Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lunch at Catalina Island

Sandi, Mertz and I were in for a treat. We were invited by the Gonzales family at Catalina Island. Piero, our dance instructor was the instigator of this event. Mertz and I brought our favorite La Montina Rose Wine and Sandi made her special bread pudding. We left from San Pedro and took the Catalina Express and we arrived there in an hour and 15 minutes later. Yesterday was very hot in Los Angeles. Catalina Island was cooler plus there was always a nice breeze.

Piero and Inez met us at the dock and we walked to their cottage which was 10 minutes away. Sandra and Alvaro welcomed us with a big bowl of Shrimp & Seafood Ceviche with chips. The ceviche was fresh and delicious. We were all fascinated with the little coconut bowls for our individual ceviches. We all would have been happy with just the ceviche. Italian women are known for their love of cooking and loves having everyone eat and eat and eat more...Mangia, Mangia. Sandra had made some pasta with nice succulent shrimps. It was hard not to overeat. When she asked if we would like a second serving, the answer was yes.

After our lunch, it was time for Sandi's bread pudding.  Everyone loved her pudding. It had blueberries and had a nutty top which I'm sure was made with lots of butter.

We were done eating and though I had visions of lying on a swing and taking a nap, someone suggested we walk. So we did walk and absorbed Catalina's local color. Piero suggested we go for Happy Hour at Luau Larry's to have their famous Buffalo Milk. In case you are not familiar with the drink, it is made with vodka, Kahlua, creme de cacao, milk, fresh bananas. This particular buffalo's milk also had nutmeg. It was delicious and refreshing. I did not particularly like the nutmeg but it was very drinkable. We all had no problem finishing our drinks. It was very nice of Mertz to treat us to the buffalos.

Good things don't last forever so it was time to sail back home. We left at 7 p.m. and witnessed a gorgeous sunset. It was a beautiful day spent with beautiful people thanks to the Gonzales family.

Lawry's Bevery Hills

Dinner at Lawry's just never gets old. We celebrated Amy's 88th birthday with her husband Nako and Sandi. We got there a bit early to take advantage of the meatballs and homemade potato chips at the bar.

Our server, Dolce greeted us as we took our seats. We ordered a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon but before we put our orders in, Ariel Chopra Lawry's general manager came to say hello and I introduced him to the birthday celebrant. We were all delighted when he asked Dolce to bring us all a glass of Champagne. 

It was hard not to eat more than 1 piece of their delicious sour dough bread. No one passed that test. Dolce came over to start us with the spinning salad which we all enjoyed with the chilled forks. 

Anthony our carver, whom we've had many times before served us our prime rib with the best creamed corn. The Yorkshire pudding came next. The creamy horseradish was great on top of the perfectly cut meat. Everything was delicious as we ooohed and ummmed.  Nako, Amy and Sandi had fairly large left overs.  I guess they ate too much bread. I on the other hand ate everything on my plate. It was sad as I had nothing to take home.

Amy got a birthday English Trifle for dessert. The 3 of us ordered the Crème Brûlée but before anything we asked Dolce if they could really burn the top. It came perfectly burnt they way we all like it. It was delicious. The custard was not too sweet or overpowering. 

We all thought we ate too much that we all vowed to see each other at the gym the following morning. I am happy to report that we all kept our promise. I never get tired of Lawry's. They are consistently very good and service is unbeatable. 
Thanks to Dolce and Ariel for another unforgettable birthday celebration.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


After seeing the movie "A Trip to Spain" which was about food,  it was appropriate to have a nice lunch at this new restaurant a few feet from the Laemmle theater on 2nd street in Santa Monica.

It's a small restaurant and they do not take reservations. I was not sure if they would have a line on a Sunday afternoon. I just hoped and prayed that not too many people would have heard of it at this time. It was a relief to see that there was no line. We walked in shortly after 1:00 p.m. We looked at the menu and I immediately saw 3 items on the menu that I wanted to try. I wanted to try the Lasagna Verde, the Tagliatelle al Ragu which was different as it was made without cheese, milk or cream, and the Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe. Sandi announced that she would order the Ragu so I positioned myself across from her so we could share that and I decided to have the Cacio e Pepe to share as well.

Sujata ordered the Tonnarelli all'Arrabbiata which was spicy.  She was very happy with her choice. Mertz opted for the Ravioli ai Carciofi (artichokes). Uovo prides themselves with their pasta which is made in Bologna and flown overnight to the restaurant. I have to say that the pasta is the main event at Uovo. You really can taste a difference. They were cooked aldente. Our server explained that since everything is made to order, they would bring them out as soon as it is cooked. They do not wait and bring all the food at once.  The Bolognese was great. If you are accustomed to heavy sauces, you would be disappointed in this dish. I loved it as you could taste the pasta which was simply delicious and the meat though too salty for Sandi, was perfect for me. I did ask for some Parmigiano cheese and Carlo came over and suggested that we try it first but would be happy to bring some if I needed it. Carlo, part owner of the restaurant was attentive and asked if he could mix the pasta for us. He made sure we experience it fully the way it should be eaten and enjoyed to the maximum. He was not pushy. I totally understood where he was coming from because I am the same way. I like people to experience the joy I get when I eat something a certain way. If they don't like it, then they are free to do what they want. I also enjoyed the Cacio e Pepe.

Mertz was not too excited about her Ravioli. I tried one and I felt the same way only because I am not used to a soft ravioli. It was not aldente and apparently, it is meant to be soft. When Carlo came over he asked us if everything was satisfactory, I mentioned that we thought the ravioli was a bit mushy. He offered to bring us something else and Mertz told him it was not necessary but he insisted he bring us an order of Ravioli di Ricotta to share. Though the ravioli was not aldente, it had a very good pomodoro sauce. We cleaned that plate! Not everyone like their ravioli aldente so if  that doesn't bother you, you would enjoy the Ravioli di Ricotta.

Uovo is a good Italian restaurant. I don't think you would get any better pasta. You really will be able to tell the difference. I can't wait to try the Lasagna Verde and the Carbonara. Uovo is located at 1320 2nd St. in Santa Monica. Don't let google maps fool you because even if they have the correct address, it tells you to go to 5th street which does not make sense. Go and enjoy the wonderful pasta at Uovo and say Ciao to Carlo.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Restaurant at the Getty Center

What a beautiful day to spend the morning at the Getty Museum yesterday. Sandi, Mertz, Sujata and I had reservations at their main dining room, The Restaurant.

Mertz and I decided on the Prix Fixe lunch without the wine pairing. Sujata had the Spicy Prawns with blistered corn pudding, scallion vinaigrette. Sandi had the Roasted Jidori Chicken with mango couscous risotto, vanilla buerre blanc and toasted cashews.

Our prixe fixe started with an Endive Salad with balsamic cherry vinaigrette, grilled red endive, honey ricotta and cherries. I fell in love with this salad. I don't think I've ever fallen in love with a salad before. It was perfect. Our main entrée was Beef Wellington with bone marrow, crispy mushrooms, puff pastry, and prosciutto fingerlings. This was not your typical beef Wellington. The puff pastry did not encase the filet. The very light and crispy pastry looked like a pair of eye glasses staring at you. It was up to you to cut and include it with your bite of beef. The steak was cooked to perfection.

Sandi was happy with her Jidori chicken and the interesting mango couscous risotto. Sujata was not thrilled with her Prawns. She loved the taste but the presentation turned her off. It isn't easy for some people especially a vegetarian to have prawns staring at you with their little black eyes and antennae sticking out.

For dessert, Sandi ordered the Butterscotch Budino which she found to be too sweet. Mertz and I had no choice. Our dessert included in our prix fixe was called "Birthday Cake". A slice of vanilla cake with strawberry and cream filling, confetti ice cream, mixed berries sauce and a French macaron. Our cake was nice and light. Sujata had the best dessert. That was her reward in lieu of her prawns. She had the Poached Pear with ginger streusel, citrus mascarpone and a saffron crème anglaise.

After our wonderful lunch, we strolled along the gardens which were inspiring to all of us. It was nice to reflect on the beauty of God's creation. As Mr. Rogers would have sung: " What a beautiful day in the neighborhood....." It was a beautiful day at the Getty Center.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

le Bon Garçon Lemonade Caramels

I've never heard of Lemon flavored caramels before.  I just recently discovered le Bon Garçon's fabulous caramels. I have had their Salted Caramel and their Honey Lavender Caramels. See my previous blog:

At the time I first ordered them, the Lemonade was not available. I had spoken to Justin, the owner and Chef of le Bon Garçon to find out when he would be making more of the lemonade caramels. I was in luck as he was about to make some that week. I quickly placed my order. I did receive the Lemonade Caramels in a few days. I wanted to save money on shipping so I thought it would be cost effective to order some more of the wonderful Salted Caramels and Honey Lavender Caramels.

The lemonade caramels are creamy, refreshing and you can definitely taste the lemon. The lemon isn't overpowering. I might have preferred it to be a bit more lemony but my friends thought it was just perfect.

I was at my brother's place the other day and he offered me some caramels from Paris. I was all excited till I had it. It was disappointing. The caramel was not creamy. It was on the hard side. I could not believe it. It did have a nice box so I imagine that people bought it thinking it would be good.

I guarantee that once you taste the caramels from le Bon Garçon, you will never settle for anything less.What makes these caramels different? This is what they have to say about them.

Tender, Luscious Caramels (TLC)

What makes our caramels so tender and luscious?   I take a few steps to make sure Le Bon Garcon caramels have a soft, buttery texture that melts in your mouth.  

Cooked in Copper Pots 
Copper pots provide an even heat so that our batches don't get scorched while cooking. Scorching can result in off-flavors and hard, sticky texture.  We ensure our caramels have a smooth texture by slow-cooking each batch while we constantly stir each batch to creamy perfection.
No Corn Syrup
We don't use corn syrup.  Caramels that are made with mostly corn syrup can be hard and flavorless.  Le Bon Garcon caramels are made with cane sugar which results in a flavorful and tender caramel.  
Fresh Cream and Butter
Fresh cream and butter not only give our caramels their dark, rich flavor but also provide our caramels with their rich, buttery texture.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Krispy Kreme Chocolate Glazed Donuts

In honor of the solar eclipse, participating Krispy Kremes announced that they were going to make chocolate donuts. Their famous glazed donuts were going to have a chocolate coating; think double the calories but who cares.

I called a few days ago to get the schedule of when and what times were they going to be available. Sandi and I were there at 5:00 p.m. yesterday (Sunday). They were supposed to be ready at 5:30 p.m. There were some people sitting eating a variety of donuts and some people just purchasing regular donuts. I asked if I could go ahead and pay for a couple of dozens and the young guy said no. So we waited and waited as the line got longer. We were first in line. It was 5:15 p.m. and the fellow said it won't be ready for another 35 minutes. Everything was so disorganized. People that wanted to buy regular donuts were in this long line which they didn't have to as they could have just gone to the counter. I was tempted to make an announcement but figured it was none of my business. I spoke to the manager, Dominique and he said it should be out in 15 minutes. It was 5:35 p.m. and the machine was still quiet. At about 5:45 p.m. the donuts started coming out.

I have never seen such disorganized bunch of people. They were all standing around and there was just one girl filling the boxes. As Sandi said: "She moved slower than death." Finally, the manager started filling boxes. Then some people that were sitting moved to the counter and presented the salesperson with a receipt. They had already paid and were handed boxes prior. Something we wanted to do but was told we couldn't do.  At 6:00 p.m. we finally walked out of the store to discover a long line outside.

We placed our dozens of donuts in the trunk of my car. I told Sandi we should not wait to try them since they were warm! We both inhaled a donut. It was a beautiful experience. Imagine the regular warm glazed donut but with a nice chocolate coating. It was heaven! I had some leftovers which I had for breakfast this morning. I tried to eat it without heating it and it was nothing special so I popped it in the microwave for 11 seconds and it tasted like it just came out of the donut machine.

We probably will have to wait for the next eclipse for them to make these wonderful donuts. Who knows, maybe by then they would be more organized and start their machines so that the donuts would be ready at said times.