Sangria at DuVin. Shake loves this stuff. © 2012 Sugar + ShakeOur October round-up is pretty sparse. It’s been a weird month with a lot of very ordinary take-out meals.

A good drink in the middle of a rough week is always appreciated. Brasserie Du Vin tends to be our go-to spot after work — it’s convenient to walk to from the office and they make some tasty drinks. Plus, good happy hour prices. And deeeeelicious fries. Mmm…fries.

Anyway, they make an excellent sangria, which Shake quite enjoys, served up in a nice big glass.

Peppered beef carpaccio with capers, horseradish cream, shallots, red sea salt, and olive oil at Hilo Bay Café. Probably THE BEST carpaccio we have ever had. (The capers are fried. Yum!) © 2012 Sugar + ShakeHad to take a trip to Hilo for a bit. One of our favorite places to eat there is Hilo Bay Café. They make fantastic food, much of it locally sourced. The past few times we’ve eaten there, I’ve ordered this appetizer dish as part of my main meal.

This is their Peppered Beef Carpaccio with capers, horseradish cream, shallots, red sea salt, and olive oil. The capers are fried — ooh, yummy! This is seriously hands-down THE BEST carpaccio preparation I’ve ever had. (It’s also quite a generous portion for a reasonable price – $10.)

Our final round-up item is a semi-homemade dish. We stumbled upon this Kumu Farms macadamia nut pesto at the grocery store. We were already familiar with Kumu Farms, a Moloka‘i farm, so we thought we’d try the stuff out.

Packaged pesto from Kumu Farms. Fabulous taste, annoying packaging. (The mac nuts — which are great — jam up the spout.) © 2012 Sugar + Shake

The verdict: Plus points for great taste — very flavorful herbs, intensely cheesy and garlic-y, generous amounts of macadamia nuts. Minus points for the packaging. It’s cute and probably cuts down on waste, being a flexible bag instead of a rigid container with lots of air, but the nozzle is waaaay too small for the large-cut mac nuts. (You can see one of the big-ass chunks of mac nut just left of center in the photo below.) I ended up cutting open the bottom of the bag and scooping out the pesto. I think a zip-top bag would be much better, and to be quite honest, I don’t think it even needs a re-sealable closure.

I served it (unheated) over penne pasta (a mix of spinach and regular), with some vine-ripened tomatoes Shake brought back from his business trip to Maui. The heat of the pasta was just enough to loosen up the pesto nicely. I ate the leftovers cold the next day (still tasty!) for lunch. (I did not talk to anyone for hours after – it’s THAT garlic-y!)

A side note: people (read: my mom) often say, “Oh, your food is so fancy.” It’s not really. It’s all in the plating. Spend just an extra minute or two on gussying up the presentation, and it makes all the difference. This is pretty much how I used to serve food when I first started cooking:

Penne pasta with the Kumu Farms pesto. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

What, you wanted that pesto mixed into your pasta? Do it yourself!

This is how I do it now:

The finished Kumu Farms pesto pasta dish. Technically, this is a homemade dish, but since it was made using a prepared pesto, it pretty much belongs in the “We At It” Gallery. © 2012 Sugar + Shake

Just a couple extra minutes to slice some tomatoes and arrange them in a pretty flower on top. Now I can charge Shake $20 for his pasta dinner. ‘Cause it’s so purty.

That’s it! Told you there wasn’t much for this month.