Saturday, June 30, 2012

What Not to Order at Bristol Cafe

After mass this afternoon, I stopped by Bristol Cafe (Bristol Farms) to pick up a sandwich for dinner. With all my unhealthy eating the past few days, I thought I would order something healthy. I decided on the Veggie sandwich. I imagined roasted vegetables. I didn't read the description. Caution: always read the fine print. It came with a soup or salad and when the cashier mentioned bacon and potato, I rudely interrupted and said: "I'll have that."

Got my order and went home. Opened the bag and stared at the unappetizing sandwich. It had raw vegetables: cucumber, onions, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cheese. This was served on soft wheat bread (not toasted). It was hard to eat as it fell apart, the bread got all  holey (not holy) practically disintegrated. It was too soft a bread for all the fillings. I can tell you that I did not enjoy this sandwich.

The soup, which was thick and did look good, was also a disappointment. I can't really explain why it was not just wasn't. In spite of the bacon, it did lack flavor.

Moral of this story: Forget the "healthy". Don't deprive yourself...just don't eat too much.  Let's leave the vegetables to the rabbits.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Taking a Break from Food Trucks

Last night a friend and I went to Narbonne High in Lomita to investigate the food trucks that were there. Since we had a great time 2 weeks ago, we thought we could replicate our exciting experience. We had no idea which trucks would be there.

We arrived at 5:30 when they were just opening.  They had a Hawaiian-Filipino truck called "Truck Norris", Crispy Waffle & Frite (Belgian fries), Mangia Ristorante, Fry Smith, Corn Heaven, to mention a few. The nice thing about getting there early is you get to be 1st in line or 2nd... There were lots of tables and chairs so you could get a bit comfortable. There were only 2 of us; a 3rd person would be better so you could get 3 items at the same time, and then share them.

After careful consideration, we decided on the barbeque tri-tip sliders from Mangia which was served on Hawaiian rolls.  The rolls were nice and soft, the tri-tip was good but not exciting.  Fry Smith, "truck with fries that eat as a meal", looked very interesting. It didn't look like your ordinary chili fries. The one we ordered was an all beef chili flavored with chocolate and beer...whoa! chocolate and beer were magic words to us. These potatoes are fried twice to make them crispy and crunchy.
We both were disappointed. Again, with that description, we expected an "awakening" from our taste buds.  After my 3rd bite, I made a comment to my friend: "Wiener Schnitzels's chili fries taste better that this".

We decided to get something else as we didn't want to leave on a sour note. We went to Corn Heaven. We both love corn and it's hard to "kill" a corn on a cob. We ordered the Cajun Corn and the Corn Heaven. We started with the Cajun since we wanted to end up in "heaven."  The Cajun Corn was the best thing we had last night. It was deeelicious. The corn heaven was just o.k., far from heaven though.

So, we decided to take a break from food trucks for now, unless of course we hear that My Delight Cupcakery will be there...then .....break is over.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lemon Poppyseed Scones with Lemon Curd

The possibilities are endless when it comes to the different flavors of scones from L'Amande Bakery in Torrance.  Just when I thought I have tried all their flavors, they came up with the lemon poppyseed with lemon curd; not to be confused with the lemon lavander with lemon curd. 

I believe scones freeze beautifully but I urge you to get there at 3:00 p.m when they come out of the oven. There is nothing like it. While you're there, might as well have the tea or coffee with it as this will set you back a whopping $5.00!

There are scones for everyone; if you are not a lemon fan, they make fig honey, white chocolate with cashew, blueberry, & orange chocolate scones.  When they open at 8:00 a.m. everyday, they post the scone of the day which comes out at 3:00 p.m. and their special bread for the day which is out (fresh) at 11:00 a.m. If you are not in the vicinity, you may call them up in the morning (310) 326-8980 and anyone from their always cheerful staff will be happy to inform you what the specials are for the day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

P.F.Chang's Shanghai Style Beef

Do you sometimes wonder what's good in the freezer section of your supermarket? I often wonder about the ready made meals for 2.  All you have to do is heat it up.

Today, as I walked the aisle of the freezer section, I happened to glance at the P.F. Chang's Shanghai Beef. It looked good and it was on sale. I decided to get to bags.
I was never a fan  of the restaurant but I thought I would give the frozen entree a chance. It can't be that bad....

I got home and decided to cook some rice. As soon as the rice was done, I heated the 2 bags which took at total of 13 minutes.  It looked good as you can see.

The meat was not consistant. Some were tender and some stringy. The sauce was sweet, though it lacked flavor. It was as if they didn't know what to do with the sauce so they just decided to add more sugar.

I would definitely not buy this ever again.  Now I know why I never got the urge to go back to the restaurant.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dieters Rejoice

If you are on a diet like probably about 80% of the population...and you think Bacon Donut is a Mortal Sin; then Rejoice.....

Cafe Dulce in Little Tokyo now have come up with Bacon Donut Holes.  These holes are larger than your average donut holes so you are more likely to be satisfied with one or two but then if you're going to have two, you might as well have a regular one!

They are so light and fluffy; not too sweet and the right amount of crisp bacon on top. I am going to experiment and try to freeze a few donuts so I can have them for breakfast when I come home from the I'll have something to look forward to.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tea For Two or Three or Four

There are not too many places you can have tea and a fabulous fresh scone starting at 3:00 p.m. (when they come out of the oven) for $5.00.  If tea is not your thing, you could have coffee instead.

There is a bonus on having this "special" everyday at L'Amande Bakery at the Rolling Hills Plaza in Torrance.  If you consume your scone anytime between 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and you normally have your dinner early, you will not be hungry and I  guarantee that you will eat less.  You can even skip dessert as you already had it before dinner!

The scones differ from day to day. They have the fig with honey, blueberry, orange chocolate, white chocolate with cashew and lemon lavender with lemon curd. They also have an array of teas to choose from including the very healthy green tea.

So, there you have it. Who would have thought tea and scones can actually make you eat less and stay healthy?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Aimee's Bistro

Aimee's Bistro in Redondo Beach, California is a little gem in the South Bay area.  Since the closing of the famous and oldest French restaurant, Chalet de France, there has been no other descent French restaurant to replace it.

Aimee's Bistro has been in business for 17 years.  It has been many years since my last visit....bless me father...for I have sinned.  I am happy to report that my visit with a friend was well worth the $29.95 for a 3 course dinner.  They offer this menu on Tuesday ,Wednesday and Thursday. This includes Aimee's salad, Filet Mignon and a Creme Brulee.

They also have a 4 course dinner for $19.95 on Sunday & Tuesday thru Thursday from 5 p.m. till closing. This includes Soup du jour, Aimee's Salad, choice of Entree listed on the menu and Banana Mousse Napoleon served w/ vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. My friend and I are already planned our next dinner next week!

They served a warm bread to start with an eggplant dip. I did not particularly care for it as it was sour. I like my dips either salty or sweet but not sour.  It was o.k. since they had some olive oil on the side; so the oil saved my bread.  Aimee's salad not only looked good; it was good had a lot of pine nuts and Gorgonzola cheese. I added a bit of olive oil to my to my salad as not all my greens were bathed with the dressing. This was a good portion; my friend and I both cleared our plates.

The filet came and we both just wanted to stare at it as it looked so pretty; too pretty to eat. These steaks were cooked to perfection. They were tender and juicy with a bordelaise wine and Roquefort cheese sauce with mushrooms. What a nice combination!

Dessert was Creme Brulee. I happen to like my creme brulee burnt so I asked them if they could fire it up more which they did, and our server was happy to do so. It was delicious as it was not too sweet. In fact, it was perfect!

Aimee, the owner, was present as she has been since the opening of her restaurant  tending to her customers like a mother making sure her children have enough to eat. She is indeed the perfect hostess and my kind of mother!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Not All Bacon Donuts Are Created Equal

I got excited when I heard that Granny's Donuts in San Pedro, California have been making bacon donuts.  If you haven't had bacon donuts, I suggest you try them.

To my surprise, I found that they make 2 kinds: maple bacon donut and chocolate bacon.  I could hardly contain my excitement.  They looked different from the one I was accustomed to from Cafe Dulce in Little Tokyo, downtown Los Angeles. They have a ton of chopped bacon on top as oppose to strips.

As soon as I got home I tried both.  The chocolate was too sweet; the maple was o.k. ; the bacon overpowered the donut as you get a big chunk with some bites and none at all with the other bites.  I also thought that the donut itself was heavy.  What they did here was just put  2 strips of bacon on a maple and chocolate donut.

I also bought an apple fritter as I haven't found  a good one to this day.  Most of them are too greasy or too sweet or both. This one was too sweet.

For serious bacon donut lovers: Cafe Dulce is still number one and is worth the drive to downtown L.A.  Plan to be there at 11:00 a.m. when it comes out of   the oven or wherever it comes out of......nothing comes close! Light and fluffy with the right amount of quality bacon.  (See previous blog on Cafe Dulce)'re still the King!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Multigrain Bread

We can't live on hamburger alone. Once in awhile we all have to eat healthy.  My idea of healthy is getting freshly baked multigrain bread from L'Amande Bakery in Torrance and making a sandwich out of it.

I never go overboard on the "healthy" part.  For dinner, I decided to eat light so I made a nice salad with the sandwich.  The sandwich was enhanced with Japanese mayonnaise (regular American mayonnaise does not come close to the Japanese) and stuffed with dry salami and Havarti cheese. The bread is really crusty, soft and spongy inside; by soft I don't mean like wonder bread or some bread that sticks to the back of  your teeth; this does not.

This is one sandwich that taste so good yet it is not accompanied by any guilt.  The guilt came after the chocolate fudge cake we had for dessert.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Teuscher Champagne Truffles

In my book, this is one chocolate that should be in your "bucket list".  If you haven't had it, pray to God you have at least  a few more days here on earth so you can try these precious and expensive champagne truffles.

Teuscher was founded 80 years ago in Switzerland. They make a variety of chocolates but nothing comes close to the champagne truffles.  The center is made out of a dark ganache with a creamy infusion containing champagne; and not just any old champagne but "Dom Perignon".  It is then encrusted with a milk chocolate then sprinkled with confectioner's sugar.

They have no preservatives and are shipped directly from Zurich weekly. You can always count on their freshness, therefore they recommend consumption in 10 days which would never be a problem for me.

We were lucky to get a big box as a present from dear friends; now considered VERY dear friends.

Teuscher can be purchased all over the world. They have a store in Beverly Hills, Fashion Island in Newport Beach...etc.  Check out their website.

Oh, and by the way if you buy these champagne truffles individually, it will cost you $2.85 each.  Make sure you don't pop the whole truffle in you mouth. These are to be savored; like drinking fine wine.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Hear ye...Hear ye....

Yet another incredible croissant has landed at L'Amande Bakery in Torrance, California. By now, you already know about their incredible raspberry croissant.
Summer is here; so just in case you are tired of the raspberry, though I haven't had a chance to get tired of it yet.....they rolled out an new flavor....Apricot.

It is so very good especially if you have it right away as they keep baking it throughout the day till their last batch.  If you don't have the luxury of consuming it the same day; do not despair.  I myself bought 6 of them to have for breakfast tomorrow morning (to be shared with husband and son).  All you have to do is preheat a toaster oven to 350 degrees. When the temperature is reached, put in the croissant and heat it for 3 minutes, then sprinkle some more powdered sugar and it's good as new.

Since they make and sell their own compotes, will we be seeing mango croissants in the future?  Who knows.....only time will tell.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bacon Sundae from Burger King

I haven't been to Burger King in probably 15 years.  Today, I had a good reason to check out the bacon ice cream sundae.  Sandi and I had the soft shell crab sandwich from the Standing Room in Redondo Beach with the truffle fries (I previously blogged about this wonderful hole in a liquor store) for dinner.

We still had time to kill before our Friday night dance party so I decided we needed to try this bacon ice cream. So our mission was to find a Burger King on the way to her house.  She knew exactly where to go. We drove through the the drive-thru....I panicked when we didn't see it on the menu. She asked the attendant if they had it and he said "Yes".  So she ordered 2. It looked good and we both decided to eat it at her house.  I took a picture of it while she was driving. As I stared at it, it seemed to put me in a hypnotic state as it spoke to me " Eat me now as I will be melting soon." Sandi gave me her blessing...and so I did.

It was very good. It had chocolate fudge on the top edges, caramel in the bottom and really crisp thick bacon on top.  You can make this is at home and make it even better by using salted caramel ice cream instead of just plain vanilla, and perhaps adding more bacon.

Enjoy your bacon; it isn't just for breakfast anymore!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hamburger with WHAT?????

Once again, my friend Jody the hairdresser told me about the hamburger that sounded disgusting....this was from the food truck called El Burger Luchador. The burger comes with bacon in it and are you ready.......peanut butter and jelly!  I admit that when Jody told me about it, I had the same expression in my face I'm sure you have right now.   In my book, Jody has been right 99% of the time, so I decided to put my faith in her hands once again even if  I normally don't even like peanut butter.

The reason she told me this was another friend of mine and I were going to Narbonne High School in Lomita for the gourmet food trucks. They were going to be there at 5:30 p.m.  We were there at 5:10 p.m. and since we were early, we were able to walk around and plan our angle of attack.

We had to strategize; I stood in line to get something while my friend would get something else from another truck. We started with the "Just for the Halibut" truck. We got the catfish sandwich and the dirty fries. They were both good; the fries was even better when we dipped it in a combination of ketchup and the tartar sauce.

After the healthy fish, we were ready to tackle the burger. We took one bite and we both thought...Ahhhmazing! Who would have thought peanut butter and jelly with bacon on a burger? I admit, the meat was no where near kobe beef but with all those flavors, who needs kobe?

After we devoured the burger,  I thought I should check out the "White Rabbit" food truck that serves Filipino food. The had the adobo but their specialty was Pork Sisig which is fried pork belly chopped and pan fried w/onions and jalapenos. So I ordered one to split. It came with 2 scoops of white rice. It was spicier that we expected. It was good but not exciting enough.  One thing caught my eye on menu and that was white chocolate champorado which is rice pudding with white chocolate and crunchy wafers on top.  Now, that was something to write home about.

We got excited when we saw "My Delight Cupcakery" They are the ones with unusual flavors like fried chicken, bacon, etc. which I have had in the past. This time, they didn't have the fried chicken (they only make those on Wednesdays) They did have the bacon ones called "breakfast cake". They also had a special flavor which was the Sundae Smile. This cupcake was a new discovery...chocolate with caramel inside. My only regret is I didn't have it till I got home....I should have bought several! A cupcake like this can make me smile any day of the week.

What a  wonderful way to end an evening.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chicken Maison

Went to Chicken Maison to pick up something for dinner.  You have a choice of 3 types of chicken: Maison original, Spicy-Lemon Garlic and Lemon Basil. The original I have had before and it was good but nothing special.  I wanted more flavor so I decided to get the spicy-lemon garlic whole chicken.  So, I got that to go and for $17.95 I thought it was reasonable since it came with 2 sides.

The sides they had were all healthy: steamed vegetables, hummus, grape leaves, baked potato, Greek coleslaw, green salad and Maison rice.  I had some left over rice and vegetables at home so I opted for the grape leaves. I asked her if their coleslaw was on the sour side and she said "no". At the same time, a customer said to me: "It's very good, not a lot of mayonnaise and it's the best coleslaw I've ever had." So, I immediately said: "Cole slaw."

I got home and heated my left over rice and vegetables. Then I served a chicken piece with the sides. The chicken had a little kick to it; not too spicy and quite delicious. The grape leaves were just o.k. The coleslaw was the worst coleslaw I've ever had. It was sour and tasteless.  It's as if they just chopped the cabbage and poured some vinegar on it. It sure was healthy as I did not consume any calories since I did not have more than a forkful.

They also serve falafel plates which I have not tried.  Chicken, steak, lamb and vegetable kabobs are in their menu.  I have had their chicken kabob which was not bad.  Their steak was a bit tough, at least when I had it in the past.

So if you go decide to try Chicken Maison, stick to their real specialty; which is chicken.

Moral of  this story: Never listen to suggestions of a perfect stranger...unless the stranger happens to be me!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Black Beans and Rice

We can't all go to New Orleans and have their famous black beans and rice.  Since I was there recently, I had a craving for something that would remind me of the great food it had to offer.

Grilled some New York Steaks tonight and served it with steamed vegetables.  Instead of the usual baked or mashed potatoes, I decided to try the Black Beans and Rice made by Zatarain's which is available at most supermarkets.  I opted to cook it on the stove top rather than the microwave. I used less water (instead of 2 3/4 cup) I used 2 cups. It took longer than 25 minutes to cook, so towards the end, I took the lid off for the water to evaporate faster.

It was pretty good; and as a bonus...6 grams of fiber per serving.  How healthy can you get?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Creamy Polenta

This Creamy Polenta with Spinach & Carrots is from Trader Joe's. It is a product of France.  My friend Cindy told me about it.  It is good but you have to add some  butter, whipping cream and Parmesan cheese to make it really good. A sharper cheese, like Gorgonzola would be better but I didn't have any available.

There are 3 servings in a bag and the good thing is it has 3 grams of fiber.  The bad thing is it has 35 mg. of cholesterol; nothing that Lipitor can't handle! (especially after you add the butter and cream)

With a side like this, you enhance any entree you have; be it something you whip up or something frozen that you just bake.

So as the French would say: "Bon Appetit".

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Operacaffe in San Diego

My friend and I arrived at the Westin Hotel at the Gaslamp District in San Diego Thursday night to attend the Dancesport Championship. It was dinner time and we were starving. Rather than have dinner at the hotel, we decided to walk around and pick a place for dinner.  We ended up at the Opreracaffe on 4th Street.

Before we ordered our appetizer, they brought us a small basket of what looked like focaccia bread. This tasted better than it looked. It was salty and when we dipped it in olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar, the flavors seemed to mingle with delight.

We started out with an appetizer of fried ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese and poblano peppers and fried olives stuffed with meat and cheese with a side of bell pepper sauce. The ravioli was just o.k. but the the stuffed olives were delicious.  I think they should eliminate the fried ravioli from the menu and just have the olives. We really enjoyed them.

For our entree, we ordered the special; which was a crab ravioli with a cream sauce, and the breaded veal scaloppini parmigiana served with spaghetti. The crab ravioli was edible and since we were hungry, we ate all 4 of them. (2 each) We split the scaloppini and the spaghetti.  The veal was terrible. It was tough and pretty tasteless in spite of the tomato and mozzarella on top. We both had 2 bites...that was all we could tolerate. The spaghetti was a lot better.

For dessert we had the free tiramisu. They handed us a card outside the restaurant: with  our  entree, we were entitled to a free appetizer or tiramisu. We opted for the tiramisu. Our server wanted to know how we liked the food. As she glanced at the left over veal, we both gave her our honest opinion on the veal. She apologized and the later came back to inform us to order another  dessert to compensate for the veal. We decided to go light and get the lemon gelato. That was very good and refreshing.

It was a good note to end this meal.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Shaken; Not Stirred Iced Tea

I was never fond of iced tea. I would rather have a diet soda since most of them have no flavor at all. Of course, there are multitude of flavors out there but I could not get excited over any of them until now.

L'Amande Bakery in Torrance, offers 3 types of iced tea. The Pomegranate is made with white tea. This is my favorite. I also like it since pomegranates are anti oxidants, I thought it would be good for my health. (ah ha..)

The Orange is made with black tea and orange rind. This is also very good and quite refreshing.

The Lemon, I had to try today just so I can say: "I've had them all." Very good, made with black tea and lemon rind. Lemon lovers won't be disappointed.

You can have them sweetened or unsweetened. I have mine unsweetened, and I add splenda to save the calories for a raspberry croissant or something else.

All their ice tea are brewed by them and individually shaken...not stirred, so you get this nice foam on top. You can pretend you're drinking beer!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Bamboo Garden - Best Tempura To Go

They say they have the best tempura to go.  My friend Ana told me to try it as it is really one of the best tempura she has had. I wanted to see if my friendship with Ana was about to end.... I tried it this evening.

I am happy to report, I can still call Ana my friend.  It really was very good. The batter was very light, not greasy, and just plain delicious. I ordered the assorted tempura which included 2 shrimps and 4 pieces of vegetables. Rice did not come with it so I ordered rice in addition. What is tempura without's like french fries without ketchup!

My only problem is when I finished the whole thing, I was still hungry. This is a perfect meal if you are on a diet which I am sort of am at the momemt.  The lightness of everything took awhile to reach my digestive system that I had to make myself  a salami and prosciutto sandwich on sour dough. Then and only then was I happy.

Bamboo Garden is located at the Rolling Hills Plaza in Torrance and another location at Cravens Ave. also in Torrance. So, the next time you crave tempura, this is the place to go, but maybe order some noodles before. They have a wide variety of soba and udon.

Monday, June 4, 2012


This is a sandwich I never had a chance to try in New Orleans. It is really hard to get to try everything in a day and a half!  Believe me, we tried our best. We had beignets from Cafe Du Monde in the morning, Red Fish Grill for lunch and Commander's Palace for dinner in one day. When we arrived the night before, we went straight to Galatoire's for dinner.

At the airport in New Orleans, we had our last chance to try another specialty; a Muffaletta.  It is a sandwich served on a large round flattened bread. Inside are cold cuts like salami, capicola, ham and provolone, mortadella or emmentaler cheese. This is incomplete without the olive salad which makes it.  The olive salad is composed of chopped olives of course, celery, cauliflower, carrots found in a jar of giardiniera (Italian relish). 

We enjoyed our first muffaletta purchased at a bar at the airport. I can only imagine how much more we would have enjoyed this at Franks, where I've heard makes the best muffaletta.  There's always a next time.