Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bazaar dineLA

We wanted to take advantage of yet another great restaurant during dineLA week. There were 5 of us women.  My nephew's wife, Deepa was in town so she met us there.  It was her birthday yesterday and she didn't want anyone to know including me. This was a red flag; it just means "make a big deal."

The menu was overwhelming. Too many choices which is a good thing so it took some time to study it. The prefix menu was $45 which of course excluded beverages, tax and gratuity. We were to pick one small starter, 3 other plates (baby mini entrees) and a dessert.

We would have ordered wisely if the menu stated how many pieces in a plate. Some had 5, some just 2 ; so we were very disorganized. The only thing the server brought to our attention was that we would have too many Croquetas de Pollo since 3 or us ordered the same thing, and there were 5 pieces in one order.

For our starters we shared what we all ordered except for Sandi since she ordered the  California Cone which is just one cone. Well, she probably did not want to share her starter.  It was a beautiful "singular sensation"...a cone with pureed avocado and tomato pulp on top.  She said it was o.k., nothing to write home about. That's what happens when you don't like to share. 

They brought out the Philly Cheesesteak which was described as: Air bread, cheddar, Wagyu beef. We all (except for Deepa, the vegetarian) thought this was the best thing. I have had it before and it amazed me once again. Air bread really describes the very light crunchy shell with an empty filling, so it seemed, then a you all of a sudden were chewing on the beef and cheese. For vegetarians, there is a make-believe Philly Cheesesteak called Hilly Cheesesteak which is the same thing but instead of the Wagyu beef, you get the royal trumpet mushroom.

The Ottoman Carrot Fritters came next; with apricots and pistachio sauce.  These looked like fried cheese balls but they were healthy carrots with fruit and a nut sauce. It was very good.  Deepa ordered the Papas Canarias which were salty potatoes with mojo verde for dipping sauce. I have had this before and loved it.  Crunchy outside, these little tender potatoes were soft inside.  Luckily, I was sitting next to her and she finally offered me and the others to try it.  As I took one, I told everyone that we were just to try one as this was to be her main dish.  I have to confess that when someone else was talking to her, I was able to take a few more.

Two orders of Sea Scallops came (2 on a plate) and it was just perfect for 4 of us. They were good but not exciting. The Sauteed Cauliflower "Couscous" was delicious  followed by Wild Mushroom Rice with Idiazabal cheese. We also had the Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks; so tender it melted in your mouth. Someone ordered the Brussels Sprouts with lemon puree, apricots, grapes and lemon air. What could lemon air be? My guess is they squirt lemon in the air and what lands on the food is lemon air. How should I know? Oh, maybe that was the sudsy foam on top. I am not a fan of foam; it looks like someone washed their hands and left the suds right on top. This was not anyone's favorite. The second favorite dish on the menu was the Croquetas de Pollo; chicken and bechamel fritters.  They didn't look exciting till you had your first bite....and then a burst of bechamel sauce exploded in your mouth....

When we were almost done, I told Ana while Deepa was busy, to remind the waiter to put a candle on Deepa's dessert.  Shortly after she spoke with the server, the idiot approached Deepa and said: "Happy Birthday." Of course she was surprised and asked me how he knew and I just gave her a dumb look. Nothing like someone ruining a surprise.

Another server came to fetch us and lead us to another area to have our dessert. Different setting...we all ordered the same thing. Pan Con Chocolate which is a chocolate flan with caramelized bread, olive oil and brioche ice cream.  This is the weirdest description because you would never know it when you get the actual dessert.
It didn't taste like flan. It was more like a very good, high quality chocolate pudding, the ice cream looked like it was rolled in something chocolate, the caramelized bread was the toasted thin slice of bread. The olive oil was somewhere in there.  We all loved the dessert; chocolate lovers would rejoice. 

When they brought the dessert, they served Deepa first with a candle on her Chocolate.
We all had to sing Happy Birthday, which embarrassed her.........
Mission Accomplished. Deepa; hope you had a nice birthday.

I am happy to report that we didn't have to eat the scones since Ana brought some for us in case we didn't get full from our dinner. We all ended up having it for breakfast this morning.
Thanks to Ana; ever so thoughtful.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Penne, Shrimp & Mushrooms with Artichoke Marinara Sauce

Here's a very easy recipe I made up with ingredients I already had except for the shrimps and mushrooms.

I started out with some shallots which I sliced thinly and sauteed in butter and olive oil.
I then added a tub of  chopped mixed mushrooms. I had some rosemary and thyme; so in they went.  Before I tossed in a bag of uncooked shrimps, I poured some Mirin  (sweet rice wine) in the pan and seasoned everything with salt and pepper.

I had already cooked a box of tri-colored penne in my pasta boat, so all I had to do was dump the pasta into the pan. At that point, I wasn't sure what else I would do. I tried it and though it was good, it needed a lot more flavor, so I opened a bottle of Artichoke Parmesan Marinara and poured it all over the pasta. I allowed it to simmer for a few minutes and the end result was quite pleasing to me and my husband.

You could use any bottled pasta sauce. I like to experiment and use different kinds. World Market (Cost Plus) have a variety of Italian made sauces.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Domino's Artisan Pizza

I have not had Domino's Pizza in a decade.  With all the gourmet pizza's around, I never had a chance to crave the cheesy, tomatoeeey pizza I used to like (believe it or not).

Yesterday, we were supposed to have dinner with some relatives but they had change in plans at the last minute.  What to do.....too late to cook and I had gotten a flyer in the mail on Domino's Homemade Pan Pizza and Artisan Pizza.  Both my husband and I like thin crust; but Domino's thin crust is so thin and crispy that I don't get to enjoy the flavor of whatever is on top as it is way to crispy and snappy.

I had my husband pick one of the Artisan Pizzas. They had Chicken & Bacon Carbonara, Spinach and Feta, Italian Sausage & Italian Trio, Tuscan Salami & Roasted Veggie, and so on....... He picked the Tuscan Salami & Roasted Veggie. Instead of delivery, he opted to pick it up at our nearby Domino's.

The pizza came in a rectangular box. It was thin enough and looked like it was just enough for two.  It had a lot of salami, fresh spinach, fresh onions, roasted red peppers, banana peppers and oregano all over a garlic Parmesan sauce.  I ended up inhaling 4 1/2 pieces and Otto had 3 1/2.  We were quite surprised as it was not bad at all. Next time, I might make a salad to go with it. I am anxious to try the Chicken and Bacon Carbonara sometime soon.

In the meantime, if you have snubbed Domino's like I have, it is time to get off your high horse and give them a call.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mango-Pineapple Scones

Though California is not "tropical", we are lucky to get a lot of tropical fruits. We are even luckier as there is no stopping Ana, executive chef and owner of L'Amande Bakery from introducing something new all the time at her bakery in Torrance, California.

Hopefully, you have already tried the fabulous Mango Tart which I have previously blogged about:
This weekend she came up with Mango-Pineapple Scones. I was there at the bakery right at 3:00 p.m. when they come out of the oven.  For those who haven't heard, you can have tea and a scone for $5.00.  Since I like to have them in the morning for breakfast, when they are not available, I buy a bunch and freeze them. Today was no exception. I bought 8 of them. As soon as I got home, I had to try one. It was delicious with some butter. Inside were chunks of sweet pineapple and mango. Once you have L'Amande's scones, you will never go back to the scones you are used to. They are always crusty outside and moist and chewy inside.

I have to tell you though that these may be the most expensive scones in the world. As I was driving back home uphill, I noticed a police car parked on the side of the street. I immediately slowed down and as I passed him, he all of a sudden turned on his flashing lights.  I pulled over and as he asked for my driver's license; he asked if I knew the speed limit on the street and I said "Yes." I told him it was 25mph. Then he asked if I knew how fast I was going and I said: "Probably 30 mph" He corrected me and said: "You were going 41mph"  Then he proceeded in telling me that I seemed like a nice lady....what a tease! He still gave me a ticket! I asked if he could give me a break to which he replied: "I said you were going 40mph instead of 41mph."

I will have to wait and see how much these wonderful scones really cost me.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Farewell to The Royce

Parting is such sweet sorrow....we had a wonderful dinner  last night at The Royce at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena, California. I just learned that The Royce will be closing it's doors today, January 26, 2013.  I was very happy to be able to experience David Feau's creations one more time.

We all decided to order the The Chef's Tasting Menu; a six course meal with a few extras. They served us a nice complimentary glass of champagne followed by the amuse-bouche which consisted of a pureed mushroom soup, a radish with chilled white butter and deep fried salmon skin with tofu cute and bonito flakes with a ponzu sauce. We all could have eaten a much bigger chunk of the salmon skin. You just cannot imagine how great this was!

Our first course was the Beet Sorbet with Caviar. I have had this before and I just had to have it one last time.  A refreshing sweet sorbet with the saltiness of caviar and creme fraiche was a nice greeting to my palate. The next course was Clam/Seaweed; steamed orange clams, grilled cuttlefish, blue lake and wax beans in seaweed broth.
This almost sounds unappetizing but I had faith in Chef Feau. We ordered it and we all loved it. This big clam had this green stuff on it, like moss...we scraped it and had the broth with the many little things in it and all we could say in unison was "hmmmmm".

The third course was the Halibut/Mushroom. Seared halibut cheek, celery fish stock, cauliflower tofu, hedgehog mushrooms and ginkgo nut. I didn't care if it was the jaw, nose, or ear of the was delicious; again with all interesting ingredients in the stock. The more we ate, the more we craved the vary flavorful soup which was on the salty side which we all loved. The fourth course was the main entree.  Our party of 5 was split on this one. Some ordered the Wagu and some ordered the Lentils.
I had the Wagyu/Spelt Berries. The very tender and tasty double seared wagyu was served with ginger braised brussels sprouts, spelt berries emulsion and bone marrow tempura. I have had this before and  I just had to have a repeat performance. The other entree was the Lentils/Black Truffle.  Green lentils "du puy" , sweet ragoutte, pumpkin seeds with shaved winter black truffles. The lentils were done to perfection. Aimee commented that usually, lentils are served overdone (mushy) but this was perfect. The truffles were wonderful and you could taste the flavor of the truffle throughout the lentils.

For the fifth course, Elliot, seated next to me ordered the Sushi Rice/Pear which was creamy vanilla sushi rice w/pear & cocoa. By the time I finished taking a picture of my cheese, he had already engulfed his dish so I didn't get a chance to try it nor take a picture.  I had the Picandou/Du Lot; peppercorn rubbed fresh goat cheese with tomato jam & acacia honey. This was not your ordinary goat cheese. This was dense and had a strong flavor with the peppercorn. It was a perfect little bite as we headed towards the finale.   But cleanse our palate, they served an orange-persimmon sorbet. It was indeed very refreshing.

Before our choice of dessert was served, they brought out a plate with some dark chocolate, a lemon tart and a cheesecake. The cheesecake was not your typical cheesecake; it didn't have cream cheese, can't remember what kind of cheese he used but it was good; the crust was a homemade graham cracker with honey and cinnamon.

We were split on the desserts.  Some ordered the Chocolate/Cafe which was a cocoa minute cake, cajeta caramel with warm chocolate curd and cafe glace.  This looked amazing but again I didn't get to try it as Elliot, next to me inhaled his and my husband seated next to Aimee across from me ate his in 3 bites.
I ordered the Crepe Suzette/White Chocolate. It was not the Crepe Suzette I was accustomed to but it was still very good. It had white chocolate nougat, valencia orange and grand marnier served with a grapefruit ice cream.

This feast lasted almost 3 hours. What an unforgettable evening. Thanks to our host, Raymond.

Chef Feau came to chat with us.  I wanted to know what he will be doing in the future. He is taking some time off but promised to let me know about his next project which will probably be in the same area in Pasadena. So although it's "Au Revoir" to the Royce, I say to David Feau: " a bientot".

Friday, January 25, 2013

Paciugo Gelato & Caffe

Paciugo Gelato is located at 1034 Hermosa Ave. in Hermosa Beach, California. It is a couple of doors away from the wonderful Umami Burger on one side and next to the Comedy and Magic Club where Jay Leno performs most Sundays.

Sandi and I had a late lunch at Umami Burger yesterday. She has never had an Umami Burger. You can see my previous blog; just google : umamisolittlethyme. I  remembered my niece telling me they had a good dessert. I texted her and she immediately sent me the picture of the UFO; an ice cream sandwich. I showed it to our server and she had never heard of it. None of the desserts excited either one of us. Since we had the burgers with smushed fries and sweet potato fries, I thought we should walk along Hermosa Avenue and the beach to walk off some of the fat we consumed. We didn't get very far (about 2 doors down) we came across Paciugo Gelato. Needless to say, we went in for our dessert. They were having a special. If you give them your email address (which I don't like to do) you get a size bigger than the kids size for the price of the kids bowl.  We both gave our email address.  So many flavors to choose from.  After trying at least 3, we decided to get 3 flavors.

I got the Mediterranean Sea Salt Caramel, Fondente Extra Dark Chocolate and the Crunchy Chocolate Swirl. They were all good; not the best gelato but pretty good. Sandi had the Chocolate Malt, Gianduja which was a chocolate hazelnut and a light Cranberry Orange. I tried hers and we both didn't care for the Cranberry Orange.

When we finished our gelato we both decided we had to walk for at least an hour. So up we went on Pier Ave. and back down to Hermosa and then the beach. It had rained on and off all day but finally stopped so it was perfect weather for walking. Below is a shot of Hermosa Beach.

The next shot is looking towards Palos Verdes Peninsula.

The shot below is evidence that we really did take an hour walk.

It was another good day!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Baked Egg Souffles at Panera

The best thing you can get at Panera Bread are their baked egg souffles.  They have the Bacon Spinach, Artichoke Spinach, Four Cheese, and Sausage & Gouda.  These are all baked with their croissant dough so everything is flaky.

The Spinach and Bacon are baked with cheddar cheese and a bit of Tabasco and garlic (not enough to give you bad breath) and lemon juice. It is deeelicious! This is my favorite when I like to splurge.

The Spinach Artichoke has spinach of course, artichoke hearts, red pepper, Romano cheese and a hint of garlic and dash of Tabasco.  I get this when I think I need to eat healthy (spinach and artichoke equals healthy)

The Four Cheese have the 4 cheeses: White cheddar, Romano, Parmesan and Neufchatel.  The Sausage & Gouda is made with the savory egg mixture with the smoked Gouda on the croissant dough.

These souffles are only available in the morning and they usually run out by mid-day.  It is best to eat them right there when they are warm and crunchy.  They are  always light and fluffy.  I think it would make a nice light dinner when heated at 350 degrees and served with a salad.

Breakfast, lunch or will love these egg souffles.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lawry's - dineLA

It is once again dineLA Restaurant Week.  For those that are not familiar with dineLA; it is 12 days wherein you can take advantage of good deals in dining. Yesterday, Jan.21st was the first day and this goes on till Feb.1st.

We took advantage of the deal. My friend Konnee and I took our dance instructor, Piero for his birthday to Lawry's Prime Rib in La Cienega in Beverly Hills.  They were very busy; and even ran out of the meatballs and chips which is self serve at the little parlor they have. We never mind waiting so we can indulge in some meatballs and chips. They replenished the empty containers after I brought it to their attention.

The deal for $45.00 included the famous spinning salad, an 8oz. slice of prime rib, mashed potatoes and Yorkshire pudding. The side of creamed corn (the best) or creamed spinach is $6.00 extra but well worth it.  It also included a small Lobster tail that was ever so succulent and juicy.

I have to mention that the House Cabernet Sauvignon by Rutheford was a very good wine for a mere $32.00!  Konnee does not drink wine, so Piero and I had to make sure we got our money's worth by consuming the entire bottle.

The $45.00 deal also include dessert; we had a choice of chocolate pudding, English trifle or  cheesecake.  I asked if we could have hot fudge sundae; answer was yes.  Before we ordered our dessert, they brought out an English trifle for the birthday boy.

All 3 of us were this was a lot of food. Oh, I forgot to mention for appetizer, we shared a shrimp cocktail.  In our excitement, I forgot to take a picture. I highly recommend their shrimps are big and tender.

If you are a meat and potato person; take advantage of dineLA and make your reservations asap.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Picture of the Chicken in Champagne Sauce

I just noticed that my blog on the Chicken w/ Champagne Sauce did not have the picture and some people have asked for the recipe so I have updated the blog. I apologize for any inconvenience.

See blog:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Looking For Mango Tart

Look no further.  L'Amande Bakery has done it again. Yet another new tart....this time it's Mango. If you love mango, I guarantee you will love, love, love this tart.
You just have to try it and I am confident you will agree.

Today was a wonderful day.  We started out going at Little Tokyo for a bacon donut run at Cafe Dulce in downtown Los Angeles.  We had the donuts fresh out of the oven with the green tea donut, also out of the oven.  If you haven't read my blogs on the these donuts, you can google: Cafe Dulce solittlethyme.

Because of all the sugar we had I thought it would be good to eat light at dinner. So when I picked up the Mango tart, I saw the Mediterranean Quiche which looked good and light enough. I bought 2 of those.  At 5:00 p.m. I was ready to prepare the quiche. Preparation was easy. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees and popped them in for about 8 minutes. The quiche was very tasty. It had roasted bell peppers, eggplant, onions, olives, garlic and feta cheese.  It went well with my salad with fig dressing.  It was a perfect light dinner.

The Mango tart is only available on weekends and not all weekends. They usually rotate the tarts from apple, pear, plum and now mango. It all depends on what fresh fruit they get.  You can call ahead to find out what tart they will be making for the weekend. L'Amande Bakery is located at the Rolling Hills Plaza in Torrance, California.

I do feel guilty as I may have overdosed on  sweets today....what else is new...Oh well, not to worry as I will be at the gym by 6:00 a.m. tomorrow.