Tuesday, October 25, 2011

SLO Ride...Take It Easy (part 1)

I just got back from an amazing road trip to San Luis Obispo and am blown away by the beauty of the central coast. When I was younger, maybe 8 years old or so, my parents took my sister and I on a road trip up the coast all the way to San Francisco. We stopped in SLO and stayed at the Madonna Inn and visited Hearst Castle. We continued through Monterey California and went to the famous aquarium there. Then ended the trip in Marin County where we explored San Fransisco for the first time. It was an awesome trip and many flash backs and memories resurfaced for me over this past weekend. The difference is the first time around I probably didn't even look at the scenery along the way as I am sure I couldn't see out the window and kept asking my parents the famous road trip question "Are we there yet"?
Well this time I could see out the window. All the top surf spots along the coast were pointed out to me with excitement by him. The foggy coast and sunny inland mountains were breathtaking. The vineyards along the way were shinning like gold with the sun light hitting them. I don't remember any of that the first time around.Our first stop was C'est Cheese in Santa Barbara. It' s not located on the "touristy" State Street, which is what I think makes this place so great. It was slammed with locals stopping in for lunch and getting their hands on a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches and fresh tomato soup.We ordered the Signature Grilled Cheese which was filled with a blend of 3 cheeses - Appenzeller, 4-year aged cheddar, and mozzarella. Check out the the cheese melting out of the side of this grilled cheese. YUM! You can check out the full menu here.
Michael and Katheryn Graham are the young owners of C'est Cheese for 8 years now and we got to meet Katheryn who is the sweetest and was busy running around with the staff helping customers as Michael was grilling those grilled cheese sandwiches on the panini press.
C'est Cheese
825 Santa Barbara St. Santa Barbara, Ca.Our second stop for lunch was at Scarlet Begonia.
Another hot spot that is not on State Street but in Victory Court on Victoria Street. We learned Scarlet Begonia has only been open for 1 month. We found it doing some research on-line before our trip. No website, but while checking out lunch spots in Santa Barbara we noticed a picture on-line of the patio. That's all. No reviews of food. Just that. And we went. Wouldn't you?Henry Ramos is the chef who we met and his food is simple, organic, local, and delicious. Our waitress Nicole was the best we had the whole trip. We wished we could clone her at every place we went too. We wanted to share the Cauliflower Curry Soup and sandwich but Nicole was on the look out for us mentioned the sandwich is big so how about a taste of the Cauliflower Curry Soup so we can try it and share the sandwich. Oh and suggested to order half fries and half salad with the sandwich. It was the perfect lunch. The soup was so flavorful. I savored every bite. I want to go back for a large bowl of it. The sandwich we picked was simply the best thing I have had in a long time.
The Short Rib Sandwich was filled with short rib, garlic coleslaw, horseradish creme, onion rings served on fresh soft ciabatta bread. Amazing and the perfect size to share. Oh and the homemade ketchup needs to be mass produced and bottled stat! backside.Other options on the local, organic menu that stood out were:
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with blueberry compote and maple syrup
Red Quinoa Oatmeal - toasted almonds, apricots, maple syrup and ricotta
Mascarpone Polenta - two poached eggs, fried artichoke, cipollini onions, prosciutto
Tomatillo Chicken Enchiladas - avocado, radish, cilantro, black bean, sour creme, fried egg
Pesto Chicken Sandwich - oven dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, mozzarella, focaccia
Smoked Salmon Flat bread - red onion, cucumber, dill tzatziki, radish sprouts
Chicken Pot Pie - snap peas, carrots, fingerling potatoes, puff pastry

Also Scarlett Begonia is a very dog friendly place and you even get a an organic treat for your pup. Just ask Kiki the pup from the french store next door.Also the menu's options for kids looks splendid too with variety! Must be due to the owner Crista Fooks being a mother.
Scarlet Begonia
11 W. Victoria St., #10, 770-2143, Santa Barbara, Ca.
We scored in Santa Barbara! Could our trip have gotten any better then this?
to be continued...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tricks & Treats

Halloween is just a couple weeks away and I am sure some of you are gearing up for it. Maybe your throwing a Halloween Party or maybe you will be attending one. Costumes are being made, rented, and pumpkins are carved and ready to light. Halloween is on a Monday night so
this year I plan to stay in, make dinner for him, pass out candy to all the kids that come trick-or-treating. A scary movie flick will be playing on the tube and dinner will probably consist of Brains & Eye Balls (Spaghetti & Meatballs).
Here are some awesome tricks & treats for your spooky holiday coming up! I think this might be the first post I have posted where you can lose your appetite! So READ AT YOUR OWN RISK and have a happy & safe Halloween.

How nasty are these? I bet your kids will love them. Bloody Band-Aid Cookies made out of graham crackers, white frosting and red decorators gel!Kitty Litter Cake - this cracks me up! Those deuces are made out of melted tootsie rolls! Hilarious! You can get the recipe here.I love these Googly Eye Cupcakes made from a simple mix and decorated with gummy eye balls, licorice, jelly fish and marshmallows. Eyeball Caprese Salad
For a sophisticated Halloween?
Ghosts On A Stick - These look so good. Made out of pears and Vanilla Candiquik
Eye Ball Cake Pops!
The best for last if you ask me!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Le Magnifique Cafe Madeleine

French food is the game and Cafe Madeleine is her name. This french cafe located in South Park is serving up Illy coffee, tea, pastries, crepes, salads and panini's. This is one of my new favorite spots for breakfast and lunch. No wifi here folks. Its a different kind of cafe. How bout a crepe with chocolate & banana? Or the prosciutto crepe with bechamel, emmenthal cheese, tomato & olives. Or make that into a panini? Or maybe a salad with arugula, walnut, pear, blue cheese, and chicken dressed in a pear balsamic vinaigrette?
Croque Monsieur? Or make it a Madame and add an egg?The first time I went I had the ham panini with Dijon mustard, emmenthal cheese, and tomato. It was heaven. This last time I went I had the much anticipated breakfast panini. My father had it last time I went I told myself when I go back I am having that. I did and I want to go back for it again. The bread is toasty and crisp and filled with a little mayo, Swiss cheese, bacon, arugula and an egg. You would think this would be a thick breakfast sandwich but it is as thin as can be. One of the reasons I love it so much.The cafe itself is really small with some seating inside and a handful of tables outside. Don't let the fact that they have no prep area or a real kitchen steer you out of there. Good thing is they own Vagabond around the corner where they can do most of their prep work! Some of the best meals come out of a small kitchen. Believe me I know. (wink wink)

Word is more Cafe M's are in the works to pop up around San Diego. I hope one near me soon!
M = Magnifique Madeleine!
Cafe Madeleine
2248 30th St. (between Ivy & Juniper)
San Diego

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Summerish Fall

Last night was the most fantastic evening. It consisted of great company of real foodies, food of the best quality ingredients, martini's, wine, and champagne. It doesn't get much better then that.
Even though Summer seems to still be lingering in the air, the menu was influenced by fall and a recent cheese class I just took. But the heat outside didn't stop us from creating some heat in the kitchen. I think Fall is when the real recipes come out of the recipe book, and real cooking starts. It is my favorite time of year for food and it just so happens that cheese is at its best in the Fall too. So I will share with you one of my favorite recipes to make during the fall.
Mac N Cheese
It was paired with a Burgundy Marinated Tri-Tip from Seaside Market in Cardiff, the last of the peppery arugula & cherry tomatoes from his garden tossed in a light Champagne vinaigrette.The mac n cheese was filled with top-notch cheese. Which cost me about $30.00 alone just for the cheese. Worth every penny! The cheese I used was a Quebec vintage 6 year cheddar from Canada which was tangy and sharp and was mixed with a creamy, earthy, nutty Gruyere cheese from Switzerland. The perfect combo for the perfect Mac!The appetizer of the evening was brought by our guests and consisted of the best of the best. Gorgonzola cheese, prosciutto, figs & apples from their garden, walnuts, and homemade fig & flax seed crackers. It was all drizzled with a balsamic honey reduction. It was just a beautiful to eat as it was to look at.Mac N Cheese
kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
4 cups milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 cups grated Gruyere cheese
2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup bread crumbs
olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
Preheat over to 375%
Cook pasta for 6-8 minutes and drain (mix with some olive oil to avoid sticking together)
Heat milk in a saucepan but do not let it boil.
Melt butter in sauce pan and add the flour whisking constantly. Cook for 2 minutes. While whisking add the hot milk and cook till thick for 2 minutes until thick and smooth.Off the heat add cheese, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg and stir until the cheese is melted. Add it to the cooked noodles and add the noodles to a pyrex baking dish. Place the bread crumbs in a bowl and add olive oil until the bread crumbs are lightly wet. Add chopped Italian parsley to the bread crumb mixture. Top the macaroni with a little more cheese and bread crumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden brown and sauce is bubbly.

You can make the mac n cheese a day ahead and refrigerate. Right before cooking it top it with cheese and bread crumbs.
It was an amazing evening indeed! Alright, its time for me to get out and enjoy this hot Summer weather in Fall.
I hope fall is starting out great for you!