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Monday, December 24, 2007

Addison's, An American Grill, Columbia Missouri, Part Two

I've mentioned my fondness for Addison's in Columbia, and I just had to put a picture that I recently found of my favorite dish there, their Baked Tortellini.

According to their menu, it's "Sautéed artichokes, romas, scallions, and mushrooms, tossed with ricotta-stuffed tortellini in a pesto cream sauce. Topped with mozzarella & cheddar cheeses and baked to a golden brown."

I think that description is not misleading, and that the dish tastes as good as it sounds (reads?). I really miss Addison's, not just because of their food, but also because it was a common place for us grad students to hang out and get drunk (particularly during happy hour).

709 Cherry Street
Columbia, MO
65201 USA

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sycamore Restaurant, Columbia, Missouri

One of the restaurants I had wanted to try in Columbia since I got there was Sycamore. It looked pretty fancy from the outside, and the menu that I saw posted outside featured items that sounded very appetizing. However, I didn't get to eat in this restaurant till I was about to graduate.

Felicity, Blaine, and I went to dinner at Sycamore around the last week of school. So the restaurants in town were usually packed with families celebrating their children's graduation. Thankfully, we arrived early and were able to get a table. About an hour after we got there, the place was already filled to capacity.

We ordered some Parmesan Fries to start (which were delicious), then I had Sea Scallops as my main course. It was very, very good. I love scallops, and I really liked the way they cooked them. The dish had an Asian twist to it. Their menu described it as "Seared jumbo sea scallops with sesame shiitake lo mein and steamed brocolli". I really wish I'd tried the restaurant earlier in my stay so I could have had time to try out their other dishes.

Parmesan Fries

Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops

800 E. Broadway
Columbia, MO
65201 USA

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Alain's Birthday Spread at Punta Fuego, Batangas, Philippines

Last month, I was lucky enough to be invited to the birthday weekend of my friend Alain Panlilio. He celebrated his big day with nine friends at the house of his sister Deanne-Deanne in Punta Fuego, Batangas, a three-hour drive away from Manila. The house was gorgeous, with an infinity pool and a lovely view of the sea, which was right behind the house.

Other than the beautiful venue, I was excited for the grub as well. Alain and his sister run Urban Feast, a successful catering business, so I was looking forward to his birthday dinner (It was bound to be great).

The birthday celebrant and his spread

When dinner was about to be served, I couldn't wait to dig in. Only one dish was not seafood, so I knew I was in for another session of near-gluttony. Most of the food was grilled, so I consoled myself with the thought that the healthy manner of cooking the food would compensate somehow for the sheer volume that I would be sure to consume.

Grilled Squid

Grilled Shrimp

Crispy Crablets

Vegetables, Salted Egg, and "Bagoong" (Shrimp Sauce)

Alain's whole birthday weekend was so relaxing. The company was fun, and the sun was out, so we all spent a lot of time tanning by the pool. I also got to a chance to go snorkelling, since the sea was just a stairway away from the house.

But the highlight of the weekend for me was Alain's birthday dinner. That's exactly how a Filipino birthday should be celebrated- with good food, and lots of it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cafe Enzo, Hunter Valley, Australia

It's been a month since I ate at Cafe Enzo, and I was hoping to find their menu online to get the names of the dishes that I had there, since I can no longer remember them. I can't seem to find their website, though, so I'll just have to go on my rather faulty memory.

At any rate, on my birthday, Gigi decided to bring me to Hunter Valley for some wine tasting. She brought along a lovely friend of hers, Kristine Young, who made the trip more fun. It was a three-hour drive from Sydney to the valley, and the rain was pouring in buckets. I admired Gigi for driving all that way despite the dismal weather and poor visibility.

Since we left Sydney late in the morning, we were already starving when we got to Hunter Valley. Gigi already knew where to bring us for lunch, since she had eaten there in the past and she was very happy with the place. We ate at Cafe Enzo, and it was a quaint, cozy little restaurant. There was a log fire burning when we got there, which was perfect because we were feeling quite cold and damp.

We got straight to business, so we had some salad to share, and I ordered the pasta with prawns. I had a lot of their bread because I was already famished, then dug into the salad with a little too much enthusiasm. By the time the pasta arrived at the table, I was feeling a bit full already. Nonetheless, this didn't stop me from demolishing the rather big serving.

I knew that I had already approached the point of gluttony, but I didn't much care. If you can't pig out on your birthday, when else can you? I was well aware that I'd engorged myself, but I still had to have some dessert. So I ordered the chocolate ganache to cap off the meal.

After we left Enzo's, we went to a couple of places to have some wine. But since we didn't really have space for anything else, our wine-tasting was half-hearted at best. We bought some wine, chocolate and cheese in the valley, then we headed back for Sydney.

It took me the whole day and the evening to digest what I ate at Enzo's but I had no regrets. It was a wonderful way to celebrate my birthday.

Cafe Enzo
1 Broke Pokolbin
Hunter Valley
New South Wales 2320

Monday, September 10, 2007

Thai Fusion, Sydney

One morning, Gigi and I wanted to have an early lunch, so we walked once more to the little row of restaurants near her apartment. We felt like eating Thai, but the first two restaurants we went to were not yet open for lunch (it was only 10:30, after all). We ended up eating in a place called Thai Fusion by default, since they were the only ones who were willing to serve us that early. (Actually, we practically begged them to feed us.)

We were very hungry, so we had Tom Yum Goong, Stir Fried Vegetables with Tofu, Prawn Macadamia, and Salmon Choo Chee. We ordered the prawns because Gigi and I both liked nuts in our food, and the element of macadamia was intriguing. We had the salmon because Gigi particularly likes choo chee sauce. The prawns were good, but I thought the macadamia didn't particularly enhance the dish. I liked that there were nuts, but it was not the kind of dish where you would say it was a perfect combination. The salmon choo chee, I liked, because of the sauce. But salmon is not my favorite fish, so it paled in comparison to the Choo Chee Fish of Spice Market, as far as I was concerned.

It was still all good, though. Thai food is almost always good for me, and there have been no misses at all here in Sydney.

Prawn Macadamia
Salmon Choo Chee

Thai Fusion
11 Broughton St.
Kirribilli NSW

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Mad Italian, Sydney, Australia

Italians comprise the fourth largest ethnic group in Australia, which explains the large number of Italian restaurants in Sydney. Gigi took me to one that was within walking distance from her apartment, within the same row of Thai restaurants I had mentioned in the previous post. It was called The Mad Italian, and like the other restaurants in this block of restos, it was a bit cramped, since the individual establishments were all pretty small and could only seat three to four dozen people.

We had the Insalata Caprese (Caprese salad) and Quattro Formaggio (four-cheese) Pizza. I loved the four cheese pizza. Some friends of mine have praised the cheeses available in Australia, and the pizza demonstrated proof of this. The Mad Italian's Caprese salad is the one that Gigi replicated in her apartment. As I had also mentioned, the restaurant's version of this salad was different in that it had greens. All other restaurants where I've ordered this dish only had tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. The salad was good though, and eating it made us feel like we were being good girls (in other words the greens assuaged the guilt from eating all that cheese).

Insalata Caprese

Quattro Formaggio

The Mad Italian
3A-9B Shop 5
Broughton St.
Kirribilli NSW

Friday, August 17, 2007

Spice Market, Sydney

There are so many Thai restaurants in Kirribilli, which is the area where Gigi lives. Just a 5-minute walk away from her apartment is a short row of restaurants, and three of them serve Thai cuisine. This made me very happy, since I really love Thai food. Gigi first brought me to Spice Market, which is the only one she goes to on a regular basis. She ordered her favorite dishes, which were Choo Chee Fish, and Tofu Stir Fry. I couldn't help ordering a rice dish, so I had some fried rice (so much for the South Beach diet).

I particularly loved the fish, which is Nile perch. Gigi said there is some controversy regarding this fish, involving the exploitation of Africans. (I have to find out more about this and see if this will lessen my desire to eat this fish, which by the way is just yummy.) The Choo Chee sauce, which is some kind of curry, went perfectly with rice. I practically ate the whole rice dish by myself because Gigi was being a good girl and avoiding her carbs.

It was a great meal, and I was very happy with it, despite my awareness of excessive calorie consumption. Well, I'm on holiday and that's the perfect excuse to eat pretty much whatever I want.

Choo Chee Fish

Tofu Stir Fry

Fried Rice

Spice Market
Shop 2, 3A Broughton St
Kirribilli NSW 2061

Monday, August 13, 2007

Pasticceria Papa

On my first weekend in Sydney, Gigi brought me to Pasticceria Papa in Little Italy, which offers a lot of pastries. She was eager to let me try two of her favorite desserts, which were ricotta cheesecake, and ricotta cannoli. We got up early on Saturday morning, so we could have a calorie-laden breakfast. When we got to the restaurant, it was all I could do to stop myself from just grabbing one of each of the pastries displayed on the counter. They all looked so fattening; ergo, good.

Aside from getting a piece of the cheesecake and the cannoli, I saw that they sold florentines as well. I love florentines, and never pass up a chance to have some. I ate all three of the pastries, aside from some pizza that Gigi had for herself. I liked the cannoli best, followed by the cheesecake, then the florentines. I was slightly disappointed in the florentines because they were not sweet enough for me :) I must've consumed the calorie requirements for the whole week in that single meal (if you could call having sweets in the morning a proper breakfast).

Ricotta Cheesecake
Florentine and Ricotta Cannoli

Pasticceria Papa
145 Ramsay St.
Haberfield NSW 2045
Tel: 02.9798.6894

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Yum Cha at Emperor's Garden in Chinatown, Sydney

I'm always up for good dim sum, because it's not that easy to find in Manila. Here in Sydney, you will find dim sum in Chinese restaurants offering "yum cha". At first, I thought that yum cha was simply another name for dim sum, but after some quick googling, I discovered that dim sum (literally "touch the heart") refers to the food itself, while yum cha (Cantonese slang for "drinking tea") refers to the custom of eating small servings of different kinds of food while drinking tea. So, as I understand it, you eat dim sum at yum cha.

Anyway, my friend Kate has a cousin based here named Cel, and she was kind enough to show me the sights by bringing me on a Sydney Explorer tour. The bus tour has 27 stops (each one at a Sydney landmark), and it's up to you when to get off. A bus passes by each stop every 20 minutes, so you can go down wherever you want and be assured of a ride to your next destination. One of the stops was Chinatown, and Cel and I went down there when it was nearly lunchtime. It was also a good place to go shopping, but that's another story.

Fried Shrimp and Scallop Dumplings

Cel brought me to Emperor's Garden Seafood Restaurant, and I was excited to see they had yum cha. The sight of the servers going around pushing trolleys laden with dim sum was enough to make me even hungrier. I ordered some Ha Kao (shrimp dumplings), which I love and never get tired of, some prawn and vegetable dumplings, and fried shrimp and scallop dumplings. I'm always happy to discover new kinds of dim sum, and in this case, I was glad to chance upon those fried dumplings, the kind of which I'd never tried before. Cel and I also had some Chinese broccoli, which we didn't finish, unfortunately. Not because it wasn't good; we were just too full from everything else we'd already eaten.

I love Sydney. I haven't had one bad meal here yet.

Prawn and Vegetable Dumplings

Emperor's Garden Seafood Restaurant
Level 2 Corner Dixon and Hay Street
Haymarket NSW 2000
Tel: (02)9211.2135
Fax: (02)9281.2251

Monday, August 06, 2007

Gigi cooks for me in Sydney, Australia

(I've decided, to heck with chronology, I'm writing in present tense for now.)

I'm currently in Sydney, Australia to visit my friend Gigi. The food in Sydney is great (more on the restaurants later), even when she and I eat at her apartment. That's because Gigi is a fabulous cook. It's a joy to eat whatever she whips up. One evening, after a chilly afternoon walking around town, she made Butternut Squash Soup, which is my absolute favorite soup in the whole world. Another great thing about Gigi is she always makes sure the food is presented well, even when she eats alone. Now that's a way to treat yourself well.

Butternut Squash Soup

Another time, we went to the seafood market to buy some supplies. She got some transatlantic salmon, which I assume, is not farmed salmon. (unless there are transatlantic fish farms? haha) Anyway, she at first wanted to bake it to make it healthier to eat. But we were already hungry so she decided to fast-forward the cooking process by pan-frying it. I thought it tasted great the way she ended up making it.

Pan-fried Salmon

One other thing that she made was Caprese Salad. She said it was the first time she ever made it. We had some the previous evening at an Italian restaurant, then she decided that it was pretty easy to replicate. It was the first time I had eaten this type of salad with greens (it was served that way in that restaurant). Usually it's just tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. This version makes it healthier, I guess.

Caprese Salad

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Noodle Garden, Evanston

I've mentioned my fondness for Thai food, and having strong feelings about Thai cuisine helps when I can't seem to make up my mind as to where to eat. It's a reliable default that never disappoints.

Anyway, one day, Vicky and I couldn't decide where we wanted to have lunch. We were too lazy to think about a new place to try, so we just narrowed down our choices to Thai restaurants. She brought me to Noodle Garden which is near her place in Evanston, and I was happy with everything we ordered. I particularly liked their fried shrimp rolls and their shrimp dumplings. (Actually, if any restaurant has those two dishes, I'm pretty happy already.) If I remember correctly, we had two orders of the shrimp rolls since the four pieces went quickly.

I would want to come back to Noodle Garden if I ever go back to the Chicago/Evanston area.

Fried Shrimp Rolls

Shrimp Dumplings

Noodle Garden
1241 Chicago Avenue
Evanston 60202-1337

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Mambo Grill, Chicago

While I was in Chicago, I did some research on top restaurants in the city which didn't have prices that were way too outrageous. I came up with Topolobampo, a Tex-Mex restaurant on North Clark street. Vicky and I went to check it out, but unfortunately, we were not forward-looking enough to make reservations. The hostess (is that the right word?) told us that there would be a two-and-a-half hour wait. Since we were already hungry, we went down the street and tried our luck elsewhere.

We stumbled upon Mambo Grill a few meters down the road. We looked in a bit, saw that it was Zagat rated, so we sat and waited for a table. We ordered a pitcher of mojito, which is something that Mambo Grill is apparently known for (it has been voted best mojito in Chicago by Metromix, a lifestyle website). It went well with the chips and salsa, and I had too much of both before the main course arrived (well, I was VERY hungry.) I had the Plantain-Crusted Halibut, while Vicky had the Coconut-Curried Tilapia. The halibut was ok, but I had a taste of the tilapia and I liked that better. We decided to split each dish, so we could have both dishes. This arrangement worked to my advantage because we both preferred the tilapia.

I didn't finish either dish, but that was mostly because I had too many chips and too much salsa. We didn't even finish the pitcher of mojito (which was excellent, by the way), because Vicky needed to drive, and I was just too stuffed to take in anything more.

I never learn. If I have appetizers, I never finish my main course. At least, not when I'm in the US where the servings are more often than not just too big for me.

Plantain-Crusted Halibut

Mambo Grill
412 N. Clark St.
between Hubbard and Kinzie
Chicago, IL 60610
Tel: (312) 467.9797

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Park Grill at Millennium Park, Chicago

(This entry took place some time in May. The chronology of this blog is getting messed up, but what the heck.)

From Missouri, Vicky and I drove on to Chicago as my first stop on my long way back home. I love Chicago; it's one of my favorite US cities. Aside from being able to see a body of water despite being in the midwest (I pretend the lake is the sea), I also like the food that the city offers.

Vicky and I went to Millennium Park, where I did the tourist thing and took a gazillion pictures of the bean. After all that picture-taking, we decided to eat at Park Grill, which is smack in the middle of the park. It was pretty outside, but it was too hot to eat lunch al fresco, so we just sat in the comfort of airconditioning. I didn't want to eat too much, so I chose not to get an appetizer. I did, however, have a couple of cosmopolitans to battle the heat.

I had the Sunburst Trout, which was described to be "herb roasted with poached butter potatoes and roasted garlic-lemon puree". It didn't disappoint. I also had some chocolate concoction for dessert, but I can't remember what it was. Not that it was unmemorable, it's just my failing memory, it seems.

Maybe all the eating I've done has affected my brain. I really have to get these food stories straight.

Sunburst Trout

Park Grill
11 North Michigan Avenue
Chicago, Illinois
Phone (312) 521-PARK

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Forge and Vine

I was often stressed out during my last semester at Mizzou, much like most of my fellow graduates-to-be. Rushing papers, finishing up projects; these things were enough to make me want to pull my hair out. I had to write a mini-thesis that I needed to defend before a committee so that I could graduate, and I spent around five days with barely any sleep writing it up. After I did a final spell check, I sent the paper off to my committee members for them to review before my defense.

Although I wasn't sure that I would defend it successfully (though it turns out I would), I was just so relieved that I had finished the paper at all that I figured it was time for a celebration. I decided to go to the Forge and Vine, a restaurant that becomes a happening bar after dinner hours. I had a late lunch by myself around three in the afternoon. When I went there, there were no people at all. I thought that was great because no one would rush me to leave the table. I eat very slowly, and when I eat alone, I particularly like to savor the food.

Baked Crab Dip

I had the Baked Crab Dip to start, and it was too big for me to finish. I set more than half of it aside to take home. I had to leave room for the main course, and I also fully intended to have dessert and coffee. I had the Forge Pasta Primavera with Shrimp, and for dessert I had the turtle cheesecake.

Forge Pasta Primavera with Shrimp

Turtle Cheesecake

Among the things I ordered, I enjoyed the dip the most, followed by the cheesecake, and finally, the pasta. I didn't think the pasta was anything special. It tasted like some other dishes that I've had in similar restaurants. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my solo celebratory lunch. Eating slowly with no people around... that's practically heaven for me.

119 South 7th Street
Columbia, MO 65201
In between Locust & Cherry
Phone: 573.44.Forge

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Brockton Villa

I've fallen way behind in posting my pictures from the US, and I've already been back in the Philippines for a month. So I've decided to just post the pictures as I find them on my computer, and forget about being obsessive-compulsive about chronology.

On my last weekend in the west coast, Kuya, Liz, Aidan, and I went to San Diego. We went to Sea World and San Diego Wild Animal Park, and we also had a chance to visit a dear friend, Ida Sandico-Whitaker. It was very nice to see her, since I hadn't seen her in seven years. She's been based in San Diego for ten years or so, and it was great to finally pay her a visit.

She brought us to La Jolla, a quaint little town with a nice beach with lots of seals sunning themselves on the rocks. After taking a leisurely walk in the area, we decided to have lunch at Brockton Villa, which has a nice view of the sea. (Also, we were very hungry and that was the first restaurant we saw.) It was fun to have lunch with an old friend, just talking through the main course, dessert, and coffee. I had the shrimp tacos, and chocolate cake for dessert which went perfectly with coffee.

Shrimp Tacos

Raspberry Chocolate Marquise

1235 Coast Blvd
La Jolla, CA 92037
Tel. (858)454.7393

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Taste of LA, Quezon City

A Taste of LA holds a special significance for me and some of my friends from the office. We used to have a regular get-together there on the evening of July 26th, where we would eat and have a few drinks to usher in the birthday of Gigi, which falls on the 27th.

Gigi is based in Australia now, and in our group, only Chi and myself are left in the station. We haven't held that tradition for a few years now, but we still go to this restaurant to get together especially with friends who now live overseas and visit Manila once in a while.

Chi and I went to A Taste of LA soon after I arrived back home. We had a lot of catching up to do. I had their pan-fried sole, and we had a few glasses of wine to go with our dinner. There were a few almond slivers on top of the fish, and I wished there were more, much like the fish in Terry's (That's another story though).

Pan-fried sole

The dim lighting in A Taste of LA is perfect for couples going on romantic dates, but I find that it's also the perfect place for having a quiet (or maybe not-so-quiet) dinner with friends. Maybe the place is just conducive to eliciting confidences you might not otherwise be able to pry from them. It's probably a combination of the ambience, the semi-darkness, and the wine that tends to loosen tongues and encourage over-sharing.

A Taste of LA
171 Roces Ave. cor. Tomas Morato
Quezon City, Metro Manila

Friday, June 22, 2007

Deep Sea Crab at Alavar Seafood Grill and Restaurant

I'd only been back in Manila for a few days, and I was still feeling the blues that I usually get after I return from travelling. My very thoughtful brother John and his equally sweet wife Tintin probably thought that a good meal would be a great way to cheer me up, so they brought me to Alavar Seafood Restaurant, which is known for Zamboanga cooking. We had their curacha, or deep sea crab, with Alavar sauce.

Curacha in Alavar Sauce

I loved it! Alavar sauce has some coconut milk in it, and it was perfect to go with white rice (which I ended up eating too much of). It certainly was a good meal, and it did lift my spirits. After all, if there is one good thing about Manila, it's all the great eating to be had.

Alavar Seafood Grill and Restaurant
39 Scout Ybardolaza Street Corner Timog Avenue
Quezon City
Tel. No. (632)926.5636

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Panera Bread

I found some more pictures I took in restaurants in Columbia, and aside from making me sentimental about the little university town, the photos also made me realize I hadn't written about some of the eating experiences that I will really associate with my life at Mizzou.

My friend Felicity and I often used to go to Panera, which is just a very short walk away from the Journalism school. We liked hanging out there because of the free WiFi and the fact that they didn't kick us out even after we'd been nursing our coffee (in my case) and tea (in Fil's) for three hours. It eventually became our default place when we couldn't decide where to eat, or when we just felt like talking over coffee/tea.

In all the times I'd been there, I almost always had the same thing. I would have the half-and-half order that they offered, where you could have two of the following things: half a sandwich, half a bowl of soup, and half a salad. The sandwich would be portobello mushroom, the soup would be french onion, and the side would be chips.

I remember this meal fondly, because it was over portobello and chips that Felicity and I spent many hours discussing novels we want to write, countries we wanted to live in, and boys we wanted to date, among many other things. I definitely miss Panera.

Panera Bread
Downtown Columbia
102 South 9th Street
Columbia, MO 65201
(573) 442-4455 | phone
(573) 442-1188 | fax

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tommy Nevin's Pub

After a long day of shopping and sightseeing when I finally got to Chicago, Vicky and I decided to get a drink (and some food of course) at an Irish pub, Tommy Nevin's. We sat outside because the weather was nice. However, instead of having a relaxing drink, we ended up getting stressed because of the poor service. We had to wait 25 minutes before the waitress came to take our order. I first asked for one of the specials of the day, shrimp tortellini, but with my luck, they had run out. I instead ordered the smoked salmon on garlic flatbread, and tilapia with asparagus.

Then the food took around 20 more minutes to arrive. We were planning to leave the place because of the wait, but we had already invested too much time and were too tired to look around for another place. I just tried to enjoy the food. The salmon was okay, but the tilapia was unremarkable. I don't want to complain about that experience anymore. (Even during that evening I just tried to be zen about it.) Suffice it to say that I'm never going back there.

Tommy Nevin's Pub
1450-1458 Sherman Ave.
Evanston, IL 606201
(847) 869.0450

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cracker Barrel

No, this restaurant was not on my list of places to eat, it was just a convenient place to stop for a meal during a very long drive. My friend Vicky had helped me pack my stuff when I moved out of Columbia, and we were driving from Mizzou to Chicago when we decided to stop for lunch. I believe we were somewhere near the border of Missouri and Illinois when we saw the sign for Cracker Barrel. I told Vicky I'd never eaten there, so we chose that place to have lunch.

The restaurant had a sign outside that said something along the lines of "everyone here is welcome, regardless of race, age, etc." I forget the exact words, but that was the gist of what the sign said. I took note of this sign, which I thought was interesting. Cracker Barrel, aside from being a restaurant, also has a country store which sells little bric-a-bracs. I wandered around the store for a bit before we were seated, but saw nothing I particularly wanted to buy.

I looked at the menu, and it had typical offerings in US restaurants- fried chicken, porkchops, roast beef, etc. I decided to have the "Spicy Grilled Catfish Fillet". The fish was okay, it was tasty enough. And the three sides complemented it too. Nothing amazing, but it was filling comfort food.

Spicy Grilled Catfish Fillet

A few days later, in LA, I told Felicity and her boyfriend Blaine that I had eaten at Cracker Barrel. Blaine told me that there had been several lawsuits against Cracker Barrel involving being racist and sexist. I looked it up on the Internet, and sure enough, there were stories about the lawsuits that had been filed against the restaurant. That certainly explained the sign outside the restaurant saying that they didn't discriminate against customers. Maybe it was part of the settlement agreed upon in the course of the lawsuit. If I had known that the restaurant had such a history, maybe I wouldn't have stopped for lunch there. Maybe there is something more to the restaurant's name...

Friday, May 25, 2007

Trattoria Strada Nova

Another restaurant on my Columbia list was Trattoria Strada Nova, since my friend Felicity had told me good things about it. So on one of my last days in town, I went there for a late lunch. To start off, I had the Grilled Portobello. This picture isn't very appetizing, but the mushrooms (drizzled with olive oil) were really good.

Grilled Portobello

For my main course, I had the Grilled Tuna. According to the menu, it was to be "served rare, with traditional nicoise accompaniments in dijon dressing". Sounded promising, and besides, in my limited experience, it's hard to go wrong with grilled tuna. However, the dish proved to be a bit of a disappointment. It tasted bland, fish included, which I found strange. Usually, tuna is very tasty even by itself (raw and unseasoned). The dressing was unremarkable, and as mentioned, even the tuna lacked flavor. I was not very satisfied with the dish, so I decided to have dessert to feel better about the meal.

Grilled Tuna

I chose the Flourless Chocolate Cake, which is another favorite dessert of mine. This managed to save the meal for me. It was so good; moist with just the right sweetness. It was even the right size- not so big that I couldn't finish it. The cake made me feel so much better about the disappointing main course.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I had heard and read so much about this restaurant that my expectations were pretty high. I do wish I had ordered something else for my entree, but I guess two good courses out of three isn't all too bad.

Trattoria Strada Nova
21 North Ninth Street
Columbia, Mo 65201

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cafe Berlin

I discovered Cafe Berlin through my good friend Felicity Duncan, who brought me there when I was in the mood for a hearty, post-hangover breakfast. I had slept over at her apartment after a night of partying, because she had been in no state to drive me home. Apparently, Cafe Berlin is a great place to eat after waking up from a late night out, because they serve breakfast fare until 3pm.

I like the place because they serve organic food (including ketchup), offer vegetarian options, and employ a very, very cute waiter. Felicity pointed out this last one to me, and even in my post-party haze I could totally appreciate the beauty of this man. He had longish curly blond hair, and fantastic blue eyes. I've gone to Cafe Berlin several times, for all the reasons mentioned above.

Anyway, before I digress any further, I will start talking about the food. Usually, I have the Eggs Benedict with the vegetarian sausage in place of the Patchwork ham. I like the veggie sausage because it has the herb/spice that I remember tasting, from the time when I used to eat meat sausage. The time I took these pictures though was a weekday, and so I couldn't have the Eggs Benedict which are offered only on weekends. Instead, I had the Yankee Breakfast, composed of two sunnyside up eggs, the veggie sausage, and a homemade biscuit. Downed with a bottomless cup of coffee, these meals at Cafe Berlin are the perfect way to start a late day after a night of indulgence.

Yankee Breakfast

Cafe Berlin
Corner of Providence Rd. & Walnut St.
Columbia, MO

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sophia's, Columbia MO

I'd been studying in Columbia for going on two years, and just recently realized that I had not really documented much of my eating experiences there. Also, I had not taken time out to visit the restaurants which old-timers in the college town have said to be the best. In true crammer fashion, I left this all until the last minute. I took the food and restaurants there for granted simply because I lived there, and assumed that I would always have lots of time to go to my favorite places and visit new ones. As my graduation day loomed, I realized I had very little time to do either, so I had to step up the eating.

Sophia's was at the top of my list of places to go. It's a sister restaurant of my favorite restaurant in downtown Columbia, Addison's. I asked my friend Holly Villines to have lunch there with me, and we were both happy with the menu. Neither of us eat meat other than seafood, and there were a lot of dishes we could choose from. To start, we shared the Spinach and Portobello Quesadillas. Then I had the Wild Mushroom Farfalle as my main course. I had intended to have dessert, because I've always liked the desserts in Addison's. But I really had no more space for it, because the food was rich and heavy on my tummy. I didn't regret it, though, since I really liked both dishes.

Spinach and Portobello Quesadillas

Wild Mushroom Farfalle

Holly and I went back after a week, again for lunch, and we were once more very satisfied with our choices. I had the Ravioli Aragosta, which was lobster, shrimp and scallop ravioli, while she had the Pasta Buonasera, which was cheese-filled tortellini with pine nuts. We didn't mind the richness of the food. The calories were well worth it.

3915 South Providence Road
Columbia, MO 65203

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Finbars Italian Kitchen

This is the last of my super-delayed entries from the holiday season (haha how's that for late) which I spent with my family in the LA area. We spent one whole shopping day in the complex of South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa (mostly digging for bargains at Nordstrom Rack). An important part of the shopping process is fueling up for all that walking and carrying of shopping bags. We were all hungry by late afternoon, since we had not had lunch yet. We looked for restaurants in the complex so we could still shop after eating.

We found Finbars Italian Kitchen a few meters away from where we were shopping, so we went in and quickly ordered our food. We were all famished. To start, we had the Caprese (fresh mozzarella with sliced roma tomatoes), then for my main course I had the Southwest Portobello Mushroom Ravioli. I often have dishes that have portobello here because these mushrooms are very expensive back home.

The food actually took some time to be served, so we were all so very hungry and also a little grumpy when it arrived. Also, we wolfed it all down so quickly, which is why I totally forgot to take pictures. However, I remembered to do so after I was sated and ready for dessert. We had chocolate cake a la mode and tiramisu. I am not particularly fond of tiramisu, but John and Tintin are constantly in search of the best tiramisu, so they always have this whenever they go to an Italian restaurant. I don't remember the exact rating they gave the Finbars version, although I do remember that they didn't say it was the absolute best they'd ever had. I myself was happy with the cake and ice cream.


Blackout Gelato Cake

Finbars Italian Restaurant
Metro Point at South Coast
901 South Coast Drive
Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mimis Cafe

I'm now on vacation since I just graduated (yay, me!) so I have more time to update this blog. I've been looking at pictures of food that I've taken in the past months, and sometimes I have to think about where I ate particular dishes. Before I totally forget details of more meals, I'm writing another much-delayed entry. This is about my last meal in Southern California before heading back to Columbia, Missouri for my final semester (that's how long ago it was).

On my last night at my brother's before I flew back to Mizzou after the holidays, my family had dinner at Mimi's Cafe. The restaurant supposedly has French and New Orleans-inspired decor and food, so I thought it would be interesting to eat there. I had the Blackened "Soul" with Shrimp Creole, while my sister-in-law Tintin had the Scallops with Butternut Squash Ravioli. We agreed to divide our portions in two, and exchange halves so we could try both dishes. I ended up liking Tintin's dish better, because I particularly like both scallops and butternut squash.

Scallops with Butternut Squash Ravioli

Blackened "Soul" with Shrimp Creole

Although we were very full (which is usually the case after eating full portions in restaurants in the US), we still made some room for dessert. I ordered the Banana Foster Mud Pie, because I can't resist having any dessert with the words "mud pie" in its name. I thought it was pretty good. Then again, it's hard to go wrong with ice cream, caramel, bananas, and a graham cracker crust.

Banana Foster Mud Pie

Mimis Cafe
12727 Towne Center Drive
Cerritos, CA 90703