Grilled Shannon Ranch lamb shish kebab – Tarla Mediterranean Grill

Grilled Shannon Ranch lamb shish kebab - Tarla Mediterranean Grill
Marinated with Mediterranean herbs and spices, kale, Rancho Gordo cassoulet beans, basil-mint chimichurri sauce. $22
Tarla Mediterranean Grill, Napa CA

Mmm, this lamb was really good! It was tender and juicy and so flavorful. I think a bit of tzatziki on the plate would have knocked it out of the park. I thought the kale and beans were tasty too.

Bulleit Sidecar & Tarla's Manhattan - Tarla Mediterranean Grill
Bulleit Sidecar: Bulleit bourbon, cointreau, fresh lemon juice. $10
Tarla’s Manhattan: Buffalo Trace bourbon, carpano antica, angostura bitters, candied cherry. $10

Cassoulet – Cafe Bastille

Cassoulet - Cafe Bastille
Duck confit, toulouse and garlic sausage, and white beans. Three course dinner prix fixe $35
Cafe Bastille, San Francisco CA

I love cassoulets because they’re so hearty and delicious. And with both duck confit and sausage, you really can’t go wrong. This duck was nice but I actually liked the sausage even more. Noms!

Le Parisien cocktail - Cafe Bastille
Le Parisien: raspberry coulis, passion flavored cognac, champagne. $11

Artic char – Maven

Artic char - Maven
Fried brussels sprouts, white beans, red verjus, golden raisins, dill. Bloomspot 4-course chef’s tasting menu with cocktail pairings for two.
Maven, San Francisco CA

I love how crispy they fried the skin on the char. The brussels sprouts were delicious and the shallot(?) compote on top was also yummy. A successful dish.

Bitter Brother in Law cocktail - Maven

Bitter Brother in Law Cocktail: pisco, vermouth, elderflower, gentian, Peruvian bitters.
Why the bitter in-law gotta be latino?! ūüėČ

Arepa con relleno – Poquito

Arepa con relleno - Poquito
A plain arepa topped with pork fritada, green onions, sweet plantain, cheese, white beans, pickled onions. $9
Poquito, San Francisco CA

This was not what I was expecting when I saw “arepa” on the menu, but this was SO good! It pretty much had everything on it so it was pretty filling. The pork was delicious as was the fried plantain. A heavy dish, but very nommy!

African wood sorrel (Oxalis pes-caprae, Oxalidaceae)
Yellow Bermuda buttercup/African wood sorrel (Oxalis pes-caprae, Oxalidaceae), 17th Street. It’s wintertime in San Francisco so these weedy plants are popping up everywhere! I wouldn’t want these rampants weeds in my own garden, but I will admit that they’re cute.

Tripe stew a porto – LaSalette Restaurant

Tripe stew a porto - LaSalette Restaurant
Tripas a moda do Porto, a dish typical to the city of Porto made with small intestines and white beans. 7-item Tasca tasting plates $34
LaSalette Restaurant, Sonoma CA

I’m not a huge tripe fan, but I definitely wanted to try this preparation. It was very delicious! It’s hard to get grossed out when the stew is this flavorful. The white beans also add a firmness to combat the sometimes squishy soft texture of the tripe.

Outdoor lounge and pool area, The Lodge at Sonoma
Outdoor lounge and pool area, The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa. We stayed at this hotel and it was very relaxing. I loved the outdoor sofas with their retractable canvas shades!

Grilled snapper collar – Locanda

Grilled snapper collar Locanda

Cavolo nero, olives, white beans. $22
Locanda, San Francisco

This was SO good! The fish was perfectly grilled and the flavor combination was new to me. I loved the cavolo nero with the olives and white beans. A very hearty dish and beautifully executed. Cavolo nero is also known as black cabbage, Tuscan cabbage, Tuscan kale, lacinato, and dinosaur kale. I’m guessing that they used it to make the green broth.

Unfortunate Helen Keller dinner – Johannes Restaurant

Johannes Restaurant, Palm Springs CA

Ok, the title of this blog entry is a little unfair, but I wanted to vent a little bit. I actually had a very good experience at Johannes. The service was excellent as was the food.

But I’m just gonna go out and say it – I hate super dark restaurants!

For me, part of an amazing dining experience is being able to actually see what I’m eating. For instance, my duck appetizer tasted great and I’m sure it looked amazing – BUT I COULDN’T SEE IT! I really wanted to see the amazing roasted duck against the dark lentils and the beautifully drizzled raspberry vinaigrette. BUT everything looked just like a dark lump. I tried positioning the candle to get better shots to no avail. What you see on this blog is WAY better than what¬†I actually saw¬†in person!

How does a¬†dimly¬†lit¬†room improve my dining experience!? I can’t see my food. I can’t see my dining my guest. I CAN’T SEE ANYTHING!!!

This is becoming such a pet peeve for me that I’m tempted to decline¬†my next¬†reservation if I enter a restaurant and see that it’s lit like a Paleozoic cave! Just wait, I’m gonna do it! This is ridiculous!

So in conclusion, I enjoyed my dinner but it was a little overpriced considering that I couldn’t FULLY enjoy my meal.

Lillet blonde Johannes Restaurant

Lillet blonde. Over ice, orange zest. $9

Vodka martini Johannes Restaurant

Grey Goose vodka martini up with olives. $11

Pimm's cup Johannes Restaurant

Pimm’s cup, lemon juice, over ice. $9

Brussels sprouts salad Johannes Restaurant

Brussels sprouts salad (special). Lemon juice, olive oil, pecorino cheese and walnuts. $12
Very bright and refreshing. This was a simple salad that you can easily make at home. I think the hardest part would be leafing the brussels sprouts, probably very labor intensive.

Honey and soy glazed duck breast Johannes Restaurant

Honey and soy glazed duck breast. Sliced roasted duck breast, Beluga lentil salad, tiny greens and raspberry vinaigrette. $11
My favorite dish of the night. It was served cold and tasted amazing. I’m sure it was beautifully composed, but I really couldn’t see much of it. The dark duck on the dark lentils looked like a black blob in the restaurant. The flavor were great and the textures were fun.

Australian grass fed kangaroo loin Johannes Restaurant

Australian grass fed kangaroo loin. Glazed bosc pear, veal bacon, walnuts, orange, cranberries, broccolini, juniper merlot reduction. $29
The kangaroo didn’t taste as crazy as I thought it would. I guess the chef recommends it served medium rare, but this came out pretty rare. I wish I would have ordered it medium instead. It was very tender and the reduction tasted great. The bosc pear came out super hot and delicious, and I loved the mixed topping.

New Zealand grass fed young lamb rack Johannes Restaurant

New Zealand grass fed young lamb rack. White beans, zucchini, tomatoes, grilled green onions, triple Dijon mustard sauce. $36
Wow, you get a LOT of lamb – 6 ribs of it! This was very delicious and super tender. I wish the grilled green onions weren’t on the plate though. They seemed too clunky for an otherwise beautiful plate.

Bread and butter Johannes Restaurant

Baguette and pesto butter.