Thursday, August 30, 2018

Steak & Whisky American Tavern

Yet another Travelzoo deal: $75 dinner for two with a bottle of wine. I have never been to this restaurant in Hermosa Beach so this was a good test to see what the steak was all about. It was also a belated birthday celebration for my good friend Amy.

We could pick one appetizer and salad to share. We both agreed on the House Bread with sea salt, honey butter, and chives. The little warm rolls were indeed very good with the honey butter. For our salad, we shared the Wedge Salad; iceberg lettuce, bacon, cherry tomato, red onion and blue cheese crumble. There were two wedges so we had plenty to share.

For course three: Amy picked the Roasted Salmon with hummus, lemon saffron couscous, cucumber yogurt and cucumber salad. The salmon was perfectly cooked and delicious. I had the Prime Flatiron Steak with roasted mushroom sauce, house salad, and truffle Parmesan fries. That was also delicious and I especially liked the roasted mushroom sauce. The truffle fries couldn't have been better.

We shared a Bread Pudding dessert. It was nice and crunchy on top and soft inside. Amy got to make a wish and blow out her candle.

Service was good which we expected since we were the only ones there for the first half hour. We got there at 4:10 p.m. The only thing we did not like about the restaurant is the number of flies. They had the door open and we were told that most restaurants have that problem. Maybe it's time to invest in a fan by the door because it really takes away from one's dining pleasure when most of the time you are having to shoo the flies away. Steak and Whisky is located at 117 Pier Ave. in Hermosa Beach, California.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Jean-George at the Waldorf Astoria

This is by far the best deal from Travelzoo. For $38 you got a choice of one appetizer, an entrée, dessert and an alcoholic beverage not to exceed $24. I have purchased vouchers from Travelzoo previously and though most of them are good deals, this was outstanding.

Cindy, Sujata, Sandi and I got there an hour before our reservation time. We anticipated heavy traffic on the 405 Fwy. but it turned out to be not so bad. Perhaps the freeway gods were with us yesterday. We opted for a late lunch so we wouldn't have to have any dinner. I didn't get the name of our first server as we had 3 of them. He was most courteous and patient with us especially when I asked him to take our picture from far away so nobody would look fat!

The bread basket arrived and it was hard not to order more as they were addicting. We loved the olive bread which was chewy, salty and yet a bit crunchy. For drinks, we decided to be adventurous and order one of several exotic cocktails. Cindy and I ordered the Rosé-Aperol Spritz; Grey Goose, Domaine Ott Rosé, Aperol Lime & Club Soda. Sujata ordered the Cucumber Martini; Hendrick's Gin, Cucumber, Mint & Lemon. Sandi had the Passion Fruit Mojito; Matusalem Platino Rum, Kumquat, Mint & Fever Tree Soda. We all loved our drinks.

I was happy that we all did not order the same appetizer. I had the Ahi Tuna Tartare with avocado, radish and ginger dressing. It was absolutely exquisite, even Cindy and Sandi who are not fans of raw fish shared my opinion. Cindy and Sujata had the Warm Shrimp Salad with champagne dressing.  Sandi had the Crispy Monterey Calamari which she loved except for the tentacles. Fortunately, I was the recipient of the crispy tentacles.

For our entrées, Sandi and Sujata ordered the  Striped Bass which had a nut and seed crust in a sweet and sour jus. I did have a bit of the bass which was flaky and tender. Cindy and I had the Steak Frites with soy-miso mustard sauce, spinach, and sesame. We both thought the steaks were well seasoned and the sauce was divine which made the frites scrumptious. I did ask for more of the delicious sauce.

We were all too full but not too full for dessert. We had a choice of Ice Cream/Gelato or Warm Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Bean ice cream. It was unanimous....we all had the Chocolate Cake and we all were very happy as it was delectable especially when the chocolate oozed out of the cake.

Ramiro and Michael were the other 2 servers that made sure we had everything we needed. Service was just as outstanding as the food. They do have a bar and a bar menu which looked interesting. Make sure you validate your parking to get the discounted rate of $15 for valet or it will cost you $21. Jean-George Restaurant is located at the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Experimental Spaghetti

I found another spaghetti recipe on the Internet which was really simple. The ingredients were olive oil, grape tomatoes, garlic and lots of basil; in other words a classic Pomodoro. The aroma of the garlic in olive oil brought me back to scene from a movie wherein an elderly mama from Italy was slaving away in her kitchen.

After the tomatoes had simmered and looked cooked, I then added the spaghetti and a bit of pasta water, seasoned it with some salt. I had even grated my own Parmesan to top the masterpiece. The verdict: It was blah! Not much flavor at all. Both friends said it was good though I know they were just being polite.  After adding a ton, and I mean a ton of Parmesan, it became edible. It just tasted too healthy for my taste.

The following day, Sandi asked me to bring her the leftover spaghetti. She sautéed fresh shrimp and added leftover Brussels sprouts, bacon, garlic, cherry tomatoes, white wine, chicken stock and red pepper flakes. Now, that was the real thing and it did taste soooo good! So sometimes, plain just doesn't do it. Although I must say, I loved the Pomodoro at Barilla Restaurant at South Coast. I don't know what their secret is but I obviously don't know it.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Bibigo Fresh Korean Kitchen

When my family was visiting from Singapore, we went to the Del Amo Mall to shop and ended up having lunch at the food court. Everyone had their preference; one went to Pink's Hot Dogs, the others went to Blaze Pizza. My sister-in-law Grace decided to go to Bibigo. I don't know much about Korean food so she had me try hers and it was delicious. The only problem is I didn't make a note of whatever it was she ordered.

The other day, Sandi and I were at the mall and I was determined to try Bibigo. I really wanted to call Grace in Singapore but it was 2:00 a.m. there so she would not have picked up her phone. Luckily, it was a weekday and we were the first customers with no one after us so we were not pressured. I had the lady explain everything. I ordered the "Build Your Bibigo Bowl" Hot Stone. I started with a combination of rice and noodles. I   remember having sesame oil, carrots, corn, broccoli, bean sprouts, Bulgogi beef, crispy onions and more sesame oil.

The hot stone made the rice and noodles crispy. When everything was mixed and ready for consumption, I had my first bite and lo and behold I could not believe how delicious everything was. It made me feel proud that I was enjoying a lot of vegetables which were incredibly wonderful. Sandi felt the same way though I don't think she felt any pride since she actually loves her veggies.

I have to mention that our love for this bowl made us try another place a few days later. We ended up at a restaurant called Cho Dang Tofu in Torrance and we did order the Bibimbap. I was going to blog about it but decided it was not worth my time since it really was terrible. It was absolutely tasteless. I ended up asking for sesame oil and soy sauce to make it edible.

So, who would have thought that to get a delicious Korean bowl, all you have to do is head over to the food court at the Del Amo Mall in Torrance?

Saturday, August 18, 2018


It was that time again to make a run for the cronut of the month at the Grove. But before that, we had lunch at Ladurée, the French Cafe from Paris known for their macarons and other pastries. We were there for an early lunch. The last time I was there, I had the Lobster on Brioche which was not impressive. The Croque Monsieur was very good and the Avocado Toast looked great.  My friend and I were determined to have that prior to our Strawberry-Basil Cronut from Dominique Ansel next door.

I don't think there could be a better Avocado Toast with scrambled eggs cooked to perfection on a Brioche Roll. What I didn't expect was the slices of salmon on top. My friend who dislikes salmon was more than happy to give me her portion (lucky me). Two words describe this dish: Super Delicious. I can't wait to have it again!

Ladurée is located at the Grove in Los Angeles. They had a band the time we were there which had an audience of mostly mothers and their babies. Free entertainment; what more can one ask for?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Strawberry Basil Cronut

Strawberry Basil Cronut is the current flavor of the month from the famous father of cronuts; Dominique Ansel. I wasn't crazy to try this flavor but Sandi wanted to try it and  I being a very good friend had to agree. The plan was to go there and have 1 each and if we liked it we would then buy a few.  Unfortunately, as far as calories go, we did like it and so we bought a few to take home but not before the saleslady had to check with her manager if she could sell us more than 2 which is the limit when and if they are busy.

The strawberry had a bit of a zing which cut down on the sweetness. The basil ganache was interesting in a good way. You could really taste the basil. Who would have known that these 2 flavors could go hand in hand? I like to freeze these cronuts; they freeze very well wrapped in parchment paper.  If you need detailed instructions on how to freeze and defrost them, send a request on the "Post a Comment" at the bottom of this blog and I will send you the information.

Dominique Ansel is located at The Grove on Fairfax at the Original Farmer's Market in Los Angeles.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Buffalo Chicken Wrap

They say one should not go grocery shopping when one is hungry. While shopping at Ralph's Market a few days ago, I suddenly realized that I was starving. The question was what could I possibly buy that did not involve cooking and would cure my hunger pains.

I went to the Deli section and looked at the various sandwiches and salads. Most of them looked too healthy and some sandwiches looked dry. I came across the Buffalo Chicken Wrap with Spicy White Chicken and Blue Cheese Crumbles which looked edible.

As soon as I got home, I opened the package and had a big bite of the wrap. I was pleasantly surprised by how edible it was. It had a bit of a kick and by no means too spicy. The chunks of chicken were not dry. The lettuce was still crisp and the blue cheese complimented the spicy sauce. I could not help but compare this to the Caesar Wrap from Jersey Mikes I had the day before and I must confess that the Buffalo Wrap was much better. For your information, the calories were not at all excessive, especially if you eat only half which I failed to do since I was starving.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Jersey Mike's Subs

My first experience with Jersey Mike's Subs was in the valley. Though service was terrible at that time, the Chicken Caesar Wrap was nothing but delicious. A friend had it several months ago and she informed me that the wrap was not good.

Yesterday, I decided to do a taste test. I went to the Jersey Mike's Sub store at the Torrance Crossroads Shopping Center. I ordered the Chicken Caesar Wrap on a flour tortilla. I took it home and had a glass of Schloss Biebrich Rosé Sekt (German Champagne) with it.

The wrap was not bad though it failed to excite me. The only thing exciting was my Sparkling Rosé. It lacked the "oomph" I recalled it had. I think that maybe they needed to add more Parmesan cheese and Caesar dressing. They do have a variety of wraps and sub sandwiches which are most probably good judging by the looks of their preparations but since I'm not a sandwich person, I wouldn't be one to judge.

Jersey Mike's Subs is a franchise and is located all over the world.