Sunday, August 30, 2015

Farewell to JuJuya

Today is a sad day. It is the last evening Chef Mako will be working his magic at his restaurant. This was the hill's pride and joy. I called it my little "Nobu".

I met my friend Cora and though she has never been to the restaurant because of her very busy schedule, she was happy to have been able to sample the wonderful food.

We started with the Yellowtail Carpaccio with sizzling sesame ginger garlic sauce followed by the the Crab Spring Rolls with tarragon aioli. I had to order the Crispy Oysters with basil sauce and black olive tapenade. These are absolutely delicious. The Miso Chilean Sea Bass that is not to be missed was not missed! The flaky fresh fish had a nice flavor and went well with the rice they served.

We ended with the Caterpillar which consisted of salmon, smoked trout, avocado and wasabi sour cream. Dessert was going to be the Apple Tart in which I usually order with 2 scoops of caramel ice cream. While we waited for our apple tart, the manager Q. brought us a cheesecake since they ran out of apple tarts. The cheesecake was delicious. Just as we finished it, a server brought us the apple tart with the ice cream. So we had to force ourselves to eat some of it. We did a great job as we cleaned both plates!

JuJuya was the best restaurant in the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Note to the chef:  I will truly miss you and I wish you success on your next endeavor.

Ruby's on the Hill

After Saturday mass, my friend Mimi and I went to Ruby's. She could not forget how good the Clam Chowder was the last time so she ordered a bowl. This clam chowder is so thick that you really get a good feeling in your tummy.

I knew I wanted a burger and there were a few that looked tempting but ended up ordering the Mushroom Swiss Burger. It comes in a regular bun but I opted for sourdough; our server informed me there was a minimal extra charge since they baked their bread in house. I took the plunge and went for it. I really should have ordered a DIET drink with this burger and fries. Should have but did not.....instead I had to have my very favorite Coffee Shake (they make the best). Because of the zillion calories, I sacrificed and had the "Kid" size.

One thing about Ruby's Diner, it is consistently good. It is a family restaurant, so usually there are a ton of kids and may sometimes be noisy. If you're not on a hot date and want to enjoy comfort food, this is still a good place to go.

Ruby's Diner is located on the Promenade in the Peninsula at 550 Deep Valley Dr. Rolling Hills Estates in California.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Cafe Sevilla

A friend and I went to see a play in Long Beach which we both didn't care for, so during the intermission, we both thought it was wise to cut our losses and go for a nice dinner somewhere nearby. We ended up at Cafe Sevilla, the Spanish restaurant. This nice cafe/restaurant is also a bar and a nightclub with dance classes on a certain night and a Flamenco show which you could purchase tickets.

They had small plates on the menu which we intended to order but one thing for sure; we had to try a Paella dish, after all this was a Spanish restaurant.  To start, we ordered Sevilla's Daily Baked Bread which was Olive. This $6.00 bread serves 2 and it was fully consumed by the 2 of us. The warm bread was served with a homemade aioli & Andalusian tomato sauce which I ended up asking for more. To drink, we had to have Sangria of course. I had the red and my friend ended up having a white one.

There were so many things I wanted to try from the menu but had to contain myself. We started with Gambas al Ajillo; garlic shrimp cooked with chile arbol & white wine. We had to have meat so the Flat Iron Castellano sounded good; grilled with crumbled Valdeon bleu cheese & Rioja red wine. For the paella, we both decided on the Six Sausage Paella; morcilla, longaniza, chistorra, two chorizos & merguez. Everything was delicious.

My only complaint was the plate was too small, reason being we did not eat the food one at a time. We like to eat everything all at the same time. You know, a little of this, a little of that, a sip of wine and back to a little more of this and that.

We were too full for dessert but could not resist to try the Leche Frita which is deep fried vanilla custard. One word to describe it: yummy and yes, this could easily feed 2-3 people.

Cafe Sevilla is located at 140 Pine Ave. in Long Beach, California.  Check out their website for schedule of shows and their menus.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Assumption Abbey Fruitcake

My friend Di mentioned in his facebook page that his mom told him the best fruitcake is made by the Trappist monks. I have had cheese and wine made by the Trappist monks in Banja Luka in Bosnia and Herzegovina a year ago; but never their fruitcake. A cousin of mine mentioned that she has had it and it was delicious.

The first thing I did was google fruitcake made by Trappist monks. The video on how they made the fruitcake intrigued me.

The fruitcake is made with lots of butter, brown sugar, currants, red & green cherries, pineapple, lemons, oranges, walnut & pecans, raisins, burgundy wine and injected with rum. If that does not make you want to try this fruitcake, I don't know what will.....

This 2 lb. fruitcake comes in a pretty tin can. I served it with a bit of whipped cream. Everyone liked it and had the same comment which was "It is unlike any fruitcake I have had". It is dense and very moist.

The bonus you get is a special blessing. The monks pray over the fruitcakes for the people that will be consuming them. Does this mean, we get holy calories?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Yellow Vase

It's been at least 3 years since I have been to the Yellow Vase in Rolling Hills Estates. The only reason I haven't been was the opening of L'Amande Bakery in Torrance. Once you've had the best, it is hard to go anywhere else. Since the closure of my favorite bakery, I thought I would venture on to both old and new places. After all, life goes on.

After attending mass up the hill, Sandi and I thought it would be a great idea to try Yellow Vase. She has never been there. I had forgotten how cute and cozy it is decorated mostly the color scheme of yellow and blue with a yellow rose on each table.  We ordered the "Morning" Crepe which has scrambled eggs, ham and cheese and the Brioche French Toast with toasted almonds and strawberries.

The crepe came with a salad. Had one bite of it and that was it....very sour. That was not a good thing to experience at 8:45 in the morning.  Sandi didn't even try after she saw the expression on my face. We both imagined the crepe to have fluffy scrambled eggs with ham and melted Swiss cheese inside. Our imagination may have run wild. The crepe was doughy, could hardly see anything scrambled. There was something yellow (went with the decor) stuck to the inside of the doughy crepe and there were slices of ham.

The French Toast looked good and I do remember having it and thinking it was good. Sandi and I did not like it. It looked better than it tasted. The problem was it was not soaked long enough in the egg and milk mixture. The inside was dry.

The Yellow Vase has several locations in the Palos Verdes area and in Redondo Beach. I am sorry to say, it was not worth our time having breakfast there. I will continue to wish and pray that L'Amande Bakery come back soon and "rock" the South Bay like they used to!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge

I have been to the original Spaghettini in Orange County a zillion years ago but have been wanting to try this restaurant in Beverly Hills which is fairly new.  It was the perfect time to go as a bunch of us wanted to see Joyce Partise and her distinguished band. She is an incredible Jazz, Brazilian Bosa Nova, Samba vocalist and we try to see her wherever she performs, from the Biltmore, Montage, Vibrato Grill to name a few.

My brother recognized another patron who also follows Joyce's performance so he went to their table to say hello. He was informed by that couple that the food is fairly good and that they still were running a special of $40 for any 4 small plates and there were a few to pick from. We all thought it was a great idea as we wanted to try as much as we could. Our waiter did not mention that to us and when we asked him about it, he just agreed that it was a dineLA deal they decided to extend.

We all had the $40 deal. The question was what to order. Everyone had the 4 course special without the dessert except Gary; he had to have a dessert. The dessert menu didn't excite me so I thought I would concentrate on real food. There were lots of little plates, though we noticed that some of them were really not little at all; which was fine. Ante & Edan had Tuna Tartare, Hamachi and Scallops between the 2 of them as their appetizers. Sandi had the Organic Beets with orange yogurt and mint. I had a bite and didn't like it; it was much to sour for my taste. She also had the Burrata with basil pesto; had a teaspoon full of the creamy yummy burrata. I had the Squash Blossoms with ricotta, olives and tomato jam. That was very good! I also ordered the Octopus which was grilled and cooked to perfection. Even Sandi liked it. She couldn't get over how it was not rubbery at all. Gary had the Dungeness Crab Cake with lemon, cucumber & aioli. That was good unlike the one we had the other day at Soleil, the French restaurant.

The other plates we had were: the Spaghettini with crab ,shrimp ,salmon caviar and saffron; this had a good flavor but it was ruined since the shrimps were tough and overcooked. They should not even put them in if they can't do it right. The Casarecce Carbonara was aldente and delicious. I liked that one. The Lamb Chop was also very good with the walnut salsa. That was cooked to perfection. The last dish I ordered was the Copper Pot Short Rib; short ribs served in a copper pot with English peas, potatoes and mushroom. Unfortunately I could not eat anything more as I was too full. I ended up taking it home. I did have a bite from Gary's copper pot and it was truly yummy. It just fell apart and the sauce was wonderful. I looked forward to it the next day but unfortunately  son ate it!

Gary was the only one that ordered dessert; Flourless Chocolate Cake. We all laughed because Edna told him we would ask for a bunch of forks so we can all share his cake. It turned out to be not too good. It looked better than it tasted. Oh well.....better luck next time.

Spaghettini is located at 184 N. Canon in Beverly Hills.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Saffron & Rose Ice Cream

Three of us ended at Saffron & Rose Ice Cream after our dinner at a French restaurant across the street. My brother Gary has been there and he raved about the Cucumber ice cream. We got there and after looking at all the flavors, I zoomed in the Cappuccino and the Espresso. Gary insisted I try the cucumber so I did. It tasted like cucumber, so if you love cucumber you would probably like this ice cream. I want my ice cream to taste like a treat and not like something I have to eat (vegetables).

We all ordered 2 flavors each. Sandi had the Cucumber and Almond. Gary had Rum Raisin and Cappuccino. I had the Cappuccino and the Espresso. I liked mine a lot. When I looked at the table in front of us, I noticed 2 plastic bottles which looked like it had some sort of sauce or syrup. I was curious so I asked the man behind the counter what they were. He told me it was Faloodeh. It was a white ice cream with noodles in them. Sandi tried it earlier and she said it was "nasty".

He proceeded in giving me a scoop of Faloodeh and instructed me to put some of the syrup. It looked very interesting.  I squirted a bit of the lemon syrup and more of the sour cherry syrup and then I mixed it. I over mixed it and it almost looked like a noodle soup. I had the first slurp and boy was I surprised! I loved it! It was a bit tangy and sweet at the same time. Even Sandi admitted that it was good unlike the first time she had a taste of it. Gary just didn't care for it only because he does not like anything sour or tangy. His palate has a lot more training to do.

I later spoke to the man who gave me the extra scoop. His name was Freddy. He is the manager and part owner. He explained to me that Faloodeh is a popular Persian dessert that has been around since 400 A.D.!!!!  I thought this to be incredible and very interesting. It consists of Rose water, lime juice, sugar and thin vermicelli rice noodles. I looked it up later and even found recipes and demonstrations on you tube on how to make this delicious and refreshing dessert.

I thank Freddy for opening my eyes to this new dessert. It's a lot better than the cucumber! Saffron & Rose Ice Cream is located at 1387 Westwood Blvd. in Los Angeles. They are open from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. I can't wait to have my next Faloodeh fix!