Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Victoria's - Gilroy, Ca

I have joined the wonderful world of Yelp. Yelp is a user based review website, that just so happens to review restaurants! Yahooooo... I read online that Guy Fieri's "Diners, Drive- In's and Dives - An All-American Road Trip" book was out. So I just HAD to go to Gilroy to purchase it. "Diners Drive-In's Dives" is my guilty Food Network pleasure. I yelped a Mexican food restaurant in Gilroy and was intrigued with "Victoria's" so I wandered north to 757 1st Street in Gilroy.

As we walked up we couldn't help but notice how packed it was. Almost all the tables were full and everyone seemed like they knew each other! That was pretty cool. Drink order was taken, salsa and chips were brought to the table. The salsa was pretty spicy! I liked that, it made me keep on eating it! There could have been a little bit lemon added to the salsa. The Margarita was a bad idea. It was wine based. Blech... Headache city.

I ordered the Cheese Enchilada with EXTRA green sauce. I was in love. I was happy that they actually listened and put EXTRA sauce on my plate. Most places I ask to do this seem to have a hard time with it, I don't know why. I do have a pet peeve with Mexican food restaurants who put that little, lame salads on the plate. Does anyone ever eat that little, pathetic salad of chopped iceberg and tomato? I mean really... Anyhow, I give this dish the MGT approval. Also ordered was the Carne Asada Soft Taco with rice and beans. He enjoyed it, saying that the meat was very flavorful.

Overall, I give this restaurant 1.5 thumbs up. I would have given it 1.75 but the service was pretty bad. There were two waitresses and they were concentrating on socializing with the customers than actually doing their jobs. I understand that some schmoozing is a good thing but, come on! Do your job. There were tons of people coming in and out picking up To-Go orders and that also seemed to sucking up their time. That needs to improve, just my humble opinion.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Day

After presents were opened my Mom's side of the family came over. More family, and of course, more food! Appetizers were served: the same Artichoke Dip, Stuffed Mushrooms, Antipasto type platter of Salami,Cheese, Olives and my Nanny's favorite - Caviar and Cream Cheese. One of the main courses was cooked by my cousin Charles - a Goose! We also had Prime Rib, Zucchini Custard Bake, Asparagus, Oven Roasted Potatoes. For dessert a homemade Mince Meat pie and ice cream cake (from Baskin Robbins - easy way out). Everything was delicious. Kudos to my mother for always doing such a fantastic job.

The family enjoying appetizers.

Mom working on the Zucchini Custard Bake

Cousin Charles tending to the Goose.


Well done Stuffed Mushrooms... oops!

Me, Cousin Rebecca, Jennifer.

Mom basting the potatoes with Prime Rib juice.

Still tending to the goose...

Rebecca :)

Uncle Charlie trying out my Mom's new calf massager.

La Crema Chardonnay and Martenelli's Apple Cider - my creation.

Nanny and Papa.

Patrick and James, my brother.

Jennifer in boots.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve was spent with my father's side of the family and a few friends. We had two appetizer's that were quite tasty... Crab Dip and Artichoke Dip - Artichoke was my favorite. It is always served so hot and I burn myself eating it every time... you would think I would learn! Salad was served dressed with a tangy vinaigrette, topped with avocado and beets. The meal was a Chicken Cordon Bleu, Rice Pilaf, Gravy, Vegetable Bake and Strawberry-Jello-Pretzel creation. For dessert Banana Bread Pudding was served with whipped cream. Oh,and Mojito's! Too full...

Swag my mom made for the tables.

Cooking Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Jennifer modeling the beaded silverware she made.

Now it is my turn ;)

We use Tanimura & Antle for all our produce needs. You should too.

We had a professional bartender on hand to make mojito's!

My cousins: Drew and Todd.

Crab and Artichoke dips. Yum.

My mom and yours truly...


Dinner is served!

The crew.

Banana Bread Pudding

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Fuzia - Morgan Hill, Ca

While driving through Morgan Hill on Saturday I stumbled across Fuzia Restaurant. I was intrigued by the sleek facade. I parked the Yukon and wandered in for a late lunch at the 17340 Monterey Road location.

As we walked in we were greeted by a hostess who seemed to be learning her way around. I overheard talk of this being a newly opened restaurant. Exciting! A fresh place for me to review! Yahoo. We were seated in front on the window that faced the street, a great spot to soak in the afternoon sun. The wine menu featured AliCats Syrah from Hollister, so you know I had to order that. I love AliCats. They currently have only their beer and wine license so a Peroni was ordered as well.

The waiter came by and told us that the soup of the day was Cream of Celery Root. It sounded weird, so of course I ordered it. And, I am sure glad I did! That soup was delicious! Who knew celery root was so good? I mean really?! The only complaint I had was the size of the bowl, I kind of only wanted a cup... creamy soups are so filling.

The entrees came up next and they sure were beautiful. I ordered the "Tower of Ahi" which was served avocados and papaya, then drizzled with a pomegranate-orange sauce. It was served with four delightfully crisp wontons, my favorite part. I was kind of underwhelmed by this dish as a whole. The tuna was just tuna. Nothing tasted bad, just one note. The next entree up was the Pappadelle Pasta - chicken, butternut squash, spinach, shallots bathed in a sage cream sauce. Wow. This serving was huge! The dish was a cream fest. Too rich! After all that Cream of Celery Soup and then this heavy pasta we were just creamed out.

There are only a few things that make me angry when I go to a restaurant. One of those things is when the hostess/waitress is rude to the fellow workers, in this case the bus boy. It is just disturbing. I felt like saying something to her, I will get the guts someday to speak up. She really turned my stomach. Between all that cream and the not so nice girl, I was ready to scram. I enjoyed the new, beautiful setting but when I saw that my bill was $63 for lunch I freaked. Time to go, and time to go now! Wow. bring your pocket book if you want to try this place out for yourselves. 1.25 thumbs up.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Green Chile and Chicken Casserole

Green Chile and Chicken Casserole

This casserole was my first introduction to the wonderful flavors of green chile. It's always a favorite at gatherings (family dinner, "food day" at work, etc.); you can choose how zesty the flavor is by the heat of the chile you select, although if all you have available is the canned variety in your grocery store you'll probably have to stick with mild.

Campbell's Cream of Mushroom is a real hero in this recipe! If I really made an effort I could make a homemade variety and keep frozen to use for this, but – well, maybe some day. Life is short. You could also use leftover chicken from your freezer, boneless chicken breasts/thighs, or even canned chicken with good results.

4 large chicken breasts - Boil in chicken broth and shred into bite size pieces
12 small size corn tortillas, cut into 1" strips
1 cup chopped green chile (mild or hot; thawed and drained if you are using frozen)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or Colby cheese (or combo)
1 10-ounce can cream of mushroom
1 16 oz tub of sour cream
1 jar salsa verde
Healthy dash of salt and pepper

Chop cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and cut the tortillas into 1" strips. Divide each of the ingredients into two parts, reserving 5-6 of the tortilla strips for garnish. Layer first half of the ingredients in casserole as follows: tortilla strips, chicken, green chile, cheese, soup mixture. Make a second layer of each and top with the reserved tortilla strips.

Bake at 350 degrees; for 40 minutes with a sheet of tin foil on top. Take off the tin foil and let brown for 20 minutes. Tortilla strips on top should be crisp and mixture should be boiling. Let cool before serving. That baby is hot!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kristina's - Hollister, Ca

I needed to do a food review, I have been letting my loyal readers down! So on Sunday evening I decided to give Kristina's a try. Located at 480 Tres Pinos Road and directly across the street from Taco Bell is where you can find this Mexican joint. They are known for their lunch specials but I decided to go ahead and give it a whirl for dinner.

As you walk in you are instantly greeted by the friendly staff. I believe there were three ladies all busily working but the second we walked in they stopped what they were doing to welcome us. The place was not very busy, it was raining pretty hard out so in their defense people could have been hiding in their homes instead of dining out. As we made our way into a booth I noticed the interesting mural on the wall, I love murals! I always stare at them until I find Waldo. But, unfortunately I couldn't find him in this one. Darn it. Chips and salsa came, it was alright. The chips were fresh out of a bag and the salsa, I do not believe was made in house. No worries though.

First up was my order of a cheese enchilada smothered in green sauce rather than red. I asked for extra sauce but I am not sure if it had that. I liked that the rice had some color to it. It did not taste like regular Mexican rice, it was long grain and little al dente. Which was strange, I just report the facts. The beans were just alright, nothing special. I was most disappointed with the green sauce on my enchilada. No taste! It was just sauce, making my enchilada wet. That's all. Bummer dude. Next up was the Carne Asada plate. From the picture it looks pretty impressive and it seemed not to disappoint. The rice and beans got the same review I gave. Just okay. The meat itself was pretty good, it is usually difficult to screw up carne asada. The side components were a nice addition to the plate... radishes, jalapenos, tomatoes and green onions.

All in all, I would say Kristina's is pretty average. Nothing that made me say, "Wow, I want to go there again" - but not terrible. I know people who really enjoy eating there for lunch because of their awesome lunch specials. For $5.95 you get a lot of food and a drink. Not a bad deal at all. So if you are in a hurry or short on cash I would go back to Kristina's. 1.25 thumbs up.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Holiday Parties!

Gotta love them! The fun has begun. 2008 San Benito County Chamber Ambassador Party...

I got a fabulous pair of gold dangly earrings from Hometown Hello in the gift exchange. What a fun group of ladies! Stay posted for the many more to come this Holiday Season!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Las Palmas - Hollister, Ca

It should come as no surprise that I love Mexican food so guess what this review is of... another Mexican food restaurant! At 449 San Benito Street in downtown Hollister you will find Las Palmas, a family owned and operated Restaurant and catering business.

I took my lunch an hour earlier than normal so the lunch crowd had not settled in yet which was ok with me. I was hungry! Chips and salsa were brought to the table and our drink order was taken quite quickly. The salsa is very good. Not hot at all. Mild even, with a lot of cilantro in it. I love cilantro. Do you? The inside of the restaurant has been vamped up quite a bit and looks great. Splashes of color coat the walls living up the joint, a cool mural gives visual interest to the longest running wall. We order and lookie here, lookie here...

First up is the "Drenched Burrito" a lunch time favorite at Las Palmas. Filled with carne asada, rice, beans, sour cream, cheese, avocado, salsa and then "drenched" in a tomatillo sauce and a healthy sprinkle of cheese. I am pretty sure this meal was meant for two people! It is huge! The carne asada inside is good quality meat. Seasoned well and fat trimmed off, no more bites of grisly carne in this burrito. Sorry Super Taqueria, this one has you beat because of the quality of meat! My order of the cheese enchilada and rice and beans was the cheesiest! No really, the cheesiest enchilada I have had in a long time. So much so I went through many napkins, strings of cheese and a heap of sauce in every bite! Alright with me. I love that there was plenty of sauce to mix up with the rice and beans, saturated them in fact.

All in all, great lunch time experience in downtown Hollister. Priced right, quick service and a tasty selection of items on the menu. In addition to Mexican food, they have hamburgers, salads, sandwiches and other lunch time favorites. They are quite famous for their breakfast burritos, I am excited for a future visit. Catering is also a big part of Las Palmas, private parties and events can happen at the restaurant - they are only a phone call away. I give this place 1.5 thumbs up! Walk downtown and give them a try. Comments are welcomed.