Monday, October 20, 2014

Osteria Monte Grappa - Ojai, CA

I have to admit I have had some previous visits at this restaurant that were less than stellar but lately, they have been knocking it out of the park. Just to make sure they were on a roll I dined here three times before giving them a solid thumbs up. The olive oil and balsamic on the table that greeted me with the bread was terrific. Everything I look for for a go to nosh while deciding what to eat. 

I got a Risotto special that featured Seared Scallops, tomato, onions, diced arugula and finished with cream. It was delicious. My only complaint it wasn't on the menu the next time I dined there. It was totally fantastic and look forward to when it is on the menu again. 

Dana orders the same thing every time and lucky for her the Panino Canoviano is on the menu constantly. The sandwich features mozzarella cheese, arugula, tomato, avocado and proscuitto. It looked as good as it sounded! I am impressed with its price too, what a deal for $8.

I do have to say that Osteria Monte Grappa is on top of its game and I am happy to give it my good review. Restaurants are hard to leave people feeling satisfied and I have left feeling ecstatic her latelly. Go get a bite for yourself!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Giorgio's - Ojai, CA

We are really into sports right now as the Giants are playing in the WORLD SERIES as a wildcard team! Yee haw! But, this particular evening we decided to try out the new Giorgio's to watch the San Francisco 49er game. We sat at a table in the middle of the dining area to give us room to clap, cheer and invite our friends in town to join us.

We started with some Mozzarella Toast with a tomato dipping sauce. This bread was perfect for snacking but if you are afraid of a little garlic breathe you had better stay away from this one. It would freak out the most evil of vampires!

Next, I had Mary's Organic Chicken Strips. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the all white meat totally tender! I loved the breading, golden brown and crunchy! Dipped in ranch dressing, it was just awesome. I even had enough to take home with me and mix it up with salad the next day. 

Scott ordered the Caprese Sandwich complete with huge slices of Mozzarella, tomato, cucumber and lettuce. A balsamic drizzle loosened things up and made the sandwich complete. If Scott could critique the sandwich he thought the bread to sandwich ratio was high. A thinner bun might be a better option.

Last but not least was the Fried Chicken Sandwich Special that Dana and Brandon both enjoyed. The Buffalo sauce made brandon think it was spicy but Dana thought it was just right. I am sure the chicken was the same chicken used for my chicken strips order because they both loved the chicken. The fries were a little under done but it was probably because they were such a thick cut. Thinner cut potatoes would clear that right up.

Giorgio's is the East End's best option for football and World Series action. Give them a shot!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Himalaya Cuisine - Ventura, CA

 
I have been burned out on my usual picks of food. Things have been blah to me lately because I have been lacking in variety so I decided to mix it up and eat at a place I have never been to... Himalaya Cuisine. It proudly serves food from India, Nepal and Tibet. I sat down and was given a menu that did not look too familiar to me so I made my best guess at what I would like and prayed it would be delicious.

While I waited for my food I noticed this ad for an Asian beer. How cute is the bottle?! 

They brought out a lentil soup called "Dal" that came with my Lunch Special order. It was lovely. The spices warmed me from the inside out. The ginger is the soup could be tasted and it gave me a comforting feeling that awakened my senses. 

After I licked my soup bowl clean my lunch special was presented in front of me. I ordered the Shahi Korma Chicken with rice and chutney. The chicken was so tender it practically melted in my mouth and the sauce of the korma was a tad spicy, I could have handled more but didn't want to be cocky my first trip out of the gate. The creamy base seemed to mild the spice. 

I will be back, for sure, ready to explore the rest of the menu... I still have a lot of countries to dine at it seems! The menu is separated by the regional cooking... How fun!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Santa Barbara Public Market - Santa Barbara, CA

I am so lucky to have met my dear friend, Dana, not only is she a wonderful person but she is a total foodie just like me! We love a good lunch/food adventure so we loaded up and high tailed it to Santa Barbara to check out the Public Market. We both heard it is lovely so we gave it a try!  

As you walk inside you are immediately welcomed by a gourmet grocery store. The items are familiar to those you would find at Whole Foods and other smaller boutique groceries.

The cheese monger is just a few stall down ready to answer any question you might have when wanting to pair with wines or to make the most ultimate grilled cheese sandwich. 

You will make your way to the next stall that is complete with all things balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The prices are extremely reasonable for what you are getting. I could have spent all day sampling but my cheeks were getting drawn up from all the tart goodness so i headed out. My favorite was the Ancho Vinegar - I had some kick!

Across the stall is the fresh pasta booth. How convenient would it be to pop in and grab a selection of hand made ravioli for dinner!? 

The meat selection comes up next and it was a beauty to look at all the selection of beef, pork and lamb. Everything looked so perfect!

 It was neat to see the butcher in action!

There is even a space that has an industrial kitchen for rent. It would be fun to take a cooking class featured by a local chef. I guess it would even be fun to have your friends over and make a whole bunch of enchiladas too - freezers and and freezers of enchiladas! The possibilities are endless! 

They have a stall of prepared food like these salad and sandwich combos. 

I though these tartines were cute!

 I really wanted to try a cupcake from the dessert stall but the worker ignored me so I took a photo of the precious little gems and moved on.

Our last stop was the seafood monger because we knew we had to do a little recon work before we left...

OYSTER SAMPLING!
I thought I was always a number one fan of kusshi oysters. I swore they were the best of the best. However, after trying Carlsbad Luna's I now know those are my absolute favorites. Totally briny, clean and absolutely stunning. These are the bomb.com!

It was a fun experience wandering stall to stall at the market. I just wish we had brought maybe a iced cooler to be able to bring some of these treats back to Ojai. The hour long car ride would be an absolute spoil for some of these precious ingredients. I will be back.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Ca'Marco Ristorante - Ojai, CA

Cowboy Ron was in town y'all! 

I love when Ron comes to town to visit because he likes to explore restaurants just as much as I do! We had never been to the re-opening of the Ca'Marco Ristorante located across the Soule Park Golf Course so we decided to give it a try. I especially loved the bread that came out with the oil and balsamic, it was kind of toasted and crispy on the ends. Yum! Give me texture!

Scott and Ron both ordered Caesar Salads and when this came we all kind of chuckled. It was a loose interpretation of a Caesar Salad but it tasted good and I guess that is all that truly mattered. The dressing was a version of Italian and the tomato was out of place but you know we are not that pickly to throw a stink. It just was cute.

I ordered a very special Risotto and it initially came out looking like a salad but I mixed that arugula right up and it was blended into each bite in no time at all. I picked my meal of the list of featured dishes for the evening and it was listed as to boost shrimp, garlic, tomatoes and arugula.It did featured all those things and then some! The meal was lovely and the house glass of Cabernet Sauvignon that I enjoyed with it was just as perfect.

Scott's meal of baked ziti, artichoke hearts, mushroom and Parmesan sounded lovely to him as he ordered it but he was less than thrilled with what was placed in front of him. He ate a fair portion and took the rest home. I have to admit I had it for breakfast the next day and I thought it was tasty. My one critique was that the pasta could have been cooked a bit longer. Just a tad al dente for me.

Cowboy Ron ordered the Lasgana and gave it a solid B+. I feel like that should be winning! He thought the cheese:noodle:sauce ratio was off but all in all a darn good meal. I really thought the oven pans that the meals were served in were cute. Bonus points for cute always help!

All in all, I was very impressed with the restaurant. It has had its ups and downs in the past but it seems like they are on their game now. It is a tricky location because the lack of parking in the front, but have no fear, just park in the back! I will return for sure.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Not So Healthy Blog Post...

 All my exercising has given me quite an appetite and I have acted on a few of my favorite Pinterest pins. I have had my eye on Tater Tot Casserole and Saltine Toffee for quite sometime now so over the weekend I whipped up them both...

Tater Tot Casserole
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • Cream of Chicken Soup 
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 16oz package frozen tater tots
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Brown ground beef. season with salt pepper.
  3. Add chopped onion, cook until tender.
  4. In a casserole dish, combine ground beef mixture, sour cream and  cream soup.
  5. Top mixture with tater tots.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes till bubbly and Tots are golden brown.
  7. Remove from oven; top with cheese, return to oven until melted.
  8. Enjoy!

Saltine Toffee
  • 48 saltine crackers
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 pound unsalted butter
  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips.
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan or large cookie sheet with sides with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Arrange the crackers side by side in a single layer on the foil.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the sugar and butter, stirring constantly until they bubble, about 2 to 3 minutes. 
  3. Pour evenly over the crackers and, using a spatula, spread to cover evenly.
  4. Bake immediately. 
  5. After 7 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over the crackers. 
  6.  Spread the chocolate evenly over the crackers with a clean spatula. Cool for 20 to 30 minutes before transferring the tray to the freezer. 
  7. The next day, peel off the foil and break the toffee into pieces. Keep frozen or refrigerated.
Your mouth will thank me for all the deliciousness but your jeans may be fitting you a little extra snug. Eat this in moderation and everything will be all right! 


Monday, October 6, 2014

H.C. Seafood - Oxnard, CA

On Saturday I woke up early for a benefit 5k for the Ojai Valley Community Hospital. I am not in the best shape but I figured I could power it out with my friend Nichole. With her motivation not only did I finish but I recorded my best time ever! 34 minutes! Wahoo!!

After we completed the race we went our separate ways but I really wanted to reward myself for the job well done so I headed to Oxnard to escape the Ojai heat and to try a restaurant I had been scoping out. H.C. Seafood is an order at the counter seafood joint that is also a fish market.

They even have a pick your own crab tank. As cool as this is, it is a little sad too.  

My lunch! They had a lobster special of $22 for the Grilled Lobster plate complete with fries, cole slaw and toasted bread. It was delicious! The lobster was a perfect treat for me entering, finishing and blasting my run time. I could see this being a regular thing!

After lunch I took a little walk down the harbor to check out the boats. It was such a stunning day I wanted to spend as much time as possible outdoors. The heat spell in Ojai is hopefully coming to a close, otherwise you just might find me here parked at H.C. seafood more often. two thumbs up! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Blue Stove - Thousand Oaks, CA

What is better than finding a really classy Christmas Outfit at Nordstrom's half off? Well... Not much but the lunch I had at their in house restaurant, Blue Stove comes in a close second! Read on...

I have had a Nordstrom's Gift Card burning a hole in my pocket (Thank you Kate Good Taste) for quite sometime now and after scrolling online for something that caught my eye I just never used it. I decided maybe a trip to the actual store might do the trick and it worked! After my successful trip I was starting to get a little hungry. A glass of Chenin Blanc perked me up and I was ready to make a lunch decision. 

 They must of knew I was coming... A perfectly sized portion of scallop to risotto was waiting patiently for me on the menu. The Lemon Scented Risotto was lovely, as was the jumbo scallop that was nicely split three ways. I must say this deal of a meal was only $12. In fact nothing on their menu is over $13. I know the portions are smaller and meant for sharing but for me, they were just my size.

Do I love Nordstrom's? Of course. Do I love Blue Stove even more? Absolutely! I will be a repeat guest for sure!