Sunday, October 21, 2007

I've Relocated.

I will no longer be on blogger....I've moved on over to worpress. Here's my new blog:

Gochi, Gochi, Gochi Coo

Our friend L invited us to go to Gochi with her on Saturday night. We had 2 wait to weeks for this event because you have to make a reservation in advance. The reservation was originally for 6 people...but it ended up being J, L, and me. Oh was still a nice experience. Gochi's tag line is Japanese fusion tapas and that's what it basically is. All the dishes range between $6-$14. Nothing was overpriced at all. When you get to the restaurant, you wouldn't even think twice that such a nice place exists in such a dumpy strip mall...but I've been fooled before (refer to Bleu Ginger restaurant which is also in a strip mall). Once you get over the fact that the restaurant is in a strip mall and you enter the restaurant -- it's a whole new ball game. We were seated in the dining room with the raised platform where we had to sit shoeless in tatami-style seating. This was very interesting indeed. This is the first time I've been somewhere that you are required to take your shoes off. It was neat.

According to an article I found, Gochi is Japanese slang for "good food." -- In my opinion - very true. It is also a globally inspired izakaya restaurant -- meaning these types of restaurants serve small, elegant plates of grilled and fried food (just like tapas plates you get at Spanish restaurants.) Since Gochi claims to be Japanes fusion tapas (there are some hints of French and Korean inspired plates), we decided to try a little of everything.

Since Gochi doesn't provide their menu online...I will have to remember what we ordered from my memory. We had:
  • Crab Croquettes - Cream cheese and crab quickly fast fried in a batter
  • Steamed Cod with a plum soy sauce
  • Chicken thighs chopped and topped with a house teriyaki sauce
  • Shrimp balls in a broth
  • Pork and Tofu Clay Pot (a traditional style of Japanese cooking, ingredients cooked in a clay pot, when the waiter brings it out, they have to mix it up and dish it out for the patrons)

We were all pleased with our options. We got plenty of food and when we left there, we didn't feel overly stuffed. It'd be fun to go there again with a bigger group -- that way we can order more dishes to share. They have an extensive menu offering some simple dishes, but at the same time some eclectic dishes (like pork innards, cow tongue....)

I definitely will go there again...except I might ask to sit at a table next time instead of on the tatami mats. I need my back support.

Banana Leaf Is Too Crowded

Friday night, J and I met up with our friends M&N for dinner at this joint called Banana Leaf, which is a Malaysian, Indian, and Thai restaurant. Overall, the food was pretty tasty....but I wasn't too impressed with the service and the atmosphere at the restaurant. It was too crowded in there and all the tables are about an inch apart. It's just too crowded. I didn't like the layout of the restaurant at all. Besides how bad everything else least the food was good. We decided to order a few dishes and share with everyone.

We started off with the Roti Prata, which is a multi-layered home made Indian bread dipped in curry sauce and the chicken satay. Both were excellent.

For our entrees, we decided on 4 dishes:
  • Mango Chicken (with green & red peppers in a spicy mango sauce served in a mango shell )
  • Malay Sizzling Black Pepper Prawns (with onions in a pepper sauce)
  • Penang Sizzling Prawns (with onion, green & red pepper with chef's special sauce)
  • Belachan KangKung (Ong Choy) -with Malay special shrimp paste sauce

We had the Hainan Seasoned Rice with turmeric to accompany our dishes.

The Mango Chicken had very nice flavors and the sauce accented the chicken very well. The presentation of the dish was very nice.

Both the prawn dishes were very good. The vegetables and sauces went very well with everything. It was very tasty.

The KangKung is similar to baby broccoli. I found a new vegetable that I like. It was good...not bitter at all like I thought it would be. Very satisfying.

For dessert, J and I ordered the Deep Fried Banana a la mode. The waitress told us it came with mango ice cream. I asked her if there was another kind of ice cream we could get instead -- she told us yes, vanilla. So I tell her I want the vanilla instead. She repeated my order back to me....but when they bring the dessert out, it's got mango ice cream. I didn't want to be picky, but didn't I specify I wanted vanilla? I had to remind them, so they took it back and brought the dessert out with the right ice cream. It's not that complicated, is it?

Anyway...the dessert was decent -- it doesn't compare to the other banana desserts I've had at other Asian restaurants. To be honest, I was kind of scary. The bananas were dipped in this really red-orange breading, because the dessert came out and there were 2 crescent shaped objects in the weirdest orange color. It was kind of scary. After the first few bites, it isn't too bad.

I say I would go back there....but during the week when it's less crowded.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

R.I.P. Tiramisu...

Last night, J, our uncle, and I went to one of our favorite restaurants, Olio's. Lo and behold, we were saddened to learn that they took the Tiramisu Valencia (espresso and grand marnier soaked ladyfingers, Italian mascarpone cheese) off their dessert menu. Let me just say that this is a HUGE, HUGE, and HUGE loss. This is by far the best, I mean it -- the best tiramisu we've ever had.

We are in shock. The waiter told us that it wasn't being ordered enough, so they decided to remove it once and for all. No fair. Not fair at all. How can they take away such great tasting food? I loved that the tiramisu was made fresh daily.

My friend L suggested that we ask for the recipe. I doubt they would give it out, but you never know-- I've frequented there quite a bit. I'll have to work some magic. Oh well, may the tiramisu be off to a better place than my belly.

Sad. Sad. Sad.

I'm salivating just thinking of it. Hmmpf.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Birthday Shout-Outs

I would just like to take the time to tell 2 of my beautiful sisters - D & C - "Happy Birthday!"

D is celebrating her 20th birthday today and C is celebrating her Sweet 16 tomorrow. I can't believe how fast time flies. All of a sudden, 4 of my younger siblings are in their 20s like me.

Wow. you girls...hope you both are having the best time!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

It's Basa...Not Bass...

A couple of weekends ago when J and I went out to dinner with our friends S and L (at Bleu Ginger), the waitress was telling us about the specials. She was talking about some fish special, so when we asked her what the fish was, she said "Basa." From the look on her face and her body language, she did not look too sure about it. We asked her what was basa and she couldn't even muster an answer. She just shrugged and giggled nervously and walked away. I bet she sold that dish to many diners that night....riiiiiiight. When she left, we discussed amongst ourselves and agreed that it must have been bass, and basa was a typo on their menu.

Well...we've been proven wrong. I was out with J and L this week and we ate at this cute little Italian place by where we live. The waiter there was telling us about the specials and they had a fish special, featuring basa -- at this point, J and I started laughing. We asked what basa was and the waiter confirmed that it's similar to sole. It sounded delicious...but I went with a porcini mushroom ravioli instead -- which was a good choice.

By the way...just checked wikipedia, and basa is more of a catfish than sole. Maybe the restaurants should inform their waitstaff on what basa really is. Maybe I'll try it someday...I do love catfish.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Our Little Visit to Saratoga

Yesterday turned out to be more than what we expected. J and I decided to go to Saratoga (it's about 15 minutes from where we live.) J's always driving through Saratoga to go up into the mountains on his bike rides. He's also a fan of Cinnabar wines and they have a tasting room in downtown Saratoga. It's a cute road with little boutiques, cafes, and restaurants up and down the street. Why we never went there before is beyond me. I instantly loved how pretty Saratoga is, it's nestled right below the mountains and the scenery is beautiful. We stopped off at Cinnabar and did a tasting, which only cost $5 and we got to sample 4 wines, plus a dessert wine. We got to sample 2 white wines: a Marsanne and Chardonnay and 2 reds: Mercury Rising Cab and a Lodi Petit Verdot. They were all excellent. Really good wines. I liked the chardonnay especially. I'm used to Chardonnays being very okay, but this one was very crisp and clean on the palate. The dessert wine we tried was an Ice Wine and it's pretty tasty -- it was very sweet, but it would go nice with a fruity dessert or something. We bought 2 bottles of wine from there - J bought a Cab Sauvignon and I bought a Paso Robles Valdiguié (which is a limited release from Cinnabar). Haven't tried it or anything...but it seemed interesting enough and I'm always up for something new.

After we left Cinnabar, we walked around downtown for a while. We decided we'd eat dinner there, but none of the restaurants were opening until 5 or 5:30. We checked out some of the menus hanging outside the restaurants and we decided we wanted to eat at la Mère Michelle. We still has an hour to kill before dinner so we stopped by this wine shop called Uncorked. I didn't even realize there was a wine shop besides Cinnabar. We had a good time in Uncorked. We both did a $10 tasting and got 3 different wines to sample: a Fess Parker Chardonnay, a Page Mill Cab Sauvignon, and a Mann Syrah. They were all okay. I wasn't crazy about any of them. It was just nice to sit down and enjoy some wine. The wine selection the owner has is great. There are a lot of good wines in his shop. We left with 6 bottles or so.

Once we were done at Uncorked...we headed over to the restaurant. It's set inside a Victorian house. The restaurant's been around since it's vintage. We were seated at a table near the windows. They had all the windows open, so you got nice fresh air flowing through. I was wined I didn't pursue anymore wine, but J did and he ordered a bottle of 2002 Grgrich Hill Zinfadel. By the way...they have a huge wine list, featuring lots of known wineries and wines. We were impressed by their list. For starters I got the Baked French Onion Soup au Gratin and J got the Mixed Green salad. They make everything fresh so it was a good 15-20 minutes before my soup came out, which I appreciate, because you rarely go places where they make it from scratch as you order it. Well, the soup was good....fresh and hot, but in my honest opinion, it lacked a little something. It needed more flavoring or seasoning. I'm always used to the soup being a little saltier. Oh well....can't complain too much since everything else was delicious.

I ordered the Prawn and Scallop Cakes Topped with Lobster, which sits on a Lemon Vodka Caviar Cream sauce. J ordered the 20 oz. Bone-in Rib Eye. Both our entrees came with candied carrots, steamed broccoli, and scalloped potatoes. Can I just say that everything was superb and delicious. The prawn and scallop cakes were to-die-for...such a nice change from the traditional crab cake. I got 2 cakes on my plate and both were topped each with a lobster tail. I love lobster and this was wonderful and fresh. The scalloped potatoes were delicious! They were so creamy and so tasty. It's not like any scalloped potatoes I've had before. This was wonderful. J's rib eye was just as good...cooked to perfection. He ate the whole thing! All 20 oz of it. After our delicious meal, we ended on a sweet note with 2 scoops of the restaurants homemade double vanilla bean gelato. Yum yum yum.

We will definitely go to la Mère Michelle's again....but only for a special occasion. It is a bit pricey for the meals. We will return to Saratoga for another excursion in the future.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Designer Eyewear -- As If!

A couple of weekends ago, I went and had my eyes's been at least 5 years since I had an eye exam and it was about time I got one done, since I knew that my vision was failing in not 1 eye, but both eyes. I was correct. The vision in my right eye is just as bad. I used to be 20/20....but gone are the days. I ordered some new glasses and all this place had to offer was designer eyewear. Who knew that every designer these days makes eyewear? There was Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Kate Spade, Donna Karan, Burberry.....and Vera Wang. At first I was a little shock at how much the frames were alone, but I figured, why not?

So, in conclusion, yours truly got a pair of Vera Wang's and they are beautiful. The cost -- too much, close to $400 (frames, lenses, etc.) Ew.

Nonetheless, they are cute and fashionable. I am wearing them proudly.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Bleu Ginger Review

On Saturday night, my husband J and I met up with our friends L & S for dinner at Bleu Ginger Restaurant, which is classified as Asian Fusion. The funny thing about this place is that it's in some strip mall and when you're inside the restaurant, you'd never believe it was in a strip mall. The decor is very chic and beautiful. The ambiance is very intimate and tables are set far enough from other diners so that you can just relax and enjoy yourself without feeling crowded.

When you first walk into the restaurant, you see the hostess and a huge pot filled with white orchids. To the left is a fountain with a mosaic wall and a little stream of water if flowing down and it's lit up with a pink light. There are 6 glass circles on the floor by where the hostess stands and each one is illuminated and with a different color or design. The rest of the restaurant is just as nice with beautiful light shades each with a different design. All along the walls are paintings. There are a 2 or 3 tables where diners can sit and relax on couches. The table we were seated at had very comfortable chairs. You sit in it and you don't ever want to move. The chairs were great.

So, right away, I was impressed with the decor and the ambiance of the restaurant. Now comes the food....

We started off with a couple of appetizers:
  • Fusion Rolls (Fried salmon, mango, avocado, cilantro, and lettuce wrapped in rice paper, served with sesame citrus soy)
  • Pan Fried Dumplings (Handmade pot-stickers filled with scallops, shrimps, scallion and ginger served with sesame soy)

All I have to say is that they were both delicious. Very fresh flavors, especially in the rolls - the salmon and mango went perfectly together. I loved the dumplings because the mixture inside was blended well together.

Now the main courses. We each ordered a different dish (which is smart, that way we all get to sample a little bit of everything.

I ordered the Steamed Chilean Sea Bass (Chilean bass with glass noodles, shiitake mushroom and ginger wrapped and steamed in banana leaves)

J ordered Bo Luc Lac (Wok seared filet mignon steak cubes, (8oz) with soy black pepper sauce)

L ordered Atlantic Salmon (Fresh Atlantic salmon with sweet chili sauce, sauteed with oyster mushroom chayote, carrots, served with fried taro mashed potatoes)

S ordered Niman Steak with Sweet Potato Garlic Fries (Grilled Niman Rach NY steak with mushroom sauce) S substituted the fries for the fried taro mashed potatoes

Overall, everything was very good. I loved my sea bass wrapped in the banana leaf. It was very refreshing with the ginger and mushrooms. I got the chance to sample J's Bo Luc Lac and boy, oh, boy was that delicious. Of all the dinners ordered, his had to be the best. The cubed filet mignon were so tender and the flavor and seasoning was excellent. The salmon was just as good - I usually have a hard time ordering salmon and enjoying it, but they did a good job at Bleu Ginger. I didn't try S's steak, but I did try the taro mashed potatoes and they were so creamy and rich. Entrees get 5 stars!

For dessert we all had the Fried Banana with Ice Cream. I've had this dessert at several places, but J and I agree that this is the 2nd best we've ever had. Whatever coating they had for the banana was extra tasty and the coconut ice cream that came with the dessert was just as good. The best part of dessert was the bottle of wine I ordered. I love moscatos so I was very pleased to see that they had one of my favorites: St. Supery Moscato. I can never find this bottle at any of the wine stores around I told J that the only way I can stock up on this wine is if we went to Napa. I already did Napa two weekends in a row in March, so it might not be bad to go again soon.

The conclusion is that this is a great restaurant. I will definitely be heading back there in the future. Food was excellent, ambiance was wonderful -- what more could I want. If any of my family or friends come out here, you know where I might take you...

Monday, September 24, 2007

Who Likes Jane Austen?

It was a rainy day in the valley this past Saturday so I decided to spend my early afternoon taking in a movie. I decided to see The Jane Austen Book Club. The movie is based on the book by Karen Joy Fowler.

The basic premise of the story is that 6 people form together for a book club, thus the Jane Austen book club. Each person will be responsible for holding the book club meeting at their place for each book. The 6 following books by Jane Austen are:

Sense and Sensibility
Northanger Abbey
Mansfield Park
Pride & Prejudice

Overall, the movie was good. There were some really funny scenes and the cast is full of good actors and actresses: Maria Bello, Amy Brenneman, Maggie Grace, the wonderful Emily Blunt (who doesn't love her?), Jimmy Smits, and Hugh Dancy (oh my, he's so cute!)

I've been reading the novel and in this case, I think the movie may be actually better than the book. I usually prefer books to the movies...but I enjoyed the movie much much more. The book can have its' dull moments and go off on different tangents not related to the story at hand. I do agree that if anyone hasn't ready any Austen, this could be a good introduction her novels.

Either read it or see it.