Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Filipino Dinner at the Seven Seas Mariner

I don't know if I can take any other cruise ships in the future other than the Seven Seas Mariner, a Regent Cruise Line.  Everything was first class. The food was wonderful and it was all about quality. Service was impeccable. One of the dining rooms was called Compass Room. This was not their fine dining but the food was indeed what I consider fine dining. The brand of china on the table setting was by Versace.

Since a lot of the servers were Filipinos, I asked if they ever have Filipino food. I was informed that I could request a Filipino dinner and all I had to do is give them 24-hour notice and tell them what I would want on the menu. I invited our new friends, Nicole and D.J. Nicole Sasser is a trumpet vocal artist and she performed twice at the ship. They called her Sassy Nicole. She's a real class act on the stage. Here's a link so you can peek at Sassy Nicole.

I ordered Chicken and Pork Adobo, Pancit (Filipino noodles), Lumpia (eggrolls) and of course steamed rice to go with everything. The dinner was delicious. We all enjoyed it. For dessert, it had to be Leche Flan and even that was very good and light, unlike most flans, that are heavy and too rich.

After the flan, not to mention endless champagne which went with the dinner and dessert, I ordered a cheese plate and port to end the wonderful meal.

Tea at the Flavel House

This beautiful old mansion in Astoria, Oregon was the venue for our afternoon Tea, an excursion included in our Regent cruise to Alaska. It's a beautiful house with so much detail and interesting history. I've included a link below with a short history of the house and its occupants.

The table setting was impressive and inviting. Mertz and I ended up conversing with a lovely couple, Nicole and D.J. We loved the tea and the various scones and shortbread cookies which were the best.

If you ever are on a cruise and dock in Astoria, the Flavel House should not be missed.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sette Mari at La Veranda

You would be out of luck if you try to find this restaurant on land. Sette Mari is an Italian Restaurant on the Seven Seas Mariner; a Regent Cruise Ship. This was not even one of their specialty restaurants and yet it was our favorite. The unforgettable experience started with the maître d' Jamal Khan, a dashing gentleman who welcomed us each time and escorted us to and from our seats.

We always started with a glass of Prosecco followed by a Chianti or a Cabernet. An assortment of bread was in abundance. It was hard not to eat a lot of it with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For Antipasti, we had Le Bruschette with 4 different toppings, Polpettine E Mozzarelline Fritte (veal meatballs and fried mozzarella and Il Tagliere Di Parmigiano e Olive (chunks of aged Parmesan cheese and marinated olives).

Mertz and I dined there several times so we were able to sample the Penne Rigate alla Bolognese, the Lasagne Al Forno, Spaghetti alla Carbonara and our favorite pasta the Fettuccine con Zucchine, Gamberetti, Panna E Limone; that's pasta with zucchini and shrimps in a creamy lemon sauce. The menu changed every 2 days so on our last night the Fettuccine was not going to be available. I asked our friend, Jamal, the maître d' if it was possible to request the dish, so he spoke to the chef and he came back shortly to inform us that they would have it available for us the following day. Our server Gianluca from Sicily was delightful. His Italian accent made us enjoy our food even more. He was passionate about the food when he talked about it.

For our Secondi, we ordered the Le Scaloppine Di Vitello Al Limone. It was the perfect cut, truly thin and it had just the right amount of tang. We couldn't get enough of this dish that we had it several times. It was the best Scaloppine I've ever had!

Dessert was buffet style since there were too many choices. I did like the Torta Con Fichi, Limone E Olio d'Oliva (Fig, lemon and olive oil cake) and the Tiramisu. The Torta Di Ricotta was nice and light and I enjoyed that even if I'm not a cheesecake fan. There were other yummy desserts in which names I can't recall but they were happily consumed.

I congratulate Chef Benedicto De Leon Bendo for one of the best Italian restaurants I've been to, and I have been to many including ones in Italy. Grazie Mille!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pink's Hot Dogs

In the forty years I have lived in Los Angeles, I have never been to a Pink's Hot Dog stand. I have heard people rave about it and some just thought it was no big deal.

There is one that opened at the Del Amo Mall in Torrance a few months ago and we finally were able to try two of their hotdogs. The famous Chili Cheese Dog was not impressive. In fact, I much prefer the chili dogs at Der Wienerschnizel. The Guadalajara Dog was much better. It had relish, onions, tomatoes and was topped with sour cream. The hot dog had a very satisfying crunch when you bit into it.  Despite my thinking the chili dog was not special, I would definitely go back again and try the many others.

French Fries were very good.  Sandi and I loved them and one order is plenty for two people.
The next time you want a good hot dog, I do recommend Pink's Hot Dogs.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Ganche à Trois

What a catchy name for extraordinary cookies. This kiosk is located at the Del Amo Mall in Torrance. The display gets your attention right away. The packaging is beautiful and very classy.

Sandy, the owner was very pleasant and eager to talk about the different flavors which had clever names for them: Tall, Dark and Toffee, Shades of Brownie, Sugar Pie Honey Hunk, Pucker Up Baby, Ganache à Trois, Love Me Some S'Smore, Mexican Cutie.

I bought a couple and Sandy gave me an extra one to try. I so wanted to really love these chewy cookies but unfortunately, I did not. They were moist and delicious but it was not extraordinary. I thought it might have been just me so I shared pieces of them to 2 other friends and they both felt the same way.

A lot of people from Yelp gave good reviews. I may still try other flavors the next time I'm at the mall.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


My friend Mary took me out for my birthday dinner last night at a restaurant I have heard good things about; Suburbia in Redondo Beach.

We ordered small plates. She had to order the Spicy Spaghetti with sliced hanger steak, stir-fried with Thai basil, mushroom, and spicy tomato sauce. I was afraid it might be too spicy but I was able to tolerate it especially when I added some parmesan cheese. The General T's Prawns with chili, crab, peanuts and salted pork was good. The Brussels Sprouts was shaved meaning they were easy to eat; no hard chewing required. It had bacon, lemon, parmesan brown butter, and almonds. It was delicious. We both loved Street Corn "Off the Cobb". It had spicy mayonnaise, magic seasoning (and it was magic) cilantro and radish.

Mary wanted some bread which they didn't have. However, Jessica our server suggested we order Pao de Queijo; Brazilian chewy n gooey cheezy poofs served with butter and spice honey. Those cheezy poofs were soooo very good. They were doughy but in a good way and truly cheezy. They were wonderful little balls!

We didn't have any problems consuming the bottle of red wine Mary brought along. It was a fun evening celebrating my birthday in May and as always, fun getting together with an old and dear friend.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Pinwheel Cafe & Bakery

Pinwheel Bakery opened recently. It is where the former L'Amande Bakery (best ever) used to be. We have been waiting as the signage has been there for some time. Sandi and I have been there several times to try various items. The place is cute; different decor from L'Amande but still inviting. They have a variety of baked goods from nice looking French breads to croissants. They have soups and sandwiches; Croque Monsieurs, French Toast, Waffles, etc. etc. I met the owner, Sophie, a French lady who was very sweet.

The first time Sandi and I went, we ordered the Croque Monsieur. She had hers with the green salad and I had mine with the tomato soup. The salad dressing was too tart for me. The soup was nothing special. The sandwich was not cooked enough for us but that's just a preference. We like ours almost burnt on top. Service was slow even though they were not that busy. It took some time for my coffee to arrive but they apologized and gave us some Choquettes on the house. Those were excellent. They were airy, nice and very light. We also ordered a trio of mini croissants. They were good but again nothing special.

On our second trip, we ordered a French Toast and Chocolate Waffles. We also ordered a Lemon Poppyseed Scone which looked good. We would have liked the Brioche bread to have been cut thicker. Thin French toast just doesn't do it for us. The strawberries were sour. The waffles were too sweet. In all fairness, a plain one might have been better. The Lemon Scone was a good size one but it came alone, unaccompanied by anything. I had to ask for some butter. One small triangular piece came which was enough for 3 bites. Scones have to come with butter, preserves or better yet, lemon curd to go with it.

A few days ago, Sujata, Cynthia, Sandi and I saw an early movie at the AMC and when we got out, we all decided to have a snack at Pinwheel since we had a tub of popcorn. The 2 ladies have never been so I didn't say anything since I did not want to influence their opinion on anything. Two of them ordered the Lavender Hot Chocolate. Both Cynthia and Sandi couldn't believe that the small order was truly small. It was tepid, not hot and had about 2 sips of the chocolate milk, the lavender flavor was undetected, and lots of foam on top (notice the small cup was not even full). Cynthia ordered 6 of the Choquettes to share which everyone enjoyed. I ordered the French Onion Soup. I have to say it was disappointing. The cup was small and it had the piece of French bread floating inside.I have had numerous French Onion Soups and I expect very good ones from a French restaurant/bakery. Usually, they are overflowing and dark and crusty rich with onions. This was far from it. Sandi had the trio of mini croissants which were o.k. There was a Chocolate Caramel Tart that looked gooey so I got a slice for everyone to try. It was good but I couldn't help comparing it to the salted caramel tart from L'amande that was rich but not too sweet.

I did buy a baguette to take home and that was good. Both Sujata and Cynthia were not impressed. Sandi and I gave it three tries. The bakery is good but it just didn't blow me away. It's not like I wanted to tell the whole world to go there ASAP. I spent a lot of money when L'Amande opened since I was blown away. I literally was there almost every day if not eating there, I was buying the goods for my friends to try. I so wanted this bakery to be the next L'Amande but unfortunately, it falls short.

Pinwheel Cafe is located at 2553 Pacific Coast Highway in Torrance, California.