Friday, May 12, 2017

Forbidden Island - Alameda

4/5 stars

Continuing our Bay Area tiki crawl!

Got here around 3:30 on a Sunday and scored the last two seats at the bar! YAS! We sat right next to the TV so we got to watch a lot of Dick Van Dyke. Awesome.

I think this place would be fun with a group. There are booths and an outdoor area to enjoy the weather when it's nice. They have a mini food menu of fried snacks, like cream cheese wontons and coconut shrimp.

Like other tiki joints, the drinks menu is HUGE and fun to read. I hug and kiss tiki menus.

We started with the Shrunken Skull because it was served with fire and a side of DANGER. Hubby thinks this one is a keeper.

Since it was our first time at Forbidden Island, we had to get their signature cocktail. It was a grog. It was good, but not as good as Smuggler's Cove's signature drink (their barrel) IMO.

Last drink of the day was pretty much dessert. The Painkiller comes in different strengths: 2, 3, or 4 skulls. It's made with Pusser's Navy rum, pineapple, orange, coconut & spice. I like Painkillers a lot!

Forbidden Island felt more like a casual, divey, neighborhood bar than Smuggler's. It was chill and a great place to hang out. Smuggler's felt more like a place to escape...

Next up: Pagan Idol!

Trader Vic's - Emeryville

3/5 stars

Trader Vic's hosted a Hawaiian Bazaar. I've been wanting to cross Trader Vic's off my list so this was perfect.

Everyone at Trader Vic's was really nice. We LOVED the live, Hawaiian music and waterfront view. They forgot my brunch order (patty melt w/ pineapple and an egg), but they comped it, so it was totally fine. Food was not special, but we were happyhappy because we had a huge drinks menu to work our way through!

We started with the mai tais. Trader Vic's has two that you should order at the same time, just so you can compare them. The Trader Vic's mai tai was more like a juicy punch while the '44 (the original) was more deconstructed.

My FAVORITE was the Pinky Gonzalez which is a tequila-based mai tai. Who knew a tequila mai tai would work? It was really tasty and the risqué glasses were hilarious! I really, really wish I could've bought the glasses home.

We also got the Suffering Bastard, which was kinda freaky (rums, lime & Egyptian things), and the Seyhorse (rum, melon liquor, and passion fruit). Get the Bastard if you want something stronger. Get the Seyhorse if you want something fruiter and in a really cute drinking vessel.

It was our first tiki gathering, but certainly not our last! Hubby and I had a blast mingling with fellow tiki-aficionados. Everyone was dressed to the nines! I even bought a vintage dress and a hair accessory! We also went home with a bunch of Trader Vic's mugs. Success!

Smuggler's Cove - San Francisco

5/5 stars

My obsession with Smuggler's Cove started last 4th of July weekend when my hubby surprised me with their book. Even if you don't drink tiki, it's a wonderful read. That weekend, we went on a scavenger hunt. We had to go to 5 different liquor stores to acquire the ingredients for the Jet Pilot (a tweaked Zombie).

We didn't make it to the tiki bar itself until the end of July. We got there at 5:30 PM and there wasn't a line, but the place was already absolutely packed. We had to wait for a seat at the bar, but it wasn't too bad.

Stepping into Smuggler's Cove is like stepping into another dimension. It's a tiny, tiny dark place that is just... magical. You forget the rest of the world here and I think that's okay. The drinks were incredible - dare I say THE BEST COCKTAILS I've ever had. Steve was the bartender that night and his hands were just flying. It was really impressive watching Steve work. I don't think I've ever seen a bartender make drinks as fast as him. Smuggler's Cove has a huge menu too so that made it even more impressive. I love sitting at the bar.

We ordered:

+ Smuggler's Rum Barrel (rums, fresh juices, Caribbean spices). It was the favorite of the night! Of course we had to take home the barrel! This moment is pretty much when I started collecting tiki mugs...
+ Hinky Dinks Fizzy (rum, pineapple, lime, passion fruit, apricot liqueur, gin, sparkling wine). I mean, rum AND sparkling wine? Be still my heart.
+ The Expedition (rum, bourbon, coffee liqueur, lime, cinnamon, vanilla, honey). Really complex and different. A must-try.
+ Puka Punch (rums, lime, orange, pineapple, honey, passion fruit, falernum, bitters). Beware buccaneers, it's really strong ;-)

We can't wait to go back, but it'll be hard not to order the rum barrel again. It's delicious!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Joe's Seafood Prime Steak & Stone Crab - Las Vegas

5/5 stars

You guys. Joe's is AHmazing. Stone crab is perhaps the best crab I've ever had. It's meatier than Dungeness and sweet and alllmooost as good as lobster (and that's saying a lot)! And the horseradish mustard the crab is served with is absolutely perfect. I've never had crab with mustard before and it's a terrific idea.

The service was also exceptional which was surprising because this is a tourist joint. I mean, it's right next to the fountains in Caesars Palace. A millions thanks to Neil & Eric for making our night. We were here for my sissy's whirlwind bachelorette party and we only had time for one nice restaurant so I'm relieved Joe's exceeded expectations.

My only word advice: don't get the steak. Trust me. I would complain about how dry my steak was if I wasn't so enamored with the stone crab.

Oh, actually, I have one more piece of advice: Get the mac n' cheese. It's probably the best mac n' cheese I've ever had. Perfect balance of cheeses and the gooeyness is stunning. I'm dying for the recipe!

Pappas Burgers - Houston (Hobby airport)

4/5 stars

Bleeping pleasantly surprised.

We only sat down because my mother-in-law wanted to. I was going to have Wendy's. Boy was I happy when Pappas Burger kicked Wendy's burgers in the butt.

It was just a really, really, really solid burger! Like, a real cheeseburger. Like, something you would make at home! The bread was nice and squishy, the not-too-thick beef patty was cooked perfectly, and it was just an [American cheese] cheesy, drippy mess. American cheese is the only cheese that belongs on burgers, IMO. I slapped on some mayo and ketchup and ate the whole thing even though the burger was the size of a dinner plate.

Service was nice & efficient too!

Chef Chu's - Los Altos

5/5 stars 

I'm actually not sure if I've ever had *real* Chinese food, but the Americanized chow from Chef Chu's is super tasty and I want to stuff it in my mouth. That's what matters when it comes to food, right?

I liked this place so much we went twice during my birthday weekend. Btw, that's the how I deal with getting older. I have birth-weekends where I eat whatever my heart desires. And what I wanted were mai tais. And Chinese takeout to take home so I could spend the rainy evening in with my dog. 

I can't think of any other place that serves greasy Chinese food and solid cocktails. I adore the mai tais at Chef Chu's. They're no Smuggler's Cove, but they're well made and go down easy. Waaay too easy. That's the problem with mai tais. You always think it's a good idea to drink another one. 

Gary made our mai tais this time and he's a very nice man. He even serenaded me! Everyone we've met there has been nothing but nice and friendly. They even surprised me with green tea ice cream and a candle even though we were getting takeout. It's the little things that matter in the end. 

My favorite things to order are: 

+ Peking duck! (But you need to order this in advance) 
+ BBQ chow mein (the chow mein is a little different than other places because it has shiitake mushrooms in it and that's why I think I love it) 
+ Basil beef clay pot (the beef is really tender) 
+ Miso-glazed chilean sea bass (this is a splurge... for a special occasion) 
+ Hunan-style smoked pork belly (one of my hubby's favorites... it's a Chinese dish we've never had before so try it if you want something different!) 
+ Braised eggplant in garlic sauce (I always order this)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Positano eats: La Sponda

Positano couldn't be prettier. I've wanted to go to this visually stunning place ever since Only You with Robert Downey Jr (*swoon*). Positano was planned, La Sponda (Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30, 84017 Positano SA, Italy), on the other hand, was not.

That is... until I saw this photo on Instagram and just had to have it (I guess I eat with my eyes first): 

Not only was the spaghetti vongole as delicious as it was pretty, the restaurant itself was the most beautiful restaurant hubby and I have ever been to. It was also the only Michelin-starred restaurant we went to in Italy.

Ask to sit outside if you can, where you'll overlook this:

Everything was perfect: the attentive service, the well-executed food, the gorgeous view. Even the dinnerware was whimsical. But my favoritefavorite part was this happy little champagne cart that a jolly man pushed around. I mean, how can you not be jolly pushing around a cart like this:

Of course we had to get something from the cart:

Pink just felt like the right color for a celebration at La Sponda. It went well with my vongole, hubby's John Dory, and this silky eggplant:

La Sponda is not easy to get to, because Positano is not easy to get to, but I think... that's what makes them even more magical. You count your blessings here. 

Oh, and the olive oil is stunning.