La Catalana, San Jose

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blog, how I've abandoned thee! But after another hiatus, I'm back and ready to wax on about how much I love Tapas this week!

Wanna know something funny? I was really confused about "Spanish" food when I started dating my boyfriend over 4 years ago. When he asked me if I'd ever had "Spanish" food, I was like, "Totally, you mean like tacos and burritos right?" And then of course he schooled me in my ignorance and was like "no, like tapas, paella.. duh/etc." Anyways. That's embarrassing.

Now that we've been dating for almost 5 years, I feel significantly more confident in my Spanish food knowledge and can say with great enthusiasm I'm all about tapas & paella.

La Catalana is located in a business district on the border of Santa Clara & San Jose. It has a great casual atmosphere, yummy nibbles & bites as well as a pretty crackin' Spanish wine selection.

It's great for medium sized groups, so bring a gaggle of your besties & make sure to order stuff you're not totally familiar with for a little dining adventure.

We ordered a smorgasbord of items to share... patatas bravas (french fries!), albondigas (meatballs in an almond/tomato sauce)...

Jamon Serrano topped with Manchego cheese (cause you can't not!). 

Chorizo al tinto (cured sausage in a red wine sauce), more Jamon Serrano this time sumptuously wrapping grilled asparagus... you know.. for something green.

 Gambas Al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp), one of my favorites! 

... more Jamon (do you see a trend here?) sandwiches

 & Finally Morcilla (fried blood sausage w/ herbs & spices, only for the adventurous) & the most tender squid I think I've ever eaten.

The staff is extremely friendly and helpful, so if something on the menu seems weird, but interesting enough to try ask a ton of questions and they'll lead you in the right direction.

The New Kid On The Block

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Recently the South Bay area has had an influx of awesome new craft cocktail lounges. Jack Rose Libation House in Los Gatos is among the scene and should certainly not be missed.

As far as my understanding goes, a couple of the bartenders from Single Barrel in downtown San Jose wanted to open their own place, and picked Los Gatos as their new home.

Jack Rose is off the beaten path in as far as 'Los Gatos' goes. Quietly nestled off the downtown main drag, they have made their home in an old Inn off of Los Gatos and Saratoga Rd., it's pretty hip, but not, in my opinion, in a bad way.

After scanning the menu, I decided on their house Manhattan. Apparently they blend several favorite whiskies, and age them in oak barrels for a few more months to get the flavors where they wanted it. I liked the Manhattan, but as a classic gal, I'll take mine with a little less complication next time, it felt a little heavier than I generally prefer.

The man ordered their, "Kentucky Buck," which combines bourbon, lime juice, ginger beer, and strawberries. Generally this is a favorite drink if we can find it on menus, but he found a hair in his drink and that didn't exact go over well. 

Despite the hair, we ordered some of their olives. Not even kidding, they were the best olives I think I've ever had. So meaty, and the herbs mixed in there really kicked them up a notch.

The man played it safe with our next round and ordered himself one of their 4 tapped beers...

I ordered their, "Tupelo Honey," which I wasn't initially attracted to because it sounded mighty sweet (and I'm not generally a sweet tooth when it comes to cocktails) but the lady tender said she could make it for me with less of the barenjager honey and maple syrup. Loved the result. I don't imagine I would like it at all though had she used the regular proportions. However if you like bourbon, and you like sweet, and you also happen to like Old Fashions, this is your drink.

Overall we were pretty satisfied with the service, ambiance and overall experience... the only downside was that one (pleasebebeard) hair in his drink. I'll give it another go... 



I Dream Of Garlic

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Garlic lovers, unite! While the bf was browsing Yelp for "craft beer" in "San Jose" he randomly stumbled across this 4 star joint, "Golden Garlic," and suggested we make a trip asap for their house special, which happens to be "garlic beef."

I, of course, was overjoyed at the sheer mention of garlic (it's it's own food group right?) and demanded we go immediately. We plopped it into our schedule and decided to head over on a Thursday night that we both had free from work/other dinner plans.

Let me tell you (maybe warn?)... the garlic did not disappoint, and the beef, oh the beef, did not disappoint either.

We scrolled through Yelp to determine which items we would get (in addition to garlic beef of course) and weren't disappointed with those either...

Foodwise, this place is a serious gem. I'm not even kidding a little bit.

We started with their green onion crepe/pancake. Which was crispy, chewy, flavorful.. all the things you want in one of these. 

Next came the OMG delicious Garlic Beef. It was undoubtedly an overwhelming amount of garlic, but it was really so good. I ate at least 15 cloves... at least, and the beef was surprisingly tender and better than I had expected it to be. So well seasoned, full of flavor.. slightly peppery. Mmmm, drooling just remembering it. 

We ordered a side of rice to go with this dish of course, but it really ended up being way too much food and I probably could've even eat it without the rice. 

The biggest surprise was actually the Shezchuan style Dan Dan noodles which completely stole the show. Alone I ate at least half of the big bowl they serve. I don't know that I've ever had "Dan Dan" noodles before but I've certainly ordered "Tan Tan" noodles at other places. I'm not really sure if there is a difference but usually the dish is served with  ground shrimp/beef and a much creamier spicy sesame/peanut sauce. This Dan Dan noodle dish was spicy, but had a thinner (though oily) broth, spinach and a very lightly seasoned flavor. It was so good. I will literally go back again for this dish alone.. and ok..let's be honest.. maybe I'll go back for the Garlic Beef too. 

Randomly, they occasionally serve a selection of 1-2 craft beers. When we visted it happened to be this "Jamaican" Red Ale from somewhere in California, and the head honcho at the restaurant at the time touted the "5.0%" strength as a draw. The beer itself was really good (we shared one out of pure curiosity). 

If you're looking for an out of the blue Chinese restaurant, or simply love garlic, I cannot recommend this place more highly. Seriously. 

Go now! Order the Garlic Beef. If you love garlic, and your S.O doesn't mind garlic breath, pop in on date night and let me know how much you loved it. 



Oak & Rye, Los Gatos

Thursday, June 19, 2014

One of my new favorite little spots, Oak & Rye, is located in downtown Los Gatos in the building that used to be Restaurant James Randall (another favorite that is sadly gone now.. RIP).

They serve up some pretty awesome and clever pizza creations as well as tapa-esque small plates during dinner and a pretty banging new brunch menu that I'll have to check out here in the near future.

Boyfriend and I have been sneaking in almost every other month since we discovered the place on New Years Eve. After a recent hike up in Uvas Canyon, I had a hankering for a carb loaded lunch and Oak and Rye was on the way back home which meant popping by was nearly mandatory.

Started off with a very puckery house made lemonade that was just the thing to quench my thirst after our supa-hot hike.

Ordered some house made tater chips to nibble on...

And of course we ordered their Gem Lettuce Salad to share, with cashews, bread crumbs, apples, and house made blue cheese dressing as a pre-pizza post-hike appetite whetter... (blue cheese & apples? I mean coomeeee onnnn!)

And then, after much debate, we finally decided on a pizza.. (seriously our poor waiter had to come back at least 4 times because we hadn't made up our minds! -- so many good choices!)

We opted for the TMNT (Tomato, Mozzarella, Oregano, Chili Flake, Caciocavallo, Parmigiano, Salametto Piccante), despite our love for their Scottie-2-Hottie (Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella, Sopressata, Tim's Honey, Pepperoncini Oil). Our waiter described the TMNT as a "meat lovers pie," which, despite having meat, was not what I'd generally refer to as "meat lovers," and more of a "pepperoni."

If you're looking for a casual lunch/date/dinner spot, make a stop at Oak & Rye because seriously, you can't go wrong. They do get busy, and they don't take reservations... so if you plan on a trip during a weekend.. make sure to come prepared to wait a little while.. it gets packed!

Mmm.. Pizza. I already can't wait to go back! 

Restaurante Casianos, San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Last week the beau and I had the pleasure of making a quick trip to Cabo San Lucas. Despite the fact that roughly half the trip was spent at the airport, we had an excellent time swimming and sunbathing in the ultra hot weather.

One of the highlights of the trip was dining at Restaurante Casianos  which is pretty well known in the area, and offers their take on "spontaneous cuisine." Diners can choose from a 3 or 5 course tasting menu that includes 1 amuse-bouche, a few appetizers, 1 main, and dessert. We opted for the 3 course (despite the fact that Jon was confident we could finish a 5 course) and tucked right in when food showed up on the table.

We started the meal with a really tasty bread service, We both favored the tiny round pitas which were smothered in herbs and were pillowy soft that we topped with the house made chipotle butter.

The amuse-bouche was a totally delicious bite of a caprese inspired bruschetta that had ripe roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction on a perfect crisp of baguette. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted the photo with my fumbling fingers when I went to upload them so it's not pictured. :[

The first course appetizer was split into two bites, two perfectly seared scallops on a bed of cauliflower puree and a chipotle prawn with a black bean stuffed plantain with lentils which were perfectly cooked

The second course appetizer they brought out was another set of two dishes, which really made the 3 course meal feel more like a 6 courser! On one side a perfectly seared Parrot Fish  with corn puree and spanish chorizo (I think that's what the fish was?) and on the other half a lobster tail with a white wine reduction... YUMMY

The main course was kind of a play on a "Steak Tamale." NY Strip cooked perfectly on a real tamale.

And of course once I realized there was red meat, I had to order some red wine.. 

By the time we got to dessert I was seriously feeling the need to unbutton but I chugged on! They brought out a pre-dessert amuse-bouche which was the teeniest sliver of the most decadent flour less chocolate cake with a raspberry compote... (So rich, I really could've been satisfied with just that last bite)

But then... 3 more teeny tiny desserts for the last of the meal. A key lime pie, a chocolate 'tamale' soufflé and vanilla tequila ice cream.

Just when I thought we were totally finished, they brought out two more bite sized pieces of chocolate covered cranberries and almonds. (Again not picture because fumbling fingers)

Talk about a 3 course dinner right? There was so much food I was so stuffed by the end they practically had to roll me out of the restaurant via wheelbarrow!
What are you favorite prix fixe dining experiences?

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