Sunday, July 31, 2016

Tous les Jours

H Mart is a new Korean market that opened a few weeks ago in Torrance, California. I recently went to see what the hype was all about. It is a huge market and I was overwhelmed to see all sorts of food, pots, pans, rice cookers for sale. It is like a combination of a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Mitsuwa and 99cent store.

It was late in the afternoon and my purpose of going was to check out the bakery inside. Tous les Jours, a French bakery which had beautiful cakes, tarts, etc. A white chocolate cake caught my eye. It was expensive and though I wanted to buy it, I couldn't justify buying it for 3 people. I was going to have dinner at Sandi's house and she discouraged me from buying it. Instead, I decided to get several mini cakes. I got an Orange cream and  Mango; they called these cakes "tart". and a Blueberry Yogurt cake.. The cakes were all $5.50 except for the Blueberry Yogurt which was $5.00.

When it was time to eat it, I discovered that the lady gave me and charged me for 4 items. I only bought 3. I ended up with an extra Blueberry tart which I did not order but paid for. The cakes were disappointing. It wasn't bad but it wasn't that good either. The cake part of these tarts were gritty or grainy; almost like a cornbread. The best one was the Blueberry Yogurt; it was light, not too sweet though the blueberries were a bit sour. There were too many items displayed. I would still like to try the white cake and the tiramisu. To be fair, I will have to go back and explore the rest of the items. As for now, I am not impressed.

Tous les Jours is located inside Torrance H Mart at 4340 Pacific Coast Hwy. in Torrance, California.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Little Next Door

This quaint brasserie and wine bar is located at 8142 W. 3rd St. in Los Angeles. It is almost the end of the dinela week and I haven't been able to take advantage of it because of a busy schedule. Yesterday, 3 of my friends and I went to see a Japanese movie "Our Little Sister" at the Laemmle Royal in Santa Monica. I had to pick a restaurant that had some vegetable or fish on the menu for my vegetarian friend and make sure there was beef on the menu for the 3 other carnivores. 

We started with a nice bottle of champagne. The dinela menu had something for everyone.

They asked us if we would like some bread; of course we did after all we aren't the "Beverly Hills" type housewives that deprive ourselves from the "evil" carbs! In fact we are all carb lovers. We started with the appetizers. Sandi and Sujata picked Farmer's Market Vegetable  & Orzo Salad. Mertz had the Roasted Duck Leg Confit and I had the Stuffed Calamari. We all were very happy with what we picked. 

For our entrees, Sujata and Mertz had the Basil Pesto Fettuccine, Sandi had the Roasted Chicken Breast with Madeira Mushroom Sauce and I ordered the Moules Frites. I figured that since this was a French restaurant, the mussels would be good. I was right; the mussels were delicious and so were the fries which I ended up dumping them in the sauce when I finished all the mussels. Sandi had only 3 or 4 bites of her chicken as she was too full (but not for dessert). The Fettuccine was disappointing. Both Sujata and Mertz were not happy.  I did have a bite and it was just not good. One should follow the wise rule not to order anything Italian at a French restaurant.

We all wanted the same dessert: Peach and Lemon Basil Tart with marscapone cream. We were once again very happy. We all cleaned our plates. I have to mention that we were all hot (temperature wise) and I asked if they had air condition and our server informed me they only had fans. The doors were open but it was still in the 80's. That, plus consumption of alcohol made us even hotter. The heat definitely affected the receptionist who was half naked and we thought was not appropriately dressed for a restaurant that caters to families as well. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Best Weisswurst

I have been buying Weisswurst (white sausage) from the Alpine Village in Torrance ever since the mid seventies for very good reason. It simply is beyond delicious. It used to be made with veal but nowadays it is made with pork. No complaints on my end as it is still as good. I thought it would be appropriate to serve weisswurst to celebrate Otto's birthday.

The German Potato Salad was also purchased at Alpine Village; so was a bit of Sauerkraut for the few people that enjoy it. I myself don't like it and what's funny is Otto who is German does not like it either. I made some Red Cabbage which I cooked with apples and mushrooms.  Going back to the Weisswurst, the best way to cook it is to put it on the grill. This is not the traditional way. People usually remove the casing. I like to leave it on.  Our family and guests all like it burnt and since I aim to please, we all had burnt sausages. That was served with various mustards and relish but most of us favored the Siracha Sauce (Silver Spring brand), which was creamy, hot and tangy with a hint of sweetness.

Everyone seemed to have a good time despite the weather. It was in the 90's . The air condition was on in the house but  it was terribly hot outside; almost as hot as the Philippines. I was surprised that some of the guests sat outside. Towards the early evening, there seemed to be a bit of a breeze which made it almost pleasant.

We were all entertained by Maisie. She's the daughter of my niece. She's only 2 years old but she was able to command the room, she was belle of the ball. As soon as she arrived, she called out to everyone "Hi" and gave each person a hug. She didn't know anyone, yet she acted like everyone was her long lost friend. She made her rounds throughout the evening showing anyone interested in her "Hello Kitty" lunchbox and it's contents.

Dessert was Coffee Crunch Cake from Red Ribbon. Otto had his own Marzipan Cake which he happily devoured. He did enjoy everyone's company. It was a good birthday!

I intentionally cooked extra weisswurst so we can have it for several meals. They taste good heated in the microwave.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Krispy Kreme

I used to be able to eat 5 maybe 6 Krispy Kreme  Doughnuts one after the other when it was nice and hot. It didn't seem like a lot since they always handed me one while I waited and somehow, that did not seem to count. Gone are those days. The last time I was at a Krispy Kreme was in Gardena, they informed me that they stopped giving freebies. That was the last time I bought a few dozen glazed doughnuts.

While we were in Bakersfield, California, we saw a Krispy Kreme and it brought back memories. Sandi did not object to stopping  for breakfast. We tried a few flavored ones to share: maple, blueberry and sour cream along with the glazed. Sandi thought the maple was too sweet. I had a bite of the blueberry and was not impressed. The sour cream smelled like blueberry and even tasted like blueberry. I did not like it at all.

A server came by which surprised me, to ask how everything was. I was honest and told her the sour cream tasted like blueberry so she offered to replace it. I asked for a glazed doughnut and she came back with not 1 but 3 glazed donuts! They may not have offered a freebie before we purchased anything but I ended up with 2 extra ones. Sandi and I bought a dozen each to take home to enjoy and freeze.

I had forgotten how good they are; they are literally softer and fluffier than marshmallows. I am talking about fresh hot ones. The following day, I popped them in the microwave for 10 seconds and it tasted nice and fresh. I only ate 3 of them this time.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Valentien Restaurant

After attending mass at St. Francis of Assisi in Bakersfield, California, Sandi and I were ready to eat a nice dinner. Where, was the big question; search. We ended up picking Valentien Restaurant at 333 Truxton Ave., Suite 16 in Bakersfield. This French restaurant was all decorated as they were celebrating Bastille Day. We got there early so we were lucky to get seated. The cute servers were dressed appropriately for Bastille Day. They even had a corner for you to have your picture taken ala Frenchie. Shortly after we sat, a man started playing the accordion.

We debated on whether we should have several appetizers for dinner since the garlic fries, shrimps, and cheese plate all sounded good. Then we both zoomed on the Steak au Poivre avec Pommes Frites, the peppered filet mignon in a cognac sauce with the French fries served with spinach. I asked Sandi if we should split that and still order several appetizers. Her answer was "no", she wanted her own steak. Who was I to argue. We ended up ordering our very own Steak au Poivre. Before our steak, we enjoyed the French bread that was slightly burnt in the bottom. We ended up fighting for the burnt ones as it was very good with the butter. The steak was cooked to perfection and was just wonderful. I did ask for some extra sauce which made everything even more delicious.

Our server asked us if we would be interested in ordering the Chocolate Souffle for dessert. It would take 30 minutes to cook so we went ahead and ordered one to share. It was served with ice cream and the size was perfect for the two of us. As we consumed all of the souffle, Jeramy Brown, co-owner of the restaurant came by to ask us if everything was satisfactory. Showing him our clean plates was the best answer he could hope for.

While dining, we ended up striking a conversation with a couple next to us. Bernard and Beatrice Barmann are long time residents of Bakersfield and we were happy to be informed that Valentien is the best restaurant in Bakersfield. They not only knew the owner and the accordionist but they seemed to know most of the customers.

The evening was most enjoyable as we shared stories with the Barmanns and getting to meet Marie Antoinette was a nice bonus!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Priceless Table with Chef Susan Feniger

Sandi and I attended this event last Friday at Chef Susan Feniger's restaurant Mud Hen Tavern. I have never been there before. The event was to benefit "Stand Up To Cancer", a very worthy cause. As we walked in the restaurant, we were greeted by a friendly person by the name of Pam, she and her friend Deborah Howell from 94.7 The Wave radio station were part of the event. The small restaurant opened up to an outdoor patio decorated with lights and 3 rows of tables set with beautiful bouquet of flowers.

We first sat inside and sampled some of the hors d'oeuvres. Deviled Eggs with green salsa, Red Bean and Rice Fritters, Garlic chip stuffed with ceviche, and our favorite Cauliflower Popcorn. These were addicting as it was a bit salty from the sea salt and more of the vinegar flavor which almost made our mouths pucker, in a good way. As Chef Feniger made her rounds, she stopped to chat and we mentioned  how we were enjoying the hors d' oeuvres especially the cauliflower. Being the gracious hostess that she is, she brought us a second dish of cauliflower which we devoured. I have never met Susan before and I must say I have not met a Chef who is so outgoing and genuinely friendly. Even if she has cooked for the current president, and the Clinton's and a multitude of the"rich and famous", she is just a lovely person and is very approachable. I mentioned to her that I have a blog and she immediately asked me if I wanted to take a picture of the kitchen in which of course I said yes. I got to meet her executive chef, Kajsa Alger (pronounced Sasha). Everyone in the kitchen was so nice and welcoming.

The printed menu was attached to a wooden plaque and signed by Chef Feniger. The food was delicious. I was a bit shocked to discover that some people did not know how to properly eat an artichoke. Susan noticed that as she made her rounds and some struggled trying to eat it with a fork. By the time the main course was served, the Malaysian Peppered Short Ribs, we could hardly have the 3rd bite as we were so stuffed. I know the culprit of this "fullness" was the popcorn cauliflower.

Sandi and I loved the Salted Thai Tea Pudding; it didn't sound exciting but it was very good. The Lemon Basbousa Cake was also good but our stomachs could not handle any more food so it ended up in a "to go" box along with our short ribs.

The evening was so much fun. At the conclusion of the dinner, we were all handed a bag with her signed cookbook and she was willing to further personalize each book and take more pictures. I have to mention that the entertainment took the cake. Susan entertained us with story after story about her experiences, etc., and in between her stories,she would explain in detail what we were about to eat. I have never met such a dynamic, vivacious and fascinating person in my life. To Chef Susan Feniger, I thank you for a Priceless Evening.

P.S. Sandi later asked Susan about the name of the restaurant. Mud Hen is the name of the baseball team from Toledo, Ohio where Susan is from; I am sure most normal people know this. We know nothing about sports, let alone baseball but we do know how to eat artichoke!