Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Eva Restaurant

I got another one of those deals from Bloomspot. This time it was Sunday Brunch for 2 which included 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and 1 dessert to be shared plus bottomless Mimosas.  All that for $38.  Two vouchers could be used in one table so I bought two.
The restaurant was called Eva on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles.

We were lucky to find parking in the street instead of valet parking. We got there 10 minutes before our reservation time. It is not a big restaurant; no reception room per se so we stood by the bar. While we waited, a server started us with our Mimosas.  We were seated in 10 minutes. The menu looked good. Three of us had the Barbara's Babies, which was a salad with carrots, wild flowers, thyme and an herb cream dressing. It was pretty good with just the right amount of cream which was light.
Our vegetarian friend ordered the Fresh Fruit; Sunday farmers market, Hollywood. So it was from the Farmers Market...well, fruit is fruit and although it may be organic and freshly picked, it does not look enticing just cut up in a bowl.  I am not a "fruit" person unless you add the word "pie" to it.  I think they could have served this on a bed of flavored yogurt and sprinkled some granola on top to make less boring.

It was then time to order our entrees.  Sandi ordered the Grass Fed Burger served on a buttered brioche, tomato compote and buttered onion. Presentation was nice but according to her it was just o.k. plus it was not cooked the way she would have wanted it.  Sujata ordered the French Omelette without the lobster. The omelette was so thin it looked more like a crepe. She seemed to like it. It looked very colorful with Maryann's heirloom tomatoes (who is Maryanne?)

Cindy had the Fried Chicken (organic), French Toast, with Maple Syrup. She had the best dish. It was just good old crispy fried chicken and french toast at the bottom.
I had the Prime Steak, Organic Eggs with Roasted Potatoes, Bordelaise.  I told the server I wanted my steak medium well and he assured me that it may look rare but it was fully cooked as it was cooked in a slow cooker.  The steak came and it was tender though it looked very rare.  I must say that the eggs were delicious; the yolk a bright orange like the ones you get in Europe and even in the Philippines.

It was not hard to decide on what to order for dessert as there were only two kinds.
The Bob's Famous Cinnamon Roll, and the Chocolate Caramel Pudding.  We ordered one of each for all 4 of us to share. The cinnamon roll was .....really just a plain cinnamon roll; one you would get at a donut place.  It was nice and soft but it was a cinnamon roll. To me, this is not dessert, it's more like breakfast to go. The chocolate caramel pudding tasted like regular chocolate pudding. It may have been a tad better than the Hershey pudding you get at the supermarket.

For $19 per person excluding tip, the brunch was worth it especially with the bottomless Mimosas.  I have to mention that in the corner of the street was another restaurant BLD. They were packed and there was definitely a vibe going on. I later mentioned it to my brother and he reminded me that I have been there before and had the French Toast and even commented on the little individual syrup in a can which came with it.  Mental note to myself:  Go back to BLD to refresh my memory.

Here we were happily awaiting our food.....

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Soups at L'Amande French Bakery

Fall has arrived although we are still getting some hot days; that's Los Angeles.

Keep in mind in the coming cool days and nights, when you don't feel like cooking or you've had a big lunch or you're feeling guilty you've been eating too much.....stop by L'Amande Bakery in Torrance and check out their soups. I have had their Carrot soup which was delicious.  The other night I got the Butternut Squash and a baguettine which was perfect for dinner. 

Today, I stopped by the bakery and got the Asparagus Soup. They were out of the baguettine so I had to get a whole baguette.  Their soups come with cream to pour over the soup and wonderful croutons which are made from their famous bread.  All their soups have the perfect consistency. They are not heavy that you feel like it might be made out of pureed potatoes and cream.  You get a lot of whatever the soup is made out of; in other words not a lot of fillers just the good old carrots, butternut squash, carrots, zucchini or whatever vegetable soup they make.

I was informed that the other day, they made a vegetable soup with just plain vegetables. No butter, no chicken stock .....just vegetables. This would be for the vegetarians.  I am sure it was good but it would be better for me not to know that there is no fat in it because I think butter is the essence of life!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Cezanne at the Le Merigot Hotel

A friend and I had a meeting at the Le Merigot Hotel in Santa Monica this past week.  We decided to have lunch at the Cezanne Restaurant.  It was a beautiful day so we decided to eat outside. There were no birds in sight. Note: I am afraid of birds and don't appreciate them flying or walking around waiting for crumbs.

It was not busy at all, in fact, we were the only ones outside for the first 20 minutes.  We decided to split an order of Boucherondin de Chevre which in plain English ..... 
baked goat cheese with arugula with walnut vinaigrette. We also ordered the Pan Roasted Hanger Steak with Maitre d' Hotel Butter and French Fries. We were asked how we liked ur steak and I said "medium well".

It was only 11:30 or so but we were both starving.  No bread came, instead we got the waiter's reassurance after 15-20 minutes that our food was coming soon. Thirty five minutes and still no food in site;  5 more minutes past; finally, the food came.
My friend split the salad as I proceeded to cut the steak in half when I thought I heard it "moo"...it was rare!  So we sent it back. In the mean time, we started on the salad which looked good.  It was not good. The goat cheese was bland. My friend thought maybe they mixed it with cottage cheese. I don't know what they did to it but goat cheese has a strong flavor, this did not have any flavor.  We ate it anyway as we were starving.

The steak came back cooked medium well.  It was tasty and tender.  The fries were quite good with big chunks of salt on them. Again, it was good but nothing really special and the service was terrible. I can only imagine how it is when they are busy.

When I looked at the description of the restaurant in the hotel website, it read: "Award winning cal-french restaurant" I wonder.....what award?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Eatalian Cafe in Gardena

I've heard good and bad things about this restaurant in Gardena.  Several friends wanted to go and it was up to me to organize when..... well, it seemed everyone was busy and just didn't have the time. My friend Cindy had an Italian friend who made the statement that this was the best Italian restaurant she has been to.  Coming from an Italian, I figured...there's credibility here.

Last weekend, Sandi & I were together and before we knew it...it was lunch time. Hmm, where should we eat?  Thought of Eatalian. I googled it on my smart phone, called them to find out if they were open for lunch on a Saturday. The answer was "Yes".  So in 25 minutes, we were in Gardena.  The restaurant is in the industrial part of Gardena.  There are no places to gallivant. You go to that area (factories) to eat.

It is a good size warehouse. When you enter, you see big cans of tomato sauce stacked on top of each other. Reminded me of a war zone, the barracks of sand bags replaced with cans of tomato sauce. You get an airy feel as there is a lot of space; quite overwhelming.  The owner, Antonio Pelllini had a vision; restaurant with fresh pasta and homemade thin crust pizza, espresso bar, pastry bar and a gelato bar.

We ordered the Tagliatelle al Ragu (Bolognese) and the Spaghetti Carbonara with the usual bacon and egg. While we waited for our food, Sandi and I took turns looking at the pastry bar and gelato bar. The pastries failed to excite me. The gelati made my heard skip a beat or two.

Our food came and we split both orders.  The Spaghetti Carbonara was just o.k. It was good but we both thought we would not order it again. The Tagliatelle on the other hand was quite good.  Definitely not the best I have had but good enough for the price.

Our waiter came to ask if we wanted Parmesan cheese; Is the pope Catholic? As he got ready to sprinkle some on our pasta, I asked if he could just put some in a little bowl so I wouldn't have to keep asking. Well, he said they would have to charge us if he left a bowl on our table, however, we can have as much as we want if we just ask. So, I asked...and asked as the Parmesan vanished, asked some more.

For dessert, we both ordered gelato; I, the cappuccino and Sandi had the pineapple. After I ordered mine, I asked to taste the chocolate and boy was I sorry I didn't order that!

He informed us that at dinner time, they get very busy.  I think Eatalian is a good place for lunch. I will have to try their pizza next time as it looked so good; plus I have to go back for the chocolate gelato.  Cindy, Mertz and Sujata have been wanting to try this restaurant so Sandi and I may have to sacrifice and go back for their sake!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tapas and Vino

It seemed like the perfect evening to try Tapas and Vino in Redondo Beach last night.
They have outside seating with heaters for chilly nights though we opted to sit inside.

The menu was interesting. It had something for everyone. Our enthusiastic server, Tiffany suggested we order 3 plates to a person so that is exactly what we did.

We started with the Crispy Calamari with Oyster Mushrooms in Spicy tomato sauce.
The Calamari was crispy alright but the tomato sauce was not spicy (not a hint of spice), in fact the sauce was bland and pretty tasteless.  The second course was the Roasted Beets which had goat cheese, sundried Bing cherries, candied walnuts in a sherry vinaigrette. That was very good; something that we would definitely order again. If you like beets and goat cheese, you will love this dish!

We ordered the Sweet Potato Fries with a creamy mustard sauce.  This sauce was the best.  It would have gone well with the Calamari; I think next time, they should serve this sauce instead of the "spicy" tomato sauce. The sweet potato fries were necessary to complement the meat dishes.

The Hanger Steak, marinated and grilled with chimichurri on top was quite tasty but the Lamb Lollipops with Serrano mint pesto & pureed hominy were excellent. We were happy we didn't order more as we were just about full but already thinking of dessert.
Tiffany came back to inform us we had one more dish...the Golden Crispy Goat Cheese Balls with caramelized onions and wild honey sauce. We sighed....but thought to ourselves..."the show must go on"....These balls were absolutely wonderful. Crispy outside and warm goat cheese inside. When you cut it in half and swirl it around the surrounding caramelized onions and honey sauce, all we could say was "WOW"!
What a nice way to end the meal (that is before dessert of course)

For dessert, we wanted something light so I suggested we order the Flute Limoncello; a lemon gelato swirled with limoncello.  This was refreshing and truly delicious but hard to eat in a little flute. We dumped the whole thing on a plate and spread the limoncello which was all at the bottom and "whoala" it looked appealing and appetizing. I suggested to Tiffany that they serve this in a bowl instead of a flute.

Will they listen to 1 customer's suggestion?  I doubt it....but you'll never know.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Penne e Langostino

Yesterday was a Trader Joe's day. I know I wanted to make pasta and use the basil, rosemary and thyme from my garden....that was the basis of my trip. So, I strolled along the aisles of Trader Joe's hoping to be inspired.

I knew I needed canned whole tomatoes so I got a couple of cans of the Cento San Marzano tomatoes which is a product of Italy. I also got a package of Penne Rigate which was also imported from Italy.  I then got to the seafood frozen section. I found some frozen Langostino tails.  I thought.....hmmm...that should be good.

Got home; opened the cans of tomatoes and rinsed off the seeds and chopped the tomatoes.  I chopped a bunch of basil, a bit of rosemary and some thyme.  Heated my pan and discovered  I did not have any garlic or onions to saute in olive oil.  I could have gone to the neighbors but didn't feel like it so I just heated some olive oil and threw the tomatoes in. While frantically looking for garlic, I discovered I had some mushrooms I had purchased from Trader Joe's several days ago. I put in half of the package, then added the fresh herbs and some salt.

In the meantime, I had cooked the penne in my pasta boat for 17 minutes (recommended was 27 minutes)  It had to be  more aldente of course since it had to simmer in the sauce at the end.  Just before adding the pasta, I added the cooked langostino.  I also added a a bit of Mirin sauce to balance the tangy, salty taste after I added the remaining sauce .  The pasta was the last step in which I added a bit of the water from the pasta boat.

The finished product was perfect.  I was impressed. I later looked up Langostino and learned that though sometimes  called Langostino lobster; it is neither a lobster nor a prawn though I think that's what describes it the best. It is a crustacean, that's all I know.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Handel's Ice Cream

Not everyone has heard of Handel's Ice Cream. The Homemade Ice Cream Parlor originated in Ohio where everyone there knows about it; after all it has been in operation since 1945.

In California, there are only 3 locations where you can experience the many delicious flavors of this ice cream; Upland, Rancho Cucamonga and Redondo Beach.  I recently had the opportunity to try it again with a friend.  This time, I tried the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. That was dark, rich (couldn't be richer) chocolate with the taste of raspberry and chunks of very good chocolate. I really enjoyed that. My friend chose the Chocolate Malt with Caramel, although she thought it was Chocolate Malt Crunch and wondered why there was no crunch. I had a bite of it and it was good but I liked mine much better; I think she did too.

I mentioned this to a friend of mine whose husband loves ice cream. She told me his favorite was the Chocoholic Chunk so I had another opportunity last night to go with some friends. One ordered the Chocolate Peanut Butter Rippie; peanut butter lovers-rejoice!  My other friend had the Butterscotch Rippie which was nice and creamy but not my type. My Chocoholic Chunk was dark rich chocolate with chunks of chocolate; again....super creamy and deelicious. For the chocolate purist....this is it. I did enjoy mine although if I were to go back the third time in a week.......I would order the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle again which is exactly like the Chocoholic Chunk but with a bit of a "Zing" from the Raspberry flavor.

So, to my friend Gonz.......you have to give this a try!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Say Cheese.....

Went to Trader Joe's today to look for a cheese I read about in their latest Fearless Flyer.

The cinnamon cheese intrigued me. It was described as follows: "Creamy Toscano with Cinnamon; has the nutty flavor of an aged Parmesan and the creamy texture of a farmstead Cheddar. Each Wheel is coated in cinnamon - as the cheese ages, the cinnamon gently infuses the cheese creating a singular flavor profile."

Couldn't wait to try it.  As soon as I got home, I broke a piece and tried it. It really was very good. One side of the cheese is dusted with cinnamon but even the part that isn't has the subtle flavor of cinnamon. Who would have thought that cinnamon and cheese would go together?

While I was looking for this cheese, I came across the chocolate cheddar cheese. I have had chocolate cheese before but it was all black which looked like chocolate but tasted like cheesy chocolate. This was different. It was Cheddar with veins of chocolate. Of course I had to buy one. 

I can see that this would not be for everyone.  I gave my husband a piece and when I asked him if he liked it, he couldn't really answer me.....followed by an expression as if he was lost in space. I, on the other hand did like it.  It was a creamy English Cheddar with rich dark chocolate curls. So you have the strong salty yet creamy cheese with the sweet (not overly) chocolate.

Both these cheeses I think would be best served with Champagne instead of red wine. The sparkling cold champagne would really complement the sharpness, creaminess and sweetness of the these cheeses.

Friday, October 12, 2012

B1 Breadshop in Venice

My brother Gary now lives in Marina Del Rey.  Last week, he came by and brought us croissants and a baguette from B1 Breadshop in Venice, California which was close to his place. 

We were both  excited to try them.  The croissants were good but it was a bit overdone for my taste. It was flaky all right, but when it is overdone, you miss out on the taste of the crusty part.  It was good but it certainly was not the best I have had.

The baguette was just o.k.  It was not what I expected although by looking at it I thought it would be heavy.  So I cut a piece; sure enough I found the bread to be too dense and not as light as it should be. A good baguette should be really crusty outside and a bit chewy and light inside like the one you would find at L'Amande Bakery in Torrance.

Oh well, it is not a perfect world we live in so don't expect to find the perfect croissant and french baguette all the time.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hostaria Piave

This was my first dinner out since being a prisoner at my home from my accident. I had just seen my doctor, when my friend called me as she couldn't drive since she had her eyes dilated so I zoomed to her house at 5:05 p.m. to pick her up. Our dinner reservations was at 5:30 p.m. We got to the restaurant at 5:40 p.m. and met with 2 more friends at the Hostaria Piave at 231 S. Pacific Coast Hwy. in Redondo Beach. It's a cute place that has outside seating and inside of course. When Sandi and I got there, Cindy and Mertz were already seated inside drinking champagne.

The menu looked interesting and when our server Brett, recited the specials, Cindy, Mertz and I decided to order them. Who could resist  braised short ribs in a wine reduction over polenta and pappardelle pasta with oyster and porcini mushrooms and homemade sausage cooked in a white wine sauce. Sandi wanted to be original so she ordered the pork tenderloin wrapped in pancetta over leeks. The pappardelle pasta was very good and so was the short ribs with polenta.  That was a great combination, the sharp flavor of the short ribs was a perfect with the subtle flavor of the polenta. Sandi's pork tenderloin was also very good but it needed something to complement the pork. I think they should serve 2 pieces instead of 3 but have a nice pasta on the side or mashed potatoes or even polenta. It just called for something as the 3 pieces of pork seemed lonely.

We can't complain about the service. Brett answered our numerous questions and Angelo, the owner came by our table several times to make sure everything was good. He is anxious to please and is a gracious host.

For dessert, we had poached peaches (picture was too dark) and a dark rich chocolate and salted caramel gelato. That was a nice way to end our meal.

Hostaria Piave is also open for lunch. Our other friend Sujata could not join us as she had to pick up her daughter at the airport; so for Sujata's sake, we have to go back and try the many other dishes in their menu.