Wednesday, May 27, 2015

UUUMAMI BURGERS

Umami burger is still one of the top burgers in my book; should be called uuuumami as this is the sound you would be making after your first bite of the Umami burger aka the original with a Parmesan disk inside, shiitake mushrooms, roasted tomato, caramelized onion and their house made ketchup.


I decided to order some Truffle Fries, Maple Bacon Fries and the Tempura Onion Rings to share. The truffle fries were good but the maple bacon fries were to die for. These sweet potato fries had maple-braised bacon with rosemary, salt and topped with chives. The bacon was not the thin crispy type; it was cut in small thick chunks and you could really taste the sweetness from the maple syrup yet it was salty cuz it's bacon. The tempura onion rings were the lightest and best onion rings I have ever had. It was like biting into clouds if that's even possible.


What to drink was a dilemma. Several types of beer (I do not enjoy beer at all) but Ela and I were intrigued by the Great Divide Yeti  Imperial Stout; roasted malts, chocolate and caramel flavors with a hint of espresso. The beer was so dark it looked black and it had a burnt taste which we ended up liking. My mom had the Duvel, Belgian strong ale, dry and crisp with hints of citrus and pepper. She loved it. Unlike me, she loves beer and started drinking at the age of 8. My grandmother made her drink dark beer since she was anemic. This is how she came to love beer.


We all had the Umami burger except for my nephew Andre. He ordered the Manly Burger; house beer cheddar cheese,bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, their house ketchup and mustard spread. The burgers were so juicy though not as big as Carl's Jr.; this is definitely quality and not quantity. A bite of the burger, a bite of truffle fries, a sip of the dark beer, another bite of the burger and then the maple bacon fries.....OMG....what else could one ask for? We were all happy overloaded happy campers.


Umami Burger are all over. Google them to see if there is one near you.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day Barbecue

Aside from honoring the people who have sacrificed for our great country, having a barbecue was just an excuse to use my Margarator; a giant blender designed to make blended margarita. The main entree was the classic Weisswurst, the German sausage that used to be veal but now it is just pork. I also got some German Potato Salad and Sauerkraut (all from Alpine Village).   I made the red cabbage with apples and mushrooms.


Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and especially the margaritas. We ended up making 2 batches. One full batch serves 16-18 people. (I had 16 adult drinkers).  At one time, the margarator stopped working; it got too hot so we had to let it rest a bit. Thank God it resumed it's blending power soon.


There was an abundance of desserts. Ana made an apple pie which was wonderful and bread pudding made from baguettes. The bread pudding came with salted caramel sauce which was heavenly! John surprised everyone by making a flan from scratch. The real surprise was it turned out to be very good. Not bad at all for someone who has never made flan before. After all that, I served dark raspberry truffle ice cream from Handel's. Needless to say, no one left hungry.


I apologize for not taking a picture of the bread pudding. It looked beautiful but in my excitement, it just slipped my mind.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Breakfast at The Blvd.

I have only had dinners at The Blvd., one of the restaurants at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. My brother invited our mom and myself 2 days ago for breakfast at The Blvd.

I love that restaurant as the food and ambiance has never let me down. My mom and I got there at 10:30 a.m. for our 10:45 reservation. I texted my brother that we were there and he texted back that he would be there at the designated time of 10:45 and he did show up exactly at 10:45 a.m.


I could tell that our server was experienced and has probably worked at the restaurant for a long time. He treated us the way any customer would like to be treated; reminded me of the old fashioned waiters in classy restaurants.


Though there were many interesting dishes in the menu, all 3 of us ordered the Belgian Waffle with orange butter. We all wanted someone else to order something different so we could taste and share but no one wanted to budge. Both my mom and brother ordered extra crispy bacon. I did not like my bacon to be extra crispy though I used to like it that way. I realized that extra crispy lost the taste of the bacon, it just tasted like bacon bits....like eating bits of salt. When it isn't too crispy, you get to taste the meat with some fat....yummmm! So I was stuck ordering a side of regular bacon just for me; while my mom and brother shared an order. The waffle was extra light; super delicious especially with the orange butter and the maple syrup.  We all cleaned our plates, even my mom who thought she would not be able to finish them.


Interesting thing about the valet parking. Someone else came to our table to take our parking ticket to validate. Regular parking is $14.00 and with validation it is $12.00. My brother got his ticket out and the lady told him he didn't need it validated, it was free since he had a pink ticket. Mine was blue and it was validated and I had to pay $12.00. My first thought was discrimination; was it perhaps because I drove a Mercedes and not a Porsche. He thought it was funny; I obviously did not see the humor in it. When I went to the parking station to pay my $12, I asked the lady why my brother got a pink ticket and she replied: "That's because he was going to be here a short time". I told her I was in at the same time and that we were there for breakfast. She had nothing to say. She just gave me the look. I did pay the fee. I later found out that Gary did inform them he was having breakfast. So next time I valet my car, I will have to ask them for the PINK ticket!


Friday, May 22, 2015

Jonesing for JuJuya

Took my mom to JuJuya on her first dinner in Los Angeles last week. My brother could not join us then but last night he came over and asked where we could go to dinner. I know he loves sushi so  it was a no-brainer to go back to JuJuya. My son had no complaints as he has been to the restaurant before an loved it.


I had to order the usual dishes I could not do without: The Crispy Oysters with basil sauce and black olive tapenade, Crab Spring Rolls with tarragon aioli sauce and the Miso Chilean Sea Bass with Black Rice only this time they had the brown rice, and the Yellowtail Carpaccio with Jalapeno peppers.


In addition to these, we decided to try the Calamari looked pale and unappetizing BUT it was light and very tasty. It tasted much better than it looked. Gary ordered the Albacore Sushi and the Salmon Collar. We didn't think we had enough so we ordered the Caterpillar (eel) with avocado and the Crispy Shrimp. Everything was delicious. All four of us had an individual bowl of rice of course; so we didn't have room for any dessert.


Chef Mako was there to welcome us and the manager, came by several times to help deliver our numerous dishes. So far, JuJuya has lived up to my expectations. JuJuya is located at 550 Deep Valley Dr. in Rolling Hills Estates, California.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dinner at Bettolino Kitchen

I have been to this restaurant several times since it opened. I have recommended the best dish ever, the Lasagnetta to all my friends and they have all given me the thumbs up feedback.  The last time I was there, they talked about changing the name because people had the traditional lasagna in mind and when they got this dark surprise on a plate; they had a look of disappointment, especially since it is not cooked in your regular tomato sauce; despite the description of the dish. See previous blog: http://solittlethyme.blogspot.com/2015/03/bettolino-kitchen.html

I took my mom there yesterday with Sandi. I almost hyperventilated when I did not see the Lasagnetta on the menu. Sandi spotted it with a different name. It is now called Pappardelle. First of all, I think they should change the name again since this should be their signature dish. Calling it Pappardelle does not do it justice. It's just like calling a dish Penne or Risotto. One name that comes to mind would be Pappardelle di Cocoa.  Right away this would attract my attention and wonder how they would incorporate cocoa with pasta.


My very strong opinion and Sandi's as well is they should bring back the Lasagnetta. The very thin lasagna squares had a much better texture than the the pappardelle and looked more intruiging. Don't get me wrong, the pappardelle was delicious with the lamb ragu. In fact my mom loved it so much and boasted that it didn't need any parmesan. I would still highly recommend the dish; it's just that we had the original which was outstanding in every way. How's Piccolo Lasagna di Cocoa?

I wanted to expand my Italian vocabulary so I also ordered the Nero di Seppia. Squid ink tagliolini pasta with fresh shrimps, cherry tomatoes in a pesto sauce. The shrimps were ever so plump and juicy but it needed a lot of parmesan. That's just me (my mom too) since we like our food to be on the salty side or should I say, parmesan side.

I still have a lot to go through on the menu; next time I will venture into undiscovered territory.
A note to Vince, Andreanna, Sean and Chef Fabio: Please bring back the lasagnetta. While I am in the request business, how about the fried artichoke hearts you used to serve at Gaetanos......


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Oliver's Prime

I went to this restaurant by accident.  About a month ago, I saw this special offer which sounded great for the price. It included a choice of appetizer, entree, dessert and a glass of wine. I bought one and my brother bought one. In my mind, I thought I was buying it for the restaurant Ocean's Prime which is a great restaurant I have been to in Beverly Hills. It was my mom's birthday and Sandi's birthday on May 17 so my brother and I thought it would be a nice place to celebrate. Long story short, I found out 2 days before our reservation that Oliver's Prime was not Ocean's Prime but the menu and the ambiance from the pictures still looked good ....so what the heck!

We were in for a pleasant surprise. It turns out that the restaurant is located in a hotel; The Grafton on Sunset at 8462 West Sunset Blvd. on West Hollywood.The ambiance was indeed cozy and we spotted a nice booth which we ended up having.  Our server, a cute young woman named Tahnee was obliging and hospitable. We were all impressed with the way they presented the menu. It was a bit heavy but it was a hit since we have never seen anything like it. As you opened the book, a light shined on the menu making it readable without anyone having the need to reach out for their reading glasses.



Three of us decided on the Lobster Bisque for appetizer which had pumpernickel croutons and was drizzled with truffle oil. It was good though not as thick as I would have wanted.  Sandi ordered the House Cured Pork Belly with beluga lentils, leeks with lingonberry gastrique. I had a bite of it and it was good.  For entrees, my mom and Gary had the Pan Seared Black Cod with saffron tomato risotto, artichoke and citrus butter. The cod was delicious especially the crispy skin! We all thought it was perfectly seasoned though my mom had to add some salt. Sandi and I split the American Wagyu Hanger Steak served on scalloped potato gratin, roasted garlic and green peppercorn.  The steak was cooked to perfection and had a nice flavor. The other entree was the Wild Mushroom Rigatoni which was excellent .


For dessert, we all decided on the Signature Bread Pudding with caramel creme anglaise and chocolate whipped cream. This was the only disappointment. It was good but very ordinary. Sandi makes a much better bread pudding. They will have to improve that or not call it their signature dessert.  Other than that, I would definitely go back to check on the other items on their menu. We were very happy with everything else and loved the service.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Hors d' Oeuvres

My mother is here from the Philippines and we had a rather heavy lunch the other day. Sandi wanted to cook dinner for her which was a very nice gesture but we told her we did not want to waste her time and energy. It would not have done justice to her cooking on our full stomachs.

She then decided to just make light hors d' oeuvres.  I suggested serving cheese as we are all cheese lovers, and some crackers and wine. She thought it to be a great idea. We got to her house and her dining table was fully set covered with food enough to have feed a minimum of 12 people. There were 6 of us, including my husband, his caregiver and Aaron.

She had chips and salsa, turkey roll, chicken salad, rice balls, little hot dogs in puff pastry, a variety of cheeses, sliced apples, sliced baguette from L'Amande bakery, fried chicken, crab fried rice from the Thai restaurant and my favorite meatballs. Everything was delicious with the champagne.


Dessert was a truly simple one; a scoop of Talenti Salted Caramel Gelato with whipped cream topped with dark chocolate covered espresso beans.


We thank Sandi for going through a lot of trouble making this very "simple" impromptu dinner....yes, this was dinner.  I suggested she see a therapist as going overboard is not normal. Her next simple dinner will probably be a banquet!