Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Cake

The Christmas Dinner for 10 turned out fabulously! We had an Alaskan King Crab feast which we ate, talked and laughed through. This was the ending, a 'traditional' Japanese Christmas cake, a lightly sweet and creamy end to a marvelous occasion!

I hope everyone celebrating Christmas had a joyous day! And everyone else too!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's almost time...

for a Merry Christmas! and happy holidays whichever ones you celebrate.

I've not succumbed to any strange and new disease... just caught up in the general holiday busy-ness... and since I'm hosting 10 for dinner tomorrow, I'm especially working on making my house be in tune with the season. I'm making Alaskan King Crab with garlic sesame soba noodles with some lovely side dishes coming with friends, and a beautiful white Christmas cake from Japantown!

I'll be back with more reviews when I can catch my breath again.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

It's my birthday...

Anna's Birthday Cake

and I'm not crying. It had a fun lead in last night at Jo-Ann & Jonathon's with my Dad, Michael, Hal, Toran & Aurelia. Jonathon & Aurelia made the birthday cake pictured, a lemon cake with lemon cream cheese frosting, made with fresh lemons hand carried from San Diego. It was the perfect balance of sweet and sour. The candles each represent 6.375 years. Aurelia, being 8 thought having 8 candles on the cake would be a fun shared experience, with her birthday not far behind me.

The remains of the cedar planks

It was fun to have a dinner theme from my Northwest origins, near Seattle. Jonathon made cedar planked salmon, thought it needed cooking on the outside grill a bit faster, and this was the result. The salmon came out well done, but not burnt, just the way I like it! We also had fresh steamed asparagus, and a wonderful wild rice mixture with onions and mushrooms. Oh and not to forget the butternut soup starter. What a feast, and what good company. We had a poetry reading around the table using the book of poems Hal brought, and Toran accompanied the Happy Birthday song with his violin, which made for a haltingly beautiful melody. Wouldn't have it any other way.

Tonight I'm enjoying watching Miss Olivia as a cast member of "A Christmas Carol" and having dinner with her grandma, my friend Linda. My day is and is going to be fabulous!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What's in a name?

Fondue Fusion

According to The SF Chronicle, Fondue Fusion has become Ray's Hot Pot. This would have been a great place to go during the past cold spell!

I've been in the area, just in a bit of overwhelm between big projects at work, and the holiday season. I will be back as I can.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lights of the Ozarks

Lights of the Ozarks

Zoomie asked me to say more about Arkansas. I arrived one evening, conducted some business, and left in the afternoon the next day so my exposure was brief. The evening we arrived, we had dinner at a restaurant near "The Square" in Fayetteville. The Square enthralled us with its Christmas finery -- the entire area was decked out with lights and Christmas displays, and there were Christmas carols playing from speakers in the night air.

Lights of the Ozarks - 1

Fayetteville is home of the University of Arkansas, and there are Razorback mascot images everywhere! I didn't take a snap though.

Lights of the Ozarks -3

Fayetteville is also known as the "Track Capital of the World" because of the numerous awards won by the University of Arkansas track team.

Lights of the Ozarks -4

Everyone I ran into was charming and helpful. That certainly put a shine on the already positive experiences there.

Lights of the Ozarks -5

My business took me to the RFID Research Center of the University of Arkansas. It was quite an amazing place, and this gadget-girl really enjoyed the tour after the business aspects were done. There were amazing applications of this technology demonstrated in several areas of a very large laboratory. Imagine taking a dress into the dressing room where there was an interactive screen where it 'knew' what you brought in and could suggest accessories, or you could press a button for someone to bring you a different size of the item(s) you had? Or a smart jewelry case that keeps a constant, automated inventory and locks things up tight at the end of the day?

Lights of the Ozarks -6

The countryside on the way to and from Northwest Arkansas Airport, when out of the city, did look like yesterday's photo with gentle rolling hills, lots of grass and winter-scene bare trees.

Lights of the Ozarks -7

I was charmed by it and thought it would be a interesting place to explore if you like peaceful prairie environments. My intuition tells me that the quality of life here is pretty high. I look forward to returning there.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Yes, I've been out of town again, and quite busy leading up to the trip. This visit was to Fayetteville, Arkansas and the above photo is typical of the surrounding area that I visited. I saw some unique things like a drive through liquor store, with pick ups lined up (in 21F weather!) for a cold beer through the drive in window! Wish I got a photo of that, and I'll remember the mental picture for a long time. There were lots of BBQ places, and the typical national chains along with a selection of ethnic and deliciously unique places. I'll be blogging a little more about the food and sights in future posts.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Great Neighborhood Breakfast Place

Mary's Place

I had a craving for breakfast crepes and realized that it had been some time since we visited Mary's Place in Novato, and we'd never tried their crepes. So we jumped in the car, and took off! A nice surprise for us was to find that there is actually a Mary behind this all, and she's very friendly, efficient and manages to single-handedly keep all the tables happy at breakfast time.

Pancakes, Eggs & Bacon

After Dad arrived and saw the photo in the window of the pancake breakfast, he lost his interest in crepes. And loved his meal of pancakes, eggs and bacon.

Vegetarian Crepe

I stuck with what I intended, and ordered the vegetarian crepes. The crepe came with home fries which were quite crisp on the outside and soft and potato-y on the inside. I liked the green onions included too.

Interior of Vegetarian Crepe

When I opened up the crepe, I was happy to find it not only included spinach, onion, tomatoes and mushrooms, but scrambled eggs! It was hearty and delicious. I would recommend Mary's Place for a great neighborhood-style breakfast with good service.

Restaurant Inspection Results
Critical: 0
Noncritical: 0
Last inspected: 10/16/2009

Previously reviewed:
August 4, 2007

Find address/phone number/directions on Anna's Map.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Wasabi Incident

Dad & I went to Robata Grill & Sushi for a lovely lunch today. When I saw Dad's hand on the pretty green wasabi, I warned him- that' s hot mustard, it goes in the dish with soy sauce, not directly in your mouth! Oh, said he. He had a lovely obento special for $10.50 that included Teriyaki Chicken, Deep Fried Scallops, Salad, Miso Soup, fresh fruit, and an eel-cucumber roll (hense the wasabi). I had a combo of Teriyaki Salmon and Tempura. About three quarters of the way through our meal Dad suddenly looked like he was choking! Coughing, teary-eyes and redfaced suddenly, I jumped out of my seat thinking he'd inhaled something, and started patting his back and trying to remember the Heimlich maneuver. However, as he calmed down he said that it was something too 'hot', and I looked at the empty spot the wasabi tower had been. He'd forgotten that he wasn't to eat it. Next time, I'll have to ask the waiter to hold the wasabi from his plate.