The Spinnaker

meter-good+The Spinnaker is an odd place. It’s equal parts scenic lookout, seafood restaurant, seedy lounge, and blue-hair hangout. It’s dated, charming, hideous, and beautiful all at the same time. My brain was confused by what it experienced when I visited The Spinnaker, so I just went with it and tried to keep an open mind.

” There were more electric scooters than a bumper car factory “

The Spinnaker is located right in the middle of Sausalito, a painfully charming bay-side town just north of the Golden Gate bridge. Driving into the heart of Sausalito on a weekend is an exercise in patience. The roadway is quite literally packed with tourists on bicycles that are too busy gawking at the sunny weather to realize you are about to run them over. I’m all for sharing the road, but I wish these people would choose to share back.

This is an example of a sign that bicycle tourists ignore.

This is an example of a sign that bicycle tourists ignore.

After a painful but scenic crawl along the length of downtown Sausalito, I finally managed to shoehorn the car into the very last parking spot in town. My lunch party and I started strolling towards The Spinnaker, debating what sorts of appetizers we should order. Arriving inside the restaurant is a bit like stepping back in time to 1982. Everything you see is dated and drab, including many of the other patrons. I don’t mean to be unkind, but there were more electric scooters than a bumper car factory.

Just as I was getting ready to make my mind up that I didn’t like The Spinnaker, the brisk and attentive host greeted us, added our names to the waiting list, and showed us to the cocktail lounge where we could wait for our table in comfort. Hmm, well, I guess they seem nice here. Within moments someone else stopped by to get our drink orders and see if we wanted to get started with an appetizer. She was helpful, competent, and within minutes we had a table full of wonderful-looking beverages in front of us.

Everyone likes a froofy drink.

Everyone likes a froofy drink.

And just like that, we were whisked away from the cocktail lounge to our lunch table. Our appetizers arrived at our new location with seamless perfection, and our new waitperson was ready and waiting to answer any questions we might have about the lunch menu. We didn’t care about any of that though, because we were simply stunned by the view. Wow.

That view.

That view.

Most of the dining area at The Spinnaker is situated on a pier directly over the water, providing amazing 270-degree views of the San Francisco Bay. Boats literally sail around you while you gawk in stupefied amazement.

Well, hello little shrimp. Join me for lunch?

Well, hello little shrimp. Join me for lunch?

We eventually snapped out of our scenery-induced haze and remembered that our appetizer was still sitting there, waiting for us. I usually don’t get all that excited about shrimp cocktail, but this restaurant’s version was very good indeed. Each shrimp was the size of a Mack truck, and the scratch-made cocktail sauce was spicy and flavorful.

Louie sure does make a good salad. Whoever he is.

Louie sure does make a good salad. Whoever he is.

Before long our lunch orders arrived, and the quality of the food continued to impress me. First up was Shrimp Louie, a San Francisco classic. Everything was fresh and delicious, and the bay shrimp weren’t the least bit fishy. As with the cocktail sauce from our appetizer, the dressing on the Shrimp Louie was the star of the show. Whoever is in charge of the sauces at this place is doing an amazing job.

Enough with green things. Let's get to the fried stuff.

Enough with green things. Let’s get to the fried stuff.

Continuing with the all-shrimp theme of the meal, I opted for an order of tiger prawns and chips. The batter on the shrimp was fantastic, and the shoestring fries/chips were light and wonderful. The remoulade and ranch sauces featured in the center of the plate were – you guessed it – absolutely top notch. I would certainly order this dish again, I loved it.

We sat and contemplated the view while we finished our shrimp-filled lunch, and we all agreed that we enjoyed our experience at The Spinnaker. First impressions were not all that good; this place is sorely overdue for an interior renovation. This was quickly forgotten, however, thanks to the excellent staff, incredible views, and high quality cuisine. I give this restaurant 4 out of 5 little cups of delicious sauces, a solid rating worthy of a revisit. The next time I’m in Sausalito, I will… Ok, honestly I will be going back to Napa Valley Burger Company. The next visit or three after that, though, I’ll be going back to The Spinnaker. On a bicycle. In the middle of the road.

The Spinnaker
100 Spinnaker Drive
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 332-1500
www.thespinnaker.com

Spinnaker on Urbanspoon


All the comforts of being on a boat without the sea sickness.

All the comforts of being on a boat without the sea sickness.



Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.


Curry Up Now food truck

meter-good-greatIt was a typical Thursday evening, and I was stuck in typical Bay Area traffic. A glance at my GPS told me that I was 2.3 miles from home, estimated time to arrival 26 minutes. What the f… Yeah, ok, that’s just dumb. I can moonwalk faster than that for crying out loud. I exited the roadway in a desperate ploy to find an alternate route, and fell straight into the lap of Off The Grid, a “roaming mobile food extravaganza”. Explained simply, Off The Grid equals a crapload of food trucks all parked in one spot. Awesome. Apparently my stomach knows things that my GPS does not.

What an artsy photograph. Completely unintentional.

What an artsy photograph. Completely unintentional.

I have a love/hate relationships with food trucks. I love everything about them, and I hate that I can’t eat food truck food for every single meal. You know, that whole “it’s bad for you” thing that medical professionals drone on and on about. Lame.

It's usually right about now that the drool starts happening.

It’s usually right about now that the drool starts happening.

” Drenched with flavorful, saucy chicken tikka masala “

I was thrilled to see the Curry Up Now truck parked at the end of the row, one of my long-time favorites. Aside from sporting the cleverest name among its peers, the folks at Curry Up Now can cook like nobody’s business. Their menu is excitingly varied and creative, while at the same time being straightforward and easy to understand.

If you like spicy stuff, Curry Up Now is happy to help you burn your face off.

If you like spicy stuff, Curry Up Now is happy to help you burn your face off.

I’ve previously sampled most of what Curry Up Now has to offer, and everything they make is fantastic. Their signature dish is something they call “sexy fries”, a diabolically irresistible combination of sweet potato waffle fries and your choice of curry.

The sexy fries are genius. Why didn't I think of this?

The sexy fries are genius. Why didn’t I think of this?

I’m sure sweet potato waffle fries exist somewhere else on the planet, but I’ve never found where. They become downright magical when drenched with flavorful, saucy chicken tikka masala, my personal favorite. Barely a minute after paying the cashier, I had my order in my hand, and I started shoveling sexy fries into my gullet as fast as I could. This is not because I am an oinker, although that may also be the case.

The reason I started eating before I even found a place to sit is because sexy fries have a time limit. They are at peak crispy, saucy goodness the moment they are served, and it only takes a couple of minutes for them to become a soggy mess. The good news is that they are still wonderfully delicious as a soggy mess, but they are even better when eaten straight out of the truck window.

The folks at Off The Grid always prepare a great venue.

The folks at Off The Grid always prepare a great venue.

Curry Up Now is a truly excellent food truck, so good in fact that it spawned several brick-and-mortar restaurant locations as well. The menu is both familiar and excitingly different, and the hard work going on in the kitchen really shows in the finished dishes. I rate Curry Up Now 11 out of 13 potato-based sporks, putting it right near the top of the Bay Area food truck pyramid. If you’re in the mood for a tasty curry with a twist, look no further.

Curry Up Now
Food truck / multiple restaurant locations
www.curryupnow.com

Curry Up Now Food Truck on Urbanspoon


Curry on wheels. It totally works.

Curry on wheels. It totally works.



Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.


St. John’s Bar & Grill

meter-great-St. John’s Bar & Grill is one of those places you’d never go into unless a trusted friend told you to do so. It’s equal parts dive, sports bar, burger joint, and 1980s time capsule. St. John’s has a lengthy menu full of greasy spoon delicacies, an awesome collection of flatscreen TVs, and some of the worst decor in the entire Silicon Valley. In other words, it’s pretty much the most perfect happy hour venue you could ever hope to find.

It's even uglier in person.

It’s even uglier in person.

” I beheld the full glory of the bacon & cheese fries “

If you live within twenty miles of Sunnyvale and have even a vague interest in sports, you are required by law to be at St. John’s anytime there’s a televised sporting event… which is pretty much every night. If the televised sporting event in question happens to be a championship game of some sort, it’s an absolute guarantee that the place will be PACKED. St. John’s is normally closed on Sundays, but because 87.2%* of all football games are broadcast on Sundays, the restaurant is open seven days a week during football season. The folks running St. John’s certainly know what side their bread is buttered on.

*All statistics are made up and therefore wildly inaccurate.

The bacon in this picture alone speaks for how good the burger is.

The bacon in this picture alone speaks for how good the burger is.

So what about the food? To be perfectly honest, I have only sampled a small portion of St. John’s menu, but that portion has been excellent. The burgers are very, very good. They are just exactly greasy enough to be decadent without being gross, and they are served in plastic baskets with red and white wax paper, just as they should be. The restaurant’s website claims that they are the “Best Burgers in Silicon Valley”, a statement I disagree with both philosophically and grammatically. St. John’s also claims to make the “Best French Fries in the Universe!”, an absurd declaration further reduced in effectiveness due to unnecessary quotation marks.

With that said, I can respect any restaurant with the cojones to make either of the above statements, accurate or otherwise. The fact still remains that grub at St. John’s is exceptionally tasty, so ignore my grammar nitpicks and order yourself a cheesesteak already.

Thanks to winstonwanders.com for letting me use this picture. I didn't exactly ask for permission first, however, so they may still have me killed.

Thanks to winstonwanders.com for letting me use this picture. I didn’t exactly ask for permission first, however, so Winston may still have me killed.

Oh, I didn’t mention the cheesesteaks? Well, allow me to do so now. I wouldn’t say that St. John’s cheesesteaks are truly Philadelphically accurate (an adjective I made up just now), but my California-raised palate thinks they taste just fine and dandy. There’s lots of cheese, lots of nicely grilled steak, and a good, fresh bun. No complaints here.

Probably the ideal football season bar food.

Probably the ideal football season bar food.

On my most recent visit, I had the opportunity to feast on an order of aptly-named bacon & cheese fries. I waited patiently in the odd, cramped walkway that doubles as the food pickup area and did my best not to get in the way. I failed. After narrowly dodging a pair of chicken sandwiches and a basket of fried zucchini, I finally managed to grab my order of fries and escape with a minimal amount of elbowing people in the face. It wasn’t until I was seated that I beheld the full glory of the bacon & cheese fries; they are a thing of true beauty. They taste pretty much exactly how they look: Like a baked potato that is halfway through turning itself into a pile of french fries. The bacon was crisp, the cheese was plentiful, and the sour cream was a genius garnish on this kingly mountain of cholesterol. Two huge thumbs up for this one.

To wrap this review up, I have to admit to myself that I’d be darned happy to visit St. John’s Bar & Grill any day of the week. The burgers are very good indeed, but not quite in that elusive “crazy awesome” range that restaurants like this aspire to achieve. The cheese steaks and fries are solid though, and that alone is worth 187 out of 200 square yards of horrid wood paneling. St. John’s is an easy recommendation, especially if you’re looking for a half-decent place to catch the next big game on TV.

St. John’s Bar & Grill
510 Lawrence Expressway
Suite 110
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
(408) 738-8515
www.stjohnsgrill.com

St. John's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon


I told you it was dive-y.

I told you it was dive-y.



Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.


Best banana bread ever

Most banana bread recipes go something like this: Smash up some bananas with eggs and flour and bake for a while. That approach works well enough, I suppose, but that’s what everybody does. Don’t you want to be a different? Of course you do. The recipe I am posting here adds a few more steps, but those steps are very much worth it. Out of all the different banana bread recipes I’ve tried, this one produces the best results. There are easier recipes to make and ones that mess up fewer dishes in the process, but if you want truly amazing banana bread then look no further. There are many versions of this recipe posted around the interwebs, but the original recipe was apparently published in Cook’s Illustrated Magazine at some point in time I can’t be bothered to look up.

Skip to the short version

Spots = sweet = delicious.

Spots = sweet = delicious.

” Ten pounds of bananas stuffed into a five-pound sack “

Before we get into the details of the other ingredients, obviously you are going to need bananas. Good, ripe ones, maybe even over-ripe. Sometimes it can be a challenge to collect exactly the correct number of correct-ripeness bananas precisely when you want to make banana bread, so anytime you end up with an uneaten banana on its last legs, peel it and throw it into a bag in the freezer. A few iterations of this and before you know it you’ll have a half dozen nicely ripened bananas ready for bread making. If this strategy sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because I follow the same process with the ingredients for my chicken stock recipe, which you have undoubtedly already read. Right? *wink wink*


Ingredients

  • 6 large bananas (insert “large banana” jokes here)
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tsp granulated sugar


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a large microwave-safe bowl
  • a saucepan
  • a mesh strainer
  • a loaf pan of some kind, 8 1/2″ will do
  • patience
  • trust (Some of the steps are odd, but I promise it’s worth it.)


Directions

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Take one of your six bananas – a decent-looking one that isn’t too mushy – and set it aside. Take the remaining five bananas, frozen or otherwise, and put them into a large microwaveable bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, poke a few holes for ventilation, and microwave for five minutes, six if some of the bananas are frozen. While you wait for the microwave, put your mesh strainer over your saucepan and get out some hotpads. When the microwave beeps, you will end up with a weird, discolored lump of banana goo floating in clear stuff the same temperature as the surface of the sun.

Fact: Bananas are lethal when microwaved for five minutes.

Fact: Bananas are lethal when microwaved for five minutes.

CAREFULLY remove the plastic wrap, doing your best not to sustain permanently disfiguring facial burns from the steam, and pour/dump the mess of superheated banana material into the mesh strainer perched atop your saucepan. Leave it there for 15 minutes.

I bet you didn't expect this step.

I bet you didn’t expect this step.

While the banana magma drains, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl and set aside. When the 15 minutes are up (yes, you really have to wait the whole 15 minutes), remove the microwaved bananas from the strainer, put them in a medium-sized bowl, and set aside. In the saucepan, you should have collected 1/2 to 3/4 cup of clear liquid. This is pure, unadulterated banana essence (sometimes also called “juice”), and we are going to turn it into banana syrup. Oh yes, we are.

It will thicken up a bit when it's done.

It will thicken up a bit when it’s done.

Simmer the banana juice over medium-high heat until it’s been reduced to 1/4 cup, about 5 minutes or so. When it’s done, pour it into the bowl with the bananas. I know this seems stupid, but what we’ve effectively done here is concentrate all that awesome banana flavor into a smaller, more intense package. It’ll be great, really it will.

It tastes better than it looks.

It tastes better than it looks.

Add the melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla and stir well. Before you add the eggs, make sure the mixture isn’t too hot; nobody likes cooked egg bits in their banana bread. Stir in the eggs, then pour the whole mess into the flour mixture and fold everything together, being careful not to over-mix.

If you want to ruin everything, add chopped walnuts at this time. When you’re done with that, you might as well pull the wings off a few butterflies and then go kick a puppy. In case it’s not clear, I recommend against this step.

Walnuts are gross.

Walnuts are gross.

Lightly grease your loaf pan and pour the batter in. Take that last banana, slice it, and lay the slices on the top of the loaf along both sides. Leave a gap in the middle to allow the bread to rise as it bakes. Sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over the top.

I know, I didn't sprinkle the sugar evenly. So sue me.

I know, I didn’t sprinkle the sugar evenly. So sue me.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 55 to 75 minutes. Insert a toothpick or wooden skewer into the center of the loaf; when it comes out clean, the bread is done.

This is ten pounds of bananas stuffed into a five pound sack.

This is ten pounds of bananas stuffed into a five pound sack.

Allow to cool for at least 7 or 8 seconds, cut some slices, and bask in delicious banana glory.



Yes, I do put butter on everything.

Yes, I do put butter on everything.



tl;dr

Best banana bread ever

Ingredients

  • 6 large bananas
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 to 3 tsp granulated sugar


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a large microwave-safe bowl
  • a saucepan
  • a mesh strainer
  • a loaf pan of some kind, 8 1/2″ will do


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take one banana, slice, and set aside. Microwave the remaining bananas for 5 minutes. Place in mesh strainer and allow to drain for 15 minutes. Pour resulting juice into a saucepan and reduce to 1/4 cup volume over medium heat, then recombine with microwaved bananas. Add melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs. Whisk together dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Stir banana mixture into dry ingredients and mix well. Add walnuts if desired. Pour batter into lightly greased loaf pan, lay sliced banana on top and sprinkle with granulated sugar. Bake for 55 to 75 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean.



See also



Standard Recipe Disclaimer
I don’t come up with a lot of my own recipes (unless you count my own personal milk-to-Grape-Nuts ratio), and chances are the recipe posted above belongs to or was inspired by a person other than me. So if you’re wondering whether or not I ripped somebody off, I probably did. Don’t get out the pitchforks and torches just yet though! I want to make absolutely sure I give credit where it’s due, so if you think someone deserves recognition for something that I haven’t already called out FOR CRYING OUT LOUD LET ME KNOW. Thanks, I appreciate it. Here’s a cookie.


Napa Valley Burger Company

meter-great-haThis is a story about pickle fries. Other things happen in this story, but none of them are as noteworthy as the pickle fries. There is a restaurant, a town, some weather, a couple of dogs, and even some other remarkable food, but all of these things revolve around that one, single most important dish: Those dreamy, crispy, pickle fries. Holy smoley. Before I spend too much more time worshiping those fries, I should probably take a step back and explain how it was that I had the opportunity to eat them.

” The pickle fries did eventually run out, and that made us sad “

It was a ridiculously glorious day in Sausalito, one of those days that are so excruciatingly perfect that you can’t help but to post a picture of the cloudless blue sky on Facebook and say “neener neener” to all of the unfortunate people who don’t live in California. My wife Shawn, fellow dog wrangler and honorary food blog enabler, and I were strolling the streets of Sausalito, enjoying the 75 degree weather and looking for a place to eat. We passed a couple of somewhat promising establishments, but then we spotted the Napa Valley Burger Company. One glance at the menu and we knew this was the place to eat.

Everyone who walks by this place says to themselves, 'Damn, I should have eaten here.'

Everyone who walks by this place says to themselves, ‘Damn, I should have eaten here.’

The limited outdoor seating was completely full, but we got lucky and nabbed a table within about five minutes. We were basically sitting right in the middle of a crowded Sausalito sidewalk, but it made for good people watching and kept our two fluffy little dogs occupied as well. Our attentive waitperson stopped by immediately to take our drink orders and fawn over the dogs, much to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

We were all settled in a few minutes later with drinks and a bowl water for the pups. We ordered some pickle fries, a Stinson Beach BBQ Burger, and a Yountville Burger, our waitperson nodding with approval as she scribbled on her notepad. “That’s the three most popular items on the menu, in order” she said. “The pickle fries are my favorite.”

Oh. My. GAWDUH.

Oh. My. GAWDUH.

In just a few minutes the pickle fries arrived. It had been bothering me to this point that they were called “pickle fries” instead of the obviously much more grammatically accurate “fried pickles”, because that’s what they are. Pickles that are fried. Right? When I saw them in person, though, I understood the subtle genius of it all. They are fries that have pickles in them. Thin, julienne strips of pickle are thickly coated in the most wonderful cornmeal batter concoction and fried to crispy, crunchy, salty perfection. Heaven. If you don’t like fried pickles, these still might not change your mind all that much, but if you enjoy this sort of thing you will be stunned at how good they are. At this point Shawn said, “You know you have to rate this place 10-out-of-10 no matter what else happens, right?” That’s certainly the direction we’re trending here, no doubt about it.

There was a giant wafer of fried cheese stuck in the top of my burger as a garnish. Epic win.

There was a giant wafer of fried cheese stuck in the top of my burger as a garnish. Epic win.

Next up the burgers arrived, and we were not disappointed. They were piled high, cooked just so, and were absolutely amazing. The applewood bacon on my burger was thick, layered, and deliciously smoky underneath a blanket of garlic aioli and oozy, melted Gruyere. The accompanying burger across the table (from which I stole many bites) was equally superb; the stars of that particular show being the crispy onion ring and generously applied bourbon barbecue sauce. Accompanying each of the burgers were artsy-looking side salads, the kind I am usually not impressed with. Just to be thorough, I went ahead and ate some of mine… and it was excellent! I don’t know what they put in the dressing – I guess perhaps heroin – but it was just hands-down plain old delicious. I can’t believe this place, even the stupid salads are awesome.

This has to be one of the top ten burgers in the Bay Area.

This has to be one of the top ten burgers in the Bay Area.

As incredible as the burgers were, however, we found ourselves constantly going back to the basket of pickle fries, desperately scraping the bottom of the container that once held heavenly dill ranch dipping sauce. We boxed up the leftover halves of our burgers and sat in contentment a while, enjoying the warm sun and jealous stares of passers by. Our only dislike of the entire meal was that the pickle fries did eventually run out, and that made us sad. We paid our bill, left a healthy 25% tip for the top notch service we received, and walked away as extremely satisfied customers. I am always reluctant to hand out perfect ratings, but I’ll still give Napa Valley Burger Company 199 out of 200 delicious, delicious pickle fries. We’ll be back soon. Oh yes, we will.

Napa Valley Burger Company
670 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 332-1454
www.napavalleyburgercompany.com

Napa Valley Burger Company on Urbanspoon


I can has?

I can has?



Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.


Boiled peanuts

Somewhere over the course of my childhood, I developed a taste for boiled peanuts. Maybe it was that year I lived in Georgia as a toddler, or maybe it was that southern neighbor of ours in Massachusetts. Regardless, I still crave boiled peanuts to this very day and dream about them far more than I care to admit. They’re like a cross between chick peas and roasted chestnuts, bean-like but also decidedly peanutty. I call them “redneck edamame“. When cooked properly, they have a wonderful soft and slightly chewy texture. I freaking love the things. Most other people I know, however, don’t.

Skip to the short version

” There are a number of redneck activities you can occupy yourself with while you wait “

I’m not going to lie to you. If you’re curious whether or not you will like boiled peanuts, you probably won’t. I only know a handful of people who like them, myself included. Many of these people herald from India, where I am told boiled peanuts are a relatively common street food. Aside from that, I know one Texan who likes boiled peanuts and three or four folks from the Carolinas who grew up eating them. Everybody else I know, my Texan wife included, think that boiled peanuts are all kinds of icky.

There. That concludes my disclaimer. If you make this recipe and decide that you hate boiled peanuts, you have only yourself to blame. Now that we’ve weeded out all the wimps, let’s get cooking!

Who wants to make a peanut angel with me?

Who wants to make a peanut angel with me?


Ingredients

  • 2 lbs raw peanuts
  • 1-2 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup table salt (or 1 cup Kosher salt)


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a crock pot or large stock pot
  • something to do for twelve hours


Directions

If it wasn’t so tricky to find raw peanuts, this would pretty much be the world’s easiest ingredient list. Raw peanuts usually start showing up at my local farmer’s market in late September and disappear again in December. You can also find them at Asian markets and/or in any decent-sized Chinatown. Once you finally locate some raw peanuts, buy a pile of them. I usually get two pounds at a time because that’s what will fit in my crock pot.

Be sure to wash your n... uhm... I mean produce. Be sure to wash your produce.

Be sure to wash your n… uhm… I mean produce. Be sure to wash your produce.

Take that lovely pile of peanuts and wash the bejiminy out of them. Peanuts grow in dirt. Nobody likes eating dirt. Wash harder. When the rinse water runs clear, the peanuts are about as clean as you can get them.

The general idea at this point is to simmer the peanuts all day long in salty water, which can be accomplished in a number of different ways. A pot on the stovetop works just fine, but I prefer using a slow cooker. Dump the peanuts into whatever cooking thingy you choose, cover with water, and add the salt. Bring the resulting brine water to a boil, turn down the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about eight to ten hours. If you’re using a crock pot, set the selector to ‘high’ and let it go for about twelve hours.

The salt ratio is a tricky thing to get correct, partly because everybody prefers slightly different amounts of salt, but also because the amount of water you need varies depending on the shape of your cooking vessel. The best advice I can give is to wait until the brine water is simmering and then taste a tiny spoonful of it. It should be salty but not repulsive, say a little bit less salty than ocean water. However salty the brine tastes is how salty the peanuts will be. Adjust the salt and water ratios accordingly, but do it early and do it ONLY ONCE.

Everyone in the pool!

Everyone in the pool!

So, how do you know when the peanuts are done? Well… uh… They certainly shouldn’t be crunchy at all, that’s for sure. If they crunch, they need to cook another few hours at least. They also shouldn’t be über-mushy, but rather somewhere halfway in between. It’s worth noting that you should not be alarmed at the apparent blandness of the peanuts as you taste test them. In my experience, the salt only seems to work its way into the nuts during the last 10% of the cook time or so. I have ruined more than one batch of boiled peanuts by panicking and adding more salt at the last minute, only to have the batch turn out lip-puckeringly over-brined. Don’t be a me.

There are a number of redneck activities you can occupy yourself with while you wait the twelve-ish hours it takes your peanuts to become boiled. You can build a potato gun, watch reruns of Honey Boo Boo, make a hammock out of duct tape, or go mattress surfing. When you’ve finished cleaning the mud out of your hair and replacing any teeth you’ve lost, you’re ready to enjoy a true redneck delicacy.

Note: If you like boiled peanuts and you’re not a redneck, I have probably just offended you. Stop being so sensitive.

I sure do love me some boiled peanuts.

I sure do love me some boiled peanuts.

Remove the peanuts from the brine and eat them hot. Delish! Whatever’s leftover will keep for about a week in the fridge, or many months in the freezer. If you’ve discovered that you do indeed like boiled peanuts, you might also want to try Cajun style. Throw a couple bags of Zatarain’s Crab Boil seasoning in the brine along with a jar of pickled jalapeños, juice and all, and you’re good to go.




tl;dr

Boiled peanuts

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs raw peanuts
  • 1-2 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup table salt (or 1 cup Kosher salt)


Other stuff you’ll need

  • a crock pot


Directions

Wash peanuts thoroughly in cold water and place in crock pot. Cover with water, add salt, and cook on high for 12 hours. For Cajun style, add two bags of Zatarain’s Crab Boil and a jar of pickled jalapenos to the brine mixture.



See also



Standard Recipe Disclaimer
I don’t come up with a lot of my own recipes (unless you count my own personal milk-to-Grape-Nuts ratio), and chances are the recipe posted above belongs to or was inspired by a person other than me. So if you’re wondering whether or not I ripped somebody off, I probably did. Don’t get out the pitchforks and torches just yet though! I want to make absolutely sure I give credit where it’s due, so if you think someone deserves recognition for something that I haven’t already called out FOR CRYING OUT LOUD LET ME KNOW. Thanks, I appreciate it. Here’s a cookie.


The Bay Fish & Chips

meter-ok-goodThe Bay Fish & Chips is one of those places I really want to like. It may actually be good, but my one experience with it was a bit lacking. I can’t even really say that it was one particular thing that put me off about this place; the whole experience was like a never-ending chain of small disappointments that ultimately resulted in an overall opinion of “meh”.

” Weird, blue cups of water “

For starters, the spousal unit and I (for simplicity I’ll just say “we” from here on out) were finally recovering from a relatively terrible meal and we decided that we had earned something fried and tasty for our sacrifice. Fish and chips sounded dandy, and so we consulted Google for a local place we hadn’t tried yet. We drove a short couple miles down the street, following our GPS, and arrived at a strange and mildly unpleasant shopping center growing cyst-like on the side of El Camino Real. Tiny disappointment #1. Ok, well… Sometimes the best places are in grungy little shopping centers. I hope.

Sorry carlwuzhere for stealing this picture from your blog. Either you can sue me or I can give you like five bucks if you want.

Sorry carlwuzhere for stealing this picture from your blog. Either you can sue me or I can give you like five bucks if you want.

Actually, you know what… The signage mounted in the corner of that shopping center archway looks fairly professional. Wait a second. That big archway thing isn’t actually the front of an entire restaurant, it’s just an empty shell covering a weird, sad little space hidden in the corner. Tiny disappointment #2.

Welcome to 1982. Do you like our wood paneling?

Welcome to 1982. Do you like our wood paneling?

Now you can’t really photograph odor, so instead I opted for a picture of the menu board. As we walked in the door we realized that this place is not what we expected. It smelled like a noodle shop or similar Asian-style fast food joint, which is not a bad thing at all, of course, but it’s jarring when you are expecting to encounter the smell of… oh, I don’t know… perhaps fish and chips? It’s like going to take a big swig of your 7up only to discover that it’s tonic water. Euugh. Neither are bad things, but when you want one you usually don’t want the other. The place was also completely empty during lunch hour on a weekend, which was off-putting. Tiny disappointments #3 and #4.

Seriously, what's with those cups?

Seriously, what’s with those cups?

We skipped over the wonton soup and shrimp cake options on the menu and ordered what we came for: fried sea animal parts. The person at the register – I presume one of the owners – was courteous, fast, friendly, and happy to see customers. She invited us to choose whatever table we liked and brought us tartar sauce, vinegar, and cups of water. Weird, blue cups of water. Tupperware cups like what you’d find in the bargain aisle of a 1970s Walmart. Tiny disappointment #5. Around then I noticed the decor, a painfully stereotypical arrangement of wood paneling and gilded “paintings” of sailing ships braving untamed seas. If you looked closely at the paintings, you could see that each had a thin veneer of once-airborne fish fryer oil that had condensed into sticky little vertical driplets. Tiny disappointment #6. We tried not to touch the paintings (or the walls) and waited.

Well, it's fish and chips alright.

Well, it’s fish and chips alright.

I’ve spent a lot of time so far talking about all the things I didn’t like leading up to the one thing that matters: The food. A restaurant can get pretty much everything else wrong, but if they manage to produce an amazing plate of grub then quite a lot can be forgiven. Unfortunately, the fish and chips were not amazing. They were hot and crispy and overall just fine, but they weren’t exceptional. The fish was fair and very slightly too oily, and the fries were the standard crinkle-cut variety. Tiny disappointment #7. The surprising star of the show was the tartar sauce. I couldn’t tell if it was scratch made or not, but it was excellent. Certainly not a disappointment.

We left The Bay Fish & Chips unsure of whether or not we liked it. Both of us felt a little greasy from the experience, and neither of us seemed to be genuinely satisfied. The other online reviews for this restaurant are generally very positive, so I’m willing to give it another try to see if my opinion improves. From my limited experience here, however, I have to rate this place a slightly disappointing 5 out of 8 oily nautical paintings. Oh, oil paintings. I made an accidental funny.

The Bay Fish & Chips
826 W El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 732-5665
Google it

Bay Fish & Chips on Urbanspoon



Standard Restaurant Review Disclaimer
The ambiguous and illogical rating system used in this review is not intended to be pinpoint accurate. It’s only there to give you a general idea of how much I like or dislike an establishment, and it also gives me an excuse to write silly things. If my rating system angers and distracts you, there’s a good chance you have control issues. I would also like to point out that I am not a highly qualified restaurant reviewer person, nor do I particularly care what that job is called. If you were under the impression that perhaps I was one of those people, consider your hopes dashed. Lastly, wow! You read the entire disclaimer. You get a gold star on your chart today.