Kirk and Cathy have real jobs, and today they're either working on them or relaxing. So this mmm-yoso!!! blogpost, about a day trip to the Oregon coast, is by Ed (from Oregon originally).
During the middle of October, Tina and I spent more than a week in Northwestern Oregon (including PDX). Tina, who owns a real camera, brought it along, so most of the good pics in my Oregon posts will come from her, especially the outdoor shots – all I can photograph is food, it seems.
As well as getting together with relatives and friends in the area, some days we were on our own. When we woke up in Hillsboro Oregon on Monday morning, even the Hampton Inn parking lot was beautiful in the fog:
Soon we left the fog behind as we headed west on Highway 26, enjoying the colors of the season:
Though the fog was still visible in the distance when we stopped at a viewpoint in the coastal range:
In less than an hour and a half, we arrived at Cannon Beach, just south of the intersection of 26 with Highway 101, famous for its large beach and iconic Haystack Rock:
Our friend, part-time Oregon resident, gourmet cook and witty blogger, Joanie, texted Tina and said we had to eat at the Wayfarer:
The dining space was attractive and the windows looked out at the beach and Haystack Rock – look real carefully out the window:
Wanting to drink local, Tina and I had a glass of Archery Summit Pinot Gris and one of Domaine Drouhin Chardonnay:
Both were good, but the Chardonnay amazed me since most Oregon Chardonnays that I drank way back when seemed thin and acidic. This one was a classic refined focused Chardonnay.
The lunch itself started with some tasty warm bread and attractive chilled butter:
We were on the coast, so a cup of clam chowder was necessary:
Quite impressive. Full of tender pieces of clam and bits of potato, covered with a luscious, rich, creamy, savory broth. A classic version of the soup.
Joanie had advised Tina to have the Dungeness crab sandwich with garlic fries, so that's what she ordered. The garlic fries came with ketchup and a tangy aioli, and they were crispy and reasonably garlicky:
On first inspection, the sandwich looked like mostly baguette and melted cheese:
But it was packed full of flavorful moist Dungeness crab:
I chose a different local favorite, razor clams:
This variety of bivalve got its common name because it looked like the old school straight razor case into which the sharp blade was folded when not in use – kind of like an elongated sunglasses case. Nowadays the razor clams on beaches in Oregon and Washington cannot be commercially harvested so the pan fried clams on my plate, flavorful, a little crunchy, and tender chewy, probably came from Alaska. Still, a real treat for me.
I also loved the sides. The jalapeño jelly was sweet and tasty with the clams, but I preferred the old school dill flavored tartar sauce. The herbed rice contained a lot of wild rice as well as perfectly al dente green and yellow split peas. Nice flavor/texture combo. The fresh green beans, toothsomely prepared, were lightly flecked with garlic.
A very pleasing lunch. Thanks for the tip, Joanie!
After we paid our tab,:
we strolled down to the beach past one of the ubiquitous tsunami warning signs. Every time I see one, I think, "I'm betting on the wave.":
The road south from Cannon beach is often quite striking and occasionally sublime. For a while, it clings to the side of Neahkahnie Mountain hundreds of feet above the Pacific:
Then it comes back down close to sea level and sloughs and estuaries appear:
Here's Tillamook Bay, the picture taken from close to Garibaldi:
The road back to Portland area from Tillamook is easy driving and about as quick as the trip out on Highway 26. Nonetheless, after a day driving around, Tina and I decided to have a simple meal in Hillsboro.
We were staying in Hillsboro for a few days because of its proximity to friends and relatives, the Oregon wine country, and the coast, but most people who live in the area are connected to the tech industry, particularly Intel. So we figured there had to be a decent Indian restaurant nearby. A brief search on Tina's iPad led us to Urban Masala, which had just opened a couple of months earlier:
We enjoyed the Indian music in the background, but the decor and ambience were otherwise unremarkable:
The food, however, was pretty good, beginning with the complimentary papadum:
The chana masala was simple, spicy, and pretty straightforward:
The baigan bharta was far better than my photo of it:
The impressive khoormani ghosht, apricot lamb, showed off the tender gamy lamb with the sweetness of the fruit and abundant spice:
Equally outstanding was the wonderful garlic naan:
Light, puffy, crunchy flatbread, hot from the oven, as good as I've ever had.
Dinner tab less than half of lunch:
All in all, it was a good day. Gorgeous weather and scenery. Good food. Tina. Can't really ask for more.
Kirk, Cathy, and Vicky have shared many of their favorites with the rest of us over the years. This post, however, is ed (from Yuma) sharing one of his.
After having a couple of way-too-salty meals, I have quit eating here. Reports are that the place has declined.
Although I am delighted to have Das Bratwurst Haus over here in the desert, for me personally, the most positive change in the Yuma dining scene in the past six months has been the establishment of a new Indian restaurant in Yuma, India Palace: I know that one or two of you who are familiar with Yuma will think that this is not a new restaurant at all--since Yuma has had an Indian eatery at this location on 4th Ave now for several years. In fact, you have to look closely to realize that this is a different Indian restaurant -- and to my taste buds at least, a much better one.
The chef was born in Nepal, but she is skilled in cooking a wide range of Indian dishes and has spent many years sharpening her culinary skills by cooking for her Indian husband. Often, in fact, when I eat at the restaurant, I feel like I can dining in somebody's home because the food is made with love and with great attention to detail.
Even though the buffet has shrunk in size, the quality of the dishes is very high, and the variety of flavors never ceases to amaze me. For example, on one visit, the buffet had both chana masala (chick peas) and rajma masala (kidney beans) as well as mixed vegetables and a dish featuring large chunks of curried zucchini: On another visit, the star items were a chunky eggplant curry, aloo matar (peas and potatoes), and the fiery onion chutney: One never knows what one is going to find on the buffet. I have had a standard daal maharani, a yellow daal, and most recently an herbed daal unlike any other I can recall tasting elsewhere.
Similarly, there is usually a chicken curry available as well. Most of the time, it is pretty standard (so standard I realize I've never photographed it), but recently the chicken curry was a bright yellow color: This curry, was primarily spiced with the subtle tastes of turmeric, roasted cumin seeds, and garlic -- all of which serve to accent the wonderful flavor of the chicken.
Dishes cooked to order are also prepared well. One of my favorites is bhel puri chaat, a fried patty of dough, topped with yogurt, spicy sauce, and more: This dish featured layers of flavors, with the curry spices offset by creamy and tangy yogurt. The textures of the dish also ranged from soft through chewy to crunchy.
Another time, I tried the masala dosa, a South Indian style pancake rolled around a potato and vegetable filling. It was served with an incredible coconut chutney and a traditional shambher made with yellow daal: Here you can see the filling in the pancake: Every item on the plate was outstanding, and they went together perfectly. When the chef came out and asked me how I liked it, I was full of complements, because it did taste so wonderful. She then pointed out the black flecks that were across the top of the South Indian soup: "Curry leaves," she said, "but you have to burn them to get the right taste." And you know what, she was correct. The touches of burnt flavor contributed to the overall balance of the shambher.
I have also gotten several different items off the menu for dinner. Usually Tina and I will have them for take out, matching them up with one of our favorite gewürztraminers. One of my favorite items has been the chili chicken: This is very simple. The chicken is prepared in a spicy sauce with chunks of green chilies. What's not to like? The chili lamb is equally good and filled with numerous large chunks of slightly gamy lamb:
Bhindi Masala was outstanding on another occasion, the okra being perfectly fresh and slightly crunchy. The sauce and numerous onion slices just made everything better: We've also loved the karahi fish palak, catfish chunks swimming in creamy spinach: On that night, we also had an outstanding bengan bhartha, the roasted egg plant adding a smoky depth of flavor to the well seasoned and deeply flavored vegetable dish: Is everything at the restaurant perfect? Well, no. The two times I've had a biryani, the flavors and textures have been largely monochrome, the rice dish crying out for cashews, raisins, and/or various other items. A couple of times dishes were too salty for my taste (though I am very sensitive to sodium, and I suspect that the dishes were seasoned in a traditional fashion). I also wish that their take-out containers were not so plastic, though these containers do resist spilling very well, even when they turn upside down on the ride home: My main concern with the restaurant, however, has to do with its survivability. We all know that having a skilled and creative chef is only a small part of the battle that every independent restaurant faces. I worry that too many locals and winter visitors alike associate India Palace with the defunct India House, a restaurant that was uniformly mediocre for the last few years of its existence. I also worry that some lunch diners will associate the lack of quantity and daily variety with a lack of quality. I just hope that more people appreciate the unique flavors that India Palace brings to the Yuma dining scene. I hope.
India Palace, 2071 S.4th Ave., Yuma, AZ, (928) 782-0799.
I originally saw a post by Krista, whose blog, londonelicious is required reading for yoso. In that post she mentioned creating a Google Custom Search using various London based food bloggers. In one of those "now why didn't I think of that" moments, I thought it might be a nice idea to create a Google Search Engine of San Diego Food Bloggers. There are so many excellent food bloggers in San Diego, and this might be a nice way to see what they think about a restaurant, or even snag a recipe. You'll find the search in the left sidebar, right below the site search. Let me know how you like it.....
And if you're a San Diego Food Blogger, and I have somehow missed you, please let me know.....I managed to add 48 food blogs, but am pretty sure I've missed a few. I know I should do more with regards to making things more useful....but it seems I'm always busy eating!!!
Who said you can't get crisp sweet potato fries?
I sorta-kinda remember a conversation somewhere......
Well, I recently had some pretty darn good sweet potato fries, that were crisp, and tasty.
I managed to save some for the Missus, and was even given some specific instructions on how to reheat them. Of course, the Missus disregarded the instructions, but enjoyed them all the same.
Previous posts on Crab Hut can be found here and here.
I've always taken instruction well:
Leave it to the Missus, after my post on Surati Farsan, and my mentioning how Indian Cuisine was something She needed to be in the mood to have....she was suddenly....in the mood. So we headed off for Surati Farsan.
It seemed like an overwhelming favorite here is the Chole Samosa:
The Chole which could be described in the most simplest terms as a chickpea curry, was nice with some savory-spicy overtones. It was perhaps a bit too sweet for my taste, but when I made sure to include the onions in every bite, it became an excellent dish. The samosa was fried to perfection, and filled with vegetables, added more of a nice textural counter-point.
Even though this was pretty filling, I ordered something else I had been wanting to try. I had read an article on Vada Pav, actually it was on a chain called Jumbo King, a chain inspired by McDonald's, which took the Vada Pav, a popular street food in Mumbai, and made it a national phenomenon. You can also read another article here. So without further ado, let me introduce Surati Farsan's Pav Vada:
Yes indeed it is the one and only.....potato potato patty "burger". They come two to an order at Surati Farsan.
Nice potato flavor, mildly spiced, and crisp around the edges.The bun was quite a simple burger bun-ish, but there was a nice smear of a garlic chutney. You can also get you Pav Vada with cheese! The Missus loved the potato croquettish patty, I loved the chutney, and got many happy returns from it the entire afternoon (too much info, I know). Not quite sure if I'd get this again.....but it was amausing to say the least.
So what did the always adventurous Missus get?
Sigh..... A Masala Dosa. Oh well, at least one of us broadened our horizons a bit.......
Surati Farsan Mart 9494 Black Mountain Road San Diego, CA 92126
My previous post on Surati Farsan can be found here.
As I mentioned in my post on Punjabi Tandoor, we kind of have to be in the mood for Indian Food. And after our trip to Cambodia, the Missus found Herself wanting some Indian Food. But that window is usually pretty small, and after a couple of visits to Surati Farsan, it seems that the window has closed. So, here's another C(lean) O(ut the) M(emory) C(ard) post from visits back in June of last year. I'll keep it short and sweet.
From what I've read Surati Farsan specializes in vegetarian snacks, and sweets from the state of Gujarat, and you can find a ton of posts on Surati Farsan on Chowhound, and elsewhere. On our three visits from last year, all of the customers were Indian, though I'm sure much of that has changed.
There are basically two reasons we come to Surati Farsan...the Dosas...and the Dosas, and no matter how hard we try, we just can't break our habit of getting those Dosas. I did try to break away once, and tried the special "Thali of the Day." But was disappointed, both in the dishes, which I found a bit off-balance in flavor, and lacking in complexity, and myself, since Indian Cuisine fills me up quickly, and I could hardly put a dent in this.
The Missus always goes for the Masala Dosa, which seems to stretch from one end of the table to the other. The rice batter crepe is wrapped around what amount to a potato subzi. It is mildly spicy, fairly rich, and within all of this, the potato flavor is not lost.
Over the years it seems that both the Missus's and my tastes have converged. We tend to like the same flavors, and often reach the same conclusions about what we eat.
For instance, we both find the Sambhar which accompanies the Dosa to be very bland, and sometimes on the oily side. Pouring it over, or dipping the Dosas in it, does nothing.......
And for the Masala Dosa we find the overly sweet coconut chutney detracts from the flavor of the Dosa.
I usually get the Mysore Masala Dosa:
Wonderful Dosa wrapped around a fiery concoction.
In this case, the coconut chutney helps to cool the burn, and the sweetness of the chutney adds to the complexity of flavor.
As I've said many times, Indian Cuisine is still pretty much a mystery to me. Though the first time I tasted that Sambhar it rung a bell......I remember having a similar Sambhar in LA...and lo' and behold, Surati Farsan has a branch it Artesia...could it be?
We have had problems stretching our wings here. We love the Dosas, and don't want move on. Though we've tried, as in the case of the Bataka Vada.
Think of it as a croquette or fritter, made with a wonderfully flavored mashed potatoes. I enjoyed the cilantro chutney with these, but could only finish two of them, and half my Mysore Masala Dosa.
I'm not quite sure when the Missus will again want something from Surati Farsan Mart. But let's try this; I know there's a bunch of you out there who love the place..... why don't you help us decide what to order. We may visit next week, next month, or next year, but we'll make sure to try what you recommend!
Surati Farsan Mart 9494 Black Mountain Road San Diego, CA 92126
mmm-yoso!!! is the blog about food and Cathy is here again today. I have been having strange food cravings this summer. I vacillate between Indian and Mediterranean food. Some days I want both. Little did I know that this new restaurant was opening... Special thanks to Kirk for the title. It is descriptive.
Hi. So, anyhow, it's Thursday at 4 a.m.
I go outside to get the paper.
Say good morning to Fricassee, the cottontail who seems to be living in my front yard, and start to read.
I get to the "East County Dining" section.
Indian and Italian Food."
You know, the coffee wasn't ready yet. I started thinking to myself "so this is why you can't win at Jeopardy or Trivial Pursuit...you know nothing of geography"...
There I was thinking Italy and India were, like, two continents apart. How can these two types of food and cooking possibly be served in the same restaurant?
We had to. Oh, yes we had to. The place smells heavenly when you walk in the door.
Meat samosa ($1.62).
Crust was excellent. Meat and fillings (celery, peas, carrots)fresh. Not very spicy. Unfortunately my least favorite item, but not bad.
The three item combo - choose from what was on the steam tray ($7.99) Chicken tikka masala-excellent. Spicy chicken curry-nice heat and still the ability to taste all flavors. Turmeric, cumin, onion, cinnamon and ginger stood out, but there were more.
A lot of chicken meat in both. Excellent basmati rice.
The third item was meat lasagna-excellent. Cheesy as well as meaty with a good tomato sauce. There is a photo of the intact samosa.
The three item combination comes with rice and fresh made naan. Fresh made.
Cheese calzone ($5.99)
Whatever oven they use to make the naan, they use for the pizza and calzone. The crust is sweet, crunchy and chewy. The fillings are cheeses (Mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan) fresh made, tomato-y sauce. There is a meat lover and pepperoni calzone available as well-same price.
Chicken biyrani ($6.99).
Really really good, fresh made (not on the steam tray). Buttery (with ghee) rice, nice heat level, at least three chicken thighs.
Shown with the naan and raita (yogurt sauce-with cucumbers and carrots).
The owners are very nice, friendly, efficient and professional. The seating area is small (6 booths, 3 tables). They make both cuisines quite well. The website states they are trying to make healthy foods and touts the benefits of the Indian spices, as well as the healthy aspects of the Italian foods and the many vegetarian products available.
The food is extremely fresh and high quality and plentiful. It's in East County-close to home and my cravings!
Himalayan Cuisine-Indian and Italian food 7918 El Cajon Boulevard, #P (between the 99cent Only store and Burlington Coat Factory) La Mesa 91941 (619)461-2503 M-Sat 11-9, Sun 11-7
A quick warning, this post is quite long, so you may want to check out moowiesqrd's more concise post on Punjabi Tandoor, found here.
I'll say this upfront, we know almost nothing about Indian Food. In fact, it used to be that the Missus had to be in a particular "mood" to eat Indian Food in San Diego. She'd often find the offerings to be; "butter intense", "too cheesy", "too fatty", and basically "too rich". But after eating Indian Food in Siem Reap, the Missus found Herself craving it upon Her return home. And one of the places mentioned in Chowhound, among other places, was Punjabi Tandoor. In several of the posts and comments I was quick to pick up phrases such as "my Indian friend says", which along with statements like, "I'm Chinese so I should know" always raises more questions than answers with regards to diverse cuisines. But an acquaintance of mine(who has since moved on) who is from the State of Haryana, MrR, told me that the food at Punjabi Tandoor was "humble, but quite good". Which I thought was a nice recommendation, just one of many; until I checked a map and found that Haryana is the State directly to the South of Punjab, and from what I remember reading, was originally carved out of the state of Punjab. Unfortunately, MrR moved on to, hopefully, greener pastures before I could get some specific recommendations, so we were left to our own machinations.
Punjabi Tandoor is not found in San Diego's "Little India" on Black Mountain Road, but a bit further down the street and to your left on Activity Road. The location is a bit odd residing amongst the generic prefab offices and buildings in the area.
The restaurant is a mostly take-out joint, no frills, and the food served in, or on Styrofoam. The heady herby fragrances are everywhere once you enter the tiny restaurant.
The menu is quite large, and can be a puzzle if you haven't much experience with Indian food, but the staff has always been nice and helpful....somewhat helpful.
There are also different "specials" listed on a greaseboard alongside the cash register.
So here's a brief rundown of various dishes we've tried at Punjabi Tandoor.
If you're thinking "Onion Rings", you wouldn't be far off. These were fried to perfection, in a nicely seasoned, lacquer-like batter. Served with the standard green and red chutney, we polished this off in no time at all. What we enjoyed most of all, was that you could make out the sweet flavor of the onion.
Kadai Bakra ($8.95):
This was one of the "greaseboard" specials. Once I found out that Bakra (bakara) means goat, we were all over this dish. On the each of the 3 occasions we had this dish, the meat was very tender and moist. It could stand to be a bit more gamey in flavor, but it was fine. The depth and breath of flavors was excellent.....tangy, salty, with a slow building spiciness that was very pleasant.
There was a nice layer of fat on the top, but the result was a definite "fei ur bu ni", "rich without being greasy".
The Channa Masala ($3.95):
This was nice, not too wet and mildly spicy. At most steam-table joints, the chickpeas will be overcooked and mushy. In this case it was the opposite, the chickpeas were almost too hard.
The Bengan Bharta (Baingan Bharta - $4.95):
Eggplant that is first baked, mashed, than cooked with various herbs, onions, and tomato. This had a nice, rich, velvety texture, and good spice. It also stayed molten hot for quite a long time. Great with Nan.
Dal Makhani ($3.95). We had this twice, the first time, it had a nice smoky flavor, was mildly thick, and was very nice.
The second time, the dish had a thick "skin", which was nice, but it was very thick, and tasted too "milky".
The Okra was cooked to perfection, but the flavor was out of balance....just plain spicy, and not much else. It did taste better the next day.
The Missus loved this dish. The Cauliflower and Potatoes were cooked perfectly. I barely had a shot at this one. Per the Missus, "there's a lot going on here....."
The Garlic Nan($1.95) was not very good on the day we tried it.
It was incinerated and bitter.
On another day, the Nan($1.49):
This was a serviceable Nan....nothing out of the ordinary.
Chicken Vindalu(Vindaloo $4.95):
This was a bit puzzling to me. I've had Vindaloo before, and it usually has a tangy-vinegary flavor, along with a good amount of spice. This had a "cheesy-sour" flavor, and wasn't spicy in the least. The dark meat chicken was excellent though, I could cut it with my plastic spoon.
On the left Nav Rattan Korma (mixed vegetable curry $3.95), on the right the Malai Kofta ($3.95):
The Korma was mediocre, almost bland. The Malai Kofta "sauce" was very creamy, both in texture and taste. The Kofta, fried cheese-vegetable balls, had a nice flavor, but were on the dry side.
So there you have it, a nice sampling of dishes from Punjabi Tandoor. Punjabi Tandoor may not fit the bill as a place for and "evening out", but most of the food is well flavored, and balanced, and the prices can't be beat.
Punjabi Tandoor 9235 Activity Road San Diego, CA 92126
When I asked my In-Laws where they wanted to visit on this trip to the Mainland, they said Seattle. They also said they wanted to go by train....... Which was no problem really, I've taken Amtrak's Coast Starlight several times, though my trips have always been from Seattle to LA. So what we did was send off the In-Laws on Amtrak, and leave on a flight the next morning since the Coast Starlight takes about 36 hours to reach Portland. We arrived a bit early, and got to our hotel at about 1pm. Since the standard check-in time is 3pm, I thought we'd check our luggage, get a bite to eat, and stretch our legs a bit. When we arrived I went to the Bellman and asked to check my bags. In the typical Portland manner, he told me, "that would be fine, but why don't you just check at the front desk, your room might be ready." And to my surprise our 2 bedroom suite was ready. Seems like my lucky day. After freshening up a bit, we were starved, and just wanted something quick to eat...and I knew just the place!
Yep, we headed to the food carts that line SW 5th Avenue. Now I had told the Missus about these food carts, and she saw my photos and my previous post, but there's nothing quite like being there yourself. The only problem was deciding what to get.....
The Missus settled on some Indian Food, not from the New Taste of India...
But from the "Real" Taste of India a few carts down. Talk about competition!
Now this food cart had a 9th anniversary special going on....some chicken-something or other, but the Missus was in the mood for lamb, and ordered the Lamb Saagwala, cubes of lamb cooked in a spinach, garlic, and ginger sauce/stew($7.00).
The portion size was quite large, and we weren't able to finish it. There was an abundance of well prepared and moist lamb. Didn't quite know what to expect, and this was better than what I had anticipated. I thought that the pieces of ginger were too large and disrupted my tastebuds at inopportune times, but the Missus loved it! In fact, She told me it was Her best meal in Portland....She was kidding....I think.......
In the midst of ordering paralysis, I decided to grab something from this Food Cart, called Thai Sky(????):
Since we had plans for a nice dinner, I decided on the Daily Special, Pad Kee Mao(Drunken Noodles) with Tofu($5.00):
I ordered this at medium heat, and it was a bit hotter than what I consider medium. The noodles were done well, they where a nice al dente. The flavor was interesting, I'm used to Pad Kee Mao that's had a bit of a sweet flavor, this version just had a mild soy(not fish sauce) flavor. Still, it did the job, which was to hold me over until dinner.
There's a ton of construction on 5th and 6th avenues for a new Max rail line called Green Line which will connect Portland State University to Union Station. So signs like the one on the right are on Evey corner listing the businesses. Did I mention that I love the public transportation system in Portland?
At about this time the Missus got a call from Her Mom telling Her that their train had been delayed about 2 hours. so we decided to take a walk around Portland. And after doing a bit of window shopping, the Missus told me that She needed "something sweet". Which was no problem since we were just up the street from Mio Gelato.
This coffeeshopish looking Gelato joint had always been full everytime I passed it on my last trip to Portland, so I figured it must be worth a try. The Missus did the ordering, so we don't remember the prices. But She got one scoop of Grapefruit, and one scoop of Mango.
Not being much of a "sweets" person, I found the Grapefruit to be very much to my liking ( all credit to the Missus here). Refreshing and palate cleansing, it was very nice. Both the Missus (who has a sweet tooth) and I found the mango gelato to be overly sweet and rich, which overpowered any mango flavor.
Still, I can see why this place is very popular.
Mio Gelato 25 NW 11th Ave Portland, OR 97209
As we made our way back to the hotel, the Missus received another call from Her Mom saying that the train is further delayed...bummer! And though the Missus's Parents were not as late as we thought, by the time we got them settled, and something to eat (they have an aversion to eating in restaurants), we were very tired. So with some reluctance we crossed Biwa off our list, and walked on over to Kell's 2 blocks away.
Having been to Kell's in Seattle, I knew more or less what to expect, and really won't go into details here. Though as always, the Missus asked if they had some rice for Her Irish Stew(maybe one of these days they will) which was pretty good. And She enjoyed the soda bread.
Everyone was ordering sandwiches and burgers, but I ordered the Fish and Chips which were pretty bad. The fish dry and flavorless, and the chips are basic "industrial" fries.
Still, that draft Boddington's was nice, not overly chilled, but a perfect "cool", nice and mildly creamy, with a sweet finish. After a sip, the Missus decided that She wanted the Boddington's, so I ordered a Harp, which I thought would be too bitter for Her, but after a sip She decided that "this" was Her beer. So I finished with a draft Guinness, which I know the Missus won't touch. Strangely, it tasted over carbonated and very dull in flavor. Oh well, we were still in Portland, and had another whole day ahead of us!
You know, I've written about the sincere kindness of the people of Portland before. But still, I'm always surprised.......
We were taking a break at Pioneer Courthouse Square, just having a seat to rest our feet a bit. And we noticed amongst all the construction, there seemed to be a major "to do" being set-up.
We were wondering what this event was. Just about that time, a Police Officer happened to walk past, and the Missus decided to ask him. Now usually we'd get a gruff "I don't know", or some distracted answer.... But this Gentleman replied; "I'm just on duty, so let me find out, I'll be right back..." Which made me feel really bad, I didn't want to be taking up His time. A few minutes later, He's walking back to us, and is talking on a cellphone. As he walks up to us, we can overhear that he's asking someone our question! Now, I'm really feeling guilty, since I'm sure he has more important things to do..... By the time he reached us, I could tell that he'd made a few calls, and he explained to us, what this was. Funny thing is, neither the Missus nor I can remember what event this was. But we sure remember that police officer! As I tried to mutter an apology for taking up his precious time, he smiled and told me, "well, you may be the first person who asks me what is going on here, but you probably won't be the last. So I better know what's happening." As he left, he introduced Himself and shook our hands..... So here's to you Officer Thompson! You're a great ambassador for the City of Portland!
Many consider the Mission Valley area North of the 8 Freeway stretching from Fenton Parkway until Old Town to be Chain Restaurant and Fast Food Hell. In fact, Ed from Yuma in one of His most inspired moments described a certain area of Mission Valley this way; "From a chowhound standpoint, Hotel Circle may as well be one of Dante's circles of Hell." Has to be one of the best lines I've heard. At first glance all you see is PF Chang's, California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory, Carl's Jr, Bennigan's, Fuddruckers, and the Food Courts from the 2 shopping centers that occupy a large portion of the valley. But there are a few interesting choices in Mission Valley. Tandoor Indian Cuisine, formerly KC's Tandoor, is located in the Ralph's and Long's strip mall bordered by Mission Center Road and Friars Road.
In fact, this was the restaurant that made the Tandoori Chicken that the Missus was so infatuated with, and eventually burned-out on that I mentioned in an earlier post. Now, with Indian food back in our rotation, we finally paid a return visit to the latest incarnation of this Indian Restaurant. Tandoor Indian Cuisine, is one of several little restaurants huddled together forming a "food court" of sorts in the middle of this strip mall. As a matter of fact, a new location of El Portal is a few doors down from Tandoor.
Though the ownership of the restaurant had changed, other then an expanded menu, just about everything else seemed the same. Unfortunately, this includes the aloof and sometimes downright rude service. As in: "can you hurry up and make up your mind and order", when there's no other customer in the restaurant except me. I guess it's "Mission Valley Burnout" caused by crazy lunch hour traffic. "Don't go away mad; just go away...." You know, I rather enjoy eating meat, but don't take pleasure being treated like a piece of it!
On this visit I had 4 piece Tandoori Chicken Combination($7.99), with Rice Pulao(Basmati Rice), and Dal as my side orders:
All combination plates also include a piece of Naan. There were 2 small thighs and 2 small drumsticks, that were moist and tender and cooked in the tandoor located on one side of the restaurant.(White meat .75 more each piece) Today, the slightly charred areas of the chicken tasted good (cancer be damned!!!), though the overall flavoring of the chicken was somewhat bland, and not as good as we recalled. The distinct mildly smokey taste we remembered was missing. As the Tandoori chicken here has never been especially spicy nor herbaceous, any missing flavor component was especially evident. The rice was dry, and the Dal, was well dull, just overly watery.
The Missus ordered the Lamb Curry Plate($6.79):
Along with the Lamb, the plate included Naan, Rice, Dal, and Raita(yogurt and cucumber dip). The lamb was very soft and tender, the Missus enjoyed the flavor of the lamb and curry, which I thought was a bit on the watery side and found the tomato based curry a bit odd.
The hit of the day was the Garlic Naan($1.99), which we ordered in addition to the Naan included in the plates:
The Naan was rolled out and cooked in the Tandoor to order and you get it hot and crusty. It also helps that there is always a generous amount of garlic and herbs on the naan. I usually enjoy watching the Naan cook in the Tandoor, but this time the Cook gave me an annoyed look when I moved over to watch him. I guess the attitude was transferred along with the ownership of the restaurant. We probably won't be back, at least until we're prepared to deal with the attitude again, which may be a while.
Some Notes: Tandoor is not a sit-down restaurant, but closer to a "fast-casual" style eatery. There's a Saturday Dinner Buffet and Sunday Brunch for $7.99. The menu is quite extensive with over 70 items. The strip mall that Tandoor is located in can be a real zoo during lunch hours and during holiday season. Getting back to Friars Road from the parking lot can also be somewhat frustrating at times.
Tandoor Indian Cuisine 5608 Mission Center Road San Diego, CA 92108
This is going to be a bit of a different post. It's mainly because most of the time I had no idea what I was eating at Madras Cafe. But that doesn't mean it wasn't good! Madras Cafe resides in Little India Center, along with Ashoka the Great Cuisine of India, and the Ker-Little India Megastore among others. The difference is that Madras features Southern Indian vegetarian cuisine. I managed to take photos on two separate visits. The first with the Missus, the second with Ed from Yuma.
The only thing I really knew about Southern Indian were Dosas:
A thin crepe-like pancake made from rice and lentil flour. The regular menu features Dosas "stuffed" with a variety of items. Since we were eating from the buffet, we were served plain Dosas, nice and warm, and very much crepe-like in texture.
We were also served piping hot Idli with our meal:
Idli is a steamed rice and lentil "cake". It almost reminded me of Chinese steamed rice cakes but with a mildly grainy texture, and I enjoyed these.
On the visit with the Missus we were served this:
It was a "balloon" of crust! I have no idea what is was; and as the restaurant was quite busy, I really have no idea what this was!
Here's a photo of the Onion Chutney:
Very loose, but very tasty, especially with the Idli.
As the Missus and I discussed the food we noticed that the same North-South dichotomy that existed in China, certainly existed in India. The North part of the Country featured many wheat products; while it seemed that South Indian dishes seemed to be rice based.
We also appreciated the metal plates and compartments that separated the individual dishes, so they would not mix together; allowing for us to taste each dish individually.
On the visit with the Missus we enjoyed the Eggplant dish, nice and mildly spicy, with a slightly sweet and somewhat "earthy taste". We also enjoyed the Okra dish(on the right of the Eggplant dish above), which at first tasted very sour, yet very "clean". But as we kept eating, the sour taste kept getting stronger until it started tasting almost bitter. Funny thing was that I mentioned how much we enjoyed the Eggplant while paying and asked what the name of it was, and was told, "It's Eggplant with sauce". Oohhhkay, I'll have no problem with that one!
My next visit was with Ed, and we enjoyed the buffet as well. What was interesting was that the items served where completely different from my previous visit!
Here are a few:
The two rice dishes were good. I enjoyed the version on the right which was a bit spicy, over the mild basmati rice with beans on the left.
My favorite dish was this version of "peas and carrots" with curry:
The melding of textures, in addition to the curry flavor and spice, made this so delici-yoso!!! Among the best peas and carrots I've ever had, and I hate peas and carrots. This changes any preconceptions of peas and carrots I've ever had.
Ed's favorite of the day was this spicy, tangy "Sambhar"(sambal):
At least that's what the Gentleman serving us called it. Basically a spicy, slightly sweet, and tangy stew. I found that most of the dishes at Madras were alot "looser" then the Indian food I've eaten before; and alot less "rich". While Ed was visiting the "facilities" our Server told me that the tangy flavor was imparted by the use of lemon and tamarind.
Here are a few of the other items served in the buffet.
A nice lentil and vegetable fritter.
I remember that I kept asking Ed "what are we eating?"
And Ed responding, "I don't know, but it's really good isn't it?"
Madras Cafe is worth a try. Even though the dishes are vegetarian, they are all very well flavored, and it seems that the dishes change from day to day. Regular menu items feature various Dosas and Idli, but the small (14-16 items) lunch buffet is priced right($6.95), and worth your attention. I've been told that the food is so hot as to be unbearable, but I didn't think so. But remember, I love spicy food. I'm sure that someone will provide some information as to what we were eating........
So what did we eat? I don't know, but some of it tasted really good!
Madras Cafe 9484 Black Mountain Road San Diego, CA 92126
After leaving Ashoka the Great totally stuffed, we decided to take a walk around Little India Center. After stopping to do some shopping, we came across the Ker-Little India Superstore.
I don't recall seeing Ker on previous visits, so we walked past the adjoining vegetarian buffet, and while the Missus went to purchase some desserts from the dessert counter("ooohh snacks..."), I went to check out the rest of this very large warehouse sized grocer.
I could tell by the signage, that items and shelves were still being moved around. With palates of rice and other items being carted about, things seemed to be in a transition stage.
Produce was separated into three sections, but all of them had the same vegetables. The Indian Eggplants looked particularly tempting:
As were the Karela:
I was told the these were a variety of Bittermelon.
The isle of spices seemed to go on forever.
I'm fairly certain that whatever Indian spice you might need, that you'd be able to find it here. And several varieties of each. I've hesitated in attempting to make Indian dishes at home, using the "possible" inability to access some of the spices as my excuse. Well I guess that's another excuse that bites the dust.
I was totally amazed at the 2 isles of packaged and ready to eat food available.
Many brands, many boxes, where to start?
The items that really caught my attention were these:
Indian Style Chinese Hakka Noodles, anyone? Leave it to me to find Chinese Food anywhere! Has anyone tried these? There was Indian Style Kung Pao as well.
Large freezer cases lined a wall holding everything from Naan to Frozen Vegetables and Entrees:
About this time the Missus turned the corner, munching on some Indian sweets, poking me on the shoulder to awaken me from my dazed circling.
Apparently she had done pretty well at the desserts counter Herself, as was in the process of tasting everything she had purchased.
As we left the store we stopped and checked out the Vegetarian Buffet offered by Ker($6.99). It looks like we'll give it a try in the near future, so I'll save that for another post and another day.