Tuesday, July 29

Bite - Tahoe

Visiting Lake Tahoe in the summer has been on my to do list for a while. Tahoe is better known for snow activities and the dread of bundling up and driving through snow deters me from visiting more often. Tahoe in the summer though is a dream come true. The lake is beautiful and there are so many water activities to do - the most important of which is to drink by the lake. Since I've only been to Tahoe in the winter and our groups would just hermit in the cabin, I have never dined out in Tahoe and was extremely pleased with the food Phil and I ate.

Bite is a recommendation we got from Phil's coworker who is a chef. Chef's restaurant recommendations hold so much more weight than anyone else's. Luckily our condo rental in Incline Village was just down the street from Bite and we headed over for a quick bite (#pun #intended).

Bite serves American style tapas. Who doesn't want to pay the price of an entree for a third of the size? While this sentence is sarcastic, the food is actually delicious and hey, why not. This trip was for my birthday and I wanted to enjoy myself so I tried not to pay too much attention to the food descriptions.

($12) Wonton wrapped prawns with Thai mango salsa
Juicy prawns wrapped in crispy wonton wrappers, flash fried, and paired with a rich spicy lime cream sauce provided a great start to our meal.

($10) Andouille Sausage and shrimp gumbo
Gumbo is a strange sort of fare. A thick eclectic soup poured over rice. The description in itself embodies comfort; hearty and filling, sounding misleadingly effortless like mom made it out of a few leftover dishes when in reality she had slaved tirelessly to perfect this bowl. This definitely hit the spot for Phil.

($14) Ahi Sliders with wasabi aioli, pickled ginger, and arugula
With much doubt about the availability of fresh seafood all the way in a mountainous region like Tahoe, I ordered the ahi sliders anyway. To my great surprise, the ahi tuna was fresh and tender and the aioli, just a mild creamy sauce with a faint hint of wasabi.

($19) Grilled filet mignon bites with horseradish mashed potatoes and crispy onions
Sadly, we rather regretted ordering these overpriced and overcooked filet mignon bites. They were tough and chewy. The crispy onions are addictive delicate tendrils and the mashed potatoes were very good. Such as a movie that's only as good as it's leading actors, no matter how strong the supporting cast is, it falls flat like this dish.


($8) bite sized ice cream sandwiches
Really smooth vanilla ice cream that's not too sweet paired with house made cookies. I wish they were soft cookies rather than crunchy though. Otherwise, excellent rendition of a childhood favorite. Candle only comes if it's your birthday.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
Service was wonderful. There is no wait for a Friday night. The food was amazing and well worth the splurge. If you chose to eat tapas, you should expect to spend alot. I was satisfied with everything we ordered. It was a great start to a Tahoe weekend getaway.

Wednesday, July 16

Business Spotlight - Brad's Bistro

Brad Kunkel is a personal chef who created Brad's Bistro, a weekly meal delivery service based in San Jose. Brad's meals focus on health and wellness, with portion sizes catered towards weight loss and ingredients that are diabetic friendly. He can make slight changes for gluten free meals as well. Brad's Bistro is based in San Jose and he makes deliveries to the South Bay area.

There are a number of people in my life who need to follow restricted diets for health reasons. Some others I know also follow restricted diets for brief or extended periods of time to lose weight. When Brad offered me a complimentary delivery of his metabolic meals, I specifically had these loved ones in mind. 
For $150, you get everything pictured above. Brad has recently started offering a snack service in addition to the meals. When you place your order by no later than 12PM on Weds, Brad will email you an invoice. The delivery is dropped off by Brad on Saturdays and they contain 5 days worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinners. He personally manages all the aspects of his business himself. The containers are reusable, microwavable, and are all labeled with the food item name. I kept the containers and continue to use them to store ingredients I prep for dinner the day before, or to bring lunch to work where I need to separate different elements. They are very handy!

Here's a quick breakdown of what was in that week's delivery. I split off one day's worth to my friend who has diabetes. I wanted a diabetic's opinion of the meal since it is made to suit their dietary needs. I won't be making notes on every item since the menu changes every week. I'll highlight my favorites. The food is pictured in their meal categories.

BREAKFAST

Almond berry oatmeal
My friend said this tasted much better than it looks. The oatmeal texture was spot on. 

Almond flour pecan pancakes
I thought these were some of the best pancakes I've ever had. I never had pancakes with almond flour before and I should be having more of them in the future! They reheat very well, still fluffy.

Huevos Rancheros

Kale mushroom fritatta

LUNCH

Curried tofu waldorf salad

Salmon, chickpeas, and broccoli salad

Pad Thai salad with grilled turkey
Turkey was perfectly cooked, still juicy and moist.

My general note about all the salads is that the home made dressings are all very tasty. They are all unique and you won't find those flavors in bottles on the store. Aside from that, each salad was pretty good. You should follow the order on the menu that comes with the delivery because it does suggest which items to eat first in terms of freshness. This is most important for the salads.

DINNER

Quinoa pasta
Yum! I had this for lunch instead of dinner. 




Jamaican Jerk Chicken
The dinner actually comes with sides which aren't pictured here so your portion is much larger than this.



Pork tenderloin with date walnut sauce
I ate most of my meals at my desk and the only meal I was able to plate and photograph was this one. This is more like the portion size of what you would get for a dinner. Each element is boxed separately.

Chicken mole with dates and almonds
I thought this was the most filling of all the dinner options. The dates, walnuts, and chicken can really fill you up.

Carrot and roasted chili slaw
A surprising hit! The chili is not spicy at all. The dressing has some acidity, and there's no milkiness like the usual slaw dressing. I liked this side dish very much.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
There's no doubt in my mind that Brad knows how to cook and plan meals. Some of the flavor profiles in his dish were spot on. Especially impressive given that he needs to replace certain carbs with healthier options like quinoa and almond flour and I saw very minimal use of sugars. You will notice a lot of use of almonds, dates, and beans to fill out the meals. Having close friends and family members with diabetes, high blood pressure, as well as having gone through a weight loss process for myself and with my husband, I think Brad's ingredient choices and the way he designed the menu is very nutritional and tasty.

His service is great. He cooks everything on Fridays out of a catering kitchen he rents and makes all his deliveries on Saturday. The food will keep well for you up until Friday dinner, given that you follow the suggested order in his menu. The invoice comes to you promptly, and emails are answered quickly. He is very receptive to feedback and can make slight adjustments to your meal if needed. 

The portion sizes are a bit small. They actually look to be appropriately sized for what's recommended if you look at Choosemyplate.gov. However, everyone is a different size with different lifestyles. If you are active like me (I work out for at least 30-60 minutes almost every day), you will need to supplement the diet with more snacks or other small meals. Brad also started offering a snack package with 2 snacks per day. The portion sizes and ingredients choices will at least get you on the right track to a healthier diet. 

I think what Brad's offering is unique and useful to the community. Nothing seems quite as bothersome as cutting out many foods you used to love for health reasons and not having the time or experience to cook proper replacements. His food definitely has that home cooked feel to it while being nutritious at the same time. 

Thursday, July 10

The Sea by Alexander's Steakhouse - Palo Alto

For three occasions a year, Bay Area diners are privileged with the opportunity to enjoy a Tour of the Bay dinner hosted by the Alexander’s Steakhouse family. Executive chefs from Alexander’s Steakhouse Silicon Valley in Cupertino, Alexander’s Steakhouse in San Francisco, and The Sea in Palo Alto join forces under one roof to provide a unique multiple course dinner that allows patrons a chance to savor dishes inspired by flavors around the Bay Area. For $185 the dinner is served in seven thoughtfully executed courses with optional wine pairings for $100 that are sure to highlight the delicacies in every dish.


Photo from Alexander's Steakhouse
Marc Zimmerman represented Alexander's San Francisco


Photo from Alexander's Steakhouse
Chef Yu Min Lin of The Sea in Palo Alto

Photo from Alexander's Steakhouse
Executive Chef Gerardo Naranjo of Alexander's Silicon Valley (Cupertino)


Hamachi shot with bubu arare, puffed rice pellet

Chilled Alaskan King Crab with pear-sakura gelée, pickled pear, sweet garlic cream, poppy, nasturtium, and karasumi - By ASH SF

Wagyu Carpaccio with negi yuzu-kosho emulsion, spring onion, and soy gelée - By ASH SV

Tai Snapper with heart of palm, wasabi, blood orange, and saffron - By The Sea

Terrine of Winkler Farms Mangalitsa with marcona almond, leaf lard-toasted brioche, and wild spring vegetables - By ASH SF

24 Hour Soy Braised Short Rib with sprouted grains oyster mushroom, ragout, and peas - By ASH SV


Maine Lobster and Miyazaki A5 with carrot, turnips, Napa cabbage, and tarragon - By The Sea


Shades of Grey with bergamot black mousse, grapefruit foam, Earl grey ganache, and crispy milk – Pastry Chef Dan Huynh




Dinner opens with a Hamachi shot amuse bouche topped with bubu arare puffed rice pellets – sliding down nice and smooth to whet the appetite. Then each of the three chef presents two dishes in alternating order. Marc Zimmerman represented ASH San Francisco with a chilled Alaskan King Crab starter accompanied by a mix of textures from pear gelee to creamy sweet garlic. In a few courses, he follows with a terrine of Mangalitsa pork with embedded marcona almonds and a rich lard-toasted brioche, adding just the right crunch to dish. ASH Silicon Valley was represented by Executive Chef Gerardo Naranjo and his Wagyu Carpaccio and Braised Short Rib dishes. The carpaccio, a delicate sliver of high quality beef is allowed to shine relatively on its own save for the dollop of negi yuzu-kosho emulsion and soy gelee. He outdoes himself with a tender and juicy 24 hour soy braised short rib dish topped with sprouted grains oyster mushroom reminiscent of quinoa and grains unlike any you’ve had before. Chef Yu Min Lin of the host restaurant, The Sea in Palo Alto, showcases the restaurant’s strengths in seafood. His first dish is a perfectly flaky Tai Snapper filet surrounded by seasonal blood orange and saffron sauces and garnished with pickled roll of heart of palm. His last dish is an inventive take on surf and turf, containing Maine lobster served in sausage form on Miyazaki A5 wagyu steak and garnished by napa cabbage stems and carrot. Pastry Chef Dan Huynh far exceeded expectations with his aptly named dish, Shades of Grey. This is far from the 50 shades of Christian Grey but rather it refers to shades of Earl Grey tea and other pudding flavors oozing out of rock forms arranged on “dirt” made of chocolate cake. The presentation itself is a treat for the eyes as it appears exactly like you are being served a zen arrangement of polished stones that could have once graced a coffee table.




One can always expect to be greeted and served at Alexander’s with warm hospitality. The Sea in Palo Alto is certainly a fitting child of the Alexander’s family by providing this same quality experience to diners. Your stomach and taste buds are in capable hands with any of the Alexander’s executive chefs but at The Sea, your eyes can also feast on the live lobster tanks, the calming ocean themed décor, and the high ceilings of the spacious dining area. And that signature fluffy cotton candy – have no fear, it will always be there and ready for you.

The Sea by Alexanders Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 7

Interview with David Kinch - Chef of 2 Michelin Star Restaurant Manresa

 
I had the honor of watching Chef David Kinch, Chef and proprietor of 2 Michelin Star winning restaurant, Manresa in Los Gatos, and also one of the deans of the International Culinary Center demonstrate the assembly and plating of a salad served at his restaurant to the students of the school. The final product is pictured above on a very aptly designed plate that looks like a pair of hands are holding a pile of all natural ingredients. The "dirt" is made from potatoes and the other ingredients include edible flower petals and baby greens covered in a mist of house made dressing.

After the demonstration, chef was kind enough to stay to record an interview for my Youtube channel. You can check out the video below.

For anyone interested, a written transcript of the full length interview is linked here.

Here are some still shots of his demo. All photos by Rachel L. from the ICC.

Monday, June 30

Pressed Juicery Debuts New Freezes

Have you heard of Pressed Juicery? The California based company offers a juice cleanse that has taken social media by storm. Almost every week, I see a photo on my feed or on the popular page in Instagram of someone's juice cleanse delivery. That's what it looks like in the first photo. But I'm not here today to talk about the juice cleanse. Pressed has a new product called the Freezes which are healthy froyo-like versions of their juices. It has the same consistency as frozen yogurt but tastes more like a sweet sorbet.

The Freezes are now available at Pressed Juicery at the Stanford Mall in Palo Alto.
You have a choice between 6 flavors: Greens, Roots, Citrus, Fruit, Chocolate, and Vanilla and up to 3 toppings. 
A small with toppings is $3.95. Size 2 is $6.50 and the bowl is $6.95.

I chose the chocolate freeze (it doesn't taste like chocolate) and my toppings were raspberry, blueberry, and coconut flakes. The chocolate freeze is made with almond, dates, cacao, and sea salt. I thought it was a very interesting combo used to make "chocolate." It doesn't quite taste like chocolate but I liked it anyhow. You taste the almond and cacao the most.

The freezes are made from versions of their bottled juices. Here's a sample of the apple/strawberry/coconut juice and it's freeze on the far left. The freeze has apple, strawberry, coconut meat, and dates.

One of the popular flavors is the Citrus 2: pineapple, apple, lemon, mint

I also got to sample their seasonal flavors: Raspberry/rhubarb/watermelon/strawberry/pineapple and Spinach/romaine/kale/yuzu/pink lady/cucumber/jalapeno


Check out a Pressed Juicery near you today!

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