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Semi-professional--have worked in restaurants more than 25 years and futzing in the kitchen is my best therapy. I love to try new and different ingredients and techniques and I'm always dishing out my experiments to friends & family and any other willing guinea pigs.
A favorite cookbook, right now, is "The Art of Simple Food", by Alice Waters--good read, amazing recipes, information and advice for any level of cook. Also getting some mileage, right now, out of Ratio and 5 Spices, 50 Dishes.
Here in the desert, you've gotta try: Daily Grill, Copley's, Tyler's...to name just a few. Also partial to Sammy's and Pacifica in Palm Desert...first date with my guy.
My all-time favorite restaurant is Huggo's on The Big Island of Hawaii--the food is pretty good, but the ambience & location are what put it over the top.
Mexican (the real thing, not the bean & cheese plates although they have their charms too) and Tex-Mex is up there as well. Thai, Vietnamese and Indian. Love seafood, chiles and dishes with layers of flavor. Don't ask if I'm hungry...that's really beside the point. Only a very few things I won't eat or don't care for and always ready to try something new. My favorite food? Hands down--someone else's cooking any time and I'll happily do the dishes!