Cafe Reyes: Point Reyes Station

Point Reyes Station is a little town about 35 miles north of San Francisco. I spent this past weekend there for work which is almost two years since my last visit. It was also the last time I wrote about restaurants in the area. Link to Point Reyes/Tomales Bay blog post I complained a little about the pizza I had at Osteria Stellina which warranted a suggestion from a reader about a restaurant called Cafe Reyes which serves great pizza right in town.

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From my understanding, Cafe Reyes used to serve Mexican food. In early 2008, they imported a wood fired oven from Italy and began making pizza. To be truthful, I have had Cafe Reyes on my mind for the past two years. Finally, I had lunch there with my colleague. I ordered the butternut squash and asparagus soup to start. This soup had the perfect consistency which was not too thick or thin. The flavors from the vegetables were amazing especially with the added hint of ginger.

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My colleague ordered a fresh green salad to start. It was a large salad so she shared some with me. It was a simple salad with few ingredients. It was fresh and basic, but nothing special. The nice thing about both appetizers were that they each came with a small slice of garlicy cheese pizza. This was crispy, chewy, and wonderfully flavored and I was looking forward to the whole pizza that was forthcoming.

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We agreed to share a margarita pizza. This is another restaurant that uses 00 flour, the finely ground flour imported from Italy. The crust was delicious, however I was missing a bit of salt on my pie. With the marinara sauce and mozzarella, I was surprised by this. I’ve never had to do this before, but it was a quick fix with the salt shaker. The only shaker I’m used to shaking on pizza is the red pepper shaker. I actually enjoyed the complimentary slice that came with the appetizers much more than the margarita.

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We didn’t have dessert this time, but I look forward to going back to Cafe Reyes for a second try. Dessert and a meaty pizza will be on my mind.

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Another Saint Patrick’s Day Blog

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As I started thinking about Saint Patrick’s Day a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon Robert’s Corned Meats Co. in San Francisco. They are a family owned and operated business for over 100 years that specialize in corned beef and pastrami. They sell their cured meats to restaurants around the Bay Area including Tommy’s Joynt, Brennan’s Restaurant, and Mel’s Drive-Ins; supermarkets including Andronico’s and Mollie Stones; and hotels including the Marriott, St. Francis, Hyatt, and Hilton. In addition, they have a small retail shop where the general public can buy their meats.

The shop is only open Monday through Friday during the hours of 7am – 3pm with a lunch break between 11:30am – 12:30pm. I have a friend and coworker who loves to cook that I was sure I could convince to spend her lunch break taking a field trip with me to the City from Oakland. There was no arm twisting there. We planned to go last Wednesday and the rain wouldn’t stop us.

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Robert’s is located in SOMA at 1030 Bryant Street. I had heard that close to Saint Patrick’s Day to expect a long line. Because of the rain, the shop was pretty empty of customers. Debbie and Rigo were there to greet us. We were newbies so we learned the corned beef were packed in varied sizes and sold at $3.99 per lb. Rigo helped my friend while Debbie helped me. I ended up purchasing two of the smaller pieces, one 3 lb and one 5 lb. My friend bought several items and had to write a check because she didn’t take enough cash out of the ATM!

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Two years ago, Robert’s celebrated 100 years and the then mayor Gavin Newsome presented a proclamation to Robert’s Corned Meats that on March 17, 2010 and every Saint Patrick’s Day thereafter will be designated as “Robert’s Corned Meats Day” in San Francisco.

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My friend and I have since cooked our corned beef and decided that it is worth the trip to San Francisco even in the pouring rain to get their corned beef. The meat alone had the right balance of fat and meat. Their method of corning as well as the pickling spices provided perfect flavors. The great thing is we no longer have to wait until Saint Patrick’s Day to get good quality corned beef.

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For those wondering, the meat at Robert’s Corned Meats is not grass fed. Although I am still conscious, I have begun making few exceptions. For those wondering what to do with their leftover corned beef, last year I posted my recipe for Gourmet Corned Beef Hash.

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Celebrity Chef: Cat Cora

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Whenever I travel for work, I would alway pack my tennis shoes and gym clothes, but rarely end up pulling it out of the suitcase. This time while I was in Florida, I did pull it out because I had to get my Weight Watcher activity points in. I found that our hotel the Swan and Dolphin had a one mile loop walking trail. I could loop around three times and earn three activity points. It’s a good thing I did because that is how I discovered Kouzzina, Iron Chef Cat Cora’s restaurant located on the Boardwalk. I had to dine here just because she is the only female Iron Chef. The restaurant is open for dinner as well as breakfast. I tried both.

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Kouzzina means kitchen in Greek and serves Mediterranean food. Although I was excited to be having dinner here, I knew I was in Florida and wanted to play it safe. I would start with my favorite Greek soup, Avgolemono. To me, lemon and chicken is like peanut butter and jelly. They go well together. Chef Cora’s soup did not have the exact consistency or texture that I expected, but it was still good. It was a tad thicker, had a more pungent lemon flavor, and had orzo when I expected rice. I now realize that you can use rice or orzo to make this soup. The Asian in me likes the rice.

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My friend who enjoys Greek appetizers ordered the Kouzzina sampler as her entree. It came with lamb meatballs, shrimp skewers, marinated olives, spiced cashews, dolmas, hummus, and pita. The platter of items was very mediocre. My favorite thing was the spiced cashews.

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I continued to play it safe and ordered the wood-grilled rib eye steak which was topped with an herb salsa and came with broccolini and potatoes. This was great. I wiped off some of the herb salsa, but everything else was delicious and met my expectations.

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The one thing I noticed about Kouzzina was that they could work on their plating. Plating was a hot mess. I guess in Florida they care more about abundance than they do presentation.

I came back the next morning for breakfast with my colleague. We shared two items. One was the French toast baklava, which was grilled fig and anise country bread with honey, walnuts and cinnamon. It also came with a side of chicken sausage.

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The second item was the warm phyllo filled with semolina custard and cinnamon sugar.

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Chef Cat Cora proved she could do breakfast. These Greek influenced breakfast plates were well worth my second visit and three more loops around the walking trail.

Magic Kingdom: Snacks

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I’m in Orlando, Florida on a business trip. My conference ended today so I purchased an after 2pm ticket to Magic Kingdom.

I didn’t have lunch except for a couple of pieces of fruit so I was pretty hungry when I entered the park. There are a lot of choices of snacks to eat at Magic Kingdom. What would I have? My friend back home at that moment had just text me to not to forget to have a giant turkey wing. Ooh, that sounded good to me. I felt like I needed some protein. I was fairly close to Frontierland where there is a stall that sells this carnivorous item.

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As I got closer and closer to the wagon selling the turkey, I passed several people biting into what was actually gigantic smoked turkey legs. It took me about five minutes to get through the line to buy the drumstick. I personally love smoked meats as well as eating turkey parts. This turkey leg was temperature hot, fresh, moist, juicy, and very flavorful. Although I felt somewhat awkward holding and eating this huge piece of meat, it was worth feeling this way as it was delicious.

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About an hour later, I was ready to dive into a sweet snack. Unlike the turkey leg, I knew I was getting this next snack before arriving at Disney World.

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In Magic Kingdom at Adventureland, you can get dole whip at a stand called Aloha Isle. Dole whip is a pineapple flavored soft serve. The last time I had it, I was in Anaheim at Disneyland. Although I got a plain soft serve, you can also get a float with pineapple juice.

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These snacks were great and held me over until dinner.