Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Aria - 3744 Mission Ave Oceanside, CA 92058

Just got back from here. I think I could have used wheels to get me out I'm so stuffed.

Aria combines two of my favorite things Korean and Japanese. Home cooking is my favorite. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate good sushi (what most Americans think of when you say Japanese), but that's not what I was here for and quite frankly, I was looking for good Korean food.

I am not Asian, but I have lived in Asia and Oceania. When ordering at an Asian restaurant I'm not afraid. I have a taste for veggies, spices, fish and rice.

We were at Aria for lunch and so no bbq - I will be back for that though. When I walked in there were two 4 top tables of Japanese men eating lunch. Score #1 in my head. Unlike other diners' reviews I've read, I thought the atmosphere clean and well appointed - not at all dull.

The menu was completely easy to understand. It had pictures for most of the dishes - which I know helps people order and get what they expect.

The waitress was nice, not overly warm, but quiet and served us well. They brought out the customary vegetable side dishes - kimchi, potato salad, moo saeng chae, and some other marinated potato dish - all nice.

I ordered the bim bim-bap (bim bim-bob). For those who don't know this is seasonal veggies and chili pepper sauce/paste, raw egg and sliced meat. You stir it all together before you eat it. It was a perfect presentation and wonderful smelling. The dish tasted just like I expected and it came in a stone hot pot. I like to let it sizzle a little to get the rice kinda crunch in some places before I stir it up. YUM.

My eating partner ordered spicy pork bento and veggie tempura. The pork was spicy and he said it was akin to eating crawfish - you just have to keep going and forget about the heat.

The amount of food was outstanding. And for the price - AMAZING. Compared to other Asian food joints around our area it was entirely comparable and even on the economical side - which is why I gave it 4 stars.

Very good food for the price and didn't disappoint.

Monday, May 23, 2011

School Garden Update

The kinder garden has really grown. The children have tomatoes, strawberries, zucchinis, cucumbers, lettuce and some herbs growing well. Unfortunately I think the poor peppers have been munched by some little critter. 

At first the little dears were trickling water. So I came by for a check up and told them - plants like deep yet infrequent drinks and that means water a bunch only a couple of times a week. Be conservative and only water at the roots, stick your finger in to see if the soil below is damp. 

So here are some shots of the little garden:

This is right after we planted:

This is about a month later. The yummy tomato plants are caged up - we have a small space so cages are necessary. We used marigolds to protect the tomatoes from harmful nematodes.:

A little strawberry - those are quinault strawberry plants - they are so sweet. The rocks help mulch, add heat and hold them off the ground. They are so sweet.

A little cucumber - I hope it grows for them.

Yummy zucchini with flower! I love making stuffed zucchini flowers - see below for recipe. It is very involved but worth every delectable bite!

Stuffed zucchini blossoms - serves 6:
I like to serve two of these per person. I make the risotto first then stuff the blossoms, use light olive oil to spritz on them and bake them at 400 degrees.

First make your risotto:
3 cups chicken stock - kept warm
1 tablespoon butter + 1 tablespoon of olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 cup dry white wine 
½ cup grated parmigiana cheese
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
Pepper to taste
1. Put the stock in a pot, simmer it then put it on low
2. Heat the butter and olive oil together in a high sided saute pan. Add the onions and cook until soft. Do not burn.
3. Add the rice and cook while stirring to coat with oil/butter. 
4. Add the wine and let simmer until absorbed
5. Add about 1/2 cup stock - simmer and stir over medium until absorbed - repeat until rice is al dente (soft but with texture). This can take me up to 45 minutes - I hope it doesn't take you as long - but who knows! 
6. Take it off the heat - stir in cheese, pepper and parsley - allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.

Zucchini flowers
12 zucchini flowers
light olive oil in spray bottle
salt and pepper to taste
baking sheet

1. spray baking sheet with olive oil or use parchment (this is what I do)

2. take a spoon that holds about 4 tablespoons, scoop risotto and CAREFULLY place in the flower - these can rip but if you are careful you should be able to get the risotto perfectly on the inside 

3. close up the top by twisting carefully, spray with oil, place on baking sheet

4. repeat until you've stuffed all blossoms

5. sprinkle with salt and pepper

6. bake in oven until the blossom looks a little brown - about 15-20 minutes

This is so very yummy.

*they say you can't reheat risotto - but I love risotto cakes the day after!