Monday, August 25, 2014

Cederberg Tea House

I visited South Africa in 2007.  During my visit I fall in love with the country, the people, and the food, and Rooibos tea.   Rooibos is a staple among South Africans, and had it with almost every meal I had.  I could not get enough of it while I was there.  When I returned home, I thought I would for sure find the tea in a store in the states.  I did find a version of Rooibos it just did not taste the same.  So for years I was always on the lookout.

Last summer, Cederberg Tea House opened on top of Queen Anne Hill.  Unfortunately, it took me a year to finally get to Cederburg. ( I did try a couple of times, but they were always closed :()  I'm sad I am late to the party.  For a year I have missing out on Rooibos and Rooibos latte's (Red lattes).  Red lattes are like regular latte's, they just take Roobios tea and finely grind it into the coffee.  Red Latte's are my new favorite thing in the world.  They also have a few grocery items that they have exported from South Africa.  They have the Lipton tea of Rooibos from South Africa.  I am now in my happy place.  I can't really explain what both of these taste like.  You just need to to QA, and try one today!

Cederberg also has South African dishes (bunny chow, savory pies and pastries), and sweet treats.  They also have all the makings for a nice little tea party that you schedule for you and your friends.

When we visted, we just had some treats as we had already eaten lunch.  We had the Mulva Pudding. it is a little loaf of spongy goodness that has been soaked in some other tasty goodness.  Surprisingly enough it not overly sweet, it just has a nice apricot taste to it.  We also had a apricot tart.

If you are on top of Queen Anne, get yourself a taste of South Africa.  You will not be disappointed.  The staff is very friendly and will answer all your questions about their menu.

Cederberg Tea House on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A post from Minnesota

A couple of weeks ago I visited the home of 10,000 lakes, Minnesota.  It was my summer pilgrimage to visit the parents.  My parents live in a smallish town about and hour and half outside of Minneapolis, and about 20 minutes from the Iowa border.  Needless to say there is not alot to do in these parts.  Once you have to been to the Spam museum, you do not need to go back  (I guess unless you really like Spam).  My mother recently discovered Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery in Spring Valley, MN.

The winery has been in business for a little over 2 years.  They do have a small vineyard on the property, and a small production facility where they produce and bottle the wine.  When we visited they were having an event called Moonlight Dine in the Vines.  This is a 10 course tasting menu with wine pairings.  I wasn't sure what to expect from a tasting at a winery that is in the middle of a Minnesota cornfield, but hey let's give it a try.

Unfortunately, due to the weather we were unable to eat in the vineyards, but instead ate on the patio next to the vineyards.

You are requested to arrive 30 minutes prior to the dinner.  When you arrive, you are greeted with a choice of white or red sangria.  About 10 minutes prior to the dinner you are given a brief tour of the wine making process, and given the opportunity to ask questions about the winery and/or wine. Then it is time to eat.

It was nice to hear that the Chef tries to access all of his food from local sources.  Some veggies and corn come from the farm down the road, some of the meat comes from a local butcher in St. Paul, etc.

As I look at the 10 course tasting menu, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  There was quite an array of food items and preparations, and it I knew I was going to be in for a culinary adventure!

Course 1 - Octopus ceviche with grapefruit, mint, and crispy tortillas - The flavor of this dish was amazing.  It was light and refreshing and had overall great flavor.  If it would had been a typical hot Minnesota summer night, this would have just made that evening a little cooler.  The one minor nit-picky item i have was the octopus.  It was a little rubbery.  I wish shrimp or a white fish would have been used instead.  Granted this would have been a little more traditional than adventurous.

Course 2 - Asparagus with anchovy-preserved lemon, vinaigrette, crispy prosciutto, shaved Parmesan -  I'm not going to lie, when this was placed in front of me I thought this looked like Spam.  Luckily it taste nothing like Spam.  It was nice continuation of a light summer dish.  It was like a nice asparagus salad, but presented in a whole new way

Course 3 - Buffalo tartar with forest mushroom Dijon, quail egg, bone marrow polenta, arugula - I know some people are going EWWWW..right now..Raw meat.  My boyfriend even said he was not looking forward to it.  Once we took a bite it tasted just fine. I was a little more excited about the bone marrow polenta.  That was very tasty.  The bone marrow just added a savory flavor to the polenta.  this should be offered in more restaurants.

Course 4 - Yellow fin Tuna crudo with roasted heirloom tomato. edamame, tomato oil, chive blossom

Course 5 - Sweet Corn consomme with charred corn, crab, jalapeno, heirloom tomato, basil, toasted pumpkin seeds

Course 6 - Rabbit salad with grilled artichokes, fava beans, sorrel, whole wheat pearl pasta - I have never had rabbit before, so this was a first.  It was prepared nice and a good flavor.

Course 7 - Blood Sausage hash with fingerling potatoes, brussel sprouts, olive oil poached yolk, brie fondue - I am not a fan of blood sausage, and was not looking forward to this.  However, this did not taste like the blood sausage i have had before.  It had a good flavor and was enjoyable to eat.

Course 8 - Oxtail braised with celery root gratin, caramelized fennel, braising juice reduction - this was my favorite dish of the night.  The meat was so tender, and the braising juice had such a meaty good flavor.  I could have had another plate of this one.

Course 9 - Calf's Liver sauteed with sweet pea -potato puree, roasted spring onions, big boy pan gravy

Course 10 - Chocolate Truffle with Candied Red Chili  

If you are in this neck of the woods stop by for a wine tasting or check out their many events they have going on during the year.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Radishes and Butter

Radishes and Butter..this post is not about a restaurant, but about my food experience and memories.

Growing up in Oklahoma, I don't remember having alot of fresh veggies.  I don't recall anyone in the family having a large garden.  My grandmother had the largest pantry of canned veggies I think. Times had changed.  My grandparents both worked, as did my parents. Canned goods provided families a matter of convenience and perhaps some cost savings.

However, I do always remember having fresh radishes. When I moved to the Northwest, it seemed not very many people had ever had a radish. In fact, in college I took a. Psychology class.  We had this group experiment where we had to taste things while we were blindfolded.  One of the items was a radish.  Out of the 5 people in my group, I was the only person who guessed radish.  One of the members of the group turned to me and asked "how did you know this"?  My response, was " How do you not know what a radish is?"

Radishes always seemed to be in the refrigerator.  Just grabbed a couple and sprinkle some salt on them, and you had had yourself a nice little snack.

Awhile back I was watching Anthony Bourdain.  He was in NYC at Prune and eating radishes and butter. What??  Tony is spreading fresh creamy butter on a radish.  That seems a little odd, but also sounds a little delicious. After doing a little reading, it seems that radishes and butter is quite popular with the French.

About a year ago or so, I visited Walrus and Carpenter, there it was radishes from a local farm and butter on the menu.  I was very excited and must try.  It is a must to have Real butter (no margarine people), and really good butter.  I can now say I am a big fan of this. Radishes tend to have a bit of spice/sharp flavor. Then you top that with that some creamy, sweet butter and this all = YUMMMMMM.

I am seeing more and more radishes and butter on restaurant menus during the spring and summer.  So if you have never had Radishes and Butter, I highly recommend you try.  Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Happy Birthday Artusi!

This weekend Artusi celebrated their 3rd Birthday.  Artusi  focuses on the Italian palette, and is owned by Chef Jason Stratton.  The chef also owns Spinasse, which is right next door to Artusi and is the place to go if you want some of the best pasta you have ever had in your life. Renee Erickson was quoted that "she dreams of Spinasse pasta". so do, I Renee, so do I. Chef also owns  Aragona (which was one of of my first blog posts).

To celebrate, Artusi offered a 6 course tasting menu with a wine paring.  When I received the email about this, I immediately went and made a reservation.

Now I have never been to Italy before, so I am not as familiar with the regional cuisines other than what I have eaten the United States.  However, from a little food reading I have done, I would say that the menu derives more from Northern Italy cuisine and taste.  Which if this how the people of Northern Italy eat, then I will be more than happy to visit them and eat their food anytime.  The Piedmont Region seems to be a Foodie a destination, and I will be added to my Foodie Bucket List.

Let the tasting begin!!

The first course was Shaved porcini and egg salad with salsa Apicius served with a 2012 Gavi di Gavi
Brut, Broglia, Piedmont,
  I have to admit I had no ideas what the Salsa Apicius was.  It was very tasty, but I had to Google later to find out what it was.  I just happened to locate the recipe for the entire dish on the Artusi Blog.  The porcini mushroom were earthy, the egg and smooth and slight creamy texture, and then the salsa just gave it that pow, wow taste in your mouth. The salsa just complimented both the mushrooms and egg perfectly.  However, if just given the salsa in a bowl, I would have just had been as happy with that.

Second Course Pappa alla fragole: Tuscan Style chilled soup tomato, strawberry, and bread soup
served with 2013 Il Rose di Casonova, La Spinneta Tuscany
  We received the wine before the soup came out.  It is a Sangiovese Rose.  On its own it is very light and does not have alot of flavor to it.  Then the soup arrived, a vibrant, beautiful, red soup topped with fresh basil and olive oil.  It may have looked simple, but the taste was not.  It packed so much flavor, you could taste the tomato and strawberries just like you just plucked them from the garden. The soup just had a bit of a kick of spice which was really unexpected.  Then you take a sip of the wine, and it gives your mouth a nice cleansing, crisp flavor.  At that time you know why this wine was paired with this soup.

Third Course Tonnarelli with local crawfish, pistachio and lemon  served with 2012 Gruner Veltliner, Abbazia di Novacella, Alto Adige
  This dish looks like a typical Italian spaghetti dish that you might find at Anywhere USA, but it sure in the heck does not taste like it. The first thing you notice and taste is the pasta.  This not your boxed pasta your mom made you (unless i guess your mother is Italian, which my mother is not).  This is the that fresh, homemade, made with love, the pasta you will be dreaming about pasta that you find get at Spinasse  and that I mentioned earlier. The sauce was flavorful, but not overpowering.  The craw\fish, a little small and lacking (it is a tasting menu after small, and smaller portions, so I can understand this).  However, the most interesting part of the dish for me were the pistachios. I m not much of a pistachio person, and quite unsure of their use in a pasta dish, but it works.   They seemed to be lightly toasted, with just a little seasoning. It just give the dish a nice texture and crunch.

Fourth Course Duck capunet with figs and hazelnuts served with 2009 Barbaresco Produttori del
Barbaresco, Piedmont.
  When the dish came out it reminded me of a cabbage rolls that I had growing up in Oklahoma (which I never had one I liked very much, because it usually lacked in flavor). So again I had to Google my food, this time Capunet.  Capunet is a Tuscan stuffed cabbage roll.  My people from Oklahoma could have used a little Italian influence in the cabbage roll department, because this was the best cabbage roll I have ever eaten! Now having the roll stuffed with duck, delicious, tender, succulent duck, also kind of helps in making this dish so wonderful.  The figs and hazelnuts were a nice accompaniment, but seriously it was about the duck.  Hands down, best dish of the nitght.  If I could have had 6 tastings of this I would have been one happy girl.  This is what I am dreaming about now.

Fifth course  Quadrello di bufala with local baby lettuce and chestnut honey served with 2012
Moscato , Giorgio Pelissero, Piedmont
  Now when it comes to cheese course as a dessert, I am not going to sign up for that. (I apologize to any French people who I might have just offended with that statement). I want my little chocolate, sweet after a delicious meal.  However, since I knew this would be next, I accepted the cheese. The cheese alone, was a strong, bold cheese.  However, if you took a  little bite of cheese with a little lettuce with that barely sweet honey, and then followed that with the sweet Moscato, then my thoughts of cheese as dessert begin to change, but just a little.  This girls still wants just a little more sweet and a little taste of chocolate.

Sixth course Panna cotta with mascarpone, Marsala, chocolate and espresso served with NV Cocchi Baralo Chinato
  Artusi took 3 of my favorite things and served them up on a plate for me.  For a second I thought it was my birthday.  Needless to say it was delicious.

Thank you Artusi for celebrating your birthday with me.  I hope there are many more celebrations to come and taste.

Artusi on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Ka'ana Kitchen Brunch

Prior to going to Maui, I was looking for a place to have Easter Brunch.  I found a few places that still had openings. I stumbled across Ka'ana Kitchen in my searches.  This would be the first Easter brunch they have ever had.  I was a little uncertain of this, but decided this looked to be the best offering.

Ka'ana Kitchen is located Andaz Maui in Wailea.  Luckily this was just down from where we were staying.  I also learned this hotel had newly renovated, and just recently opening.  If you don't stay atthe Andez or eat there, at least stop by and take a visit.  There is no public parking.  The hotel provides complimentary valet.  I can support this.  The hotel has a little beach/zen setup including sand right in the lobby.  The kitchen is downstairs below the lobby.  We were automatically greeted by a very cheery host.  She first walked us through the open concept kitchen (if you were watching House Hunters you would be taking a drink now) to explain what all the dishes that were available for brunch.  This is like no other brunch i had been too.  You will not be locating a waffle or omelette station, or any watery eggs, this is the modern foodie brunch.  Even the chefs are walking around the kitchen chatting you up and telling you about their dishes.

We then get seated out on the patio which has an amazing views of the what looks like a 3 tier infinity pool, and the ocean.  The waitress as really nice, and laughed all my dad's jokes.  I did I mention the cost of the brunch included unlimited mimosa's.  There was regular mimosa, guava, and, passion and guava.  Oh yes please!!

Easter Brunch Menu
Whole Tropical Fruit Cut to Order
Chicken Sausage |Spinach |Feta
Paniolo Potatoes | Smashed | Maui Onions Puree | Garlic | Fresh Thyme
Applewood Smoked Bacon
Herb | Maui Cattle | Lamb
Roti |Pork Belly| Pickled Vegatables
Ahi| Tataki| Fried Rice| Tempura Kim Chee
Charred Baby Peppers| Roasted Tomatoes| Green Beans
Seared| Local Fish| Grilled Lemons

Everything we had was delicious.  If you get a chance to eat here, do it.  You will not be disappointed.

Ka‘Ana Kitchen at Andaz Maui on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 12, 2014

O'o Farm

O'o farm is located in the upcountry of Maui. The farm is located not too far from the lavender farms and Ocean Vodka.  From Kehi is take about 40 -45 minutes to drive to the farm.  The farm has an expansive views of the island.   The farm grows coffee, and variety of fruits and veggies. The farm supplies their bounty to Pacific'O restaurant.  However, the lunch that is held at the farm receives the first choice of the ingredients. The tour begins at 10:30 where you are greeted by your tour guide, provided some history and information of the farm.  As we make our way up to the outdoor kitchen, you pass the coffee bean and fruit trees.  You are encouraged to pick from the tree to smell and taste.

You work your way up to the outside kitchen where Chef JJ is waiting to greet you.  He has a large basket of greens and veggies that were picked that morning.  Along with the some miscellaneous spices.  All of these ingredients will be used in the preparation of the lunch.  The Chef will talk you the menu and pints out the ingredients that will be used for that dish.  You are more than welcome to bring a bottle of wine to have with your lunch (or for some people they bring an ice chest of adult beverages).  At this time, you can leave your wine behind, and they will keep it chilled if necessary.

The rest of the tour takes you around to the rest of the farm where you learn more about composting, visit the vegetable garden and pick lettuce and veggies for the salad that will be served during lunch. The farm also has a coffee roaster on site as well.  They are currently building a structure where it will house a bigger  roaster and seating with a nice view to sip and enjoy your coffee.  In the meantime, there is a smaller roaster in the tool shed.  During the demo of the roasting process, the lunch bell rings.  I wanted to just start moving at that point at time.  I was ready for lunch.

Finally we made our way back to the kitchen.  it is time to eat.
 Chef JJ has everything ready to be served up.  The dining room is long wooden tables with benches.  The view isn't too bad either.
 The menu for lunch was:

Tofu with oven roasted vegetables and herbs from the garden
Kaffir lime mahi, sizzling lemongrass oil and O'o farm vegetables
O'o farm greens with lemon vinaigrette
Hawaiian sea salt and herbed focaccia
Espresso chocolate truffles
O'o fresh roasted coffee

The tour is interesting, but really I went for the lunch.  The lunch was well worth walking around for a couple of hours, especially when there is enough for seconds.

O'o Farm on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Merriman's Maui

I became familiar with Merriman's because of Top Chef.  The final elimination challenge was done at the restaurant.  The first thing i noticed was the stunning views Merriman's offered up.  They are stunning.  They have a great deck that looks out towards the ocean, and serves as their outside bar.  So if you can't dinner this is a possible option.  However, the bar get very full around sunset.

Da Pine
However there is more to Merriman's than just their views and some delicious cocktails.  It is about the food, and that 90% of the food and ingredients are locally sourced.   You know everything you will eat, if it came from the land or the sea, it did not have to travel very far to get your table.

You begin with homemade honey bread that comes in a woven basket and served with a fresh tomato dip with veggies. We started with the Kalu Pig and sweet onion quesadilla with house made kim chee and mango chili sauce.  When in Maui I tend to eat alot of fish, because you are in Hawaii, and it is always good.  So it was nice to have a little piece of meat to start.  They were very tasty with with onions.  The kim chee was ok, but I don't think it was really needed or went with the quesadilla.

Now looking at the menu there are alot of great options, and I hard time deciding.  I am assuming this might be the case with other people, because Merriman's offers Merriman's Mix Plate.  The Mix Plate provides you with a mini tasting menu of items from the land and the sea.  It includes:

  • Sauteed Mahi Mahi with Beet Ponzu - the mahi was cooked perfect.  I'm not a fan of beets, and was a little worried this might overpower the fish, but i was wrong.  It was light, yet a little creamy and did not have that dirty beet taste.
  • Filet of Beef with brown butter sauce - this was the best part of the plate.  The meat was so tender it cut like melted butter.  The meat sat on top of creamy cheddar potatoes(similar to scalloped potatoes) and topped with savory onions.  All so food, and would get the big plate of this dish.
  • Hawaiian Wok Charred Ahi with a wasabi cilantro vinaigrette - this was my least favorite dish.  I did not like the preparation of the ahi, and made it a little rubbery, and lacked flavor.  The rest of the dish had a nice flavor
My boyfriend had the special salad and entree.  The salad was strawberries, tomatoes, maui onions, and goat cheese.  It was such a nice fresh salad, and full of wonderful flavors.  The entree, was cajun style prawns, mahi mahi on top of mashed taro.  The boyfriend seemed to like both dishes.

I love lilikoi (passion fruit), so when I saw lilikoi tart was on the dessert menu, I had to have one even though I barely had enough room.  The tart has coconut molasses crust, and house whipped cream. It had the right amount of passion fruit and so good I somehow manged to eat the entire dessert.

Merriman's on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Maui Food Trucks

Things that are not too hard to locate on Maui are Ford Mustangs and Food Trucks.  Since this is a food blog, I will focus on the food trucks.  In my 7 days in Maui, I visited 3 food trucks.

Kinaole Grill Food Truck - Kihei HI

Kinaole Grill Food Truck is located at 77 Alanui Kealili Dr next to the WoodMark.  This truck is more like is more like a restaurant on wheels.  It offers, mahi mahi, shrimp, calamari, chicken katsu, and pulled pork. All meals come with rice, macaroni salad, and Asian coleslaw (or greens). Most of the dishes are $14.

I chose the grilled Mahi-Mahi with a wasabi cream sauce.  My boyfriend got the panko crusted Mahi-Mahi.  This was like their version of Fish and chips (minus the chips).  The panko crust gave the fish a nice crispy texture.  It had a nice crunch. My mahi was a nice thick piece of fish and was cooked perfectly.  It was moist and the wasabi sauce just gave it a little flavor, but did not overpower the fish.  The macaroni was also good..not too much mayonnaise, and had a good flavor.   I didn't think I was very hungry, but ended up eating the entire dish it was that good.

This is definitely a place you want to stop and have lunch or dinner.  They also have banana bread (which was a nice for breakfast or snacks) and lilikoi cheesecake.  They were out of the cheesecake when I visited, and did not get back to buy one.  I was really bummed, because I really wanted to try one.

The next two trucks were taco trucks, catering more towards fish tacos.  The first truck was Horihitos Mobile Taqueria on S Kihei Rd next to the 76 station.  The second truck was Jawz Fish Tacos, which also on Kihei Rd right next to Makena Beach entrance.

Horhitos Mobile Taqueria

This truck is hidden under a big shady tree in a parking lot next to the 76 station.  They offer shrimp and mahi mahi tacos, along with pork tacos and a variety of wraps.  They had a steady flow of customers while I was there.  I had the mahi mahi tacos, and the boyfriend had shrimp tacos.  The tacos are standard tacos, flour tortilla, chunks of fish, tomatoes, lettuce.  They were $4 each and they were good tacos for what you paid.  If you are looking for a quick lunch or snack, this is a good place to visit.

Jawz Fish Tacos

We drove by this truck on Easter Sunday and the place was packed.  People either walk from the beach or just park along the side of the road.  The same goes with eating your tacos.  There are no tables and chair, so you eat in or next to your car or take your taco back to the beach.

JAWZ offers a little more variety in their fish tacos (ahi, mahi-mahi, ono, and snapper)  They also offer steak, chicken and pork tacos.  This time I had the Snapper, and the boyfriend had the mahi-mahi tacos.  These tacos cost a little more that previous tacos truck.  We ordered 2 tacos each so a total of 4.  When we did that the guy taking our order, says you want 4 total?  Didn't think much of that question until we received the tacos.  The tacos are HUGE!  1 taco is the size of 2 tacos.  One taco should be sufficient for a normal person.  If you do eat 2 tacos, you probably will not need to eat for the rest of the day.  Not only are they huge, they are a bit messy.  So grab alot of napkins.  The tacos have chunks of fish, rice cabbage, cheese and creamy salsa.  If you are hanging out at the beach, this is the Jawz you want to run into and take a bite of.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

WAI'OLU Ocean View Lounge at Trump Wakiki

It was Friday night in Honolulu, and the question was where to eat.  Since i was looking for a place late on Friday afternoon, it was a little difficult to find a place that any openings.  In doing my search, I stumbled across WAI'OLU Ocean View Lounge.  The reviews said they had great views, drinks, and food was not bad.  And I could get a reservation at 8pm.

The lounge is on the 6th floor of the Trump hotel.  It is nice and open and has some great seats that I am sure have great views during the day.  The seating is a mix of tables and chairs and comfy looking couches and chairs.  We were stuck back in the corner and did not get much of view.  Not long after we sat down, a fireworks display started over the beach.  The fireworks display is 5 minutes and put on every Friday night by the Hilton Waikiki.
 When in Hawaii, you must have the best Mai Tai in Honolulu.  This is what the WAI'OLU Ocean View Lounge touts.  At $15 it better be the best Mai Tai I have ever had.  I have to say it was one of the better mai tai's I have had.  It had shaved ice ball, and was not too sweet.

The menu is more smaller plates (asian tapas), so we opted to get a couple of dishes.  We ordered the Ahi Poke, California rolls, and Shrimp Dynamite.

You can';t really mess up Ahi Poke. It was good, had a good flavor, and was by far my favorite dish of the evening.  The California roll was a bit of a disappointment.  It seemed to be lacking in the California, and mostly rice.  Personally, I think the sushi at Whole Foods is better.  The Shrimp Dynamite, which had shrimp, scallops, mushroom, zucchini, and "dynamite sauce".  The sauce was mostly a spicy mayonnaise, and there was a little too much for my taste.

WAI'OLU Ocean View Lounge is a nice restaurant to visit at least once for some drinks and the view at least.  I can't say it was one of my most favorite places to eat while in Hawaii, but I can say I have been there.