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MexItalian

Fusion food in Santa Cruz is not as uncommon as you think, but honestly most of it is really California cuisine with a touch of inspiration from something Asian. Hardly do you see two different cuisines mashed up together. When my dad suggested going to MexItalian for lunch both my mom and I cringed, I think we were picturing something like spaghetti topped with enchilada sauce.

We got there at around one in the afternoon, the place wasn’t packed, but we did see people enjoying their meals, so we decided to sit outside and see what awaited us. The food was not what I expected, the menu sounded like something I would cook at home, but at the same time nothing was really calling my name. Finally I decided on a Caesar salad and added shrimp to it, the salad without shrimp was $5.00 adding the shrimp it came to around $9.00. My parents who share everything decided on two of the lunch specials, one was a salad with tuna and the second was polenta tamales. We didn’t have to wait too long before our food came, my salad looked just like I thought it would, the salad with tuna looked more like a crudité with some canned tuna placed on top, the tamales looked good, but with no sides.

I really did enjoy my salad it was light, the dressing wasn’t so creamy as I have had in the past, I could tell it was freshly made, nice fresh crisp romaine lettuce and the shrimp were simply cooked, but very enjoyable. My mom wasn’t very pleased with the tuna salad, she felt like it was too pricey for what they served and seemed more like an appetizer, the tuna was canned and imported from Italy, best canned tuna I’ve had though. The polenta tamales I enjoyed, but realized afterward they were $12.oo and not very large, plus no sides, so even though flavorful not worth the price.

The service wasn’t horrible, you could tel our waitress didn’t have much experience, but she tried her best. I’d go back for lunch again, I feel like dinner might be to expensive and disappointing due to service and ambiance.

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Enfrijoladas

 

I still believe that my mom’s Mexican food is above any restaurant in town. It’s all about flavor and presentation, last night it was all about enfrijoladas! I love that my mom is so open to trying new things, a few months ago I asked her about this dish I heard about, something like enchiladas with a bean sauce? Of course she was like “yeah your talking about enfrijoladas”, of course she knew.

My mom normally works Saturday, but she was off yesterday and took my sister and I to Cliff Cafe for breakfast. Yum! Then we spent the rest of the morning going to to garage sales and the local Grey Bears thrift store. When dropping me off she asked if Phillip and I wanted to come over for dinner, she was making enfrijoladas, of course I said yes. I wasn’t what to expect, she had never made them for me, from what I had read online they were supposed to cheese enchiladas topped with bean sauce, I wasn’t sure if the bean sauce was supposed to taste like beans or more like enchilada sauce. My mom made these open-face style, she made a black bean puree, used her homemade tortillas (which is the only way open-face will work), topped them with fresh habanero salsa, shredded cabbage sour cream, cotija crumbles and her homemade escabeche (the following pickled: habanero, red onion and cabbage). I love the escabeche! I continue to think my mom’s best creations are her salsas and pickled chilies, they would sell in a heart beat.

This meal stuck with me not just because it was so tasty, but so simple! Essentially this was a plate of rice, beans and tortillas, but taken to a whole other level because of the time she took into cooking every element.

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Our return to Main Street Garden Cafe

Phillip and I decided to celebrate our wedding anniversary every month until we hit a year. For those who don’t know Main Street Garden Cafe is where my inspiration for this blog came from. So when it came time to choose our restaurant for this month we at first thought of going to Cigare Volant (what used to be Cellar Door a.k.a. the Bonny Doon Vineyard restaurant), we read reviews, looked at the online menu, but something about it made us say “next time”. Phillip brought up Main Street and I instantly agreed.

We arrived on Wednesday evening and had the choice of indoor seating or outside in the garden, there was a slight chill so we figured inside would be fine. The owner (I’m assuming) sat us and made his rounds inquiring about our meal. The service feels like everyone is working as a team, we had both waitresses coming and checking our table routinely, they did it in such a way that I barely noticed when our plates were being picked up.

While we looked at the menu we got a cute paper bag filled with freshly baked bread with a sprig of rosemary, surprisingly the rosemary did add a light flavor to the bread. We started with the warm house marinated olives, once we figured out we were ordering pasta we decided to get the warm garden kale & chard salad with eggplant, pickled spring onion, parmesan and cannonau vinaigrette, mmmmhhh!

 

 

I decided to order the squid ink linguine with sautéed squid, garden pole beans, fennel, topped with bread crumbs and chili oil. I think it was one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had, the squid was perfectly cooked and I loved the breadcrumbs on top for the crunchy texture, it seemed so simple, yet so crazy good! Phillip went for the pappardelle verde that had a pork ragu sauce, it was light and slightly sweet, it had also some spinach and the pasta had this herbaceous quality without overwhelming the flavors. When it came time to order dessert our waitress read us the previous nights dessert menu, we ordered the chocolate soufflee  with ancho chili, but she promptly returned and apologized profusely. So we chose the corn panacotta instead, it was so light and airy, lightly sweetened, but sitting in a pool of caramel sauce and topped with roasted almonds. I should have ordered my own, it reminded me of flan almost.

I will be calling Main Street garden Cafe the best restaurant in Santa Cruz County until I proved otherwise. So with these monthly dinners let the food adventure begin, so far we’re thinking Shadowbrook for next month.

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Miyako — Sister (Sushi) Date

Miyako’s in Capitola is one of those places I have been a hundred times, but not in the last 5 years or so. I was treating my sister to lunch, so her choice, at least we both agreed on sushi, she suggested the Miyako’s buffet. When we arrived we looked at the buffet and decided to order from the menu instead, we wanted to be adventurous, not that the buffet looked bad (just clarifying).

The owners and their family are the host and servers, we had a really sweet waitress, she was very attentive, but not overbearing. We started of with a large hot sake to share, we looked over the menu and decided on bento box that came with tempura to share. The sushi choice was left up to me, so I tried the Mary roll, which was a basic unagi roll topped with tobiko, avocado and chopped spicy tuna. I wanted to try something I had seen before on a few food shows, I mentioned to my sister and we scoured the menu looking for something like it. Finally under the nigiri sushi section we found it, sake sunrise is what they called it, no sake though, a small lump of rice topped with tobiko (flying fish eggs), a quail egg and wrapped with fish (fish of the day salmon).

Our bento box arrived with a green salad, terriyaki salmon, kimchi, steamed rice and tempura vegetables. I could drink the miso dressing that they use, it a nice and creamy without using any dairy. I’m not a fan of salmon, but I can tolerate it when slathered in terriyaki sauce, I let my sister indulge in the salmon while I ate most of the salad. Our sushi came soon after, it was like a work of art, the Mary was spicy with a slight sweetness from the unagi sauce. The sake sunrise is more of a textural thing versus a flavor thing, because I have no issue with eating a small raw egg or even fish eggs ( I love ‘em), it was more the salmon that I had an issue with, but I would order again if they used any other kind of fish. I love Miyako’s forgot how much until my recent trip, glad I was there with my adventurous little sister, she’s the best eating buddy aside from Phillip.

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Currently in love with…

A quick list of my foodie favorites from last month!

1. Golden Pheasant Polenta. Super easy to make, can use in any meal including dessert.

2. Wild Ophelia chocolate bars. I’m in love and I don’t even like chocolate normally.

3. Friend in Cheeses Jam Company. I cannot choose my favorite they are all deelish!

4. Moylan’s Beer. We’re thinking of stopping at their brewery on our way up to Portland later this year. From dark to light  they have what you want!

5. Delk Bees Honey. Currently hooked on the habanero honey, but the basil is quite tasty as well, especially when added to creamy polenta.

6. And finally. Shopper’s Corner, this local grocery store has been around since I was a wee baby. One stop shop, the grocery store where everyone knows your name, especially the butchers (best in town).

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Cooking Challenge: Fusion

I watch too many cooking related shows, I love when they feature food trucks because they make good food, creative and simple to recreate.

One thing I saw was a BBQ beet tacos, I decided this was next cooking challenge. I realized I should offer some sort of non vegi option for those who might be afraid (a.k.a. my brother) of the beet tacos, so I came up with Indian spiced shrimp tacos. I made this meal for my mom on her birthday, she cooks the best Mexican food ever, so I knew I would not compete, but she claimed this was the best meal she has had in a while.

Beet Tacos:

  • Roasted beets
  • Goat cheese crumbles
  • Spicy (SPICY) BBQ sauce
  • Cilantro

I cooked the beets, cute them into bite-size , tossed them with chopped cilantro. I then heated the tortilla, filled them with the beets and topped with goat cheese crumbles and the spicy BBQ sauce. The flavors were amazing (I can toot my own horn sometimes), vegetarians watch out!

Shrimp Tacos w Mango-Tomato chutney:

  • Curry powder
  • Indian spice blend
  • Roast Salsa
  • Olive Oil
  • Shrimp (clean and deveined)
  • Mango
  • Tomato
  • Onion
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic

I marinated the shrimp with roasted salsa, curry powder, Indian spices and olive oil. I then cooked them quickly stove top. In another pan I made the mango-tomato chutney, I cooked mango, tomatoes, garlic, onion, curry powder and cilantro until they were soft, then blended to make a chunky jam consistency. I placed the cooked shrimp in the warm tortilla and topped with mango chutney.

I also made a mango guacamole, I substituted the tomatoes with mango chunks, it was very refreshing. I was really pleased with my fusion meal, it will be repeated!

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Tea Time

I’m a self proclaimed Earl Grey-aholic, I’ve tried different brands and infusions, but never a loose leaf. My co-worker has this awesome tea cup that comes with an infuser, so I found they were for life brand and bought one on Amazon. When it arrived I couldn’t wait to use it, soon realized that I had no loose tea, I didn’t want to burst a tea bag open just because. I continued to forget tea for my awesome new cup every time I went to the grocery store, so I decided to look at my favorite place ever, etsy.

I was on the hunt for a loose leaf Earl Grey, but what caught my eye were a few fabulous teas from Amitea, I got the English Rose Loose Leaf Black Tea and OhSo Lemon Loose Leaf Green Tea. I did see some Earl Grey teas, but Phillip convinced me to try something new, my next order will be a lot larger. When my teas arrived I opened my package and found 2 small samples, a British blend and a Mango loose leaf blend.  Both are deelish, I can imagine the using the English Rose as an iced tea, floral without being too perfumey. The green tea is light, but you can taste the lemongrass and green tea. I’m so excited to get more, I love loose leaf tea!

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