July 30, 2012 § 4 Comments
For quite some time, my sister has been urging me to try this place.
Saigon Noodle House sits off 280 in the same shopping center as Target. I was allured by Brynn’s raving reviews, a good price, and the novelty of Vietnamese food for me. So let’s be clear right now that this was my first time trying Vietnamese food, so I do not claim at all to be any sort of connoisseur. However, from what I tasted, I am absolutely in love.
The facade of this restaurant is quite unassuming. It sits beside the Pets Supplies “Plus” and Mattress Firm. Sure, the ambience is a little dated, and it’s definitely casual. But the food is spectacular. The entrees were large enough to split, so we ordered two things to share.
We poured the sauce over the dish and tossed it together. It was such a unique combination of flavors. I loved the crisp of the fried and sliced eggrolls. I enjoyed the pork’s tenderness. And the dressing added just the right finish to the dish. It was definitely enough for two to share.
However, we couldn’t help ourselves (or rather I couldn’t help myself).
Be still, my heart.
First off, this is an extremely well-priced sandwich. We’re talking $5 here for more than enough food for lunch. Second, it is a quality sandwich. It’s dressed with soy sauce, cilantro, cucumber slices and shredded carrots that gives freshness to the subtly spicy meatballs. If you try this, slip a jalapeno into a few bites—it completed the flavor combo for me. My only complaint is that they just gave us three slices. Thankfully Brynn let me have them all.
This is a perfect spot to pop in and out for a quick lunch. And we each paid less than $8 to split both of these items. So where are you headed for lunch today? I say, go here! Or have you already tried it? What do you think?
July 23, 2012 § 2 Comments
Next in my recounting of the honeymoon, I’ll take you to the Hog Island Oyster Company in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. I have been dying to talk about this place!
We were given a very reliable tip by our dear friend Diane McCracken, who is one of the best people to talk to if you’re contemplating a San Francisco visit. She had a long and thorough list of places to go, and we could not have been more grateful! When she was coming up with ideas for us, she she simply uttered the question, “Do you two like raw oysters?” Our eyes widened and heads nodded, and so she told us where to find them.
Though we didn’t get to sit at the envied spot at the bar—where, inches from your plate, chefs dump mesh bags of oysters onto their workspace and begin rapidly shucking—we got to watch that scene from our table by the window, enjoying the beautiful view of San Francisco Bay.
Ok, down to business. We started off with a couple of local brews. James ordered a Moylan’s Irish Style Red by Moylan’s Brewery in Novato, and I ordered a Blue Star Great American Wheat Beer by North Coast Brewing Co. in Fort Bragg. We would recommend both. Also, the bread was amazing.
So who knew oysters from this part of the country were going to taste so different from their Southern brothers? They are smaller and saltier, and their shells are slightly more gnarled with a wide variety shapes, colors, and sizes. We ordered the Oyster Bar Mix so we could sample a bit of everything on the menu.
Included in the Mix:
- Hog Island Sweetwater (Tomales Bay, CA)
- Hog Island Cliffside (Discovery Bay, WA)
- Chelsea Gems (Eld Inlet, WA)
- Island Creek (Duxbury Bay, MA)
- Hurricane Island (New Brunswick)
They don’t serve oysters with hot sauce, horseradish, and saltines like they do in the South. Hog Island serves their Hogwash—a cider vinegar sauce with bits of onion and jalapeño. It was a bright complement to the briney flavor of the oysters. One slurp, and I was addicted.
This was a pricey little meal for us, but the experience was well worth it—especially for a honeymoon (4th of July!) lunch.
July 21, 2012 § 6 Comments
Earlier this week, I shared this recipe from Saveur. It’s a Greek dish—Garides Saganaki (shrimp with tomatoes and feta)—and we made it for dinner this weekend. It was a rainy afternoon, and we were actually home with the time to cook, and this went quite well with a glass of Pinot.
I made a few adaptations. For starters, I skipped the mint since James and I aren’t big mint-in-savory-foods lovers. I used smaller shrimp, and I used an entire pound. I didn’t grate the tomatoes, I put them in a food processor, and because of that, I think there was more liquid than probably should have been. I also increased the amount of red pepper flakes.
We served this with warm French bread and a Caesar salad. Make this tonight or tomorrow!
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more if you like extra heat)
4 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta
1 lemon, halved
1. Place a rack 4 inches from top of oven, and preheat broiler. Heat oil in 10-inch ovenproof skillet, such as a cast iron skillet, over medium heat. Add garlic and scallions, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until soft.
2. Stir in tomato paste, and cook for 2 minutes. Add wine; let reduce by half, about 5 minutes.
3. Add oregano, sugar, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer until slightly thickened, about 12 to 15 minutes.
4. Stir in shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with feta. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes. Squeeze lemon over top.
A Rainy Weekend Caesar Salad
Makes 4 servings
1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup croutons
Place lettuce into serving bowl. Add garlic, salt and pepper, and squeeze lemon over salad. Let stand for about 10 minutes. About 5 minutes before serving, add croutons and desired amount of Caesar dressing. Toss, and serve.
*I used Publix brand Caesar dressing. It’s actually my favorite brand of Caesar to buy.
Have a nice weekend!
July 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
We spent one day of our honeymoon road tripping around Monterey. We started off with the 17-mile drive with beautiful scenes of rocky shore, old cypress trees, and serene golf courses. Then we ended our drive in the charming coastal town of Carmel. We didn’t spend too much time, but certainly enough to split a bottle of wine for lunch and relax by the sea.
We had heard good reviews of La Bicyclette, so we wanted to try it for ourselves. The atmosphere was bright and bustling, though the restaurant was a quaint small cafe. Whimsical decor with chalkboard signs throughout made sitting and waiting for our server an experience in itself.
The ingredients were fresh, it had (for me) the most divine ratio of sauce to cheese (just a little more sauce, than cheese, please). The crust was crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and was covered in wood-fired flavor. We shared a bottle of Tomero Malbec. So sweet and delicious—I can taste it now. Splitting that bottle is one of our favorite memories of the trip. Going on a honeymoon any time soon? I suggest you do something like that.
Then, of course, we ordered dessert.
The puff pastry was crisp, sugar glazed, with lovely decadent peach cream in the center. Caramelized slices of peaches provided a slight bitterness that contrasted well with the fluffy sweetness beside it.
Beside that was a cream-filled apricot with a garnish of mint and peach sorbet sitting on a bed of sweet crumble.
July 18, 2012 § 1 Comment
I think I’ll make this over the weekend.
This Greek dish consists of shrimp, garlic, and tomatoes topped with feta and broiled. It would go well with perhaps a chopped salad and some crusty bread. Oh, and a nice bottle of wine. What a perfect Friday or Saturday night dinner, huh? And a perfect way to break in our new cast iron skillet! If I make it, I’ll post pictures.
July 13, 2012 § Leave a Comment
To start off the documentation of food consumed on our honeymoon, we’ll go to one of favorite meals in Monterey.
Kudos to my husband for locating a great hole-in-the-wall, a true “where the locals go” kind of place. This Mexican seafood joint is off the beaten path of regular Monterey tourist-frequented areas. And when I say off the beaten path, I mean it’s down the freeway inland a bit until you reach a slightly rougher part of town (technically you are in Seaside at that point). But nonetheless, we were delighted to discover this little spot.
When you order a Modelo Especial (or any beer), you’re given an ice-cold bottle with a lime wedge and a shrimp dipped in their flaming cocktail sauce sticking out of the bottle’s opening. We were so excited about this novel idea that we immediately exclaimed, “Ah! Shrimp!” And we popped our shrimps in our mouths and gushed over that perfect heat of the sauce before I even thought to take a picture. I think that little treat alone is worth a trip to this restaurante.
I ordered a ceviche tostada. It was fabulous and fabulously affordable (we’re talking $4 here!). The fish was delightfully flavorful and fresh. The shell was crisp and cooked well. It was topped with another fresh little shrimp.
I do have one thing to say: I also ordered the crab quesadilla. I did not like that. The crab was disappointingly fishy.
But I am so willing to overlook it when I contemplate my tostada, and the shrimp cocktail (which, by the way, you can order a large serving of. We wish we had done that.).
May 23, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Back Forty Beer Company, which is based out of Gadsden, offers a Kudzu Porter. I enjoyed its tamed hoppiness with chocolate and nutty undertones. I suggest you try it! And obviously, since kudzu has a special place in my heart, I thought it was perfect to share with you all. And as a side note, their Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale is one of my absolute favorites.
May 21, 2012 § 3 Comments
Well, my sister Brynn Bralley is now Brynn Campbell. She and Tyler were married on Saturday. It was a stunningly beautiful ceremony and a fabulous reception. I can’t believe my sister is married!
The weeks leading up to the wedding were exciting but busy! I’ve been swamped, but I wanted to back track for a bit and share some of the lingerie shower my sister Brass and I hosted for Brynn. We served brunch with coffee and mimosas and had a bit of fun with the decor.
I draped the table in lace fabric and placed purple flowers in a green vase (purple with pops of green were Brynnie’s wedding colors).
On the menu:
~ Doughnut Holes from Shiply’s Do-nuts
~ Hashbrown Bake (Recipe via Celebrate‘s Spring 2012 issue)
~ Fruit Salad (fresh fruit drizzled with honey, tossed with sliced almonds)
~ Pink Panty Mimosa (See recipe below)
Panty bunting! We raided the clearance bin at Gap Body and found a supply of sheer panties that would go lovely against a window.
We hung them with string and tiny clothespins (which we found at Joann’s Fabrics). Extra panties were sitting in a basket on the floor, so girls got to grab one as a favor as they headed out.
Pink Panty Mimosa
Makes 8 to 10 servings
1 bottle champagne
3/4 of 1 (128-ounce) raspberry lemonade*
1 cup raspberry liqueur
Combine champagne, lemonade, and liqueur in a large pitcher. Garnish with fresh raspberries.
*I used Simply Lemonade Raspberry.
Serve this cocktail in little mason jars for an extra dose of vintage elegance.
So happy for my sister!
May 3, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This post is a bit delayed (well really, what hasn’t been delayed with me lately, huh? I am ready for things calm down just a bit!), but James and I visited Slice Stone Pizza & Brew not too long ago (well ok, this was before Lent, but we’ve been back since). I had been once before, and I wasn’t all that impressed, so I was a little reluctant to return. But Bettola was closed because it was a Sunday, and a grey and rainy one at that, and we really needed pizza, so we came here.
After this visit, I completely changed my mind about Slice.
The first time I went, I ordered the Basic Pesto pizza, which was good, but it felt lacking in anything special.
On this rainy Sunday, we took refuge from the downpour inside the historic Craftsman home turned restaurant on 29th Street. Its walls are covered with graphic art depicting beer, pizza, and Birmingham icons like The Vulcan.
We sat at the bar, and we ordered the Bajalieh Special —named after the brothers who founded this pizza joint— and it was topped with tomato sauce, cheese, bacon, grilled red onion, and Wickles Pepper Rings. Ah! So good! The crust was seasoned very well—a little crisp and just a little chewy (how I like it). The peppers on the pizza were fabulous. I love spicy things—especially on pizza. We devoured this.
This restaurant also prides itself in its local, fresh ingredients that top the pizzas and its local beer selection. What I really liked was that a beer pairing suggestion was listed on the menu beside each item.
The suggested beer for this was Good People IPA. But I’m not a big IPA consumer. I wanted to try something new, and that day it was Avondale Spring Street Saison—my brand new fav. Light, crisp, citrusy, and a bit sweet. Love it.
Ok, and because I said, “Hey, I’m going to blog about this” (I was really on the ball about that now, wasn’t I? I’m a terrible blogger as of late.), I made James split dessert with me. We ordered—hold onto your hats—their special ice cream with blackstrap molasses and bacon.
Ah! So delish. So decadent. So sinful. But so pricey! It was $6.50. That’s a lot for one scoop, in my opinion.
So then we come to end of all this, which was a $35 bill. It’s not bad, but when you’re grabbing pizza (that yielded no leftovers) and a couple of beers (one each), it does seem like a lot to spend for us. I think that’s why this place has had mixed reviews—it’s quite pricey. And that’s probably why I wasn’t too impressed with my former pizza adventure here.
However, we loved that pizza, loved the unique flavor of the ice cream, and we really enjoyed the atmosphere. So we have been back (we skipped the beers to keep it cheaper). We reordered the same pizza, and we were just as happy. So go try it!
March 22, 2012 § 1 Comment
During Lent, I have not only stayed away from bread, but I’ve also tried to seize the opportunity to eat as healthy as I can. Sometimes I slip (like by ordering fried pickles when I just stopped in for a drink at Innisfree with James, or when I ended up with too many Reese’s wrappers in my office waste basket yesterday after visiting and revisiting my boss’s candy bowl), but for the most part I’ve been pretty good I think.
But I’ve reached this point where I am just craving bad, bad things.
Firstly…. I could go for some deep fried dough stuffed with sweet jelly and coated in a glaze then dusted ever so gently with confectioners’ sugar. OMG. Give me.
That is the breakfast I want. And then for lunch?
OH. Yes. Carne Asada Fries. Who thought of this? This is amazing. Oh, and yeah I’ll have that beer, too. Please.
Ok, next on this list (since I had SUCH a deep fried breakfast and lunch, I’ll just stick to something carb-a-licious for dinner):
Bagel sandwich! I swear, Crestline Bagel is #1 on my list when Lent is over.
I think I’ll skip dessert today and enjoy a Blood Orange Margarita instead:
Ok so what’s on your good-for-your-soul list? My list could really go on and on. These are the flavors of the week, as they say.