Ubuntu- Raising the Bar on Compassion and Ingredients

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Since Valentine’s day fell on a Monday this year, we used it an excuse to finally check out Ubuntu in Napa. We have been meaning to go for the last three years, but always got distracted by the other restaurants in wine country. Anyway, we couldn’t think of a better place than Ubuntu for a romantic Meatless Monday meal. I have to admit, we made reservations only three nights before the big, romantic day and were so happy that we got the only time slot left on Open Table.

In a time of restaurant apps, blogs, and review sites, we walked in with no expectations. I had always wanted to check out this restaurant and I have always heard really positive things about it. Though, contrary to our usual ritual when making a reservation at a new restaurant, we simply booked it. No Yelp, asking friends, or reading up on the gossip. We just wanted to have fun and enjoy a good meal. We didn’t even bother looking up what “Ubuntu” meant, even though I just knew it meant something really good. Satish told me that Ubuntu was a Linux software distribution, so he couldn’t imagine it being the name of a vegetarian restaurant. What I did know was that Ubuntu has it’s own culinary garden, there was a recent chef change, and it had one Michelin star. I even debated leaving my camera at home, but couldn’t go through with that silly idea.

As we walked in, we were surprised to see how large and beautiful the restaurant was. I had always imagined a tiny, funky space with hippies and yogis (not that there is anything wrong with that) with a yoga studio directly above the dining area.  Though, the design is comparable to any of the new, modern restos in San Francisco. The airy space puts you at ease with large, vibrant artwork on stone walls adding warmth. The yoga studio is on the second floor loft directly above the open kitchen. The floor to ceiling window is opaque and overlooks the dining room. There was a class in session  and all you can see are silhouettes of people doing yoga. There were no empty tables, but the noise level was low, making the ambiance perfect for a modern, romantic dinner.

Since we arrived a bit early for our reservation, we got wine at the bar. Their wine list features mostly sustainably farmed wines from around the world. We were served marcona almonds to make up for the wait. They were really good, but a little sweet for a starter and we were really hungry. The micro-green garnish provided a great balance between sweet and savory.

The marcona almonds were delicious, but a tipped on the sweeter side.

We ended up waiting 35 minutes after we our reservation time and it turned out that there was a communication error between the two hostesses. I was a little upset, but the waitress and hostesses were very apologetic, and we did not want that to taint the rest of our night. They comped our wine and brought us a chickpea dish that was not on the menu. The chickpea dish, alone, made up for the miscommunication. This dish had almost every flavor profile I crave. It was meaty, saucy, sweet,  light, spicy, and pretty. It’s the kind of dish that inspires me to be a better cook and explore unfamiliar flavors.

Slow Cooked Chickpeas a la Catalan

The amuse-bouche made up of mushroom stock and green coffee beans was only a teaser of what we had to expect for the rest of our dining experience.

We ordered 3 dishes total for the two of us, even though about 2-3 is recommended per person. We are not big eaters and we already had the macarona almonds, chickpeas, bread, and amuse-bouche. I was almost full, but gladly managed to find more room in my stomach. The menu compromised of local, seasonal produce (as expected), and many of it came from their biodynamic gardens. We ordered a side of the Arbuckle Grits cooked with goat’s milk whey and sharp cheddar cheese ($7), which was decadently rich and amazing. The Garden-Infused Fiore Pasta ($19) was our least favorite dish of the night. We thought it was rather bland. The Rutabaga and Bread ($16) was our favorite dish. It had a medley of citrus, including perfectly crimson blood oranges, a thick citrus-saffron sauce, a moist wedge of bread, and rutabaga. I wish I could eat that everyday. The saffron sauce was just divine; the flavor was sheer perfection. Really, I have no words to describe the sensation I got when I ate that dish. The runner-up was the Little Potato Pillows ($18) and I normally do not like radishes. The potatoes sat on creamy sauerkraut mousse and were adorned with caramelized sauerkraut, black kale, radish giardinieria, including the pretty watermelon radish.

Garden Infused Fiore Pasta

Rutabaga and Bread

Rutabaga and Its Bread

Little Potato Pillows

Little Potato Pillows

After all of that and two more glasses of red wine, we were in a perfect state. Though, we could not pass up dessert. All of the options looked good and we debated between the chocolate brownie ($10) and a dessert made out of celery. Our waitress (Rachel) told us that the celery dessert was really like dessert and not a vegetable dish. Me being me, got the brownie. The micro-greens on the brownie balanced out the sweetness of the candied kumquats. I loved that this dessert wasn’t overpoweringly sweet. Compliments from the kitchen, we also got the celery root dessert. Wow. I don’t even know how to describe it, but Satish liked it over the brownie.

Compressed Chocolate Brownie

The flavors and textures are inventive and we didn’t even miss the meat. My enthusiastic husband just loved every bite. I did too, but my meat-loving sweetheart loved every single bite. He was right, every single bite offered so much good flavor.  At most places, the first five bites really pleases and then your taste buds get used to it, but at Ubuntu, each bite is unique and kept teasing you. And at the last bite, you are sad that it’s all over, but you are equally satisfied and left in a zen-like state.

After our meal, executive chef Aaron London, came over to talk to us. I was surprised to find that he was younger than me and that he is not a strict vegetarian. His food seemed to come from a much more experienced chef. Though, Chef London has been cooking since his teens and has worked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Au Pied de Cochon, amongst other acclaimed restaurants.

Ubuntu pushes boundaries on not vegetarianism, but the importance of sourcing ingredients. We live in a world, where our eating habits are not sustainable and are damaging to ourselves and the ecosystem.  Ubuntu stands for “an ethic or humanist philosophy focusing on people’s allegiances and relations with each other emphasizing community, sharing and generosity.” Restaurants are leaders for what consumers demand and Ubuntu certainly creates a demand for fresh, local food. Most of us also do not know where our food comes from and Ubuntu does a fine job of reminding you the importance in knowing all aspects of your food. The restaurant takes ingredients to new heights and pushes boundaries on sustainable eating.

I would really like go back during the Spring and late Summer to experience the different seasonal flavors and vegetables. Though, next time I would come in a large group, because there is nothing better than eating good food with great friends!

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Meatless Monday in Kauai

Before coming to Kauai, I was told that it’s hard for vegetarians to eat here. Though, I was very skeptical of those notions. Kauai is known as the Garden Island- lush and tropical with rich soil. So far, every place we have been to offers pretty solid options for vegetarians. We also found many restaurants the specialize in local produce and for vegetarians/vegans/gluten-free diets. Also, there is at least one farmers market each day throughout the island!

I will try to update my meals with pictures of what I eat today. Hopefully it will inspire you to seek out your farmers market or the fresh produce section at the grocery store.


Banana Joes Fruit Stand- breakfast of fresh fruit smoothies and macadamia nuts.

Farmer’s Market Find: Helping Hunger

I opted to skip the Farmer’s Market this week- gasp! My fridge is still full of vegetables from last week (I overbought) and decided to do something a little different this Sunday morning. I finally got a chance to volunteer with Boobs4Food, a passionate volunteer organization committed to fighting hunger in San Francisco and Los Angeles. The founders are four women (Boobs) who are striving to “unite the food-loving community with those for whom the next meal is an uncertainty” (Food). All of the volunteers met at Out The Door for brunch, before we headed to the Fort Mason Farmer’s Market to pick up and deliver food to Harbor House and Friendship House for Food Runners. Food Runners  picks up perishable and prepared food from businesses such as the farmers markets, restaurants, caterers, etc. and delivers it to shelters and organizations that feed the hungry. As a dedicated farmer’s market shopper, it was really great to see where to all of the unsold produce and food end up.

Over brunch, the ladies of Boobs4Food and I discovered that all of us grew up in the same town, went to the same elementary, junior high, and college!

Out The Door is the quicker, sister restaurant of the famous Slanted Door. I really like OTD, because they use fresh, local ingredients and the menu is really healthy. Their new brunch menu is amazing; it has favorites like beignets and Vietnamese coffee, eggs in a hole, a variety of Pho, and green papaya salad. The menu offers plenty options for vegetarian and gluten-free diets.  Restaurants like OTD inspire me to epxand my cooking horizons and explore different flavors in the kitchen.

Boobs4Food organizes volunteer events monthly. Join them on Twitter or Facebook to find out about upcoming events.

Did you know that Club Dine In! is on Twitter and Facebook? Follow @clubdinein for daily health, fitness, and social news, recipes and delicious tips! Join the Club Dine In! community on Facebook to connect with like-minded people and find out about exclusive Club Dine! events.

Club Dine In! dines out with Grub Crawl

Grub Crawl has teamed up with Club Dine In! for a special progressive dining experience in the Cow Hollow neighborhood of San Francisco!  The ticket gets you exclusive entrance and great grub at three restaurants.  Each restaurant will showcase a special Club Dine In! Grub Crawl menu. The restaurants are close together, so we will be walking (“crawling”) from restaurant to restaurant.

When: Wednesday, December 15th.
Time: The Grub Crawl  starts at 6pm SHARP!
Where: Appetizers at Marengo on Union, entrees at Gamine, and desserts at American Cupcake.
Tickets: http://grubcrawl5.eventbrite.com/
Get you tickets here now as space is limited!

Read Club Dine In!’s review of Marengo here.

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Farmer’s Market Find: Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch

We arrived at Long Meadow Ranch a little bit earlier than our late-lunch reservation at Farmstead Restaurant, so we could partake in their wine  and olive oil tasting and build up our appetite. Immediately my eyes caught vegetables and fruit … Continue reading

October: Unprocessed and No-Single Use Challenge Updates!

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On October 1st, I joined over 350 people on the October: Unprocessed challenge.  Basically, in this challenge we have pledged to give up processed foods for the month. Processed foods are foods that have ingredients that you wouldn’t keep in your kitchen to make food or ingredients that were created in a laboratory. Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with readily available, whole-food ingredients. “It doesn’t mean that you have to be able to make the food — but that the food could be made in a home kitchen by someone who knows what they’re doing.  If it needs high-powered, industrial equipment, or could only be made in a laboratory, then it’s out, ” Andrew  Wilder explained.

At the same time, I pledged to consciously reduce the amount of  new single-use plastic I bring into my life, inspired by Fake Plastic Fish. Single use disposable plastics are product packaging that is used once and discarded. Bags, wrappers, containers, utensils, cups, bottles,  containers, etc. I now question every item that comes in plastic and it’s potential long term benefits or harm. Do I need toothpaste (cap is plastic)- yes, do I need chips from a plastic bag- no!

I am 20 days into both challenges and here is what I have learned so far:

1. If I am not eating fresh homemade meals or using store bought products (ie pasta sauce, soy sauce) to make my meals, I must read the ingredients label carefully. There are  a lot of hidden, unnecessary ingredients in prepackaged/prepared foods. For instance, when you pick up a loaf of bread, you assume the ingredients are just water, flour, yeast and salt. However, if you read the ingredients label you might find 10 other ingredients. Real bread usually comes in a brown bag fresh from the bakery, not pre-sliced in a plastic bag. Therefore, by choosing whole foods over processed/pre-packaged food, I am avoiding plastic.

2. Breakfast is the toughest part of the unprocessed food challenge. I love cereal. I survived exams in college on cereal alone. Sadly, most breakfast cereals are fortified with crap. Even though over the years  I cut out processed cereals, it’s really hard to completely avoid processed ingredients. I started examining what other cultures eat for breakfast. I found that Persians eat feta cheese, dates, flatbread, and nuts; South Indians eat savory dishes such as upma and dosas, Koreans eat rice, soup, and eggs, and Jamicans eat ackee, callaloo, and mackeral. All of these foods are whole foods- whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seafood, and meats. We stopped eating cereals and started eating non-quick oatmeal, upma (Satish grew up with it), eggs (standard for us), and fruits. Cereal comes in a plastic bag inside of a cardboard box. I haven’t bought cereal in the the last 20 days and thus have not introduced new plastic in the form of cereal. Healthier Plant = Healthier Body.

3. We eat a lot more fresh fruit, nuts and dried fruit. Fruits for breakfast with nut butters and cheese, fruits for in between meals, and fruits to satisfy the sweet tooth. Fruits do not come in plastic packages, unless if you shop at Costco or Trader Joe’s.

4. No power bars. We only ate power bars when we were 0n the road or lazy. Well 99.5% of the power bars out there are fortified and have unnatural ingredients. Though, Lara Bars are made with only whole food ingredients and don’t claim any health benefits on their packaging. We decided to forgo all power bars due to packaging. It’s easier to eat fruit, which doesn’t come in any packaging.

5. Plastic is everywhere! The barrista will put a straw into my drink faster than I can blink my eye. I have told a bartender that I didn’t want the thin black straw in my drink, yet he mechanically put it in my glass. I have not forgot my reusable grocery bags once! Nor have a succumbed to buying plastic water bottles when thirsty. I carry by stainless steel bottle or use the water fountain.

6. When at the grocery store, I only shop around the perimeter. This is because all whole food ingredients are usually lined around the perimeter of the store and the processed foods are conveniently located in the center. Yogurt, cheese, and milk caps all come in plastic and I have not found alternatives yet.

7. I have started questioning more details whens dining out or grabbing food to go. Does the restaurant make their own sauces or use an industrial sauce? Where do the poultry/seafood/meat come from? Will the “doggie bag” be placed in cardboard to go box or a plastic container? Does the restaurant use disposable utensils or steel utensils? Does the restaurant recycle and compost materials?

8. We are saving money. Fruit and vegetables are cheaper than ice-cream, chocolate, and chips, and they can be used in many ways. We eliminated these items completely and were able to save money on our weekly grocery bill. Also, produce seems to have gotten cheaper at the Farmer’s Market. Last month, I paid $3/pound of heirloom tomatoes, this month I have paid $2/pound. Non-heirloom varieties are even cheaper!

9. Eating unprocessed foods and avoiding single-use plastics almost go hand-in-hand. I have failed several times on these challenges but I am not quitter. First of all, I broke down and had a cupcake made by Elizabeth Falkner at the Blog Her Food 2010 Conference. Dessert is my biggest weakness, but I have been strong and resisted 95% of the time. That is an achievement for me. I have also switched to Mascovado sugar, which is completely unrefined.

This is just a short list of the major changes/observations  I have made on this challenge. Again, I was never big consumer of processed foods to begin with but this challenge has made me more consciously aware.

Plastic collected during week 2: all could have been avoided.

If you just discovered October: Unprocessed, go here to find out more and take the pledge. Don’t worry if you missed the start date! You can start your 30 days today, or simply join in for the rest of the month.

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Convivial Table Tour: 331 Cortland

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I joined Slow Food SF (read side note below) on their Convivial Table Tour to 331 Cortland, a collaborative food marketplace in Bernal Heights. The Convivial Table Tours feature sustainable food purveyors in the Bay Area to educate members about available food choices and to introduce the important people providing our food. During this tour, we met  Debra Resnik, owner of 331 Cortland, and learned of her vision  to have a marketplace of individual food artisans that can operate under one roof. Resnik was inspired after working with La Cocina, to create a community enriching marketplace to help burgeoning vendors. All of the vendors at 331 Cortland focus on local, seasonal, and sustainable practices and either had street food stands, sold at farmers markets/festival, or worked in catering. All of the vendors complement, not compete with each other. The space allows them to inspire each other, with new menu creations and bounce back ideas.  Speaking of community, most of the vendors live within blocks of the market. Each vendor has their own individual kiosk, most accept cash only, and there are no seats.

331 Cortland is a small community marketplace of 7 vendors.

Members of Slow Food SF were greeted with gourmet popsicles from Cranky Boots Cold Confections. East Bay residents, Amanda Yee and Aland Welford, recently started selling their “farm to freezer” popsicles at festivals and events. The couple uses seasonal fruits from local farmers and don’t add excess sugar to their treats.  Cranky Boots will set up shop at 331 Cortland every Sunday. Expect to find flavors such as Black Mission fig with Cream and Balsamic Gastrique, Peach Lemonade, and Strawberry-Basil in two sizes: small ($3) and large ($4). I highly recommend trying the Black Mission Fig popsicle before figs go out of season!

The Black Mission Fig Popsicle- the best, most gourmet popsicle I've ever had!

 

Erin Archuleta, co-owner of ICHI Lucky Cat Sushi, excitedly greeted us with two plates of freshly prepared sushi. Erin with her husband, Tim, started ICHI Catering in 2006 and then had pop-up restaurants at local bars at the down-turn of the economy.  They jumped at the opportunity to have their first retail space so close to their own home when offered a spot at 331 Cortland. ICHI  offers fresh and prepared nigiri, maki, and sashimi, as well as specialty snacks. For a more formal sushi experience, you can visit their new sit-down restaurant in the Mission.

ICHI Sushi: good, clean, seafood

Resnik discovered Wholesome Bakery at the La Cocina Street Food Festival and invited Mandy Harper to be a part of 331 Cortland. Wholesome Bakery was created out of necessity for healthier desserts and treats. All of the baked goods are vegan and low-glycemic and are wheat, soy, and yeast free. They are also delicious! Harper had formed a relationship with Desiree Salomon, of Dezy’s Drinks, on the streets after both realized their products completed each other well. Thus, it was only natural for Dezy’s Drinks to come into the space with Wholesome Bakery. Salomon uses mostly organic fruits, vegetables, and spices in her made-from-scratch chais, juices and kombucha tea. Trust me, the Homemade Chai is particularly good and authentic.

The ladies behind Wholesome Bakery and Dezy's Drinks

After filling up on chai, granola, and sushi we sampled three different pickles from Paulie’s Pickling. The wife and husband team, Liz and Paul Ashby, started experimenting with cucumbers  from the farmer’s market until they had the perfect pickle. The Cali-Jewish deli serves brisket, chopped liver, deli salads, quinoa, and of course a variety of pickles available individually or by the jar.

Paulie's Pickling- a Cali-Jewish Deli

Joseph Ahearne, owner of El Porteño Empanadas, passionately told us his story and the beginning of creating the best Argentinian empanadas in town. Listening to him speak takes you to a place where your grandma rolls out her own dough while the cows graze on grass in the backyard. Instead of importing meat all the way from Argentina, he proudly uses Prather Ranch Beef, Fulton Farms Chicken, and fresh organic/local produce and dairy to stuff the empanadas. Ahearne introduced himself to Resnik by leaving a plate of his freshly made empanadas on the doorsteps of 331 Cortland while it was still being renovated. However, the construction workers got to them first as Resnik was not there on that day. (I shamelessly wanted to take one for the road, but somehow restrained myself.) You can also  find  El Porteño at their own kiosk at the Ferry Building, farmer’s markets, and Off the Grid.

 

Joseph Ahearne is really passionate about the land, empanadas, and tradition.

Josh Donald had operated Bernal Cutlery through others, such as Avedano’s and Drewes Brothers, for five years. Now the casual to professional chef can drop off his/her knives at 331 Cortland and admire Donald’s collection of new and vintage cutlery. Bernal Cutlery may be San Francisco’s only Japanese whetstone sharpening service. Donald also holds monthly educational classes on Japanese whetstone sharpening.

Even if you don't have any knives that need sharpening, visit Bernal Cutlery just to check out Josh's vintage collection.

The new kid in the market is Spice Hound,  a global collection of pure and aromatic spices for everyday use. Tammy Tan travels around the world to collect well-known and exotic spices and herbs. Normally, Spice Hound sells about a 100 kinds of spices at farmers markets and online. Spice Hound is set to open for business in mid-October, just in time for gifts, spiced nuts, and sesame-seed brittle for the holidays.

Spice Hound has familiar spices and exotic ones such as the Thai Coffee Rub.

Side Note:
Slow Food is an international organization founded in Italy to support local farmers and preserve local cuisine and food traditions. Slow Food is good, clean and fair food. The main objectives of Slow Food is to increase people’s interest in the food they eat, educated them on where food comes from, while protecting the biodiversity of the food system and connecting the community through food.  Each regional chapter of Slow Food hosts dinners, tastings, fairs, festivals, workshops, conferences, visits to local food producers, taste education initiatives for its members. Slow Food SF happens to be the largest chapter in the USA Learn more about Slow Food here.

***Slow Food is also have a membership sale for a very limited time. For a gift of just $25 or more you become a member. Join the food fight!

331 Cortland l 331 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco, California, 94110 l Mon-Sun 10 am – 7 pm

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Caprese Salad Differently

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After having Nancy Silverton’s  Mozza Caprese at Mario Batali’s Pizzeria Mozza’s, I just had to make it myself. Mozza caprese is just a salad of mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh basil, drizzled with olive oil. It’s a simple, summertime staple in Italy and the colors (red, green, and white) represent the Italian flag, hence sometimes called insalate tricolore. This is my (quicker)  interpretation of the salad, but can find Pizzeria Mozza’s authentic recipe here.

Estimate 2-3 tomatoes for each person.

Ingredients

1-2 small cluster of small or cherry tomatoes on the vine (5-6)
2 tbsp fresh basil pesto*
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, preferred mozzarella di bufala or burrata
1 1/2 tbsp good quality olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil leaves for garnish

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Gently wash the tomatoes without breaking them from the vine and let dry for a couple of minutes. Brush tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomatoes, with their vines intact, on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the skins begin to shrivel like a raisin but the tomatoes remain plump. Remove from the oven and let cool.

2. Drain the mozzarella from its water for 1/2 hour, by place it on a paper towel. Divide mozzarella balls in half, slicing the cheese crosswise about 1/4-inch thick. Arrange the cheese on a platter or two small serving plates. Spread 1 tablespoon of the pesto over each cheese portion.

3. With scissors, cut the vines of the tomatoes to create 2  portions with their vines intact, and arrange the tomatoes on top of the cheese. Drizzle with olive oil over each serving of tomatoes. Garnish with basil leaves and serve immediately. Careful, the tomatoes will be steaming hot!

 

Slow roast the tomatoes in the oven for at least 2 hours

 

 

Handle the tomatoes gently, making sure to leave the tomatoes intact with the vine

 

 

Beautiful

 

 

Arrgange cheese, pesto, and tomatoes on a serving plate. This presentation is sure to impress anyone.

 

 

Careful when biting into a tomato, maybe steaming hot!

 

 

Enjoy as an antipasti to a hearty Italian meal with a glass of wine.

 

 

Mozza Caprese at Mario Batali’s Pizzeria Mozza

 

*When buying pre-made pesto, read the ingredient label carefully! There should be no added sugars and preservatives. Check with a local Italian deli. Ingredients in authentic pesto sauce are: pine nuts, garlic, basil, parsley, olive oil, Parmigiano-Reggiano/Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and salt.

**If you want to cook the tomatoes in a much shorter time, roast the tomatoes on medium heat in a cast iron pan for 10-15 minutes. The results will not be the same as slow roasting them in the oven, but works fine if you are pressed for time.

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Meatless Mondays: Celebrity Chef Support

Last Monday, Satish and I choose to have dinner at Mario Batali’s Pizzeria Mozza in West Hollywood because of his signature “MM” dishes. He is among the few chefs who has embraced the campaign and encourages Americans to make vegetables more of a “star” on their plates. I’ve read many (negative) comments and opinions on Chef Batali’s MM promotion as vain. I think he is genuine and understands the point of MM. Quoting Batali, “Most people in the U.S eat way more meat than is good for them or the planet. Asking everyone to go vegetarian or vegan isn’t a realistic or attainable goal, but we can focus on a more plant- based diet…that’s why I’m such a big believer in the Meatless Monday movement.”

Pizzeria Mozza is understated in the world of glamorous and over the top restaurants in Los Angeles. It’s a place you would go to have a relaxing meal with your friends or family, or just by yourself. Our servers were very kind, knowledgeable, and accepting of MM. My expectations were at best neutral I didn’t think the staff would care that we practice MM. I was expecting one vegetarian option and a nonchalant response. Not that we were looking for accolades or a badge, but it’s rare to find people who actually understands the whats and whys about our request. We unfolded the large paper menu and were overwhelmed by all the options. We just let our server tell us what the vegetarian options for the day were (usually at any resto there are only 3-4 things). He started out by apologizing that the signature MM dish was all sold out and then rattled off at least 10 vegetarian options!  We ordered the Cauliflower Friti and Squash Blossom (obsession) Pizza, wanting to save room for dessert. To be honest, if it weren’t so late at night and if we didn’t have an appetizer at Rick BaylessRed O Restaurant beforehand, I would have ordered at least 3 other things. How can I say this without using childish words like delicious or yummy?! The pizza crust was perfect, the squash blossoms laid out beautifully, the mozzarella impeccable. The friti was delicious and hearty. The best part was the Mozza Caprese that the chef brought out for us: slow roasted tomatoes on the vine with mozzarella and pesto. It was the best tomato dish of its kind I have ever had. I would put it in the top 1o list of the best things I’ve ever ate. I was so inspired that the next day I bought all of the ingredients and tried to replicate it for the family. I would like to thank Nancy Silverton for introducing me to a new way of pairing mozzarella and tomatoes.

Mozza Caprese- high quality mozzarella, tomatoes on the vine, basil peso

My mouth is watering just looking at these pictures!

Cauliflower Friti- a bit oily, but still delicious

Squash Blossom Pizza- embracing local flavors and seasonality

Squash blossoms, tomato & burrata- scrumptious and sensual

Many of Batali's restaurants will designate dishes as Meatless Monday options using his new MM logo

I highly recommend Pizzeria Mozza and they offer plenty of healthy options (vegetarian and non-vegetarian) to keep you on the track of wellness and support local farms.  Club Dine In! approved.

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Jetset to Butterfly on September 10th!

Restaurant Review: Butterfly
Crowd: Business casual by day, trendy and upscale by night
Vibe: Convivial
Decor: Modern, industrial space warmed with artwork and sleekly dressed tables and Italian leather chairs. The floor to ceiling windows and local mirrored artwork are the main attractions.
Layout: Large, open space with an open kitchen. Booths and lounge type seating alongside the windows can accommodate small groups. A long and narrow outdoor deck on the water also available for groups of two. Beautiful, modern curved bar with seating available.
Neighborhood: Embarcadero, on Pier 33.
Service: Helpful and kind
Portions: Generous
Imbibe: White Sake Sangria
Enjoy: Heirloom Tomato Duo
Waist Slimmer: Caramelized Shrimp and Green Papaya Salad

I recently was invited to a private tasting at Butterfly Restaurant for Trendy Lime’s upcoming one year anniversary party on September 10th. The atmosphere is urban sleek and the views are breathtaking. I understood perfectly why Liana Burtsava, founder of Trendy Lime, choose this venue to host the celebration party. At this tasting we got a chance to preview some of the food that will be offered complementary for Trendy Lime guests to enjoy during the party. Let’s start with the cocktails: They are gourmet and delicious! The White Sake Sangria is refreshing and a good way to start a night of mingling and flirting. However, if you need more of kick go with the Kiwi and Cucumber Gimlet. The food offered is  of French-Italian- Asian influence with a focus on local and sustainable sources. Butterfly also offers indulgences like Caramelized Shrimp and Green Papaya Salad, Pecking Duck, Duo of Hamachi Sashimi and Poke, among countless other delicious items. A menu would not be complete without signature desserts such as the Iron Skilled Chocolate Cookie, Bread Pudding, and Chocolate Pudding. Check out the pictures below and drool! I hope to catch you noshing at this foodie party on September 10th, 9:30-10:30PM, and then loosening up on the dance floor!

The Ambiance:

Mirrored artwork displayed throughout the restaurant

A semi-private lounge past the bar offering unparallel views

Complimentary edamame with black and white sesame seeds

Hot Appetizer: Wok Seared Shanghai Garlic Noodles: summer vegetables, minced green onions, toasted garlic

The Food:

Carmalized Shrimp and Green Papaya Salad: mango, fried shallots, micro cilantro, carrot and siracha coulis, nuoc mam

Cold Appetizer, Duo of Hamachi Sashimi and Poke: chilled asparagus spears, wasabi cream sauce, shiso micro greens

Cold Appetizer- 1/2 Dozen Chilled Beausoleil Oysters: bloody mary oyster shooter, classic champagne and Thai mignonette sauce

Entree- Housemade Gnocchi and Baby Squash Stir Fry: tempura fried squash blossoms, seared petite squash and green olives, roasted red bell pepper coulis, ratatouille and olive relish

Entree- Heirloom Tomato Duo: burrata cheese and bread stuffed tomato, Gazpacho sauce Toybox cherry tomato risotto, rosemary foam

Cocktail- White Peach Sangria

Dessert: Lychee Shaved Ice

Dessert: Warm Chocolate Torte

Dessert: Iron Skillet Chocolate Cookie

Dessert: Banana Bread Pudding