Girls on Food

Cocktails

Sammy Hagar and the El Paseo Team Open The Passage Bar

Passage BarSammy Hagar and the team of El Paseo know the way into a Girl on Food’s heart. Right when I stepped into their launch party for The Passage Bar, I was greeted with a glass of sparkling. How’d he know? 😉
The Passage Bar 
17 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

http://www.elpaseomillvalley.com

It’s located in Mill Valley about ten minutes north of San Francisco. The bar is a collaboration between former Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar and El Paseo, the restaurant right next door. The bar is a huge compliment to the stunning restaurant and is sure to be a social hotspot.

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Taco Taco in SLC: Naked #TacoTuesday

Situated in downtown SLC is Taco Taco, a modern taqueria that is beautifully balancing authenticity with modern “millenary cuisine.”

Taco Taco
208 East 500 South, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
tacotaco.com

 

 

 

I am a street food junkie and lucky for me once a week, every week, we devote the day to tacos. After grabbing a beerita and some chips & salsa I settled in and got ready to feast.

Authentic and best served naked, these tacos are served to your table sans toppings – just a healthy heaping portion of whatever filling you ordered. As a meat lover and taco purist, it is refreshing to see this Mexican street food served traditionally and authentically.

However, for gringas like myself, they have provided a generous topping bar that, I am ready to say, is hands down the best in Utah. Filled with house made caramelized onions, shredded cabbage, pickled red onions, pickled jalapeños and carrots, limes, cucumbers, and of course white onions and cilantro, their topping bar also includes a selection of fresh salsas/sauces for you to top your tacos – six of them, to be exact.

 

 

 

 

 

The chicken chili verde is a house favorite, so first I ordered that. However, I decided today, like every day, would be a cheat day… so I ordered every taco on the menu, nachos al pastor, and a margarita (for digestion, obviously) then quickly got to work. The meat and zucchini blossom taco is good enough to eat sans toppings, but I was not about to pass up the chance to creatively stuff my face and to make a long story short – I put everything on everything. Tacos also come with a side of tortilla chips that are perfect for scooping up anything that may have jumped out of your taco. 

    

The big surprise here was the zucchini blossom. It tasted fresh and creamy and as a meat lover who is super non-accommodating to my vegetarian friends, I didn’t feel like I was missing a thing. This taco should be named “king taco” for vegetarians because it packs incredible flavor and (honestly) potato tacos are not cutting it. I topped it with mild pico, cabbage, caramelized onions, and a very spicy white sauce that turned out to be spicy crema. I would definitely recommend this to anyone, meat lovers and vegetarians alike.

My hands down favorite was the al pastor taco. Prior to overfilling it with all the toppings, I tasted the meat and this was so perfect naked I could cry. It had the most flavor and the meat was cooked to perfection. It was tender and juicy and at home in the corn taco shell.

The special, which was a mahi mahi beer battered taco with a cabbage slaw, paired well with the lime margarita and didn’t need a thing from the toppings bar. Their daily specials, which are primarily seafood, provide variety for the one person in the group who is doing a stupid diet so it’s fish taco Tuesday for them.

Taco Taco is easily the quiet assassin of all taco restaurants in Salt Lake, delivering a clear message to taco importers. From their laid back atmosphere to their done-up toppings bar they are definitely not to be missed. If you like good inexpensive food grab your friend who’s always down to get tacos and get there.

Harry Potter Butterbeer (For 21+ Wizards and Witches Only)

Butterbeer from Harry Potter

On the Harry Potter Superfan scale of one to ten, I’m probably an eight and a half. I’ve never written Harry and Hermione love story fan fiction or tattooed a snitch on my body, but I did go to every single midnight book release party, wand (aka knobby twig) in hand. There’s something about Rowling’s world building that just captured me, from the clever beginning to the poignant end. (more…)

A Fatboi in South Carolina

This past September, Fatboi Jess moonlighted as a country bumpkin and embarked on a mini vaca to South Carolina.

Rainbow Row

Boone Hall Plantation (they filmed part of The Notebook here!)

Husk Restaurant & Bar located in downtown historic CharlestonCilantro Will Prevail: tequila, fig, cilantro, lime, tonic, and salt.  Dahl’s Dessert: peach infused Bourbon, peach vinegar, anise, cream, and cinnamon.

Poogan’s Porch, one of Charleston’s oldest independent culinary establishments. The name comes from the pup Poogan that stayed behind when the home was sold and turned into a restaurant. Ole Poogan served as the official greeter before his passing in 1979.Pan Roasted Salmon, watercress, edamame beans, heirloom tomatoes, biscuit croutons, and basil gremolata Mac & Cheese with country ham and aged smoked gouda, bold, savory flavor. This was just the beginning of my mac & cheese journey as I ordered some each day.

Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts open til 2 am on Saturday nights for those post-bar munchiesJeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a scoop shop with dozens of unique flavors which prompted multiple trips and Forrest Gump imitations…JennayyyyCupcake Down South 

Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square every Saturday from 8am-2pm April through December, with over 100 local vendors!

My personal favorite flavor, they taste just like a cinnamon roll!

Charleston’s RightOnQue BBQPulled Pork Sandwich, there’s nothing quite like authentic Southern BBQ!

Juice Joint pop-up juice barDreamsicle: orange, strawberry, banana mango (left) Watermelon Agua Fresca with fresh lime (right)Hominy GrillGrilled Eggplant & Herbed Goat Cheese with roasted red peppers and grilled red onion on sunflower toastJalapeño Hush Puppies with sorghum butterIf you don’t smother your hush puppy in mac & cheese, you’re doing it wrong.

Downtown Charleston

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, they ship nationwide if you’re in need of that Southern comfortSausage, Egg, and Pimento Cheese with The Glass Onion’s “Belle” sausage patty, pimento cheese, and scrambled eggs. I wish I could’ve eaten this twice.Blueberry Biscuit, blueberries baked inside with lemon cream cheese frosting made in-house with sugared blueberries

Magnolias, upscale Southern cuisineSweet Chili Rubbed Ahi Tuna, habanero hummus and Pepper Jack spring rolls, roasted mango salsa, Créole remouladeSouthern Fried Mac & Cheese, BBQ pulled pork, collards, black-eyed peas

Bakehouse Bakery & CafeNot your average s’mores bar with a cold block of chocolate sandwich between a toasted marshmallow and a thick graham cracker. Cold chocolate is the way to go.

Prohibition  Margarita Caliente: El Jimadore Blanco Jalapeño infusion, Cointreau, lime, agave, Scrappy’s lime, chipotle saltGrass Fed Angus Burger, bacon jam, cheddar, house pickles, garlic aioli, fries

I can’t report too much here on account of the jalapeño margaritas and a failed attempt at initiating a dance off with a bachelor party.

We stumbled upon the Savannah Bee Company tucked away in the King Street Shopping District, where they offer mead tastings. Mead is the oldest alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey with water and fruits, grains, hops, or spices. While you won’t ever find me ordering rounds of mead at the club, it was a great experience tasting the different types and learning about its rich history.

Notable Food Trends: Pimento cheese, Fried green tomatoes

Closing Thoughts: “If I lived down here I would most definitely end up on my 600-pound life.”

Jess, @FatboiTendencies

Food Crawl: Vail, CO Style!

What comes to mind when you hear a Vail, Colorado get away? You think of a vacation down the slopes right? Of days up and down the mountain and evenings spent by the fire cocktail in hand?

Well my recent getaway to Vail had me there in the off season, prior to what you might picture. So after hiking around and enjoying some hot springs, what else should you do but EAT?!

During the season or off, I recommend a little food and drink crawl around Vail Village. The first place to start should be Vail Brewing Co.

Vail Brewing Co.
141 E. Meadow Dr. Suite 209, Vail CO 81657
http://www.vailbrewingco.com/

Vail Brewing specializes in artisan, hand crafted ales brewed in small batches. They brew what they like to drink! I loved their “Life’s a Peach” Belgian wit style beer. It was light with a hint of fruit at the end; just right for a crisp, fall afternoon, sitting outside among the mountains. I may have had a couple.

vail-brewing-co

After a few craft beers you may want to head to Vendetta’s for a big olé slice of pizza or two. Our friends in Vail, (aka locals), rave about their slices. Their raving did not disappoint. Vendetta’s has been around since 1983 serving up slices literally the size of my head. If you can’t decide on one, you can mix and match your pie. Why not try a few kinds, the names alone are that enticing 🙂

Vendetta’s
291 Bridge Street, Vail CO 81658
http://www.vailbrewingco.com/

vendettas-pizza

After Vendetta’s pizza has done the trick, your next stop should be Root and Flower for wine, cocktails and small plates. Just keep the food crawl going.

Root and Flower
225 Wall St. #103A, Vail, CO 81658
http://rootandflowervail.com

Root and Flower offers an approachable elegance. The space is intimate and I can see getting cozy in here after a day on the mountain. These marinated olives with Colorado feta, holy yum! They were like candy and I could not stop hoarding them.

root-and-flower-cocktails

root-and-flower-olives

A final stop should be Sweet Basil, which is rumored to see a number of celebrities during the peak season.

Sweet Basil
193 E. Gore Creek Drive, Vail, CO 81657
https://sweetbasilvail.com/

For the celebrity treatment, start with the Steelhead Trout Crudo. It is served with tempura avocado, charred scallions and lime. I so regretted sharing this dish with my dining partners. I wanted to keep it all for myself. It was delightful, melt in your mouth, savor it to the last morsel, delicious crudo.

trout-crudo

The Steelhead Trout entrée also will not steer you wrong. The trout is meaty, similar to salmon, served with smoked potato, spinach purée, black garlic and pickled mustard. The dish is a scrape your plate clean winner.

sweet-basil-trout

To cap of your food crawl you absolutely need dessert. Get Sweet Basil’s Sticky Toffee Pudding with brown sugar rum ice cream and peanut brittle. This is a ball drenched in goodness. It does not stand a chance against your spoon.

sweet-basil-dessert

Should you need a food and drink coma recovery the next morning, I highly recommend heading BACK to Vendetta’s and grabbing a Bloody Mary. Watch the pizzas get thrown in the oven and sip that spicy cocktail until the food coma wears off 🙂

vendettas-bloody-mary

Get Cozy With This Easy Spiced Red Sangria Recipe

One of my favorite go-to cocktails is Sangria! You can have it red, you can have it white, you can have it sparkling, and you can have it all…year…long. With Fall finally here and temperatures dropping, a Spiced Red Sangria sounded like the perfect cocktail for the season!

Spiced Red Sangria

As soon as temperatures dropped past 65 degrees here in D.C., I knew it was time to get in the kitchen and do a little recipe testing for a delicious Sangria. I decided to use the tastes and themes of Fall as inspiration and create a Spiced Red Sangria.

This super easy recipe uses Red Table Wine, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Brandy and Triple Sec. The Spiced Rum and Brandy are what make this particular Sangria so comforting (caution: this recipe is strong). A little orange juice and fruits round it out to create a Sangria that will leave you feeling warm & fuzzy all over.
To start, cut up two apples, two oranges, and one small pack of blackberries. Add your fruit to a pitcher.

Then, pour in one 750ml bottle of your favorite red wine (Syrah, Spiced Red SangriaCabernet, and Pinot Noir work well).

Next add 1 1/2 cups spiced rum, 1/2 cup brandy, 1/2 cup triple sec, 1 cup orange juice and mix.

(*Please note: This comes out on the stronger side. Feel free to start with less rum and brandy and work your way up to your desired potency.)

Instead of orange juice, you can also try apple juice to give it a more spiced cider taste.

Once all ingredients are mixed well, chill the Sangria for 4 – 24 hours. When you are ready to enjoy, serve your Sangria over ice. For an extra level of classy, garnish your glass with an apple and orange slice.

Spiced Red Sangria

Sangria is such a versatile drink, and you can really make it your own. Plus, it makes a great pairing for any dish and can be a real standout at your next dinner party.

Sit down, relax and enjoy the cool Fall weather with a glass of delicious Spiced Red Sangria!

The Gallery Westlake: Keeping Us Very Happy in Westlake Village, CA

I’m a big fan of the happy hour concept. My budget is usually stretched pretty thin, so happy hours are the perfect time to get a deal on quality menu items for less money while mingling with a lively after-work crowd.

The Gallery is a hip spot in Westlake Village known for its gourmet New American cuisine and fresh seafood. It serves up a happy hour on weekdays from 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm that’s not only friendly on the wallet, but is also super-delicious.

the-gallery-exterior

The Gallery Westlake
30768 Russell Ranch Road, #C, Westlake Village, CA 91362
http://www.thegallerywestlake.com

the-gallery-interior

My friend Liz and I arrived right at the start of happy hour and took a seat at the bar, noting the elegant, yet inviting decor. I also couldn’t help but scope out the fabulous looking raw bar nearby. We visited on a Wednesday, but take note—during Thursday night football, happy hour includes .99 cent oysters!

raw-bar

Once we got settled in, Liz and I intended to make the most of our happy hour(s), so that meant drinks needed to be ordered straight away!

Liz ordered the gorgeous Violet Moon, which is a mix of Fords gin, Crème de Violette, and lemon juice, garnished with a caramelized orange wheel flambéed by the bartender with a torch.

violet-moon-carmelized-orange

Her drink was as tasty as it was pretty, with smooth floral flavors leading to a tart finish.

violet-moon

I decided to go with a good ol’ glass of wine. House wines are only $5 during happy hour, but I decided to upgrade to a Foley Estates Chardonnay which was still five bucks cheaper than the regular price. It was rich and buttery with hints of sweet caramel and toasty oak. It was so good, I could have guzzled several more glasses. (Don’t worry—I didn’t. Well… just a couple!)

chardonnay

As we sipped, we chatted with The Gallery’s owner, Karim Megji, who showed us some photos on his phone from a local farm. He had just been picking tomatoes a short while ago and told us that many of the things grown at the farm are used in menu items at the restaurant. Always a good mark in my book—nothing beats fresh, locally grown produce!

My appetite was fully whetted, so we tried our first happy hour appetizer, an impressive mound of Champagne Shoe String Pomme Frites.

pomme-frites

They looked intimidating at first, but it’s ridiculous how quickly we devoured these. Made with Bouvet Sparkling wine and topped with lemon and cayenne, they reminded me a lot of my favorite potato chip flavor- salt n’ vinegar. Only, you know, more fancy—but equally as addictive!

Next, we tried the Ahi Tartare Tacos, with fresh and meaty chunks of raw tuna tossed with sesame, chili oil, and sriracha, nestled inside crispy wonton shells and topped with avocado. These were so good, Liz and I were side-eyeing the last taco until we finally agreed to split it.

ahi-tartare-tacos

duck-egg-rollsNext up, based on Karim’s recommendation, we deviated from the happy hour menu to try a regular appetizer, Duck Eggrolls. (Even better, these were easily shared with two for each of us!)

I often find duck to be a little gamey for my taste, but these were fantastic. Maybe it was the delicious sweet chili sauce the meat was drizzled with, or the crunchy mix of veggies and herbs within, but it tasted tender and delicious and actually reminded me of pulled pork.

duck-egg-rolls-interior

Next, Karim suggested Roasted Bone Marrow, and how could I refuse his advice after he led us to the delicious duck egg rolls? I’d never tried bone marrow before but I was certain that if there was a place to try it, this was it.

When the plate arrived, I couldn’t help but think about how jealous my dogs would be if they could see me. But the question was… would I like it?

bone-marrow

The answer is a big YES. In fact, it might have been my favorite item of the night. Liz described the flavor as the “essence of beef”, and she was right. It was melt-in-your-mouth juicy and meaty and was even better spread on crostini. It was also seasoned really nicely with herbs and hints of jalapeño. If you like the fatty part of meat (i.e pork belly), you will love this. The only downside is that there wasn’t actually as much marrow as it seemed. It was gone far too quickly!

Liz and I were getting pretty full at this point, but we were still feeling meaty after the bone marrow experience, so we tried the short rib tacos to finish out our meal.

short-rib-tacosMade with tender braised short rib mixed with dijon aioli, cabbage, and queso fresco, these were another winner. Like everything else we had tried so far, the meat was tender and nicely seasoned, and the slaw added a nice crunch and a pleasant finish to our meal.

Did I say we were finished?

tania-at-the-galleryWell, not quite. We had to try dessert, obviously.

Apparently Peanut Butter Turnovers are a very popular item at The Gallery, and we could see why. The presentation alone made me forget that I was feeling full and I was eager to dig in!

The pastries were crispy and caramelized on the outside, and fluffy on the inside with just the right amount of warm, oozy, gooey peanut butter-chocolately goodness sandwiched within. The vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and strawberries drizzled with caramel were also a welcome addition. This was one of the more unique desserts I’ve had in some time, and I can see why people return to The Gallery for this treat alone!

peanut-butter-turnover

I’d say Liz and I had a very happy happy hour at The Gallery. I’d recommend going with friends and splitting several things—it’s definitely worth trying everything on the menu, and the prices are totally reasonable. Next time I’m coming back on a Thursday… those oysters are calling my name!

Salt & Lime Cabo Grill in Raleigh, NC

Happy #nationaltacoday!

The first time I stumbled onto Salt & Lime Cabo Grill, it was with my sister in law and her then 3-year-old. It was a beautiful, unusually cool North Carolina summer day, and we comfortably sat outside in the patio area with our two toddlers, eating salads and drinking margaritas. It was awesome (and surprisingly relaxing)!

Salt & Lime Cabo Grill
6006 Falls of Neuse Rd, Raleigh, NC 27609
http://saltandlimecabo.com/index.html

salt-and-lime-4b

Fast forward a year later, and this restaurant has become a staple for our Friday Family Date Nights! It’s so much fun to get the four of us together for a no-pressure meal. Over chips and salsa, we laze our way into the weekend. Over the course of the meal, our almost-toddler daughter nabs her way through the fruit at the top of my white wine sangria, and our 3-year-old son eats chips and salsa non-stop for about 45 minutes. Insane. The GM always stops by to play with the baby, and every single wait staff we’ve had has been both incredibly accommodating and extremely welcoming to our chaotic family. On several occasions, they have even squeezed us into a table that is reserved in 45 minutes, allowing us to get in and out and home before bedtime. As far as I am concerned, Salt & Lime has the best customer service in town!

salt-and-lime-1b

Salt & Lime is a Baja-inspired restaurant serving everything from taco plates to fresh salads to delicious looking burritos and plated entrees. Everything is prepared fresh daily, which would be my only caveat with this restaurant. On one occasion the salsa was way too spicy for us, which ruined our son’s “dinner” – but one in twenty times is a blip; hardly an issue! They have a pretty extensive menu with several types of salsa and guacamole – one day I’m going to try that fire roasted tomato with goat cheese guacamole; it sounds amazing! I regularly order their Avocado-Tomato Salad with House-Spiced Salmon added. It’s one of my favorite things on the menu, so fresh, and the salmon is just perfect!

salt-and-lime-2b

Recently, I’ve been on a bit of a taco kick! This is our new go-to when our parents are in town, so it’s fun to order 3 or 4 taco plates and swap out tacos. My husband always goes for the BBQ Mahi taco plate – he loves it! My current favorite is the Bangkok Shrimp – they are sticky and sweet and a little bit spicy! My only albeit is that it is fried shrimp, but a little cheat every once in a while is good for the soul! (I’m sure they would grill it if you asked, as a whole, the restaurant seems very keen to please). The Jamaican Jerk tacos are also on point, but a tad too spicy for me! The last time I took the whole fam, my brother, a vegetarian, ordered the spicy gazpacho and the Baja nachos and was very impressed. I was pleased, to say the least, as he is quite the world traveler; Paris being the newest town he can call home. My sister and mom split the Quesadilla Grande, and we all shared around the table. Everyone was full and happy when we called it a night!

salt-and-lime-3b

They are constantly adding to the menu, and so there is always something new to try whenever you go! I’m excited – we are heading there Friday night to celebrate my babe Margaret’s first birthday! We rarely get dessert when we head out on the town, but you can bet I’m getting my girl something sweet to celebrate the big UNO!

#tacotuesday!: Acapulco Restaurant in Downey, CA

When I had the opportunity to head down to Downey to check out Acapulco Restaurant’s new and improved menu, I jumped at the chance—and not just because they’re located across the street from my beloved Dunkin’ Donuts!

acapulco-exterior

Acapulco Restaurant
9021 Firestone Blvd., Downey, CA 90241

I grew up eating authentic Mexican food cooked by my mom, and as a result, I’m a little spoiled when it comes to South-of-the-Border cuisine. I’m generally not a fan of Americanized or Tex-Mex style platters which are usually lacking in flavor and spice and overflowing with filler (mushy beans, rice, and iceberg lettuce—UGH!). I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect at Acapulco. At the very least, I was hoping for a good margarita. Well, not only did I get one of the tastiest margaritas I’ve had in a long time, but I was simply blown away by their new menu. So much so, that I wish I lived closer to Downey so I could eat there more often. Right now, the new menu is only available at the Downey location, but I’m hoping that it will eventually be added to the other locations as well.

Walking in, I knew I was in for a treat when I saw their display of their new Poke Tacos, with fresh cubes of raw ahi tuna nestled in crunchy chipotle flour shells, and drizzled with wasabi-guacamole, topped with arugula and cheese. Yum!

poke-tacos

The next thing I knew, I had a drink in my hand—the Acapulco Sunset. This is my dream drink. It’s fruity, it’s spicy, and for me, it’s so nostalgic. It’s their version of the Mangonada or Chamango, which is a classic Mexican fruit drink made from mangos, lime, and chamoy (a chili-spiced condiment made from pickled fruit) often sold out of carts or fruit stands in Mexico.

acapulco-sunset

The Acapulco Sunset is even garnished with a traditional tamarind candy straw and this adult version kicks it up a notch with the addition of Cuervo Silver tequila and triple-sec.

¡Salud!

tania-acapulco-sunrise

Next up was a sample of the Ceviche Rojo, which was tasty mix of mahi mahi and shrimp, mixed with chunks of pineapple, guacamole tartar sauce, and a zesty mango relish. The shrimp was so meaty, for a second I thought it was lobster. Three bites in and I was already fantasizing about digging into a massive bowl of this with a bag of chips on the side.

ceviche-rojo

My daydreams were interrupted as the next dish arrived- a wonderful seafood pozole. Comfort food at its finest, and perfect for autumn! It was brimming with seafood: mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, and mahi mahi, all mingling with crunchy cabbage and radishes in a creamy, limey broth that packed a nice amount of heat.

seafood-pozole

Next up was the seriously awesome carne asada. The platter is nothing short of a feast with an 8oz grilled skirt steak, cheese enchilada, a cheese-stuffed chile, Yucatan-style charro beans (with a stick of bacon!), and corn on the cob.

carne-asada

This was no average corn on the cob—it was Mexican-style elote slathered in smoky, peppery goodness with a tantalizing mix of Peruvian chiles, black pepper, lime, mayonnaise, and chili piquin, topped off with crumbled bacon bits. Sooo good!

corny

The steak was also fantastic. Very tender and juicy and seasoned nicely with garlic, Anaheim chiles, and salsa de molcajete. I’d definitely return just for this dish alone.

The good times kept on rolling with a new drink to try: the Moonlight Melt, so named because the mix is added to a generous puff of blue cotton candy which instantly melts into a sweet and colorful concoction made with Cazadores Blanco and orange juice. If you’re like me and enjoy sugary drinks with the flair of tableside preparation, this one is for you!

moonlight-melt

The next dish was another winner: Tropical Tacos al Pastor. Like the other dishes before it, this was the vision of executive chef Enrique Tayun and a real delight to eat.

enrique-tayun

The carnitas are made from juicy pork that has been marinated for 24 hours in a mixture of chiles, spices, and pineapple juice. True to its name, the meat was bursting with tropical flavor, and I really enjoyed the small, street-style tacos they were served in.

tropicl-al-pastor-tacos

The best part was a very thin slice of grilled pineapple at the base of each tortilla that added even more juicy flavor to the mix.

tropical-al-pastor-interior

By now the sun was setting and being on the patio afforded the best view. The restaurant has not only revamped its menu but its interior as well, and I really dug the sophisticated island vibe of the place, especially once the fire-wall around the perimeter was lit. Talk about mood lighting!

patio

After all this food and drink, I began to feel like I really was on vacation, but it wasn’t over yet! The next dish to be served was a fantastic Tropical Salmon. I have to admit that salmon isn’t my favorite fish in the world, but the way they prepared this dish may have converted me. This had more of a fusion feel as it was served with sautéed bok choy in addition to other veggies. The fish itself was meltingly tender and flaky, seared in a garlic butter sauce and glazed with a sweet roasted pineapple and ginger salsa. The tangy sauce really complimented the rich flavor of the fish well, and I began to rethink my position on salmon altogether.

tropical-salmon

Surprise! It was time for another drink. This was the margarita I mentioned earlier—a coconut margarita, to be precise. I’m actually shocked at how much I enjoyed this because coconut, like salmon, just isn’t my thing. But this was clearly a day of challenging my preconceived notions about things I normally don’t like and, holy moly, this drink was so good! Made from Sauza Blue Reposado, Cruzan Coconut Rum, coconut cream, lime juice, and topped with fresh coconut shavings, I felt like I was instantly transported to the beach. It was another sweet drink, and very smooth. This would make a great dessert cocktail.

coconut-margaritaSpeaking of dessert, I was pretty full at this point, but I could not resist digging into the final dish: Fruta Bionica. A delicate, honeyed basket made from pumpkin seeds, almonds, peanuts and sesame seeds held a scoop of vanilla ice cream, mangoes, bananas, apples, blueberries, raspberries, and creamy roasted walnuts, sailing on a plate of strawberry drizzle.

fruta-bionicaIt was just the way I like my desserts to be: fruity, light, and leaving me wanting more.

Chef Tayun and his colleagues did an amazing job with this new menu, and I really think they managed to elevate what would be a predictable dish in any other restaurant with unique and surprising flavors all inspired by real Mexican cooking.

tania-with-chef

Even if you don’t live near Downey, it’s worth the drive to try some of these new items and share a drink with some friends on the beautiful patio as you watch the sun go down. Who would have thought you’d find a real slice of Acapulco in Downey?

Eat Drink SF: The Best Bites & Booze in the Bay

Like I said in my preview post, San Francisco is a hub of fresh produce. Better yet, some of the country’s most innovative chefs seem to recognize this, setting up shop all along the peninsula. And with so much good food and so much real talent, it’s hard to taste everything this part of Northern Cali has to offer. Luckily, that’s the whole premise of Eat Drink SF — get the best bites and booze of the Bay in one place so the public can sip and sample the day away.

EDSF Entrance

Now, I’ve struggled with how to describe this event because it’s, in all honesty (and to a writer’s chagrin) hard to capture with words. There’s such a large variety of cuisine and cocktails; it is a bit overwhelming — for the mind as well as the stomach. So I’ve decided the best way to share my experience is with a few photos of my standout samples.

FOOD

Peruvian Sea Scallop

Shrimp Escabeche served with shallots, cilantro, celery, and a coconut foam – The Market

This dish was my first bite of the day. Off to a great start with familiar flavors in a unique combination.

Bruschetta

Panzanella Spiedini – Zero Zero

The fresh pancetta brought me back to Italy for sure…Bellissimo!

salad

Summer Tabbouleh – Terzo/Rose’s Cafe

Simply celebrating summer’s freshest produce.

Delfina Pizza sample

Pane Al Pomodoro: Grilled Bread, Crushed Early Girl Tomatoes, Ricotta Salata – Pizzeria Delfina

Cheers, guys, but I’m still a major fan of your Broccoli Rabe.

Sea Scallops

Peruvian Sea Scallop with Corn and Blueberries – Brasserie S&P

Chilled scallops garnished with a corn puree that tastes like sweet buttercream, blueberries for freshness, need I say more?

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Someone recently asked me if I liked caviar. My response was that I hadn’t had it enough to like or dislike it. I’d like to update that answer — love it.

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White Sturgeon Mousseline (garnished with caviar) – Michael Mina

I never thought I’d have the chance to eat at Michelin-star restaurant Michael Mina. Well, if this bite is any indication of what their full menu features, I better put my name down now. This sample is truly what food critics mean when they say a dish has “balance of flavor” — sweet, salty, sour, spice, and that elusive umami, all tucked into one delicious mouth-full.

E&O Kimchi Rice

Slow Braised Pork & Kimchi, Rice Cake, Seasoned Nori – E&O Kitchen & Bar

The longest line of the day and I can tell you why. While there were quite a few Asian and Asian-inspired samples out there, this one tops them all. Pork meat that just melts in the mouth, fried rice cake delicately coats the palate with oil, while the Kimchi adds just the right amount of funk. And that seasoned Nori? Well, I could just eat a bag of that like potato chips. Brava Chef Sharon Nahm who was working the booth herself — at lightning speed, I might add, keeping up with all of us greedy customers.

Spaghetti Bro Balls

Meat Balls Alla Marinara – Spaghetti Brothers

Spaghetti Bros Chefs

Spaghetti Brothers, Chef Eric Lowe & Aaron Toensing

Luce Brown Butter Prawn

Chilled Blue Prawn & Cucumber, Brown Butter, Pistachio – Luce

Another bite from a Michelin-star restaurant and tied for my personal dish of the day. Those pistachios added an extra something to this (crunch, body, flavor) — nice touch, Chef.

smoked hamachi wente restaurant

Smoked Passmore Ranch Sturgeon – The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards

I love me some Wente wine, so I was so pleased to see that their Executive Chef, Chef Mike Ward, was at EDSF representing The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards. And this simple smoked fish garnished with a bit of sweet from the raspberry coulis and a bit of salty with that (oh yes) caviar is the other dish in my two-way tie for the dish of the day.

Wente Chef

Chef Mike Ward gets bonus points for posing for a Silly Stacy Selfie. Cheers, friend!

DRINKS

Tasting all this food, yeah you’re going to get thirsty — luckily there was no shortage of craft cocktails, beers, and wines available.

Kolsch

Kalifornia Kolsch – Magnolia Brewing Company

Crisp, refreshing, and light with just a hint of herbaceousness — perfect for the non-beer drinker.

Sipsmith London Punch

London Punch – SipSmith

Sipsmith London Dry Gin, Earl Grey Tea, vermouth, citrus, and blackberries make up this funky little cocktail. I loved the addition of the Earl Grey tea, which truly added a woodsy aroma and aftertaste. But my favorite part was that you could taste the gin — and all those other elements just uplifted that classic, pseudo-sweet flavor. Well met, mixologists.

Old Tom & The Sea

Old Tom & The Sea – Anchor Distilling Company

My favorite cocktail of the day goes to the Anchor Distillery’s “Old Tom & The Sea.” Something about the mix of the sweet cherry liquor and the sour lemon juice just felt fun and fresh. And, like the London Punch, there was the right combination of all those other ingredients, and they highlight the purity of the gin. I find so many cocktails work to hide the alcohol, but this one uplifted it and made me appreciate it as a form of produce. Bonus: they gave us the recipe. Adults, try this at home:

.75 oz Anchor Old Tom Gin

.5 oz Tempus Fugit Kina L’Aéro d’Or.

.25 oz Luxardo Sangue Morlacco Cherry Liqueur

.25 oz Lemon Juice

Lemon and cherry flag for garnish.

The Treasury Mixologist

Flash – The TreasuryThe Treasury %22Flash%22

very close second for the cocktail of the day goes to Elisa Gallardo and Carlos Yturria of The Treasury for their gin, kiwi, cucumber and lemon concoction called “Flash.” So refreshing — almost smoothie-esque — this is the drink you’d reach for if you didn’t want to taste the alcohol. There’s enough Gin to add a bit of sweetness to the otherwise sour fruits, but not so much that you felt like you were drinking Gin. So, depending on what you’re looking for in a cocktail, this may be the one for you.

Herbal Spritzer

Herbal Spritzer – CUESA

Of course, for those who to prefer to get high on life, there was an abundance of non-alcoholic beverages to sip and savour as well. My personal fav was the make-your-own herbal spritzer booth presented by the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA). A little bit of sparkling water and a shot of rosemary infused simple syrup, and you’ve got a fun mocktail the whole family can enjoy. I’ll drink to that.

EDUCATION

But what about the wine, Stacy??? Yes, Wine Enthusiast did present a few wineries to share their current releases. Admittedly, most were common names you could easily find in stores. And why not? If you try something you like, you’re going to want to be able to buy it. But the real wine party was at the SF Wine School presentation theatre.

Wine School Class

There were three different classes to attend, but with so much going on I had to choose just one. And this Cali girl just couldn’t deny the opportunity to learn even more about excellent oaky Chards.

wine school Chards

Well, they weren’t all oaky, and they weren’t all California either. In fact, we had the opportunity to taste a Chardonnay from France, one South Africa (that was new to me!), and one from California. We learned that different Chardonnays present in a variety of ways depending on how much and what kinds of oak is used during barrel aging. Our presenter, Chris Gaither, AS, even took us through some wine-nerdom as he explained the role of malolactic fermentation. Honestly, I wish the class could have been longer, but I guess I’ll have to start thinking seriously about the CWS cert from SF Wine School.

Wine School selfie

Silly Stacy Selfie Featuring: Chris Gaither, AS, Stacy Briscoe, and David Glancy (SF Wine School Founder)

Wine School Tatts

Stacy and David sporting their cute SF Wine School Tatts — Cheers!

MORE INFO

For more information about any of the vendors, restaurants, or sponsors, or to learn more about Eat Drink SF, please visit the Eat Drink SF website.

*All photography by Stacy Briscoe*


**Want to have your Bay Area wine event, winery, vineyard, or tasting room featured? Please Contact the Author via her blog BriscoeBites.com**

Capizzi in Staten Island, NY: Fantastic Italian Fare

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Capizzi
4126 Hyland Blvd, Staten Island, NY 10308
http://capizzipizza.com

This week we were lucky enough to be invited to a tasting at Capizzi, a stylish and charming Italian Restaurant located in Staten Island, New York. Upon our arrival, our gracious host, Stephanie, met us and took excellent care of us during our visit. The entryway to the restaurant boasts an extensive wine bar, brick oven, as well as an authentic deli counter with fresh cheese and meats on display.

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imageTo wet our palettes, we each started off with a refreshing glass of Peach sangria. For our first antipasto, Stephanie arranged a beautiful plate of meats, cheeses, olives, walnuts, grapes, and honey. This combination of savory and sweet was the perfect introduction to what Capizzi has to offer.

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Our next dish was pleasing to both the eye and the palette, topped with a gorgeous decorative flower. The Insalata di Granchio consists of fresh crabmeat, cucumbers, with long, crispy croutons in a spicy aioli. The crab meat was tender and smothered in a generous helping of aioli sauce. The crunch of the croutons also added a nice variation in texture.

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The first of four pasta dishes was the Ravioli all’Astice; homemade half-moon ravioli filled with fresh lobster meat, mascarpone, ricotta, and parmesan in a pink champagne sauce. The pink champagne sauce was the perfect complement to the lobster, and easily became Christie’s favorite.

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What would a true Italian dinner be without a plate of gnocchi? The Gnocchi Sorrentino, handmade gnocchi baked with tomato sauce and cheese, topped with parmesan, was creamy, velvety, and cooked to perfection.

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This beauty right here is the Pasta Burrata baked casarecce with truffle oil, cherry tomatoes, burrata cheese, and bread crumbs. The burrata melts in your mouth and almost had Jess in tears of joy, which is a pretty solid indication that this dish is a must-have.

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For all the seafood lovers, we highly recommend the Risotto di Mare; pan roasted shrimp, clams, mussels, and calamari tossed over seafood risotto. The freshness of the seafood and the bold flavors of the sauce are tough to beat.

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At the last minute, we sprang for the Sweet and Spicy Calamari; fried calamari sautéed with pignoli nuts, raisins, and hot cherry peppers in a sweet and spicy sauce. The calamari has a great texture, and the sweet and spicy sauce is both tangy and delicious.

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With the buttons of our pants ready to pop off, it’s only right that we ordered two desserts. First up was the Tiramisu, the classic Italian dessert made up of soft, spongy lady fingers soaked in coffee. This rendition is light and airy; what we imagine what it would feel like to be eating a cloud. The coffee taste shines through impeccably.

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The final dish in our epic tasting was the Peanut Butter Crème Brûlée. We loved this unexpected twist on the traditional dessert. The top layer of the crème brûlée is crisp, similar to toffee, dusted with a layer of powdered sugar. The peanut butter flavor is subtle, yet smooth, and the strawberries add a delightful sweetness to it.

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Before parting ways with Capizzi, our latest gem of a find, we had to sample the white and red sangrias for good measure. With a hint of sweetness in each, the sangrias worked to refresh without overwhelming.

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It is evident in the service, preparation, ingredients, and presentation that Capizzi operates with the utmost passion and pride. What began within owner Joe Calcagno’s family has been extended to bring high-quality Italian cuisine to Manhattan and Staten Island. To rightfully express our feelings towards this establishment, we honor Capizzi with our newest, rarest rating: The Fatboi’s Seal of Approval. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, we highly recommend you pop in for a visit and cross it off of your Food Bucket List! Special thank you to Joe and Stephanie for having us, until next time!

C & J

http://capizzipizza.com/