Friday, June 28, 2019

Le Vallauris

Sandi and I had a free night at a hotel compliments of our American Express card/Marriott Bonvoy. We thought of combining them so we could get 2 nights. I received an email from Le Vallauris informing the public that it will be closing soon for the summer. It was a no-brainer to try making a reservation in Palm Springs so we can take advantage of their cuisine before it closed. My friends and I have been dining there for many years, even before I started a food blog. The only reason we go to Palm Springs is to dine at Le Vallauris.

Our reservations were for 5:30 p.m. and we had a choice of our table. Willie guided us to a nice cozy corner away from the direct sunlight. Though the temperature was in the high 90's it was quite pleasant with the air condition going in this beautiful patio setting. Our server, Raymond remembered me from the last time I dined there with the girls which was about 4 years ago!  He remembered where we sat and even commented on how my hair color changed! Now that's what I call a very good memory.

When Sandi saw the word "Halibut" that was it, she had to order that with blood orange, rainbow carrots, and asparagus. Her appetizer was a Beet Salad that included tomatoes figs and blue cheese with some greens.

I went for the prix fixe menu. The amuse bouche consisted of 2 items; chilled roasted tomato soup, smoked salmon on corn blini with wasabi tobiko caviar and a duck terrine with pistachio and fig. My least favorite was the duck terrine which Sandi loved. The soup was delicious and the smoked salmon was even more delicious.  My appetizer was Prosciutto di Parma with burrata over Toscane melon gelée. This was a work of art and had a wonderful taste. Everything worked well together.

My main course was the Grilled Beef Filet Cabernet reduction, potato croquette, and haricot vert. I couldn't believe I could not finish the steak, though just a small portion was left. It was just too filling. My dessert was a Limoncello Soufflé with a scoop of lemon sorbet. I managed to consume most of it. Sandi had the Trio of Homemade Sorbets which was refreshing.

Dining at Le Vallauris is always a treat. We all get excited as it doesn't get better than this. Excellent food and service. If for some reason you haven't heard of Le Vallauris, it's time you open your eyes and book a trip to Palm Springs. Like I mentioned, this is the only reason we go to Palm Springs. Le Vallauris is located at 385 W. Tahquitz Way in Palm Springs.

Thanks again to Raymond for service above an beyond and thanks to Willie for welcoming us back. Have fun in Laguna. Sorry to have missed Paul and Omar.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Lunch wtih the Girls

Sandi has been wanting us, girls, to get together for lunch. The timing was always a problem but she finally was able to round us girls to her coral. Her original plan was to keep everything simple. She was just going to make a Spinach Pie and serve it with a salad. Before you knew it, Amy announced that she would make a Chinese Chicken Salad, Sujata insisted on bringing Samosas, and Sue baked a Peach Cobbler with a maple pecan caramel sauce. In case that was not enough dessert, Sandi baked a Blueberry Sour Cream Pie. I brought Champagne.

What we all didn't count on was Sandi had an abundance of hors d 'oeuvres. She made her famous Goat Cheese Puffs with a buttery nut crust and topped with pepper jelly. She also served some Flautas with salsa. There were fruit and an assortment of cheeses and sliced meats.

We all started with the hors d' oeuvres and later graduated to the main dish, the Spinach Pie which was already cut in large squares. It never occurred to me to cut one in half so I happily consumed one with the samosa and Amy's salad. Everything was absolutely delicious.

The best part of this luncheon is the fun we all had talking about anything and everything. We behaved like high school kids. Like they say, the secret of staying young is to think and act young!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

La Buvette Wine Bistro

When a friend from the gym asked me if I've been to La Buvette in San Pedro, I immediately had to grill her further on the food. She mentioned that this French restaurant was new and that she really liked it. She recommended the Filet of Sole and the Onion Soup.

Zohreh, Sujata, Sandi and I went to see what it was all about. The place was nice and cozy reminiscent of a typical French Bistro. We ordered a bottle of Beaujolais wine. Shortly after we ordered the wine came the fresh French bread with a slice of butter with sea salt. I immediately asked for more butter as that was not even enough for me! The star of the show was really the French Onion Soup which was delicious.

Sujata and Zohreh had the Salmon with potato fingerlings and Sandi and I ordered the Steak & Frites. We were surprised to get a big slab of N.Y. Steak which was good. The frites also surprised us only because they were not the usual thin cut fries. We were all happy with our choices though nothing really stood out.

We were all too full to order dessert, though I would not have passed on a Crepe Suzette which was not on the menu. Service was good. La Buvette Wine Bistro is located at 335 W. 7th St. in San Pedro, California.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Tim Ho Wan

My brother Dino took Gary and me to Tim Ho Wan in Singapore last month. I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Mak years ago when he was at the Grove in Los Angeles.  He and his partner Chef Leung started Tim Ho Wan in Hong Kong in 2009 and in 2010 it became widely known as the world's most inexpensive Michelin starred restaurant.  I was excited to try the one in Irvine, California to see if it lived up to the name.

Sandi and I had just finished breakfast at a bakery in Fountain Valley last weekend. After our breakfast, we walked into a T.J. Maxx which was in the same parking lot. After half an hour it was time to head on home. I mentioned to Sandi that since we were in Orange County, near Irvine, maybe we should check out how far Tim Ho Wan was from where we were. After our trusty Google search, we found it was only 6 miles away. Were we hungry for lunch, the answer was no but we both thought that by the time we got there, we might be starving? We got there and witnessed a line. This was a Saturday, so we had to be on the waitlist. They said it would probably take 30-45 minutes. We didn't mind waiting since it gave us a chance to build an appetite. Shortly after 35 minutes, they asked us if we would mind sitting at the bar. We, of course, did not mind.

I ordered their special Baked BBQ Pork Buns which is to die for. They are so light and crispy outside and bursting with flavor inside. I wanted to order the Shrimp Fried Rice we had in Singapore but was informed that they didn't have that on the menu. Instead of that, we ordered the Pan Fried Noodles which was super delicious.

The Shrimp Rice Rolls were a disappointment. It surely did not taste like the one we had in Singapore or The Philippines. It just lacked the flavor. The Steamed Shrimp Dumplings were good. For our drinks, we both had the Mango Slush which was the most expensive item on the menu $6.50. We liked it a lot and I'm sure it was packed with calories!

Would we go back to Tim Ho Wan....the answer is yes but definitely not on a weekend. We would go during the week when they first open. Tim Ho Wan is located at 2700 Alton Parkway in Irvine, California.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Muodu Shanghai Cuisine

This restaurant opened six months ago and it was only a few days ago that 3 of us finally got the time to try it out. The Black Olive used to occupy the current place in a strip mall in Lomita. They did a great job with the decor; bright orange walls with sleek modern chairs.

One of their signature dishes is the Xiao Long Bao (soup dumplings) so we definitely had to have that. We also ordered Pork Shumai and Shrimp Fried Rice. The shumai arrived first. We all looked at each other since we've never seen shumai looking so different. I thought they gave us the wrong order. Sandi's expression looked like she just saw baby aliens. Sue just had a blank stare. Upon close examination, we came to the conclusion that it was topped with dark colored rice. We all took one and I kept waiting for the pork. It was all rice and the pork was chopped so finely that it became lost in the rice. I later asked our server about the shumai and she informed us that this was Shumai Shanghai style. None of us cared for it so there was no fight over the single one left.

The Xiao Long Bao was much better. We thought the dough was lighter than Din Tai Fung and there was more soup but it lacked the flavor. Maybe it was also due to the fact that they didn't have vinegar which is so good with the soy sauce. This brings me up to the fact that they had Sriracha sauce in each table. Ours was the only one with a full bottle. All the other tables had bottles that were almost empty, as well as the salt and pepper. Sandi noticed that the condiment containers were not clean.

The Shrimp Fried Rice was delicious. We all enjoyed that. Service was a bit slow. Sue had to get up to request our bill. There were only 2 other parties of two at the time.

Muodu Shanghai Cuisine is located at 2418 Lomita Blvd. Suite A in Lomita, California.