Thursday, February 26, 2015

Aliotta's Via Firenze

I had nothing but praises about Aliotta's Via Firenze. The last time I was there was when we celebrated a birthday and the evening could not have been better. See previous blog:

Last night, we decided to go back with someone new to the restaurant. We wanted to have good Italian food in our area and there was no question Via Firenze was the only place to go. We got there before our dinner reservation for 7:00 p.m.  It was busy but we still had a choice of table so we picked the corner; nice and cozy. We were given the menu and long after we had decided what to order, I kept looking at the waiters hoping to make eye contact. The man that brought us the bread and water could not take our order so I informed him we were ready. It took a good 15 minutes for our waiter to get our order. We got our bottle of wine in another 10 minutes and the antipasti took awhile. One of us commented: "How long does it take to slice the meats?" The food took forever to come.

We ordered the Pappardelle Via Firenze which I have had numerous times. Fresh ribbon egg pasta with mushrooms, mascapone in beef ragu. The pappardelle was not aldente but almost mushy, overcooked. The Orecchiette Teresina, ear shaped pasta cooked in garlic, prosciutto in a vodka cream sauce had a nice flavor but also overcooked. I don't know if the private party in the other side of the restaurant had anything to do with the terrible service and the fact that Chef Michael was not around but it was inexcusable. Needless to say, the person we brought for the first time has no intention of going back ever.

The dessert we ordered to share was also a favorite. Cliff, who was not there last night used to make this crepe by our table. This time, it came out already assembled and though it was edible, it was not the same.

Hopefully, this was just a fluke because last night was a disaster.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

La Bruschetta Ristorante

Sandi was the recipient of a gift card for this restaurant in Westwood. She has had it for a long time so we finally made it there last night for dinner. We were there before our reservation for 5:30 p.m. Since we were early, we were lucky enough to get a parking space on the street.

We were the first to arrive so we had all the attention of our very nice server Silvio, an Italian who was was very personable and conversed with us about his wanting to go back to his home in Rome someday with his family. The atmosphere took us back to Rome where the server was there solely to make sure you eat and enjoy the food.

We started with a Caesar Salad which came underneath a big slice of Parmigiano cheese. Oh yeahhhh, loved it already. For appetizer we ordered the Involtini Di Melanzane Al Caprino which was grilled eggplant wrapped around goat cheese with roasted bell peppers. We enjoyed both. Just the right amount of everything. Before our salad, they served us bruschetta of course (name of the restaurant) and a basket of bread to start us out.

For our entree: We tried the Rigatoni Bolognese and the Fusilli Amatriciana, corkscrew pasta with pancetta, onions and tomato. It was bold of us to order pasta since coming from Rome just a few weeks ago, we did not want to be disappointed in the pasta. Let me tell you that from our first bite to the last, both of us were deliriously happy with our order. They were aldente and just delicious.

We had a little room left to sample 2 of  the desserts. Profiteroles and Tiramisu. Again, both were delicious. We could not believe our luck!

The owner, Angelo came to our table and we complemented him on the food and the service. A very nice man, so like Gen. MacArthur once said: "I shall return", and so will we.

La Bruschetta is located at 1621 Westwood Blvd. in Los Angeles. They are open for dinner 7 days a week and open for lunch Monday to Friday.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sunday Brunch at Trump National Golf Club

As always, the Sunday Brunch at the Trump National Golf Club is a fabulous way to spend a Sunday especially if one is celebrating a birthday. Yesterday was my niece's birthday and we were invited by her parents to the brunch. This time they had a harpist that played "heavenly" music while we dined; a very nice touch to add to the beautiful ambiance of the dining room and the spectacular ocean view.

Aimee brought her daughter Maisie who just turned one last month. Though she was very good, she wanted to explore and walk around which her parents did not allow her to do (thank God) but instead, daddy, grandpa and myself took turns in carrying her/walking with her so mommy can eat in peace.

The food was glorious as ever. When you go to these buffets, one has to have a strategy. You can't just eat everything or you will get sick. You have to first case the joint, then decide what you really want then get small portions as you could always go back for more. Since I have been to the brunch numerous times, I already knew what to go for. I started with the seafood station with the succulent shrimps (already peeled of course), crab claws, fresh oysters and caviar! These are the high ticket items so you want to get your money's worth ($75.95). Then I went to the omelet and pasta station to have pasta with mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes and lots of Parmesan cheese. I didn't waste my time on an omelet which I can get anywhere. I also got a selection of cheeses to go with my pasta. A good port would have been perfect to go with them but had to settle for the sparkling wine which  was constantly being refilled along with fresh orange juice.

I was almost full but I knew I had to have some of the delicious Korean short ribs and crab cakes. I didn't have room for the prime rib as I had to leave room for dessert. I sampled some of the desserts. Some were better than others but I wasn't ambitious enough in trying everything because I ordered a birthday cake ahead of time which they presented to Aimee after we all had our desserts. I was surprised as the cake was not bad at all! Usually, when something looks so pretty, the cake turns out to be dry and tasteless. I was glad that this was an exception.

Sunday brunch at Trump National Golf Club is still a place to experience though I think it is getting to be too expensive. I remember when they first started at $45-$50 and they served Tattinger champagne. Now we are down to sparkling wine. Trump National Golf Club is located at One Trump National Dr. in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

Great way to celebrate another birthday. Happy Birthday dear Aimee and may you have many more to come.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Tricolore Panini Gourmet

While walking the streets of Rome after visiting the Basilica of St. John Lateran, we decided we had to eat lunch.  Most places were closed as it happened to be a Sunday.
Gary got his list out and asked us if we were in the mood for very good panini. Panini being a sandwich didn't sound exciting to me but a good sport that I am, I conceded.

The restaurant was called Tricolore on 126 Via Urbana.  It was too far to walk to so we took a cab to that vicinity and walked a little more till we found the place. It was very small. Luckily, a few people just finished eating so we got to sit on small stools facing the wall. The menu had a lot of words like; rye organic flour, natural yeast, tofu, sprouts, organic cane sugar. This was not a good sign. I immediately set myself up for a disappointing lunch.

They did not have any diet sodas. FYI, wine is cheaper than a Coke light but we didn't feel like ordering any alcoholic beverage so we settled for the closest to our soda which was La Nostra Gazzosa, a lemon soda similar to a sprite.

It was time to order our panini. Gary and Sandi ordered the Potato Bread with Beef Cheek and I got talked into the Hamburger. It was the last thing on my mind but our server said they made great hamburgers. We also ordered the hand made French Fries yellow potatoes with pink pepper together with their very own homemade ketchup.  Sandi and I shared the Beef Cheek and the hamburger. The beef cheek was delicious and the hamburger was unlike any burger I have had. I don't really know what made it so special. It was just magic! The fries were also very good with the sweet and tangy ketchup.

We loved this place. They even had a mini delivery truck parked outside; very cute!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Belated Birthday Dinner at Dominiques's Kitchen

It is never disappointing having dinner at Dominique's Kitchen in Redondo Beach. It's been almost 2 years since I celebrated my 60th birthday there.  Piero, my dance instructor choreographed a number to perform and though everyone enjoyed the entertainment, they were impressed with the quality of food.

I found it appropriate to take Piero back to Dominique's for his birthday dinner along with another student of his, my friend Sandi. I have always talked about the fondue with garlic fries so we had to order that as appetizer. They also had an octopus salad and kale with a citrus dressing that was so unbelievably refreshing and delicious. I think they should have that on the menu all the time.

For our entree. the birthday boy ordered the short ribs with mashed potatoes. Sandi had the same thing and I had the sole. I must have forgotten to take a picture of my sole. I split that with Sandi and she gave me some of her short ribs. The short ribs were so tender and full of flavor and went well with the very creamy mashed potatoes. The sole was equally good; on the salty side which I love especially with the lemon.

All 3 of us were super full that the two had doggie bags to take home (none of them have dogs). Dessert was not an option. Since Piero wanted a chocolate mousse and I wanted him to try the baked Alaska, we ordered the 2 desserts to share. There were no complaints on either dessert.

Dominique's Kitchen is open everyday except Tuesdays. The nice thing about their hours is they open as early as 4:00 p.m. which is great because by the time normal people come to dinner, you are done with yours.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Can't Get Over this Croissant

Just came back from Paris and I have to tell  you that the croissant at L'Amande Bakery is really the best. If you can't make it to Paris, get your croissant here in Los Angeles with the 2 locations; one in Torrance and the other in Beverly Hills.

I cannot get over the chocolate croissant which I have blogged about in the past. See previous blog:

I ordered the chocolate croissant along with the thick French chocolate. I suggest you pull the croissant apart with your hands and dip the torn croissant into the thick chocolate. There is really nothing like it! Don't make the mistake of ordering the regular hot chocolate which is good but is not good for dunking. My brother did that and then told me he didn't like it since he does not like milk.

I apologize for being repetitive but I just have to share my enthusiasm.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cote Bistro

Our first meal in London was in a place called Cote Bistro.  This was not on any of our list of restaurants to try but it was the first place that was the closest to us as we walked the freezing streets of London when Gary, Sandi and I could no longer go without food and walk another step in the cold.

It was nice and warm inside. It almost didn't matter what we were to eat.  They had a prix fixe lunch with soup, entree and dessert or you could have just 2 items. Sandi and I ordered the Mushroom Soup and Creme Caramel for dessert. Gary had the Steak Frites. The soup was delicious, thick with a bit of cream. We ordered French bread to go with it. Gary's steak was  flat as a pancake but tasty. The fries were not bad, Gary even thought the ketchup was great.

We ordered dessert. We had the Creme Caramel and Gary had the Apple Cobbler with ice cream. The creme caramel was more like the Spanish flan. We loved it as it was light, not sweet and burnt.

All good things come to an end and it was time to go back in the cold air; our hotel was just around the corner but Gary insisted we walk by the Covent Gardens and so we did and right after that, it was straight home to the ME London.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Settimio all' Arancio

While we were walking the streets of Rome mid afternoon, we came across Settimio all' Arancio. My brother has been there several times, then I remembered that I too was once there. We went in and made a reservation for an early dinner (7:00 pm) since we were leaving Rome early the following day.

We wanted to order something with squid for appetizer and there were several choices. We asked our very patient and helpful server, Fernando what he would recommend other than the Octopus salad with artichokes.  He suggested we should leave it to him and he would prepare something for us. Being our last night, we thought it best to live dangerously and succumb to his creation. We saw the fried artichoke on the menu and we got excited and ordered that since the last one we had from Flavio al Velavevodetto Ristorante was outstanding. The octopus salad was so delicious and Fernando's creation was also wonderful. It was not on the menu, a Millefoglie of squid, endive and anchovies. We couldn't believe our luck! I was so proud of my friend Sandi who only eats calamari if it is fried. She enjoyed both. I guess the little girl is starting to grow up.... The fried artichoke was not nearly as good as the ones we had from Flavio. This was smaller and though very crisp, it lacked flavor.

The pasta dishes we ordered as our entrees were Tonnarelli Pasta with ham, thyme and lemon and the Strozzapretti all' Amatriciana style. The Tonnarelli was light, refreshing and full of flavor. The Strozzapretti was great with the fresh tomatoes and bacon. Since Sandi and I split both, it was really the way to go; a bite of the amatriciana then a bite of the tonnarelli followed by a sip of red wine.

For dessert we ordered Tiramisu and Sandi wanted the Lemon sorbet.  Ferando, again asked if he could make something else. We just informed him, anything would be fine except coffee. He understood and he brought a mixed berry sorbet which was a perfect way to end a wonderful meal. The tiramisu was good but was a bit too sweet for my taste.

All in all this was a wonderful dinner and great way to end our last supper in Roma.