About Me

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Sonoma County, CA, United States
A food and restaurant review through the eyes of a 13 year old and his family.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Stemple Creek Ranch - Recipe Contest Winner!

And The Winner Is . . . Posted by Lisa Poncia

The results of our Summer Recipe Challenge are in, and the decision was unanimous.
Congratulations to thirteen-year-old Logan Bello of Sebastopol for his winning Beef Wellington recipe! Logan is an avid foodie and accomplished cook with his own food blog (check out www.logansbites.com) where he focuses on restaurant reviews and “real food.” His proud mom says, “Logan’s Beef Wellington recipe is such a hit around here that his 9 year old sister wants him to make it this month for her birthday dinner!”
All of us are impressed with Logan’s initiative. Here is what he had to say about cooking with our grass-fed and finished meat: “Stemple Creek Ranch grass fed all natural beef is the only way to go!  There is nothing better.  The quality, flavor and deliciousness does not compare.  Remember, you get what you pay for and you are what you eat.” We couldn’t agree more! His winning recipe will be posted under “recipes” on our website.
Logan will receive a $50 gift certificate toward the purchase of our meat along with one of our awesome Stemple Creek Ranch tee-shirts. We hope he will wear it with pride and keep up the good work.
A big note of thanks to everyone who submitted their favorite recipes for consideration. Stay tuned for our next seasonal recipe challenge in the coming months.

Logan's Beef Wellington
Preheat oven 400˚
2 ½ lb. filet mignon (trimmed)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
6 slices prosciutto
1/3 c. Dijon mustard
2 TBSP. Truffle pate OR make duxelles using 1 lb. of crimini mushrooms sliced, then chopped in a food processor with 1 minced clove of garlic, salt and pepper.  Saute until moisture is reduced and it forms a pate texture.
2 sheets of puff pastry (Pepperidge Farms makes a good one) – defrost
2 egg yolks beaten
1.      Set filet on a plate and sprinkle with salt and pepper (I use a good quality Hawaiian salt).  Add olive oil to a cast iron skillet.  Sear the filet on all sides.  Set aside.
2.      On a sheet of plastic wrap, layer 6 slices of prosciutto forming a rectangle.  Spread the truffle pate over the prosciutto forming a thin layer or use the prepared duxelles.
3.      Brush filet completely on all sides with the Dijon mustard.  Place the filet in the middle of the prosciutto rectangle and wrap it around the filet using the plastic wrap as a guide (kind of like sushi).  Twist wrap around sides tightly and put in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.
4.      On another piece of plastic wrap, unfold a layer of the puff pastry (I ended up using 1 ½ sheets of the pastry on mine).  You want enough pastry to completely cover the filet.
5.      Beat egg yolks in a bowl.  Brush edges of puff pastry with egg yolk.
6.      Remove filet from the refrigerator.  Unwrap carefully and set in the middle of the puff pastry.  Roll pastry over the filet and crimp seams together on top and on sides.  Use the plastic wrap again like sushi to help with this.  Place back in refrigerator for about 5 minutes.
7.      Remove from refrigerator and brush with egg yolk.  Using a knife, lightly score all the way across the top of the Wellington using a knife. Sprinkle w/salt.
8.      Place on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
Slice generously and serve!

Stemple Creek Ranch sells grass fed all natural beef and lamb and they are family owned.  Check out their website at: 

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Importance of Family Tradition

The other day, my family was invited to a Celebration of Life honoring my friend's Mikayla and Colette's grandma who passed away last year.  Her birthday is today.  One of the things the family did was made their grandma's homemade ravioli's.  This was a family recipe that she had shared when she was alive and in her celebration, it carried on even after she passed away.   These ravioli's were filled with a family secret  and they were very delicious.  The sauce was like a bologne sauce, light with chunks of ground meat, tomatoes, mushrooms topped with cheese.  The cool thing about this, is that the whole family had been a part of making these pillows of deliciousness and it is their tradition.  When I went home, I thought about food traditions that I want to carry on in my life and this is what I came up with:  My dad's spaghetti sauce, my mom's homemade macaroni and cheese with bacon and truffle oil, my great grandma's devils food cake, our family friend Kimberly's homemade pasta and my friend Clark's homemade fish tacos.  These are recipes that I will learn and carry on the tradition.  I asked my mom and dad what family recipes they love and my dad went on and on about his grandma Verna's macaroni salad, his mom's Chinese spareribs, his grandma's applesauce cake and his mom's potato salad.  When he talked about these favorite foods, he smiled and it made him happy.

This summer, everyone reading my blog should learn to make a family food tradition so that it can be carried on and on forever.  It would be cool to hear about these so post them on here for everyone to read.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Da Poke Shack - March 2013 part 2 - The Big Island, Hawaii

During my spring break (March 2013), my family and I were lucky enough to go back to The Big Island of Hawaii. As soon as I got off the plane I got a craving for poke. If you don't know what poke is, I can explain it to you. 

Poke, or Poke Salad is made of raw Ahi or yellowfin tuna. It is then cubed up and mixed with: seasoning, sauce, and other native things like Kukui Nut or Hawaiian avocado. One of my all time favorite restaurants ever is Da Poke Shack.  It is located on the south end of Kona downtown kind of off the beat and path.  It is a very  small place with a few tables outside.  I say small, but the food quality is huge.  It's more of a to-go place.  My parents took me there shortly after we landed.  I tried all 5 poke flavors which were; Dynamite (Avocado aioli), Pele's kiss (spicy sauce), Shoyu, Sesame, and Honey soy sauce. My favorite was Pele's kiss because it was spicy. Overall, this is one of my favorite restaurants. I really like raw fish and sushi. Da Poke Shack also has some pretty killer Kalua Pork. As far as kid friendly, may not be the best unless you have an adventurous eater.  My sister actually had the Kalua Pork bowl over rice and loved it!  My dad had the same (because he's not a raw fish fan) and also loved it. He said it was some of the best Kalua pork he had ever had. My mom and I feasted on poke and it was the best. They also have the option of white rice or brown rice, homemade kimchi and seaweed salad. 

They serve beer and soda as well as Hawaiian juice like guava and P-O-G (Passsion Orange Guava) juice.

Service: *****
Food: *****+
Price: $$+
Kid Friendly: **
Ambience: **

NoodleMania - Sebastopol, CA

NoodleMania is pretty new to Sebastopol and worth checking out. 

The restaurant is decorated with art from Asia and a few movie posters that are themed from Asia.  The food is Pacific Asian so lots of noodles, dumplings and they have really good orange chicken.  They have egg noodles, rice noodles, mung bean noodles, udon, soba, chow fun and yam noodles to choose from.  They also have rice plates, salads, soups and curry dishes. 

I went there with my dad and little sister and we had potstickers, orange chicken, pho yung and wonton soup.  They also make a killer Thai iced tea which is made with tea, condensed milk and half/half.  The service was fast and friendly and I can't wait to go again.

They are located at 7233 Healdsburg Ave., Sebastopol (Next to Papa Murphy's Pizza) and their hours are: 7 days a week 11:00 AM - 9:00 PM.

Service: *****
Food: *****
Price: $$
Kid Friendly: *****
Ambience: ***

Saturday, October 6, 2012

WOW! I Have Been So Busy.....Middle School Is WORK!!!!

So many people have asked me, "Logan, when are you going to blog?"    I've been SO BUSY with school,  summer travel, sports, hunting and life in general.  Even though I've been busy, that doesn't mean that I haven't been cooking.  Here's a quick overview since my last post.

In June, my family and I traveled to Hawaii, the Big Island, for 10 days.  While we there, we visited Tex's Drive-In for their epically amazing malasada's.  A malasada is basically a big doughnut ball deep fried then rolled in sugar then an option is having it stuffed with jelly or creme.  The difference is the dough there is like Hawaiian sweet dough and they make them to order so they are fresh and hot.  Next time you go to the Big Island, give them a try.  Another thing I got to do was cook with our friend Carey who lives in Hawaii and works with my dad.  Carey taught me how to make blackened ahi, the uses and amazingness of Hawaiian butter avocados, the best Hawaiian stir fry and the use of chili water.  Carey is kind of a layed back local who loves food and loves to cook like me.  Another night, I made seared fresh marlin crusted in sesame seeds and crushed Maui potato chips which was outstanding!  Carey and Dawnielle (his wife) took us to a restaurant called the Harbor House Grill.  It's right on the water near the harbor next to the airport.  They served just about everything from delicious burgers to traditional Hawaiian poke "seasoned" sashimi.  The adults ordered beers that were served in crazy, crazy glasses called schooner's.  I had the Hawaiian poke and a burger.  Which both were outstanding.   Probably the best restaurant I tried was "Da Poke Shack" in the beach town of Kona. My mom and I love sushi and raw fish so it was just she and I feasting there.  We got some shoyu poke, Hawaiian poke and the "today's special" poke.  I wasn't as fond of the Hawaiian poke so my mom ate it but I demolished the other poke dishes.  While we were at the resort, I enjoyed mainly the Hualalai Coffee Company and the Surf Shack.  At the Hualalai Coffee Company, I loved the passionfruit iced tea and a custom smoothie with guava, passionfruit, mango and a boost of caffeine. At the Surf Shack, they had frozen yogurt, smoothies and Hawaiian shaved ice.  I also enjoyed musubi which is SPAM sushi.  Overall, I LOVE HAWAII!! It's one of my favorite places on earth and I hope to go back again.

When the Sonoma County Fair was going on, I heard about these hotdogs called Sonora Dogs.  Which is a hotdog wrapped in bacon, grilled on a bun with salsa verde, grilled jalapeno, mustard and mayonnaise.  That was pretty awesome.  Something strange that I discovered at the fair was the mini melts ice cream.  The strange thing is that it won't melt unless it touches a liquid.   But it was extremely delicious.  I also enjoyed watching my good friend Max show his pig.  There is nothing better than local farm raised meat or wild game.

My annual bonfire party was also over the summer.  The only reason I'm blogging about this, is because a few of my friends requested it.   This is my once a year "junk food" splurge.  We feast on cheesy puffs, Doritos, Taco Bell and soda.  GUTT BOMB! We worked off a little of this splurge by hitting balls at the driving range.  My dad made a bet that if we hit a certain sign or element on the range, he'd buy us ice cream.  HE LOST, we won and we went to Coldstone which was a very memorable experience because of my good friend Kyle.  He is an absolute crack up even to my parents.  The only good thing about this splurge was the Taco Bell beefy 5-layer burrito which is a maybe once to three times a year thing.

I got to go to many restaurants over the summer and one that stands out in my head is Bruno's on 4th Street in Santa Rosa.   My dad and I went there for dinner.  It was pretty awesome.  I had some of the best fish and chips I've ever had and  discovered that sauteed mushrooms aren't as horrific as I think they are.  The service was really great and the food was outstanding.  I hope to go there again with my whole family.  

So that kind of sums up my summer.  Fast forwarding to today October 6, 2012, I decided to cook.  I wanted to make fish tacos but we were out of taco shells.  So, I improvised and made fish tacos without the shell.  I used rock fish that my dad caught in Alaska.   I seasoned it with Hawaiian rock salt which I've grown to love and Caribbean jerk seasoning.  I always use cast iron skillets.  I seared the fish in a little butter and olive oil and then poached it in my homemade extra spicy salsa using ingredients out of our garden.  I made a tequila lime aoli using Fage yogurt which was outstanding.  I ate this with some tortilla chips and then dove in with a fork.

I hope all of you enjoyed this post and I promise to blog a little more often.  In the meantime, here's to good food and adventure!  

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Learning How to Smoke Ducks with My Uncle

Considering that this weekend is the end of duck season, I thought it would be appropriate to blog about smoking ducks with my uncle Doyle. I hope to go hunting next duck season. Hunting is kind of like a lost art and not a lot of people do it any more. If you think about, it's what people did to survive and the meat taste so much better. The meat that you hunt for isn't treated with a bunch of junk and is pure and natural and DELICIOUS.

One day one of my friends, Luke, brought me some duck that he and his dad and my friend Max hunted and told me to do something with them. I had brought some smoked duck to school that my uncle Doyle made and everybody loved it. So, I decided to get in touch with my uncle Doyle and learn the art of smoking duck considering he makes the best ones.

So I took these ducks to my uncle Doyle's house and he taught me how. First we cleaned them really good which includes removing all the pin feathers that are kind of weird. Then we rubbed each one with olive oil and put my uncle Doyle's "secret spice rub" all over them. Then we stuffed them with pieces of apple. We tossed them in the smoker and let them get delicious. Once they were done, we sliced them up and ate it. I brought a few back to Luke to try and I brought one in my lunch. DEEEELICIOUS!

I love hanging out with my uncle Doyle. He has taught me a few things that I will always have for the rest of my life. THANKS uncle Doyle...you're the best!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Food Adventures in Truckee, CA

At the end of summer, me and my family went to Truckee for a final summer vacation. We had never spent time in Truckee during the summer months, it's always been during the winter. During the summer it is really beautiful, nice and warm and a really cool place to hang out. We took our bikes and went on a really cool 20+ mile bike ride along the river. The native Truckee people are really nice and all seem to love dogs. Everywhere we went, people had their dogs with them....even in the restaurants.

One of the first restaurants we checked out was Jax at the Tracks in downtown Truckee. Jax at the Tracks looks like an old railroad car on the outside but on the inside it's like a 50's diner. It's located right on the railroad track that goes through town. The food is AWESOME! It's like homestyle comfort food and is just really good. We went there for breakfast and I ordered some of the best biscuits and gravy I've ever eaten....they were really good. I will have to say that the BEST biscuits and gravy are made by my Aunt Amy's friend Marty. Actually, he is my friend too, but I met him through my aunt. No one can replicate them and that's another story...back on track, Jax and the Tracks biscuits and gravy were really close. They have a really big menu with lots to choose from. They also have a great kids menu. They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If you are in Truckee, most definitely go there if you love a cool atmosphere and really good homestyle comfort food. The service was excellent and our first waitress that served us was really, really pretty. If there were a Jax and the Tracks in Sonoma County, I would go there a lot. www.jaxtruckee.com

We also ate at this little pizza and taco shack at the end of our bike trail ride along the river in Tahoe City. It was really awesome. It was called Front Street Pizza Company, and if you hit the trail from Truckee to Tahoe City you'll run right into it. They make the best fish taco's and homemade sauces. Nothing better than a couple fish taco's after a ride on the trail. Frontstreetpizza.com

In downtown Truckee, kind of in a warehouse like building is this burger joint called Burger Me that has one of the best burgers I've ever eaten in my entire life. Their specialty is burgers in every way. They have Meyer all natural beef, turkey, homemade vegetarian and bison. One of the weirdest burgers that I'd ever heard of that they have there is called the Italian Stallion. It's basically a burger with a bunch of cold cuts on it which I thought was extremely weird, but I bet it's pretty good. I ordered a traditional burger with two add ons of pepper jack and caramelized onions and an order of fries. The buns are homemade and awesome. My burger was so juicy that it was dripping down my arm. The lettuce on the burgers is shredded which I love. They have a really great kids menu too. Burger Me just opened up a place in Reno too so if you miss it in Truckee you can try again in Reno. It is a self serve kind of place. You place your order and pay at a register and then they call you when your order is ready. A very busy place and well worth the wait! www.burgermetruckee.com

I kind of think that no matter where you go in the Truckee area that you won't be disappointed. It is such a cool place with so much to do and see. It is amazing in the summer and in the winter. I think it's probably a perfect place to live someday. There's biking, paddling, hiking, swimming, climbing, rafting, skiing, golfing, fishing, hanging out around cool people who love their dogs. What's better than that!?!