Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Crêpery Café

We went to an early show yesterday at the Peninsula Mall in Palos Verdes. It was lunchtime by the time the movie was over. We thought we would try The Crêpery Café for the first time since it changed from The Yellow Vase.

The interior looked a bit different, perhaps because all the yellow was gone. Though the menu had a variety of sandwiches and salads in addition to the various crêpes, we decided to order crêpes since that was their specialty. Sandi had the Chicken Chevre; chicken breast, roasted tomatoes and goat cheese and I ordered the Creamy Chicken; chicken breast, mushrooms, jack cheese and sour cream cooked in red wine sauce. All the savory crêpes are made with buckwheat. While we waited for our order, I had to ask our server if they could turn the air conditioning on as it was way too stuffy. Our server was nice and understanding though we thought the service was way too slow.

They were very generous with the chicken with lots of white meat chunks. The buckwheat sort of looked unappetizing to me, but I held my opinion for later. A small salad was served on the side. The dressing was way too sour for me and even Sandi. I had to add half a pack of sugar for it to be edible. Sandi did the same thing. The crêpes were okay in flavor though I thought it was a bit starchy or rubbery. We split both but could only eat half.

Dessert was a bit more promising. We ordered the La Citron Crêpe; fresh squeezed lemon and sugar to split. We enjoyed that even more after adding extra powdered sugar. I asked our server if it is possible to order the savory crêpe with the regular and normal crêpe as opposed to bucwheat. She said yes which is good to know because I think it would be a lot better.

I'm not sure if I would return to The Crêpery Cafe in the near future. I might give it some time; like the saying goes, "Time Heals". The Crêpery Cafe is located at 810 Silver Spur Rd. in Rolling Hills Estates a few doors from the Red Onion.

Blaze Pizza

After seeing a movie the other day we realized that all five of us were starving as we hadn't had any popcorn. We wanted a restaurant close to the theater so we all voted to walk across the parking lot to Islands for hamburgers. The wait was going to be half an hour. By then a few of us would have died from starvation so we walked a few more steps to Blaze Pizza. Everyone was happy ordering their very own pizza.

They had Signature Pizzas and Build Your Own Pizza. We all decided to try the Signature Pizzas. Sujata ordered the Red Vine; ovalini mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan, basil, red sauce, olive oil drizzle. I ordered the White Top; white cream sauce with mozzarella, applewood bacon, chopped garlic, oregano and arugula. I had them put the bacon on only half of my pizza so I could share the other half with Sujata as she was sharing half of hers with me. Cindy had the White Top as well. Mertz decided on the Link In; Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, sauteed onions, mozzarella and red sauce. Sandi chose the Art Lover; artichokes, mozzarella, ricotta, chopped garlic, red sauce dollops. We all loved our choices except for Sandi. She had one slice and couldn't eat anymore. She thought it had too much red sauce. Even when Mertz took Sandi's left over pizza home, her son did not like it as well. I had a slice of it and she was right, it was just not good.

I have to mention that I was looking forward to a glass of wine to go with my pizza and I was very disappointed to learn they had run out of wine. I ended up having diet coke!

Blaze Pizza is no Osteria Pizza but it's not bad, especially if you order the right pizza. They are thin and crisp. Blaze Pizza has numerous locations.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Dinner 2017

Christmas was a beautiful day in Southern California. It was nice enough to sit outside, at least for a short time, in the afternoon. Hors d' oeuvres consisted of polenta with fresh shrimp, compliments of Sandi, stuffed mushrooms with spinach and brie, assorted cheeses, prosciutto, brie cheese and some caviar, and Champagne of course.

Dinner was fairly simple. I made lumpy red mashed potatoes with a ton of butter and feta cheese and roasted vegetables with a ginger maple dressing which was good, if I may say so myself. Our entree was supposed to be a 30 lb. turkey which I bought on sale after Thanksgiving only to find out it was too large for my oven. It was a blessing in disguise because I ended up donating it to a church and ordering the Beef Tournedos from Specific Pacific. The filet mignons were marinated in Bordelaise sauce and wrapped in a generous slice of thick bacon. Everyone enjoyed the juicy and tender steak.

I wanted to cover all bases so I had two desserts. I made a Leche Flan which was a hit and I also bought a Smores Pie from Bristol Farms which everyone enjoyed. Terri also brought a homemade Cassava pie.

It was an evening of good food, lots of laughter and love! It was a Merry Christmas indeed.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Famous Tandoori

This hole in the wall Pakistani and Indian Halal restaurant has been our staple for Indian food since our friend Ana brought it to our attention. The place is quite small, though they have a separate room for private parties.

We always order the Chicken Tikka Masala which has an incredible and very edible sauce. This time we also tried the Palak Paneer; fresh spinach with cubed cheese cooked in mild spices and herbs. Don't let the mild fool you, it's a bit spicy.  A salad of sliced onions is served with a nice green dressing but we usually don't even bother with the salad.  We usually have the Garlic Naan but this time we tried the  Sesame Naan which we now prefer. Though the naan was a necessity to mop up the wonderful sauce, we also needed some Basmati rice.

Famous Tandoori is located at 1817 Pacific Coast Highway, Lomita in California. It is easy to miss because of its size. It is between Western Ave. and Eshelman Avenue.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Beef Stew ala Sandi

There's nothing like beef stew on a cold night. Sandi made one of her simple dinners last week, a salad and beef stew.  She has a way of making something simple come to life. Her place setting was colorful  and whimsical with a creature sticking out his tongue at you.

She served some of the wonderful sourdough bread I brought from Gjusta. It was perfect and went well to mop up the gravy from the stew.  The salad had numerous veggies in it which I can't recall and looking at the picture does not help since I drowned everything with a blue cheese dressing.

The beef stew was very good with a bit of rice. I know what you may be thinking; rice and bread....too starchy perhaps? Perhaps not. It was perfect.

She experimented on dessert with baked apples wrapped in puff pastry. She didn't think it would taste good but fortunately, she was dead wrong. It was wonderful especially after we poured some of Fran's salted caramel on it.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Gjusta's Sourdough Bread

Three words describes Gjusta's sourdough bread; the best ever!!! Truly it is the best so far that I have ever had. Look at it.......

It is crusty outside and chewy inside. It is quite sour and while you savor the sourness, you also get that bitter burnt taste that is unbelievably magical! I suggest having a thick slice with cold butter, preferably sprinkled with sea salt. For breakfast, it is very good with butter and your favorite jam.

There are always two sides to a coin; the bad thing about the bread is it is not available at your neighborhood supermarket or even Trader Joe's. You would have to get it at Gjusta in Venice.

Gjusta is located at 320 Sunset Ave. in Venice, California. Pay attention to the address and don't look for the sign because they don't have one.

Venice Beach Progressive 4-Course Dining Experience

I was invited by Mertz to participate in this 4-course progressive dining experience walking from one restaurant to the next. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I was excited since I've never been to Venice Beach. We were to meet our guide Rodd, in front of the Venice Ale House at 2:00 p.m. After checking everyone out, we came to the conclusion that the young fellow talking to a nearby couple might be Rodd. Mertz approached him and shortly after that, she motioned for me to come along. It turned out we were in luck. It was going to be just the 2 of us. In other words, we were to have a private tour instead of the usual tour with 12.

After a short introduction and history of Venice, Rodd led us to The Anchor for our 1st course. We were served a mini Lobster Roll served on a Hawaiian sweet roll. It was very good; large chunks of lobster with some truffles which tasted even sweeter on the sweet roll. I could have eaten 3 of those. While we were enjoying our lobster roll, Rodd introduced us to the owner, the lobster expert. She was delightful as she talked about the lobster being flown in everyday from the East Coast. She also happened to mention that Meryl Streep often dines there and has parties catered by them. We looked forward to more deliciousness to come.

We walked to the second restaurant which was called Cafe Gratitude. Their menu was interesting and animated. It started with I AM....when you order something, you are supposed to start with the phrase: "I AM......" The entree we were to have was called Elated. So we ordered: " I am elated" which was a Mole Abuelita Enchilada with black beans, cashew, roasted tomatillo sauce, avocado, coleslaw and escabeche. It too was delicious and the size was just right.

Walking to the next restaurant was nice since we felt good and not guilty since we were burning calories before the next course as opposed to sitting in a restaurant waiting for the next course. The third was Gjusta, a relative of the famous Gjelina. Gjusta is a bakery, deli and cafe. There is no sign on their door or anywhere else, you just have to go by the address. Inside was wild; they had the most beautiful variety of bread on display. They had cured fish, an assortment of cheeses, meats, cookies and flatbread. We had a choice of flatbread pizzas. Mertz chose the sausage and I chose the mushroom.  I asked a server for soda (diet coke) and according to Mertz, he had a "kodak moment" of an expression on his face. He proceeded to tell me they don't serve sodas. So I asked what they did had to drink. He said they had cucumber something......I tuned him out after I heard the word cucumber. I asked what else they served and he proudly said they had Lemonade with ginger, which I ordered. I had to go to the counter to order and pay for it. The ginger sparkling lemonade was almost $6.00! As soon as I got to my table I had a sip of the lemonade. I almost fell off my chair. It was the sourest liquid I  have had in my whole life! It was horrible. I was just about to ask for Splenda when Mertz interrupted me and informed me that a place with no soda will have no Splenda. She was right so I went to the coffee station to get some natural sugar. I got 2 rounded tablespoonfuls of brown sugar and dumped it in my lemonade. It didn't even make a hint of a difference. I had Mertz try it and she too didn't detect any sugar. It was a total waste of money.  The pizzas were thin, crusty and good; not anything like Pizzeria Mozza but edible. Rodd treated us to an order of broccolini which we enjoyed.

Just before we left, I ordered 2 loaves of Sourdough Bread. That bread was wonderful and deserves a blog of its own.

Our last stop and 4th course was at Blue Star Donuts. We were introduced to Anthony who invited us to the kitchen as he demonstrated dunking the donut in the Blueberry Bourbon Basil Glaze. The donut itself was nothing special, in fact it was a bit on the dry side but the glaze was amazing. It probably would have been a lot better if the donut itself was fresh out of the oven.  Nevertheless, Tony was as sweet as the glaze as he explained the process of making the donuts.

We ended our tour short of 3 hours. We were happy to do the tour, our guide was the best though next time it would be better to fully investigate the type of food and restaurants in advance. We didn't think it was worth $90 per person.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

eight am

This small coffee shop in San Francisco was a gem of a discovery. We were just walking around and stumbled by a breakfast spot which specialized in healthy, gluten free food. We immediately walked past it and ran into eight am. For the record, they open at 7:00 am.

We figured that it was run by a family since the service was excellent and our server acted like the owner and I mean that in a very good way. The Avocado Toast Three Ways sounded wonderful. The Avocado Toast with Fried Egg was a toasted multi-grain bread spread with mashed avocado topped with one sunny side- up egg. I had that one since I was the only one of the three of us that likes fried eggs. Mertz had the Avocado Toast which was a slice of sourdough with mashed avocado topped with bacon. Sujata, the vegetarian, picked the Avocado Toast with Heirloom Tomato, also with mashed avocado but on sweet baguette. We were all happy with our choice. The trio of toasts came with a full bowl of fresh fruit. Both Mertz and Sujata were in heaven.

We didn't think that would be enough for us so we split an order of the 10AM which was a Crepe with caramelized bananas and Chantilly cream. The crepe was light and it had the right amount of sweetness. The bananas were cooked to perfection. Our server kept our coffee cups full. We finally asked if he was the owner and he politely said yes but pointed to the kitchen where we could see what appeared to be his parents.

eight am is located at 1323 Columbus Ave. in San Francisco. If you are ever in the area, make it a point to stop by this gem of a coffee shop.