Thursday, June 29, 2017

Strawberry Rhubarb Mini Cake

There's a new kid in town; the town being Panera Bread. It's the Strawberry Rhubarb Mini Cake. If you love rhubarb and strawberry you might love this mini cake like I do. The cake has chunks of fresh strawberries and rhubarb. It has just enough tang to it that goes very well with the cinnamon crunch crumb topping. It's very moist and just plain yummy. I had this with a cup of their "dark roast" coffee along with my multiple vitamins.

The flower was compliments of Amy. It brought a nice touch towards the presentation. Panera Bread has multiple locations. I believe they all open at 6:00 a.m.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sidecar Doughnuts

Three of us were supposed to go on this food excursion this morning. Tani, one of my physical therapist told me about 3 places next to each other worth visiting. The first one was Celestinos Meats which sold beef, poultry, fresh sausages and nitrate free beef jerky. The second store was Pie-Not which sold savory pies and the third and most important store was Sidecar Doughnuts. I've always wanted to go to the one is Santa Monica but never had the time.

We had to strategize our eating frenzy and maximize our timing. We got to the parking area at around 10:15 a.m. We decided to start with Sidecar since we haven't had breakfast. I have been told that the Huckleberry is the best so we ordered 1 of those plus a Butter & Salt doughnut and we had to try the Maple Bacon as well.  We sat outside and inhaled the warm doughnuts. They were so very good. I loved the Huckleberry the best since I've never had anything like it. The Butter and Salt were tasty. The Bacon Doughnut was also good. Sandi thought it was the best Bacon Doughnut she's had. I still prefer the ones from Cafe Dulce since theirs is lighter and fluffier. These doughnuts are denser.

After we inhaled our 3 doughnuts, it was time for lunch so we walked in Pie-Not and ordered the That'll Do Pig which had ground Angus beef filling, minced onions & garlic, savory gravy, topped with extra sharp cheese and bacon. We also ordered the Drover Pie which has the same filling without the cheese but with peas and carrots topped with mashed potato. It really was a Shepherd's Pie.Sandi and I much preferred the That'll Do Pig. I liked the crust in the Drover Pie. Sandi commented that she liked my Sheperd's Pie a lot better. I didn't argue with her.

Now that we had our breakfast and lunch it was time to go to the Meat shop. We both tried the Beef Jerky and ended up buying the Texas Style Hot Beef Jerky and the Hot Turkey Jerky after sampling both of them.  These jerkies were not cheap. It was $15 for 4oz.

Since we drove all the way to Costa Mesa I thought we might as well get some more doughnuts. We went back to Sidecar. I asked if I could freeze the Huckleberry doughnuts and they said they have heard people freeze them. That's all I needed to hear. I bought a dozen to freeze plus I got 1 more Butter and Salt and a Blueberry Cheesecake for dessert after dinner. Sandi also bought a few to take home.

When I got home, I planned to take a short nap but ended up sleeping for 2 hours! All that driving and eating made me very tired.

Dinner was just cottage cheese with Mertz's peaches which was wonderful and some Orzo Tuna Salad that Sandi made. We had to have a reasonably healthy dinner. We split the Blueberry Cheesecake Doughnut. It was deeelicious. We were supposed to have just a bite of the Lemon doughnut Sandi bought but she forgot to serve it. Maybe she intentionally forgot so she can have the whole thing tomorrow! I called her up on my way home to ask her to taste the lemon and let me know what she thought. For the sake of this blog, she was obedient and had a bite. She thought it was lemony and very good.

This excursion was quite expensive but worth it. The Huckleberry Doughnuts were $3.50 each, the Butter & Salt was $2.75 and the Blueberry Cheesecake was $3.75. I can say these are the best doughnuts I have had with the exception of the maple bacon.

Sidecar Doughnuts is located at 270 E.17th St. in Costa Mesa. The other location is in Santa Monica. Pie-Not, the Australian pie store is next door and next to it is Celestinos Meats.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Benji's French-Basque Restaurant

Since our favorite restaurant in Bakersfield Valentien closed, we didn't know another exceptional place to go for dinner.  We heard from a local resident in Bakersfield that Benji's was a very good French-Basque restaurant.

The ambiance is not your typical French restaurant. This was very informal with tables that are lined with white tablecloths but topped with clear plastic. The set ups are served family style. The dinner menu had something for everyone. For appetizers, they had Sauteed Mushrooms, Escargot, Scampi, Frog Legs, Sweet Breads. The Entrees had Steaks, Lamb, Chicken & Duck, Seafood, and Others.

Sandi and I decided to split an order of Rib Eye Steak and Grilled Halibut with lemon butter sauce. The big surprise was that all entrees came with the "Set-Up". Set-up includes French Bread, Salsa, Soup, Beans, Green Salad, Fresh Marinated Tomatoes, Pickled Tongue, French Fries and Hot Vegetables. If you only wanted the Set-Up, it cost $16.

The Vegetable Soup was delicious with the beans and hot salsa mixed into it. The Green Salad and the Fresh Tomatoes were just as good. I loved the dressing they used. The Pickled Tongue was tender and tasty. The Fries went well with our entree. The only thing we were not crazy about was the Green Beans.

The Rib Eye Steak was grilled to perfection. The Halibut had Sandi's seal of approval. She's the Halibut expert. The lemon butter sauce was icing on the cake.

We were so stuffed with all the food that we could not finish everything. That did not stop us from ordering dessert. We really wanted a Baked Alaska but our server told us it would take 30 minutes to prepare. We didn't want to wait and sit that long so we ended up ordering the Flan which was very good; almost as good as the one I make. Next time we will have to order not just the Baked Alaska but the numerous Souffles; Grand Marnier, Raspberry, Chocolate, and Lemon.

Benji's is a wonderful place to go if you want to be surprised and have a nice satisfying meal. You must come hungry! Benji's is located at 4001 Rosedale Hwy. in Bakersfield, California.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Chicken Matzo Ball Soup

Two weeks ago Sandi announced she was making Chicken Soup with Matzo Balls for dinner.  This was supposed to be a healthy and simple dinner. The soup was made with chicken broth, pieces of chicken, lots of vegetables and giant matzo balls.

As usual, she was not capable of just serving the soup even if it had humongous balls. She also made Grilled Cheese sandwiches. Everything was delicious. The chicken soup was truly filling. It's the type of soup you would want in your freezer so when the weather is cold outside or when you think you're getting sick it would be nice to thaw and heat some of the soup. It is really the best chicken soup I have had.

For dessert, I bought 2 items at Trader Joe's. Brownie Crisp Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches which was good but not worth getting again. The other dessert I got was the Mango Sorbet Bon Bons with chocolate coating. Now, those were very good and yes, I would buy them again.

Back to the Chicken Soup, I wish we could just dial 1-CALL-SANDRA and have some delivered.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Another Birthday at Hinoki and the Bird

This was an overdue birthday dinner for Sandi. Both Sandi and Mertz have never been to Hinoki and the Bird so it was time.

We started at the bar since we were early. They had "Happy Hour" so we took advantage of that and ordered 2 Moscow Mules and Sandi had the Spring Fling. The couple next to us ordered something that looked interesting. It looked like a Parmesan crisp but the other side of it was a bunch of dumplings. I asked them how they were and they said they were delicious.

At 6 p.m. we were escorted to our table outside. Our server Chris came to introduce himself and informed us he would be happy to answer any questions. Boy, did we all have questions regarding the different plates and how things were cooked. I knew I had to order the Lobster Roll and the Beef Tartare since I've had those before. My favorite Crab Toast has long been dead. Chris mentioned that people still ask for it. I wish they would put it back on the menu.

In addition to the Beef and Lobster Roll with green curry, we did order the Dumplings, Pork Chops with cherries that was ever so good. Another plate we ordered was the Crispy Suckling Pig with lettuce, peach chutney, and chili. They were meant to be eaten wrapped in lettuce with a bit of lime.

A side of Grilled White Rice accompanied our various pork dishes. We had to have some vegetables so we all voted for the Brussels Sprouts with lemon and furikake. They were nice and crispy and had a bit of a burnt taste which we all loved.

It was time for dessert. Sandi got a "Happy Birthday" plate with an assortment of fruit and chocolate. Chris handed us the menu and as usual, it was hard for us to make decisions so we ordered a Miso Mochi which I've had before, Miso Donut with honey caramel and the "Campfire" which was like a smores bar. It had a chocolate cake underneath a graham cracker base with toasted marshmallows. This was served on top of what looked like a campfire complete with smoke. While we were enjoying the various desserts, Chris brought 1 more compliments of the Chef. It was what he tried to talk us into ordering. Shaved ice with blueberries. It sounded so "elementary" that we didn't give it a second thought. It ended up to be my favorite one! We were not too fond of the Miso donut which we thought was just o.k.

All in all, it was a nice dinner and we left the restaurant as Happy Campers. Hinoki and the Bird is located at 10 W. Century Dr. in Los Angeles.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


This ice cream parlor just opened lately at the Crossroads in Torrance. The ice cream is customized and handcrafted. It's made with liquid nitrogen so there's a lot of gas as they prepare your order. Everything is natural and organic. They have 70 flavors and a multitude of toppings.

If you're not familiar with Creamistry, you will have to study the menu. You can't just point and order a flavor with toppings. There are several steps. First, you choose your size and base; Signature, Organic or Coconut. Second, you pick your flavor. Third, you pick your toppings and don't forget the upgrades.

Mertz insisted on treating us. I didn't need another ice cream dessert especially since I had just had a coffee float with vanilla ice cream but since I am such a good sport and didn't want to hurt any one's feelings, I ordered the salted caramel with the signature base and Twix topping mixed with the ice cream. Mertz had the black cherry with chocolate topping. Sandi's order was the most interesting. She ordered Madagascar vanilla with the coconut base and blueberry topping. We were all perplexed with the blueberry topping because it was red! We thought it was a mistake but they assured us it was blueberry.

The ice cream is rich and creamy but I would say it really was nothing special. It's all a gimmick. I would definitely bring kids there for the experience but after that, you might as well go to the nearest supermarket and get a gallon of your favorite flavor and put your own toppings. If you want really good ice cream you should head on over to Handel's Homemade Ice Cream in Redondo Beach. If you haven't had the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, you haven't lived!