Sunday, January 15, 2017


Four of us were very happy campers dining at Providence a few nights ago. This is really the "ultimate" dining experience. I have been there many times and it never ceases to amaze and surprise my palate. This time, I was with my brother Gary, Sandi and Piero who was new to Providence. The lady announced that our table was ready though we had a choice to sit in the main dining room or a table by the kitchen.  I was surprised by the offer since I never knew of this secluded room. It was a table away from everyone, a small private room on it's own with a full view of the kitchen. We all looked at each other and concurred we indeed wanted that table providing we don't get asked to do the dishes!

We loved this little room. I wondered why they asked us; was it because we looked like the type who would enjoy it or did we look like the type that shouldn't be seen therefore hide us from the public, ha.....that gave us something to think and laugh about.

We all settled for the 7 course Chef's Tasting Menu. The three of us old timers knew that even if the portions were small, there were a lot of extras. We also knew to limit consumption of their delicious rolls and mini brioche served with butter and sea salt. All that knowledge just went down the drain as it was hard not to have more than one of the warm and soft brioche. We were served 6 amuse-bouches before our first course. The first one was a Passion Fruit Bubble followed by Lobster Wonton with Daikon radish. The third was a Buckwheat Bellini with scallop Dijon. I only wish this blog could record our moaning and groaning and all the other sounds that came from us as we sampled these appetizers.

A Puff Pastry with Mornay cheese sauce and black truffles came next. The fifth amuse-bouche was Black Mussels chopped with lemon zest on seaweed focaccia. This was served with the mussel juice in a foam on a little shot glass. Both Sandi and Piero cringe with the mention of the word mussels but they enjoyed it. I was very proud of my little ones! (they've grown up)

I was happy to see the Cigar Wagyu which is one of my favorites. The presentation alone amuses me all the time. These Wagyu Cigars are served on a real tin cigar box. They really do look like cigars. They were nice and crisp outside and tender and juicy inside.

Our first course of Fluke Sashimi arrived. It had pomegranate, ruby red grapefruit, ume powder and fingerling limes. I didn't hear any complaints from Piero or Sandi, in fact they were back to their "uhmm" and "ahhhs". Before our second course, they brought out another surprise; Smoked Sesame Shrimp Toast on sticks which we all loved. I forgot to mention that aside from the tasting menu, they had appetizers like oysters, caviar etc. Gary and I saw the Uni which we love so we talked the 2 into trying it hoping they wouldn't like it so we could eat their portions. It was served on an egg shell that sat on a ceramic duck's webbed foot. Egg yolk was the base with herbs, champagne butter, diced tomato and croutons. After the first bite, we all had an out of body experience. We were all transported to heaven.

The second course on the menu was Abalone which was served with eggplant, turnip and kombu. By this time, we were all very full and didn't know how we could go on but we struggled and went on to the third course; Nancy's Day Boat Sea Scallops with buckwheat, parsnip and pepitas. The scallop was slightly sweet and very tender. Our fourth course was the Black Gill Rockfish with smoked butterball potato, stinging nettle and watercress. I especially loved the skin; the fish was never fishy as should be and had a delicate flavor.

For the main course, we had a choice of Swordfish, Duck or A5-11.Wagyu. The highest quality is A5-12 which is only in Japan. I have had their Wagyu before and I wanted it again. Three of us ordered it and Gary had the Duck. The Wagyu was an extra $25 which we did not mind since this steak was so tender you didn't need a knife to cut it. This was served with a squash terrine. All 4 of us did not like the squash. Oh well, everything can't be perfect.

The sixth course was Apple-Cucumber which cleansed our palate. Right after that was the main dessert; Kawa-Ishi. This was made with kinako (powder from grilled and crushed soybean), and black sesame cake. It's beyond my comprehension how all these ingredients put together can taste so unbelievably deeeelicious.

The dessert was not the end of the meal. They brought out some petits fours. I was too tired to even take a picture of the lovely assortments of truffle, jellied candy and peanut butter macaron. I almost forgot to mention that our server, Martin was excellent. He asked us if everything was satisfactory. The answer was a unanimous yes except for the squash terrine that came with the Wagyu beef. He was apologetic. He brought out the bill and told us he deducted the 3 Wagyu beefs. We were all surprised as this was totally unexpected. I can understand deducting a portion but not the whole thing! BUT.....this is the thing that sets Providence apart from other restaurants. I have been to some that would not care or would just give you a free dessert. What Martin did was above and beyond and made our experience even more memorable.

Before we left, we were handed a little bag with a treat for breakfast the following day. The experience reminds me of the song that starts out: " Oh...what a night...." It truly was some night! Providence is located at 5955 Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Salt and Camembert Cookies

My brother Gary gave me 2 pieces of these cookies. He bought them in Japan and told me they were very good and very expensive. I opened one right there and then and had a bite. It took 3 seconds from my first bite of the crunchy cookie to suddenly realize I was in heaven. The creamy Camembert cheese inside had the beautiful flavor of what you would expect from the cheese.

When I got home, I immediately googled the brand name to see where I can purchase these wonderful cookies. The company that makes it is Tokyo Milk Cheese Factory. You can purchase them in Japan. Since I have no plans to go to Japan in the near future, I surfed the Internet and found out you can order them at Amazon. They sold it for $26.57 for only 10 pieces plus shipping. That's a bit too expensive so I looked some more till I found a store named Snakoo which sold them for $15.99 for 10 pieces plus shipping. This was still expensive but considering it was a lot less than $26.57, it was a great deal.

Meantime, I will check the local Japanese stores in my area to see if they are selling these cookies. If I find them locally in the Los Angeles area, I will let everyone know.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Umenoya Ramen

Two weeks ago on a cold night, Sandi and I craved for something that would warm us fast. Coming from the 5 p.m. mass, we thought of Ramen. We have never been to Umenoya which was right around the corner from her house.  This place gets a zero when it comes to ambiance. It's tiny and is located is a small strip mall with very limited parking space. At 6 p.m. we had to only wait a couple of minutes.

We checked out the menu. There was Gyoza, Russian Roulette; which meant one of them would be super spicy. We didn't feel that adventurous; besides we didn't know if their Gyoza was any good so we just ordered the 4 pieces. They were super delicious, a bit crunchy outside and soft inside. I think we could have eaten 4 each easily.

The ramen we got was the Shoyu Ramen which had flavored egg, bamboo shoot, onion and dried seaweed. The pork was very tender and had some good fat in it. If you are a health nut who cringes every time you see or hear fat, then this is not for you. The broth was wonderful. So far this is the best Ramen we both have had, and we have had a few.

We can't wait to go back and discover the many different items on their menu. The quality and taste of the food made up for the lack of ambiance at Umenoya. Their address is 24222 Crenshaw Blvd. In Torrance. They are closed on Sundays and open Monday to Friday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. On Saturdays, they open at noon.

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Years Day Party 2017

What better way to celebrate the new year than inviting my friends. Dinner would have been to complicated so I just had appetizers and dessert of course!

What's a celebration without champagne. Napoleon Bonaparte supposedly once said:" Champagne; in victory one deserves it, in defeat one needs it". New Year's Day is victory, we all conquered 2016!

We had numerous appetizers. I ordered the wonderful chicken wings from Wing Stop. I have to mention that the 2 best flavors are the Louisiana Rub and the Lemon Pepper. You also have to order it well done to make it extra crispy. Mertz brought her famous crostinis; one with the bacon and one with pears. Both were delicious. Potato macaroni with veggies were from Paradise Hut. Sandi made her famous meatballs and I opened my last jar of Salsa Funghi & Tartufi from Rome. There was the usual cheese, prosciutto and crackers as well as salsa with cheese. I fried some Weisswurst and served it with a nice mustard.

Dessert was a beautiful chocolate cake from Vie de France. I had some Alfajores from B.K. Bakery which is always a hit. Cindy bought Jill's (sister-in-law) famous cookies. I also had the Belgian Truffles from Sam's which are the best but only sell them during the holidays.

I don't know about everyone else but most were too full to have any dinner. We all started the year very happy. CHEERS!

Pajama Party; Day After Christmas

I had enough left overs from Christmas dinner so I decided to invite some friends. I wanted it to be a relaxing evening and since I was serving left overs, it seemed appropriate for the guests to come in their pajamas. Luckily my friends are always game and equally as crazy as I am.

The menu was Pork Tenderloin and Spinach Prosciutto Lasagna. We had some hors d' oeuvres to start. Since there was not much work in the preparation of dinner other than to just heat the left overs, I thought it would be nice to show a little effort so I made a salad. For dessert, I bought individual Apple Tarts from Misto and served them with French Vanilla Ice Cream.

At the end of the evening, everyone left and went straight to bed.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Christmas Dinner 2016

Though we did not have snow outside on Christmas Day, we could see snow on the top of the San Bernardino mountains. It was cold outside, though not nearly as cold as the East Coast. It was a beautiful day!

I had forgotten how much work is involved in cooking for the holidays even if I tried to make a simple dinner. Pork Tenderloin with a black currant and vermouth sauce and a Spinach-Prosciutto Artichoke Lasagna was the menu. I didn't even bother with salad. 

For dessert, I had ordered an Ivory Gold Gateau (chocolate cake with white chocolate icing) from Neiman Marcus. The cake should have arrived Friday, the 23rd. The cake never made it. I started calling the afternoon of the 23rd and even the 24th only to be told they could not get hold of the vendor. Needless to say, I was very upset! Sandi had an apple strudel in her freezer from Mishi's Bakery so I ended up baking that for our dessert. There were no disasters aside from the original dessert MIA (missing in action).  

Picture time was repetitive. Everyone was not happy with themselves. We had to take several pictures. We could not remember the word you have to say to take a good picture. I recently read about the the best word to say but couldn't remember so Gary had to google which word; they had several...we tried them all but it was just hopeless. This was the end result.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas Eve Dinner at Gary's

It was an evening of fun with people I don't see often.. I haven't seen my cousin Mike Guingona in a zillion years though he thinks it's just been a million. He and his wife Jackie and sister in law Niña and husband Steve brought  a big platter of delicious Paella which Niña made. My only complaint was I had to peel the shrimps.

I arrived at Gary's house early as usual. Only Ramon was there cooking the prime rib while everyone else was at the 5:30 p.m. vigil mass. I brought some chicken wings from Wing Stop which everyone loved. Aside from the usual cheese and crackers, Milena, bless her heart....brought a jar of the Black Truffle Pate which we all bought when we were in Paris. Her supply was long gone so she had purchased more in Hong Kong. There was Poke served in individual dishes, noodles, Salmon which Liz made, Mussels, and numerous desserts. The food is ALWAYS very good. Filipinos really take pride in their food and enjoy eating more than the average species.

I was first to leave the party at 11 p.m. as I had to drive home by myself. The party went on till 3 a.m. Christmas Eve at Gary's seem to come sooner and faster.  They say the older you get, the faster time flies and it sure is flying by on to the next year!