Tiparos Thai Food Review – Fairbanks, AK

We went to Tiparos for dinner our first day in Fairbanks, in March 2015.  It was recommended by the concierge at our hotel, who had heard it was the best Thai place in town.  I only tried one other Thai restaurant, but I liked Tiparos better.

Tiparos is a humble place, it has a third worldly look to it with decorations thrown into the walls rather than carefully arranged. When we went there for dinner, perhaps before the dinner rush, the place was pretty empty but for some kids belonging to those who worked there.  Despite that, service wasn’t particularly attentive – it took a while for the waitress to take our orders and later bring us the bill.  She was very nice, however.

The food is what matters, however, and Tiparos it was very good.  Los Angeles level good (which is saying a lot as LA has uniformly good Thai restaurants, unlike the Bay Area where I live).

I had the yellow curry with beef, and very much enjoyed the rich and fragrant curry.  Mike had the panang curry with chicken and was just as delighted.  Mika had the pad thai, and she gave it her stamp of approval while Camila had the chicken satay.  That one was probably the least successful dish, I think the chicken needed more flavor.

I doubt I’ll return to Fairbanks, but if I did I’d have dinner there again.

Tiparos Thai Food
404 Lacey St.
Fairbanks AK
(907) 455-8424
http://tiparos.webs.com
Mon-Fri: 11am-9pm
Sun: 12pm-8pm

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews: Outside the Bay Area

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The Cookie Jar Restaurant, Fairbanks, AK – Review

We visited Fairbanks in March 2015 to see the northern lights and one of our days there we had a late lunch at the Cookie Jar.  It was all in all a good experience and I’d go back if I was to visit Fairbanks again.

The Cookie Jar is a large coffeeshop style restaurant serving typical American food.  The prices are reasonable for Fairbanks, though high for the continental US (that’s the case with most restaurants in Fairbanks).  The decor is coffeeshop cute and the restaurant is divided into several dining rooms, so noise levels are quite manageable.  Even though we were there for a late lunch, the place was pretty busy and there were quite a few families.

My vegetarian 12-yo had the Becca burger ($12), a black bean burger with cheddar cheese and guacamole.  She thought it was very good.

My 10-yo was less pleased with her kid’s spaghetti ($8).  She just didn’t like the sauce.  I’m not sure why, as it was a generic tomato-based pasta sauce. She loved the garlic bread, however.

I had the Monte Cristo sandwich ($11): “two thick slices of bread dipped in egg batter then grilled with ham, turkey, Swiss, and cheddar cheese” and sprinkled with powdered sugar.  It took a while to come to the table and when it did, it was missing the filling: they were just french toast slices.  The waitress was very apologetic and brought me a substitute as soon as she could – I thought it was pretty funny.  By the time I got it, however, I had filled up on my daughters’ fries, garlic bread and spaghetti, but I thought the sandwich was quite good.  Fortunately our hotel had a fridge so I was able to enjoy the rest of it later.

Service was great, our waitress was both friendly and solicitous.  All in all, a good experience.

The Cookie Jar Restaurant
1006 Cadillac Ct
Fairbanks, AK
907-479-8319
http://cookiejarfairbanks.com/

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Bene Israel & Friulian Recipes are up

Bene Israel Recipes

The Bene Israel are one of three Jewish communities native to India.  They are also likely the oldest – tracing their history to the 2nd century BC – and largest.  They are now based in Bombay, though most of their members have emigrated to Israel.  Their cuisine is based on Indian flavors and foodstuffs, but it’s adapted to fit with Jewish dietary requirements and holidays.  Two of the three dishes I made were really good.  Check out my Bene Israel recipes.

Friuli

Friuli occupies the northwestern corner of Italy.  Its cuisine is northern Italian with Austro-Hungarian influences.  Check out my Friulian recipes.

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OrangeGlad Sweet Box Subscription Review – March 2015

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OrangeGlad, sweets from artisan bakeries, $22/month
Promo: LACOOKIES15 for 40% off or SPRING30 for 30% off

OrangeGlad is a subscription box that sends you goodies from bakeries around the country. It’s a great concept but it’s pretty expensive at $22 a month, in particular because they send very few treats. This box had a value of approximately $15. They do have coupons, though, and if you catch a good one and use it on a 6 month subscription, you can bring your costs to the low teens. I got this box with a $15 off coupon, so I only paid $7. It was worth it for that price.

Apparently the box used to have packaged much more nicely. It’s pretty utilitarian now. This is what it had:

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Itty Bites from OrangeGlad

Chocolate Almond Macaroon from Smackaroons

Kiss Me I’m Irish Cake Pop by Sweet E’s Bake Shop

Russian Tea Cakes from Lark’s Fine Foods

San Juan Sea Salt Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar by Seattle Chocolates

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Itty Bites from OrangeGlad, bag of 10, est value $5

These are cute and tiny little shortbread cookies. I’m estimating their value because they are not currently for sale at OrangeGlad. Unlike regular shortbread these were pretty short and came with instructions to eat right away (as if I wouldn’t). We all thought they were delicious.

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Chocolate Almond Macaroon from Smackaroons, 1 macaroon, value $1.25

This was your run of the mill macaroon. Delicious like macaroons are. I did find it a little dry, however, which is to be expected.

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Kiss Me I’m Irish Cake Pop in red velvet by Sweet E’s Bake Shop, value $3.75

I love red velvet cake and this cake pop was very good – but also pretty generic as far as red velvet cake goes.

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Russian Tea Cakes from Lark’s Fine Foods, 3 cookies, est. value $1.15

I’m a fan of Russian tea cakes and these were delicious – though a bit on the dry side.

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San Juan Sea Salt Milk Chocolate Truffle Bar by Seattle Chocolates, value $3.5

This was probably my favorite item in the box. Oh so good. Unfortunately I left it out and my dog ate most of it. But I’ll keep an eye for these bars ’cause they are yummy.

Unsubscribing from OrangeGlad was quick and easy, just took an e-mail.

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Joan’s Bakery Cafe

Joan’s Bakery Cafe has been opened for just a few months and is already in its last legs.  It’s clear from the offerings that its owners don’t have the capital to keep it running. My bet is that it will close soon, very soon.

The space that Joan’s occupies has been having troubles for years.  It seemed fairly successful when it operated as Planet Coffee under its original owners, but a series of new owners and new names were unable to make it succeed.  I’m not exactly sure as to why, as before this latest incarnation as Joan’s Bakery, the offerings were both good and well priced.

Joan’s Bakery Cafe, however, is a mess.  First of all, it’s not a bakery.  I don’t know if it ever was, but right now all they sell are pre-packaged, dried Chinese baked items from a bakery in Oakland and old and stale bagels and doughnuts, I recognized as sold at Grocery Outlet.  They do have cafe offerings, though I cannot comment as I didn’t try any.  Though I did order a large glass of orange juice, thinking it’d be freshly squeezed (it should have been, for the $4.50 price), but it was not.

The place was empty, both of customer and of stock, and it seemed to me like the owners had run out of money and couldn’t keep with the expenses of daily operations.  Indeed, it turns out that the space is up for lease.

The food itself wasn’t bad, though grossly overpriced.  I had the lamb shawerma ($8).  The tiny sandwich came with lamb, thick slices of cucumber, tomato and sauce.  The lamb was nicely spiced, it definitely had some curry powder, but not an overwhelming amount.  However, there were no sides (not even chips) and I was nowhere close to full after eating it (the doughnut I bought for dessert must have been a week old).

Mike had the rib-eye blue cheese sandwich ($8) and it was also minute but very tasty.

The whole cafe is in charge of a young girl with limited command of English. She has to attend to customers, answer the phone and prepare and serve the food.  That means limited service even if you’re the only ones eating there.

In all, I’m sad this cafe was such a bust – but I look forward to the space being occupied by a good restaurant one day.

San Leandro Restaurant Reviews

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Trader Joe’s Frozen Foods

We did a major Trader Joe’s shopping trip yesterday, and I got quite a lot of frozen items to try. I haven’t been into cooking for months now, and I don’t see the muse hitting me any time soon. So frozen food it is.  I thought I’d share my opinions of what I’ve gotten.  I’ll be adding them here as they go.

tjtrufflebread

Mushroom & Black Truffle Flatbread with Mozarella Cheese

This had a real truffle flavor.  If you like truffles, this is the flatbread for you.  I do, so I’ll be buying more. I think it was $3.

tjpadthai

Vegetable Pad Thai

Mika complained that it was spicy and didn’t taste like pad-thai, but she did eat it.

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Love with Food review – February 2015

Love with Food, $12/$20 a month snack subscription ($29 for gluten-free box)
Promo: 50% off first box by using my link, GFLS = 50% off gluten free box, Groupon for deluxe box ($10 for 1 month/$26 for 3 months)
I paid: $2 with expired promo

As part of my general addiction to subscription boxes, I’ve ventured into the realm of subscription snack boxes with its most heavily promoted box: Love with Food. This box features a variety of not-too-bad-for-you snacks, both from niche and heavily distributed brands. The monthly subscription is $12, though you can get your first box for a discount by using my referral link (or any other referral link you find).

The snacks were all good, and I definitely enjoyed them at the $2. However, the total cost of the snacks included in the box came up to $7 – so I’d have been bummed if I’d paid full price for the box. Needless to say, I unsubscribed, which was a very quick and easy process, though it involved filling out a survey but that was actually a plus, as it gave me the opportunity to tell them why I was cancelling.

This is what I got in my box:

maccheesebitesSnikiddy Snacks Mac N’ Cheese Puffs, 1 .75 oz package (65 cents)

My 12-year old really liked these mac n’ cheese puffs. To me they tasted somewhat citric and not at all cheesy. She felt they tasted like mac & cheese (which I, personally, avoid). Other pluses, non-GMO and gluten free. The main ingredients are corn, rice flower, oil, whey, cheddar cheese and buttermilk. The package had 90 calories. Not a bad snack.

Made in USA

kettlechipsBoulder Canyon Olive Oil Totally Natural Kettle Chips, 1.5 oz ($1.50)

These are pretty good, run-of-the-mill kettle chips. I like that they contain only three ingredients: potatoes, olive oil and salt. And I like that they are not too greasy and not too hard. I think they need more salt, however. They mostly taste like plain chips, with the olive oil only giving them a hint of bitterness. I did quickly finish the whole package (220 calories), but I was pretty much full afterwards. I’d buy them. They are made in the USA and they are available at some supermarkets.

energybar-peanutbuttanhoney-webHoney Stinger Peanut Butter’n Honey Energy Bar, 1.75 oz bar, ($2)

This was a pretty tasty bar.  I can’t say that it was particularly delicious, and I did find it too sweet, but I enjoyed it.

Made in USA

lemonwaferDolcetto Petites Lemon Wafer Bites, .7 oz (85 cents)

These lemon wafers are delicious. They are crispy wafers, filled with a sweet, lemon-flavored creamy filling, not too unlike those in lemon cookies. They are full of flavor, and much lighter than a cookie. The packages are tiny, but at 100-calories they should satisfy your need for a bit of sugar. They seem to be made in Indonesia, and they have sugar rather than corn syrup.

Dilettante Toffee Crunch Truffle Cremes No. 39, 2 candies (70 cents)

These are nicely sized (perhaps even a little too big for a bite), and quite tasty – but I found them to be too smooth for my taste – I prefer more crunch. Definitely a nice treat, though. Each candy has 55 calories and they are made in the USA

mombanaMombana Traditional Hot Chocolate, 1 envelope (70 cents)

I still haven’t used it.

Enough for 1 8-oz cup. Made in the USA.

divinechocDivine Milk Chocolate Mini Pieces, 2 5 gram pieces (50 cents)

Nice, tasty chocolate.  Not exceptional, but a nice little treat.  They sell this occasionally at Grocery Outlet.

Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning, 2 sample envelopes (no value)

Available at Walmart for less than $3 for a 1 lb jar.  The samples are tiny and I can’t imagine I can really try them, but maybe I’ll sprinkle them on something.

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Restaurant Review: Grotto at the Golden Nugget, Las Vegas

We stayed at the Golden Nugget our last night in Vegas in August 2014, and we were too tired to leave the hotel to go have dinner.  Of the several restaurants at the hotel, Grotto seemed to be the best choice in terms of cost and reviews.  Indeed, we had a fairly good meal. It’s overpriced, but it could have been worse.

Grotto is divided into two sections.  The main section occupies a large, semi-open space near the front desk.  The second section is across the pathway that leads to the casino, by the pool and has views of the pool area.  We ate in the main dining room, which is kept somewhat dark. It’s nice, but too open to pool-attired passerbys to feel anything other than casual.

I had the chicken marsala ($20), which comes with fettuccine alfredo.  I enjoyed this dish very much, I hadn’t had that combination before but it worked very well.

One of the kids had the Margherita pizza, which I also remember enjoying.  I don’t remember what Mike and the other kid had.

Service, I recall, was fine.

Grotto
Golden Nugget
129 Fremont Street Experience
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 386-8341
http://www.goldennugget.com/LasVegas/eat_grotto.asp

Marga’s Las Vegas

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Lotus of Siam, Las Vegas

Lotus of Siam is described as being the best Thai restaurant in Las Vegas, if not the country – so, of course, we had to try it.  After a failed attempt in 2012, we finally managed to get in in 2013.  It was very good, but not extraordinary.  Then again, Thai food is so good in general, that finding extraordinary Thai food seems like a Herculean task.

Lotus of Siam has a huge menu, offering both traditional Thai foods, Issam and northern specialties.  With so much choice, it’s easy to get lost so I asked for my waiters’ recommendation and ended up getting the duck on drunken noodle ($26).  That was a mistake.  The duck was OK, but the noodles lacked flavor.  I liked them, but I didn’t love them.  I would have been better off going with one of my favorites.

One of the kids had the chow mein ($9).  This was a lovely dish.  It tasted like a combination of Chinese and Thai flavors, which were perfectly melded.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t a large portion.

My other daughter had the Pad Thai and this was phenomenal. The noodles had a welcomed smokeyness I’d never experienced before.  Unfortunately, the portion was not large enough for me to get more than a taste.

Mike had one of the special panangs. I don’t remember what meat he had, but the sauce was described as a panang with cognac.  It was good, but it didn’t taste any different from a regular panang sauce.  Still, he was happy with the dish, if not the price.

The place was very crowded, it took a long time to get seated and service was competent but busy.  In all, I think it’s a restaurant worth trying, but which cannot possibly live up to its hype.

Lotus of Siam
53 East Sahara Avenue Suite A5
Las Vegas, NV
Phone:(702) 735-3033
http://www.saipinchutima.com/

Marga’s Las Vegas

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Capo’s Restaurant & Speakeasy – Las Vegas

It’s definitely not fair to review a restaurant a year and a half after you had dinner there, when your memory of the experience is dimmer than the lights at dinner, but I’m creating a travel page on Las Vegas, and I want to include Capo’s.  Though the restaurant is definitely overpriced, it offers such a cool Las Vegas experience, that I can fully recommend it.

Capo’s is a prohibition era Mafia theme restaurant. It plays the part of a speakeasy, and the coolness starts from the moment you make your way inside. I won’t spoil the surprise, but it works best if you get yourself in the mood: it’s prohibition era and you are trying to gain admission to a speakeasy, where they may be a bit weary of you.

The restaurant itself is both sumptuous and very dark – it plays very well with the Mafia scene and it’s easy to believe you are in another era.  The food, as I remembered it, was good, though not outstanding.  I remember service being very, very slow – which I didn’t mind as much, because I loved the atmosphere, but it can be hard with hungry kids.  They have live music later in the evening, and I wished I’d been there for more than a song or two – but my kids were tired.

As I mentioned, prices are high but they have groupons and other discounts, worth hunting for (e.g. they currently have a Travelzoo deal of lunch for 2 for $19).

Capo’s Restaurant & Speakeasy
5675 W Sahara Ave.
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 436-2276
http://www.caposrestaurant.com/

Marga’s Las Vegas

Marga’s Restaurant Reviews

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