Monday, November 24, 2014

Little Dom's

I have always wanted to eat at Little Dom's as I have read nothing but good things about it.

Today, a group of us visited the L.A. Zoo and after a couple of hours of walking we all thought we needed to eat somewhere good and close by.  My brother googled restaurants and when he mentioned Little Dom's, I thought it was a perfect opportunity.

We got there at 2:00 p.m. and thank God, they were serving lunch till 3:00 p.m. I wanted to order the Fried Oyster Sandwich with crispy speck, arugula and spicy mayo but no one was interested in splitting that with me. The reason I wanted to split the sandwich is because I also wanted to have a pasta dish.

The Homemade Spaghetti with wild boar bacon "Carbonara" and the black pepper & pecorino, better known as Cacio e Pepe sounded very good. It was an easy choice for me. I split both with Sandi. Cindy, Gary and Andre had the Cacio e Pepe. Andre's daughter Sab, wanted a Pizza Margherita and we were all happy as we knew, there was no way she could finish a whole pizza!

Both Spaghetti dishes came and the first thing we noticed was that the servings were small. The carbonara was delicious with the pieces of wonderful bacon. The spaghetti could have been more aldente but otherwise, Sandi and I were very happy with it. The black pepper & pecorino was a disappointment. It had enough pepper but not enough pecorino. It was edible only after we dumped a ton of parmesan cheese. I suggest someone from Little Dom's pay a visit to Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills and order the Cacio e Pepe so they can get a better idea of what it should taste like.

Sab's pizza was a hit. The pizza was thin, very simple and delicious. The crust was fell apart when you bit into it as it was brittle and a bit burnt; the way we all liked it. None of the desserts excited anyone so we all decided to skip it.

Little Dom's is located at 2128 Hillhurst Ave. in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Talenti Gelato Pop

New at your nearby least new to me. You've heard of Talenti Gelato with various flavors; my favorite being the Sea Salt Caramel. They just came out with Talenti Gelato Pop.

They are convenient; for people on the go. No bowls, no spoons....just a paper towel to catch the crisp dark chocolate when you bite on the pop. They are absolutely delicious. It only has 200 calories and it even has 2 grams of fiber! I don't need to talk about the fat content....hint: it has a few. If you don't like fat, go for crackers!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Another Get Together

We had another get together party last night at Sandi's house. There was no theme per se other than we had go bring "tapas".  When Amy and I arrived, Sue was already cutting smoked pulled pork she previously cooked for 10 hours in her BBQ.  Cindy arrived shortly with her roasted chicken salad with cashews and gigantic grapes.

Sujata brought some fried rice and the spicy smoked Gouda cheese and crackers. Amy cooked some Shishito Japanese peppers in olive oil and garlic salt and served them with miso sauce. She also made some vegetable spring rolls which were very good dipped in sweet and sour sauce.  Sue made some shrimps wrapped in prosciutto and  because she might have thought the rest of us ate like pigs (I probably should not generalize), she had to cook some pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter sauce. She apologized to all of us as she thought she put too much butter. We all had the same thought: There is no such thing as too much butter. If we knew Sue was cooking up a storm; something she loves to do, we probably didn't have to bring anything else as she furnished most of the food! FYI, she has a history of catering.

Sandi made spinach gourmet tortilla wraps with cucumber. They were delicious. I asked her later what was in it. Aside from the cucumber, it had cream cheese and turkey. She also baked some polenta in mini muffin pans then made a sauce out of smoked ham, chicken stock and white wine and poured the gravy over the mini polenta then topped them with shrimps she previously sauteed in butter.

Ana brought the "perfect love" cookies which are almond cookies that are unusually delicious but can't elaborate on them because they were overshadowed by her "hell of a chocolate cake". I was glad the rest of the girls got to try this cake. I was mostly glad that there was some left over which I got to take home.

Some of the girls had some tea to go with dessert. I stuck to champagne....the drink that goes with anything. It was such a fun evening. Good friends, good food, good champagne and good stories and no husbands! We missed you Mertzy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Seasons 52

We recently had lunch at Seasons 52 in Costa Mesa. I was told they have 2 other locations in Southern California; one in Santa Monica and the other in San Diego. In addition to these locations, they have numerous restaurants all over the states.

It was a beautiful day and the restaurant was full. They sat us in a covered outdoor patio. The Blackened Steak & Blue Cheese Flatbread sounded good with cremini mushrooms, spinach, and caramelized onions. The Lobster & Fresh Mozzarella Flatbread sounded even better with roasted sweet peppers, slivered scallion and lobster sour cream. We did the only intelligent thing to do: order both. They were very good and the flatbread was nice and crispy. We also ordered the Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with crispy bacon, garlic and parmesan crust. It looked delicious but as soon as we had our first bite, we both knew something was wrong. The Brussels sprouts were not cooked. It was hard and yes....hard to chew. So back it went, though our server was apologetic and offered to get us something else but we declined.

In lieu of the raw vegetables, we ordered dessert. They had a variety of mousse type desserts served in small glasses. We tried both the lemon blueberry and the chocolate espresso. Sad to say they looked a lot better than it tasted. The chocolate was way too sweet!

Seasons 52 has an extensive menu. I am sure there is something for everyone.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chocolate Croissant

Not all chocolate croissants are created equal. A lot of bakery will sell chocolate croissants but most of them are just bread with inferior quality chocolate.

The chocolate croissant at L'Amande Bakery is the real thing. Their croissants are made with European type butter and the chocolate is made of high quality Belgian baking chocolate. When you take a bite of it or when you pull the croissant apart, you will see the many light layers as oppose to a so called croissant that other stores sell which is merely a chocolate sandwich with cheap chocolate that is evident after your first bite. No other croissant can top these buttery flaky treats.

I am sorry to have snubbed this poor croissant in the past as I was always looking for a bigger breakfast like their Croque Madame or the omelets. It just so happened that I was in a hurry to get something fast before a dance lesson and I only had 15 minutes to spare. It was one of the best 15 minutes in my busy life!

L'Amande Bakery has 2 locations. One at 9530 S. Santa Monica Blvd. in Beverly Hills and the other is at 2553 Pacific Coast Hwy. in Torrance, California.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Island Hut

I have never been to this Hawaiian and Asian food restaurant in Lomita until recently. The menu was overwhelming. I didn't know where to start. They have a full menu of different combinations plus numerous pictures of the plates to confuse you even more.

We ordered some Edamame for an appetizer. Funny it was served ice cold. We thought it was a mistake but apparently that is how they normally serve them.  They politely informed us that all we have to do is request it warm next time we order and it would not be a problem. We had to add a ton of salt and it was quite edible after that.

We thought it would be a good idea to share 2 entrees so we ordered the Marinated Teriyaki Beef Plate which came with Chinese chicken salad and of course, plenty of steamed white rice. The other entree was the Marinated Teriyaki Chicken with fried dumplings. Both beef and chicken were very good. I wasn't too excited about the fried dumplings, I have had better. I must comment on the Chinese chicken salad; it was surprisingly good!

They have a catering menu which is reasonable. A half tray of the teriyaki beef  (10"x12") which serves 10-15 is $38.00 and half tray of teriyaki chicken that serves 10-15 cost $25.00. Family pack dinners are also available. For $38.00 you get the chicken dinner for 4 which includes a large Chinese chicken salad, large rice, large chow mein, steamed vegetables and macaroni salad. Where else can you get a deal this good?

Island Hut's address is 2387 Lomita Blvd. in Lomita, California. They are located in the corner of Lomita Blvd. and Pennsylvania.

Good Old Cafe Bizou

The original Cafe Bizou is still standing at it's original location on 14016 Ventura Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, California. They have always been known for their very good food at reasonable prices. Their corkage fee is an insane fee of $2.00 (this is not a typo). People that appreciate good food, bring their bottle of wine or champagne and enjoy the evening without having to break their bank account.

Last month I had the pleasure of having lunch when I was in the area. They had a prix fixed 3 course menu for $18.00. They also have one for dinner for $29.00. We started with a Caesar Salad and an Endive Salad which was not on the menu but was another special. For entree, we chose the Cedar Planked Salmon and the Lobster, Scallop and Shrimp on black tagliolini pasta cooked in a lobster sauce. Both were as good as the picture looks; just delicious.

We had a choice of flourless chocolate cake, tiramisu or duo of sorbet. We had the duo of sorbet as we wanted something light since we still had half the day ahead of us. I forgot to take pictures of the sorbet. I leave that to your individual taste and imagination.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hooked on JuJuya

Took my son to JuJuya last night. I knew he was in for a treat as he is fond of sushi and sashimi. I on the other hand am not. Well, to clarify, I would only go to Nobu or Matsuhisa since those are the ones I trust and know I would enjoy whatever is put on my plate.

I have been to JuJuya a few times and  have sampled more of their dishes so I can honestly say it is now one of my favorite restaurants. I wanted my son to try the Crispy Oysters and the Saikyo Miso Chilean Sea Bass with Ponzu sauce; both delicious.

It was time to experiment and try to discover new items on the menu. We ordered a Tuna Tataki Salad with yuzu onion dressing and the Yellowtail Carpaccio with sizzling sesame ginger garlic sauce. Both were thinly slices and just melted in our mouths. We also ordered steamed rice to go with them which was great so as not to waste any left over sauce.

The Sushi Seafood Tower was a short tower but it's size did not lack taste. This was red sushi rice (more like pink) topped with lobster, shrimp, crab meat with red/black caviar. Another delicious dish packed with wonderful flavor.

My son agreed to split a dessert with me. I liked the apple tart the last time but I remember having to fight over a scoop of the salted caramel gelato so they gave us 2 scoops. We both finished our respective halves. Chef Mako came by and asked us how we were enjoying our meal; I had nothing but very good praises for his creations. I can't wait to introduce more people to JuJuya.

JuJuya is located at 550 Deep Valley Dr. Suite 145 in Rolling Hills Estates in California; better known as the Promenade in Rolling Hills.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Champagne French Bakery Cafe

On our way back from San Diego, we stopped by Champagne French Bakery Cafe for breakfast. Champagne Bakery is a privately held company in San Marcos, California that started in 1987. They have several bakeries in San Diego and Orange Counties and a few in Beverly Hills.  I have been to the one in Costa Mesa a long time ago and thought it was o.k.

We got there around 9:00a.m. and it looked like we had to line up to place our order. We were not aware that there was a "restaurant" at the back where we could have been waited on. Something we would have preferred. As we stood in line, we admired the many pastries that looked good.

We wanted a warm breakfast so we decide to split a Breakfast Crepe which was filled with scrambled eggs and bacon served with roasted potatoes. The Brioche French Toast sounded like a good friend that would accompany our crepe. The wait was longer than expected. The food finally came. The crepe was very thin as should be but the whole thing was cold! We were so hungry and didn't really want to send it back to wait another 20 minutes; besides, if we sent it back, the crepe and eggs would have been overdone. There is nothing worse than cold eggs. We could have tolerated warm eggs but these were almost ice cold. The brioche French toast was guessed it....cold as well.  The bread was not light but rather dense.

We both got a Tomato Mozzarella  Danish and a Mushroom Brie Danish to go as they both looked delicious. We had them for dinner with a salad. Funny as we compared notes the following day, we both did not really enjoy them. They did not taste as good as it looked.  I can't really put my finger on what was wrong with them. I just know I will not be going back to this so called "French" bakery. If you want French.....visit L'Amande Bakery in Beverly Hills and Torrance. Now....that's French!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Best Apple Pie

This was another fabulous creation of my friend Ana. Her cake put me in a state of coma when I had a bite of her awesome chocolate cake. For those of you that missed that blog, here it is:

She decided to make an apple pie from the Mutsu apples we bought from Oak Glen a week ago. I would have happily picked it up from her house but she insisted on delivering it herself. It was still hot when it got to my kitchen.

The pie was made with the firm apples cooked with cinnamon in an all butter shortcrust. This was topped with a classic walnut crumble made with more butter and brown sugar.

As I cut a piece of the pie, a heavenly aroma filled my kitchen.  The piece fell apart as it hasn't had time to rest. The first bite put me in a state of shock. I had never had an apple pie so perfect in every way, from the texture of the apples, the crust and the topping. To prove my point, I did not even attempt to reach for the whipped cream I had in the refrigerator. I just wanted to enjoy the fantastic flavor of this pie. I just hope she gets into a baking mood this holiday season and may the good Lord grant her the spirit of sharing.