Spicy Green Mango

--Living and eating with a dash of whimsy and a sprinkling of spice--

  • I'm a budding food-tographer turned blogger who's insanely passionate about food..real food...the kind that sprouts from the earth and you have to wash it to eat it. Yes, hearty real food. I live to eat and I eat to live and am loving every bit of it! If you're here, then I suppose we share the same passion! Enjoy!

Posted by Spicy Green Mango 6 comments

I absolutely adore the month of June!  Besides the fact that I graced the world with my presence (thanks, mom & dad!), June has always been synonymous with celebrations for me--what with graduation parties, the end of my first year in business school and the onset of a spectacular summery wine season, there's so many reasons to love June. I'm dedicating the next few series of posts to my celebratory experiences. So, brace yourselves!


Filled to the brim with making capital budgeting projections, learning the tricks behind marketing segmentation, analyzing cash flows and gaining a thorough understanding of how organizational culture affects our productivity and morale, it's just fitting that we capped off our insane year of studies with a trip to the beautiful wine country in Napa Valley.  It's been 3 years since I ventured back to the area (which is downright sad b/c I only live 40 minutes away), but like I said, it's been a whirlwind year.

With the sun beaming down on us on a sweltering June morning, a group of my fabulous MBA buddies (more appropriately dubbed as the Dream Team) and I made our way into the heart of Napa.  Even before we settled down for lunch, we had our sights set on the an early morning treat at the Beaulieu Vineyard tasting room where we tasted the BV Maestro Collection of whites.  The most memorable one for me?  The '07 Ensemble Blanc White Blend because it was light and crisp and made me wish I was nibbling on some grilled lemongrass shrimp scallops on bamboo skewers. I know, where is a personal chef when you need one?

And then, lunch at Rutherford Grill.  Great for pictures, but the food was blah and nothing to really blog about.

Peju Province Winery:  Situated right off of Highway 29 in the Rutherford Valley, my previous experience at Peju was less than spectacular, but this time around defiinitely proved that second chances can be a real charm.  Usually, large groups on the weekends will need to make an appointment for tastings, but our robust group of 9 were greeted warmly by their  friendly staff.  Our pourer  knowledgeable about each and every wine he poured (which is really the only way it should be) and entertained us with stories of each wine's orgins.  The Classic Tasting included both reds & whites and he even threw in some extras (of their new release)  based on our individual preferences.  I bought myself a bottle of their Provence (to complement my spicy papaya salads) and '09 Carnival (for when I'm snacking on a yummy teacake and sweet golden peaches).  My friend, T, ended up purchasing 20 varietal bottles--it's okay, she says it's for her family (they're pretty serious about their wine :) 

Great For:  If you love reds or whites that be easily paired with a light steak salad or chicken/seafood dish.  However, if you prefer more robust and peppery notes in your wines, then keep moving :) Below, the Pink wine where 10% of sales proceeds would go towards breast cancer research.

And then a final stop into Cakebreak Cellars.  Eventhough the gentleman at the entrance told us they had already closed their tasting hours, we sauntered in and my friends were treated to a complimentary glass of their Sauvignon Blanc.  I missed out on this opportunity (but stole a few sips from Lisa's glass) b/c I was busy capturing the shots that you see at the top of my blog (and right below).  Ah, sacrifices for the sake of my blog. It was so worth it b/c the sunlight was perfect!

As much as I love fine dining, I must say that service is tantamount in my book (right there next to flavor).  You ever take me to a place where the people look at you as if they've got better things to do than serve you, I start bolting for the door. No joke.  And b/c of this, picking a new restaurant to try is that much more difficult b/c when I'm hungry, I do not want to be disappointed (or else I turn into a little dragon with flames flaring out of my nostrils.  Okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but hey, it's my blog, so I'll fill it with metaphors if I wish--haha!  :)  Luckily for me, that didn't happen this past weekend.

For my belated birthday dinner, I chose something different:  French cuisine at the newly opened Bistro Central Parc in the NOPA district of San Francisco.  A quaint little bistro located in an unassuming corner of a residential neighborhood near a laundromat of all places, the Bistro is a little gem of a find.  Warm and inviting with all the charm of a local mom & pop restaurant sans the pretentiousness you'd expect from fancy French dining, I was quite impressed!  The entire night was oozing with hearty comfort and oohs & aahs over the chef's skillful culinary presentation, to sum it all up in one hyphenated made-up word: Uh-MAZE-ing!!!  Let me show you just how much:

Behold: Salmon tartare with fresh dill and parsley wrapped in gravlax and topped w/caviar.  I know what you're thinking..this just looks too good to taste good, right? Welp, whaddaya know? The food here tastes even BETTER than it looks. I kid you, NOT!

I have to say that the MOST deliciously creamy risotto is served up here.  My friends each ordered the scallops w/lobster sauce and shitake mushroom risotto and I had a chance to sample both.  I'm not sure what heavenly pint of cream they use to prepare this dish, but it's decadent. Creamy to just the right consistency and the scallops were seared to genius-level perfection.  I could have licked both plates and cleaned them by making swirls with my fingertips, but unfortunately, the plates were not mine (darn!).

Hearty Southern French-style seafood bouillabaisse w/clams, mussels, fresh fish and potatoes

And did I mention how wonderfully cordial and heartwarming the chef/owner and staff were at the Bistro? It honestly felt like I had stepped foot into a family restaurant where everybody knew my name and really cared about the food and its preparation.  Several times throughout our dinner, Chef Jacque came by to welcome us and check up on how we were enjoying our experience.  And then, the best surprise of all was when they made the entire restaurant croon Happy Birthday to me by closing the lights right when they bought out my creme brulee.  Awe..so sweet. It was like I was at my grandparent's house. 

Posted by Spicy Green Mango 1 comments

So, you're probably wondering if I ever get a chance to cook these days since my posts have centered primarily on my eating adventures outside of my home.  Well, the answer is yes, but not as much as I'd like to nowadays. I'm wrapping up my first year in business school (whoo-hoo!) and it's another week of finals, so blogging has been a feat eventhough I manage to take pictures of my meals.

This past weekend, my mom prepared a wonderfully traditional Lao dish:  meat stew with fresh dill and Thai green eggplants (otherwise known in my language as Aw Seen Sai Puk See kup Maak Keuy.  So hearty and oh-so-GOOD!  You have to eat it with piping, hot sticky rice and it's only as great as the bounty of fresh vegetables that you have around.  As I was washing the baby lettuce, cucumbers, dill and other baby greens, I couldn't help but gush over how much I love this time of year when you can wander into my local grocer and go bonkers over the fresh produce lining the aisles.  It can honestly make a gal like me do cartwheels (in my head, that is).

I'm just posting the pictures for now, but if you want the recipe, you'll have to wait until after I've (successfully) battled my finals this coming week. Wish me luck!

Oh yeah, we always have many interesting tastebuds in my family, so my dad really wanted some grilled fish stuffed with fresh chilis, dill and tender, feathery fronds of theThai cha-om (a fragrant herb grown in Thailand & Laos) plant. It was quite yummy.

Posted by Spicy Green Mango 3 comments

Yep, you're staring smack dab into just a part of my dinner from this past weekend. And yes, I, too, needed a bib while snapping this shot.

Last week ended with a few notable experiences and as always, nothing short of amazing.  I'll be among the first to let you in on a little snippet of what's been going on behind my blog.  As a featured publisher with FoodBuzz, I had the opportunity to debut my first on-camera self for a marketing video that they're in the midst of producing for their company.   I didn't know what to expect when I stumbled on set (a real, live set with cameras, lights and a director's chair to boot), but I was greeted with the sweetest crew ever and couldn't have asked for a more positive and memorable experience to showcase my blog and my love for food and of course..FoodBuzz!!  I had butterflies swarming in my tummy when I first got into the hot seat, but quickly warmed up to the camera.  My hubby was on hand to lend his support and I met such wonderful fellow food bloggers, the day couldn't have began on a more perfect note.  I left feeling even more jazzed about my blog (although, I must admit that my head might have gained an extra inch or so in its circumference from all flattering remarks I received on my performance).  Don't worry.  Should this blog become something more than my own foodie obsession, I shall not forget all my devoted fans--and if you're reading this, I'm talking to you!

So, did I venture into San Francisco just to have my 15 (actually 30 minutes) in the spotlight? If you know me, you already know the answer.  Heck no!  Actually, my hubby and I were in the City to celebrate the first portion of our wedding anniversary.  I say first b/c the 2nd portion is to be continued in our summer travel adventures (so, make sure you stay tuned during the upcoming months). 

I'm going to make this short and sweet b/c like you, I am skimming blogs for the visuals.  So, here you go!

Lunch at Luna Park in the Mission District:  Grilled, beer marinated half chicken w/arugula, grape tomato and avocado salad and roasted fingerling potatoes.  The mussels were delish! and cooked in a wine broth sprinkled with fresh chilis, cilantro and lime and served with a side of fries.  Okay, I'm in love with the metal measuring cup the fries were served in---so easy to please, I am.

And then the MOST out-of-this-world dining at 5A5 Steak Lounge in the Financial District of SF.  I've eaten at many lavish steak establishments and tried many cuts of beef, but I must attest to the quality, ambience and service at 5A5: 5 Stars ALL arround!

I had done some yelping and googling the night prior and made the reservation (with my fingers crossed and all).  The hubby hasn't dined on a really great steak or rib-eye since our time in Hawaii, so I figured this would be it.  And boy, it was!  We arrived for an early dinner and the service from start to finish was impeccable.  Our water glasses were constantly being refilled w/o either of us having to ask and each time one of us got up from the table, we'd return with our dinner napkins neatly folded and placed back on the table.  Not only that, but our waitress was incredibly knowledgeable about EVERY aspect of the menu and even started with an orientation of what to sample and consider.  And yes, the decor and ambience is a bit more on the swankier, modern contemporary side, but the service lacks the pretentiousness that a typical place like this would garner. 

Our Menu for the Evening:
--Himachi Shooters w/ponzu dressing
--Warm house-made bread w/bacon bits
--Lobster tempura (that's the 1st picture you saw)
--Dayboat scallops w/fennel, prosciutto & black bean sauce
--Bone-in ribeye with bbq demi glaze
--Australian kobe beef
--Macha green tea doughnuts w/homemade peach ice cream

NOTE on KOBE:  I've only heard about Kobe beef, its origins in Japan, and the tender love and care that farmers pay to their prized Wagyu cattle by massaging and feeding them the best.  Because of the way these cattle are raised, they produce the most tender and well-marbled beef you'll ever taste.  I have to say that I was a skeptic and really couldn't understand what all the fuss was about until I bit into my first sliver of Kobe beef.  Damn!  It was THAT good..if not more!  Yes, it is pricey, but a small 8 oz. steak will have you singing showtunes in no time...well, that or humming to whatever the cast of GLEE just sang.  Either way, it is definitely worth every bit of what it's cracked up to be. 

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