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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Surf - In New Hampshire

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Bobicito and I are currently visiting New Hampshire to celebrate a new baby and a wedding.  We thought the best thing to do while here would be to eat some darn good seafood, and we have.  We checked out a new restaurant in Portsmouth called "Surf,"  it was delish!  We ordered way too much food, but loved almost all of it.

We started with the Parmesan-Fried Calamari - Tossed with parmesan cheese and cherry pepper vinaigrette.  We ate every last bite and it was so cheesy and good, it melted in our mouths.  I could have eaten an order all by myself and been perfectly happy.

Because we wanted to try a whole bunch of stuff we also ordered the on special tuna tartar, spicy ceviche, and raw lobster.  We were disappointed with the tuna tartar and spicy ceviche.  The tuna tartar had a weird olive tapanade and boiled egg, the olive tapanade was really overwhelming on the taste.  The spicy ceviche was the worst ceviche we've ever had.  It was like the restaurant took some mango pico di galio and then threw in some scallops with lemon juice.  It just didn't go together, and tasted really weird.    The lobster was of course delicious.

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Bob had the Surf and Turf - Two grilled tenderloin medallions on chive mashed potatoes, topped with
two Jonah crab cakes, bearnaise sauce, and grilled asparagus.  The tenderloin medallions were cooked to absolute perfection, so good!  The crab cakes were not the best, but okay.   I think the crab cakes would have been better with a little more seasoning.

I had the Lobster Kristina - Steamed & shucked native lobster flambéed with cognac, lobster stock, chives, cream and butter, served with jasmine rice & grilled asparagus.  That lobster was absolutely delicious, we ate every last bit of it.

The price was actually pretty reasonable considering the amount of food we ate.  I'd recommend the calamari and the two different entrees we had, absolutely delicious.  The raw bar seemed to be hit and miss.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pork, it's what's for dinner...tonight anyway!

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In an effort to use our ridiculously expensive blender more I've decided we are now a soup eating house hold.  So tonight we are having home made Tomato Cheese Soup.  I'm quite pleased.  I found a recipe online and then adjusted per usual, for instance the original receipt didn't call for garlic or jalapenos.  Who has a recipe for tomato soup with out garlic of jalapenos, that's just wrong!   Now, I'm sure you're thinking to yourself, "wait a moment, I've been misled, the title of this post was about pork, this isn't pork!"  And right you are, but don't worry meat eaters, we're also having stuffed pork chops with our soup, as well as a delish salad that I'm whipping together as we, errr, I type.

Tonights pork chops come to us courtesy of Mollie Stone's Market in the Castro.  According to the gentleman working in the butcher shop tonight, these are pork chops stuffed with spicy italian sausage with spices and parmesan.  I'm quite excited about this, who knew you could stuff meat with other meat?  Okay, i knew you could do that because I've had turducken, but this is completely different.  There's also a nice layer of parmesan on the outside of the pork chop.  Okay, on to the recipes and cooking directions....

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(Cheesy) Tomato Cheese Soup

Ingredients: The ingredients with parenthesis around them are the original recipe ingredients and portion suggestions.

tomatos ( 1 large)

onion (1/4 cup)

cheese (1/4 cup)

vegetable bouillon (1 tsp)

tomato paste (1 1/2 tsp)

salt and pepper (to taste)

water (1 cup)

cayenne pepper - shake it, you know what you like

jalapenos - I threw in half of one, seeds and all

garlic - about 4 little cloves

I only used the recipe as a basic guideline for my creation.  I used two medium-ish tomatoes.  Who really knows what a "large" tomato looks like anyway?  Anyway, I used 2 medium tomatoes, a handful of diced onions, two handfuls of cheese (a blended mix of something or another that's also good for quesadillas), a couple scoops of tomato paste, and a scoop of vegetable bouillon - which by the way I'd never seen before.  I then threw in the half a jalapeno, and the garlic along with a few shakes from the salt and pepper shakers and a little cayenne pepper to top it off.  I threw all these ingredients into my blender and smoothed it out nicely.  The original recipe then tells you to add a cup of hot water to the mix and then eat it.  That's silly, why would I do that when I've made such delicious soup?  I halved the amount of water (okay I just eyed it) and then put the mixture on the stove top to heat up slowly and deliciously.  I've been taste testing ever since, and damn is it good.  Mmmmmm.  I highly recommend this if you like tomato soup, you will never eat campbell's or another canned tomato soup again.

Pork Chops

I'm not going to list the ingredients because I didn't make it.  And I already told you what was in the stuffed pork chops at the beginning of this post.  I will tell you how I chose to cook them.  My favorite way, wrapped in tin foil in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour.  Yum, moist and perfect.

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Apple Salad



pine nuts

cayenne pepper



My fav olive oil dressing concoction

So you don't have to use the pine nuts, you can also use almond slivers or walnuts if you want it to be easier.  I just happened to have pine nuts in my fridge that I needed to use.  I used red apple slices from the Chiquita snack pack because I didn't want them to go to waste.  I used the equivilant of probably 1 and a half apples and we had more than enough salad for two of us.  Four people could have enjoyed the salad, it was spicy, but sweet and I'm quite pleased with my decision to use some cayenne pepper while browning the pine nuts.

Overall it was a very yummy and pretty healthy dinner.  Look at me cooking at home!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Awesomeness of Olive Oil, Vinegar, Lemon Juice and Pepper

While this is not a new concept I thought I'd write a little bit about my love of the combo of: olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and pepper.  I feel like it's one of the most versatile concoctions you can use with food.  I've used this combo as for pasta salad in place of using a mayo based dressing, I toss it on almost any green salad, and it's great as a marinade.  When ever I need to add a little "umph" to something I immediately turn to my trusty combo and I'm never disappointed.

I don't typically measure my combos but just eye how much I'm adding.  I use an olive oil base with a splash of lemon juice and vinegar and then throw in some pepper until I feel satisfied that I'll taste it with out being overwhelmed.

To celebrate this awesomeness I'm sharing three of my favorite ways to enjoy the combination:

1 - Pear/Apple, Almond, Feta and Spinach Salad

- 1 pear or granny smith apple sliced thinly

- handfull of slivered almonds

- as much cheese as you'd like, I usually put in about the same amount as the almond slivers

- spinach leaves

- olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and pepper mix

Mix all the ingredients together and then pour the combo on top and toss.  You won't need a lot because it'll cover everything pretty nicely.

2 - Pasta Salad

- rotini noodles

- yellow pepper

- red pepper

- orange pepper

- cherry tomatoes

- zucchini

- onion

- black olives

- sauteed chopped garlic

- pepperoni/salami/ham cubes (pick one or all)

- parmesan cheese

- -olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and pepper mix

Cook the noodles and then set them aside to cool.  Chop up the peppers and zucchini into cubes, cut the cherry tomatoes in half and do whatever you'd like with the olives.  (I also like green olives in this salad but not everyone enjoys them quite like I do.)  Sauté your garlic, or you can use garlic powder, but fresh sauteed will be better.  Add all the ingredients together, I like a lot of cheese but feel free to add however much you like, and then again drizzle the combo on top and toss.  Ready to go!  (You do not need to cook the zucchini, I like it better uncooked, but if you must blanch it real quick.)

3 - Marinade

- garlic

- onions

- basil

-  olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and pepper mix

So this recipe is by taste, so whatever taste you enjoy the most, you should add more of that.  I typically chop up about ten little garlic pieces, half an onion and just a small chunk of basil.  You can use this on pretty much anything, chicken and pork is the best but you could also use it with beef.  Let the meat marinate for a few hours and then prepare however you'd like.  Delish.

So there it is, my love letter to olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and pepper.  mmmmmmm, yummy.





Friday, June 17, 2011

Brisket, just like my Daddy makes!

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Bob and I have mostly moved into our new condo (hooray) and we want to have an awesome house warming party so I thought we should make something awesome, Dad's brisket!  But I didn't want to test out the brisket when we have the party so I had a test run yesterday and I must say, I am most definitely my Daddy's Gal because it was delicious.

I bought a 4 lbs brisket from our local market, Bi-Rite, rubbed it down with Angelo's Beef Rub, put it in a deep roasting dish, covered it with foil and let it cook on 250 degrees for almost 24 hours.  I cut up an onion and placed it all over the top of the brisket.  I pulled the brisket out of the oven after about 10 hours and scooped up the juices and poured it all over the top of the brisket to keep it moist.   When I pulled it out of the oven after the 24 hours I was a little nervous that it was going to be burnt, but after slicing into the brisket we were pleasantly surprised to see that it was wonderfully juicy, and after tasting it....delicious!

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To go with this delicious piece of meat made corn on the cob and covered it with butter and cayenne pepper.  I popped it under the broiler for a few minutes to help make it kind of crunchy and turned out great.

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We also had blue cheese potato salad.  I found the recipe online and I must say I was kind of disappointed with it.  I wanted some bite to the potato salad and it was just so-so.  I'm thinking some dijon mustard would have helped quite a bit.  If you'd like to try the salad for yourself you can check it out here.  Who knows, you might like it more than we did.

I mixed up a garden salad with mushrooms, tomatoes, carrots, onions, orange pepper, avocado, and blue cheese.  I was going to make my grandfather's awesome dressing for the salad but ended up not really having everything I needed at the last minute, it's okay we'll try again next time.

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To satiate our practice guests I picked up a fruit platter and a couple of different kinds of cheese with rye triskets, and made my own guacamole to go with chips and salsa.  As per usual, especially with my family, I made way too much food so we ended up with a lot of leftovers.  The brisket was a success and we ate almost all of it, there's just enough left over to make fajitas.  I'm pretty excited about this plan and will update you on how delicious it is.

We now know that I can replicate the awesome brisket and we're really excited about the house warming!



Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pancakes! They're what's for dinner....tonight anyway.

IMG 1905Tonight's post was going to be about yummy spicy chicken with guacamole, blackbeans and corn and steam veggies, but Bob remembered at the last minute that he had a dinner date with some peeps.  I was all alone, and decided it was going to be pancake night, the only problem was I didn't have anything with which to make pancakes.

As I'm a little lazy in the evenings, give me a break I've been unpacking for days, I took the J Muni line to the Castro Safeway.  On a side note, I'm unsure as to why the Castro Safeway is so poorly lit, I like to be able to see my groceries in all their glory.  I like to walk into grocery store that are brightly lit and full of happiness, the Castro Safeway makes me feel like it might be a night club after hours and that I'm viewing it's unsightly day time ensemble.  But I've gotten off point...  I took Muni to Safeway and picked up some bisquick (I know, blasphemous, I just didn't want to buy all the ingredients to make pancakes from scratch) cinnamon and sugar, milk, eggs, and orange juice and then promptly jumped back on the J to get home.

It's been a while since I've made pancakes, I'm more of a french toast kind of gal, but I had an overwhelming desire to make pancakes and then cover them with butter and cinnamon and sugar and wash it all down with a large glass of milk.  YUM.

Okay, so I got out my cooking gear:

1 - electric skillet (inherited from Grandpa Smith)

2 - mixing bowl with little poury spout thing (bam Target!)

3 - spatula and flipper thing, for some reason I don't own a whisk.....I shall have to get one, btw the spatula is red

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4 - measuring cup

5 - Awesome but unnecessary little bowl thing that I bought at sur la table today.  It came in a set of 4 and they're super cool because you can squeeze them and they make a little spout area.  Check them out here.

6 - All the ingredients bisquik told me to use: 1/2 cup milk, 1 egg, 1 cup bisquick

So I turned on my electric skillet, it has a handy dandy little dial on the side that tells me what temp to cook pancakes at, 350degrees, if you're wondering.  I put some butter on the skillet to make things extra delicious.  I mixed all the ingredients together stirring like a crazy lady to get rid of all the lumps of bisquick and then pour my first pancake.

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While the pancake was cooking I mixed some sugar and cinnamon in my awesome sur la table bowl so that

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I'd have a wonderful concoction to put on top of my pancake.  (I like about half as much cinnamon as sugar.)  The pancake was really fluffy, which was weird because at my house we always had thinner easier to roll pancakes.  We'd roll them and eat them like burritos when we put cinnamon and sugar on the pancakes.  My pancake was to thick to roll, so instead I slathered it with butter and then tossed a bunch of cinnamon and sugar on top.

I would like to say it was everything I wanted and more but it wasn't.  The pancake was so-so, so I mixed so sugar and cinnamon into the actual batter which made it much better.  I think next time I'll put even more cinnamon in, it just tasted too bland the first time around.

I poured myself a gigantic glass of milk and enjoyed my pancake in front of my laptop while I tried to figure out why my iPhoto was syncing properly.  (Side note on that, Bob eventually had to figure it out when he got home.)

And last but not least, I wore my cute new apron while making pancakes.

Overall dinner was filling, mostly satisfying and really very easy.



Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Other Place and Juicy Berry (Salt Lake City)

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Once upon a time my grandparents discovered this restaurant they now frequent once a week, it's called "The Other Place."That's seriously the name of the restaurant.  The Other Place is a Greek/American restaurant and my grandparents go there every Thursday for the navy bean soup, which is pretty good.  My grandmother likes to add lemon juice and pepper to hers, but I think it's pretty good as is.  Anyway, I joined the Thursday night bean soup crowd to catch up on what was going on in the family and hear all the good gossip, and because I too like the bean soup.

I had a side greek salad, a grilled cheese sandwich and a cup of navy bean soup.  The Other Place is very generous with it's feta cheese when it comes to the greek salad, which I love because I <3 (Did you know the Oxford Dictionary now recognizes that symbol as a word?  It does, I'm not making this up.)feta cheese.  If you order a regular sized greek salad it's the best because there isn't any lettuce, it's a real greek salad with only cucumber, tomatoes, onions and kalamata olives and feta.  The side salad has lettuce but I couldn't handle ordering a real greek salad this time around, because I really wanted grilled cheese, mostly to work as a vehicle to get my bean soup into my mouth.  Just like tomato soup goes great with grilled cheese, so does bean soup.  The grilled cheese is nothing fancy, but it's still good.

The other place is nice because the portions are just the right size and the prices aren't crazy, plus my family seems to know everyone who works there so they always have a table waiting.  Yes, we're those people.

After dinner I met up with my friend Jill at this new Frozen Yogurt place at the local mall, the Gateway.  The place is called

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Juicy Berry and it's a chain, but it's a wonderful chain.  There are about 10 different flavors of frozen yogurt and everything is self serve, so you get a gigantic cup and fill it up as much as you want, and then head over to the toppings bar.  In the end they charge you based on the weight of your cup.  I tried the pomegranate/wild berry fro yo and the cookies and cream fro yo all covered in sprinkles and oreo pieces.  I give this place a huge thumbs up.  Eat this, it's delicious, and you can have just about anything you could imagine.


A Wadsworth Fantasy aka Hire's Big H (Salt Lake City)

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My Dad calls some of the places the family always eats at in Salt Lake "Wadsworth Fantasies" because we like the places we've always gone to for years, even though sometimes they're not as good as they should be.  Yet we go back time and time again.  One of these places is "Hire's Big H."

It's just a locally owned burger place, but I can remember eating here every summer when my mom would pack up myself and my sisters to live with my grandparents.  We all almost order exactly the same thing when we go, a double cheeseburger with only mustard and pickles on it.  It's delicious and washed down with a made by hand cherry coke it's exactly the way I always remember it tasting.  It's tradition to go to Hire's, it's just something we do.  Plus, there's fry sauce and I don't know why I like fry sauce, I just do and it doesn't taste as good anywhere else.  It's not better than In-N-Out or even Five Guys but I love it, and will continue to want to visit Hire's ever time I visit Salt Lake.

The prices are average for a burger place, and the staff is really friendly.  Be warned if you go during a peak hour the place is covered in children, this is after all, Zion.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Slow Cooked Vegetarian Lasagna

Josie and I made some of this slow cooker vegetarian lasagna this past weekend and it was pretty good. Its main feature would be the pound of crimini mushrooms we put into it, thinly sliced with a mandolin (the instrument, obviously). It took roughly eight hours on the low setting to fully cook into this masterpiece of pasta and delight. The recipe is actually pretty simple:

1. Thinly slice 1 pound of crimini mushrooms and saute them with 2 tsp of minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Put this on the side.
2. Cover the bottom of your slow cooker with 1 cup of tomato sauce.
3. Place four lasagna noodles (oven ready) on top of the sauce. You can break it to fit. It may form multiple layers.
4. Place a mix of 1/4 cup parmesan, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, 1 cup of ricotta cheese on top and half of the mushrooms.
5. Place four lasagna noodles on top.
6. Pour in 1 cup of tomato sauce.
7. Repeat step 4 (using the rest of the mushrooms).
8. Repeat step 5.
9. Repeat step 6.
10. Place a mix of 1/4 cup parmesan and 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella on top.
11. Set it for 6-8 hours on Low (3-4 hours on High).

This is what it looks like before it's cooked. Amazingly simple. It actually looks like a lot of rice, but it's just the cheese. Ate this with a nice brown & tan.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Bohemian Brewery (South Jordan, Utah)

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To celebrate my youngest sister's 21st birthday the family went to The Bohemian Brewery.  I'd never been here before as it was a new addition since my actually living in Utah.  Melinda thought it would be a good place to go because she'd heard the food was good, and it's a brewer.

The family piled into the car while it was snowing like crazy outside and headed down to South Jordan from Ogden.  We had planned on being karaoke super stars after dinner but the snow changed our plans, but don't worry we did plenty of other fun things for Melinda's birthday.   But back to the food....

Melinda, Rachel and I all ordered different beers so Melinda could get a taste of the different varieties the Brewery made.  We decided that while we all don't typically like the stouts, the Brewery's stout was their best, the other two were kinda watery and similar to something you'd find at a frat party.

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We had a pear, brie, walnut salad with a lemon vinaigrette as part of our appetizers.  I wish there had been more brie or that it had been chopped up into smaller bites, rather than the wedges because there might as well have not been any cheese on that salad.  The walnuts and pears were pretty good though, and the lemon dressing wasn't overpowering but a nice addition.

We also ordered some potato pancakes, which I know have their own special German name but I can't for the life of me remember what that name is.  I do remember that those potato pancakes were really good.  The pancakes came with a sour cream sauce and a spicy mustard sauce.  I liked the sour cream sauce more but both were really good.

<-Potato Pancake                                                                       Salad ->

Now, for my entree.  My father had told me to order the pork chop, but I of course didn't listen to him and instead thought I should try the brawtworst with perogies and sauerkraut.  The perogies were phenomenal, I loved every bite but the sauerkraut was sweet, and the brawt was just kind of bland.  I suppose that the sauerkraut was good, but because I had expected traditional sour/tangy sauerkraut I ended up being disappointed.  I did have a taste of my Dad's pork chop and it was delicious.  I'll know better next time.

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The service here was pretty good, although they did seat us in a main traffic area, which was weird because they had other tables that were open that were less in the way.  We were constantly scooting in to avoid the waiters.  Our waitress was really attentive though, and our food came out fast.

The prices seemed a little high, but not unreasonable.  This isn't an everyday place to go, but it's a fun now and again food place.  The building actually looks like a giant cask and that's pretty neat.  I would definitely go back for just the pancakes and perogies.


La Puente (SLC, Layton, and Ogden Utah) Colorado/Utah Style Mexican Food!

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Every time I go home the first place I want to go to eat is La Puente.  They have the best smothered burritos, and I've found it hard to actually find smothered burritos outside of Utah.  What is a smothered burrito you ask?  Well the best way to describe it is to say it's like a burrito stuffed with a thinner chili verde with delicious pork chunks in it, and then the same inside is covered over the top of the burrito, "smothering" it.  I like mine with cheese and onions on top as well, and a side of rice.  That along with a Dr. Pepper is the perfect meal.  I think I might like it even more than I like pizza, and I love pizza.

I managed to eat three smothered burritos in the week and a half I was home. The family went to La Puente for dinner my first night home.  There were previously only locations in Salt Lake but the family is delighted the the restaurant has finally expanded and now there's a location in Layton which is just 15 minutes away from our house AND there's another location in Ogden on 12th Street which is only 5 minutes away.  It's pretty exciting.

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The family also likes to order a large guacamole salad to go with all our food.  Typically the guac needs some extra salt, but it's really good and they always make it fresh.

The pricing is great, you can get a smothered burrito with rice and beans for $5.99 and it's a ton of food, enough for two meals (because of the rice and beans).

La Puente was also the last place I ate at before leaving Utah.  I really wish I could figure out how to make the sauce because then I'd make my own smothered burritos at home, but I suppose it would never be quite the same.


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Food List (Shanghai)


Everyone once and a while I'll ask Bob why he doesn't pick where we eat, and he likes to always tell me I'm picky, which is not true, I just have preferences.  Sometimes I have a hankering for pizza, what can I say, I know what I want, but if I ask him he just waits for me to decide.  To help him figure out where we should eat in our last month in Shanghai I sent him the following email:


"Any of the following places are great places to take Margaret before you leave Shanghai:


-Natural Point (done)

-Nepali Kitchen (done)

-Gourmet Café (done)

-Pin Chuan


-House of Wine

-Mr. & Mrs. Bund

-Coco Curry (done)

-Din Tai Fung (The Taiwanese dumpling place by the ritz)

-Anywhere with the giant soup dumplings Michael told us about

-Yang’s Fried Dumplings

-Hai Di Lao

-Somewhere for DimSum brunch

-The Westin Champagne Brunch

-Di Shui Dong (Hunnan) (done)

-Boxing Cat (done)

-Somewhere over in the Sinan mansions area cause it’s fun

-Bella Napoli

-House of Roosevelt, one more time cause it’s swanky J

-The Chinese hamburger place

-Master Kong

-Bibim-bop place by work (done)


-Haiku or some other sushi place

On a side note, I just finished the tea you left at home.  It was great!  :)  Love you!!!!!"


He's left his tea at home that day and was sad about it, and I didn't want him to think it went to waste.  Anyway, we've been doing a pretty good job of hitting the places I've come to live here in Shanghai, but we still have a bunch to go.  And even though some of them say "done" that doesn't mean I won't eat there again.  Bob was surprised to see that my favorite pizza place was not on the list.  This was purposely done as I know he doesn't really enjoy our designated "pizza nights" so I'll order pizza for lunch while he's at work some time.

In other words, there wont be any real new posts for the rest of February as I'll be going to places I've already been, just to make sure I get one last awesome meal from each place as a reminder of how much I loved living in Shanghai.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Natural Point Teppanyaki (All you can EAT!)


Bob and I discovered an awesome teppanyaki place in the old french concession in Shanghai that's pretty good.  We had walked past the place a couple of times on our way to Pub Quiz night, and we were so happy that we finally tried it.  For 160RMB (less than $25USD) you can have all you can eat teppanyaki, and they have a variety of sashimi platters as well.  Every single thing on the menu is available as part of the all you can eat special, including drinks.  As far as I'm concerned this is the best place for a good meal for a really reasonable price.

We typically like to order the sashimi platter as a stater with; salmon, tuna, some kind of white fish and octopus.  The wasabi that comes with the sashimi is a little tame, not nearly as spicy as I'd like but the quality of sashimi is pretty good.  We then order about a million pounds of meat.  They have an amazing steak fillet covered in butter and garlic that we always order.  It's lean, and cooked just right and melts in your mouth.  There's also: salmon steak, scallops, garlic fried rice, beef wrapped asparagus, and a variety of vegetables.  And then we always finish off the meal with fried bananas and ice cream!


This last time we went the guy in charge of cooking the food was being lame and complaining (in chinese).  Apparently he was annoyed that he had to actually do his job.  Anyway, it turned out we were sitting at a table with 4 Dutch Hotel Students.  As in, they're studying hoteling and other fun things like that.  One of the guys at the table got up and fried our bananas, it was pretty awesome.  The wait staff was waving their arms and going "noooo" but the guy did a great job.  I'll be uploading the video on facebook, so look for the video.

If you have the chance you should definitely check out Natural Point.  It's in the old french concession near Dongping Lu and Wulumuqui Lu down the street from the BullDog Pub.  They've gotten pretty popular so reservations are recommended, and if you have more than six people you should request a private room because the service is excellent if you have a private room.

Run, go, be swift, go to Natural Point!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

House of Flour (Shanghai) - Tech Park Foods

The House of Flour eating entry is part of the Food Court by the Technology Park series of entries.  Bob and I have discovered we very much enjoy this place because they have the best croque madame and monsieur sandwiches.  That's right, a restaurant/cafe in Shanghai has the best French sandwich I've ever had.  It's likely because the sandwiches are smothered in cheese.  As our friend Jay would say, "They taste like childhood obesity."  And damn if it isn't delicious!


The restaurant cafe has a selection of sandwiches, pastas, salads and soups.  There's always a (fill in the blank) of the day.  This last time we went they had a broccoli and spinach soup, which I thought sounded pretty good so I started my meal with that.  It was good, and would have been even better with a little garlic and some pepper.  It just needed a little kick, but it was fine.


Bob ordered the croque madame sandwich, and I had the croque monsieur sandwich.  What's the difference you ask?  Well they both have ham and cheese, but the croque madame has a fried egg on top.  Now you're probably saying to yourself, "but that's just a grilled ham and cheese sandwich."  And you would be right except that there's little fried/melted cheese over the top of the sandwich as well which finishes the whole thing off and makes you want to eat the whole thing even though it's gigantic!  Every sandwich also comes with a small side salad with a tart vinaigrette dressing.  I eat the tomatoes out of the salad but my main focus is always the sandwich.

The place is more pricey than a regular lunch because of the "western" food.  It was about $15 USD for each of us to eat lunch, but let me tell you, when you want the best grilled ham and cheese, you go to The House of Flour.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Coco Curry, it'll rock your world....if you like curry, if you don't then there's something wrong with you.

Once upon a time in a mystical land there was a chain of restaurants that originated in Japan called.....Coco Ichibanya aka Coco Curry.  Japanese curry is not like Indian curry in the sense that the curry is really more about what you have in it, and on it, rather than Indian curry which has a variety of reds, yellows, greens and so on.  Japanese Curry, particularly Katsu Curry is delish.  And I'm lucky enough to have one in the basement of our local mall.


Jay, Staci and I visited Coco Curry just this last week and enjoyed a wonderful lunch and then a good shop at the Fabric Market.  When we arrive it was near the end of the crazy lunch rush, so we had to wait for a table, luckily the wait wasn't too long, maybe 5 minutes, and we got a nice big booth.   So the way it works is like this:

1- pick the amount of rice you would like with your curry.

2- pick the spiciness of your curry.

3- pick the toppings/extras for your curry.

I like the smallest portion of rice with the medium spice level (I've tried the hotter spice level but I think it detracts from the actual flavor of the curry.) with a breaded pork cutlet and mushrooms and cheese in the curry.  It's sooooo good, and very filling.  I never seem to finish my plate.  I can eat about 3/4ths of the dish and then I'm stuffed.  Sometimes the mushrooms are better than other times, but hey it's a fast food place, that's to be expected.

Jay likes the same combo I like except he gets a variety of vegetables instead of just the mushrooms.  And Staci went completely different and got a smaller portion of breaded pork cutlet with a potato croquette, and mixed veggies with out cheese.   The cheese is what really finishes the dish for me, but the potato croquette is pretty good.




From left to right: Jay's curry, my curry, Staci's curry.  And yes, I'm aware that my curry looks terrible.  I'd mixed it up before I remembered to take a picture.  Don't just it by how it looks, because it tastes delicious.




The service is fast and great, although a little "on you" in the sense that the waitstaff hovers about.  There is a huge selection of different things you can have in your curry ranging from all sorts of meat and vegetables to weird sea urchins.  They also have some fruity drinks, but I usually just get water.

For our three meals the total cost was about 120RMB, so around $20USD which is great for the amount of food you get and for three people.  Coco Curry isn't an everyday kind of place for lunch, but it's definitely a once a week stop, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has a chance to check it out.


Lunch at Kommune

I really love an area of Shanghai called Taikang Lu (Chinese: 泰康路) because it's like a little labyrinth full of tiny shops and cafes where you can just wander around and around for hours....not unlike what Staci and I did just the other day.  But this blog post is not about shopping, it's about eating.  We had lunch at Kommune, at place I've been to a number of times and I love no matter what I've ordered.  It's tucked back amongst jewelry shops, a silk scarf shop and another small cafe that I'm sorry to say I still haven't tried because when I think I'm going to try it I end up at Kommune again.

There's a wonderful outside seating area, that we weren't able to enjoy because of the snow, but none-the-less is still nice.  Inside it was full, but not packed.  We originally took at seat at the really high bar that's located right at the front of the restaurant but luckily were shortly moved to a small table.  Sitting at the bar isn't too bad, but the stools are really high, and not very comfortable.  The tables look like what I would imagine really old television dinner stands would have looked like had televisions been around during the Ming Dynasty. The walls are covered with old propaganda posters, and there's usually an old war movie being shown on the two televisions that are mounted in corners.


The food choice is what you'd expect from a small cafe, with a few small surprises.  They have daily specials that vary from fetticine alfredo to weird fish things.  We stuck with normal choices and were quite pleased.  I can't remember the name of my sandwich right now but it was good.  Not great, but good.  It was ham and gruyere cheese melted on rye bread with a spicy chili sauce.  It was a little tart, and I was expecting it to be sweeter, which is why I didn't think it was great.  But like I said, good.  All sandwiches come with a small side salad covered in a pesto dressing which is really delicious.  I wouldn't order the salad on it's own but it's a great compliment to the sandwiches.  I also ordered the pumpkin soup, not that I thought I'd be hungry (The sandwiches are an excellent size, so there's no need to worry you'll be hungry.) but I do love good pumpkin soup.  The soup is served in a coffee thermos with a little cup for you to pour your soup into as you eat it.  The soup was great!  It was like someone had pureed a pumpkin and delivered it directly to me.  I would have added a little chili pepper or just pepper in general, but it was really good as is.  Plus, how could I not like something served to me in a thermos?













Staci tried the veggie sandwich and didn't seem to have any complaints.  She too enjoyed the pesto dressing on the salad, it really is a nice touch.  And we both had Jasmine Tea to go with our meals.   Then of course being us, we need to have dessert so we split a slice of Apple Pie with real whipped cream and each had an iced Mocha.  The Mochas were served in mason jars which is really cute, and the apple pie slice was huge!  Definitely split a slice of pie, unless you haven't already eaten it's massive and will fill your entire stomach.  We devoured it.













Kommune isn't the cheapest of places to eat, but it's not too bad.  We had all that food for just under $40USD which isn't something I'd do all the time for lunch but is fun.  As we were getting our selves ready for our shopping time the cafe started handing out samples of other kinds of of course we had a couple bites.  The caprese was really good, I think it's the pesto that sells me on it, and I tried some of their fish from the fish and chips and it melted in my mouth.  I'll have to go back and actually try the fish and chips.

This is a fun place just to stop for a coffee as well because you can get a bowl, I'm not kidding an actual bowl, of coffee or mocha.  Like a cereal bowl big.  Craziness, but amazing.  Go there now.


Eat Fast/ Drink Cheap (Aka my write up for BigMacs and Merlot)

So Staci (aka @girljournalist) has started a blog called BigMacs and Merlot, in which she pairs fast food with cheap wine. Cheap being the price, not that it's bad wine, just very affordable wine.  While Staci was visiting Shanghai she thought it would be a good idea for all of us (Jay, Bob, Staci and me) to try out one of the fast food places and pick up some wine to go with it...and so we did.


The wine was purchased at a little store called "La Vie En Rose," in the little strip mall/food court area of our office in Shanghai.  They had a nice selection of wines ranging from 40RMB (about $8USD) in a small bottle to 650RMB (about $98USD).  Because it was lunch time and we didn't want to get wasted on wine and then go back to work we purchased two small bottles of a Chilean Pinot Noir, made in 2008 in Bio Bio Valley, by Porta.

The bottles were really cute and each bottle was 40RMB.   There's nothing classier than four Americans in a Chinese fast food restaurant in China, at lunch time, enjoying tiny bottles of wine with their lunch.  Classy.


Our fast food choice is a place that both Bob and Jay love.  I ate there once and thought I'd never go back because I thought it was less than satisfactory.  Anyway.....

We ate at Dong Fang Ji Bai, (in Chinese: 东方既白)(translated to English: East Dawning), which is a Chinese fast food chain owned by KFC.  They have a small variety of things ranging from breaded pork cutlets, to ramen, to curry dishes, and various other things.  Bob had the breaded pork cutlet with curry and I went with a noodle dish with shredded carrots, cucumber and other veggies in a tofu sauce of some sort.  We also had turnip cakes and pork dumplings.


I followed Staci's lead and opened the screw top bottle of tiny wine and took a whiff.  Smelled like wine, looked like wine, was likely wine.  The first sip was decent.  I'm not a wine expert by any means but I do know what I like and what I don't like. This wine was okay, I personally like things a little more fruity but this one was close enough to make me happy.  Unfortunately it did not pair well with my noodles dish.  The sauce for my dish had a lot of vinegar in it, and after I'd eaten some of the noodles the wine was really sour.  The turnip cakes were a better combo, although I think they actually dulled the flavor of the wine because they're so salty.  It seemed like I was drinking juice rather than wine because of the salt.  The pork dumplings were just bad, so there's no reason to even try to discuss their taste with the wine.  Don't order the pork dumplings, they're tasteless, bland and just blah.

Bob's review was: "I think that the curry overpowered the wine… it didn't really add anything but it didn't taste bad either."








Left to right: noodle dish, pork cutlet, turnip cup, and nasty pork dumplings don't get a photo because they were so bad.

I actually think the wine was pretty decent.  I would be willing to purchase it again and drink with even classier food, like Arby's.