Saturday, January 30, 2010

Wowed in Petaluma


Linda and I went to see The Young Victoria in Petaluma this evening. I don't like period pieces generally, however, this one was really good. What a love story! Afterwards little Olivia joined us and we went to Hiro's Japanese Restaurant just a couple blocks away. What a gem! It is so beautifully appointed and has such attention to detail. The sushi plates that floated past looked like they were stills in a museum.

Miso Soup

My photos do not do the food justice, and give a pale echo of each dish. The miso soup was piping hot and tasted just right!


Linda chose the Tempura Dinner and Olivia dittoed the choice except in appetizer portion, fitting for an 8 year old. They both reported that it was delicious, and I tried a couple pieces at the end of this generous portion, and would have to agree. Linda remembered the amazing tempura we had with my host family about three years ago in Tokyo. In Japan the best restaurants use fresh oil each day, and the old oil gets sent down the line to a second tier tempura restaurant. Fresh oil really makes a difference. Hiro's oil tasted quite fresh, and it was all exquisite!

Traditional Japanese Chirashi

Hiro's has two choice of chirashi on their menu. Hiro's Special Chirashi sounded quite inventive, but I decided to stick with the Traditional Japanese Chirashi Zushi. I was so excited to see this glistening, fresh and artistic bowl be put in front of me. Again, the photo just doesn't do it justice. I very much enjoyed the choices and variety in this pretty lacquer bowl.

The staff and owners were so friendly and welcoming too. Our waiter struck the perfect balance of attention and sharing of knowledge of the menu. I would definitely come here again in a heartbeat!

Restaurant Inspection Results

Critical: 0
Noncritical: 1
Last Inspected: January 28, 2010

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

No more moussaka

bye Rain Tree Cafe

My friend Andi Bird came visiting from Vancouver, BC and I thought it would be fun to let her know when Rain Tree Cafe would be having their fabulous moussaka as a daily special this week. I was so shocked to find that it had slipped signage, no tables and chair, just one of the cleanest spaces I've ever seen for a move-out. I didn't let it spoil my fun with Andi today however, we had a great time talking at Taste of Rome this morning!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekend Herb Blogging #217 Recap

And here we are at the end of the week (already!), and time to round up the creative herb blogging done for the Weekend Herb Blogging event hosted here today. Weekend Herb Blogging is a weekly event, so if you enjoy this post, consider entering yourself! Haalo at Cook Almost Anything keeps it running in an organized fashion - the host list is here, and rules here. I'm going to organize this time by type of dish, and I say desserts first!



Haalo of Cook Almost Anything features dessicated coconut in this dreamy Coconut and Pineapple Steamed Pudding. Haalo cooks and writes from Australia.

fruit nut truffles-whb

Katie in cold Haslett, MI writes Eat This announced in her post about these luscious Dried Fruit, Nut and Coconut Truffles that she's moving to Georgia. She also has a hint on how to more effectively chop dates.


Brii living in Valsorda, Italy is so tenacious as to not give up on finding the meaning of the main ingredient in this cookie. She writes Briiblog in English, and shares her tale of Norwegian interpretation and recipe for Hulled Oats Cookies. She also leaves me curious as to where I would find something called "Horn Salt"! in the U.S.

Soups & Stews


Cinzia has taught me new things about cabbage in her post about Neapolitan Vegetable Soup. Cinza lives in Lake Guarda, Italy and writes Cindystar. Don't miss the cabbage story as it is sure to hold new information on this ancient powerhouse vegetable.



The Cooking Ninja is Pamela of Clermont-Ferrand, France who brings us a unique recipe for Crispy Bacon Wrapped Prunes. Read the post for her prescription for improving service people's dispositions!

Fruits & Jams

passionfruit curd 1_opt

Anna of Morsels & Musings, writes from Australia about Passionfruit Curd this week. Listen to her explain about tackling what was in the 'too hard' basket successfully!

opening a buah tarap

Nate of House of Annie brings us a post about a truly unusual fruit in a large part of the world, a Buah Tarap. Nate writes us from Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.



Hailing from Salt Lake City, Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen brings us a healthy breakfast recipe for Eggs Fried in Olive Oil with Wilted Greens and Sumac. Now that's a way to get a head start on the day! Thanks to Kalyn for starting this Weekend Herb Blogging tradition which has been a rich source of information on unique herbs!

WHB Leek Cobbler

Mangocheeks writes Allotment 2 Kitchen from West of Scotland and brings us a dish so luscious looking I can almost smell it from the photo. Her post features leeks in a Winter Vegetable Cobbler.


Kalai out of Houston, TX writes My Recipes Diary, and brings us an interesting post about gourds and recipe for Bottle Gourd Curry.


Christine from Vancouver, Canada write Kit's Chow, and submitted an awesome post about making Beef and Onions with Thai Basil. Thai basil is unlike ordinary basil, and you'll want to find out how by reading Christine's post.

Yakisoba with Portabello Mushroom

This is Yakisoba I made this week featuring nutrition-packed portabello mushrooms. The recipe is simple, and the cold-flu and cancer fighting properties are in abundance in this dish.



Wizzy of Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Punch spins a tale of adventure in pursuit of the everywhere and nowhere purslane from the Caribbean. Don't miss this tale of winks and extraordinary research efforts.


Yeoh Cheng Huann of Singapore writing Eat.Live.Recipes brings us a post about the great qualities of carrots, and a recipe for Raw Fish Salad!


Oh did my eyes bug out when I read Winnie's unusual use of Aduki beans in her Simple Seasoned Aduki Beans recipe. I'm used to adzuki beans being sugared up and paired with starch in Japanese-style desserts so was surprised by this savory dish. Winne writes Healthy Green Kitchen from New Paltz, NY and gives us no excuse for not using dried beans.

Well that's it for this week in herbs. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Simple and Healthy

Yakisoba with Portabello Mushroom

Casting my eyes about for lunch earlier this week, I noted that I had some leftover cooked soba noodles. Ah ha! Yakisoba time! I also had a beautiful organic shallot, and organic broccoli from Capay Farms. Oh, and a fresh Portabello mushroom of medium size. A meal packed with protein, antioxidants and Vitamin D. With all this rain, a good shot of Vitamin D would be helpful.

And yes, this is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, organized by Haalo at Cook Almost Anything (with a new look on its 4th birthday too!). Historical recaps of this event can be found on this page of her site. Weekend Herb Blogging is being hosted here at Anna's Cool Finds this week, and it's not too late to enter!

So back to the Yakisoba. The protein in buckwheat, the main ingredient in soba, is nearly equivalent to egg protein, the standard for a complete protein. I use Eden's organic soba bought in 10lb boxes for a healthy buckwheat base. The friends who are around me most frequently know I'm a Dr. Oz fan, DVRing his shows so I don't miss a one. Last fall he emphasized the role of Vitamin D in preventing infections and overall good health. The Mushroom Lady has posted some more technical aspects of Vitamin D in mushrooms and some of the light enhanced versions in stores. Portabello mushrooms are also one of the best sources for L-ergothioneine, a powerful antioxidant. Crimini mushrooms are baby portabellos, so this nutrititional information also applies.

Vegetables for yakisoba

Yakisoba is very easy to make. For the one featured here, I sliced one large shallot, one medium portabello mushrooms and a cut up 3-4 broccoli buds into small pieces and sauteed in a bit of toasted sesame oil. When the vegetables were a bit softened I added cooked soba noodles and tossed.

Bulldog Tonkatsu Sauce

When almost done, I added the special ingredient - Bulldog Tonkatsu sauce. I just striped the pan full of the noodles and vegetables with it, tossed and heated through, then plated it for a lovely hot lunch on a cold rainy day in Northern California. Don't forget to visit again tomorrow, when there will be a round up of Weekend Herb Blogging with others magical ways with herbs!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

So cheerful!

Cafe Z

Cafe Z in Greenbrae was just as bright and cheerful as my last visit. I was just in the mood for something simple. I toyed with the idea of crepes once I'd spotted them on the menu, and then I saw some other simple things.

French Onion Soup

So I ordered a cup of French Onion Soup. It was warm and I loved that there were plenty of onions, however the stock was just a little thin for my taste, and compared to my memories of other French Onion Soups. The accompanying roll had a crust that was more chewy than crunchy.

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The Grilled Cheese Sandwich wasn't completely described on the menu, so I was surprised to see that it was panini style. I was delighted to see that it had sliced tomatoes in it. It also has fontina, bleu, mozzarella and Gruyere cheeses in generous portion. If you are a cheese lover, you'll be in heaven with this one. It was a little rich for me, but I can still be appreciative.

Restaurant Inspection Results

Critical: 1
Noncritical: 6
Last inspected: 12/9/2009

Previously reviewed:
December 18, 2006

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

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What are you cooking up?

Capay Farms Broccoli

Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted here this week, and I'm starting to get some fun entries in the email box.... Although I've cooked a couple things, I haven't quite decided what to post forthe event yet. I was hoping to be inspired by my Capay Farms box, but although it held some great things like this broccoli (last week), nothing GRABBED me.... stay tuned, and if you want to participate, take a look at the rules.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A slice of Nepal

Taste of the Himalayas

While in Sonoma on Saturday, I lunched at Taste of the Himalayas. I was greeted warmly by a woman who shared with me lots of interesting information about Nepal and the restaurant.

Dal - yellow lentil soup

My lunch started with Dal - a yellow lentil soup which also had a hint of ginger and garlic. I mentioned that the menu seemed to list things with the same names as Indian food. She said the names and most of the ingredients would be the same as the Indian menus, particularly Northern Indian cuisine. She also said that the Nepalese cuisine was lighter than Indian, and I noticed it in this delightfully refreshing yet satisfying soup.

Veggie Momo's

I ordered Veggie Momo's, a Tibetan inspired treat. These had a thick dough that was steamed around cabbage, spinach and onions. It was good as well. I liked the light tomato-curry sauce that accompanied it. It had flavor without heaviness.

Eggplant Potato Curry

I enjoyed the Alu Bhanta as my main dish. It was described as Himalayan style cubes of eggplant and potatoes in curry sauce, and that pretty much sums it up. It was Indian like, yet lighter as I heard earlier. It came with a Papad (papadam equivalent), basmati rice and naan. All were warm and fresh. We also had quite a conversation about vegetarianism in Nepal, the inhabitants being mostly Hindu, it's quite prevalent as a lifestyle choice. The most popular meat is water buffalo! She said that most Himalayan restaurants in the US substitute beef. She mentioned that it is actually against the law to eat beef in Nepal. I asked about salmon in Nepal and she giggled softly, saying it's not to be found there, but locals love it! However, river fish is eaten in Nepal. I came away please with my meal and charmed by the good conversation and service!

And she gave me a little scoop on a Taste of the Himalayas that is soon to open in Sausalito. Although the restaurants are not related, one of the partners in this restaurant is opening the one in Sausalito -- and he's a great chef that will probably feature more fusion foods in the Sausalito venue!

Restaurant Inspection Results

Critical: 1
Noncritical: 1
Last inspected: November 20, 2009

Monday, January 18, 2010

Left overs Anna-style

Left over chirashi and more

Last night there was a little impromptu party at my place. Jo-Ann, Toran & Aurelia had spent the afternoon with me, Toran & Aurelia having discovered the joy of extra pocket money for doing chores at Auntie Anna's! Jo-Ann and I enjoyed a coupon-clipping and chat session concurrently. It became dinner time and I invited them to stay and so Jonathon drove down and I made a quick supper using things on hand... Chirashi and Soba.

I had some of both left over from last night, so after a drip to Nijiya Market in Japantown today where I picked up a couple deli items, this was the dinner I made for myself. Left over chirashi was the anchor in the middle . The chirashi contained langostino tails and green peas (and was topped with avocado and nori slivers last night), and augmenting the plate are a flavored egg, okara (tofu lees with seasoning and veggies), and sliced, dried radish which was reconstituted and seasoned, the seasoned radish then mixed with fried tofu bits. I enjoyed my supper!

Anna age 23 in kimono

I've been in reunion-land here for the last week, this time connecting with friends who experienced a year in Hiroshima, Japan in High School. The above is me on coming-of-age day (2 years later as that is a celebration of 21) at age 23 in Hokkaido, Japan. It is rather refreshing to connect with friends who went through such a formative experience when we were just teens (I was 16 when I left), and the reconnecting brings an air of youthful enthusiasm into the whole week!

Weekend Herb Blogging Hosted Here!

Yes, I'm hosting Weekend Herb Blogging #217 here at Anna's Cool Finds this week! Cook up something in accordance with the rules, photograph it and blog about it. Then send me a link and photo according to the host-specific instructions here. And I'll be posting a round up on Sunday. Now what shall I cook up??

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Glimpse of Sonoma

Sonoma Mural

Yesterday I enjoyed a leisurely half-day in Sonoma having my hair cut and lunching. I enjoyed looking at the town and surrounding area with new eyes. Everywhere I went, I found charm.

Vineyard with Mustard blooming

On the way up I got in the mood when passing numerous fields with the delicate and bright mustard flowers popping up.

Mustard blooming in the vineyard

I tried capturing some on the way out of town, but it wasn't nearly as misty as when I drove in, so I didn't capture that mysterious misty look low on the green fields filled with mustard. I enjoyed seeing it in the rows between fields on the way back.

El Paseo

In town, I walked through the little breezeway to the shops at El Paseo.


From the street you have no idea of the thoughtful beautification of the walls,


and the ceiling just a few steps from the shops inside.

Sonoma Square

The back of Sonoma Square also looked charming. I just had fun looking, lunching and loving the beautiful day!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Definite fusion


Craving one of those amazing Rose Lassi's, and having Avatar's within walking distance from my office, I found myself seated at Avatar's in Sausalito before evening thinking about it.

Rose Lassi

And here is my favorite Rose Lassi.


As soon as I placed my order, a fresh and crisp Pappadum showed up.


Then the pickles came with a bonus Chappati. The fragrance was amazing! It reminded me of the whole wheat bread my mother made with freshly ground flour (she loved grinding her own just before baking). My mother never made Chappati's but beyond the smell, the wholesome grain taste of the Chappti is something special.

Punjabi Enchilada: Curried Sweet Potato

I decided to go with an interesting fusion dish, the Punjabi Enchilada stuffed with curried sweet potato. It was an interesting medley which tantalized and pleased the taste buds. Be sure to tell your server what level of spicy hot you would like, foods here tend to be a little spicy. And Ashok, the owner, is very good about adjusting foods to your dietary requirements, such as gluten free, vegan, dairy free etc. Avatar's has good service and a unique fusion menu with many tasty things to try!

Restaurant Inspection Results

Critical: 1
Noncritical: 0
Last inspected: 7/29/2009

Previously reviewed:
September 21, 2007
April 6, 2007
January 20, 2007

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Crepe choices


One fine weekend day, Dad and I made our way over to Crepevine in San Rafael. We were on the early side, so there were plenty of tables both inside and sidewalk style.

Denver Omelet

Dad wanted the Denver Omelet. He liked the omelet and thick slices of toast, however, he invented a new culinary term for the potatoes -- Baaaa! Yes, he did not enjoy these, and with his memory problem, kept forgetting and trying them again, finally throwing his fork down violently, and yelling 'Baaaa!'. The problem was that they were cooked VERY unevenly. Some were crispy critters, so hard they were painful, and some had one side nearly burnt, and the other raw and crispy. Mine were the same, but I could remember not to eat the questionable ones.

Kyoto Crepe

I tried a unique-sounding vegetarian savory crepe, the Kyoto. It was filled with marinated grilled tofu sauteed with spinach bell peppers, shitake mushrooms and peanut sauce. The crepe itself was too crisp and hard on the outer third, occurring more as a dosa crepe than a French-style one. The interior ingredients were a good combination and tasted great. I liked that there as both a little salad, and potatoes, if only the potatoes were better cooked.

I've had better experiences at the Crepevine, and I hope this one was just bad luck and not a trend.

Restaurant Inspection Results

Critical: 0
Noncritical: 1
Last inspected: 3/27/2009

Previously reviewed:
December 2, 2006

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