Monday, November 27, 2017

The Original Chileno Cheese Bread

I was a lucky recipient of a loaf of The Original Chileno Cheese Bread from the famous Erick Schat's Bakkery (not a mispelling).  My friends Nako and Amy bought a loaf in Bishop, California on their way home from a fishing trip in Mammoth. The bread is made from unbleached wheat flour and yeast. It has lots of Jack cheese, Chileno peppers, sugar, olive oil and sea salt.

It is best when it is sliced thick and toasted, buttered immediately and topped with your favorite jam. A cup of strong coffee with some whipping cream to accompany your toast makes a very good breakfast.

Friday, November 24, 2017


Thanksgiving at Patina; what more can one ask for? It was a record breaking heat in Los Angeles. A friend of mine was dying at her condominium cooking her turkey. It was a great day not to do any cooking at all. I was very lucky to be invited by my friends. We all opted for the 4 course dinner which was really a late lunch.

We got to the restaurant early but they graciously seated us right away. We had a choice of 2 appetizers, an entrée, and a dessert. We first started with cocktails. Lizzie had white wine, John had a glass of red and John Jr. had a cocktail, "50 shades of cranberry". Mertz and I had a glass of bubbly. An amuse-bouche of Salmon w/ crème fraiche was brought out. That was inhaled quickly. We were all proud of Mertz to see her eat her coned salmon as if it were an ice cream. A variety of bread was in constant supply.

We ordered our first round of appetizers. The choices were: Dungeness Crab with avocado, piquillo and roasted shallot and Beef Tartare with celery, wasabi, pommes gaufrettes. It was nice to sit next to Mertz so we could split both and both were equally good.

For the second appetizers; one had the Pumpkin Veloute; maple gastrique, cinnamon chantilly and bacon-pine nuts. A couple of us had the Roasted Kabocha Squash & Beet Salad. Two of us had the Salsify Agnolotti; pumpkin seed oil, mimolette and black trumpets. I really enjoyed my agnolotti.

There were several selections for entrées. We could have Turkey, Wagyu Beef, Wild Striped Bass or Scottish Salmon. It might have been sacrilegious not to order turkey but I couldn't pass up the Wagyu Beef. I felt better when at least Lizzie decided to have the turkey. We all were very happy with our selections. Everything was delicious. Charles, our server, was attentive without being overbearing.

There were three choices for dessert. Butternut Bread Pudding; spiced caramel and crème fraiche gelato, Pumpkin Pie; streusel, apple cider and cinnamon ice cream, and Sweet Potato Beignets; ginger with bourbon vanilla ice cream. I would have liked to see an apple dessert, perhaps a Tarte Tatin. Since I dislike pumpkin and sweet potato, I ordered the Butternut Bread Pudding which turned out to be a great choice. I was informed that the pumpkin pie and the beignets were very good.

As if the desserts were not enough, they served a little dish with a variety of desserts after dessert! Those too vanished in a few minutes.

It was one of the best Thanksgiving dinners. You can't beat being invited by close friends, not having to cook, not having to do dishes and enjoying great food and company. I thank my friends for a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Patina was a great choice for our Thanksgiving Celebration. I have always had a wonderful meal there. One can consistently count on excellent food and service. Patina is located at 141 S. Grand Ave. in Los Angeles at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Beef Tournedo

I had some Beef Tournedos I purchased from Mark at Specific Pacific (quality meats and seafood delivery service) in my freezer for special occasions. Last night was one of those occasions as we were celebrating Nako's birthday.

I made lumpy mashed potatoes with lots of butter and Feta cheese. To make it a bit healthy, I served fresh asparagus with a sauce I made with Japanese mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, Maggi, lemon and champagne mustard. Amy made a coleslaw salad which we all enjoyed. The Filet Mignon was very good. I cooked them in the oven and turned on the broiler the last 2 minutes to get the bacon crispy. Everyone could not get over how tender they were and the Bordelaise sauce kept them juicy.

For dessert, I made my Lola Neny's Leche Flan (my Grandmother's recipe). I must admit it was perfect. It tasted much better than the picture if you can imagine that.

After dinner, Nako opened his presents. I gave him a mug that said: " I Donut Care" since he loves his donuts. Mertz got him something for the gym. A tiny bottle of Chivas Regal for when he's not feeling energetic, and a larger bottle for when he's under the weather.

It was a nice celebration and everyone left pleasantly full.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Carl's Jr. / False Adverstising

If this isn't false advertising, I don't know what is. They say pictures paint a thousand words and the picture below says it all. My friend and I landed at a Carl's Jr. one morning and, since I have never had breakfast at Carl's, I relied solely on the pictures above the counter. The Bacon, Egg & Cheese Burrito looked good. My friend had a Bacon, Cheese & Egg Biscuit.

We were both flabbergasted to see the pathetic looking burrito as I unwrapped it. It looked nothing like the picture. The burrito was flat, as if someone had sat on it, and  was tasteless. My friend's biscuit was not any better. It was so dry that after one bite she could not eat the rest.  She did enjoy the potatoes that came with it.

I have always been a fan of the burgers at Carl's Jr. This incident really bothered me as I do not think places like this should be allowed to get away with false advertising. So I wrote a letter to the corporate office in Franklin, TN and attached pictures. I did this mainly because I wanted them to know about my experience but I also wanted to hear their thoughts.

I received a very informal form letter which was just signed " Management of 158" from the store. The letter clearly did not address the issue. They just included 2 coupons for the Biscuit sandwich. Now, what do you think of that?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ubon Thai Cuisine

This is one of our favorite no-nonsense Thai Restaurants.  We have tried a few of their dishes but we always seem to go back to the Panang Curry in which you can choose to have chicken, pork or shrimp and the Crispy Lemongrass Chicken which is deep fried and marinated in lemongrass. The curry is so addicting, especially when poured all over the steamed jasmine rice. Like Sandi would say, "never mind the chicken, I am happy with just the sauce." The lemongrass chicken is so crispy, light and when dipped in the sweet and sour sauce, it is magic.

This time we ordered something new called Kee Mao Noodles; flat noodles with chili, garlic, onions, bell pepper and scallions. We all loved the sweet and slightly spicy noodles.

We were all sad that we couldn't have the sticky rice mango dessert since mangoes are no longer in season. They make one of the best sticky rice mangoes.

Ubon Thai Cuisine is located at Torrance Crossroads a few stalls from IHOP in Torrance, California.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Eataly L.A.

The long awaited Eataly L.A. is finally here at the Westfield Century City Mall on Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles. The original Eataly was founded by Oscar Farinetti from Turin. Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and her son Joe are partners and collaborators. New York, Boston and Chicago have been the lucky cities to have their very own Eataly. They opened last weekend and though we stayed away, I heard that there were thousands of people in the mall waiting to experience Eataly.

Last Friday, Ramon, Milena and Gary announced that they would be going and asked us if we wanted to meet them at 11:00 a.m. It was a Friday so we thought it was a good day since most people would be at work. Sujata, Mertz, Sandi and I got there at 10:30 a.m. We went up the escalator and walked through a large glass door. We were in awe of what was inside. It was a market, restaurants, cafes, counters, Italian goods for sale, tables and chairs and lots of people. We first secured several tables as we sat waiting for our friends. My brother Gary called and told us to fall in line at the Pasta and Pizza place. The line was comparable to the line to see the Sistine Chapel. We all did not want to stand for that length of time. When everyone arrived, we all agreed to eat wherever we wanted. Mertz, Sandi and Sujata decided to get Panini since the line was not too long. Ramon, Gary, Milena and I lined up at Il Pesce Cucina which had a short line. I was excited because I knew Chef Michael Cimarusti is none other than the Chef at Providence, one of my favorite restaurants.

Gary and I ordered the Calamata; calamari shaped pasta, squid, chili flake, parsley as well as the Spaghettoni Aglio & Olio; extra virgin olive oil, chili, garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano and Italian parsley. Both were good but we especially enjoyed the Spaghettoni. I have to mention our server, Shane, warned us that the pasta would be served really aldente. Of course that was music to my ears. Milena and Ramon had the panini, Tonno Bianco; Oregon Albacore, fennel pollen, lemon, red onion, iceberg, pickled red peppers and the Pesce Sammy panini; Ling cod, lettuce, Calabrian chili aioli. They said their panini were just o.k. The Chili potato chips were outstanding though.

After we had all eaten, we made a quick survey of what exciting things were for sale. They had mozzarella, big wheels of cheeses, Italian chocolates, all kinds of olive oils, and panettone but not just your regular panettone. They had pear and chocolate, moscato wine and peach chocolate panettone.  We all decided to have some gelato which was downstairs on the lower level of Eataly. Instead of taking the stairs, we went outside to take the escalator. We were shocked to see a long line to get in the entrance to Eataly. We told the guards we just wanted to have some gelato and that we were already in and had just left. No can do.....once you leave you have to fall in line to get in. The line was unbelievably long. There must have been at least 500 people waiting.

One word comes to mind when I think of Eataly: chaos. Mertz corrected me in saying that at least it is "organized chaos". We later figured out that last Friday was the Veteran's Day weekend. My brother Gary has been there several times already and he suggested going in the late afternoon on a weekday. We will be going back to Eataly for sure but it won't be anytime soon especially not on a weekend or a holiday.