Thai Canteen on Urbanspoon

Can a college town hangout translate into the city? A country mouse become a city mouse? Such is the question for the new Thai Canteen on 16th Street. The original Thai Canteen sits on the main drag of Davis, a popular place for college students. Now the owners have opened a second location in Sacramento in the space formerly occupied by Mati's Indian. 

We stopped in for lunch to find the place completely transformed. Even the facade of the restaurant is new with wooden (bamboo?) framing for the windows and doors that give it a more welcoming feel than the stucco of the building it occupies. Inside you will find a couple of long picnic/communal tables and not all that many individual tables. There are plenty of counter seats, though, along the window, bar, and outside railing.

The service is organized as fast casual. The menu is posted above with specials written on a roll of butcher paper by the cashier. Place your order, take your number card stand to a table, and await delivery. The food is delivered, water is refreshed, and you leave the dirty dishes behind for them to clean up. 

Sichuan Spice House on Urbanspoon

Fact 1: Everyone knows that if you truly want to know if an ethnic restaurant is authentic, then you need to get the opinion of a native. Fact 2: It is rare to find a good, authentic Sichuan restaurant in the United States. Including the major cities like New York and San Francisco.

I will tell you up front that this review of Sichuan Spice House (8847 Greenback Ln.) is not going to talk about each individual dish, how it was made, what spices and flavors stand out, etc. I'm not qualified to. What I will tell you is this:

1) I was referred here by Hank Shaw, recent James Beard award winner, and someone I trust with an above average knowledge of food in general.

2) The restaurant has a 5 star Yelp rating. I personally dislike Yelp, but even I know it's difficult to find an honest 5 star rating.

3) I went with four Chinese friends who are all here on work visas. Meaning, they grew up in China and have only been in the U.S. for a few years. One of them was from Sichuan province.

So really, I don't need to review it. I just need to tell you that their verdict was four thumbs up. "Pretty authentic but with toned down heat level". Basically, on a scale of 1 to 10 for heat level, they could have taken it wrenched up another six notches. Myself, I like spicy food and with 10 being "I won't even put this in my mouth", this was a 7 for me.


July 2011

It has been a crazy year for weather. With our winter stretching well into JUNE, everything that grows got off to a late start. This time last year Poor Girl Kimberly and I had gone up to pick our own berries. We were able to get blueberries at $3.50 per pound and blackberries at $5.50  per pound. When we both decided to participate in yesterday's Pie Party, it demanded another trek up the hill in search of berries.

The weather did, indeed, effect the growing season. The blueberries were only just starting to turn. We got enough, but you could tell that the blueberry picking at Bolster's is going to extend throughout July. This time the berries were $4.50/lb, possibly due to it being early in the crop. Last year I had been just grabbing clumps without too much scrutiny. This time, with so many unripe berries, I carefully picked out only plump, dark berries. I came home with 3 pounds.

Recently I had an Indian dinner party. I made a very simple Indian dessert, kheer, but I made it dairy-free. One of my guests has a lactose intolerance, so I substituted rice milk for cow's milk. 

Kheer is basically a rice pudding, but it's flavored with cardamom and rose water. I'm a big rose water fan and you'll find it in a lot of my recipes.

Dairy-Free Kheer

2 cups coconut milk
2 cups rice milk
3 1/2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup Basmati rice
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon rose water
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/4 cup flaked coconut, optional 

Place the milks in a medium saucepan and heat over low heat to a low boil. Add sugar and rice. Let cook for  20 minutes or until rice is cooked. Add raisins, cardamom, and rose water.  Serve either hot or cold, garnished with pistachios and coconut.