Foodie Friday: One week, three restaurants!

On average, we eat out once a month or less, so going out to dinner three times in one week is a pretty big deal.  There was no particular reason for this restaurant extravaganza — not a crazy-busy week, no guests in town, nothing!

Kitchen Kulture
We kicked this spurt off with a Tuesday date night at Kitchen Kulture’s pop-up dinner series (at Local Harvest Café).  The menu is small, especially once you rule out the meat and fish options, but sometimes it’s nice to have decisions made for you.  On this particular night, the veg options were a green tea soba noodle dish and okonomiyaki (a savory Japanese pancake), so we ordered one of each.

The soba noodle dish came out first, and it was delicious.  I make some pretty good soba noodle dishes (toasted sesame oil is the key ingredient), but I particularly enjoyed the crunchy freshness of the bean sprouts and shredded red cabbage in Kitchen Kulture’s version.

The okonomiyaki was . . . interesting.  The menu listed “bonito” and “nori” as ingredients in the dish.  I know that nori is a type of seaweed, and, at a quick glance at the menu, I categorized bonito as a type of seaweed, also.  The dish arrived smelling very fishy, but I rationalized that seaweed can smell and taste fishy.  After I few bites, something clicked, and I realized that, no, bonito is a kind of fish, and our okonomiyaki was topped with dried fish flakes.

Anyhow, maybe this dish is an acquired taste, but neither Matthew nor I were big fans.  At that point, we were pretty full from the soba dish anyway, so we ate about half of the pancake and brought the rest home, not entirely sure we’d eat it, but hating to waste food.  (Once home, I scraped off most of the bonito flakes.)  The next day I offered some to G and was rather surprised when he was totally into it!  Kids — weird!

Pi
Unless you were under a rock somewhere, you probably heard that last Saturday (3/14/15) was Pi Day, and not just any Pi Day, but SUPER Pi Day (3.1415…).  To celebrate the eponymous holiday, local pizza chain Pi had specials all week last week.

Thursday’s special was buy one large pizza, get the second large for just $3.14, so we met up with some friends for a pizza party!  One Shenandoah (which I wrote about here) and one half-Berkeley, half-Western Addition.

Gabriel joined us for this meal, and, once the pizza arrived (he didn’t know why it took sooooo long), was quite content.  Afterward, we enjoyed a bike ride home on a lovely evening.

Sen Thai
On Monday night, we wrapped up our restaurant whirlwind at Sen Thai.  This was our New Year’s Eve date destination, and after a very yummy meal and good dining experience, we wanted to return and share the goodness with Gabriel.

Gabriel was on spring break this week, and our dinner was preceded by a special father-son outing.

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View from the top
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And from outside

Gabriel has been asking to visit The Arch for quite awhile now, and Matthew finally made it happen (at what was apparently the most inconvenient time to visit The Arch, EVER, given current construction work).  I happily sat out for this portion of the day (claustrophobic much?) and just joined them for the food.

We tried one repeat dish (Cashew Nut Noodles) and one new dish (Pad Eggplant).  Both were delicious (and came out very quickly, which is great when dining with kids) — it’s always nice when you try something new and it works out well!  I particularly enjoyed the flavors of the eggplant dish, and, early in the meal, I commented, “The eggplant is a winner” (referring to the dish as a whole).

Gabriel grabbed on to the phrase and spent the rest of the meal chowing down on Thai food and proclaiming, “This broccoli is a winner!”  “This tofu is a winner!”  Sometimes at a restaurant appropriate volume and sometimes not, but pretty darn cute!

 

Foodie Friday: Eating in and making our own

This was going to be one single Foodie Friday post, but it started getting long, so today’s a two-for-one day!

Eating In

For this portion of the post, I thought I’d share a few fun things we’ve played with recently.  Before I reveal the identity of this super purple soup, any guesses???

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First, pink waffles.  I don’t know where he got the idea, but a couple of weeks ago, G requested pink waffles.  I had some powdered beet on hand, purchased over the summer to help intensify the color of his strawberry birthday cake (I ended up using fresh, pureed beet for the cake, since we had some on hand).  In honor of Valentine’s Day, we whipped up a batch of pink waffles this week.  I used our standard recipe with about a teaspoon (?) of powdered beet.  Similar to our green pancakes, the batter has much more color than the finished product.  The powdered beet was a bit clumpy, even after sifting, but that led to some nice pink flecks inside the cooked waffles.

Okay, are you ready for the soup reveal?  I made the purple sweet potato soup with roasted [purple] sweet potatoes, coconut milk, a bit of water, a bit of salt, and a dash of powdered ginger.  This soup followed a more traditionally colored sweet potato soup I made earlier in the week.  The soup from the orange-fleshed potatoes was a bit sweeter, but both were quite tasty (and Gabriel approved!).

Over the past several months, we’ve had a couple of really delicious quiches, including ones at Ken’s Bakery (in Portland, OR) and, locally, at Sweet Art.  We tried to make our own with middling success, and then I saw this recipe in Feast Magazine.  This comes from none other than Pint Size Bakery (just mentioned in my Eating Out post).  We hadn’t actually tried their quiche, but we knew they made delicious baked goods.  We were excited to try this recipe, and it didn’t disappoint!

My personal pastry chef followed the crust recipe, but used our standard whole wheat pastry flour with good results.  I think I used sauteed leeks and a bit of kale in our first quiche.  After that, Matthew made a couple more crusts, which we froze for later use.  Those crusts later became a caramelized onion, asparagus, and sun-dried tomato quiche and a roasted pepper and sun-dried tomato quiche with smoked Gouda.

Making our own . . .

I’ve been making soy milk with the blender method since the beginning of January (I returned the borrowed soy milk maker just before Christmas).  While it’s not quite Silk, I have a pretty good recipe (it’s technically soy-cashew milk), and I’m enjoying not having the packaging waste that comes with store-bought soy milk.  That said, making the last several batches has felt like a chore.  I used up all of the soy beans that I bought back in November for this purpose (as well as all of the old soy beans that I bought when I’d previously intended to make soy milk), and I’m going to take a bit of a break.  If I decide to go back to making it, I think I’ll invest in a machine.

Speaking of reducing packaging waste, I’ve started making peanut butter.   This activity was spurred by the purchase of thirty pounds of peanuts from a food buying co-op to which we belong.  At less than $4 per pound for organic peanuts (they were on sale), I can now make [organic] peanut butter cheaper than I can buy it, and it doesn’t use a new glass or plastic jar every time.

Foodie Friday: Eating out

It’s been awhile since we’ve talked food around here.

We don’t eat out all that much.  In fact, only one item on this list actually involves eating a meal at a restaurant.  We do love our bakery runs, though!  Here are three highlights from the past few weeks.

The salted caramel croissant at Pint Size Bakery.  This delicacy is only available on Saturday mornings, and it doesn’t come out of the oven until 9:30am.  During most of the year, Matthew is well into gardening by that time.  We took advantage of the gardening down-season, and a couple of unseasonably warm Saturdays, to bike over and get our first taste of this treat.  Worth the wait!  We also got to enjoy a couple of their other Saturday-only items: the [savory] hand pie and the brioche cinnamon roll.  It’s probably a good thing that the garden limits our visits.

Dinner at Lulu’s Local Eatery.  The owners of the food truck opened this brick and mortar location last year.  Until last week, our only Lulu’s experience was the food truck, specifically, the food truck on Food Truck Friday.  After the ridiculously long lines and swarming crowds of that event, it was so nice to walk right up to the counter, order from a full menu, and have our food brought out to the table.  We enjoyed the buffalo cauliflower, tater tots, and sweet potato falafel.  After a couple of recent experiences with hovering waiters, I also appreciated the waiter-less, fast-casual dining — no interrupting my meal every three minutes to tell someone that yes, the food was fine, and no, I didn’t need anything.

The Shenandoah Pizza at Pi.  Matthew brought the leftovers of a lunch with his dad home a few weeks ago, and this pizza, a special from the CWE location, totally rocked!  (We reheat pizza in a cast iron pan in our toaster oven, for an almost-as-good-as-fresh taste.)  From their website, the Shenandoah is, “The first in our series of frittata pizzas:
caramelized sweet potatoes, goat cheese, red chiles, baby spinach, agave and eggs.”  The combination is spot on, though beware the red chiles mean that there are some zippy bites.  I don’t think they have this on the menu every day, so I’d call ahead.