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the culinary adventures of a self-described foodie


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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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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Bread Stuffing Sans Turkey

Ooh, look, a timely recipe for Thanksgiving!

I know I can’t be the only one in the world who prefers dry stuffing (a.k.a. NOT soggy bread from being stuffed inside a bird for hours and hours). So, as a public service, I thought I’d post this simple recipe that I adapted from EF, whose family got it from the Betty Crocker Cookbook.

I’ve made this a few times, and I will tell you that the bread matters. A lot. I used a loaf of Semifreddi’s sour rustic bread this time, but any high-quality bread will do. It’s also better if the bread is stale, so that it’s dry and can take up more flavor. If you can, get the bread the night before, tear it up into bite-sized pieces, and let it sit out overnight. If you’re short on time, cut the bread into 1 inch slices and bake at 225 degrees F for 30-40 minutes, being careful not to toast or brown it. After drying it out at low temperature, take the bread out of the oven and tear it up into bite-sized pieces.

EF noted when she gave me this recipe: “This is a LOT of margarine but you have to just trust it.” She also said not to make it with all butter, as it turns out kinda greasy.

Bread Stuffing Sans Turkey (adapted from EF, from Betty Crocker)


  • 3/4 cup minced onion
  • 1.5 cups chopped celery (stalks and leaves)
  • 1 cup margarine, OR 1/2 cup margarine + 1/2 cup butter (I used Earth Balance, which worked just fine)
  • 1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 loaf stale bread (1 lb), cut or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1.5 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F.
  2. In a large skillet, melt margarine/butter. Add 1/4 cup of the broth to the margarine. Add onions and celery and cook until onion is tender and translucent.
  3. Turn off heat. Add 1/3 of the bread cubes into the skillet and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add mixture to the remaining ingredients in a large, deep bowl and toss thoroughly.
  5. Transfer to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish. Drizzle remaining broth over the stuffing.
  6. Cover the dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
  7. Take off the foil and brown for another 15 minutes.

Enjoy! And I hope everyone has a happy and delicious Thanksgiving!



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