Tag Archives: restaurants

What if… Restaurants Promoted Cooking at Home?

23 Jan
by Deanne

It seems like a crazy idea for a restaurant to promote cooking at home.  But being concerned about the quality of prepared food that is normally served in restaurants, we instigated a promotion during the month of August and September called The FarmerChef Project. Photo of Pickle Recipe  We recruited two other restaurants to join our restaurant in offering recipes of dishes that we prepared using local ingredients.  Then offered recipes for customers to prepare the dish at home.  Even though the promotion is officially over, you can check out the recipes by clicking on our icon which will take you to the  pinterest page. Logo for FarmerChefs

As part of the promotion we worked with University of Minnesota Extension to help us survey restaurant customers about their preferences for local food and cooking. There is a myth that says people won’t pay for better quality ingredients. Our survey respondents reported that they were willing to pay from 5% to 25% more for a meal prepared with local ingredients?

Would you like to see more restaurants promote cooking at home with local products?  If they did, would it help to repair our broken food system?

Desert Roots Kitchen: Tempe, Arizona, USA

4 Feb
by Deanne

Desert Roots Kitchen—Tempe, AZ

The month of January 2013 was filled with two of my favorite activities: eating out and traveling to new places.  Steve and I visited family in California and then went to five national parks in California and Arizona. As we traveled between the Grand Canyon and Joshua Tree National Park we spent one night and morning in Phoenix.  In search of a place to enjoy lunch after a morning visit to the Desert Botanical Garden, I found Desert Roots Kitchen through an online search for organic foods.

Review: (Real Local Cooking’s criteria)
Localness: 4

Yes, they do source many of their ingredients locally.  There is a page on their website that lists farms and farmer’s markets that they use to purchase their ingredients.  They change their menu daily which is a necessity when one is cooking based on what is available.photo(73)

Flavour: 5

I loved my food!  Red lentil tomato veggie soup with crunchy celery and an olive hummus plate served with fresh pitas, tomato, cucumber, and carrots: Yummers!  The dominant spice for the soup was black pepper and perhaps some cayenne.  Steve made me some soup today because I was going on and on about the memory of my meal.  The chef didn’t overuse soy as many vegetarian and vegan cooks do as an easy trick for adding protein.  The protein came from beans, chickpeas, lentils…..yes all good sources of protein and add desirable fiber content to our diets.   Steve had the wrap of the day which was a mixed bean burrito with enchilada and sweet corn sauce.  I’ve probably said it before, he is very hard to impress, but he really enjoyed the flavor combinations. His two sides were lemon tahini kale rice with chickpeas and red cargo rice with mushrooms, green beans and water chestnuts.


Pleasant Surprise: Yes

After eating at some pretty mediocre places, one starts to think, “There just aren’t any good places to eat.”  Then you find something that is fun and flavorful and that is a big surprise.  We ate at about 40 different restaurants in California, Arizona, and Nevada.  This one stands above the rest, even some from places that have highly celebrated chefs.

Comfort+Coziness = The C factor: 5

When we walked in the door we were greeted by one of the three women in the small but inviting space.  Our greeter explained the menu and chatted with us while another person prepared the food.  Soon our plates were presented to us and we wandered outside to find a a spot in the sun to enjoy one of the best meals of our trip.  The owner found a way to take a somewhat awkward space because of the size and location, (they are in a less than obvious and hard to find space in a mixed-use complex with no indoor seating) and make it comfortable with service and outside patio seating.

Overall Rating: 14+


They describe themselves as a vegan/vegetarian cafe.  Even though we do not adhere to a strictly vegan diet, we believe we can learn so much from trying new flavors and ingredient combinations from other cuisines and diets.  It is worth noting that they do cater to people with food allergies and intolerance too.

Desert Roots Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The Silk Road: Missoula, Montanta, USA

4 Nov
by Deanne

The Silk Road Restaurant—Missoula, MT

While we were on the road  in September, we tried to adhere to eating in a healthful manner.  We learned that it can be challenging when you are away from your garden or farmers market to eat whole, mostly plant based foods.  But we did find a restaurant worth sharing in our Real Local Cooking Restaurant ReviewsThe Silk Road is located on Higgins Avenue in Missoula, Montana and was a pure delight.  Once you own a restaurant, you are very hard to please so it means a lot when I say this place was wonderful.Photo of Spicy Eggplant at Silk Road

Review: (Real Local Cooking’s criteria)
Localness: 3

Photo of Gazpacho Verde at Silk Road

Yes, they do source many of their ingredients locally.  They also have a seasonal menu, but that is not what makes them great. Read on and look at the pictures and you will see what makes this tapas style restaurant worthy of  our praise.

Flavour: 5

Each and every little dish was a treat. We truly did crave many of the dishes the next day and even now looking at the pictures our taste buds get excited.  We really, really liked the Spicy Garlic Eggplant.  We have never found an eggplant dish we enjoyed this much.Photo of Skewered Beef

Pleasant Surprise: Yes

For our family, when we find a place that earns a rating of 5 on flavour, it is a pleasant surprise!  It is something we hope for every time we painstakingly research a restaurant and walk through their door.  We leave most restaurants, as you can see by our other reviews, unimpressed in the flavour catagory.

Comfort+Coziness = The C factor: 5

The waiter was really outgoing which set the tone for a fun evening.  The table had maps and postcards under glass and matched the eclectic nature of the menu.  We were very comfortable and found ourselves chatting with the ladies at the next table while we ate bites of our little plates.

Photo of Grilled Summer Squash at Silk Road

Overall Rating: 13+

One interesting aspect of The Silk Road is that they do sell spice combinations used in their dishes.  A  person could purchase them and then experiment in their own kitchen.  We have referred our cooking class students to this service provided by The Silk Road.  So even if you can’t visit the restaurant and you like to cook, we do recommend looking over their seasonal menu and selecting a spice blend to try a similar dish at home.

Photo of Poached Shrimp

FoodieBytes Restaurant Deals, Menu and Reviews

The Silk Road on Urbanspoon

Saveurs de Coree: Beijing, China

26 Jan
by Francine

Saveurs de Coree: Fine Korean Grill in Beijing, China

Finding this restaurant was a relief because the day before Scott and I had wandered around alleys and major roads looking for a restaurant that served oat noodles.  We never found that restaurant and the hunt left us grumpy, hungry and disappointed that we were unable to try oat noodles…how great do those sound!?

So when we set off with the address of this restaurant in hand and the promise of top gA photo of the restaurantrade beef from a nearby Chinese province, I secretly crossed my fingers that we’d find the restaurant without too much wandering.

What we found was a lovely little restaurant in a Beijing hutong. (Hutongs are small alley/ neighborhoods…it’s hard to describe exactly.)  As soon as we stepped inside we were impressed by the architecture and the décor, which was minimalistic and airy.  

As our evening progressed we were more and more delighted: there was a fruity soju cocktail, melt in your mouth beef, fresh kimchi, cute dishware, crispy-n-crunchy sesame coated tuna, cinnamon tea with pine nuts…oh my!

We had a lovely dinner…read on to find out the breakdown of this far away, but doing things somewhat locally, restaurant.

Review: (Real Local Cooking’s criteria)
Localness: 3

Their website advertised beef from Liaoning province and seafood from Shandong province. I was very excited to find a restaurant that sourced its ingredients, this wasn’t something I often came across when I dined out in China.  The menu was well designed to explain their food items and to explain their mission to serve healthy, sustainable and MSG-free food.A photo of the food

Flavour: 5

This place definitely gets a 5 because we were able to enjoy the Korean flavors we love and are familiar with punched up a notch as well as experiencing some new tastes.

I really like Beef Bulgogi. I’ve even made it a few times and it’s always beefy and sweet, but the Beef Bulgolgi at Saveur de Coree stands out as the best I’ve ever had.  We grilled it on our tabletop grill. The meat was wonderfully marinated and tender.A photo of the grill
We experienced something new when we ordered the iced cinnamon tea; it was cooling and spicy at the same time. It came with pine nuts floating on the surface. (And anything with pine nuts gets my thumbs up.)  We were hoping to try a dessert of sweet rice balls dipped in nuts, but they didn’t have any…that would have been another new flavor experience and a tasty treat!

Pleasant Surprise: Yes

We were seated near the kitchen (in a tiny restaurant like this with a kitchen on each floor, most diners will be seated near the kitchen).  I was hesitant because I thought it might be noisy, but I barely even noticed; and when I did notice, I was charmed.  

When our food was up, the cook notified the server by lightly donging a gong.  It’s a simpA photo of the kitchenle thing, but significant because most of the time when you sit near the kitchen you hear something like “order up” in the States and probably its equivalent loudly spoken in Chinese.

Comfort+Coziness = The C factor:  5

Korean barbecues are fun, but they can sometimes be uncomfortable.  The grill is right at your table so you can really feel the heat.  This place tried hard to create an elegant yet comfortable table with a grill top.  

As I sat down, I was told that I could put my purse into my stool—the seat lifted off and the stool was a small storage unit. This was something new for me and it was nice to have my stuff out of the way.

A photo of the grillerThe wait staff was helpful but not too helpful.  They asked us if we wanted help grilling our food, but we didn’t need any help. (It’s unusual because often at Korean BBQs in China the wait staff assumed we didn’t know what we were doing. So it was nice to be left alone to enjoy the food, just the two of us with Scott as the grill master.)

The design of the place was interesting. There were 2 floors, but the second floor was more of a loft.  There were rustic wooden beams and white stucco walls.  It was a charming atmosphere in which to eat.

Overall Rating: 13+

If you ever find yourself wandering the hutongs of Beijing, grab this address so you can enjoy some of China’s finest ingredients, Korean flavors and a cozy little restaurant.  But make sure you have enough cash…it is a tad pricey, but certainly worth every 块 kuai (one of the many ways to refer to Chinese currency). :)