Monday, March 30, 2009


As a former New Englander, I get hankerings for Maine lobster or a traditional clam bake.

The other day, while I was shopping at my local Costco, I spotted Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co.'s York Harbor Lobster Risotto on the frozen food shelves. I had to blink twice, not believing my eyes at first.

To back up a bit, over the years, I found that the best gifts I could send my Dad were edible ones. He loved to eat and enjoyed trying new foods. Since he too no longer lived in New England, occasionally I would splurge on a Lobster Stew or Lobster Bisque from Hancock Gourmet. And, it was a splurge. Their frozen foods are high quality, but very expensive. And then, most items require overnight shipping, which further adds to the price. Daddy loved the lobster dishes, but he didn't get them very often from me.

Personally, I never tried their products until tonight when I heated up my 2.5 pound casserole of York Harbor Lobster Risotto.

In anticipation of tonight's dinner, I checked Hancock's web site to find the same size Lobster Risotto selling for $59.00; I paid $19.95 at Costco.

Now, after dinner all I can say is OMG!! This is amazing...large chunks of real Maine lobster, a creamy cheese risotto, lots of mushrooms. It is topped with panko bread crumbs. The 2.5 pound container is said to serve 6 to 8. J and I each had second helpings and there is more than enough for dinner tomorrow. I served ours with oven roasted fresh's asparagus season in Northern California.

To serve 6 to 8 as a main course might be a stretch, but this container can easily satisfy 4 hungry people. And, for a first course, 6 to 8 would get generous servings.

I don't know if Hancock is test marketing this item at Costco, but I sure as heck am going to keep a package in my freezer ready for a scrumptious meal at home.

If you love Maine lobster, get thee to your Costco.

One more warning...if you go to Hancock's web site, you are going to be tempted. My sister, who lived in Maine for many years, still talks wistfully about Whoopie Pies, a traditional Maine dessert "sandwich" of chocolate cake cookies with vanilla cream filling. Hancock's sells them for $18 for 6, plus shipping of almost $24 (!!!).

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I think tomorrow is the first day of Spring and my part of the world is ready for it.

Today is a balmy need for even a light jacket or sweater.

And, on my walk today, I passed a field of California Poppies in front of a house. These Poppies are the California State Flower and they could not have been more glorious.

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


For just about every holiday, I buy at least part of my meal, already-prepared, from Whole Foods.

It's not that I can't or don't like to cook. It's more about not always having the time and, even more importantly, because I am often just cooking for the two of us, it is not easy to prepare just enough of a holiday meal for just that day with maybe another day's worth of leftovers.

Also, for certain holiday meals, particular the Jewish holidays, J and I like different foods. At Whole Foods I can buy brisket for him and chicken for me; a potato latke for him, a parsnip latke for me. We can get enough chopped liver for just one meal. It works for us!

So yesterday, for St. Patrick's Day, our choices were Whole Food's Corned Beef Dinner for Two ($19.95) or going out to eat. I did not have the time nor inclination to cook corned beef and cabbage and the Whole Foods meal was just too too tempting.

The above photo is what we got: a pound of lean corned beef, cabbage with apples and cranberries, roasted potatoes, turnips, and carrots. And, to go with it, a loaf of Irish Soda Bread. All I needed to do was to put the pan in the oven and warm it up...they would have heated it, had I wanted them to.

I did add dessert: three mini pastries; two mini key lime tarts and one two-bite chocolate brownie. Their mini pastries cost $17.99 a pound. These three cost a little over $3.00, perfectly fair.

Tonight we will eat the leftovers including the mini cupcake...the key lime tarts were just enough dessert for us last night.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


It's been a cloudy, sometimes rainy, cool weekend in Northern California.

Last night, we were in the mood for Vietnamese food and headed to Le Cheval. We've been longtime fans of their original downtown Oakland restaurant and now consider ourselves extra lucky to have them also in Walnut Creek. Even though we were dining rather early, I made a reservation which was a good move. By 6:30 p.m., the place was packed.

Feeling a bit adventurous, we only ordered one of our favorites, the Le Cheval Bird's Nest, a noodle "nest" filled with chicken, prawns and vegetables. Instead of our favorite starters of Watercress Salad with Prawns and Salty Calamari, we tried the Hot and Sour Soup, Saigon Style, with Snapper. For a third dish, we had the Calamari with Vegetables.

The Hot and Sour Soup was WONDERFUL! Filled with chunks of snapper and lots of mushrooms and celery, all in a broth flavored with Lemon Grass, it was heavenly. Here's what it looked like in my cup.

The Calamari dish was not as thrilling mainly because, it contained most of the same vegetables as the Bird's Nest and tasted much the same.

But we tried new dishes and that's part of the fun.

Even more fun was we had leftovers for Sunday lunch.

Despite the drizzly weather Sunday morning, we did our marketing at the Walnut Creek Farmer's Market and then headed to Whole Foods for our Sunday breakfast with MA. Today her sister and brother-in-law, who are in town from Gaithersburg, joined us.

We sit out side, rain or shine, because Louie is with us on Sunday mornings. Even though Whole Foods does not have heaters on their patio, we usually manage to chat and eat for an hour or two.

What a nice Sunday tradition we have.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Got up to sunshine and enjoyed it all day. Mostly I just enjoyed being warm and being in the sun. If this is not paradise, I don't know what is. The above and below photos are from right out our condo door.

I went to the fitness center, swam, sunned, read the LA Times at a leisurely pace, and then walked around downtown Palm Springs.

Unfortunately, I did take my photos with my camera but have discovered that I left the computer cable home...I think the Northern California rains have rotted my brain. So the rest of the week is going to be iPhone sorry...I'll keep taking camera photos and insert them next week. Thanks in advance for understanding.

Palm Canyon Drive, the main drag in downtown Palm Springs, looks pretty much the same.

As usual Oooh La La had its signature poodle out front and J had to say hello to it.

Former Mayor Sonny Bono has his eternal seat downtown in the Palm Springs Plaza.

What I especially enjoy about downtown Palm Springs is there are few chain stores and many unique shops.

Sadly, Mosaic, my favorite store where I always found a gift or some clothes or jewelry, is out of business. I spent some time in The Alley, the "junk" store where I always find treasures at bargain prices.

Today, our "finds" were a funny birthday card and a Solar Calculator.

Dinner was at Shame on the Moon, another of our favorites. The food is American...the menu is creative American comfort food, the prices a good value for a nice restaurant. I prefer seating in the Garden dining room which is quieter. We were able to get a cozy table there this evening. Shame on the Moon is celebrating its 25th season and even in our down economy, remains busy. Veal Meatloaf, Sauteed Calves Liver, Grilled Tilapia, Flank Steak, are just some of Shame's "classics" that are always on the menu and always delish!

I like Shame on the Moon because it combines elegance with fun. Just a look at the cover of the menu, with its fanciful cartoon, puts me in a cheerful mood.

Tonight, we both were intrigued by the evening's special...Veal Piccata with Angel Hair Pasta and Asparagus. That's what we ordered.

All meals come with soup or salad. J chose the evening's special soup, French Onion Soup.


My choice of starter was a mixed Green Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing.

The Veal was wonderful and the servings so generous, we simply could not indulge in our favorite dessert, the Peanut Butter Pie..good for our waistlines, but we missed having it...Next year...


Yesterday, we left Walnut Creek at 6:45 a.m. in the rain...yes, it is still raining in Northern California...and arrived for our week in Palm Springs at 3:15 p.m. And, the sun was shining and the temps were in the 80s. Nirvana!

We stopped at TJs for breakfast and lunch provisions and then went to our condo. I iced my knee, put my legs up, and was soon ready to head out to dinner at El Mirasol, our favorite local Mexican place.(140 E Palm Canyon Dr.,Palm Springs, CA; (760) 323-0721)

As always, El Mirasol was hoppin'. It's a local favorite with families and the local gay community...sort of an insider's restaurant but there are always new people discovering it. A bit off the beaten path, it is worth a visit if you love authentic Mexican food and a spirited atmosphere.

We started with a small serving of looked more like a big scoop of green ice cream...with a bit of salsa, it hit the spot and got us in the mood.

We both ordered the grilled Shrimp in Pipian sauce, a dish that never disappoints and that is special.

Each day, the El Mirasol chefs cook up a fresh batch of this traditional pumpkin seed sauce. If you get here later in the evening, there is a good chance that they will be out of the Pipian...not that there aren't many other delicious items on the menu, but in my week here, I have to have the Pipian at least once.

These photos may be a bit dark because I was using my phone camera rather than my usual camera which has a flash. Hope you can at least experience the essence of dinner at El Mirasol.