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Leena Eats: Pican, kick-ass upscale Southern food in Oakland

By on Jan 4, 2012 in California, Leena Eats, Oakland | 0 comments

I stumbled upon Pican a few months after my daughter was born. My husband and I were desperate for a night out without the baby, and once we had a babysitter, I did a quick yelp search and came up with Pican. Upscale Southern food? Done and done. I became Pican’s bitch shortly after my first meal there. With creative twists on class Southern dishes, comfort food I crave on a regular basis, how could I not? They had me promising to do very bad things for another bite of their smoked brisket meatloaf. Smoked meat is my kryptonite. More food porn and restaurant review of Pican after the jump! So essentially being a table of fat kids at heart, my dining companions and I couldn’t help but start with some of the richest items on the menu. The first was the chicken and waffles, a play on the classic dish with chicken livers, a parmesan waffle and marsala sauce. I loved the...

Leena Cooks and Eats: Scenes from a Chili Cookoff

By on Nov 30, 2011 in California, chili, chili, Leena Cooks, Leena Eats, Mains, Meat | 2 comments

I didn’t always love eating chili. As the story goes, I overdosed on my mom’s chili at the tender age of 3 and got sick. The memory of this made me avoid chili for the next 20 years or so (I still can eat red kidney beans without gagging a little), until I went to culinary school and decided to try making a chili recipe I could actually stomach. That was 2005, the year of my first chili cookoff, and this year is number five. The cookoff has followed me from Chicago to Australia to California, and has yielded some of the most interesting chilis I have ever tasted (like a kangaroo chili with Vegemite and a Thai chicken chili), and this year was no exception. The big surprise? Really delicious vegetarian chilis that were more than just beans and water! More chili cookoff food porn after the jump. Another great cookoff! I’ve been inspired to try making my own veggie chili...

Leena Eats: Flora, a revamped flower shop in Oakland

By on Mar 16, 2011 in California, East Bay, Leena Eats, Oakland | 0 comments

The delicious and warm soup amuse bouche at Flora restaurant in Oakland. I want to say it was potato and leek, but don’t quote me on that. I just know it was unexpected and delicious. Oakland Restaurant Week happened to fall over my birthday weekend this year, so I decided to check out Flora, a new restaurant in Oakland’s up and coming Uptown neighborhood. The restaurant is in the old Oakland Flower Depot, a beautifully restored Art Deco building decked out in dark blue tile with silver accents. Outside the building is a hood that is half revitalized, half dying. Inside the building, you are whisked away to the 1920s, with a gorgeous, elaborate bar and cheery yellow walls with old posters. Check out the food and heaps of food porn after the jump. The appetizer that came with the Restaurant Week menu, citrus with avocado, fennel and olives. Interesting, but not my favorite...

Leena Eats: Nex in Oakland

By on Feb 23, 2011 in California, East Bay, Leena Eats, Oakland | 0 comments

Some of tastiest grilled prawns I have ever had the pleasure to eat at Nex Restaurant in Oakland. You have to really be looking to spot Nex Restaurant in Oakland. It’s on the outskirts of the Uptown neighborhood, smashed in between a bunch of car dealers and it’s sister restaurant, Mua. The restaurant was fairly empty early on a Saturday night when I arrived, but quickly filled in with happy and talkative customers. The first thing that really made me stand up and notice this New American restaurant? Their AMAZING grilled prawns. This dish is a study in simplicity and perfect cooking technique–it is simply prawns, grilled, with a garlicky, citrusy rub. That’s it. But they are grilled so perfectly, the shell has just started to brown, and meat remained moist and succulent. Food porn prawn of the HIGHEST order. Nex Restaurant’s blink and you’ll miss it...

Leena Eats: Chop Bar in Oakland’s Jack London Square

By on Feb 2, 2011 in California, East Bay, Leena Eats, Oakland | 0 comments

There are a few select ways to get into my heart: 1. adopt an adorable kitten from a local shelter and let me help name it/play with it. 2. Wrap something–anything–in crispy bacon. and 3. Serve me salty cured meat with homemade veggie pickles. There is just something so irresistible about salty pork products paired with vinegar-y, garlicky pickles. It’s like my kryptonite. Set a plate of it in front of me, and I wouldn’t care if you gave a mohawk to my cat or tripped a homeless person–I just want my salty meat and pickles, damn it! And I’d blame this on my pregnancy, but let’s be honest–I had these sort of weird food cravings since well before I started growing a baby in my stomach. Thankfully, Chop Bar in Oakland’s Jack London Square is happy to meet my needs (and knows not to take the plate away until I have eaten EVERYTHING on...