Saturday, July 26, 2014

Summer Still Life

It has been a unique year for our tomatoes. We traveled in May so we were delayed in getting our tomato plants in the ground. Mother nature decided to take charge and sprouted a couple of volunteer plants that were too big to ignore. The volunteers have produced a unique blend of fruit that is similar to the color of Rainier Cherries. They are both beautiful and delicious. We are still supplementing our home tomatoes with farmer's market beauties,  but have high hopes for  our summer crop. I threw together a simple summer salad with tomatoes, prosciutto, and fresh mozzarella. I drizzled olive oil, balsamic and tore some basil fresh from our herb garden. Summer on a plate... a still life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Oh Yes She Did !

Great minds think great things! Avril went out of the box with her latest pizza idea. She makes homemade pizza about once a week using all the usual toppings.  Last weekend she went crazy....good crazy!  She used Hillshire Farm Lit'l Smokies and Original Bull's - Eye BBQ Sauce, combined with fresh mozzarella to make a fantastic pizza.  Barbecue joint meets pizza shop. Yee Haw!
Lit'l Smokies and Bull's-Eye BBQ Sauce Pizza

Friday, July 18, 2014

El Jefe Sandwich Tribute

I love it when the universe comes together. I made a pork loin wrapped in bacon for a Sunday dinner project. It was wonderful! We had a ton of leftovers and I pondered what to do with them.

 I follow Chef Roy Choi and  Director Jon Favreau on Instagram and saw that they were promoting a new film. The movie Chef features a food truck called El Jefe that makes Cuban Sandwiches. To promote the movie, Choi was having restaurant pop-ups featuring Cuban Sandwiches. I had a bit of food envy. I wanted a sandwich and they are in L.A. The solution, make my own. The Sandwich used my leftover pork, ham, Swiss Cheese, dill pickle and yellow mustard. I had Bolillo rolls and basted them with butter to give them a crunchy rich flavor.


This weekend we plan on seeing the movie. Maybe I will smuggle in a Cuban Sandwich.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cultural Mash-Up

I have been a thrift store junkie for a while now. In the past I concentrated mostly on men's clothes. My most recent find is a perfectly new Tommy Bahama Silk Shirt for five dollars! As part of my food photography-styling fun I started collecting thrift store plates and accessories. I have a fondness for the Asian sensibility of plating, with lots of  small plates. I have found them here and there and have spent as little as fifty cents and  not more than two dollars. In my latest photo I created a cultural mash-up with a traditional American breakfast mixed with an Asian accent. I think it looks good. Best of all it tastes wonderful!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Home Away

We had business in Fremont a few weekends ago. We booked a room at the Marriott Residence Inn, our choice place to  stay. We like them because you get what is equivalent to an apartment, a home away from home. We had two rooms, two giant televisions, lounging couch, kitchen, work desk, free Wi-Fi and dining table. On the grounds there is a fitness center, pool-hot tub and a barbecue. Best of all,  breakfast was included! I do love my breakfast.

Marriott Residence Inn Fremont, Ca.

I am a student of the science of maximizing an included breakfast. Being a avid cruise ship buffet veteran has honed my skills.  Let me give you a few hints.

 Check out the food and the competition. 
Walk the buffet and see what is available. Stroll  the seating area looking for a table and to see what others are eating. This can be a bit of a competitive experience, know the other players. If it is busy, secure your table and have your partner go for coffee, juice, required napkins and condiments. When  he/she returns individually go to the buffet and make selections. Do not overload the plate. Instead make return visits so you can add to your breakfast as foods are replenished.

Drop the toast.
I am a big toast fan and know that buffet toasters take forever. If you start toasting up front it will be hot and ready when you select your hot entree. The same method works for waffles. I have never  had someone steal my finished toast but I have caught someone trying to snatch my just finished waffle. Keep an eye on your waffle!

Take up space.
I learned this skill on the S.F. Muni! Stand tall and keep you arms out. This keeps marauding invaders from cutting lines. Be warned that being courteous may be a sign of weakness to some.

Leave room for dessert 
I always get my coffee in a go-cup so I can take some back to the room. Fresh fruit makes a nice dessert that can be enjoyed later as well.

A word of caution to photo bloggers: As you style and photograph your food others are watching. You may be creating food envy in those around you. They will offer to let you photograph their plates. To some it is a conquest to see how much food they can secure. Don't play that game.
Breakfast Marriott Residence Inn Fremont, Ca.

Breakfast Included Marriott Residence Inn Fremont, Ca.

This location was particularly nice because it was adjacent to a Raley's Market. We secured sandwich fixings, drinks, snacks and wine for meals later in the day. Like eating at home this substantially reduced our dining costs.
The only meal we had out was at Popeye's Chicken. I had heard rave reviews and had employees that would drive fifty miles round trip for dinners. It was located a block from the hotel so we checked it out. I had chicken strips, mashed taters and a biscuit. Loved it!
Popeye's Fried Chicken

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Holiday Food Fest

We love to travel, but prefer to travel when others are not. With that in mind we hung close to the homestead this last long  holiday weekend. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the fourth of July than by cooking fun foods  and photographing the results. Avril kicked off the holiday with her red, white and blueberry scones.

Red, White and Blueberry Scones

The next day breakfast was bagels with cream cheese, lox, capers and fresh dill from our herb garden.
Breakfast Bagels

Time to break out the grill! TJ's Chile-lime chicken burger on homemade focaccia with Tillamook Sharp Cheddar, Sukhi's mango chutney and hamburger dills.
Chicken, chili- lime burger 

Porterhouse with Rosemary Potatoes
For the grand finale we feasted on Porterhouse Steak and rosemary roasted potatoes.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Wrap It Up

I don't know why but when I end a series of blog posts from a trip, the last one is always tough. I  guess I hope that the vacation feeling will never go away. We are planning new adventures and need to bring this one to a close. We end it all with a shopping and downtown sightseeing tour. Last time we visited Victoria  we were on the return leg of our first Alaska cruise. We stumbled upon She-She shoes in Trounce Alley but it was closed then. We thought it fitting that we stop by on this visit. The shoes they have here are works of art. We did not buy shoes but Avril is the new owner of some really stylish polka-dot tights.
She She Shoes Victoria B.C.

We wander about town and could not help but take lots of photos of the marina. The upcoming weekend was a Canadian holiday and boats were filling the marina with color.
Marina Victoria B.C. 
We returned to Trounce Alley and lunched at The Tapa Bar. We ordered hearts of palm salad,  mixed olives,  margarita pizza, Cuban chicken sandwich and some Kettle Valley Pinot Gris. What a lot of food! We smartly carried a doggy-bag back to the hotel. The meal provided a huge lunch and an encore dinner.
The Tapa Bar Victoria B.C.

We slept great that night and boarded the Victoria Clipper back to Seattle the next day. On the way out of the harbor we spotted a Princess Cruise ship in port and strained our heads to see it off the port side. Just then Avril tugged at my sleeve and whispered "that's Ryan Gosling next row over!" I looked over and sure enough it was. I fired off a stealth photo of him. It is a lousy telephoto side shot because I did not want to invade his privacy. I have shown the photo to a number of people and some say it is not him. I have a keen sense of facial recognition, honed in earlier life experience. He is a Canadian and we are in Canada so it adds to the evidence.  If it is not him then he has a doppelganger that is making all the women on the boat giggly-squirmy.

Ryan Gosling sighting??
In Seattle we have a reservation at the Silver Cloud Stadium Hotel and cab it there. The front desk upgrades us to a suite! The room is bigger than big and overlooks the Mariners Safeco Field. We make dinner out of happy hour at Jimmy's on First located in the hotel.
Silver Cloud Hotel - Stadium Jimmy's on First

The next day we take the free hotel shuttle to the King St. Amtrak Station. After some quick drama, a car attendant who wrongly informs us that our sleeper car is broken and removed from the train, we find our room and kick back. We decided to upgrade to a roomette on our return. The roomette price is higher but includes meals. The seats turn into bunks and privacy curtains block the light so sleeping is much easier. I haven't slept in bunks since the military so it is an experience. I gave Avril the upper bunk and she may never forgive me, but we had fun anyway. She is more the nimble athlete than I.
Lunch Amtrak Coast Starlight Parlor Car
Dinner Amtrak Coast Starlight Parlor Car 

We skip breakfast the next morning and depart in Emeryville. Home again!