Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween Party

Just a few days ago I decided to have a Halloween Party yesterday. Most of the food was going to be purchased or brought by friends so everything was doable. Most people dressed up which made it more fun. I was excited to make Cheese Fingers and Lychee Eyeballs which everyone enjoyed. 

The usual guests were invited. Sujata, Sandi, Cindy and Amy were first to arrive. Then came my brother Gary as Jon Snow from Game of Thrones but we all thought he looked more like Peter Sellers. He was accompanied by his friend Rocky who was his photographer. A couple, Piero and Inez came as characters from Day of the Dead. Two surgeons later arrived, Dr. and Dr. Maher. Yvonne came as a colorful jester with her husband Fabrice who came as Fabrice. Otto was a bicyclist.

We had meatballs which Sandi made. Amy made some deviled eggs. I had ordered boneless lemon pepper and Louisiana rub chicken wings, fried pork dumplings and macaroni potato salad and prepared cheese & crackers, truffle mozzarella baby balls and prosciutto with persimmons. For dessert, Yvonne and Fabrice brought 2 pecan pies. In addition, we had the lychees, chewy chocolate cookies from Torrance Bakery, and I made some pretzel-Rollo bites. We had champagne with lots of pomegranate seeds throughout the party.

Before the evening ended, everyone participated in playing Charades which was fun except for Gary and Rocky who were glued to the television watching the Dodger game. They were making all kinds of noise watching the Dodgers as did we while playing our game.  

It was a fun evening. I didn't get to bed till midnight which was a perfect excuse not to go to the gym.  


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Orecchiette Bolognese with Chestnuts

This recipe is from the famous Chef Daniel Boulud. There were 2 versions of the recipe; one is the Chef's way and one is the easy way. I took the easy way. I haven't made this in a long time so I thought I would resurrect the recipe to see if I still found it to be delicious. For this experiment, I invited my 2 meat loving friends and my son who happened to be home.

The ingredients called for 1-1/2 lbs. of thickly sliced smoked ham, 2lbs of ground beef chuck, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, sage, rosemary, parsley, chicken stock, at least 6 oz. of vacuum packed chestnuts, crushed red pepper and heavy cream towards the end of cooking. I simmered the sauce longer than what the recipe called for and added more red pepper. I made the sauce the day before I planned to serve the dinner and added the cream, chestnuts and parsley on the day of the dinner.

I served a green salad with olive oil and fig balsamic vinaigrette and French bread to go with the bolognese. Everyone loved it and if I may say myself, I did too. It was so good. The only thing I would change next time is the pasta. The orecchiette tended to stick together. I think spaghetti or linguine would be a better choice of pasta next time.

Dessert was a store bought S'mores Pie from Bristol Farms. Again, everyone loved it. Three days have passed since I had this dinner and so far, no one complained about getting sick so I guess the dinner was a success.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Local Kitchen

This restaurant was highly recommended by Sandi's dentist. After seeing a movie, Sandi, Mertz and I got in the Bigmobile and headed towards old Torrance. Sandi only knew the restaurant had the name Kitchen in it. We were just going to drive in the vicinity of where she thought it could be. As we drove by the Torrance Bakery, we had to make a pit stop to buy their famous chewy chocolate cookies. The lady there told us where the restaurant was located.

We were surprised to see how large it was inside. It had a total of 15 televisions! The restaurant included a bar. We were happy that we got there early before it got too noisy. The menu was extensive so it took us several minutes to decide what to order. Sandi ordered the Shrimp Tacos El Golfo, crisp panko dusted fried shrimp in a corn tortilla with citrus slaw, avocado, tomato, cilantro and salsa served with beans. She loved it. I had one and though I loved the crispy shrimp, I thought the other stuff in it was just too healthy. Mertz ordered the Bad Axe Brussels Sprouts; charred with applewood smoked bacon and glazed with maple-balsamic reduction. That was super delicious. We all loved that it was charred. She also had an order of The Onion Rings; thick sweet onions, buttermilk and seasoned panko bread crumb fried crisp and served with chipotle ranch. That too was good.

I had what Sandi's dentist had, Dave's BBQ Meatloaf Tower; BBQ meatloaf piled above rustic cheddar ciabatta with mashed potatoes, BBQ jus and crispy onions. I was very happy with mine. The meatloaf was so moist and tender and the mashed potatoes were flavorful. I was only able to eat half.

We were all pretty full but we didn't want to pass on dessert. We all agreed to share an order of Italian Lemon Cream Torte; moist vanilla cake and Italian Mascarpone mousse topped with a buttery struesel. The cake was all it said to be except we all didn't detect any lemon flavor. It was light and delicious but we missed the lemon taste.

Our server Oscar was surprised to hear our comments because he thought otherwise when he had the same dessert previously. He was nice enough not to charge us for the dessert.

We will definitely go back to try their many more interesting items like, "So 10 Shrimp Walk Into a Bar in Baltimore"; their top secret version of drunken shrimp in garlic butter ale sauce.

Local Kitchen has been in operation for 7 months. They have Happy Hour from 3-6 p.m everyday when the house wine is $6.00 and $3.00 off all American classics menu. Their address is 1321 Sartori Ave. in Torrance, California.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Original Pancake House

After a semi-hard workout at the gym, five of us were seated at the Pancake House by 7:30 a.m. It's a good time to go before any line could form outside. We had a newbie with us; Daniel. He was the only one who had to study the menu. The rest of us already knew what to order.

We all had to have the 49'er Flap Jacks which are plate size pancakes but they are really more like crepes that are chewy and tender served with whipped butter and syrup. Nako and Amy shared that with sausage and eggs. Sandi and I shared that too with an order of Potato Pancakes served with cinnamon apple sauce. The newbie, Daniel thought he didn't have a choice but to order the 49'er. He was a bit disappointed since he's a meat and egg type of guy. The rest of us were happy campers. Our favorite server, Raquel was on the ball as usual refilling our mugs with coffee.

Some people say it's a waste of time going to the gym if we eat a sort of heavy breakfast so why do it? We go to the gym so we can have our unhealthy breakfast. So that's that.!!!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Crunchy Shrimp Tempura Roll

Who would have thought that this crunchy shrimp tempura roll from Pavilions Market could be good? I know I didn't think so but it did look appetizing and I was hungry so I bought it.

I was really surprised discover how delicious it was. It was crunchy and it had a kick to it. I had 3 pieces as soon as I got home. The real test was if  Sandi would  like it since she does not like seaweed. The seaweed was a very thin layer. It had no unpleasant odor and the shrimp tasted fresh. I think even our friend Mertz would have liked it.

I am happy to report that Sandi did like it and her friend Aaron who is a very picky eater thought it was pretty good. It's nice to know that you can count on these crunchy shrimp rolls as a satisfying lunch or as a snack. I don't know if they are available in all their markets. I bought mine at the one located in Rolling Hills Estates.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Dominique's Kitchen 5th Anniversary Dinner

It's hard to believe that Dominique's Kitchen has been around for 5 years! They had a special anniversary menu that looked good so what better way to celebrate Jody's birthday than to have dinner there.

We started out with Pink Prosecco and Kir Royale. Chef Dominique sent us an appetizer of chicken liver pate. I was really surprised that it didn't taste like chicken liver, something I would not have touched, but it really was good with the berry compote. The birthday celebrant, Sandi and Cindy ordered the Organic Mesclun Salad with champagne and black truffle vinaigrette. I had the Chilled Black Truffle Soup which I absolutely loved.

For our entree, two people ordered the  Linguini Pasta with asparagus, champagne and black truffles and the other two had the Beef Bourguignon with black truffle polenta. I myself could never have enough black truffles. The pasta people did not finish theirs since they ate too much bread. Cindy and I finished our beef bourguignon.

Jody got a Panna Cotta for her birthday dessert. We ordered a Baked Alaska to share. It was burnt and we all loved it burnt. Cindy who dislikes meringue loved it and commented that it tasted like marshmallows.

It was a fun birthday celebration and we enjoyed the Anniversary Dinner. Here's to many more birthdays to come and many more years of anniversary dinners.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Pantry's Sourdough Bread

They've been baking their sourdough for the last 93 years. Every time I go to The Original Pantry Cafe, I make it a point to buy a loaf of their bread. Toasted with butter and homemade preserves if you're lucky enough to know my friend Mertz who constantly makes jars of preserves, then you've got it made.

Yesterday, my son wanted a Croque Madame. Nothing can be better than good old L'amande's Croque Madame so I had to improvise. He toasted the bread and added a bit of butter ( I would have slathered butter all over), and some Everything Bagel Vermont Cheese that Sandi gave me from Vermont. I then fried 2 eggs and plopped them over the toast. It was deeeelicious.

Most sourdough isn't sour enough but you can always count on The Pantry's Sourdough bread to be sour.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Original Pantry Cafe

We have been planning to have breakfast at the Original Pantry Cafe in downtown Los Angeles for some time. This morning was that time. Amy, Nako, Daniel, Sandi and I left from the gym. It was a semi long drive. Amy slept most of the way. Someone who shall remain nameless had to empty their bladder so we had to take an unscheduled exit but eventually, we made it.

Daniel ordered the Ham Steak and Eggs with a side of Potatoes. Nako had the Eggs with Pancakes and Sandi and I split a French Toast and the special of the day which was Longanisa and Eggs with Potatoes on the side. All our orders came with their famous Sourdough Toast. That was really the main reason I wanted to visit the Cafe.

We loved the longanisa which was cooked like chorizo and eggs. It was a bit spicy which made it even better. Daniel had no complaints about his ham and he loved the potatoes. Nako thought the pancakes were very good. The only thing we all did not enjoy was the French Toast. It was nothing special and kinda blah to put it mildly. If only I had read my previous blog from 2012, we would not have ordered it again. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

Service was outstanding. Jesus our server delivered our food with lightning speed! He was there to refill our coffee numerous times. He has worked for the Pantry for 40 years.

Before we left with doggie bags, we ordered their sourdough loaves to go. I am already looking forward to tomorrow's breakfast.

The Original Pantry Cafe has been open since 1924 and is open all year round. As far as I know, Mayor Richard Riordan still owns it. They are located at 877 S. Figueroa St. in Los Angeles. The parking lot is on Figueroa and 9th St.