Archive for September 2009

V. Sattui Winery

September 28, 2009

My favorite winery in Napa Valley was V. Sattui.  Yes, this was my first time in Napa and yes, we only went to four wineries but this one blew the others out of the water.  The wine went down so smoothly and left no aftertaste!  Every wine we tasted – and we tasted them all on the premium wine tasting menu between the four of us – was excellent and topped the one prior.  Even the port wine was excellent and I’m not usually a big fan of dessert wines.

I wish I bought a bottle of something here.  You can only buy V. Sattui at the winery, not in stores.  I was “saving myself” for the other wineries to come.  At least now I know and now I have a reason to go back!


Mr. George Sattui pictured above, was our pourer and at first we thought he was a grumpy old man who wasn’t being generous with his pours but he warmed up to us in the end and even shared a joke with us.


Since V. Sattui was our first stop, we decided to grab food at the deli / marketplace and eat on our way to the next winery.  I usually don’t like premade sandwiches but this one was special.


It was love at first bite!  (I think I have a strange love affair with great sandwiches.  Swoon!)  Boyfriend and I shared the chicken pesto sandwich which was on this sooooft focaccia bread.  I also had a bite of Elisa’s tuna sandwich which might sound boring but most certainly was not!  Elisa gets tuna at every single sandwich shop we go to without fail.


There was a BBQ going on outside and Elisa and Matt bought some oysters.  We had also bought some bread and cheese for our picnic we planned to have at Chandon later on in the day.  We walked around the beautiful grounds and ate outside in the beautiful weather before heading to our next few stops.

Side story: when we got to Chandon (two wineries later) they opened the TWO bottles that Matt bought so we were forced to drink them on the property.  One of which was a sparkling wine.  We had all already done our sparkling wine tastings there.  They told us picnics weren’t allowed when we laid out our blanket and busted out our food.  One of us, who shall remain nameless (but not Matt), became insanely trashed and has no recollection of even going to the last winery!  No worries, we rolled down the window and left him in the car while the rest of us checked out Hess Winery.  He was so sick that we ended up at some random Vietnamese / Asian fusion restaurant for dinner (hours later after he was conscious and able to walk on his own) and he ordered a $12 bowl of pho because that is one of the few things that helps him prevent hangovers.  Probably THE most expensive bowl of pho he has ever or will ever order.  He was a novice and I guess he did it right for his first time wine tasting!  Looking at the bright side though, since he was passed out in the car and was falling asleep in the restaurant at dinner, he had the most sleep he had gotten in the past few nights combined!  He woke up refreshed the next morning and even offered to go wine tasting with us that day if we were up for it!  Elisa, Matt and I just looked at him like he was craaazy.  : )

1111 White Ln.  Saint Helena, CA

Bouchon Bakery

September 25, 2009

We’ve been on the go quite a bit lately.  The weekend after New York, we were in town but last weekend, we went wine tasting in Napa with Elisa and Matt.  It was my first time in Napa and I was quite excited about the food AND wine there since I had heard so much about both!


One of the places I definitely wanted to try was Bouchon Bakery.  I had heard so much about Thomas Keller but didn’t particularly feel like splurging on one of his restaurants on this trip since I had been spending so much money lately.  Dessert was the perfect choice!


Everything looked so scrumptious!!  Bouchon Bakery is known for their various flavored macaroons and even though I don’t like coconut, I was almost tempted to get one because they looked so beautiful on the top shelf.


We tried the Chocolate Bouchon which was basically a small, rich brownie.  The size was perfect for its richness.


I decided to get the TKO.  I asked the guy if I should try their signature “TLC cookie” or the TKO and he said the TKO is his favorite item in the entire bakery and that I must try it!  I think I made the right choice because it tasted like a wonerfully fancy oreo cookie and I heart oreos!!  The cookies were subtly sweet with cream sandwiched between them.  *EDIT* I just found out that TKO stands for “Thomas Keller Oreo.”  It definitely tasted like a perfect oreo!!


Boyfriend went with the Thomas Keller’s version of a Nutter Butter.  (Can you tell he’s a huge fan of peanut butter?!?)  It was quite sweet and since we didn’t have water (or milk which would’ve been my preferred drink) we ate half and saved the rest for later.  The inside was smooth and creamy and smooshed between two peanut butter and oatmeal cookies.  I think the second half of the nutter butter almost tasted better after having been in the fridge!!

There are Bouchon Bakeries in New York, Yountville and Vegas… we didn’t hit the one in NY but we’ll be in Las Vegas in a couple weeks.  Maybe we can stop by if we have time!!!

6528 Washington St.  Yountville, CA

Swirls on Wheels!

September 24, 2009


Does anyone else think it’s absolutely adorable that Pinkberry delivers in NY?!?  Even McDonald’s delivers over there!

French Fries at Balthazar… and other stuff too

September 23, 2009


My last meal in NY was at Balthazar.  I had been crossing my fingers we’d make it there and barely did before they closed, our last night in town.  Bobby Flay said the best french fries he ever ate was at Balthazar and seeing as how I love french fries, I needed to try them.

Keep in mind that before we made it to Balthazar, we had a slice of pizza as a snack, dinner at a Japanese izakaya with numerous pitchers of draft beer, a slice of pizza as a snack soon after and gelato for dessert at the place next door before we rolled ourselves a few blocks to SoHo.  This was all in the span of four hours.  You’ve already seen the pictures of how piggy we were that night!


I didn’t even notice the french onion soup on the menu and would’ve been tempted to order it had I not been obsessed with getting fries.  Candace let me try some of her soup and it was all sorts of goodness with cheese melted on top.


Joy got the shrimp cocktail.  The color of the shrimp were so beautiful and they looked so fresh!


This was the seafood bar we sat next to.  Everything was beautifully laid out on ice.


Boyfriend had a hard time deciding what to order and finally chose the warm goat cheese with caramelized onion tart.  It sounds quite wonderful, doesn’t it?  By looking at the picture, I’m sure you can tell that is not a goat cheese and onion tart… Boyfriend ended up with a burger because they had run out of his first choice appetizer.

Joy told us that Balthazar is actually known for having good burgers and it was quite an impressive one!  The patty was cooked to order and had a great flavor to it.


Now for the star of the show.  The whole reason I had any desire to go to Balthazar to begin with were the french fries.  They were mentioned on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and I was immediately intrigued.  They soak the cut potatoes in water to get rid of the starch and then blanch them in oil.  When you place your order, they fry them again so they come out fresh and hot.  It’s a two part deep frying process that leaves the fries silky on the inside while crispy on the outside.

This restaurant was amazingly packed at 11 PM on a Monday night.  I can only imagine what it’s like at prime dinner time on a weekend!

80 Spring St.  New York, NY

A snack, dinner, dessert, then late night dinner

September 22, 2009

This is everything we ate before dinner, for dinner and after dinner…

Needless to say, we pigged out!  Pizza from Ray’s Pizza for our before dinner snack.  Tons of small dishes from Village Yokocho at our izakaya dinner.  Joe’s Pizza as an after dinner snack.  Gelato from GROM for dessert, next door to Joe’s.  It was our last night in NY and it did feel like we walked a mini marathon.  After dessert, the group split up and Joy, Candace, Boyfriend and I walked (yes, we walked again!) to Balthazar’s for a late night dinner.

Mmmm, Balthazar’s deserves its own entry.

Our long journey…

September 21, 2009

I knew before we even booked this trip that I needed to eat NY style pizza at least once while in New York.  We were down to our last night so I was getting worried that we weren’t going to make it.  Joy came to the rescue and said she knew of the perfect place to take us!  She just didn’t know where it was.  Or what it was called.  Or the cross streets.  Basically, she wasn’t sure about anything except this pizza was great the one time she tried it.

We ate dinner then started on our journey.  We zig-zagged through the streets of New York in search of this nameless pizza joint.  All she remembered was that when you step out of a particular bar, the pizza place is right across the street.  We finally found said bar and realized that her beloved pizza joint was now a hot dog stand!

We walked around and found Joe’s Pizza, a recommendation by one of Randall’s friends.


[photo courtesey of Randall]

I was so excited to eat that I forgot to take pictures of the pizza slices themselves, just pictures of us WITH the pizza.  This was exactly the kind of pizza joint I wanted.  I didn’t want a sit down, fancy place but wanted to point to my slice at the counter, have them stick it into the oven to warm it up and then stand around a small table while eating.  I got a slice of cheese pizza and put on garlic powder, oregano, and chili flakes.  You can’t go wrong with a slice of pizza for $2.50!  After our journey around the West Village, I had built up another small appetite even though we had eaten dinner about 45 minutes prior!  I consumed my pizza in no time flat.


Do you have any idea how many Joe’s Pizzas there are in New York?!?  Probably not half as many as those which claim to be THE BEST in all of New York. ; )  This one was perfect and hit the spot.  The next time I go, I’ll have to try other places to compare!

7 Carmine Street  (Carmine and Bleeker) Manhattan, NY

Hundred Acres

September 18, 2009

Randall had mentioned he wanted to take us to Hundred Acres for brunch so we checked out the menu online before we went.  Boyfriend LOVES anything cinnamon (or curry) so when we saw the Cinnamon-sugar Donuts with mocha dipping sauce as a starter, I knew he’d want to try them.


We get to the restaurant and alas, there are no cinnamon-sugar donuts on the menu!  No mocha dipping sauce.  Nothing of the sort.  Poor Boyfriend.  So I went ahead and ordered warm, cream homemade biscuits with honey butter and banana walnut bread. 

The biscuits were good but pretty dense.  They really expanded in my stomach later on.  The star of the plate was the honey butter.  Randall likes this honey butter so much that he stole a bite of it and licked it right off his knife!


Boyfriend went with a chilaquiles dish that was very filling. 


I chose the blueberry pancakes with creme fraiche.  The pancakes were light, fluffy and scumptious but I was so full from my biscuit that I barely finished one!



Randall and Vu both went with Poached Eggs
house-made biscuits, smoked salmon & hollandaise sauce






 Horace went with the French Toast on
semolina-raisin bread, caramelized pineapple & honey yoghurt





 Horace’s cousin Derrick went with one of the specials.  An open faced sandwich.  It must’ve been good because his plate was wiped clean when he was done!




 Horace’s other cousin Ehrlick went with the Acrs Scramble which came with a side of corn bread and salad.



Hundred Acres had a really nice atmosphere and comfy decor.  I feel like I hardly ate anything though because the biscuit made me so full.  I’ll have to not order a starter next time and stick to a main dish!

38 MacDougal St.  (between Prince and Houston St.)  New York, NY

Chocolate by the Bald Man

September 17, 2009

We ate a lot while in New York.  We ate regular meals, grabbed snacks and made special trips for dessert too.  Our only saving grace was that we did a ton of walking everywhere.   We didn’t make it in time for ChikaLicious before they closed this particular night, so decided to go to Max Brenner’s for chocolate decadence instead.  Luckily, they are open “until late” as the door says.  Although they have a full menu, this seems to be more of a dessert destination since most things on the menu consist of chocolate.


Boyfriend and Candace both went with The Brown Heart and The Snow White Heart, respectively.  They were warm chocolate cakes with ice cream and fondue on the side and a double layer of pure chocolate and peanut butter (brown heart) or marshmallow (white heart).


I had forgotten that Randall doesn’t like chocolate when we decided to go here.  He managed to find the one thing on the menu that doesn’t have chocolate in it and ordered The Berry Delicious, Berry Refreshing Berry Sorbet Sundae.  It has rasberry & mango sorbet, fresh strawberries, candied blueberries, macadamia nuts, rice krispies, honey “pop rocks” rasberry sauce and whipped cream.  I had a bite and it was definitely refreshing but very sweet.


I ordered off the “MAX I SCREAM” menu and went with The Fantastic Popsicle Chocolate Fondue.  It came with one vanilla ice cream popsicle with a side of pure melted chocolate, crunchy wafer balls and candied hazlenut bits to keep dipping in until your ice cream is gone.  The whole time I was eating, I thought the crunchy wafer balls were the hazlenut bits!  Hello.  Lover.  Those crunchy wafer balls were ah-ma-zing and I ate every last one of them.


I no longer think I can call myself a chocolate lover.  While I love milk chocolate, there actually IS too much of a good thing and I don’t care for dark chocolate at all.  Those crunchy wafer balls though… that was love.

841 Broadway  (between 13th St & 14th St)    New York, NY

Pommes Frites

September 16, 2009


While we were waiting for our table at Caracas, we decided to stroll over to Pommes Frites for a snack.  This place boasts of authentic Belgian fries and 25 different dipping sauces.


The fries are made from freshly cut potatoes, fried twice to golden perfection and topped with your favorite sauce.


We chose #9 pesto mayo and #18 curry ketchup.  The latter sounded strange but ended up being surprisingly good!  Boyfriend loves anything curry flavored and Randall and Candace liked it as well.  There are other “interesting” sounding sauces on the menu such as pomegranate teriyaki mayo, Vietnamese pineapple mayo, and peanut satay.

The fries weren’t out of this world but the sauces are what made them special.  It was a perfect snack to hold us over until our dinner.  All sauces are $1.00 extra.

123 2nd Ave.  (between 7th St. & St. Marks Pl) New York, New York

Frrrozen Hot Chocolate!

September 15, 2009

The day we left for New York, Oprah had a food episode which showed clips from past episodes with celebrities and their favorite recipies.  I watched the episode when I got back and had no idea that she had visited Serendipity 3.


We went to Serendipity 3 before heading back to Randall’s one night because it’s not too far from where he lives.  We went around 1 AM (they close at 2 AM) so there was no wait.


Boyfriend went with the Humble Pie.  It’s a creamy peanut butter pie with a graham cracker crust.  It was sweet, rich and just as creamy as the menu promised.


I really wanted to try the frozen hot chocolate since that is their signature dessert.  Candace and Randall both went with the frozen hot chocolate as well.  There are two new flavors (mint and cherry) so I had to try the mint frrrozen hot chocolate!  It tasted like a mint chocolate granita, pretty icy but flavorful at the same time.

When Oprah visited Serendipity in 2004 the owner Stephen Bruce offered to teach her how to make frozen hot chocolate at home.  I got really excited and envisioned myself making the drink for guests the next time we entertain.  He told Oprah to pour in one cup of cold milk, 3 cups of ice, 1 pack of frrrozen hot chocolate mix (!!!) and then blend it all together.  Put whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top, put in two straws and you’re good to go!  There are 14 different blends of chocolate in the mix packet.

It seemed like more of a commercial to buy the mix from the store than a recipe.  I was disappointed he didn’t give an actual recipe for the drink but at least I now know there is a closer Serendipity to me than in New York.  There is a Serendipity 3 in Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas!  I loved the quirkiness and decor of the place and can’t wait to find out if the Vegas one mirrors the one in New York.

225 E. 60th St.  New York, NY

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