For A Limited Time: Three Red Fruit

It’s the end of May and if you go to any Bay Area Farmer’s Market, you will find strawberries, raspberries, and cherries at its best. It’s a very short time period that all three of these red fruit are in season. It may even be shorter this year because of the California drought. At a recent dinner party, I had the fortune to help make a French dessert called “Three Red Fruit” or “trois fruit rouge au vin rouge” and was even more fortunate to eat it.

About 2 cups of strawberries should be rinsed, de-stemmed, and cut in halves while another 2 cups of raspberries should be cleaned. It was my first time using a cherry pitter which was fun. I cleaned and pitted about 2 cups of bing cherries as well. Did you know the Bing cherry was named after a Chinese man by the name of Ah Bing that was influential in developing the fruit back in the 1800’s?
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Place the pitted cherries, 1/2 cup of red wine, and a 1/4 of sugar in a ceramic pot over medium high heat. A ceramic pot is recommended because much of the ingredients being cooked down is acidic. After a few minutes of cooking, add the strawberries.
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Stir the fruit lightly and after another few minutes pass, add the raspberries. Keep stirring occasionally while the fruit cooks for another few minutes. When the fruits break down and boils rapidly, remove from heat.
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Ladle the “Three Red Fruit” into bowls and eat with a spoon while it is still warm. This is a simple dessert that is delicious. The fruits might be costly this year, but it is so worth it.

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Casual Eating in Aptos, California

I just got back from a conference at the Seascape Resort in Aptos, California which is near Santa Cruz. The space is beautiful and right off the beach where we could see dolphins swimming. My colleagues and I were able to have a few meals off-site and I wanted to write about two of those meals.

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Before we arrived to the resort, we stopped for lunch at The Farm Bakery and Cafe. The place is right next to Cabrillo College. It’s a cute casual place that even has a gift shop. We ordered our food at the counter and found a table as we waited for our food. One of my colleagues ordered a Chicken Caesar Salad while another ordered the chicken wrap. I ordered a Chinese Chicken Salad and a fruit salad to share.
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I find that the key to a good Chinese Chicken Salad is usually the salad dressing. In this case, I especially enjoyed the chicken. The chicken was so moist that I think it may have been poached. My colleagues enjoyed their lunches as well. We all nibbled on the fresh fruit salad which was nice and sweet. My first impression is that The Farm is a great place to stop for a quick lunch if you are in the area.

Another off site meal I had was breakfast at The Hole in the Wall Cafe. The photos and review of the huevos rancheros were great so my colleague and I both ordered it. The blend of a fried egg, beans, chorizo, avocado, sour cream, green onions, and sauce on top of a slightly crisp corn tortilla was delicious. The crispy hash browns were excellent and went well with the sauce that was oozing out of my huevos rancheros.

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Our other colleague had the eggs benedict. These were picture perfect and she finished off her plate so my assumption is that she really liked it.

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Again we shared another fruit salad. Whenever I am traveling at a conference, I want to make sure I have an adequate amount of fruit when possible.

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The Hole in the Wall Cafe is definitely worth stopping by for breakfast.

Fresh Filipino: Sariwa Pop Up

In a blog post I wrote a few months ago, I talked about the unbalanced meal I had from a Filipino restaurant. Vegetables may have been on one dish they served. I was interviewed by a friend of mine for a project she was working on for a class that dealt with food problems in public health. The outcome of the course was a lovely event called Sariwa or fresh in Tagalog.

Sariwa was a Pop Up dinner that occurred last Saturday at Cafe La Pena in Berkeley serving Filipino food. Ironically, the center pieces at the table were a variety of fresh colorful vegetables typically used in traditional Filipino foods.

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There were two choices of main plates to choose from which worked out perfectly for my friend and I to be able to try both.

Bicol express was the vegetarian option with mushrooms with sliced green beans, lemongrass, chili, crisp tofu, and coconut sauce. I was impressed by how delicious and flavorful this vegetarian dish could be.

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Bicolana adobo was tender chicken and kabocha simmered with a tangy sauce of coconut, chilies, vinegar, and tamari. This tasted like no chicken adobo I have ever had. I could taste the California freshness brought out in this dish.
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Both dishes came with brown turmeric rice and a fresh salad of grapefruit, orange, radish, jicama, tomato, baby greens, and tamarind vinaigrette. These sides balanced the dishes very well.

There were two choice of dessert which we were able to enjoy.

One dessert was the chocolate bibingka with strawberries from Salinas. I was pleasantly surprised by the chewy consistency.
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The cashew calamansi cheesecake was the second dessert and a vegan option. This was the one thing I didn’t enjoy from the entire meal.

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Aileen, one of the students and also the chef, came out to thank everyone for coming. I was appreciative of the great food, company, and experience.

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The Best Things I Ate: San Diego

I was in San Diego last weekend. A lot has changed since I lived there twenty years ago including the food scene. That’s probably true everywhere. Food has changed a lot in the last twenty years. Another change is that you can easily find the best foods to eat even when you are a visitor.

My trip to San Diego had me searching for some of the bests. The best breakfast/brunch goes to Hash House A Go Go in Hillcrest. People rave about the Sage Fried Chicken and Bacon Waffles. While I thoroughly enjoyed the fried chicken (not so much the waffle), it was the B.L.T. Mary that surprised me and impressed me.
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My Bloody Mary came with bacon, lettuce, tomato, toast, and mayo. I was now able to build half a sandwich as well as have a drink. What a clever and fun concept! Realistically, this was all I needed to call brunch.
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The best place for a bowl of ramen noodles is a hip place called Underbelly in Little Italy. I enjoyed my ramen, but loved the ambiance. At Underbelly, you place your order, pay for your meal, and then take a seat. We were seated at the bar. The walls are made of glass so you feel like you are eating outside.
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I ordered the Belly of the Beasts Ramen which included a soft boiled egg, oxtail dumplings, smoked brisket, and hoisin glazed short rib. When my order arrived, it didn’t come with a soup spoon. The story behind this is that they say that in Japan they don’t use soup spoons for ramen and the soup is meant to be slurped. I followed the rule and after consuming everything in my bowl with chopsticks, I slurped down the remaining broth. Delicious!
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I saved the best thing I ate in San Diego for last. The best thing I had was a donut from the Donut Bar in Downtown. While the Donut Bar also has a version of the donut croissant combination called the crobar, it is not their best offering.
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I tried quite a few donuts and my favorite by far was the strawberry split. They take a deep fluffy sugar donut, cut it in half and stuff it with whipped cream and strawberries. While donuts are typically eaten as a form of breakfast, this one makes for a great dessert. I had the strawberry split twice during my short visit, after all it was the best thing I ate in San Diego.
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