Sunday, May 22, 2016

Kimpura

Our first meal in Manila was Kimpura.  My brother Dino treated Sandi, my mom and I for lunch.  We were planning to have a light lunch since I was treating the whole family at a Filipino restaurant for dinner.


My mom decided on the California Maki which has Kani, rice, cucumber and mango instead of the usual avocado and fish eggs. It was an easy choice for 3 of us to decide what to order. It had to be Shrimp Tempura.   We all skipped the soup and just decided to order a la carte. Three of us had our Shrimp Tempura with rice and Dino ordered his with Tenzaru Soba which is a noodle that has the texture and looks like rubber bands. It is served cold. This intrigued me so I naturally had to try it. I must say that it was not bad at all. It might be healthier than the regular white rice; at least by the looks of it.


We enjoyed the shrimps as they were very light. We were all good and adhered to the normal way of Japanese dining drinking hot tea. No soda, beer or sake, just plain tea to burn the calories.

Kimpura has several locations. We went to the one in Greenhills.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Desserts by Patrick

It's hard to believe I haven't been to see Patrick since he has been there since last year. My friend Cindy told me I had to try his eclairs. Sandi and I on the spur of the moment after eating at Carl's Jr. thought an eclair would be a good dessert. Before we went, I called to make sure they were open and find out if they had some eclairs left. I spoke to Patrick and he informed me he had a few and one of them was coffee so needless to say, I had him save it for me.

We got there and realized this was the old gelato place on Catalina Ave. in Redondo Beach. It still has gelato with the addition of French pastries. We met Patrick and his lovely daughter, Estelle. I bought a variety of items to take home and try. The bakery is quite small so there is no room for people to eat. That was disappointing since there is really no other place like L'Amande Bakery where you could eat wonderful French pastries, breads, and croque madames.


As soon as we got to our car, Sandi opened her package of Tuiles (made with egg white, sugar and almonds). It was very good; we both like the burnt taste. She also got a Raspberry Eclair which she was going to have at home. When I got home, I tried my Coffee Eclair. I decided to just have half of it as I wanted it cold. It was a bit soft as we had to make a stop before I got home. The coffee flavor could have been stronger. I had the other half the following morning for breakfast and the texture was perfect; a bit crusty outside but soft inside. I had mentioned to Estelle that Sandi and I loved the Salted Caramel Eclair at L'Eclair De Genie in Paris. She informed us that they do make them but were all out that late afternoon.


Another item Sandi bought which I did not, was the Cannele. It didn't look too exciting to me. While still in my car, I had a pinch and it was a bit hard so I thought....no good. When I finally got half, I took a bite and whoaahh, I absolutely loved it! It had a very nice flavor; it was chewy outside and still a bit chewy and airy inside. Sandi didn't care for it so she gave them to me. I also sampled 3 of their macarons; the lemon, coffee and chocolate. They were nice and crisp outside but soft and yummy inside. The lemon was my favorite.


While at the patisserie, I got the Chocolate Bears. Estelle explained to me that these are famous with the French children, they loved these bears. They don't make them, they are just imported from France. What she failed to mention is adults love them too, especially yours truly. It was light and not too sweet.


Cindy had mentioned that their Quiches are delicious. She bought a whole quiche for Mother's day and got a variety of eclairs which she served a day after and they were still delicious. I can't wait to try the Salted Caramel Eclair and whatever else I haven't tried........

Desserts by Patrick is located at 1820 S. Catalina Ave., Suite 103 in Redondo Beach, California.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Bottega Romana

We checked out a restaurant which is fairly new to us but were told that it has been there for 18 months. It's a nice size restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. We always opt for indoors. First of all, no car pollution and second, we don't like our food to get cold fast, especially pasta.

Our server, Giovanni was most informative; a real Italian (not the fake ones that try to speak the language). Sandi and I were the fake ones who tried to practice our Italian with him....va bene.
A basket of warm bread was served with the usual olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We tried not to finish the contents of the basket as we wanted to pace ourselves. For appetizer, we had the Calamari Fritti which was served with arrabbiata sauce. It was nice and warm when we got it. After squeezing some lemon on them we dipped them in the slightly spicy sauce. It was just beautiful e perfetto.


Two of the pasta dishes had to be ordered. They were the Spaghetti Alla Carbonara and the Fettuccine Bolognese. The verdict was unanimous as to which was better. The Carbonara made with egg yolk, pecorino romano cheese and smoked guanciale with fresh ground pepper took the cake. It was full of flavor; the guanciale was nice and crisp. We both didn't care too much for the Bolognese. It just didn't have enough flavor.


Giovanni asked us if we wanted to hear what they had to offer for desserts. Aside from the usual Tiramisu, Torta della Nonna, they had Panna Cotta. He described the panna cotta as having a burnt caramel sauce....this is all we heard and so we did order one to share. It was outstanding as it was very light and fluffy and the burnt caramel taste was oh so wonderful.


Bottega Romana is located at 215 Avenue I in Redondo Beach. California. They are open for lunch and dinner during the week, closed on Mondays and open for just dinner on Saturday and Sunday. If you stop by, ask for Giovanni who is an experienced server and probably should be the manager. He was more welcoming to the customers than the owners who just seemed to walk around and watch.


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Ninong's Pastries and Cafe

I held on to a Groupon voucher for sometime for Ninong's Pastries. They talked about Ube pancakes; ube for those of you who never heard of it, is a purple yam. I am not crazy about it but a lot of Filipinos like them. After our workout at the gym 2 weeks ago, I decided to take Sandi to experiment on this restaurant which I have read about. At 7:30 a.m. I drove all the way to Granada Hills. That drive on the 405 Fwy. was a nightmare. It took us almost 2 hours! We finally go there and saw what we liked. A cute cafe with some pastries displayed.


I couldn't contain my excitement when I saw a few familiar Filipino delicacies on the menu. We ordered the typical breakfast with was Fried Garlic Rice with Eggs and Longanisa (Philippine pork sausage), and Tocino, meat prepared with a special marinade. These meats are great, usually eaten dipped in vinegar with crushed garlic. We split the 2 varieties of pork to go with the disappointing garlic fried rice. The rice was not cooked right, I think it was fresh rice they used because it was mushy. Fried rice should never be mushy that is why it best to cook it with old rice. I had her order the Hot Chocolate which was from the Philippines. When I asked her how it was she said it was just o.k. so I had a sip and thought it was bad, only because it was unsweetened. This is not your typical chocolate drink, this is a lot stronger and if unsweetened, it taste bitter. With some splenda, it was drinkable.


We had to order the Mango Pancakes. It looked better than it tasted. They were heavy pancakes with something mango but much to sweet. We didn't finish the one order. I had to try the Egg pie which I used to love. It was just o.k. Sandi liked the Buko pie which is "young" coconut custard pie.


There were many other items on the menu but I doubt I would drive all the way back there judging from our recent experience. I am confident that there are far better Filipino restaurants close to home. The saving grace was we discovered a very good Mediterranean Meat Market across the street. We bought some ground chicken and beef with the typical spices they mix in it. Sandi cooked it that evening and it was outstanding.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Santa Monica Yacht Club

My brother took me to this restaurant last week for my birthday. The venue was not what I expected at all. It is not your typical Yacht Club by a marina. It's just a restaurant that specializes in seafood.


The menu is designed for small plates. The categories were as follows: Raw, Crustacean, Fish, Meat, Garden. The Oysters caught my eye but Gary was not as excited as I was so we went directly to the Crustaceans. The Lobster Burrata Toast with lemon, tarragon and chili flake had to be ordered. One of my favorite items, the Soft Shell Crab, Singaporean chili sauce, cilantro and pea shoots was also ordered. The lobster burrata was delicious. The soft shell crab was also delicious and went well with the Lobster Rice we ordered.


From the Fish section, we had the Blackened Catfish with lemongrass risotto and baby artichoke salad. We also decided to get the Amber Ale Marinated Skirt Steak with white sweet potato puree. Everything was tasty, the only thing that sort of ruined the ambiance was the presence of 4 women that sat next to us in very close proximity;  they behaved like they were the only customers in the restaurant. This was before they had their wine!



There were not too many choices for dessert. the only thing that I would have liked was the Key Lime Pie. Gary agreed even if he usually does not like any tart desserts. He gave the go ahead to order the Key Lime Pie; after all, it was my birthday. It arrived with huckleberry whipped cream.
I had just a few bites as it did not have a hint of tartness. In fact, I could not even taste the lime. Gary loved it for that reason.


Santa Monica Yacht Club is located at 620 Santa Monica Blvd. in Santa Monica, California.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sweet Lady Jane

Sandi and I went to see the movie, Dough at the Laemmle theater in  Sta. Monica. After the movie, we decided to visit my brother in his new office in Santa Monica. He sent me a text of his address with a notation that it was across Sweet Lady Jane, the upscale cafe and bakery. I have had some of their desserts long time ago but couldn't remember what I had or what was good.

We found  Gary's office. We parked, said hello and announced we wanted to stop by the bakery. He was so kind as to chaperone both of us as if we were not capable of crossing the streets of Sta. Monica. I strongly suspected he had an ulterior motive.

Seeing all the beautiful cakes and pastries got me all excited. I knew I had to be careful on choosing which ones to buy and sample. I saw a whole (small) Lemon Cake with lemon curd. I was ready to buy it till I found out it was $40.  That would have been an expensive experiment. I opted for a slice of the White Chocolate Raspberry cake (large) for $7.95 and the 4" Lemon Meringue Tart, also $7.95. Just before paying for both slices, I saw the Sea Salt Brownies and the Sea Salt Caramel Brownies. I had to try those as well. Gary's ulterior motive was the English Trifle. We didn't even make it out of the bakery when he started to devour it. I was too busy trying to figure out if I needed to get something else. The something else I forgot was the Tarte Tatin.


Sandi and I had to tackle the 405 Fwy. at rush hour. It took us almost 2 hours to get to our area. Neither of us were in no mood to cook. The funny thing was I thought of the Mashed Potato Bowl from Kentucky Fried Chicken. A minute later, Sandi asked me what I thought about getting something to eat at Kentucky Chicken. Yikes!!!  We're beginning to think like a married couple! We found one near her house; ordered 2 of the bowls to go and headed on home.  We enjoyed the our bowls while we looked forward to dessert.

We started sampling the White Chocolate Raspberry. We both agreed it was good but not good enough. If you want a light cake with great flavor and not too sweet, I would highly recommend the Coffee Crunch Cake from Red Ribbon in Carson. The brownies were way too sweet. If it had the salted caramel that Ana used to make from L'Amande Bakery ( a hint of a burnt taste), it would be amazing. The Lemon Meringue was excellent. It had the right amount of tartness with a crust that had the right amount of sweetness. The meringue was just heavenly.


The saying, "You can't judge a book by it's cover" is so true. In this case, you can't judge a cake by it's looks all the time. There may be times when it will taste as good as it looks but many times, it will not taste as good as it looks. I would much rather have a lopsided chocolate cake that is unbeatable in taste  (You know who you are) any day!

Sweet Lady Jane has several locations in Los Angeles and now in Corona Del Mar.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Petrossian

A friend and I ended up at Petrossian for an early dinner yesterday. They are open from Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. On weekends, they open at 10:00 a.m. and offer a brunch. I have previously blogged about this restaurant. There are just too many good things to try. Here's my last blog: http://solittlethyme.blogspot.com/2011/12/champagne-wishes-and-caviar-dreams.html


This time, instead of the lovely Egg Royale, I wanted to try something different. We had a couple of appetizers. The Oursinade was soft scrambled egg with Santa Barbara sea urchin, salmon roe with chives. The combination of the very soft scrambled eggs and the sweetness and buttery uni was undeniably delicious. The other appetizer was the Caviar Flatbread; unlike the Buckwheat Blinis, this was already made. There was no need to fill individual blinis and balance the fillings. The flatbread had the creme fraiche, chives, red onion, capers and chopped egg. It was easy consumption and wonderful with our champagne.


For our entree, my friend ordered the Artic Char, a  coldwater fish related to the salmon. This was served with asparagus, watercress, caviar and smoked sturgeon sauce. The skin was nice and crisp. For fish lovers, this was excellent. I could not pass on the Caviar Pasta; nice aldente pasta with creme fraiche, fleur de caviar and chives. I could eat this everyday as a primi. It was wonderful.


Andy, our server was most attentive, always there to refill our glasses with champagne. She later came to ask us if we would be interested in looking at the dessert menu. Before she could finish her sentence, I said: "Yes, we will be ordering some dessert". My friend had the Tarte aux Pommes; apple tart with vanilla ice cream. I had the Poached Pear Belle Helene with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. It usually comes with toasted almonds but I told them to hold the almonds. I ate the whole thing!


Petrossian is located at 321 N. Robertson Blvd. in West Hollywood. They have street parking, no valet but the valet of the restaurant across the street will work for Petrossian customers.