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Sunday Brunch: Rich Canadian rock crab and Swiss quiche with fresh fruit

Country Gourmet1

The Canadian rock crab quiche at Country Gourmet American Bistro in Sunnyvale.

Whenever I go to a restaurant for Sunday brunch, the first item I look for on the menu is quiche. This rich egg pie is just one of those dishes that I strictly associate with brunch. If a restaurant wins me over with its quiche, I’m likely to become a regular.

The Canadian rock crab quiche at Sunnyvale’s Country Gourmet American Bistro convinced me to put the restaurant in my Sunday brunch rotation. The egg filling was packed with rich flavor and a generous amount of crab, Swiss cheese and onions baked through. The dish had a nice toasting on the top, and you could tell the crust was made from scratch.

Country Gourmet2

Close-up of the Canadian rock crab quiche at Country Gourmet American Bistro in Sunnyvale.

It was great comfort food. I even enjoyed the juicy fresh fruit, and I’m not really a big fruit fan. It was a great meal for only $10 (not including the $7 mimosa I had to accompany the meal).

Country Gourmet American Bistro is a family-owned business that seems to take pride in the quality and healthiness of its food. The food is never made from mixes, and the restaurant buys local, organic and free-range products when they are available, according to its website. It also offers a gluten-free menu that includes a housemade gluten-free cornbread.

Country Gourmet American Bistro is located at 1314 S. Mary Ave. For more information, call (408) 733-9446 or visit www.country-gourmet.com.

 

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Chimichanga with chorizo, creamy sauce and fresh guacamole brings back childhood memories

SpeedysTacosChorizo

Close-up of the Chimichanga special with chorizo at Speedy’s Tacos in Sunnyvale.

Chimichanga is one of those dishes that brings back childhood memories of my family regularly visiting a local Mexican restaurant less than a mile from our Metro Detroit home.

I remember the anticipation of cutting into that crispy fried tortilla and getting to the meaty, cheesy center. I savored every bite but could barely ever get through the whole dish, which was about the size of my head. It was all the deliciousness of a burrito, only deep-fried.

SpeedysTacos

The Chimichanga special with chorizo at Speedy’s Tacos in Sunnyvale.

Those fond memories came to mind when I arrived at Speedy’s Tacos, a family-owned restaurant that opened its doors this year at the corner of E. Duane Ave. and San Rafael St. in Sunnyvale.

With Chimichanga as one of the daily specials, I decided on a chimichanga with chorizo, a spicy sausage. The dish came with a side of rice and guacamole and cost about $10. These days, you spend almost that much on a fast-food combo.

The Taste

The chimichanga special was a satisfying dish that I could only get through halfway. The tortilla was thick and had that nice crunch on the outside, but it wasn’t greasy.

I like the creamy, pumpkin-colored sauce that surrounded the chimichanga. The texture and taste reminded me of enjococado sauce, a yogurt- or sour cream-based sauce that I tried for the first time this year at another local Mexican restaurant. (Related: Shrimp enchiladas smothered in creamy enjococado sauce)

The chorizo was crumbly and tender, with a mild, smoky spiciness. The guacamole was thick, fresh and a great complement to the savory chorizo. It was a good-sized meal for what I paid.

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The Chimichanga special with chorizo at Speedy’s Tacos in Sunnyvale.

Other Details

Speedy’s Tacos is a casual restaurant where customers order at the counter, and the waitstaff brings the food to your table. The restaurant has a patio area to enjoy your meal on those warmer days.

Speedy’s Tacos offers an array of meats for its tacos, including fish, shrimp, al pastor and carne asada. Vegetable tacos are also available. The menu also boasts taquitos, tortas, burritos, tamales and several a la carte items.

Speedy’s Tacos is located at 929 E. Duane Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (408) 685-2791 or visit www.speedystacos.com.

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2015 in comfort food, Mexican

 

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Indian black-pepper chicken curry brings subtle, smoky spice at new Silicon Valley restaurant

Close-up of the Black Pepper Chicken Curry at Indian Street Cafe in Sunnyvale.

Close-up of the Black Pepper Chicken Curry at Indian Street Cafe in Sunnyvale.

Pieces of black peppercorns were stuck between my teeth after I was done, but it was worth it.

The black pepper chicken curry, prepared by the new Indian Street Cafe in Sunnyvale, is going to make me a regular customer at the restaurant. The chicken was so tender that no knife was needed to cut through it. The peppercorns throughout the dish brought a smoky spice and subtle, growing heat with every bite, and the cilantro added extra liveliness to the curry.

The entree, which cost about $9, came with a side of white rice and a fresh side salad. I would also recommend the paneer paratha, a white-flour flatbread filled with spiced and shredded paneer, a fresh, soft cheese common in Indian cuisine. The paneer paratha was warm and soft with a mild flavor and paired perfectly with the spicy curry.

The Ambiance

Indian Street Cafe is not buffet style, like several Indian restaurants in the area. The host takes your order near the front of the restaurant and gives you a number to set on your table. The waiter then brings your food to the table.

The Paneer Paratha at Indian Street Cafe in Sunnyvale.

The Paneer Paratha at Indian Street Cafe in Sunnyvale.

The setting is casual, with wooden cabin-like tables and benches to sit on, an exposed ceiling showing industrial piping and a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows that look unto the street. Another wall is decorated with various foreign-film posters.

I also like the “Foodie Philosophy” mural near the kitchen, which states that the restaurant doesn’t microwave, freeze or deep-fry its foods. “We believe food is one of life’s greatest joys,” the mural states. “We aim to strike a balance between delicious and healthy.”

Other Details

Indian Street Cafe is located inside Arques Square strip mall at 927 E. Arques Ave. Use the door that is located inside of the plaza. The door located at the corner of Arques and De Guigne Drive was not accessible when I went this past week.

For hours and more information, call (669) 246-5034 or visit www.indianstreetcafe.com.

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Posted by on October 22, 2015 in chicken, food, Indian

 

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Sunday Brunch: Brioche french toast with huckleberry compote and Grand Marnier creme

The Brioche French Toast at Sam's Chowder House in Palo Alto.

The Brioche French Toast at Sam’s Chowder House in Palo Alto.

The huckleberry compote and the Grand Marnier creme were what drew me in to the brioche french toast at Sam’s Chowder House. I typically stay away from french toast (having too much egg makes me nauseated), but the Sunday brunch entrée at the Palo Alto restaurant was too tempting to pass up.

The Home Fries at Sam's Chowder House in Palo Alto.

The Home Fries at Sam’s Chowder House in Palo Alto.

Luckily, the egg did not dominate the taste of the french toast, which was thick, pillowy soft on the inside, and nicely toasted on the outside. The compote was sweet with a little tartness, and this berry sauce soaked into the toast, making it that much more moist. The Grand Marnier added a subtle citrusy taste to the light and smooth cream. If you’re a fan of french toast, make sure this entrée is on your list.

The Sunday brunch menu at Sam’s Chowder House is not extensive, but there are some intriguing items, including the Dungeness Crab Deviled Eggs and the Smoked Salmon Soft Scramble with tarragon and home fries. The brunch menu also offers bottomless mimosas and a “Build Your Own Bloody Mary” bar with more than 20 ingredients to choose from.

The Nueske's Bacon at Sam's Chowder House in Palo Alto.

The Nueske’s Bacon at Sam’s Chowder House in Palo Alto.

The restaurant also serves lunchtime items, such as sandwiches, appetizers and seafood house specialties, if you’re not in the mood for brunch. Hours for brunch are 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays.

Sam’s Chowder House in Palo Alto is located at 185 University Ave. For more information, call (650) 614-1177 or visit samschowderhousepa.com.

(Related: Big clam helpings by the spoonful at Sam’s Chowder House in Palo Alto)

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2015 in breakfast, brunch, comfort food, food

 

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Lasagna roll at Pismo Beach eatery is healthy, guilt-free comfort food

The Hand-Rolled Lasagna with Chicken Sausage at Pismo Beach's Graze Kitchen.

The Hand-Rolled Lasagna with Chicken Sausage at Pismo Beach’s Graze Kitchen.

I was not standing in that long line again.

It was about 1 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon in Pismo Beach, and the number of customers waiting to taste Splash Cafe’s award-winning clam chowder was quickly increasing. I already did the 40-minute wait for the popular restaurant’s creamy, rich chowder nestled in a warm sourdough bread bowl the night before.

(Related: Fancy fruit tarts, unbelievable clam chowder and more, Everywhere, California)

The traffic on the sidewalks and streets was getting heavier as more beach-goers were coming into the popular coastal town, so I decided to head back to Silicon Valley sooner than I wanted in order to make good time.

As I was walking to my car, I came across Graze Kitchen, a “farm and sea to table” restaurant that has a menu boasting several vegetarian and vegan entrees. Since I pigged out on delicious, high-calorie chowder the night before, I figured my belly deserved something a little healthier. And it was already grumbling.

The Hand-Rolled Lasagna with Chicken Sausage at Pismo Beach's Graze Kitchen.

The Hand-Rolled Lasagna with Chicken Sausage at Pismo Beach’s Graze Kitchen.

Dish of Choice

The gentleman who took my order, who I assumed was the owner, was very descriptive about the food and was clearly passionate about the craft of cooking.

I was convinced to try one of the day’s specials, a hand-rolled lasagna made with chicken sausage. It was filled with mozzarella, tomato sauce, spinach and onion. The lasagna roll was accompanied with a side salad dressed in vinaigrette. My bill came out to about $12, including tax.

The Taste

This dish was enjoyable because it felt like nothing but good, wholesome ingredients were going into my body. It was comfort food without the guilt.

The chicken sausage had a smoky, spicy kick, and the noodle was tender. There was a good portion of fresh spinach and onions, which were not mushy or overcooked, and the tomatoes were hearty and fresh.

It was just enough food without leaving me feeling stuffed, which I appreciated with the three-hour drive ahead of me.

Side salad with parmesan, arugula and vinaigrette at Pismo Beach's Graze Kitchen.

Side salad with parmesan, arugula and vinaigrette at Pismo Beach’s Graze Kitchen.

Other Details

The restaurant seemed to have a good sense of humor about itself, as evidenced by some of the signs on the walls: “I love tourist, taste like chicken!” and “No working during drinking hours.”

It was a relaxing, comforting atmosphere, and there was an open kitchen in front so customers could see the staff preparing their food. That kind of transparency was welcoming.

Graze Kitchen is located at 841 Dolliver St. in Pismo Beach. The restaurant prides itself on using local, organic and sustainable ingredients and offers tastings of California-made wines and beers.

Hours are 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, and the restaurant is available for private parties on Mondays and Tuesdays. For more information, call (805) 773-4024 or visit www.grazekitchen.com.

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2015 in comfort food, food, Italian, Pismo Beach

 

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Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival in San Francisco leads to sugar overload for good cause

So. Much. Chocolate. A sample of brownies from Arizona-based Fairytale Brownies.

So. Much. Chocolate. A sample of brownies from Phoenix, Ariz.-based Fairytale Brownies.

I never thought I would say this, but here it goes: There is such a thing as too much chocolate.

I discovered this after my visit to the 20th Annual Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival, which easily brought out thousands of chocolate lovers to Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco. For my $40 ticket, I received 15 chocolate samples, as well as 12 additional samples from the event’s chocolate and wine pavilion. I definitely got my money’s worth.

My stomach was not happy with me afterwards, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to try sample upon sample of rich, sweet chocolate creations from more than 50 vendors along the San Francisco Bay.

The Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival, which also featured a chocolate school and ice cream eating contest, benefited Project Open Hand. The San Francisco-based nonprofit provides healthy, nourishing meals to thousands of Bay Area residents battling serious, life-threatening diseases. For more information, call (415) 447-2300 or visit www.openhand.org.

Check out the gallery of some of the treats I saw and tasted on Sunday, Sept. 13.

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Posted by on September 15, 2015 in baked goods, chocolate, dessert, food

 

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Dining in Silicon Valley: My top five Bay Area restaurants (so far!)

The Cioppino at Tarragon in Sunnyvale.

The Cioppino at Tarragon in Sunnyvale.

I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I took that cross-country trek from Michigan to my new home of California.

Over the year, I have discovered some delicious entrees from many restaurants in the Silicon Valley/Bay Area – from Indian-style tacos to apple pie crepes to prime rib Shepherd’s Pie. My focus has been mostly on the San Jose area, and I plan to expand more northbound (San Francisco and beyond) this upcoming year.

Here are my top favorite restaurants that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in Silicon Valley in my first year. These eateries are in no particular order because they are all great in their own way:

Tarragon, 140 S. Murphy Ave., Sunnyvale

I have never been disappointed in the food and service at Tarragon. The cioppino is to die for – jam-packed with fresh mussels, clams and shrimp in a rich tomato sauce, perfect for dipping with the garlic bread.

The Collard Greens at Lillie Mae's House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

The Collard Greens at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food in Santa Clara.

Seafood-lovers – or just lovers of top-quality food at a reasonable price – should visit Tarragon on downtown Sunnyvale’s Historic Murphy Avenue.

Check out: Delicious seafood stew can be found at Sunnyvale’s Tarragon, which touts “farm-to-table” cuisine

Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food, 1290 Coleman Ave., Santa Clara

I had some of the best Southern cooking that I’ve ever tried at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food, about two miles away from the Mineta San Jose International Airport.

You can smell the smoked meats and other soul food favorites piping from the restaurant as you drive down Coleman Ave. The fried chicken is tender with perfectly crispy skin, moist and thick cornbread, and collard greens that you can tell have been stewing for hours.

The building is not fancy, resembling an large wooden shack, but it delivers on succulent Southern cooking.

Check out: Fried chicken, collard greens satisfy at Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food

The World-Famous Blueberry Coffeecake at Hobee's in Sunnyvale.

The World-Famous Blueberry Coffeecake at Hobee’s in Sunnyvale.

Hobee’s, 800 W. Ahwanee Ave., Sunnyvale

Hobee’s in Sunnyvale is clearly a popular weekend-brunch spot: Most customers have to park at the nearby Motel 6 or on the street, and that place fills up fast, so expect a wait.

However, the wait is worth it just to try the restaurant’s World-Famous Blueberry Coffeecake. This cake is moist, thick and big enough for two people, in my opinion. And that pat of butter on top makes the coffee cake that much more scrumptious.

For those who are watching what they eat, the local restaurant chain is also known for its more health-conscious menu that includes vegetarian options such as the Hobee’s Tofu Scramble.

Check out: “World-Famous” blueberry coffee cake a popular go-to at Hobee’s in Sunnyvale

B Street & Vine, 320 S. B Street, San Mateo

Bruschetta is more than just toasted bread with tomatoes on top. I expanded my bruschetta horizons at San Mateo’s B Street & Vine, a popular wine cafe in the Bay Area.

On a recent visit, my friends and I enjoyed many delicious combinations of ingredients, including the salami with feta and pesto, and the mango, tomato, cilantro and avocado. Bruschetta lovers need to make a trip here.

The bruschetta appetizer at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

The bruschetta appetizer at B Street and Vine in San Mateo.

B Street & Vine also has good half-off wine specials during the week, patio dining and live music.

Check out: Vibrant combinations of bruschetta please the eyes and palate at San Mateo wine cafe

Jonathan’s Fish & Chips, 840 Willow Road, Menlo Park

When my dad says he is picking up Jonathan’s Fish & Chips on the way home from work, I can’t help but develop a big smile.

Not counting my dad’s recipe, the best fried catfish in the Silicon Valley area can be found at this Menlo Park restaurant.

The Large Fish & Chips entree at Jonathan's Fish & Chips in Menlo Park.

The Large Fish & Chips entree at Jonathan’s Fish & Chips in Menlo Park.

This modest, mom-and-pop restaurant delivers on Cajun-style, cornmeal-battered fish that comes fresh and hot out of the fryer. The fish is always flaky and lightly seasoned, and the fried okra is cooked in the same delicious way.

I also like the owner, who is always friendly and takes the time to talk to all of her guests. It’s a very welcoming place to eat.

Check out: Cajun-style fish and chips, and best fried okra around, at Jonathan’s in Menlo Park

I’m also looking for some food barbecue, Thai and Korean restaurants in the Bay Area, so please leave your suggestions below 🙂

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in brunch, food, seafood, soul food, wine bar

 

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