Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mari Vanna

I bought a voucher to this Russian restaurant because the ambiance looked interesting from the pictures. It was also a great deal; dinner for 2 which included cocktails for each, a cold and warm appetizer to share, an entree each and dessert for two.

We fell in love with the place. From the entrance to the patio and inside the restaurant; it was quaint and you immediately had the feeling of wanting to dine there. Even their menu's were impressive even if they were just glued on cardboard.

We started with a Raspberry Martini (healthy since it was made with fruit). Our first course was a Vinegret Salad which was chopped beets dressed with sunflower oil. It was refreshing and delicious. They also gave us an extra salad which had potatoes, hard boiled eggs and chicken. That too was very good. This was followed by some Blini with Red Caviar. These were crepes; Russian style with salmon roe and sour cream. Sandi had a bite or two then decided to give me the rest as I "seemed to enjoy it more" (those were her words). I absolutely loved it!

For our entree, we had picked the Beef Stroganoff but unfortunately, they didn't have it. We settled for the Chicken Kiev; fried and oven baked lightly breaded served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes. This was the best chicken Kiev we ever had. As soon as I made the first cut, a pool of butter came rushing out. That might freak some people out (the health nuts) but let me tell you, it didn't freak these people out. Sandi and I loved the juicy,crispy chicken.

Sandi could not finish her meal. She ended up taking it home (my home). I on the other hand did not have any problems. My plate was clear of any evidence of anything edible. The dessert to be shared was a Napoleon. We had our doubts, we were almost sure it would not be good. Although, Alexander, our server told us it was very good. Alexander was right on. It was flaky and delicious. He was the perfect server.  He informed us that last night was their last night! We both thought we misunderstood but he confirmed that the restaurant was closing it's doors. He has been working there since it opened and even served Barbara Streisand at one time.

It is unfortunate that we can no longer go back as Sandi and I knew our friends would love the place. I hope another good restaurant can take over as the ambiance adds a lot to the dining experience.Thanks to Alexander for a memorable evening and we hope you find another job soon. Mari Vanna was at 8475 Melrose Place in Los Angeles.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Champagne & Oysters

Yesterday I had to do some running around and had to buy gift cards from Osteria Mozza, Terrine, Lawry's and Trump National Golf Club. I started out at 11:00 a.m. and by 2:30 p.m. I was on my last stop, at the beautiful Trump National Golf Club. After I purchased the gift card from the golf store, I decided to stop at the bar.

There were a few people still having their lunch. It was not busy by that time and the bar was empty. I was starving but didn't want anything heavy. I have had the fresh oysters from their Sunday Brunch in the past and it was always delicious. I have never been in a bar by myself; of course it was the middle of the afternoon and there were no men trying to hit on anyone since there was no one. It's funny, it felt like a "Samantha moment" from "Sex in the City". Ha! not that I look like a Samantha.... I can only wish! 

I ordered a glass of sparkling wine (which was the Trump house special) with a dozen fresh oysters. Those oysters were so fresh and super delicious with the juicy lemon and a bit of sauce. The juice of the oysters were equally wonderful with the taste of the sea. I think I could have eaten a dozen but was glad I didn't order a dozen because the whole thing cost $30 including the tip. 


Ambiance, service and good's nice to indulge and do something out of the ordinary once in a while. CHEERS!!! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Lawry's April Special

Who can pass a great deal, especially April's special at Lawry's Prime Rib. Dinner for two for $99.00 includes the spinning salad, a 6 oz. California cut prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, mashed potatoes, choice of side which for me always has to be the creamed corn, a bottle of their private reserve (Cabernet or Merlot) both very good wine. All that plus their new dessert; a chocolate cart with chocolate, fruit and cream enough for 2 people.

Before the meal, we all indulged on the meatballs and homemade potato chips. I keep meaning to pack some salt as the chips are really quite good but lacks salt. Oh well....we ate them anyway.

There were 19 of us. Everyone had the prime rib except for our one vegetarian friend. She was very happy with her salmon. The prime rib was cooked to every one's satisfaction. The 6 oz.cut was big enough for everyone. It was delicious as ever with the creamed horseradish and the Yorkshire pudding which swept our plates to absorb the aus jus. The creamed corn was pure heaven!

Dessert was a chocolate cart just like stainless steel cart that keeps the prime rib warm. It was good but hard to eat. If you use a knife to cut it to pieces, you can almost guarantee to witness a scene from a movie wherein the food flies off the plate.

The evening was a nice celebration of friends and family getting together; something we must all do more often and what better place to celebrate than Lawry's in Beverly Hills.

Little Maisie can't wait to have her share of prime rib!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Diets Be Gone

Sandi thought it would be a good idea for her to cook a healthy meal. A couple of days ago, she made a nice pork tenderloin dish that was reasonable healthy. She sauteed the Brussels sprouts the same way she did last week except for the bacon; it was delicious. She even made some "pretend" mashed potatoes made out of cauliflower; not bad at all.

Last night she invited me again; I swear, I should have a room at her house so I can retire at the end of a big meal to sleep it off.  I don't know what got into her but the healthy dinner was a chicken breast cooked in cream.....oh yessss! There was a salad of course since we had to have vegetables. She also make some black rice and couscous in case the black rice was inedible. It turned out, the black rice was quite edible especially when she decided to fry it a bit after it was cooked so it gave it a chewy but crunchy texture.

She did not make her usual surprise dessert as we eliminated dessert for the next two weeks. Here is more good and bad news. My friend Ana decided to give me an early birthday present and had her husband deliver her famous Chocolate Cake. This is the ultimate cake. I guarantee there is no richer, lighter, moister cake in the world like this one. She also had to make her famous caramel sauce to go with the cake. She made a mini cake for Sandi with the sauce. That was our dessert! I waited to go home to have mine as I didn't want to take a piece from her portion.

Since the cake was a good size can guess what I had for breakfast this morning with my morning coffee.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Day 8 Final Day of Our Semi Diet

We had to go to a birthday celebration at Port's O' Call in San Pedro last night. We had a nice table with the view of the water and some boats. It was still happy hour so we had the chance to indulge in a complimentary buffet of vegetables; cauliflower, broccoli and carrots with various dressings (yippee- ki-yay). There was also a big basket of chips and beside it was melted cheese. Since I could not have the chips, I splattered some of the cheese on my veggies to make it slightly edible.

Margaritas were $4.00; what a deal! Sandi and I studied the menu and since we didn't want to blow our diet, we adhered to the no potatoes, rice or pasta rule. We ordered the Fried Calamari with Lemon and the Beefeater Salad which had slices of filet mignon, diced egg, yellow bell pepper, asparagus, tomatoes and Gorgonzola wedges in a raspberry vinaigrette dressing. We were both pleasantly surprised that both dishes were delicious. The filet mignon was tender as can be and the calamari was very tasty as it was lightly floured and flash fried i n Thai red pepper sauce.

Since we didn't have time for dessert as we unexpectedly had to go home for personal reasons, I stopped by Coco's and got a Fresh Strawberry Chocolate Harvest Pie. As soon as we got home, we had a nice slice each and really enjoyed it. It had a flaky crust, chocolate ganache and strawberry mousse topped with fresh whipped cream. Didn't care for the fresh strawberry on top as it was sour.

I am happy to report that after 2 weeks of the semi diet of no rice, potatoes or pasta, I lost a total of 4 lbs. We shall now eat whatever we want but cut down on portions AND no desserts, pies, cakes, etc. with the exception of a piece of chocolate at the end of the day. The no desserts rule will be only be for a limited time of 2 weeks and we shall then figure out and evaluate the diet.

Port's O'Call is located at 1200 Nagoya Way in San Pedro, California.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Day 7 of Our Semi Diet

This would have been our last day of the diet but since we had Easter Sunday which was "free to eat whatever", we had to go 8 days. We were running out of ideas. I still had 2 chorizos left so I cooked them the same way I did last week which was sauteed in onions and garlic. I added garbanzo beans and tomato sauce, simmered and cracked an egg to poach. It was delicious but at the end, it was sad to see the sauce on our plates begging to be swept over with a nice slice of baguette. Only my husband was allowed to do that since he was not on a diet.

Life is truly unfair! Thanks to Ana for this wonderful recipe.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Day 6 of Our Semi Diet

Chic-fil-A was the venue for our dinner on the 6th day of our semi diet.  It was hard not to order the chicken sandwich with French fries. Instead, we ordered the Cobb Salad. I normally do not like cobb salad but this one had lots of fried chicken which is o.k. on our book of dieting since chicken isn't rice, potatoes or pasta. The salad also had bacon, crispy bell peppers, corn kernels, shredded carrots, Jack and cheddar cheese, tomatoes and diced eggs. Sandi spotted a poster that advertised a new drink: Frosted Lemonade which looked good. It also listed the calories. With diet, 240 calories and with regular was 330 calories. I immediately announced that 240 calories isn't that much especially if our salad was only 430 calories. This sounded amazing. 

The salad was delivered to our table and we were amazed on how good and little it looked. It was delicious but it was not enough. It was just a salad; a precursor to an entree. I ate my salad almost in slow motion so it would last a bit longer. We did enjoy the Frosted Lemonade. It was creamy and yummy. Sandi mentioned that it reminded her of an Orange Julius which it kinda did, only this was better.

This semi diet is truly annoying. I hope we lose a few pounds with all the sacrifices. We didn't want to overdo it and lose 10 lbs in a week as that would only be water loss and the faster you lose, the faster you gain so we will be happy with 2-3 lbs loss.