Happy Hump Day all! Today was seriously an amazing day. Let me list all the reasons why….
* I had ZERO cavities ~ yeah!!!
* I got the chance to taste test another place for our holiday party at lunch!
* I LOST 2.4 lbs at my Weight Watcher meeting today!!! Oh and my super cool new leader that I LOVE gave me a Bravo sticker plus a hug…..yes, I am sucker for those little stickers!
* The 4-Cup Cuisinart Chopper/Grinder that they gave all the BlogHerFood09 Attendees arrived!!! This just might be my new BFF 😀
* Do you all remember when I have to give a speech about blogging to a group of women? I guess they liked what I had to say since they were nice enough to give me this super sweet Thank You card and a ceramic muffin pan to make my next batch of Pumpkin Muffins in ~ Guess I better get baking!!! Thanks ya’all seriously know the way to my heart….I LOVE all things Kitchen!!!
Since my body decided to get up at 4:22 am today (when I could sleep until 7 am), I figured it was was the perfect day for a Starbuck’s VIA Challenge. I am a complete light weight and honestly cannot handle caffeine. So, I picked the Medium Colombia roast. I think that would be my one request ~ make these super cool packets in Decaf so that those like me don’t turn into over-hyper active people running around/talking super fast (like Minnie Mouse on Crack)
I boiled a pot of water and it dissolved completely in my cup. Yeah for no coffee ground floaters. I really liked this flavor and savored it all morning. It definitely tasted like a great cup of coffee and not like instant.
The Husband is a big time Iced Starbuck’s Coffee Fan ~ he sometimes orders a double (as in TWO venti’s). I decided he needed to have the Extra Bold Italian Roast.
I took 16 oz of cold filtered water and mixed in two packets using a wire whisk. Then, I whisked in his standard 1/4 c sugar and low fat milk. After mixing for about 4 minutes, the grounds still did not dissolve all the way :( Maybe, you really do need to add it to hot water to dissolve it then let it cool?
I used a sieve to filter out the grounds as much as I could as I poured it over his mug-o-ice.
The verdict for him ~ he said it’s not bad, but, you can tell it tastes like instant coffee. I didn’t try his sweetened version but I will have to try giving iced another go next time.
Ironically I wasn’t super hungry for breakfast so I grabbed a quick LF Sargento Cheese square and a mini fuji apple to eat on my way to the dentist.
I really, really, wanted to celebrate my no cavities with a latte from Starbuck’s as my mid morning snack, but, I refrained since I knew we were checking out ZinsValley Restaurant as another possible spot for our holiday party.
I LOVED the modern look including the lights and fun couch/chairs for the middle tables.
The items on their menu ALL sounded fantastic so we decided to pick a little from everything to try from appetizers to salads to entrees to dessert. It’s rough, but, you know, we have to give a thorough review for our holiday party potential and all 😀
The service was not the best. Our waiter was great about getting our drinks, but, after 15 minutes he finally came over and asked us “is everything ok so far?” Um, we only had water and iced tea. After placing our order and more waiting, we noticed everyone else had bread. We had to request a basket versus having it show up on the table :( This basket was really cool though ~ it’s solid and probably weighed about 3-4 lbs lol….Bread+Butter is always AMAZING! LOVED the crusty, soft sourdough.
Their first salad to come out was “Beet & Goat Cheese Napoleon, Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette”. This was by far the BEST salad of the two we ordered. As you know, I am not a fan of stinky cheeses, but, I was intrigued by the beet napoleon’s. You’ll be shocked, I even ventured out and tried the stinkin’ goat cheese and I LIKED it. It was really creamy versus tart probably due to more fat content. The dressing was AWESOME.
The second salad we shared (there were 3 of us trying things so I had 1/3 of the salads), was a basic “Mixed Field Greens, Spun Vegetables, Fried Shallots & Sherry-Herb Vinaigrette”. It was ok, but, it felt like something was missing from it. It might have been better with some crunch (nuts) and something sweet (cranberries).
Next up was Wild Mushroom Bruschetta with a white bean spread and a port reduction. This appetizer really WOW’d me. I LOVED the creamy bean spread and the port reduction really made the mushrooms stand out. The little salad in the middle was pretty tasty too.
The 2nd appetizer we got was actually titled “Some Kind of Egg Roll”. These were served with a flavored oil and stuffed with a smoky pork. They were super greasy so no extra oil was needed. All 3 of us did not like these at all and put them down after 1 bite. Sad because I LOVE fancy egg rolls.
We waited another 20 minutes after our salads and appetizers before our entrees were brought out :( The water boy however was awesome. I am not sure any of us got close to drinking more than 1/4 of our glass before it was refilled.
1st up ~ “Pan Roasted Chicken Breast with a Porcini Mushroom Gratin, Baby Carrots and a Natural Reduction”. I LOVED this dish ~ it was perfectly seasoned with the herbs, garlic and salt. The carrots were sweet and um….Hello Cheesy Potatoes with Mushrooms ~ how can you go wrong?!
I was really looking forward to the 2nd entree the most~ Steak & Frittes! “Grilled Kobe Bavette, Thyme Fries!, Stuffed Tomato, Sauce Vert”. I LOVED the breaded, parmesan tomato that was perfectly cooked and the thyme fries. They had such an amazing taste and I liked the use of all the seasoning/spices. The Kobe steak I had pictured being so buttery tender to melt in your mouth, but, it was sorta chewy and not medium well like we ordered. The basil lemon pesto sauce on top really enhanced the steaks flavor.
The last entree we tried was their Grilled Vegetable Lasagna. It was pretty tasty especially if you are a tomato person. It reminded me of a good vegetable pizza – just add the crust!
We all made up little sample plates to try everything. I did go back a few more tastes of everything.
There was only one dessert on the menu that sounded tasty to all 3 of us ~ The warm gooey chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream.
This dessert was REALLY small ~ like a petite dessert. The flavor wasn’t bad, but, the presentation made us think of an upside down cupcake. I think I’d try a different dessert for $7 in the future.
Overall, the food was ok, but, I am a little concerned about the service since it took them an hour and forty minutes to serve 3 of us during lunch. What would it be like for 60 people? I may or may not go back for lunch sometime since there were still things on their menu that sounded delicious.
Ok ~ enough about our lunch :) It was great to gab and be taste testers. I look forward to Ristorante Allegria tomorrow 😀
I worked away all afternoon with no snack needed. When I got home after my WW meeting, I was STARVING. The Husband earned brownie points again for cooking dinner….ready to see what he served?
Salad from last night but with a spin (he used toasted almond slices vs AVOCADO) lol 🙂
Plus Baked Cheesy Baked Penne Rigatta from last night too!
He went ALL out when he bought me a Trader Joe’s Windmill cookie. I may or may not have had another one 🙂
Phew ~ that felt like a marathon post ~ kudos to you if you made it through it all! 🙂
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Only TWO days left before the weekend and before my NEXT GIVEAWAY!!!!
Jessie (Vegan-minded) says
First off, congrats on your weight loss, that’s awesome! I love all the beautiful salads in this post, and that wild mushroom bruschetta is my kind of appetizer!
That food looks fantastic – what a great choice for a party!
Food Makes Fun Fuel says
That restaurant looks delicious!
I love Windmill cookies and surprisingly I haven’t tried TJ’s yet! I better rectify that!
P.S. I have a recipe that I use to make desserts like that, I call them Chocolate Molten’s. I can send it to you if your interested, ingredients are definitely not $7!
Emily (The Experimentarian) says
Oooh, jealous of your restaurant yumminess. too bad the service was terrible. That stuffed tomoato looks extra delicious!
Congrats on the weight loss Danica – you deserve it! Love the time and attention to detail you put into your blog. When I read about Napa, your markets, wineries etc. I am sooooooo jealous as it is dismal, cool and rainy here outside Toronto. Make sure you don’t take it for granted, you are so lucky to live in such a beautiful spot!
Kristin (Kristin's Nibbles) says
That food looks incredible, yum!
I’d like to try Via… I’d be interested to see if it tastes like “real” coffee to me, I’m so picky! lol
Those windmill cookies look so good! I will have to look for those the next time I am at Trader Joe’s.
Slow service is never fun, but it looks like you are having fun testing out all these potential restaurants/wineries for your company party! I would love that!
I am totally going to make that baked penne pasta dish! It looks sooooo yummy!
that restaurant looks great!
Melissa S. says
congrats on the weight loss!
the restaurant food looks fab; too bad the service wasnt up to par!
Thanks for the congrats on the Weight Loss all – I am super excited about it! I am enjoying taste testing the restaraunts but I am definitely ready to get back to my simple healthy eats 🙂
Alicia ~ Um, ya – share away, I’d LOVE the recipe 🙂
Suzanne ~ You are so right, I am totally lucky to live where I live and see all the beautiful things I do every day on my way to work. I wouldn’t change it for a thing.
Kristin ~ guess what….I AM HOSTING A VIA GIVEAWAY TOMORROW!!!
Sarah ~ I cannot wait to hear how the baked penne turns out.
I am a total sucker for all things kitchen too–LOVE that muffin pan!