Monday, November 26, 2012

Snapshot: My first Thanksgiving Dinner

It turns out one of the problems with travelling on Thanksgiving is that Americans all go home for the holidays making dining options extremely limited. Thankfully we happened across a country hotel just as cute as a button.

The dining room was exactly as you'd imagine an older country proprietor thinks is elegant. White table cloths, silver cutlery, heavy scrolled paintings and Autumn accents.

For $39 for a 3 course prix fixe Traditional Thanksgiving dinner it was a bargain of heavy calorie laden delights.

Autumn Harvest Soup

Turkey with all the trimmings; cranberry sauce, gravy, green bean casserole, potato gratin, sweet potatoes (with marshmallows... oh America) and stuffing.

And of course Pumpkin Pie

We waddled home very satisfied and feeling like we'd tasted a true piece of American culture.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review: Kalani's, Lake Tahoe CA

After a long drive in the dark from San Francisco we arrived at our lodge in Heavenly Village South Tahoe and asked the concierge where we could eat without venturing too far into the cold. They recommended Kalani's which is in the village itself.

When they said it was Hawaiian we were thinking Teriyaki Chicken and Loco Moco but instead found a delightful high end surf and turf. We were offered a choice of sushi window, bar or dining room seating but opted for the more intimate dining room. 

2008 Sonoma Cutrer Pinot Noir $61

The wine list was extensive but since we wanted both seafood and meat we opted for this Sonoma Cutrer Pinot Noir. You may see a range of Californian and New World wines appear in my blog in the near future as I'm learning the local wines now that I live in the US ... doesn't that sound like a tough job for a foodie ;o)

Blackened Ahi Tuna with Wasabi Mirin Aioli and Soy Mustard $15

Good quality Hawaiian Ahi perfectly seared is good enough on its own but the Wasabi Aoili is enough to make me weep and even the crisp dressed "coleslaw" it sits on is beautiful. 

A la carte sushi and sashimi

I'm handed a full al a carte sushi menu by my boy with a twinkle in his eye and I am not disappointed, it's full of pure deliciousness. We order a sampling of a number of items.

Kim chee pickled cucumber $8

The perfect mix of crisp and hot with umami, sweet and sour. 

Spicy Hamachi Roll $12

The Hamachi was a little fishy for my partner but the sushi was well made, the key here is to avoid "spicy" fish roll in the US since this is often minced fish pieces rather than whole fillet.

Maguro Sashimi and Seared Ahi $14 each

Tuna is my greatest weakness and so we ordered one of everything, you can also see the maguro presented as nigiri in the background. Excellent quality, fresh and the perfect temperature. Just gorgeous. 

Walu Sashimi $16

With such delightful tuna we assumed that that would be the highlight of our meal however we were convinced by the waitress to order this sashimi. Walu is also known as Hawaiian butterfish and this describes it completely, buttery, fatty and delicious this now rivals otoro as my favourite oily delight. Like all truly excellent foods it comes at a risk, the high oil content can cause severe stomach issues so only order a small portion. 

Caprese Salad $16

I'm a sucker for Caprese even in the cold and this doesn't disappoint. Excellent quality tomato and basil are topped with a fresh puffy mozzarella and a truly delicious home made sweet chilli dressing. 

14oz Rib Eye $36

Simple but well done and cooked to perfection served with butter and grilled asparagus and wasabi mashed potatoes. 

Full Rack of Beef Ribs with Mashed Potato $32

Dripping in kalbi sauce with wasabi mash and bok choy. Messy, fun, excellent.

Banana Bread Pudding $12

There's no way I could eat this on my own, I got about halfway through before giving up. Banana bread is layered with macadamia nuts and covered in creme anglaise before baking. Served with more custard and more chopped macadamia nuts. Warming but tropical.

Coconut Creme Brulee $12

A traditional creme brulee with a twist - coconut oil through the custard. 

2009 St Supery Moscato $15 a glass

If you're going to go all out, you may as well have a dessert wine on vacation. This moscato was perfect with the heavy desserts. A little sweet but light and cut through the richness well. 

All in all the meal was absolutely delightful and far exceeded our expectations for resort food. Easily the best Hawaiian food I've had with top quality produce and excellent service, we'll be back. 


Shops at Heavenly Village
1001 Heavenly Village Way
South Lake Tahoe, CA
(530) 544-6100

High end Hawaiian food
Casual at the bar or formal in the dining room - your choice!

View Larger Map

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Snapshot: Wolfgang Puck at Universal Studios

I recently went to the Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, afterwards we decided to stop and eat at the City Walk Hollywood complex next door.

Wolfgang Puck runs a bistro there with casual dining options such as pizzas, salads and family favourites.

Roasted Beet Salad, goat cheese, oranges, pecans, fresh greens, balsamic vinaigrette   $7USD

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, port wine sauce, crispy onion rings   $14USD

Now doesn't that look better than hot dog on a stick and hamburgers? Definitely recommended for theme park dining at its best.

Wolfgang Puck Bistro - Universal CityWalk

100 Universal City Plaza,
Los Angeles, CA
(818) 622-4455

Casual dining, family friendly

View Larger Map

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Streatfood Fair, San Francisco

One of the great things about the food landscape in the US that is yet to take hold in Australia is the rise of the food truck. One can only assume the issue is related to the lack of available vehicles since we are as a rule lovers of street food and festival stalls.

San Francisco is run amok with reasonably priced food from a range of vendors. This obviously makes setting up for festivals much faster and cleaner and means a quick start for tasty food from any number of cuisines.

On top of this there's also a great little foodie's paradise in SOMA (South Of MArket because Americans need to nickname every postage stamp of land) "Streatfood Park" is a strange little blob of bitumen next to a freeway over pass. What was obviously a patch of land even the most hearty of estate agents couldn't sell has become a gathering place for local food vans.

At any time there's about 8 food trucks parked around the space - on the day we're there there's BBQ, Burgers, Japanese, Mexican and more. Being a recent immigrant to the US means that my love affair with pulled pork is still in its hot blooded honeymoon period, so I head to the BBQ stall. 

Getting food from a food truck is a pretty simplistic affair; choose your main from the board or list. If you're not there super early make sure you have a back up choice since items frequently sell out during the day. 

Make sure you have cash, and hopefully change and order at the window making sure to pick up drinks, sides and cutlery from the front of the truck. Many food trucks in the US offer a snack window like this with drinks in ice and easy to access. Most food trucks don't have a license to sell alcohol however the Streatfood Fair has a dedicated stall where one can buy beer and margaritas.

 It's not great weather when we visit so we go sit in the convenient shed, but otherwise there's charming picnic tables and umbrellas at which to eat. Unfortunately I discover too late that there's a baseball game on and everyone inside the shed is watching it.

But who cares really in the face of a spicey sweet pulled pork sandwich loaded with coleslaw?

SoMa StrEatfood Fair

428 11th Street
San Francisco, CA USA

Street food, Casual beyond casual
Go early or have a few choices

View Larger Map

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Recipe: Low carb fudge

It must be said, this is a low carb recipe not a low calorie recipe. This is rich beyond rich and is definitely a 'treat' food, handle with care. 

Low Carb Fudge

1/3 cup Peanut Butter
125g Butter
1/4 cup Splenda
100 mls Whipping Cream
1 tbpsn Cocoa
1/3 cup Walnut pieces


  • Cut the butter into centimetre sized cubes and place in a saucepan with the peanut butter
  • Heat on a low to moderate heat stirring regularly until you get a caramel coloured liquid emulsion of nut butter
  • Add the Splenda and mix through thoroughly, heat until the mixture begins to bubble
  • Add the Cocoa, 1 tablespoon should be more than enough if good quality Dutch process Cocoa is used. In the US I have discovered Guittard single origin Cocoa and recommend it highly. 
  • Stir thoroughly to ensure even mix of the nut butter and cocoa, the mixture should have an even colour
  • Add the cream while continuing to stir, this may cause the mixture to rise slightly so it is best to use a small saucepan or tall confectioner's pan
  • Continue stirring rigorously, the mixture should thicken quickly due to the Cocoa and cream
  • When the mixture has reached the consistency of gravy turn the heat off
  • Take a small pan or tupperware container - I used a 10cm * 15cm container - and line with the walnut pieces
  • Pour the hot fudge mixture over the nuts ensuring they are all covered
  • Leave to rest until close to room temperature and then refrigerate until solid, preferably overnight
  • Cut into cubes, this recipe should make around 20 pieces but err on the small side as this is very rich
  • Serve with coffee but keep refrigerated until close to serving as the high fat content of this fudge will cause it to melt at warm temperatures
  • Be calorie and carb smart, this is a little over 1g of carbs per piece and less net carbs since much of the carbohydrate is dietary fiber from the nuts but this is a whopping 100 calories a piece

Monday, August 27, 2012

Keto Friendly Recipes: Carb free "taco" salad

Looking for a quick and easy family meal? This takes less than 20 mins to prepare and contains only 2g of carbs.

Carb free "taco" salad

500g chicken breast
1/2 a head of romaine lettuce
1 medium Hass avocado
2 tbspn sour cream
1 tbspn hot sauce
3 tbpsn hot salsa
60g shredded cheese
oil for frying


  • Cut the chicken into strips then season lightly with salt
  • Oil the pan and put onto a medium heat, when the oil is hot add the chicken strips
  • Brown the chicken then add the hot sauce to the pan, I use Tapatio Hot Sauce for preference
  • Stir fry the chicken until lightly coated in the hot sauce
  • Peel the avocado and then cut into cubes
  • Shred the lettuce into small strips suitable for fitting on a fork
  • Toss the avocado, lettuce and sour cream in a bowl (Mayonnaise can be used to dress if preferred)
  • Place the warm chicken on top of the lettuce mix
  • Spoon on the salsa and then sprinkle with cheese
  • Feeds 2 lightly or 1 substantially
  • Fantastic the day after so great for school lunches or leftovers

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Keto friendly recipe: Steak au Bleu

Rib eye and Blue

500g boneless rib eye
100g neufchatel cheese
100g soft blue cheese
1 handful of asparagus
salt and pepper


Steak is best cooked at room temperature where the muscle fibers relax slightly, this also minimises the 'shock' when the meat hits the hot pan. 

Here you can see I've bought a large boneless rib eye, cut fresh from an organic butcher. You should get the meat cut according to how well you like it done, I want mine slightly rare so this is about 2.5cm thick. When in doubt, ask your butcher.

Once at Room temperature season liberally with salt and pepper and place in your grill/pan.

Leave the steak on a medium heat, you want this hot enough to sear the surface but also slow enough to render the fat through the meat. 
Cook to your preferred taste, I prefer a Medium Rare steak with a crisp sear on it. If you work with a meat thermometre this is around 60C. Refer to the meat 'doneness' guide on Wikipedia.

Take the meat off the heat and rest for 5 minutes, use this time to cook the asparagus.

Put hot water with a little salt in a pan deep enough for the vegetables. Place the asparagus spears in the water as it is near boiling with a little salt. 

When the asparagus turns bright green like this it is ready, drain and place on the plate. 

This step can be done at any point but I like to do it when I buy the cheese. Blue cheese is delicious but often too strong in large amounts, to set this off I use neufchatel cheese - a rich cream cheese - to smooth out the flavour. 
Put the desired amount of cheeses in a bowl and let warm to room temperature for ease of mixing. Combine the cheeses and then spoon onto a sheet of plastic wrap. 

Roll into a sausage shape and place into the freezer. When you begin cooking the steak take this out of the freezer. 

Using a hot knife cut the cheese into rounds and place on the rested steak, cut a knob of butter and serve with the asparagus. 

Delicious, can you believe this is diet food?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Keto friendly recipe: Tuna ceviche

This is one of the easiest recipes in my repertoire - the secret here is to get the freshest Tuna you can and prepare this immediately before serving.

Tuna Ceviche

250g raw tuna
1/2 red onion
1/4 cup fresh coriander
1 avocado
2 lemons
1 lime
3 tbspns olive oil


Cut the tuna steaks into pieces to marinade, I like to leave this enough to cut into sashimi style slices. 

Juice the lemons and the lime, add more if necessary ideally you want the juice to just cover the tuna in marinade

Cover and leave the tuna to marinade to your taste. If you like the tuna raw you should leave for 15 minutes or less, if you want the acid to cook through the meat you should leave for up to 4 hours or cut into smaller pieces.

When you take the fish out of the fridge it will have discoloured due to the cooking process, this is normal. 

Keep this in mind if serving to a dinner party since the fish can turn grey and unappealing if allowed to sit in the acid for too long. 

Dice the tuna into small cubes, I like to put some slices aside to have on their own.

Dice the vegetables and put in a mixing bowl.

Add the olive oil to the marinading mixture, making sure to remove any citrus seeds. Add to the ceviche mix to taste, about half the liquid should be enough. 

Garnish with one or two sprigs of the coriander, I like to serve it with slices of the marinated raw tuna like so.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Snapshot: Katana-ya, San Francisco

So the good thing about moving cities is a plethora of new restaurants to try out! Feeling a little down and homesick one day I treated myself to a "girly day" of movies, nail salons and what better comfort food but ramen?

A quick review of the local eateries online recommended Katana-ya and it turned out to be just around the corner from where I was staying. So I dashed out just as they were opening.

Any restaurant that has a line out the door waiting for it to open is usually worth a look, the fact that they were Japanese grandmas made it all the more promising. 

Like a real noodle bar in Japan the place is low on seats and high on shouts in Japanese, there's sushi and noodles and not a lot else on the menu. Mostly the place is packed with single eaters and couples wolfing down food. Like many popular ramen joints staying to talk is not encouraged. 

Mapo Tofu Ramen

I spotted a mapo tofu ramen on the menu and ordered it since it's not easy to find. The result? The noodles are not made fresh, but they're pretty good. Sadly there's no tonkotsu broths on the menu so I order this with a miso base. The meat and tofu are nice, and it looks as though they make their tofu on site. All in all it was pretty damn good, not up their with the best ramen I've ever had but definitely better than I was expecting to find in the US. I'll be going again. 

Katana Ya

Casual noodle dining
Very few seats, no reservations, expect to wait and eat fast

View Larger Map