Monday, August 07, 2006

A for Apple, O for Orange, P for Pear - so what is...

- Artichoke
It is the flowering bud of a large plant from the thistle family and has tough, petal shaped leaves. The tender base of the leaves and the heart are the edible portions. Fruit or vegetable, let me find out.

The "heart" is the thickened portion right above the stem

- Olallieberry
Definitely a fruit. Genetically, it is approximately 2/3 Blackberry and 1/3European Red Raspberry. Though not developed in California, it is primarily grown in California. Because the olallieberry has blackberry on both sides of its parentage, it exhibits many of the same flavor characteristics of the blackberry. However, olallieberries are much larger in size and generally are sweeter than blackberries grown under the same conditions. “Olallie” is a word for berry that was used by Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest. So you’re actually saying “berry berry”!

Now, say the “o” first and the rest will follow (oh-la-l

- Pluot
This is another cross hybrid- of plum and apricot, being 2/3 plum and 1/3 apricot in parentage. The pluot is a new fruit that was developed in the 1990s. I may have tasted this in Singapore but they just call it plums or "dinosaur eggs" then. I only knew the official name here and now.

Not sure why it is also known as "dinosaur egg"

No, I am not re-learning my fruits or vegetables. These are just some local ingredients or seasonal fruits that I don't commonly see or even taste. But since I have tasted all of them recently, just let me post it.


It's all about food...

Tried and tasted…both Bamboo Garden Restaurant and Thai Basil in downtown Sunnyvale serve good food at good prices, as far as we have tested. Currently, Bamboo Garden dim-sum lunch are running @ USD1.99/plate(all small, medium, large plates), and you get a reasonable variety of dim-sum such as steamed glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf a.k.a loh mai kai (Cantonese), shrimp or pork rice roll a.k.a cheong fun (Cantonese), steamed bean curd skin wrap, steamed spinach dumpling, pan-fried radish cakes a.k.a loh pak gou...just to name a few. The steamed items always come piping hot since they are constantly steamed and served from push-carts. Thai Basil, located just opposite Bamboo Garden, is also a gem in this often-quiet (sometimes termed "ghost") downtown of Sunnyvale. It has been voted "The Best Thai Restaurant in Silicon Valley 2003” and after some years now, the food here is still good, we concur. We have passed by in the evenings before and saw the restaurant packed with people. Try lunch instead, with equal quality of food at slightly cheaper(of course, better) prices and less crowd. Always a safe bet.

In neighbouring Mountain View, Hunan Chili Restaurant at the foot of Castro Street is where you can get Hunan & Shanghai cuisine. We went there once and never thought of going back again. It did not leave us a deep impression perhaps, or there were just too many others waiting for us to try. Luu Noodles (previously known as New Tung Kee) at Showers Drive is never a fail when we are at Walmart, Mountain View. We still cannot figure out if it is Vietnamese, Thai, or Chinese Teochew cuisine because in the menu you can find Pad Thai, Vietnamese spring rolls as well as noodle soup (equivalent to Singapore hawker-fare kway teow/noodle soup). So it is a combination of all three cuisines, just like a dish named "Combination noodle soup" in the menu in which noodle is mixed with rice sticks (pronounced "kway teow" in Hokkien or "guo-tiao" in Mandarin) combined with few slices of beef, pork, chicken; and beef balls. Yum.

Spicy stir-fried in Hunan Chilli

Looks like Hor Fun and Kway Teow Teng, don't they ?

Besides Mountain View, Cupertino is another city we will frequent if we are yearning for chinese food, authentic chinese food, I mean. Sited with Ranch99 within Cupertino Village, we have tried A&J Restaurant, Hu Chiang Dumpling Restaurant and Wang Wang Porridge. These are mainly opened by Taiwanese or mainland Chinese, so the beef noodles in A&J and "Xiao Long Bao" in Hu Chiang are prepared tasty, delicious, equal or better than some of those you could get in Singapore.

I could not remember when, but we were in Milpitas one Saturday because my husband wanted to get a Samsonite trolley luggage meant for his laptop and occasional business travel. There are 2 Samsonite stores located in The Great Mall Milpitas., so off we went. Ok, we seldom go to Milpitas since it is a longer drive from here. But since we were there that particular day, we did not give Milpitas Square a miss. With another Ranch99 located here, this place is somewhat similar to Cupertino Village. We ended up with lunch in Cafe Won Kee and it was a pleasant surprise. We ordered a roast meat platter of char siew (roasted pork slices) and roasted duck. Delish. Another great find for Hong Kong/Cantonese food ! To add, you can find Kee Wah Bakery here. We did not know of such famous bakery of Hong Kong origin until here in the U.S. Does it seem ironic ? Anyway, a better bet for all-things-bread compared to Sheng Kee. Now I start to think if a BreadTalk may work in California. But it's hard to target the Chinese market here in California and local Americans do not seem to fancy such bread products such as Bolo buns, curry buns, taro buns etc., we observe and thus assume. They still stay true to their good old sandwich with fillings of roasted beef/turkey and slices of cheese, tomatoes and lettuce.

Then there is one fine day when we purposely hunted down Prima Taste Restaurant . have heard me correctly. Singapore's Prima Food. There is one concept restaurant located in Lundy Road, San Jose. Their menu boasts chicken rice, roti prata, satay, laksa...think of all the Prima Taste packaged mixes and spice pastes you know of and you can guess what is on its menu. Most of the time even the best cooks can only approximate the flavors of their native cuisines in a foreign land. Do you know the type of fish that was served in the Fish Head Curry we ordered? No red snapper, not garoupa but...the fish head of a salmon ! Hahaha...

Last but not least, I want to give a mention to The Fish Market , Palo Alto. Since Boston, this is the second time(in our lives) we have tried steamed whole lobster. There is nothing to taste freshness than to simply steam. Though we are no where in Maine or Seattle for the freshest seafood and lobsters, still... we have decided to splurge on our much-desired temptation. Moreover, it was in part of celebration for our wedding anniversary.

Happy anniversary lobster ! Yum Yum!

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Taste buds (I)

A dine-out(for two) typically ranges from USD15 to USD30 including tax and tips. Yes. Save and thrift by cooking your own, but add the costs of electricity and gas; not forgetting effort, labour, time...does it still make sense to the piggy bank ? We(or I) still do our own cooking 95% of the time.

By the way, my point is...FOOD is a culture experience when in foreign land. So, while our appetites allow, bring us more food !

Denny's breakfast servings are BIG (this is America, not surprising), and generally cost less than USD10 for each breakfast set. Might be wee bit oily for a meal so early in the morning. Denny's Super Slam is a current special at USD5.99.

BIG portions in Denny's

Another recommendation is Hobee's. They have total 8 locations - 4 in the (650) area code, 4 in the (408) area code. We tried the one at Palo Alto when we were in that area one day. There are many ways of scrambles and omelets in Hobee's breakfast menu . Try their Blueberry Coffeecake in place of either the toast or hashbrown. So soft, fluffy and freshly-baked ! YUM. I would go back again, but this time maybe the one nearer our place in Sunnyvale.

Hobee's scrambles with blueberry coffeecake

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