Posts filed under ‘Travel’

Butter Tarts in Canada

Butter Tarts Issues – Greeting cards and other things…

OK… So, we were visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown. They were showing Cezanne on the first floor and it was great. Even though we aren’t very big fans of modern art, there were some interesting pieces/displays on the 2nd floor of modern Chinese art.

EPSON MFP image

sketch of card

Anyway, we were in the gift shop and I was looking for possibly a post card of the MadeIn Company’s exercise stuff [about the middle of the page is a video with the exercise stuff; it’s really entertaining if you have ever seen a yoga exercise video] and they had some very tongue-in-cheek greeting cards making fun of various aspects of Canadian culture. One card was on butter tarts and basically said: Raisins or walnuts? Runny or firm? I thought this was so funny because there are some very similar heated debates in the US in such matters (e.g., light or dark syrup for a pecan pie, marshmallows or savory sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, but I digress.)

We had been in Vancouver for days but, unlike other trips where we’d visit several bakeries, we actually focused on chocolate (both solid and liquid) and Asian/Native People’s food. So, when I saw the card, I wanted to understand the butter tart debate.

EPSON MFP image

sketch of butter tart

First, there are many sites that discuss the debates surrounding butter tarts. One organization ran a contest and the results outline the issues (see Canada site Better Butter Tarts). Here are two: The Brandon Sun website or ctv website . Runny versus firm refers to the texture of the finished product. They are runny when you take them out of the oven and the top is firm to touch but jiggles a little and, when you bite into them, the center is runny. The debate about raisins or walnuts is actually a little more complicated. Either the tart has no add-ins (plain) or it can have raisins or nuts (and some say both?!). One site said that the corn syrup in Canada is different from what is found here in the US and not golden syrup (as in England). Some people add maple syrup or replace the corn syrup with maple syrup – although others say that it must have corn syrup. It’s fascinating.

So, after studying many of these recipes, I came up with my combination version. My daughter said that it’s a little bit Canadian because I’m a little Canadian (since my mother was born there).ayl butter tart 2015

The Butter Tart (Adrienne’s version)

*The debate – firm versus runny. We’re going to try for more firm just because we like more firm but it seems like there’s a split and also that some people like the top firm with runniness underneath.

*The debate – nothing, raisins and/or nuts. We’re going to use nuts because we like them. We love pecans but it definitely seems like a “no-no”. If I like this recipe, I may end up adding them.

**Note: Some people say that the Canadian corn syrup is different from American. It’s more golden colored but it’s not golden syrup. So, I decided to do part maple syrup.

**Note 2: The original recipe probably did not have cream or milk. I am not including cream or milk in my version right now. I may add it later and will add the optional amount below.

*I’m using my own pate brise (regular pie crust dough). Some people have used a puff pastry like dough. Most people use their own favorite recipe (including one with cream cheese but I have a hard time believing cream cheese was in the original.)

Ingredients

1/3 C (2 .67 ou/75 g) butter
¼ C brown sugar
¼ C corn syrup
¼ C maple syrup (using grade B)
2 eggs
(2 T milk or cream optional)
1 tsp vanilla
pinch salt
½ C walnuts (toasted and roughly chopped)
your favorite pie dough recipe

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 450°. Spray tart tin (or tins). Use a cookie sheet to avoid spilling.
  2. Roll pie dough until thin. Use a cookie cutter that is just slightly larger than the whole of your pie tart pan holes. Put dough into tart pans and lightly dock. Put into fridge for about 10 min.
  3. If you’re going to par-bake, cut pieces of parchment to line tart tins. Use a few pie weights in each whole. Par-bake. (You don’t have to do this part but I like my tart dough very baked.) Bake 10 min. Remove from oven. Remove pie weights and liners.
  4. Pour filling about 2/3 full or just below rim.   Reduce heat to 350°. Put back into the oven for 8-15 min. (Less if you want runny ones.) Cool.

**The family loved these butter tarts. I am likely to make them again – maybe mixing it up. For example, I could see using all maple syrup and no corn syrup, using pecans, or trying raisins and nuts. Quite fun when you’re not being too serious.

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April 28, 2015 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

Kaiseki in Tokyo

After a pretty hairy spring (great b-day celebration followed the day after by my mother’s passing), we finally took off for Japan.  This was our first trip and although I tried to do planning, with all the other stuff going on, it was pretty tough.

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I started writing about Japan but then thought it was a bit boring.  Rather than going through things in some organized fashion, I think it might make sense to just jump around and include notes every so often.

~During our visit, we tried 3 different kaiseki meals.  These are traditional, multi-course meals – served with quiet beauty (read about them here ).  The last of these was Nakaiseki Sen; Setagaya-ku  Shimouma 5-35-5 2nd Floor Tokyo.   It is actually a shojin ryori style, that is, all vegetarian with a Buddhist leaning.

~Because this restaurant is likely closing next month (at least that’s what the person who made the reservation told us), I will start with it first.

~The chef of Nakaiseki Sen is Yomiko Kano.  You can read about her here .  Essentially, as with all kaiseki meals, hers uses seasonal, local ingredients with a distinctly simpler country-style form.

Here are pictures from the meal:

~plum alcohol/green tea

~peanut tofu, baby corn, black beans, soy, seaweed

~pureed zucchini strips, with chestnut, enoki mushrooms, wasabi

~peas – tofu base, asparagus

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~tempura

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~yuba, aloe gelato, seaweed gelatin

~ginger rice, miso soup, pickled veggies

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~At the end of the meal, they presented us with chopsticks. You can see them on the side of the setting for dessert.

carrot cake (gelatinous rather than flour based)

~As with many things in Japan, even though there was a communication gap, everyone was very kind and patient with us, as we were with them, and things ended well.  This was a delicious, beautiful meal in a locale that was both modern and traditional at the same time.

~Details:  You need to call or ask someone to call for you to get a reservation.  We took a taxi who let us off near the complex.  From the outside, it looks like a regular apartment building.  Inside you’ll find a beautifully appointed, multi-room place – wood floors and wood panels.  (I can’t tell you how many times we got lost trying to find places.  Google maps often dropped us in the back of buildings.)

July 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm Leave a comment

New Mexico – Santa Fe 2011

Santa Fe 2011

This year we decided to take our spring break in Santa Fe.  We have been going since the 1980s – driving down from CO and staying at various places along the way.  (When we lived in NM, we would drive up for the opera in the summers and vacation during down times.)

~So, unlike other places, we have a long list of old favorites.  It’s difficult to decide where to go and to balance the old with the new.  (While we’ve been to San Francisco many, many times, there are very few old places that we absolutely have to see each time.  I’d list Recchiuti for chocolates and the whole ferry building as a must see/eat on our part.)

What did we do this time? Old favorites:

*The Shed –  Good as usual, reasonably priced for being so close to the Plaza.  On this visit, it seemed like the front desk did not have a good handle about actual wait times.

*La Cantina (part of La Casa Sena) – We’ve mainly gone to La Cantina because we like hearing the music.  Over the years, it’s been a bit harder because we’ve been less familiar with the newer musicals; however, the singing is often so good that it doesn’t matter.  The food has declined a bit and become a bit more uneven.  My salad was perfectly dressed and delicious.  The other dish we ordered had a steak that was a little tough (for the expensive cut they listed on the bill) but the sides were good.  The chocolate chili soup wasn’t quite hot enough, although the flavor was good.  The donut, on the other hand, was fantastic.  The portions are gigantic.

*Café Pasqual’s – We love coming to this fun, bright restaurant.  The food is also fun and creative; however, the prices are noticeably higher.  (The cheesy grits were served in a mini cast iron… so good that there were no leftovers.)  Service is fantastic for a breakfast location.  We’ve never shown up when they open and so do not know how long the line is at that early hour; however, on this visit, we just walked in and the wait list didn’t really start until after 9 AM.  This seemed to be true throughout our trip.

*Tia Sophia’s – They are known for their burritos and the prices are really reasonable.  It’s a place where locals go.  The service was friendly, the food was good, and the place was surprisingly uncrowded.

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*Coyote Café (The cantina is where we usually go but it was closed due to the cold weather.)  I don’t know how long we’ve been coming here.  The inside is the same and the food continues to be very good.  When you look at the menu, it looks very standard, especially by today’s world palate tastes.  However, each item has a unique and interesting twist.  The Caesar salad, for example, looks like a sushi roll and it includes these cheesy polenta rectangular shapes that are just delicious.  They have some very modern drinks (must have a good mixologist, as they call them now).  We watched a table celebrating someone’s birthday order an array of these drinks – it looked like fun.

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New venues:

*Chocolate Maven – This is new from our last visit to SF, otherwise we would have visited.  I read about it in several places.  From the outside, it doesn’t look like anything (it’s part of a warehouse complex); but, on the inside, it’s a whole new world.  *

Chocolate cake at the Chocolate maven

You are greeted by several large cases of pastries (classic breads and pastries, cookies, cupcakes, pies, and savory items, as well as “pre-made” chocolate items from other purveyors).  The room on the first floor has a large window that looks out into the kitchen.  You can also dine upstairs by heading up a spiral staircase.  Upstairs where we dined it felt like a small café – low noise, intimate, comfortable.  The food was delicious overall and very plentiful.

*Dinner for Two (D42) – What a surprise.  The restaurant is a bit odd in terms of shape and décor.  It’s a bit of a walk from the main Plaza but not too bad.  The menu is a bit large and seasonal.  What’s neat is that there are many different choices for how you can put together a meal.  First, you could choose the set 4 courses that the chef has created.  Other than choosing only 1 -3 dishes, this is the best deal for 4.  Second, you could choose to mix & match – This could include the standard 4 with one from each section BUT it could also be a salad and 3 desserts.  We mixed and matched for 2 set 4 meals and then just ordered 1 main.  The food was great.  The other unique aspect is that this is truly family run (mom out front, dad doing pastries and “at the table” flambé desserts, and son as chef).  We enjoyed enjoyed everything – including watching & listening to the larger 6 top near us.

*Clafoutis – This is far away from the main Plaza and it gets a little precarious when you hit Guadalupe – not a fun walk at that point.  However, this little place is somewhat worth the hike.  It’s like a little country cottage – with mini blackboards advertising in French and nicknacks on shelves.  Like any good bakery there’s a wide display of French baked goods.  Their menu has classics (like crepes and croquet monsieur/madame), huge salads, etc.  People were clearly visiting and having a good time.  We enjoyed a clafoutis of the day and a ham and grueyere crepe.  On our way out, we purchased some tuiles to munch on for our walk back to the Plaza.

*Jambo– This little place is stuck in a strip mall near Hobby Lobby.  We didn’t walk because Cerrillos is just not that much fun to walk.

Salmon salad at Jambo

The food is a combo Carribean/African.  It’s actually quite good and inexpensive.  As an adult, you can ask for a half portion which is what they serve as their kid’s meals.

*Harry’s Road House – This place has been around for a long time and my sister used to drive up from ABQ to eat here.  My brother-in-law requested that we take a picture of the scrapple for him.  The décor is eclectic and the rooms are large and bright.  We had the lemon ricotta pancakes and the special of the day (You can find a web recipe for the pancakes here.)  The pancakes were not overly heavy and the lemon made them have just the right level of sweetness.  There were definitely locals and regulars here.  The table next to us had two people show up later who complained that they couldn’t make it through the various dining areas to the back (where we were) without having to stop at every table.  You can’t really walk here from the Plaza but it’s so worth the drive.

*French Pastry Shop (in the La Fonda) – This is also not a new place.  We’ve often stopped in to get a quick pastry when the lines aren’t too long in the middle of the day.  This time we decided to go ahead and eat breakfast.  The Nutella crepe was good but took a long time (maybe because so many people order crepes there?).  The croissant was also good but like many classic chocolate croissant, there was not as much chocolate to pastry.  Finally, the croquet monsieur was good.

Vinaigrette – Nice & creative salads.

The Chocolate Trail:  We only missed one place (C.G. Higgins Confections) and Chocolate Maven should be included even if they don’t hand dip their own chocolates.

*Kakawa – The building seems to be stuck on the side of a lot of parking lots – very non-descript.  You walk in, however, and it’s colorful, with quirky decorations and fun display of chocolates.  They are known for their hot chocolate concoctions which are incredibly rich and served like strong coffee.  Their elixirs are supposed to have health benefits.  We tasted one but found it to be too much and so we stuck with their standard flavors.  All the flavors are supposed to be based on ancient/historical recipes.  The chocolates were good.

*Todos Santos Chocolates (an old favorite but no real dining) – This is still the best.  The chocolates have that nice crunch.  The variety of flavors is stunning, with some unusual ones thrown in.  They have different shapes and great decorations.  The chocolate mushrooms are fantastic (still).  The customer service is not quite as good as it was. (I had to ask to have my over $40 worth of chocolates wrapped this time and one of my friends recalls little tin decorations added to the boxes which were not on my box.)  Because the chocolates are just a cut above, if you only have time for one shop, this would be it.

*Chocolate Smith (also has a small kiosk in one of the shopping areas near the Plaza) – This is a classic shop, serving classic types of chocolate.  It reminded me of See’s before they went large (when I was just a little girl).  Very amazing service and if you go down to their Cerrillos shop, then they’ll give you a taste of whatever you want.

Places we usually go but didn’t have a chance to visit (maybe someone can update us before our next trip):  315 [Bistro 315 when we started going there], the café on museum hill (amazing views), La Boca, India Palace (way too many Indian/Nepalese etc here in Boulder)… There are interesting places along Cerrillos but as above, it’s not a fun walk – you do need to have a car.

Museums:  You must visit some museum (at least one) during your visit to Santa Fe.  Just for reference, the best deal is the 4 day museum pass.  It has changed over time but if you’re a non-NM resident, it makes sense to buy a pass and see everything you can.  If you’re a NM resident, it is actually better to buy a museum membership.  We used the membership to visit everything from your classic museums in Santa Fe to forts all over the state.

*Museum hill used to have 3 places to visit on the pass but now just include the two main museums.  The revolving nature of the displays make both worth seeing every time we visit.  The Palace of the Governors has now split into two connected pieces with the history part in a brand new building.  They have also put holes into walls and floors so that you can see the original buildings/walls of the Palace of the Governors.  The new history displays are really worth seeing.

*While you’re at museum hill, take a stop at the Wheelright.  They ask for a donation and this month they had a wonderful exhibit of two grey hills blankets.  The Georgia O’Keefe and the Institute of American Indian Arts are also not included but are well worth a visit.

Other non-food notes:

*If you’re interested in Native American art (mainly jewelry and some pottery items), try to find something under the eaves of the Palace of the Governors.  You can buy directly from the artist.  I also like to support the museums – costs a little more but they also buy directly from the artists and you have the opportunity to support a museum.

*For rugs, we have had luck with Packards (a little expensive but reliable).  We’ve also found things we love by just going in and out of stores.  Sometimes it’s just one piece tucked away but it’s worth looking through the other stuff to find it.  (This is often true about anything, though.)

*Santa Fe also has the oldest house (supposedly) and the oldest church (mission).  The Loretto Chapel has a staircase made without any visible supports – it’s also lovely.

*Cooking School – While I haven’t found anything I want to take other than maybe a walking tour (and those have not been offered on the days we have come through), the people are really nice and their shop has a wide selection of useful items.  It’s worth a stop.

April 24, 2011 at 6:35 am Leave a comment

North Shore & Honolulu

When I was writing about the North Shore, I forgot to mention the shave ice.  We stopped at Matsumoto Shave Ice in Hale’iwa.

Matsumoto Shave Ice

The shave ice was fantastic – many, many different flavors, as well as ice cream, red beans, & sweetened condensed milk.  It’s completely worth it to buy the flower plastic holders (see picture on the left.)

So, when we got to Honolulu, we went to find Waiola Bakery & Shave Ice II.  This turned out to be difficult because they had moved and google maps wasn’t any help.  This is the address:  3113 Mokihana St.  The quality of the shave ice was softer and just different but they did have a large selection of flavors and additions as above.

~So, Honolulu is just like any other large city across the world.  You can find a plethora of fantastic places to eat – from the high end to the hole-in-the-wall.  It was difficult to pick just a few places.

Nico's Pier 38

~Lunches:  On our first full day we ended up at Nico’s Pier 38.  Our guest services rep told us that the piers are numbered and there are clear signs.  Lots of people were eating at Nico’s.  2 of the items were sold out by the time we got there – we had the daily special #1 (swordfish with a Cajun style sauce) with macaroni (and rice) and their grilled ahi sandwich with salad.  The flavors were light and so highlighted the fish.  I felt very satisfied at the end of lunch.  On the second day, we ended up at the Little Village Noodle House in Chinatown.  Fantastic selection of noodle and other dishes.

~Dinner

*Hiroshi Eurasian Tapas:

The restaurant is beautiful. They serve tapas, as well as standard offerings, and a nice selection of fusion desserts. I didn’t know that the chef is a master sommelier before coming out there.  I ordered the trio of white wines that he selected to go with his food and they really did.  The platings were beautiful and the flavor combos amazing.  We loved the pork belly.

*Chef Mavro

When you look around the web, there are maybe a handful of restaurants that are recommended over and over as the best special dinner locations.  This is one of them.  We went for our anniversary and everyone was nice, courteous and efficient.  The restaurant environs isn’t stuffy or old but light and airy and just a touch modern.  The food itself is a combination of south France with Hawaii local foods.  What distinguishes fine dining from other types is all the little extras – in the platings and amuse bouche dishes that come between.  Everything was delicious.  One little anecdote – as we were parking, the pastry chef was headed out to the parking lot.  It turns out that they have an extra freezer out there for his items….

*Sushi Sasabune  [Note that there’s one in Los Angeles, as well.]

This restaurant was recommended by a food tour (more on the tour later) as a restaurant in the style of Seinfeld’s soup Nazi kitchen.  You were supposed to eat the sushi the way the chef instructed or you would be kicked out.  Well, we didn’t have time to look up the info on the web because we were meeting with friends and they were picking the restaurant.  At our friend’s house while we were having late afternoon hors d’oevres, they told us a story about the reservations – When she called, the person said “No take out” and “Have to eat what chef serves”.  Our friend didn’t know whether she had actually managed to make a reservation.  It turns out that this was Sushi Sasabune.  We were so excited – You order drinks and then the sushi starts to come.  Each one comes with some instruction and they don’t stop until you tell them to stop.  The sushi was really amazing and they truly were watching.  By the way, we have eaten omakase in as many places as we can.  (For example, Nishino in Seattle, WA.) If you have the opportunity, you should definitely go this route…

**While we had one more night to eat, this food note is getting too long.  I’ll write more later.  Needless to say, we ate very well while we were in Honolulu.  If it weren’t for the traffic….

August 4, 2010 at 5:31 am Leave a comment

Ted’s Bakery Oahu

Ted’s Bakery

~When I travel, I almost always try to figure out what people consider the specialty of the area or what bakery might be considered the best.  I love to see what other people are doing.

~Ted’s Bakery is known for their chocolate haupia pie.  It’s a basic 2 custard layers (chocolate and haupia) with the stabilized whipped cream like topping covering.  The chocolate flavor is not strong but chocolate and haupia go very well together.   [The picture shows the haupia pie in the bottom left and malasadas.  Dragon fruit and fresh lychees from Kahuku Land Farms.  There were 4 different farmers selling their fresh produce and other things.]

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~They have more than malasadas and chocolate haupia pie, though.  There’s a wide variety of pies in the large, refrigerated cases on the left as you walk in.  Then there are pastry items in the front order counter – malasadas, pastries like Danishes, turnovers, and cookies.  We love haupia and so we tried everything that had haupia and everything was delicious.  We also tried passion fruit and guava items, as well as standard chocolate and nut topped items.

Over the few days that we were in the North shore area, we were able to stop 3 times.  If you come too late in the afternoon, the selection is a bit dismal.  However, when we went on Sunday at around 12:30, there was still a wide variety of items.  The parking lot is small and it’s a bit of a mad house.  We were told that the garlic shrimp plate is good and it’s definitely on our list for next time.

~Note that you can buy many items at the Foodland or the Kahuku Superette (like meat, liquor, milk, and other fruits).  Neither place had the selection of baked goods that Ted’s bakery has.  It’s really worth the stop.

July 25, 2010 at 11:46 am 2 comments

Poke & Garlic Shrimp Trucks on the North shore

My daughter and I love Hawaii.  It’s our place of choice for our vacations.  On this trip, we wanted to see the North shore to see an area we hadn’t yet visited together.  I’m going to split these posts based on the foods we ate.  This first installment is on Poke.

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Poke

~We are big fans of sushi and Poke is essentially an Hawaiian version.  [Poke means a small, cut piece – usually of fish but it could be almost anything else.  It’s also usually seasoned.]  When I was researching for our trip, there were many recommendations for Poke from various websites and I created a list of potential places to go.  Never know when you want to eat some fish, after all.

~After being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for about an hour, I suggested that we stop for some dinner and Poke Stop Mililani was right on the way.  When we arrived, they had everything covered up – as if they were closing.  The guys came out from behind and uncovered the cases.  You should have seen the array of items (sweets) and salads and then fresh fish in the fish cases (all different types of poke).  We ordered 2 of the meal plates in order to get a wide selection of both cooked and raw items.    Note that we ordered salad for one of the meals but could easily have had no greens at all – this was definitely a theme throughout our trip.  The best two items were the original poke and the seared salmon cheeks (reminded me of seared salmon skin).  On the wall was a picture of Guy Fieri who must have featured the store in one of his episodes.  I might have to consider adding his picks to my list in the future, if they can match this one.

Ice cream Mochi (upper left shows container of poke)~Fast forward to lunch, day 2…  After horseback riding, we headed off to Ted’s bakery and then to find Kahuku Superette and eventually to have lunch at Fumi’s.  We heard that Kahuku Superette is one of the best places to find poke.  The miniature grocery is like an Asian grocery here in Boulder, except with poke in the back seafood case.  We ordered two kinds of poke – standard and one with seaweed.  We also picked up some Portuguese sweet bread and some ice cream mochi.  This is what we ate for dinner.  (Upper left of picture shows one of the containers of poke.  The mochi tasted better than they look in this pic.)

~We would later have poke again from a small place in Chinatown.  I think you can find anything in Chinatown.

Shrimp trucks

~Before leaving for the North shore of Oahu, I did my usual searching to see what can’t be missed.  The one thing that kept coming up over and over was garlic shrimp.  People spoke passionately on their websites about which truck was best and where to eat.  Saveur Magazine has 15 days worth of Hawaii recommendations and one whole day is devoted to shrimp trucks.  Of course, it does take a long time to get to the North shore.

~On our first day, we went to the Dole plantation.  Hale’iwa (or Haleiwa) is close to the plantation that we decided to Giovanni’s for lunch.  There are many trucks in the area and Giovanni’s is tucked in what looks like a little park near a stream with 2 other trucks.  One of the other trucks was run by a Japanese woman and the other by another woman.  The Japanese truck looked similar but with coleslaw as one of the sides.  The other truck seemed to have some conventional items like hot dogs and hamburgers.  I did order some onion rings from that last truck.  This picture shows the onion rings plus Giovanni’s garlic scampi and lemon shrimp plates.  The garlic scampi was amazing – a little creamy and with an extremely strong garlic flavor.  The lemon shrimp was OK.  Note that they have a hot and spicy garlic scampi and there’s a sign that says “no refunds” if you order this plate.  We weren’t very brave, although we did ask for a little of the sauce on the side to taste.

~Fumi’s:  There are actually 2 Fumi trucks – The one we went to had a little window to get some shave ice and huge ponds.  What you don’t get from reading the reviews is how different the locations are.  Hale’iwa was crowded.  Kahuku is right on the freeway route.  Traffic is a little busy around the different shrimp trucks but they are spread out.  (There’s another Giovanni’s on this side – as well as another white truck.)  We ordered the garlic shrimp to compare, a spicy shrimp, and a coconut shrimp.  Although you get fewer shrimp, the coconut was the best of these three plates.

~Romy’s:  We ordered the garlic butter prawns, sweet and spicy prawns, a side salad, and Pani Popo (buns in coconut sauce in Samoan).  The Pani Popo was worth the trip.  Like many Asian desserts, it was not too sweet and quite delicious in its simplicity.

~Differences:  Well, at one point I was talking to a local about shrimp trucks.  He said that he usually eats at the white one across from Giovanni’s in Kahuku.  He also told us that a friend from high school works at Romy’s.  We found that Fumi’s and Romy’s were very similar with different sides.  Giovanni’s was a little more creamy.  The local told us that it’s because they use olive oil.  (I’m not sure whether they use all olive oil or a mix of olive oil and butter.) I suspect that this helps to make Giovanni’s seem a little less oily.  Also, another local mentioned that Romy’s had the largest ones but that’s because they offer both prawns and shrimp.  While prawns aren’t necessarily bigger (because they are actually different species), in this case the prawn were larger.  (Often places use the word prawn to indicate a larger shrimp.)  So, if you order the prawn at Romy’s then they are going to be larger than the shrimp at most trucks.  Because they are a different species, though, they have a different taste.

July 23, 2010 at 8:41 am Leave a comment

A short week in Southern Cal

In some ways, this year we have just dragged our feet about planning trips.  We didn’t plan anything for spring break and we still haven’t planned our big summer trip.  There’s so much work stress that I think there’s no room for thinking about traveling – even though it’s something we all enjoy immensely.

*To make a long story short, we ended up having to fly to LA (to take care of my mom while my dad recovered from his operation).  This meant that the first few days were just spent around Palos Verdes.

*On one of the nights, we ordered take out from a great little Italian restaurant on the hill called, The Appetizer.  The guys were great – very friendly and funny.  The food was classic and plentiful.  The meatballs on the pizza were the only disappointment.  Otherwise, the food was great for what it was.

*On the hill, there is also a bakery called Mayer’s Bakery.  They were around when I was a kid.  On Tuesdays they sell donuts for 55 cents each.  Their baked goods are the standard fare; on the other hand, it’s great to walk in and see those full cases.  The raspberry streudel we purchased for breakfast was delicious.

*We only took lunches away – while the caregiver took care of mom.  On one day, we went to Pizzeria Mozza. (I love Nancy Silverton’s books and have many successes in making her recipes.) We had gone there a few years before – it was good then and it was good this time, too.  The pizza crust is sublime – flavors complex, thick enough to hold all the unusual ingredients, but thin enough to provide a little crispness.  The choice of toppings were amazing.  *

We chose the deep fried zucchini blossoms (good last time and good this time) and the meatballs (because another table ordered them and they looked good).

*We also ordered 2 desserts – Meyer lemon gelato pie and their famous caramel gelato with salted peanuts and marshmallow crème.  Everything was so delicious.  The two men seated next to us started out their conversation with a foodie one upmanship.  They settled into comparing cities.  It sounded like they were both businessmen flying around between LA & NY but also old friends meeting for lunch.   It was less crowded than a few years ago – although they seemed to have a steady business.  I hope they continue to do well.

*As a side note, the last time we were there, we ate at Zazou in Redondo.  The food was good and the restaurant itself is beautiful.  It still is there; however, they only serve dinner.

*After almost a week of taking care of mom (and dad), we headed off for 2 days in San Diego.  The two places where we ate that had fantastic food were: Jsix and Nobu San Diego.

*Jsix is a lot like a Boulder restaurant – fresh ingredients, new takes on old ideas, and innovative dishes.  I should also mention that the service was great, the plating beautiful, and the restaurant was quiet (too quiet for the quality of food and service).  We really enjoyed the Hiramasa done three ways and the butternut squash ravioli was more unusual than it sounds.  Everything was tasty.

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*On the other side of the noise spectrum, Nobu San Diego was very noisy and very crowded.  However, the décor was just as beautiful and the service was good as well.  We had the omakase.  This is what we’ve enjoyed doing at Japanese restaurants all over.  By letting the chef pick, you really have an opportunity to taste things you wouldn’t normally taste.  In this case, there were 2 different omakase from which to choose and we decided to do one of each.  For the dessert, this was a good choice because one of the dessert items didn’t even appear on their dessert menu.  So, we started with sake (daiginjo).  (As an aside, they serve the sake in masu – boxes – with their name and logo printed.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy one from them.  The amuse bouche was white asparagus in a beautiful sauce.  Then platter after platter of small fish tastings (raw and lightly cooked) appeared.  The variety of fresh fish dishes was amazing (as were the textures and the flavors).   The cooked dishes were a fish and a Kobe beef.  Both were perfectly done (not over done) and beautifully plated. 

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*One of the desserts is considered their most popular, the chocolate parfait.  It’s made with chocolate gelato, pistachio foam, and crumbled chocolate amaretti cookie.  The chocolate had a rich chocolate flavor that contrasted well with the pistachio foam and crunchy cookie.   The other dessert was 3 white chocolate thin egg rolls served with passion fruit gelato.  The warm white chocolate oozing out also contrasted nicely with the tart passion fruit gelato.

*As a side note, we ate at several other restaurants on our trip.  I did go ahead and enter reviews on TripAdvisor.  I feel like it’s the right thing to do, since I do read reviews there (mostly hotel reviews).  What people don’t tell you about SeaWorld and probably other theme parks now, is how many places that they have that sell food.  You can’t walk around the park without encountering a food stand every few feet.  My friend (who went to the opposite coast and visited SeaWorld) and I noted how heavy people are outside of Boulder – pushing food may be one of the reasons.

~

Hotel del Coronado

Anyway, if you’re on Coronado, visit Tartine to see the bakery.  Yummy Sushi is good, too.  We also went on a whale watching trip with Birch museum naturalists.  The information they provided in the short time that they had was great.  (We saw 3 grey whales, 1 fin whale, many dolphins and sea lions.) Finally, catch the tour of the bridge at the USS Midway led by retired navy men.  They were welcoming, funny, and informative.

March 31, 2010 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment

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