Manresa- Culinary Masterpiece

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Manresa

320 Village Ln, Los Gatos, CA

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Petit fours “red pepper-black olive” Granola crisp

Exceptional, exquisite, artful, and posh only begin to describe my experience at Manresa.

Manresa is a fine dining extravaganza designed to delight all your senses.  Plan to arrive and spend your entire evening here.

Complete with attentive servers, sommelier, amazing chefs, and a planned 14 course meal, yes 14 courses of culinary amazement!

 

I can’t begin to describe every course yet I was able to take lovely photos that just may make your mouth water by looking.   Complete with exotic tastes from truffles, to abalone garnished with finishing touches of finely caramelized red onion, and crispy fennel.  The painstaking attention to detail is not lost, with each bite a culinary treasure.

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Chestnut truffle, brilliant savarin

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Savory blood orange beignet

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Winter tidal pool

The Sommelier knew the wines well and any wine connoisseur will delight with a robust selection of French wines paired with a handful of local Santa Cruz favorites.

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Into the garden, green and bitter…

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Charcoal grilled squid, kiwi, exotic citrus

 

Manresa is known for their bread so even the seemingly ordinary is truly extraordinary here and not to be missed, one variety delicate and flakey reminiscent of an ordinary croissant the other more crusty yet boasting flavor.

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Scallops, chestnut and black truffle milk

As your courses move on you may find yourself losing track of time and wondering how a full hour has passed in what seems likes only a 15 minutes

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Abalone, tapioca with radish and parmesan

I realized as we dined that a majority of the conversation centered on describing the sensations from the food we experienced complete with delicate and complementary tastes.    I wanted to make sure I reveled in the experience and enjoyed every bite especially the truffle and abalone which are laboriously found on land and in sea

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Mushrooms, toasted leaven mousseline

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Roast duck, spiced orange confit, yam and chevre pave…and consomme

 

The service is top notch, walk away to use the restroom and be greeted with a fresh folded napkin.   Each guest is adorned with at least 3 people helping to serve, prepare and amaze them.

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Beef with five vegetables

 

The finale of the main courses was one of my favorite as possibly planned by the chef.  The beef was succulent just melting in your mouth.  I savored each bite after I realized how decadent the beef was.   Finally it was time for dessert.  Oh my this hazelnut praline puff was just simply amazing!

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Paris brest, hazelnut praline and kuno fase satsuma

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Milk chocolate bavarois, black sesame financier, winged lime…
…grapefruit and fennel pavlova with graham cracker

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petit fours “strawberry-chocolate”

As you leave your are gifted with a copy of the menu, homemade granola  and  caramels.  They say take as many as you like, my opinion is.. don’t be bashful take some to remember your experience the next day.  As you surely will be thinking about this experience for years to come!

 

I have been lucky enough to experience fine dining for royalty on a few other occasions and Manresa is right on par with my other top three. Each experience I can still vividly recall the smells, tastes and even feelings I experienced. Tetsuyas in Australia boasts a similar dining experience with 13 courses and unmatched service and delicacies (well maybe they found their match).    The second was a handcrafted chefs dinner in Hawaii fit for a prince, no really, we dined with the Prince of Monaco.  Then my last culinary sensation includes Spago in Los Angeles where I even purchased a dress from Spain just for the occasion.

 

Ratings for Manresa are fit for royalty with a 10 in each category.

 

 

 

 

 

Barney’s Beanery

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Classic Westwood Eatery been around since 1920 this is the original location but now there are 6 around the Los Angeles area.

So I’ve always heard of Barney’s Beanery and my recent trip to  UCLA had me looking for an original place for lunch.  I ventured in and sat down at the open seating patio.  Judging from the name Beanery I assumed the chili on the menu might be a local favorite.  Upon asking the server she did say that the chili was the highlight.  Interesting though the classic chili  is actually made without beans…

 

So I opted to order the sampler portion that contained the 5 different types including: classic, turkey, vegetable, Texas style or Fireman’s.  Now one thing that stood out after I sampled them was that the Texas Chili was actually spicy, I had just assumed that the Fireman’s would be a bit more spicy.  Here’s my opinion of the samplers

 

The Chili Sampler

The Chili Sampler

Classic ground beef a little bit mushy possibly good on top of nachos or a burger the way it’s made but no chucks of goodness in this one.   I would say maybe a classic but a little too ground for me, flavor was nice yet mild.

Turkey chili was with ground turkey combined with beans, corns and peppers

Didn’t love the flavor

Vegetable lots of beans, larger chunks of tomatoes, corn, and peppers cooked down mild flavor

Fireman’s-braised beef was yummy definitely my favorite hand down, larger chunks of beef in a rich sauce.

Texas-style was spicy with few bean and larger chucks of beef instead of the ground beef

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I would come here again and this time opt for a cup of the Fireman’s chili and maybe a salad on the side.

Scales out of 10, 10 best!

Food-7

Service-6

Ambiance-7

Health-6

 

Sweet Corn Taco Bake

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taco bake

If your family is like mine taco night is a BIG hit.  Everyone seems to like Mexican food in my house.  The kids love it because it tastes good and I love it because you can be so creative.  Whether you like sweet, spicy, cheesy, creamy, crunchy or all of the above you can make it happen with Mexican food.

Now one of the problems I’ve found with making taco night is that well..  there are just so many sides to put out and it creates a lot of dishes.  I created this easy to bake recipe to streamline the whole taco making process.  An added plus is that this is great recipe to make on the weekend and have ready to heat up for later in the week.  Now before I go into the recipe, let me tell you why this dish has it all.  Black beans add protein and fiber, cheese provides calcium, corn boosts both iron and antioxidants in your diet , beef is a good source of both iron and protein, and finally tomatoes are rich with vitamin C .

Sweet Corn Taco Bake
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serving size: one cup
  • Calories: 340
  • Fat: 9.5
  • Saturated fat: 4.3
  • Trans fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 26
  • Sugar: 4
  • Sodium: 241
  • Fiber: 5
  • Protein: 32
  • Cholesterol: 78

This is a great recipe to make ahead of time and heat up later in the week for a quick, healthy, tasty dinner the whole family will LOVE
Ingredients
  • one pound ground beef or turkey
  • one sweet onion, chopped
  • one yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • one 16 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • one package taco seasoning
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ can black beans
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • one cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • optional toppings include salsa, light sour cream and avocado

Instructions
  1. preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. chop one large onion and one yellow pepper and add to skillet
  3. cook on medium high for a few minutes while adding the ground beef, cook until meat is browned
  4. using a colander drain excess fat, add beef back to skillet along with taco seasoning, ¾ cup water, and crushed tomatoes
  5. simmer 10-15 minutes
  6. add in ½ can black beans and corn and gently stir turning heat off
  7. cut 6 corn tortillas in half
  8. use casserole dish and layer meat, ½ tortillas and ½ the cheese, repeat
  9. top with green onions and bake in the oven for 25 minutes

Shrimp Pad Thai with Creamy Peanut Sauce

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thai food

I discovered this recipe by accident.  It was one of those Saturday afternoons when our family had spend the whole day busily exploring and a relaxing evening was in order.  Since it was the end of the week as I looked in the fridge to see what we had, I discovered it was very sparse with only a few fresh ingredients to choose from.  What I did find were some shredded  carrots, onions, scallions and shredded cabbage.  I checked out our pantry next, and to my discovery I saw a box of brown rice noodles.

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One of those purchases I buy to try out if I ever get around to finding a great recipe to use it with.  I was pleased to know that the box had a recipe right on the back!

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Lets see oil, garlic, eggs and lemon juice check, fish sauce actually check! scallions check, frozen shrimp check… lets see no peanuts or bean sprouts.  That’s when I had an idea…. see the variations I made to make this recipe awesome.  After the rest of the family woke up from their long afternoon nap… I was happy to realize I had discovered a new comfort food for the family!  Again I’ve made some adjustments to this recipe so you can assure that the ingredients make this a healthful alternative to most restaurant pad thai dishes.

Shrimp Pad Thai with Creamy Peanut Sauce
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serving size: 2 cups
  • Calories: 371
  • Fat: 16
  • Saturated fat: 2.8
  • Carbohydrates: 28.4
  • Sugar: 12
  • Sodium: 1370
  • Fiber: 4
  • Protein: 21
  • Cholesterol: 193

Cuisine: Thai

If you love restaurant pad thai you can be rest assured that this version is packed full of healthy oils, vegetables, flavorful protein and fiber!
Ingredients
  • one box brown rice noodles
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 shallots finely chopped or alternatively, ½ onion, finely chopped
  • lots of shrimp 1-2 cups bay shrimp
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups cabbage (sliced thin to angel hair style)
  • one cups shredded carrots (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • Sauce

  • 4 tbsp. lime or lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1-2 pinches or crushed chilies or pepper flakes
  • Garnish

  • 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tbsp. scallions, thinly sliced

Instructions
  1. Cook noodles according to package instructions
  2. top with peanut butter to prevent sticking and to warm the peanut butter mix gently and set aside
  3. Mix ingredients for sauce: lemon juice, fish sauce, sugar and chilies and set aside
  4. Heat pan over high heat and add 1 tbsp. oil garlic, shallot or onions and shrimp. Cook 2-3 minutes until shrimp are opaque, add in cabbage and cook 3 minutes longer and set aside.
  5. Add remaining 1 tbsp. of oil and 2 eggs and scramble.
  6. Reduce heat to low, add sauce and noodles.
  7. Toss until well mixed
  8. Add shrimp mixture
  9. Garnish with cilantro and scallions.
  10. Thai comfort food the whole family will LOVE.

 

Delicately Roasted Delicata Squash

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Working at Google has many perks and one of the top perks for a nutritionist is all the expertly prepared gourmet foods.  I love going to one of the 27 odd cafe’s and finding some vegetable I have never seen before.  Recently, I found a roasted squash in the salad bar with a light colored, stripped, thin, edible skin.  I do love the taste of a nice roasted winter squash and delicata squash is no exception.  There are now 3 types of winter squashes I know of that have thinner delicate skins you can easily eat.  These are acorn, kaboca, and now delicata!  I once again got several of these in my farmers market box  that gets sent monthly to my house.  This squash has a sweet, creamy texture making it a perfect side dish or afternoon snack on the weekends.  This is the most basic recipe, but I’ve also tried varieties with sweet spices or savory herbs.  Check back for those varieties soon.  Winter squash is rich source of beta carotene  (vitamin A) in your diet, with one cup having over 300% of the DV.  Squash is additionially  an  excellent source of vitamin C, both vitamins A and C are important for immune system function and can help keep you healthy all winter long.

Delicately Roasted Delicata Squash
 
Author: 
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 4
  • Serving size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 75
  • Fat: 4
  • Saturated fat: 0
  • Trans fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 12
  • Fiber: 9
  • Protein: 2.3
  • Cholesterol: 0

You can make this recipe with delicata, acorn or kabocha all taste fantastic.
Ingredients
  • 2-3 delicata squash
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
  1. preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. wash delicata squash thoroughly and cut in half
  3. scoop out seeds, I like to use an ice cream scooper
  4. cut squash into ½-1 inch pieces and season with oil and salt
  5. bake in oven for 25-30 minutes until brown turning half way through, add more salt as desired.
  6. DONE! super easy

 

 

 

Garden Fresh Split Pea Soup

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split pea soup

Split pea soup is absolutely a classic.  I first fell in love with split pea soup when I went away to college.  There is this restaurant in Buellton California that serves probably some of the best split pea soup I’ve ever had.  If you’ve ever had a road trip on the 1 going south from northern to southern Califoria you’ve probably at least seen the sign for Anderson’s split pea soup.  They serve by the bowl and all that you can eat.  My dad one time ate 8 bowls!  This recipe is my own and has more garden fresh vegetable bites in it, thats the way I like my split pea soup.

In order to make this recipe a little more simple I’ve adapted a few shortcuts that you can use, you can buy pre-cut onions and shredded carrots.  Then the only chopping and peeling tasks involve 3 cloves of garlic and 2 stalks of celery.  Another option is our local supermarket also sells precut celery, carrots and onions, even better way to save time.

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Garden Fresh Split Pea Soup
 
Author: 
This split pea soup is so easy to make takes less than an hour from start to finish and will leave you feeling warm and cozy the rest of the day!
Ingredients
  • one bag split peas
  • one tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 new potatoes small to medium sizes peeled and diced
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions
  1. Sort and rinse peas in fine mesh strainer, set aside
  2. Dice the onions, celery, carrots, and potatoes
  3. In a large saucepan heat oil over medium. Add onion, celery and carrots. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, 4-5 minutes.
  4. Add in garlic and cook 1 minute longer
  5. Add broth, split peas, potatoes, and bay leaf and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and partially cover; simmer until peas are soft, 30 to 45 minutes.
  6. serve warm with crumbled crackers and parsley

 

 


Disclaimer

Stephanie Lasher is a registered dietitian. Information contained on this site should not be used to diagnose medical conditions. Persons with serious health issues should consult a physician before undertaking any new diet or exercise plan.