Monday, August 27, 2012

Hash House A Go Go, San Diego, CA (Hillcrest)




On a recent visit to San Diego, my cousins took me to this restaurant.  I've never really experienced the food scene in this part of the country and I had no idea what to expect.

Hash House is located in the Hillcrest area of San Diego.  It's not far from downtown, and has "cleaned up" since I left many many years ago.  Hillcrest is fun, contemporary and progressive.  Parking is tough.  But, now I know it's where I need to hang out on my future visits to SoCal.

When I first walked in I noticed the dark, tavern like interior - casual and full of energy with the kitchen and bar within view.  There were five of us, and we had no problems getting a table. From what I understand, their weekend mornings can get pretty busy.

First glance at their menu, I noticed lots of comfort food.  I love chicken and waffles, and having enjoyed them in several Seattle restaurants I decided to give it a try.

To cool off, I started with a blueberry mojito.  I love mojitos, especially extra sweet.  My drink was sweet and heavy on the rum.  It was thirsty quenching.

We were served a pail full of buttermilk biscuits.  Where other restaurants serve bread and butter to their guests, Hash House offers warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven, honey glazed biscuits.  Outstanding in flavor and texture, these biscuits are sure to start satisfying any appetite.  I was beginning to get full and questioned my ability to continue to eat my main entree.

In perfect timing, our waiter brings out our dinner entrees. At first sight I was amazed at the size of the dishes that our meals were served.  They were more like platters and punch bowls than plates.  Once our dinners were on the table, I understood.  The amount of food was more than ample.  No, it was insanely gigantic.  Our individual entrees could easily pass as a family style dinner.  If big portions are your thing, then this is your restaurant.

I made a small dent, eating one piece of waffle (I was served 4) and one piece of chicken (of the two that topped my waffles).  It was delicious.  Plating and presentation was total eye candy.  Portion size was insane.  Two thumbs up.

Thank you Bobbie, Blythe & Tiffany - you all know how to eat!

Hash House a Go Go on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 20, 2012

Scarpetta with Chef Scott Conant & Guest Chef Michael Chiarello



from LAFW website:
Legendary NY chef Scott Conant's west coast d├ębut, Scarpetta, has foodies in LA buzzing. Located in the glamorous Montage Beverly Hills, this Italian restaurant has quickly become a must-try destination. Join Chef Conant and celebrity Guest Chef Michael Chiarello as they cook up a four-course meal with sommelier-paired wines for a luxe afternoon lunch of la dolce vita.


The Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival (LAFW) is a series of several events where folks can eat, drink and be merry. Local and celebrity chefs from around the country gather to share their talents. Events are held all over town and include cooking demonstrations, fine dining, casual dining, street dining and more. Ultimately the LAFW raises money for the St. Vincent Meals On Wheels. In 2011, LAFW raised $400,000 which provided hot nutritious meals delivered to seniors in need.


from Montage Hotel website
I attended lunch at Scarpetta with my mom, which is located in the beautiful Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. We drove up from San Diego that morning, allowing four hours based on the traffic reputation of Los Angeles. After self parking in the garage, my mom and I made it up to the gorgeous courtyard. There was an incredible water fountain surrounded by meticulously manicured grounds. With a slight turn, there it was. Scarpetta of Beverly Hills.


There was a table set outdoors to greet guests. In the small outdoor area, fellow diners stood drinking Nino Franco "Grave Di Stecca" Prosecco and passed appetizers. The weather was perfect, sunny and maybe 90 degrees - so welcoming for this sun-deprived Seattle-lite.  For about half an hour we stood, nibbled and drank (seems that we drank more than nibbled).

from Montage Hotel website
As folks started to move into the restaurant, I couldn't help but notice the dining room. It's large and open. The huge table in the middle was reserved for Food and Wine folks and the booths for various sponsors. Those were the ideal seats.  Tables located on the perimeter of the dining room were for people like me, general ticket holders.


We chose a large oval table in the corner with table setting for nine diners.  We met our table mates, a local couple from Beverly Hills, a couple from New York and three friends from San Francisco.

The program started with a few words from folks at Food and Wine.  Chef Scott followed by Chef Michael both warmly welcomed the guests.  There was a feeling of culinary friendship between both Chefs, very apparent when Chef Michael (jokingly) explained that a bucket would be passed around to buy Chef Scott a new pair of jeans, because they were too holy  Both Chefs described the menu we were about to partake.  Afterwards, representatives from the wineries described their wines that we would be drinking.

First came the bread basket.  If you've every dined at a Scarpetta restaurant, you know what I mean.  A hearty selection of deliciousness.  I made sure to pace myself because there were four courses coming up.  Our afternoon menu:

Truffle Suppli with Taleggio
Pasta Fritta with House Cured Proscuitto and Fig Conserva
Bruschetta with Oven Dried Tomatoes, Burrata and Balsamic Caviar
Blini with Stracciatella and Smoked Trout Roe
w/ Nino Franco "Grave Di Stecca" Prosecco, Valdobbiandene 2009
+++
Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon, "Pancetta Wrapped" with Chiogga Beet Mostarda, Parisienne Pomme Confit and Purple Mizuna Insalata
w/ Palima Malvasia Bianca 2010
+++
Mushroom Agnolotti with Corn, Chanterelles, and Red Wine Glace
w/ Lungarotti, Rosso Di Torgiano, Rubesco, DOCG, Umbria 2008
+++
Wood Grilled Chops of Grass-Fed Lamb with Local Cherry Vinaigrette, Pistachio Pesto, Roasted Cauliflower, Fregola Sarda
w/ Bersano Barbaresco "Mantico" DOCG Piedmont 2008
+++
Chocolate Souffle with Milk Gelato
w/ Paolo Saracco Moscato D'Asti 2010

Throughout the meal, both Chefs made their way around the dining room, greeting guests at each table and signing menus.

Each course came at a leisurely pace.  Our silverware replaced at every course.  Water glasses always filled with Panna (how classy), and napkins nicely folded after guests excused themselves during the meal.  Service was fabulous.

As the meal concluded, my table mate Arthur and I took a tour of the upstairs seating area.  Oh my goodness, what a beautiful, private dining area.  The wall of coveted alcohol, the woodwork on the ceiling, the view overlooking the main dining room was breathtaking.  It's rumored that "A" list celebrities dine upstairs - offering them the privacy to enjoy a meal in relative peace.

Overall, I enjoyed the afternoon.  It was such a pleasure to attend such a successful event.  I had the chance to again enjoy meeting Chef Scott and the honor of meeting Chef Michael for the very first time.  Scarpetta Beverly Hills and Bottega Napa Valley - both restaurants were well represented at the Los Angeles Food and Wine Festival.



Scarpetta on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Please Pass the Peas Farm Dinner

August 23rd
Tickets are still available

from the event website
Do you ever feel out of touch with where your food comes from or how it is grown? Have you ever sat down to eat with the farmer who grew your meal's ingredients? The Carnation Farmers Market invites you to Please Pass the Peas, a mid-summers evening celebration of food and community on Oxbow Organic Farm. Part of the Market's objective is to create a stronger connection between people and the food they eat. What better way to forge that connection than dinner on a local organic farm where many of the meal ingredients were grown in view of your table?

Picture this: your evening starts with a welcome cocktail under the grape arbor. Glass Distillery vodka, made with exclusively Washington-grown grapes, paired with seasonal fruit syrup graces your glass. Sipping, you walk the rows of the farm to see your meal's ingredients flourishing in their native habitat. After the farm tour and conversation with the farmers, you will settle into your seat in the orchard. The meal begins with the first of four delicious courses by Chef David Sanford. Chef Dave's new restaurant, Belle Clementine, is known for his use of local, seasonal products and its community-oriented atmosphere. At the long dinner tables on the farm you may find yourself talking to one of the producers of the evening's meal  a farmer, winemaker, cheese maker, or rancher. Each course will be paired with a fine local wine.

Now picture that magnificent meal helping support a great cause: the Carnation Farmers Market. All proceeds from the meal will support the Market's outreach, advertising, and season extension efforts  all of which in turn support local farms. By connecting local food-eaters and local food-producers we are creating a community where everyone can thrive. The Carnation Farmers Market, a favorite market with residents and farmers alike, has a reputation for being a family. Please come join us at the family dinner table for an elegant evening of food, drink, conversation, and a lot of fun.

Tickets are still available.  This is an event you don't want to miss.

Event sponsors include: Oxbow Farm, Full Circle, Growing Things Farm, Loki Fish, Novelty Hill/Januik Wineries, Southard Winery, Piccola Wine Co., Golden Glen Creamery, Tonnemaker Hill Farm, Middle Fork Roasters, Marigold and Mint.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Out and About: The Box (Food Truck)




I'm not a fan of the food truck concept.  Yes, I get it.  As a business owner myself I totally understand the concept - but it doesn't mean I have to like it.  The food truck dining experience is something I do not appreciate.  I hate standing around to order my food, to wait for my food and to eat my food.  I'm definately a restaurant girl.  However, I make an exception for The Box.

For starters, Owner & Executive Chef Reis Llaneza along with his peeps in the truck are very friendly.  In addition to great food, you will also receive great service.

The Box offers Asian fusion cuisine.  A quick glance at the menu and you'll find Chinese, Korean and Japanese inspired dishes to combine with Chef Reis' Asian background.

I mainly visit The Box on Thursday's at the Bellevue Farmer's Market.  Although I've had everything on the menu at least once, I find myself regularly ordering the Chicken Karaage Plate (my husband's favorite) and the Mini Bagel Burger (my son's favorite).  I personally enjoy the Chop Chop Salad which is included with the Chicken or can be ordered a la carte.

No matter what you order, I would bet that you would be pleased.  Food is cooked to order.  Ingredients are fresh, especially the veggies that are part of or garnish your food.  Flavors and textures "almost" make you forget your food was cooked on a truck.  Overall, The Box really does deliver (excuse the intended pun) on really good eats.

The Box roams around the Eastside, but sometimes ventures around the Puget Sound.  Mainly serving up the lunch crowd you may find them at your local street fair or events around town.  Check their Facebook page for details on their upcoming locations.

The Box offers catering services and can customize a menu based on your event and your budget.


Their menu as posted on their Facebook page (subject to change at any time):
~Pork Belly Hum Bao $2.50
Slow braised in soy and mirin topped with a fresh slaw, served on a
Chinese steamed bun

~Kalua Pork Hum Bao $2.50
Hawaiian style roasted pork with a lomi lomi tomato relish, served on a
Chinese steamed bun

~Mini Bagel Burger $3
Charred mini burgers topped with an Asian slaw, and pickle, finished
with a hoisin and siracha ketchup, served in a toasted mini bagel

~Pomme Frites (french fries) $3
Served with a yuzu aioli

~Chop Chop Salad $3 (half) / $7 (full)
Romaine and Iceberg lettuce, ham, apples, and provolone cheese, served
with a creamy sesame dressing

~Chicken Karaage Plate $8
Tender pieces of fried chicken served with a house sauce, steamed
rice, and side of Chop Chop Salad

~Kalbi Yakiniku Plate $9
Korean marinated beef skewers with namasu (Japanese style cucumber),
served over steamed rice with a side of Chop Chop Salad



Box on Wheels (Lunch Truck) on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dining Out: Book Bindery, Seattle WA



Located on the banks of the Ship Canal you'll find The Book Bindery.  You might miss it as the building looks more like a warehouse or office building rather than a restaurant.


We recently enjoyed this restaurant for Sunday Brunch.  This must be Seattle's best kept secret, because hardly anyone was there yet this place offers an exceptional meal and experience.

We were seated in their atrium which was a nice open space with lots of natural light.  On this particular day, the weather was beautiful, the sun was shining, the doors were open and the roof of the atrium was lifted.


A trip to the powder room gave me a chance to look into their dining room.  It was charming with an old world touch of molding and mill work throughout.  Books lined the walls which continued the theme, reminding me of a library doubled as decor.


Presented with a menu, I was so impressed at the substance and beauty of their book-like collection of food and drink.  Bound nicely, menu pages were secured with photo corners.  Wow, I was already impressed.


We (my husband and I) ordered heavy, wanting to taste as much on the menu as possible:
  • Wagyu Beef Tartare
  • Smoked Pork Belly
  • Soup & Sandwich
  • Black Truffle Fries
  • Coconut Sorbet
  • Ginger Lemonade
Fabulous!  That really sums up our experience.  The plating of food was beautiful, presentation was as good as tasting the food itself.  Anica, our server was very attentive and our plates came out at a nice pace.

Book Bindery has been mentioned by Seattle Magazine, Seattle Met Magazine, Seattle Weekly, The Seattle Times and now www.almostFitToEat.com

I would highly recommend you head to the Book Bindery for an exceptional meal.

Book Bindery on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dining Out: Trellis Restaurant, Kirkland WA


image from Trellis
Note: The Heathman Hotel, including Trellis restaurant has been closed for the past few months due to damage to the property.  This blog entry is based on several dining experiences prior to their closure.  Their anticipated opening is Friday, August 3, 2012.


I'm not a fan of restaurants in hotels.  Low quality and cheap come to mind.  However, at Trellis Restaurant in the Heathman Hotel, it is neither.

Although I've dined breakfast, lunch and dinner at Trellis I like to go there for lunch.  I've been to Trellis on many occasions and I've always received consistent food quality and presentation.  My preference is to sit outside in their covered patio area - which is awesome any time of the year.  However they have a nice dining area that is well lit and a cozy bar area for the casual sip and snack.


Parking is free with validation, but you almost feel obligated to tip the nice person that retrieves your car.  There is street parking in Kirkland, and it's free!


If I were to describe their food in one word, it would be "fresh".  Probably due to the farm to table dining philosophy, locally sourced ingredients and offerings from Chef Brian Scheehser's personal farm in Woodinville.


What's good:
Corned Beef Hash - This is my husband's go to dish when we're there for brunch.  With its big pieces of potatoes and fresh corned beef, it's fantastic.
Housemade Granola - This is delicious if you're looking for something light to eat.
Salmon Nicoise - My favorite lunch dish - and favorite Nicoise salad in the area.  I love the presentation.
Grilled Cheese Sandwich - Oh, so buttery and very rich and delicious.  The nice crust makes this sandwich your perfect comfort food.
Grilled Tomato Soup - Ok this may sound weird, but I like this soup paired with the grilled cheese sandwich and not on it's own.  I found it a little under-seasoned for my taste, and on it's own wasn't a delicious as with the salty, cheesy sandwich.
Field Green Salad - A delicious, fresh salad with nothing but field greens.  Simplicity at it's best.
Trip Tip Sirloin - My husband thoroughly enjoyed this dish.  Meet cooked perfectly and well seasoned.
Ice Cream Sandwich - Currently not on the menu.  I had this house made dessert last summer and it was over the top good.  It's a substantial dessert, perfect for sharing.  Don't be intimated by the steak knife that accompanies this fabulous dessert.
Ice Cream Puffs - Probably their signature dessert and well done.  A nice twist turning the ordinary into something delicious.


Trellis on Urbanspoon