Wednesday, January 27, 2016

dineLA Lawry's

So sorry if you're sick of me talking about Lawry's. We just could not pass on the $49 dinner deal which included the Famous Spinning Bowl Salad, California Cut of Roasted Prime Ribs of Beef with mashed potatoes and Yorkshire Pudding with Broiled Nova Scotia Lobster Tail.

We celebrated Piero's birthday there 2 nights ago. He too never gets tired of Lawry's. We made it a point to get there before our reservation so we could enjoy a couple of meatballs, though Piero thought he needed more than a couple. Their homemade potato chips are almost the best and I say almost because it lacks salt. This time I remembered to pack some in a tiny ziplock and happily sprinkled some on my chips.

I thought we would start with an order of Shrimp Cocktail which I have had in the past. It was nice and plump. We enjoyed them with lemon and cocktail sauce. We loved our server, Miss Sargent. Before she tossed our salad, she whispered something to Piero and before we knew what was going on, he was standing by the spinning salad ready to do the honors. In all my years of coming to Lawry's I was never asked to do it. It was a very nice touch which made the birthday boy feel special.

After the good sourdough bread, shrimp cocktail and the salad, we were ready for the main event. The prime rib was a good portion. We were asked if we wanted any sides. Creamed corn is always a must no matter what. We were not aware that this was not included in the menu; just so you know, it was $7.00 extra. It was not a problem because I would have ordered it anyway though it would have been nice if it was included. The Lobster tail was downright heavenly. Again I am amazed how they cook this to perfection. Sure it's only a few bites but with all that butter, that's all you need.

The dinner was delicious and filling.  Before we ordered our desserts which was included in the dinner menu, Miss Sargent and her team brought out an English Trifle for Piero which is always light and refreshing. Piero ordered the Chocolate Fantasy Creme which was a mousse with white chocolate shavings on top and whipped cream.  Sandi and I opted for the Apple a la Mode with sea salt caramel.  Sandi didn't care much for pie. What do you expect from someone who bakes delicious pies and bread pudding all the time. I liked that the apples were not mushy; it had a bit of a crunch to it and went well with the ice cream. The sea salt caramel was hardly there. I think next time I will have to ask for a little cup of caramel.

After almost finishing a bottle of wine between 2 people since one can't drink red wine, all 3 of us felt like we needed to be loaded up on a wheelbarrow as we were unable to move. Well, Sandi did have some left overs so technically she could have pushed the wheelbarrow with me and Piero in it.  I am happy to report that so far, dinner at Lawry's has never been a disappointment.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Thomas' Maple French Toast English Muffin

A week ago I bought Thomas' Multi-grain English Muffin. It was too healthy for me. When I toasted it, it got very hard. I didn't care for it at all. So, as soon as I finished that batch, I went back to the market intending to buy the regular sourdough which is always good.

On the shelf of Ralph's market was a "Limited Edition" Maple French Toast. It sounded good and I thought to myself: "It can't be worse than the multi-grain." I also thought it might be good with cream cheese if it's already sweet.

The following morning, I experimented. I toasted both and applied cream cheese and the last of my raspberry jam from good old L'Amande Bakery, and on the other one, butter and jam. Both were very good. In as much as I love butter, the cream cheese won! It balanced the sweetness of the muffin. The raspberry jam was not that sweet so it complemented the cream cheese.

Since this is a limited edition, I plan to go back and buy a bunch to freeze for future enjoyment.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Virgie's Mango Tart

My mother sent my brother and I a box of Virgie's Mango Tart from the Philippines through the kindness of Ramon. I was so excited to get a whole box since I love mango tarts. I opened the box and found a dozen individually wrapped tarts. My first thought was, in the future it would be practical to empty the box into a ziplock to save a lot of space in a suitcase. Oh well, it was not my problem as I was just the recipient.

I unwrapped one and had a bite. My teeth could not release my bite from the tart as I bit harder and pulled it away from my mouth. It was hard and dry. I took another bite hoping to taste a burst of the mango filling just like the picture on the box of mango oozing out. Nothing oozed out. In fact, the dried up mango looked petrified. It didn't even taste like the dried mango you could get at the market. The tart tasted old and brittle. It was so bad I had to spit it out; something I rarely do!

I gave it the benefit of the doubt that maybe this was just one tart. I opened another one and yet another and they were all hard and brittle. I looked at the date and it was marked 05-20-16. I called my brother and to be fair, he did tell me that his batch was good.

If this was purchased in the United States, there would be no issue on returns or refunds. This was purchased in the Philippines so my mother will go back to the store she bought this from and tell them my story; perhaps even have them read this blog.  It will be interesting to see if they will give her another box or offer to refund her money.   I know if I were Virgie, I would try to make things right, that is if there really is a Virgie.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dressed up Brownie

Next time you want a brownie to be more than a brownie and I don't mean lacing it with marijuana......Try adding a scoop of (not vanilla) but Chocolate Malted Crunch from your nearby Rite-Aid and then pouring a little or a lot of Marshmallow in a jar.

Make sure you have a light dinner before this dessert. I guarantee, you will be very happy and so far, it is still legal!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Musso & Frank Grill

Piero, a friend and dance instructor thought it would be a great idea for all of us to get dressed in the era of the 20's, 30's or 40's on our way to see the play Bullets over Broadway at the Pantages Theater. The only appropriate restaurant to have dinner before the show was Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood. This iconic restaurant is the oldest in Hollywood. It has been there since 1919. Hollywood actors and writers like Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Mary Pickford, Rudolph Valentino, Elizabeth Taylor, Gary Cooper, Rita Hayworth, Steve McQueen, F.Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck to name a few, were regulars at this establishment.

We were served their sourdough bread with lots of butter to start. Anna mentioned that she saw a picture on yelp of the garlic bread which did look good. When she asked our server he pointed to the regular sour dough on our table. She showed him the picture on her phone and he immediately knew what she was talking about....the garlic bread. We all had a piece and it was very good indeed. I tried not to eat too much as garlic loves me more that I love it.

Piero had the Romaine salad which was good but I would have preferred a Caesar with anchovies. (but it wasn't my salad). He ordered the Prime Rib with baked potato. He informed me that it was delicious. I had to take his word for it. His baked potato looked a bit sad with just the little scoop of sour cream with a dusting of chives. I later saw the menu and it did include bacon which he did not get. I guess he should have asked for it.  Several people had the Short Ribs which I was told was tender and tasted as good as it looked.

Sandi and I had the Grenadine of Beef which were 3 filet medallions with a light brown gravy topped with Bearnaise sauce which was absolutely divine but was not enough for me so I had to ask for a little bit more which they indulged. We were asked if we wanted the thick or thin fries. I imagined the thin to be too thin so I ordered the thick ones. It was good but the thin ones were perfect (pictured are the thin fries).

We were all too full but Piero wanted dessert so he ordered the Chocolate Mousse Cake to share with everyone. It was big enough to share. It was rich and sweet; all I needed was the one bite enough to end my wonderful dinner. It brought back memories of Ana's (L'Amande Bakery) unforgettable chocolate cake and mousse.

As I was reviewing the menu of Musso & Frank online, I came upon a very interesting and exciting piece of information. I found out that the Fettuccine Alfredo, something I would never order anywhere since I have had the original one in the same one they serve at the original Fettuccine Alfredo in Rome. The story goes: Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks were on their honeymoon in Rome in 1927. They fell in love with Alfredo's fettuccine and asked for the recipe which he declined. The following day, the couple dined at Alfredo's and presented him with a golden fork and spoon and voila....they got the recipe. A little bribery helped. They got Chef Rue at Musso & Frank to make it for them and special people since they never put in on their menu. Today, the famous Fettuccine Alfredo is on their menu. This is a very good excuse to go back very soon.

Musso & Frank is at 6667 Hollywood Blvd. in Hollywood, California.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Meatloaf & Bread Pudding Dinner

We were in for a treat. This was gourmet meatloaf, a recipe of Sandi's son, David. It was so moist, probably because of the 3 eggs she used. It was healthy since it had vegetables in there too. The presentation was not bad at all. There were 2 sauces; a marinara and an Alfredo sauce. We enjoyed that meatloaf along with the mashed potatoes she served and green bean with bacon. Everything taste better with bacon, especially vegetables.

The bread pudding was mind blowing. I had one bite and I thought I died and went to heaven. I could taste the butter. The reason for this was it was made with a ton of butter. The bread she used was the Hawaiian sweet rolls which she toasted lightly. The recipe called for 5 eggs, 2 cups of heavy cream. The topping was made with 1/4 cup butter, cup of brown sugar, a cup of nuts all crumbled. The sauce was whipped butter, powdered sugar and brandy. I have had many of Sandi's bread pudding and they were all very good but this one takes the "pudding".  We all made tribal sounds while we were eating this wonderful dessert.

While we were enjoying this dessert, Sandi had the audacity to announce that next time, she would use less butter. We almost clobbered her to death. Before she could explain herself, we told her she cannot and should not alter the recipe. From now on, this will be THE bread pudding to make.
Thank you David!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sushi Nozomi

It was my son's last day in Los Angeles so I thought I would take him out to a nice dinner. He didn't have much time so dinner turned to a lunch. I asked him where he wanted me to take him. He did a little research and came up with Sushi Nozomi. It was one of the few sushi places that offered Omakase and that was open on a Monday. For those not familiar with Omakase, it is a meal which is entirely selected by the chef. You are at their mercy so to speak. This can go either way; wonderful or dreadful.

I got to the restaurant at 1:00 p.m. and waited for my son. This place was busy. I liked the place as it was not noisy. Nora Jones's music played in the background. They had a couple of private sections for bigger parties. The crowd was mostly business people coming for lunch; no families. By 2:00 p.m., most people have gone back to work.

We sat at the bar and had the 10 piece Omakase. They started us with Miso soup and a salad. The soup was a nice beginning. It warmed our tummies on this cold afternoon. To drink, I just ordered a diet coke, very uninteresting. Erik had a drink we were both not familiar with. It was a non-carbonated soft drink called Calpico. It's a Japanese soft drink and is a subsidiary of Asahi. He liked it. I had a sip and to me, it tasted like a flat 7-up.

Our first sushi was a red snapper, followed by a black snapper. These two pieces were so good. I remembered reading an article on how to eat sushi. You have to consume it as soon as the chef puts it on the plate....which we did. The snapper was followed by snow crab leg and then a bonito.

I must not have taken a picture of each of the fish as they almost looked alike. They all had their individual flavors. After the the bonito, Chef Taku served us a Spanish mackerel followed by amberjack. Then we had a medium fatty tuna and bluefin tuna. I was excited over the 9th sushi which was uni. I have never had it. My brother Gary always raved how good it was. By the looks of it, I thought to myself; I will either love this or hate it. As I popped the whole thing in my mouth like one is supposed to when eating sushi, I was amazed. The only way I can describe it was like eating butter and cream. So smooth and just plain wonderful. Erik didn't enjoy it as much as I did. You can't go by him because he does not like creamy or rich  foods. You wouldn't think he is related to me.

The 10th sushi was salmon eggs. That too was delicious as those little suckers sort of popped in your mouth and released more deliciousness. We thought that was the last one but there was more. On our count, it was the 11th. Chef Taku served us each 4 medium fatty tuna with scallions. On that one, he gave us his blessings to dip it in soy sauce which we did. Mind you, there really was no need to dip any of the sushi as it already had a bit of wasabi and soy sauce in them.

It was a lovely lunch. I felt so healthy and cleansed for once. The other chef took a big hunk of fish and started chopping the head off, etc. I was amazed that with all that, there was no odor of any fish at all. As the saying goes, fish should not smell when it is fresh. I would definitely go back to this place. The only problem is most of my friends do not like sushi. So.....Amy and Nako, you will have to accompany me next time.

Sushi Nozomi is located at 1757 W. Carson St. #L in Torrance.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Dominique's Kitchen 2016

This was our first time back at Dominique's Kitchen in the year 2016. We got there just before it opened at 4:00 p.m. I know most people make fun of me wanting to have dinner at such an early time and even refer to it as "senior dining". I ask those people; what's wrong with senior dining. First of all, you get all the attention and great service since it has not yet gotten busy.

We had time to converse with Liza and Dominique. Robert, our server who has been there for 3 years took very good care of us. Sandi and I were starving. We thought we should venture and order something we haven't ordered in a long time. That left out some of our favorites; cheese fondue, roasted chicken, fillet of sole, lamb chops.  We started with the Caramelized French Onion Soup. We had both forgotten how good this was with the Gruyere cheese on top. That together with the French bread hit the spot on this cold and windy day.

We decided to split an order of the Mac and Cheese and a Ribeye Steak with the ever so delicious garlic truffle fries. This usually comes with fingerling potatoes but we opted for the fries. The steak was big enough for the two of us. It was cooked to perfection and the yummy brandy and green peppercorn sauce was perfect with the fries when I alternated it with the mayonnaise.

The Mac and Cheese was also delicious but this was not wise to order since we had so much fries. We ended up just having a few bites and taking it home. The good news is tonight, we will be enjoying the mac and cheese!

We were both stuffed and was not going to order dessert but Dominique sent us each a White Chocolate Mousse with a macaron on top. I think that just because he has lost so much weight, he takes pleasure in seeing us get fat! The mousse was very light but probably heavy in calories.

Thank you again, Dominique and Liza. Always nice to see you both. Though this was our first time back in the year 2016, I know this is just the beginning of many more dinners to come.

Dominique's Kitchen is located at 522 S. Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach, California.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year's Eve at Sandi's

We celebrated New Year's Eve 2015 at Sandi's house. As usual, Sandi cooked up a storm. This woman can't cook for 4,6 or 8 people. She is not capable of it. She always has to cook for an army. In this case, there were only 5 of us.

After an array of hors d'oeuvres, we were all summoned to the dinner table which was beautifully set, and I thought I was the only one that could set a table! We started with a salad. Her salad is no simple salad. She had peas, tomatoes, round red peppers that looked and tasted like mini apples, beets, pomegranates, red onions on romaine and arugula leafy greens. The dressing was not store bought....God forbid. She made her wonderful dressing with just olive oil, lemon and crushed garlic. She always gives everyone a big serving except for herself. I was almost full after the salad.

The main entrée was pork tenderloin stuffed with Brie cheese with a sauce made with cherries. It was wonderful! She served this with mashed potatoes. Normal people would have had 1 vegetable to go with this especially since we had a big serving of salad. Remember, this is Sandi....she had peas with butter and butternut squash cooked with bacon. She didn't think we would reach the recommended daily intake of vitamins so she also had to make Brussels sprouts cooked in molasses and pomegranate seeds. The food almost didn't fit in the plates. Next time I will have to give her a set of serving platters for her place settings. Everything was delicious.

She baked a country apple pie for dessert. She served that with a flair; decorated with a bit of chocolate and vanilla ice cream on top. At the end of the meal, we all were exhausted from eating.

One thing, you don't go home hungry when you eat at Sandi's. I guess it was a nice way to end the year....on a full stomach!