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Abra

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  1. Turns out that what's in the freezer is: tamales I made last winter, with green chiles and cheese. I rendered the lard for the masa, so it was especially delicious. And then there was some nice halibut broth that I made after I got about 10 lbs of trimmings and bones. And some corn, and some edamame. In the fridge there was still the escolar - I chickened out of serving that to the cast, and still some of a delicious huge costato squash that I've been using for several days, as well as half of a giant tomato. Voila - a light fish soup, seasoned with baharat (a wonderful Middle Eastern spice mixture) and lemon juice. Kind of eclectic with the tamales, but better than going to the store. All those who don't like leftovers, let them eat flowers! Do you ever play that game "how many meals can I make without going to the store?" One of the hazards of personal cheffing is that I practically live in the grocery store, and sometimes I feel like a professional grocery shopper. I love our store, it's one of the nicest I've ever shopped in. But on the weekends, the "tourist shoppers" are in abundance, the folks who have "real" jobs during the week and only get to the grocery on weekends and don't know where anything is and have their kids in the cart, and are meeting friends and chatting in the aisles, and wondering what to do with leeks, and reading the labels for carb counts, and asking whether mascarpone is a good substitute for creme fraiche, and just generally having a nice relaxed afternoon of shopping. Me, I want to grab what I need from an uncluttered aisle and be on my way. It's best for all concerned if I don't go into the store on weekends. And this blog is pointing up another hazard of personal cheffing, and probably of being any sort of food professional. People have great expectations of what I eat. Recently someone said to me "I can't believe YOU use catsup!" It was on top of an absolutely classic non-nouveau American meatloaf. What else would I use? And now I reveal myself to be a consumer of peanut butter on rye with red wine, and a nearly random assortment of freezer-food. My family wants to take me out to dinner tonight for a belated birthday celebration, but tomorrow I will for absolutely, positively certain go grocery shopping. Maybe I'll take the camera along, so you all can see what our little island store has to offer. And we're having guests for dinner tomorrow, and I haven't yet given the menu a moment's thought. They are great appreciators of my cooking, so I always make something nice for them. I think I'll make 100% new-to-me recipes, just for fun.
  2. On the Life in General front: Yes, we have wonderful seafood here. I have another confession - until I lived here I would only eat oysters fried or smoked, no half-shell, squishy, slidey squeaky-raw salt scum ever passed my lips, let alone slithered down my throat. But they're so fresh and wonderful here that I've realized the error of my ways, and now eat as many oysters as I can decently get my hands on, as well as mussels. Clams are a bit more problematic - the texture doesn't thrill me, although I like the flavor they add to things. But what we really live on in the summer is salmon - this year the salmon has been just unbelievable. I could eat it every day, and did, for a week or so when there was Copper River and White King available. And Spaghetti-Os have special meaning for me too, since my stepson Eric, now 22, used to live on them before he lived with me. Now he makes his own pasta, and really well, too. This morning I introduced him to Moby's eG stuffed pasta class, and his eyes were very bright. In this photo, taken in July, he's pretending that he needs my approval of the thinness of this pasta sheet, but he's really the pasta-making expert in our house. Our drill is that he makes the pasta and I make the sauces, and we're both very happy that way. And as to theater-geekery, the show I'm in now was written here on the island, and is a woven-together collage of pieces from over 100 submittals written by adults and teens about high school experiences. I wrote several of the pieces in the show, and it's a thrill to see my high school self resuscitated - much easier than acting like a teen-ager myself! The funniest WW question asked so far is whether I "can" eat all my points in this weather. Hah! I can eat all my points in any weather, and in fact can eat about double my points in any weather. I love to eat! Sometimes I stick to my points and sometimes I don't, and I'm an exemplar of the WW truism "If you sort of do the program, it sort of works." I go through phases, days where I really get with the program, days where I start out well and decay during the day. It's a lifestyle, not a diet, right? An important part of my lifestyle is to have freedom of choice, and to eat a lot. Portion control has no general meaning for me, since I really like volume in food. What helped me to lose and keep off the 65 lbs I've managed so far over the past 2 years is to eat huge volumes of vegetables. I eat a lot of fruit, too. And I definitely don't stick entirely with it every day, or I'd go nuts. That's why you won't be seeing any front-page banners of me as a WW success story, but I really do give WW the credit for the success I've had so far. I'm being distracted by the problem of what to serve for lunch. A radical idea occurs to me - I have a freezer! Even though the fridge is depleted, I do have a freezer. Hmmm, what's in there?
  3. It's a beautiful morning for berry picking, so breakfast was Trader Joe's Toasted Oat oatmeal, with just-picked blueberries and blackberries, whole wheat toast, and a half-caf Americano. Now that I have time to sleep again, I'm weaning myself off the caffeine that's been sustaining me for the past few days. And now to catch up on all the questions. Looking at them overall, they seem to roughly fall into three categories: personal cheffing, Weight Watching, and Life in General. I guess with Life in General as a category you really don't need any others, but I'll subdivide, just for clarity's sake. For a great into to personal cheffing as a way of life you can go to Personal Chefs Network. That's the professional association to which I belong, and which got me started as a personal chef. If you've ever entertained the idea of having your own personal cheffing business, PCN will get you going and sustain you along the way. In my particular case, I live on an island with a population of about 22,000. Normally a town that small might not be able to keep a personal chef going, but we're just half an hour's ferry ride from Seattle, so the demographics are favorable - affluent, well-educated people with disposable income. It's also a very word-of-mouth sort of place, where you're "new" to the island until you've been here at least 20 years. For that reason I don't advertise much. I'm in the Yellow Pages, have my website Rolling Bay Gourmet, and these signs on both sides of our van. By the way, I've lost weight since the photo on the website was taken, but it still is sort of recognizably me. The car signs really help, since people see them all over the island, all the time. The number of clients I have varies considerably, especially because I do two different things, both of which you saw in the first two days of my blog. Business is a bit slow right now, with people being away in August, so I have about half a dozen "regular" clients, for whom I prepare everyday dinners. Depending on the size of their families, I prepare either 10 or 20 dinners each time I cook for them, which is 5 dinners, times either 2 or 4 servings. I'd be happy to make food for other meals, but no one has ever asked for breakfast foods, although several people do use part of their dinners as lunches. There are lots of different approaches to personal cheffing. As you can see on my website, I do have a menu. However, I'd guess that maybe only half of what I cook for people is listed there. I will cook whatever people want, except Atkins stuff (just a personal prejudice of mine), and use the menu really just to give people ideas and show what my style of cooking is like. For example, I have one client that wants me to select the entire menu, each time. I have another who always tells me exactly what they want, down to every individual side dish. I have one client who likes to read food magazines and email me to cook a soup from page 63 of the new Eating Well, those lentils from page 128 of Bon Appetit, and so on. The rest of my clients fall somewhere in between. I have one family with picky-eater teenagers, who thought my lasagne had "too much flavor." They asked if I couldn't just "use the recipe on the box." Excuse me, box? In the end I discovered that if I use Muir Glen Organic Tomato Basil sauce, they're very happy with the flavor. I use the stuff myself and know it's a great product, so, although I feel a little guilty about giving them something not from scratch, they're happier that way. When I cook for parties, my approach is to ask the client about the number and type of guests, the serving arrangements, the budget, any themes or preferences, and them to propose a menu tailored specifically to what they've told me. This approach bombs out when someone tells me (true story) "We'd like a simple, elegant, Northwest-style wedding dinner, with grilled salmon, for about $15 per person." Now the truth is, there's NOTHING I can do for $15 per person. It's not even worth waking up early for that amount, let alone getting out of bed and getting dressed. This is because I do all of my cooking in the client's home. I don't have a big commercial kitchen with wholesale-priced pantry items already in stock, can't make things ahead in large quantities and freeze them, or share items between parties, or use any of the other cost-saving measures caterers employ. Every party is hand-crafted, and so it does cost more. I don't have a bunch of beautiful serving pieces either - I use the client's stuff, and usually I like it like that. It lets the client use her favorite dishes and see them filled with beautiful food, as they were meant to be. I have done a couple of parties where I advised the client to quickly run out and buy a few larger bowls or platters, because most people don't have enough large serving pieces. But every one has admitted that she knew she needed the stuff, and was just waiting for the right time to get them. So hey, I also provide an excuse to go shopping! Sharing recipes is always a dilemma. I seldom give recipes to clients or their guests who live here, and I explain that my recipes are my livelihood. Guests from out of town - no problem giving them recipes. Friends? I always share with them. I guess my bottom line is that if I think the person might/should want to pay me to prepare the food for them, I don't give away the recipe. But I always feel like a rat for saying no. For example, a guest at last Friday's party has already called me asking for the recipe to that curried shrimp and rice salad. I haven't called her back yet, because I can't decide what to do. On the one hand, I've never made it before and might never make it again - it's not the sort of dish that most people ask for. But she raved about it, and said she wants to "eat more and more of it." She can certainly afford my services, but I feel really nasty depriving her of a recipe for something she's craving. What would you do? I've got to call her back today or tomorrow. My fingers are falling off - have I mentioned that I don't know how to type? I'll take a little break and let you digest this, then come back with the answers in the other categories. Oh, and maybe I'll think about lunch in the meantime too. There's still nothing in my fridge, even less than there was yesterday.
  4. So, fridge cleaning an hour before you need a dish can be quite perilous. I was going to make an orzo salad, but had no orzo. No problem, I thought, I'll make a quinoa salad. And hey, by the way, I've been meaning to try making quinoa in my rice cooker, so this is the perfect time. Friends, take my advice - don't make quinoa in a rice cooker! Half an hour before I had to leave I had a giant goop-ball of quinoa that definitely wasn't salad-able. What to do? Don't ask me why, but I ended up putting harissa, diced preserved lemon and some honey into the quinoa, patting it out into a cake, sauteeing onion, squash, red pepper, and pistachios with ras el hanout, spreading it over the quinoa goo, and making this: Amazingly, it was very good, although any self-respecting Moroccan would laugh herself silly, I'm sure. Actually, it looks distressingly similar to my breakfast, now that I think of it. I'm finally going to get enough sleep, and will return tomorrow, refreshed, recuperated, and ready to tackle the questions that have been hanging.
  5. Energy??? I can only wish I had energy! Normally I do work out, and that helps me keep my energy up, but this week - no way. I decided that I needed a healthy breakfast to get through the morning. An egg white frittata with chicken sausage, leftover roasted potatoes, red onion, piquillo peppers, and shiitakes. This is a 7 WW point pan full of yumminess. With a few shakes of Melinda's Roasted Garlic Habanero sauce, I'm zooming slowly through the morning. We have two performances today, with only an hour and a half in between, so we're having a cast potluck dinner. When I signed up I had every intention of making a beautiful orzo salad with Kalamata olives, feta, and sun dried tomatoes. But now I see that there's no way I'm going to make it to the store, and I'll have to scrounge through the fridge and pantry to make something halfway decent. So now you're going to see how I make my famous "fridge-cleaning" dinners. Except that there's not much in my fridge today, so I'm worried. I only have a couple of hours to come up with something - wish me luck! You probably imagined that a personal chef would eat better. I promise, after today, the rest of the week will be easy as pie, and I will be able to represent my chosen profession better. Peanut butter with red wine - hmph! And I promise to answer questions, so ask away. I'm not ignoring you, just swamped for one more day. And speaking of seafood, I do have some escolar in the fridge. Hmm, with so many people eating it, the portion would be very tiny. There's only one bathroom backstage...should I risk it?
  6. Oh, this is giving me lots of wonderfully peculiar sandwich ideas. I love peanut butter, and eat some every day. I suppose that's an addiction, right? I grind my own peanut butter at the store. I love it on thick-sliced, very dense and hearty whole grain bread. A good dark honey is one of my favorite additions, like Corbezzolo or buckwheat honey, but I also use all sorts of jams, and even Thai sweet chili sauce. As a kid my favorite was peanut butter on what we then called "French" bread, with hot cocoa. As I teenager I loved grilled cheese with peanut butter. And I still eat peanut butter on apple slices, or spread on a banana instead of bread, too. Some things you just never outgrow!
  7. So, to fortify myself before opening night, even if we did have to eat before 5:00 in order for me to make it, we had a salad with roasted potatoes and a little ribeye, which is unfortunately overdone since I left it in the pan while I tried to put on makeup. And then...truth in blogging. When I got home, having survived the opening night crazies, I had, oh, this is so hard to admit, peanut butter on rye bread with a glass of red wine. I'm sure I'll be banished from Blogland, or even from eG, for such an apalling combo, but you know what? It suited me just fine. As for WW points, I've been way over yesterday and today, and also not keeping track. Not setting a good example at all, am I? When life gets crazy, like it has been the past few days, instead of sleep I tend toward weird food. Lots of weird food. But don't knock peanut butter on rye until you try it - it has that certain je ne sais quoi, but I don't know what it is.
  8. Sure, I'd be happy to demo. Let's see, I need to do some work with my vinegar mother, which threatens to take over the house, so I'll have my husband document the process, and we can talk about how quickly you all can get out to Seattle to grab a piece of my mother and start down the vinegar road. I'm having dinner guests on Monday, too, and I'm sure to try some new recipes for them, so that'd make a good demo. I started making some raspberry and blueberry liqueurs last month that also need attention. It's my first time making them, so I'll show what I'm doing, and maybe some of you will be able to jump in and save me from disaster. Since I'm not a trained chef, I'm blissfully free of inhibitions. In the food world, that means that I almost always make new recipes whenever I have people over, and at least half of the time I'm making new recipes for clients too. I did preview the muffins and raspberry bars before I made them today, because I sensed that the client would be very exacting, being a lady in her 80s with ideas about how things should be done. But the shrimp salad was new, and turned out to be quite nice. Now, for you chocolate fanatics, you can find the recipe on Epicurious, under Fudgy Chocolate Raspberry Bars. I'd insert a link, but I don't know how, short of just pasting in the URL. Berries are one of my favorite things about the summers here. The other day I walked with my dog and grazed on blackberries most of the way, stopping to get a few amazing plums and a shirt-tail full of crisp, sweet apples from abandoned trees. I feel like a bear, in summer, grazing my way around the island. All of the work I've shown so far I do by myself. I do use a helper sometimes, especially if the client wants any level of service. I have no FOH experience, and no instinct for serving, and I have a great helper who does. She's done a ton of work for a local caterer, and is a garnishing whiz. She's taught me so much, so that I'm no longert actively ashamed of how my food looks, but her garnishing blows mine into the dust. Here's a little blurb on anise hyssop that I grabbed from the web: "Native to North America, Anise Hyssop is a perennial herb that is known for its anise scented foliage. It has violet colored flowers that bloom in July. It is a good bee and honey plant, and is used in seasonings and making teas...(Agastache anethiodorum) - member of the mint family, the leaves have a rich aniseed flavour, delicious in salads. Butterflies, hummingbirds and bees love Hyssop, and the edible leaves can be used for teas, salads and to flavor drinks. " I like to eat the leaves, and the flowers are pretty sprinkled onto food. I don't want to drone on and on - I think blogs are the most fun when they're really intereactive. So please, ask questions, give feedback, and let me know what you'd like to see more (or less!) of. Since Batuta asked, let me start by saying that I have a (probably too ) detailed and lengthy bio on my website. Just go to www.rollingbaygourmet.com, and click on Meet the Chef. That's the general story. The thumbnail answer is that mainly my clients find me, because a) I'm a marketing wuss, and b) I have a husband who doesn't complain that I'm not working full time. But as I mentioned last night, tonight's the opening of a show I'm in, and I have to still make a decent dinner of some sort, put on makeup (something I only do for stage stuff and so am woefully inept at) and try not to succumb to stage fright. Geez, maybe I'd do better at makeup if I just thought of it as garnishing! Tomorrow I'll have more time to get really honest about the personal chef business, for those that are thinking of going into it, and for the merely curious.
  9. Today started off with a typically unglamorous breakfast: Morningstar Farms Breakfast Patties on whole wheat toast and a yogurt. Earl Greyer tea too - I love all that bergamot. Then I headed out to the store at about 7:15, shopped, and arrived at the client's house at 8:30. Oh no! I left my clean laundry, including my aprons, at home. Believe me when I tell you, I cooked very neatly and carefully all morning! It's always a hazard of personal cheffing, forgetting stuff. I try to be really compulsive with my lists, and it doesn't happen often, but there have been some doozies. My favorites were the time I showed up to make a risotto, minus the arborio, and another time when I was supposed to make stuffed cabbage - with, you guessed it, all the other ingredients, but no cabbage. So here's what I made today for the ladies luncheon: Fruit Salad with Lime, Honey, and Anise Hyssop Golden Raisin and Rosemary Mini-Muffins Curried Shrimp and Rice Salad Raspberry Fudge Bars By the time I got home at 2:00 I was too starved to make a lunch worth photographing. It was just a turkey sandwich and some plums. So far, it's looking like I need a personal chef myself!
  10. Ok, here was a delicious and quick (since I didn't have to cook it) Thai meal: pad kee mow for me, spring rolls and salad for my husband, and then, because I let it slip that it was my birthday, complimentary fresh coconut ice cream with fried bananas, and a tin of totally addictive tamarind-chili candy to take home. So let's not talk about today's points, ok? So now to do the final recipe and menu printing for tomorrow. A ladies' luncheon, where the hostess is in her 80s, and the guests are all "young women" in their 50s. The hostess chose curried shrimp and rice salad, fruit salad with poppy seed dressing, golden raisin and rosemary muffins, and raspberry fudge bars. Tomorrow night is opening night of a community theater production I'm in, so I fear that it will be another day of haphazard eating for me. I'm aiming for a nice main dish salad, though. I need greenery - and sleep!
  11. First things first - Happy Birthday Jake! Thanks for sharing my birthday. It's so great to see all the WW folks here too. I'm really looking forward to this week. Now, to business. My client for the day was a single woman. I cook for her every two weeks, making her dinners for 10 nights, most of which goes straight into the freezer. When I met this woman, about a year ago, her freezer was full of Lean Cuisine, and her fridge full of mostly empty pizza boxes. Now she gets food like this week's menu, which she often takes to work for lunch. We're on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, by the way, so commuting is a big part of some peoples' lives and getting food when you get home late to a smallish island isn't all that easy, hence the state of her eating before I started cooking for her. So my schedule was like this: Hit the grocery store at 9:30. Arrive at her house, unpack the groceries, and unload my equipment by 10:30. Start cooking up a storm, pausing to take some photos (good thing for my clients I'm a better cook than photographer!). By 2:30 the food was all done, packaged, and in the fridge or freezer, by 3:00 the kitchen was cleaned up, the dishwasher running, and I was out the door. Not a bad day's work! Here's what she got: The food arrayed before I started cooking Persian Meatballs with Spinach, and Israeli Couscous with Dates and Almonds Ribeye Steak with Port-Rosemary Reduction Sauce, and Glazed Carrots with Balsamic Vinegar and Butter Halibut Acqua Pazza, and Orechiette with Zucchini, Anchovies, and Mint Curried Chicken Salad Chicken Braised with White Poppy Seeds, Black Cardamom, and Coconut Milk, with Saffron-Cardamom Rice I know the presentation isn't wonderful. I do try my best, but there's only so much one can do with Gladware and freezer-ready servings. My clients are in it for the taste, thanks goodness, not the beauty of the food. Tonight I have a Planning Commission meeting (in my alter-ego as a Responsible Citizen I'm a member of the Commission), so it'll be a quick meal at our favorite local Thai place. Normally I do cook for my husband and me even after a full day of cooking, but there's just no time tonight. That's in no small part because I'm cooking for a luncheon party for 18 women tomorrow, at a new client's house. I think she's going to be very picky, but I'm hoping she won't mind if I take photos. However, I have to get prepared for tomorrow, and get to the meeting on time, so home cooking is the thing that has to go. Unless, of course, a Dejah-clone appears to work a little magic in my kitchen!
  12. Ok, so right off the bat I have a confession to make. Today is my birthday. How cool is that? First-ever blog and 54th birthday, all in one. Trouble is, I'm so slammed today and tomorrow that I don't even have time to celebrate - that'll come later in the week. But I did do a little something special for myself that I wouldn't do on just any morning - picked my breakfast fresh from the back yard. I got 43 lbs of blueberries from my two bushes this summer. These are the last of them. Around here blackberries are considered a noxious and invasive weed, but I can't help myself - I love them. These little strawberries were never bigger than a thumbnail, but now we're down to the last few brave survivors of our recent heat wave. Still yummy, though. Inspired by Dejah's Red River Cereal photo, I'm having Wheatena with my berries. I put peanut butter and brown sugar into the Wheatena (more about that later), and then right after I took this photo, I dumped the berries into the porridge. I'll spare you the image of the combined breakfast - it looks much prettier in its separate state. Oh, there's also coffee in this breakfast, although I'm normally a tea person in the morning. I was up until the wee hours getting semi-ready for my day, so coffee seems called for. This is a double Americano my husband made for me on his La Marzocco. So, besides being the Birthday Girl, I'm a personal chef. You'll get a little taste of that today and tomorrow, as I cook for a regular client, and for a party for a new client. And then for the rest of the week I'll finally get to catch up with some food projects, recipe-testing, and just plain eating that I've been wanting to do for weeks now. By the way, I'm a Weight Watcher too. Each meal I'll have something to say about it in WW terms, but I'll keep it at the end of each post, so you don't have to think about WW points unless you want to. So why the peanut butter? I like to get some fat and protein into my whole grains, whenever possible. A tablespoon of peanut butter stirred into a serving of Wheatena, a spoon of brown sugar, whisk it all together for a creamy and delicious 5 points. Add berries, and it's one of the best uses of 6 points that I can think of. I'll be back this afternoon with pictures from today's cooking. Here's the menu, just as a preview: Curried Chicken Salad Acqua Pazza, served with Pasta with Zucchini, Anchovies and Mint Chicken Braised with White Poppy Seeds, Black Cardamom, and Coconut Milk, served with Saffron-Cardamom Rice Ribeye Steaks with a Port-Rosemary Reduction Sauce, served with Glazed Carrots with Balsamic Vinegar and Butter Persian Meatballs with Spinach, served with Israeli Couscous with Dates and Almonds. Yum - as you might guess, my lunch will be tasting these creations. See you all later - I'm off into the world for my first day as a 54 year old person!
  13. Oh my gosh, what beautiful pastries! I'll bet that stuff is flying off the shelf. I'm going to Portland at the end of September, and I hope I can personally sample everything mel makes.
  14. It is genuinely hard to find, even when you're looking right at it. And it is sort of a warehouse setting, so you might have had it right. Wesza took a bunch of us there after a Salumi lunch, or else I'd never have found it at all. And I wasn't driving, so unfortunately I can't give you any better directions than you got from Mapquest. Just wanted to tell you you're not alone!
  15. Wow, Dejah, you are obviously a formidable cook, as well as a world-class multi-tasker. I bow to your beautiful blog, and I echo the others' call for recipes - everything looks so delicious.
  16. Holy cow! Uhh, would you just come over once a week and make one for me? Seriously, please tell us how long this project took you, and whether you were able to spread the prep over several days. I'm not that good at eyeballing metrics - would a half sheet work for that amount of batter? And please, for the record (not that I'm likely to be doing it in this lifetime) please talk some about the method of spraying the white chocolate, and any reasonable alternative for the spray-challenged.
  17. I do WW online, and am a personal chef, so I cook and eat great food all the time. I lost 65 lbs over a 14 month period, then have maintained that for about 8 months. Now I'm geared up to start losing more. WW absolutely works for me, because I love fruit, veggies, and whole grains. I've never eaten any sort of packaged WW meal, and dare say I never will. We could have a little eG WW thread for food ideas and support, if anyone wants to. Support on the WW boards usually does include mostly people who eat horrible gunk every day, so it would be refreshing to have a foodie points-counting club.
  18. At a Seattle-area gathering last night, FWED's contribution was an Exotic Orange Cake he learned at the World Pastry Competition. I have to say that it was one of the best desserts I've ever had in my mouth. FWED, please post the recipe so I, and all of our fellow cake-lovers can try it and swoon!
  19. Wow, that is scathing. She had a completely different set of dishes than we had, with not one thing overlapping, but it sounds like the overall experience was the same, except that we enjoyed our food, when we got any.
  20. Yum, your other breakfast, with kashkaval, mint, and olives looks so good too! For the Mtabla - does peeled wheat mean wheat berries, like you can buy in the bulk section, or is it a specific Middle Eastern preparation? And the dried corn - the same stuff we might add to soups?
  21. Elie, will you give us your mtabla recipe? It looks yummy and refreshing, sort of like a breakfast version of mutabbal.
  22. Drat, I was hoping that our good lunch wasn't just an anomaly. We'll try them again, and see what we get. We have been to Noodle Ranch and like it pretty well. I love noodles! We saw Burrito Loco but didn't know it was supposed to be good - next time we'll try them.
  23. Well, at least really one really wonderful dish, that would make me go back anytime I'm in the University Village. It's a pleasant space, and we had an awesome server (you're lucky if Jeremy waits on you), and some better than expected food. First, I suggest avoiding the tofu "fries", which are some sort of lo-carb abomination. We ordered them because I love tofu, and virtually every table had a martini glass of them, with three dipping sauces. Our server didn't recommend them, but we ordered them anyway. The fried tofu achieves a texture so far from its natural creaminess as to be astounding - it's dry and sort of woody. Jeremy came by, saw us not eating them, and took them off the bill without us saying a word and even though he had warned us about the dish. But I had a Vietnamese noodle bowl with caramelized shallot pork that was truly delicious. I love a classic noodle bowl, and this was sort of fusion, but, dare I say, it was better than a lot of authentic bowls I've had. The noodles were rice, although not glass. There was an amazing amount of delicious, small bits of grilled pork with a great and classic caramel flavor. Lots of greens, including crisp lettuce, cilantro, and mint, and a nice nam pla-type sauce that needed a little perking up. With a good squirt of sriracha, and a dump of the contents of the bowl of lime-cucumer dipping sauce that came with the fries, I had one of the best lunches in recent memory. I'll ask for that sauce on the side next time I order the bowl, because it finished it perfectly. Does anyone eat there, and if so, what else is really good?
  24. I love the dark, slightly bitter honeys. The French miel de sapin, which is a pine honey, and chestnut honey are my very favorites, but I like the Tasmanian leatherwood a lot too. Our local "garden variety" honey is blackberry, which is nice, although light and mild. Whenever I travel I bring back honey, to remember places by. My cupboard is full of my honey stash - little bottles from everywhere.
  25. At this time of year I'd go for berry shortcakes. Individual cakes, baked and split ahead of time, berries prepped ahead, cream whipped, last minute plating is quick, and I think everyone feels really pampered by shortcake.
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