Monday, April 30, 2007

Cooking: Lemon Pepper Pasta & Chicken Kebobs

Recently inspired by Teczcape's blog about lemon lingiune, I decided to make a version of my own. I had some uncooked pasta leftover from the last time I attempted to make another pasta recipe (don't ask, it turned out horribly salty and gross). Justyn made chicken kebobs seasoned with a spice rub we bought from an Arabic store near Oregano's (where we had lunch). The pasta recipe I used was here

The recipe turned out better than I had expected. I thought it was going to be bland, but the garlic, red pepper flake, parmegano reggiano, basil and green onion made the dish pop. I also bought some new plates and a bowl from Bed Bath & Beyond because I felt that my presentation skills have been sucking. So here we go...

Review: Oregano's

After Napa, Justyn and I knew we would be in no condition to work today so we both took the day off to recover and run much needed errands. We had lunch at Oregano's which is a pizza place that he had found on Tucked in the back of a moderately sized shopping center was where the restaurant lived. We had gotten there around 11:45am and the place was empty. Most likely we were one of the first customers for the day. That had me worried for a bit, but the descriptions of what we ordered seemed good. I had a lamb Shwarma wrap and Justyn got something called a beefy pizza.

Since it was such a nice day we deicded to eat outdoors in their patio area.

Our food arrived about 15 minutes later. Presentation wise, OK not so good. Flavor wise, it was alright. I thought my tastebuds were off since I had been wining all weekend. My wrap came off as really salty. Justyn's beefy pizza looked bland, but packed a lot of flavor. I liked it better than my wrap, so we split our lunches. The salads were nothing really special, but they tasted better than my wrap. Overall, it was a pleasant lunch. Nice and relaxing on our day off.

Napa Weekend Take III

This weekend I planned a trip with a buncha friends up in Napa. Justyn was so impressed with our last visit there that he wanted to get people together and go up and go wine tasting. We left on Saturday morning around 6:30am to meet Donoho at Denny's. We finished eating about 15 minutes before 8:00am which was good because that meant we were ahead of schedule. Before we went to our first winery, we went to Starbucks. I was bored so I took some pictures of Justyn & Donoho.

We got to Peju winery at around 10:00am. Again, we were the first ones there so we took some pictures before people got there.

Armen and Melinda arrived about 10 minutes later. Justyn's hand is in the picture because he's trying to find out who was coming even though he should have read the evite.

Soon after that everyone arrived (ON TIME!! Shockingly) so we all went in and did our first wine tasting. We tasted several different wines and everyone liked it because each of us bought two bottles of wine each! Justyn got a bottle of Merlot and I got a white wine called Carnival. (Dammit, I just found a cool mojito recipe on their website and I'm out of it)
After the tasting at Peju, we took some pictures in their lovely courtyard. The weather was great (85 degrees). They have a koi pond and querky fountains as well.
The next winery we hit was Milat which is my favorite. All of the times we've gone, Mike (one of the co-owners) was our host. I told everyone about him because he's hilarious and brutally honest about the restaurants in the area. Unfortunately he was working in the vineyard, so we had Robert (the other co-owner) talk about the wines and host the tastings. We even got a mini tour in the vineyard and barrel warehouse. He told us how to tell the difference between grapevines and how mold can ruin a roomful of barrels even if it's just a little bit. We went back to the tasting room after the mini tour to finish the tasting.

As I'm sure I've posted before, their Chenin Blanc and Port are two of their best wines (at least in my opinion). I think everyone else noticed the same thing because they bought those particular wines as well. Now, according to Donoho, I had a wad of cash in my hand while I was talking to Robert and Justyn had taken all but $5. So I was flashing the bill around singing "I have 5 dollars.." Donoho snatched it from me and I don't even remember that. I asked Robert where my $5 was and he said Donoho had it. WTF? I don't think I was that heavily buzzed at Milat. I meant come on, it was only the second winery we hit.

After Milat and a good amount of wine, we had lunch at Taylor's Refresher. When I was planning the trip, I looked online for good outdoor lunch places and this one stuck out. It got good reviews too so I had to try it.

Group shot (From left to right: Cheri, JTT, Bryant, Janice, Melinda, Justyn and Donoho)

Now imagine someone telling you, you can't eat lunch until a picture is taken. Normally people would give you a weird look for wanting to take a picture of food. What's so damn special about food? Well, as our Peju host gracefully said "Food is paired with wine. Wine and food go hand in hand like lovers and friends." or something like that. I know I'm totally butchering this quote. Anyway, I had to explain to everyone that didn't know I was a foodie, that I had to take food porn for my blog. JTT then takes an onion ring and french fry and makes his own porn. Then Donoho takes it totally to another level (DP!).

We had driven by Franciscan winery and saw that they had a nice big beautiful fountain in the front so we decided to go there after lunch. Unfortunately, it was really packed and I could see why. In one of the rooms there was a private party and in the main part of the tasting room, all the counters were filled with customers. Outdoors was a nice patio where there was more wine tasting, it was crowded out there as well. So we never got to taste the wine there, but it's pretty inside and out. Since Whitehall Lane winery was nearby, we went there instead. Not surprisingly, it was crowded as well. We were going to leave to go to another winery, but they squeezed all 7 of us in. Janice and Bryant needed to take a break from tastings.

This is one of my favorite pictures of the weekend.

The next and final winery we hit that day was St. Supery. OK, confession time. The only reason why I wanted to visit this place was because Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey went there for their anniversary. I'm a total Newlyweds whore. I love the show. I guess it's because they were a really cute couple and I loved all the little quirks they had.

Here's a group shot of everyone.

St. Supery was OK, by that point I was drunk. I think it was partially the hot weather that sped things up for me. My allergies started kicking in as well so that wasn't any good. We didn't buy anything at the winery and afterward left to check into our hotel. We stayed at the Best Western on Soscol Ave. Angel was unable to make the trip due to work reasons, so Donoho cancelled his reservation at his hotel and took her room. Man I look buzzed and red from the sun.

After we rested at the hotel for a couple hours and took showers we left at around 7:15pm for Bistro Jeanty. I've raved about this restaurant in previous posts and I wanted everyone to know the deliciousness that is Bistro Jeanty. Their tomato soup is the best you'll ever have in your entire life and I've said it so many times that people were excited to try it.
On the way there... the scenery was amazing.

Everyone arrived promptly (yay!) and we took some pictures outside which I'll post later because they weren't on my camera. So we'll fast forward to our table and food. OMG, so much good food! I asked everyone to try something different on the menu for both appetizers and main course so we had a variety of different foods that I sampled on like a vulture. We were split up into two tables because they didn't have a table big enough for 9 people. I visited back and forth tasting different things from escargot to rabbit terrine. Mmmm.. OK when I ordered my appetizer, I didn't want to have the tomato soup because Justyn was getting that, so instead I got Croutons de Foie Blond (Duck Foie Gras Pate, and Port Poached Pear. It sounds good doesn't it? Blech. This dish confirmed the fact that I don't like liver. I don't care how good people say it is, it just doesn't work for my palate. Hey, I tried it right? That's what counts. Onward to the mouthwatering bad food porn.

Wine we had during dinner

Cool wall hanging

Infamous tomato soup (better picture of it)

Nasty foie gras which I reluctantly finished.

This was Donoho's dish. Entrecrote Frites (Rib Eye Steak, French Fries, Bearnaise Sauce)

My dish (Moules au Vin Rouge - Mussels in Red Wine) This was really good. The sauce didn't quite reduce enough to get rid of the alchohol but that was a nice touch. I soaked up every bit of the liquid with my crusty bread. Mmmm... Great now I'm drooling.

Now originally I was going to get this. Justyn ordered the Cote de Porc (Pork Chop, Mashed Potatoes, Onion Sauce). How can you go wrong with that? Since he ordered that, I got the mussels. Both dishes were equally really good.

This time instead of being shy, I asked our waiter if I could meet the chef. Unfortunately, like a lot of chefs nowadays he wasn't there but the waiter said that I could stand at the line and meet the sous chef. I was suprised by how small the window for the food was. I thanked the chef for cooking such good food and snapped a quick picture. Do I look happy? That's cuz I am.. buzzed from the wine and food.

I don't know what time we left the restaurant, but it must have been late because we didn't get home until 12:00am or so. Justyn's got a call at 4:00am so we really didn't get much sleep. Especially him. I guess I snored a bunch during the night.

Here's him messing with me while I'm massively hungover from the previous day.

We went to KFC for breakfast (yuck). I couldn't stomach anything this morning. I felt sick for most of the morning until we got to Del Dotto winery. We were supposed to have a group cave tour, however there wasn't enough interest so I cancelled it. Instead, Armen, Melinda, Donoho, Justyn and I did a simple tasting instead. Del Dotto makes red wine only. I thought it was OK up until the last wine. It was a 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon in which almost all the fruit flavor was gone. It was a really dry red wine, but good.

After that we said our goodbyes and headed home. For the most part, I slept in the car until we reached Milpitas. We stopped at a Vietnamese restaurant to have lunch. I needed something spicy to settle my head and stomach aches. It seemed to do the trick after drinking tons of water so I felt a little better. We got home, unloaded the car and ever since then I've been relaxing and watching TV.

What a great weekend. I truly hope that everyone had a great time and we'll definitely have to do it again!

Pictures below courtesy of Donoho:

Pictures Courtesy of JTT:

More Pictures Courtesy of Bryant & Janice:

Here are the rest of the pictures of the great spread of food we had at Bistro Jeanty and miscellaneous shots...