Monday, November 30, 2015

Restaurant Aigner

Restaurant Aigner is a culinary institution since it opened more than 13 years ago. The cuisine is German-Austrian. Thirteen of us including 1 baby and a toddler landed there last night after a full day of touring Berlin. They were very busy and it was nice that they had our table ready with flowers and a candelabra. None of the other tables had them.

Not everyone ordered appetizers. Alma ordered the French Fries with Bearnaise sauce. She had me try one and I ended up having more than a few. It was so good. I would take Bearnaise over ketchup anytime! Ross had the Steak Tartare. It was delicious though his only complaint was it would have been better if they prepared it themselves rather than leaving it to him to mix it all up. I totally agreed.

I was excited to see Wienerschnietzel on the menu. The majority of the people ended up ordering the Meatballs. Aimee had the Tongue with bone marrow. Raymond had the Pepper Steak, someone else had the chicken.

Service was a bit slow. It took awhile for us to get our food. This seems to be the pattern in restaurants here in Berlin. Again, the wait gave the baby and toddler a chance to exercise their lungs. They didn't really cry, they were just too excited about everything.

There were interesting items in the dessert menu. "Kaiserrrschmarrn" Viennese dessert which is a shredded pancake that got it's name from the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I who was fond of it. This was served with a vanilla ice cream, apple sauce and cranberry cream. It was delicious. It reminded me of a dutch baby. I especially loved the cranberry cream. The ice cream was not bad either. Someone else had the Chocolate Cake with a warm liquid center served with vanilla ice cream. Aimee had the Catalonian Cream with blueberries in black currant sauce. This was like a creme brulee. I was told that it was very good.

Restaurant Aigner is at Franz Strasse 25 10117 in Berlin, Germany.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Paris Moskau

No, I am not in Paris but in Berlin, Germany.  We took my nephew Ryan and  his wife Maria to dinner last night. This restaurant originally was  a Russian restaurant and was named Josef. It later changed ownerships and in 1989, shortly after the fall of the Berlin wall, the restaurant was committed to the idea of combining flavors of the east and west; hence the new name Paris-Moskau.

We got to this cozy restaurant which was fully dressed in white tablecloths at 7 p.m. Though there were no people downstairs, we were led upstairs. We were seated and handed the menu. They had several tasting menus. They had the Goose Menu, the Goose being the main entree. The other tasting menu was the Autumn Menu which featured Prime Boiled Beef. Ryan and Maria opted for the Goose and Joma and I had the Autumn Menu. Otto only wanted the Hauptgang by itself which was the Leg of Goose.

The bread was served with a hummus but really tasted like mustand (not butter) with a side of coarse sea salt. We all enjoyed that. They started us with Amuse Bouche, in this case it was a swirl of salmon with cucumbers. That was inhaled by everyone. The next course for 2 of us was the Cabbage Soup with gold beets. The funny part was we forgot what kind of soup it was supposed to be; and our guess was Pumpkin soup. It was delicious though. Ryan and Maria had a salad with duck ham, lamb's lettuce/ potato dressing with cranberries.

The main entree arrived: Gansekesule/Rotkohl/Semmeltaler/Maronen. Translated, that is leg of goose/red cabbage/"Semmeltaler/Chestnut. Both Maria and Ryan loved their geese. I was too busy enjoying my boiled beef. This sounded like the most boring thing on the menu but I was curious to see how exactly would it be prepared.  I loved it. It was tender and had a very simple yet wonderful flavor. It was served with a horseradish sauce.

After our entree, we all looked forward to the nachtisch (dessert). Maria and Ryan's dessert was a Vanilla parfait with rum flavored fruits.  Otto and I had the Apple Tart with caramel sauce with pumpkin-seed ice cream.

Though all the servers were attentive and very nice, the service was slow. As the evening went by, the slower the service.  It almost seemed like we were there for a 6 course meal (we had 3 course meal).

It seemed to take forever for the desserts to be delivered. We had to entertain ourselves as we were getting antsy because we were all burning. It was too hot as we were all dressed in sweaters since it was cold outside. It didn't seem to bother anyone else but us.

When the nachtisch finally arrived, we gobbled them up as fast as we could. They were all very good; at least it was worth the wait.

Paris-Moskau Restaurant's address is Alt-141 10557 Berlin.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Penthouse

This gorgeous restaurant on the top floor of the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica is a great place to have Sunday Brunch. I had purchased a voucher from Gilt City for brunch for 4 recently.  I decided to use the voucher to celebrate my friend, Nako's 87th birthday. His wife Amy was also invited. This couple look great for their age as they go to the gym everyday and work tirelessly in their garden; I guess this is their secret.

We got to the Penthouse 15 minutes early so the manager told us we could wait in their lounge and will call us when they start seating at 11:00 a.m.  As Nako and Amy admired the view, I asked the manager if we could have the nice table with the curtains and the fantastic view as we were celebrating a birthday and I wanted it to be special. She was very nice and said: " Oh, I'm sure we can do that as you are early enough". There was only 1 person at the bar at this time.  People came streaming in steadily and waited at the bar. The manager approached us at 11 a.m. and told us we could be seated. She asked if we had any vouchers and I said yes. So she excused herself and said she would get the special menu. When she returned, she led us to a different area. I reminded her about the table which she agreed to earlier. Her reply was the other lady (bartender or server) told the people in the bar they could have the table. There were about 3 of these tables, we were the first party to arrive, the manager told us we could have the table. She was the manager and yet could not do anything for us. My suspicion is we had "a voucher". I guess $125 precludes people from getting the best seats; like we did not pay full fare! I think this is VERY unprofessional and I myself would not want anyone working at my restaurant who makes people feel like 2nd class citizens. There is absolutely no excuse for this.

Now, on to the food. Our server, Antonio made up for the manager's lack of professionalism. Since there were only 3 of us and I paid for brunch for 4, we all ordered our entree plus an extra one to share. Antonio was very attentive and kept the Mimosa coming. The birthday boy ordered the Eggs Benedict with classic Hollandaise. Amy had the Corned Beef Hash and I had the Sirloin Burger with the fried egg and steak fries. The entree we wanted to share was the Scottish Salmon with baby artichokes, olives and fingerling potatoes and piquillo confit. Everything was delicious. We all loved the crispy skin of the salmon.

We were all too full but desserts were included so we had to suffer through the Milk Chocolate Molten Cake with Caramelized Banana Hazelnuts with Bourbon Ice Cream. More suffering came in the form of multiple Profiteroles which were excellent especially after pouring the hot fudge all over them.

The Penthouse is located at the Huntley Hotel at 1111 2nd St. in Santa Monica, California. I can only imagine how crazy this place can get in the evening. If you want to enjoy yourself, go during the day. If you get there early and you are promised a nice table, have them sign on the dotted line!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Brunch at Tres

It's always delightful to end up at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills, be it at Bazaar or Tres. You end up spending time absorbing the ambiance since there is a lot to absorb. You see books, numerous fireplaces, animal heads on the wall made of glass if I'm not mistaken. You will see all sorts of art objects; some weird, some cute....something for everybody. My favorite is the "machine gun" floor lamp. There's whimsical and yet there's also class and sophistication.

Sunday Brunch was good for the price of $42. I loved the charcuterie table with all sorts of cheeses and meats; prosciutto being the star of the show. There was a big slab of smoked salmon with all the trimmings. The prime rib was delicious as well. They had steamed baby buns which was tasteless by itself but when smothered with the maple butter, it was wonderful. The shrimps were great but it lacked the cocktail sauce which would have tasted better than the little liquid sauce which was in little mini droppers. The crab claws suffered the lack of flavor since this was the only sauce they served. Sandi had some salad and a beautiful plate with an assortment of veggies. It was pretty to look at but it did not speak to me.

Desserts were plentiful. There was something for people who like to eat healthy; fruit. We did not touch those. There were little glasses filled with what looked like fruit in the bottom and yogurt. I tried that (I normally never buy yogurt) and was pleasantly surprised on how good it was. If only yogurt taste that way, I would include it in my daily food consumption.

The most impressive desserts were served in containers that looked like egg shells. One had a very rich chocolate pudding and the other was like a flan. Both too good and am sure very fattening....but who cares at this point! We had to sample the lemon meringue, chocolate cake, etc, etc., etc. Some better than others but most of it very edible.

Tres by the one and only Jose Andres,  is located at the SLS Hotel on 465 S. La Cienega in Los Angeles.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Corazon Mexican Kitchen

A new Mexican Restaurant, Corazon Mexican Kitchen has opened in Rolling Hills Estates recently. My friends Olivia and Sandi was game enough to experiment and go for lunch yesterday. We had our choice of tables. We first settled in the indoor patio; we were protected from flying birds. It was a bit chilly, though they offered to turn the heaters on in which case it would have been too hot, so like Goldilocks, we went inside and got comfortable in another table.

We first ordered the homemade chips and salsa. The chips didn't have much flavor but after I sprinkled some salt on them, they tasted much better. The salsa was not too exciting though we all thought it kinda grew on us after awhile. They didn't have blended Margarita but they did have Margarita on the rocks. I must say, for $5.00, it was pretty good!

Our server Kim, asked if this was our first time and since it was, she had her recommendations. The first one was the El Tamal. We were all sold on that when she described the dish to us. It is sweet corn masa topped with shredded chicken, Jack & Oaxaca cheese drizzled with Romero sauce (whatever that is). Olivia and I had to have that. Sandi ordered the Chorizo con Papas Tacos. Chorizo, potatoes, roasted bell peppers, corn cotija cheese, guacamolito and sour cream. Since there were 2 tacos, she was willing to share one if I shared my El Tamal. It sounded like a good deal- a win/win situation in case one was not too good.

The El Tamal was very good, muy delicioso! The verdict was unanimous; we would all order that again. The sweet corn was nice and sweet which went well with the cheesy chicken. The tacos were a bit spicy and were just o.k. We didn't get too excited over it.

They served some Churros with 2 sauces; chocolate and agave. We all preferred the chocolate. If you like Mexican churros, you would probably like their churros. I prefer Spanish churros which are entirely different so I am not a good judge of Mexican churros.

Corazon Mexican Kitchen is located at 767 Deep Valley Dr. in Rolling Hills Estates, behind Bristol Farms.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Fanoos Grill

I blogged about this small Persian restaurant back in 2013.  I have been eating there since and sometimes I pick up food for the family. See previous blog:

Tonight, Sandi and I met there for dinner.  I am happy to report that the food is still as good as we first had it and the portions are humongous.  We can still split an order of the Koobideh. This time, we ordered 1 beef and 1 chicken. We've never had the chicken before; we were surprised on how delicious it was, truly juicy and packed with flavor. We ordered the Maust' Khiar which is a combination of yoghurt and chopped cucumbers flavored with dill. I use this as a sauce to my meat. The Koobideh is served with basmati rice topped with saffron, charbroiled tomato and a garden salad. Even the salad was very good, as I rarely even mention salad.

Service is always good as one of the owners is almost always present. If you're lucky you might even see both owners; brothers Amir and Omid.  Fanoos is located at the Rolling Hills Plaza at 25336 Crenshaw Blvd. in Torrance.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Lindt-Sweet Popcorn

Who does not like the chocolate Lindt? I don't know anyone. They have all sorts of flavors to please almost everyone. Unfortunately, we don't get all the flavors they make, like the Champagne Lindor Ball, however, we are fortunate to have the salted caramel, dark chocolate truffle, white chocolate, etc.  

When my friend Sandi came back from Vermont, she brought me a chocolate bar made by Lindt. It was called: Hello My Name is Sweet Popcorn.  I was very pleased to meet this new friend. The chocolate was creamy and not too sweet. It had bits of popcorn which reminded me of Rice Crispies, only the bits were a bit salty. I took it to the movies and it was the perfect dessert after our regular popcorn.

The problem is the chocolate is not available in stores; at least in Los Angeles. You can order them online and the price ranges from $5.00-$8.00. Since Sandi liked it as much as I did, she placed an order through her sister in Vermont. So, if you have relatives in Vermont and probably in the east coast, it's time to call them and see how they are doing and then you can ask the way, have you heard of this chocolate........ Good Luck!