poor scientist. will blog 4 food.

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!


Curry tuna salad with cranberries & walnuts

Open face tuna salad sandwiches

Despite its downsides, I’ve found Facebook to be pretty useful on occasion. For instance: when my friend PC from grad school raved about her tuna salad, I (and 2 of her other friends) begged for the recipe. She graciously sent it to us, and granted me permission to blog about it. Thanks PC!

So, I followed her recipe and realized a few things:

  1. It makes A LOT of tuna salad. Her recipe calls for 3 cans, which would probably last you a whole week’s worth of tuna salad sandwiches. I modified it to 2 cans.
  2. I couldn’t find sweet onions at my local market. Initially, I subbed with shallots and thought that they were too strong. I’ve since found that sweet relish is a really good addition.
  3. I didn’t have canola oil mayonnaise on hand, so I went with regular mayonnaise. Then, upon realizing that both TC and I prefer Miracle Whip over mayo, I went for the M.W.

Below, you’ll find PC’s original recipe, followed by my modified one. It really is so delicious, and once you have all of the stuff, it’s super easy and quick to make.  Enjoy!

PC’s curry tuna salad with cranberries & walnuts (ORIGINAL)
(all approximations)
3 medium cans of tuna
curry powder (until mix turns yellowish)
half a sweet white onion small diced
1/4 – 1/2 cup dried sweet cranberries
1/4 cup walnut pieces
3 Tbsp canola mayo
salt (to taste)

PC’s curry tuna salad with cranberries & walnuts (MODIFIED)
2 cans of tuna in olive oil, drained
1/2 tsp curry powder
2 Tbsp sweet relish
1/4 cup dried sweet cranberries
1/4 cup walnut pieces (chopped)
1/4 cup mayo or Miracle Whip
salt & pepper (to taste)