Sunday, June 25, 2017

Benji's French-Basque Restaurant

Since our favorite restaurant in Bakersfield Valentien closed, we didn't know another exceptional place to go for dinner.  We heard from a local resident in Bakersfield that Benji's was a very good French-Basque restaurant.

The ambiance is not your typical French restaurant. This was very informal with tables that are lined with white tablecloths but topped with clear plastic. The set ups are served family style. The dinner menu had something for everyone. For appetizers, they had Sauteed Mushrooms, Escargot, Scampi, Frog Legs, Sweet Breads. The Entrees had Steaks, Lamb, Chicken & Duck, Seafood, and Others.

Sandi and I decided to split an order of Rib Eye Steak and Grilled Halibut with lemon butter sauce. The big surprise was that all entrees came with the "Set-Up". Set-up includes French Bread, Salsa, Soup, Beans, Green Salad, Fresh Marinated Tomatoes, Pickled Tongue, French Fries and Hot Vegetables. If you only wanted the Set-Up, it cost $16.

The Vegetable Soup was delicious with the beans and hot salsa mixed into it. The Green Salad and the Fresh Tomatoes were just as good. I loved the dressing they used. The Pickled Tongue was tender and tasty. The Fries went well with our entree. The only thing we were not crazy about was the Green Beans.

The Rib Eye Steak was grilled to perfection. The Halibut had Sandi's seal of approval. She's the Halibut expert. The lemon butter sauce was icing on the cake.

We were so stuffed with all the food that we could not finish everything. That did not stop us from ordering dessert. We really wanted a Baked Alaska but our server told us it would take 30 minutes to prepare. We didn't want to wait and sit that long so we ended up ordering the Flan which was very good; almost as good as the one I make. Next time we will have to order not just the Baked Alaska but the numerous Souffles; Grand Marnier, Raspberry, Chocolate, and Lemon.

Benji's is a wonderful place to go if you want to be surprised and have a nice satisfying meal. You must come hungry! Benji's is located at 4001 Rosedale Hwy. in Bakersfield, California.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

Two weeks ago Sandi announced she was making Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls for dinner.  This was supposed to be a healthy and simple dinner. The soup was made with chicken broth, pieces of chicken, lots of vegetables and giant matzo balls.

As usual, she was not capable of just serving the soup even if it had humongous balls. She also made Grilled Cheese sandwiches. Everything was delicious. The chicken soup was truly filling. It's the type of soup you would want in your freezer so when the weather is cold outside or when you think you're getting sick it would be nice to thaw and heat some of the soup. It is really the best chicken soup I have had.

For dessert, I bought 2 items at Trader Joe's. Brownie Crisp Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches which was good but not worth getting again. The other dessert I got was the Mango Sorbet Bon Bons with chocolate coating. Now, those were very good and yes, I would buy them again.

Back to the Chicken Soup, I wish we could just dial 1-CALL-SANDRA and have some delivered.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Another Birthday at Hinoki and the Bird

This was an overdue birthday dinner for Sandi. Both Sandi and Mertz have never been to Hinoki and the Bird so it was time.

We started at the bar since we were early. They had "Happy Hour" so we took advantage of that and ordered 2 Moscow Mules and Sandi had the Spring Fling. The couple next to us ordered something that looked interesting. It looked like a Parmesan crisp but the other side of it was a bunch of dumplings. I asked them how they were and they said they were delicious.

At 6 p.m. we were escorted to our table outside. Our server Chris came to introduce himself and informed us he would be happy to answer any questions. Boy, did we all have questions regarding the different plates and how things were cooked. I knew I had to order the Lobster Roll and the Beef Tartare since I've had those before. My favorite Crab Toast has long been dead. Chris mentioned that people still ask for it. I wish they would put it back on the menu.

In addition to the Beef and Lobster Roll with green curry, we did order the Dumplings, Pork Chops with cherries that was ever so good. Another plate we ordered was the Crispy Suckling Pig with lettuce, peach chutney, and chili. They were meant to be eaten wrapped in lettuce with a bit of lime.

A side of Grilled White Rice accompanied our various pork dishes. We had to have some vegetables so we all voted for the Brussels Sprouts with lemon and furikake. They were nice and crispy and had a bit of a burnt taste which we all loved.

It was time for dessert. Sandi got a "Happy Birthday" plate with an assortment of fruit and chocolate. Chris handed us the menu and as usual, it was hard for us to make decisions so we ordered a Miso Mochi which I've had before, Miso Donut with honey caramel and the "Campfire" which was like a smores bar. It had a chocolate cake underneath a graham cracker base with toasted marshmallows. This was served on top of what looked like a campfire complete with smoke. While we were enjoying the various desserts, Chris brought 1 more compliments of the Chef. It was what he tried to talk us into ordering. Shaved ice with blueberries. It sounded so "elementary" that we didn't give it a second thought. It ended up to be my favorite one! We were not too fond of the Miso donut which we thought was just o.k.

All in all, it was a nice dinner and we left the restaurant as Happy Campers. Hinoki and the Bird is located at 10 W. Century Dr. in Los Angeles.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


This ice cream parlor just opened lately at the Crossroads in Torrance. The ice cream is customized and handcrafted. It's made with liquid nitrogen so there's a lot of gas as they prepare your order. Everything is natural and organic. They have 70 flavors and a multitude of toppings.

If you're not familiar with Creamistry, you will have to study the menu. You can't just point and order a flavor with toppings. There are several steps. First, you choose your size and base; Signature, Organic or Coconut. Second, you pick your flavor. Third, you pick your toppings and don't forget the upgrades.

Mertz insisted on treating us. I didn't need another ice cream dessert especially since I had just had a coffee float with vanilla ice cream but since I am such a good sport and didn't want to hurt any one's feelings, I ordered the salted caramel with the signature base and Twix topping mixed with the ice cream. Mertz had the black cherry with chocolate topping. Sandi's order was the most interesting. She ordered Madagascar vanilla with the coconut base and blueberry topping. We were all perplexed with the blueberry topping because it was red! We thought it was a mistake but they assured us it was blueberry.

The ice cream is rich and creamy but I would say it really was nothing special. It's all a gimmick. I would definitely bring kids there for the experience but after that, you might as well go to the nearest supermarket and get a gallon of your favorite flavor and put your own toppings. If you want really good ice cream you should head on over to Handel's Homemade Ice Cream in Redondo Beach. If you haven't had the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, you haven't lived!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Spoon House Bakery & Restaurant

Tani, one of my physical therapists recommended this place in Gardena. It's a Japanese/Italian Fusion Restaurant. Mertz drove her big mobile and picked me and Sandi up as we headed towards the 110 Freeway. I forgot that it was also a bakery so we got excited but we were disappointed to find a lack of baked goods. We only saw French bread. The interior of the restaurant was small but cute. There were a few tables and a bar section. We were seated by the window in full view of the chefs at work.

The menu looked very interesting. They claimed that the pasta is always cooked aldente which is the big plus in my book. We all wanted something different so it was "to each her own" and it meant no sharing. They brought a basket of their French bread with butter to start us out. On the menu, they had Coffee float so instead of ordering a diet Pepsi, I opted for the float. It was served with simple syrup which needed it as the coffee was nice and strong. This is probably the reason why I had trouble falling asleep last night.

Sandi ordered the Spaghetti Bolognese with egg and bacon garnish. Mertz had the California Style Salad Spaghetti with mayonnaise sauce, crab meat, and avocado. I was the most adventurous; I had the Spaghetti Japanese-Style with Cod Roe and Sea Urchin. Sandi's Bolognese was not what she expected. It was sweet which reminded me of Filipino spaghetti. She said it was o.k. but she would not order it again. Mertz liked her Spaghetti Salad except for the crab. I did taste it and it had a funny texture. My Spaghetti was good though it only had a few pieces of sea urchin and heavy on the dried seaweed.

Mertz and Sandi wanted to go somewhere for dessert. I was not too enthusiastic since I had a scoop of ice cream on my float. The driver of the big mobile decided to treat us to Creamistry in Torrance.

Spoon House is located at 1601 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. in Gardena, California.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Best Curry Soup

I stumbled upon this soup while shopping at H Mart, a Korean Market in Torrance. This premium noodle aromatic curry soup is made in Singapore. It has no artificial flavoring or coloring. The noodles are steamed air-dried and there are no preservatives added.

The soup is easy cooking. All you have to do is add the curry paste and curry premix into 2 cups of water and boil away. It is absolutely delicious. It's a thick soup and it has some kick to it. A glass of champagne is the perfect partner. A sip of it cools your mouth till you are ready for your next serving.

A package of soup is over $12.00 but there are 4 individual packages inside. One package has 2 servings but you can easily eat 2 servings especially if you intend to have it as a meal.

Another flavor I had was the Laksa Noodle in Coconut Soup. That is also delicious. It has dried shrimps and shrimp paste in it so it may not be for everyone especially people that do not like seafood. It too has some kick in it as well. I love the rich coconut milk that bathes the noodles.

H Mart is located at 4340 Pacific Coast Hwy. in Torrance, California. It has numerous locations all over the United States.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Palos Verdes Street Fair

We go to the fair not so much for the shopping, music or rides (kids) but for the food. We decided to go as soon as it opened which was 10 a.m. Parking was great and there were hardly any people at that time. We made one round to see the various vendors and decided to go straight to the food section. It was nice to see the empty tables and chairs. There was a time when we couldn't find a place to sit.

I usually get some corn on the cob and the German sausage. At around 10:15 a.m. Sandi and I thought it was time for brunch. We couldn't decide if we wanted the Lobster-Lemon Garlic Fries or the Crab Garlic Fries. We decided on the crispy beer battered fries smothered with real crab meat topped with extra virgin olive oil Aioli. Now, all we had to get was our main entree: Bratwurst or Philly Cheese Steak. Sandi mentioned she hasn't had one in a long time so Philly Steak it was. The sandwich tasted better than it looked and the fries were fantastic. We could not finish the fries mainly because Sandi was full, my half was gone. We took that home so we could add more aioli sauce and have it with a salad. By 11:10 a.m. we were on our way home!

The Fair's last day is today so I might have to wait till next year to have it again unless I experiment and make my own which seems pretty easy. I just have to start with good French Fries, then add some shredded crab and pour lots of the aioli sauce.