Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cranberry Vanilla Coffee Cake

This afternoon, I made the Smitten Kitchen's cranberry vanilla coffee cake.  OMG...  The only ingredient I had to modify was the 1/2 a vanilla bean.  I wound up using vanilla extract instead.  I will retype the recipe here and I will criticize the parts that I found annoying, not including the fact that for some reason, I can't copy and paste the recipe off her website onto my blog.  This recipe actually came from Gourmet magazine, December 2008 issue.

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups of fresh or thawed frozen cranberries (6 ounces)
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened, divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
Confectioners sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 with rack in middle.  Generously butter a 9 by 2 inch round cake pan.  Line bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter parchment.

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a food processor with tip of a paring knife.  (reserve pod for another use if desired).  Add sugar and pulse to combine.  Transfer to a bowl.

Pulse cranberries with 1/2 cup vanilla sugar in processor until finely chopped (do not puree).

Whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.  Beat together 1 stick butter and 1 cup vanilla sugar in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.  Scrape down side and bottom of bowl.  Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture and milk alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour, until just combined.

Spread half of batter in pan, then spoon cranberries over it, leaving a 1/2 inch border around edge.  Spoon small bits of the remaining batter over the top of the cranberries and smooth them with as gentle of a hand as possible.

Blend remaining 1/4 cup vanilla sugar with remaining tablespoon each of butter and flour using your fingertips.  Crumble over top of cake.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted into cake (not into cranberry filling) comes out clean and side begins to pull away from pan, 45 to 50 minutes.  Cool in pan 30 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely, crumb side up.

Do ahead:  Coffee cake can be made 1 day ahead and kept, tightly wrapped, at room temperature.

What Bugged About This Recipe:
1) Please tell me to use a big bowl when creaming the butter and sugar---especially when later on you tell me to add flour and milk ending with flour.  Something as simple as that would be helping out a poor recipe reader.
2) I wish you told me to me to watch the cake starting after 30 minutes of bake time, because in my oven, 45 minutes was way too long, and as a matter of fact, I started to smell the cake go towards the burning side of things and I pulled it out in the nick of time.
3) Let us know that if we haven't yet sprung for the big Kitchen Aid stand mixer, that it's still o.k. to use our little Kitchen Aid hand mixer with the 2 wire beaters. 

End Result:
This cake tasted great!  I forgot to add the confectioners sugar on top, and it was a little over done in my oven, but the cake texture was unbelievable.  Nice and light.  Not terribly doughy and rubbery.  The cranberry center is delicious as well.  I'd definitely make this again, except this time, I'd make sure to really use 1/2 the batter on the bottom (I used more like 2/3 of the batter on the bottom and it really made me stretch the remaining batter for the top not to mention the crumbly part as well).  


Geronimo Restaurant in Santa Fe (Take 2)

To be perfectly fair, after the disappointing meal I had at Geronimo Restaurant in Santa Fe in August, I wrote a letter to the 3 owners letting them know what aspects of the meal failed and disappointed me.  I had no other hope or intention but to just let them know how they didn't meet my expectations.  Lo and behold, Chris Harvey sent me a letter in apology for my meal and asked me if I would like to come back and have a complimentary meal for 2 on him with his personal touch looking after the service and meal.  Not only that, he let me know that my letter was up on the wait staff's board so that they could learn from what I had written!  How unbelievable is that?  Like my last post about Santa Fe Baking Company, I'd like to let everyone know for the record that Geronimo is also stepping up to the plate, so to speak. 

Santa Fe Baking Company (Take 2)

Wow...I can't believe one of the owners to one of my critiques in August, actually posted a comment in response to my soggy breakfast burrito review.  I would like to commend this owner and let him know on my blog right now that when I go back in June 2009, to Santa Fe, I will go and try out another burrito and let him know how it goes.  So, thanks for writing!  

Mary Macleod's Shortbread Cookies

I went to work tonight and forgot all about going into the green room to see what baked goodies may lay awaiting me.  Holy shit, was I stupid for arriving later to work than usual!  Aya made the most amazing carrot cake!  This girl put's Anna Olson and her "Sugar" show to shame.  It was moist, the cream cheese frosting was tangy yet smooth, and there were enough shredded carrots to feel like I got my veggie intake for the day.  There were no raisins or coconut bits or anything else to hinder or distract the pure perfection of this carrot cake.  I must get her recipe.  (Speaking of recipes, I'll have to write about what I made today that pissed me off about our Miss Smitten Kitchen's blog.)  Ok, now back to the story at room...goodies...this woman named Earlaine Collins brought in a tin of Mary Macleod's shortbread in her classic flavor chocolate crunch and they were not your typical shortbread.  They melted in my mouth like snow falling on your tongue.  There was a hint of nuttyness, a bit of chocolate, but the beauty of these cookies is that they didn't taste rich.  As a matter of fact, it was like eating a Lay's potato chip bag---you couldn't eat just one.  I have never tasted a shortbread quite like this before in my life (prior to this new find, I thought Coach House was pretty decent) and now that I know where this shop is situated (on Queen Street East, just east of the Don Valley Parkway), you know I will be there year-round.  :)  They have a website, so check it out!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Via Allegro Ristorante

If you want to see an award winning wine list the size of a big old book, look no further than in Etobicoke.  Via Allegro Ristorante is a great Italian restaurant with wine all over---on display, in their world class cabinets, cases, cellars, etc.  It is out of control.  Also out of control are their prices for food.  Last month we went there to celebrate a friend's birthday---I've never seen Italian food priced in the $40's and above per entree.  And if you thought price wise, it couldn't get any worse, it could and did.  The appetizers were as expensive as a main course!  I don't even want to go into details about the food here, because it IS good, but I would never go here again because it just didn't provide good value for what it was.  And I can't recommend this place to anyone because of it, either.  

Bagel World

So, I watch Food Network religiously.  One show that just got the boot is called "Restaurant Makeover" and I especially enjoyed it when it first came on air.  Then, the show started to get more and more annoying, with really egocentric interior designers, chef's with a bit too much "know how" and each restaurant I saw renovated looked more and more like the last one they did.  Ok, I'm off on a tangent here, so back to Bagel World.  I pass Bagel World every time I go to Costco Warehouse.  Located on Wilson Ave., just west of Bathurst, this morning, I took Miah there because I have constantly driven by it, and it had been on "Restaurant Makeover".  You'd think after a restaurant's been on t.v. like it has, they would keep up the inside standards not just with the decor but the food as well.  I got the small lox plate with a toasted sesame bagel and it was just, o.k.  Nothing special.  Bagel's here are thick and chewy.  Lox looked like it could use a little more color, it had a sad pale orange pallor.  And the cream cheese---wow, it was a huge ice cream scoop of cream cheese that could be spread on 5 bagels, not just my 1.  Miah got her eggs over easy but they were really runny.  Coffee was just decent.  Service was with a smile.  I can not recommend this place nor would I ever go again.  My curiosity has been sufficiently assuaged.  

Quince Restaurant

Quince Restaurant, located on Yonge St., about 3 blocks south of Eglinton Ave., was seriously impressive.  The food was creative, fresh, unique and right on target with the price point.  I went there with some expectations and I was pleasantly surprised that our meal not only met but exceeded my expectations.  My husband, Maurizio, myself and our friends, Mark and Jacklynn, went on a double date.  Something we don't do.  Ever.  Usually we tag have our kid tag along, who at 1 year old, has a mind of her own.  Thank God for friends like Sarah and Greg, who looked after her tonight like the amazing Aunt and Uncle that they are.  :)  Oh yeah, back to our meal...we started off with poutine frites, that I think they called them "Dutch Poutine".  There were healthy cut french fries, covered in gravy, tender shredded braised beef and chunks of curded cheese.  It was delicious and I wanted to eat all of it by myself without having to share.  We also had a side of rapini, that came roasted, and cooked to perfection.  Usually rapini, a.k.a. broccolini, comes tasting pretty bitter.  Even when I cook it, (and I'm such a pro, NOT!) it always obstinately maintains a bitter edge to the taste no matter how much water and salt I use to semi-boil/steam it in.  Jacklynn and Mark had the same main course of salmon and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Maurizio had the grilled veal flanks and was extremely pleased.  I ordered the chicken.  Boring, I know, but I had heard from my friend, Sandra, that the chicken here was incredibly tasty, tender and juicy.  She was right!  They cook everything in their big wood-fired oven, and my dish was $19 and it had 3 big pieces of chicken plated on top of some mushy root compote and on the side were some roasted 2 toned veggies (I think they were carrots and squash).  I was only able to eat the top piece of chicken, which was the biggest piece on my plate (the breast meat portion) and a few of the veggies.  Truth be told, I ate a lot of the bread and breadsticks from the bread basket before our food arrived because I was starving when we first got to the restaurant.  Probably to help keep me sober enough to maintain conversation because we ordered a delicious $58 bottle of wine from France, a grenache that we all enjoyed drinking.  Of course, those who know me, knows that I always make room for the big D---dessert!  I ordered the chocolate bread pudding, as did Jacklynn.  Maurizio had the apple tartine and Mark had a white and dark chocolate frozen tangine.  Service was good if a bit on the dry side, but the food came out in a timely fashion and it was divine.  I would definitely recommend this place to friends and go back myself anytime!  

Monday, December 8, 2008

William Ashley's Annual Warehouse Sale

So, my Mom and I braved the William Ashley Annual Warehouse sale this past Friday---2 days before it's final closing, and we picked up quite the bang for our bucks at this place.  I couldn't help but notice how jacked we've gotten from other stores like The Bay or Kitchen Stuff Plus for appliances like our new Cuisinart Cordless Tea Pot or the Cuisinart 4 Waffle Iron Maker.  Had I known this sale would have these appliances, I would've told my husband to go there even if it meant having to line up for an hour under the white tent outside the warehouse!  This is my first time coming here, where there has been zero line-up outside the actual building.  I think the recession the States are having have seeped it's way up to Canadaland.

Galleria Market

There's this Korean grocery store waaay up Yonge St., past Steeles Road in Thornhill, called The Galleria Market.  It is out of this world.  The prepared food ranges from a million types of pickled kimchis, but all sorts of comfort foods that bring back those childhood memories of home cooked Korean meals.  At least they do for this big kid.  :)  I come here time permitting, not to mention whenever I have a Korean food craving or am missing my Mom's home cooking and it always does the trick.  There is a bakery inside this grocers, not to mention other little shops and eateries inside.  It's a bit of Korea away from Korea and I can't recommend it enough.

The Good Bite Restaurant

Who doesn't love a good greasy spoon?  I certainly do.  And a tried and true one is The Good Bite Restaurant on Yonge Street, north of Eglinton by a few blocks on the east side of Yonge.  I went there with my Mom the other day around 11:30 AM and we had the club sandwich on brown bread, toasted, and french fries on the side.  It was scrumdillyumptious.  I've had it before and it never fails me.  If I'm in the mood for breakfast food, I always get the 2 egg scrambled special, comes with toast already buttered, choice of bacon, sausage or peameal (I get the peameal for the extra money) and home fries, but my friend, Janice, not only turned me on about this place, but gave the me the secret "in" on getting half tomatoes/half potatoes when ordering.  That way you get less potatoes and a couple slices of tomatoes instead.  It's a win-win situation as far as I'm concerned.  For under $10 including the tip and a cup of joe, you really can't go wrong.  I love this dive.  

Smitten Kitchen

So, Miah asks me one day if I've heard of the Smitten Kitchen.  I said, no, I haven't.  Well, she told me to go look online and check out this woman's blog, it's insane.  Well, it really IS insane!  This woman has a blog that not only does she give you recipes, she takes photographs of the recipes in progress and it's total food porn.  It's amazing the food looks so good.  I've already book marked quite a few of her recipes on my MacBook for future use, like the apple cake.  Heavenly...
For a slice of this heaven go to: 
It puts all blogs like mine to shame.  I merely talk about, she shows it!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Baby Gap

You know, I've gotten most of Giulia's baby clothes as gifts and have bought some myself at various stores, but the one store I keep going back to is Gap Kids or Baby Gap.  I find the clothes there most durable, yet soft, and extremely cute and stylish.  I bought her a down-filled ski jumper for the winter, months in advance knowing it would sell out the minute snow hit the ground, and boy am I glad I did!  I regularly take a quick stroll up to the Gap Kids on Yonge St., north of Eglinton.  The selection is pretty good there and they always have a sale rack.

Phipps Bakery

For the best chocolate chip cookies in town, I go to Phipps.  I've tried many a cookie from everywhere I go, but Phipps is my favorite.  It has perfected the balance of crispy and soft at the same time.  And another thing, there are no nuts.  Sometimes, I just don't feel like a nut.  Sometimes I do.  Yeah, that's an Almond Joy commercial for you.  Seriously, though, go to Phipps.  Their other baked goods look good, but don't taste as well balanced as their chocolate chip cookies.  For pete's sakes, they even sell the dough in their refrigerated display it is THAT good.  Phipps is on Eglinton Ave., west of Avenue Road.  It is a cute and quaint little bakery and food store---they have a little cafe in the back of the store where you can get expensive yet tasty sandwiches and other hot foods for over $10/person.


When I feel rich in my pocketbook and generous in my heart, I go to Pusateri's for my grocery shopping.  I haven't felt rich in a long time, but boy do I love that store.  They basically have compiled all of the best foods from all the best vendors in Toronto and put it under 1 roof.  The produce section is always fresh.  The meat counter is the best I've ever seen.  The baked goodies are mouth watering.  And the prepared food...when I was pregnant, I had such a hunkering for potato salad, and Pusateri's homemade style potato salad always hit the spot.  Located on Avenue Road, just barely north of Lawrence Avenue, they have a very congested parking lot and it is gosh awful trying to make a left heading south out of their store unless they have a rent-a-cop on duty to help guide traffic. 

Gucci Loblaw's

This title says it all---Gucci Loblaw's, located on St. Clair Avenue just west of Spadina.  Props go to Janice and her friend from her Boot Camp class who dubbed this typical Loblaw's grocery store for the yuppies in their Gucci clad handbags and Bugaboo strollers.  With a nearly 1 year old daughter, I have found the diaper selection (Pampers 3) bountiful and the organic section sells the Organic Meadow brand whole milk for $6.99 a 1/2 gallon carton.  It sure beats the little half quart sized milk they sell at my nearby Metro (formerly known as Dominion grocery chain) at Yonge and Eg for $3.99!  I appreciate that I don't have to go all the way to Whole Foods in Hazelton Lanes to pick up this milk.  Or for my kid's organic apple cinnamon cookies from Earth's Best.

Balzac Coffeehouse

You'd think since I'm writing about a coffeehouse that I'd be rating their coffee.  Nope.  I'm here to write about Balzac Coffee's peanut butter squares that are killer.  I don't even enjoy peanut butter all that much, but these chewy squares of goodness are unbelievable.  They have the right amount of chewiness, crunchiness, and flavor balance.  If you'd like to add a cup of coffee or a chai latte to accompany that, then head on upstairs to the lounge where art work hang and there are an abundance of comfy places to sit and enjoy the offerings.  Balzac's is located in the Distillery District on Mill Street downtown.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Caffe Doria

South of Summerhill, on Yonge Street is a little cafe called Caffe Doria. Inside you will find not so amazing food or service for that matter. However, if you are a red velvet cupcake fan (something in that red dye is made of crack), they have them most of the time every week---but sometimes they don't. Like the time I went with my friend, Sydney a few weeks ago, mainly for those little red cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, they were not in the display. In any case, these red velvet cupcakes are out-sourced by some other bakery in town. At $3/cupcake, they are stiff, but they are worth it. The panini's and other food items leave something to be desired, but go over there and get a cupcake to go. You won't regret it.

Corean Chille

Imagine my surprise as a Korean, to find a little gem among many in Koreatown, aka: K-Town to us from SoCal otherwise known as Bloor Street between Bathurst and Christie. Last night, we had a feast for a mere $13/person. Started off with a hot soup, that was accompanied by toasted rice that was inserted into the soup at the table. It was a nice broth that had veggies and seafood. The next dish is a personal favorite---a sweet and sour deep fried coated chicken. I usually get it in pork, which is more traditional, but I was pleasantly suprised by the chicken being extremely tender with no gelatinous bits or tendons. Last but not least was a big bowl of black bean paste noodles that had veggies and seafood which was also good to the last bite. Highly recommend this place---it was awesome! Located at 681 Bloor Street West. If you see a lot of the Korean peeps sitting in there, you know it's good.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

One of a Kind Show, Toronto 2008

The One of a Kind Show here in Toronto opened today, November 27, 2008 and I went with my 2 girlfriends, Miah and Sydney from 8 PM till closing at 10 PM. We were like the Korean mafia going up and down each aisle starting from the west and working our way back east. It was great! As it is not my first time there (it was Miah's, however) we all made out like bandits---from food stuffs, especially the chocolates and toffees (Sweet Truth and Brooke's), to boots for my nearly 1 year old daughter (Stonz), soy-wax candles (Muskoka Candle Company), smoked tuna (from Salt Spring Island, B.C.), etc., it is truly a mix of great vendors from all over Canada. Highly recommend it. You can find gifts for yourself and others---for $10/admission (if you bring in a $2/coupon or buy your ticket online directly), it's worth it. The parking is stiff---$12/anytime before 6 PM or $9/after 6 PM, but Miah's parking karma was definitely working tonight and we had "rock-star parking" in the garage right in front of the entrance. Ahhh...what a great evening.

Il Gelatiere: Best Gelato Outside of Italy

If you enjoy ice cream, sorbet, then gelato is the way to go---Il Gelatiere on Mt. Pleasant and Hillsdale is the best gelato in town. Not Paloma's on St. Clair Ave., not Hollywood Gelato on Bayview Ave., and certainly not anywhere else claiming to sell gelato. Il Gelatiere is the real deal. To be honest, it tastes better than most gelato stores in Italy. In our 13 day trip to Italy last year, we hit quite a few cities---started in Milan and winding up in Rome. In between was Venice, Bologna, Carpi, Fossoli, Assisi, Modena, Maranello, Sulmona, Terni, Florence, etc., and the best gelato we had was a place in Milan, on the main drag. But I digress. Il Gelatiere is great and the people running it are awesome---shout out to my girl, Madeline. She's fantastic!

Brick Street Bakery in the Distillery District

The whole Mill St. area called the Distillery is really picking up.
I'm talking about Brick Street Bakery that makes my day every time I go down there.
They make the best sandwiches in town. From the lamb sandwich to the post-Thanksgiving sandwich, they are just melt in your mouth amazing. They are reasonably priced in all regards. They also tout having the best banana bread in town and I have to say, it's pretty damn good.
The eccles cakes are good and so are their scones. I'm not even a huge scone fan, but I'll go only here if I have a scone craving. They're like buttermilk biscuits---guess you'd have to be a biscuit fan to truly appreciate Brick Street's scones.

Terroni: Best Thin Crust Pizza

If you want a truly thin crust pizza right from Italy, look no further than Terroni. They have the most amazing pizza in town. I get the "Capriccioso" pizza every time I go there---it's got olives, Italian ham, artichokes and mushrooms. It's awesome. I love spicy, so I always request the side of hot pepperoncini, which will make you sweat. The original one is on Queen St., but the one on Yonge St., south of St. Clair is closer and is just as good as any other Terroni in town. Somehow, after a little dinner for 2, it always costs $60.00 a meal with tip. That includes perhaps 2 pizzas, maybe 1 appetizer, and maybe 2 glasses of wine. Not cheap, but a good time indeed and worth it.

La Bamboche: Macaron

La Bamboche on Manor Road, off of Yonge Street, and south of Eglinton Ave., has the most amazing little treats called "macarons"---now, they're not your typical ghetto American macaroon coconut treat that looks like little haystacks. These are right out of a patisserie in Paris, where the little meringue cookies, encompass an amazing cream or ganache. If you can only afford one, (at I believe, $2.50 a pop, they're a bit rich in pricing for a single macaroon), the sea salt caramel flavor is the way to go. I've tried other flavors, but they're not as interesting to me. They also make a decent croissant here, but like I said before, Rahier is the place to go for a croissant.

Rahier Pastries

If you want the best, most amazingly flaky, rich but not too over the top croissants in town, you must go to Rahier on Bayview, south of Eglinton. It is the best. I've tried many a croissant---from Frangipane, Brick Street Bakery, La Bamboche, Celestin, Whole Foods, you name it, I've tried it---Rahier is the best. They make awesome plain ones, almond (I'm not even a fan of almond croissants, my husband is, but I'll eat them if they're from Rahier), chocolate and even a ham and cheese that is to die for. Rahier is my bakery of choice for these delectable French goodies.

Ahhh...back home in Toronto, Canadaland

Thank you to my dear friend, Miah, who has been on my ass lately to update my little blog.  :)
This is for you, Mi...

From food and life and having fun, I've found a few new hangs that I will now frequent.

First things first...Body Blitz Spa, located in the heart of downtown Toronto on Adelaide Street.  It is an oasis in the middle of chaos and entropy.  It is not cheap.  As a matter of fact, it's down right costly.  But is it worth it?  Oh, yes, absolutely!  I've been to so many spas in my short lifetime:  from Burke Williams in Los Angeles, to 10,000 Waves in Santa Fe, to Bliss in New York City, to the "it" spas in Toronto like Elmwood and Stillwater---I hate to break it to you all, but Body Blitz is "the one".  It has water therapy like no others.  A green tea hot tub, a warm sea salt pool, and a cold plunge occupy the communal area.  Not to mention the sauna, the steam room, the amazing shower heads that are like rain falling from the heavens above.  It is just amazing.  At $45/visit, it is expensive, but it's worth it.  I had the body scrub done, and a massage---those were done very well, but I wouldn't go back for that.  I'd go back to just veg out in the pools and order smoothies from their juice bar.  (sigh)  They don't do facials or mani-/pedi's, and the best part about Body Blitz is that it's only for the ladies.  Sorry men...hope they open a spa like that for you guys, too!

Sunday, August 3, 2008


Geronimo's of Santa Fe, New Mexico...
It will leave a HUGE dent in your pocketbook, and it is not worth it, I'm afraid.
Just came home from a disappointing meal---not necessarily because the food was bad, but the overall experience was not up to snuff for such a high-end, high-priced restaurant.  Service is poor.  The wait staff is just terrible.  For instance, we went to dinner with our friends from Denver, Colorado---they are a lovely couple and we had also brought our nearly 8 month old baby.  When the food arrived, they never served the ladies first.  That was the first NO-NO of the evening.  Our drinks were not properly refilled in a timely fashion.  To get plain bread with the cheese plate at the end of the meal was a challenge rather than something that should have been accompanying the plate to begin with.  When our coffee and cappuccino's arrived, there was no proper sized spoon to stir in the cream and sugar.  Little things like that, make a bad impression for a big restaurant like Geronimo's.  Despite all of that, the restaurant, on a Sunday night, was packed.  If only they'd train the wait staff better, I wouldn't be kvetching about what an indifferent meal we had there for nearly $500.00 USD.  For our party of 4, we had 2 bottles of wine, appetizers all around, main courses all around, 2 desserts, 1 cheese plate, 2 coffees and 1 cappuccino.  With tax and tip, it wound up being $475.00 USD.  I ordered the crab cakes for the appetizer and they were just o.k.---not exceptional.  They were actually a bit bready and not very tender, crabby or flakey.  I had the Alaskan halibut as the entree, and it came with a saffron risotto with roasted peppers and chorizo.  I think the risotto was better than the fish, to tell you the truth.  Halibut is a dense fish, and it was cooked densely as well.  It did not melt in your mouth or flake on your fork.  The cheese plate was fine, but again, nothing special.  All in all, a mediocre meal for a high price.  Thankfully, our company made the night wonderful nevertheless.  My rating and thoughts on this place is---don't ever need to go again.  Never ever.  And I don't recommend this place to others unless they want to be totally ripped off with bad service to boot.  I don't ever mind paying big bucks for an overall fabulous experience, but if the wait staff continues the way it is, this place won't be in the restaurant line-up for years to come.


How can I forget Mauka in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
I went there this past June with a friend, and had a great meal with good service.  It is situated in the former Kasasoba noodle restaurant on Agua Fria Street.  
It is not cheap.  Dinner for 2, with a glass of wine each, an appetizer each, main courses and 1 dessert, with tip and tax was around $140.00 USD.  It is Asian-Fusion food---I had this salad with blue crab and slivers of red onion, green onion, etc.  It was delicious and delicate.  The main course I tried was the Korean bbq ribs, aka: kalbi, and it came with a kimchi potato salad (that cracked me up) and something else, I can't remember.  The kalbi was tasty, although the meat was a bit tough.  It could have been a lot more tender.  The way my Mom makes it, it falls right off the bone.  Alas, no one ever cooks better than my Mom in the Korean food department.  The dessert was these donuts that were amazing!  They were coated in sugar, and inside had molten nutella out of them.  They were divine.  The dessert and the wine, an Italian Barolo or something, was outstanding.  I would definitely go back and try this place again.  

Santa Fe Baking Company

The Santa Fe Baking Company in Santa Fe, New used to be my tried and true place to go for breakfast burritos in the morning, but after today, I'm not so sure.  I ordered my usual burrito: bacon, eggs, green chile and potatos.  I also got it slathered with green chile.  I got a cup of joe and a large o.j.  I always have loved their o.j.  It tastes fresh squeezed, but I don't think they do it there themselves.  In any case, the bacon in my burrito was a bit tough and chewy.  The eggs were somewhat runny, and the chile inside the burrito was non-existent.  It was basically, a tasteless burrito, which surprised me greatly.  Over the past 5 years, the Baking Company and Tia Sophia's was where I'd go for a breakfast burrito, but now, I think I'll have to rethink my options.  

Friday, August 1, 2008

Harry's Roadhouse

Harry's Roadhouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico is off the beaten path, but so well worth it.  On a Sunday for brunch, the huge line up of people out the door is a little intimidating, but the wait is never very long.  It is run like a tight ship.  The food is fantastic with good prices.  I never feel ripped off.  The food is hearty and delicious, never salty or greasy.  I enjoy their migas with chorizo in the morning with a large fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee that keeps getting poured to the brim.  I've also had their breakfast burrito recently, with Christmas chile (green and red chile) and it was fantastic.  It contained bacon, eggs, potatos and the chile was delicious.  They have a lovely outdoor patio where we sat and inside is not bad, either.  I would go here anytime.  It is worth every penny.

La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California

If you want to surprise your father on his 65th birthday and treat him to an all expenses paid night at a famous spa with a round of golf at the supposedly exquisite course, then La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, California is NOT for you.  First of all, after all the work I'd put into faxing the credit authorization form from a Kinko's in Santa Fe, New Mexico, when my Dad went to check-in at La Costa, they STILL took an imprint of his credit card.  Not only did they do that,  they even showed him how much the stay would cost!  A whopping $830.00 USD!!!  For that kind of money, I would expect the Front Desk staff to be a little bit more competent when doing their job and seeing the notes on the account as having the stay been paid for by someone else.  The golf course was apparently not as nice as the municipal golf course Torrey Pines, in Del Mar, California.  That was another big disappointment.  The only saving grace was the nice room they had overlooking the golf course.   At the end of the stay, my Dad's credit card was charged---and so was mine!  When this was discovered 2 days later, I asked to speak to the manager of the Front Desk, who apologized and remedied the double charge.  He also offered to comp my next meal there (without alcohol---what kind of meal is that without any alcohol?) as his apologetic gesture.  I'm sorry, but for $830.00, I could've done a lot more things for my Dad, like send him a couple plane tickets to Toronto, or anywhere for that matter.  He could've stayed at a Four Seasons Hotel for a couple of nights, not just 1 night with a so-so round of golf.  The end result of this is NEVER go to the La Costa Resort and Spa.  It is not good value and it has terrible service.  2 thumbs all the way down.

Friday, July 25, 2008

El Tesoro Cafe

July 25, 2008---today is my Dad's 65th birthday. Happy Birthday, Dad!
Today, I had lunch at El Tesoro Cafe located at the Sanbusco Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
My husband and I both had the chicken blue corn enchiladas, Christmas (which means both red and green chile sauce on top and all over the plate) and it came with rice and black beans. It was delicious. The chicken was grilled, the rice just right, beans were just fine and the chile was hot enough but not too hot. For $20.00 this place is definitely good bang for your buck.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bobcat Bite

Way out on Old Las Vegas Highway in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is a little shack of a place called Bobcat Bite. It is the best burger you will have in North America. It has even been featured in a documentary on Food Network. The green chile cheeseburger with home fries and coleslaw is what I get each time. I get my meat cooked medium well, and it's still juicy and delicious. The wait can be horrendous, so get there at a random hour not necessarily lunch time. It's open from Tuesday's thru Saturday's from 11 AM till about 7 PM. It is awesome and I highly recommend anyone who enjoys a good burger to go and check it out.

Farmer's Market on a Saturday Morning

Wow...going to Farmer's Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico on a Saturday morning is such an amazing natural high. The energy is crazy to say the least. I try to get there in the 8 AM hour, although they open at 7 AM. You get all types at the Market, and I overheard someone saying going to the Market is a lot like gambling at a casino---you bring x-amount of money and once it's gone, it's game over. The best greens I have found to date is Mr. G's Greens. Not sure how to describe where his booth is, but if you see a big line up---he has the best salad and basil I've ever had. There's this Taos Farms Tomato stand, for lovely tomatos, but the guy who owns it or works it is not very friendly. Mr. G., however, is. Crumpackers is a good bakery that makes good spinach feta quiches and pecan tarts. Their cinnamon buns are surprisingly good. I just found this new bakery with a funny name like Intergalactica or something like that, and they have awesome flat bread like garlic and arugula and green chile. Just bought an 4.6 pound organic whole chicken the other weekend---cost me $18.00 but I think it was worth it. Try to get out of there as fast as you can. It's a zoo to get parking and people who haven't had their morning's coffee are wretched.

Plaza Cafe

Talk about a tourist trap---Plaza Cafe, on the west side of the Plaza of Santa Fe, New Mexico, this restaurant will disappoint you. I strayed from my usual gyro plate the last time I went, and that was a mistake. Stick to what is good. I attempted to try something new by ordering the special sandwich of the day that came with fries. It was a very grissly piece of steak, squished between some refried beans and sauteed peppers. It was a disaster for $11.00. The service was awful to boot. Last summer, I ordered the red velvet cake, as I am a huge fan of this cupcake store in NYC that makes fabulous red velvet cupcakes. Well...can we say...yuck in a major way? Yes, I think we can. When I took my first bite, there was something gelatinous inside the cake. I asked what it was---it was coca cola gelatin bits inside the red velvet cake! Totally disgusted, I could not eat it. I can not recommend anything else but the gyro plate with fries here, and order anything else at your own risk.

Bumble Bee

For a semi-fast and hearty meal at a reasonable price, Bumble Bee in Santa Fe, New Mexico is a good one. They have excellent grilled chicken to put inside a burrito, taco or salad. A salsa bar also compliments their homemade tortilla chips. The only downside is whenever I eat their pico de gallo, I can't seem to shake the taste of onion out of my system. They used to be pretty reasonable price wise, but I definitely justify the price for the wholesomeness and convenience of not having to make a meal. About $10.00 will run you a burrito these days.

Monday, July 21, 2008


For anyone who enjoys a good frozen dessert, I highly recommend Yoberri in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is located on the corner of San Francisco St. and Guadalupe, next door to Il Vicino, the pizzeria. I went 2 nights in a row for the pomegranate flavor. It has wonderful consistency, taste and for $2.70 for a small cup, it is definitely affordable. It may be frozen yogurt, not gelato, but it is way better than the gelato stores in town like Ecco. The mango/agave flavor will be in the store forever, but other flavors, like my beloved pomegranate will come and go. This week (July 21st, 2008) blueberry is supposed to come into the picture.

Inn at the Anasazi

Last Friday, I went to the Inn at the Anasazi in Santa Fe, New Mexico for some outdoor patio eating. The cooking instructor from Las Cosas at the De Vargas Mall, John Vee, recommended it and I wanted to give it a try. So my girlfriend, my baby and myself went to check it out.
It was excellent. Talk about spending $$$, though. We started off with a basket of chips with 3 dips, 1 being guacamole (it needed a punch, salt perhaps? Or more lime juice and jalapeno?) and 2 types of salsas. We ordered an ahi tuna wrap that was very good, and an order of crab ravioli. They were both very good. After 2 iced teas, and tip, the bill ran around $60.00+. (That seems like the magic number for dinner for 2 in Santa Fe, NM doesn't it?) I would definitely go back again but to try the trio of small buffalo burgers with fries---that looked amazing!

Cafe Cafe

As we were driving home from a decent but overpriced dinner this evening, it occurred to us that perhaps I should set up a blog on my favorite places to go for food. Hence,! This is my first time blogging and hopefully not my last. I enjoy eating, cooking and rating food of all kinds.

Tonight, we had dinner at Cafe Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A fairly new Italian restaurant on Sandoval cross street being Cerrillos. We had a large bottle of sparkling Pellegrino water, I ordered the clam linguine and my husband had the breaded veal that had a bit of pasta on the side. We spent $61.00 including the tip. It has nice ambiance, but for pete's sakes, $7.00 for a bottle of sparkling water and $19.00 for a smallish plate of clam pasta, and $23.00 for a piece of veal is ridiculous. As much as I enjoyed the meal as it was good, I think lunch will be better bang for your buck. I will definitely not go back there again for dinner.