Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chicken Waffle Tenders at Popeyes

My friend and I went for a short walk at a park this afternoon. After our walk we decided to go to the local Carl's Jr. but when we got to the parking lot, the restaurant had closed.  Close by was a Kentucky Chicken. We both thought the Mashed Potato Bowl sounded good. As she was parking, I asked her if she's seen the commercial on the new Chicken Waffle Tenders at Popeyes.  She had not seen or heard of it so I described it to her and she asked if we should go there instead. I didn't think there was a Popeyes nearby.  She informed me that there was one just a few blocks away.  I haven't seen anyone put the car in reverse that fast.

We got to Popeyes and found ourselves in a line.  It didn't take long for them to take our order but it took longer for us to pick them up.  We decided to eat at her house which was not far away. We both ordered the new Chicken Waffle Tenders which are marinated in Louisiana spices, handcrafted with a light crispy waffle coating. This came with a biscuit and Cajun Fries with the special seasoning. The Chicken tenders were all white meat and lived up to its name of being tender.  I have never had chicken that crunchy before. It also came with a honey maple dipping sauce.  This was so good that I can't wait to try their cole slaw, shrimp po'boy sandwich and other exciting items on the menu.

I really hate to admit this but my friend and I enjoyed this more that the fried chicken at Thomas Keller's Bouchon.  You can't beat $4.99!

Go check out these waffle tenders at your nearby Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. I think you'll like them too.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tuna & Olive Sandwich

Let me start by telling you I don't like tuna sandwiches.  To me, it always tasted fishy and left one with tuna breath which is not pleasant. I was told by someone with credibility, to try the Tuna & Olive Sandwich at L'Amande Bakery.

Last week when Sandi and I decided to eat light (I know you've heard this a hundred times), so have I......we ordered the Greens and Bacon Salad and the Tuna & Olive Sandwich to split.

All I can tell you is we both enjoyed it. It was not fishy nor stinky. I guess this is the ultimate gourmet tuna sandwich. You have a choice of having it on a baguettine or a pain de mie ; we had ours on a slightly toasted pain de mie. It had lettuce, tomato and eggs with a side of Kalamata olive tapenade which tasted wonderful in the sandwich.

We both have had this delicious salad before and we once again enjoyed the big slices of smoked Applewood bacon, pistachios and lots of shaved cheese.

The next time you want to eat light, head on over to L'Amande Bakery at 2553 Pacific Coast Hwy. in Torrance; but be sure to get there before 6:00 p.m. Unfortunately, they too have to close for the evening. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Yet Another Birthday at Dominique's

We just can't seem to stay away from this restaurant.  We celebrated my husband, Otto's birthday a few days ago at Dominique's. I should probably limit my blogging about this place as it was very busy on a Thursday night. I'm afraid they soon won't be able to accommodate me.

The three of us were quite hungry.  Our son suggested we order one of the special entrées for the evening which was the mussels, as an appetizer.  Out came this huge bowl of very tasty mussels along with a side of their truffle fries. The sauce of the mussels were so delicious that we were thankful Dominique came to say hello and asked if we could use spoons. Yessss and shortly after, he emerged with 3 serving spoons which were perfect. Now that I think of it, next time instead of dipping the fries 2-3 at a time which isn't enough time for the fries to absorb the wonderful sauce, I will just dump the fries and allow them to go for a dip before I eat them.

The soup of the day was one of my favorites, Lobster Bisque which my husband ordered.  I opted for the Caesar salad this time as I was watching calories (yeah right!) and our Erik also had the salad. Where else can you get Lobster Bisque for $3.99 and Caesar salad for $2.00 and be very good?

For our entrée, my husband and I ordered the Fillet of Sole. I have heard several people rave about it so I wanted to try it this time. The tender fillet did not disappoint. It was a very simple yet flavorful dish. Fish has to be very good for me to order it and I am happy to report that I didn't have any remorse. Our son had the Lamb Chops (another one of my favorites) and according to him, it was cooked to perfection, tender and juicy.

Dessert time: The birthday boy had to have his Chocolate Mousse. Erik has never had the Floating Island which I would have ordered since I love that dessert but they now had a new addition to their dessert menu. Baked Alaska which took center stage.
Not only was it a beautiful dessert, it was terribly delicious. Let me tell you what was in the baked Alaska, There was a sponge cake inside that was ever so light with some berries compote, raisins, vanilla ice cream and lots of rum then topped with the meringue. They ignite the rum as soon as it lands on your table. Again, where would you find a dessert of this caliber for $4.99. The answer is nowhere.....only at Dominique's!

I thank Dominique and Liza once again for another memorable birthday dinner.

You can check out my previous blogs on this restaurant.  Google Dominique's Kitchen solittlethyme for the many other wonderful dishes they prepare.  Dominique's is located at  522 S. Pacific Coast Hwy. in Redondo Beach, California.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Gourmet Dinner at Home

The bad news is this gourmet dinner was not at my home. The good news is we were invited to a our friend's house so all we had to do was drink, eat and be happy and boy were we ever ecstatic.

We were introduced to a new way to barbecue steaks. New to us but not the Japanese. The steaks were cooked in what's called the Kamado Grill which is made of ceramic and quite beautiful. Reminded me of those hammered silver jewelry. They claim there is no flavor contamination  (metallic taste) and has a lot to do with the smoke which uses Japanese charcoal (expensive) which don't contain additives that alters the taste of the food.

This was a 5 course meal.  Our first course was a Sweet Corn Cappuccino. No coffee or Sandi would have gone into anaphylactic shock.  It was made with fresh corn from the cob with milk froth; hence cappuccino. It was so delicious that I almost asked for a Boba straw to accommodate the corn kernels as you sip.

After the delicious soup, our hostess presented us with Croute Forestiere. For those who don't speak French like myself, it was a baguette with black forest ham, portobello mushrooms in sweet sherry and aged Gruyere. This tasted as good as the picture looks.

The third course was a light Spring Salad with orange supremes, toasted almonds in a balsamic vinaigrette.

Our main entrée was made to order: rare, medium, well.  I had mine medium well and you'll be happy to know it was cooked to perfection and I didn't have to send it back!
The filet of beef was wrapped in applewood smoked bacon. Wow! the flavor was truly incredible. Smoke had a taste but it was unlike any other smoke I have had. That's the only way I can describe the flavor. I even had another piece of filet (small one). This was topped with beurre maître d'hôtel (herb butter).  The Baby potatoes were pan fried in chive butter.

Dessert was made to order Crème Brulee; I ordered mine burnt. She served this with homemade almond cookie dipped in dark Belgian chocolate.  Best Crème Brulee I've had. Very simple and light. The cookie added to the texture; crunchy which was perfect with the silky dessert.

This was  an unforgettable evening of gourmet dining at it's best plus the company which was a lot of fun and entertaining.  This is the type of meal they could have charged a minimum of $125 a plate without alcohol, tax and tip.
Though this was not part of dineLA , it was a great way to end our eating expeditions for the month of July.

The big question is:  When can I make my next reservation?

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Return of Chocolate Napoleons

A little birdie told me that this weekend, L'Amande Bakery will be having the chocolate Napoleons. I blogged about them recently when they had them and the following day, they ran out early.

Tomorrow, Saturday, July 27th they will be selling them at 10:00 a.m. so plan to be there close to that time so as not to be disappointed. These Napoleons are crisp and just plain delicious. Forget the cronuts; these are a much better deal for your money plus you will be happier with the fresh and finest ingredients; no powdered stuff!

If you haven't read the last blog on the Chocolate Napoleons, click on the link below.

L'Amande Bakery is located at 2553 Pacific Coast Hwy. in Torrance in the Rolling Hills Plaza.

See you there!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Black Hogg-OMG

Six of us met at Black Hogg last night for dinner to take advantage of  the last few days of the dineLA week.  My niece Aimee and her husband Elliot talked about this place many times and how I would love the food especially the popcorn bacon which intrigued me.

The 3 course menu (appetizer had a choice of 2), included the "popcorn bacon" so I had to travel the distance.  I drove 4 of us from Torrance to Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles. Aimee mentioned before that they didn't take reservations so we left at 4:00 p.m. hoping to get there at 5:15 p.m. so we can fall in line. They open at 6:00 p.m.
The traffic was terrible and it took us almost 2 hours to get there.  At 5:55 p.m. we were happy to see no line!  We went in and the hostess asked for the time of our reservation. I told them we didn't have any since I understood they didn't take reservations.  She told her manager and he apologized and explained that they started taking reservations just a month ago. They were booked and there were no tables available. At this time, we were the only ones except for a party of 2. By this time, my niece and her husband Elliot walked in. I told them they didn't have tables for us.

We asked about the bar, and they finally said yes if we didn't mind sitting at the bar.
Elliot suggested going to another restaurant if we wanted since it would be hard to talk in a bar setting. We decided to stay. The saving grace is the manager waived the $19 corkage fee since they were not able to give us a table.

We had the dineLA menu. We all had to have the "Popcorn Bacon". Aimee and Elliot have had them before and loved them. I picked up my first one with my fingers since it called on being picked up by my fingers, dipped it in the maple creama sauce and OMG, OMG, OMG....I was truly delirious!  How can pure fat be so so very good?
They were bite-sized bacon morsels. It was amazingly delicious and not greasy; does that even make sense? I think I could have eaten a big bowl of them.

I also ordered the Brussels Sprout Hash for my 2nd appetizer. They were twice cooked which included Yukon gold potatoes and had bacon vinaigrette and a poached egg on top.  That too was deeelicious and I definitely would order that again along with the popcorn bacon. Aimee's 2nd appetizer was the Pork Bun (pork belly) steamed Hirata bun with hoisin slaw and Kewpie Mayo. Love that one as well.  Cindy's 2nd appetizer was the Garlic Scallion String Beans with candied Hazelnuts.  This is not made for wussies...these were very salty so it really needed the candied hazelnuts. I love salty so I liked it. 

For my entrée, I almost ordered the Octopus Chana Masala, grilled Spanish Octopus with potatoes, chickpeas served with a grilled naan. The reason I didn't order it is because they advised me it was quite spicy. Thank God for that advise because Aimee and I ended up ordering the Roast Mushroom Brioche Box. A big hunk of brioche bread, ever so light with Hen of the woods, Shimeji, and Crimini mushrooms in brown butter. This was another OMG! The sauce was so delicious and so were the mushrooms. I think I overdosed on my selenium intake last night. Sandi had some left over fries which she dispersed among us and boy did they make a splash on my pool of sauce. 

Sandi ordered the Lamb Burger which was huge. I had a bite; I was not too excited about this one. It was good but I have had better burgers. She was only able to eat 1/2 and the other 1/2 was happily consumed by Elliot.  Ana and Elliot ordered the Octopus which turned out not being too spicy. It was also good but it was just that.....good.
Cindy ordered the Mushroom as well but without the egg. Oh well, she's still growing up; maybe there's hope for her in the future.

There were 3 choices for dessert.  Sandi had the Five Leches Bread Pudding which was made of brioche, brown butter apples and toasted pecans and a big dollop of whipped cream on top. I had a bite and it was yummy, the apples were truly buttery. Cindy had the Milk & Honey Pana cotta with lavender honey and honeycomb crumble. This was also delicious. The rest of us had the Churros con Chile Chocolate. This dessert was wonderful except I would have wanted it not to be spicy.  These were Chai spiced churros with cayenne spiked Belgian chocolate.  When I read the menu, all I saw was Churros con Chocolate which I have always loved and it's very hard to find good churros let alone the thick chocolate that goes with it. This had everything  but I thought the spice & chile took away from the chocolate. That is just my preference.

All in all, we had a great time even if we sat at the bar. Jennifer, our server was right there and catered to our needs. I even ordered an extra popcorn bacon to go to experiment and see if it will be good heated up.

Black Hogg is located at 2852 W. Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles in the Silver Lake district. I will have to make another trip to try other dishes in the menu but also to have some more of the popcorn bacon! It is INCREDIBLE!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hollywood Bowl Picnic Baskets

Last week we were lucky to get tickets to the Herb Alpert/Lani Hall and Sergio Mendez concert at the Hollywood Bowl. We ordered the food from the Patina Group.  We used to get invited by friends who had a box and we always ordered the gourmet dinners from them.

Several weeks ago, I got a notification in my email that offered a special deal.  A picnic basket for 2 was $87 if ordered before a certain date. Since there were 4 of us in the box seats, we ordered 2 of the Pan Seared Flat Iron Steak with Horseradish Cream and Roasted Garlic Aioli. These came with an Heirloom Tomato Salad with shaved onions, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. For side dish, we had herb marinated Asparagus with Manchego cheese and almonds. There were 2 French rolls with butter, country style Potato salad, a variety of cheeses with apricots and walnuts and an assortment of chocolate truffles.

Everything was delicious. The only thing I did not enjoy were the truffles; they had a nutty flavor which I didn't care for. We were impressed with the cutlery. They were made of wood, not plastic. I have never seen that before. The black plastic plates were as classy as you can get for the venue. These boxes are not very roomy and it takes careful planning on the layout.  The best part about ordering your food is that it gets delivered to your box. We didn't have to bring coolers, baskets, etc. I just brought a bottle of champagne to go with the gourmet dinner.

If you are lucky enough to get a box, check out the Patina Group Dining at the Hollywood Bowl.  You can view their menu on the Internet. In addition to the picnic baskets, they have a 3 course menu, or you can order a la carte or even family style dinners and platters.

By the way, the show was lively and entertaining. It made us feel young again and brought us back to the 60's. Those were the days when music had melody and beat. Music was.....Music.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ruth's Chris

It's been at least 15 years since my last visit to Ruth's Chis, the steak house. I remember the sizzling steak as it was brought to the table. The sizzle comes from butter which they add at the end just before they serve it.  They were one of the restaurants listed for the dine LA weeks.

Sandi and I had to go to take advantage of the great deal which included lobster, salad, side dish and dessert.

The  Caesar salad was very good with lots of shaved Parmesan, and I mean lots! We were off to a great start.  Sandi had the house salad and she was happy with it. The 6 ounce filet with a lobster tail sitting on it came to our table sizzling like crazy. I should have taken my Lipitor before my first bite. It was butter all over and the aroma was quite pleasing. The steak was well done even if I ordered medium well; not to worry, it was tender as can be. My lobster tail was tough and overdone. As the server came by, he asked how everything was so I mentioned that the lobster was overcooked. He offered to exchange it but I declined. I figured I was there for the steak and it was very good. Soon after that, the manager came by and said she had heard that our lobsters were overcooked so she insisted on giving us fresh ones. We were grateful. The lobsters came and indeed they were soft but this time, they were undercooked. I really didn't have the nerve to tell her when she came to check on us. I just thought we would take them home and nuke them in the microwave for a minute.  The side dishes we ordered were mashed potatoes and mushrooms; both were great company for our steaks.

Dessert was surprisingly delicious.  Cheesecake crème brulee, chewy chocolate walnut cookie with rhubarb compote.  The cheesecake was not your regular cheesecake.  This was just a very light, almost liquid crème brulee. The cookie had a fresh out of the oven taste; warm and gooey which went well with the rhubarb compote.

The question is: Is Ruth's Chris still worth visiting?  Definitely......it's an experience.  Just do not order lobster. It's not their thing. If they can't get it right twice in a row, they are likely not to get it right at all.

Ruth's Chris has several locations. We went to the one on 224 S. Beverly Dr. in Beverly Hills California.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Frances Donuts (Cronut inspired)

These so far might be the closest to Dominique's cronuts.  Drove all the way to Little Tokyo in Los Angeles to try their version of cronuts.

These were very flaky and crispy. When I got home to cut them in half, you could hear the crunch while the knife dug into the multiple layers which had a lot of air in between.  I tried the plain one and the chocolate. The plain, which was not too plain since it had a custard filling, was very light. The chocolate also had the custard.  It's just a matter of preference on which flavor you like. I would have liked them both to have less custard. They also had the blueberry which I did not try. These do not come close to the ones I had yesterday from Capicola's. Like I said, those had a greasy aftertaste and looked like a flat tire compared to Frances Donuts.

If you have to try them, it is worth the drive on a Saturday morning. You can preorder them so they will be ready when you get there. They have parking in the lot or on the street. They are located at 404 E. 2nds St. in Los Angeles (Little Tokyo).

While you are there, go cross the street to the Japanese Village Plaza and visit Café Dulce and get your bacon hole donuts (the best ever) and some spirulina rolls. These things you can freeze so you can have them for breakfast. I usually wrap them individually in wax paper then put them in a freezer Ziploc to freeze.

Don't forget to have some coffee as they really have the best darn coffee in Little Tokyo!

This is how you hit 2 birds with one stone...these birds..... I don't mind at all.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lemon Napoleon

I was lucky enough to preview the lemon Napoleon coming to L' Amande Bakery this weekend, July 20 and 21. For lemon lovers, I highly recommend them as they are flaky as ever and the lemon couldn't be any better; just the right amount of tartness and sweetness. For non lemon lovers: I strongly plead you give them a try. Life is too short not to be open to new things.

They come in an enclosed plastic container. I suggest you leave that lid open till you consume them. If and when you get home and still have some left, keep them in the refrigerator with the lid WIDE open.  That way it will stay crispy.

L' Amande Bakery is located at 2553 Pacific Coast Hwy. in the city of Torrance.