poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie


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Hello 2013!

I realize that we are almost 4 weeks into 2013, but since my Christmas decorations are still up, I think it’s still kosher for me to wish everyone a happy new year! And also because this is my first post of 2013.

So how has everyone’s year gone so far? Mine has been very busy. I spent the first week of 2013 visiting family and friends in Maryland. Then, I came back for 4 days, only to head off again to Burbank for 6 days for a work trip. After being home for almost one week, I went away again for a ski trip at Lake Tahoe with my old lab. I had a great time, but I’m definitely happy to be done with traveling for the foreseeable future. 2013 has started out with too much eating out and lingering holiday indulging. Must get back to cooking, STAT!

Speaking of cooking, my friend and former colleague DS cooked some truly gourmet and memorable meals during the ski trip. I shall leave you with the following images to give you a glimpse of the deliciousness of it all. Enjoy!

dinner

Dinner #1! Clockwise from top left: crusty bread, arugula and roasted beet salad with shaved fennel in orange vinaigrette; green beans, mashed potatoes, and roasted halibut with mushroom and caramelized onion reduction.

dinner

Dinner #2! Montreal style aged brisket with homemade sauerkraut and cabbage salad, cucumber and dill salad, french fries, and rye bread. This was the best brisket I’ve ever had — very tender and juicy!

Kirkwood

It wouldn’t be a ski trip without some actual skiing! After not skiing at all last season, it was good to hit the slopes again.


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Birthday Lunch at Mustards Grill

I hate to be that blogger that starts every post with an apology, but here it goes: I am sorry that I have been almost absent from this blog for the past few months. Even though I think it’s perfectly normal for blogs to ebb and flow, it makes me wonder why I have this blog when I have such a lag between posts. I’ve considered ending this blog, but I do feel like I have something to say every once in a while.  So, for any readers out there that have stayed with me, thanks for your patience! That said, this will be my last post of 2012, as I am embarking on a week-long vacation from the internet. So, I’ll see y’all in 2013, when I’ll debut a new recipes page and hopefully get back to CSA posts. Happy Holidays!

**

OK, back in October, it was my birthday. Due to my running addiction hobby, I thought it would be a great idea to run a half marathon on the morning of my birthday. AEW and I signed up for the Healdsburg Half Marathon, and TC came along to spectate. Since we were going to be up in wine country, I thought it would be a great idea to finally try Mustards Grill, a place in Napa that had been recommended to me more than 3 years ago by friends LGS and MS.

I made the reservation for the 3 of us, with plenty of time to relax after the race, change, and drive from Healdsburg to Napa. Unfortunately, we took a wrong turn (I admit, it was my fault) and ended up being 5-10 minutes late. Even though we called, they said they could not hold our table for more than 15 minutes. Yikes! So it was a close call, but we made it just in the nick of time.

We sat down and ordered drinks. I think TC got a beer, I had a glass of wine, and AEW ordered a delicious sidecar (I believe there was some seasonal fruit in it. Pomegranate, perhaps?).  We were all very pleased with our drinks and the crusty bread, especially since we were super hungry.

Hm, what to order? Everything looked so good!

We decided to order a couple of appetizers to share: Sweet Corn Tamales with mushrooms, salsa, and pumpkin seeds, and Laotian Quail. We got the quail simply because it was listed as the favorite of Cindy Pawlcyn, the executive chef and owner of Mustards. The consensus was that the quail was disappointing. The tamales, on the other hand — OMG. They were definitely the highlight of the meal. So, so delicious.

The quail. Meh, in our opinion.

The quail. Meh, in our opinion.

This tamale was to die for!

This tamale was to die for!

We skipped the salads and went straight for the main entrees.  AEW got the pulled pork sandwich, which she enjoyed immensely. We also ordered a side of mac n cheese and grilled sweet potatoes to share. The mac and cheese was superb — it was more like cheesy baked pasta, especially since it was made with penne instead of macaroni. The sweet potatoes were ok. They were the white kind, which I’m not a huge fan of.

more food

Clockwise from top: pulled pork sandwich, mac and cheese, and grilled sweet potatoes.

This potato chip is half the size of AEW's face!

This potato chip is half the size of AEW’s face!

I got the ahi tuna sandwich, which was tasty. My only complaint is that I thought it was supposed to be seared, not cooked through as it ended up being. It was still flavorful and juicy though. TC went all out and got the rabbit, which he really enjoyed. I thought it was a bit “burnt” tasting, but AEW also liked it, so I guess I’m the odd woman out.

super close up of my ahi tuna sandwich

Super close up of my ahi tuna sandwich. The fries were tasty too.

Pan-cooked red wine rabbit "Frenchy style" with pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon.

Pan-cooked red wine rabbit “Frenchy style” with pearl onions, mushrooms, root vegetables, and bacon.

Since it was my birthday, I couldn’t resist getting a dessert. We shared a dark chocolate cake — I think it was the warm chocolate hazelnut truffle tart with caramel sauce, espresso ice cream, and praline. They even put a candle in it!

Not the best photo. I was probably too excited about the cake.

Not the best photo. I was probably too excited about the cake.

It was definitely a delicious meal and a wonderful part of a very memorable birthday celebration!


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Jen:

Here’s why I’ve been so absent from the food blog the past few months. Thought some of you might be interested in my latest adventure!

Originally posted on Running Tangents:

If you came here to read something short and sweet, I’ve got news for you: You’re in the wrong place. Get ready for an epic tale of the longest race of my life!

Saturday (day before the marathon):
I spent the morning packing and making a playlist, then we headed to our favorite bagel place in Berkeley. We each had 2 bagels with cream cheese (truth be told, they Gypsy Runner had 2 bagels and a 1/3 of mine). Yes, we are pigs. But I was supposed to carbo-load, right?

Getting our carb loading on at Berkeley Bagels.

Getting our daily allowance of carbs and fat at Berkeley Bagels. Yum!

It was a fairly uneventful drive out to Sacramento, though we did drive through about 5 different weather patterns.

About 5 miles from Sacramento. Under a big gray cloud with sunlight in the distance.

About 5 miles from Sacramento. Under a big gray cloud with sunlight in the distance.

We got to the expo at the Sacramento Convention Center around 2pm. Bib pick-up…

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