Saturday, September 13, 2014

Porktato at Yellow Fever

Porktato, a new dish at the Yellow Fever . My niece Aimee sent me a picture of it and wanted me to try it since it was 5 minutes from my home. I did not want to let her down so I sent my son to get a few of the Porktatoes 2  nights ago.

What is a porktato? It is a baked potato with pork belly, 4 kinds of cheese, sour cream, green onions, kona sauce (tamarind katsu) and a fried egg. It is as good and rich as it looks. The only bad thing about it is: today, Sept. 13, 2014 is the last day they are serving it. It was a "special" for a limited time. I tried to talk to Kelly, the owner and chef but she was unavailable. Maybe, if enough of us beg, she is bound to bring back the porktato.

If you've never heard of Yellow Fever before, see previous blog:

Yellow Fever is located at 24416 Crenshaw Blvd. in Torrance, California. Their phone number is (310) 539-2249.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Luna Hotel Baglioni

We had the pleasure of staying at this 5 star hotel in Venice recently. We had 3 rooms for the 8 of us. We went by water taxi to their private jetty just in front of the hotel which is situated a stone's throw from Piazza San Marco. Our check-in was quick and efficient. I had purchased a private tour through City Wonders to visit Murano. We didn't make it on time as we were held up in traffic driving from Banja Luka, Bosnia.  Unfortunately, the tickets were non refundable. I explained this to the man on the desk and he informed me that the hotel can arrange a private tour for us and would take us all the way to Murano and back for free whenever we wanted. We were delighted by this news! We got to our rooms and were very pleased by the appearance and the welcome plate of chocolate covered strawberries, gooseberries meringues and fruit tarts all of which we consumed.

Reservations were made for our first evening at Canova, the hotel's fine dining restaurant. See my food blog for details:

Breakfast which was included was a buffet served at a beautiful and elegant room which is reserved for private parties and weddings. This was not your typical buffet in America. It was more about quality than quantity. I always love the eggs in Europe as they taste so much better than American eggs. The yolks are vibrant orange. Even the bacon was exceptionally good; not crispy but very flavorful. The salmon was fresh as can be and the mozzarella balls were nice with the different slices of meats. Of course there was fresh fruit which I completely ignored (can get those anywhere). The pastries were as good as L'Amande Bakery; first class.

I had a list of restaurants to investigate and Pierluigi took my list and went down the line until he was able to make the reservations for the following evening. We had planned to visit Padua. Pierluigi made the necessary arrangements for a minivan to take us there. Our trip was so enjoyable because of the driver that was the best guide and ended up taking us to a restaurant which was out of the way in Padua and where we had one of the best dining experience.

Our 5 nights in Venice went by so fast and our stay at the Luna Hotel Baglioni was like a dream. The service was truly impeccable and unlike any hotel we have ever stayed. This is when the saying: "You get what you pay for" is a fact. We couldn't have expected anything more. They went above and beyond the call of duty. 

A member of my family left his reading glasses in the room. I called them up 2 days after and offered to pay for postage to mail it back. They sent it within a few days with their complements. Now, that's a real five star hotel!

Molte Grazie Pierluigi Santini. 

Luna Hotel Baglioni's address is San Marco, 1243 30124 Venezia, Italia.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


We celebrated my brother's belated birthday last night at Providence. Making a reservation meant giving my credit card so in case we decided not to show up or fail to cancel 48 hours prior to the reservation time, they would charge $100 per person on the card.  Luckily, we made it even before our time.

The dilemma was which prix fixe menu to order. The Providence Market Menu, The Signature & Seasonal Menu or the Chef's Tasting Menu which takes about 3 hours to consume. The birthday boy chose the Signature Seasonal Menu which list 6 items but we actually got a total of 11 courses with all the extra surprises.

They started us out with a Gelee with beer and rum. I must apologize for the dark pictures as I didn't have my flash on nor did I have my glasses on, so the picture looked good at the time. That slid right on to our throats. It tasted like jello but not like any jello you've had before. The first surprise was a Taco with sushi rice and scallop wrapped in a Kombu leaf. We all loved that one. We could have had a couple of those. They presented us next with a rock with 2 sticks and something at the end of them. It was Abalone on one end and Squid with chorizo on the other. The chorizo went well with the squid and the mighty abalone held up it's own. After the rock, came a box of cigars. No, it was not time for us to smoke....yet, the cigar box was filled with 3 pieces of rolled up beef with some cream.. The problem with all  theses "extras" is, when they bring it to your table, they rattle the lengthy explanations while you get distracted by what is put in front of you. I wish they would include them in the menu so we can study and appreciate it before AND after. I would have those cigars anytime. After the cigars came a little bowl of Consomme Soup with mozzarella served with crackers with something creamy then topped with salmon roe. The soup and the salty cracker went well together. A small roll of Tuna Tartare with chives came along and went; inhaled it. I have to tell you that we had some of their rolls with butter and salt. So at this point we were already starting to get full and we haven't started on the signature menu yet!

The first thing on the menu was a Sashimi with basil seeds, jelly melon, celebrity tomatoes, (no paparazzi in site), ginger and finger lime. This was interesting as I have never had basil seeds. The presentation was beautiful as if the naked sashimi had to be dressed. It was as delicious as it looked.
The second item was called the Ugly Bunch though there was nothing ugly about them. In fact, it was the prettiest item on the menu. I guess they called it ugly because it was composed of ugly creatures like abalone, geoduck, and sea urchin. Chef Michael Cimarusti aka plastic surgeon did a great job! The bunch of assorted shellfish was swimming in creme fraiche panna cotta, dressed with gold and some edible flowers.

The Salt Roasted Spot Prawns had rosemary, lemon and extra virgin olive oil. This presentation was a show in itself. The salt is first baked to 500 degrees and the live shrimps are put in there just for 5 minutes then they are taken out of the salt bath and the server immediately scrapes the excess salt and goes on to make the incision to cut them in half which was good as we were not in the mood to peel shrimps. I think the shrimps were already comatose before they did the dive as I don't recall seeing squirmy shrimps. It reminded me of the time I had some drunken shrimps wherein the live shrimps were doused with beer and they got cooked that way. Deeeelicious!

It was now time for the fourth course which was Maine Lobster with slivered slices of mushrooms and I don't know what else. By this time, we were struggling as our stomachs were almost full to the brim and we had not had the wagyu yet. We did enjoy the succulent and juicy lobster.  A few minutes past when they brought the final dish which was the Wagyu with some Japanese eggplant, okra and plum. I was only able to have 2 small bites which melted in my mouth. The okra was great. Sandi and I could no longer have another bite of food but Gary continued on! I guess he didn't want to hurt his sister's feelings.

Dessert arrived. We had the mascarpone with fig, cherry, fennel frond and pistachio. Somehow, we were able to eat that. Gary had a different dessert; I think it was a ginger panna cotta with pistachio ice cream and crumbled macaron. The macaron was good but we thought the pistachio ice cream had a peculiar after taste. The consensus was the desserts can and should be improved upon especially after an excellent meal! A plate of petit fours was served after our dessert. We did enjoy the caramels.

Providence is expensive but no doubt, you will get your money's worth. They even had printed next to the menu a "Happy Birthday Gary" which was a nice tough. They do go the extra mile and service was impeccable. Thanks to our server, Tavis who made sure we were well taken care of.

Providence is located at 5955 Melrose Ave. in Los Angeles.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Osteria Enoteca San Marco

We would have very disappointed if our last meal in Venice was not good. We stumbled on this restaurant while walking the streets of Venice and we promptly made a reservation.

Someone had ordered Foie Gras with accouterments which I had a bite of and found it to be super buttery. Some of us had a primi for appetizer.  I was lucky as the person sitting next to me had my second choice, the Spaghetti with onions, anchovies and salted mullet roe; loved that one as it was salty as expected.  Ryan and I sat next to each other so we carefully planned our method of attack. We split an order of 2 kinds of Prosciutto that we truly enjoyed. We both love Cacio e Pepe and decided to each have our own which was a wise decision as I easily devoured everything on the plate.

Aimee had Tagliolini Neri with crab and zucchini. That was good too but I wouldn't have traded my Cacio e Pepe for anything! The Veal Ossobuco with vegetables and rice looked good. Rabbit with pine nuts and olives made the guy that ordered it hopping for joy. Ryan and I split an order of the Sole Fillets flavored with prosecco served with black rice and boulgur. We could not believe our luck. From excellent prosciutto, cacio e pepe and then the sole. It was unbelievably delicious. I normally don't get excited over any fish. It was packed with flavor.

They had several desserts. Someone ordered the Salty Caramel Cheese Cake which was good but a bit too sweet and rich for my taste. Ryan and I were on a roll and kept wondering if the dessert would finally let us down. We both ordered our own ( no sharing on this one) Gelato di Burrata al Balsamico con Mirtilli; translated...Gelato with Burrata and Balsamic with blackberries. This was the best gelato I have ever had. It had nice chunks of creamy burrata and the balsamic glaze drizzled all over the gelato made it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Ryan and I were "smokin" that evening.

Osteria Enoteca San Marco's address is Calle Frezzeria 30124, Venezia, Italy. If you make it to Venice, this is a place not to be missed.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

All' Amarone Vineria

Another wine bar in a the streets of Venezia.  A cozy little place that had a lot of wine (what else is new).  We had ordered some appetizers. Caprese which was very good, Prosciutto Crudo di Parma and Baccala Mantecato con Crostini (cod fish).  A funny thing was one of us ordered a Caesar Salad and it was unlike any Caesar I knew. It must have been his cousin. It was a green salad with slices of ham and the dressing was different.

The Tortellini Panna e Prosciutto was nice and creamy. The Spaghetti Carbonara was delightful and it was not what you are accustomed to.  I don't know if it is the cream they use but it was nice and light. Aimee ordered the Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia; cuttlefish which belongs to the squid family. I decided to try the Lasagna Bolognese Style  and I had no regrets at all. It didn't even need any Parmesan cheese! Someone else had the Tagliatelle Bolognese which was perfect as well.

For dessert, we ordered Tiramisu all'Amarone, Crema Catalana, and Chocolate Salami which intrigued us. It was not really salami, it just looked like salami. All three desserts were enough for us to share.  Another nice meal in Venice. The real treat was when the owner, Alfredo Depietri came to our table and ended up sitting with us and telling us endless stories. We not only enjoyed his food but his hospitality. He treated us like his long lost relatives.

All'Amarone Vineria is located at San Polo 1131, 30125 Venice, Italy.