Friday, January 31, 2014

Wild Cherry Cream Cheese Escargot

This is another one of those pastries that looks like it would be too sweet and nothing special.
Wrong....wrong....wrong.  These are gourmet "high class" croissant-type dough with very special imported Italian wild cherries. They are a bit tart and but ohhh so good with the cream cheese. The white stuff on top is not icing that you normally see on pastries like these and which is usually all too sweet.

You just have to try it to understand what I am talking about. I am already salivating just thinking of it. L'Amande Bakery in Torrance had this last weekend but quickly sold out before noon and they don't even come out of the oven till 10:00 a.m.

I will probably bump into someone I know....see you then.

Sticky Walnut Buns

L'Amande Bakery in Torrance has always had these sticky walnut buns; usually in the vicinity of their famous Papillotes. I never really had the urge to even try them since they were small and didn't look like the large sticky buns I was accustomed to. Two weeks ago, I thought it was time to try it.

It was truly all about quality and not quantity. The crust is what makes these buns different from others. It was not bready and not to gooey but gooey enough with lots of walnuts and cinnamon. It is a perfect breakfast with a slice of your favorite cheese and a strong cup of coffee. May I suggest the proper way to eat this is not with a fork and knife nor bite them like a donut. You literally have to pull them apart and savor every bite.

I have grown accustomed to these buns and it really makes the day begin.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bistro K

While in Laguna Beach last week, we ended up having dinner at an informal Italian restaurant called Bistro K.  It was located at a little strip mall and it looked like it had it's following judging by the people that seemed to know the owner.

My husband ordered the soup du jour which happened to be Minestrone and I had the Carrot soup. Both were very good though I liked mine better. It was a busy Thursday evening and our waiter, Moses was energetic and efficient as can be. We noticed that even if we was waiting on several tables, he somehow managed to take care of everyone.

For our entree, my husband had the Short Ribs which was served with mashed potatoes and broccoli. I opted for the Moqueca which was a Brazilian Fish cooked in a coconut milk stew with red peppers and cilantro jasmine rice. Otto liked his short ribs; I had a bite of it and it was tender and delicious. When I laid eyes on mine, I was surprised to see several shrimps! The fish was cooked to perfection and so were the shrimps. It had a bit of a kick to it which went well with the coconut milk and the rice to absorb all that sauce.

What surprised me was the owner, Tony who was present and went to the tables of his regular customers. Not once did he have eye contact with either of us nor approach our table to find out how we were doing. He almost reminded me of a horse with blinders since he was so focused on people he already knew. Moses, our waiter on the other hand was working his you know what....he was pleasant, made small talk and was the epitome of efficiency. He should be promoted to manager; cheers to Moses!

For dessert, Otto ordered the Chocolate Decadence of course....and I had the Tiramisu Baggata. The chocolate decadence was good and so was my Tiramisu. It was nice and very light.

Bistro K is located at 30100 Town Center Dr., Suite M in Laguna Niguel, California.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Better Oatmeal

I am sort of trying to eat a bit healthy so today for lunch I decided on oatmeal. I opened a packet of the Maple & Brown Sugar (50% less sugar) oatmeal. First I had to think what can I do to make this tolerable and a bit of fun (if that's even possible).

I first emptied a pack of the oatmeal and poured some non-fat milk (aren't you proud of me) and put it in the microwave for 1 minute.  It looked quite sad so I sliced some bananas and sprinkled some cinnamon on it. It started to look better. I had some nice orange honey I got from Tehachapi, so I drizzled some on top and then......... I torched it.

Just before digging my spoon in the oatmeal, I poured a bit of whipping cream. I must say I did enjoy this one.

Brown Butter Sea Salt Cookie

My friend Cindy was in Paso Robles 2 weeks ago and she brought me a small bag of cookies. There were 3 in a bag. She raved about this cookie and couldn't wait for me to try it an perhaps blog about it.

She came and handed me the bag of the 3 sad looking cookies. Sad looking because to me it just didn't look exciting. In fact, the first thing that came to mind was dog food. It looked plain and dry.
I had one bite and was amazed; it was the best dog food I've ever truly enjoyed! It was crunchy, kinda gritty and lots and lots of that wonderful butter with bits of coarse salt on it.

The good news is you can order them online at:
The bad news is you just can't drive to your local market to get them, unless of course you live in Paso Robles in California.

Here's another can't judge a cookie by it's looks.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Treat at Dominique's Kitchen

I was treated for dinner tonight at Dominique's Kitchen. Upon arrival, Liza (Dominique's other half) told us about the new Caramelized Camemert Cheese appetizer which was drenched in honey, brandy and then flambeed at your table. We definitely had to try that! The other appetizer was one I have had in the past which was Fried Kale with Shaved Parmesan. Dominique came to personally light up the cheese. It was indeed deeelicious with the french bread that was served with it. We were afraid we would not be able to finish our entrees if we finished all of it so we had to pace ourselves. The Kale was also very nice; I guarantee that non-vegetable eaters would like this.....I think anything deep fried makes for an exciting dish.

The special for the evening was a Pork Filet Mignon which we ordered; with a port wine sauce served with mashed potatoes and carrots. It did satisfy our meat cravings for the evening. The other entree we split was the Linguine with Smoked Salmon. Sandi and I thought it might be a good idea to order some fish and since salmon is good for you, it was easy to make this decision. Of course, the pasta that came with the salmon was a bonus!

This might be a record breaking dinner as we really did not have room for dessert. That is so unusual especially for me. Oh well, there's always a next time. By the way, we did not finish our entree. My husband was the beneficiary of the tender pork, and I get to have some more of the smoked salmon linguine tomorrow for lunch.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Truffle Season is Here Again

Locanda Positano is one of the participants in the dineLA in January 2014.  Since we have had a very good experience the last time I was there, I was able to persuade 2 more friends to have dinner there this past week.

For starters, three of my friends picked the Capesante Marie Monti which were 3 big fresh sea scallops pan seared served with sauteed shitaki and smoked bacon. I wanted to order the same thing but thought I should try something else since I was assured at least 1 scallop to try. I opted for the Carpaccio Di Manzo; all natural certified Piedimontese top round beef with arugola and parmesan cheese. I felt obligated to share some of mine since everyone was happy to share their scallops. Both these dishes were very good. The scallops were tender, juicy and filling. The carpaccio was lovely especially after I squeezed some lemon over it. The arugola went well with it. I must mention that before our starters, our stomachs were already cushioned with the fresh
bread they served with 3 kinds of olive oil; lemon, herb and jalapeno.

There were four choices for entrees.  We all ordered the Tagliatelle Al Tartufo Nero. Tagliatelle with a creamy parmesan sauce and shaved fresh black truffle. We could have ordered the Tartufo Bianco (white truffle) for an extra $45. This tagliatelle was delicious with the shaved black truffle but rich. I believe only 2 of us cleaned our plates since we kept thinking that this dish is not going to be the same heated in the microwave the following day.

Dessert choices were Sorbetto Al Limone, Tiramisu or Torta Della Nonna. We all wanted the Sorbetto Al Limone since it was light and seemed to be the best choice.  I thought I should order something different so I had the Tiramisu. Both were good though not outstanding.

For $45, this was a good deal however, I must tell you that both Sandi and I enjoyed our first visit better. The starter we had then was the best! We could have had it this time for $45 extra.
Here is the link of our previous visit:

Locanda Positano is located at 4059 Lincoln Ave. Marina Del Rey in California.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Salted Caramel Mille Feuilles

Salted Caramel Mille Feuilles aka Salted Caramel Napoleons are back. I have been waiting for her return since March of 2013!  See link on my original blog of these wonderful Napoleons.

These are available for a Very Limited and tomorrow, Jan. 25-26, 2014 at L'Amande Bakery in Torrance. If you are like me, I will get a few more tomorrow but will leave the lid open in the refrigerator so I can get a couple more days of these heavenly delights.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lamb Loin Chops

I don't remember when the last time I cooked Lamb Loin Chops.  My friend Sandi invited me for an impromptu dinner last week.

The lamb turned out perfect. She marinated them in olive oil, kosher salt and crushed fresh rosemary in room temperature for about an hour or so. She cooked each side in olive oil or butter for about 3 minutes till brown.  She then put the pan in the oven for 15 minutes to make it well done. These lamb chops turned out perfect; though well done, it was still juicy, tender and very tasty. She served them with mashed carrots and parsnips (cooked like mashed potatoes) with a smidgen of sugar and a lot more than a smidgen of butter. She also made some stuffing to go along with everything and cooked some baby potatoes in butter.

I bought a trio of desserts from Chantilly Patisserie in Lomita; a lemon mousse, mango mousse and a white and milk chocolate mousse. They were all good but the mango mousse took the cake!

The nice thing about Sandi; she loves to cook and experiment. It's a perfect combination as I am her #1 honorary guinea pig.  Here's to many more experiments!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Joey's Smokin' BBQ

My friend and I didn't want to travel  far for a quick dinner before our dance class so we ended up at Joey's Smokin' BBQ at 25308 Crenshaw Blvd. in Torrance, California.

We ordered 2 sandwiches to split. One was the BBQ Brisket which is slow cooked extra lean beef brisket and smothered with their "suh-weet" bbq sauce and the other was the Pulled Pork which is moist and I mean very moist pork with the same "suh-sweet" bbq sauce.

Both came with a choice of sides and they had a few to choose from: corn bread, creamy coleslaw, red skin potato salad, french fries and Mama's addictive bbq beans.  We were so hungry that when we heard fries, we both looked at each other and nodded. We elected for creamy coleslaw for the healthy part of the meal.

The sandwiches were both very good but the clear winner was the pulled pork. We loved it.... especially after we added more of the suh-weet bbq sauce. They also had spicy bbq which we didn't use. They had packets of ketchup and mayonnaise which got me excited as this makes a great dipping sauce for french fries. Mixing both makes a nice creamy ketchup and does wonders for the fries.

A gentleman came by to check up on us. With his enthusiasm and cheerfulness, we figured he was not an employee nor a manager. Tom is the owner and we had a nice pleasant chat about the restaurant and his food.

We will need to investigate further and check out the addicting beans, the corn bread and the red skin potato salad, not to mention the baby back ribs!  This is a nice informal place you can go when you're hungry and also good for kids. They have a Lil' Piglets Menu for $5.99. Mini burgers, chicken tenders, brisket slicers, mac & cheese and baby back ribs.

Next time, we will go for the platters instead of the sandwiches; concentrate on the MEAT!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Is that all there is......

My 3 year old nephew Lewis who lives in Singapore has the same passion for food as I do. I guess it runs in our family. The expression in his face is priceless and the song of Peggy Lee "Is that all there is" comes to mind.

Cream Cheese Biscuits

I was at Sprouts a couple of weeks ago and bought these biscuits thinking it would be good for breakfast.

Boy was I right! I heated it up in the oven, applied lots of butter and some pineapple & mango preserves.  These biscuits were nice, light and just delightful. I do recommend them.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Raffaello Ristorante

I might have been at this restaurant ages ago but couldn't really remember my experience. My friend Sandi has been there and remembers the food, especially the Osso buco as being very good.

We had a voucher from for $25 off so we thought this was a good opportunity to experiment.  It's an old restaurant but with the feel of "real" Italy. They first served us some Bruschetta with Roasted Red Peppers.  That was delicious, in fact I think I would have been very happy with a big plate of that with a couple of glasses of Chianti.

A green salad came with the entrees. It didn't look to appetizing but we both had a few bites as our mothers always told us to eat our vegetables.

We ordered the Fettuccine Tre Stelle which had shrimps, calamari and salmon in a pink cream sauce and the special for the evening was a Pork Osso Buco (instead of veal). The fettuccine was all right, however the calamari was not cooked right; it was like rubber. The nice thing was when I asked for Parmesan cheese, they gave me a full bowl of it and it's a good thing because the dish needed a LOT of it.

The Osso Buco was very tender but lacked flavor. I have to mention that we split both entrees and we both ended up taking some left overs home. I must say that they give you a ton of food. If you are really hungry, don't have a lot of money to spend on food and are craving Italian, then I recommend you go to Raffaello's. The service is good and you will leave the place with your tummy thanking you!

Raffaello Ristorante is located on 400 S. Pacific Ave. in San Pedro, California.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cicada Club

First question people ask is how to pronounce the word. The correct pronunciation is see-kay-duh. Now that that's out of the way, next question is what is it? It is a dinner-dance club at the beautiful art deco Oviatt Building on 617 S. Olive St. in downtown Los Angeles.

Robert, a friend of mine told me about this place. I thought it would be a nice place to celebrate Piero's birthday (dance instructor & friend). It has a live band that plays songs from the 20's to 50's era. Last Friday was the night we decided to check it out. Most people dress accordingly. It is so nice to see young people really get into it; complete with the hairdo's and hats. It takes you back the days when people dressed up, had a nice dinner and danced the night away. Sandi and I were able to find something from our closets...had to improvise.

Sandi and I got there first. We were in awe of the ambiance with a big chandelier in the middle. They had a dance floor by the orchestra and an additional one upstairs by the bar. The prix fixe dinner that night was $49 plus $20 admission fee. So for $69 you were guaranteed a table. We expected more friends to come after dinner. The regular admission was still $20 but you are not guaranteed a seat. You could go upstairs by the bar and seating on sofas are on a first come first served basis.

The dinner was not bad though we thought it could have been a lot better for the price. Our main complaint was that it didn't have enough flavor. Good quality meat, shrimp and crab but not tasty. The chef had the nice ingredients but seemed like he/she didn't know how to make them delectable. Presentation was good though. Our first course was the Tiger Shrimp stuffed with lump crab wrapped in Kataifi (angel hair pastry) with a trio of caviar sauce. Doesn't that sound great? I was so excited. It was just okay. For entree, we all picked the "Maxwell Special"; Braised Short Ribs with vegetables and mashed potatoes. The presentation was nice, the meat was tender but we all agreed that it lacked the oooomph. (flavor) Sandi and I decided on the Creme Brulee. Again, it looked good but it was too rich (nothing wrong with that) but somehow it tasted like something from a mix or a can. We both ate just the top. Piero had the Chocolate Molten Cake with vanilla ice cream and fruit for his birthday dessert. No comment. It's really too bad because the food can and should be a lot better to suit the venue.

After dinner, Tom (my other dance instructor and friend) came with Yvonne. What a nice surprise! Later on, Alessandra and Monique came to join us. By that time, the dance floor was packed! It is wise to come early when you can still dance on the floor. Later on, it's just too hard without stepping on someones toes or worse, getting stepped on.

Despite everything, we still had a lot of fun. It was an experience. This is a nice place to go with friends. Next time, we might eat somewhere else then just pay the admission fee to get in shortly before the orchestra starts playing.

Wishing Piero a Happy Birthday!