Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Solar Powered Pizza

Stefano's Pizza

I ordered a pizza delivery the other day from a new place, and it was so good, and so intriguing, that I had to check it out in person with my Dad. Solar-powered pizza, and something that was so good it was devoured as quick as it hit my table? Stefano's in Mill Valley is at least the first in California cooking pizza with solar power, and maybe first in the U.S.

Half Vegetarian Half Greek Favorite

It was evident from the seating and service that although you can eat in, it is really meant for the take-out option. Our half Vegetarian and half Greek Favorite was again as delicious as our first take out pizza was.

Caesar Salad

Interestingly, our Caesar salad arrived quite a bit later than the pizza. The tables were small, and the portions large here so we had to co-opt the table behind us as well until we ate enough pizza to balance the salad dish half-way on the pizza plate. Wow was that romaine fresh, and oh why did they drown it in the dressing? Next time I'll request it on the side. A pizza experience to repeat and feel good about with solar power carrying the energy load.

NOTE: Arrived in Santa Barbara in good time via an Enterprise rental car. My car needed it's engine cooling system replaced. High marks to customer service for the rep who offered to be my personal GPS on demand, just call and ask away. Wouldn't do it, but what creative effort! It's lovely here, with perfect temperatures and a room with a deck across from the ocean. The hotel's proprietor told me that Sambo's is still the best breakfast around, so that's a likely spot to find me in a few hours.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Family friendly, good value


Revisiting Samurai in Mill Valley, I was happy to see the good things remained. It is still very family friendly, I was surrounded by families enjoying each other and their food save for one other single woman (who was enjoying her food too). I was pleasantly surprised to see that the combination dinners were still an excellent value at $13.50 for you choice of a fairly extensive list! So I chose a combination for this evening.

Simmered vegetables, Cucumber Salad, and Miso Soup

The trio of simmered vegetables (carrot, onion and potato), crisp cucumber salad (with all the bitter seeds removed), and flavorful miso came out at once.

Tempura and Vegetable Sukiyaki Combo

My combo was the tempura and vegetable sukiyaki combination. The tempura was great, crisp outside, moist inside and seemed like it was make with fresh oil. The host was very accommodating about substituting vegetable sukiyaki for chicken or beef which suited me fine as I wanted to lighten it up a bit, knowing the generous portions at this restaurant.

NOTE: I'm posting this from Visalia where I'm staying while working with a dream client (the proactive, forward thinking kind). I'm a friendly type, so there seems to be nearly nowhere I've been where I haven't had a friend or connection nearby. Given that, I was really happy to meet a friend for dinner in Exeter who lives in Three Rivers (a community known for it's artists). Exeter was a delightful small town which preserves its buildings in a different time period, and has beautiful murals around town. Also, the smell of orange blossoms is heavy in the air as soon as you make the turn off Hwy 198 and go towards Exeter. Everywhere you go in the town, the beautiful scent wafts by now and again. We met at a local Mexican restaurant, Vallarta. It was authentic and good, try it if you are by that way.

On the way back, ironically since part of my mission here was doing media training for crisis scenarios, I had my own crisis. My Prius decided to show several 'bad' alarms across the dashboard. I managed to get it back to the hotel before going into full female freak-out. Luckily I have some friends who recognize this malady and were reachable by phone to push me back into problem solving mode. This trip will have some interesting turns!

Previously reviewed:
December 13, 2006

Monday, April 28, 2008

In for a dime in for a dollar...

Sweet Million F1 Tomato plant

See my first tomato plant, the "Sweet Million F1". Googling this, I find among other things that this plant can produce over 500 tomatoes (1" in diameter)! Thanks to my many friends including blogging friends who have encouraged me to try. It's amusing that I have to grow these in full sun while I have to move them into the shade for a good picture! (yes Cookiecrumb, I've been observing the sun pattern on my deck - and am assigning my retired Dad to move the plant around when he's here and I'm not... he grew up on a farm, so he loved the idea!)

Hopeful for Harvest

It's a little prior to the May 1st recommended date, but I wanted to get it into a real pot as I'm leaving town for some business and thought the larger pot may retain the water better for it. Another gardening friend told me I need to be sure and stake it. So I picked up a wire cage like thing. I already had the pot, but I did have to invest in the rolling stand, the wire, potting soil and the plant. As long as I can take care of it well, if I really get 500 tomatoes it will be a bargain, and the cost next year will be even lower since I can reuse things. But beyond the cost, vine ripened fruit are the best! And I'm hopeful since my lettuces seem to be growing healthily!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Classy Chinese

Yet Wah

It has been some years since visiting Yet Wah in San Rafael, and it seemed the perfect choice for a night out and taking in a movie at the Rafael afterwards (Bab'Aziz). Yet Wah is a classy place, with linens and understated yet elegant decor. I was greeted warmly and given a great seat by the window. As a single diner, it was nice to have the option of noticing the street activity.

Scallops & Cashews

I ordered the Scallops with Cashews which also came with water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and fresh snow pea pods. It was all melded together with a light garlic sauce yet each of the ingredients maintained its own fresh flavor. With great service, delicious food and an upscale decor, this is a great date night place to visit, or anytime you want an elegant yet casual atmosphere with great Chinese food. It's also one of the few late night dining options in Marin.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Dining among books


I've always liked the Bookbeat in Fairfax, and I've discovered that they serve breakfast every day from 7 a.m.! I spent more time there when it was more bookstore than cafe, and in the evening I've attended some live music when friends were playing there. I read in the Marin IJ that the owner is looking for a buyer. I confirmed that it's still on the market for the right buyer. I sat with a pot of tea and thought about what it would be like to be the owner/proprietor of a place so rich with literature, art, music, and even food.

Croissant Veggie Breakfast Sandwich

Although it was closer to lunchtime than breakfast, I tried their veggie breakfast croissant which was 'way cool' in a hot sort of way. Well, the egg filling and croissant were hot, and the vegetables colorful and crisp from the cooler. Organic too I believe. I toyed with the idea of staying here and working, even taking out my laptop and availing myself of their blazing fast Hi-speed Wi-Fi Internet access. I had a lot of writing tasks on my to-dos for the day, might be possible. Then I checked my voicemail. Message from a business partner in NYC. Hmm.. He may not understand the Cat Stevens "Moonshadow" music in the 'office'. So I came back to reality and off to Sausalito to make the call.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Climbing the Mountain

Mountain Home Inn

I'm very lucky to live and work in close proximity to Mt. Tamalpais. I don't take advantage of that often enough. But yesterday I did, and remembered some mouth watering Niman Ranch burgers that I had on the deck of the Mountain Home Inn. And it didn't hurt to also see that the weather gods were cooperating and giving us a clear day. So up Mt. Tam I dashed for some lunch. It was VERY sunny up top, and I didn't realize how over exposed my photos were until it was too late. So my apologies for the pale ones.

Road to Mt. Tamalpais

Honestly, the best thing about this was the trip up and 'vacation time' feel it evoked. Look at those beautiful flowers blooming on the way up!

View from Mt. Home Inn's deck

On to the restaurant and food. The staff was quite friendly, and I had the sweetest waitress. And who could complain about anything with this view of the Richmond Bridge from the deck were all the patrons were sitting (there is some remodeling going on in the building proper). I got a slight sunburn from the brief exposure this high up, clear and at dead noon, despite my sunblock protection.

Carrot Ginger Soup

I started with the carrot ginger soup. My first impression was - WOW - what a nice mouth feel! It had a creamy and full body and was very flavorful. I'd go back just for this soup again.

Salmon with Couscous

I have to admit, I ordered for the visual appeal, but then I failed to capture it because of the bright sun's reflection. The fennel slaw with oranges and watercress was very tasy. The salmon was good, well-done as I like it. The couscous was a little questionable as it was quite cold, it even had a refrigerated taste in the middle. But it was infused with pistatio nuts and would have been perfect for the dish had it been a little warmer. The service was in 'vacation time', some would say slow, but very friendly and pleasant, and who cared when sitting in the warm sun and having a panoramic view of the bay.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Netting some good food

Pacific Catch

I introduced a friend of mine to Pacific Catch the other day. I didn't plan to blog the visit, since it hasn't been so long since my last post about this location, but since we were having things that I hadn't blogged about previously, he graciously gave me the time to snap the photos before we devoured the delicious fish dishes.

Salmon Sandwich

Michael had the wild salmon sandwich which was on the Daily Chalkboard Specials list. He said the bread was fresh and fantastic, and the salmon good too, although it could use a 'kick up' in the spicing as it was a tad on the bland side. He said the sweet potato fries were also good.

Ahi Poke Wasabi Bowl

I tried the ahi poke wasabi bowl. Imagine the contents of a huge sushi roll, unleashed! It's really too big for one, but if you don't overindulge on the sushi rice base, it's manageably delicious. Pacific Catch really works well as a destination when you have a split group where some want Japanese inspired dishes, and others desire typical creative coastal seafood fare.

Previously reviewed:
February 18, 2008
January 25, 2007

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Marin County Green Businesses (Food & Drink)

Good Earth

Earth Day is one day of the year, but it is meant to get us thinking and changing our habits for the next 365+. I've been noticing the Marin County certified "Green Business" logo in cool spots around Marin. Continuing to think green one day after, I'm listing them here (link to county site database), and put a link on their city to either my review, or if I've not visited - another review, or their website. Hats off to the businesses below.

Food & Drink

Wouldn't it be cool if the number of businesses in the food and drink category DOUBLED to 32 by Earth Day next year?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Original, Local and Delicious

Bubba's Diner

Time I got by to Bubba's Diner in San Anselmo for breakfast, and I'd been waiting for the opportunity for some time. And with an award for "Best Breakfast" hanging on the wall, my expectations were high. Besides, it is a Marin County Certified Green business and uses organic, local ingredients, all good things! And Happy Earth Day!

Organic Johnney Cakes

I ordered Organic Johnny Cakes from their daily specials. The cakes were made of cornmeal with bits of sausage and green onions cooked in. Accompanied by two scrambled eggs (can have up to three eggs for the same price) it was a nice change of pace, and delicious.

Waffle Sandwich

Dad opted for the Waffle Pancakes which looked golden and my Dad devoured the entire plate. The sandwich part must not be literal since I couldn't see how that would be accomplished! The breakfasts and experience at Bubba's is highly recommendable.

Previously reviewed:
August 16, 2007

Monday, April 21, 2008

Anna Maps Marin

I've been working on associating my posts on Anna's Cool Finds with an actual geographical location on Google Maps. I've completed Corte Madera through Larkspur as appears on my sidebar, and am making my way down - a work in progress. 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!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Keeping close to home

Bayside Cafe

Happily, things are hopping at work, so lunches can become a quick affair, such as take out from Molly Stone's (awesome sushi) or a neighborhood place like the Bayside Cafe. The staff is friendly and helpful, even when you ask for strange veggie combinations (later).

North Sausalito houseboats

The day was beautiful too, and I noticed that they have a covered patio with a fountain, something I've missed in past visits. I couldn't resist snapping this scenic view from just behind the cafe.

Taco Salad

When looking at the menu, the taco salad with feta cheese and cilantro dressing called, but it also had ground chuck. I noticed that the Cafe also serves Gardenburgers, so I asked if they wouldn't mind chopping up one and substituting it for the ground beef. He quickly said no problem, and not wanting me to miss their actual vegetarian salad, asked me if I noticed it as well. I explained that I was craving the taco style. The vegetarian salad looked appetizing as well, grilled veggies over romaine. The food is good here, the prices reasonable, and the staff makes you feel welcome and your order comes promptly. Perfect for anytime, and especially when needing to up the efficiency of time when lacking it.

Reviewed previously:
June 2o, 20o7
November 20, 2006

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Gorgeous view breakfast

Northpoint Coffee Company

Dad & I slipped into Sausalito early one morning and decided to see what Northpoint Coffee Company had to offer in the way of breakfast. It was a gorgeous day.


And whatever breakfast may come, the view itself from the back patio fills ones senses.

Hot Ovaltine

The barista was alone in serving the requests of a very full house. Naturally, he made sure we had our drinks first, and Dad enjoyed a Hot Ovaltine.

Soy Latte

I enjoyed a Soy Latte, and nearly had it finished by the time our breakfast sandwiches were ready.

Ham Breakfast Sandwich

Dad enjoyed a ham, egg strata and cheese breakfast sandwich.

Vegetarian Breakfast Sandwich

I chose the veggie version, which was the same except no ham. I was impressed by the fresh taste of herbs in the egg strata. The last time I was here, they had no hot breakfast options, so it was nice to enjoy a surprise. There was a large public notice on the front window that indicates it is changing hands to "Baldwin Coffee, LLC". I guess we got in under the wire!

Previously reviewed:
March 25, 2007

Friday, April 18, 2008

Fabulous Fresno Asian Street Bistro

Dai Bai Dang

When driving far from home, a good meal along the way makes the travel much better don't you think? Doing a little research on Yelp, Dai Bai Dang in Fresno seemed to be a likely spot to try while speeding towards Visalia.


Dai Bai Dang posts its menu in a large lighted box so you can check it out before committing. It also had a lot of pleasant outdoor seating, and people watching opportunities as the River Park Center seemed to be a happening place.

Peppered Ahi

Luckily the person I was traveling with has a similar taste in food. The Peppered Ahi came out first, and although it wasn't very peppery, it was delicious.

Japanese Eggplant

Closely on its heels was the rest of the food, including this Japanese Eggplant which may well be the best stir fried eggplant dish I've ever had. It was really the star of the meal.

Siam Shrimp

We also ordered a seasonal menu item, the Siam Shrimp, which was good, but the fried won tons were rather cold, and the spicing could have been kicked up a bit. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and kept adding more to my plate! The bed of enoki mushrooms in the middle was a nice touch.

Spicy Dan Dan Noodles

Last, but not least, were the Spicy Dan Dan Noodles, which were very nice. And they were very accommodating about substituting tofu pieces for the minced chicken and it all blended very well. Taking the whole experience in, the themed decor, the good service of the staff and the tasty food, I could understand why the California Restaurant Association voted it the "Best Asian Restaurant". I would definitely stop here again when I pass near Fresno.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Anna's Cool Finds = #1

Imagine my surprise when reading Jo's "Taking Over the World One Bite at at Time" blog out of nearby San Francisco, to find out that Anna's Cool Finds was ranked #1 by Boorah for blogs reviewing restaurants! Since this was 'old' news by the time I read it, I decided to make a 'Google Alert' on my own name in case something like this popped up again.

And what do you know! My own name popped up again on an alert for a Boorah article yesterday, which again ranked Anna's Cool Finds #1 and provided more details on the top 100 restaurant blogs. All out of a friend's prompting and sharing my fun. Still finding it hard to believe. Will some one pinch me?

Land or sea, it's a happening place

Bobby's Cafe

I was glad to see Bobby's Cafe back in business, although missing the bayside location. I waited awhile to be sure they had their land legs before paying a visit. Bobby's not only serves breakfast and lunch, but it has added dinner to its repertoire. But Dad and I visited for breakfast.


For omelet choices the menu lists a long list of possible fillings, and includes two for the price, and you can add others for nearly $1 a piece. I chose Jack cheese, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and grilled onions. It came with some freshly grilled hash browns and rye toast (you have a choice). It was fluffy and delicious, and I was glad that the cooking hadn't changed.

Blueberry Pancake

Dad wanted a pancake, and remembering that Bobby's were on the large size, I advised Dad to try one, and he boosted it with the 'add blueberries' option. He was happy with it hot off the grill.

One egg, scrambled

He also had a side order of one scrambled egg for some protein. Overall, the atmosphere was happy, sporty and family-friendly. There was a 'destroyer' girl sitting across from us that slung her food all over - including under the table. The waiter cleaned it up till the floor was shining underneath once she left, without missing a beat. It was noisy, very busy and so the service was a little slow, but the food was worth it. Also, I love to support businesses that consider the wider community. I understand that the owners, in the midst of the fire tragedy that wiped out their previous location, donated all the food they had to St. Vincent de Paul's, which was so much meat and produce that it overflowed their freezers. How could one not support people like that?

I reviewed their previous location March 27, 2007.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Ramen Time!

Mikado Sushi

Ramen makes a quick and satisfying lunch, and I was happy to find it as an option at Mikado Sushi in San Rafael.

California Roll

The friendly staff quickly brought out the California roll I ordered. The crab was the standard tsurimi, and it was fine.

Yasai Ramen

One thing to remember in a Japanese restaurant is that 'vegetable' anything does not necessarily equate to vegetarian. I enjoyed the Yasai (vegetables) ramen which had a nice selection of vegetables in the broth (which I don't think was vegetarian), and a nice side of freshly made vegetable tempura. The main dish was hot, flavorful and satisfying!

Previously reviewed:
January 5, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

You know its good weather season when

Salsalito Taco Shop

Salsalito Taco Shop opens for the season! Closed during the winter it was instantly filled upon opening up the colorful little house with the upbeat music (think Macarena). I came by last week and nearly got up to dance with all the upbeat visual and auditory clues being bounced around and off the walls.

Prawn Fajitas

After taking my time browsing the menu, I chose the prawn fajitas with flour tortillas and sliced avocado. This dish was loaded with antioxidants! The menu read '6' prawns, but there were at least double that on this dish, which also had generous portion of sizzling veggies as a bed. This was simply delicious!

Previously reviewed:
November 3, 2006

Monday, April 14, 2008

Locavore or just loca?

Lettuce and mint

Still high on the success of the arugula and mint growing last year, I bought a six-pack of organic heritage lettuces to grow. The mint is still surviving from last year! I also picked up a couple new slingback stackable chairs for the deck off the kitchen.

red flower

The pretty pot of red I received on Easter is also still blooming prettily on my waterside deck. Dare I venture to tomatoes this year?