Girls on Food

Seafood

A Preview of the New Menu at Crossings In South Pasadena

When I think of Pasadena and what it is known for, I immediately picture the Rose Bowl, Huntington Library, Norton Simon Museum and JPL. Pasadena has a lot of history, and that’s what makes the city so great. I used to live in South Pasadena and have long admired the architect and design. Crossings, located in the Edwards and Faw building on Missions Street, has been around since 1908. That’s 110 years that it has withstood the test of time, very impressive. At a private dinner to preview the menu this week, I was told that this two-story restaurant (with a split level wine cellar!) was once a bottling company. It’s no wonder the restaurant boasts a classic chic and elegant 1940’s style!

Crossings
1010 Missions Street, South Pasadena, CA 91030
http://crossings-restaurant.com/ 

 

Several other food bloggers and I were initially brought to the first-floor bar to try a few of their cocktails. I decided on the Paradise Lost—a concoction of Tito’s Vodka, fresh pear puree, Giffard’s Elderflower, and lime—as I tend to gravitate more toward the sweet and fruity drinks. This definitely made me feel like I was somewhere tropical. I also tried Ichabod’s Muse, which consists of BuffaloTrade Bourbon, pumpkin puree, lemon, honey, and cinnamon and the sweet, bold flavor tasted quite pleasant. Jessie, our mixologist, certainly knows how to craft the perfect cocktail!

Paradise Lost
Ichabod’s Muse

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kumamoto Oysters

After we drank our cocktails, we headed to the second floor where we sat at a table of 9 food bloggers including myself. I already had a notion of what dishes to expect, but Chef Malone Jr. surprised us with an amuse bouche which just so happened to be my favorite type of oysters. These Kumamoto oysters were served with finger lime, mignonette foam, and mint—an excellent start to dinner. Paired with Henri Maire Cremant from Jura. 🇫🇷

Hamachi Verde

Next up was the Hamachi Verde. It was so soft and tender and as one slice laid upon my palate, my mouth became filled with a heavenly sensation. Chef Malone used snap agua chile, kaffir lime, cucumber, and serrano and that gave it a lovely flavor as can be verified with all those who feasted upon it. Paired with 2015 Keunts Bas Pino Blanc from Alsace 🇩🇪

Roasted Sunchokes

Then we had the Roasted Sunchokes. If you’re not familiar with sunchokes, they are the root of a sunflower, native to Eastern North America. Apparently, if you eat too many it will help cleanse your system very thoroughly. The chef roasted the sunchokes and used an orange glaze and habanero sauce to caramelize these roots. This gave it an amazing texture and is very addicting after every bite. I grew even more excited, because I knew the next two dishes were going to be the best! Paired with 2015 Armand Kabinett Riesling from Pfalz 🇩🇪

Hamachi Collar

Bright with sunflower petals and cured blood orange skins, paired with a side of pibil, creme fraiche and a plate of Fresno chili and tortillas was the most colorful Hamachi Collar I have ever seen. The well-prepared meat easily came off the collarbone and paired perfectly with the tortillas and Fresno chili for a pretty fancy taco. Paired with 2015 Stolpman La Cuadrilla Grenache/Syrah/Sangiovese from Santa Ynez-Ballard Canyon AVA, CA 🇺🇸

Wagyu Navel

Now for my favorite dish of the night, Wagyu Navel. I was so curious about the ash, charcoal potatoes, soubise, and burnt leek in this dish. It was phenomenal! I savored every bite and took my time enjoying the flavors resonating in my mouth. I mentioned to Chef Malone that I hope it stays on the menu. Paired with 2013 Ramírez de la Piscina Crianza Tempranillo from Rioja 🇪🇸

Pot de Creme

We were nearing the end and our last and final tasting came before us as Pot de Creme. It was well done with the puffed rice and saltiness mixed in the horchata foam over the ancho chili and espresso. Some were ready to steal the plates of those who were taking their time eating their dessert.

Over the course of the evening, I learned that Chef Malone moved from Boston to California to ski when he was just 18 years old. Though he learned about cooking from his father, he was a pro skier for a bit before he found his passion for cooking—which he now shares with us! I loved this updated take on classic American steakhouse cuisine and I know the Crossings regulars will welcome it too!

Whole Roasted Sicilian Style Branzino

Whole roasting a fish intimidated me for a long time. Clean out the insides? No thanks. It sounded a little too chef-y.  Far beyond my capabilities. Or, so I told myself.

But, a few years back, I was craving a dish my family made for years.  So, I decided if my Nonni can do it, so can I.  Now whole-roasting is one of my absolute favorite ways to prepare multiple types of fish!  Overcoming kitchen fears is the best!

If you are new to whole roasting fish, branzino (also, called Mediterranean sea bass) is a great place to start! It’s small in size and has a wonderful flaky white flesh! Due to prevalence on restaurant menus and increasing popularity, its easy to find at fish markets and specialty grocers year-round – regardless of where you live!

Branzino are native to Mediterranean waters although most of what’s available in North America is farmed off the coast of Greece. Nonetheless, this fish and method of preparation are extremely popular throughout the Mediterranean region – including where my family is from in Sicily! Using a simple salt crust technique to lock in the moisture, we can roast a moist, tender, flaky, and flavorful result every time!  Gorgeous, healthy, flavorful, and roasts to perfection in only 20 minutes; what’s not to love?

Lets get started!  The video shows the step-by-step method, and the full recipe is listed below!

Whole Roasted Sicilian Style Branzino

35 minutes, 2 servings per fish

For the Branzino:

1 – 1.5 lb. whole branzino (per 2 persons)*

½ tsp. kosher salt

½ sliced small lemon

½ small shallot, thinly sliced

2 fresh mint sprigs

kitchen twine

parchment lined baking sheet

For salt crust:

2 large egg whites

~ 1 lb. kosher salt

For serving:

2 tbsp. balsamic reduction**

1 tbsp. + drizzle high quality extra virgin olive oil (about 1 tsp.)

2 tbsp. freshly chopped mint leaves

juice from ½ lemon, divided

zest from ½ lemon

freshly cracked black pepper

½ tsp. plus more for seasoning

pinch of Himalayan pink salt

Roasted Asparagus:

1 small shallot, thinly sliced

½ lb. asparagus spears, ends trimmed

2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced

mint leaves for garnish

*At most seafood markets and specialty grocers, you can request that they gut the fish for you. Just make sure that they leave the tail and head alone! The fish must remain whole to lock in moisture!

**To make balsamic reduction, place ¼ c. balsamic vinegar on stovetop over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer then reduce heat to medium, swirling every minute or so, continue to simmer for 4-5 more minutes until balsamic has reduced by about half (this will yield 2 tbsp.). Immediately transfer to a heatproof bowl and set aside. This can be done up to 2 days ahead if desired. Store in an airtight container if making ahead.

Arrange oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.

If your fish has not already been gutted: make an incision from the belly side beginning just below the head and continuing to the tail end. Remove all guts and organs. Rinse inside and outside of the fish clean.

Once your fish has been gutted, season the inside of cleaned branzino with salt.  Arrange slices of lemon, sprigs of mint, and thin slices of shallots inside each fish.  Secure by wrapping fish with kitchen twine. (This step can be completed up to 2 hours ahead if wrapped and refrigerated.)

On a separate rimmed baking sheet, place trimmed asparagus, 1 tbsp. olive oil, ½ tsp. kosher salt, minced garlic cloves, and the small sliced shallot. Toss to coat asparagus. Set aside.

To make the paste for the salt crust, use a fork to combine about 1 lb. of salt with enough egg white to form a paste in a bowl.  For me, this was 2 large egg whites.  Spread a thin layer of the salt paste on the parchment paper lining the prepared baking sheet. You only need to cover the surface area where the fish will lay. This should use about 1/2 of the salt paste. Then place fish on top of salt paste layer and arrange remaining salt paste over the top of the fish in a thin layer. You want to cover the entire surface area of fish because the paste forms the crust that locks in both flavor and moisture.

Transfer both baking sheets to the oven and roast for about 20 minutes.  Roast fish on top rack and asparagus on bottom rack. After 20 minutes, remove fish from oven! Give asparagus a turn and roast 5 minutes longer.

Allow fish to rest for 4-5 minutes before removing the salt crust.  Use your hands and dull knife to peel away the salt crust.  It should come off very easily and often in large sections.  Discard salt crust.

Remove asparagus form the oven.

Remove the twine and try to remove as many additional bits of the salt crust as possible from the fish. Work carefully so that the fish doesn’t completely fall apart.

Transfer branzino onto the baking sheet with the asparagus. Working with one side at a time, make an incision down the spine of the fish and near the fish’s tail, so that the skin can easily be peeled and rolled away from the meat. Roll the skin away until you reach the fin/gill region. The fish’s skin worked hard to lock in the fish’s moisture and flavor in the oven. The combination of the steamed flesh and the skin’s contact with the salt paste will make it very easily peel off of the fish’s tender flaky tasty flesh. Carefully flip the fish over and repeat this step on the other side.

On a 1 – 1.5 lb. fish, the meat from one side of the fish is about one serving.

Add a squeeze of lemon juice, drizzle of olive oil, pinch of kosher salt and Himalayan pink salt, chopped mint leaves, lemon zest, and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve with roasted asparagus and crispy shallots. Garnish with slice of lemon and a few mint leaves.

Enjoy!

XO,

Maria


Don’t forget to share your recipe photos on Instagram by tagging @girlsonfoodblog and @almostproperly. We love seeing what you make!

 

Best Friend Time At Point Loma Fish Shop in San Diego

Before even moving to San Diego I made a trip down here to visit a friend and visited the best little fish shop in Pacific Beach. I was completely in love with its charm and all of its fresh and healthy options (and it’s onion rings). So when I heard the news that Fish Shop was opening a location in Point Loma, literally a 5 minute drive up the hill from my house, I was so excited. My best friend, fellow Girl On Food Tania, was coming down for a girls day and I knew I had to take her here to try out the new location!

Point Loma Fish Shop
1110 Rosecrans St, San Diego, CA 92106
http://www.thefishshoppointloma.com

We headed out to Point Loma Fish Shop on a sunny Sunday afternoon after a morning of wedding dress shopping for Tania, and we were both starving and so ready for some food. I started with a Karl Strauss Red Trolly while Tania sipped on a glass of Benzinger Sauvignon Blanc, and we got to checking out the menu.

The menu at The Fish Shop is set up so that you can choose your fish, pick a seasoning, and then choose how you would like it served; on a plate with two sides, on a salad, in a sandwich, or in tacos! There is also a menu of other favorites, such a fish and chips, and the signature fish tacos they are famous for, like the TKO taco which is seriously delicious.

Onions Rings and Coconut Shrimp

We decided to start with coconut shrimp, per our servers recommendation, and I threw in an order of onion rings, because I actually dream about them here sometimes. The coconut shrimp was so tasty, the breading was flaky and light and the accompanying sweet chili sauce was the perfect place to dip. The onion rings were the best thing ever, as per usual, gigantic and crunchy.

For lunch, I opted for mahi mahi in their Fish Shop seasoning, with a side salad dressed in citrus vinigrette and mixed grain rice. This is my go to order here, though sometimes I’ll switch up my fish or seasoning. The fish is so fresh and the fish shop seasoning is tangy and a little bit spicy, a perfect compliment to it. This is exactly the meal one wants to eat on a patio with an ice cold beer on a sunny Sunday afternoon, perfect in every way.

Tania decided on grilled yellowtail with a garlic butter glaze, along with a side of mix greens and mixed grain rice. She wanted to try yellowtail cooked, since it’s her favorite fish to eat as raw sushi, and she was not disappointed! She liked the subtle flavor of the seasoning that didn’t overpower the natural flavor of the fish.

Point Loma Fish Shop was the perfect pit stop in the middle of a perfect day, and is a place that I will be visiting time and time again. I couldn’t be happier to have a location so close to my house, this is a spot that is definitely going to become a favorite in the Point Loma and Ocean Beach community.

Thank you to Alternative Strategies for setting up this tasting. 

Kinilaw For a Mom-To-Be

I’ve finally hit 35 weeks of pregnancy and I can confirm the fast food and other gluttonous urges are hitting me pretty hard! But I have been in the kitchen creating recipes that are meat/poultry-free, clean and using sustainability conscious ingredients.

When asked to develop a recipe with Blue Harbor Fish Co I jumped at the chance!

Their products tuna is MSC certified sustainable and dolphin-safe. Plus, I love the pouch option, they save so much room in my well-stocked cabinet.

Kinilaw is traditionally a Filipino dish similar to poke or ceviche. I wanted to create a pregnancy-friendly recipe for those of us out there who are missing our raw fish.

Kinilaw For a Mom-To-Be

1 serving

In a small mixing bowl, combine the following:

1 3 oz. pouch Blue Harbor Wild Albacore – No Salt Added

2 tablespoons Calamansi juice

1 tablespoon grated ginger

3 tablespoons thinly-sliced red onion

1 tablespoon coconut vinegar

1 Thai chili sliced and de-seeded

1 tablespoon coconut milk

Pinch of fresh cilantro (extra sprigs for garnish, if you like)

Salt and pepper to taste

Serve alone or with tostadas for a crunch.

Enjoy!

This post is sponsored by Blue Harbor Fish Co; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. 

Montreal, Mon Amour!

As the middle of winter consumes us, dreaming of somewhere warm is the most typical thought that crosses our minds. Punta Cana, Brazil, Mexico…to name a few. For me, I am a proud, winter-loving Canadian… who has barely seen Canada. I’ve travelled to Central America, I’ve road tripped and flown throughout U.S.A. numerous times, yet I haven’t traveled my way through Canada. For Valentine’s Day, I decided to take my husband to somewhere he has never been before, the home of the poutine, Montreal, Quebec.

Now, I’ve been to Montreal before for a day trip but did not get to experience the culture nor the amazing cuisine. We packed our bags and set off for a 5 and a half road trip to Montreal. We had no plans, zero bookings and just wanted to roll with the punches.

After settling in, we decided to wonder around our little neighbourhood near the hotel. Since our French is “Je ne c’est quoi” (literally means I do not know what) we wanted to try something a little familiar to us.

Our first stop: Bier Markt Montréal
1221 Rene-Levesque Blvd W Montreal,QC

I absolutely love the Bier Markt. I’ve been many times before but never in Montreal. It is traditionally a place that sells a ginormous variety of beers. From pints, to bottles, sample trays, cocktails, champagne, wine, literally everything. The only thing I’ve ever consumed here is beer, because that is what they are known for. This particular trip, we decided to order some snacks to go along with our sampler tray of beer. I never even knew we could order food let alone have a great selection to choose from. We decided to go with a shareable board of seafood and cheese. Just typing this, I’m already missing that board. Our three choices were fresh mozzarella, tuna poke and grilled calamari. It was paired with fresh bread, pickles and a raspberry compote. Spectacular and overwhelming perfect is the only way for me to describe the food, the ambiance and the general vibe of this establishment. We loved it so much, we ended up going back the next night for a little night cap.

The next morning we decided to hunt down the perfect poutine. But since it was 10 am, we decided cheese curds and French fries were more of an afternoon treat.

As we were walking looking for a coffee shop, we found a little spot called: Paris Cafe
1333 Saint-Catherine St. W Montreal,QC

It turned out to be a quaint little restaurant serving crepes! The menu was in French but Nutella is a universal word in any language. I indulged in a London Fog latte and an incredible Nutella Banana Crepe that they prepare right on display as you enter the cafe. It was extremely decadent and the best latte I’ve ever had. This two story restaurant was packed but not busy as everything was made so quickly and devoured within minutes. It was a lovely spot to start our day off right.

Montreal is known for its beauty and art. On the side of buildings, you could see paintings of the late Leonard Cohen throughout the city. A beautiful tribute to a great Canadian artist in his home town. The architecture and museums were extraordinary. Some of the best I’ve ever seen. Everywhere you looked, there was beauty.

After touring the city, our quest for the perfect Poutine had peeked. As a vegetarian, I haven’t come across many poutines that I was able to enjoy. Most poutines I’ve come across had a beef base. I was concerned but determined I could find something just right.

That is when we stumbled upon: Ye Olde Orchard Pub
1189 Rue de la Montagne Montreal, QC

We were instantly greeted by a gentleman wearing a kilt. Typical old pub setting. What I thought would be a tiny pub was actually fairly large with dim lighting and stone walls. I eyeballed the menu and found the poutine section. There it was…my gateway poutine into the poutine world. Vegetarian Curry Poutine. It was a trifecta of my three favourite foods merging together in one dish. The curry actually just tasted like a spicy gravy. The cheese curds, although I hate the word curd, they were delicious. I had found euphoria in a pile of French fries. And I was in love.

This trip was filled with so much delicious food, we have barely eaten since we’ve returned home. Montreal really does feel like you’re in a different world. The cuisine, the culture, the people….its hard to describe but definitely somewhere everyone needs to go. Even in the winter, it was magical and felt like the perfect weekend getaway.

Until next time, Au Revoir, Montreal!

A Mexico City Classic: San Ángel Inn

Since 1325, Mexico City has been a marvelous place full of so many surprises. One of the delightful sites are the hacienda like restaurants, right in the middle of this crazy busy metropolis.

One that has been around for a couple centuries is the forever classic San Ángel Inn. Located in the beautiful and traditional neighborhood of San Angel this restaurant not only allows one to believe you’re away from a big city but also delights with its delicious food, perfect service, mesmerizing decor and beautiful music.

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Renzell: The Perfect App For Fine Dining Lovers

The world of foodie apps is like the wild west right now. Developers are striving to become the next big thing, but few apps offer anything unique to stand out from just being a local restaurant directory. I thought I had seen it all with these apps, until GOF blogger Marcie told me to check out an app called Renzell and it has since become my go-to restaurant directory app.

Cocktail from Redbird in LA, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell

Why Renzell?

It’s for those with impeccable taste –  What separates Renzell out from the other apps is a restaurant directory that is specifically hand-picked by Renzell staff of fine dining establishments in major metropolitan cities. This app isn’t here to help you find a new coffee shop, it’s to help you find the perfect special occasion spot. Think Marea in NYC, Redbird in LA and Alinea in Chicago.

Be undercover –  Members can rate restaurants anonymously through their surveys, which are scored based off overall numbers, no long write-ups required. Their surveys are broken down into categories like ambiance, service, food and cocktails. What I love about this so much is that it’s not public what scores users gave, so I can quietly and candidly score spots. See full list of restaurants here.

Prove it – There is also more accountability in the scores than other review apps. Members are encouraged to show proof of dining by providing a receipt from their visit. This makes me feel better when I read the scores, cause it’s lessening the likelihood of fake reviews.

Get rewarded! – The more you survey and/or provide proof of receipt, the more goodies you can get! Recent rewards include Starbucks gift cards, SoulCycle classes, a month of free Spotify premium and so much more.

With membership benefits, secure anonymity and consistent app functionality, I will consider myself a “lifer” Renzell member.

  • Featured image – Strozzapreti from Marea in New York, a restaurant you can survey on Renzell

Healthy Cioppino with Jammy Roasted Tomatoes

Up in the Pacific Northwest, we are officially entering the gray monotony of wet, cold, and miserable weather until spring. Which means its time for foods that warm me up! This usually puts what I am craving and what I should eat at a crossroads.

Carb-y creamy things may be delicious, but what about all those veggies I should be eating? Is anyone else feeling big time comfort food cravings as soon as the weather turns??

Instead of choosing between comfort food and health, I’m combining them with this cioppino! Its packed full of veggies, fish, fresh herbs, the most luscious broth, and an amazing secret flavor bomb ingredient: slow roasted cherry tomatoes! They are jammy and umami rich in the best possible way! They add incredible complexity and richness to the soup!

It’s the perfect light – yet filling – way to warm up on these cold wet days!!

Now, to the recipe!

Note: The soup is dairy free and gluten-free. The olive oil crostini is optional for serving!

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Wilbur Mexicana in Toronto

Wilbur Mexicana is where a group of friends can meet for drinks and a taco or even going out on your own for time alone. This is a spot where anyone and everyone is welcomed, while also offering cheap downtown eats with big flavour. Wilbur Mexicana is named after the chemist that discovered the Scoville scale of spicy heat, Wilbur Scoville. They offer an upscale but casual atmosphere serving up fast cheap eats that you would not expect in the downtown core.

Wilbur Mexicana
552 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M3
http://wilburmexicana.com
https://www.instagram.com/wilburmexicana/

Once you enter the restaurant there is a sign up on the menu board that states, “Wilbur first timers, grab a menu at the door”, when you read this, you look to your left and see some menus hanging off the side rack. Once you figure out what you want to indulge in, you simply order and pay at the cash where you give you a numbered placeholder that contains a photo of a cartoon pepper. If you are dining in, just grab a seat at a table to you prefer and sit pretty; if take out, sit comfy on a stool right next to the cash.

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Thai-Mexican Fine Dining in Acapulco: Zibú

In the middle of one of the most dangerous roads in Acapulco sits one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to Zibú, Thai-Mexican fine cuisine with the most beautiful Caribbean like atmosphere. The mesmerizing views of Acapulco Bay, fantastic service, and delicious food makes going to this place a memorable experience that you’ll want to repeat as much as possible. I’ve been quite a few times myself and even spent New Year’s Eve that at an awesome party. 

Zibú
Avenida Escenica S/N, Fraccionamiento Glomar, Pichilingue, 39887, Acapulco, Guerrero

This last time I went for a romantic date with bae. He had never been before, so I took him by the hand and guided him through the most delicious dishes of Zibú. The entrance of the restaurant is hard to find because the only thing you see, even more so if you go at night, are a few steps, the sign of the restaurant, and the valet. As you take a few steps down, you meet with the hostess under a beautiful palapa, right next to a rustic bonfire. I would suggest making a reservation, they are on Open Table, and they tend to book quickly, they also host events as well, so sometimes half of the restaurant is unavailable. For instance, the time I went, there was a wedding reception. But as a customer, you would never know, the only reason I knew was that my sister was a part of the wedding. As I said before the restaurant has different sections and private rooms that the regular customer would never be aware, once I saw one of their smaller rooms filled with roses and candles for a proposal once, so special.

Anyway back to me! As I was trying to show my boyfriend the best of the best we had quite the big dinner. We started with the amazingly delicious Camarones Sol y Sombra (Sun and Shadow Shrimp), it consists of six grilled shrimp placed on top of a mirror of mango sauce, the sun, and tamarind sauce, the shadow. It was not only delicious but amusing. As you can tell from the picture, it comes with veggies, mashed potatoes, and rice which is mostly carbs and neutral flavored so that they absorb the sauce to give the protein a beautiful complement. It can be sweet or sour or mix both sauces and get the best of both worlds. It’s a very well rounded dish, just delicious.

Camarones Sol y Sombra
Arroz Oriental
We then ordered Arroz Oriental and the Chicken Pad Thai. The rice has a colorful seasoning, ginger butter, and Thai red pepper, also a variety of seafood: shrimp, octopus, calamari, and lobster. If you like paella this is an interesting twist. It was delicious. Next up the chicken pad Thai, personally I love the texture of noodles and these were just perfect, the flavors of this dish were less bitter and more sweet with a hint of spice. Honestly, the food and the service were so good that we were planning on when our next visit should be.
Chicken Pad Thai 
Selva Mextai
As full as we were we could not miss dessert, this is one of those places that you can’t leave with out trying to fill your body with the biggest amount of food you’re capable. After a few minutes, we both agreed on getting the Selva Mextai. The description of the dish leaves out an ingredient on purpose, and even if you ask the waiter what it is, he won’t tell you, he will tell you though that you’ll have to guess after you try it. It was fun, we have no allergies, and we were curious, so we got it without fully knowing what to expect, and I’m glad we did. The coconut ice cream was fantastic, buttery and tasted just like an iced coconut. It did not have a hint of artificial flavors, and the dulce de leche made up for a great companion to eat. The mystery fried vegetable surrounding our dessert, well I can’t tell you, you’ll have to guess once you’re there!