Friday, July 30, 2010

Señor Pedro’s Tacos | San Juan Capistrano, CA

On July 16, 1769, the first California mission, San Diego de Alcala, was founded by Father Junipero Serra on what is now known as Presidio Hill in San Diego County. It would become the first in a link of 21 missions along the "El Camino Real" (or Royal Highway) that follows the state's coastline. Each served a specific purpose relative to its geographic landscape and the indigenous people who populated the area.

I know what you're thinking...why am I bringing up a history lesson on a food blog? Well, if it wasn't for our son's recent 4th grade mission project, he would not have been inspired to visit as many missions as we can travel to, and we would not have come across
Señor Pedro’s Tacos in San Juan Capistrano.

A walk-up taco stand located right across the street from the mission, Senor Pedro's Tacos has been a popular city mainstay for visitors and locals alike. In fact, it has quite a following, noting in particular the sticker on one of their windows stating "People love us on Yelp!"

And what's not to love. The menu is extensive, offering hearty portions of good Mexican food from an assortment of made-to-order tacos, enchiladas, and burritos to specialty favorites including
tamales, tortas, pasoles, and fresh menudo. They even have vegetarian offerings and dessert.

Now, don't come here thinking that you can place an order and expect to pay with plastic. They don't accept Visa or Mastercard, and American Express is not welcome here. Senor Pedro's Tacos only accepts cash, but no worries if your billfold feels a bit light, prices are on the inexpensive side, meaning that their aim is not to scare you away. Rather, the idea is to slow down and let the hustle and bustle pass on by.

And at that moment, for us at least, it was time to relax on their patio and share in the good food before us. Thank goodness for 4th grade school projects!

Señor Pedro's Tacos
31721 Camino Capistrano
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

Out of the Kitchen Orange County restaurants

Thursday, July 29, 2010


What is Coco Jam?
Philippine coconut jam is made from coconut cream (the first and second press of grated coconut flesh) and sugar. Growing up I would spread it on my toast or pandesal (traditional Filipino bread). I rediscovered it on a recent trip to the Asian food market.

For the past few days, I've been reliving my childhood by having toast and coco jam for breakfast...along with a cup of very strong coffee. I have now introduced this tradition to my daughter, who enjoys it on toasted sesame seed bagels. Life is good.

In this picture: Lily's Coco Jam

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe | Emeryville, CA

During a recent visit to San Francisco, we elected to spend our overnight hours across the bay in Emeryville, a small industrial city sandwiched between Berkeley and Oakland. Although it is popularly known as the home to Pixar Animation Studios, Emeryville offers a lot more to its visitors. For instance, it has always been a haven for developing artists and artisans to exhibit their wares, but lately, the city's free-spirited qualities have turned it into a burgeoning hot spot for shopping and dining.

One reason why we'll keep coming back is due in part to such unique eateries like Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe, a 50s styled diner that's been "serving E'ville" with a punk rock attitude since 2002. From the moment we stepped through the front doors, we were in awe of its neon lighting and unique decor where original wall-art meets Barbie and Ken. But certainly what stood out the most, especially once our orders were taken, was the food. From dinner specials that included Blackened Catfish and BBQ Pork Ribs to a selection of 18 different burgers such as the Monster Burger, Chupacabra Burger, the Cajun Big Blue Burger, and the Portobello and Goat Cheeseburger. And if you're just one to pepper your table with appetizers, they have plenty of those too. Our recommendation, try their sweet potato fries, the Buffalo Tofu, and the housemade chili.

There's a little bit of everything for everyone at Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe, including choices for discernible vegetarian or vegan diners. Needless to say, when we were ready to roll, we left with smiles on our faces. Stopping for the night in Emeryville was certainly one of the best decisions we ever made that day.

Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe
4081 Hollis Street
Emeryville, CA 94608

Out of the Kitchen SF Bay Area restaurants

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Galt Strawberry Festival & Family Carnival | Galt, CA

Did you know that there is an average of 200 tiny seeds in every strawberry? Or what about the double-strawberry? Did you know that according to folk-lore, if you were to break a double-strawberry in half and share it with a member of the opposite sex, you will fall in love with that person?

True or not, we didn't know about these facts until we paid a recent visit to Galt's Strawberry Festival, an annual event that celebrates this popular fruit during every first weekend in May. Carnival rides, competitions, live music, and the Cruise 'N' Ride custom car and motorcycle showcase are all fan favorites. However, they all take a back seat to Strawberry Lane where local farmers show off the "fruits" of their labor and food vendors vie for your attention with such tantalizing treats as strawberry pizza, strawberry smoothies, and, of course, strawberry shortcake. There are also plenty of hand-crafted items to take home with you once the afternoon sunlight fades into night. And don't forget to pick up any one of a handful of homemade confections like strawberry whipped honey, strawberry pepper jelly, and strawberry hot sauce to line the shelves of your pantry.

Established in 1995, Galt's Strawberry Festival seeks to promote economic opportunity in the community as well as strengthen the city's business relationships and welfare. Proceeds from the festival also supports vital city programs, including education and emergency services. With over 20,000 yearly visitors, Galt's Strawberry Festival is surely to return for many years and generations to come.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Husick's Country Store | Clarksburg, CA

One of the exciting things that we've been noticing with each new pass through the Delta wine country are the unique shops and marketplaces that have come into their own over the years. Husick's Country Store is of no exception.

After a few years of extensive restoration, Dennis and Zina Sheya opened Husick's Country Store in 2007 in what was known in Clarksburg as Husick's Hardware, a storefront that once filled its shelves with eclectic merchandise and housed a variety of services including a post office, barbershop, and soda fountain. Although the past has given way to the present, much of that old-fashioned character still shines through. I don't know if it was the Adirondack chairs on the patio, the creak of the hardwood floors under each footfall, or the friendly and helpful staff, but we felt quite at home and everything that seemed complicated suddenly became simple.

So, we sidled up to a picnic table, took turns looking at the in-store displays, and stayed for lunch, which was prepared fresh behind a full-service deli counter. From classic sandwiches, grilled panninis, and sweet desserts, there was plenty to choose. We were even pleasantly surprised to note on their menu that for every Thursday night throughout the summer, the folks at Husick's host dinner events that highlights the best of the Delta's farm fresh ingredients, including specially selected wines and spirits.

We also learned that staying in touch via their website or their mailers has an added benefit since, on occasion, Husick's holds seminars such as olive oil tastings and food competitions like its annual tomato contest where categories include biggest, reddest, juiciest, and ugliest.

Food, family, and fun. Husick's certainly has it all, and it shows.

Husick's Country Store
36510 Riverview Drive
Clarksburg, CA 95612

Out of the Kitchen Sacramento restaurants

Friday, July 23, 2010

Crab Pot Restaurant & Bar | Seattle, WA

Sampling the seafood of the Upper Northwest is not yet a requirement, but it should be. There's certainly enough of it to go around given Seattle's proximity to the Pacific Ocean, and there's certainly no shortage of places to go. During one of our visits, we followed a tip from friends and locals alike and stopped into the Crab Pot Restaurant and Bar, where they have been serving up some of the best seafood creations the city has to offer for over 30 years.

From fresh mussels and clams to salmon, halibut, and crab legs, the friendly staff can bring it all to your table in a variety of ways whether it's grilled, steamed, sauteed, or arranged in a number of plate combinations. But heeding the advice those sitting with us, we had to go with their famous seafeasts. There are four different ones on the menu, and we chose to combine The Alaskan with The Pacific Clambake. Just check out what was essentially laid out before our eyes: king crab, dungeness crab, snow crab, shrimp in the shell, steamed clams, oysters, halibut and salmon skewers, pacific mussels, andouille sausage, corn on the cob, and red potatoes. Needless to say, it got a bit messy, but it was oh so good!!!

Now, it's our understanding that the Seattle location is its original, and there is one other Crab Pot location in Bellevue, Washington. But for us Californians who can't quite make it that far north, you can find one of their restaurants closer to home, especially if home is in Rancho Mirage, Long Beach, or La Quinta. So, what are you waiting for? Pull up a chair, roll up your sleeves, strap up the bib, and get "crackin."

Out of the Kitchen Seattle restaurants

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Misty Meadows | Bandon, OR

From the moment we rolled up to park the van to the moment we found ourselves wandering among the rows of signature jams and jellies, there was something about Misty Meadows Jams. It was like I had been here before. Was it the helpful staff hose faces seemed so familiar? Or perhaps it was the t-shirts and aprons that they were wearing, each with the wording "Got Jam?" emblazoned on the front. I just couldn't put a finger on it until I noticed a photograph hanging along one of the showroom rafters...there he was...Mike Rowe from the Discovery Channel's original series Dirty Jobs.

Misty Meadows Jams was featured on the show, and for good reason. They have been in the business of making the fruity spreads since 1970, when they were just a family operated roadside stand selling only a handful of products. The family still rules the roost, but now they sell over 7 different fruit butters and 28 varieties of jams and jellies. Oh, let's not forget that they also include in the mix a selection of fruit-infused honeys, syrups, and other fun favorites like salsas, and bbq sauces. All of their product are made from original recipes and all are 100% natural, meaning that coloring agents, preservatives, corn syrup, or other fillers are not used. Among our favorite jams (as evidenced by the two boxes we stuffed into the back of the van): Bandon Cranberry, Marionberry, Oregon Blueberry, Wild Huckleberry, Gooseberry, and something called the Tayberry, a strange cross between a raspberry and ???? If you can figure that one out, please let us know. Because that would also tell us that you stopped by Misty Meadows Jams and fell in love with it like we have.

Misty Meadows Jams and Jellies
48053 Hwy 101 S
Bandon OR 97411

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vic's Ice Cream | Sacramento, CA

Three generations. That's how long my family's been going to Vic's Ice Cream. It started with my father who's been a regular since he attended C. K. McClatchy High School as a teenager, and now this rite of passage includes my children.

What makes Vic's Ice Cream such a popular choice for us? Well, the answer is as plain as the nose on your face ... They keep it simple, whether it's in the making of their ice cream (29 flavors by my last count) or the careful construction of their sandwiches from the classic Reuben to the kid favorite fried hot dog. Established in 1947, Vic's is located in the historic Land Park neighborhood of Sacramento. And it hasn't changed much since then with its black and white checkered floor tiles, blue jeans and t-shirts worn by its employees, and menu items that date back to the Truman administration. When you walk through the doors, you're walking into history. So, the next time you're passing through town, be sure to include Vic's Ice Cream on your agenda.

Out of the Kitchen Sacramento restaurants

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stan's Donuts | Westwood, CA

Ever since he opened Stan's Donuts on the corner of Broxton and Weyburn in Westwood Village, Stan Berman has been serving up sumptuous donuts to generations of UCLA students and alumni since 1965. And it's easy to understand why, given Stan's personal recipe for success: use only the freshest of ingredients, be humble toward your customers, and exemplify great pride in every donut that is produced.

Now, I won't kid you. There isn't much to the imagination when you first walk into the parlor. The walls could use a new coat of paint, the chairs and tables have seen their better days, and the windows are not as clear as perhaps they used to be. But this is a working man's establishment, and what Stan's Donuts lacks in decor, they make up for it in flavor and originality. It's all there behind the glass counter looking more like gold bars in a bank vault than, well, donuts. And I'm told, Stan is there every morning at 3:00 a.m. putting it all together no matter if he's working on one of his famous peanut butter topped donuts or one of his famous cheese varietals. It's all good and goes good with a hot cup of joe. Enjoy!!!

Out of the Kitchen Los Angeles restaurants

Monday, July 19, 2010

THE SIDE DISH :: Blueberries

Did you know that Native Americans used blueberries as a part of their diet and as a medicine?

Native American's used blueberry juice to treat persistent coughs and other illnesses. We now know that blueberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. Studies have also shown that blueberries rank #1 as an antioxidant fruit. Now that is good stuff!

In this photo:
Blueberry picking at Mt. Hood, Oregon.

Voodoo Donuts | Portland, OR

The question is, "How do you do the voodoo that you do?" For Kenneth "Cat Daddy" Pogson and Tres Shannon, owners of Portland's Voodoo Donuts, they would simply reply with "The magic is in the hole!" And if you have ever let your taste buds dance around such concoctions as the Voodoo Doll, the Cock-n-Balls, the Memphis Mafia, the Old Dirty Bastard, or the Double Bubble, you know what they mean.

During our visit, we grappled with the choice of diving into the $6.00 bucket of day-olds (there must have been 15 to 20 donuts in there) or go with the dirty-dozen where the person behind the counter selects a variety of Voodoo's best. Our eyes were like saucers, and once we decided, we just sat back with the kids and basked in sugary bliss. Oh ... One more thing. If you are feeling extremely adventurous, ask about the Texas Challenge. If you are "man" enough to put one of these down in 80 seconds, you get your money back and earn the right to brag to your friends before slipping into a coma. But be sure to wake up soon or you may find yourself with a wedding ring on your finger. That's right, the proprietors of Voodoo Donuts can and do perform LEGAL WEDDINGS!!! You have been served.

Out of the Kitchen Portland restaurants

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Morning Glory | Ashland, OR

According to the folks at No Sweat Shakespeare, it was often typical of William Shakespeare to make colorful references to food and drink in his plays, especially when characterizing everyday things or people of his time. With this in mind, it is only appropriate to find Morning Glory, one of our favorite stops for breakfast, in Ashland, home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Founded in 1998 by chef and owner, Patty Groth, Morning Glory takes advantage of its natural surroundings to provide its guests with a casual place to discuss Shakespeare while enjoying seasonal dishes made fresh with organic ingredients from local farmers and artisans. This has proved to be a successful recipe, meaning that the most discernable diner can find something to dazzle the taste buds even if the "show" didn't meet personal expectations. As Chef Groth notes, "My dream, when I opened Morning Glory, was to give every person a place to meet and then walk away saying, 'That was the best breakfast I ever had.' That is still my hope."

In my opinion, and please pardon my use of the Bard's words, but she has been "great in act, as she has been in thought." Okay, in all seriousness, Morning Glory's menu boasts a variety of omelettes, sandwiches, and scrambles as well as tasty cakes, waffles and french toast. During our visit, we curbed our appetites by ordering the Lemon Ricotta Stuffed French Toast with Raspberry Syrup, the Tandoori Tofu Scramble, and Rock Shrimp Cakes with Poached Eggs. And even though we chose not to cleanse our palettes with their specialty drinks (the chipotle Bloody Mary or the nation orange creamsicle), we're told that they are a MUST for the next time. Guess we'll be back for more as I'm sure you will be too once the curtain closes.

Morning Glory
1149 Siskiyou Boulevard
Ashland, OR 97520

Out of the Kitchen Medford restaurants

Saturday, July 17, 2010

THE SIDE DISH :: Chocolate

Did you know that the first people known to have made chocolate were the ancient cultures of Mexico and Central America?

The pre-Columbian peoples of the Americans drank chocolate mixed with vanilla, chile pepper, and achiote. Europeans sweetened it by adding sugar and milk and removing the chile pepper. They later created a process to make solid chocolate creating the modern chocolate bar. Since then, new technologies and innovations have changed the texture and taste of chocolate, but it still remains one of the world’s favorite flavors.

This photo:
Wine Country Chocolates | Sonoma, CA - Raspberry and the "Elvis" truffle (peanut butter & banana)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Auntie Em's Kitchen | Eagle Rock, CA

Auntie Em's Kitchen has been a regular dining spot for the surrounding community for as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until recently that it's popularity (and reputation) grew beyond the borders of Eagle Rock, CA.

During our long-overdue visit, we were captivated with the friendly staff, the colorful art on the walls, and the free-spirited atmosphere that had everyone feeling comfortable and at-home. And the food? Auntie Em's Kitchen boasts a full menu of comfort food favorites that are certainly a treat for the eyes as well as the tastebuds. All are made fresh with seasonal ingredients from local farmers and artisans. For example, in the summer months, choices include an heirloom tomoto salad, watermelon gazpacho, chilled cucumber soup, and a selection of berry pies. Winter brings hearty stews, chowders and gumbos as well as savory bread puddings and apple pie.

These creations and so much more are the brainchildren of former punk rock musician turned chef, Terri Wahl. And what do I mean by "so much more?" Auntie Em's Kitchen is also home to a cheese shop, a full service catering and organic home delivery service, and a renowned bakery where cupcakes, especially the red velvet and coconut variety, are extraordinary. To Chef Wahl, we can only say "thank you."

Out of the Kitchen Los Angeles restaurants

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Langlois Market | Langlois, OR

Nestled along the 101 freeway on the Oregon coast, Langlois Market has developed quite a name for itself. How? I'll get to that in a minute. But, first, let me say that where the market lacks in size and space, its owners certainly make it up in hospitality. Big welcomes await anyone who walks through their doors no matter if you are a weary traveler or a regular patron. Beer, wine, sodas, snack foods, breads, dairy, and some chosen meats can all be found here. But, what sets it aside from other neighborhood markets is its in-store kitchen where they serve up some of the finest hot and cold sandwiches, burgers, french fries, and seasonal soups in the area.

What really had the people lined up at the counter, and what has defined the market's reputation, is their world famous hot dogs, made plump and juicy with just the right amount of spices. Rumor has it that one time "the energy minister for Indonesia visited and had a hot dog. He loved them so much, he had a bunch shipped back to Indonesia for others to enjoy."

So, eat 'em plain or
doctor 'em up with chili, cheese, sliced tomatoes, or crispy lettuce. The choice is yours. If you ask me, however, order 'em with a quick slathering of Langlois Market's own homemade sweet 'n tangy mustard. You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Oinkster | Eagle Rock, CA

To categorize The Oinkster as just another hamburger stand would be a great injustice, especially when they offer other choice selections such as the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich and the Oinkster Pastrami. As good as these are, however, none holds a candle to their all beef counterparts, including The Royale, a 1/3 pound behemoth that is blanketed with slices of pastrami, their house-special chili, Gruyere cheese, red cabbage slaw, and crispy bacon. Now, that's finger-licking good times!!! And did you save room for dessert? My recommendation ... the Horchata or Ube shake made thick and creamy from Fosselman's ice cream.

Founded by celebrated chef, Andre Guerrero, The Oinkster is located along Eagle Rock's Colorado Boulevard in what was once known to the surrounding community as Jim's Burgers. Fully restored and redefined, they describe themselves as being "innovative, affordable, stylish, and fun. We tread where no Los Angeles eatery has gone before and combine culinary classics with a no-attitude style." No argument here, especially given that The Oinkster is now among my son's top ten faves.

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bouchon Bakery | Yountville, CA

I wish I could say that Bouchon Bakery is Yountville's best kept secret, but I can't. Everybody knows about it, and they're coming in waves off the St. Helena Highway (CA-29) to get a taste of baked goods that are no less than excellent. On our visit, we sampled three types of their macarons -- mocha, pistachio, and caramel -- which were flaky and crisp on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside. Our eyes literally rolled to the back of our heads, and our daughter had only one thing to say with a smile on her face, "These are soooo good!!!" And it doesn't stop there, meaning there are other yummy confections to choose such as coffee and chocolate eclairs, herb roasted olive loafs, lemon tarts, banana nut muffins, and pain au raisin, a twisted croissant filled with a vanilla pastry cream, sugar, spices, and plump Californian raisins. We are sure to return!

Set in the heart of California's Napa Valley, the Bouchon Bakery is set adjacent to Bouchon Bistro and just a few blocks from The French Laundry, all of which are part of the Thomas Keller family of restaurants. Currently, there are two other locations in Las Vegas and New York.

Out of the Kitchen SF Bay Area restaurants

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bunk Sandwiches | Portland, OR

The first thing that attracted us to Bunk Sandwiches was the promise of sinking our teeth into one of, if not, their best specialty sandwich, the Pork Belly Cubano. I know, it doesn't sound that appetizing. Heck, it doesn't even roll off the tongue as easy as saying BLT, PB&J, or Ham and Cheese. But don't kid yourself. After that first bite of their seasoned pork belly combined with a slice of cured ham, melted Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard, you'd think you just died and gone to heaven. But like I said, this is only one of a handful of specialties on the menu. There is also the Meatball Parmigiana Hero, the Tillamook Grilled Cheese, the Italian Cured Meat, and the Oregon Albacore Tuna Melt. All are made fresh and to order.

A few words of warning, however. Bunk Sandwiches is very popular among the locals and business elite with lines going out the door, not to mention ticket after ticket of take-out orders. Failure to get there sometime before 10:30 am/11:00 am could result in a missed opportunity.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

LaLa's Creamery | Petaluma, CA

Located in Petaluma's historic downtown district, LaLa's Creamery opened its doors in early 2009 with promising results as its customers were treated to the finest handmade ice cream and baked goods. Although we were less adventurous with our own choices, sticking to such traditional favorites as strawberry and vanilla, LaLa's does offer its own unique flavors such as Grasshopper Pie, Cotton Candy, PB&J, and its popular Black Cow.

A very cute find that is simple in its philosophy and taste, and certainly a throwback to the old soda fountains of old. One more thing...If you happen to stop into LaLa's Creamery on a clear night, be sure to take advantage of their back patio. Enjoying their rich and smooth ice cream under the stars is, well, the cherry on top!

Out of the Kitchen SF Bay Area restaurants

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Swork Coffee | Eagle Rock, CA

In as many years as my wife and I have been married, we've been coming to Swork Coffee, one of the original small business establishments which helped spearhead Eagle Rock, CA's revitalization. And the attraction was not what we were getting in our cups, but rather Swork Coffee offered a no frills place to meet and laugh with friends, family and neighbors.

Got kids? No problem, meaning that the little tykes are taken care of as well with an available children's drink menu and a play area known as Sworkland, where there are toys and books a-plenty. Founded by entrepreneur Tricia Neal in 2000, Swork Coffee offers nothing but the best with its beans coming direct from growers in Guatemala and its blends developed through its own beverage lab. Whether you're having one of their signature Sworkuccinos, Gelatoccinos, or Smoothies, you know you're getting quality and rich flavors that are not watered down. So, avoid that other "coffee house" across the street and stop into this true original. You won't be disappointed.

Swork on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 5, 2010

Cafeteria 15L | Sacramento, CA

Don't let the name fool you. Just because the word "cafeteria" is in its name doesn't mean that you'll be standing behind a group of diners holding a sectioned plastic tray. And this ain't no dining hall reminiscent of the old high school multi or the summer camp mess. In fact, Cafeteria 15L (and that is one-five-"L" and not fifteen "L") is one of Sacramento's newest dining attractions that provides simple, down home fare. What do I mean by simple? Try doing away with a children's menu, but still leaving the little ones happy with such favorites as Patty Melt Sliders, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup, and Tater Tots like no other. For the adults, they're serving up Crab Beignets, Pan Seared Trout, Grilled Prime Rib, and a selection of daily Blue Plate Specials (my recommendation, Sunday's BBQ Baby Back Ribs).

Needless to say, we were quickly won over by the food, the staff, and an atmosphere that promotes comfort and good times. Heck, when was the last time you walked into a restaurant that shared its space with a popular night spot? That's right, Cafeteria 15L room-mates with the uber-hip Park Ultra Lounge with its outdoor patio, a bar fit for kings, and dancing rooms. Oh, there's also THE BATHROOM which gives new meaning to "shock and awe." So, trust me when I say, Cafeteria 15L is not to be missed.

Out of the Kitchen Sacramento restaurants

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sandra Dee's Bar-B-Que & Seafood | Sacramento, CA

When a group of my students called to invite us for lunch at Sandra Dee's Bar-B-Que & Seafood, they didn't have to twist our arms. We literally jumped at the chance, especially knowing of Sandra Dee's reputation for offering hearty portions of Southern Soul food that's not only good, but originates from recipes that have either been created by Sandra Dee herself or have been handed down through the generations. Mouth-watering selections include their gator po' boy, beef tri tips, full or half slabs of pork ribs, and their southern seasoned fried oysters, catfish filets, and fresh frog legs. And if that wasn't enough, there are side dishes to pepper your plate as well. Choices like hush puppies, red beans and rice, spicy collard greens, and mac-n-cheese. When all was said and done, there was nothing left of our appetites.

Located in downtown Sacramento on the corner of 15th and F Streets, Sandra Dee's Bar-B-Que & Seafood began as a small catering business that was run out of a garage. As word-of-mouth grew, so too did the business. Before too long, Sandra Dee and her husband, Jeffrey, expanded their operation to what it is known today. Now, with their children, they follow two simple rules: greet each customer like family and serve food that will always leave them smiling. Mission accomplished!

Out of the Kitchen Sacramento restaurants

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates | Sacramento, CA

The first thing that grabs you after walking into Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates is, well, the distinctively sweet smell of chocolate. Next thing you know, your sense are put on alert to the anticipation of receiving something quite decadent whether it's a s'mores lollipop or one in a variety of chocolate desserts or Parisian macarons.

I wish I could describe the sensations, but simple words just won't do. Rather, the best indicator of knowing just how special the confections at Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates are is to look at the customers' faces...pure joy and happiness!!! And that's the trick, isn't it?

As the story goes, Ginger Elizabeth's career began at the early age of 16 after attending a summer course at the CIA Greystone in Napa Valley. In the following years, she would learn from some of the greatest masters of their craft, including Jacques Torres, Daniel Budd, and En-Ming Hsu. At 24, she opened her first boutique where she honed her skills and practiced a very simple philosophy: To use only the freshest of ingredients to illicit the best look and taste that chocolate has to offer. Now you can find her creating new products every day at her midtown Sacramento locale.

Certainly, the steady stream of customers is glad she's arrived, and as adoring new fans, so are we.

Out of the Kitchen Sacramento restaurants

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain | South Pasadena, CA

I became a regular patron of the Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain in the early 1990s after moving to Southern California to attend college. How I came upon this charming store front was by accident.

Looking for a bite to eat after watching a movie at the nearby Rialto Theater, the Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain seemed as good a place as any. To my surprise, it was better! With a complete menu offering classic soups, salads, and sandwiches, each item is both simple and hearty.

Located along the historic Route 66, the Fair Oaks Pharmacy & Soda Fountain first opened its doors in 1915. Known then as the South Pasadena Pharmacy, it quickly became a community cornerstone to not only bag a few personal necessities, but also catch up with a neighbor or a passing visitor. And though the name may have changed a handful of times over the years, not much else has.

Today, you can still fill a prescription, purchase vintage candies, and find anything from greeting cards to jewelry. And let's not forget that you can also jerk yourself an old-fashioned ice cream soda or savor any one of their specialty sundaes like "The Raymond," the "Huntington Heath," or the "Banana Blitz."

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