An interesting presentation and a good flavor profile for a classic preparation. Nothing over the top, but a very well executed, delicious dish.
Lovely Kampachi. Kampachi is one of my favorite fish, especially when turned into a delicious raw preparation, such as this. The flavors were well-rounded with spice, salt and acid and I loved it.
One of the wonderful tourist attractions,causing people to flock to Santa Barbara is wine tasting. If you’ve never been, it’s definitely something that trains your taste buds to know more about the things you like and maybe things you aren’t so interested in wine tasting. Michelle and I found our way over to Kunin Wines Tasting Room, a lovely little store near the Santa Barbara pier, also known as Stearns Wharf Santa Barbara. It’s definitely a lovely place to watch the glorious sun go down over the beautiful hills and gorgeous beach. We stopped in for a tasting before we went to the pier. We sampled five wines for 10 dollars; you could choose from white or red tastings as well a syrah tasting, which was an additional two dollars. I decided on the red wine tasting and Michelle had the white wine tasting. It was nice to sample the variety and the differences between varietals.
After our wine tasting, we headed down to the pier to take in the stunning scenery and find a bite to eat. The waterfront was a bit chilly, but you could hardly complain because of the immense beauty of the sunset. As we walked along the shops and other various restaurants, we found ourselves at Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, just as the sun was going down. We were seated on the heated patio with the perfect view of the beautiful hills and gorgeous waterfront. We ordered clam chowder in a bread bowl and fried seafood, which consisted of calamari, shrimp, oysters and scallops topped with fried onion rings; a perfectly indulgent and delicious meal to end this gorgeous day. I also ordered an Anchor Steam Christmas Brew, which perfectly complimented the crispy fried flavors and delicate flesh of the seafood and held up well with its dark rich flavor to the creaminess of the chowder. We watched a perfect day go to rest and found ourselves in awe of such an astonishing moment in time, thankful that we could share these awesome times together, with such an life-long friendship.
In keeping with the theme of modern inspired eateries, I have a small sampling of a couple of dishes brought to you by Chef Antonia Lofaso and company of Black Market Liquor Bar. Located in the posh styling of trendy small plate establishments is Black Market Liquor Bar. The décor and signage is a bit vague, but embellishes the stylish and interesting ingredient-driven menu and cocktails. As you walk into the restaurant, there is unmistakably some of the most interesting sorts of people looking for a cocktail and maybe a couple plates of food to eat.
The beauty of Black Market Liquor Bar is its elegance and sleek nature of atmosphere. There were many people enjoying themselves without the pouring over of over-dressed servers or meager management. The seat yourself bar and cocktail tables are at first a bit intimidating in occurrence, but with the high turnover rate, even a crowded night will still offer the capacity of receiving a table eventually. Black Market Liquor Bar is brown and light-brown in color scheme with a minimalistic underground feel. The booth seating lines the perimeter with medium to tiny spaces for people to congregate in the narrow restaurant. Otherwise centrally placed, high top tables under the brick laid roof seat many, with other patrons standing, enjoying the light display over bottles of high-class liquor in the gorgeous mirrored bar area. A gleam of mild lighting, shadowing the dark columns in the center of the restaurant, provide a nice balance of light with gas-lit flames housed in mason jars on each table. A modest window into the open kitchen shows a undersized space to feed a number of hungry people.
Overindulgence! Phew, I need to get back into the yoga studio. But it’s not for nothing, that’s for sure. I just need to work a little harder and I can make up for all this delicious decadence I’ve been subjecting myself to. My dad’s birthday was at the end of August and we decided to have a little Italian celebration with plenty of pasta and lots of love. I guess I still got it because everything was pretty spot on. I love these dishes and I made a couple of things a few different ways because my family is a mesh of different flavors and tastes. My mom, dad, grandma, brother, sister-in-law, sister, brother-in-law, my niece (thought she didn’t eat) and I all sat down to a great meal. I’m very excited to share it with you.
Spicy Seafood Linguine- Clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops simmered in a white wine, garlic and basil tomato sauce with red pepper flakes
Linguine and Herb Parmesan Meatballs
Tomato and Basil Bruschetta topped with Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella
I absolutely love seafood linguine. My dad is a huge fan of it and I would make it for him when my family would visit me at the restaurant. I made a huge pot of marinara, one of my all time favorite sauces, slow simmered with lots of fresh vegetables and herbs. Seafood linguine is something to master, because the ratio of liquid from your shellfish to the perfect timing of tender shrimp and scallops can be three seconds from disaster. Once you accomplish making it, it’s a perfect crowd pleaser.
We were all definitely full of pasta, wine and tomatoes. We had plenty of meatballs for the next day.
I love you Dad. Happy birthday!
Saturday. My ending in the windy city
Saturday we woke up and prepared to get out on the town to see as much as we could on my last day in the city.
We took a walk and took pictures at Millennium Park with all the people lining up on the streets. Also Chicago was booming with people that day because it was the opening day of the Taste of Chicago. After our pictures we walked around to find a good spot to enter the food fare. Like anything some things were good and something not so much. here’s what we had
Mustard fried catfish
Red Beans and Rice with Grilled Jerk Chicken
Cherry Italian Ice
After eating ourselves in a coma we had to head back to museum park so we could go to The Field Museum of natural history. They had a really amazing exhibit on whales and the biggest put together T-Rex in the country or maybe even the world I forget. We mused about there till it closed and finally I said my last good byes to grant park, museum park, and millennium park taking a couple pictures along the way.
We went back to our hotel and had a couple of drinks in the room determined not to spend too much money which we did anyway. And after that we went to the Signature Bar in the John Hancock Observatory. It was really beautiful to see the sky lit up at night so high up. We had a drink and then went to our final dinner suggested by the door man at Ditka’s a steak house.
Ditkas we had
king crab, oysters, big eye tuna, shrimp
Mikes Salad pecans, apples, cranberries, goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette
Fillet three ways Horseradish, Oscar (béarnaise and asparagus) style, Blue Cheese
broccoli and mashed potatoes
We also had drinks which were ginger and peach vodka and ginger and vodka
The meal was satisfying and really filling but a wonderful way to end the evening, nothing too out of the ordinary just a good steak house dinner.
And with that my travels in Chicago ended
A early train ride into O’hare and I was back in LA in no time. I can’t wait till my next trip. I’ll be headed to Seattle August 3-9th
Thank you guys so much for coming along on my memories
I love all different types of food, the kind that’s interesting, witty, and playful as well as the type that is just straight forward and tastes delicious. But what I like the most about eating other peoples food is the guessing game of what’s inside. The best menus to me are not ones that tell all about every little tiny thing that’s in the dish though I know there are people with allergies and food preferences that need to know what’s going to be in side, I prefer to taste and find out.
So on my second day in Chicago I woke up and looked online at the maps and tried to figure out where I was going to go so I wouldn’t be as lost as I was the day before. A good plan I assumed, I don’t have an Iphone or a fancy phone where I can just follow my navigation which I think is cheating. So I just got out that big map and tried to find where I was going old school style.
I decided that I wanted to go to Frontera Grill by Rick Bayless for Lunch. I’ve been to Red O on Melrose before which is in Hollywood, Ca but Frontera is the flag ship restaurant of the Bayless Fine Dining Mexican Empire. Frontera was opened in 1987 by Bayless and his Wife and since has grown to incorporate the beautiful Topolobampo which is right next door and shares the same bar, host stand, and facilities but offers a more refined, upper class, and chic place to dine. As well as the corner store just outside XoCo this little place is where Bayless and his wife offer Mexican street food and snack to a sidewalk of eager eaters for a quick bite and bustling inside of hungry customers.
Walking up to Frontera the sidewalk is lined like so many places in Chicago with a little planted fenceing that gates off where diners can enjoy the somewhat tumultuous playfulness of the scattered sunshine with the clouds that this windy city is so well known for. As you walk into this bright beautiful restaurant with playful colors of sizzling and frosty notes, a little piece of bright Mexican culture peeks its head at you. Having no reservations here is a big mistake but what can you do, I’m not about to plan out every step of my vacation, I’m just not that type of girl so I asked if there would be any seating available for lunch and they assured me I could have a table. Most places aren’t very accustomed to single diners but I wasn’t pushed off to the bar which I liked.
My server Ray was fantastic. His demeanor was calm but busy the way a server should be. He paid just the right amount of attention necessary with the absolute chaotic feel of a wildly busy restaurant in the peak of lunch time, though I saw this from my trained eye; no diner would have been able to feel the chaos at all. As I perused the menu for ideas and inspirations some things caught my eye but others just seemed a bit heavy for my liking when I eat lunch. I started with Topolo Margarita: Sauza Conmemorativo tequila, Torres orange liqueur, housemade limonada, shaken table side. The blend of tequila with the limonada was heaven; perfectly tart with just the right amount of sweetness in this margarita gave the perfect mid afternoon buzz to my 2nd day of vacation. Ray kindly informed me to take a sip and he would pour the rest just so nothing was wasted.
After going though the recommended dishes I decided to go with a sampler platter of seafood Marisquera de Lujo: Grand Seafood Platter with one dozen oysters & their accompaniments, classic Ceviche Fronterizo and Coctel Atun Tropical. I was by myself so I got the ½ portion which still came with 6 oysters I chose to have two of each kind because they were offering 3 types that afternoon. The accompaniments that were given were a chipotle sauce that was perfectly sweet and hot with a very nice smoky finish, as well as a tomatillo and habanero mioneta oysters (mioneta is a Mexican version of Mignonette which is a condiment made from minced shallots, cracked pepper, and vinegar used for oyster eating) which had a very different type of heat that was not over powering but subtle as well as a very acidic finish lovely with cilantro and cut up pieces of onion. The three oysters were verities of Fanny Bay from British Colombia, Wianno from Massachusets, and Shibumi from Washington.
I ate the oysters 1st by themselves with no sauces just to have experience the favors of the oyster unaltered except for a small amount of lime. The Fanny bay I’m most familiar with these larger oysters have a very distinct flavor with nice brine but a more firm texture when chewing. I also chose to put the chipotle accompaniment on the other one which was really wonderful. I love the slight smokiness the chipotle offers. The Wianno are really very good as well. They offer a sweeter high brine and smoother finish. These are farmed sustainably in the waters on Cape Cod delicious, I chose to put the Mioneta on this oyster which was a really good balance with the acidic lime and sweet oyster with the crunch from the onions. Finally my favorite of the bunch because they were so unique the Shibumi, they have a very sweet, pump, full texture with a slight saltiness. So small and perfectly shippable, with the last oyster I decided to add a touch of both sauces which I thought was one of my most perfect bites of food I’ve ever had.
Moving from oysters to the other two dishes which were in small margarita glasses sitting atop crushed ice, the 1st glass had Ceviche Fronterizo which is a traditional ceviche with albacore tuna which had the correct balance of sweet, hot, acid, and salt that makes ceviche the most perfect thing to eat in my opinion. The addition of warm crispy tostaditas makes a wonderful crunchy addition to the smooth fish. The 2nd glass had the Coctel Atun Tropical a mixture of Big eye tuna from Hawaii, a smokey avocado tomatillo guacamole, and lovely mango grapefruit salsa on top. The whole thing gets mixed together and it’s just wonderful. How many times can you hear good in this a thousand I guess and I haven’t even got to dessert. To be honest though everything was amazing. I was thinking of getting one other savory item but I decided to just go to dessert because the seafood itself was just so wonderful on its own, a perfect taste of the sea.
Now the best for last dessert, This Duo de Flanes: A duo of caramel custards: “cafe con leche” & classic Mexican vanilla. Cacao nib-pecan shortbread, sweet milk froth. Now I don’t have to say much of anything for this because it was that good. Along with the bitterness of the espresso I had this flan was the best I’ve ever had easily. The cocao nib shortbread gave the crunch to the dessert and the smooth caramel with its bitter after notes from the Mexican vanilla was to die for. As I grew more and more full I couldn’t help but to finish the plate lingering over the café con leche with milk froth my absolute favorite and something I’ll have to work on to make on my own. Just wonderful!
My meal ended on such a high note that I would definitely recommend coming to Frontera a long standing amazing establishment of fine foods with Mexican flavor in Chicago.
Thank you very much to all that made this awesome meal happen, you are all truly masters at your craft.
These women are the core of my heart. They have taught me more then I could ever imagine. My family is created of these die hard matrons who make everything in their lives about their families. These are the people who taught me my love for food and to whom I owe so much of my life to. This mothers day I created a simple feast of favorite and new additions to thank these loves of my life. I love you all!
This was my sisters first mothers day. A very special occasion to uphold. I prepare most of the food at my house and packed it up to take it to my brothers. His wives family enjoyed the occasion with us.
I hope all you wonderful mothers out there were with the ones you love and kicked your feet up and relaxed.
Herb encrusted Pork Tenderloin stuffed with sourdough, cranberry, and fuji apple stuffing.
Roasted chicken breast
Baked salmon with Chardonny, dill and roasted lemon
Baked salmon with soy, mirin, scallion sauce
Butter mashed Potatoes
Roasted green beans with almonds
Roasted Broccoli with chili, balsamic, and soy glaze
Mixed salad with roasted mushrooms, naval oranges, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and Parmesan cheese
Banana Pudding Vanilla Waffer Pie
Cream less Clam Chowder
How can it be you say?
Well it can be and it’s actually delicious and complex. Also the addition of smoky pancetta also makes it rich and inviting. I love pancetta… salty delicious peppery pork. When one day I have a closet that I can devote to charcuterie I will make me own pancetta. Right now my sister would kill me if there was a huge piece of hanging pork in my bed room. I can see it now, can I barrow those shoes, go in my closet and scream bloody murder. I will avoid that for now.
Cream less clam chowder came about in the process of thinking I wanted clam chowder but I didn’t want to feel like I was a fat lump after eating it. It’s so rich and delicious which is what I think about when I think about eating clam chowder but I wanted to change it a little make it a little less abrasive and refine the little nuances of clam and vegetable marriage in a pot. Well with Italian bacon to back it up. So I was wondering around whole foods looking at their breads and I bought a loaf of sourdough. They must have been running low cause the bread section was kind of eh not really jumping out at me like buy this I’ve seen so many beautiful breads online and in the three bread books I’ve been bouncing around in that grocery store bread just nothing special. But I wanted sourdough and I can’t just whip that out in an evening so I decided that would be good enough. I walked through the market; it’s a special occasion if I go to whole foods. It’s not really in a normal budget for me but some things I desire like excellent organic spring mix, more exotic veggies, organic stocks or soups, seafood, or certain kinds of cheeses I have to go there to get them.
Thank god for living in a place where I have so many amazing markets to get things from top of the line to local farmers out here it’s pretty high living for a foodie out in Southern California. I used to frequent the particular Whole Foods I was in quite often when I lived in that area but I was passing through on my way back from the library and I found myself just browsing seeing what was nice. I knew I wanted to get some clams. They had a nice batch of them and I bought pancetta, and some veggie stock and while I was in the soup isle, which is rare for me to buy boxed soups because I make my own just fine but my best friend used to always have these things in the kitchen when we were living together. She loved them almost lived by them, along with lots of lettuce, cans of tuna, blueberries, and soy ice cream. I love you dude.
But anyway I thought of using this creamless organic potato leek soup made by Imagine as part of the base of the clam chowder. Now I’m sharing this particular recipe to show you that you really can build a lot of flavor from things that you never really thought of using. I was running low on time for dinner and had to make two things because my brother in law doesn’t eat clams so I used this soup as a base for flavor. That’s one of the things that makes restaurant cooking different from home cooking they have 24 hours (maybe less depending on how early they open and how late they close but you get what I’m saying) to develop flavors from stocks and sauces and ingredients that a lot of home cooks don’t have access to. So making your own stocks one day and freezing them is an amazing way to build flavor but if you can’t I like using organic veggie stock from Whole foods.
So this recipe will sound a little weird, it’s not a conventional clam chowder, its full of clams and veggies but see if you can take what I’ve done and maybe one day when you’re feeling a little adventures make your own chowder, I’d love to hear how it comes out.
Cream less clam chowder
¼ of an inch thick slice of pancetta cut into small dice
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 box of organic potato leek soup
2 cups of veggie stock
1/4 lb of clams(i used a combo of all kinds of different clams, the smoke form the oil packed clams is nice, the texture of fresh clams always rivals any kind of boxed or caned clam though) If you want to do all fresh clams go for the gold
1 small can of shelled clams (used wild caught baby clams in water and drained them)
1 small box of smoked clams
3 carrots peeled and diced small
2 sticks of celery diced small
½ small white onion minced
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon of dried thyme
Salt to taste which should be very little considering the pancetta and the stock which has sodium in them
Black pepper to taste
4 small Yukon gold potatoes washed and sliced in ½ then in ¼ and then ¼ inch thick pieces
Take clams and rinse them in cold water so that any sand that may be there is cleaned away, if any of your clams are open discard them they are dead and not good. For storing clams keep them in the fridge with a couple of paper towels that have been soaked in water and ringed out so that they are not sopping wet, over the top, never keep clams immersed in water you’ll kill them.
In a small sauce pan place 2 cups of stock over medium high heat and bring to a boil
Chop vegetables and pancetta in about the same sized pieces if you want this to be done faster cut the veggies and potatoes into very small pieces (I like the texture of large/medium sized pieces of veggies in this soup)
Mean while in a larger pot or pan whichever you have on hand you can also do this in a Dutch oven place the olive oil at the bottom of the pan on medium heat till glistening then add pancetta be careful not to walk away from it because it will burn and you have to throw it out. Mine came out a little crispier then I had hoped but it was still good. You want it to release all the flavors of the pork into the bottom of the pan so if it sticks a little that’s just fine it will lend to the flavor of the soup. Now when they are nice and golden take the pieces of pancetta out of the pan and set them aside on a small folded over paper towel.
Add in the onions and sauté till the onions have sweat and are translucent, then add the garlic and cook till soft, then add carrots and celery and potatoes cook for about 5 minutes till everything is incorporated and fragrant.
After this is done the stock should be boiling, place clams inside small sauce pan with the stock and simmer with a lid on till all the clams have opened, turn off the heat and take the clams out of the stock and if you’d like de-shell the calms and discard shells. You can also keep a couple in the shell for garnish if you’d like. (why do I do this you say to yourself? Well I guess you could not do this and then toss the clams in at the end but I like the extra element of clam juice simmering with the veggies when they cook and not over cooking the clams at the same time)
Now add the box of potato leek soup and the rest of the stock from when you steamed your clams to the vegetable mixture and simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until the vegetables are at the tenderness you’d like them to be.
Now add dried parsley, ½ teaspoon of dried thyme, drained clams, and smoked clams mix together and simmer for about 7-9 minutes till the soup takes on the clam flavor
In the last 2 minutes of cooking add ½ to ¾ (depending on how much you want for garnish)of the fresh clams to the soup along with adjustments of seasoning
Ladle out and top with some of the fresh clams and crispy pancetta and a nice piece of toasted sourdough or any other kind of bread you’d like, and maybe a little salad.
**if you don’t want to use potato leek soup, you can double the amount of potatoes you use and add about 4 cups extra stock, after you steam the clams add the potatoes to the stock cook them till their falling apart use a steam want and blend till thickened and smooth, the soup will have a different texture but still good
** vegetarian option. This can easily be a nice vegetable chowder just don’t use the pancetta and skip out on the clams, adding a couple different types of potatoes, some bell peppers, and corn will really make this soup a lovely vegan or vegetarian option. I’d boost up the herbs in this with a little fresh parsley and some fresh thyme slow simmering and adding the vegetables at different times during the cooking process to vary the textures will make for a really delicious healthy dish
Happy Chowder Eating
My blog will be promoting the Online Bake Sale for Relief in Japan
hosted by Thetomatotart.com
This bake sale is a over 40 blogger event to band together to do what we do best baking/cooking and help Japan in the process.The bakesale will feature people all across the globe reaching out through the food blogger community to show the people of japan they have not gone unnoticed.
An auction has been set up by Sabrina at thetomatotart.com which will give you the opportunity to bid on these wonderful food bloggers creations and have them sent straight to your home. All proceeds will go to Second Harvest which aids in offering food to those in need.
To meet the bloggers who will be baking for this amazing opportunity to help the people of Japan
please check out this link or click the banner below
I’ll be promoting this on my blog till the auction ends on March 30th and within the next couple of days, I’ll post what I’ll be contributing to the sale.
If you have any ideas of what you’d like me to make, please post a comment. I’ll be happy to take into consideration anything my readers have been wanting but haven’t been able to make themselves and wouldn’t mind bidding on, save japan and get a treat.
Baked from my hands with love.
If you could spread the word please do so!