Friday, October 31, 2014

Prosecco Trattoria

We had tickets to see a couple of my friends compete in the Hollywood Dancesport Championships last night at Universal City.  We did not want to eat at the Hilton Hotel where it was being held so I called the concierge at the hotel and they were nice enough to make a few suggestions.

The lady suggested Prosecco Trattoria if we liked Italian. The ambiance was nice; the owner greeted us and sat us in the back on an indoor patio with a beautiful chandelier.  The menu looked enticing. We decided on the Ragu; braised & shredded lamb, fresh pappardelle and the another Ragu: bolognese, savory beef short rib, penne. We asked our server if they could split the 2 entrees as we were sharing both. She replied: "No problem". Everything these days is "no problem" ; why should it be a problem to begin with? A more appropriate response would be: "Yes, It would be my pleasure or yes, I would be happy to."  Just before she disappeared, I asked her if there would be a charge for splitting the 2 entrees and she said: "Yes".  I naturally told her that we could split it ourselves if she brings us extra plates. What is the logic of this: To split 2 entrees, you only use and dirty 2 plates. If we split it ourselves, we have the 2 plates and the 2 additional small plates they gave us. 

You might wonder at this point if we enjoyed our food. We were hungry. The pasta was cooked aldente. The lamb ragu was tender but too salty that it would have been impossible for me (salt lover) to finish it so it was nice that we split that. The short rib ragu was good but nothing special. 

We did not want to be late for the competition so we left without having dessert. Prosecco Trattoria is located at 10144 Riverside Dr. in Tolouca Lake, California.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Apple Picking in Oak Glen

My friend Sandi had the bright idea of going apple picking. She did it in Vermont and thought it would be fun for us girls to go pick our own apples. Sue and Ana were excited. I was excited to eat apple pie and maybe BUY some apples but not go picking especially when I learned that we had to pay for the privilege of doing manual labor. As far as I am concerned, I should be paid for labor and not the other way around. Oh well, I am usually a good sport so I had to show some enthusiasm.

We left at 8:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. On our way through the winding roads uphill, we encountered a fawn that looked lost and confused. I had to slow down as he looked at us then went on to cross the road.  It was getting chilly as we climbed to nearly 5,000 ft. Our first stop was Law's Oak Glen Coffee Shop. We had to eat a hearty breakfast to get the energy to pick our apples! It was a given that we order something with apples.  Apple pancakes sounded good so that's what we had. The pancakes were big and fluffy. They had apples in them and a small bowl of cooked apples accompanied the pancakes. They had maple syrup and apple cinnamon syrup. I never had apple cinnamon syrup. I tried a bite of a pancake with just maple and another bite with the apple cinnamon. I liked them both so ......I poured both syrups together. It was deeeelicious. The apples in the bowl were not sweet enough so it had to be doctored by a drizzle of the apple cinnamon syrup.

We then went to different apple farms, Riley, Apple Annies, Moms Country, Homestead. Pretty soon nobody was interested in picking apples especially when they were all selling apples in bags as we sampled numerous kinds. We all agreed on the best kind of apple which we sampled; it's called MUTSU apple. It was very sweet with a hint of tartness; crisp and just yummy.  Yummy (fresh) apples was never in my vocabulary, except of course for caramel apples.

After a couple of hours walking and going in and out of shops we all decided we had to sample some apple pies before heading back. There was a mile high apple pie that looked good and we were ready to all buy one to take home. Someone suggested we order a slice (big slices) of apple pie and a slice of the cherry pie. We also ordered some vanilla ice cream to go with our pies. We were elated that we didn't buy the pies as they really were just o.k. Sue said she would make us apple crisps that's very good. Both Sandi and Ana also said they can bake better pies that those. I was the only silent one as I don't bake pies, I only know where to purchase them.

We encountered traffic coming back to L.A. and decided to have another bite to eat at a restaurant as it was dinner time. I would say it was a fun day for the ladies. Oak Glen would be fun for families as well as they have petting zoos and activities for the whole family. Oak Glen is located in the San Bernardino Mountains between Yucaipa and Beaumont.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Jujuya is a Euro-Asian seafood tapas restaurant owned and run by executive chef Makoto Tanaka "Mako" for short. Mako has an impressive background working for Wolfgang Puck in the original Spago, Chinois on Main and later his own restaurant in Beverly Hills called Mako.

Jujuya opened early this year (2014) where Frascati used to be at the Promenade on the Peninsula in Rolling Hills Estates.  One thing about the hill is we usually do not have any good restaurants and if we get one, it does not stay open for long. The hill is sometimes referred to as "hamburger hill" as people are too cheap. Frascati was very good and reasonable so I don't really know why it closed.  I am truly hoping Jujuya will stay for a long time and make Rolling Hills it's new home.

Sandi and I had dinner there 2 nights ago. We previously had the Crispy Oysters with basil sauce, black olives and sun dried tomatoes. We both loved them but didn't order it this time as we wanted to try something new. We did like the Beet Salad so we decided to start with that. We were a bit disappointed as the red beets were hard. The yellow ones were fine. Two servers came at different times to ask us how the salad was and we did tell them about the beets; both apologized and told us they would pass it on...end of story.

The Crab Spring Rolls with tarragon aioli sounded enticing. It was served in a martini glass. I have to let you know not to miss the aioli sauce in the bottom of the glass as it is hard  to see. The rolls were nice and crispy with lots of crab and when dipped in the can just imagine how good it was.

Sandi loves halibut so one plate had to be the Wild Halibut with tomato coulis and black olives. The Saikyo Miso Chilean Sea Bass with ponzu sauce and black rice sounded more exciting to me. Both were very good but I have to tell you that next time, I will have to order the sea bass just for me and will not share it with anyone; not even a bite! That's how good it almost needed a spoon as it fell apart with the fork and forget about the chopsticks.

Dessert was Apple Tart with salted caramel gelato. It was a perfect ending to a very good and satisfying meal.  The next time, I will have to order an extra scoop of the gelato as Sandi and I had to fight over that one scoop.

I can't wait to go back and try the various sushi's. This may well be our little Nobu on the hill. Chef Mako was there and I had to tell him how that Sea Bass was amazing!  Jujuya is located at the Promenade of the Peninsula in Rolling Hills Estates, California.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Dominique's 2nd Anniversary

Dominique's Kitchen on 522 Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach is still going strong. It is currently still celebrating it's 2nd year anniversary and I am very happy about that.

We didn't have the task of trying to figure out what to order. They had a fixed menu that evening which included a complimentary glass of champagne and your choice of red or white wine to go with the meal. Our first course after the warm french bread with the salted butter, was the Potages Garbure; a French stew soup with meat, vegetables and a slice of the bread with cheese. We all loved this soup. I almost would have been happy with just the soup and more of the bread with the nice Cabernet. I say almost only because I would not have settled for just that since I knew what was coming. I had to leave some room for the Beef Bourguignon which was a big piece! It was tender and just delicious with the mushrooms and carrots. The mashed potatoes were nice and creamy. It's hard to believe that even I could not finish everything. Only my son cleaned out his plate. Three of us left with "people bags". We only had a few bites of the Tiramisu as we were all too full.

 Both Dominique and Liza came by to serve us more wine and made sure we were happy. Congratulations to Dominique and Liza and here's to another successful year! 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Din Tai Fung

The infamous Din Tai Fung finally opened it's doors at the South Coast Plaza shopping center next to Sears. I have been to the one in Arcadia, another one opened in Glendale but both were too far to drive and fall in line.

Sandi, Ana and I travelled to South Coast Shopping Center in Costa Mesa to have lunch there. It was Ana who introduced us to this wonderful restaurant. Sandi and I have been to the one in Arcadia and ordered so much and we were just overwhelmed.

This time we gave it a lot of thought. We put Ana in charge of ordering. The Pork XiaoLongBao for $9.95 was a bargain at 10 pieces. Those were the steamed dumplings that had soup inside of it. The proper way to eat one is to pick it up with a chop stick, give it a good bath in the aged vinegar with a bit of soy sauce, rest it on the spoon  with your left hand (your right hand still holding the chop stick and the dumpling) while you take a small bite so you can sip a bit of the soup then pop the dumpling in your mouth. It is truly amazing! The liquid stuff inside is not chicken or pork stock, it comes from the fatty tissue of the pork as it is steamed.

We had to order Truffle and Pork XiaoLongBao. In my opinion, this was even more amazing as it had that earthy truffle flavor from truffles they import from Italy. This is why you only get 5 little dumplings for $22.50

Ana recommended the Shrimp and Pork Wontons with Spicy Sauce. They arrived all white as the sauce was underneath. As soon as you stirred everything, these wontons came to life. They were wonderful and went well with the Shrimp Fried Rice; super delicious with fresh and tender shrimps.

We took some Pork Chop with Fried Rice home "to go" for dinner. These chops were thin and tasted better than it looked. They too were tender that you could cut them with your spoon or fork.

I have to tell you that the following day, Sandi and I were in the area again and it happened to be lunch time so we decided to go back. The restaurant opens at 11:00 on weekdays and we were there at 10:40 a.m. and a line has already formed. By 11:00 a.m., there were a ton of people behind us!

We ordered the Pork XiaoLongBao again and the Shrimp and Pork Wontons with Spicy Sauce. We wanted to try the noodles as they looked good. We both decided on the Chicken Fried Noodles. Boy were they yummy. The only thing was we had a devil of a time trying to eat these slippery fat noodles with the chop sticks! We ended up eating them with a fork.

Din Tai Fung has locations in the state of Washington and California. They are also located in countries like Australia, Japan, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Best Chocolate Cake

I recently posted a blog on a chocolate cake a friend of mine made.  She gave me a chunk which I ate sparingly to prolong a little bit of heaven. Yesterday, she gave me half a cake! I had to take a picture of this beautiful thing (though she is ashamed of the looks as it sags in the middle). I assured her that any recipient will not care what the cake looks like if they see what's inside.

For those who missed reading: A Hell of a Cake, please see link below.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Gaetano's New Member

Gaetano's Ladies Night (men are welcome too)  is every Monday night when you can get appetizers for $5.00 and smaller entrees at a great deal; not to mention inexpensive wine by the glass.

Two nights ago, my friend and I decided to take advantage of the great deal plus we were both craving their Arancini (fried risotto rice balls) with a marvelous sauce. We always have my favorite fried artichokes but we saw something in the menu we never noticed before. It was the Stuffed Artichokes which we decided to try. It was good though I think vegetarians and people who like healthy food would love it more than I did. I still prefer the fried artichokes.

We usually order a lot so we decided to just split an full entree from the regular menu. They had a special called Chitarra Lamb Bolognese. We had to have that and boy were we very surprised. I particularly am hard to please when it comes to Bolognese as I always compare it the ones I have had in Italy, though I have had some very good ones in some of the L.A. restaurants. This was very good. The pasta was real aldente which is a big plus and the lamb ragout was so good that I was sorry I didn't have a full order.

Andreanna the owner, came by and I asked her if I could order the fried artichokes. She told me it was no longer on the menu. I was almost in tears!  I told her how we enjoyed the Bolognese. She introduced us to their new member, Chef Fabio who is from Parma but came from Firenze. It was an honor to meet the man that made this wonderful dish. Alas, Andreanna made me cry again when she told me that the special was only for the month of October.

My prayer: Please Lord, enlighten and convince Dori,Vince,Andreanna & Sean to bring back the Fried Artichokes and please have the Chitarra Bolognese available all the times.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Eboshi Noodle Bar

We were invited to Eboshi Noodle House last week. The couple that invited us were experts as they have been there numerous times and therefore familiar with their menu.  Naturally, we left the ordering to them.

We started out with a small bowl of clear broth with fried onions. It was simple yet very good and satisfying. Our first dish was the Mabo Tofu with ground pork and mabo sauce. This was the silky soft tofu which reminded me of "taho", the tofu sold in big drum like containers served warm with syrup and sago (boba) in the Philippines. The Mabo Tofu, I would say is a healthy dish and yet delicious.

The second dish that came was the Sauce Yakisoba; stir fried noodles with pork, vegetables cooked in Worchester sauce. This was a very good "pansit".  I did enjoy this one as well. We also had some Gyoza, pan fried dumplings with sauce. That was tasty and went well with the Kanitama Rice with crab omelet and sweet and sour sauce. The rice was not just impressive in looks but was wonderful.

We were stuffed when we left but had a bit of room for dessert; so we walked several doors to Chantilly as we had to end our meal with a sweet taste in our mouths.

Eboshi Noodle Bar is located in the corner of Lomita Blvd. and Pennsylvania in Lomita, California.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

George's Greek Cafe

Friday night is a happening place on 2nd Street in Long Beach.  We were part of the "happening" as we strolled along the street. We had no agenda as to where to eat. There were lots of places including Open Sesame which we have been but we wanted to try something new.

We ended up at George's Greek Cafe. It had a high energy vibe; in other words....very loud and noisy. They escorted us upstairs which was a bit better. Our waitress was telling us about the Gyro Falafel and showed us what it looked like behind our table. The guy immediately had to tell us that they were delicious. We of course had to order that as our appetizer.  We were glad we did. They were delicious with the humus on the bottom.

For our entree I wanted to try the Pastitso which is pasta and spiced ground beef with a creamy Bechamel sauce. The waitress strongly suggested the Friday night special which they only serve on Fridays, the Kleftico which is a slow roasted lamb served with roasted Greek potatoes, Greek salad and Pita bread. What were the chances that we would be back on a Friday we had to order that. We asked if they could split it for us and she said yes.

It was a ton of food. We got the Pastitso first. It was served with rice, pita bread and vegetables. It was a lot of starch. We asked about our lamb in which she replied: "Oh, did you want the lamb too?" At that point we were craving or should I say, I was craving for some meat.  Off she went to get our Kleftico. The pastitso was a disappointment; too much pasta, little meat. I once made this dish from a recipe and it was a lot better. The rice was very good packed with flavor. The lamb arrived already split with the Greek salad and potatoes and more pita bread. It was very tender and it reminded us both of short ribs. It was good but not outstanding.

We were both stuffed that we couldn't even bring ourselves to look at the dessert menu. We asked for the bill and were surprised that they charged us to split the entrees. I can and do understand the splitting fee as people sometimes order 1 entree and split it. Some restaurants charge for this as they give you another plate which they will have to wash (extra work) for people too cheap to order 2 entrees.

We ordered 2 entrees and 2 mini bottles of sparkling wine plus an appetizer.  Our server tried to explain that when they split an entree, they add more sides to it. We did not ask for anything extra plus it was her mistake that she thought we only wanted to order the Pastitso.  She had to talk to her manager and eventually returned to inform us that the manager took it off our bill. She then had to tell us again: "Just so you know, in the future, we charge for splitting." It was fine because there was not going to be a next time. Try Open Sesame next time; also on 2nd Street in Long Beach, California.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Blue Cheese Bacon Hotdog

Blue Cheese Bacon Angus Beef Hotdog is one of the dogs you have to try at your local Der Wienerschnitzel.  This isn't for the shy or people on a diet or any other dietary restrictions.

The angus beef dog is topped with lots of blue cheese, grilled onions and bacon. How can it not be good?  An order of their french fries makes it even better. It's a nice lunch or I would call a light dinner.

After all the saltiness and the heat of the day, we decided to have their soft ice cream which was dipped in your choice of toppings. We opted for half caramel and half chocolate. As ice creams go, it was o.k. The best part were the caramel and chocolate toppings. The cone was not bad either.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Unforgettable Ink

Ink is still one of the best restaurants when it comes to food and service.  You can always count on satisfaction. Jody's birthday is coming up and I decided to have her experience Ink.

She wanted to try the Egg Yolk Gnocchi, mushroom brown butter, hen of the woods (don't really know about the hens).  Our server Daniel  suggested we pop each gnocchi in our mouths as oppose to biting into them. We did just that and as Jody said: " It is so good; I want to cry". Unlike any gnocchi I had, these little pillows were filled with egg yolks that when you bit into it, the gnocchi burst and the egg yolk just oozed in your mouth. It was an "oohhh mama" moment.

The second plate we shared was the Corn with housemade  ranch Foritos (like Doritos) only better with nori, green onion.  I thought Lawry's had the best creamed corn; I stand corrected.These were creamy,tasty and went well with the Foritos. I have had this before so I knew I had to order it again. I also ordered the Beef Tartare, hearts of palm, sea bean chimichurri and horseradish, rye. This was Jody's first beef tartare. I was so happy to see that she really enjoyed it. In my excitement I forgot to take a picture of it.

I always talk about the Salt and Charcoal Potato with housemade sour cream and black vinegar. I love to pretend I am eating charcoal briquettes; that is what they look like. It comes with a little atomizer filled with black vinegar. You spray the charcoal with the vinegar; it made the salty potatoes a bit sour then we dipped it in the wonderful sour cream which made it come together beautifully.

We then proceeded to have the Potato Polenta, with bone marrow and sour cream with chives and the Wagyu Beef Cheek with eggplant, golden raisins and shawarma spice. These two items were good but could not compete with the previous dishes. In other words,  I would probably try something else and make new discoveries.

Dessert did not disappoint. We ordered the a the Apple Caramel Shortbread,burnt wood semifreddo. We were instructed by Daniel to crack the shell with the back of the spoon. The apples were disguised as grapes (that's what they looked like) and the combination and conglomeration of the ingredients were perfect. What a way to end the meal! Happy Birthday Jody......

Ink is located at 8360 Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.