Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Creamy Garlic Penne Pasta Recipe

I tried this recipe and while the taste was good, it was a bit too watery.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Review of Dine L.A.: Bettolino Kitchen (Redondo Beach, CA)

Somehow, I was notified that AmEx had a $5 off offer for Dine L.A. restaurant week, so on a whim I checked out the website and realized there were some intriguing menus at restaurants in my area. I thought this would be a great excuse to get my brother and sister-in-law, as new parents, out of their home and eat something nice. So we went to Bettolino Kitchen, a restaurant that I would have never noticed even though I'm in the Riviera Village area often.

The prix fixe menu featured three starters, which we got one of each. SIL thought her Insalata d'Estate - romaine, watermelon, cherry tomatoes, mixed olives, onion sprouts, feta cheese, and lemon dressing, was fresh and good. I thought my brother's Crostone di Funghi e Pecorino - sliced speck and sautéed crimini mushrooms, was excellent. My Zuppa d Piselli - cold mint scented peas, zucchini and yogurt veloute with squash blossom and pea sprouts was delicious, although the pea sprouts, which were long and thin, made eating it with a soup spoon difficult.

Pappardelle con Ragu d'Antica
For the secondi, brother and I both had the Pappardelle con Ragu d'Antica - stewed and shredded duck leg, pine nuts, and tomato sauce while SIL had Salmon al Salmoriglio - petite salmon fillet, herbed cous cous, sauteed zucchini, red bell pepper, eggplant, garlic, fresh oregano & parsley, lemon and extra virgin olive oil. The pappardelle was excellent. Alas, while the eggplant and salmon was good, the cous cous was overly salty and the zucchini perhaps a bit too old as it was bitter.

Salted Caramel Semifreddo
Our waitress presented us with a complimentary Salted Caramel Semifreddo - semi-frozen salted caramel mousse, layered graham crackers, and chocolate sauce, as she had given the wrong order to the chef, increasing wait time for our entrée. I didn't particularly mind the wait time, and I thought it was quite nice of her to proactively offer the semifreddo, but I wish she had done so prior to my ordering of dessert, because we were then too full. The semifreddo was very rich - it's definitely a dish to be shared - and depending on how into the salty-sweet trend you may be, potentially too salty.

Our Peach Melba - poached peach, vanilla gelato, raspberry sauce, almond crumble was pretty decent. We had to deconstruct it because of SIL's newly imposed dietary restrictions, so perhaps we didn't eat it as intended. The peach and gelato were very good, but I thought there was too much almond crumble, which featured semolina.

deconstructed Peach Melba
Overall, I really liked our appetizers and mains. I would go back again for those, but would instead go around the corner and across the street to Desserts by Patrick for some gelato after the meal.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Eat: La Petite Folie (Hyde Park, IL)

Dinner courtesy of the University of Chicago was at La Petite Folie, where the chef-owner is also a alumnus of the school. The restaurant's website shows this menu as a prixe fixe of $38, which would make it an excellent value. I would return to this restaurant before Found.

Spinach tart with arugula - tasty but not memorable
roasted filet of fresh Atlantic salmon with braised wild greens (green Swiss chard, green kale, collard greens, spinach) roasted baby potatoes; citrus herb emulsion - nicely prepared salmon and potatoes, the greens were stand out - I'm still thinking of it today!
Peach tart - tasty, but not memorable

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Eat: Little Goat Diner (Chicago, IL)

Dinner on Monday night was courtesy of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College of Chicago and held at Little Goat Diner in Chicago's former meatpacking district. We had appetizers to share, which was a good thing as portions were quite large and the food, being a diner, quite rich. Instead of an entrée, I decided to go with three sides as my main.

Goat Chili - goat flavor was not overpowering, but it was just a bowl of chili.
Corn Elote - very fresh, almost slightly crunchy, corn kernels. A nice contrast to the richness of the goat and tempura mashed potatoes.
Tempura Mashed Potatoes - slaw and crunchy tempura crust contrasts with smooth and rich mashed potatoes.
Crispy shrimp "cocktail" - it was good, but not amazing
Macho nachos - very nice
We also shared fried pickles & onion rings as well as the cake of the day, a chocolate cake. The Moscow mule was highly recommended by our host, but preferring gin, I ordered a Moscow goat instead, which had gin, ginger beer, grapefruit, lime, and was indeed quite delicious.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Eat: Found (Evanston, IL)

At Found Kitchen & Social House, dinner–-courtesy of Northwestern–-was served family style:

  • kale and swiss chard salad with blueberries - excellent, lightly dressed
  • black-striped bass, chinese broccoli, radish, green goddess & walnut pesto - my surprise favorite entrée
  • grilled farm steak, roasted baby beets, faro & herbed labneh - good, but I did not taste the labneh
  • lemon pound cake, blueberry sauce, apricot ice cream - excellent
We were seated in a private room in the back around round tables, which was a good setup for dinner conversation. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Eat: Xoco (Chicago, IL)

We had the Goat Barbacoa Torta and Chicken Escabeche Salad, the first time I've had chicken that was perfectly cooked, instead of dry, in a salad. The children had tortilla chips, Chicken Caldo, and Horchata Agua Frescas. For dessert, we had the Dark Chocolate Cherry Tart and Hazelnut-glazed Churro. The adults preferred the tart, which was not as sweet and had more complex flavor, to the churro. We also enjoyed the choice of complimentary still or sparkling water. Service was uniformly excellent, delivered with a real sense of warmth.

Chicken Escabeche Salad
Dark Chocolate Cherry Tart
Hazelnut-glazed Churro
Update (July 25, 2016) - I returned on our last day in Chicago to order their hot chocolate, both the authentic and classic. Both were excellent although the children did not care for bittersweet chocolate flavor, even though both were very smooth. At first, I thought the cups were rather small, but after drinking them, they are perhaps a shade generous given the richness of the drink.

My favorite restaurant experience in Chicago.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Eat: NYC Dining

Brunch at The Grey Dog (Chelsea/Meatpacking District) - salad of avocado, smoked salmon, and poached eggs on arugula was yummy; kids loved the dog bone shaped pancakes. We ended up getting another order to satisfy them. The chicken soup with meatballs was a tad salty but otherwise good. Alas, as with nearly every meal in NYC, it was pricey.

Broadway Bites at Greely Square

Broadway Bites at Greely Square - awesome seasonal pop-up in a park-like setting. I enjoyed the Connecticut lobster roll from Red Hook Lobster Pound. Gua bao from Kaya was decent but doesn't compare to the ones back home in Taipei. Jicama California Street Food - kids enjoyed the watermelon agua fresca (I liked that it wasn't too sweet), taco was decent, and the tamale was a little disappointing (too mushy). But an excellent different experience just minutes from our hotel.