Thursday, March 29, 2007

Trader Joe's

You don't need me to tell you how great Trader Joe's is ... So since I haven't gone to any new restaurants in a couple of weeks (we went to Naomi Sushi a few nights ago and had a yummy meal as always), I thought I'd post about some TJ treats I recently discovered and love: 1) dried lychees, and 2) wasabi peas.

And stay away from the dried dragonfruit. Blech.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Young's Ice Cream & Candy Bar, Redwood City

Two posts in two days! Maybe this means I'm getting back into a regular food-blog groove?

Last Friday, after dinner at Mandaloun, we headed across the street to Young's. Because, despite already being quite satisfied from the churros at Mandaloun, who can resist a place that sells ice cream and candy? Not me.

The place caught my eye because the sign out front has an old-time drugstore look to it. Cute! Charming! Oh, and did I mention they have ice cream AND candy? In one convenient, and clean, location? The service was so friendly, which I must admit, shocked me because there were teenagers behind the counter. (Yes, I'm one of those people who assumes teenagers are up to no good 9 out of 10 times.)

In the candy department, you'll find a lot of the usual offerings. (Think Sweet Factory.) And the Loard's ice cream flavors aren't groundbreaking, but I'm all for oldies/goodies. I went with a scoop of the banana, which was delicious. Although I like my ice cream plain and simple, they did have a good selection of toppings. Which makes sense, since they have plenty of candy available to turn into toppings.

Those of you not familiar with Loard's: It's a Bay Area ice cream company that dates back about 50 years. It's rich. It's creamy. It's good stuff.

(BTW, eggnog ice cream was still on the menu last week. And, really, I think that's something that should only be served in late November or December. Otherwise, it just comes across like you never refresh your inventory. Maybe it's just me/my hang-up.)

In addition to frozen and sweet treats, Young's stocks a variety of knick-knacks, toys, small gift items. They also have these ice-cream cones that are made of chocolate chip cookies. I had never seen them before, but Jon claims to have. I couldn't convince him to order one just to see if they're good or not.

Apparently, he's not willing to fatten himself up for the sake of my food blog.

Young's Ice Cream & Candy Bar
2020 Broadway
Redwood City, CA
(650) 364-7500

Monday, March 12, 2007

Mandaloun, Redwood City

If you follow this blog with any regularity, you probably know by now that there are a few sure-fire ways to entice me into a restaurant: fried-to-order donuts, beignets and churros.

And so it was that we ended up dining at Mandaloun on Friday night. Churros with chocolate-espresso dipping sauce for dessert? Count me in.

Since I was checking the online menu on Friday, by the time we walked through the Mediterranean restaurant's doors that evening, I already knew what I was going to order. Sadly, Mandaloun's online and real-time menus weren't in sync. Neither were the prices: online, the small plates were listed at 3 for $15; they have since been upped to $18. (By the way, I see that today, the site is updated to show the price increase ... and a more current menu!)

We decided to share just one small plate: polenta with a yummy bolognese sauce, topped with farmer's cheese. Although we both had really hoped to order the salt cod and fries starter that we had heard such good things about, the polenta dish more than satisfied us.

Next up were our entrees: Jon opted for the flat iron steak, served with fries; I went with the rabbit. My plate also included potato puree (basically mashed potatoes), onions and apples in a mustard-y broth. I thought my dish was okay, but Jon LOVED his. I looked over at his side of the table and asked if his portion was really small, or if he was just consuming his dinner really quickly. He said it was the latter, because the meat was delicious. (I thought the fries, although crispy, needed some seasoning. They sprinkled sea salt on the steak, but didn't have any for the fries???)

Non-food impressions of Mandaloun: The space is beautiful — lots of wood, stone and ironwork — definitely stands out from most of the other businesses on this strip of downtown Redwood City. We sat in what is called the "Fireplace Room," which is just a nice way of saying "the patio." It's basically an outdoor area in front of the main dining room/bar that's sealed shut with plastic screens when it's cold out. (Yes, there was a fireplace.)

The service was so-so. When I asked what kind of tea they had, the waiter said, "Chamomile?" in a bid to steer me in that direction. It turned out, he was hoping I would answer affirmatively because he couldn't remember what other teas they offer. And this may sound a bit nit-picky: When the teapot was brought to the table, it was accompanied by a large mug. Personally, I prefer smaller cups for hot tea because it allows the tea to cool down/become drinkable faster.

The timing was off with the service, too. We hadn't even finished our one small/starter plate, when our entrees came out. Then, we waited for what felt like a lifetime before our dessert order was taken. Towards the end of our meal, our area of the restaurant was starting to fill up. So our waiter was preoccupied taking orders from other tables, and then (apparently) hanging out at the bar with his co-workers.

At least the dessert was worth the wait. I was a bit annoyed that our waiter didn't bring us any utensils for the dessert course, but luckily, I still had my spoon from my tea. And let's be real here: I would have gladly devoured those churros with my hands, and happily licked my fingers of any residual chocolate-espresso sauce.

So I guess our experience at Mandaloun ended on a high note. But if we go back, I might be inclined to just order up dessert at the bar. Especially since they offer one of my favorite dessert wines (Inniskillin “Ice Wine” Cabernet Franc).

I hope Mandaloun is the start of something in Redwood City — and that more sophisticated dining options open up here. If the car and foot traffic that we saw on Friday night is any indication, the town is ready for it.

2021 Broadway Street
Redwood City, CA
(650) 367-7974

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Weekend Dining

Jon's parents were in town this weekend and when they visit, we tend to eat out. We usually reach into the "Greatest Hits" file and proceed to make reservations. So we decided on The Village Pub for Friday night's dinner, and Tamarine for Saturday.

  • The Village Pub - Jon and I have been here several times before, and have never been disappointed. I love the food, the service and the ambiance here. The four starters at the table were: sweetbreads (me); lettuce salad (Jon); Caesar salad (FIL); and cabbage soup (MIL). I usually don't order sweetbreads because it kinda grosses Jon out. But this place is the exception. The dish is so delicious here, I would gladly tell Jon to sit at another table if he can't handle my sweetbread-consumption. Theu are crispy on the outside, and velvety smooth on the inside. The poached egg on top makes the appetizer even more rich, but you won't hear me complaining.

    Our entrees were: maple brined porch chops (me); pub burger (Jon); steak frites (FIL); and poached sole (MIL). Thumbs-up all around. Note: Jon likes the food at The Village Pub, but thinks it can be a bit heavy. So his entree is usually the burger off of the Pub Menu.

    So after we were done enjoying our entrees, the GM stopped by our table. He mentioned that he'd read my blog; he actually remembered Jon's name; he referred to some comments I had posted about previous dining experiences at The Village Pub; and he even got to talking about South Carolina with the in-laws. As if all of that wasn't nice enough, he even offered to comp our desserts! My father-in-law was way impressed by all of the above.

    I ended up being the only one to order dessert — the hot chocolate, served with pomegranate marshmallows and three miniature palmiers. (Note: The chocolate souffle here is completely awesome, but I decided to branch out and try a different dessert.) The hot chocolate, which is made with Valrhona, was so good. Thick, creamy and not overly sweet. At first, I thought the marshmallows were just ehhh ... But that was when I was just popping them, straight-up, in my mouth. Once I actually dunked them in the hot chocolate, the flavors totally came together and made sense. The palmiers were delightly crispy and buttery. And, really, who doesn't love miniaturized sweets?

  • Tamarine - Saturday night's dinner was just as satisfying as Friday's, although the cuisine and the restaurant were so different. Jon's parents have been to Tamarine a couple of times before. We decided to go back again because they've enjoyed it so much in the past, and there aren't a lot of Vietnamese dining options where they live (Hilton Head Island, SC).

    To start, we ordered the crispy mushroom rolls; crab and garlic noodles; and salt and pepper calamari. For our main course, we shared the shaking beef (of course); hoisin lamb chops (the chops themselves are fine, but I really love the sweet potato fries that they're served with); lemongrass bass (Jon thinks it's fun just to say it); and the curried long beans. It was just the right amount of food for all four of us.

    And, of course, I saved room for dessert! I have such a soft spot for fried bananas because it was my favorite dessert growing up. My mom made it all the time. So if it's on a menu (and this is very important: no coconut in the batter!), I am all over it.
We ate so well this weekend. And now it's back to frozen pizzas ... *sigh*

Friday, March 02, 2007

Beard Papa, Redwood City

Before we go any further, I'd just like to say:


Has it really been over four weeks since my last post here? Daaaamn.

It's not that we haven't been eating out. Because — trust — I have NOT been cooking any more than usual. It's just that things have been a bit busy and, instead of trying new places, we've been going back to visit restaurants that we already know and love. Like La Bodeguita, Flea Street Cafe and El Grullense.

But last Friday, after dinner at Old Port Lobster Shack, we made our first visit to the Beard Papa in downtown Redwood City. Actually, I had to buy some baskets from Cost Plus, and then remembered that Beard Papa is just around the corner.

So anyway! As full as I was from my fried clams and lobster roll dinner, I still decided to order two cream puffs: one vanilla, the other chocolate. The specialty flavor was pumpkin — which I just didn't feel right ordering because I associate pumpkin and all things pumpkin-flavored with the fall. And we're quickly approaching spring here, people.

I brought the pair of cream puffs home to enjoy with a pot of green tea. Way back when I visited the SF Beard Papa, I wasn't all that impressed with the goods. I'm not sure why, but this time around, I couldn't get enough of that vanilla cream puff! I didn't share any of it with Jon. I was totally surprised that I liked it so much AND that I was able to fit it all in my tummy (after the very satsifying OPLS meal). The exterior was perfectly crunchy, while the pastry itself still managed to be light on the inside. And the real vanilla bean in the smooth, creamy custard filling? Good stuff.

After I devoured the vanilla, I forged ahead with the chocolate cream puff. While also quite tasty, I could only make my way through about half of it before calling it quits. I liked that the chocolate wasn't overly sweet.

Maybe the fact that the cream puffs are more geographically compatible (being in RWC now, and not just SF) made them more delicious this time? I have no idea. I just know it was straight-up awesome. And I'm going back for more. Soon.

Beard Papa
835 Middlefield Road
Redwood City, CA
(650) 365-7272