Fig & Olive – Newport Beach, CA

This restaurant is beautiful from the inside out.  If I could live in there I would.  The interior design is so clean and elegant just like the food.  And it never hurts to be surrounded by beautiful people.

I went for lunch and ordered light but would love to go back and explore the menu more.  I started with the Yellowfin Tuna Carpaccio which was perfect and followed that with the Salade de Laitue with grilled shrimp added.  Next time I’d love to try the Salmon Tartar, Penne Funghi Tartufo (I’m a glutton for truffles), or the Fig & Olive Chicken Tajine.

Next time you’re in need of a nice leisurely comfortable meal, go here!

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Graze – Walla Walla, WA

On a recent wine tasting trip to Walla Walla, my group and I asked where to get a great sandwich in town and the unanimous answer was Graze’s right off of Main Street.  After checking into our hotel, we made the 5 minute walk and were so pleased with what we encountered.

I decided to go for a hot sandwich and ordered the Pepper Jack Chicken – grilled chicken, pepper jack sauce, tomatoes, red onion, provolone and lettuce.  So tasty!  I like spice so this was a great choice for me.  I was also tempted by the Pastrami (a classic in my book), Turkey Avocado and Lemongrass Chicken.  Delicious!

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It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything and for good reason…I’ve brought another Good Eater into the world:)  Welcome Maxwell!  At 8 months he’s taking the food world by storm and so far has lots of favorites, making his mama proud.  Stay tuned for some new restaurants and recipes to come!

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Redd Wood – Yountville, CA

Whether you’re spending your day wine tasting or are just looking for a great spot for lunch (or breakfast/dinner), you should definitely stop by Redd Wood in Yountville.  Located next to the boutique hotel North Block Hotel (and not far from French Laundry), it’s the perfect place to have an easy, unpretentious meal that’s satisfying, not super heavy and overall a place that you’ll want to go back to.  This is Michelin-starred chef Richard Reddington’s second Yountville spot, his first being Redd which is equally fabulous but oh so different.  *You’ve got to try that spot if you haven’t already!

The decor is very current/urban and comfortable.  Kind of reminds me of a place you’d find in Soho with a California feel.  There’s outdoor seating which is always a great option, especially for someone like myself who doesn’t get the opportunity to eat outside a ton at home.

I stopped in midday for a bite in between wine tastings and was very happy with my order – the shaved summer vegetable salad which couldn’t be fresher and the proscuitto, arugula and parmesan pizza.  I’d love to go back for dinner to try some pastas and main courses.

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I’ve never been a huge peanut butter fan which completely baffles my husband.  I’m not sure if it’s just too sweet for me or what.  Once almond butter became a fad, I started using it and liked the fact that it wasn’t as sugary however, I was frustrated by the grainy texture.  That is until I found out about Barney Butter from my Cooks Illustrated magazine.  Each month they do a review of products (from BBQ’s to dried pasta) and Barney Butter was at the top of their list.  Something that really stood out to me in the description was that Barney Butter is made without the skins of the almonds which gives it the smooth texture like traditional peanut butter…exactly what I was looking for!  They even have a crunchy version if that’s your preference.

In comparison to peanut butter, Barney Butter has only 7% saturated fat (vs. 18%), 14% fiber (vs. 8%), 8% calcium (vs. 0%), 8% iron (vs. 2%), 25% Vitamin E (vs. 13%), and 20% Magnesium (vs. 13%).  Although the calories are almost identical to peanut butter, I think the increased amounts of other nutrients/vitamins makes this the clear winner!

Go to your local Whole Foods or order some HERE

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Agrodolce – Seattle, WA

Located in the old 35th Street Bistro spot in Fremont, Agrodolce has knocked it out of the park!  The atmosphere is welcoming and charming and our server couldn’t have been more enjoyable which was very refreshing.

The food was to die for!  I seriously would go back tonight for the exact same meal I ate last night.  We started with the burrata with beets, a citrus honey gastrique and mint…as delicious as I expected!  For my main course I chose the ricotta ravioli with roasted garlic, green garlic and stinging nettle.  Everything about this dish was perfect!  You would have thought I had licked my plate based on how clean it was at the end of the night.  Do yourself a favor and go get this before they take it off the menu.We also got the seared broccoli, kale and brussels sprouts to share…all of which I would order again.  For dessert we got the rice pudding fritters with a citrus honey, vanilla dipping sauce and powdered sugar.  Nothing to complain about there!

Something notable about Agrodolce is how organic the menu is.  It took us a bit to realize that the few things on the menu that are unlined are those ingredients that are NOT organic.  Just to be clear, there are hardly any.  Pretty impressive!  Not to mention on the reverse side of the menu there are vegan and gluten free options.  This isn’t something I’ve seen yet in Seattle but I think it will soon catch on.

Overall, Maria Hines has outdone herself and I can’t wait to go back!

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Joe Jack’s Red Snapper

I blogged about Joe Jack’s Fish Shack in Puerto Vallarta because of this dish.  Every time I go down there this is #1 on my list of things to eat.  It’s so fresh, full of flavor and light at the same time.  Hands down one of my favorite dishes and now I have the recipe for myself thanks to the oh-so-friendly owner who had no hesitation in giving it to me the last time I was down there (thank you!).  And now I’m sharing it with you!

Each fish serves about 2

Ingredients

  • 1.5 -2 lb red snapper or other whole fish (scaled and gutted, very important)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of “huacho salt”
  • 4 Tablespoons of slivered garlic olive oil
  • 5-8 cloves of garlic poached in butter
  • 5-7 whole dry chile de arbol
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice

Huacho salt

  • 2 Tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons whole black pepper
  • 5 ea. Clove
  • 1 stick cinnamon (broken)
  • 4 chile de arbol (seeds o.k.)
  • 12 Tablespoons kosher or sea salt

yields about 1 ½ cups

Directions

Huacho Salt:

Toast all spices except salt and black peppercorns in a sauté pan on very low heat until smoking. Let cool and add black peppercorns. Grind in a spice grinder (coffee grinder) or blender or morder and pestle. Combine with the salt.

You can save and use this on anything. It will add a great interesting flavor to anything you can imagine.

Poached garlic:

IMG_6782To poach the garlic, slowly heat butter (enough to cover) and garlic cloves until cloves  just give to the touch. You can do more of this as well and just keep it in the fridge to use later in the week, but not too long as it will get rancid.

Whole Red Snapper:

IMG_6787Score the fish three or four times (or more if its bigger fish) on each side and liberally season with the salt mixture. Liberally douse the fish with the slivered garlic oil on one side and place on a medium temperature griddle or grill or large sauté pan or even a baking dish (preheat oven to 425˚F if using oven method), again liberally slather the top side with the same.  (feel free to stuff the fish with garden herbs and lemon or lime and if it’s a bigger fish also liberally salt the inside of cavity as well)

Place on griddle or grill or sauté pan on one side and cover. If its in an oven do not cover (cook for approx. 30 mins, 15 mins on each side or when done).

When fish is about half done on topside, flip the fish to the other side and cover again.

When the “new” topside is just cooked or rather almost cooked to the bone (the scores let you peek). You are pretty assured that the downside is also done.

Note:  an important thing to remember is that over cooked fish is way worse than under cooked fish. Most likely the residual heat from the cooking, will continue cooking the fish at the bone.

Place the fish on a serving platter.

IMG_6794In a separate hot sauté pan, put in the butter and poached garlic, a pinch of salt, and four or five more whole chilies. When the butter starts to brown, add the lime juice, and pour it all over the fish.  Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, lime halves, and serve with fresh tortillas and beans and rice.

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