Aug 24 2017

Dinner, Books and Carrots

I recently met my girlfriend Kindra for dinner at the Barnes & Noble Kitchen located at Palladio at Broadstone in Folsom, CA. When she suggested it, I had no idea there was a restaurant worth eating at inside this particular bookstore/location. Turns out it is one of three Barnes & Noble Kitchen locations in the U.S. The restaurants feature seasonal, locally sourced food, craft beers and premium wines.

On Kindra’s recommendation, I ordered the Chopped Vegetable Salad with carrots, green beans, roasted beets, cauliflower, feta, pepitas and herbs, served with a green goddess dressing. We had the choice to add chicken or salmon. I added chicken for $4 extra, making the salad $19. Kindra ordered hers with salmon for an additional $7. I now see why she keeps coming back, it was so fresh and hit the spot on the 100+ degree day. I loved that the dressing was on the bottom of the plate, underneath all of the perfectly cut/steamed veggies. I teamed my salad with a glass of Pinot Grigio and instantly thought that it was pretty cool to have a delicious meal, a glass of wine and good conversation knowing that book shopping was to follow. 

I didn’t take any photos of the food or the restaurant… who am I?  I was simply enjoying catching up with a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. Sometimes soaking it all in is better than worrying about getting the right photo for Facebook or a blog post.

After dinner we headed straight for the cookbook section (my happy place) of the store. Kindra knew of a cookbook that she thought I would enjoy. She was right! I LOVED everything about the design of the cookbook, the story the pages told and the simplicity of the recipes. They were vegetarian, they weren’t ingredient heavy and the photography filled me up with school girl crush giddiness. I could not believe that I had not previously heard of Erin Gleeson’s The Forest Feast blog… or her cookbooks.

Erin worked as a food photographer in New York City shooting and styling for cookbooks, magazines, restaurants and top chefs. Her photos were featured in the New York Times and The James Beard Foundation. What? I swear I haven’t been living under a rock. She relocated to CA with her husband for his job – leaving her NY life behind for a cabin in the woods on the edge of the Silicon Valley.

Needless to say, I purchased The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods and I added The Forest Feast Gatherings: Simple Vegetarian Menus for Hosting Friends & Family to my Amazon wish list for a later day. She also has The Forest Feast for Kids: Colorful Vegetarian Recipes That Are Simple to Make – and yes I thought about getting it for my fur kids, ha ha…but the photography and illustrations…they’re so dreamy.

I arrived home and stayed up for hours exploring Erin’s website/blog – admiring her food photography, drooling over her watercolor illustrations and overall vibe of what she is all about. Translation: I totally Instagram, Facebook and web stalked her amazing work.

I could not wait to try one of her recipes. I had a bunch of Trader Joe’s multi-colored carrots in my crisper and there were a few recipes that focused on carrots as the main ingredient, so I tried one of those.

The Forest Feast

Red Roasted Carrots

Slice…Shake…Roast…sounds easy enough.

The Forest Feast

Carrots

Carrots

My favorite storage bags – worth the extra pennies to not have to line up yellow and blue to make green. 

Measure out a half teaspoon of cinnamon, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder and coarse salt. Mix spices well in a bag with 5 or 6 medium/diagonally (oval) cut carrots plus 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Roast at 425°F for 20-25 minutes on a cookie sheet until tender with crispy edges.

My house smelled absolutely amazing from the combination of spices roasting in my oven. I’m usually pretty weak sauce when it comes to spicy things, so I was concerned about the heat from the cayenne. I actually found a different version of her recipe online that used chili powder instead of cayenne. For my first attempt I wanted to be true to the original recipe, with the multi-colored carrots being my only substitute.

The final result – the carrots had a lingering type of heat which the sweetness from the roasting balanced out. I liked it. I ended up trying them with a little greek yogurt for one serving and then some sour cream the next day. Both options tasted good. I do want to try the chili powder next time, another option would be to omit or use 1/2 the amount of cayenne if you are sensitive to spicy foods. I got 4 servings out of the batch and will for sure be making them again.

I’m really looking forward to trying more of Erin’s recipes from the cookbook and her blog. Thank you Kindra for a wonderful evening and introducing me to The Forest Feast.

Foo

Permanent link to this article: http://foodiddy.com/?p=11068

Aug 17 2017

Dim Sum Sunday with Friends

A few Sundays ago we met friends at the Sacramento Executive Airport, not because they were jet-setting in from some distance, more because Dan and I were early for our meet up time and he wanted to watch planes take off and land. Seems like ages ago when he was visiting the airport several times a week while getting his pilot’s license. It was a fairly slow morning, but we did get to see some planes take off and land.

Our friends showed up and we mapped out a plan to head over to Hong Kong Islander on Freeport Blvd. for dim sum. Aaron and Carolyn have been talking about the place for a long time and it was our first chance to tag along. I’ve only been to dim sum in Sacramento a few times and was excited to try a new place. 

Hong Kong Island

Hong Kong Islander

I wish I had noticed that the sun was shining right into my camera, but I was too busy walking to try to get in as soon as they opened the doors at 10:00 am. The line gets very long and that started happening about a 1/2 hour after we arrived. The line was out the door and wrapped down the side of the building as we were leaving to head home.

Hong Kong Islander

The restaurant was much larger than I had expected, but very similar to the other Chinese banquet style restaurants in Sacramento where I’ve attended many fundraiser/event dinners as a result of connections and friendships through my Secret War in Laos Oral Histories Project. 

Hong Kong Islander

Big round tables with lots of gold accents throughout. We were one of the first groups to be seated. I could already spy the carts and servers starting to line up near the kitchen entrance.

Hong Kong Islander

I stuck with tea and water and Dan was happy to get a Coke. We got our tally card (I’m sure there is an official name for it) but basically it’s to track how many small, medium, large, special or kitchen plates your table consumes. Small plates were $2.68 and generally had 2-3 items, medium plates were $3.68, large plates $4.58, special plates $5.28 and kitchen plates were $6.68. We had lots of hash marks on our card, mostly medium, large and special plates.I really don’t think much came on small plates, so expect to pay the slightly higher prices. 

I browsed through the three columns on the menu and Dan and I basically left things up to Aaron and Carolyn when the carts came around. 

Hong Kong Islander

In the far back – Siu Mai (also spelled Shu Mai or shumai) – traditional pork Chinese dumplings, one of my favorite dishes of the day. Shrimp rice balls and shrimp dumplings also filled our table for rounds one and two. Aaron knew going in that I would probably like the Siu Mai… and he was right. 

Dan was a huge fan of the BBQ pork buns. He ended up eating a steamer basket by himself.

We got both beef and shrimp noodle rolls. Long rice noodle sheets wrapped around the beef or shrimp filling with onion… I liked both rolls, but preferred the texture of the shrimp roll because of the whole pieces of shrimp. The sauce was a sweet soy sauce, but I’ve also had noodle rolls served with oyster sauce – I like the soy better. These are often served for breakfast with hot tea. I thought they might be fun to make, but then I started watching YouTube videos and got a little scared of the process. Mostly because they were big scale restaurant size… I’d have to make a much smaller “at home” version. 

Deep fried wontons (the round pouch size were shrimp and the others were BBQ pork) and BBQ pork puffs. Lots of BBQ pork items and we were all o.k. with that. 

Lo Mai Gai – Sticky rice with beef, wrapped in lotus leaves. 

A medium plate of steamed pork ribs.

Baked pineapple custard buns, rice noodle rolls and fried pork dumplings in the background.

We ordered too much out of the gate and we all got full before the majority of the fried items and dessert carts rolled through. My strategy for next time will be to sample one thing from each plate, rather than going back for seconds and thirds on my favorites. I would have liked to have tried more items, including some of the desserts. I’ll save this strategy for next time with a bigger group.

Carolyn’s tip for everyone is to make sure to order from the carts that are full of similar items, not the ones that have a big variety… since those are the leftovers from the first cart runs and aren’t as hot. 

I did feel like the carts kept coming, which is much different than previous experiences I’ve had at other dim sum restaurants. The servers were attentive and happy to fill up our table with plates and steamer baskets. I think location is key, where you sit has everything to do with how often the carts come around.

It was a fun way to spend a Sunday and I jokingly said as we left – now we won’t need to eat until tomorrow. Well… that became a true statement when I skipped dinner. Yes, I was THAT full. 

Thanks Aaron and Carolyn for another adventure in the books – or in this case, on the blog. 

If you haven’t checked this place out – you should.

Hong Kong Islander
5675 Freeport Blvd
Sacramento, CA 95822

Foo

Permanent link to this article: http://foodiddy.com/?p=11024

Aug 09 2017

The Rind Patio Preview

It’s once again been way too much time in between posts. Work and life in general have been busy and my free time has been limited. I sure do miss this place in between posts. I realized over the weekend when going through photos that I never blogged about the opportunity I got to join my girlfriend Kristen at The Rind for a soft opening/preview of their new outdoor patio space. Kristen won a contest – which is not surprising because she wins everything when it comes to contests – movie tickets, concert tickets, meet and greets, etc… no complaints here, because I’m often on the +1 end of things. 

The Rind

The Rind

Cheese. Wine. Beer.  – My kind of place. I had heard very good things about The Rind’s mac-n-cheese and I knew that was going to be on my list to try. We had tasted one of their grilled cheese sandwiches at the 2017 Sacramento Grilled Cheese Festival and loved it, so trying a different version was also another thought we had going in.

The Rind

We were greeted at the door and the hostess got us checked in for the patio preview. The patio was full when we got there, but it wasn’t too long before we were seated and greeted by the owners.

The patio space is a great addition and the owners talked about adding some plants where the stairs are. I recently went back and those haven’t been installed yet – but we’ve also broken some heat records this summer, so that might explain why. I think a wall of succulents would look cool in the space. 

The Rind Sacramento

We were offered complimentary glasses of Tre Donne wines to start. 

We both went with the Gavi di Gavi over the Darc and it was delicious! Our server gave us some background and all I remember was her mentioning hints of apples and pears – I was a bad blogger who didn’t take notes and I’m too lazy to GTS right now. I’ve said it here before, I enjoy a good glass of wine, but I’m definitely not a connoisseur and don’t ever plan to be. I usually rely on wine loving friends to help with my choices. A good wine label also draws me in – it’s the designer in me. I love and can appreciate good branding/design. 

The Rind Sacramento

Cheers to the contest queen, much needed girl time and lots of cheese to come!

The Rind Sacramento

The Rind’s menu features organic and locally sourced products as well as humanely raised meats. From their food menu to their cheese, wine, and beer menu, they are aiming to be as “Farm to Fork” as they can with the changing seasons. 

We ended up sharing two items – the Twisted Classic Grilled Cheese with Prosciutto and the Not Your Mom’s Mac-n-Cheese with Pulled Pork.

The Rind Sacrmento

Melt in your mouth amazing. It was a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The people watching was great due to Burger Patch Pop-Up in the building next door. I love outdoor patio spaces and I think this one is a great opportunity for guests to enjoy our beautiful Sacramento sunshine – when it’s not 100+ degrees. The patio is located between buildings, so I think that will help with shade for sure. 

Thanks again Kristen for letting me be your +1 – it only took a few months to actually blog about it. Ha-ha. If you are a cheese lover, you must check out The Rind – located at 1801 L St #40 in Sacramento, CA.

And now I want mac-n-cheese, the curse of blogging months after the fact. 

Foo

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