Dinner Last Night

din_cover

Canyon Vista Magazine is new to our community and striving to gain a strong foothold for their advertisers. To this end, about 20 folks from Sierra Canyon were invited to the Napa Sonoma Grocery — their third event at a featured local restaurant — for a meal and introduction to selected advertisers.

We had visited Napa Sonoma the summer of our first year in Reno, looking for an excellent cheese shop; what we found at the time was a specialty grocer with wine, jams, olive oil, sauces, and the like and lots of baskets including gift baskets. They still have the groceries and baskets, but have evolved into a full service restaurant and substantial wine shop.

We entered the wine shop part of the operation, with a wall of wine, a marble bar spread with an antipasti buffet, and enough tables and chairs for our group. We found only two unoccupied tables — we got there exactly at five o’clock, the appointed hour — both were high tables for four… we selected one and were joined by Jane, from London and her husband Ike, the serviceman who swept her away to America.

My serving of antipasti, a few cheeses, prosciutto, watermelon, cucumber and artichokes, accompanied by Pomegranate Martinis. Yum.

A wine list for the evening with the bottle price, lay on the small round table. Though the wines were complimentary along with all of the food, this gave us an idea of the wine store prices — very reasonable. Dinner menus were also available for our perusal.

[NOTE: with the smallish table and high chairs I wasn’t able to step or scoot back a bit to take pictures, so we have rather cramped close-ups.}
While enjoying the antipasti, we were introduced to some community businessmen and women (advertisers), a dentist, an oriental rug washer (we talked with him and got his card, our rug is long overdue for a cleaning), an investment advisor — Bob, brother of Steve, with whom we consulted about our retirement plans at MC2.

 

The first course was avocado stuffed with a salad of tiny shrimp, paired with Albarino, perfectly chilled and refreshing.

din_spinach-salad

Spinach salad with roasted pear slices and candied walnuts followed, paired with Chardonnay.

 

The next course was chili, made from prime rib scraps, oh my, and perfectly spiced to go with a Sangiovese.

We thought that would probably be followed by dessert… but nooooo… out came a beef short rib, tender enough to cut with a fork, rich and deserving a fine Merlot.

What a great evening. Plenty of good food and wine, and we found some local businesses of interest who are supporting our free community magazine. It was nice to meet these folks in person.

Happy Birthday to Me

There are many fine restaurants in Reno and I have enjoyed many of them, not all, to be sure.
Word around town is that LuLou’s is the place to go for celebrating a special occasion. Without consulting me, Carol and Brian made a reservation at LuLou’s for my birthday. I’m good with that.

PROLOGUE

pineapple express eve

Reno had no precipitation in January. Zero. First time in 10 years. On Groundhog day, the weather guy started talking about the Pineapple Express, a “river of weather” traveling with 80 to 100mph winds moving in a straight line from Hawaii through Reno, bringing with it great gobs of rain below 8000 feet and three or four feet of wet snow above that. Will his wishful forecast be correct this time? You betcha, came on my birthday.

Here’s the 8000 foot line in the California Sierras about 8 miles to the West.

I heard the wind before I got up to make coffee at 6:30. Fierce. Trees I could see bent over, wind coming from the West-South-West, so our back yard and courtyard are sheltered. Weather guy said dust storms until the rain starts and wets the earth. We experienced that — and rampant tumbleweeds — when we went to our Chiropractic appointment at 11am. Driving into the wind and dust on our way home, Carol said NO WAY she’s driving out tonight.

Approaching Sierra Canyon on I-80

Sprinkles started around 3pm and dampened the dust, rain started in earnest and dampened the wind. It wasn’t really a storm storm, but by the time we left for LuLou’s, an inch of rain had fallen at our house. Not so much downtown.

DINNER

The menu of first courses. Everybody ordered exclusively from here, except yours truly.

No wonder LuLou’s is known as a place for celebrations. They do personal stuff, like this.

Fried Calamari / Thai citrus glaze / crispy noodle “mee krob”
Pork Buns / 24 hr pork belly / shiitakes / pickled cucumbers / long onions

[Note: I described what I ate, I’ll leave the description of what others ate to them, by way of comment or as noted below.]

The chef at LuLou’s happens to be the brother of our hairdresser. Carol was tipped in advance to order these appetizers. Thanks Doug.

The two Appetizers recommended by Doug were delicious. The calamari was not dipped breaded and deep fried but very lightly tossed with spice and perfectly tender without grease. Served over rice noodles with crunchy noodles on top and light vinaigrette. A really well executed dish…never had calamari done that way.

The pork buns were melt in your mouth delicious. They were more of a savory taco design…a large piece of well cooked pork belly tucked into a pork bun dough wrapper and sauced as described by M. One for each of us was just enough to satisfy as the start of a meal. [Carol]

 The pork bun served in a paper boat for easy handling gave us layer after layer of different flavors and textures from the soft, almost gooey pastry to the crunchy tart cucumber to the unctuously rich pork belly  and finally the onion finish. YUM.

As a first course for Brian and Natalya, they shared these appetizers (no pictures):

Dungeness Crab Skillet Cake / sunchokes / creme fraiche . Himalayan truffle

Baked Maine Lobster /  “escargot” butter / preserved lemon / garlic confit

As their main course, they shared Foie Gras times two…

Seared Foie Gras / chestnut griddle cakes / bourbon aged maple syrup

 

Foie Gras Terrine / huckleberry jam / pine nut crumble / brioche

Carol selected the Dungeness Crab Bisque for her main course.

Dungeness Crab Bisque / scallion jus / saffron potatoes / urfa pepper

The crab bisque made a perfect course to fill out my meal. Warm, rich and lightly seasoned and filled with crab and small chunks of fingerling potatoes. Yummy with the focaccia bread served on the table. [Carol]

I leapt off the appetizer menu for my main course and went straight for the Steak. This one was unlike any steakhouse steak I had ever experienced — no slab of meat and foil wrapped baked potato and undercooked vegetables here — instead, a harmonious and composed dish of the steak, perfectly tender and juicy, fat and succulent trumpet mushrooms, bright and almost crisp broccoli rabe, and “The” potato gratin, may I use the term *rich and fulfilling* again. Hey, it’s my birthday and this dish will be remembered.

Prime Dry Aged N.Y. Steak / king trumpet mushroom / “The” potato gratin / black garlic

Dessert came without menu or description, a lemony moist, balanced unsweet confection that made a palate-cleanser and dessert altogether.

How can lemon curd bar topped with small merengue curls and whipped cream be anything but tart, rich and the perfect dessert to end a birthday dinner! Well the trick candle hit the spot… keep blowing it out and it relights — until you reach the number of your birthdays — if you can get there. [Carol]

Lemon Dessert with Plum Jam

…and Happy 15th Anniversary LuLou’s!

EPILOGUE

My leftover steak and potato… portions on the right to be heated for dinner;  portions on the left for my Sunday breakfast.

Bon Appetit. Saturday dinner served with steamed broccoli and cauliflower.

 

5 Guys come to Reno

We got our car washed recently. Kietzke Lane is a major north-south street in Reno. McCarran circles the city. Hutch’s Car Wash is on a corner of Kietzke and McCarran “behind the Union Bank” in one of those tangled shopping areas that makes no sense.

They do a really nice job on our car and there’s always a coupon in the RGJ or one of those “deal envelopes” that get tossed in our driveway.

As we left Hutch’s, we ran smack into 5 Guys Burgers and Fries. We had heard that they opened in Reno, but didn’t know exactly where. Well, they’re in the same tangled shopping area.

It was about quarter to noon on Friday, so we just parked and walked in.

Big noisy place. We found a line on the left side of the room next to stacked bags of potatoes. One woman was taking orders, so the line did not move extra quickly. When we got to her, we found out why. There are choices.

Who knew they could do such a thing? I went into brain-lock trying to quickly decide what I wanted on my “Little Cheeseburger.” Meanwhile, Carol was in my ear saying “I want relish, mushrooms and steak sauce.” Continue reading

We went to a movie and a swell dinner broke out.

Friday afternoon. “Let’s go see Trouble with the Curve.”
Turns out we had waited too long and it was playing in only one Reno Cineplex, the Century 16 Park Lane, south of Downtown, not our regular Riverside on Sierra by the river.

We left early, hoping to find a place for a bite before the film. Yelp said there were a few places nearby. We knew nothing about any of the places mentioned, so we had to go by name and curb appeal. We passed by Lulou’s on Virginia, which looked very modern and colorful, and opted for The Gas Lamp, a homey looking place, just off Virginia.

Wow! What a find. We walked in before the 6:30 end of Happy Hour, and sat at the bar, so all appetizers and drinks were half price. Better yet, the menu was creative and the food delicious; well prepared and presented.

We each ordered two appetizers — not because they were half price, well maybe — they looked great and we weren’t up for actual dinner-dinner.

smoked salmon carpaccio

I started off with the Smoked Salmon Carpaccio, thin slices of smoked salmon garnished with lots of capers and shaved parmesan, just enough to play a supporting role to the salmon. It was dressed with a non-assertive cream dressing. The grilled breads are very thin slices of baguette, “grilled to perfection.” I stretched those lovely things over my entire meal.

small ceasar salad with shrimp

For my second appetizer or first salad, I chose the Small Ceasar Salad and sprung for Shrimp to go with. It is what you think it is, expertly prepared and as Carol said, “They aren’t afraid to let you taste the anchovies.” (C had the small Ceasar as her first course.)

steamed clams

Carol’s ‘main’ appetizer course of Steamed Clams. I always think of steamed clams as “longneck or soft shell clams,” but these were cherrystone (littleneck). C said the juice was divine, and besides using her ample supply of bread, begged for my last piece of grilled bread to soak up the sauce. All in all, an extra-fine pre-film repast.

We’re learning that Reno offers many, many good local restaurants outside the casinos. I suspect we’ll be back to the Gas Light and pay a visit to Lulou’s, as well. Continue reading

Noodles Make Everything Better

We often stop at Dottie’s in Colfax CA on our way from San Francisco to Reno. The food is real good and served in two-meal size portions for a one-meal price.

The Special on Sunday was a prime rib sandwichthin sliced prime rib of beef, caramelized onions, peppers and parmesan, onna soft roll. For an extra buck, they jazzed the fries with parmesan and garlic. We got one order each, Carol’s with a salad.

Ranch dipping sauce for the oh so good fries

I will admit to eating half of my sandwich and we licked the platter clean of the fries. So good.

Here’s the half-sandwich I brought home. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Looks forlorn, but I remember how good it was. The microwave is rarely the answer for me, and besides, I doubt it would heat evenly, and what would become of the bread.

So, I’ll deconstruct the sandwich, heat the meat and top with noodles and “tomato sauce.” Sounds like a lunch.

The noodles I’m talking about are my favorite Chinese Noodles, Green Dragon brand Oriental Style Imitation Egg Noodles. They take only 3 minutes to cook.

Slice the LO sandwich and warm in a frying pan, move to a plate and keep warm in the oven.

Cook a bundle of noodles and drain. Heat a 5 1/2 oz can Spicy V8 in the pan, add noodles and cook down a bit. Turn the noodles over the sandwich slices.

eat it all