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Category: Menlo Park Week

  1. Friday, September 17, 2010

    Menlo Park Week: Coconuts & Back-A-Yard

    Today I’m cheating a little. The restaurant I’m going to write about is actually in Palo Alto. But the owners have a second, more casual location in Menlo Park and it’s the same chef. So, it counts. ūüėČ

    Okay, so I love Back A Yard in East Menlo Park. I think it might be my favorite take-out spot in town. Nate and I can split one jerk chicken dinner and be left with full bellies and tingly, happy¬†taste buds. Their jerk sauce is perfection. Perfect texture, flavor, heat…I can’t get enough. Back A Yard has been serving Menlo Park for about 6 years. Two years ago they opened a second restaurant called¬†Coconuts in Palo Alto, with the same wonderful¬†Caribbean¬†vibe and eats.

    I knew I had to write about Back A Yard for Menlo Park week. When I emailed the chef, he offered to serve us dinner at Coconuts, which of course we took him up on! I already knew the chef’s wife Annetta from my frequent visits to Back A Yard, and it was a delight to finally meet Chef Robert. We also met the other Coconuts chef Emmanuel, who took very good care of us throughout the evening.

    First off, we had a Jamaican soda called Ting. It rocked. My pictures of it did not rock. So, please just close your eyes and imagine what a Jamaican grapefruit soda in a pretty glass looks and tastes like. Pretty good, right?

    On to the food.

    Corn Festivals. They’re kind of like donuts. But maybe better. Not so sweet, but sweet enough. I can pop ’em like candy. Seriously. It’s a good thing I only eat them every once in a while. You can also get the festivals at Back A Yard.

    Curried Garbanzo Avocado Guacamole, with Crispy Plantain Tostones. Coconuts makes their tasty¬†guacamole¬†with smashed up garbanzo beans (kind of similar to the dip recipe from last week…interesting, eh?). And those tostones? LOVE them.

    Pork bites. I love these tender little pork bites. Maybe because you get that bowl of jerk sauce. And we all know how I feel about the jerk sauce.

    Curried shrimp. This was my dinner. It might be my favorite thing on the menu. Tons of perfectly cooked veggies. Delicious shrimp. The curry sauce is wonderful. Oh, and the little cup of mango salsa complements the entire dish so nicely.

    Jerk Chicken and Curried Goat. This was Nate’s dinner. There’s that yummy jerk chicken I told you about. And the curried goat is quite good – very tender with, once again, a great sauce. These people know their sauces. You can’t see it, but this dish comes with rice and beans, which you can get at both restaurants. I love me some rice and beans, and these are no exception.

    Tender Braised Oxtail. That’s right, OXtail. This meat is wicked tender. It’s also quite fatty, but seriously tasty. This is very traditional and we had to give it a try – glad we did.

    By this point in the meal we were STUFFED and we had enough leftovers for a whole other dinner the next night! But we had to try at least one dessert. In the name of the blog, right? Ah, the sacrifices I make.

    The chef recommended we go with the Sweet Potato Pudding. I told you Chef Emmanuel took care of us that night. I can’t tell you how happy I was we tried this pudding. I’m terrible at describing food…let’s see, it was warm, the sauce was yummy…see, terrible. Please just know this was good stuff.

    Can you see why we love these restaurants? And I should mention that I credit Back A Yard with my new found ability to eat super spicy food. Before Back A Yard, I was a wimp. But that jerk is too good to pass up. And now, my heat tolerance is high. Bring it on.

    Thank you to the owners and chefs for a fabulous meal!

  2. Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Menlo Park Week: FondTimes Gift Baskets…and a Giveaway!

    This giveaway is now closed. But be sure to keep reading about FondTimes…they are a fantastic resource!

    As I’ve prepared for Menlo Park Week, I’ve gained an even greater appreciation for small business owners. I’ve loved meeting these people who have started businesses or restaurants and work so hard to make them great. And the best part – they all love what they do. Every single local business owner that I’ve talked to the last few weeks sincerely loves their job, and the sense of pride they exhibit is inspiring.

    Today’s local business is no exception! Menlo Park locals Sherri and Scott Hill started, a gift basket company. They’ve built the business together from the ground up and recently relaunched their website. They work hard and love what they’re doing. When Sherri talks about designing gift baskets, she literally lights up. It’s so fun to see the passion she has for their company! has an amazing selection of baskets and can ship anywhere in the continental U.S. Their baskets run the gamut, from super cute for kids to very elegant for adults. When Sherri and I first talked about doing a giveaway, she told me I could pick out a basket for myself. Choosing from their large selection was a near impossible task!

    I finally settled on the Superstar Celebrations Gift Basket (which is on sale for $20 off, by the way). This basket is beautiful and full of lots and lots and LOTS of chocolate that has kept us happy for days now.

    And guess what today’s giveaway is? A Superstar Celebrations Gift Basket for one lucky winner! Simply add a comment to this post to be entered to win. Comments must be posted by Midnight PT on Tuesday, September 21! One randomly-selected comment will be chosen and the winner announced on Thursday, September 23. (Prize must be shipped within the continental U.S.)

    Sherri also sent us the Halloween Boo Activity Gift Bag. Totally cute. And the silly putty? Yeah, I stole it from the kids and have it at my desk.

    Good luck with the giveaway! And if you ever need to send a gift basket, be sure to visit and know you’re supporting a really great couple!

    Don’t forget, SF Bay Area and Dallas/Collin County, TX readers – if you’ve joined Juice in the City, make sure to mention that in your comment! If you win this giveaway, JITC will deposit $25 into your account to use towards deals!

  3. Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Menlo Park Week: Kepler’s and Cafe Borrone Giveaway!

    This giveaway is no closed. Thank you!

    In honor of today’s posts about Kepler’s Books and Cafe Borrone, we’re doing a special giveaway just for Bay Area locals! (Apologies to my non-Bay Area readers…don’t worry, tomorrow’s giveaway will be for everyone!)

    Today’s giveaway consists of the following:

    • Preferred seating for you and a guest at the October 29 book event with Harold McGee, author of Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best Foods and Recipes
    • A signed copy of Keys to Good Cooking, compliments of Kepler’s
    • A $30 gift certificate for Cafe Borrone

    Just leave a comment on this post to enter! Please post your comment by Midnight PT, Monday, Sept. 20. One randomly-selected winner will be selected and announced on Thursday, September 23. Good luck!

    Thank you to Kepler’s and Cafe Borrone for a wonderful giveaway!

    One more thing! If you enter this giveaway and have joined Juice in the City, make sure to mention that in your comment! If you win this giveaway, JITC will deposit $25 into your account to use towards deals!

  4. Menlo Park Week: Kepler’s Books

    Another Menlo Park (and, really, national) treasure is Kepler’s Books. You should click here to read the history of the bookstore. It’s fascinating and inspiring. Here are the highlights…Roy Kepler, peace activitist, opened the store in 1955. It attracted loyal customers from the start, oh, and The Grateful Dead and Joan Baez appeared/performed there regularly. There is a PBS documentary about Kepler’s and in 1990 Kepler’s was named “Bookseller of the Year” by Publisher’s Weekly. “Thanks” to the Internet, they had to close their doors in August of 2005…but after much support and investment from the community, they re-opened their doors two months later. Cool, right?

    I love this place. I could spend hours browsing through the stacks and stacks of books.

    They have events all the time with all kinds of amazing authors. I mean amazing. Like former-presidents-of-the-United-States amazing.

    And the children’s section of the store is a little piece of heaven on earth.

    We’re pretty lucky.

    This might be my favorite part of the store. The Knuffle Bunnies fighting over who loves Kepler’s more.

    So, there’s our bookstore. Are you in love with Menlo Park yet?

  5. Menlo Park Week: Cafe Borrone

    Hands down one of my favorite places in Menlo Park is Cafe Borrone. Every time I eat there I love it even more. I love the food. I love the atmosphere. I love the umbrellas. I love the chalkboard menus. I love the pretty dishes.

    Last week Cafe Borrone treated us to dinner so I could write up this post. Our dinner was HEAVEN. Every last bite was scrumptious. Marina Borrone kept telling us we should call friends to come share the food with us because they were planning on bringing so much out…and, uh, yeah…Nate and I ate it all (with only a¬†little help from the girls). So much for sharing!

    Cafe Borrone has been around since 1971, first in Redwood City and now Menlo Park. The restaurant is family-owned and run by Marina, Josh (her husband who is also the chef) and Marina’s parents, who originally started the business. In fact, Josh started working here when he got out of high school, serving tables and whatnot, and is now chef!

    Cafe Borrone uses almost all local ingredients (with the exception of around 5 items, such as bananas) and as much organic food as possible. Their menu changes day to day, based on what is fresh and in season. It’s a natural for lunchtime, but their breakfast food is wonderful. And dinner? Oh, dinner is too good.

    Let’s take a gander at the food, shall we?

    Corn fritters. I can’t begin to describe how good these are.

    Beet Salad. The beets were soooooo yummy. Sweet, perfect texture. And the goat cheese on top of the greens? I didn’t know goat cheese could be so darn creamy.

    Burrata. Have you ever had burrata? It’s basically fresh mozzarella stuffed with cream and curd. And it rocks. Especially topped on crostini with roasted peaches and tomatoes. Marina said they ate burrata in Italy and had to bring it to their restaurant…and now she’s seeing it in other places. That’s right, you saw it at Borrone’s first!

    That was just the appetizers. How about some dinner?

    Grouper BLT. Fresh line caught grouper with all kinds of bacony-tomatoey goodness surrounding it.

    Steak Crostini. This was Nate’s favorite. I think mine too. But whenever I decide it’s my fave, I think about something else I ate and can’t go with a final decision. The Niman Ranch filet mignon on this crostini was cooked perfectly and tasted, well, amazing.

    You have room for dessert, right? We all know I always do…

    Nectarine and Blackberry Crisp.

    Coconut Cream Tart.

    This dog was totally judging me.

    What, dog, what?  You think I ate too much?

    I think every single one of you reading this post needs to come visit me in Menlo Park, just so we can go to lunch at Cafe Barrone. Deal? Great! (Bonus for your trip: you get to see me pig out and get judged by snooty dogs.)

    Click more to read Josh’s description of each dish. As if the pictures wouldn’t make you hungry enough.

    Thank you, Cafe Borrone, for an amazing dinner…and, more importantly, for being around for everyone to enjoy!

    (>> Find out more…)

  6. Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    Menlo Park Week: Kahe Soda…and a Giveaway!

    This giveaway is now closed. But please keep reading to learn more about Kahe!

    Last spring Nate and I went to the San Francisco Chocolate Salon. In addition to way too much decadent chocolate, we discovered Kahe Sparkling Nectar and learned that the company is based in Menlo Park!

    Kahe Sparkling Nectar is a sparkling juice drink made from all natural and organic products, with no added sugar or corn syrups, but instead sweetened with stevia and xylitol, which you can read more about here. It comes in three flavors РBing Cherry, Passionfruit and Kiwifruit. You can read more about Kahe beverages on the website, as well as all about the founders Peter and Melanie, who wanted to create a simple and delicious drink without all the unhealthy sweeteners involved.

    Kahe kindly provided us with some samples, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Nate liked Bing Cherry best and my favorite was definitely Passionfruit!

    Even though Kahe can only be found in Bay Area locations, this is your chance to enjoy some Kahe no matter where you live!

    Kahe Sparkling Nectar is giving away a full mixed case of Kahe (24 bottles) with an old-fashioned straw dispenser (retail value $65.00). This giveaway is now closed for comments. One winner will be randomly-selected and announced on Thursday, September 23.

    Big thanks to Kahe for such a refreshingly fun giveaway!

    Offer from Juice in the City: Listen up SF Bay Area and Dallas/Collin County TX moms! Juice in the City is partnering with me on all the giveaways this week! If you subscribe to JITC SF Bay Area or Dallas/Collin County and leave “I’ve subscribed to JITC” in your entry comment and you happen to win this giveaway, JITC will deposit $25 into your account to use towards deals! Pretty nice, huh?

  7. Monday, September 13, 2010

    Menlo Park Week: Juice in the City

    A while ago I mentioned Cafe Borrone on my blog and promptly received a thank you from the owners of Cafe Borrone and from Sarah Eisner, a blogger and mom from Menlo Park who worked on their website. Serendipity was at work and Sarah and I have since been connected in many different ways…and boy am I glad! I’ve loved watching her business-savvy mind do amazing things.

    Sarah is a co-founder of Juice in the City, a website that offers spectacular local deals (at least 50% off) for fun stuff that appeals to moms. I like Juice in the City because actual moms are out there sourcing the deals and writing about why they love the local business offering the deal. In fact, I’ve purchased deals myself and have been super happy with the value and the businesses that I’ve connected with.

    I’m writing about Juice in the City for several reasons:

    • Sarah lives in Menlo Park and it’s Menlo Park Week on my blog, so I have to give her a shout out! I also love that the first “local” business that I’m sharing with you this week is so techy…I am in Silicon Valley, after all!
    • Juice in the City is going to offer a cool “giveaway” in conjunction with my giveaways this week, so I want you to know what Juice in the City is all about before you see the giveaways!
    • Juice in the City is now sourcing deals in the San Francisco Bay Area and Dallas/Collin County, TX. If you live in one of those places, you totally need to sign up to get your daily deal email.
    • Juice in the City is going to be expanding to oodles of cities over the next 6 months. If you don’t live in the Bay Area or Dallas/Collin County, you can still sign up so you don’t miss out when they come to your town!

    Like I said, Sarah and her business partner New York-based Philippa Smith are smart women. I love their unique take on a growing industry and think they have a lot to offer. I’m happy that Sarah is a local Menlo Park mom and that I’ve gotten a chance to work with her!

  8. Menlo Park Week!

    I love my town. Nate and I are so grateful that when we moved to the Bay Area, we ended up in Menlo Park. The schools are awesome, the neighborhoods are beautiful, the people are nice, and our main street is the best, with tons of local businesses and restaurants, very few chain stores and oodles of charm. There’s just a really fantastic sense of community that we are lucky to be a part of!

    I want to share some of my town with you, so it’s Menlo Park Week here on This Week for Dinner. I’m excited to support a few local businesses, share a part of my daily life with you, and offer up some great giveaways (don’t worry, you don’t have to be from Menlo Park to partake!). Plus, I hope the week inspires you to go out into your own community to support and/or find your own local gems!

    Without further ado, let be the first to welcome you to Menlo Park, California! I hope you enjoy your visit!