the old Strawberry Joe's had a fire and closed. We all missed the Italian food, so this place filled quite a void. Joe's is a well known chain in Marin, still with lots of locations in the county.

Pasta Pomodoro interior

The interior is quite cheerful and bright. Pasta Pomodoro has a nice lunch menu with good values, as most of the things come with your choice of soup or salad and are reasonably priced.


Dad chose the salad, and he said it was quite fresh and had a nice mix of greens and other toppings.


I chose the minestrone soup. I must admit, I've always loved their minestrone soup, and have been known to order a bowl of it for dinner on winter evenings. It's consistently good. Even though it was a pretty warm day, I just couldn't resist.

Healthy Chicken Pasta

Dad's salad was followed by the healthy chicken pasta, which he enjoyed. Very generously portion, as was the salad, Dad could not finish either, although he gave it a good shot.

Conchiglie Pollo

I had the Conchiglie Pollo as my main dish, and it was good other than it was way over sauced. There was a lot of 'tomato soup' left in the bowl. But I enjoyed the nice al dente of the pasta which had chicken, sauteed garlic, broccoli and sundried tomatoes in the mix. The waiter was quite pleasant and prompt too. This is a nice neighborhood place, even though a chain, and they've worked out a good recipe for success.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Three Degrees

Father's Day Breakfast.
I took my father to Tiburon to try out the Three Degrees for breakfast on Father's Day. It is in the Tiburon Lodge, centrally located and easily found. The founders of the restaurant believed that guests in their restaurants are a little more closely related, three degrees rather than six degrees of separation, hence the name.

Freshly squeezed Orange Juice

Dad started out with some freshly squeezed orange juice with his coffee, and said it tasted fresh and slightly sweet.

$3 pot of tea

I started out with a $3 "pot" of hot tea. I'm picky about tea! I was impressed that they were thinking about the tea service, but it didn't quite come off. The waiter brought a beautiful wooden box of Mighty Leaf teas. Good brand, nice presentation. Then he brought me the pot. Hmm... it was only about 3/4 full, and a small pot at that. The 'tea' cup was none other than the regular coffee cups. Well, they were nicely shaped for coffee, but played the devil with the tea. It was fluted out, and left a large surface area to let the warmth escape, so by the time I got it to my lips, it was rather lukewarm. (Oh, and my place setting was missing a spoon, so I had to stir it with a knife, as I couldn't catch the waiter's attention. He brought me a spoon much later, upon request.) The rest of the pot only was a dribble into the cup, so maybe it was 1.25 cups of tea in the pot. Nice try, no cigar.

Veggie Omelet

Dad went on to have the Grilled Vegetable Omelet - zucchini, yellow squash, sweet peppers, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, herbs & brie cheese with fingerling potatoes. It also had some fresh sliced fruit on the side. He enjoyed it and remarked what a great way to start Father's Day.

Eggs Benedict

I ordered Eggs Benedict - toasted english muffin, griddled canadian bacon, two poached eggs, hollandaise sauce. It also came with those naturally buttery tasting fingerling potatoes, and fresh fruit. It was fantastic. Although they came up short on the tea (most places do), and were rather slow in serving (and it wasn't busy), the food was so good that I will come back again.