Friday, September 22, 2017

Standing Egg

It's always a challenge to try and make an egg stand on it's own. You can only do this twice a year; the spring and fall equinox. That is when the sun crosses the celestial equator and when day and night are of equal length. I usually can do it in a few seconds but this time it took me several tries with several eggs. This is the first time I've tried it with brown eggs. That may be or may not be the reason.

I hear one can also balance a broom. I will have to look into that and try it sometime.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Filipino Dinner

I usually get invited for meals so I thought this time I would cook. I put some effort in preparing dinner for a couple of friends. I made Chicken cooked in coconut milk; with vinegar, garlic and whole peppercorns and Pancit Bihon (rice sticks). The Pancit Bihon is my grandmother's recipe. I made it a year ago but before that, it's been 40 years since I last made it because her recipe called for frying the vegetables individually. I tried doing it easier this time. I fried the carrots, celery and string beans together then added the cabbage after 5 minutes. The pancit consisted of pork, cooked ham and shrimps, onion, garlic, mushrooms and chicken bouillon.

I of course had to make steamed rice to go with the Coconut Chicken. The coconut sauce lightly showered the rice and made it nice and creamy. It was a starchy dinner; rice, and rice noodles but who cares. A bottle of Rosé Champagne complemented the dinner very well.

For dessert I made Calamansi Pie (Philippine lime). It had just the right amount of tang. It was the perfect dessert after the chicken and noodle meal.

My guests left quite happy.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Chez Melange

I haven't had brunch at Chez Melange since they were still in the old location on Pacific Coast Highway. Mertz had invited me and Sandi for brunch as a "welcome home" celebration for Sandi as she just got back from a trip from Vermont. At the last minute, Sandi called and informed us that she wouldn't be able to make it as she developed a splitting headache. I told Mertz we should just postpone the brunch but she thought we should go anyway and then go again with Sandi later.

Mertz was excited for us to try the Mimosa Flight. That was 3 ounces of each: Orange Mimosa, Pomegranate Mimosa, Pineapple Mimosa and Mango Mimosa.The presentation alone was exciting. We started with the orange and worked our way to the end. Funny that we both thought the orange was the best and the least favorite was the pineapple. 

We decided to order 2 entrées to share. The first one was the Eggs Panchitos; scrambled eggs, ground beef, chili relleno, sope, hot sauce. The second one was the Migas Con Huevos; chorizo, tomato, caramelized onions, olive oil, garlic, oregano, breadcrumbs, scrambled with eggs, tomatoes and feta cheese. Both entrées were delicious and were a good combination but the Eggs Panchitos was outstanding. The sope was a bit crunchy and made a perfect base for the eggs and beef. The chili relleno was delicious. We were both very happy with our meal. 
We managed to drink all of the Mimosas except for the pineapple. We were both getting sleepy so Mertz suggested we get up and walk to Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf around the corner and get us some picker upper before we head over to the movies. She had a large coffee and I had a Caramel Cappuccino which I really enjoyed. 

It was a delightful lunch and a fun afternoon thanks to Mertz. I can't contain my excitement because I know that there will be a repeat performance as soon as Sandi feels better. Chez Melange is located at 1611 S. Catalina St. in Redondo Beach, California.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Pizzeria Mozza

It's been over 5 years since I've been to Pizzeria Mozza; Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich's restaurant in Los Angeles. Mertz and I got out of the Laemmle Theater in Santa Monica at around 3 p.m. Mertz wanted to go to Osteria Mozza since she has never been there but they didn't open till 5:30 p.m. so we ended up at Pizzeria Mozza which is right next door to Osteria and it opens from noon till midnight.

We ordered the Mozza Caprese; burrata cheese with cherry tomatoes topped with a pesto sauce. We also ordered the Pane Bianco to go with the Caprese. The Fried Squash Blossom looked to good not to order so we did. We asked our server Julie if she thought that would be enough and she said it depends on how hungry we were. We both agreed we were hungry. It would have been a mortal sin not to order a pizza, after all this was their specialty. We decided on the Funghi Pizza since we both love mushrooms (sorry Sandi). The burrata was creamy as expected and was great on the well toasted bread. The fried squash blossoms were so light and airy and filled with wonderful ricotta cheese. The pizza was great. Lots of mushrooms and cheese. The crust was the best; thin crust with puffy and charred edges. Believe it or not, we ate everything.

Julie came back to ask us about dessert. We were too full but thought it would not hurt to look at the menu. One stood out; Butterscotch Budino, Maldon Sea Salt & Rosemary Pine Nut cookies. We hit the jackpot. Loved, loved, loved this Budino. It was super delicious with bits of salt. Definitely a winner and sure to be ordered again. I have to mention that we both didn't care for the cookies at all. We saved some calories there.

Pizzeria Mozza is located at 641 N. Highland in Los Angeles.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Norms Restaurant

Almost every Thursday right after working out at the gym, Nako, Amy, Sandi and I go for breakfast either at Norms, Pancake House or Panera. If you want a hearty breakfast that's sure not to disappoint, Norms Restaurant is the place to go. There is nothing gourmet about it but it's just honest to goodness comfort food.

We usually get our corner table which comes with our very own favorite server in the whole world, Margaret. Margaret has worked for Norms in Santa Monica and in Torrance for 27 years! She has memorized our orders and knows what kind of coffee we want and when to serve it. I always have mine when the food comes. We haven't been there for a month and she still remembered everything. We all think she should be the manager at this Norms in Torrance.

Nako always orders the Bigger Better Breakfast which includes 2 strips of bacon, 2 sausages, grilled ham, 2 eggs, hash brown and 2 pancakes. He shares the sausages with Amy and he eats only 1 pancake and takes his left overs home for lunch or dinner. Sandi and I usually orders the same thing and we split everything. The breakfast cost $6.99 from 4 am to 11:30 am and then it jumps to $8.99 after that. It's a wonderful deal for all that food.

There are times, like today that I ordered a side of the "Single Loaded Hash Brown" Hash Brown topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, green onion and diced tomatoes. This is served with salsa and sour cream. It is delicious; a bit spicy from the salsa and creamy from sour cream. Since Sandi was not with us, I ordered 1 pancake to go with it.  It was a perfect and quite filling. The Double Loaded Hash Brown comes with choice of toast with jelly, English muffin, biscuit and gravy or 2 pancakes. That is a lot of food so I only ordered the single loaded.

We left the restaurant full and ready to conquer the day, though I was so relaxed and tired that I ended up taking a short nap. Norms is open 24 hours so you can have their breakfast deal anytime.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Din Tai Fung

Gary was in my neck of the woods yesterday with Rocky. After finishing his business at Dick's Sporting Goods Store, we met for dinner at the Del Amo Mall. They were both impressed with the new mall which is a lot nicer than the old tired Del Amo Mall. They do have several restaurants and when push came to shove, we decided to go to Din Tai Fung even if Gary was just there last week!

We had to have their special Pork XiaoLongBao. I can never go to this restaurant without ordering that and the Shrimp & Pork Wontons with Spicy Sauce. The men had to have fried rice so I ordered the Pork Chop Fried Rice. A Chinese meal is not complete without noodles so we picked the Shrimp Fried Noodles. This time we ordered the right amount of food because there were no left overs. Everything was delicious.

Dessert had to be the Chocolate XiaLongBao. You get 5 in an order. Gary sacrificed and just had one so Rocky and I had 2 each. I usually bite into that as the dark delicious chocolate oozes out. Rocky informed me that it was more satisfying if you pop the whole thing in your mouth (provided it is cool enough). He was right in describing an explosion in your mouth followed by pure ecstasy.

Din Tai Fung has several locations and I understand they will be opening another restaurant in West Los Angeles.

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Mertz and I landed at Truxton's after we failed to watch a movie due to technical difficulties. I was there 2 months ago and remember enjoying their food. We got there shortly before 1:00 p.m. and the place was packed. We ended up waiting a good 15 minutes. Since it was the middle of the day, I opted not to have wine but instead ordered a Virgin Mule.

We both agreed to split an order of Meatloaf which sounded good. It was served with fried onions on top and spicy ketchup. Since we ordered a meat dish, we thought it would be good to pair it with  a healthy salad. Our server, Dominic suggested the Bangkok Chicken Chopped Salad which besides lettuce had cabbage, green onions, carrots, wontons, cilantro, chicken, pepitas tossed in a sweet and spicy Thai dressing. The salad was very good. The dressing was not too much, not too tangy or spicy, just perfect. The meatloaf was not the greatest. It was not bad but it wasn't that great either, a bit on the dry side. the smokey ketchup helped spice it up. The asparagus and mashed potatoes that came with it were good. When Dominic asked us what we thought, I was honest and just told him it was a bit dry. He offered to replace it and we declined since we ate it all.

I have had their caramel filled Churros which was delicious but I wanted to try something else. Mertz and I ordered the Banana Wama. Eggroll bananas with vanilla ice cream and wonderful fried sweet wontons with honey and cinnamon.

Truxton's American Bistro is located at 24530 Hawthorne Blvd. in Torrance, California. They also have locations in Los Angeles and Santa Monica.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Anniversary at Dominique's Kitchen

It's been 23 years since I last saw my Tito Cito and Tita Baby (uncle and aunt). They are in Los Angeles so my brother Gary and I invited them to Dominique's Kitchen. It is truly unbelievable that those 2 didn't seem to age. They were also celebrating their 47th wedding anniversary.

My first question to them was if any of them were vegetarians, lactose or gluten intolerant or any dietary restrictions. To my relief, the answer was no. I took the liberty of ordering my favorite Cheese Fondue. I always order that without the bread which comes with it and instead ordered the Garlic Fries. I'v said this many times that the best way to enjoy the fondue is to dump the fries in the fondue and eat it from there. Hopefully none of the people you're sharing this are germophobic. Besides, we need the anti-bodies.

Four of us could not decide between the Sole and the Short Ribs, both of which I have had many times before. The easy solution was 2 ordered the sole and 2 ordered the short ribs and we all shared. Before the entree, Tita Baby and I had a Caesar Salad; we needed our daily allowance of greens. There were no complaints on any of the entrees. We all enjoyed our food.

A  Lime Panna Cotta was served to the anniversary couple. They thought it was very good and they did finish it. I ordered their famous Baked Alaska to share. That did not disappoint.

It was such an wonderful evening reminiscing on the good old days, from "Dance Time with Chito" ( a television show in the Philippines where my mom, dad and Tito Cito danced routines every week, choreographed by Tito Chito, my dad's best friend) to the various family dramas!

Dominique's Kitchen was the perfect venue for last night's event. It was like having a very good dinner at a friend's house. Dominique's Kitchen is located at 522 S. Pacific Coast Hwy. in Redondo Beach, California.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Figs Galore

If you love figs, you would have wanted to attend our Neighborhood Watch meeting last week at our neighbors house. It was an informative meeting but honestly I knew I had to go because I was sure Tricia was going to cook or bake something wonderful. We were all to bring something to eat or drink. I  didn't have time to make something so I just brought some fried pork dumplings from Paradise Hut.

The main event as far as hors d'oeuvres was Tricia's Fig Pizza. she got the wheat dough from Trader Joe's and added some olive oil, ricotta cheese and honey goat cheese. It was delicious. How I wish I could order that for dinner when it's pizza night. I will even pick it up from her house! Then she made these intriguing balls.  The balls were fresh figs with smoked Gouda inside and then wrapped with prosciutto and then broiled. She normally would have cooked them on the grill but it was 100 degrees that day hence the broiler. Those were exquisite; when you bit on the figs, the melted cheese burst in your mouth. The prosciutto complemented the sweet figs. For dessert, she baked cookie fig bars which she claimed she got the recipe from Sunset magazine. Those were delicious as well. There was my fruit consumption for the week.

The other neighbors brought deviled eggs, caprese salad, burrata with tomatoes and basil. Everything was delectable but the figs took the cake.

Though the temperature went down to the 90's, we all ate well and enjoyed the lovely view from their backyard. Oh, the meeting went well. Lots of information from the Lomita sheriff, the paramedics and the city of Rolling Hills Estates.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Cynthia's Birthday at Forma

When asked where she would like to celebrate her birthday, Cindy chose Forma where the star ingredient is Formaggio (cheese) hence the name Forma. She read my previous blogs and wanted to experience the Cacio e Pepe finished on a wheel of cheese.

I myself don't always remember what excited me at a certain restaurant so it was nice to review my previous blog. I don't know how I almost forgot the Crispy Artichoke Salad. We had to order that and everyone loved it of course.

Cindy, Mertz and Sandi ordered the Cacio e Pepe. My brother Gary agreed to split his Tortellini with mushrooms, light cream, truffle oil tossed in Bella Lodi cheese. I naturally had to split my Cacio e Pepe with him. Sujata who loves spicy food went for the Burnt Spaghetti Assassina. We were all fascinated with this Apulian style burnt spaghetti arrabiata with dry ricotta. The spaghetti is actually fried! We all tried it and loved it. A bit spicy but not too spicy. This time only Cindy and I finished our pasta. The rest of the girls and Gary took left overs home. I was again saddened that I had nothing to take home.

Cindy got a bread pudding for her birthday dessert. We ordered the mango, lemon and raspberry sorbet which was refreshing and the Banana Pecan Tart with chocolate which I have had before and loved.

The traveling birthday balloon now rests with Cindy till the next birthday which is Sujata and that would be in December. Cindy gave us all a bag for her party favor which consisted of multicolored pasta, lemon salt, baby spatula, 2 sided dish rag, baby balsamic vinegar and champagne chocolate.

I just noticed that Forma has a Happy Hour from 3pm to 6pm. The menu looks very good; Filet Mignon tartare, burrata stracciata, panzerotto Pugliese, tortellini, cacio e pepe of course, arancinni, meatballs, fries, mussels and charcuterie. Lucky Gary works next door so I will have to live vicariously through him.

Just as we were about to leave I heard a voice behind the bar which was familiar. It was Mario, the owner, so in my very limited Italian I greeted him: "Buon pomeriggio". It's always nice to see him and know he's there overseeing everything. Service was very good as expected. Forma is located at 1610 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica, California.