Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tasty Tapas at Lalola

Cousin MC2 told me her foodie friend said Lalola was the bomb, so of course we had to go see if that was so.

Three glasses (each) of happy hour white sangria and about a dozen (shared) Spanish small plates later, we heartily agreed. Some of our faves: the ham and cheese croquetas and the sardines (we ordered seconds of both); the pork and brie sando; the grilled pulpo on a stick; and the hot-out-of-the-oven chocolate croissant bread pudding.

Yummy octo-lolly

Uber-garlicky, pickled sardines

The only thing we didn't love: the vanilla clientele, but the spicy, zesty tapas more than made up for it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Ubuntu, Take Two

It's a good thing Ubuntu is in downtown Napa rather than San Francisco—otherwise, I'd be making a beeline to this incredible vegetarian (and vegan) eatery all too often, thus doing damage not only to the waistline but also to my wallet. That's not to say the prices are prohibitively expensive. In fact, the 7 of us paid between $60-70 a head and we took a ton of food home with us. Parties of 6 or more get served up family-style: in other words, larger portions of the chef's choosing. Definitely the way to go.

Here then are some of the amazingly rich goodies (you really don't miss the meat. seriously!) that came our way on my second visit to Ubuntu (Zulu for "practice humanity towards others") last Sunday afternoon:

Chunky chickpea fries with herbs sitting on a zesty romesco sauce; castelvetrano olives marinated in a brightly flavored carrot top pesto; and marcona almonds coated in sea salt and a fragrant lavender sugar.

Heirloom tomatoes with basil leaves, crisp fennel crackers, zig zags of concentrated balsamic, the most amazing raw-milk burrata and a heavenly drizzle of fresh corn emulsion.

A massive bowl of the creamiest grits, topped with smoked and maple-glazed trumpet mushroom slivers (that masqueraded as bacon bits), purslane, soft egg yolks, and shavings of parmesan.

Perfectly formed gnochetti in a black truffle fonduta and mushroom jus. So rich and sinful this was.

Cheesecake in a jar with the sweetest berries and the most perfect graham cracker crumble.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yay! Pie!

That's how Chris of Alameda Pie (formerly the Pie Truck) signs off all of his blog posts and emails, and I gotta agree.

And thanks to
Urban Daddy's heads up (yo, SS, you rock), we found out about Chris's Friday lunch deliveries and got ours this past week to include 6 peppery chicken pot pies and a scrumptiddliumptious apple pie for dessert.

This is no sissy crust—you had to put your back into cutting through the buttery dough.

So far, Alameda Pie's got chicken and veggie curry as the 2 savory options in the line-up. We're hoping Chris rotates in a few more kinds so we can keep on having pie Fridays now and again.

Yay! Pie!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Out the Door for All Occasions

I'll go to Out the Door for any occasion, so when PH suggested it for her birthday dinner, I readily agreed. The dozen-plus different items I've had on the menu in the two to three dozen visits I've made to this super-stylish eatery (in a mall, no less!) have all been amazingly good—fresh and full of flavor. The following is no exception:

Crispety-crunchety sweet yam fritters with tiny bay scallops and honkin' gulf shrimp accompanied by a lovely sweet soy and chile marinade.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Taste of Summer at Harvest Moon Cafe

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I think I'll let these lovelies tell the story of our really fine meal celebrating PH's birthday this weekend sitting in the picturesque backyard patio at Harvest Moon Cafe.

Up top: a tangy salad of marinated beets, summer squash and herbs with chunks of fresh cod, walnuts and a dollop of garlicky aioli.

Just below it: a pile of heartbreakingly sweet local heirloom tomatoes with house-made mozzarella, green beans, a generous drizzle of pesto and balsamic.

Grilled sardines sitting atop more locally grown tomatoes, a spread of creamy avocadoes on bruschetta with slivers of radish providing a refreshing bite and crunch to the dish.

My dish: oh-so-tender lamb loin and lamb chops sitting in a slurp-worthy jus, accompanied by a really nice, buttery pilaf cut with bitter greens, more pesto and the acid of sweet cherry tomatoes.

PH's entree: a heavenly summer squash and tomato lasagne ... she loved every bite.

And SS's dish: the ahi tuna steak plunked on a bed of savory veg and potatoes. An ideal pick for the hot, summery day, which we'd spent poolside at Sonoma Mission Inn.