Archive for the ‘Eating Out’ Category

Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 from Noon to 8:00 pm is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s.

Participating Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops in the Bay Area are opening their doors from noon to 8 pm to serve up a free scoop of any flavor of your choice.

Since 1979, it’s Ben & Jerry’s way to celebrate and say thanks to their fans for another year of support.

Participating locations:

115 East San Carlos
San Jose

2130 Center Street
Suite 102

475 Jefferson Street
San Francisco

170 O’Farrell St.
Macy’s Department Store
San Francisco

505 Embarcadero West

1480 Haight Street
San Francisco

Pier 41
Pier 41, c/o Chatzka’s Inc. The Box
San Francisco

Psycho Donuts Bakes Americas Freedom of Choice

Gay Bar

Psycho Donuts is not taking sides (Chick-fil-A). Psycho Donuts has what they call their Psycho Moral System or for short – PMS. They want ALL donut loving Americans to eat what and wherever they wish.

Today Psycho Donuts has baked up a new choice: The Gay Bar – Read All About It!

When: Starting today, August 1st.

Where: Psycho Donuts Campbell – 2006 Winchester Blvd. or Psycho Donuts San Jose – 288 S. 2nd Street.

Call (408) 533-1023 for hours etc.


face it: Campbell or San Jose

The Battle for Foie Gras in San Jose

foie battleOn Monday I joined another Dishcrawl event in downtown San Jose. Unlike previous events which rove from restaurant to rrestaurant, this one stayed at one venue, namely Myth Taverna and Lounge. The event is part of a series of dinners Dishcrawl is producing around the theme of Foie Gras.

You may or may not know this, but pretty soon Foie Gras will be unavailable in California. A statewide ban begins on July 1 via California Senate Bill No.1520 and chefs are all up in arms about it and creating farewell menus left and right.

I know, I know, protesters who promoted the law say the tradition of gravage is wrong, and that’s how the law got passed, but we’re not here to talk about that. Indeed 5% of the proceeds of the Discrawl Foie Battle goes to CHEFS the Coalition for Humane and Ethical Farming Standards.

Personally I adore well prepared foie gras and it takes a deft hand to not over cook it or melt it away to sad nothingness in the pan. We were treated at this dinner to an eclectic menu of 5 courses, each with foie gras prepared in unique ways. Here’s the menu.

  • Gunkan Foie Gras Sushi with demi “soy”, horseradish “wasabe”, jicama and flower petal salad
  • Foie Street Tacos with vadalia sweet onion, banana peppers, and French sauce vert “salsa verde
  • Foie Mousse in pepper smoked bacon cups with demi glace and micro broccoli
  • Skirt Steak and Foie Pate Roulade with chili oil, french fingerlings, and lascanitos kale
  • Foie Panna Cotta Pearls with vanilla drizzle and berry compote

Four local chefs collaborated on the menu, David Ramsay, Drew Gaither, Ron Afortunado and Andrew Doberstein.

Each item was paired with wine as well and the wines were perfectly matched.

If you are a foie gras fan too, visit the website for upcoming foie battles, each with a theme, the next one is on May 24 “Filipino Foie-Down“.

The Opera Novice gives five reasons to see La Traviata

Five reasons not to miss La Traviata at Opera San Jose this weekend!

Cast A: Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste (Violetta) and Alexander Boyer (Alfredo) with the Opera San José chorus in Verdi’s La traviata. Photo by R. Shomler.

1.  It’s La Traviata!  You have a famous consumptive courtesan who loves drinking, dancing, and parties!  There are forbidden loves, celebrations and an extended death scene, AND it’s based on a real Parisian courtesan.  One of the best loved and most performed operas of all time, I think Guiseppe Verdi’s opera is the ultimately classic opera.  This is the kind of show that I used to think of when I thought “opera”.  The last two years attending Opera San Jose’s performances have shown that opera comes in all sorts of flavors: Comedy, Tragedy, Romance, familiar and unfamiliar, etc.  But La Traviata is all about beautiful arias and a tragic love story.  It’s romantic, it’s tragic, it will bring tears to your eyes at the end.  But until that moment it will also be a luscious feast for your eyes and your ears.

2. The music!  Played to perfection as always (how can you possibly review something that is always just… PERFECT?), you can just sit in the super comfortable California Theatre seats and doze to the beautiful sounds if you’re so inclined.  But the music of La Traviata is some of the most well known in opera, and don’t be surprised if it is very familiar to you.  Opera is so much more fun for the novice attendee when you watch the show and think, “Hey, I KNOW that song!”  And La Traviata is filled with familiar music.  This makes it easier to sit up and enjoy all that is going on around you.  Come to the California Theatre and hear some of the best musicians in the Bay Area!

Cast A: Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste as Violetta and Alexander Boyer as Alfredo in Opera San José’s La traviata. Photo courtesy of R. Shomler.

3.  Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste (Violetta) and Alexander Boyer (Alfredo).  I’ve seen Ms. Jean-Baptiste in several operas now and she is always a delight and a favorite.  As the star of La Traviata, I’m not going to bypass her with the compliments, but my guest and I were actually quite taken with Boyer’s voice in the show this time.  However, it is Violetta who we cry for in the end, and so it is Ms. Jean-Baptiste who you won’t want to miss.   [Referring to Cast A, who play Friday and Sunday. Cast 1 plays Saturday and is certainly just as awesome!]

4.  Face it, you need some culture in your life.  Not only that, you get to tell your friends, “I simply cahn’t go to your franks & beans party tonight, Gerald and I are going to the Opera!”  Be sure to use your hoity-toity accent and swirl your martini around as you say it.  Be the Jones’s your neighbors want to keep up with, and have a great reason to enjoy yourselves at the same time.  Try La Traviata and you will likely discover that you really ARE a hoity-toity, martini (or champagne) drinking, opera lover after all.

5.  That beautiful gown in the back of your closet is just going to collect more dust if you don’t take it out and wear it.  I’ve said it once, no, I’ve said it a thousand times, going to the opera is a dress to the nines affair, and it is so much FUN to dress like movie stars and go out on the town.  Get out your good jewelry, wear the prettiest, sparkle-iest dress you own (or your most manly, handsome suit!) and make reservations at a fancy restaurant downtown before the show Il Fornaio, Original Joe’s and Scott’s Seafood are all excellent places for a pre-opera meal, covering a variety of budgets.

As if there’s any further reason for you to get out and enjoy the amazing delights that our downtown and Opera San Jose have to offer, I wish I could have shown you the face on a little girl of about 10 who I saw at each intermission on opening night.  Dressed in a beautiful green velvet gown, she appeared to be attending with her father, and at each of the two intermissions I saw her in the lobby with the biggest smile on her face.  She was enjoying every moment of her experience at La Traviata, and I wished I could have shown the performers and musicians the joy and happiness they had brought to this child.

You don’t need to know anything about opera to enjoy it, and you might just discover a wonderful new way to enjoy downtown.  Opera San Jose is definitely one of those gifts we are able to enjoy by living here, so why let the chance go to waste?  Go see La Traviata before it ends on Sunday.

And then prepare for Charles Gounod’s Faust, opening April 21!  I have a feeling this is going to be the next opera that will be full of surprises for an opera novice!

La Traviata
Through Sunday, February 26
California Theatre
345 South First Street

Milpitas Square

I love the variety of food you can get at Milpitas Square, but some things are just a bit too exotic for me:

Café San José

Will the Waiter - on the right

This little hole in the wall cafe located in a strip mall serves up some very tasty breakfast.

I had the Good Morning Denver and my husband had the Pancake Sandwich. Both were very good. I had a bite of his pancake and I gave him a scoop of my omelet.

Though the cafe was packed our order was up without delay. Will was our friendly waiter. He took good care of us making sure we had all that we needed.

We plan to go back soon.

Café San José

1583 Meridian Ave.
San José, CA 95125
Located between Dick’s Bakery and the Goodwill


Open daily from 7:00 AM – 3 PM
Breakfast & Lunch served all day.

Café San José Website (a joy to use)

San Jose! Wanna go on a Dishcrawl?


If you’ve never been on a Dishcrawl yet, let me explain. Think of it as a Flash mob for foodies. You know you’re going to be visiting a particular area near you and you’re going to eat some great food  within walking distance of your starting point, but you don’t know who you’ll be with, what the restaurants will be, or what kind of food it will be until the morning of the event. Ahh the suspense! All that and an affordable price to boot.

I love this concept. Traveling around San Jose’s SOFA district with a bunch of people who all love food and adventure, eating at restaurants that we might not have uncovered by ourselves and food carts roll up and offer up gourmet tacos or ice cream and Karaoke? I’m hooked.

Tracy Lee ( @ladyleet on Twitter) is a natural community builder and this girl SERIOUSLY loves food. She and her team have taken a fun idea of roving dining to cities ranging from our own fair city to Ottawa, New York, Portland, Campbell, Willow Glen, and Palo Alto to name a few. Each city tour has it’s own flavor and style and the trend has taken off like wildfire. The team makes extra effort to make sure everyone is having fun and quite often you’ll hear from the owner or chef about what really sets their food apart.

Now, in addition to the traditional crawls, Dishcrawl is offering an even more personal way to explore dining and meet new people. Eat Your City events are small group dinners at local restaurants for 8-10 people at a time. At each restaurant you’ll get the focused attention of the owner and so far most of these restaurants have participated in a larger dishcrawl event so the players are familiar, almost family friends by now.

All in all the idea behind Dishcrawl is rock solid. Connect people who love food and have a sense of adventure with great food and company and a1qqllow restaurateurs to connect one-on-one with their market. We’ve been to a few of these now and we look forward to many more.

Want to see what the fuss is all about? Visit the Dishcrawl web site for information and don’t forget to check out the list of restaurants hosting the family size dinners too. Bon Apetit!

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.

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

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

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