Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Year of Good Food, Good Friends

Hi everyone. Thanks for visiting my blog in the past year, and I hope you'll return in '07. Here's what will be coming up in the following weeks:
-- Back to simple recipes for the weeknight such as my pork chops with mushroom and sage sauce, and then recipes with special ingredients like my Lavender Lamb Stew.
-- More reviews of area restaurants, including Cesar, Modern Tea, and Out the Door.
-- A trip to Saigon. In late January I'll be traveling to Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, and will report back on the street vendors, farmers markets, and emerging upscale restaurants featuring the best cooking in the world. (So they say.)

Of course, there'll be regular features like my cooking videos (want to learn how to tie up a chicken?), more looks into my refrigerator and seasonal finds at the farmers markets. (By the way, the above photo features a watermelon radish, which can be as big as a beet and looks like a turnip, but is a brilliant radish with a splash of red inside instead of out. I bought some and pickled them in rice vinegar and sugar, but I was at a restaurant yesterday where they served it as a condiment simply sliced and served with some finishing salt. Cool.)

Hope you're having fun ringing in the new year! See you in 2007!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Dish on Dining: Nan King Road Bistro

Chinese bistro emphasizes freshness on 'Restaurant Row'

1360 9th Ave., San Francisco
9th & Irving (Inner Sunset)
Open for lunch and dinner
PH: (415) 753-2900

Since I was off from my regular day job this week, I got the chance to visit with some friends. Yesterday I had lunch with my friend Denise. Denise always tells others that I was the first to introduce her to the term "breeder." I referred to her and her husband as "breeders" awhile back. It's just something the gays do.

So yesterday I met Denise and her two daughters (I call them Exhibit A and Exhibit B in support of the "breeder" label) at 9th & Irving. This neighborhood is bustling with restaurants, but many of them are casual dining and kid-friendly. For some reason, the area has been trying to push the term "Restaurant Row" for the two-block area on 9th Avenue between Lincoln and Kirkham Streets. True, there are many restaurants but nothing that stands out as a destination restaurant other than the tried-and-true Ebisu and Park Chow.

A relatively newcomer to the row is Nan King Road Bistro, a casual Chinese restaurant that looks like any other Chinese spots from the outside with its plastic sign and drab windows. But when you walk inside, it's like you've discovered a funky neighborhood cafe with dramatic artworks on the colorful walls, bare concrete flooring and exposed ceilings.

The menu is a creative take on traditional Chinese dishes with other Asian influences, including Japanese and Korean cooking styles. Denise and I ordered the lunch specials and noodles for the girls. Lunch came with a hot-and-sour soup starter, which was wonderfully filled with a mix of ingredients such as strips of tofu, shiitake and bamboo shoots. But while the soup was hardy, it was more sour than hot (supposed to be spicy). Still, it was a warm start to our meal.

Denise had the simple Chicken with String Beans, which highlighted the season's green. It's typically done spicy, like several other dishes on the menu with the * asterisk, but Denise asked for mild. Which actually is what she got. While the ingredients were fresh, she felt it was a bit on the bland side.

I had the Sake-Miso Pork Tenderloin Fillet, which was thinly sliced pork tenderloin with cucumber, carrots, mushroom in a sake-miso sauce. Again, the pork was sliced perfectly thin and everything tasted fresh. But I didn't get a strong sense of sake or miso.

The Wok-fried Noodles was a simple bowl of Shanghai style noodles with a mix of vegetables and chicken strips. The girls dubbed this "yummy" and "good." I gave it a try and wholeheartedly agreed with the review by the 5-year-old and 3-year-old. It was good, with a slight sweetness in flavor mixed with the savoriness from the soy sauce. And Shanghai noodles (the thicker noodles) are always one of those stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal.

Nan King Road Bistro gets major points for the freshness and healthy-emphasis of their dishes. An earlier neighborhood review noted how Chinese restaurants are generally greasy and heavy in oil taste (she apparently haven't tried many Hong Kong-style restaurants) but that Nan King did not live up to that stereotype. And she's right in that perspective.

But what Nan King Road gains with its freshness, it loses in flavor. The inconsistency in taste among the dishes (too sour, too bland, too average) makes the meal feel more like dishes from an amateur home cook (but even I salt my food more) than a chef on "Restaurant Row."

Still, this Chinese bistro (by the way, no French influences in the meal as far as I can tell) has a nice homey, neighborhood feel and its contemporary surroundings make this a nice gathering for a simple, health-conscious and affordable meal. Which might be a good thing after all your holiday meals.

Minor note: Dishes can come with brown rice, emphasizing the healthiness of Nan King's menu. But be sure to ask for it because the wait staff isn't always on top of asking your preferences and will default to plain steam white rice.

Single guy rating: 2 stars (perfect for college students and families with young kids)

Explanation of the single guy's rating system:
1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner

Cesar in Oakland

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Fish for The New Year

In many cultures, from Italian to Norwegian, there's a belief that eating fish for the new year will bring you good luck. In Hawaii, ahi tuna becomes extremely expensive right before the new year because many Japanese-Americans follow the tradition of serving sashimi, which is the slices of raw fish similar to sushi but without the rice. Ahi tuna--a meaty, fatty fish--is widely known by foodies who have had seared tuna in virtually every Pan Asian restaurant. One of the common ways to prepare tuna in Hawaii is to make poke, which is a Hawaiian tradition of massaging raw fish with salt to cure it and preserve it. Poke through the years have gained a lot of Asian influences, such as the bits of seaweed (ogo) and soy sauce. In the recipe below, I've come up with a very basic and simple poke but dressed it up with a wasabi creme fraiche topping and made it a crostini. This is a very elegant appetizer for your New Year's Eve cocktail party. (The lime juice is a Spanish influence, similar to making ceviche, and helps to cure the tuna so it'll look like it's cooked, so your sushi-shy guests won't be that afraid to eat it.) The best way to eat this crostini is tossing the entire bite-size toast into your mouth and allowing all the flavors to blend together. Hmmmm. Lucious.

Ahi Poke Crostini with Wasabi Creme Fraiche

Copyright 2006 by Cooking With The Single Guy


For poke:

6 oz. ahi tuna (sushi grade), finely diced
1 T sesame oil
1 T soy sauce
1 t Hawaiian Alaea sea salt (or other coarse sea salt)
juice from one lime

For wasabi creme fraiche:
3 T creme fraiche
1 t wasabi powder
2 t hot water

6 slices of your favorite bread (cut each thin slices into four squares)
2 T unsalted butter
1 stalk of green onion for garnish (julienned)

Start by preparing the creme fraiche. In a medium bowl, mix wasabi powder with hot water to create a smooth wasabi mixture (add more water if needed). Then whisk in creme fraiche. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to let the wasabi flavor set into the creme fraiche. (You can use more wasabi if you want it extra spicy, but remember that not all your guests may be used to the punch from wasabi. A teaspoon is enough to give a subtle wasabi kick to the creme fraiche.)

In another bowl, combine diced ahi tuna with sesame oil, soy sauce, sea salt and lime juice. Refrigerate.

Place your bread squares on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Lightly butter the pieces and then bake in oven at 400 degrees until they’re toasted.

To assemble your crostini, place a tiny spoonful of your poke on the toast square. Then place a dollop of wasabi creme fraiche on top. Garnish with a thinly julienned piece of green onion. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Makes 24 bite-size squares.

Serve with chilled sake.

TIP: When shopping for your ahi tuna, it’s important to get the freshest tuna that’s sushi grade. Go to a fish market you trust. The piece of ahi shouldn’t smell fishy and it should not fatty and oily, not dried out.

STRIP THE CROSTINI: If you want to try something different, you can make this poke and lay it on an endive leaf. Endives make a nice holder for the poke and it’s less work than making the toast squares. (But you’ll lose the crunch from the crostini.) Another idea is to place the poke on nori sheets cut into bite-sized square.

GET AN UPGRADE: While this is already a classy appetizer, you can make it an even more special New Year’s Eve dish by topping it with a bit of caviar instead of the green onion. If you use caviar, reduce the sodium in this recipe by eliminating the sea salt.

PINK LIKE THE CLAY: Hawaiian Alaea sea salt is great with the meaty flavor of ahi tunu because this particular sea salt has an earthier taste. Alaea means baked clay and that gives this natural sea salt from Hawaii its beautiful pink color. You can find this pink sea salt at many gourmet grocery stores or from your friends and family in Hawaii. ;-)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

How I Got Stuffed on Christmas Eve

This Christmas weekend, I wanted to take advantage of my time off and prepare for my posts for this week, which focuses on New Year's. (Who's idea was it to have two eating holidays within a week?) So on Christmas eve, I was testing out the following artichoke puff appetizer that's great for any cocktail party. But I wasn't sure how they should be presented. So I tested different sizes, different methods of folding and pinching, etc. Needless to say, I ate a lot of my artichoke-stuffed puff pastries. (And then I went to a Christmas eve party and ate this wonderful but rich trifle with heavy cream. Oy.) I finally ended up with a simple bite-size square with a dollop of artichoke-cheese mixture on top. It's simple and easy, although you end up having to hand-prepare 84 squares! (Hey, at least if you have 20 guests, they'll each have about four pieces.) The ingredients are pretty easy to find and the savory flavor is often a hit.

Artichoke Puffs

Copyright 2006 by Cooking With The Single Guy

1 can (14 oz.) of artichoke hearts (in water)
1 can (4.25 oz. drained weight) chopped black olives
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz. part skim ricotta cheese (or regular ricotta)
2 eggs
2 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 t salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Bring out puff pastry sheets to defrost per package instructions. (Tip: Just before puff pastry is ready for use, it might get stuck together. So be sure to lay out flat both sheets even if you're not working with one right away. If you wait too long to open the second sheet as you work on the first, it might meld together and make it harder for you to separate.)

Drain water from artichokes and place them in a large bowl. With a wooden spoon, mash the artichokes into small pieces. Add olives, ricotta, Parmesan, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of salt, then blend well.

Cut the pastry sheets into about 1-inch squares. (The sheet folds out into three panels; divide each panel to make six rows, then divide lengthwise into seven rows.) Press an indentation into one of the puff pastry square with your thumb and add a small spoonful of artichoke mixture. Do this for all the puff pastry squares. Place as many as you can on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or baking wax paper greased with butter). Create an egg wash with one egg and lightly brush the edges of each puff square. Then grind fresh sea salt over all the squares.

Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Makes 84 bite-size pieces.

Serve with a glass of California sparkling wine.

TIP: When working with puff pastry, make sure you sprinkle the working area with flour and you can even roll the puff pastry to make it thinner.

WHAT'S FOR BREAKFAST: This recipe makes great breakfast artichoke croissants. Instead of cutting the puff pastry into 1-inch squares, cut larger squares (three rows along the width and then four rows lengthwise to make a dozen squares per sheet) and then add a spoon of the artichoke mixture and fold over as a triangle or rectangle to create your breakfast artichoke croissants.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Holidays, 2006!

Hope you and yours are having a peaceful, loving holiday filled with bright lights and good food. :)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Still Need a Holiday Dessert?

Everyone's probably running around buying their last-minute gifts and preparing for their holiday dinners. [[Single Guy Chef, however, finished his shopping early and doesn't have any major plans for the holidays. Sigh, life as the Single Guy :( ]] If you're still struggling with an idea for a nice, simple dessert, make tiramisu!

This traditional Italian treat is one of my favorite desserts, and you all know I'm not a big dessert eater. But what I love about tiramisu is how light it feels. Of course, once you see the ingredients you'll know like any dessert, it's never light. But it sure tastes that way. And like the English trifle, tiramisu is a layered dessert with cream. My recipe is pretty straightforward so it's simple to make and you can make it in advance. (When you're looking for some of the ingredients, I've found in the Bay Area that any Italian specialty food store or Whole Foods will have virtually all you need, such as the packaged ladyfingers and marscapone cheese, which you can't get at your regular grocery store.)

Make this elegant Italian dessert for the holidays or any special dinner in the new year!


Copyright 2006 by Cooking With The Single Guy

3 egg yolks*
1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup coffee
1/4 cup sugar
1 T confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
1 T Kahlua
8 oz. marscapone cheese, softened to room temperature
2 t vanilla extract
1 T Marsala wine
20 ladyfingers (hard cookies from package)
3 T cocoa powder
shaved bitter chocolate for topping

In large bowl, beat egg and sugar with electric mixer on high until you get a pale yellow color and ribbon forms. (About 6 minutes.) This is what’s known as the zabaglione. Mix in marsala and vanilla and blend for 1 minute. Lower speed and add marscapone. Refrigerate while you’re working on the other ingredients.

In another bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form (about 7 minutes). Then add confectioners’ sugar. And beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold your heavy cream into the zabaglione.

In shallow dish, blend coffee and Kahlua together. Quickly dip each ladyfinger (about a second for each side) and place on the bottom of a 9-inch square glass dish, dipping enough ladyfingers to create the bottom layer. You may need to cut the ladyfingers to make sure you cover the entire bottom. Pour half of your heavy cream/zabaglione mixture on top and smoothen it out with a spatula. Then create a second layer of ladyfingers dipped in coffee. Finish it off with the remaining heavy cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

When ready to serve, dust cocoa powder on top and add shaved chocolate for decoration. (To shave your chocolate, hold a chef’s knife on both ends and scrape the bottom of a chocolate bar with the knife’s edge.)

*This recipe uses raw eggs, the traditional way to make tiramisu. For safety, be sure to use fresh eggs and don’t let the yolk touch the outside of the shell. Always refrigerate your tiramisu when not eating.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Serve with a dessert wine such as muscat or a shot of espresso.

TIP: Most recipes say you should wait at least 2 hours before serving, to let your tiramisu set. I’ve found that’s not enough, especially when working with heavy cream. If you serve too soon, the cream will ooze all over the place and you won’t get that nicely cut, firm piece of tiramisu. That’s why I recommend at least 3 hours. Overnight is the best, that way you have dessert made a day ahead of any dinner you’re planning. The longer the tiramisu set, the more firm the cream and the more moist your ladyfingers will get.

GOOD TO THE LAST DROP: The key to a great tiramisu, in my opinion, is the coffee. Buy a cup of freshly brewed coffee from your favorite coffee shop (not Starbucks!) that’s close in flavor to an espresso. Or if you have good quality coffee beans, brew yourself a cup. When dipping your ladyfingers in the coffee, be sure to quickly dip them about a second on both sides, to allow it to get wet but not long so that they become soggy.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Dish on Drinks: Kingman's Lucky Lounge

A SOMA Lounge in Oakland
3332 Grand Ave., Oakland
Grand Lake neighborhood
(510) 465-5464
Happy hour: 5 to 8 p.m. ($2 off well drinks)
Lucky hour: 8 to 9 p.m. (Half off well drinks)
Opened to 2 a.m. nightly

Because it’s the holiday season, and the holidays are a time for celebrating and libations, I thought I’d do a review of a bar. Despite being the Single Guy Chef, my days of hanging out at the bars into the late hours are long gone. I’d rather be home mixing my own special pomegranate martinis. But you have to be in the scene to be seen, right?

So I venture out to the Grand Lake area to meet a date at Kingman’s Lucky Lounge. (Yes, you read that right. I was on a date. Whether I got lucky at the Lucky Lounge is none of your business!) It was my first time at the Lucky Lounge and I was sucked into the eclectic Euro-velvet charm of the décor and the dim, very dim lighting.

What’s even more surprising is that Kingman’s Lucky Lounge has been around for many years in its spot on Grand Avenue near the Grand Lake Theatre. It’s like this ruby gem in this row of tired stores and marginal restaurants that seem to close earlier than Bingo Night at a Florida retirement home.

But back to Kingman’s. This narrow space provides a cozy, intimate spot for people looking for a fun neighborhood bar on the East Bay and, specifically, in the Grand Lake/Lake Merritt area of Oakland. Its charming décor of seventies lamps and vintage love seats is accented by chill-worthy music and funky specialty drinks.

What I like about the Lucky Lounge’s drinks is that they’re made from quality alcohol. They have fun names like Sex With An Alligator (Absolut Citron, Midori and lime juice), St. George Manhattan (Super Premium Single-Malt Barley Whiskey with Sweet Vermouth), Crushed Velvet (Absolut Citron, Lemon Drop with Chamboro liquer), Pomarita (Pomegranate juice and tequila), and Luck Be A Lady (Raspberry Stoli’s and pineapple juice). The drinks weren’t always consistent (Luck Be A Lady was a bit tame in taste compared to a St. George Manhattan) but I was there mostly for the atmosphere rather than the liquor. They do make a nice dirty martini--still one of my standard drinks.

In the early evenings, Lucky Lounge is a welcoming neighborhood party with a diverse crowd. Late into the night, it can get crowded and all bets are off regarding the drinks. But still, Kingman’s Lucky Lounge keeps the cool in Oakland.

No rating because this isn’t a restaurant, but out of five stars, I would give the Lucky Lounge three stars. I mean, I had a second date there, so how bad can it be? ;-)

NOTE: Earlier this month, the owners of the Lucky Lounge opened a new location in Albany, spreading the cool factor around the East Bay. If you’re in the neighborhood, check out Kingman’s Ivy Room at 860 San Pablo Ave. (510-526-5888).

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

One Potato, Two Potato — oy!

Today I have my first guest blogger: my Jewish friend David, the Married Guy. In honor of Hanukkah, David was nice enough to share with me (and all of you) his grandmother's recipe for latkes, the traditional dish eaten during the week of Hanukkah (which ends this Friday). And now, here's David:

Thanks, Ben, for letting me pinch hit for you. Hanukkah is a great time for cooking, and nothing represents Hanukkah more than latkes or potato pancakes. This is my grandmother’s recipe. The great thing about latkes is that they can be frozen and if stored right are perfect as a light meal with a green salad on a cold night when you don’t feel like cooking.

I usually serve the potato pancakes the traditional way — with a dollop of applesauce and sour cream.

So why latkes? According to Jewish tradition, Hanukkah foods tend to be fried to celebrate a miracle involving oil that lasted eight days. The key to latkes is to keep them crisp but not greasy.

Thelma's Latkes

This recipe is from my Jewish friend, David, The Married Guy.
Copyright 2006 by Cooking With The Single Guy/David Kligman

4 baking potatoes, peeled
1 large onion, grated
1 T lemon juice
4 eggs
3 T flour
¼ t baking soda
1 t salt
freshly grated pepper
olive oil

Grate the potatoes and onion in a food processor (the recipe is a breeze with a food processor but if you don’t have one you can use a hand peeler). Immediately transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the lemon juice, eggs, flour, baking soda, salt and pepper. Mix well and then use a colander to drain the excess liquid. Heat about two tablespoons of oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Make sure the oil is hot. With a large spoon or ice cream scoop, mound the batter and set it in the skillet, flattening it with the back of the spoon or scoop. Cook three to five minutes on each side. Drain well between paper towels to remove the excess oil. Serve immediately.

Makes about a dozen pancakes. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

To class it up, serve with a glass of Chardonnay.

TIP: To store the latkes, place them on a baking sheet lined with kitchen hand towels and freeze them. When frozen, put the latkes in Ziploc bags and store them in the freezer. To serve the frozen latkes, place them on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at about 400 or 450 degrees for about five to 10 minutes until the pancakes are hot and crisp.

VARIATION: For something different, add one peeled and grated apple to the mixture.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Party With Paella

A couple of years ago I spent Christmas with my sister. For Christmas eve, we had the traditional dinner with turkey and the trimmings. But for Christmas day, I suggested we make a paella instead of having leftovers or cooking another elaborate meal.

What I love about this Spanish dish is that it really gives off a family feel because everyone gathers around the table and take a share from the paella pan. For the recipe below, I've made the proportion work out for singles who might be cooking for themselves or maybe just a couple of other friends who aren't with their families for Christmas.

Whether you're having a big dinner for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, consider making the one-pan paella for the other night so that you have less dishes to make but still get a festive feel. Paella, like risotto, can be made with a variety of ingredients. My recipe calls for a combination of meats and seafood and looks very Christmas like with the red bell pepper and green peas.

You can make paella in a large skillet, but why not go all the way and get a paella pan? They're often quite cheap and handy. In the Bay Area, the best store for your paella needs is The Spanish Table in Berkeley on San Pablo Avenue. It's a fun store just to transport yourself to Spain whenever you feel like it -- even for the holidays. Enjoy!

Chicken Seafood Paella

Copyright 2006 by Cooking With The Single Guy

3 Chicken thighs (6 oz.)
1 Chorizo sausage (2 oz.), cubed
1 red bellpepper, roasted and sliced
5 to 6 live mussels
3 shrimp
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 cup Spanish rice (Bomba)
1 can (14 oz.) chicken broth
1 T sofrito* or tomato paste
2 t smoked paprika
1 t saffron
1 clove garlic
olive oil

In an 11-inch paella pan, warm some olive oil and brown chicken thighs for about 2 minutes on each side along with sausages over medium high heat. Remove from pan and set aside.

In paella pan, add onion and garlic and cook over medium high heat until onion becomes translucent, about 2 minutes. Then add rice, broth, saffron, tomato paste and paprika, mixing all the ingredients. But then do not mix the rice anymore. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for about five minutes. Then nestle chicken pieces and sausages into the rice, continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until rice looks plump and broth is almost gone. About 10 minutes after you added the chicken, add the mussels, shrimp (skin peeled and deveined), peas and roasted bell pepper slices in an arrangement and finish cooking.

When done, garnish with lemon wedges and parsley and bring paella pan to the dinner table and serve.

* Sofrito is condensed vegetable base made typically from onions, carrots and tomatoes. This can take a lot of work and time, so for the single people out there, I feel the paella is fine without this particular labor-intensive ingredient. Instead, you can substitute with tomato paste.
It might not be traditional, but it'll still be tasty.

Makes three servings.

Serve with Spanish roja red wine.

TIPS: When cooking paella, some Spanish working men would cover their paella pan with newspaper to retain the heat to help cook the rice. I use a piece of foil punched into a tent shape that I place over my pan. Also, one of the signature signs of good paella is the crusty bottom. To create this, you cook until all the liquid is evaporated or you can turn your heat to high near the end to help create some crusty bottom.

SEAFOOD: When you add the mussels, place the hinge closest to the heat to help it open up. Do not eat any mussels that do not properly open on its own. For the shrimp, nestle it into the rice to help the heat from the rice cook the shrimp.

BONE IN OR OUT?: For the chicken thighs, I keep it simple and place the three thighs around the paella pan, and then when ready to eat I can serve one thigh to each person. (Which is why this recipe serves three.) But most recipes will tell you to cut your thighs into cubes without the bone, making it faster to cook your chicken. You can choose this route if you feel you want to ensure your chicken is cooked and that it's easier for your guests to eat. You can adjust your cooking time -- longer when cooking thighs with bone, and a bit shorter when cooking chicken cubes.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Root Vegetables of Winter: Beets

With winter comes a lot of root vegetables like parsnip and turnip. But my all-time favorite are beets. I just love freshly roasted beets that are tender and sweet. And what's great about California beets are that they come in some amazing colors other than the traditional deep red. Today at the farmers market I got three bunches of golden beets for just $3, and they were so beautiful that I paired them with another seasonal ingredient, blood oranges. Beets can be labor-intensive because you have to roast them and then remove the skin, which sometimes can be pretty tough if you didn't roast them just right. That's why sometimes I do just use beets from the can. But when they're as beautiful as the ones I got today, I put in the work to get this great product. For the blood oranges, I also did a quick demo (see below) on how to section them for a nice presentation, especially when using citrus for salads or desserts. Enjoy!

Production note: In the photo above, this is how the beets looked after I lathered them in olive oil but before they went into the oven. Don't think this is how they looked roasted; when they're properly roasted, they'll look blackened and charred. Not a pretty picture. But you want the skin to be black and almost like it's bubbling around the beet, which will make it easier to remove.

Blood Orange and Roasted Beet Salad

Copyright 2006 by Cooking With The Single Guy

4 golden beets
2 blood oranges (save juice)
2 cups watercress
1 oz. goat cheese
1 T sugar
1 T dijon mustard
1 T extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Start by roasting your beets. Place them in a roasting pan and coat with olive oil and coarse salt and pepper. Roast in oven until fork tender, about 1 hour. Remove and let cool. Then remove the skin on each beet and cut into quarters.

Section your blood oranges
and squeeze out remaining juice into a small bowl. Set orange slices aside. In bowl with juice, add sugar, mustard, olive oil and a pinch of salt and mix well for dressing.

Toss watercress and beets in dressing. Plate and add orange slices and goat cheese crumbs. Serve immediately.

Makes two servings as a starter salad or one serving for an entree salad.

Serve with glass of Chardonnay.

TIPS: I use goat cheese in this salad because it's creamy and mild. But if you like cheese with more punch, then feel free to use your favorite crumbling cheese like feta or gargonzola. For the beets, golden beets make a nice color contrast to the red blood orange. But you can use regular red beets as well. (When peeling off the skin on beets, it's helpful to wear plastic gloves to avoid the beet coloring staining your fingertips.)

MAKE IT A MEAL: This recipe can work nicely as an entree when all the ingredients are paired with flank steak slices. It's like those Vietnamese beef salads. You can toss the flank steak slices with the salad or just lay the slices on the bed of salad. The orange flavor will match nicely with red meat.

In the Kitchen: Sectioning an Orange

It may be obvious, but there's a way to cut orange slices that makes a nicer presentation, especially for salads. Here's a demo that's a quick review for some of you.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Gift Ideas for the Single Guy Chef ;-)

OK, during this holiday season of sharing, I'm going to help you lost souls who just don't know what to give to your single friend who loves to cook. With just eight shopping days left, I've come up with a list of eight great Christmas presents for the food lover, single or otherwise. (To my friends who are reading this, please don't consider this list as a wish list for me nor a hint of what I'm looking for. I mean, I may already have several of these items featured. So don't bother using this as a guide. :)

Recchiuti’s Black Box. Luxury chocolates are so en vogue as gifts these days, especially since reports stated the health benefits of bitter chocolate as an antioxidant. And with so many to choose from, brand name plays a big role in shopping these days. With the conglomerate Hershey gobbling up some well-known premium chocolate companies such as Berkeley’s Scharffen Berger, it’s nice to still see an exquisite chocolatier like Michael Recchiuti of Recchiuti Confections of San Francisco. Recchiuti’s quality packaging complements the chocolate premium flavors. I especially like its Black Box gift, a 16-piece assortment box that includes the popular burnt caramel flavor. The Black Box sells for $40 at the company Web site or its store in the Ferry Building.

Yum personalized gift baskets. One of those rare small businesses fighting for its independence in a growing world of chain gourmet shops, Yum in San Francisco is a gem with gourmet food products from around the world. I used to live right around the block from the store and could count on finding a rare food item as a gift or for myself. Shop the shelves to create a personalized gift basket or tell the people behind the counter how much you want to spend and a theme and they’ll whip something up for you. At 1750 Market St. at Octavia, opened Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Cookbooks. A sure-fire gift for the single chef is a cookbook. They’re probably just as busy as you so haven’t had time to get the latest ones just hot off the printing press. Two of my favorites are Tartine and The Plumpjack Cookbook: Great Meals for Good Living. Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, with foreword by Alice Waters (Chronicle Books, $35) is the baker’s delight. Recipes from this famous San Francisco bakery are matched with luscious photographs. I don’t like to bake and even I loved flipping through the pages. The Plumpjack Cookbook by Jeff Morgan with forward by Gavin Newsom (that ’s hizzoner the mayor) (Rodale Books, $35) is a luxurious book with slick pages coming out just as the Plumpjack Café is experience a resurgence in popularity with its new chef. I like the format of how the chapters are laid out by meals, starting with breakfast and ending with desserts. And the photographs and wine descriptions are stellar. Available at most bookstores.

Whole Foods Gift Card. I know, it seems impersonal to give a gift card, but when it’s for people who are used to spending their whole paycheck ;0 then a gift card to Whole Foods will surely be welcomed. Comes in $10, $25, $50 and $100 denominations and a “rechargeable” gift card that’s the gift that keeps on giving (perfect for college students who you still have to feed regularly and want to make sure they eat organic). Available at all Whole Foods stores and at the company Web site.

Williams-Sonoma Voice Alert Thermometer. Until this past Thanksgiving when my sister used her fancy thermometer to roast her perfectly moist turkey, I didn’t give much thought to poking my meat with metal. But now I’m a convert. Roasting meat can be so easy with a quality thermometer, virtually guaranteeing a moist and tender roast. This particular thermometer exclusive to Williams-Sonoma is digital, self-adjusting and can alert you with a beep or a voice. Includes three AAA batteries. Sells for $29.95 and is available at stores and at the company Web site.

June Taylor’s Candied Seville Peel in Syrup. There’s nothing more personal in a gift than hand-made food products. One of the more popular marmalades and fruit jams are those by the Bay Area’s June Taylor, who searches out rare and heirloom fruits for her products. I have to disclose that I have not tried her jams or marmalades, but other foodies are raving about her. After checking out her Web site, I’m tempted to buy a few for myself this Christmas. I especially liked the sound of her Candied Seville Peel in Syrup, which sounds like a wonderful complement to pork or a nice hard cheese. A 14 oz. bottle sells for $26. Available at the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings and until Christmas at June Taylor’s Still Room in just south of Berkeley’s Fourth Street district (2207 4th St. at Allston Way). Special holiday hours are Friday, 12 to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Cuisinart SmartStick Hand Blender. For the single chef with not much kitchen space (I know, believe me), hand blenders are the perfect gift because of their versatility and easy storage. This particular version from Cuisinart has the modern brushed stainless steel look and comes with extra chopping and whisk attachments, so you can do more than just puree your soup in the pot. Available at Crate and Barrel stores and is currently on sale for $49.95 on its Web site.

O&Co Lemon Oil and Pourer. I pretty much use this brand of extra virgin olive oil exclusively. (Disclaimer: I used to work at O&Co.’s Fillmore Street store a few years ago after the dot-com bust. That’s where I learned all about quality olive oil.) This premium line of extra virgin olive oils from Europe has a range of flavors to complement whatever you’re cooking. My perennial favorite is the lemon oil. O&Co. (they’re officially Olivier & Co. but switched to the simpler O&Co. to avoid confusion with the Napa Valley company of the same name) doesn’t really do infused flavored oil, going instead with natural flavorings. But among the few flavored oil they do (other flavors include basil and mandarin orange), I love the fresh, bright flavor of the lemon oil. It’s so good I even drizzle it on French vanilla ice cream and it’s like eating a lemon cake! Sells for $27.50 at O&Co. stores.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Beat the Hustle with Humus

During this time of year, it seems like with all the holiday shopping and parties, you find little time to cook. So one of my go-to stand-by quick lunch, for example, is a humus sandwich. All I do is buy my favorite humus, toast some bread, roast some red bellpeppers, add some greens like romaine, and you're all set with a healthy lunch. As for humus, my favorite is the house-made humus from Whole Foods. It has the right consistency that's not really thick and dry but creamy. If you buy humus that might be a bit on the dry side, just add some good quality extra virgin olive oil and that should do the trick to give it more of a creamy texture. 10 shopping days left everyone!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Leftover shrimp in the freezer

I had leftover shrimp in my freezer from the last time I made paella (ooh, that recipe coming up later this month), so I ended up making lemon risotto with peas and then topping it with the shrimp, all grilled up and tasty. This is such a quick and easy dish to make for yourself, and you get a bunch of protein from the shrimp. And all you need are things you might already have like a lemon, frozen peas (you should always have a bag in the freezer) and Parmesan cheese. Then you're all set!

Shrimp Lemon Risotto

Copyright 2006 by Cooking With The Single Guy

1/2 lb. medium to large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 cup Arborio rice
1 small glass of dry white wine
1 can of chicken broth (14 oz. can)
1-2 twigs of fresh thyme
zest and juice of one lemon
3/4 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (or Parmigiano Reggiano)
2 T unsalted butter
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, warm 2 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat and add onion. Cook for about two minutes until translucent, making sure not to brown the onion. Add rice and stir with onions, letting the heat toast the rice for about a minute. Turn heat to medium and add wine and cook until most of it evaporates. Add broth, about 1 cup, with two twigs of thyme. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes, adding 1 cup of broth along the way, until rice is al dente, or almost done. Add peas about five minutes before the risotto is done.

Season your shrimp with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Then pan fry or grill for about 1 to 2 minutes on each side until opaque.

Remove risotto from the fire and stir in butter, lemon zest and squeeze of lemon juice, and cheese. Take out the thyme twigs. Add salt to your taste. Let it sit for about a minute, then plate up your risotto. Top it with your cooked shrimp and garnish with some strips of Parmesan (using a peeler) and a thinly sliced lemon.

Makes two servings. Serve with small endive salad.

Pair with a California chardonnay.

TIPS: Shrimp is great and quick to cook. All it needs to dress it up is salt and pepper. But if you'd like to add some depth to the flavors of your shrimp, you can add other things such as Herbs de Provence (one of my favorite herb mixtures for seafood or grilling vegetables) or give it an Asian twist by adding a splash of fish sauce to the hot pan to make your shrimp sizzle. Use what you think will complement your lemon and pea risotto.

GREEN RISOTTO: Peas are packed with a bunch of vitamins and protein that's good for you. In this recipe, I just added them near the end to give me the benefit and taste of the green pea. But if you'd like to try something different, you can cook your peas in boiling water for a few minutes and then puree them in a food processor. (Squeeze some lemon with the peas in the food processor to help retain the green color.) Then when your risotto is done, stir in your pea puree and mix well to get a plate of green risotto.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Somewhere in the World it's Mango Season

I'm not sure why, but seems like during the fall in the San Francisco Bay Area, we see a lot of mangoes for sale at the supermarkets. Growing up in Hawaii, I remember mangoes as a summer fruit, typically in late May. And being from Hawaii, I'm biased and say there are no better mangoes than freshly picked ones from Hawaii.

Of course, you can only enjoy Hawaiian mangoes in Hawaii. California laws prohibit the importing of fruits, especially mangoes, from Hawaii because of the fear of fruit flies. So instead, California gets most of its mangoes from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Mangoes, the ultimate sign of the tropics, are often used for desserts or eating just as it is. But in Burma and other Southeast Asian cooking, it's often made into a main dish with a savory touch. (Have you ever had mango garlic noodles? To die for!) The recipe below is my creation of the popular mango chicken dish in many Southeast Asian cooking. Get tropical this winter!

Mango Chicken

Copyright 2006 by Cooking With The Single Guy


6 oz. chicken breast (cut into cubes or strips)
2 near-ripen mangoes, cut into cubes
2 T canola oil
4 T or 2 medium-sized bulbs of shallots, finely diced
1 cup zuchinni, diced
1 red bellpepper, diced
1 cup fresh basil, roughly julienned
1 t white pepper
1 T sesame oil
2 T soy sauce
2 T fish sauce
1 T ginger, julienned
1 T cornstarch
1 T oyster sauce
pinch of salt

Marinate chicken with white pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce and ginger. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Heat wok or large skillet with oil. Over high heat, stir fry chicken to brown both sides and remove just as the sauce begins to caramelize around the chicken. (Don’t pour all your marinade in with the chicken; reserve some for later.) Remove chicken and set aside.

Quickly rinse your wok and reheat oil. Then over medium high, toss in shallots and cook until translucent (about 1 to 2 minutes). Turn up the heat and add zuchinni and bellpepper with a pinch of salt. Stir-fry for about a minute, adding some marinade if needed to avoid drying out your wok. Add mangoes and basil and cook for another minute, then add back the chicken.

In small bowl, mix cornstarch with some water to create a slurry to thicken the sauce. Add to wok over high heat until sauce thickens to the consistency you like it. (If you accidentally add too much cornstarch, add some broth to thin out the sauce.) Finish by mixing in oyster sauce and remove from heat.

Makes 2-3 servings. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Pair with crisp white wine like a Riesling or Gewurtztraminer.

TIPS: There are many different mango varieties. Some, like the “hayden,” are very colorful and huge. This is the most common variety sold in stores. You know it’s ripe when it has a nice red and yellow color and the green is almost gone. (Be careful, some mangoes are red because of overexposure to the sun, like a sun burn.) The flesh should feel firm to the touch with some give, but not hard. Pick your mangoes like you would pick a ripe peach. Other varieties are ripen when they become yellow, and they may not have the many red or orange colors. Again, pick with touch and smell.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

My Chinatown ... Discovered

I spent this rainy day in San Francisco's Chinatown. I rarely get to this classic, urban Chinatown because when you live in the Bay Area, you can get your Chinese product fixes anywhere in the city and surrounding areas. From the many shops in "new Chinatown" on Clement Street to all the megastores like Ranch 99 in the various suburban cities.

But since I was doing my Christmas shopping at Union Square (woo-hoo, all done!), I thought I'd head up north to my Chinatown.

Maneuvering through the swarms of people on Stockton Street, I picked up a few groceries at the fresh produce stores. Chinatown is a great place to pick up fresh vegetables that are cheap! And they have a lot of Asian vegetables such as gai lan and bok choy that I rarely get at my Safeway because it's usually not the best quality. But in Chinatown, you get farmer fresh produce. My only complaint as the Single Guy Chef is that you sometimes have to buy the vegetables in those prepackaged packs that's almost like shopping at Costco.

For lunch, I was dying for a good bowl of noodles. When it's cold, nothing hits the spot like a bowl of hot noodles. Now, there are tons of little noodle shops spotting along Stockton Street (the locals' Chinatown) and side streets. But the thing about eating at Chinese restaurants is that you can't really tell which ones are good unless you get a good recommendation.

That's why when I hit Chinatown, I head for Hing Lung Restaurant, a noodle shop and roastery at 674 Broadway (just a few yards from Gold Mountain, which is popular for its dim sum).

My mom and I discovered this place several years ago and I always go there for a quick lunch. It can sometimes have long lines of people waiting, but the service is fast so you don't have to wait too long.

When you go in by yourself, be prepared to be seated with strangers, kind of like a working man's version of Town Hall's communal table.

I ordered a big bowl of roasted duck won ton noodles--hot thin soup noodles with roasted duck and dumplings. The noodles are just right for me, thin like angel hair but with an al dente consistency that makes them so yummy. And the roast duck (while the skin was not really crispy sitting in the soup) had the right deep flavors of Chinese all-spice.

Hing Lung is also popular for some of its fried noodle dishes and chow fun. But for me, it's a great noodle shop. And it looks like over the years, the word has gotten out because today the restaurant was filled with a mix of people of many races enjoying themselves. This probably explains why it seems like Hing Lung has increased its prices by about $2 for everything. I paid $6 for my noodles while you can go around the corner and get a similar bowl at Yee's Restaurant on Grant for only $4.50. Still, you can't beat the brightly lit and piping hot food of Hing Lung.

On my way back to Market Street, I walked along Grant and saw a line outside Golden Gate Bakery (1029 Grant Ave.). This bakery has been popular in recent years, surpassing the once popular Eastern Bakery a few blocks south on Grant.

Golden Gate makes traditional Chinese pastries with several Americanized baked goods like chiffon cakes and Napoleans. I decided to pick up a snack for later, and stood in line. (Again, the word is out because there were several non-Chinese people in line. My Chinatown has been discovered!) I ended up getting a lo-poh bang, which translated means Wife's Cake. It's typically eaten as a wedding cake. It's traditionally made with a melon paste and I love the subtle sweetness. (Kind of ironic, huh, for the Single Guy Chef to love eating wedding cakes? :) ) If you ever think about trying it, it's listed at Golden Gate Bakery as a Melon Cake instead of the traditional name of Wedding Cakes.

With my wedding/melon cake in hand, I headed back home. One day I'm going to return to Chinatown and try to discover some unknown gems. For now I guess I'll share. :)

Friday, December 08, 2006

What's in my frig?

A constant in my refrigerator is a tub of plain yogurt. There are so many different types of yogurt out there, but for the last few years I've been eating this Dannon brand yogurt that I get at my local Safeway. It's fat-free and has a nice, smooth texture. And it's vanilla flavor. I'm a big vanilla guy (as opposed to all you chocolate lovers).

Yogurt is good for you and make a great healthy snack. I've read that if you eat low-fat yogurt the night before, it helps you lose weight because the snack keeps your metabolism working while you're asleep but it's not heavy that keeps you up at night. Yogurt is a good source for calcium, which everyone needs to be concerned about (it's not just for old, frail people). Adults need about 1,000 mg of calcium a day. Most Americans get half of that in their regular diet. One cup of low-fat calcium gives you about 275 mg. (If you want more calcium, hard cheese gives you more than 300 and sardines with bones are the best source with close to 350 mg.) I'll eat my yogurt with fresh fruits. At this time, I'll add a lot of citrus like fresh orange slices. It's like a Creamsicle! During the summer, my favorite is to add cubes of fresh watermelon. Nice!

This has been my healthy report for the week! Have a nice weekend, and get your yogurt!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Let's Get Crabby

Dungeness crab season started in the Bay Area about two weeks ago. This is my favorite time of year because I love crab, and it's one of the easiest food items to prepare. I never really liked crab growing up because I thought it was too much work breaking through the shell to get to my food. But after tasting fresh crab as an adult, I was hooked! The key is to have it fresh, which is why I always buy my crab live. The recipe below is the traditional way Chinese restaurants often prepare crab, and I find it's an easy recipe that highlights the natural flavor of the crab blending it with the subtle flavors of ginger and scallions.

Now, I was going to post a demo of how to chop and clean a live crab, but I happened to get a very feisty crab from Chinatown. And he did not want to be called dinner, and fought till the very end. So the chopping, while generally stress-free and humane, turned out to be a massacre that wasn't pretty for public viewing. Needless to say, the steps of butchering a live crab is not very difficult, but depending on the crab, can be quite challenging. Fresh crab meat still produces the best flavoring when cooked. But if you're afraid of live crab, then have your fishmonger kill it and clean it for you and then drive straight home and cook it.

Ginger Crab

Copyright 2006 by Cooking With The Single Guy


1 whole fresh Dungeness crab, uncooked (about 2 lbs.)
2 T fresh ginger, julienned
2 stalks of green onions, cut into 3-inch strips
1/2 cup white wine or broth
2 T cornstarch
2 T canola oil
pinch of salt

Chop your live crab into pieces and set aside. In hot wok or large skillet, heat oil with ginger and green onions. Add crab and sprinkle salt over it and then stir-fry for about 1 or 2 minutes. Your crab will provide a nice juice while it’s cooking, but if your wok looks dry, add a little bit of broth or wine, and then let simmer for another three minutes until the crab is cook and shell bright orange. If you don’t want to overpower your crab with too much outside flavors, you can add plain water to help in the simmering. Cover your wok to help cook the crab faster.

In small bowl, mix cornstarch with 1/4 cup water to create a slurry. Add cornstarch mixture in the wok to create a sauce. Add salt. Serve immediately.

Makes one to two servings. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Pair with glass of Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.

TIPS: Crab in season is best savored fresh. So spend a few bucks to buy a live crab. To dissect your crab, start by knocking it against the side of your counter to numb it. Then with your butcher knife, remove the top shell by twisting the knife right under the sides. Chop your crab down the middle and clean your crab by removing the gills and tail. Chop crab into sections with the legs. Cook all the pieces, including the top shell so you can reassemble the crab on the plate for a nicer presentation. If you’re wary of killing a live crab, then buy a cooked crab, chop it into pieces, and place it in your hot wok with the ginger and green onion. You’ll only need to cook it for about a minute mostly to warm it up since it’s already cooked. You may need to add broth to help create a sauce.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mini Travel Dish: Saint Honore Boulangerie in Portland

This is the last of my three-part series looking at my food adventures in Portland, Oregon. Today I'm featuring two unique eateries in the Northwest district. No stars given for these reviews since they're just mini reviews. But you can pretty much tell what I think. ;-)

A slice of pastry heaven in the Northwest

2335 NW Thurman St., Portland
(Northwest district)
(503) 445-4342
Open daily

There are a couple of things that make me jealous of my younger sister, who lives with her husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon. One is that she gets more home for her money. The other is that she can take a five-minute walk from her home and find herself transported to Paris.

In her trendy neighborhood in the Northwest District is the Saint Honore Boulangerie, a bakery and cafe that captures the look, feel and taste of a Parisian boulangerie with flakey croissants and artisan breads. In the couple of times I've been in the beautifully designed boulangerie, it has always been crowded with hungry patrons sitting at the communal French country tables or small circular bistro stands.

Even me, someone who isn't a regular consumer of baked goods, know well that there is something special in the dough of chef and owner Dominique Geulin, who moved from France with his wife to create a bit of Paris in Portland. He does this by making fresh pastries and bread on the premises. In fact, on the day that I came in for a bite, Geulin could be seen behind the counter and in front of his clay fire-brick oven kneading some dough.

It seems like every baked item has the perfect balance of taste and texture. My tartiflette was a satisfying puff pastry with potatoes, bacon and brie baked with a slight spread of creme fraiche and fresh herbs. Even the pie shell of my mini citron tart was perfection.

Geulin also uses seasonal and local ingredients of the Northwest. My sister ordered one of his new items: a champignon frittata croissant with seasonal mushrooms, chicken-apple sausage and a bechamel sauce.

The cafe's menu also offers a variety of quiches, panini and salads. The pastry and dessert choices behind the glass counters seem endless.

People have come far and near to experience Saint Honore's little piece of Paris. When you're in Portland, make the trek out to the Northwest district. Visit the trendy boutiques and then sip a cafe au lait at a real Parisian gem.

Mini Travel Dish: Tao of Tea Standing Still Mountain Teahouse in Portland

Contemplate fall, and life, with every sip

2112 SE NW Hoyt St., Portland
(Northwest district)
(503) 223-3563
Open Wed.-Sun, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

When traveling, it's always a luxury to find a place where you can just be. To catch your breath. To reflect on your day's journeys. Such a place is the Tao of Tea's international teahouses.

The Tao of Tea is a major producer of pure leaf, organic tea, and it's based in Portland. But you've probably seen their stylish tea tins at gourmet stores in the Bay Area. As some of you already know, I'm a bit of a tea snob. I love tea but am wary of mass produced tea that promotes itself as gourmet. But I've always been content with the Tao of Tea products. Their tea is often very rich in body and come in beautifully crafted tins that help retain their freshness.

The Tao of Tea has two teahouses in Portland, one in the Southeast and the other in the Northwest district. (They also operate the teahouse in the beautiful Chinese Garden in Portland's Chinatown.) During my recent trip, I visited their Northwest location, which they call Standing Still Mountain teahouse. The location's eclectic decor combines tastes from Japan, China, India, and Southeast Asia. They serve several vegetarian dishes that lean heavily toward Indian and Southeast Asian cuisine, and of course, a full menu of tea.

I found their mini dishes to be satisfying. It didn't transport me to someplace different, but they're nice complements to their well-poured tea. I especially liked the samosas and vegetarian dumplings.

The teahouse also has a wall filled with teaware for purchase and a full inventory of their specialty teas. Like I've mentioned before, I'm a fan of flavored tea so I purchased a can of Earl Grey with Blue Flowers and the Ginger Peach tea. I also tried their herbal peppermint tea that really holds a nice menthol flavor. Just perfect for an after-dinner tea for the holidays!

Minor note: The service can be inconsistent because they typically only have one or two people running the joint. So if you're in a rush, you may not have an enjoyable experience. But if you're ready to let go of your worries and spend time staring at the fall leaves falling outside the tree-lined homes, then step in and breathe.