Monthly Archives: July 2012

Taste of Thai – Placerville

“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”

— James Beard

 

Taste of Thai

A while ago a friend mentioned that he had enjoyed lunch at Taste of Thai, the restaurant at 1160 Broadway in Placerville. Then I received a call from another friend at the newspaper who said the owner, Minnie, wanted me to come by.

About a week ago I stopped in at lunchtime and introduced myself to the delightful Minnie. She showed me around and I was amazed how beautiful and clean the place is, with gorgeous decorations from Thailand and a nice open feeling.

If you are asking, no, Minnie is not her real name, but as her Thai nickname was Maam, when anyone called her that, all the women in the restaurant looked to see if someone was calling them. As a result the employees decided to call her Minnie and she seems happy with that.

Minnie started cooking at her mother’s side when she was 7. “I would cook food and take it to the market to sell,” she said. “I would sell out first, so I knew my food was good.

“I have an aunt who owns a Thai restaurant in Portland, Ore. She brought me to the United States. I worked for her for six years and later worked for an uncle at his Taste of Thai restaurant in Grass Valley. Then he and I opened this one in Placerville. Now, with help from my mother in Thailand, I have this place.

“In addition to all my other experience running restaurants, I have 10 years as a Thai chef. I check everything that leaves the kitchen to make sure it is the best it can be.

“People think that Thai food is very hot and spicy. It doesn’t have to be. We can make it any way you want it, mild, medium, hot or Thai hot. And if you have an allergy to any of the ingredients, such as peanuts, just let us know. Thai food is delicious and healthy, and we pride ourselves in making each dish just for you and a work of art. I have the recipes from both my aunt and uncle, so we can make a lot of wonderful dishes.”

Minnie brought me samples of several dishes to try: Tod Mun Pla (Thai fish cakes served with a sweet and sour sauce made with cucumbers — peanuts optional); pad prik khing (vegetarian or with meat, with chili paste, kaffir leaves, bell peppers and green beans); gaeng ka ree (vegetarian or meat with yellow curry, potatoes, carrots, onions and bell peppers); po pia tod (fried spring rolls which are also available not fried); a very fresh seafood medley of shrimp, calamari, fish and mussels; and, of course, pad Thai (rice noodles, with egg, chicken, shrimp, fried tofu, green onions and bean sprouts — peanuts optional). She also brought me a Thai iced tea and a Thai iced coffee to try. The tea was wonderful. The coffee was good, too, but I really liked the tea better. It went well with the food.

The fish cakes had a surprisingly heavy texture, because they are made by hand. They tasted good, especially with the cucumber sauce, but had more of a chew than expected. “People like them or don’t like them,” said Minnie. I liked them.
Everything really was wonderful and beautifully served. Of course, I like Asian food.

While I was tasting everything, Minnie entertained me by teaching me a bit of Thai history and menu language. pad means stir fried, gaeng means curry, yum means salad, and so on. Also, Siam, the former name for Thailand, means, in her words, “Up Smile.” “That is because the people of Thailand are very friendly, happy and gracious,” she added.

The very large menu includes appetizers, chef’s specials, soups, salads, stir fries, curries, noodles, fish and seafood and more. And, there is a special section of the menu listing a large number of weekday lunch specials. Beer and wine are available.

You will notice on the menu that there are a number of similarities between Thai and Indian food. They use a lot of the same spices, curries and other fresh ingredients. But they are different.

Taste of Thai is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and on Friday through Sunday, until 9:30 p.m. They also have a special area for groups and can create a buffet for 20 or more.

For more information call 530-621-9509 or just drop in for some delightfully different food to eat in or take out.

Marshall Hospital – Placerville

“Getting out of the hospital is a lot like resigning from a book club. You’re not out of it until the computer says you’re out of it.”

— Erma Bombeck

 

Marshall Hospital

I recently had the “opportunity” to spend a couple of days at Marshall Hospital, where, I must admit, I was treated royally, even by the people who’s job it is to stick things in you.

After surgery, I made it to my room in mid-afternoon and after a couple of hours of rest and tests, and some jello, dinner arrived.

I had no food restrictions, so I got the standard menu.

Of all the food in the world, hospital food is rated the worst. Ask anybody. However, when I lifted the insulated lid off the plate, I was delighted. It looked wonderful, and as I immediately found out, tasted just as wonderful. I’ve had restaurant food that wasn’t as good as this.

The dinner meal consisted of pork roast with gravy, red potatoes, peas and carrots, scratch made chicken noodle soup that was mostly large pieces of chicken and a chocolate cake dessert.

OK, as expected it needed some salt and pepper, which was provided, but it was far from bland and I ate every bit of it, except for some of the dessert that ended up on my face and gown and in my bed.

It came with coffee (I would have preferred a nice glass of wine), but you can’t get everything.

I was actually looking forward to breakfast the next morning. It consisted of scrambled eggs (very hard to eat with a fork), ham, potatoes, hot oatmeal, a hot biscuit with butter substitute and jelly, juice, milk and coffee. Other than the eggs, oatmeal and coffee, I made it into finger food. It is easier to eat that way in bed.

Just before I was discharged, they brought me lunch. By then I could sit up and eat, so most of it made it to my mouth. They served me two pieces of fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy and carrots. It also came with potato chowder and what I think was bread pudding with a dollop of whipped topping and coffee.

The next day I called Mary Beth Fahy, the food service director at Marshall.
Some years ago, at her invitation, I tried the food in the cafeteria and it was very good.

She is one of the judges at the Future Chefs of El Dorado County competition and really does know a lot about food. If you are wondering, she did not know I was in the hospital — purposely.

I told her how much I enjoyed the meals and passed on a couple of comments about trying to eat scrambled eggs and chocolate desserts in bed and the coffee. She said they make as much of the food as they can from scratch and that they know the eggs are loose and fall off the fork, a problem they are working on. As to the coffee, she said that people say it is too strong, too weak, too hot or too cold. It is just the way it is.

So, kudos to Marshall Hospital, its staff, and especially Fahy and all the crew involved with the food. Good job!

 

Red Apple Cafe – Highway 50, Camino

“Like tourists huffing and puffing to reach the peak we forget the view on the way up.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Red Apple Café

A couple of friends asked if I had recently been to the Red Apple Café (also known as the Apple Café) which is located at 2740 Highway 50 between Placerville and Camino. They raved about the new patio and said I should see it.

Last Friday I dropped by and talked with Sabrina, the owner. She showed me around the place, which is very homey and decorated with a lot of very interesting kitchen items. Then she directed me outside.

The new patio is beautiful. It would be worth just going there to see it, whether you eat or not — but how can you pass up good food?

It is about the same elevation as the Placerville airport and has a 180 degree or more view out several miles. It has safety rails along the edge, planters and tables with umbrellas spaced throughout. There is also a large shaded area that would be ideal for a group event.

At the insistence of my server, Kathy, I took a table close to the railing and watched the birds circling and felt the gentle breeze in my face while eating. Even though Highway 50 is near, you immediately stop noticing the noise. I could have stayed there the rest of the day.

After going over the menu several times with my server, I finally chose the Goldminer Burger, which is made with a charbroiled one-third pound Angus beef patty on a toasted homemade bun along with avocado, bacon, Jack cheese, mushrooms, mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and onion. They give you both catsup and mustard if you would like to add them.

It came with waffle fries, homemade potato salad or cole slaw. I took the potato salad — I always do that when they make it.

The burger and the potato salad were both very good, in fact the burger was exceptional: moist and not overcooked with that bit of crispness around the edge, and the great bun made it even better.

The breakfast menu starts with traditional morning fare including omelets, scrambles, skillets, a Florentine sandwich, café quesadilla, pancakes and waffles, three kinds of Benedicts and lots more.

For lunch the menu includes a list of anytime appletizers, (yes, appletizes) along with a number of hot sandwiches including burgers, chicken sandwiches, a Reuben, Philly cheesesteak, French dip and several more. There is also quite a list of delicious looking cold sandwiches and soups and salads. And yes, the shrimp Louie comes with original Louie dressing.

They have just started serving dinner on Friday through Sunday from 5 until 8 p.m. Right now the menu is somewhat limited with fish and chips, a T-bone pork steak, calamari and Korean beef barbecue, but it should expand. I bet the view is exceptional in the evening.

Did I mention dessert? They make their own pies, strudel and more.

To accompany your meal they have coffee, coffee drinks (espresso bar), milk, soda, tea and even milkshakes.

The Red Apple Café is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. and on Friday through Sunday, until 8 p.m.

For more information call 530-626-8144.

Oh, check out the banquet room. It seats about 50.