Lately (and The Kitchen in Sacramento!)

The month after graduation has been a whirlwind—one of the best sorts though.  I don’t think I have stayed put in Davis for more than a week, and I have loved the distraction from the real world.  From traveling to lakes, home, San Francisco and exploring all the food that Northern California has to offer, I couldn’t be more happy with my post-grad (yikes) summer.

clockwise from left: a beautiful day in North Beach, a San Mateo tradition at B Street and Vine, the view from the tram at Squaw Valley, and a homemade steak dinner

clockwise from left: World famous pizza at Tony’s Pizzeria Napoletana in San Francisco, catching a (12 inning!!) Giants game, post graduation oysters and champagne at Tuco’s in Davis, and reuniting with some old (and the best) friends

So, as you can see, it’s been quite the adventure.

SPEAKING of adventure, I have as yet neglected to mention my favorite part of summer so far—my first meal at The Kitchen in Sacramento.  Now, if you even remotely know me, you probably know how long and how hard I have obsessed over this fine dining restaurant.  Since I discovered it sophomore year of college, I have religiously checked the ever-changing menu once a month to peruse all the offerings they serve.  Two things precluded me from ever actually eating here, though, and they were the price point (not exactly college budget friendly) and the difficulty of obtaining reservations (the restaurant seats only 50 people a night, and therefore books up MONTHS in advance).  Lucky for me, I have the BEST DAD IN THE WORLD (hi Dad!) and after three years of dropping not so subtle hints, we headed to Sacramento for this “demonstration dining” experience.

see the resemblance?

I want to keep it short and sweet, but I also want to do this restaurant the justice it deserves.  Although the price is high, it is absolutely, 100% without a doubt worth it.  The whole concept of The Kitchen is that it is fine dining in a laid back environment.  The fifty seats, arranged around a full cooking station, give the diners the opportunity to watch as their meal is prepared.  In fact, interaction and observation is encouraged here—guests are given free reign around the restaurant to walk into the prep kitchen, venture into the wine cellar, and even ask for seconds—or thirds!—of whatever they like (yes, I will admit this was the main draw of the restaurant).  The staff is incredible—friendly, knowledgable, and funny, and most of all accommodating.

Here was July’s (FANTASTIC) menu:

 

The courses are arranged in “acts” to contribute to the sense that the dinner is a show.  Not pictured here is the excellent wine flight that my dad and I split (which was more than enough—seven glasses!!), which I definitely would recommend.

clockwise from left: fried green tomato, pork trotter beignet, mozzarella, corn puree; fresh lobsters right before we ate them!; sushi intermission—all you can eat, including oysters; paella with Maine lobster, frog legs, chorizo, crayfish bouillabaisse, and bearnaise

clockwise from left: salmon before cooking; salmon with blood orange butter, fried rock shrimp, fresh pasta; peach chevre gelato, peach sabayon, and tres leches cake; prime tenderloin with beef tartare taco, potatoes, mushroom, and bone marrow reduction

My favorite course was the second one—the paella—but there was not one bad part about this meal.  I am usually not a huge red meat fan, but the steak absolutely blew me away, and the dessert—which I generally skip—was incredible.  I really can’t recommend The Kitchen enough (or thank my dad enough!)—one of my favorite meals of all time!

Something a Little Different

Here’s a topic that means more to me than even food does.  Indulge me while I get a little nostalgic…

There isn’t a word to describe how I feel when I consider that my graduation from college is in less than two weeks.  Terrified, is a good word, as is waytoosad, but there is something else.  Nostalgic seems like a silly thing to say, especially because I haven’t even left the confines of this crazy cow town yet, but I think it is the best fit.  I am nostalgic for previous years, when all I had to worry about was cramming five weeks worth of reading into one (just kidding Dad, I never did that), and what I was going to wear to the next theme party.  Now, I find myself completely unsure of what I am doing or where I am going when the summer ends (SO PLEASE DON’T ASK ME ABOUT IT, RELATIVES).  In spite of this nostalgia and uncertainty, I have had some moments of clarity in the past few weeks, and they can simply boil down to this: I am the luckiest.  I have been completely spoiled by my life in Davis and truly consider it the best place on earth to obtain an education.  I am sure many of you can relate.  Even though there is an overwhelming feeling of sadness about leaving this incredibly special place in the near future, I am the happiest now that I have ever been, and I owe that all to my time at Davis.

I also owe this happiness to my time as a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. For those of you who think that sororities are the downfall of modern education, self-congratulatory super secret societies, or venues for bored girls to pay for friends, I have to shake my head at you.  I have met some of the most incredible women through my sorority, and they have inspired me to be a better person.  Not through large gestures, although there have been a good number of those, but more for the way in which the small things they have done—championed this blog, called me out on my shit, laughed at my corny jokes, sang recruitment songs and pretended to like it, made me feel as if my awkwardness was in fact endearing—have encouraged me, made me laugh, and most importantly, made me pause to consider that maybe my way isn’t always the right way.  Decorating shirts at our sorority house before our senior bar crawl, debating the merits of black pen over blue and laughing at the ridiculousness of 40 girls wearing matching baseball tees, I stopped to realize how lucky I am to have this group of best friends, good friends, and acquaintances, all of whom posses qualities that I admire and who are people that I genuinely want to be around.  I am so lucky for this. I entered college relatively shy, overly sensitive, and unsure of my abilities, but I leave as someone who loves the person that her friends, experiences and education have made her.  I owe this to Davis, and even more to Kappa Kappa Gamma.

There was a time this year when I couldn’t wait to graduate.  Winter quarter in Davis is a notoriously depressing time for everyone, as our California-born-and-bred bodies balk at even the slightest of rain.  I’m sure everyone has felt that pull at some point, the one that says, “If only I weren’t here, then things would be better.”  Maybe it would be sunnier, your professors would assign less work, and your body would be houseboats ready (even though all you do is eat Funayn’s and watch the Real Housewives).  My advice to those underclassmen who find themselves contemplating these questions? STOP.  Get out of your rainy day blanket nest, you lazy shut-in and make your own happiness!!  Fight that hangover and get bagels in the morning with your friends.  Brave the cold and check out the farmers market.  Go to happy hour at Vito’s and order a Tangerine Wheat, even if you have an essay due the next day.  Walk to Trader Joe’s and take advantage of the free samples and free coffee, multiple times in a day.  Request that song just one more time at Froggy’s—maybe the Preacher will finally play it. Stay up late with your roommates, a bottle of wine, and a marathon of quality Lifetime movies. I promise you, it is all worth it.

I’ll never forget the night this quarter where my friends and I decided to order Chinese food and watch the Bachelorette.  Sydney and I arrived at Wok of Flame and were presented with no less than 16 cartons of Chinese food, tucked away in an industrial size packing box, and all we could do was laugh.  I will miss moments like that. Simple. Easy.  For me, it’s important to remember that my best times at this amazingly special place cannot be pinpointed to one exact date, or one specific event.  In this respect, time is an inadequate measure of the best moments. It’s the snapshots of the unexpected that I will miss the most, the moments that were “so Davis” that I will take with me into the future, and remember with a mixture of happiness and longing.

So here’s to the DC food that we hated as freshman, and now, as seniors, would do anything for (thank you Dingo, for being my personal meal ticket).  To Mojito Night—the best Thursday nights  with $12 pitchers, and a plate or two or three (I’m lookin’ at you, Syd) of discounted appetizers (the calories don’t count if they’re cheaper, right?).   Here’s to being a terrified freshman meeting your orientation roommate, unaware that in four years you would still be roommates, and more importantly the kind of best friends that some people never find.  Here’s to Tres, and it’s stupidly long lines, and also those dangerous loaded Corona’s. Here’s to relieving pre-recruitment stress by taking over Little Prague with ten of your sorority sisters and your very best rendition of Tiny Dancer.  To the late-night, early-morning group texts no one else understands or cares about, but that make you laugh every time you look at them. To Right Hooks, Wikis, and Woodstocks to end the night.  To all the things that will never be acceptable after graduation—Houseboats, Ugly Sweaters, daytime beer-shotgunning, biking to the bars.  Here’s to the CoHo, Peter J., The Death Star, and the dreaded Memorial Union parking structure during peak hours.  Here’s to attempting to pay your cab driver to the tune of “Don’t Stop Believing,” rather than with paper money. To bacon breakfast sandwiches after a long night out, trips to Vegas with 30 friends, miserable mornings at Margaritaville, and reality television and freshly squeezed juice.  These are all things that have helped make these the best four years of my life (and maybe yours too!!), and while it is easy to look back on them now as graduation approaches and feel pangs of sadness, I would like to think that we can be thankful for them, for the ways in which they’ve enhanced our college experiences and made us the people that we are today.  There are no words to express how happy I am for those moments.

I have always said that Davis is a special place, and I will continue to say it for the rest of my life.  There is a feeling in this town that I honestly believe cannot be found anywhere else.  Some people might favor the big city life over a downtown area comprised of seven small blocks, but I whole heartedly disagree.  Where else can you casually bike from your house on Anderson to a restaurant downtown, running into no less than three different people you know and inviting them to join you? Where else can you spot your English professor at de Vere’s engaging in a pint and a game of Apples to Apples? What I am trying to say in this long-winded (sorry!) entry, is that Davis, California has been the best decision that I have ever made, and I will look back on my years here with happiness and contentment (and okay, maybe a little bit of embarrassment). So instead of sitting there thinking about all the things that have happened, and how those moments will never be recreated, remember to be THANKFUL that they did.  And smile. You are lucky! I am lucky! It has truly been the greatest.

So, here’s to being the class of 2012, at the best university, in the best town, that I could ever ask for.

LOOKING INTO OUR FUTURES!

The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook

Throughout my time doing blogging and articles for the absolute coolest place in Davis, I have been lucky enough to be able to watch some of the work that went into making the newest product of the market.  No, it’s not some kind of hybrid fruit or exotic new veggie—it’s The Davis Farmers Market Cookbook, and in my (very non biased opinion) it is awesome.

The cookbook was released last week at the market, appropriately, but I was able to get a copy of it a few weeks ago. I am so impressed by it.  A big thing for me in cookbooks is pictures, and this book has some gorgeous ones.  The recipes also seem very personal and true to Davis, however the best thing about the book in my opinion is the way in which it is organized.  There are some basic recipes provided that serve as bases for recipes in the book (such as stocks, for example), but otherwise the book is divided into four categories, each one representing a season.  Each season has an extensive amount of incredibly original and appetizing recipes, and even winter (which I know most people find to be somewhat of a barren and boring season in terms of produce and cooking), has some great ideas.

A big complaint about cooking fresh and seasonally, from what I can tell, is that it can be difficult to 1) determine which items are actually in season, and 2) to come up with recipes that are both interesting and true to the season.  The organization of this book remedies these qualms completely, and even makes me want to stay true to the seasons.  I don’t want to give too much of the book away, as I am planning on recreating more than a few recipes here, but I really recommend checking the book out here (and no I have not been paid/bribed with noms or money to say this).

In the meantime, stay tuned for a recipe straight from the pages very soon!

Chicken Tandoori Naan Pizza

It’s true, I fell off the face of the planet.  Winter quarter at Davis threw me a couple of curveballs, and I was too preoccupied with class (would you believe Chaucer is even harder than you imagine?) and choreographing a dance show for my sorority (THIRD PLACE WHADDUP) and just dealing with life in general, to update anything.  But, I am back, at least temporarily.  To catch up on the past weeks:

I celebrated a much deserved bronze place victory with my partner in crime

that's my girl

Celebrated my Irish heritage with some green beer

laura smith, guest star

laura smith, guest star

Visited San Francisco for a good friend’s birthday (my hopeful future home!)

huge group of girls

And of course, ate and made some seriously good food

THE BEST deviled eggs, at prospect in San Francisco

kimchee fried rice and short ribs at prospect

oysters from hog island oyster co

food truck gluttony at off the grid

the most delicious mac and cheese you'll ever eat (i'm humble)

Winter quarter wasn’t all food and games though, and the reality is sinking in that I am scary close to becoming a real life adult.  It is constantly on my mind that I have no idea what I want to do with myself when I leave the cow-town bubble (novel concept for a college grad, I know).  I constantly bounce back and forth between wanting to get an actual job and wanting to flee and country for Nepal, shirking all responsibility and living with monks (I am only half kidding…this is something I have actually looked into).  Dramatics aside, I know this is something everyone goes through when they are nearing the end of their college career, so I do find comfort in that.  Something else I find comfort in? This pizza.  I am notorious for avoiding Indian food at all costs, for reasons I can’t really explain, but in an effort to be more open, I decided to give this recipe a shot.  And yes, it has changed my mind completely.

Tandoori Chicken Naan Pizza

Adapted pretty much directly from here  (a blog definitely worth checking out!)

Serves 2

  • 2 chicken breasts, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tandoori paste (this stuff is scary good….I admit I was wrong about Indian food)
  • 3 Tbs. plain greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbs. + 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 mango, in small dices
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 2 pieces of naan bread
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  1. Mix the yogurt, 2 tsp. olive oil, and tandoori paste in a bowl.  Add in the chicken pieces, and coat completely.  Cover, and let marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.  
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a heavy bottom skillet.  Bring the olive oil to low heat, and add in the red onions.  Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions caramelize.  
  3. Cook the chicken pieces in a pan, using a little olive oil if necessary, for about 7 minutes or until completely cooked.  
  4. To assemble your pizzas, top each slice with some naan, mango, caramelized onions, and cheese.  Pop in the oven for about 7 minutes, or until the cheesy is melty.
  5. Top with green onions, and enjoy!

iphone pictures -____-

Gorgonzola Souffle

Is this real life? Is this really the sixth week of my LAST winter quarter at UC Davis? The past few weeks have gone by so quickly, the thought of blogging and cooking hasn’t really even crossed my mind.  I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, and haven’t been able to put my finger on what was missing, but I knew something was.  It wasn’t until my roommate Jen snapped me back to reality, and bluntly told me that I needed to keep up the cooking and the blogging that I realized how much I had been slacking off in this department.  After cooking this dinner I am about to tell you about, I have to say it feels good to be back!

To mark my return to blogging, I decided to cook something that strikes fear in the hearts of home chefs everywhere.  Something that has received the reputation of being impossible to execute correctly.  Something that I have been thinking of ever since my magical dinner at La Folie.

That’s right, I made a souffle.

it's starting to deflate here, but you get the idea

I’m not sure what exactly possessed me to make this, but I am beyond glad that I did.  It was surprisingly so simple (after a first round of batter failure, that is), and it is one of those things that is really impressive to serve.  Plus, it is essentially a mixture of cheese and eggs, which are obviously two of my all time favorite foods.  So there’s that.

Try it! Don’t let the hype deter you, ’cause it’s really not all that hard.

Gorgonzola Cheese Souffle

Serves 2 (adapted from Real Simple)

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3-4 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Take 1 tablespoon of butter, and grease two ramekins.  Set aside.
  2. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the flour, and cook over medium heat for one minute.  Whisk in the milk, and stir constantly until the mixture starts to boil.  Stir in the gorgonzola and nutmeg, then remove from heat.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks into the mixture one at a time, and incorporate fully. Set aside.
  4. In a bowl (NOT plastic), whip the egg whites and the salt together until stiff peaks form.  This took FOREVER, and if you have an electric mixer, it would really come in handy here.
  5. Slowly fold in 1/4 of the egg whites into the souffle ‘batter,’ and then gently fold in the remaining whites.  Pour the mixture into the buttered ramekin, and bake until puffed and browned – this took about 30 minutes.  DON’T open the door before time is up, or your souffle will deflate!  Be patient, and enjoy!

 

La Folie, San Francisco

I am lucky to have some really great people in my life.  There’s my dad, who has supported every single one of my endeavors (and even attended Swan Lake during the SUPER BOWL!), my oldest childhood friend (and polar opposite) Sara, Andrew (who entertains my food ramblings), my wonderfully crazy high school friends, and my roommates (including Jen!), who have seen me through four years of highs and lows.  Another person who I am lucky to know, is my good friend Kevin (henceforth known as Albano), who I have mentioned multiple times in my foodie adventures.  I like to call him my food soulmate, and it is possible that he has better taste and more experience with food than I do.

(I wanted to insert a picture of us here, but I’m not sure the blogging world is quite ready for what I could unleash).

To celebrate my birthday, Albano and I went to a restaurant that I have salivated over for about a year, one that I really couldn’t convince anyone else I know to go to with me.  That restaurant would be La Folie in San Francisco, and it has been the highlight of my dining experiences thus far.   It was his idea to go (PS LADIES, he is SINGLE!), and I feel so lucky that I got to tag along.  Located in Russian Hill and possessing a MICHELIN STAR (!!!), La Folie is the perfect combination of whimsy and elegance (fitting, considering “la folie” translates to “madness” in English).  Their menu consists of a variety of appetizer, meat, seafood, and dessert items, and you can create your own meal by choosing either three, four, or five items from the menu.

One can experience a degree of apprehension when attending a restaurant with the amount of hype (and the price point) of La Folie.  I was curious if the portions would be enough, whether the atmosphere would be too snooty, and most importantly, if the food would live up to my taste expectations.  I have to say, I was absolutely blown away.

amuse one. i could get used to this.

amuse two.

First off, our waitress was amazing.  She was genuinely friendly, funny, and helpful when guiding us in our menu choices, and I have to say that our experience would not have been the same without her.  She brought out us two amuse bouches to start the meal (standard, but it makes you feel really special), and they both were excellent.  The first was some kind of mousse, with caviar (good), and the second was a soup with egg yolk and leeks (GREAT) contained within an eggshell.  Right off the bat with these tiny bites, you can see the chef’s sense of playfulness and whimsy.

told you i'm lucky!

After the amuse course, we chose to go with the caviar supplement. The perfection of this dish, an ounce of Oestra Caviar, served with potato blinis, lobster, and creme fraiche, was only heightened by the special feeling I got when eating it – this is not something you have very often.

if you know me, you know i cant say no to an egg

For my first course, I chose the tempura duck egg, served on sweetbreads pancake with Frangelico almond pesto, wild mushroom salad, and truffle vinaigrette (also note the truffles shaved on top of the egg).  I am an absolute sucker for a soft egg, and this did not disappoint.

you can't really tell, but that is a HUGE piece of fois gras

Albano’s first course was the seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, served over spiced poached apple and apple consomme (poured table side).  This was my first introduction to foie, and I enjoyed the unctuous, fatty texture.  The slice was HUGE (we were already beginning to feel full), and the richness of the foie was perfectly balanced by the apple.  An extremely well done dish.

can't say no to PASTA

My second course was the butter poached lobster, served atop mushroom ravioli, topped with truffle beurre fondue, and Marcona almond salad. I felt the salad wasn’t really necessary, but the truffle beurre fondue was excellent, and the lobster was perfectly done.

more salad thingies

Albano’s second course was the warm pig feet, sweetbread, and lobster terrine, on lentil salad with bacon and hazelnut vinaigrette.  There is absolutely nothing bad to be said about this standout dish.

by now, i am ready to burst

Albano’s third course: lobster and mushroom risotto, with leeks and mushroom broth, topped with shaved black truffles.  I was SO FULL by now (my earlier concerns about portion size were squashed) but this was my absolute favorite dish of the night.  So creamy, savory, buttery, and NOMS.

very creative presentation (look at the tiny egg yolk!)

For my third course, I chose the roti of quail and squab, stuffed with mushrooms, wrapped in crispy potato strings served with truffle jus.  This was enjoyable, but not an absolute order again (although the presentation was very interesting).

tiny burger!

Albano’s fourth course (word to the wise, three courses is PLENTY), was the “La Boeuf:” Creekstone beef tenderloin, braised beef short rib, and burger Rossini with sauce bordelaise.  This was $20 extra, and while it was tasty, I would probably want to explore the menu a little bit more before ordering this again (although, don’t get me wrong – it was divine).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!!!

I ordered the cheese souffle with fromage blanc sorbet, crispy bacon, and white sesame tuile. NOMS THIS WAS SO GOOD.  Such a different combination of flavors but they worked perfectly (hello, bacon works perfectly with everything), and they even gave my dessert a nice touch by adding some birthday wishes to it (no singing though, thankfully).

they had to roll me out

We finished off the night with some complimentary petit fours that, small as they were, we actually couldn’t finish due to being so full. I like to call this “food drunk” (although the multiple glasses of wine didn’t hurt either).

This was the BEST meal I have ever had, and not just because of the food: the non pretentious atmosphere, the friendly, knowledgable waitress, and yes, even the company (don’t let it go to your head Albano), all made for a great evening.  I highly recommend La Folie for a special occasion to ANYONE…foodies and non foodies alike!

 

How to Drink at de Vere’s

Not sure if I mentioned this before my lengthy hiatus, but I recently became the social media and blogging intern for de Vere’s Irish Pub in Davis (peep my review here).  While I put together an out of this world blog post for you (hint, it involves my foodie friend Albano and a certain sought after modern French restaurant in SF), check out this blog post I wrote for the de Vere’s website!

Wicked Spoon Buffet, Las Vegas

I realize there has been a lot of silence on my end.  The end of November and the beginning of December were crazy, with my internships, finals and sorority obligations.  But now I am on break (THANKFULLY), and am getting back in the blogging swing of things.

I have to admit, I’ve been extremely lazy in the cooking department as of late.  Let’s just say that the past few weeks the restaurants of Davis have been reaping the benefits of my patronage big time (I’m looking at you, Nugget).  I’m very much committed to getting back in the kitchen, but all in good time.  For now, I would like to share with you the most glorious, gluttonous, food experience I have had thus far in my life.

buffet warriors

I recently went to VEGAS with thirty of my sorority sisters (yes, thirty, you read that right).  It was definitely some of the most fun I have ever had, and I can really only describe the experience as surreal.  We stayed at the Venetian, which I highly recommend (although the next time I go, there is somewhere else I’d like to stay…more on that later), and I roomed in a suite with six of my friends.  One of these friends had heard of a buffet in Vegas called the Wicked Spoon Buffet., and after a hard sell to the rest of the roommates, we convinced our room to head there for brunch.  The buffet is located in the new Cosmopolitan Hotel, a destination on the strip that oozes trendiness.  With the lobby filled with columns made of high definition televisions playing abstract graphics, the casual bar between the lobby and the casino, and it’s slightly out there artwork, I fell in love with this hotel as soon as we got there  (this love was only solidified when we went to their nightclub, Marquee, later in the trip).

jennifer and sydney enjoying their noms

Let me start by saying that at $30 for brunch (add $8 more for bottomless mimosas), this place is an absolute steal.  Sure you have to wait in about an hour line to get in, but it is totally worth it.  We were all pleasantly surprised when we got inside the actual buffet and noticed the decor matched the rest of the hotel-clean, modern lines.  Of course, we also noticed the food: trays and containers lined an entire (very long) wall, with a huge dessert station in the middle of the room.  I actually giggled with glee.

What sets the Wicked Spoon apart from most other buffets is that rather than having the food piled on heaping trays (which can get kind of gross, I will admit), most items are individually portioned into their own cute serving containers.  Furthermore, this food is really excellent stuff, and not of the lackluster quality you will find at a lot of buffets.  Needless to say, I had a field day.  Unfortunately I was only able to nab photos of about 1/2 the items actually consumed, but here it is for your viewing pleasure:

round one

Clockwise from top left: eggs benedict (LOVED the individual serving dish…SO cute), leek and fontina thin crust pizza, pasta tubes in a garlic cream sauce with chicken and sundried tomatoes, and butternut squash ravioli in brown butter sage.  Yep, this is not your average buffet.

round ????

Clockwise from top left: Pork banh mi, clams in saffron curry, chicken adobo, asiago stuffed gnocchi with asparagus and tomatoes (only mediocre dish of the entire brunch), and sweet and sour pork shoulder (SO. BOMB).

serious omlette

Chelsea’s omelette.  It was build your own, obviously, and the toppings were stacked.

too full to try....an anomaly for me

Fried chicken and sweet potato and pork hash.  Although I didn’t eat this (sad face), I wanted to show it because I think it gives you an idea of cool the individual serving plates are.

every carnivores delight

Here is the meat carving station, that had AT LEAST seven different kinds of meat (rosemary rack of lamb, slab bacon, ribs, etc.) all carved to order right in front of you.  I had some prime rib, because why not, and it melted in my mouth.  For real.

for the record, this was not just my dessert

Generally not a big fan of dessert, but the selections here were out of control.  Above is, clockwise from top left: strawberry short cake (the creme was incredible), mini cheesecakes (raspberry and chocolate), BLACKBERRY COBBLER, almond joy gelato (actually the best flavor I have ever had), chocolate covered strawberries with heath bar, mint gelato (with real mint pieces), choco chip cookie, and molten chocolate cake.  Whew, I’m tired.

just about 1/3 of the dessert selection

guys, your eyes do not deceive you. that is in fact a GELATO BAR.

By the end of the meal, we were all just kind of sitting there with our eyes glazed over, not really talking.  As I have said before, buffets are not social activities.  They are work.

I really, really, REALLY cannot recommend this place enough.  Thirty dollars might seem like a lot, but when we compared it to our meal at Margaritaville (the saddest place on earth…a story for another time) the next day where we all paid around the same price, it is definitely a steal.

gratuitous group vegas shot, because i can

De Vere’s Irish Pub, Davis

I generally don’t review restaurants in Davis for good reason.  Davis being an extremely small (but extremely awesome!) college town, I have been to most of the restaurants here more times than I can count, and plus the variation here is sadly lacking: there are at least seven Thai restaurants, 8 Chinese restaurants, and 8 pizza restaurants.  Not a knock on any kind of those foods at all, because they are some of my go to spots, however being as food obsessed as I am, I am always looking out for something new.

forcing my dining companions to come up for air and pose for a pic...hi chelsea and lani!

De Vere’s Irish Pub, which just opened its doors this week, definitely delivers on that need and then some.  Located on E Street, between 2nd and 3rd, this is such a unique and welcome addition to the Davis dining scene.  I was able to attend a soft opening here Wednesday night, and brought along three friends that are as obsessed with food as I am.  Before I go into reviewing our time at De Vere’s, I’d like to quote my friend Lani, who summed it up quite nicely: “This place is so good…and so cozy….I don’t even feel like I’m in Davis.”

aves and i, enjoying some perfectly poured pints

So, what made it seem like we were miles away from Davis, CA?  First, the restaurant interior.  I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the pub last week while everything was still coming together, and I have to say I was seriously impressed at the final product.  A gorgeous bar (imported from a real pub in Ireland!), dark wood chairs and tables, a ‘library,’ and a room with a TV set the stage, while antiques and pictures of the owners family from Ireland, along with pictures of Davis back in the day, really complete the experience.  In a word, it is cozy, and extremely different than any other bar, or even restaurant, you will find in Davis.  When I spoke to the owner last week, he emphasized how important it was for him that De Vere’s be a lively community meeting place for professors, students, and families, and I can already see that vision coming together.  He told me an Irish saying, that went something like: “You go to the pub after you’re baptized, you go after you have your communion, you go after you get married, and everyone else goes after your funeral.”  Being Irish, I have first hand experience of this, and I appreciated the sentiment for both it’s humor and applicability.

default 20 oz. pours? don't mind if i do!

The other unique thing about De Vere’s is the cuisine, and how it separates itself from typical ‘pub food.’ Firstly, they make an insane amount of things in house.  They butcher their own meats, brine their own bacon, stuff their own sausages, grind their own burgers, and bake their own Irish brown bread daily.  This, plus their emphasis in farm-to-table food (what’s up Davis Farmers’ Market), truly puts them in a category of their own.  Additionally, their head chef comes straight out of working at The Kitchen in Sacramento, one of my most lusted after restaurants (any takers want to bring me? I won’t give up until it happens).

not sure what Dublin dipping sauces are actually made of....except for deliciousness

So now that my food philosophy rant is over…on to the actual food.  The soft opening event we went to was actually a joint event with Sudwerk’s, in which Sud’s brought over a couple of their beers (including the extremely delicious Aggie Lager).  The four of us all ordered pints (which come automatically as 20 oz., unless you specify smaller). To go with the brews, we ordered some Chips and Dips (fries and dipping sauces), and Parnell’s Potato Boats (crispy potato skins, filled with Dubliner cheddar and house made Irish bacon, served w/ sour cream).

boats of yum

Both of these appetizers were great.  We loved the dipping sauces for the chips, and the house made Irish bacon was a great touch on the potato boats.  These items are also offered during De Vere’s happy hour, which seems like an awesome deal. And I love a good happy hour.

photo does not even nearly do it justice

I obviously ordered the Mac and Cheese (with American bacon), as my entree.  I am kind of a mac and cheese freak, and this definitely met my expectations.  The noodles were the perfect doneness, and the breadcrumbs on top were a good textural contrast.  This is a definite ‘order again.’

why do mini sandwiches taste better than regular ones?

Lani and Avery chose to split the Pig Sliders (pork sliders marinated in De Vere’s barbecue sauce, crispy onions, and jack cheese, served with cole slaw).  The ever eloquent Lani Chan exclaimed how much she loved the cole slaw, when apparently she doesn’t even like side dish in real life.  Oh, and the pork sliders themselves – just the right amount of crisp to keep them from being soggy, but still wonderfully tender.

sup grilled cheese

Chelsea got the Irish American Grilled Cheese (Dubliner and American cheeses with tomato, served with your choice of bread) and the side soup of the day, which was BACON and Leek.  I emphasize the bacon because the soup was very bacony without being overwhelming, although let’s be real there is no such thing as too much bacon.  The grilled cheese was awesome too, and Dubliner just happens to be my favorite cheese.

looks a little out of place at a pub, but still tasty

Because I like to take full advantage of being 21, I had to try one of the cocktails.  I chose the Pink Lady, which is Bombay Sapphire gin, Laird’s Applejack, fresh lime juice, and grenadine.  While I looked pretty stupid drinking this dainty beverage while everyone around me was enjoying frosty pints, I don’t regret my decision because this cocktail was refreshment at it’s finest.

Overall, I really recommend going here.  Like, now.  It is a great addition to the Davis dining (and drinking!) scene, and there really is something for everyone.  When it gets up and running there will be trivia, Sunday brunches (with BOTTOMLESS MIMOSAS), and a Whiskey Society, plus the awesome food and ambiance will always be there.  So what are you waiting for?!

Spinach and Mushroom Eggs Benedict

I take back everything I have ever said about not being a breakfast person.

I’m serious.

oh my goddddd

This recipe is one part trickery (spinach and mushrooms? healthy!), one part butter, and a whole lot of eggs.  And I am so okay with this.  While I didn’t necessarily have it for breakfast, per say (okay…I ate it at 1:30….) I could see this being a wonderful addition to a brunch party (something that I am contemplating having) because while it looks and tastes a little fancy, it was really quite simple.  And plus, I think it would go nicely with a mimosa.  There were a lot of steps involved, and some crafty timing, but truthfully the hardest thing was making the hollandaise, which thanks to my food processor was not too difficult at all.

I have to say that hollandaise is SERIOUSLY dangerous because it is incredibly delicious, and so extremely not good for you.  However, when used on rare occasions, such as in this dish, I think you can validate the splurge.  Just try to keep yourself from eating it plain, out of the blender.  Not that I did that or anything.

Spinach and Mushroom Eggs Benedict 

Serves 1, with leftover hollandaise 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 handful fresh spinach
  • 1 cup Shitake mushrooms (you can really use any kind, this is just what I had)
  • dash of salt
  • dash of pepper
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1 piece sourdough bread
  • 2 eggs
  • For hollandaise:
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 dash of cayenne
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3/4 stick butter (I KNOW.  I KNOW.)
  1. Start by boiling some water in a medium pot.  This will be for poaching your eggs.  While the water comes to a boil, heat the olive oil in a pan, then add the mushroom and spinach.  You will saute these over medium heat, stirring occasionally, while the rest of the breakfast comes together.
  2. While the mushrooms and spinach saute, add your 2 egg yolks, cayenne, and lemon juice into a food processor, and blend until combined, and nice and yellow.  The water should be boiling now, so turn it down to medium high and carefully slide in your eggs and poach them.  For further instructions on this, go here.  Set the eggs aside when poached.
  3. Pop the sourdough into the toaster, and toast it until it reaches your desired doneness (aka BURNT for me).  Put the butter in a microwave save bowl, and microwave for one minute.  With the food processor running, slowly stream in the melted butter, until the sauce become nice and thick.
  4. Assemble your sammich.  Put the toast on a plate, top with the spinach/mushroom mixture, then the poached egg, then a generous drizzle of the hollandaise.  Drool a little, and then enjoy!

could eat this every day