Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

New Taste on Bonaire – Bambu Restaurant

Thursday, December 8th, 2005

Last night we opted to dine out and try a newly opened restaurant here on Bonaire – it goes by the name Bambu and is owned and operated by Joyce, the proprietor of La Guernica, a one year old restaurant about a half mile north of this one.

With a name like Bambu we expected Asian or Asian Fusion fare, but instead found an eclectic blend of original continental fare and some variations on old favorites.

After being greeted with a bit of proscuitto wrapped melon as a welcome treat, my wife opted for the day’s menu, which consisted of a salad featuring warm apples and bacon wrapped goat cheese. The main course was rack of lamb in a yummy roasted garlic sauce with a haricort vert (thin green bean) bunch wrapped with bacon (and sauteed) and cheesy potatoes au gratin. Dessert was a chocolate brownie accompanies by a coffee and a home made chocolate bonbon (filled with a marzipan/coconut filling). Total price was NAF 57,50 (approximately US$32) for this menu. Everything on the menu was excellent (I was given samples of it all), even for someone like myself who does not particularly care for lamb or goat cheese.

My son opted to move straight over to dessert and had the lemon sorbet – two portions of it actually – one for his entree and another for dessert. He enjoyed it, and the small taste I stole was very good.

My daughter and I shared an appetizer of a duo of puff pastry – one filled with shrimp and the other with goat cheese. It was tasty – the goat cheese was mild, but the filo dough crisp. The shrimp filling was okay – more saucy than I expected.

For our entrees, my daughter had seafood fajitas as the bolletin of chicken and orange was sadly not available, while I had marinated tuna with salad from the appetizer part of the menu as my main course. The seafood fajitas were tasty and of decent size (and they made great leftovers too!), and the accompanying guacamole was excellent. Lacking was some sort of tomato salsa or pico de gallo, but in speaking with Joyce she promised to look into adding this to the presentation in the future.

My marinated tuna was marinated in olive oil, rosemary, dill, and perhaps a few other herbs I could not discern by taste. By itself the marinade was just there – but when eaten in conjunction with the so-called accompanying Caribbean salad, it was an excellent combination.

We ended the meal with desserts for all – the aforementioned chocolate brownie for my wife, the second helping of lemon sorbet for my sun, an orange creme brulee for me, and my daughter ended up with a berry laden coupe with vanilla ice cream. Again, all very delicious.

Portion size were just right in all cases – leaving us sated but not gorged. The presentation of all the dishes was artful and inspired – not something you usually see on Bonaire. And outside of the very minor nits I mentioned above, the flavor and taste of each dish was wonderful.

Total cost of the dinner, including several frozen fruit shakes for the kids, and a couple of Barcardi Lemon and Cokes for my wife and I, worked out to a bit over US$100 without tip, which is quite reasonable.

I give Bambu an 8.5 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale. Well worth a visit if you have the time when next visiting Bonaire.

Bambu is located at Kaya C.E.B. Hellmund 17, in the location of where the Mai-Mai restaurant used to be, just south of downtown Kralendijk along the oceanfront promenade towards the Divi Flamingo Resort. Phone +599-7 17-4167.

Low Carb Ice Cream

Saturday, June 25th, 2005

Being on a low-carb diet has some drawbacks in terms of foods you may have been used to eating for pure gastronomic pleasure, but can no longer enjoy because of their high carb counts. For me that includes french fries, tortillas and tortilla chips, bread, and ice cream.

However, in the freezer section of the Super Wal-Mart in Marshall, Texas, I came across low-carb Blue Bunny brand ice cream bars. The one that seemed particularly appealing was that the Butter Pecan Carb Freedom “frozen dairy dessert”.

The package describes these as “Butter Pecan frozen dairy desset dipped in white chocolate and pecan pieces”. At 2g net carbs for each bar, that’s within the limit I of daily treats I allow myself (when not having a pack of Atkin’s Peanut Butter Cups instead – also 2g of net carbs for one package).

Having previously tried a Ben & Jerry’s low-carb ice cream (flavorless – yuck! – 2.0 out of 10.0 on the The Richter Scale) and ice cream bars from Atkins (chocolate covered peanut butter ice “cream” – good chocolate covering but the ice “cream” left a lot to be desired 3.5 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale), I wasn’t sure I would like these Butter Pecan bars, especially from a company that names itself “Blue Bunny”.

So imagine my surprise when it turns out these Butter Pecan Carb Freedom “frozen dairy desserts” are actually very good (at least as far as low carb sweet things go. I’ve not tried the other flavors from Blue Bunny yet, but the Butter Pecan flavor gets an 8.0 out of 10.0 on the The Richter Scale.

Sucking Down Herring

Friday, June 24th, 2005

An annual Dutch tradition is the catch of the season’s first herring, a small fish which some consider a delicacy. The first herring harvest, something which typically occurs in May, is called “Hollandse Nieuwe” (means “Dutch New”), and the Dutch celebrate this by event by gorging themselves on the raw (or nearly so) herring, along with liberal amount of Genever (a Dutch gin), and perhaps raw onions and pickles.

Living, as I do, on an island which is part of the Dutch Kingdom, and thus has a lot of Dutchmen (and women) living on it, I’ve been privileged to join in the celebration of Hollandse Nieuwe, and am usually the only American present. This year, the first “haaring” showed up on June 1st at the Mai-Mai restaurant on Bonaire, accompanies by load Dutch music:

Pictured above is a plate of fresh Dutch herring right off the KLM flight from Amsterdam, served with pickles, raw onions, and bread.

To eat the herring, you pick it up by the tail (it has been scaled and deboned, incidentally), optionally rubs it up against the finely chopped onions on the plate (so as to have some adhere to the herring), then tilts your head back, open your mouth and lower the herring into it, taking as big a bite as you can. See my demonstration below:

The more timid will cut their herring into smaller bite size pieces and eat it with a fork.

It’s not nearly as fishy as one might think, and I am sure the fish oils are very good for you. If you eat sushi or sashimi, this is not far removed from that.

More on this tradition can be found here.

Low Carb Peanut Butter Cups

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

I’ve been on a low-carb diet now for three months, and the results are good. I’ve lost about 30 pounds, generally have quite a bit more energy, and am not having troublesome food cravings as I have had on other diets.

That’s not to say I don’t occasionally crave something sweet – I do, but there are lots of decent low carb options out there now.

Among them are peanut butter cups.

I’ve tried two different brands of peanut butter cups, with mixed results.

The brand leader in chocolate covered peanut butter cups is undoubtedly Reese’s (a division of Hershey). Their full carb peanut butter cups are great.

Not so the Reese’s 1 Gram Sugar Carb Peanut Butter Cups, which come two to a package and claim to have one gram of “sugar carbs”. (In the Atkin’s low carbohydrate diet, during the initial 2 week induction phase you should limit your carb intake to no more than 20 grams per day, and can scale up slowly from there).

I tried these both at room temperature and out of the fridge, and politely stated, they are gross. While the chocolate coating is just okay, the peanut butter filling is bland and has a disgustingly mealy texture. About the only thing with a worse mealy texture I have experienced is “uni” (raw sea urchin) or maybe an overdry nectarine.

Brand visibility only goes so far, and with this product, Reese’s has utterly failed in producing a palatable product.

I give Reese’s 1 Gram Sugar Carb Peanut Butter Cups a pitiful 1.0 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale.

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The other product I tried was from Atkins Nutrionals – the Atkins Endulge Peanut Butter Cups. These come three to a package (same weight for three as for two of the Reese’s cups – 1.2 ounces or 34 grams), and claim 2 grams of carbs for all three pieces total, double the number of carbs of the Reese’s product, but still very low.

These peanut butter cups are an amazing contrast from Reese’s. The peanut butter has flavor, and texture-wise, it feels a lot closer to a full carb peanut butter cup. The chocolate coating also tastes and melts like chocolate. While it’s still a far cry from real peanut butter, it’s still a pretty decent substitute.

You can get 5-packs of the Atkins Endulge Peanut Butter Cups for around $6.00 at CVS. I’ve got a fridge full of them for after dinner treats.

I rate the Atkins Endulge Peanut Butter Cups a respectable 7.0 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale.

L.A. Dining: Koji’s

Friday, May 20th, 2005

After the Nintendo Media Briefing last Tuesday, held above the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland, a trendy open-air mall with a great view of the HOLLYWOOD sign in the hills, I found myself rather hungry.

As I am low-carbing it, my options are occasionally limited, with sashimi (that’s sushi without the rice) usually a pretty safe bet.

So I wander into this place several floors up called Koji’s Japan, where the words Sushi and Shabu Shabu are boldly displayed next to the restaurant name.

Most folks know what Sushi is (although on Bonaire, where I live, that word, and a variant, “Shushi”, means trash, of all things), but Shabu Shabu, and its cousin, Sukiyaki, is less well known.

Modern Shabu Shabu involves boiling a meal in a pan of water, and then eating the cooked food dipped in sauce, with rice. The last time I had Shabu Shabu, it was a rather elaborate set-up for two, at the Osaka Tea Garden in Nashua, New Hampshire, about a decade ago. My wife and I greatly enjoyed it, so I was thrilled to see that Koji’s was set up for individual-size Shabu Shabu.


As you can see in the above pictures, Koji’s Shabu Shabu includes the pot of boiling water, a platter with meats (that’s that part you order), a platter of vegetables to add to the meat, two dipping sauces (a sesame based one and a soy/vinegar based one), and some additional sauce condiments (scallions, fresh minced garlic, and minced daikon radish for texture).

They also provide a bowl of edamame (boiled and salted soy bean pods) which you can eat whenever – you pop the soy beans out of the pod (the pod is too chewy to eat).

When the water starts boiling you add things to the pot, let them cook, then take them out, dip them in sauce, and eat them (I skipped the rice because it is decidedly carb laden).

I ordered the mixed meat and seafood Shabu-Shabu, with came with premium beef, chicken, salmon, and tiger shrimp.

All the meat and seafood was very fresh, as were the vegetables.

Made for a great meal. And with the hamachi (yellowtail) sashimi appetizer I had, it made for a most excellent lunch. The service was excellent too, and the prices were very reasonable – $39.00 for everything including a nice tip and some green tea.

I give Koji’s Japan at Hollywood & Highland a stunning 9.5 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale (note that I have never given a 10.0, since that implies perfection, and I doubt there is such a thing).

Nick & Sam’s in Dallas

Saturday, May 14th, 2005

Having been on low-carb diet for the last few months, steak houses are high on my “safe to eat at” list. One of the ones I have enjoyed quite a bit in Dallas is Nick & Sam’s, located in the Turtle Creek area, at 3008 Maple Avenue.

My favorite dish there is a long bone, dry aged, 22 oz. Cowboy Rib Eye, which has truffle butter melted over it. However, last night, I discovered much to my chagrin that they were out of this wonderful treat.

I splurged instead for a 13 oz. Kobe rib eye, which I was told was so tender you could cut it with a fork. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, although it was quite tender and flavorful, but it was also heavily over salted, which for an expensive cut like that, was a real shame. Mind you, it didn’t stop me from eating it all, although in retrospect, had I had a bit less Zinfandel to drink, I should have returned it to the kitchen and gotten a much less salted cut.

The wait staff was very attentive, and we all enjoyed appetizers. I had a half portion of the diver scallops (delightful!), while my companions had a iceberg wedge salad drizzled with bleu cheese and the beefsteak tomato and mozzarella with pesto dressing. Both of my fellow diners also enjoyed the filet mignon, which was excellent and not salty like my Kobe ribeye. All vegetables were separate sides, and we had asparagus, creamed spinach (without the carb-loaded bread crumbs), and mushrooms.

For dessert, we received complimentary glasses of port, and one of my fellow diners ordered the chocolate souffle cake with a side of strawberries (my willpower failed at this point – first time in two months, no doubt due to the wine consumption) – absolutely excellent.

In the three times I’ve been at Nick & Sam’s in the last 6 months, the Kobe ribeye was the only disappointment I encountered. However, it should be noted that Nick & Sam’s is not for those on a budget either. You definitely pay for top cuts of meat and seafood, as well as the incredible wine selection and service.

I rate Nick & Sam’s an 8.5 out of 10.0 on The Richter Scale.