Archive for June, 2011

Segreto Familia- Underground dining in San Jose

We had the pleasure of dining on traditional Italian cuisine in the Naglee Park home of chef Frank Cava last week with 20 perfect strangers.  You see, Frank’s underground restaurant “Segreto Familia” has become a hot ticket with local diners who are looking for something different. Cava and his wife open their home to 20 or so every few weeks and serves up rustic Italian cuisine and share his philosophy on Italian Cuisine, the camaraderie of dining together and, occasionally, his passion for cars.

It’s a lovely concept, something which is popular in many cities, from Subculture Dining in San Francisco to Hush Supper Club in Washington DC. Who needs restaurants and their formal same old same old when you can dine in the chef’s own home?

Each of Cava’s menus is created based on what is available in the market and Frank and his team prepare it all in his home kitchen. Obviously because it’s in his home (so no license for alcohol) guests bring wine if they desire and some dishes are served family style to keep the family feeling going.

This short video taken in Frank’s kitchen the evening of our dinner gives you just a bit of insight into the idea and the man behind Segreto Familia. To learn more, see menus and feedback from past events, and make a reservation for the next round of dinners, visit his website. The suggested donation for dinner is $45 per person. The address and menu are released the day before the event.

Allison “The Duchess of Doom” Fisher

Allison Fisher

My husband (The Bear) and I try to practice at California Billiard Club as often as possible. In our opinion it is the best room in northern California. It has a good atmosphere and the tables are well maintained. We also enjoy seeing some top players like Rafael Martinez in action.

Just days ago Allison Fisher won her 5th WPBA US Open 9-Ball Championship, and now California Billiard Club is offering an opportunity to learn from this legendary pool and snooker player.

The Allison Fisher Clinic
Featuring: Two Hours of Hands On Instruction; detailed analysis of fundamentals, shot selection, strategy, training drills, and Q & A.

Only a few spots left (8 people per session groups) Register Now.

Cost – $100. per person.

Contact Kristi @ 704-989-4109

When: Tuesday June 28th and Wednesday June 29th

Time: 6:00 – 8:00 PM

Where: California Billiard Club
881 E. El Camino Real
Mountain View, CA

Asian Street food in Oakland – Hawker Fare

I know that Oakland is quite away from San Jose, but over the weekend I had one of the best Southeast Asian restaurants I’ve had in quite sometime.  The restaurant, Hawker Fare is located in the Uptown neighborhood of Oakland and I’m glad that I finally got to check it out because I am hooked.  While the restaurant calls their cuisine Southeast style, with Hawker Fare being James Syhabout’s restaurant and with him being Thai,  you can see the heavy emphasis on Thai cuisine.

I’m Thai-American meaning my parents are both Thai, but I was born here in the United States.  My parents would send me back to Thailand during the summers to attend Thai school and live with my grandma there 3 months at a time every year.  So, while I’m not normally picky eater, but when it comes to food in general, I do know when I really like a Thai place and when I don’t and I definitely love Hawker Fare and can see myself making the trek up to Oakland from San Jose often just to eat here.  Yes, it is that good.

The restaurant itself is very casual and fun as far as decor.  There’s a disco ball on the ceiling and the wall is done up with a graffiti mural and old movie posters.

The Decor of the Restaurant

Hawker Fare - Disco ball and graffiti

When we got there around 8pm, it was quite crowded but they were able to seat us right away.  My friend and I decided to start with the Som Tum.

Papaya Salad

Som Tum At Hawker Fare

The Som Tum (Papaya Salad) was absolutely delicious.  It made me think about the Wat Thai (Thai Temple) in North Hollywood. There used to be this lady, Auntie Noi who made the best Som Tum and she would remember you if you went there a lot and season your Som Tum in front of you and have you taste it until she got it just to your liking.  She would have little buckets of lime juice, palm sugar, fish sauce, and chilli from which she would add a scoop here and add a scoop there to her mortar.  She’d stop each time, tell you to try it and then ask you if it was too sweet or salty and then add more to her mortar according to what you liked.   Once she remembered you, she would always get the seasoning just right on the first try.  Unfortunately, the city ended up shutting down North Hollywood’s Wat Thai’s food court a few years ago and since then, I’ve been dying to have some of Auntie Noi’s Som Tum.  I miss her, too.  She was such a charismatic lady and was always fun to talk to.

I’m sure Hawker Fare doesn’t have Auntie Noi hidden in their kitchen, but somehow they made the perfect Som Tum, just how i like it.   Thank you, Hawker Fare for bringing back childhood memories just with a bite of  your Som Tum.  I washed it down with some Singha beer.  Thank goodness I ordered beer because it was a bit spicy.  FYI, don’t ever drink more water when you eat something spicy, it’ll only make it worse.  You should try to kill it with rice or beer.

For our entrees, we decided to try their rice bowls.  Initially, when driving up, I had wanted to try the Khao Mun Gai.  That is my most favorite Thai dish, but after seeing their menu and the other items, I decided to wait and save that for another time.

My friend got the 24 hr Pork Belly, which I highly recommend. It was absolutely delicious and just melted in your mouth.  It wasn’t all dried out either.

24 Hour Pork Belly

Hawker Fare's 24 Hour Pork Belly

I ended up getting the “Issan” (Northeastern Thailand) style sausage bowl.  It was very good.  I also highly recommend this dish as well.   You can only imagine how happy I was at this point.  Everything we were eating was perfectly done and in such a simple way.  It was fun, casual and really cozy and easy going in the restaurant and the food was equally comforting.

Issan sausage at Hawker Fare

Issan (NorthEastern Region) sausage

They had a few items for dessert. We ended up getting the Hawker ice cream sundae. It was salted palm sugar caramel with candied red beans and puffed rice, lime whip topping.  It was  yummy.

Overall, I absolutely loved this place.  This is probably going to be my favorite restaurant for awhile.  It’s casual, cheap and the food is absolutely amazing.  It’s got an urban feel to it, but I still would take my mom to eat there and I’m sure as an older Thai mommy who doesn’t get the whole urban thing, she’d love it because of the food.

Hawker Fare
2300 Webster St.
Oakland, Ca 94612
(510) 832-8896

Rabbit’s Foot Meadery – Sunnyvale, Ca

With all of the warm weather we’ve been having, a friend and I decided to check out Rabbit’s Foot Meadery yesterday afternoon. For those of you who don’t know what Mead is, the guys here at the Meadery will definitely educate and tell you all they know about Mead, but for all simplicity sake, Mead is basically honey wine.

Rabbit’s Foot Meadery is the only meadery located in Sunnyvale and I had heard a lot of good things about this place from friends who had been there, especially my beer and brewing friends.

I think it’s kind of nice that we have a meadery here in Sunnyvale, not to mention it is one of the biggest meaderies in the United States and has won a lot of awards.  Not to mention, their mead is the only one served at French Laundry.

The tasting room itself is open for tasting Tue-Thur 2pm-7pm, Fri 2pm-8pm and Sat 1pm-5pm.  We ended up going on a Thursday after lunch. They were pouring quite a few items, not just mead.  They also had some cyser (cider style) and braggots (beer style.)

The tasting room itself is quite cozy and has an intimate feel to it.  Kelly was working behind the counter and was very nice and really knew his stuff about mead.  We didn’t know a lot about mead but he never made us feel intimidated.

We ended up doing a tasting of all three items the mead, cyser and braggots.

Rabbit's Foot Meadery

Kelly was really interesting to talk to and very informative. We talked about the meadery stuff and about random stuff as well.  I thought it was cool that he even mentioned that “nerd” was spoken here, as a few of their Mug Club members started trickling in as our tasting was ending and ended up engaging us in some conversation about comics.

The mead wine itself was very refreshing on a hot day.  Not to mention, extremely sweet and tasty. I’ve you’ve never had mead before, I definitely recommend it.

The tasting itself didn’t take long, but because we ended up talking and chit chatting, we ended up ordering a drink afterwards as well.  The environment was so relaxing and felt very comfortable and homey.  I really liked it.  We liked it so much, we bought a few of their beers and wines and are hoping that next year we can become a part of their Mug Club, which is limited to 50 people and every member has the option to renew every year, with spots opening up when a member chooses not to.  We’re hoping to slide in and pick up one of these spots next year when they open up again in June.  It’s a pretty cool concept and it seemed as if a lot of mug club members were there that night towards the end of our tasting.

Overall, we really liked this place.  We can’t wait to go back.  Especially with the summer, the mead definitely is a nice thing to have on a warm day.



“Cars 2” Starts Up Today

I have read some negative reviews suggesting that “Cars 2” is not up to the original “Cars”, and that Conan O’Brien makes fun of the films liberal propaganda…

None the less, I wish that my now adult children were still kids. We would be spending an afternoon at the Pruneyard.

Camera 7 Pruneyard will make opening day and the weekend a fun family event. ~ Friday, June 24 thru Sunday, June 26  (1-7pm each day)

FREE with same day “Cars 2” ticket purchase: Face painting, balloon artists, carnival games and prizes, snowcones, contests, arts and crafts table courtesy of Home Depot, PLUS giveaways while supplies last!


Also, on Saturday, June 25 Barnes & Noble at the Pruneyard will have “Cars 2” fun:
11am – Storytime
1pm – Cupcake decorating
3pm – Build your own car
5pm – Race the car you built

Buy Tickets at Camera 7 Pruneyard


Viva Varieté to raise money for SJSU Alumni Association Scholarship fund

Fundraising nights are always fun. Fundraising for SJSU scholarships is always a great cause. But an evening fundraising for SJSU scholarships that also includes entertainment with a Viva Varieté show?  Priceless!

Viva Varieté

San Jose State University recently celebrated its 150th year of educating our children, but with rising tuition costs and a difficult economy, more students than ever need our help to gain access to that education.  You can help make a difference in a young student’s life by marking your calendars for June 28, pulling out your checkbooks for a great cause, and getting ready for an evening of themed characters, silent auction, whimsical confections and wine tasting by Artesa Winery.  Graciously held at the San Jose Repertory Theatre, you’ll be entertained with Bounce Juggling by Bronkar Circus of Sound, Aerial Silks by Naomi & Andrew, Acrobatic Light Spinning by Fire Pixie and Dancing by Orchid Belly Dance.  Also included: hula hoop dancing, contortion, comedy magic, stilt Walkers, Accordion Players, Balloon Artists and more!

This is sure to be an amazing evening filled with fun, food, drink and breathtaking acts of beauty, and certainly worth the ticket price.  PLUS you’ll be helping to educate our valley’s youth.  Don’t miss this rare chance to be thoroughly entertained while also doing quite a bit of good in this world.

When: Tuesday, June 28
Where: San Jose Repertory Theatre101 Paseo De San Antonio, San José
Time: 6:30 p.m. Reception and silent auction, 7:30 p.m. Show

Tickets: Buy online
Phone: 408-367-7255
Orchestra: $125
Parterre: $100
Balcony: $80
View seating chart
A portion of every ticket is a tax-deductible contribution to the SJSU Alumni Association Scholarship fund. For each ticket, $70 is tax-deductible in Orchestra seating, $45 on Parterre seating and $25 on Balcony seating.

Take Dad to the San Jose Repertory for the perfect Father’s Day Gift

If you’re looking for an unusual Father’s Day gift this year, the San Jose Repertory Theatre has an answer for you.  They’ve brought a show that is great fun for any dad or sports lover in the family.  Reduced Shakespeare Company returns to the Rep with The Complete World of Sports (Abridged), playing through Sunday, with an extra matinee show on Saturday.

The whacky show is not polished, perfect, or politically correct, but it’s a non-stop laugh fest that won’t leave you bored for one second.  Three comedians explain the origins, rules and reasons for every sport, around the world, since the dawn of time.  Amazingly, I wasn’t able to come up with a single sport that wasn’t included: they even cover rhythmic gymnastics, curling, rock/paper/scissors, and a very long list of foreign sports that I could never hope to pronounce, much less remember.  Presented as a sports information show, there is skit after hilarious skit; singing, dancing and reenactments; and special appearances by characters such as Homer, Karl Marx and even Michael Moore.  Oh, and let’s not forget the Neanderthals.  There is even some hilarious and fun audience participation that everyone enjoyed.

This show has nothing to do with Shakespeare (well, maybe for a minute), and you don’t have to love or understand sports to enjoy it.  You just have to be ready to laugh until your cheek muscles hurt.  “This is completely ridiculous,” said my guest Paul Robinson halfway through the show, yet he also claimed it was one of the most enjoyable shows he had seen this year.  It’s a fast-paced race through sports history with a lot of current events and local references sprinkled in, and if you want to please Dad, this is the place to take him.

Stop by The Loft Bar & Bistro for dinner before the show on Sunday and enjoy no corkage fee and complimentary dessert with the purchase of two entrees.

What better gift for the Dad in your life than a great dinner and time spent with the entire family enjoying sports?  Because even family members who don’t enjoy sports are sure to have a great time at The Complete World of Sports (abridged).

And if you can’t make this show, buy Dad advance tickets to see One Man Star Wars Trilogy, playing July 14 – 17th!

The Complete World of Sports
San Jose Repertory Theatre
Through June 19

Almost Honest at Theater on San Pedro Square

The crew behind Left Coast Live took off in a new direction tonight as they put on an intimate concert at the Theater on San Pedro Square, with a video production crew on hand to tape the show for local cable access broadcaster CreaTV.

I wasn’t able to make the opening set by Distant Dice, but I made it for the headliner, Almost Honest. Almost Honest are a local acoustic pop band that’s recently made some big connections and begun recording with an LA producer. They have a bit of the look of a boy band, but a little smoother sound than usual with the emphasis on acoustic guitar. They alternated configurations between a guitar-vocal duet and a 5-piece ensemble that added bass, keyboards and drums.

The show was part of a new series of video productions, notionally to be appearing monthly. When released, the video will include interviews with the two bands as well as concert footage.

I’d love to see this show really take off because it would be a great way to showcase local musical talent, and get their music in front of a big audience both on tv and maybe online. If the show does make it big, I could see the taping concerts being a really exclusive ticket, especially if they stick with the cozy facilities at the Theater on San Pedro Square.

Foodtruck fad reaches Northside

Visits from gourmet food trucks aren’t a regular thing in the Northside, but tonight we got a taste of the ongoing al fresco dining fad when Treatbot and The WOW Silog truck stopped at Bernal Park for a few hours.

I just barely made it to their parking spot after a long train blocked nearby roads for several minutes, but I did manage to arrive before 9 and get a chance to try the goods. Someday I’ll try a Silog, but tonight was not the night. I did get a couple of great original ice cream flavors at Treatbot: Eastside horchata and Bollywood pistachio. Both were great flavor combinations that you won’t find in the Safeway ice cream aisle.

I hope we’ll see these guys in the Northside again some time soon.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Joann captured by "Brotherhood of the Black Flag"

I got what I wanted for my birthday.

I was captured by pirates and captivated by Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

At Camera 7 Pruneyard, I saw the film presented by Sony 4K digital in 3D while sitting in a D-Box seat. I enjoyed the film. Also, all that Camera 7 had to offer made it a fantastic birthday experience!

More about 2D, 3D, D-Box, and Super 8 (the Film) tomorrow…

Get captured by pirates see Brotherhood of the Black Flag

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