Friday, December 30, 2011

Good Old Lawry's





Do you have an old friend whom you seldom talk to yet when you do, it is like you just spoke yesterday? Well, Lawry's is one of my oldest friends. I try to go at least once a year and it is always good. The ambiance, the quality of food and service is excellent.

If you've never been to a Lawry's, you haven't lived as it is quite an experience and if you haven't been in a while then perhaps it is time to make that reservation.
For starters, they have their homemade potato chips and meatballs as you wait for your table. This is one place I don't look forward to being seated right away.

After you have been seated, and put your order in, your waitress comes and performs the spinning salad routine and hands you a chilled fork. When you are ready to order your prime rib, a master server wearing a white uniform with a big medal hanging from his neck comes to deliver your cut of meat. The choices are: the California cut for people with very small appetites, the English cut which are several slices of beef and they have the Brady cut which looks like 1/2 a cow! We had the English cut. This comes with mashed potatoes, yorkshire pudding to absorb all the juice from the prime rib and your choice of sides like creamed spinach and the rich and wonderful creamed corn! (my favorite)

Of course they have other things on the menu like fish and lobster but if you go to Lawry's you have to order the prime rib. That's what its all about...the beef!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Fettuccine Alfredo Like You've Never Had


Unless of course you have been to the original Fettuccine Alfredo in Rome. (Alfredo's of Rome) Do yourself a favor and make it a point to visit this restaurant. I was never a fan of this particular dish since most of the places in the United States serve it very creamy and heavy. What you get at the original place is fresh egg noodles made daily and lots of butter (European butter is much better that American butter) and fresh parmigiano-reggiano. Doesn't sound like much but oh! so delicious. You'll notice the color on the picture; its more yellow (from the butter-fat)than white which is what we normally see due to the heavy cream.

Story goes that in 1914, Alfredo's wife lost her appetite when she was pregnant, so Alfredo whipped up some egg noodles, butter and parmigiano cheese and the rest is history. When you go to the restaurant in Rome, you will see pictures of presidents and movie stars,and famous people.

I got a recipe which I have not tried but to give you an idea of how good this dish is, the total calories from 1 serving is 920, total saturated fat,I am ashamed or proud to say is 30g and cholesterol 218mg.!

When I decide to make this dish, I will let you know..

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Christmas Dinner




Just wanted to share my Christmas dinner since it turned out perfect, at least in my book. Believe me, I've had a few that were far (miles and miles) from perfect.

I started out with a green salad with some candied pecans, croutons, crumbled feta cheese with a dressing of blood orange olive oil and pomegranate balsamic vinegar.
For my main entree, I made Steak Diane with mushrooms..Emeril Legasse's recipe which I altered a bit by adding more cream and brandy (how could you go wrong with that).
I also made lumpy parmesan mashed potatoes which longed for Diane's sauce. Another side dish I prepared the day before was Tyropita. This is a Greek dish made out of layers and layers of filo dough- individually brushed with melted butter; feta, swiss cheese and eggs.

For dessert I thought my guests would like something light and refreshing. Key lime with chocolate sauce. Not everyone wanted to be adventurous so they chose not to have the sauce! (See if I'll invite them again). My serving had lots of the sauce. The combination of tart and sweet was truly enjoyable. Just in case someone was not fond of key lime, I also served a blueberry sour cream cheese pie; this was a hit! I bought these pies from a restaurant in Lomita called Lulu's. The owner baked them herself. If you ever have a craving for homemade pie...this is the place to go. She'll bake almost any pie on request and she is VERY reasonable!

So far, I haven't had any calls from my guests about getting sick since the meal was on the rich side...my advise was just take an extra dose of Lipitor.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams







You've heard this before....if you love caviar but don't have it as often as you'd like, because of the price; don't despair. Head on down to Petrossian in West Hollywood. If however, price is not an object, then you can spend up to $490 for 50 grams of Kaluga caviar.

They have a lunch, brunch, happy hour and dinner menu. The restaurant is small, but very hip and classy as should be if one specializes in caviar. Their prix-fixe menu is very reasonable at $75 (Dec. 2011). This is a good introduction in the world of caviar.

When we were there a few months ago, we started with their famous Caviar Martini; all I can say is WOW! You have to try it as there is nothing like it. It complemented our first course quite well; the Egg Royale which was scrambled egg with vodka whippped cream and caviar on top. If this sounds familiar to you and think you've had it long before Petrossian opened, its because this was a signature dish at the very elegant restauant L'Orangerie in La Cienega which is no longer there. How I miss that place!
A sweet corn soup followed the egg royale. On top of the soup was a sprinkling of caviar. It was very good. Then came the salad which was a simple butter lettuce with shaved eggs, shallots, parsley and creme fraiche. Again, it was sprinkled w/caviar. We could not believe our good fortune...everything so far was wonderful.The next dish was quite a surprise; it was steak tartare and another beef dish.I like steak tartare especially when done right. This was done right! My brother informed me that he did not like steak tartare. I told him to try it...he did and he finished his portion. (not to be polite)
For dessert, we had the sorbet trio; we picked the champagne, rose, and mango. All three of them were perfect and refreshing. It was a nice finale to a perfect meal.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Obika-Mozzarella Bar





This was my 2nd time at the Mozzarella Bar. The 2 locations in Los Angeles are in shopping centers; one at the Beverly Center in Beverly Hills and the other at the Century City Shopping Center.
If you are into fresh mozzarella, especially the the ever so light and creamy burrata, you cannot get it any fresher than this since it is flown from Italy everyday (so they say).

For starters, we had the Tasting of 3 types of mozzarella, Classica, Affumicata (smoked) and the Burrata. They serve little pieces of bread to go with them, some balsamic vinegar accompanied by 3 kinds of sauces; pesto, olive, and sundried tomatoes. All 3 of them had their own character and were all delicious.

For our entree, we chose the Taglierini, thin egg pasta with their homemade pork ragu. This too was delicious, though I have had better (at Osteria Mozza). It was salty which I like and this was the first time I did not ask for parmesan cheese. The Parmigiana which was grilled eggplant with the mozzarella di bufala was outstanding.

Dessert was a trio of samples: Tiramisu which was light, we both liked this as you could really taste the espresso; their Torta di Nona was one of the best I have had; the last one was a slice of chocolate flourless cake, this was our least favorite as it tasted like a regular brownie.

Service is not the greatest. We were there early, at 4:30 pm when there were just 2 other tables.
Though we were seated promptly, it took awhile before the waitress came to take our orders. After we got our food, no one came to ask if we needed anything else or how are food was (fortunately it was very good and we didn't need anything else) In fact, the chef came out to the bar and talked w/ the one of the Italian waitresses while she was folding napkins.
Call me spoiled, but at a restaurant I like to feel important and appreciated . The chef didn't seem to have any interest in any of the few customers.

So, the next time you have a craving for Mozzarella di Bufala and you don't care much for great service, give Obika a try.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chocolate Cheese Fudge


Don't knock it till you try it! I know it sounds horrible; every time I mention it to someone, I see the same expression in their faces....like the expression you have right now!
I discovered this cheese last year which is available only around Christmas time at Sprouts Market.

I have served it on mini-toast (imported from France). All my guests have loved it. It's best if you don't even tell them that it is cheese. Let them just think it is a chocolate spread; once you have their approval, you can tell them it is really cheese made w/cocoa and cream.....how can it not be good???


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Le Comptoir-Paris





On our last trip in Paris, we made it a point to go to Le Comptoir. As soon as we got to our hotel we called to make a reservation. Big mistake...the first opening they had for dinner was in months, though if I had the funds, I would have gladly waited. We were told that if you go early for lunch, one could fall in line; so we did just that. It was worth the wait!

Its a small place, not fancy, tables close together; the ambiance was not exciting as I would have imagined with all the hype I heard about this restaurant. They had a tasting menu which was written on a board (in french of course) after all we were in Paris. We decided to go for it; whatever it was. Our first course was Fricasse de champignon cepes girolles trompette de la mort which were a variety of mushrooms topped w/prosciutto. They were salty (which we loved) and just wonderful. I could have eaten 2 bowls! The entree was duck which was superb. For dessert, we had the creme brulee which was cooked to perfection.

While we were eating, you could see chef Yves Camdeborde who has been regarded as the culinary rock star of Paris. I wanted to tell him how much we enjoyed our meal. It was a perfect meal; something I would ask for as my last meal if I were ever have to face a firing squad.
I went up to talk to Mr. Camdeborde; our conversation didn't last too long as I only knew a few sentences in French. I told him I didn't speak or understand french but I thought his food was magnificent! I asked (in English w/ my sign language) if he wouldn't mind having our picture taken and he graciously agreed. I was glad that this well known chef who has been featured everywhere was charming and humble unlike some others. So, I say to Chef Camdeborde, ROCK ON!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Best Tiramisu in the World- La Giostra Ristorante





When in Italy, we almost always order Tiramisu as one of our desserts. They are all pretty good but one was truly outstanding. We all agreed that this had to be the best in world.

The restaurant is in Florence. Their food was one of the best we had in Firenze. We had the ravioli which was stuffed w/ burrata, another primi was the ravioli stuffed w/brie cheese and morel mushrooms. For secondi, I had the gamberini (shrimp) w/ whisky sauce and red pepper. The penne w/ gorgonzola with pears and pistachios was also excellent.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Royalty Treatment at The Royce






Wow, what a great way to spend dinner at this restaurant which is at the beautiful Langham Huntington in Pasadena, California. Their tasting menu, now $95 is still a bargain for what you get. My girlfriend from the Philippines was truly impressed with the food and ambiance that I said, "All we need from this scene is me whipping out a ring and proposing" She laughed so hard she almost choked while sipping her wine!

We both ordered the same thing; something I don't like doing because I always want to try other things but no one wanted to budge. Our first course was the cauliflower soup which was caramelized cauliflower with porcini mushrooms and white truffle relish. It was delicious, a great opening act for more great things to come. The 2nd course was Lobster/Pomegranate which were chunks of poached lobster w/butter lettuce, sweet onion and bits of pomegranate. All we could say was hmmmmm. This was followed by Turbot with Leeks; the fish was light and tender served w/mushroom, cotto ham, charred leeks. Healthy but very good.
Our main dish which was the wagyu beef rib eye was on the rare side. My friend and I usually have our steak medium well but since this was a small piece, we thought we would be adventurous and just try it. It came with braised turnips, carrot bordelaise sauce. It was very tender and it had a wonderful flavor. In my excitement, I forgot to take a picture of this work of art.

The best and last item on the menu was dessert. We both ordered the Apple Roquefort which was an apple tart with vanilla-calvados ice cream and roquefort cheese sprinkled like snow. Apples and cheese really go well together like love and marriage or a horse and carriage.....you can't get one without the other.

Make sure you say hello to Eric, the manager who will make sure you have a great dining experience.




Sunday, November 27, 2011

When in Paris....

Make sure you have at least 1 dinner at the the le Relais de l'Entrecote. You don't have much choice at this restaurant. They only serve this wonderful filet slices of beef with the most incredible sauce to go with the french fries. You could order a salad before to fill you up a bit. You are allowed 2 servings with no extra charge. Many years ago, you could get several servings with no extra charge. Those were the days!

They have several locations: 20 Rue Saint-Benoit,15 Rue Marbeuf, 101 Blvd. du Montparnasse.
If you can't get to Paris, you could try the one in New York, Le Relais de Venise L'Entrecote on Lexington Ave., although I must say that I was disappointed when I tried it last year, the plates seemed smaller and the sauce was not exactly like the one in Paris. Maybe it was all about the ambiance!

Friday, November 25, 2011

If you love Cinnamon, Butter, & Sugar...


You will like this product that came out a couple of months ago. There are a lot of butters out there made with canola oil, olive oil, etc.. Land O Lakes makes one that is called Cinnamon Sugar Butter Spread. I got excited when I first saw it since I do love cinnamon, sugar and butter. All you do is spread some on your toast, scones banana bread, sour dough; heck spread it on anything edible. The key is toasting or heating whatever you have and immediately spreading some of the cinnamon sugar and voila..your taste buds immediately starts thanking you. It goes well with your favorite (strong) coffee. I spread mine on a slice of marble bread.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Tasty Chicken Marsala


Just discovered this tiny restaurant in Lomita called Lulu's. There is no Lulu but who cares?
This is a no nonsense restaurant. If you want both quality and quantity, (something you don't get often) this is the place to go.

I got there before 6:00 pm and was lucky to review their early bird specials. The chicken marsala caught my eye and was I surprised to see the an array of sides that went with it. The chicken was tender cooked w/mushrooms and of course marsala wine. There was plenty of sauce to go with the broccoli and mashed potatoes. The carmelized onions were so delicious.

This is one place where you come hungry and leave stuffed like a turkey if you decide to devour the whole meal like I did. I usually have room for dessert but this time I did not. I will have to go back to try the numerous entrees, sandwiches, soups, burgers and key lime pie and creme brulee.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Bacon In a Belgian Waffle


Ruby's Diner in Palos Verdes has always been there. Restaurants have come and gone but this place isn't about to go anywhere. That is because they have a good selection of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's a family place, after all, it is right next to a skating rink. The best thing not to be missed is their coffee shake. If you are too guilty to order one w/ your blue cheese burger, then order a kids size shake (not hamburger).
If you come for breakfast, make sure you get there before 11:00 since they stop serving breakfast ansd start serving lunch. DO order the Belgian Waffle and specify that you want the bacon in the waffle and not on the side. You can get a combo which includes choice of eggs. If you order just the waffle, try to have it the way I always do. As soon as it is delivered to your table w/ the 2 scoops of butter, spread the butter and make sure all the squares get the melted butter (no square left dry), then pour the warm syrup as you eat so the rest does not get soggy. Enjoy w/your cup of coffee. It might be too early for a kids coffee shake!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Indian Anyone?


I used to not like Indian food; didn't like the smell of curry but I have learned to love certain dishes , among them...curry.
Come to think of it, most of the stuff I have had, I've been addicted to..There is a small restaurant in Redondo Beach called Ocean Tava located on the 2nd floor of a building and in the summer months you are able to see the sunset. This restaurant has been offering a 3 course Chef's Dinner on Wednesday nights. For $20, you get an appetizer, an entree, Naan or Rice WITH a glass of red or white wine.
Tonight we had the Tandoori Bharwa Aloo for appetizer. This was a very tasty potato stuffed w/raisins, cashews and paneer. The flavors were enhanced when you drizzled some of the sweet spicy sauce. For entree I had the Murg Jahlfrezi, which were spicy chunks of chicken cooked in curry and tantalizing spices. My dinner companion, a long time friend, dispite being a vegetarian, had the Tandoori Phool which was cauliflower marinated in yogurt and mild spices and breaded. This was so delicious; still can't get over how anything that healthy can taste so good especially after you pour some of the Dal Bukhara, lentils cooked in a slow cooker. This dish evaporated as fast as I swept the olive naan (which I have never had) to clean the plate. Forget garlic naan or any other naan! The last time we ate here, we had the baby corn cooked the same way the cauliflower was prepared and I have not stopped thinking about it.
The Chateau St. Michelle Riesling was so refreshing it complimented the meal to perfection.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Street-Hollywood Restaurant

Great concept; eclectic street food from across the world. I found it to be overpriced for the food you get which was mediocre. I think chef Susan Feniger did not have her GPS as she ended up in the wrong streets. The only good thing we all agreed upon was the New Orleans red bean and rice fritters. The cheese grits from Lucilles are 100% better! We had 2 desserts and both were just edible.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Paris at Bouchon


We had this wonderful pastry to die for at Pierre Herme in Paris and could only describe the taste to everyone. Now you can have this wonderful buttery flaky crusty pastry made of butter, sugar and calories but every bite is worth it.

This mystery pastry is called Kouign Amann and is available at Bouchon Bakery in Beverly Hills.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011