Friday, April 28, 2006
Belmont Farmers' Market
Opens for the season on May 7
Caltrain Station @ El Camino Real/O'Neill Street
Every Sunday, 9am-1pm, May-November
Burlingame Fresh Market
Opens for the season on May 7
Park Road/Burlingame Avenue
Every Sunday, 9am-1pm, May-November
Daly City Farmers Market
Serramonte Shopping Center
Every Thursday, 9am-1pm, Year-Round
Every Saturday, 10am-2pm - Starting June 17
Half Moon Bay Coastside Market at Cetrella
Opens for the season on May 6
Cetrella Bistro Parking Lot (845 Main Street)
Every Saturday, 9am-1pm, May-November (except Pumpkin Festival weekend)
Los Altos Farmers' Market
Opens for the season on May 4
State Street/between First and Third Streets
Every Thursday, 4-8pm, May-September
Menlo Park Farmers' Market
Every Sunday, 9am-1pm, Year-round
Millbrae Farmers Market
Broadway/between LaCruz and Victoria Avenues
Every Saturday, 8am-1pm, Year-round
Palo Alto Farmers' Market
Opens for the season on May 13
Every Saturday, 8am-noon, May-December
Redwood City Kiwanis Farmers' Market
Winslow Street/Middlefield Road
Every Saturday, 8am-noon, April-November
San Carlos Farmers' Market
Opens for the season on May 4
Every Thursday, 4-8pm, May-September
San Mateo Farmers' Market
College of San Mateo
Every Wednesday and Saturday, 9am-1pm, Year-round
South San Francisco Farmers' Market
Opens for the season on May 6
Orange Memorial Park
Every Saturday, 9am-1pm, May-November
Thursday, April 27, 2006
It wasn't too crowded -- maybe half-full? -- when we walked in around 6:30pm. Since it was our first time there and the menu is pretty extensive, we had a hard time deciding what to order. (Descriptions are in Spanish and English, with photos as well.) We each opted for a pair of soft tacos: beef tripe and fried pork for me, and chicken for Jon. We actually had our hearts (and stomachs) set on fish tacos, but that wasn't listed as one of the many options.
There isn't much to say about the decor; the dining space is filled with plastic booths and tables for two. The televisions mounted in the corners were showing Spanish-language soap operas while we were there.
When we sat down and looked over the menu a bit more, we noticed that there are a number of fish items available. So we thought maybe we could make a special request for fish tacos. Sure enough, it was do-able. It costs more -- $2 as opposed to $1.25 for the others we had ordered -- but it was worth it to satisfy our pescado craving.
Each of the tacos was piled with our chosen meat, as well as onions, cilantro and a mild sauce (next time, hot sauce for me!). The beef tripe may have been my favorite of the trio I went with. All of mine were pan-fried for a nice, crispy texture. The fish tacos we ate in Mexico consisted of large pieces of fish, dipped in batter and then deep-fried; at El Grullense, the fish taco is made with smaller chunks of fish that are pan-fried. Delicious nonetheless. Jon also enjoyed every bite of his grilled chicken tacos.
There are so many dishes to choose from at El Grullense, I definitely need to go back and try a few dozen more. In addition to tacos, they have burritos, flautas, chimichangas, quesadillas, fajitas, tamales, chile relleno, enchiladas, menudo... What DON'T they have! Although we didn't need to add anything extra to our tacos tonight, it's good to know that they have a solid-looking salsa bar as well.
On our way out, I was given a coupon for a free burrito for the grand opening celebration of El Grullense's Woodside Road restaurant. The coupon includes a list of their other locations. So these are the ones I know for sure are the same operation:
1280 El Camino Real
Redwood City, CA
3636 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA
Opening on May 5:
768 Woodside Road
Redwood City, CA
Opening soon in Mountain View.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
The Creamery has been serving up milkshakes for about 75 years, and you know what they say about practice making things perfect. Their shakes are just right: thick (but not so much that you can't use a straw), creamy (but not too heavy), sweet (but not to the point where you can't get through half a glass). My favorite is the mint chip, but the cookies and cream is also a popular choice.
A lot of folks refer to the Palo Alto Creamery Fountain & Grill -- which has a location downtown and at the Stanford Shopping Center -- as "The Creamery." But it isn't; they are two separate operations. The owner of the original Creamery leases the downtown space to the Fountain.
So if you want the best milkshake in town, be sure to head to the corner of High Street and Channing Avenue. If you need a bit more fuel, the Creamery also serves typical diner fare. But I don't know anything about the food -- I come here strictly for the shakes.
(Note: The last time I checked, the Creamery's hours were 7am-5pm, Monday through Friday.)
Peninsula Creamery Dairy Store & Grill
900 High Street
Palo Alto, CA
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
The Metroactive had this to say when the Los Altos Satura opened in January:
The high-concept bakery creates pastries as artfully presented as sushi made with premium ingredients. Masahito Motohashi, one of the top 5 pastry chefs in Japan, designed the menu. Typical of Japanese confections, these desserts are less sweet than their American counterparts, and ingredients, local and organic when possible, are paired down to bare minimums so the flavors shine through. Satura Cakes does not use any hydrogenated shortenings and bakes its cakes, cookies and pastries daily. The store will also sell premium espressos and coffees.I'm especially looking forward to trying the strawberry shortcake, green tea pound cake, vanilla cream puffs, carmelized banana tart and macaroons. The menu also includes unique offerings such as strawberry or pistachio tiramisu, green tea chestnut roll and sesame blancmange.
200 Main Street
Los Altos, CA
The Palo Alto location is scheduled to open in May.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Let me get this out of the way though: I am by no means a pizza connoisseur. In fact, most days, if you offer me a slice, I will turn you down without any hesitation. But every once in a while, I get a craving for pizza. And I've been hearing good things about this Patxi's. (Pronounced "pah-cheese.") So we went for lunch yesterday, shortly after they opened, and placed our order to go. Jon got the special -- sausage, mushrooms, onions and green peppers -- Chicago-style. With its thick crust and vast amounts of tomato sauce, the deep-dish is a little too heavy for me, so I ordered a thin-crust slice of pepperoni. (When we went, they had plain cheese or pepperoni slices available.)
Jon's pizza took about 40 minutes to bake. (BTW, Patxi's also has half-baked pies if you're in a bit of a hurry.) So...
- If you're planning to take your pizza home, you may want to place your order and then stroll University Avenue -- which is exactly what we did.
- If you decide to wait at the restaurant for your pizza, it's not a bad place to hang out; the decor is comfortable and definitely a step up from your average pizza joint. You can probably catch a sporting event on the not-so-big-screen-TVs.
- And, if you're dining in, you may want to order a salad to enjoy while your pizza's in the oven.
Okay! Now back to our story... We got our pizzas home, after a torturous car ride -- we were SO hungry, and the pizzas smelled SO good! My thin-crust was awesome. I counted ten slices of pepperoni on my wedge of pizza, the crust was perfectly crisp, and it wasn't too greasy. Jon's pizza was not quite as hot as he would have liked, though this could be attributed to the fact that we live about ten minutes from the pizzeria. Still, he said it was pretty good, although not quite at the level of Zachary's.
I think the next time, I'll stick with the thin-crust anyway because that's just how I roll -- even though some might say it's sacrilegious to go thin-crust in a Chicago pizzeria. Like I said, I'm no connoisseur. I just know what I like. And I like me that thin-crust pizza at Patxi's.
P.S. It turns out that Patxi's actually does have a connection to Zachary's: One of the owners, Francisco "Patxi" Azpiroz, spent more than a decade working at the East Bay institution.
Patxi's Chicago Pizza
441 Emerson Street
Palo Alto, CA
Friday, April 21, 2006
Oh, but since my husband does not like prosciutto, we swapped it out for bacon. And you just can't go wrong with bacon!
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
The 20-screen movie theater will not be open until after July. BUT, anchor tenant Cost Plus World Markets says it's sticking to its May opening. (So you can stock up on wicker just in time for summer! I'm kidding -- I know Cost Plus has other cool stuff.)
Other occupants of the On Broadway complex are hoping to open their doors in June -- including Chipotle, Escape from NY Pizza, Fatburger, Marble Slab, Tacone, Tandoori's Oven and Beard Papa. (Cream puffs! I want some Beard Papa cream puffs already!)
The city has set up several webcams so you can check out the progress. I'm actually a bit skeptical about this summer opening for the theater, but I hope I'm wrong...
Although I went with the Fried Oyster Po' Boy, my companion chose the English Cheddar, Apple and Bacon sandwich. Mine was good, but hers was great. So great, that I ran home that night and told Jon we HAD to try making our own for dinner.
We only had pears in the house, and figured they'd be a fine replacement for the apples. Our sandwiches weren't as greasy as Maverick's, so I actually preferred our home rendition. After Jon started grilling them, he realized that we totally should've used the panini press... Oh well. Next time!
(BTW, this is Martha's recipe for a Grilled Cheese with Apples and Bacon.)
Monday, April 17, 2006
I was disappointed the first time around that they didn't have any fish tacos on the menu. But we were in luck: Fish tacos were the daily special the night we popped in last week. So Jon ordered that, and I went for the chicken enchiladas with red sauce.
Let's start with the red sauce. Sounds generic, right? And it tasted generic, too. It was totally bland. The trio of enchiladas were hidden beneath a pile of chopped veggies and sour cream, but there seemed to be too little cheese on the corn tortillas. I could not believe how lacking in flavor my dish was!
After a rather unsatisfying entree, I sought redemption in the form of a churro. Maybe it would be so phenomenal, I wouldn't care how bad my dinner was. But sadly, it was also a let-down. I'm guessing the churro was frozen and simply tossed in the oven for a little warmth. It was neither fresh nor deep-fried. No good in my book.
Although Jon's fish tacos were okay, we agreed that there are plenty of better (and cheaper!) Mexican restaurants just down the street on Woodside Road in Redwood City. I don't expect to eat at Lulu's again because I'm fairly certain a third time would not be a charm.
Lulu's on the Alameda
3539 Alameda de las Pulgas
Menlo Park, CA
The San Mateo location also includes a restaurant (upstairs from the grocery store) and a cooking school. Jon took a knife skills class there a few months ago. He sliced his hand towards the end of the lesson and had to go straight to the ER... But don't let that deter you from enrolling in one of their many courses!
222 East Fourth Avenue
San Mateo, CA
1010 University Drive
Menlo Park, CA
342 First Street
Los Altos, CA
Monday, April 10, 2006
So anyway... We sat inside yesterday, as we thought the rain was going to come pouring down any minute. (On a sunny day, the patio in the back is a great spot to enjoy an iced beverage and a sweet snack.) There were very few tables left when we were seated, and the bakery side of the space had quite a line of people. The restaurant's cuisine is Italian -- with a good selection of soups, salads, sandwiches, pizzas and pastas to choose from. I went with one of the daily specials: quiche with a cup of mushroom and spinach soup, as well as a side of Caesar salad, for about $11. Not a bad deal.
When the order arrived at the table, I was a little surprised by how small the wedge of quiche was, and how large the salad portion was. I immediately got started on the hot soup, which was awesome -- rich, creamy, chock-full of garlic and bits of mushroom. The quiche was okay (I wanted more crust!), as was the salad.
Jon ordered a sandwich, which was served on yummy housemade foccaccia. And our friend Josh opted for the asparagus soup (which he raved about) and a side of Caesar with grilled chicken.
After lunch, I checked out the cookies, pastries, cakes and pies. I finally decided on a slice of apricot pie, which I warmed up at home later in the evening. I put it in the oven for a few minutes (a microwave would have ruined the crust) and it was delicious.
Between the restaurant and the bakery, I think the latter is the stronger/better offering. Despite a lackluster lunch yesterday, the Woodside Bakery and Cafe still remains one of my favorite Peninsula places for breads and sweets... and now soups.
Woodside Bakery and Cafe
3052 Woodside Road
Saturday, April 08, 2006
I started with the nachos -- no on the salsa, but yes on the cheese (of course) and jalapenos. They were actually better than most ballpark nachos, but I couldn't quite put my finger on the difference in the flavor of the cheese. It seemed to be a bit more buttery-tasting, maybe?
Next, I ordered the sliders (mini-burgers). They came with a slice of pickle and chopped onions already on the patty (ketchup and mustard were in accompanying packets), and were served with a side of Kettle Chips. It was pretty good.
I was getting full -- from the aforementioned food items, as well as the peanuts that we were snacking on -- but still managed to get a couple more orders in: popcorn that was billed as "fresh-popped and buttered" (yes, there was a buttery substance on the popcorn, but it definitely was not fresh-popped), and some sour candies (basically, Sour Patch Kids knock-offs). Neither was very satisfying, but I wasn't hungry anymore anyway.
Since it was chilly that night, I opted for hot chocolate the entire evening. It was water-based -- which was good and bad. Good because it meant the server could bring it out really quickly, but bad because... well, it's water-based hot chocolate. (The item that seemed to take the longest to make/serve was the mozzarella sticks. A friend of ours placed that order and it took about half an hour to arrive.)
Although I haven't been to an SF Giants' game yet this year, I think they still have the A's beat in terms of ballpark food.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Hmmm... While the Peninsula area is not specifically mentioned, I'm guessing it will be covered as well.
Michelin announced today the Michelin Guide San Francisco and the Bay Area 2007, arriving in stores in October 2006.
Michelin will expand its exclusive hotel and restaurant guide series in North America to include SanFrancisco and the Bay Area. The Michelin Guide San Francisco and the Bay Area 2007, the first-ever Michelin Guide for a West Coast city, is scheduled to arrive in stores October 2006. The Guide will cover hotels and restaurants in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose and Berkeley, as well as the Wine Country including Napa and Sonoma. The announcement was made todayby Jean-Luc Naret, worldwide director of the Michelin Guide.
The Michelin Guide, whose rating system is internationally recognized as the height of culinary success, is already published in 12 editions covering 20 European countries, and additionally includes a Guide to New York City, which was introduced in November 2005. For its debut in the San Francisco area, the Guide will provide a selection and rating, in all categories of comfort and prices, of San Francisco and Bay Area restaurants and hotels, in a reader-friendly layout made especially for the American market and the region's distinctive culinary and hotel landscape.
"The diversity, breadth and depth of San Francisco's restaurant and hotel scene, coupled with its rich gastronomic history clearly mark the city and surrounding areas as the logical choice for the next North American title in the Michelin Guide series," commented Naret. "As with our recently published Guide to New York City, we are making every effort to produce a comprehensive selection that does full justice to the region's exciting restaurant and hotel culture and also meets our readers' expectations."
During the announcement, Naret described San Francisco as unique among American cities, citing its reputation as a world-class tourism destination and stressing the importance of its treasured culinary traditions, including the genesis of organic cooking, the foundation of California cuisine and the 'Slow Food' movement, as well as the production of renowned wines nearby.
"The Bay Area's food-conscious residents value innovative cuisine and are passionate about using fresh ingredients, including some of the country's highest quality organic ingredients that are produced here," said Naret. "We are eagerly anticipating the Michelin Guide's entry into this wonderful city known for its cuisine, culture, beauty and innovative spirit."
As part of its meticulous and highly confidential evaluation process, Michelin inspectors -- both European and American -- are currently conducting anonymous inspections in Bay Area restaurants and hotels. As with all Michelin Guide inspections, the process involves test meals or overnight stays at each establishment by Michelin inspectors, in order to assess the level and the consistency of the establishment. As with all of the Guides for all countries, inspectors pay all of their bills at restaurants and hotels.
"The Michelin inspectors are the eyes and ears of the customers, and thus the anonymity of our inspectors is key to ensure they are treated the same as any guest would be treated," commented Naret.
The Michelin Guide offers a broad selection of hotels and restaurants in each price and comfort category, taking into account each country's local environment. This rating is unique and consistent across all countries covered by the Michelin Guide. It is expressed in two ways:
- A comfort rating: levels of comfort are rated using one to five forks and spoons for restaurants and one to five pavilions for hotels. Those symbols only judge the comfort of the establishment. They are: the furnishings of the establishment, the service, the cleanliness and upkeep of the surroundings.
- Special distinctions for certain establishments: these include stars for the very best restaurants. Red forks and spoons or red pavilions are for especially pleasant establishments. The stars judge only "what's on the plate," meaning the quality of products, the mastering of flavors, the mastering of cooking, the "personality" of the cuisine, the value for money and the consistency of what it offers to its customers both throughout the menu and the year.
While every restaurant in the Guide is a recommendation from Michelin, certain restaurants deserve to be brought to the reader's attention for the particularity fine quality of their cooking. These establishments are identified by Michelin stars, which are awarded for the standard of meals served.
A general listing in the Guide indicates "a quality restaurant that stands out from others" in the same category of comfort, definitely worth trying. The star ratings are as follows:
- One star indicates "a very good restaurant in its category," a place offering cuisine prepared to a consistently high standard.
- Two stars denote "excellent cooking, worth a detour," skillfully and carefully crafted dishes of outstanding quality.
- Three stars reward "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey." One always eats extremely well here, often superbly. Distinctive dishes are precisely executed, using superlative ingredients.
The decision to award a star is a collective one, based on the consensus of all inspectors who have visited a particular establishment. A written description of each establishment and a variety of other symbols will give readers further insight into an establishment's ambiance, type of cuisine and specialties, and wine list, customized to American tastes and needs.
The two founders, Andre and Edouard Michelin, first impacted the transportation world, and consequently the travel world, when their innovative ideas led to the first pneumatic automobile tires. Since this breakthrough in travel technology, the Michelin Group has been dedicated to providing unbiased, accurate, clear and easy-to-understand information for the traveling customer. The Michelin Guide, first published in 1900, was created to provide motorists with practical information about where they could service and repair their cars and find quality accommodations or a good meal. The Guide was provided free of charge until 1920, and the "star system" for outstanding restaurants was introduced in 1926, with the two-and three-star categories introduced in the early 1930s, clearly positioning Michelin as the most respected arbiter of fine dining. With their unparalleled commitment to quality, Michelin publishes close to 20 million maps, atlases, travel guides and hotel and restaurant guides in more than 70 countries worldwide every year.
The Michelin Guide San Francisco and the Bay Area 2007 will complement the existing catalog of Michelin maps and guides to the North American market, including the recently launched Guide to New York City. The Guide will be available in October 2006 at bookstores, boutiques and other participating retailers, including online retailers.
Monday, April 03, 2006
So if you didn't try RJR while it was open these past few weeks, you'll have to wait a few more.
UPDATE: RJR re-opened in mid-June. (Read the re-opening post.)
According to their web site, Restaurant James Randall offers "a fresh seasonal menu of delicious comfort food." It looks like the menu changes on a weekly basis. The restaurant is owned by Brenda Hammond, and her son is in charge of the kitchen. Ross Hanson is a Saratoga High School graduate who trained at the California Culinary Academy. Further family connections: The eatery is named after Hammond's late brother, and her daughter's artwork will grace the walls.
While Restaurant James Randall is only open for lunch right now, dinner -- as well as beer/wine service -- will commence soon.
Restaurant James Randall
303 N. Santa Cruz Avenue
Los Gatos, CA
Since the restaurant caters mainly to golfers and it's got the Stanford name attached to it, I was expecting a schmancy clubhouse-like experience. But not so. This place is one step above a dorm cafeteria in terms of ambiance. When we arrived, the place was fairly empty so we grabbed a table overlooking the putting green. (Orders are taken at the table.)
We noticed that the menu indicated that breakfast is only served until 11am. It was about 11:30 already, but we still had the option of choosing from the either the breakfast or lunch menu. (Maybe with the time change they were being more flexible about the breakfast/lunch thing?)
It worked out well because Jon opted for a breakfast item (fried egg sandwich), while I ordered a lunch dish (mushroom raviolis). Jon's sandwich was really, really good. He replaced the ham with bacon, which is ALWAYS a good move in my book. His meal came with a side of fresh fruit or hash browns and he went with the less healthy of the two (again, I support this decision -- you can't go wrong with fried potato items). The potatoes were nice and crispy. Delicious!
The handmade raviolis were also tasty. They were filled with porcini and topped with slices of crimini, portabello and porcino mushrooms. I was glad that the vermouth and cream reduction sauce wasn't too thick and overwhelming. I would have liked a little more sundried tomato in my bowl, but that's a minor gripe. I still scarfed down the pasta (did I mention that I was famished?).
The prices were reasonable, with our total -- including a drink each -- coming to about $20. On a sunny day, I imagine the patio overlooking the 18th hole would be a fantastic place to hang out and enjoy a good meal. But even on a chilly day, with the clouds warning of even more rain to come, the Stanford Grill was a solid dining choice.
(Note: Although the golf course is private, the Grill, putting green and pro shop are open to the public.)
198 Junipero Serra Boulevard