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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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Ballard Pizza Company – Seattle, WA

Ethan Stowell just doesn’t stop…and I couldn’t be happier about that!  So far each restaurant he’s opened has had it’s own personality.  His latest – Ballard Pizza Company – serves up huge slices of pizza for lunch and dinner everyday and is even open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays…that could be trouble:)  Along with pizza there are fresh pastas each day and a selection of salads.

I ordered a slice of the mushroom pizza as well as a mixed green salad.  The pizza was very good and I was pleased to see that the bottom of the slice was nice and crispy, not soggy.  Perfect!  The salad was good however my only complaint is that it was over dressed…so much so that I couldn’t eat half of it and normally the salad is my favorite part.  Next time I’ll just have to order the dressing on the side.

I look forward to going back – maybe for dinner next time – and trying a new slice!

Bar del Corso – Seattle, WA

If I lived in Beacon Hill I’d probably frequent this spot more than I’d like to admit.  It’s got that laid back neighborhood feel while serving food that proves why it earned the title as one of the best new restaurants in Seattle.  Jerry Corso uses his impressive pizza oven to fire Neapolitan style pizzas with seasonal ingredients that will have you not wanting to share.  It’s a popular spot and because they don’t take reservations, don’t be surprised if there’s a wait but just get a glass of wine and be patient…it’s worth it!

I love octopus and tend to order it whenever I see it on a menu.  This version was well done except I felt the peperonata overwhelmed the dish, not letting the octopus stand out.  But…it was still a great dish and sopping up the leftover sauce with bread was amazing!  Our salad was perfect…there was a great balance of sweet and acidity that made all the ingredients work together.  And the pizza!!!  SO good!  I’d love to go back and try all the others but I have a feeling I would probably want to get the fungi again it was so good:)

Grilled Octopus - with heirloom peperonata

Arugula & roasted sunchokes - Pink Lady apples, pecorino, agro di mosto & extra virgin olive oil

Funghi pizza - crimini mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, housemade sausage, pecorino & fontina

Spago (lunch) – Beverly Hills, CA

Although this is somewhat of a duplicate I thought it was deserving and different enough seeing that it was lunch this time, not dinner.  Spago is one of my favorite spots in BH that never disappoints.  On a recent trip down to the land of sun and skinny beautiful people who walk like they’re someone but aren’t, we dashed from the airport straight to lunch to celebrate my mother-in-law’s birthday.  Wolfgang himself even made an appearance which was warm welcomed.  It should not surprise you that the first thing we ordered was a round of tuna cones.  I really can’t be more enthusiastic about them.  I’ll spare you my thoughts…just order them!

Next we all split the House Smoked Salmon Pizza with shaved onions and dill créme fraiche and salmon pearls (aka salmon roe) – too big for one person and plenty to split amongst five as a starter.  Similar in concept to the Smoked Salmon (and Sturgeon) and Blinis but the pizza itself has more substance to it.  Not a light dish in the slightest but delicious in every bite.

For my main course I was sold on the Japanese BBQ Salmon Salad with cucumber, avocado, pickled vegetables, seaweed, butter lettuce and ponzu.  This was SUCH a good choice!  I will go back and eat this over and over if I can.

Because of the birthday celebration we had to indulge in a little dessert so the birthday girl chose the Candy Apple with honey poached fuji apples, salted pretzel puff pastry, apple cider caramel, and Tahitian vanilla ice cream…whoa…talk about the perfect ending.  This was so much better than I could have imagined it to be.  Well done Sherry Yard!  It’s not wonder she won “Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation.

 

ABC Kitchen – New York, NY

Located in the basement of ABC Home (I didn’t get the chance to go there so it’s on my list for next time), ABC Kitchen is home to Chef Jean-Georges, winner of the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant of 2011.  The space is very urban with all the exposed beams and air ducts as well as the mix of materials…wood and concrete with splashes of decorative lighting.  The menu is well rounded offering a mix of seasonal ingredients all the while staying just small enough to not be insanely overwhelming.  Our reservation wasn’t until 10pm (welcome to New York!) and was still packed and lively.  Definitely a different city in comparison to Seattle but we already knew that:)

We started with the Line Caught Tuna Sashimi Marinated with Ginger and Mint.  Nice clean flavors…I could have eaten a lot more of this:)

We had to get the Pretzel Dusted Calamari with Marinara and Mustard Aioli.  I’ve never seen such a thing but in all honesty…it was so understated that I was barely able to detect the pretzel.  Good and cooked perfectly but didn’t strike me as anything “different”.

Special of the night: Truffle pizza…yes please!!!  Anyone who has had fresh truffles before knows that they’re much more subtle than the overly intense flavor of truffle oil.  I love both but think you have to be careful with the oil.  A little can go a long way.  These on the other hand…keep ‘em coming!

I love, love, love brussels sprouts and always get them when they’re on the menu.  Roasted with garlic and rosemary, these were fantastic!  Lived up to my expectations for sure.

My husband and I split the Akaushi Cheeseburger with Herbed Mayo and Pickled Jalapeño.  With all the other food we ordered this was the perfect thing to split.  Packed with flavor, this wasn’t disappointing.

To end our already indulgent meal we decided on the Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sundae with Candied Peanuts & Popcorn, Whipped Cream and Chocolate Sauce…wow!  I would definitely order this again.  Although we hardly put a dent in it this was incredible!  I loved the hot and cold, silky and crunchy, salty and sweet…it was everything you could ask for.  Yum!

Serious Pie – Seattle, WA

Who doesn’t love pizza?  And who better to make it than Seattle’s own Tom Douglas!  I first discovered Serious Pie while on a food tour in downtown Seattle.  They described the whole pizza making process, how their dough is brushed with olive oil and then sprinkled with Murray River Sea Salt (another thing I discovered on that trip that I now use all the time while cooking) making the entire pizza something you want to devour – not leaving the crusts like some do with other pizzas.  Long story short…after the tour we found ourselves back at SP eating more pizza because it was SO good.

Fast forward a couple of years and it’s one of our favorite spots.  We take out of town guests there as often as possible and while downtown shopping or running errands we’ll find any excuse to make a stop.

My favorites include the Baby Lettuces Salad…it’s plenty to share and just so simple and refreshing to start your meal with.  I also always gravitate towards the Roasted Chanterelle Mushroom and Truffle Cheese pizza…holy crap it’s good!  I’m a huge truffle lover so that might explain things…if you’re not, they you probably won’t like this pizza.  I also really appreciate their version of the Margherita Pizza…clean flavors that do enough on their own.  This last trip my friend and I ordered the Soft Egg, Spicy Coppa, and Tender Mustard Greens pizza…it’s was delicious!  I would definitely order it again.  There’s something about the fresh greens on top that really compliments the savory underneath.  Yum…if you haven’t been, you’re really missing out!  Even Chef Tyler Florence said it’s his favorite pizza on an episode of The Best Thing I Ever Ate…Pizza!

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