Friday, December 16

Balsam Hill Treelot 2016 - Burlingame

The Balsam Hill annual Treelot event is one of my favorite holiday events to attend. At their Burlingame show room, rows of trees are displayed and walls are covered in wreaths, garlands, and ornaments. Last year's event was a spectacular evening and this year had much of the same wonderful spirit.

The marvelous wine, cheese, bread, and cold cuts table

Wreaths, garlands, and ornaments adorning the walls.

The part I look forward to the most is the wreath decorating contest. Balsam Hill items were displayed on the tables. After a brief introduction from interior designers on this year's trends and decorating tips, it was a mad dash to gather items for our wreath.

Tran and I are so proud of how our wreath turned out this year. It was really all her aesthetic eye. I only helped with assembly. Our design won second place this year! I'm so excited. We didn't win anything last year and all the other wreaths were amazing this year too. 

Here are some of the other trendy and high quality Christmas decor by Balsam Hill. Their trees are very realistic and the ornaments are really high quality.

Monday, November 7

Real Good Fish - Community Supported Fishery

Our family doesn't eat seafood often mainly because I don't know how to cook fish that well. But calamari, THAT I can do! Thanks to a local business, Real Good Fish, we were able to try sustainable calamari last week. Real Good Fish makes weekly deliveries of seafood from 25 different fisherman who catch from Ft. Bragg to Monterey. The business was started by graduate students on a mission to protect our oceans and local fishermen. Their story can be found here.

I picked up my delivery on a Thursday from the local public library. It felt funny walking into the library with a cooler bag and getting frozen seafood from the periodicals section. But when I chatted with the employee there, she said it was actually a popular program and many people worked or lived close by and picked up their weekly catches at the library. It made me feel good about supporting not just a community business (Real Good Fish) but also a community center like the library. My fish was kept adequately frozen and they offered insulated bags to carry the catch home even though I brought my own.

For more information on how it works, costs, and pick up locations, you can read the Real Good Fish website. I received a one time order free of charge to write this review.

Left: cleaned and gutted squid
Right: Smoked black cod

I started with drying my squid on paper towels. Then I cut half into rings and did a batter. I added cajun spices and other seasonings into a batch of flour and split that into two containers. A third bowl had milk. I battered my rings in this order before frying them: flour, milk, flour, fry.

The fried calamari rings turned out great! The batter was flavorful and crispy. I would cut the rings larger next time so I could taste more squid than batter. If the oil is hot, they cook up super fast. We dipped these in Sir Kensington's Special Sauce with a swirl of Sriracha sauce.

The remaining half of the squid were scored and simply seared on a panini maker in an attempt to get grill marks. I didn't get the grill marks and they were still very tasty. No seasonings, just a spray of Pam on the grill surface. For these, I used Vietnamese nuoc cham (fish sauce) and Japanese ponzu. They tasted best with the nuoc cham.

Here's our whole spread with soba noodles in a soba dipping sauce. Shaved brussel sprout salad in the middle. It was a wonderful dinner and a great way to add variety to our usual rotation of beef and chicken. Deliveries from sustainable fisheries are a great way to support local businesses and ensure we don't overfish from our oceans. You eat what is caught that week and don't create demand for fish from far locations that must be shipped over. For the home cook like me, it helps me practice cooking new recipes that I wouldn't otherwise cook. I hope you check out Real Good Fish and see their offerings.

Monday, October 17

Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey

Last weekend, we spend a day trip in Monterey for a friend's birthday. The weather could not be more perfect for a seaside hang out. The morning started at Water + Leaves, a coffee shop on Fisherman's Wharf. Pretty much the coolest blank-plus-blank name ever, right?

Frankly,  I never expected Monterey to have something so cool. My past visits to Monterey have never been so hip. It's a nice place that I think of older retirees enjoying. But I really dug the vibe of this coffee shop.

You can't beat the ocean view on the patio while enjoying a morning latte and almond croissant. This little guy approves.

Happy Hour oysters all day on a Saturday is also hard to top. These oysters were $99c each at Abalonetti on Fisherman's Wharf. Fresh, sweet, briney. Divine!

We had to pair our oysters with something of more sustenance and the calamari did just the job.

Shortly after, we left Fisherman's Wharf and met up with our friends. It concluded a good relaxing morning on the wharf for our unit. And Little guy look great in his nautical outfit.

Tuesday, October 11

Tender Greens - Palo Alto

In my previous post, I had written about new openings in Palo Alto recently. The city already has a health conscious demographic which made newcomer, Tender Greens, a perfect fit for the Stanford Shopping Center. Tender Greens is a sit down restaurant specializing in salads, although you do order at the counter. Unlike Pluto's or other salad bars where you choose your own ingredients, there are already set salad combinations designed to have complimentary flavors. Tender Greens recently invited me and my husband for a complimentary lunch. 

($2.75) Agua Fresca - you can't go wrong with watermelon juice. It's always refreshing. 

($12.50) Tuna Nicoise - seared albacore tuna with baby greens, tomato, potato, capers, green beans, quail egg, olives, sherry vinaigrette, and a slice of buttered garlic toast.
I was very happy with my selection. There are large pieces of fresh tuna, sweet tomatoes, and the portion size was very filling. That garlic toast is so good. I highly recommend this dish and would get it again.

($12.50) Backyard marinated steak sandwich with butter lettuce
The ingredients in this sandwich were all high quality and wonderful on their own. The steak pieces were large and cooked perfectly and the roasted peppers were a nice addition. It just lacked a flavorful sauce to bind it together well. There is an aioli spread which tasted bland. 

($4) Side of red quinoa salad with radish, cucumbers, pickled radish (?), and a garlic toast.
This is definitely a side I would order again. Quinoa is a healthy grain to fill up on while feeling very light. They seasoned it lightly and enhanced with the other vegetables. Again, the toast is wonderful.

Our whole meal

($2.50 each) salted caramel with white chocolate, and chocolate chip cookies
For dessert, our waiter brought out warm cookies. They are the BEST. Just absolutely, the best. Chewy, soft, perfect. Salted caramel is better than chocolate chip although the choc chips were also one of the best choc chip cookies I've had too.

The food at Tender Greens is really fresh and tasty if you are into healthy salads. Although the price is expensive, it is Stanford Shopping Center and you can easily make a salad worth $12.50 with all the add-ons at Pluto's, which I consider to be in a similar category. The line gets very long at lunch even though it moves quickly. I highly recommend the tuna nicoise salad and also to finish your meal with a cookie. Why not? You deserve it after eating healthy salads.

Thursday, October 6

The Habit Burger Grill Introduces ‘Golden Chicken Sandwich’

Debuting a Fried Chicken Option for the First Time
New Sandwich Available for a Limited Time Only
For the first time ever, Habit Restaurants, Inc. is introducing a Golden Chicken Sandwich nationwide. The Golden Chicken Sandwich is the perfect addition to The Habit menu that is known for its variety, quality and value. This Golden Chicken Sandwich ($6.25) starts with a fresh, filleted chicken breast that is hand-dipped into house-made seasoned flour and buttermilk, not just once but twice, before being fried to perfection and custom made to order. This extra care gives the Golden Chicken a crunchy, flavorful crust while keeping all the juiciness. The Golden Chicken Sandwich is topped with a new spicy red pepper sauce and served with fresh sliced tomato, lettuce and tangy pickles on a soft toasted bun. “Better burgers are truly just the start at The Habit, and this new Golden Chicken Sandwich complements our overall menu of high quality, deliciously custom-crafted food and gives guests another favorite item to enjoy at The Habit,” said Adam Baird, executive chef at The Habit Burger Grill.

Wednesday, October 5

True Food Kitchen - Palo Alto

Palo Alto's dining scene seems to be ramping up with new restaurants lately. Even some of the chain restaurants have a worthwhile menu. True Food Kitchen is one of the latest newcomers. True Food Kitchen has multiple nation-wide locations and boasts a healthy menu that follows the anti-inflammatory diet from Dr. Andrew Weil. The restaurant is located in the Stanford Shopping Center and has a huge space with natural lighting. It is definitely a family friendly, sit down restaurant.

The recent preview opening of True Kitchen gave me a chance to try their menu for lunch.

($13) Wild Caught Albacore Tataki - avocado, jalapeƱo, toasted sesame, yuzu ponzu
My meal started with a tasty appetizer of seared tuna in ponzu. I ate every single piece including the jalapenos. The avocado might actually be the pureed dots. This dish was great.

($5) Pomegranate Chia Limeade - evaporated cane, pom chia
I rehydrated with a refreshing non-alcoholic pomegranate limeade with chia seeds. A wonderful, healthy drink.

($8) Daily Market Soup - roasted cauliflower
I wasn't a huge fan of this one because there was a gingery taste to it. It's fine otherwise and the portion is quite large for a soup.

($27) Sustainable Seabass - broccolini, sugar snap pea, roasted mushroom, whole grains, lemon-umami emulsion
The seabass was cooked beautifully. Slight crisp on the outside with flaky, juicy filet on the inside. All the roasted mushrooms were fantastic and the broccolini was tender. The lemon-umami emulsion was milder than expected but the other ingredients are so fresh and flavorful that the sauce doesn't need to do much.

($7) Apple Goji Crisp - almond crumble, vanilla ice cream
My already large meal ended with the apple goji crips which was baked apple and goji berries with a crumble on top. I'm not sure if the vanilla ice cream is home made. It sure tasted like it. I recommend this dessert and any others on the menu that come with ice cream.

Monday, October 3

DoorDash is Delivering from The Bywater

Earlier this year, I was very impressed with the fried chicken from The Bywater in Los Gatos when I had a chance to review it for Metroactive. Last week, DoorDash gave me a chance to try The Bywater's fried chicken which is a new offering for their service. The food and delivery were complimentary to me and these opinions are my own.

I chose a weekday delivery around 6:30-7PM. The delivery was prompt (early actually) and everything went smoothly. The chicken arrived still hot and crispy even though I live a bit farther from the restaurant. Here is about half the portion after plating.

The chicken was put in a reusable plastic container. Two large breast pieces. They were juicy inside, crispy and crunchy on the outside. I was very impressed with how this held up during delivery and pleasantly reminded of when I had it in store. You can order it for $22 in the store but it only comes with a small cup of butter beans. On DoorDash, for $28, you get it with red beans and rice. This came out to two portions for me, or maybe slightly over one portion for someone with a larger appetite.

The red beans and rice were served in this container. It's a heavier portion of red beans and sausages with smaller portion of rice. If you want, to split this into two portions, you can cook up more rice. But like I said before, everything served as it is delivered is already filling.

Everything tastes as it did in store which is great. I'm impressed with how hot the food stayed, and how crispy the chicken was. From order to delivery, everything went smoothly. There is currently only one entree and one drink available from The Bywater on Doordash right now. To check if your address is within the delivery zone, check out the DoorDash website. They aim for a radius of a 15-20 minute drive.

You Might Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...