Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Dominique's Kitchen

When my friend Gigi was here from the Philippines, the first restaurant I had to take her was Dominique's Kitchen. She loved the Garlic Fries with mayonnaise for appetizer. We both had the Caesar salad and for entree she chose the Short Ribs and I had the Rib Eye. Both of which I have had many times in the past.

For dessert, I had to order the impressive Baked Alaska. We had a new server and I told him to burn it. He really torched it and I was afraid it might have been too much. To my surprise, we both loved it. Gigi could not stop talking about how everything was good from beginning to end.

A week later, my nephew Andre arrived with his wife Ela, 7 year old daughter Sab and a brand new month old baby boy named Sky. They all have been to Dominique's before except for Sky who was well behaved and slept through the entire dinner. We ordered the Garlic fries which is always a crowd-pleaser. Andre had the Rib Eye this time. Ela ordered the famous Roasted Chicken with garlic fries which she shared with Sab. I had the Fillet of Sole this time. It was delicious and fresh as ever. 

By popular demand, dessert had to be Baked Alaska again. This time I didn't have Robert burn it too much since we were all sharing it. Funny, everyone liked the burnt part!

Dominique's Kitchen is at 522 Pacific Coast Hwy. in Redondo Beach, California. I am elated that they are still there and doing well. When you have good food and service at reasonable prices, people will always come back. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sandi's Belated Birthday Party

Since we were getting ready to go the Philippines around Sandi's birthday last May, she decided to celebrate it when we got back. We told her to keep it simple. She planned to make Tacos and just have different fillings and everyone make their own. Sounds great but since Sandi is incapable of doing anything small and simple, we all had to put up with lots of food! I made margaritas to go with the tacos.

Before anything else, we had to pass on the traditional birthday balloon. I had it last so I went to Party World to have it filled with helium. I had my friend Gigi with me and she was in charge of taking it the car. While I was opening the trunk of the car, I heard her scream. The balloon flew up in the sky and she was still holding on the big tail. I went in to let them know that obviously they didn't do a good job tying it to the tail. The lady said she did tie it well and she wanted to charge me for another balloon for $12. I was not leaving there without a balloon and was not paying for their mistake. I finally got another one!

Back to the party, Sandi's table was far from simple. She made soft tacos with fillings like chicken and shrimp. Sue made her famous corn tamales which were delicious. Aside from the chips and  3 different kinds of salsa, we had rice, refried beans, black beans and salads.

What's a party without cake. Sandi made a Mayonnaise Chocolate Cake and of course another dessert in case someone didn't like chocolate. She made her famous Key Lime Pie with a chocolate crust. I am sure that her intention was to make everyone so full that we would just roll down her driveway on our way home. Everyone had fun including the only male friend, Piero.

The birthday balloon waits at Sandi's house but not for long. Cindy's birthday is just around the corner.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Gary's Birthday Bash at Il Moro

When my brother Gary informed me he was having his birthday celebration at Il Moro, a restaurant I haven't been to, I was a bit leery especially when he said he hasn't tried it in a long time. He just remembered that it was good. I thought that was bold of him. What impressed him the most was the efficiency and no-nonsense meeting he had with Lucy, the manager. He liked the ambiance of the restaurant and it just seemed the perfect venue for 60 people.

Cindy, Sandi and I got there first followed by Ramon. We are always the early birds. We were immediately impressed with the setting. Tables with centerpieces, an open bar and for entertainment, he had Joyce Partise, a jazz & bosa nova artist and her band.

Hors d' oeuvres started promptly at 6:30 p.m.  Belgian Endive filled with goat cheese,  topped with caramelized walnut, mini Beef Wellington, mini Pizza Margarita, and my favorite, Tuna Tartar with avocado on wonton crisp. They all went well with the champagne. The sounds of Joyce Marie and her band made people want to dance but most were still too shy, except for Ramon and me.

The 4 course menu looked very good. We had to pick an appetizer, a first course, an entree and dessert which excluded the birthday cake. Since I fell in love with the tuna tartar, I decided to stick to the Tuna Tartar with diced tomato, avocado, champignon mushrooms, olive oil sea salt with chive dressing and lemon jelly. Cindy, who sat next to me chose the Parmigiana di Melanzane, layers of baked eggplants, mozzarella cheese, basil in tomato sauce. Several people in our table chose the Fettuccine alla Bolognese, we could really tell the fettuccine was homemade and sauteed in a Bolognese sauce. I had a bite of the Cappellacci di Ricotta e Spinaci; spinach pasta filled with ricotta cheese and spinach sauteed in butter and sage....yummy.

I wanted to be healthy and order the Filetto di Sogliola; sole filet in a lemon white wine sauce but since I just had that a few days ago, I decided on the Tagliata di Manzo; prime beef short loin steak sliced and grilled in rosemary served over a salad of arugula, cherry tomato and shaved parmesan. I made the perfect choice as I really enjoyed it. I tried the Sole and unfortunately I thought it was too salty. I never complained about "salty" in the past since I do like a lot of salt. This was just too much. Everyone in the table that ordered the sole shared my findings. Jackie, seated next to me could not eat hers so I suggested she ask for something else. The server immediately and happily got her the Costolette di Agnello; grilled lamb chops which was absolutely delicious. I told Sandi and Cindy to ask for something else but they didn't want to make a big deal.

Dessert had to be Tenerina Cake which was a dark moist chocolate cake with a crispy crust. Though it was good, I tried not to eat the whole thing since I knew there was more cake to come. As the night progressed and more alcohol was consumed, inhibitions diminished and soon most guests took to the dance floor to show their moves.

Soon after dessert was served, Joyce Marie invited everyone to sing Happy Birthday to Gary. The berry chocolate mousse cake was ordered from Vienna Pastry. It was as delicious as it looked; not too sweet. I almost didn't want to have any as I was too full but I thought it to be bad luck not to eat a birthday cake. I think I made that up.

I have to mention that the service could not have been better. They were all so very friendly  and professional. This is truly a great venue for a private party. Everyone enjoyed themselves; it was a nice size crowd yet very intimate. Happy Birthday to my "younger" (un po) brother Gary.

Il Moro is at 11400 W. Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Very Happy Hour at Cafe Pacific

I took my dear friend Gigi who was here from the Philippines for a drink at Cafe Pacific at Trump National Golf Club. The weather was beautiful and the setting against the Pacific Ocean was breathtaking.

We sat at the bar and we both ordered the Lemon Martini. One sip and we knew we would not be having more than one as it was strong and delicious. We had to order something to go with our strong drink and what better appetizer to order than their famous Fried Calamari with spicy aioli sauce.

I love their Fresh Oysters so I ordered half a dozen. I had to make Gigi promise to try at least one as she never liked oysters. I was hopeful that this would be life changing for her. After I squeezed all the juice out of the lemons, I proceeded in putting a dab of hot sauce on them. I wanted to try it first to make sure it was fresh and delectable. It passed the test. It was Gigi's turn. She looked at me with the hopeful expression that I would understand her dilemma and that I would just tell her to forget it if she really didn't want to. I gave her "the look" Mother Superior would have given her student and just told her to slurp and swallow. She did and to her surprise, she agreed it was not bad. It was the consistency that bothered her the most.

We had such a wonderful time reminiscing as we don't get to talk as often as we would like. When we do get together, it's like we were never apart and that's the beauty of real friendship.

By the time we left, the sun was about to set which made for a nice background photo.

Trump National Golf Club is located in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

Tim Ho Wan

Tim Ho Wan, known as a Dim-Sum specialist which originated in Hong Kong is the only Chinese restaurant of it's kind to earn one Michelin star. I was fortunate enough to try their famous Baked Buns when Chef Mak was in Los Angeles three years ago for s special event. See previous blog:

On my last trip to the Philippines, it was brought to my attention that a Tim Ho Wan opened at the SM Mega Mall in Mandaluyong City and another at the Glorietta 3 Mall in Makati. Since we were close to the Mega Mall, my mother, Sandi and I went early to avoid the long lines. It was located right next to Din Tai Fung, another favorite of mine.

We had to order Chef Mak's famous Baked Buns with bbq pork inside. I suddenly remembered why I loved them so. The bun is reminiscent of the Philippine pan de sal (soft rolls with salt yet sweet). It was mouth-watering. I salivate every time I think of these buns! We also ordered the Chow Mein Stir Fried Noodles and the Pork Dumplings with Shrimp. The Vermicelli Roll with Shrimps were flavorsome. We did order a special which I did not see on the menu; It was a spicy dumpling which my mom could not eat so Sandi and I had to finish it. Everything was heavenly.

Unlike Din Tai Fung, Tim Ho Wan does not have an extensive menu. What Chef Mak has, has been perfected. There's a rumor that there is a plan to open up a branch in Los Angeles. I can only hope and pray.