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Archive for the tag “lamb”

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

Sebastopol – Himalayan Tandoori & Curry House

I am so excited about this entry.  I inserted the images before I began writing, and all I want to do right now is call up this restaurant and order some masala… which brings me to my next point.  Masala is one of my favorite foods.  Curry, in general, is my favorite food besides authentic sushi.  That said, I am no expert.  The origins of masala are not even clear; some say it was created in the United Kingdom while others claim it was created in India.  Either way, I have heard several times that it is not considered traditional Indian (or any Asian culture’s) food!  It tastes damn good, though, and that’s enough for me.

I have ordered takeout from Himalayan Tandoori & Curry House many, many, many, many, many, many times.  However, Saturday night was the first time I have eaten at the restaurant.  Dana had to work that day, and I was ready to relax after a long day of housework and homework, so we met for dinner.  We took full advantage of this blog project and ordered more than we usually do.

Let’s start with the most important part of every meal: the alcohol (underagers reading this: stay in school and don’t drink)!

real gold - authentic nepalese beer

Real Gold – Authentic Nepalese Beer

The first time I had Real Gold was when Dana picked up some food at this restaurant for us and one of the managers sent a free beer home with him.  I love sweet beers and Real Gold is a bit on the sweeter side, so I loved it right off the bat!  Last time, we shared it straight from the bottle, so I had not seen its color before.  When it was poured into a glass, I was surprised by its very light color!  If you enjoy wheat beers or lagers or any beer that does not have an overly-bitter, hoppy flavor, definitely give Real Gold a try.  (Disclaimer: I am no beer expert… but I stay away from beers like Bud, Miller, and Coors.  Just a PBR every now and then.  No big deal…).

lentil soup

Lentil Soup

Ah, yes, the complimentary lentil soup!  This was a pleasant surprise as the only complimentary item we had ever gotten from takeout was a beer!  Ha!  I thought it was delicious, and I was so grateful for it when it arrived in front of me, as I was starving.  What a great way to begin our meal!

vegetable momos

Vegetable Momos

Now, I am still a Himalayan food newbie, so I had no idea what to expect when I ordered momos! They came with a delicious, sweet tomato-based sauce. The dumplings were so savory with the perfect, soft texture. I could eat ten more!

chicken biryani

Chicken Biryani

Dana and I had only ever had curries before so he decided to try something new and ordered the Chicken Biryani. I was fortunate enough to taste it and I would definitely order it again!  So many delicious spices were incorporated, such as cinnamon, coriander, and nutmeg.  I am so happy that I finally got to try something different at HTCH!

pumpkin lamb masala

Pumpkin Lamb Masala

Mmmmm, yes, on to my entree!  As stated earlier, I love masala! I usually order the lamb masala from takeout but I wanted to try something different.  So, I went ahead and ordered what I usually order… Plus pumpkin.  The pumpkin brought a slight sweetness to the dish, and I loved it!  I have had Thai curry with pumpkin in it before, but never Himalayan.  Another bonus of this dish is that the pumpkins are locally grown.  I definitely would recommend this dish if you ever make it to this restaurant.

garlic naan

Garlic Naan

This meal would just not be complete without some yummy, fluffy naan!  I love my garlic, so we ordered the garlic naan.  It was not terribly garlicy, but it was good nonetheless.  It was fluffy and soft, which is perfect for my tastes.

gulab jamun

Gulab Jamun

We were craving something sweet after a meal like that, so we ordered some dessert.  Dana decided on the gulab jamun, which are deep fried milk balls served in syrup.  They were very sweet and tasted much like a deep fried pancake would.  I enjoyed them, but I do not think I would order them again as I preferred my dessert.  I could definitely see how others might favor this dessert, though!

rice pudding (kheer)

Rice Pudding (Kheer)

Speaking of my dessert, I ordered the rice pudding (called kheer), which was so sweet and spiced!  I used to think that I did not like rice pudding, but I am always willing to try something again, and I figured this was the perfect time to try it.  I think I made a great choice, and I am now a fan.

That’s all folks!  If you love curry and lots of spices, give HTCH a shot.  It is a great treat, and many of the ingredients are local and organic (if you are into that, which I am).

Himalayan Tandoori & Curry House Yelp Page

Himalayan Tandoori & Curry House Website

Make masala at home!  Try Alton Brown’s recipe!

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