ChefView – SOS Salad Safari

Chef View By Dana Johnson SOS Safari on Salad

May, the month that is synonymous with Mother’s Day has motivated me to go on a safari so to speak! A safari in search of salads that Moms (step-moms, grandmas, aunties, caregivers, and Mr. Mom!) do not have to make, shake, bake, or take anywhere! On this journey I found a bounty of tantalizing salads throughout all of Modesto. My adventure led me along many paths until I found my top three! To make this safari a bit more authentic, each restaurant has outdoor seating where I could bask in the sun and welcome a breeze while looking the part in cool sunglasses and a smile on my face. Alright, I’ve teased you all long enough…

First stop I paid a visit to my friends Carmen Sabatino and Russell St. Clair at the Mediterranean Market and Grill on McHenry. I was delighted with the brand new outdoor patio with sliding panel doors easily adjustable for customer’s comfort levels. I so look forward to dining there for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the summer months practically here. The most popular salad on the menu is the Mediterranean Seafood Salad. Fresh, crisp romaine lettuce served with your choice of dressing and crowned with your favorite fish or fish of the day including: Shrimp, salmon, calamari, white albacore tuna, tilapia, and mahi mahi. So many choices for all of you, for me unfortunately I’m allergic to fish oil, so I enjoyed the same Dana~licious salad, but with grilled chicken breast instead. I paired it with a sassy white wine that also went well with the lip-licking hot garlic bread. Then Russell taunted me with his homemade pecan cake that would totally defeat the purpose of me ordering a salad! It was also difficult to pass on the Italian Cream Sodas many patrons were indulging in! Next time!

Second stop on 13th Street, Vito’s. I was greeted by another friend, owner, Ray Ashak. He immediately knew what salad I was hunting for, the Waldorf Chicken Salad for Dana~licious coming right up! I love this salad for many reasons. It is a NYC classic right here in Modesto. It has mixed greens, grilled chicken, seedless grapes, granny smith apples, caramelized walnuts, celery, and gorgonzola cheese, tossed with Dijon balsamic vinaigrette or bleu cheese dressing. Both dressings have amazing flavor so I just give a wink and request them both! Vito’s is well known for their addicting hot and soft breads that come with the salad. I was in the Martini mode and bartender Ben paired me perfect with a Stockholm 75 fruity martini that was truly refreshing with my dining experience. Again, I had to leave without caving into one of my biggest temptations, Vito’s multi layered chocolate cake that is beyond divine when paired with a rich glass of Boeger’s Barbera. A special note of gratitude to Ray and his beautiful wife May for being incredibly generous by offering a 10% discount to all city and county employees, too!

My final stop was on Bangs near McHenry, Greens Table. It was most delightful to see the smiling face of yet another friend, owner, Ann Endsley. Ann has plenty to smile about as Greens Table is only in its first months of opening and it’s plenty busy. Greens Table and Greens Central (downtown on 10th St.) have a stellar reputation for local and sustainable “clean food”, no preservatives and no additives. There are only two known restaurants in the USA that own and operate directly from their own organic farm, yes Greens is one of them! With that in mind I was feeling extra good knowing what I was about to put into my body, Chinese Chicken Salad! Lettuce, cabbage, snow peas, bell pepper, chicken breast, wonton strips, all dressed in incredible Asian vinaigrette! Bite after bite my mouth wanted to shout out “Lovely salad for me!” It kept getting better as I sipped on Greens signature green tea and this time I said yes to dessert! I just couldn’t take it anymore as that fresh and savvy strawberry mousse was calling me by name, “Dana~licious you know you want me!” There was only one way to make it stop!

Happy Mother’s Day to all that share such an honorable title! Take a safari, you deserve it!

A Dana-licious Tip! When making a salad, here are some simple ways to make every salad Danalicious 1st: Always wash & pat dry your produce as it has travelled through many hands to reach your mouth. 2nd: For a crisper salad, use a chilled stainless steel bowl to prepare in & serve on chilled salad plates w/ chilled forks! 3rd: Toss dressing with greens 4th: Then add toppings in order to not drown out those flavors that are there to enhance the salad

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