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Archive for the tag “ice cream”

Santa Rosa – Bistro 29

Hello, all! I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving! I did! (Get pumpkin pie from Petaluma Pie Company… just sayin’!)

Friday night, I decided that we hadn’t quite stuffed our faces enough on Thanksgiving. So my sister, a few friends, and I all tried out Bistro 29, a French restaurant, located in downtown Santa Rosa. Since I first heard about it, I’ve been wanting to try Bistro 29, especially after how disappointed I was with the frozen-food tasting experience I had at La Gare (what a joke!), so I was ecstatic about my night! We had done a bit of wine tasting during the day, and were very ready for our dinner!

Let’s jump into our meal!

  • Cheese Board – We all agreed on the cheese board as we were in Sonoma County at a French restaurant. I mean, you certainly can’t go wrong with a cheese board here, right? I didn’t catch the name of the third cheese, but one was a bleu cheese, and the second was the famous Humboldt Fog. Served with fruit and honey, this was an excellent starter for our meal.
  • Raclette – This was a potato covered in cheese. It’s kind of hard to say ‘no’ to that! And ordering it was not a mistake! It’s everything you’d want from a cheesy potato. The potato was cooked to perfection and the cheese was so savory!
  • Soupe De Johnnies – I love French onion soup! And at a French restaurant? Even better. This soup included a crêpe instead of bread, a twist to this classic dish. It was delicious! I wouldn’t have minded a little more cheese, though…
  • Sweet Potato Gnocchi à la Parisienne – My friend Angela ordered the sweet potato gnocchi for her dish and this was easily my favorite non-dessert item of the night. Sweet and savory, just like you’d probably imagine!
  • Olive Oil Poached Sardines – Cindy decided on an appetizer for her entree, and she let me have a taste. This is the first item that I could have gone without tasting… The seasoning was great, but the sardines were SO fishy! I know, you’re probably thinking sardines are always fishy, right? NO! Certainly not THAT fishy!
  • Steak Frites – Sarah and Brian both ordered this item. Served with blue cheese butter and cooked to the perfect temperature, this steak was a perfectly seasoned treat. I would recommend it! Except, for myself, I don’t really care for fries in general!
  • Cassoulet – My entree! This was delicious overall, and anyone who likes duck and white beans would surely enjoy it. Looking back, though, I would have gladly traded my meal for the gnocchi!
  • Saigon Cinnamon Creme Brulee – Sarah had the creme brulee for dessert, and it was so incredibly delicious. Of course, it’s kind of difficult to screw up egg yolks, cream, and sugar! The cinnamon was a great touch.
  • Ice Cream and Chocolate Chip Cookie – Brian ordered the assorted ice cream which came with a chocolate chip cookie! I was only able to try the salted caramel ice cream, which was delicious! I would go to Bistro 29 just for that ice cream!
  • Sweet Crêpe w/ Fig Compote – So yummy! I love crêpes, and I especially love them with fruit filling! I ordered a crêpe with fig compote, and it was fantastic! However, I loved my sister’s crêpe way more…
  • Sweet Crêpe w/ Orange-Grand Marnier Butter and Salted Caramel Ice Cream (not pictured) – My sister decided to be a chef and stick caramel ice cream on top of her Grand Marnier crêpe. And it paid off! Even without the ice cream, her crêpe was delicious. That Grand Marnier butter… fabulous! A couple of our party members even suggested that it should be part of the menu! I should have taken a picture.

Food: 4.5 stars – Good food, but I wasn’t quite blown away… except for the desserts!
Service: 5 stars – Impeccable.
Decor: wasn’t quite paying enough attention to give it a rating 🙂

Try it out. You can’t really go wrong. 🙂

Bistro 29 Website
Bistro 29 Yelp Page

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Guerneville – Applewood Inn

Hello everyone, and Happy Halloween! Are you ready for a mind-blowingly delicious (looking) but also mind-blowingly expensive meal (it’s worth it)? I’m sure as hell ready for another one!

Last Friday, Cindy (my sister, for those of you just joining us) visited me to go to Alton Brown Live in Santa Rosa (which was fabulous. The guy is amazingly talented in several different fields). I thought that this may be an excellent opportunity to both knock out another restaurant for my blog and bring her to one of my favorite restaurants in Sonoma County. So I booked a reservation for a party of six for Saturday evening: George (from Abyssinia entry, fake name), Dana, Sarah (from Backyard entry), Mustafa (roommate, fake name), Cindy, and myself.

The first time I went to Applewood Inn was with Mustafa and his then-girlfriend about two years ago, and I was more than impressed. I remember being in such a food coma afterward. Since then, I have been more times than I remember, and I do remember that I have never tasted a dish I didn’t like. Anecdote time: Dana and I and two friends went to Applewood Inn for Thanksgiving last year, which had a fixed menu for the holiday. The starter choices were either a mushroom dish or a persimmon salad. Everyone at the table wondered, who the hell would get the salad? Well, despite everyone at my table ordering the mushrooms, we were still able to taste the salad, and my mind was still blown…

Some pretty relevant information for you all: Mustafa and one of the head chefs, Tyja Taube, run the CSA together at the farm I live on. So I guess you could say I’m biased, but I would love the food regardless because Tyja is a damn good chef.

Let’s get to some food, shall we?

Watermelon with Anchovy, Miyagi Oyster with Caviar, Melon & Armenian Cucumber Gazpacho

Watermelon with Anchovy, Miyagi Oyster with Caviar, Melon & Armenian Cucumber Gazpacho

The first dish we (each) received featured three items which looked beautiful, and the flavor did not disappoint.

  • Watermelon with anchovy and citrus: This was one of my favorite items of the night, which is very strange because I am not crazy about anchovy, but the oily, fishy flavor of the anchovy balanced perfectly with the sweetness of the melon and the citrus essence. Would eat again. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the added bonus of knowing that the watermelon was most likely from Mustafa’s CSA garden.
  • Miyagi Oyster with Caviar: The oyster was perfect; not too strong, not too salty, and a little creamy. And the caviar was great too, which is a nice change since I usually find it to be too salty.
  • Melon & Armenian Cucumber Gazpacho: I have never been keen on the idea of gazpacho. The idea of iced tomato soup disgusts me, but I’ve never had it so I really can’t say I don’t like it. Because this was made with cucumber and melon, it was actually really sweet and refreshing, which I imagine is probably much better than tomato gazpacho.
Butter Lettuce with Chèvre and Pistachios

Butter Lettuce with Chèvre and Pistachios

I love butter lettuce! I also love chèvre and pistachios! So what a perfect little mini salad and it arrived just at the right time! It’s everything you’d want from chèvre on a salad with nuts. While it’s definitely delicious, I’m not big on salad. So it was good, but let’s eat some animals and cooked veggies, please.

Salmon Belly with Curry Sauce and Peanuts

Salmon Belly with Curry Sauce and Peanuts

YES, curry sauce! And on salmon belly to boot. Oh man, that skin on the salmon was perfectly crispy, too. I am usually not fond of cooked fish, but this was delicious (as is everything that comes from that kitchen). And of course, when there’s curry sauce on it, it’s hard for me to say no!

Eggplant and Pork Belly

Eggplant and Pork Belly

Oh good, my favorite meat showed up, and not only that, but the best part of the pig! I love eggplant, and I love pork belly, so I wasn’t going to argue. They came with pureed parsnip and a sorrel sauce. I do not remember what the brown sauce was, unfortunately (can confirm later). But all of the sauces just mixed so well with the pork belly and eggplant.

Sunflower Heart on Liver and Chanterelle Mushrooms, Baked Pear, Egg Yolk on Rabbit Sausage over Mashed Potatoes

Sunflower Heart on Liver and Chanterelle Mushrooms, Baked Pear, Egg Yolk on Rabbit Sausage over Mashed Potatoes

  • Sunflower Heart on Liver and Chanterelle Mushrooms: What the hell is a sunflower heart?, you might be thinking. Well, sunflowers belong to the family Asteraceae, the same family that artichokes belong to. So imagine an artichoke heart, only flatter and sweeter. This was my first time eating a sunflower heart, and I found that is one of my new favorite treats! And I absolutely love liver, and then on chanterelle mushrooms? I was simply in heaven.
  • Baked Pear: It was a pear, it had cinnamon on it, and it was delicious. More meat, please.
  • Egg Yolk on Rabbit Sausage over Mashed Potatoes: I’m pretty sure this rabbit came from Sarah’s! And who could say no to a rich egg yolk on perfectly-seasoned sausage and creamy, mashed potatoes? Yes, please, and bring me seconds. If you go to Applewood Inn and have the opportunity to order rabbit sausage, just do it!
Beef Tenderloin

Beef Tenderloin

We have reached the entree portion of our meal. Cindy, Sarah, and Mustafa all ordered the beef tenderloin, which came with seared Sungold cherry tomatoes, chanterelle mushrooms, and bone marrow bordelaise. This is actually the only dish that I didn’t wind up tasting. Cindy said it was delicious, and I think that’s all you really need to know. 🙂

Alaskan Halibut

Alaskan Halibut

Dana and George both ordered the halibut, which was served with a Brandade croquette, sauteed sweet corn, piperade, cilantro, and lime. I was able to taste the halibut in the sauce which was delicious, and if a dish can convince me to eat cooked fish, it must be damn good. Would taste again.

Cacao Crusted Lamb... Woops

Cacao Crusted Lamb… Woops

Sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo……………………….

For the first time ever, I forgot to take a picture before I ate my own entree, which is why you see a practically empty plate in the image above. Can you tell that I enjoyed it? My lamb also came with chorizo peppers and “garden” peppers, served in a mint chimichurri sauce. The cacao just works so well on the lamb, and mixed with sauce, the whole entree came together. I order lamb pretty much every time I come here because it is always so tasty, and cooked to order!

Yuzu Popsicle Lollipops

Frozen Yuzu Lollipops

On to some desserts! The first dessert we all shared was a dish of frozen yuzu lollipops. If you are unfamiliar with yuzu, it is a kind of citrus fruit. This is actually the second place I’ve tried a yuzu frozen dessert, and as always, I was happy.

It's-It with Chocolate Sauce, Puff Pastry Coffee Ice Cream Sandwich

It’s-It with Chocolate Sauce, Puff Pastry Coffee Ice Cream Sandwich

Oh Tyja, sending out an It’s-It with his gourmet dessert. If you visit Applewood, this won’t happen; it wasn’t even on the menu. Anyway, packaged or not, It’s-Its are very tasty, so I was happy with it. But the highlight, of course was the coffee ice cream with puff pastry. Nom, nom, nom.

Welp, that was quite a meal. And I would eat it again. AND AGAIN. And you should eat it, too. Give Applewood Inn a shot. It’s pricey, but it’s so, so, so worth it. You can save a little money by ordering from the tasting menu! TRY IT!

Overall:
Food: 5 stars
Service: 5 stars
Decor: 5 stars

Applewood Inn Website


Applewood Inn Yelp Page

Forestville – Backyard

I’m super stoked to promote this restaurant. It’s one of my favorite places to eat. 🙂

My friend Sarah and I went for a nice nature walk in Sebastopol this past Friday, which was appropriate considering our restaurant choice. I had been to Backyard in Forestville four or so times before, and I was so excited to go to again. Backyard is a farm-to-table-style restaurant and by definition features much of the produce and meat grown and raised (or caught, in fish’s case) in Sonoma County, including from my roommate’s farm, The Giving Gardens Project (website coming soon).

The chef at Backyard is a master of flavors. Everything I have eaten there is absolutely delicious. Some of my favorite items are their polenta, whatever pork dish they have on hand, and the flat breads. Because Backyard relies on the local farms, the menu is always changing. One week they could have cod, and the next week they might have halibut. However, it doesn’t matter what’s on the menu that week because the chef always manages to excite my taste buds.

Devoto Orchards Apple Cider

Devoto Orchards Apple Cider

A bonus to living in Sonoma County is definitely all of the great local wine, but this area also used to be the home of many more apple trees. Some apple orchards still exist today. One of the most popular apples in the area, the Gravenstein, is great for making juices and ciders. We were lucky enough to be able to try some of the locally-brewed cider, specifically from Devoto Orchards. The flavor was just to my liking: not too sweet and not too sour; just right.

House Pickle Plate

House Pickle Plate

One of the first dishes we shared was the house pickle plate featuring locally-grown produce pickled to perfection.

Starting from the bottom and going up, we have:

  • Romanesco
  • Kimchi
  • Cucumber
  • Pear
  • Melon
  • Arugula (and possibly some other green… I was too busy eating, sorry)
  • Pineapple Guava
  • Cauliflower
  • Mustard Seed

It gets more specific than that (as for the variety of pear/melon/cauliflower/etc), but I can only remember so much. I love pickled anything, so for me, this dish was tasty, tasty. If you like pickles and happen to eat at Backyard when they have something like this, definitely order it! I’d say my favorite was probably the kimchi.

Radishes, Fermented Butter, Sea Salt

Radishes, Fermented Butter, Sea Salt

Oh, man. If you love radishes and blue cheese, this is definitely something worth trying. The fermented butter is like a much creamier and fluffier blue cheese. This dish is so simple, yet so amazing. Just dip the radish into some fermented butter, dip in the sea salt (it’s hiding behind the butter dish), and enjoy. It’s a perfect blend of flavors.

Spicy Lamb Meatballs

Spicy Lamb Meatballs

I knew as soon as I saw “lamb” and “meatball” in the same menu item that I wanted it. And I was not disappointed. The meatballs and cheese were a perfect mix of salty and savory, and the tomato jam just brought the perfect amount of sweetness. Would order again!

Porcini Mushroom Ravioli

Porcini Mushroom Ravioli

Sarah ordered the porcini mushroom ravioli, which was a great choice! And she was nice enough to let me taste. The filling was a little thin, but delicious, and the pasta tasted so fresh and homemade. This was definitely some of the best pasta I’ve ever eaten.

Lamb Moussaka

Lamb Moussaka

I ordered the Lamb Moussaka, even though I had no idea what moussaka was at the time. When the server explained it to me, it sounded perfect! Moussaka is a bit like a shepherds pie casserole which always has eggplant and/or potato. This moussaka included ground lamb and both key ingredients as well as cheese. It was absolutely divine, and I’m so happy I got to taste it. The moussaka also came with braised greens which were yummy and perfectly seasoned.

Dessert Wine

Dessert Wine

I forgot to take a picture of the dessert menu, so for the next few items, I will be describing from memory.

We were surprised with a complimentary dessert wine, and I forget which kind it was. 😦 I am also not at all familiar with dessert wine so take these next few sentences with a grain of salt. It was absolutely delightful, and while it tasted sweet plain, it tasted nice and tart after taking a bite of dessert, which I imagine is the whole point of dessert wines.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches

Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches

Sarah and I decided to share some desserts, and the first item we split was the Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches. This is definitely one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. The cookies were so soft and delicious and the ice cream had the perfect amount of peanut butter, not too overpowering (which can happen with peanut butter desserts!)

Chocolate Budino

Chocolate Budino

I am a huge fan of salted caramel, which was included in the chocolate budino, so I had absolutely no choice but to order it. (Okay, I had a choice… I just took the less-healthy-but-tasty path). And I definitely made the right choice. My goodness, it is so incredibly sweet, but so chocolatey and salty and creamy and… oh, it was just so good! Please order any custard or pudding-like dessert if you eat here!  And sorry, not the best picture!  I realized that after we had eaten it all!

Candy Cap Mushroom Ice Cream

Candy Cap Mushroom Ice Cream

And the last dessert item we had that night was the candy cap mushroom ice cream. If you’ve never had candy cap mushrooms before, they definitely live up to their name. The flavor reminds me a bit of maple syrup. And the ice cream, as usual, was awesome.

Please, please, please give Backyard your support! They are doing a lot of right in the world by only (or mostly?) using local ingredients, and the food is delicious to boot. And for the type of restaurant it is, I believe it is fairly priced. And they just received a Michelin Bib Gourmand award, which is incredible for a fairly new restaurant!

Food: 5 stars

Service: 5 stars

Decor: 4 stars (overall a good look and feel for Backyard but could use a little more decorating)

Backyard Yelp Page

Backyard Website

Santa Rosa – Abyssinia (Featuring a Guest Appearance from Sebastopol’s Screamin Mimi’s)

It was a very exciting Friday as I had just gotten paid. YAY! What a better way to celebrate than have a few beers and go out to Abyssinia?

Located in Santa Rosa, Abyssinia features some great Ethiopian food–something one would only expect to find in larger cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. I was quite excited when I discovered Abyssinia as the first time I had Ethiopian food was in Reno, and I loved it!

So two of my friends (we’ll call them George and Charles because I don’t know if they care if I use their real names and I’m too lazy to find out) joined Dana and me for a yummy dinner. This was my fourth time at Abyssinia, and I was very excited for my return!

honey wine

Honey Wine

As my beverage choice, I ordered the honey wine.  Honey wine tastes pretty much as you would expect: like fermented honey with a similar finish as grape wine or rice wine (sake). I actually really love it, which is rather surprising because it is sweet, and I much prefer dry wines and sakes. I suspect what I enjoy about it most is that it tastes like honey!

Something you should know about Ethiopian food before we get to the actual food part of this entry is that it is usually served on a communal (large sharing) plate with a type of bread called injera, which is made from a grain called teff. This is my limited understanding of Ethiopian food, as people in general have a tendency to modify any ethnic food they are unfamiliar with. Anyway, back to how Ethiopian food is eaten (at least in the USA). A group of hipster foodies gather round to talk about their hipster trophies and how they were the first of their friends to eat Ethiopian food. They take turns dipping the injera into individual dishes.

sambusa

Sambusa

I insisted that we order an appetizer as this is a restaurant review blog, and I am trying to eat off of as much of the menu as I can afford and fit into my growing tummy. So, I decided on beef sambusas (because who cares what anyone else wants). It tasted a bit like a hamburger in a pastry, if you can imagine that. There were lots of spices and it tasted great, though it’s nothing that I would absolutely have to order next time.

vegetarian combo

Vegetarian Combo

abyssinia combo

Abyssinia Combo

As always, we ordered a Vegetarian Combo and an Abyssinia Combo because it lets us taste a bit of everything. The Abyssinia Combo includes samples of chicken and lamb dishes while the Vegetarian Combo is made up of mostly samples of lentil and garbanzo bean-based dishes.

Vegetarian Combo:

  • Shiro We’t – Roasted garbanzo beans simmered with berbere, olive oil, and Ethiopian spices
  • Miser We’t – Lentils stewed in a red-pepper sauce and Ethiopian spices
  • Yater Kik Alecha – Mild split peas flavored with garlic, ginger, turmeric, & green pepper
  • Yabesha Gomen – Collard greens cooked lightly with tomato, garlic, and rosemary
  • Miser Alecha – Lentil stew flavored with garlic, ginger, and a touch of turmeric
  • Tikel Gomen – Cabbage, carrots, and potatoes lightly cooked with ginger.
  • House Salad

Abyssinia Combo:

  • Doro We’t – Spicy chicken stew simmered with berbere, garlic, onion, and nitre kibe; served with hardboiled egg
  • Yebeg Key We’t – Lamb cubes stewed with awaze and onion (by the way, am I the only one who thinks “cubes” should never be used to describe meat?)
  • Yebeg Alecha – Lamb strips seasoned with garlic, onion, turmeric, and ginger
  • Tikel Gomen – See above
  • Miser We’t – See above
  • House Salad

I love food with lots of spices (like curries, as I’ve mentioned before), so I enjoyed everything.  My favorite item of all time there is tikel gomen (cabbage, carrot, and potato), which is a bit odd for my meat-lovin’ self. I also particularly enjoy the yabesha gomen (collard greens), and the yebeg alecha (lamb strips). Overall, I love both combos and would order them again and again. However, I think next time, I will actually order individual items instead since I am finally starting to figure out what I like most.

Dana, George, and Charles (I’m cracking up at these names…) all enjoyed their food, but not as much as I did! I think Dana prefers the restaurant in Reno, but I don’t remember that meal as well as he does.

After we finished the combos, we didn’t feel like sticking around at Abyssinia for dessert, so we decided to go to Screamin’ Mimi’s in Sebastopol instead.

hazelnut & pumpkin ice cream

Hazelnut & Pumpkin Ice Cream

I was so excited that Mimi’s had pumpkin ice cream because I love pumpkin-flavored desserts! This ice cream tasted just like pumpkin pie, mmm mmm mmm. The hazelnut ice cream was also great, and it tasted like–you guessed it–hazelnut! It was an odd night for me since I did not have chocolate! My favorite ice cream flavor from Mimi’s is probably the Midnight Menthe (chocolate ice cream with mint), which is not there every night (for those who don’t know, Mimi’s rotates their flavors). Another big plus about Mimi’s is that all of the ice cream is homemade, and they use real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup (I’m looking at you, Honeymoon).

Please go give both Abyssinia and Screamin’ Mimi’s a shot!

Abyssinia Yelp Page

Abyssinia Website

Screamin’ Mimi’s Yelp Page

Screamin’ Mimi’s Website

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