Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Eat Good Food

So I was at a red light at the intersection of West Ave and Church when I looked over and saw this new food truck in the parking lot next to BJ's farm stand. I've been waiting for this moment...Saratoga has seriously needed to step up their game and get on the food truck band wagon. Not only that, but this food truck offers "locally acquired foods and products" and has the motto that "everyone deserves to eat good food"...needless to say I was excited. 

How could you not want to stop by and see what they've got going on? Eat Good Food is open Monday - Saturday from 10-3, so I was able to head over for this afternoon for some lunch. I wish I had known that it's a cash-only kind of place so I could have stopped at an ATM beforehand, but my friend and I were able to make our collective $15 stretch for a very filling and satisfying lunch.  

First let's start with the menu. At first it's a bit difficult to figure out how to order, there are a bunch of delicious looking things but you sort of have to mix and match and guess at what the cost will be once you've decided what you want. I like that you get to be as creative as you want, and the owners are more than happy to help explain to you how to order. 

So there was this board, but then also a laminated menu that had just the categories such as "fish, carving, casserole" etc with prices. I think it would have been easier for me if there had just been lists of things such as "what you want" + "what you want it on" + "what you want on it". Does that make sense? But I guess that would be difficult for them to do since their menu changes daily (which is pretty exciting too, you can check what they're serving the night before on Facebook). I ended up inadvertently building a "trencher" which was just a little bit of everything tasty thrown together. Man, I feel like I confused myself just writing that last paragraph. 

So I ended up getting grilled salmon (what you want) on a basil and parmesan waffle (what you want it on) with balsamic dressing and greens (what you want on it). 

Now looking at that quickly you may think that that's not enough food. When I originally ordered the waffles I had an IHOP size stack of waffles image in my mind. Not quite the amount I got, but it was perfect regardless. It's amazing how when you have an actual "serving size" of something and are still satisfied you realize how many restaurants overfeed their customers. I had never had a savory waffle before and this experience certainly turned me into a true fan. It gave subtle support to the crispy grilled salmon and the balsamic greens topped the meal off perfectly. 

My friend ended up getting the quiche of the day - salmon, brie, and leeks. And that yummy looking dish on the far end was the berry crepe we split for dessert. 

The quiche was light and fluffy, we were told it had been baked that day and I swear you could taste the freshness. I had never had brie in a quiche before which gave it an interesting creamy texture that was a pleasant surprise. The berry crepe was just flat out amazing. Fresh fruit with home made whipped cream, all in a crepe that was just made minutes before...what more could you want in a summer dessert. 

Now see in that picture the beautiful painting that our food was on? Eat Good Food has a little seating area that consists of lawn chairs and painted ironing boards, with my favorite radio station playing in the background and everything! 

Seriously, this place gets more adorable by the minute. The only issue we had was that the ironing boards are high and you end up sinking pretty deep into the lawn chairs. So instead of using the ironing boards as tables we simply admired them while we ate off of our laps. I commented about them needing higher chairs, and my friend said that maybe they could just saw off a couple of inches from the ironing board legs. Either way, the proportions were a little out of whack for comfortable eating unless you're a particularly tall person. 

While we were sitting there eating, one of the owners (did I mention it's a family-run business?) came up to let us know that on Friday there was going to be someone playing acoustic guitar during lunch. Awesome. I also saw a sign on the truck that they make pack lunches for SPAC and the track, these guys think of everything. Now that I've got more of an idea of how their menu works, I can't wait to go back and try out different combinations, maybe build myself another "trencher". And since where I work is right down the street...I see a lot of Good Food in my future...

Friday, July 20, 2012

Comfort Kitchen

This review is a long time coming - I had gone to Comfort Kitchen weeks ago but my camera started misbehaving and I couldn't get any pictures! Very frustrating. Obviously I had to go back...

Comfort Kitchen is an adorable little shop with a combination of retro and modern inspirations. I love everything about the design of this place, the black and white checkered floors, the potted herbs used as decorations on tables, the custom made cartoon posters...I love it all. The feel of the place makes it perfect for work lunches as well as a great place to take kids, winning combination. I also LOVE the fact that Comfort Kitchen prides itself on using as many local sources as possible and lists their participating farms on the chalkboard outside their door.

I ended up getting a veggie burger, which wasn't on their regular or specials menu but I had seen something about it online so I thought it was worth a try to ask for it. I wasn't quite in the mood for a salad and the only other vegetarian options seemed to be mac and cheese or grilled cheese, both of which I'm sure are great but not something I could handle on a hot summer day. Lucky for me they did have some veggie burgers left!

This veggie burger came with pickled onions, lettuce, avocado and chipotle mayo. I was really pleased with my meal, I thought the veggie burger tasted fresh and interesting (sometimes its difficult to make a veggie burger interesting, you know?) and I liked the addition of the onions and avocados. My veggie burger came in a plastic basket with paper that just so happened to match the floor. Pretty cute. 

My friend got the Lucy Salad that came with croutons, dried figs, goat cheese, and a white balsamic dressing. 

The salad was pretty tasty, the goat cheese went really well with the dried figs and the garlic croutons where perfectly cooked. My only complaints were the fact that the lettuce wasn't cut much so the pieces were HUGE and awkward to eat. I also thought it was strange that a place that is so focused on using local products would serve something in a take out box. Not only that but the forks were plastic and our water was given to us in paper cups. Seems like a waste, right? Doesn't local eating kinda go hand-in-hand with going green? It seems like maybe Comfort Kitchen needs to invest in some silverware and a set of dishes. 

When I was done with my burger I went to go throw away my paper napkins and return the basket but there was nowhere to put the basket where all the other garbage and recycling was! I felt like it was a really simple problem with a really simple solution - just put a sign up that says "leave basket here" but instead I ended up not knowing where to put it so just brought it back up to the counter. At least they're re-using the baskets though!

After all that food I still needed a little something to snack on and so ended up getting the sweet potato chips with rosemary-orange sea salt. Sounds pretty amazing right? I, personally, had never had (nor heard of) rosemary-orange sea salt, so I was excited. 

Again - the chips came in a paper bag. Cute, and convenient if I was going somewhere, but I was still finishing up my meal there so it could have easily been in something that could be washed and reused.

The chips themselves were interesting - a little burnt but you could still taste the sweetness of the sweet potato and the salt took care of the rest. After those chips I want to put that salt on everything. You taste a little more orange than rosemary at first, but then the rosemary hits you and it's great. Comfort Kitchen puts a unique spin on otherwise ordinary comfort food, the sweet potato chips being an example. They take an already classic favorite and then make you feel like you're tasting it for the first time. The tater tots being another great example, homemade tater tots with parmesan and herbs...incredibly delicious. In fact I would go as far to say that Comfort Kitchen makes the best tots I've ever had.

You should definitely check out Comfort Kitchen for lunch or an early dinner - early because they close at 7 and I can't tell you how many times we've forgotten and walked by at around 7:15 only to be disappointed. AND I heard they started doing take out, people at work were pretty psyched about that, myself included. Even though Comfort Kitchen may seem like it's on the pricier side, it's very much worth it. You're paying for quality ingredients that are good and good for you. I think the welcoming statement on their website says it all: "Welcome to Comfort Kitchen, where we make the food you love, with love".

PS - I went to a blogging event at Comfort Kitchen the other night and found out that not only are they extending their hours, but they are also working on getting their liquor license and plan on serving craft beers made in New York State! (they also let me know that they are working towards real silverware and plates and such) So many good things happening! 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Boca Bistro

Saratoga Springs has been in some serious need of a true tapas bar for a while now, so I could not have been more excited for Boca Bistro to open on Broadway. Walking in I was already in love, the industrial design and bustling atmosphere makes it a hopping place on any night. There were five of us but we had no problem getting a table, right next to a huge metal pig sculpture that was pretty awesome (I would have taken a picture but that might have been awkward for the family at the table in front of it). On our way to our table we passed by the bar...I can't wait to go back for happy hour, the bar was beautiful and glamourous, and big enough so that you won't feel cramped. Always a plus.

Tapas are great for the person who likes to try a little bit of everything and I loved going with a group of friends so we could all share a bite of each small plate. The only thing was, I was the only one in the group who recognized anything on the menu! No worries there - I ended up ordering for the table which I was nervous about at first but it worked out well in the end. I wasn't sure how many tapas to order, but our waitress was extremely helpful. She recommended starting with a tapas per person and then ordering more as we go if we were still hungry. How fun does that sound? I took a look at the menu, saw how hungry my friends were and thought to myself "alright, let's do this" and began ordering.

We started with Datiles Rellones, dates stuffed with almonds and wrapped with bacon.

How cute are those, everyone gets a savory bite of deliciousness! And some Croquetas Jamon, that looked pretty tasty but were filled with ham so I offered mine up. 

We also got Patatas Bravas, potatoes with garlic aioli and salsa brava. I normally like my patatas bravas with a little more sauce, but these still hit the spot. They were crispy and full of flavor, I couldn't stop myself from picking at them after everyone had served themselves.

Same goes for the Calemares Fritos. They somehow made their way towards me after everyone got some and I just couldn't. stop. eating them.

The calamari was lightly fried and sprinkled with paprika with a great texture, especially when dipped in the garlic aioli. Yum.

Last but not least for round one, Tortilla Espanola, the best way I can describe tortilla is like a spanish omelette with onions, potato, and paprika. For some reason, this one wasn't in the tapas section but in the verduras (vegetables) section of the dinner menu. Oh well, it was still bite sized and delicious.

And see the aioli on the side? Notice a pattern? Even though having tapas for dinner seems like a light meal, you definitely leave having had your fair share of aioli and olive oil. All worth it though, I promise.

After our first five tapas, we were still hungry for more so we ordered three more...why not! One of my friends wanted "anything with chorizo" in it so we got an order of Huevos Fritos Con Chorizo Y Patatas which translates to fried egg with chorizo and potatoes.

This one was similar to the patatas bravas but had that spicy Spanish sausage that added a little kick along with the fried egg, not too shabby. 

Personally, I was craving some eggplant and so ordered the Berejenas Fritas (also in the verduras section).

This was the only dish I was slightly disappointed in. Instead of crispy "eggplant fries" we got huge chunks of eggplant soaked in olive oil. Maybe they would have been better baked? I liked the honey and thyme drizzled on them, but I just couldn't quite get over how oily I felt after eating them. I was also fairly aware of how most of the tapas either had meat or seafood in them (unless you were ordering strictly from the verduras) so I was hoping this dish would've impressed me a bit more. It made me think that if we had had someone with us who was a strict vegetarian (I'm able to eat seafood so...I'm a pescetarian I guess?) it would have been difficult for them to share most of our tapas with us.

Our final small plate was Gambas Al Ajillo, shrimp with garlic, lemon and salsa verde. 

This dish was incredibly good, the simplicity of the garlic and lemon was complimented by the shrimp and salsa verde. And as with all of the tapas, even though I only got a bite or two, I was perfectly satisfied. My friends were shocked that they were full (though not uncomfortably stuffed) after a meal made out of small plates. I think as a culture we're trained to think that we need A LOT of a good thing...but sometimes you just need a bite! And that way you can try everything, what more could you want! 

I was so happy with my experience at Boca Bistro and I can't wait to go back! If you check Savoring Saratoga's Facebook page you'll see that I posted an offer from Boca Bistro where you can get free tapas at happy hour...check it out and like my page while you're at it so you can get Savoring Saratoga updates! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Forno Bistro

We live really close to Forno Bistro and hadn't been in years so thought we would try it out for dinner one Tuesday night. Walking up to the patio I was hopeful, but as soon as we walked in to our table I remembered why we kept shying away from Forno. The inside of Forno is incredibly dark and there are so many intense metal sculptural things on the lights, mirrors, and ceiling that you almost feel like you're walking into a medieval dungeon. This sort of design approach might have worked in a much bigger space where you had room to appreciate each piece, but there was so little space between metal figures and tables that you felt crowded by both the atmosphere and other diners. Some sections of the restaurant was better than others, but from where we were sitting I was very aware of all the twisted metal surrounding me.

Once we were seated we were immediately greeted by our very friendly waitress and given menus and water. While we were looking over the menu to figure out what we wanted to order we witnessed a very sad sight. Since we were maybe eight inches away from the next table we got to hear the entire conversation of the couple next to us. Conversation may not be the right word though, since the guy was on his phone at least 80% of the dinner. I felt so bad for the girl, at one point she actually reached over to shake his hand and introduce herself in an attempt to point out how rude he was being. Good move I thought, but it had no impact on his atrocious behavior. I remember even thinking "man, I hope this is a first date so she can kick him to the curb"...and then I saw the rings on their fingers and realized they were in it for the long haul. This goes for both the ladies and gents...when you are out to dinner with ANYONE, be it a significant other, friend or family member, PUT AWAY YOUR PHONE! Answer it only if it's an important call, but anything else I promise can wait until the end of the meal. Enjoy the food, enjoy the company, and have some common decency.

Alright after that quick etiquette detour, let's get to the food. We weren't particularly starving and wanted something light so ended up ordering two appetizers and a salad. We started with the Mozzarella Caprese, a mixed salad with mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, basil and balsamic.

While the rings of balsamic reduction made for a nice presentation, I think I would have liked it drizzled over the salad itself. I appreciated the twist on the classic caprese salad but I missed having balsamic as more of a key player and thought the olives were a little overwhelming at times. There was also something that kept bugging me...and then suddenly I figured it out: the salad was incredibly salty. Why would you put that much salt on a salad? I didn't get it. 

Next we got the Gamberi E Carciofi, a roasted dish of shrimp, cannellini beans, tomatoes and artichoke hearts. The dish was still sizzling as it reached our table and smelled delicious - it was also a fairly large portion and could have been a meal on its own I think.

The beans and shrimp made this dish very filling, but that didn't stop me from making sure the dish was scraped clean. I loved all of the fresh thyme and olive oil, sometimes all you need is some fresh herbs and high quality olive oil to make a dish. Unfortunately this dish was a little over salted as well, but besides that it was quite good.

I liked that our dishes came out one by one, and last to come was the Involtini Di Melazane, eggplant wrapped around ricotta cheese covered with melted mozzarella and marinara sauce. Talk about comfort food. 

Sorry that's such a bright picture, because it was so dark in the restaurant I had to use a pretty intense flash to see the food. These three eggplant rolls were full of cheesy deliciousness that hit the spot. Again, this could have been enough for a light meal, so it was nice to have these two appetizers to split along with the salad, any more and we would have definitely had leftovers (never a bad thing, but can lead to overeating sometimes when there's that much food put in front of me).

Overall the food was good, even though it was over-salted at times. But it's hard for me to get over the atmosphere at Forno. Unless we were sitting on the patio or ordering food for take out, I don't know if I'll be visiting them any time soon.
Oh well. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Savoring San Francisco

So this past week my date and I spent our vacation in San Francisco! (yes, he is the same date, I don't know why but I like calling him my date as opposed to my boyfriend when I'm blogging. Someone asked me about this so I thought I'd clarify, no serial dating here - I'm a one man kinda gal). San Francisco is definitely one of the foodie capitals of the world, absolutely amazing. We actually spent most of our time traveling outside of the city, so for each meal I'll let you know where it was we went because that whole part of the country seems to be dedicated to delicious food. I took so many pictures of our meals it was hard to pick which ones to show you guys...there's still a lot but I just couldn't help myself. Alright - here goes.

Let's start off in the Ferry Building. It reminded me a lot of Chelsea Market in the city, lots of adorable little food shops and a few restaurants. Every shop had it's own specialty and character - you could easily make a meal out of tasting a little bit of everything.

We had our fair share of tacos at Tacolicious in the Marina, it was some amazing price like ten tacos for thirty bucks, and that was plenty for three people. Not too shabby. 

Yes, that's Obama enjoying himself some tacos. Apparently I can't take a picture of a picture very well, sorry 'bout that. 

We spent a day at Muir Woods and Muir Beach (picture perfect) and had dinner at the Pelican Inn, right next to the beach. I was incredibly impressed with their food, everything was fresh and creative.

For another day adventure we drove down the coast to Monterey to visit the aquarium, drove the famous 17 mile drive, and then had dinner in Carmel. We ate at Little Napoli's, a fantastic Italian eatery that has a huge picture of Sinatra and about an hour long wait. Good thing they've got a wine bar next door to distract you from how hungry you are. Here are some pictures of the garlic bread, fried artichoke hearts, mushroom and garlic pizza (with WHOLE garlic cloves) and the limoncello white chocolate tartufo. Yum. 

The next trip was to Wine Country - we started off at Francis Ford Coppola's winery in Sonoma and loved it so much there we ended up staying for lunch. If you are a movie AND food AND wine lover, you'll be in heaven here. 

For dinner we ended up in the adorable little town of Healdsburg at a restaurant called Willi's. They only had small plates which was perfect, we got four to share and even tried oysters for the first time! For small plates there were so many tasty looking choices, but we ended up with a kale caesar salad with capers and toasted pine nuts, a chopped salad with olives and bleu cheese, fish tacos, and salmon over succotash. All of our meals were amazing, but this one was particularly memorable.

Some classy before and after oyster pictures:

Our last day there we had brunch at the Cliff House, amazing food with an amazing view. I loved reading about the history of the place on the back of their menu (I won't give it away, you'll have to read it yourself) and feeling like we had stepped back in time when we walked in. We split a shrimp cocktail, sourdough french toast, and eggs san francisco which were poached eggs over dungeness crab  and sourdough. Pretty fantastic. 

Last but not least - our final meal in San Francisco. We got to meet up with some of my family while we were there and I was SO excited when they suggested we go to Off the Grid. This is a genius weekly event in San Francisco where some of the city's favorite food trucks meet and throw a foodie party. I was awestruck and needed a couple of times circling around before I could figure out what I wanted. We ended up eating some handmade dumplings (I was too hungry, they were gone before I could take a picture) while waiting in line for some ramen. I'm pretty sure this is a foodie mecca that everyone needs to experience. 

Whew. That was a lot of food. Has anyone been to any of these places and has some stories to share? Anyone planning a trip there soon? We loved San Francisco and can't wait to go back to explore more of the food...I mean city.