Thursday, August 25, 2016

Amy's 87th Birthday at Good Old Lawry's

Amy is an incredible woman. She just turned 87 and is in great shape. She does not think she is in great shape since she has the occasional arthritic pain in her knees or shoulders but considering everything, I can only wish I could be as strong as she is when I turn 87. She still goes to the gym with her husband 5 days a week and paints (oil), does gardening and cleans constantly. If that's her secret, I don't have many years left!

Last night we celebrated her birthday at one of her favorite restaurants; Lawry's Prime Rib in Beverly Hills. As soon as we got there, we helped ourselves to their meatballs and fabulous homemade potato chips. We brought our own salt as it always lacks salt. I had previously requested for Ms. Sagent, the server we got to know but was informed that she doesn't come till later, but they would have her come to say hello to  us when she arrived. We started with a bottle of their very nice Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Our server this time was Ms. Armendiaz who we found a delight. She brought us a basket of warm "very" sour dough bread which we all loved. Sandi was only allowed 1 piece as she very often cannot finish her entree on account of too much bread.  Shortly after the bread, Ms Armendiaz came and performed her act of spinning the salad but not before she served us our very own chilled forks. The salad was good as usual. It's never the same when you make this at home even if you have the right ingredients.

We all had the Prime Rib with creamed horseradish and the usual mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, and creamed corn. Some had half and half: creamed corn and creamed spinach. Everyone had left overs except me. I cleaned my whole plate; I had nothing to take home!

Ms. Armendiaz came back with another server and began to sing "Happy Birthday" to Amy and brought her a slice of the English Trifle. Desserts were included with our dinner. Nako and Amy brought theirs home. Sandi and I had the Créme Brûlée. We requested it to be burnt. It was perfectly burnt. Ms. Sargent came to say hello to us. I must say, the women that work there all seem to enjoy what they do. It is not merely a job for them, you can tell they aim to please. Other restaurants should take note!

We all were whining at the end of the meal as we were too full to move. It almost felt like we should all have been wheeled out on wheelchairs; at least the 3 of them. I could have used a wheelbarrow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Champagne Teaspoon When You Don't Have a Stopper

You may or may not have heard that when you are unable to find a champagne stopper for left-over champagne, you could use a spoon or teaspoon. Huh???

I tried it yesterday but first, I have to inform you that this was a "sparkling wine" Schloss Biebrich from Germany. It's our everyday pretend champagne which is quite delicious and very inexpensive. I didn't want to experiment on the "real" champagne in case it didn't work.

I opened a bottle yesterday and had a little less than half a bottle left.  I was able to find a teaspoon with a handle slim enough to fit in the mouth of the bottle. I had forgotten all about the bottle till I saw it this evening. I took the teaspoon out and poured some in a glass. I was very surprised to see bubbles! I expected it to be flat, especially since there was space between the lip of the bottle and the handle of the teaspoon.

I don't know the scientific explanation for this; maybe the metal interacting with the carbon dioxide. I am not a scientist, an engineer nor a physicist. I only know what I did and it did work. So next time you misplace your stopper, get a teaspoon and stick it in the champagne bottle. Better yet, drink the entire bottle so you won't have to worry about a stopper or a teaspoon and you'll be happier!

Monday, August 22, 2016


I saw pictures of these chocolates on the internet and I was hypnotized. I was surprised to find out that Compartés has been around since 1950 and likes of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley were repeat customers. They also have supplied chocolates to events like the Oscars and Emmy's.

I was intrigued by the Roses and Rosé Chocolate Bar. It's a pink chocolate bar infused with rosé wine with edible crystallized rose petals. I totally loved the flavor however I found it to be much too sweet. I shared this with several people and they all thought the same. At $9.95, I would not buy it again.

The other chocolate I ordered was a box of Fleur de Sel (salted) Caramels. This was a winner. Not only did it look beautiful but it was delicious. These homemade salted caramels are made with real Tahitian vanilla beans and French sea salt. The caramels are dipped into a rich dark chocolate. The slight bitterness of the chocolate was perfect with the salted caramel. When you bite into one or if you decide to pop the whole thing in your mouth (I never recommend this as I always think one should take small bites to truly savor the chocolate), the crisp shell cracks and surrenders to the salted caramel which is quite an explosion. At $25.00 for a box of 10, I expect something to happen and indeed it did!

Compartés has 2 locations in Los Angeles; one in Brentwood and the other on Melrose. They also have a website you can order from.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Back to Azure

We haven't been to Azure in a long time so last night Sandi and I thought it was time to see if the food is still good. We weren't very hungry so we decided to just order the Fried Cauliflower and the Cheese Lovers Feteer.

They were both still very good. You can't go wrong with either of those. First we had our veggies then the wonderful cheesy feteer with small pieces of crisp bell peppers. I really love vegetables when they're dressed! That was our protein and lots of calcium for the day.

We really were pleasantly full but it was hard not to order the Nutella (which I normally dislike) Feteer. That too was too good with chopped pistachios on top but also too sweet to eat more than two. It's really good for a crowd. We took the leftovers home for dessert for another day.

Azure is located at 1810 S. Pacific Coast Hwy. in Redondo Beach, California.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Delicious Corn on the Cob

The other day Sandi decided to make a BLT sandwich for dinner. She had a beautiful tomato she got from the Farmers Market. This was a very simple BLT, with my favorite Japanese mayonnaise. She didn't even toast the bread and it was simply delicious.

She never makes a sandwich without the trimmings. While at the Farmers Market, she bought some fresh corn on the cob. I normally just microwave these but she baked them in the oven wrapped in foil with a paste made with mayonnaise and Parmesan cheese. That corn was outstanding. That was plenty for a "simple dinner" but since Sandi is incapable of "simple", she had to cook some French fries. Japanese mayo squeezed on the fries was the best. Again, we had carbs plus carbs plus more carbs except for the bacon, our protein and fat. I have to mention that Aaron didn't care for the corn. He had 1 bite and that was it. I hate to see food end up in the trash so I sacrificed once more and ate his corn.

With all that starch, dessert had to be a bit healthier; Blueberry Cobbler. There's our fruit for the day!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Santol, the Fruit

If you're not from the Philippines or any part of Southeast Asia, chances are you've never heard of the fruit Santol. It's a fruit that when fully ripe is very sweet though not too easy to eat. You mainly suck on the big seeds inside the fruit. Sometimes it is peeled and people eat the rind which is a bit tart with rock salt. Here's a link that shows what the fruit looks like.

While I was in the Philippines, I bought several bottles of prepared Santol from the famous Blue Kitchen. My first dinner with my family was at a restaurant called Abe. There I had shrimps cooked in Santol; something I have never heard of before. So naturally, when I saw these bottles of santol, I knew I had to buy some.  The ingredients were not listed on the bottle unlike here in the U.S. when you have to list ingredients. I know they used the rind of the santol and probably added shrimp paste and some chillies which made it spicy.

I sauteed some shrimps in butter and emptied my last 2 jars of santol. This of course had to be served with steamed rice. Sandi, Otto and I enjoyed it. Sandi of course had it when she was in the Philippines. Amy and Nako thought it was "different". That could be a polite way of saying "it's not that good".

I served a salad of spinach and mixed greens with a dressing made with Chipotle olive oil and Peach Balsamic Vinegar. Everyone loved that. Amy brought some fresh tomatoes from their garden along with a mayonnaise dip. There's nothing like fresh grown tomatoes! The other entree I served was Chicken cooked in Coconut Milk. This was my moms recipe. It's very easy to make. You just lay chicken pieces in pan; put salt and pepper on them and lots of crushed garlic and whole peppercorns. Then you pour vinegar to cover the chicken. When the chicken is almost cooked, you pour 2 cans of coconut milk and simmer till it thickens (it could take awhile). Adjust according to your taste. If too sour, add more salt. This taste even better the day after. This too has to be served with steamed white rice.

 Amy and Nako survived the dinner. One thing about making dinner for friends (real friends), they are always gracious and we always enjoy each others company even if the food is sometimes strange.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Simple Spaghetti

I thought I should make use of my blooming basil before it all dies. I could only think of one thing; Spaghetti. I didn't feel like doing the one where I simmer the sauce for a couple of hours, especially since it's been hot outside. So, out I went and snipped a bunch of basil, crushed almost a whole head of garlic and chopped half an onion. I bought 3 giant tomatoes a few days ago that said "grown from a vine", don't they normally grow from vines? Anyway, I chopped them up and proceeded in heating some olive oil. I then added the onions and the garlic. When it started to brown, I dumped in the chopped fresh tomatoes. I sauteed it for 10 minutes then added the basil (lots of basil). I was not happy with the tomatoes. They didn't have the slightest acidity. After I doctored the sauce with salt, pepper and some Mirin sauce, it started to come alive. I then added the aldente spaghetti I cooked in my wonderful pasta boat and added a bit of the water from the boat.

I made a no-nonsense salad; just greens with spinach and some pecans and dried cranberries. Sandi has given me a small bottle of Apple White Balsamic Vinegar which I used along with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Just as we started to eat the pasta, I remembered that Sandi had brought one of my favorite dishes: corn cooked with tomatoes. She suggested adding it to the pasta. What a great idea. Starch on starch; carbs on carbs....yessss! It made the pasta happy and so were we!

Guilt set in so for dessert we just had 1 Alfajores (Peruvian cookie) each.