Friday, November 22, 2013

Perfect Love

For the first time in history, you can experience Perfect Love. This is not the "Romeo and Juliet" type love or "Love Story" love. This is a cookie that the European nuns from the convent invented and is only known in Europe. Ana, the chef/owner of L'Amande Bakery fell in love with them when she was going to school in a convent many years ago. Ever since that time, she has dreamed about it and tried to replicate it. After many years of experimenting, she finally did it.

The cookie is made out of finely ground almonds. If you like almonds or marzipan, you will no doubt fall in love with these babies. They are slightly crunchy outside and chewy inside. In the middle is a surprise; a candied wild cherry imported from Italy! The combination is magic. A little tart that wakens yours palate in the midst of the sweetness from the whole cookie.

You will not see these cookies often as I understand they are very time consuming and expensive to make so if you get a chance, stop by this weekend. (Nov. 23-24) and experience a little perfection.
L'Amande Bakery is at 2553 Pacific Coast Hwy. in Torrance, California.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Whimsical Lunch

My goddaughter Aimee is expecting her first baby on Feb. 14, 2014.  She is a highly trained surgeon and when she's not cutting up or suturing a patient, she knits, crochets, and does origami among other things.

She also loves to cook and make everything look enticing. She excels in presentation. (Something I am not good at)

The picture below is an example of one of her everyday creations. She prepared a simple lunch she took to work; just steamed white rice with dried bonito flakes with wasabi, some soy sauce in cute little packets and let's not forget some healthy blackberries. Nothing too special but her presentation was enough to make anyone want to devour her food.

I told her she better not start a trend at her future daughter's school or all the other mothers will en up hating her!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Meet Harley Davidson

Went to Panera with my friends Amy, Nako and Kaela right after the gym this morning. We would have gone to L'Amande  but they don't open till 8:00 a.m. The only thing I enjoy there are their egg souffles.

On our way out, we met Harley Davidson. Harley is a 6-7 year old adorable King Charles Spaniel.
What's so special with Harley? He drinks his morning coffee from Panera. I've heard of dogs eating all sorts of people food but this is the first time I have seen one enjoying his cup of coffee.

Harley was apparently adopted from a shelter in Carson. He is so sophisticated and well poised. When I decided to take a picture, he had just finished the last drop of coffee. His owner tried to put the empty cup so I can take a picture of him drinking but he refused; as if to say "There is nothing left so why should I even pretend."  He was offered some water which he willingly drank.

This is my kind of dog. One that appreciates the finer things in life. I wonder if he has a sweet tooth?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Salmon Ricotta Omelette

I had the Salmon Ricotta Omelette at L'Amande not too long ago. I had forgotten how good it is. There were tender pieces of smoked salmon and let's not forget how good salmon is for you, with ricotta cheese that made the omelette very light. I especially felt great since I thought I was doing my body good pumping it with omega-3 fatty acids.  I practically could feel my triglycerides taking a dive!

The omelette was served with a big slice of their wonderful baguette with a side of butter and raspberry or blueberry compote. A nice salad is also served on the side. Have this in the morning and you're all set to conquer the day, or if you skipped breakfast, this is a wonderful lunch.
If you have dinner early like I do, L'Amande is open until 6:00 p.m. Whoever said you can't have an omelette for dinner?

L'Amande is located at the Rolling Hills Plaza in Torrance. Not a good spot for me since it's close to home; wherever I go, it seems to be on my way..... so somehow I always end up there.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A-1 Chinese BBQ

This hole in the wall (literally) restaurant has been around in Lomita for almost 30 years!  The food is very good but the ambiance fails in all respect. It's a very small place that looks it's age.  It is not conducive to gourmet dining. The last time I was in this restaurant was probably 15 years ago.

They specialize in Peking duck.  I remember many years ago when I used to frequent this place, you could see a bunch of cooked ducks hanging by their necks. I imagine that this turned off some people though most customers were Asians, (myself included) and this didn't bother them. They did away with the hanging ducks.

Their sauteed shrimps are my favorite. They are always nice and plump and have a great flavor.   Their noodles can be ordered crispy or soft; also wonderful. The salty fish fried rice was indeed salty especially when you got the fish by itself. Most people will probably think it is too salty. I loved it.

Service is not the greatest thing. You will have to ignore the lady owner who is sometimes rude. She has no social skills at all and I remember this from the past. You wonder then, why subject yourself to this? One reason: the food! The best thing to do is order your food and take it home. Better yet, call in your order the next time so all you do is pick it up. Make sure you have cash as they still do not accept credit cards.

A-1 BBQ is located at 2014 E. Pacific Coast Highway in Lomita, California.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chez Melange

Good old Chez Melange, I am happy to report is still good. We were invited last night by our friends and though I haven't been there in a long time it was nice to see a variety of very different things in their menu.  They had small plates, sharing plates, medium and large plates. The menu had a seafood cart, veal sweetbreads, organic rabbit loin, quail, lamb and of course several kinds of steaks for ones that are less adventurous.

Mertz and I had the Winter Salad with arugula, yams, pepitas, parmesan cheese with orange vinegar and pumpkin seed oil dressing. The salad was good but I really liked John's Skillet Bread which had gruyere cheese, sauteed mixed exotic mushrooms, garlic, parsley, truffle oil topped with a fried egg.  It looked more like a baked brie. It was delicious.

For our entree, 3 of us had the  10 oz. Flatiron Steak. This was a grilled, blackened, sliced with bbq butter, spinach and bacon served with cheddar mashed potatoes. The bbq butter was a nice touch and it added a good flavor to the steak.

John had the Veal Sweetbreads for his entree.  This was cooked like the Chinese orange chicken served with steamed rice and cilantro.  I dislike sweetbreads so I didn't try any. I assumed he liked it since he did not send it back and managed to finish all of it.

At first, nobody wanted dessert but Mertz insisted and twisted my arm (again).  We decided to order the Bananas Foster and the "Revenge is Sweet" Monte Cristo. This was the best dessert. It was a French toast with candied bacon (already a winner), brie oozing in between the bread, gingered berry compote and sprinkled with powdered sugar. That alone could have been my main entree!

Service couldn't have been better. Daniel, Michael Frank's son took good care of us. Daddy Frank came by to say hello and made sure we were well taken care of.

Chez Melange is located at 1611 S. Catalina Ave. in Redondo Beach, California.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Raspberry Truffle Pie

This weekend's special at L'Amande Bakery is a Raspberry Truffle Pie.

I just made a quick trip to the bakery to see what this pie was all about. Got there, bought 2 and headed for home. This time I tried to contain my excitement by not driving fast as the last time I did this, it cost me over $300 (speeding ticket) for the scones I was too excited about!

The raspberry (chocolate) truffle pie looks very much like the salted caramel pie which I love. It tasted like the chocolate truffle pie which I also love but it had a the nice bit of sourness from the raspberry flavor. The truffle sits on a buttery chocolate crust. The end result is another winner.

The bad news is every weekend they come out with a special; why is this bad....well, they also have available the Salted Caramel Balls for a limited time which means I have to buy those as well since you'll never find better balls than theirs. They have the best balls in town. See previous blog.

Gourmet Porcupine

Someone sent me this link on my email.  I have never heard a porcupine make any noise.
This is just an adorable porcupine enjoying his gourmet meal. I can totally relate.....,-the-Talking-Porcupine,-LOVES-Pumpkin/

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Late Night Breakfast

This is what they call the fried chicken cupcake special they sell only on Wednesdays at the My Delight Cupcakery. The good news is if you live in the vicinity of Ontario, California, you are very much in luck. I am nowhere near Ontario. I first had this special a year ago when we made it a point to stop by Ontario on the way to Los Angeles from Palm Springs. Since that time, I was hooked.

My friend Jody and her friends went to Palm Springs a few days ago. They drove back home to Redondo Beach last Wednesday via Ontario. She got a few cupcakes and brought me six of the Late Night Breakfast. If you've never had them, you are missing one of life's pleasures. They are light and flavorful waffle inspired cupcakes stuffed with buttermilk-soaked fried chicken topped with a smooth buttery frosting which is not too sweet, then topped with two pieces of fried chicken then drizzled with a secret blend of maple syrup.

It is good to know that eaten the following day, the cupcake is still delicious and the chicken managed to stay a bit crispy. I expected it to be soggy but that was not the case. I don't know if you could freeze them; I have not tried it yet.  I know the process of frying the chicken is complicated; there's a waiting period. They don't just fry and plot them on top. There's also a chunk of fried chicken inside the cupcake. This cupcake is a good late night snack though it is also as good for breakfast with a cup of nice strong coffee.

Some people get turned off at the mention of fried chicken cupcake or bacon cupcake (my second favorite) but I say don't knock it till you've tried it. Don't you wish you had a Jody to bring you delightful cupcakes?

My Delight Cupcakery is located at 1520 N. Mountain Ave. in Ontario, California.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tasting Menu at Gaetano's Restaurant

It is hard to believe that this restaurant in Torrance has been in operation for 20 years! I often forget about them since they are so close to home; you know how that is.

Last night after seeing the very entertaining movie "Last Vegas", Sandi and I decided we wanted Italian food. I suggested Gaetano's as I happened to have their newsletter in my purse which offered a 20% off your bill in honor of their 20th anniversary. See my last blog on this restaurant.

We decided to go with the very reasonable 3 Course Tasting Menu for $23.00.  We had a choice of different salads or soup, several entrees and desserts. I had the Caesar Salad and Sandi had the Garden Salad. For our entree, we ordered the Shrimp Mediterranean Bowtie Pasta and the Brasato. The pasta had sun dried tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, and feta cheese in a garlic olive oil sauce. That was nice and light; all the flavors came together in this pasta dish which was cooked aldente. It satisfied our craving for pasta. The other dish was the Brasato which was pork; chianti braised chuck roast cooked with red roasted potatoes. We didn't need our knives to eat this hunk of pork, as soon as our forks came in contact with it, it just flaked off. It was so good that I felt like singing the old song: "Yummy, yummy, yummy I've got love in my tummy..."

We had a choice of Spumoni or Mini Cannoli. We had one of each to share. I am not a Spumoni fan so I can't comment on it.  We both liked the mini cannoli, light and not too sweet. It was a perfect way to end the meal.

I just found out that they also have a 3 course tasting menu for lunch for $16! What a bargain. For the price they charge, you would expect baby portions or sacrifice quality for quantity. You will be surprised as we were, that quality does not always have to be expensive. Believe it or not, we even had left overs.

Gaetano's is located at 2731 Pacific Coast Highway in Torrance. Stop by this family owned restaurant and feel like one of their cousins!