Moringa: The Giving Tree

moringa-leaves

Leaves of the Moringa plant.

I ran into this charming Thai lady and her equally charming daughter at the Downtown Riverside Farmers’ Market a while back. I bought a cherry tomato plant, but then she introduced me to the exotic Moringa. I didn’t buy the first time she pitched the plant to me, but I went back yesterday and bought her last one.

The thing about Moringa, if Ms. Thai Lady and various web sources are to be believed, is that it’s super healthy when eaten. She told me she eats the leaves straight or makes them into a salad.

So what does Moringa do for you? Well, I’m not sure since my plant is only a little over a foot tall currently, but I put it into my newly erected greenhouse for year-round sustenance from all that the plant offers.

To wit, from various web sources:

“Much of the plant is edible by humans or by farm animals. The leaves are rich in protein, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C and minerals. 100g of fresh Moringa leaves have 8.3 g protein, 434 mg calcium, 404 mg potassium, 738 μg vitamin A, and 164 mg vitamin C.

“Feeding the high protein leaves to cattle has been shown to increase weight gain by up to 32% and milk production by 43 to 65%. The seeds contain 30 to 40% oil that is high in oleic acid, while degreased meal is 61% protein. The defatted meal is a flocculant and can be used in water purification to settle out sediments and undesirable organisms.”

The leaves (quantity unspecified) yield:

  • Seven times the vitamin C of oranges
  • Four times the vitamin A of carrots
  • Four times the calcium of milk
  • Three times the potassium of bananas
  • Two times the protein of yogurt

Next up, my Moringa Diet Guide!

Anchos Serves Up a Feast for Riverside Restaurant Week

Anchos-Southwest-Grill-tortilla-machine

A young woman feeds balls of dough into a tortilla machine at Anchos Southwest Grill, turning out the tastiest tortillas anywhere.

Promotions for restaurants and their servings are usually so overblown that when you receive the dishes they described, you’re disappointed. For instance, a shrimp platter might come out with a handful of bay shrimp, a bit of rice and a veggie after some lavish description on the menu about “succulent shrimp perfectly grilled and served with Basmati rice and farm-to-table vegetables.”

Not so with Anchos Southwest Grill and Bar in Riverside, where during Restaurant Week (now through June 28) it announced (and I copy and paste from the web): “Famous grilled fajitas, baby back pork ribs with Ancho BBQ sauce, bacon wrapped shrimp and diablo shrimp. Accompanied with homemade tortillas, fresh guacamole, pico de gallo, rice, beans, chips and mesquite grilled salsa.

And that’s exactly what my wife and I got when we went last night. It was all there, all huge and all delicious — and all for $39.95 for two. Literally, it could’ve fed a family of four easily. We took almost everything home.

If I had any reservations about my experience at Anchos, it has nothing to do with the food, but I did find the margaritas uninspired and uninviting.

Service was excellent, and we were parked at a table next to the automated tortilla machine, which turns out probably the tastiest tortillas I’ve ever had. Food and entertainment at that one centrally located table.

The place was packed, and I’ll give it my highest recommendation. But just stick to beer and forget about any cocktails unless it’s perhaps a fine tequila on the rocks. Hurry while you can get the Restaurant Week special. You can dine on it for days.

Eureka Burger: Where Naked Is Okay

eureka-burger-redlans

The Catalina Bison Burger served ‘naked’ at Eureka Burger in Redlands.

What I mean by “naked is okay” is that you can order your burgers that way. And I guarantee you, no one would want to see me naked.

In the picture at right, you can see Eureka’s Catalina Bison Burger served naked, which means there’s no bun and everything sits on a bed of arugula with a Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing on it.

And you know what? Eureka’s naked version is scrumptious. I really enjoyed the arugula salad to help me down my patty with chilis and cheese and a dipping sauce of bacon-jalapeno jam.

This was my first visit to the original Eureka Burger, which has since sprouted into 12 locations throughout California and Washington (which has one site). I can see why. My burger was done to perfection and concocted with great flavors in mind.

Eureka serves only beer and wine, but the wine options are limited. Stick to the many craft beers they serve, and if you’re in Redlands between 2 and 6 p.m. any day, you can partake in what appears to be a great Happy Hour, at least judging by the menu and the recommendations of the bartender.

If you like hamburgers, this is probably a must stop on your tasting journey. And yes, you can get a burger with a bun, or a lettuce wrap.

Belmont Fizzles as Santa Anita Uncorks

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A view looking in and out from within at Santa Anita Uncorked at the race track in Arcadia, Calif.

I swore I’d never go to another wine-tasting event at Santa Anita, but since this year’s Santa Anita Uncorked coincided with the running of the Belmont Stakes, I caved and went.

As for the wine tasting, what I sampled just confirmed my earlier observation at similar events that California really makes lousy wines — at least the ones they schlep to these events. The good stuff they won’t pour because the price is prohibitive (which it is if you want to buy it for home consumption as well).

As for California Chrome, he didn’t roll a lucky seven after winning six races in a row, nor was the third time a charm on the last leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown at Belmont.

Anybody want my $2 ticket for Chrome to win? (Fortunately, I won a local trifecta for $95, so my day paid for itself.)

Whatever They Call It, This Place Rocks

Seven-Brothers-Brewery-Riverside

Seven Brothers Brewery: what a nano operation looks like.

On my way to Wicks Brewery in Riverside a month or so ago, I noticed another brewery in the same complex but at its western corner. The name on the door, as I recall, said Seven Brothers Brewing.

On my next visit to Wicks, I knocked on the door of Seven Brothers and got a cook’s tour by one of the principal owners, Vince Pileggi, who said they were still awaiting a permit from the city to open.

Some time around Memorial Day, it appears they did open, and I visited the fully operational nano-brewery yesterday. (A nano brewery is limited to a production of five barrels at a time, evidently.)

Though they’d sold out of my favorite suds, namely, an IPA or hoppy Indian Pale Ale, the operation is run most efficiently and graciously.

Turns out that Seven Brothers is an incubator where three individual brewers take turns producing their drafts. Thus there are banners hanging around with all kinds of different brewery names on them, and I guess Brew Crew Inc. is the official company name. But hold on, the website (coming soon) is called Seven Brethren Brewing (7brethen.com).

Vince is a quite voluble and friendly sort, and he’ll be happy to explain the whole set-up to you, including the plethora of names.

Since an IPA is set to be ready in a week or so, I’m definitely returning. Stay tuned, as Vince has big plans for expansion. I wish him well. He’s done great so far, creating a nice setting to sip some suds, kill some time and chew some fat.

Since I can’t figure out the real name of the place, I’ll just refer to it as Vince’s Place. Now, bring on the IPA!

Eat But Don’t Touch

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A slab of sirloin sizzling on a 900-degree rock at Rok and Fondue, Redlands.

I first stumbled upon Rok N Fondue after a disastrous and overpriced meal around the corner at a dive bar/restaurant named The Tartan. (Been in Redlands about 50 years, and the same crowd seems to have been coming since it opened.)

Finding my way back to my car, I chanced upon Rok N Fondue and went in to see what the place was all about. Turns out the bartender (mixologist — not sure what to call them anymore) was quite skilled and knowledgeable, and the menu looked interesting. I vowed to return when I was hungry.

Yesterday I made a repeat visit for lunch. The bar dude wasn’t there, and in fact, the place was fairly understaffed with just one guy behind the bar (intermittently) and one waitress to help serve the customers. Maybe someone called in sick; otherwise, I think management might be skimping too much on staff.

Anyway, I ordered a sirloin on a “Rok,” actually a 900-degree rock upon which your food is served (see picture). The steak was fine, but the potato chips that came with it seemed fresh out of a bag and not homemade.

On the plus side, lunch at Rok N Fondue is certainly a good deal drink-wise. Bloody Mary’s are $3 each, as are Mimosas. In fact, the menu even lists an “Endless Mimosa” at $14. And store-bought chips aside, the food is fine. (Lunch is served only Friday through Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.)

In fact, when I return (a good sign, right?), I intend to try the “Fondue” part. It seems that everyone there besides me was enjoying fondue, but then they were in groups and I was alone.

I’m not sure I quite like having a 900-degree object sizzling in front of me, so I think I’ll leave the “roks” on hold on future visits.

(Update: I returned on Fathers’ Day with my wife and daughter and did have the fondue, two in fact, one a main course and one a dessert course. I found the dessert course much the tastier of the two.)

The Dregs: Wine Bar, Gastropub or Speakeasy?

The-Dregs-Redlands

The Dregs’ front (back?) door. Buzz to get in, if you can even find the place.

Chris Kern of his Forgotten Grapes establishment in Riverside first informed me of a place called The Dregs in Redlands, about a 25-minute drive from my domicile in decent traffic.

The problem I had — armed with the place’s physical address — was actually finding it.

The Dregs is located in a rear alley behind its actual address of 721 Nevada. There’s no sign, only a blue wine bottle illustration on a door to what could be a four-car garage, auto repair shop or large storage facility. You have to buzz them to get inside. The door is locked. It had all the trappings of a Prohibition-era Speakeasy.

Chris had represented the place to me as a wine bar with food, but it proved to be a bit more than that, also featuring craft beer along with its wine selection and menu of food items.

I opted for the 10-for-10, in other words, 10 wine tastings for $10. The wines were fine, but they looked to be way overpriced until I realized that if you join their Wine Club, you get 50 percent off on the bottles, bringing them back to a decent price range. In fact, you get 30 percent off just for buying something at the bar/restaurant/pub/whatever before taking the bottle(s) home.

Anyway, as I said, the wines were fine, and to go with them, I ordered the Boarizo Burger, featuring a patty of wild boar and chorizo. The chorizo won out, taste-wise. The burger wasn’t bad, but I won’t be reordering it if I return.

Now, as for The Dregs’ Wine Club, if you live locally, it could be quite a deal. Not only do you get 50 percent off on wine bottles, but you get four free wine tastings a month (not 10 wines, but the usual flight of three).

I like The Dregs. I’m just not sure it fits into a life-style I can maintain, driving out to Redlands once a week for free samplings and once a month to pick up my Wine Club bottles.

That being said, I do like mysterious places, and this one comes close. Knock and ye shall find the answer.

Liquorama 10th Annual Wine Tasting: France, Chile Shine

liquorama-wine-tasting-pomona-calif.

The Sheraton Fairplex Conference Center played host to the Liquorama 10th Annual Wine Tasting.

I had to break a nearly three-week diet to go (and then ended up gaining back three pounds in one night), but I finally made it to one of Liquorama’s annual wine tastings, this one the tenth, with proceeds going to Pomona Valley Hospital.

Liquorama is a wine and liquor boutique (literally, a large boutique) in Upland, and the wines poured last night at the Sheraton Fairplex Conference Center are mostly carried by Liquorama, or can be ordered there.

To be honest, without any wine having touched my lips in almost three weeks, I think my taste in the stuff took on a new perspective. The California reds I sampled all seemed out of balance to me, even the high-end “reserve” Cabernets and Bordeaux blends.

In contrast, I loved the balance and terroir (earthiness, loosely translated) in the Bordeaux reds served by Bruce Eskenazi of DM Vineyards and Partners (distributors). The next best wine was from Chile, a Cabernet-Cabernet Franc blend Bordeaux-style called Potro de Piedra, at $20 a real steal but lighter than the similarly priced real Bordeaux from DM.

Anyway, everybody’s taste is different, and I’m sure many went away loving the California offerings. To me, I’ll stick to France whenever I can afford it.

Bacon or Beer: Wicks Brewing Co. Has It All

Wicks-Brewing-Company-Riverside-turkey-saladI’m not sure which I found more intriguing on my visit yesterday to the Wicks Brewing Company, hidden away  in an industrial section of Riverside: The perfectly crisped bacon in my turkey salad, or the delicious accent of bartender Irene, who hails from Spain.

The few bits of bacon I had in my salad had me resolving to return for a stab at their BLT, and also to see if they brew a new batch of their IPA. I had the Wicks Paladin Pale Ale, which Irene said is similar to the IPA they ran out of — but less hoppy — and it was good. The IPA must be really good.

As I said, you can get lost trying to find Wicks since it’s situated at the dead-end of an industrial strip south of the 91 Freeway, out where the only other connection to food I could see was a Thai seafood restaurant way back adjacent to the freeway.

You can also brew your own beer at Wicks for $230 to $250 depending on the alcohol content. I’d give it a try, but at 15 gallons, the output is more than I could drink in a year.

Still, brew my own IPA? That could be worth the expenditure.

Mario’s, DDogs Redeem Themselves

Tour&Taste-Riverside-FundraiserI believe I’ve previously pooh-poohed (is that a word?) two of Downtown Riverside’s most popular dining destinations, Mario’s Place and DDogs. But at last night’s Tour & Taste Fundraiser for the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, they provided the best tasting treats.

Mario’s had a wonderful chilled cucumber soup, and DDogs did a mini-Chicago Dog perfectly. Both had me thinking I should revisit their establishments.

The event was held in the Showcase at the Fox Entertainment Plaza at the corner of Mission and Market, a block from the Mission Inn. I’m still not sure what “tour” was involved in the event. I guess being inside the Showcase building and walking around constituted a tour.

I’d say the biggest problem with the evening was that it appeared to be some sort of geriatric ward reunion, with Boy Scouts thrown in. (Why were they there? As tour guides?)

Gazing around the crowd, one could quickly realize why the San Diego Opera recently voted to shut down — a graying and, yes, dying population.

If this were the 18th annual such fundraiser, one wonders how many more are possible given the demographics of the crowd.

Now, I guess I should visit the Metropolitan Museum sometime to see what I was supporting in my graying years.

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