Sunday, February 27, 2011

Academy Awards Night

What to do, or what to serve for the Oscars? Instead of going to a restaurant and trying to listen to the winners' speeches, I cooked at home instead. A team of us made pizzas that represented the ten best picture nominations.

Black Swan - vegetarian pizza with tomatoes, red pepper, mushrooms and garlic. A health conscious pizza.

The Fighter/Winter's Bone - bacon and pineapple. Both movies dealt in addiction and I figured everyone has a secret obsession with bacon.

Inception - eggplant, feta cheese, tomatoes, roasted pine nuts and garlic. I planted the idea in the guests thoughts that eggplant should be a staple topping on pizzas.

The Kids Are All Right - a green salad. I could not create a pizza that embodied the movie.

The King's Speech - sausage and potatoes. What else would a Englishman want on his pizza.

127 Hours - cheese. Pure and simple.

Social Network - olive oil, garlic, mushrooms, prosciutto, black olives and spinach. The new up and comers don't require a sauce.

Toy Story 3 - pepperoni. What child does not like pepperoni.

True Grit - chicken, prosciutto, sausage and pepperoni. Cowboys love their meat.

The best pizza of the evening was the addiction pizza, everyone loved bacon.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Measure A

Voters beware!

I read in the Editorial section of the Alameda Journal one Friday to find out that Angela's and the Bladium are exempt from paying the proposed Measure A tax assessment if passed. My question is, how did Angela's get to be exempt? Which committee made them God? I am sure every business owner in Alameda would jump at the opportunity to avoid higher taxes, especially at a time when stores and restaurants are closing on Park and Webster Streets. Has this secret committee enlisted more businesses who are exempt and unknown to the public.

Of course our Alameda children need the support and education that increased funds will bring. However, businesses who are exempt should not be able to solicit in favor of Measure A. Is this fair?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Updated

It was a surprise to me when my partner decided he wanted to listen to fado music at Cera Una Volta on Sunday evening. We went out with another couple and attended the second seating at the restaurant at 7 pm. When we got there, the band and performer had already played for one and a half hours. Everyone in the room appeared happy and content with the music and songs. Our group paid for the more expensive seating at $55 per person. The first seating was $45 per person, well knowing they were to leave the premise at 7 pm for the second seating.

Our group waited patiently for our table to clear since the second seating was suppose to occur at 7 pm. Unfortunately, the hostess/owner of the restaurant could not manage the guests for the first seating and people were not leaving the room. The performers did not stop playing at 7 pm and so people stayed and continued to sit at their tables.

Our table of four waited for one hour before we were seated, which was a huge gaffe. When we finally made it to our table, the wait service was not attentive. The other mistake was that the employees circulated two different food menus and we asked the waiter which one was the correct version.

The prix fixe meal of $55 per person was for a three-course meal, an antipasta dish, secondi and a dessert. By the time we finally got to order, it was close to 8:30 pm and the wait staff knew our group was upset due to their own mismanagement. Thus, they gave our table a break and we ended up with a four-course meal, the added dish was a primi. With all of the drama happening at our table, the wait staff forgot to give our table our complimentary glass of asti spumati that was somehow delivered to all of the tables with the exception of ours.

The saving grace for the evening was the great music. My friends were knowledgeable in fado music and hoped for more somber music, but the band kept on performing happy, gay songs due to Valentine's Day. The singer sang most of her songs in English instead of the native Portuguese. The band stopped playing around 8:45 pm which was a total bummer since we barely had our first course. If the restaurant was on their game, we could have enjoyed all of our courses with the lovely music. However, we felt somewhat neglected and had the singer perform a Portuguese song at our table. That was the most fabulous part of the entire evening.

Luckily, the four courses were palatable and our friends enjoyed the food. My first course was the spiedini. The shrimp was slightly overcooked, but the flavors were spot on. My friend had six oysters, three raw and three barbecued. Both were equally delicious. The mushroom ravioli was a big success since the cream sauce was perfect. The lobster ravioli was a miss since the sauce and pasta were both bland. The lobster ravioli was heart shaped and was cute, but the flavors did not live up to the presentation of the food. Three people at the table had filet mignon and mash potatoes for their main courses. They all enjoyed their food. I ordered the stuffed pepper with a vegetable souffle with brussel sprouts. The dish did not work. The pepper was flattened out like a pancake, where I envisioned the pepper to be up right. The texture was mushy, which was not acceptable for a main course. The brussel sprouts had a very bitter taste and it did not compliment the other vegetables of asparagus and grilled red peppers. I ate about half the food on the plate and stopped.

We had two different desserts at the table. One dish was the panna cotta and the other was the hazelnut chocolate cake. These desserts were the favorites of the waiter. My friends enjoyed their panna cotta desserts. However, I did not care for the hazelnut chocolate dessert. The flavor was boring and did not stand out. I left half on the plate.

I enjoyed the music and the company, but the hostess/owner did not have the courage to come over to our table and ask how the meal was. She knew she was part of the problem and not the solution.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Valentine's Day is Approaching

What to do and where to go on Valentine's Day? What a dilemma for most people who do not want to venture into San Francisco for a romantic evening. I would be perfectly happy with a beef corn dog with mustard at the Alameda Theatre watching a show. (I only wish the theatre sold corn dogs.) I know that doesn't sound like a romantic evening for most, but at least I would be satisfied with my food and avoiding crowds. The ultimate romantic dinner would be a home-made gourmet meal with a hearty main course and a delicious and sexy dessert. My only problem is that I cannot get out of the office in time for making a scrumptious meal. Sunday could be the day instead.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ripper Dog Long Gone...

Culina removed the Ripper Dog from the menu. Who doesn't love a deep fried hot dog in a bun! But guess who has a similar version of the deep fried dog...The Hob Nob.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Yo! Philly's Cheesesteak is Mysteriously Closed

Okay Philly Cheesesteak fans, and you know who you are! For some reason Yo! Philly Cheesesteaks is closed. There was a sign on the door that said the store will be closed until a random date in February. Is this code for, not opening again until the owner finds a new buyer? I thought that place was making money.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Crema Bakery

I have to wonder what is happening to Crema Bakery on Park Street. The grand opening was supposed to have taken place Winter 2010. Well that date is long gone and the bakery still has not opened. I have a hunger for Crema cupcakes.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

La Pinata Gift Certificates

For Christmas I received two gift cards for La Pinata. My sibling did not realize the family split the business and renamed the two La Pinata restaurants in Alameda to La Penca Azul. I went to La Penca Azul hoping they would honor my gift certificates because I am too lazy to go to San Leandro for Mexican food. As I walked into the La Penca Azul, I inquired with the host if I could use my La Pinata gift card. The man said yes. Of course I was elated that I could use my Christmas gift for dinner.

When I paid for the dinner with the gift certificates, I then inquired with the waiter if the La Pinata gift cards had an expiration date due to the name change. I was told no. Another hurray since I was not able to use all of the money on the gift card.

Another positive note that I observed at La Penca Azul was that the service is now better than ever. For the first time, many of the varied staff had come to the table asking if everything was fine, if I needed more drinks or had questions. The staff prior to the name change was never that attentive. I have to wonder if the family break up has motivated the family owners of retaining customers and not having defectors go to the other locations.