Monday, March 30, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I am not much of a eater when I first wake up in the morning. It takes me a few hours and a couple cups of coffee for me to really want to eat something. I know that this is not good, in fact a terrible way to fuel your day. So I turned to my little friend, Muscle Milk Light to help me start my day off better. No sugar added, 100 calories, 3 grams of fat and 15 grams of protein later I feel a little more prepared to tackle my day. I chose the Chocolate Mint flavor, and it is just divine. I highly recommend this shake for sustained energy throughout your day!
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
San Benito County Farm Day is put on for local 3rd graders to learn about agriculture in the County. 5-A-Day the Color Way was a Nutrition Information presented by Tanimura & Antle's Jennifer Dassel. (Who is a guest blogger here at Melissa Good Taste). Yum, tasty fruits and veggies! I was a classroom guide and had a fantastic time leading the kids around through the many demonstrations. From livestock, tractors, a veterinarian, a farrier to even a bee keeper! There was a lot to see and do. What a day! Congratulations to the committee and Farm Bureau for a great event. I am sure the 3rd graders will remember it forever.
Monday, March 23, 2009
By the way, CAFE ELLA has updated their menu and there is a TON of new stuff on the menu... including: 24-Hour Tomato and Avocado, Baked Brie with B&R Apricots, Sun dried Tomato and Chicken Pizza, and Stuffed Chicken Breast. Everything sounds so wonderful! I was officially the first diner when they opened and I was the first diner to this new menu! I camp outside and wait until they open everyday ;)
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I decided on the Original yogurt with my two sides: Shaved milk chocolate and almonds. I enjoyed it, but am not sure why people are obsessed with this stuff.
Us all rested up and relaxed from the day at the Spa. Now time to make our 9pm reservation at Sino's - just a 5 minute walk from the Hotel Valencia.
Sino had a wonderful drink menu. Starting clockwise: Elena ordered the Ecstasy - Absolut Peach Vodka, Peach Liqueur and sparkling wine. Amanda ordered the Dirty Dirty Martini - Kettle One Vodka, olive juice and hand stuffed blue cheese olives. I ordered my usual Mojito - this one made with Tangueray Rangspur Gin, fresh lime juice and mint leaves. Last but not least, Kelly ordered the Red Head in Bed - Strawberry Smirnoff, muddled strawberries, lemon sour, simple syrup and Sprite.
These are Vegetable Egg rolls, we did not order these but they placed them on our table. They said it was their mistake but allowed us to enjoy them anyway. They were great! My favorite of the night!
These are the Maine Lobster & Prawn Pot stickers with Black Vinegar Dipping Sauce. I wanted these to be delicious, I really did. I was not impressed. The dipping sauce was very good though.
All in all our experience at Sino's was a good one. The inside was packed and they have very LOUD music pumping in the bar area. We sat in the very back of the restaurant and still were having trouble holding a conversation amongst the noise. The restaurant turns into a nightclub and as we were leaving there was a line about 30 people deep to get in! The food was hit and miss, pricey but it was a cool space. I now know what to order and what to stay away from. The service was decent for it being so packed. I would return. 1.75 thumbs up for awesome atmosphere.
It was past noon when we arrived but Mimosas still sounded delicious. They did not fail!
Elena & Kelly
Amanda & Melissa
Elena's order: Heirloom Beet Salad with Wild Rocket Arugula, Toasted Hazelnuts, Ricotta Salata Cheese, Citrus Vinaigrette and a side of Crispy Monterey Calamari. She raved that the calamari was the best ever.
Amanda's order: Egg Bruschetta . 2 Fried Eggs on Grilled Artisan Bread, Crispy Bacon, Balsamic Tomato Relish & Sliced Avocado. She loved this dish however, a too healthy of a schmear of mustard threw off the taste she was hoping for.
All in all we had a lovely time at this little bistro. We started off outside on the sidewalk sitting at quaint table. The weather started to get nasty and so half way through we moved inside. The staff was very accommodating and very sincere. The meal was a smidge pricey but what do you expect on Santana Row. Would I return? Maybe. I want to check out all the rest of the restaurants on the Row first though. 1.5 thumbs up.
So my girlfriends decided to get together for a total GIRL weekend. We met up at the Hotel Valencia on Santana Row in San Jose. We planned on having a leisurely lunch on Saturday at a restaurant on the Row. After lunch, heading over to the Burke Williams Spa to get facials, massages and bath treatments. After all that relaxation, we were then to enjoy a fabulous dinner at Sino, a happening restaurant also on Santana Row. After dinner, float on into the V Bar and enjoy a final beverage before retreating to our fabulous room and catching some Z's. Wake up Sunday morning and indulge in Hotel Valencia's complimentary breakfast at Citrus. WOW! Sound fantastic or what?
Friday, March 20, 2009
We were immediately seated at a table by the window. It was a good spot for people watching. I am just going to throw out there that there are some strange people who walk along those sidewalks. Could it be the path to the train? Interesting to say the least. The waiter came up to our table and asked if we would like any cocktails or wine. We politely answered, "No, thank you." His attitude then took a 180. He seemed a little angry that we did not want any alcohol. Has anyone ever had this experience? Strike one. The waiter came back with our unleaded drinks and took our order by grunting, "You ready?" The waiter never came back until our food was ready, however - I did see him in the corner, hiding behind a pillar eating pieces of bread staring at everyone. That was way weird. Strike two.
Our food finally came after tables who arrived after us got their food. Strike three? Onward... Amanda ordered the Pizza Fradiavola - Mozzerella, tomato sauce, Italian sausage, mushrooms, bell peppers, red onions, and spicy pepperoncio oil. She really liked it! Elena had a slice, and agreed it was really good. Elena's order was the Lasagna Ferrarese - Pasta sheets layered with meat ragu, porcini mushrooms, parmesan and bechamnel, then baked. When asked if she liked what she ordered she responded, "It could have been Stouffer's and I would have had no idea." Enough said. My order was the Polenta Con Goulash. Off the menu it read: "Braised beef with onions, herbs and spices served over soft polenta." What it should have actually said: "Alpo from the can, with no onions, herbs or spices served over bland polenta." Yes, I know that sounds quite harsh but I thought no effort went into the dish. In fact it was kind of insulting, put some pizazz in the dishes you send out!
All in all, the Il Fornaio San Jose is a beautiful restaurant. The restaurant features an exhibition cooking line, two private dining rooms for small groups, 220 seats in the Main Dining room and an outdoor courtyard for cocktails and appetizers. The Hotel Sainte Claire is a National Landmark and I feel the restaurant is not doing them justice. On this evening the food was not THAT bad. I mean I have had worse, but the reason I am so upset about this experience is because of the service. A restaurant can salvage their reputation if the food was not great, by having just really outstanding service. One thumb up for the good company and amazing dining area.
The trailer to the 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs' Movie due out Fall of 2009! I am so excited. If you have children, nieces, nephews, friends who have kids or a kid at heart you will love the book. I am sure the movie will be out of this world.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Monday, March 16, 2009
I was invited to join my two friends, Elena and Amanda to go to San Jose for a day of shopping. Before we set out scouring stores we needed to fuel up and get our energy. On the drive up to San Jose we were deciding on where to go and Elena just raved about "Bill's" so we made plans to meet their cousin and dine there. We pulled in to the 1115 Willow Street location and noticed the place is packed! I mean people outside, inside so full! We put our name down on the list and within 30 minutes we were seated.
It was chilly outside Sunday morning so we were pretty thrilled when the hostess brought us inside to eat. Within 5 minutes of being seated we were greeted by a friendly waiter and menus so large it was going to take a Mimosa to figure out what I wanted to order. The extensive breakfast menu covers all of the classic breakfast traditions, along with an selection of creative specialties. And if you start the day late, you can rest assured knowing that breakfast at Bill's is served all day, along with a wide choice of lunch items, ranging from classic sandwiches, to salads, to our daily chef's specials.
Bill's Famous Mimosa's - Champagne, fresh squeezed Orange Juice, Strawberries served in a giant "bowl." How great do those look? Yummy.
Elena ordered the Poached y Papas - seasoned Potato Skins, topped with shredded Cheddar Cheese, Bacon Bits and Chives, two poached Eggs, covered in our incredible Hollandaise Sauce. Her choice of side were the Home Potatoes. She enjoyed this.
MY ORDER! You all are probably thinking, surprise surprise. But how could I not order the Crab Cakes Benedict? Two Crab Cakes topped with two poached Eggs and a rich Hollandaise Sauce. I elected to not have a side of hash browns or home potatoes and got fresh fruit instead. This was by far the best breakfast I have ever had.
Amanda ordered The Californian Omelette -Avocado, Mushrooms, Green Onions, Tomatoes, Garlic & Sour Cream, Filled and topped with Swiss, Jack and Cheddar Cheese with an addition of bacon. She thought it was good but had a little bit too much sour cream on top.
And last but not least we all shared the Parisienne French Toast -Giant Croissant baked fresh daily in our own oven, dipped in Egg Batter and grilled just right, sprinkled with Powdered Sugar and Cinnamon. How good does that sound? Holy calories it was delicious!!
Wow! I was very impressed with this place. The numbers don't lie. People were waiting outside for up to 45 minutes to eat here! It is that good. What I thought was nice was they offered you complimentary coffee while you waited. I also noticed you can bring your dog with you if you sat outside. That is kind of cool. They have a full bar inside the restaurant as well so you could get your drink on early, if that was your thing. I am sure everything on the menu is delicious so check it out and tell me what your favorite item to order is! Two thumbs up, hands down. This is where you need to go for GREAT breakfast.
My dining companions did their ordering a little different that I did. I ordered my entree ala carte where they went big and did the Seven Course! Seven Courses - Wow! The Complete Seven Course Dinner includes: Salad, Assorted Antipasti, Vegetable Soup, Pasta Meat Sauce, Entrée of choice, Coffee, and Spumoni Ice Cream. So let's go...
Now it is my turn for what I ate! Finally! I ordered what was written on the Special's Board. The Crab Cioppino. Apparently it was not supposed to be on the Board and it was not on the menu for the evening. However, they pulled through and made it for me anyway! How nice of them. It was a full bowl of a whole Crab, Mussels, Clams, Prawns and Calamari all bathed in a tomato based broth. Tasted fantastic! The best cioppino I have ever in my life. Hands down!
All in all, this restaurant was such a treat. The staff was just wonderful. The dining room was completely full when we arrived at 7:15. Our water glasses never were empty and their were people clearing plates consistently. The menu was large and included none Italian food as well for the non noodle lover. My Crab Cioppino was fabulous. The Valet parking also was a nice addition, as parking can be such a chore in San Fran. Would I return? Yes! Thank you Goode family for the opportunity to try out this neat, little landmark! 1.75 thumbs up!