Author Archives: marga

StoneRidge Ranch Pastrami Review

It didn’t make it into the sandwich

Stoneridge Ranch Shaved Pastrami - 14 Oz
For my second attempt at a home made Reuben sandwich, I decided to try pastrami. Safeway didn’t have much in the way of choices, so I ended up ordering StoneRidge Ranch shaved deli style pastrami pretty much by default. This time, it ended up being a good choice.

As advertised, this pastrami comes in very thin, irregular pieces. It has a subtle flavor, with only a limited chemical pungency and tones of sweetness. Unfortunately, I can’t say how well it holds up to the rye bread as I opened up to taste it, and ended up eating half the bag on its own (and the next day, the other half). As half a bag ended up being my dinner, I’d say that the package ($11 at Safeway) should produce two generous sandwiches.

Blakey’s Original Firefighters BBQ Sauce – Review

You definitely can taste the smoke

I was in the mood for BBQ sauce last week, and decided to give a new BBQ sauce a try. I’m a fan of sweet sauces, but dislike anything that tastes like Kraft BBQ sauce. My favorite bottled sauce is Everette & Jones, but I’m fine with Kinder’s and even Sweet Baby Ray’s.

Blakey’s Original was on sale at Safeway, so I figured I’d give it a try. All in all, I was pretty pleased. It basically tastes like a generic BBQ sauce, but it has a bitter/smokey flavor that makes it unique. The flavor does come from liquid smoke or something similar, but it’s not as blunt as liquid smoke usually is. Given that all the profits go to the California firefighters, I felt it was appropriate.

I used the sauce for meatloaves and it worked pretty well. The 18 oz bottle is regularly $6 at Safeway, but was on sale for $4. I wouldn’t buy it for $6, but it’s fine for $4.

Land O’Frost Bistro Favorites Uncured Corned Beef Review

Ehh

Land O Frost Bistro Naturals Corned Beef - 6 Oz
In my sixth decade of life, and my fifth living in the US, I discovered Reuben sandwiches. I had my first – and second – at Bara deli, here in San Leandro, but for my third I tried to make it myself. I thought about making the corned beef myself, and I still might try that when it’s on sale, but instead I went for this pre-packaged deli meat as it was on sale at Safeway ($4 for 6 oz, or enough meat for one sandwich).

In all, this corned beef tasted exactly as what it is: pre-packaged deli meat. It could have been corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, turkey for that matter – it just tasted like generic commercial deli meat. And flavor wise, the 6 ounces of this corned beef were overwhelmed by the two slices of rye bread in the sandwich.

Conclusion: I’ll try something else next time.

Bara’s Deli – San Leandro – Review

Though Bara’s Deli has been in San Leandro since the ’80’s and we’ve lived here for over 20 years, I didn’t try it until recently. It’s not in “our” part of town – though it’s pretty close by -, and there were other closer sandwich places. Still, I’ve heard good things about them and when, a few weeks ago, I was looking to try a Reuben sandwich, I decided to give them a try. And then another.

So far, I’m fairly happy. These are not the best sandwiches I’ve ever tried (that distinction goes to Giugni’s Deli‘s in St. Helena where, granted, I haven’t eaten in a decade but whose sandwiches were great for the two decades before that), but they were very good anyway. The sandwiches look a bit small, but they are quite substantial and they definitely won’t leave you hungry – if you can finish the whole thing.

I’ve had the Reuben twice now, and while it’s still the only Reuben ($11) I’ve ever had, I liked it a lot. The meat to cheese to sauerkraut to bread ratio was perfect, it was a very well balanced sandwich, and made me a fan of Reubens. I just ordered the ingredients to make some myself. I’m actually not sure if this sandwich is meant to be hot – both times it came in the same bag with another hot sandwich, but it works well either hot or cold.

My husband had The Hangover from their specialties menu ($11.25), a sandwich consisting of “hot roast beef, Swiss cheese, red onions, jalapeños, mayo, BBQ sauce on Dutch crunch.” We both liked it very much, again the ingredients were well balanced.

I was less enthused by the meatballs. I had a meatball sub ($10) one time and a side order of meatballs ($6 for a small) another. The meatballs are small, are too salty and they otherwise have a very generic taste. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were commercial rather than made in house. They are a bit too dense and just not particularly tasty.

The caprese panini ($9) was better. Again, the ingredients were in the right amounts to balance each other and the bread, and the whole sandwich was tasty. My daughter – who ended up eating it – would have preferred fresh basil (in season now) to pesto, but that’s not a big deal.

A “make your own” roast beef sandwich ($10.50) was good and had ample meat.

The one real disappointment was a side of macaroni salad ($3.50) which was just a waste of calories.

In all, we’ll continue ordering from Bara and I look forward to trying other sandwiches.

Creamy Pesto Sauce Recipe

My basil has been incredible this year – at least the one I keep by my kitchen window. It started from a small pot I got at the supermarket in the spring and since then it’s grown, grown and grown. It’s done significantly better than the basil we’re keeping on a pot inside.

And what better to do with basil than to make creamy pesto? The recipe below is very basic but it works. You may need to use less Parmesan-Romano cheese if you use a high quality one – I just went with a pre-shredded supermarket brand because it’s cheap and easy. I used walnuts, as I already had them, and they’re far cheaper than pine nuts – but, of course, pine nuts are tastier and more traditional.

If you are looking for a vegan version, try this one.

Creamy Pesto Sauce

  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 5 garlic cloves, 3 whole and 2 minced
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan-Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus more for sautéing
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Using an electric food processor, puree the basil leaves, whole garlic cloves, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, pine nuts and salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Add the chopped garlic and sauteé for 30 seconds. Add the pesto sauce and sauteé for another 30 seconds. Add the cream and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes.

Rotisserie Chicken

Rotisserie chicken. I just saw an ad for something that looked like one and it brought me back to my childhood. The pollos al spiedo going round and around at the window of the rotisería (how else would we call a deli?) kitty corner from my apartment building. The smell and taste were unparalleled and continue to be. I can almost l but not quite, relive them in my memory.

Rotisserie chicken was expensive, plus my mom didn’t eat poultry- a consequence of a childhood cleaning the chickens her doctor father was paid with-, so it was a special treat. In the life of culinary excess we live in America, there are relatively few of those. It was a treat I shared with my dad, who also preferred dark meat but would let my brother and I have the legs anyway. My sister Gabriela would eat the wings.

Later, one of the butchers near my house started selling chicken parts, pollo en presas. So we could all have legs which my dad would grill on the parrilla over wood we’d gathered around (and coal, of course) and we would eat with a squeeze of lemon juice. Not my mom, of course. It was still more expensive than beef, I think.

8 lbs of Navel Oranges = 1 qt orange juice

I have been juicing oranges for decades, but I usually juice them a few at a time, and had never actually done a whole bag. Still, I got an 8 lb from Safeway not too long ago, and figured I’d juice all of it and see what I got. The answer: 4 cups of orange juice, a quart.

Navel oranges are selling at Safeway now for $6/7 for the 8 lb bag.

Butterfly Crispy Rolls- Mango Flavor – Review

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I got these Butterfly Crispy Rolls at the small 88 market in San Leandro. I didn’t have high expectations for them, but they were very tasty, to the point of being addictive. They are flaky but less dry than I would have thought. I had imagined they would need some filling, but they are flavorful enough that they don’t need it. All in all I’d buy them again.

Lay’s India’s Magic Masala Chips – Review

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We found these chips at Santos’ Spice Market and loved them. As the name implies, they have an Indian spices flavor and they are slightly spicy (I can handle them, but someone who doesn’t like spices at all wouldn’t). They can be pretty addictive. I

Esaki Glico Caplico Mini – Review

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I got these Esaki Glico Caplico Mini Japanese snacks twice now at the large 88 market on East 14th in San Leandro. I don’t recall the exact price, but it was around $4-$5 for the package. They are small wafer cones with a sweet flavored filling, not too disimilar to the filling in an oreo cookie, but lighter and less sweet. They are remarkably delicious.

Each cone is individually packaged and rather small – this is very much a special treat.