Monday, December 21, 2009


Hey foodies! As you know, I love trying new restaurants and then posting my experience to my blog. I had heard that a new restaurant had changed it's menu prices on me from my first post. That really bummed me out! I had to find out if it was the truth!
So, I did my due diligence and researched it myself.
Welcome back, Monte Carlo...

This is the same exact menu I ordered from on my first visit and the exact same prices. (Click on the menu to make bigger so you can see the prices yourself.) Nothing over $18.95 - and that being Filet Mignon. My favorite order - Salmon a mere $12.95. Everything looking good to me.

First noticeable difference: They served the butter in a plastic tub instead of the original metal container.

My beloved Salmon dish - just as delicious as before.

Second noticable difference: Less "green" on the plate, the chopped up fancy stuff to make my plate pretty wasn't there. Did I miss it? Nope, less stuff to eat around!

And the Monte Carlo Chicken still absolutely a steal at $10.95.

All in all, this second visit may have been better than my first. They cranked up the heater, which was nice. Maybe they didn't notice how cold that building really can get! It is huge! The service was fine. A nice gentleman who knew when to come and clear dishes and fill up waters. And when the bill came I was thrilled. A beautiful meal and completely affordable. Try it for yourself. I am proud to say this place has stayed pretty much consistent thus far.

Paine's Restaurant - Hollister, CA

I have been meaning to blog this place for quite sometime now! I have gone to Paine's many times but either not had my camera, not felt like blogging or just plain forgot I was a food blogger - imagine that! Sunday afternoon after the Cookie Party my Mom and I stopped by my grandma's to drop off some of the cookies we collected. She had gotten back from Mass and was up for an early dinner. We were hungry for something other than sugar.

I know Paine's looks completely empty from this photo but I wanted to tell you how nice they were. They start serving at 4:00pm on Sundays and wandered in just before 3:30 - so when we opened the door they said, "Come on in..." and served us anyway. That was very nice of them.

We looked over our menus and ordered. With our meals came a choice of soup or salad. My Mom and I chose - soup, which was Clam Chowder. It was very good! The best chowder I have had in a long time. Not too creamy, and a nice amount of clams. My grandma had a salad with the Greek dressing. She liked it, such a pretty color dressing!

Grandma's entree is up first. She got the Spaghetti and Ravioli Combination with Meat Sauce. She even got a Manhattan to celebrate her Sunday! She put a pretty good dent in the meal but took more than half home. She said it was very tasty. My mom's meal was the Chicken Marsala and she loved it. She usually always orders it when she comes to Paine's and never is disappointed. Now my order - the Veal Picatta! I bet you thought I was going to order fish! Ha! The veal was amazingly tender, the sauce was wonderful! Think lemon, butter and capers - oh my!! The potatoes were a scoop of pure heaven. A wonderful meal was had by all!

Thank you Paine's for opening up for us! That was sure nice of you since not a lot is open at 3:30 on a Sunday in Hollister! The menu is pretty diverse - a lot of things Greek! I have ordered the Saganaki and it is everything fried cheese should be - fabulous! I have ordered the Red Snapper special, as well as the calamari and I have always been impressed. The soups have always been on point. They have a back and side room that can be rented out for meeting or bands! A lot of fun has been had at Paine's! If you haven't gone, check it out!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Cookie & Cocktail Party

A huge thank you to Amanda, Elena, Kristine and Jeri for the invitation!
The Cookie & Cocktail Party was a huge success!
Each person brought 2-3 dozen cookies, either homemade or specialty bought. A box was given to each person and you went around the table picking up each cookie. There were so many I am sure people went around the tables a few times!

The beverages were quite tasty.
One being a cranberry, orange juice and tequila punch - my favorite!

A portion of the cookies - more showed up later!

Chocolate Mousse with crushed candy canes on top!

My long time buddies - Jessica and Amanda.

Alfonso's - Castroville, CA

Oh the last shopping weekend before Christmas beings out the crazy in every shopper. Parking lots packed, people searching for gifts that no one needs, and the worst of all - trying to find an Ugly Christmas Sweater, you would think it was easy! It is not by the way... I personally stopped at 5 different stores! No luck. On our way home my Mom and I decided to grab a bite.

That brought us to Alfonso's Mexican Restaurant located the Castroville Station Center across the street from the Giant Artichoke and next to the Subway. The interior of the little restaurant is super clean, tables nicely arranged and very cool paintings on the wall.

The chips and salsa were pretty tasty. I salted the chips a bit more - they were very light and airy. The green salsa on the left was my favorite. It was a touch spicy and I enjoyed mixing it into the guacamole we ordered. The red salsa was good too, very fresh.

This was my order - Snapper Vera Cruz. Grilled Red Snapper with sauteed onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, in a light spicy sauce. It was spicy! I am not complaining or anything because I like spice - however, if your sensitive be aware - it will creep up on you! I enjoyed the rice, didn't eat too much of the beans because I was so full from the fish. Great order.

My Mom's order was the Camarones Empanizados - it read: Eight tender prawns fried in egg batter and garlic sauce served with rice and beans. She was a little confused when they came out deep fried without any accompanying garlic sauce... The deep fried prawns were good all the same. They do have really good rice, and she didn't touch her beans either.

All and all, it was a lovely meal. The waitress was very sweet, she and her husband own the little restaurant. He has been a seafood cook for many years so a lot items on his menu incorporate seafood and Mexican food. My two favorite things! I look forward to trying his version of Clam Chowder - that was on the menu! My mom just loves their Fried Artichoke Hearts and their Huevos Rancheros! 1.75 for a nice, affordable meal - with excellent selection!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Starting to feel like Christmas...

The first Christmas Party of the season was last night and now I am craving the Holidays...

Eat too much, drink just enough and please be careful!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Coq Au Vin

I made this!
(With Kathy Good Taste's help of course!)
Think butter, bacon, onions, bacon, brandy, carrots, celery leaves, chicken and Caberent Sauvigon. Sounds like all my favorite things! Brown everything and toss it in a a oven safe pot for 2 hours in the oven! Imagine the goodness! Yum yum!
Sorry Julia, you have nothing on us!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Prime Steakhouse - Ventura, CA

Let me just start off by saying, The Twilight Saga: New Moon was so not what I had hopes for! Long, boring and went round and round. And now if you want to see if they get married you have to watch the next movie! Ha! Oops, sorry for the spoiler! Now, onto the food... While in Ventura, we got hungry - surprise. So we went to Prime Steakhouse located on East Thompson Blvd.

The decor is very appealing. Tan walls, black drapes, low lighting - very chic. We started off with glasses of Greg Norman Pinot Noir - yes, the Greg Norman. Very good wine made by a very good golfer!

Sharing is the name of the game tonight. I shared an appetizer and an entree because they sounded so good! As soon as they read the specials I was sold. The first is the Ahi Seared Tuna with Wasabi Cream. Very yum and very spicy wowza!! The entree was something so delicious words cannot describe my joy. The Halibut was resting in this delicious Habanerno and Cilantro Cream with Basalmic drizzled through out. It just worked. Fish cooked perfectly... dream.

All in all, the experience at Prime was a pleasant one. I would say it is sophisticated, but still fun. Ventura is a beach community and Prime seems to cater to the locals. It is a supper club, with a steakhouse menu extensive wine list, and live music Thursday-Sunday. We were lucky enough to enjoy some jams with our dinner! For excellent ambiance, a delightful menu and attentive service I believe Prime is a wise decision! 1.7 thumbs up!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Monte Carlo - Hollister, CA

When I heard that The Vault was closing and that the Monte Carlo was taking over I have to admit, I was a little skeptical. I was worried it was just going to be a nightclub and the beautiful building would be lost forever. I was happy to hear that they were keeping it a restaurant. So off I went, Melissa Good Taste to seek out the new eats in San Benito County.

Please excuse my terrible photos, I hate it when my camera produces spots! As you can see they removed the half walls from the middle of the restaurant. They did add a upper level around the perimeter which I thought was pretty cool.

The bread was great - warm and toasty. The butter soft, bonus points for that.

Off the menu I ordered the Salmon. It was cooked perfectly and a chimichurri sauce just took it to the next level. You are given a starch choice of baked potato, Mediterranean rice or Mashed. I chose mashed - a very hearty portion was served. Vegetables come with and they were cooked wonderfully. The Monte Carlo Chicken was the next entree and it tasted delicious as well. A perfectly moist chicken breast topped with a mushroom white wine sauce really worked.

There are a lot of things on their menu that I am very excited about! Appetizers of Black Mussels and Clams in white wine sauces. Calamari Strips always get me going as well! Entree wise there are plenty of perfectly priced things: Grilled Prawns, Madagascar Steak, Ribeye, Filet Mignon, a Mixed Grill Plate that includes: Pork loin, beef, lamb and chicken for only $14.95 and that includes a starch and vegetables - Holy Moly! A few pastas caught my as well, Seafood Pasta and Penne with Salmon.

There is nothing over $18.95 on the menu!

In fact there is an: Early Bird Special from 5pm -7pm that includes a green salad, choice of Monte Carlo Chicken, Grilled Salmon or Goulash, and then a dessert of Vanilla Bean Gelato for $11.95!!! That is an amazing deal.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised with the Monte Carlo. The Vault is a good memory but I think the people at the Monte Carlo really want to please. The waitress was a doll, very sweet and willing to make it the best experience possible. I will return because of the quality of food and the price! You really cannot beat it. 1.75 thumbs up for a great evening in Downtown Hollister.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Wow how exciting for the Inn at Tres Pinos! They were selected as the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce Hospitality Business of the Year 2009!

Much thanks to Mike Howard for having one of the premier businesses in the County.
Thank you for all you do!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Starbuck's Creme Brulee Latte

The Holiday Beverages are in full force at Starbucks. I love creme brulee - it is my dessert of choice when we go out. So when I saw the the ad's for the Creme Brulee Latte at Starbuck's I was very excited. I had to drop my mom at the airport early Sunday morning so I figured this would be an excellent time to try one. Holy sweetness! This was a tad too sweet for my liking. It wasn't bad but I was sure glad I got the tall size, which is small in non Starbuck's talk. Was it a winner? Mehh, try it for your self and be the judge.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Doctor Freckle Echol

These are a few recent snaps of my good gelding and Melissa Good Taste of course. His registered name is: Doctor Freckle Echol - Isn't that the cutest?! We call him Freckles...

Isn't he just wicked cool?! I love him.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Phil's Fish Market - Moss Landing, CA

Veer off Highway 1 past the power plant and pull into the Harbor, there you will find Phil's Fish Market. They pride themselves on their local fresh and flown in seafood. You may recognize Phil's from their frequent coverage on the Food Network from both Bobby Flay's Throwdown and the Dean Brothers. I have been here more than a couple of times and have yet to be impressed... will today be the day?

You walk in the restaurant and order at the counter and get a number. It was a cool day and so my Mom elected to stay inside the heated room. Most of the time it is enjoyable to sit outside, when the weather is nice.

Blah, blah, blah, blah! Disappointing clam chowder. Not a lot of flavor there. Pepper, Tabasco and Oyster crackers improved it greatly. There was enough clams, not too many poatoes - my pet peeve. But it just tasted like they used too much flour or cornstarch to thicken it. Paste like...

So this was the main event... the Cioppino. Mom and I tested it out as a potential Christmas Day meal - trying to make it easy since we will be out of town. Take out is always nice, we can all relax! We will not be having this cioppino, it tasted like a big bowl of unsalted tomato juice! Yikes. Not exactly Flavor Town, USA. The seafood was plenty, calamari a tad chewy but everything else was good. I have no idea how this cioppino beat anything Bobby Flay could make! Have you seen that episode on Throwdown?

Two drinks, 2 small cups of clam chowder, a bowl of cioppino to share - $31. Well, we experienced what we needed to experience. I am not a fan of this version of cioppino but to the restaurant's defense, there were a lot of people there ordering it - and they looked like return visitors! Glad, I tried it - try it for yourself!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Salmon Rangoons

Leftovers, leftovers! Tons of stuff still in the fridge! Then I see wonton wrappers sitting on the shelf all by themselves. Sparked an idea...

You can find wonton wrappers in usually your pre-packaged salad section in your grocery store. At least that is where I found mine.

Canned Salmon. Sure, why not? I didn't have any crab on hand so the usual Crab Rangoons just went out the window and I had to improvise.
Chop up mushrooms and green onion pretty finely and saute in butter until brown. Yes, butter. Mix the cooked mushroom/green onion mixture with about half a block of and cream cheese into a bowl. Heck, go ahead and shred some Monterey Jack in there if you have it. Pretty easy. Hodge podge much? Lol.

I put the mixture into the middle of the wonton and sealed the edges with egg whites. Popped it a skillet of hot oil for about a minute on each side. Hot oil crisps these things up quickly. Let them rest on a paper towel for a minute or two and enjoy!

Deep Fried goodness.
Not healthy, but very satisfying after just eating a couple.