Thursday, May 31, 2012
Besides the obvious weather considerations, I wanted to see Sonoma because the The Bachelor filmed there last Season with local boy Ben. As fans of the show know (and who isn't a fan!), Ben took front runner Kaci B. to dinner at The Girl and The Fig. That was all I needed to make Girl/Fig my destination!
I checked into the El Dorado Hotel on the plaza and a very nice girl at the desk gave me the "Internet special" even though I was a walk-in. While I did love the California coolness of the El Dorado, I'm not sure I'd stay there again. It's was great to be right on the plaza, but after midnight the motorcycle noise went on all night. Apparently, the Harley noise in California is just as bad as the the Harley noise in Florida. Can't say I'm surprised. Sonoma sort of reminds me of Truckee, California meets Leesburg, Virginia. There's a blue jean, wine-snooty, ex-hippie vibe in both places. Shopping and wine are probably better in Sonoma. People watching better in Leesburg.
Restaurant wise, I'm now a big fan of the El Dorado Kitchen. The Kitchen has to be the best place in town. There's a wood and whitewash feel to the place that is quintessential California. The menu is what you'd expect with a few nice touches and tons of avocado. It would have been very, very easy to pick something healthy and low-cal. But, of course, I didn't. My salad of heirloom beats, goat cheese mousse, orange, ruby grapefruit, arugula and marcona almonds was spectacular. The chef was very accommodating and made me a vegetarian version of the pasta special: pappardelle with green garlic cream, peas, wild mushrooms, baby carrots and chiles. He left out the sausage and it was not missed. I am not exaggerating when I say this might be the best meal I've had this year.
Unfortunately, I am not a big fan of The Girl and The Fig. Maybe my expectations were a bit high. Maybe I was just too excited to eat at a restaurant featured on The Bachelor! Maybe not. The Girl/Fig can only be described as "Goodwill Chic." That's my term for something one or two steps below "Shabby Chic." The furniture is first apartment shabby and the lighting is bright to highlight the fact that the place is dumpy. I suppose that's what they are going for, but with the El Dorado Kitchen across the street, you'd think they'd try to up the ante.
Although it was a Tuesday in the middle of low season, they could only give me a reservation for 9 pm. OK. I can be European now and then. I ordered the mussels because it looked like a specialty. The french fries showed up in the little cone, but were stone cold. What is worse than cold fries, I ask you? The mussels seem to be made in a big pot in the back and most of the meat must drop to the bottom because I had way too many empty shells in my dish. To be fair, the waitress did not charge me for the mussels after I complained about the fries. Excuse me, frites. Since I was already in a foul, cold-frites sort of mood, the two girls sitting next to me talking on their cell phones did not help. I like restaurants that have a no cell phone policy and enforce it.
Good food was also had for breakfast at the Sunflower Caffe for breakfast and The Red Grape for lunch.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Friday, May 18, 2012
|1/2 cup(s) plain fat-free yogurt|
|1/4 medium English cucumber(s), halved, seeded, and thinly sliced (1/2 cup)|
|1 Tbsp mint leaves, fresh, thinly sliced|
|1/4 tsp table salt|
|1/8 tsp table salt|
|1 pound(s) lean ground lamb|
|2 tsp ginger root, fresh, peeled and minced|
|2 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), crushed with a press|
|1 tsp ground cumin|
|1/2 tsp paprika, hot, preferably smoked|
|2 cup(s) romaine lettuce, very thinly sliced|
- Spray the grill rack (or grill pan) with nonstick spray. Preheat the grill to medium or prepare a medium fire.
- Stir together the yogurt, cucumber, mint, and the pinch of salt in a serving bowl. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use.
- Mix together the lamb, ginger, garlic, cumin, paprika, and the
remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl just until well blended.
With damp hands, form the lamb mixture into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) oval
patties. Thread one patty on each of 8 (6- to 8-inch) metal skewers.
- Place the skewers on the grill rack and grill, turning, until the lamb is browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the patties from the skewers. Spread the romaine on a small platter and place the lamb patties on top. Serve with the yogurt sauce. Yields (1/2 cup romaine, 2 lamb patties, and 1/4 cup yogurt sauce per serving.
I also made a side of rice and a side of tomato cucumber salad because that's our normal take out meal and it was great. Judged - awesome "Greek takeout," fast, and healthy!
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Place: Jane's Cafe Location: Old Town Naples, FL
Date: April 15, 2012Meal: Brunch
If you are looking for the most expensive breakfast in Naples, look no further than Jane's Cafe. Located in the tres-chic 3rd Street area of Old Town Naples, Jane's is the place to see the rich and famous (mostly rich) residents of Naples. Tucked away behind the upscale, shop lined streets is this little jewel of a cafe buzzing with energy. Don't even try to go there after church on Sunday because that's when the Naples super-rich head over there for the $24 lobster omelets!
Waiting for a table at Jane's is your first wait of the day. After you are seated, you're going to wait for the waiter. (Maybe that is why they call him a "waiter?") After that, there's a wait for the food. I also waited for coffee this morning. But my shrimp, lobster, asparagus and Swiss cheese omelet was very yummy and I ate every bite. But, at $18 for just an omelet, English muffin and fruit garnish, it was a tad expensive. No potatoes! I suppose it's a GOOD thing that there are no potatoes at Jane's. No hash browns or home fries drenched in butter and sour cream. Yes, I suppose that's a good thing. It's one of the things that makes Jane's an almost healthy choice for brunch. The "Organic Plate" is also very healthy and calorie friendly - eggs, whole wheat toast, tomatoes and spinach. (Boooor-ing!)
If you are the "bread for breakfast" type then steer away from the "Organic Plate" and head to the "Chocolate Monkey French Toast." yup - chocolate and bananas with monkey bread and syrup. If it doesn't kill you, you'll probably enjoy it. The waffles look very good, light and fluffy, covered in fresh fruit and whip cream. Don't let the fresh fruit kid you, this breakfast is also packed with calories. As you waddle out of Jane's you'll probably be in the mood to walk off some of the calories. The shops of 3rd Street are great and there's a new gelato place next to The Island Company. Go ahead and have some dulce dessert because it's not like you're going to fit into anything they sell at The Island Company if you keep eating like this.
Enjoy Breakfast on 3rd Street! Auntie
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
|Courtesy: The Huff Post Style|
Monday, May 7, 2012
|View from the Battery, Charleston, SC|
|Shrimp and Grits from the Hominy Grill|
|Oysters from Amen Street|
|Oyster Shell Chandelier|
|Shrimp Po'boy at Hyman's|
Dinner on day-two, 82 Queen. This is a nice place for a date, but I went with my sister because I was there and it's one of my favorite restaurants, so we had to go. It was romantic. As they say on their website, "Nothing compares to the fine dining experience offered by this charming restaurant nestled in Charleston's historic French Quarter." The ambiance is wonderful and the food is amazing. I especially love their collared greens - I know this is a beautiful, fancy place, but they have amazing collard greens! My sister ordered the brisket which was good and moist and laid on top of mac and cheese and collard greens. After trying her dish she said, "let me try your collard greens because mine have barbeque sauce on them." then she realized that collard greens, cooked the right way, are actually just that sweet. I had the fried fish over collard greens with pimento risotto. Good, but I had a hard time with the bones in the fish and it really got in the way of my collard greens and risotto. I had the fried chicken there before but unfortunately it wasn't on the menu because it was really, really wonderful friend chicken. Judged - a beautiful, romantic spot for a date in Charleston.
You think I'm done, but no, we kept eating.
|Inside Fort Moultrie|
On day-three we went out to Fort Moultrie, which was a fort from the Revolutionary War to WWII (if you're a real nerd, like me, check this out http://moultrie.battlefieldsinmotion.com/ it's a 3D walk through what was once Fort Moultrie).
Since we were out at the beach already, we decided to stay at the beach for dinner. We did a quick web search and found Bowens Island Restaurant. On our way we stopped at a great farmers market in Mount Pleasant and found a caterer for my event as well as some delicious kettle corn.
|Steamed Oysters to Bowens|
|The view from Bowens|
I can't wait to go back to Charleston, there's so much more to eat!!!