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Elegant, modern and playful Indian cuisine at All Spice

A few nights ago, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves to dinner at All Spice Restaurant in San Mateo.

We heard about the restaurant’s opening about 3 months ago from a friend, and given that we LOVE modern twists on Indian food, thought we should give it a try. The chef at All Spice used to be the chef at another one of our favorite Indian Fusion restaurants in the Bay – Sakoon. So we figured we’d be in for a treat at All Spice as well. We were not disappointed!

The service was excellent: each of the waiters were extremely knowledgeable about the dishes and ingredients, and were very friendly and welcoming. Since All Spice had just opened, they didn’t have their wine list completed – and only had non-alcoholic drinks. We started with a Tangerine Soda and a Pomegrate Apple Cider.

Both were excellent! We didn’t miss the alcohol at all. Soon after our drinks came out we were served an Amuse-bouche: a treat from the chef – a cauliflower and mushroom gratin.

We had a hard time deciding on which appetizers to get – everything on the menu looked so good! Eventually we decided on the Indian Bread Fritter “Ma Mere”

It was stuffed with mushrooms, potatoes, and Indian spices, served over stewed chickpeas. It reminded me of a much fancier, elegant version of the samosas you often get in traditional Indian restaurants, and had the perfect blend of spiciness and sweetness. We also ordered the Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup, which was absolutely divine.

It was served with minted spaghetti squash “noodles,” that the soup was then poured over at the table – very cool presentation. The soup itself might have been the best butternut squash soup I’ve ever had. Every bite enveloped my palate with flavor, and the warmth of the soup was a perfect balance to the cold weather outside. If you get a chance to visit All Spice, you MUST order this dish!

Our entrees were equally inventive and satisfying – rounding out the meal perfectly. We ordered the Pumpkin Dosa

Which was basically a crisp rice and lentil crepe, stuffed with a nigella seed-flavored pumpkin and creamy goat cheese filling. It was served with a roasted garlic tomato chutney which provided the perfect sweet balance to the spiciness of the dosa filling. I’ve had a lot of dosas before in my life, and nothing compares to the experience I had at All Spice!

I loved the addition of pumpkin and goat cheese to the filling, stewed with Indian spices. It was a wonderful balance of flavors: rich and delicious. Our last entree was the Khaman Chickpea Flour Pasta, sauteed with mustard seed, curry leaves, baby tomatoes and artichokes.

Again, this dish provided a very modern take on meals that my husband and I ate growing up. I loved the addition of artichokes to this dish, and the chickpea “pasta” just melted in my mouth. After this amazing journey through the menu at All Spice, we were stuffed and had no room for dessert – although the Chili-Mango Bread Pudding with ginger creme anglais was tempting. We’ll definitely be visiting this restaurant again and will be sure to try the desserts next time.

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Thanksgiving in Portland and Dinner at The Farm Cafe!

Hi Everyone! I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving and the weather is nice and sunny (not like it is here – super rainy and gloomy!) So since we can’t really do anything outside, I figured it would be a good time to write about our trip to Portland for Thanksgiving. While we usually spend Thanksgiving in the Bay, this year we decided to visit my sister/brother in law and our nephews – we left Tuesday night and got back late last night – and had an awesome trip!

One of the best things about Portland is the FOOD – and this trip was no exception. Other than the amazing food my sister (technically she’s my sister-in-law, but I really just think of her as my sis, so we’ll just call her that πŸ™‚ ) cooked, we also ate at the coolest restaurant the night we got in – The Farm Cafe!

The Farm Cafe actually reminded me of a less-fancy ο»ΏChez Panisse – and they actually have a very similar mission: organic, locally sourced food, totally veggie friendly and super flavorful dishes!

We were pretty hungry when we got there, so we ordered a few appetizers right away (and I ordered a soup for myself hehe). First up: The Williams Baked Brie which is made to order and comes out melty, cheesy and piping hot! The brie was served with warm, toasted sugar, roasted hazelnuts, bosc pears, and a fresh baguette. It almost felt like dessert – but in a good way!

We also ordered the Hummus Plate which came with an antipasto olive mix, roasted red peppers, pepperoncini, and warm Greek flatbread. The hummus was sprinkled with sesame seeds and tasted really fresh – like it was made right at our table!

And the soup I got for myself was the “soup of the day” and was a white bean soup served with fresh crostini. The soup was super flavorful (even though it was simple) – it definitely had some garlic and good crushed black pepper in it, was very warming, and had a creamy / chunky texture to it which was just perfect.

For our entrees, I think most of us ended up getting one of two things: the first was a Herb Crusted Tofu with Mushrooms Marsala which was served with garlicky mashed potatoes and a crimini mushroom marsala (the sauce was divine!)

And the second favorite entree of the night: the Butternut Squash Stuffed Ravioli – handmade ravioli stuffed with butternut squash, ricotta and pecorino cheeses, caramelized onion, and crushed hazelnuts, and was drizzled with a brown butter sauce.

And of course, we couldn’t pass up dessert! We ordered two for the table – first: The Sunken Chocolate Souffle with Coffee Ice Cream

The souffle was dense and had the richness of dark chocolate, the center of the cake was molten and melty, and the coffee ice cream was a perfect complement to the warm cake πŸ™‚ Our second dessert was absolutely amazing too – The Marscarpone CheesecakeΒ  with Pecans and Dulce de Leche Sauce…

O.M.G. Seriously – the most amazing cheesecake ever!! The cheesecake itself was fluffy and light, had the hint of vanilla and was baked on a shortbread sweet crumb crust. Toasted pecans were delicately placed on top, and the caramel sauce was to die for! All in all, an amazing meal that was the perfect start to a great weekend πŸ™‚ I can’t believe our trip to Portland is already over! It totally flew by – we had a wonderful time and a great Thanksgiving.

We got back late last night, and have spent most of today doing laundry, errands, and groceries (to prep for the awesome dinner I’m making tonight – Corn & Quinoa Chowder! but more on that later). I’m definitely trying to enjoy the rest of the long weekend as much as possible (and we’re seeing Harry Potter tomorrow which I am so excited about!)

Stay tuned for a post on the dinner I’m making tonight, and don’t forget to enter my giveaway today as well – you only have until tomorrow at noon! πŸ™‚

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Amazing dinner at Chez Panisse!

On Monday, my amazing husband passed his oral exam for his PhD. After 3.5 years of studying, he finally moved from PhD student to PhD candidate! Hooray! πŸ™‚ So, to celebrate, I decided to surprise him with dinner at Chez Panisse, which is seriously one of the most amazing restaurants in the Bay Area.

For those of you who don’t know, Chez Panisse is an all organic, locally sourced restaurant with an inventive menu that changes daily. Alice Waters is a pioneer in her field – and I greatly respect her for the work she’s trying to do for the school lunch program and The Edible Schoolyard (but that’s for another post πŸ™‚ ). My husband was obviously super excited when he heard that we were going to Chez Panisse. I’m not usually good at keeping surprises for months at a time (I had to make this reservation months in advance!) But this time I did – which made it even more of a surprise for him πŸ™‚ Our reservations were for the cafe upstairs, because there were more vegetarian options for us there.

I love the warm, inviting ambiance of this restaurant! We were already starving when we got in, so we went right to ordering – after they brought out their fluffy, warm, homemade bread with the tastiest all-natural butter I’ve ever had!

Our first entree was the hand cut herb pasta with wild mushrooms – which sounds simple, but it was the most flavorful pasta I’ve ever had! I’m pretty sure they added a lot of garlic and a variety of herbs to the sauce, along with what was probably a healthy helping of butter and olive oil πŸ™‚ Soo tasty though!

I also ordered a ginger orange soda – which looked like rose wine when it came out! It was a really interesting drink – the soda wasn’t too sweet at all – it was actually quite refreshing with a nice hint of ginger to it.

But back to our entrees. In addition to our pasta, we ordered the pizza with wild nettles and pecorino. My husband didn’t even know what nettles were before the pizza came out – and I had only had them once before and didn’t really enjoy them (nettles can be kind of bitter if they aren’t cooked properly). But these nettles were crispy and really flavorful – with hints of garlic, crushed red pepper and probably a host of other spices that I couldn’t identify πŸ™‚

Yummy! And of course, we couldn’t leave without ordering dessert. We ended up getting the Sierra Beauty Apple and Cranberry Tart with Cinnamon Ice Cream. The tart wasn’t too sweet and you could really taste the apples and whole cranberries! The cinnamon ice cream just had a hint of cinnamon and when paired with the sweet crust of the tart and the “tart” filling, rounded out the dessert perfectly.

As usual, and amazing meal at Chez Panisse! My husband and I left very full, content, and happy. And of course – he was relieved that his exam was over! It was the perfect dinner celebration πŸ™‚

 

 

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Saturday in SF & Dinner at The Plant Cafe!

This weekend, the weather was GORGEOUS, so my husband and I decided to take a trip to SF to see The Social Network (which yes, we STILL hadn’t seen yet) and have dinner at The Plant Cafe which is an all organic, healthy, veggie/vegan friendly restaurant in SF. I hadn’t eaten there before but I had heard good things, and on both fronts (the movie + the dinner) we were not disappointed! Since the weather was so nice, we decided to be green and take BART into the city. After a 45 min train ride, we arrived at Powell street!

I love how my husband uses a Yahoo backpack when neither of us work there (although I used to so I guess that’s his excuse πŸ˜› ). Right after we got out of the station we came across these street performers who were doing some amazing things with popping & locking (and borderline contortion-ism)

We headed down Market Street to our first destination – The Metreon!

While my husband was buying tickets, I took pictures to entertain myself…

We saw the 4:40 show! And it was awesome. Really really interesting and entertaining movie – totally worth the crazy price of movie tickets these days. When we got out of the theater, the weather was still gorgeous! At times like these, I love SF at night. We walked to our dinner destination which was on the Embarcadero

SF at night really has a charm to it that no other city does

I love the Ferry Building!! πŸ™‚ Soon after the Ferry Building, we made it to dinner

This restaurant had a wonderful, warm, organic, rustic feel to it. Because the weather was so nice (and they had heated lamps!) we decided to sit outside where we waited for my brother to join us for dinner.

We were sitting right next to the water at Pier 3! And we had awesome views from our table…

So after basking in the warmth of the heat lamps, and catching up with my brother a bit, we decided to order. Everything on the menu looked sooo good – it was hard to decide! But we finally settled on 3 different juices to try (this place has amazing, fresh squeezed, organic juices with inventive ingredients like kale and broccoli in them!), an appetizer, and 3 entrees. When our drinks came out we were really excited because they were so colorful!

My husband’s orange drink is the Immune Builder – carrot, apple, ginger and lemon

My green drink is the Good Start – it had kale, celery, broccoli, apple and ginger

My brother’s magenta drink is the Healthy Sunrise – carrot, beet, orange, apple and lemon

All three were absolutely amazing – you could tell that they literally just ground the ingredients to a pulp and made our juices – and that nothing else was added to them. All were super refreshing in their own ways, but if you like drinks on the sweeter side – my brother’s was probably the sweetest of the three. Now, on to our appetizer course!

We ordered the Grilled Flatbread with cumin carrots, pickled beets, garlic hummus and hung yogurt!

We were all hungry by this point, so of course we were excited to get our appetizer πŸ™‚ It was the perfect way to start out the meal! The flatbread was warm and freshly baked, with the perfect balance of a crispy outside with a soft and fluffy inside. The dips were all different in their flavors – the yogurt was thick and creamy, reminded me of Greek Yogurt; the beets were slightly tart but the pickled flavor wasn’t overpowering, and the cumin carrots were really creamy and had a smoky flavor. But I think my favorite was the garlic hummus. It was spicy but not too hot, had the great garlic flavor running through each bite and was just a little chunky which made me think it was made from scratch!

For our entrees, we ordered: The California Plant Burger…

The burgers are house made from lentils, mushrooms, beets, cashews and bulgar wheat. The California version has avocado and white cheddar cheese added to it, and you have the option to get it served on whole wheat bread instead of the bun (which usually has more calories than 2 slices of bread!) It’s also topped with roasted onion, lettuce, tomato, and aioli (which I got on the side of course!) and served with roasted potatoes and mixed greens. The burger was spicy and full of flavor, and the meal overall was excellent – probably my favorite dish of the night!

Next up… Pumpkin Seed and Corn Meal Crusted Tempeh served with coconut mashed yam, sauteed seasonal vegetables, and avocado and tomatillo salsa verde!

I was really impressed with the Tempeh in this dish. Usually I don’t even like Tempeh – but this was cooked so perfectly and with the combination of the salsa verde + sweet potatoes in each bite – it was divine! The sweet potatoes were equally impressive – they were so creamy I could have sworn there was cream in them – but they were vegan so of course they didn’t have cream in them πŸ™‚

My brother ordered the market fish of the day which was the halibut – it was served on a bed of kale with some sort of a lemon sauce underneath

I can’t speak to the flavors – but I think he was pretty happy with it…

And of course, we couldn’t leave without ordering dessert! We got the cranberry sorbet with pumpkin sandwich cookies – which were gluten free and vegan!

The sorbet was nice and tart, and provided a really great complement to the sweeter, soft, creamy cookies. It was a great, light way to round out our meal. Thanks Plant Cafe for a great meal – we’ll definitely be back again!

Needless to say, we were really happy and relaxed after we were done, and the weather was still super nice outside! So I had my brother take a picture of my husband and me with the pier in the background.

We felt like we were on vacation! All in all, it was the perfect day. Great food, wonderful company and amazing weather – we couldn’t have asked for anything more. πŸ™‚

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FoodBuzz Festival Day 1!

This weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the annual FoodBuzz Bloggers Festival in San Francisco! This was my first “official” blogger event EVER – so needless to say I was both excited and nervous (since I only knew some of my fellow bloggers by their blog names, and didn’t know anyone in person!) Luckily, I had nothing to worry about – because food bloggers are some of the NICEST people in the world! The reception kicked off at the Herbst Pavillion at Fort Mason Center – an awesome venue that we had all to ourselves!

As soon as I walked into the building, I came upon the most amazing cupcake display – courtesy of Mission Minis

It took me a while to realize that the display spelled out Foodbuzz! On my way to our table I was distracted by the hors d’oeuvres that were passing me by so it took me about 10 min to walk 10 feet πŸ™‚

When I finally made my way to our table, I found the most delicious fruit and cheese plate, from Frog Hollow Farms

The grapes on this plate were the juiciest, sweet grapes I’ve ever eaten! It almost tasted like I was drinking grape juice out of the grapes! It took a lot of self control not to devour the entire cheese plate (I mean there were 9 of us at our table!)

One of the coolest parts about the first night was the Foodie gift exchange. It was a great way to kick off the Festival and a fun way to get to know fellow food bloggers! Andrea from High/Low Food/Drink gave me an AWESOME gift from Chelsea Market!

After the gift exchange, it was time to EAT. Some of my favorites from the night – first up – Vegan Paella!

Tacolicious was there with the most amazing open faced vegetarian tacos. I love their creative salsas too!

And Curry Up was serving Kati rolls as well as Paneer in a bowl!

By the end of the night, I was totally STUFFED, but it was well worth it! I said bye to a few newfound friends like SpicesBites, FoodFitnessFashion, and OperaGirl and headed home for the evening. I was full, warm, happy and really looking forward to Day 2 of the festival! Stay tuned for that post – if you thought there was a lot of food during Day 1, wait until you see my Day 2 post! πŸ™‚

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Evvia Restaurant, Palo Alto – A wonderful dining experience!

This weekend, my husband and I went to Evvia for dinner – a Greek inspired restaurant in the heart of the Silicon Valley. We had been to their sister restaurant in San Francisco – Kokkari – a bunch of times and loved it, but we had never tried Evvia before. As we walked down Emerson Street towards the restaurant, I was really excited – if Evvia was anything like Kokkari, I knew we’d be in for a treat. Luckily, they did not disappoint! The warmth of the restaurant was felt as soon as we walked in the door – which is helped by their rustic, wood decor and ambient lighting. Our waiter greeted us immediately, helped us in choosing two excellent wines and made recommendations that were helpful to us (as vegetarians). The service was prompt and efficient, but friendly – we never felt like we were being rushed. And the food was excellent! Below are the pictures from our meal and the dishes we ordered. If you’re ever in Palo Alto, I’d highly recommend checking out Evvia, especially if you like Greek food with a twist. Enjoy the photos!

We started our meal with a Green Lentil Vegetable Soup, garnished with olive oil. Super flavorful, hearty but still light enough that we were able to enjoy the rest of the meal! The restaurant also split the soup into two bowls for us since we were sharing it, which I thought was a nice touch.

We also ordered crispy zucchini cakes, served with cucumber & mint yogurt as an appetizer. They were perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside with the wonderful texture of shredded zucchini on the inside. The yogurt sauce was a perfect cooling accompaniment to the dish. I think this might have been my husband’s favorite meal of the night!

Oh, and did I mention the wine?? We ordered a glass of the Velio, Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie ’08; and a glass of the Alpha Estate, Axia, Amyndeon ’06 (a red wine similar to a Syrah). Both were excellent. Here’s my husband digging into the soup with the wine glasses on our table πŸ™‚

For our entree, we had the herbed ravioli with heirloom cherry tomatoes, pesto, pine nuts & feta. Note – this dish looks small (only 4 pieces of ravioli) – but it’s actually super filling and very flavorful! For one person it’s definitely enough. For two people though… we were still hungry πŸ™‚ So we ordered another dish – The Evvia Pita with caramelized onions, Kalamata olives, tomatoes, myzithra cheese & Greek basil. We really liked the pita – the sweetness of the onions and what tasted like a honey/wheat dough was balanced well with the saltiness of the olives and cheese. This was a great way to end our meal – the pita totally hit the spot and filled us up!

For dessert, we decided to try the Galaktoboureko, which is aΒ traditional phyllo wrapped vanilla bean semolina custard with pistachio ice cream. It sounded a bit odd, but oh my GOD it was AMAZING. The perfect balance of flavors and a really unique dessert! Note – they also have a healthier dessert option which is the homemade Greek yogurt served with dried fruit, walnuts and honey on the side – which I ordered out of curiosity and that was really good too. But if you’re looking for a real DESSERT – try the Galaktoboureko – I promise you’ll love it πŸ™‚

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Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco – A Culinary Adventure!

Millennium Restaurant has always been one of my favorite places to eat in San Francisco – it’s an upscale, gourmet, all-vegan restaurant with unique, creative dishes and a menu that constantly changes. I have never ordered the same thing twice there – which makes it an even more fun place to eat πŸ™‚ What I also love about them is they’re committed to using healthy, organic, fresh, seasonal ingredients and turning them into beautiful dishes that are as exciting to the eye as they are to your tastebuds! I would bet that even meat lovers would enjoy this restaurant. Last night, we went there for my husband’s birthday – and it certainly did not disappoint!

Below is a sampling of what we ordered, and pictures from our culinary adventure – hope you enjoy them!

Appetizers

We started with an Indian Spiced Red Lentil Soup infused with warm spices and a dash of coconut milk on top. It was a great way to start off the meal – reminded me a little bit of Indian Daal and Sambar mixed – with a Thai fusion twist. Both warming and simple, it was a perfect balance to the cold SF weather outside.

We also ordered the Black Bean Torte made with a whole wheat tortilla, caramelized plantains, smoky black bean puree, pumpkin-habanero papazul, cashew sour cream, and strawberry salsa. The torte just melts in your mouth as soon as you bite into it – with the flavors of the plantains and black bean puree seamlessly melding together. The salsa and papazul add a spicy kick, adding an element of surprise to every bite.

Entrees

We were really excited, and ordered four entrees from the menu. Luckily, we were so hungry and they were so tasty that we finished all of them! First up… the Indian Spiced Potato Cake with cardamom scented grilled eggplant puree, chestnut lima bean coconut saag, tamarind-tomato chutney, pickled fennel and a cherry tomato salad. In the picture below, you can see that the cherry tomato salad is on top of the potato cake. They also added a “pakora” on the side – which is like a vegetable fritter. The tomato chutney added a nice sweet and spicy flavor to the dish, and the saag was cooling against the spiciness of the potato cake.

Next up, the Peach and Pecan Glazed Tempeh with a peach & molasses glaze, a seared white corn grits cake, roasted green chile cashew cheese, seared broccoli rapini, a peach-ginger chutney, and pickled okra. I’m not usually a fan of tempeh, but this one was amazing! It had a very earthy and nutty quality – and the texture was absolutely perfect against the creaminess of the white corn grits cake.

Then we moved on to the Roasted Corn Masa Cake with pozole, caramelized fennel, pinquito beans, tomato confit and exotic mushrooms. It was served with seared kale, mole negro and an avocado-jicama relish. This one might have been my favorite of the night, just because of the strong, bold mexican flavors incorporated with such unique ingredients! The hominy in the pozole was excellent, and the beans were so cute and tiny! I’m also a big fan of avocado so no surprise that I loved the relish πŸ™‚ And given that I’m a health nut, I was estatic to see kale incorporated into this dish!

Lastly, we had the Sesame Seed Crusted Tofu in yellow coconut curry with roasted corn, Japanese eggplant, bok choy, squash, Bhutanese red rice, stone fruit and chile de arbol sambal. It was served with a Thai basil cucumber salad. This was a great light and airy dish – the Thai and Asian inspired flavors binded the dish together, and the tofu was super flavorful and had great texture!

After all this – you can imagine – we were stuffed! But in a very good way πŸ™‚ We also had amazing wine to pair with our meals, and finished off the night with one dessert shared by all – a caramel torte served with a coffee flavored sorbet – which was the perfect way to end the night! Needless to say, this was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in a long time – I think Millennium might have even outdone themselves from the last time I ate there – which is definitely a feat! My husband walked out of the restaurant happy, relaxed and very full – it was the perfect birthday dinner πŸ™‚

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