Rose International Market

A spot where one of my long time friends and I like to go to is Rose International Market. There are two locations. One in Downtown Mt. View, CA off Castro, and the other in Downtown Saratoga, CA off of Big Basin Way. Their menu consists of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. I like to order a variety of things from here, but my favorite is pictured below. I get some chicken and "koobieh" ground beef kabobs along with some grilled vegetables. This is all served on top of some fresh pieces of lavash bread to tear off and pick at your meal with. Even though both restaurants have been around for a while, I tend to like the Mt. View location a little better.


"Eat More Kale"

In effort to balance my not so good eating habits, I have been trying to eat things that are nutritionally better for me more often. Kale is one of those magical things that when you eat it by itself, it takes more calories to burn it off  than it actually has in itself. Kale has been getting a lot of hype lately for some reason. Lately, being in the news for the "Eat More Kale" logo printed on shirts going against the Chick-fil-A Corporation trying to take down a small time shirt seller. Anyways.. this in all I guess is a good thing, except for the T-shirt man. I have been only eating kale now for the past 7 years. More and more each year. I have been finding new ways to enjoy kale by talking about it with friends, and sharing ideas. So I guess the slogan is right... Everyone should eat more kale. It is one of the best things you can eat. Having the most nutrients per calorie than anything else. Kale is very rich in calcium, vitamin c, vitamin k, and is known to have anti- cancer fighting properties in it.

Although eating it raw is the best way to consume kale. It can be tough for some peoples pallets. I believe consuming as much as possible in any form can't hurt. If you have never had kale before, try stripping it from it's stock and rinsing it. Then chop it up to smaller pieces and throw it into a hot soup when it is finished. It almost replicates spinach in a way.

I also enjoy eating kale chips. They are dehydrated kale leaves, with a sauce pasted on them before they are dried crispy. The only problem is these things are on the expensive side, and I only get them once in a while. I hope to one day make my own!

Kale inA Krunch - Habanero Ranch Kale Chips


Roli Roti

With all the food truck craze sweeping the nation, I decided to showcase my favorite food truck. ROLI ROTI! What does that stand for you ask? Rolling Rotisserie. YES! It is a rotisserie only food truck serving up succulent slow cooked meats. Roli Roti is considered the "Grandfather of Gourmet Street Food". Owner Thomas Odermatt is son to a Swiss master butcher that learned the importance of choice cut meats and poultry. Blended with his mothers cooking techniques and a masters degree in organic farming make him a master foodie in my eyes. Making his journey to America and witnessing all the speedy dry cooking techniques of meat probably made him go crazy. So the idea of showcasing his slow cooked succulent rotisserie meats on a food truck, spread out amongst one of the most diverse food cultures in the world couldn't possibly ever fail, right? I will let you be the judge.

If you ever have the pleasure of wrapping your mouth around a Roli Roti Porchetta Sandwich, you will then only know how I say it is one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. It all starts off with the fresh localy baked Acme roll. They then add slices of the slow rotisserie herbed pork loin that was wrapped in a skin on pork belly. They top this all off with onion marmalade, arugula micro greens and a pinch of rosemary salt. This sandwich is the total package.  A soft roll stuffed with sweet, savory, salty, peppery, and surprise crunchy morsels. One bite and you will be hooked!

Roli Roti Truck/ Rotisserie Pork Knuckles and Porchetta

Porchetta Sandwich
 Pictures Courtesy of Richard Park Photography

You can learn more about Roli Roti by visiting their website - http://www.roliroti.com/


Squeeze Inn

Another hamburger posting! Hmmm... Maybe the all American burger is one of my many needed cravings. Well this burger is one of the most ridiculous cravings around. What sets this burger apart from others is the bubbling cheese skirt. They pretty much put as much cheese as bun. The handful of shredded cheese is piled on top of  a 1/3 pound beef patty then covered and steamed with chunks of ice on the flat top. The result is a crispy cheese skirt that completely overtakes everything called a "Squeeze With Cheese".  Squeeze Inn has four locations surrounding the greater Sacramento area, and has been growing steadily over the past few years since their appearance on Diners Drive-ins and Dives. The name Squeeze Inn comes from the original restaurant that was so small and popular, everyone had to squeeze in to fit. Please try with caution!!

Squeeze with Cheese

Cheese Skirt


Blue Moon with Frozen Blueberries

When I was in Boston's North End a few years ago I went to a bar where they served up this amazing beverage. Simply put frozen blueberries in the bottom of a frosty pint glass. Then pour in a cold Blue Moon and garnish with an orange wedge. The flavors work great together because of the natural hints of both blueberry and orange in the beer. But the best part about this concoction is the beer soaked blueberries that burst in your mouth!

Picture courtesy of Richard Park Photography


Leifheit Cherry Pitter

This is my favorite time of year for fruit. Stone fruits galore! 

I came across this little contraption a couple months ago and thought it might be nice to share it. This ingenious tool is made by Leifheit. Reviews on this kitchen tool on the web are mixed. Everyone who writes negative about it is complaining that it's messy and doesn't work like it should. Well, first of all pitting cherries is no fun clean task. Second, I found this tool relatively fast for pitting compared to individual pitters that I am used to. To be honest, the cherries don't automatically feed very well like you think they would. Actually... they don't feed at all. I had to feed them with my hand. I think that is the main issue some people may have with this tool. But once I got a rhythm to my madness, the pitting was moving quite swiftly. One great thing about this tool is that it completely comes apart to clean, and also has replacement parts that can be ordered of the Leifheit website. So overall, my thoughts are that this is a great tool if you have tens of pounds of cherries to pit every year. If not stick with a hand pitter

Now what to make with the cherries...

Here's a link to find Leifheit USA for this and more ingenious home tools.

Pictures courtesy of Richard Park Photography


Bacon Wrapped Fig

Slit open the side of a fig. Stuff it with some goat cheese. Wrap the stuffed fig with a slice of bacon and secure it with a toothpick. Place them on a baking pan right side up, and throw them in the oven on high broil. Cook until the fig is tender and the bacon is to your liking. Should take about 8-11 minutes. Enjoy!

Pictures courtesy of Richard Park Photography


Ben Frank's in Redwood City

Many say it's hard to get a good hot dog in the Bay Area. Though they are right, there are a few places around that got what I'm craving in a hot dog. Other than tasty toppings, I need that snap and bite in my dog. Even though I'm bias to the ultimate taste and bite of my Uncle's hot dog at his stand in El Dorado County,  this unusual shaped shack next to the railroad track has what I need. Ben Franks has been serving up decent dogs to Redwood City locals for years. Definitely satisfies my caving every once in a while!

Ben Frank's- 491 El Camino Real Redwood City corner of Whipple Ave.

Photos courtesy of Richard Park Photography


Cast Iron Cooking Memories

Recently I was lucky enough to receive a cast iron skillet. Unfortunately it was because a relative passed, but I decided to turn this into something positive.

I put this old skillet back to work! I'm very familiar with cast iron because my grandmother cooked exclusively with it. Hers was passed down, well seasoned, and everything that was cooked in it tasted better. She taught me the proper way to care for cast iron so it will last more than a lifetime.

One of my favorite food memories from childhood was waking up to the smell of bacon frying. That could mean only one thing at my grandma's house: biscuits and gravy!!! Of all the foods I've eaten, from all over the world, this basic food is my very favorite. Our particular family recipe has been passed down for many generations, and if you couldn't master the gravy you would never live it down. The actual recipe has never been written down; it has to be shown and taught to you by your mother, as in my grandmothers case or by your grandmother as in my case (she had no daughters).

The first meal I prepared in my brother's old cast iron skillet was biscuits and gravy. This time it came out exactly the way it's suppose to, just like my grandma's. I'm sure it was the cast iron skillet.

So if you're looking to purchase new cookware, don't rule out cast iron. While it may take a little extra care to maintain, its versatility is endless. It goes from stove top to oven with ease and is as non-stick as the best Teflon as it becomes more seasoned. For those of you who don't want to take the time to season it, pre-seasoned skillets are available.

And who knows? After you've used it for years it can be given to your offspring, along with all the cooking memories that go with it.


Peter Petrie Egg Separator

For some people this ceramic beauty may never grace their kitchen counters. But for me, this is the most gruesome kitchen tool around, and I love it! This device is pretty straight forward. Simply crack an egg into the separator, tilt it forward over a bowl, and the whites will ooze out of the nostrils. Happy egg separating!


In-N-Out Burger Vs. Five Guys Burgers and Fries


Five Guys

Pro's of In-N-Out Burger:
Fresh ingredients
Fresh cut fries
Cheaper menu items ($2.25 for single, $3.25 for comparable burger)
Open until 1:30AM on Weekends
Thousand Island Sauce (if you care for it)

Con's of In-N-Out Burger:
Not too many topping choices
Smaller size overall burger

Pro's of Five Guys:
Fresh ingredients
Fresh cut fries cooked in peanut oil
Good size single patty burger
Unlimited burger combinations (endless toppings)
Cajun fries/ free peanuts

Con's of Five Guys:
Closed at 10 PM
Not too many locations yet

Overall consensus:
To me both burgers are delicious, but there are two major differences.
#1- Five guys have all these amazing toppings. But in the same sense you can over do it with everything. In-N-Out has their secret menu, but it's really not that special.
#2- If you are on a budget, or crave a tasty burger past 10 PM, go for In-N-Out. Until Five Guys is respectfully spread out across main roads and freeway exits in California, their access is limited. 
Five Guys
Photos courtesy of Richard Park Photography
I would like to know your opinion on these burger joints! Please share!


Pitman Farms Visit- Mary's Air-Chilled Chickens

 I had the pleasure of visiting a couple amazing chicken farms and a poultry processing plant in April down in Fresno County. The Pitman family oversees the farms and runs all operations at the processing plant. This family is truly dedicated to the quality of the poultry they produce. They now have the largest air-chilled chicken facility on the Westcoast. If you are not familiar with the term "air-chilled" you should be! (Air-chilled chicken link) This term is relatively new to most Americans. The European Union has made this a mandatory process 15 years ago, while the US has barely scratched the surface of transitioning to this. I don't want to get into detail of the standard water-chilled systems we use in the US, but they are gross!

Whole Foods Market partnered with the Global Animal Partnership to better animal welfare practices. They developed a 5-step rating system to determine how chicken, cattle, and pigs are raised. With this system you are able to see how the animals were raised before you make your meal purchase.

If you would like to know more about this 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating system here is the link:
5-Step Animal Welfare Ratings

These are some pictures of the living conditions of a step 3 chickens

These are some pictures of the living conditions of a step 5 chickens (Rhode Island Red Chickens)

 7 day old baby chickens

 Pitman Farms Processing Plant
From the air chilled process to the beginning of butcher processing.

 So the next time you eat chicken for dinner, think about the quality of life the chicken had and the process it went through to reach your plate? Do they meet your standards?


Saturday... Breakfast on the Bay

Fried Chicken Breakfast Sandwich w/ 
Fried Egg, Coriander Aioli, and Fresh Peppercress

 Here's the wonderful breakfast I had this morning while enjoying the view of the Bay with an old friend.
This sandwich is from 4505 Meats out of San Francisco. They have high quality meats and an extremely tasty menu for a farmers market.

4505 Meats Website
 4505 Meats @Farmers Market


Creminelli Fine Meats - Salumi!!

SALUMI - A generic term for deli meats in Italy.

These are the days when I love my job! I had the pleasure of meeting a true Italian salami maker by the name of Cristiano Creminelli. I was at a work meeting where we had a sampling of some of the finest salted pork charcuterie/deli items I have ever had. Cristiano came straight from Italy to produce different traditional artisan style salamis and sausages for Americans to enjoy. By using the best pork and spices available, the highest quality products are created.

To be honest, when I tried the pancetta, it just melted in my mouth with deliciousness. The other items I tried had unbelievable mouth feel and texture that was way superior to deli meats I have tasted on the market. I know there are some great salumi products that come from some smaller producers around the country that compare to the Creminelli product. But the scale that this gentleman is going to take his company is far beyond any artisan charcuterie producer today.

 If you are interested, check these links out!

 The Roots Of Italian Salami: Creminelli Fine Meats Video


A Shanghai Delicacy, Hairy Crab!?

Have you ever seen or even heard about a hairy crab?? Chinese people go crazy over these little hairy crustaceans. This fresh water creature is native to parts of Korea and China. The hairy crab is also known as the Dahza crab or Chinese mitten crab.  

I had this particular crab in Shanghai while I was on visit in October of 2008. My friends and I took a train from Shanghai to Wuxi. There we met up with my a local friend and toured the only city that I visited, that I actually consider beautiful in China. I mean beautiful in a environmental sense. Wuxi was on a huge lake, surrounded by lots of trees. The air, roads, buildings were much cleaner, and people seemed more environmentally conscious. We ended up getting about a dozen of these little guys and brought them back on the train to Shanghai. When we got back to our apartment our in home helper cooked them up for us. I had no idea how these were traditionally prepared.  She was so amazed that we had these crabs that she had never tasted before, and let alone have a dozen in right in front of her. 

These are a delicacy in this region of China from about September into December. Traditionally these are delicately steamed and then complimented with ginger pieces in a sweet vinegar. These crabs are completely different than what I'm used to back at home. For starters, the size is not the same. I'm used to huge Alaskan King Crabs, or local Dungeness Crab. But then I realized these are not salt water crabs, and that they are fresh water and about the size of my palm isn't too disappointing at all. Secondly, these little guys were a little more difficult to eat because of their size, and being covered heavily with tiny hairs didn't make the situation very pleasant. But as soon as I cracked open my first claw, dipped it into the vinegar, and savoured my first piece I was hooked. I now knew what all the hype was around this crab. The difference between the salt water and fresh water was very clear. The perfectly tender crab meat was so sweet and succulent it made me look at crab in a whole new light.