Archive for May, 2010

Time for box wine

Romanticism aside, I bought a 3L Pinot Grigio wine in a bag/box from Bota Box today. I only want to drink one glass of wine with dinner and not worry about the rest spoiling in a few days. My major concern was taste, but gasp, it is good house wine. Wine spectator gave the pinot grigio 86 points so it can’t be that bad! The cost averages to $5 per 750mL and it lasts for 45 days. A bottle cannot beat all these advantages! (granted, there is a slight preservatives flavor, but I’m over it)

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Farmers market item of the week: adult spinach

I bought spinach from Nichols stand at the Daley Plaza farmers market this past Thursday and YUM! I lightly wilted it in a sautee pan with shallots, garlic and salt/pepper.

In a salad, raw is also delightful. This past Sunday I had a tasty dinner at a charity event for Growing Home put on by Pure Kitchen Catering. While eating a crispy, bubbly-looking green in my salad, I asked my neighbor what was it??? He replied, “adult spinach”. Why do the grocery stores keep feeding us babies when we have delicious adult spinach to eat! I’m taking a stand for adult spinach. Eat it!

First spinach brain seen here

Spinach brain

It even has a brain stem!

Kale chips…who knew?!

Jody Adams on Top Chef Masters baked kale in the oven to make it crispy. Surprising! considering kale normally needs to be boiled and sauteed into submission. So today I attempted kale chips…I gave them a light olive oil and salt dressing and put them in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven on a baking sheet. After a few minutes, they were shiny and limp…few more minutes, they were starting to show brown patches. At this point I picked some up and found mixed textures of crispy and soft. The taste of salty, crunchy kale was chip like in an imperfect way. I put them back in the oven and after a few more minutes, they turned completely brown and tasted like ash…try not to let them get to this point.

In sum, kale chips are tasty and nutritious but temperamental while cooking so be vigilant!

Sepia (American fresh and fancy)

As is mandatory for any good restaurant, the ingredients were of the highest quality, seasonal and fresh. Honoring the hard work of the farmers, Sepia elevates those ingredients to a level which requires great skill, thought and creativity. Overall, the food, service, and ambiance were delicious.

For dinner, to start:
watercress soup, crispy frog’s legs, creme fraiche – the french style soup was seasoned well and happily bright green. the frog/chicken? stock in the soup provided an intense poultry flavor which matched the deep-fried frog legs well. (yes, chewier chicken taste)

english pea and marscapone ravoli, pea shoots, thyme butter – Always love homemade pasta and the green filling shouted fresh peas. I think I ate the dish too slowly because the butter solidified a bit and left the remaining ravioli’s craving a little more liquid.

stinging nettle dumplings, mushroom-black garlic puree, bulgar wheat – I learned that evening that stinging nettle is a nutritious herb. The fresh flavors of the dish were very enjoyable but lacked liquid. (I did have plenty of water so I wasn’t particularly thirsty) The dumplings, while tasty, appeared to be made with a bean paste of sorts rather than a dough filling. Between the dumpling paste and mushroom-garlic puree (paste), it was a little dry.

Finally, and perhaps the highlight of the night, dessert:
strawberries and ricotta with basil, black-pepper ice cream and balsamic vinegar – I could have eaten 5 of these….so incredible.

Terragusto (Homemade pasta for cheap!)

Reviewing only for their take-out, homemade pasta… YUM! To have convenient access to homemade pasta for only $5 (2 portions) is heaven. I added cherry tomatoes, mushrooms and pesto to their pappardelle pasta and spent the rest of the night dreaming of Italy.

And they’re off! (heart Seed Savers Exchange)

Tomato toddlers!

Organic strawberries: five for me, one for tuperware.

From bowl to belly.

Takashi (Japanese French heaven)

If Yelp allowed 4.5 ratings, I would give it to Takashi. Unassuming and intimate, the environment set the stage for a beautiful display of originality, execution and quality ingredients. I was so impressed by the thorough, dish-by-dish explanations by the service staff.

For dinner:
Hamachi sashimi with napa cabbage, pickled cauliflower, garlic – Perfect combination of the freshest fish artfully supported by acidity and spice of a Kimchi pickling sauce.

Chilled Fresh Homemade Tofu (Oba Leaves, Green Onion, Bonito Flakes, Wakame, Umami-Ginger Soy) – The is a must order.

Chicken in Clay Pot (Amish Chicken, Shimeji Mushrooms, Eggplant, Haricot Vert, Yuzu Juice) – Each component of this dish, chicken, eggplant, shimeji mushroom, and green beans, were distinct and skillfully seasoned. The chicken had a subtle orange flavor (yuzu) and was ‘fall-off-the-bone” tender.

Seared Main Skate Wing (Medley of Japanese Mushrooms, Risotto of Cauliflower) – While tasty in its parts, the combination of cauliflower risotto with a fairly greasy fish created a slight dish imbalance.

Do not forget dessert in your dining experience! Delicious. Chef Takashi Yagihashi is one of my new favorite chefs. Thank you!