Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fun in the Sun: 808 Edition

Aloha my fellow bloggers!

Yet again, it has been a while since my last blog and I apologize for the noncommittal behavior. I wish eating, traveling, and blogging could be my full time job! But I digress…on today's episode of Breakfast with Beans--we will be reminiscing the warm Hawaiian sun and it's ono grindz.

Awesome view from our condo - whale watching included!

It's the end of December..the weather is getting a little bit dreary in San Francisco, but nothing compared to our friend the Polar Vortex on the East coast. Climate change is turning fellow Americans to trusty travel engines for tropical getaways. In other words, 55 degrees F was too much for me to handle, dampening my poor soul. The mister and I immediately booked our flights to Maui for Valentine's day week! Muchos romanticos. We couldn't refuse the sweet deals! And what a great decision that was.

Now, the 411 on the yummys! With so few blogs, it may seem like I am frequenting the same restaurants or food categories, but I promise it's for good reason. I am on a very special quest to try every Morimoto flagship in the US and share it with you all. Already crossed off the list: NYC, Napa, and now Maui…which leaves Honolulu, Boca Raton, Philly and soon to be Vegas.

Grapefruit Nigiri Cocktail

Tuna Pizza

Spicy King Crab Legs

Oyster foie gras with uni

Assorted sashimi and nigiri

Morimoto Maui had a very similar menu to Napa (with an island twist). Located inside the Andaz resort, this Morimoto was a lot smaller in comparison to NYC and Napa. I kind of liked the intimate dining area and the outdoor bar. I wonder if Chef Morimoto hand picks his sushi chefs? Everything we ordered we had already tried at different locations, with the exception of the foie gras oysters. The oysters were baked with a unagi or teriyaki glaze topped with a piece of foie gras and uni. Too be honest, it was too much of a good thing in one bite. I could hardly tell what was going on because there was too much going on. Disappointing to say, but I think Maui is my least favorite of the three locations. Our assorted sashimi was lackluster. The star of the night was the local steamed abalone, absolutely divine! We did have a lovely evening here though and the service was spectacular!

I don't think Maui is very well known for the food, but we did enjoy the island flavors. I think my favorite meals on the island came from trucks! Leoda's Kitchen and Pie shop was another favorite.
Mini banana cream pie!


Here I am on our first night (that "skinny chi" cocktail was to die for)! 


Breathtaking views of the sunset at Honu Seafood and Pizza (don't knock it til you try it!)

We got so lucky with the weather here! It was a little overcast a few days and low humidity--just the way I like it. On Valentine's day we hiked the Halealaka crater. Lovely views all over the island, whether it be waterfalls, beaches, oceans…etc. Is it bad that after an entire week on the island, we didn't want to leave/weren't homesick? 



Until next time my friends! XOXO




Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New York Eats: part deux

Sometimes I fantasize about living a life 2 parts fabulous and 1 part scandalous just like Sex and the City. Here I am, Carrie Bradshaw, leading a band of readers with juicy secrets of the female psyche, but the juicy secrets are really restaurant hotspots and travel ramblings. This was our second trip to NYC in 3 months! But every time we leave the magical city, I always feel like there is so much territory left to cover. The second time around, we managed to stay away from Morimoto and tried a few new spots. My favorites from this trip: L'artusi and Pearl Oyster Bar. You can't leave NYC without going to an oyster bar!!!

And so it begins--the mister and I packed our bags for an extended weekend. We had an extra day this time, but inadvertently used it as a recovery day after our first night there (woops!). Drinks and a quick dinner at Buddakan was exactly what we needed to get the night started (Sex and the City style!). The drinks were phenomenal! I love that NYC has a later curfew than we do out here in the Bay Area as well. More time for us trouble makers.

Blue point oysters and little neck clams

The amount of picture taking on this trip has got to be worst than any other time. I should really invest in a fancy camera so that I am obligated to take better photos! The food at Pearl Oyster Bar is amazing times 10. The not so little clams were surprisingly soooo delectable! Very clean, fresh tasting. The lobster roll that everyone loves there is also a must. It may look a bit intimidating with the large heap of shoe string potato fries, but dear lordy the creamy lobster chunks are to die for!

Of course, we couldn't leave NYC without some ramen, and we visited both totto and ippudo on this trip. If asked again which won the battle? I would have to say Totto wins this time! Ippudo's broth was somehow diluted and not as amazing as the first time around. This trip, we tried the new Totto down the block on W 51st street for a late night fourth meal after drinks at Press Lounge.

Beautiful rooftop view at the Press Lounge

We also tried to get into The Standard on a Friday night with very little luck. Was able to admire some views while in the ladies room though. Wish I had more photos to make this blog a little more colorful and interesting...we will meet again soon, NYC. Cheers and a late happy solstice, holidays, and New Year to all!




Monday, October 14, 2013

Weekend Getaway: Los Angeles, Pasadena, SGV

Happy Autumn, friends!

My all time favorite season of the year. This means football parties, layered clothing, comfort food, friends, family, and holiday festivities! Which by the way, who's going to the 43rd Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin festival this year?

It's been a while since my last post, but that only means more tasty travels to share! Over our short and very eventful weekend, we had less than 48 hours to indulge (consider this a sneak peak for our Christmas trip coming up!). We escaped the early AM fog in San Francisco and arrived in sunny SoCal Saturday morning at LAX. What brought us to town was the UCLA vs. CAL game that night.

There was no time to waste. Our first order of business was shopping and brunch in downtown Santa Monica. We played a little 'name that price' game in the Nike store on a 49ers Jersey...loser drinks a tequila shot with a vodka back (I won, of course). And it was a beaaautiful morning, which meant one thing: drinks on the deck at Sonoma Wine Garden.
Bloody Mary, empty glass of 1942 Don Julio, Hefeweizen to start the party.

I really have to get better at taking photos, but our drinks and food here at Sonoma Wine Garden was wonderful. Best bloody mary ever! Loved the horseradish kick they added with extra lemon and limes. Although yelp gave the place a 3.5, I would have easily given it a 4 with the added convenience of being at the mall. Oysters, chilled prawns, marghertia pizza, and truffle fries. Get it all!

After a few hours of drinks and chatting, we parted ways to our hotel in Pasadena to get ready for the game. Chris's cousin had the right idea in mind and picked up a special BevMo mystery grab bag on the way home aka turn up at the Rose Bowl.

Pregaming with the dudes we hate to love: Maker's Mark, Johnny Walker...

Drinking would never be the same without a few games involved. I was the loser this time around...Fun Fact: 1 shot is 45 ml. A mini has 50 ml. So five minis later, the three of us headed to Barney's Beanery for a few snacks and to catch a few games on TV. Two words: fried pickles.
At the Rose Bowl! Bruins win 37 - 10!

To end our crazy day, we had a late reservation for Bestia in Los Angeles. Believe the hype! The food there is amazing. They don't have many veggie friendly options, but the flavors and textures are phenomenal. My favorites of the night were the smoked mackerel crostini and spaghetti rustichella with sea urchin and squid ink bottarga. I can't get over how wonderfully flavorful everything was. The spaghetti was cooked perfectly al dente!
Spaghetti Rustichella (Sooo good!)

Bestia has a great set up with industrial decor that reminded me of New York. Would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone making a trip out to Los Angeles. Tapas/shared styled plates and hip crowd. Can't comment on the cocktails because at this point I was too stuffed!

You could only imagine the food coma I fell into when we got back to our room. We continued the good eats the next day for lunch before our flight back to SFO. It's appalling how much good food we ate in such a short period of time. We trekked over to SGV to try the famous lobster at Newport Tan Cang. It's getting old when I say "best ______ ever!" but really, that lobster was to die for. The restaurant is huge, but there was still a ~20 minute wait for a table at 1:30pm. We did some serious damage. That's what I call Sunday Funday!
Hot and sour soup, spicy basil clams, house lobster, salt and pepper shrimp, and garlic water spinach.

So that was our weekend in SoCal. Can't wait to go back! You'll definitely be seeing me in the gym this week. Stay tuned for more delicious updates coming soon! Or follow me on twitter for frequent updates. :-) twitter.com/stinebeans

Stay warm and carry on!


Monday, September 16, 2013

SF: Must Eats

Some of the grandest pleasures of the world: laughing and dining with loved ones.

There are too many good restaurants in this city so here are the details on some of my favorite restaurants in San Francisco. The first of many being Ame.

For lucky Friday the 13th, we made last minute reservations for dinner. Fortunately we didn't run into Jason Voorhees, but we did have a frighteningly fabulous meal. Ame is located in the St. Regis Hotel and feels pretty low key/casual for a Michelin star restaurant. (Blog post on SF Michelin restaurants coming soon!) And as far as fusion goes, they do it right. The flavors stay true to their roots with very subtle new American/Western influence. I highly recommend giving this place a try. Great service, sleek decor, excellent food--a recipe for happy times!

Wall of sake at the entrance 

Heirloom tomato salad with burrata

 Amberjack crudo

 Taste of Ame Sashimi Bar

Broiled sake Alaskan cod

Everything we had was really tasty, but my favorites were the heirloom tomato salad, the cuttlefish noodles with uni from the sashimi bar, and lastly the broiled cod. I absolutely love heirloom tomatoes so this was a no brainer for me. One of the tomatoes were pickled and was perfect paired with the creamy burrata cheese. The fish had a fantastic broiled flavor and was cooked just right.

So as expected, it was just as good as the first time we dined here for Valentine's day earlier this year. Great place to take a date or have a nice dinner and chat with a few friends. I have to thank my wonderful bf for indulging me in my amateur foodie adventures.

I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend! Until next time...Tootles!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Iron Chef Morimoto

Happy Thursday my lovely foodies!

September has been exceptionally good to me thus far. I was lucky enough to dine at 2 different Morimoto restaurants in ONE week. Over the labor day weekend, we rounded up a group of friends and headed out to Napa Valley with a delicious itinerary. Morimoto Napa is a must if you are in town! The lunch menu seems to be relatively similar to the dinner menu, excluding a few dinner entrees.

Although Morimoto Napa was the one to introduce me into the mouth watering world of the Iron Chef, Morimoto NY blew me away. In fact so much that we went two times!
New York brings restaurant dining to a whole new level. There is an undeniably chic ambience that I just can't resist. Upon entering, there are two automatic glass sliding doors that lead you into the restaurant where you face a sparkling lit wall. The first night we had reservations for a table downstairs. New York tends to have a club/lounge vibe with dimmed lights and happy people everywhere! The second night, we walked in for a seat at the sushi bar upstairs (always the best seats in the house IMO). Here, you get to see the selection of fresh cuts available as well as any special preparations being made. Sadly, we did not see the Iron Chef himself either of the two nights.

Now lets get to the good stuff! Morimoto NY has a slightly different menu from Morimoto Napa. The popular dishes like toro tartare, spicy king crab legs, and rock shrimp tempura are seen at both locations (no uni carbonara in NY, booo!). We decided to pick a bunch of things that we haven't already tried in Napa.




First things first, we ordered a carafe of the house daiginjo sake to accompany our meal. The live scallop carpaccio with yuzu emulsion and shaved avocado slices was to die for! The presentation was amazing, but the taste might have been even better...those sweet live scallops were divine. Next, we had the tuna pizza which to my surprise was also very good! Who am I kidding though? I have yet to be disappointed. The crisp flat bread with creamy tuna and anchovy aioli was like a match made in heaven. The dobin mushi is a traditional Japanese soup that is very delicate and healthful. It came in a cute little teapot with maitake mushrooms as well as the very special matsutake mushroom--only available during the fall season. We ordered a few pieces of sushi to finish off our appetizer round before getting to the entrees. I could go on forever! Always make sure to ask what special fish they have available that night.

The chu toro, mirugai, abalone, and baby kanpachi were the highlights. We saw our chef prepare some smoked bonito the night we sat at the bar and decided we had to have it also. Sadly, nothing will ever come close to 3 Michelin Star Chef Yoshitake's bonito in Tokyo.

The food at Morimoto NY brings it up a few notches and is arguably better than Morimoto Napa. How is that possible? The flavors are fresh and creative with a fusion flair. I do love the dessert that Napa has to offer though (try the panna cotta with mango caviar!). Nonetheless, both are good stuff and definitely worth a visit.
Well that's it for today folks. (Bathroom selfie!) Be happy, smile, and keep dreaming...and eating!

xoxo,
C

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ippudo vs. Totto

Irasshaimase!

This past weekend we were able to squeeze a foodie's wet dream into 3 nights. It was my first time in NYC and luckily we were able to hit up some hot spots! The big apple is definitely on my list to visit again.

The vibe in New York is drastically different than what you get here in San Francisco. The buildings are much taller, the streets are pumping with people, and the cabbies drive like they were casted on the next Fast and Furious movie. 

But let's get back to the hot spots. From gay bars to Michelin Star restaurants, I think we did a pretty good job diversifying our trip. The real star of this post will be a battle between two of Manhattan's hottest ramen shops: Ippudo and Totto.

As some of you readers may know, I spent a few weeks this summer at the ramen holy grail aka Tokyo. For weeks I yearned for a hearty bowl of miso ramen from a tiny subway station, but finally here on the lovely East Coast I was able to taste a little bit of Tokyo.

Ippudo


Where do I start? Ippudo Westside is the newer shop located on W 51st St. It's only been open for about a month and we were lucky to get seated immediately at lunch time. Service was a bit slow due to some health inspection ordeal, but let me tell you...it was worth it.

To start we ordered tako wasabi, shisito peppers, and yamitsuki goma kyuri. Goma= sesame kyuri=cucumber. This is probably one of my favorite Japanese appetizers. The cold crisp cucumber combined with the sesame dressing is a refreshing treat. This one had some kind of furikake seasoning on top as well. No complaints for the appetizers. Two thumbs up. But wait, the ramen! I ordered the akamaru modern with a soft boiled egg. My bf and our friend had the karaka-men. It is a shocker that I didn't order the karaka-men as well because I love spicy, but I had to order the akamaru to taste Ippudo's secret umami miso paste.

So how was it? I was taken by surprise at how wonderful the bowl of ramen was. The pork broth was very rich and complex. The noodles were thin and straight and unlike the typical wavy ramen noodle. I would have enjoyed a chewier noodle, but their noodles complimented the soup perfectly. I stole a bit of spicy paste from my bf's karaka-men and the spiciness added another dimension to the broth. I appreciated that it was a chili paste rather than a spicy miso, which prevents it from being overly salty. It even had a kick which is very rare!

Totto


Totto ramen is just a block away from Ippudo on W 52nd St. They specialize in a chicken broth. The little shop was reminiscent of Tokyo with stairs leading down to the 10 seat counter. We sat there at the counter facing the boiling noodles for our fourth meal at 11:30pm. It was still pretty crowded and they close at midnight. 

I ordered the totto extra spicy ramen with added corn and bamboo shoots. It really was like a trip back to Japan with back to back Japanese meals all day. I tasted the broth before mixing in the spicy chili oil into my soup. The chicken broth is much lighter and delicate compared to tonkatsu broth. It was warm and simple. Much better than anything you can find here in the bay area. It made me sad as I thought of this. With the extra spicy sauce stirred in, the heat added an extra savory flavor that I really enjoyed. The noodles here were also thin and straight, but slightly chewier than Ippudo's. The ramen ninjas behind the counter were legit Japanese and were really nice giving us extra nori and soft boiled egg.

The Verdict?
Comparing the two would be like comparing apples and bananas. Both were exceptional bowls and tasty in their own way. The broth was rich vs. light and the spiciness was also different. Ippudo's spicy paste had a spicy umami flavor whereas Totto's was a chili oil kind of like the sate used in dim sum. It had a nice smokey flavor, but did not interfere/overpower the light chicken broth. Personally, I prefer a richer broth, making Ippudo the winner of this post!

Truly the city that never sleeps. I will be back for you!

New beginnings

Hello wonderful people!

This biscuit has been baking for way too long, but here we have it--my very first public blog for all your delicious desires! Over the last several months I have been blessed with some of the world's finest eats and I hope that I will be able to share my experiences with you fellow foodies and travel buggies. Here you will find all of my latest food excursions and perhaps even some kitchen discoveries from Chef Beans.

Cheers!