Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Levain Bakery

Any trip anywhere isn't complete without a bit of sweet to over indulge in.  While a trip to NYC usually necessitates a hike to The Doughnut Plant, the 3 Little Monsters made it too difficult to trek all the way out to the Lower Eastside.  Luckily we found Levain Bakery which was just a short jaunt away from our condo and is known for its cookies.  I love me a good cookie!!  It has 2226 reviews on Yelp so it had to be amazing right?

I was quite surprised by the limited selection of cookies.  You're pretty much looking at what they had. I asked if they had run out or something but they said this is what they usually serve.  Now I'm all for doing a few things really really well as opposed to have some gargantuan selection of low quality goods, but the most tantalizing foreplay to a fantastic meal or snack is the visual display of too many delicious things to eat.  The foreplay here left much to be desired.

Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie
Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie
Fortunately, the main attraction did not disappoint.  The cookies are frickin' GINORMO, and really feel more like a heavy dense cookie cake than a true cookie.  Everyone preferred the regular cookie better than the chocolate chocolate one which I guess tasted more like a brownie.  This is NOT something you should eat in one sitting or alone.  These things have got be a giant calorie bomb.  They are flatter, but generally the size of your fist.
So Levain is pretty good, but not something I would trek across the country for, probably because I prefer a real cookie and not a cake cookie.  I'm still praying for that day that The Doughnut Plant decides to grace the West Coast with its presence.  I mean they have locations in Korea and Japan! Why not LA/OC???

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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Eleven Madison Park

When I dreamed of the moment I would get to have my way with NYC, I always saw Per Se as the juicy succulent main course, and all other dining adventures as just appetizers to whet my appetite.  I didn't give much thought to what else could be on the menu.  The Pouter, being the savvy foodie she is, told me to make reservations at Eleven Madison Park in addition to Per Se.  Unfortunately she had to bow out, so I filled the empty spots with good ole sistah, Triple F, and my dearest mums.  Triple T and Smooth Obturator had to stay home and watch the 3 Little Monsters.  Oh snap, did those two miss out on the BEST FUCKING MEAL OF A LIFETIME!  Eleven Madison Park turned out to be the stunning pièce de résistance of my all too short NYC food tour.

Cheddar savory black and white cookie with apple
Who doesn't like little boxes tied up in string with a delicious surprise hiding inside?  I can't really say these tasted like cheddar or apple but they are misleading sweet when in fact they were savory.

Sea Urchin snow with smoked cantaloupe and yogurt
A bright refreshing start to the menu.  Who know cantaloupe would pair so nicely with uni.  There was also basil and lime yogurt adding some more herbaceous and acid notes.  Two bites and this was gone gone gone.

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Sunday, November 10, 2013

ABC Cocina

When I visit a new city, I usually do my research and find all the good restaurants I want to try.  However, with NYC, I knew I wouldn't have a lot of time aside from the planned dinners at Per Se and Eleven Madison Park.  Also, I was traveling with my family and the 3 newest additions to the H.o.P. has made life unpredictable and chaotic to say the least.  It's a good thing The Pouter's foodie mojo wasn't bogged down by 3 little monsters disguising themselves as adorable squishy cutie patooties.  We brunched it up ABC Cocina because we were unable to snag a rezzie at ABC Kitchen. I wouldn't be able to tell you the difference between the two restaurants, which are literally attached to each and separated by glass windows and doors.  All I know is that they are both restaurants from famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and ABC Cocina has a latin flare.

We were starvin' like Marvin and noshed hard on the bread.

Tomato Salad red onion, serrano chilies, sherry vinaigrette, herbs
I think if there were one food I couldn't live without in this world, it would be the tomato.  It's not like I eat tomatoes everyday.  For the most part, they are usually hothouse grown tasteless excuses for food.  But when they are the sun ripened bounty of a warm summer....I need not say more.  I think my LOVE for this dish was magnified by my pre-existing penchant for tomatoes because it was in fact a really simple salad.  I wish I could eat this everyday.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Per Se

Dining at The French Laundry has always been a dream of mine.  I know that sounds so cheesy and melodramatic, but these are the fantasies of food people.   Unfortunately, reservations are DAMN hard to nab.  So even though I live a heck of a lot closer to The French Laundry, I had to trek cross country to have my first Thomas Keller dining experience at Per Se.

We had amazing seats that looked out onto Columbus Circle and the southern edge of Central Park.  Too bad it was on the gloomy side.  Don't be fooled, gray does NOT equal cold like it does in Portland.  It was hot and muggy, but still a great view.  I'm a city girl, and this is the kinda view that takes my breath away.  I think The Pouter and her 2 fellow New Yorker foodie friends were equally impressed.

Amuse Bouche gruyère gougères
Our meal started off with the famous gougères, which I have seen many times in pictures.  They were A LOT smaller than I had imagined or even had before at other restaurants.  Usually, they have been the size of a cream puff, but these were the size of a large marble.  They were still pretty darn good, but I wanted more!

Amuse Bouche salmon coronets
Deliciously smoked salmon served like a mini ice cream cone.  Cute and tastey.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I don't get too excited to write posts about sushi.  Its discouraging to write a post when you have limited adjectives to describe something you know is so delicious and special.  But sushi is just one of those baffling types of foods that words do not do justice.  Audio Monkey sans wifey and The Anti-Exerciser   plus wifey joined me for an omakase experience at Nozomi.  I do love tasting menus and omakase because it just takes the burden off myself to figure out what to order.

Sweet Lip 
I never had this before, but it was clean tasting.

Yellow Fin Sea Bream
Another fish I don't commonly eat, but it was solid.

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Little Sister

It seems like a lot of chefs these days are incorporating Asian flavors into their cooking.  I guess this is one of the aspects comprising "New American" cuisine.  I guess Little Sister isn't so much "New American" as it is "Asian/Asian fusion", but its smack dab in the middle of one of the whitest parts of the South Bay, Manhattan Beach, so that makes it American enough.

Grilled Pork Spring Roll "Nem Nuong" red leaf lettuce, mint, carrot, cucumber, house sauce
The "peanut" sauce was pretty bland, so the fish sauce was more flavorful.  The rolls themselves were just OK.  I can definitely make better ones myself.  They were also a bit too loosely wrapped.  No doubt, a spring roll wrapping noob was in the back making these.

Singapore Chili Soft Shelled Crab Banh Mi spiced tomato relish, pickled garlic
My dining companions, Old Bear and his gf, had never tried soft shell crab before.  After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I jumped at the chance to order this.  It was really solid.  I highly recommend this one.  I think I'll leave it at that.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013


My summer of fancy schmancy eating didn't end with Grace.  Oh no, no, it just started there and continued with my visit to Quince with The Pouter.  It felt like a hot date.  We both got all dolled up, she picked me up,  we had wine, great conversation, and then the date took a turn towards doomsville.  The check came and we went dutch!  Well not every date that starts well, ends well =P.  Anyways, the place is pretty elegant, and would be a great place to celebrate a special occasion.  The Pouter and I were celebrating, um...life, love, and food?  Heck, we don't really need an occasion to blow some cash on any ole weekday.  I guess I was visiting SF, so that was occasion enough!

Green Garlic Parmesan Chips
They had the texture of shrimp chips with a very subtle cheesy taste.  A bit on the greasy side but its just so easy to eat anything in chip form.

Pickled Green Tomato Tartlet squash chips
These were some of the best bites of the night.  This one tasted like a fresh tomato pie.

Arugula Financier seville orange purée
Wow, this was soo good!  Like a sweet yet savory vegetable pound cake.  I wanted a whole loaf.

Russet Potato Skin guanciale marmalade
Yum!  A singular bite that encompassed all the flavors of an awesome baked potato.

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Sunday, September 15, 2013


It's been a while since I've dined with Weeners.  The last time was when she still lived in LA and that seems like ages ago.  Now, she is proud to call herself a San Franciscan and has really adapted to the hippy dippy lifestyle of those folks up there and she loves it.  SF is too cold and gloomy if you ask me, but on those rare occasions when the sun is shining, I will admit the city has its charm.  I love visiting, since the food is so derricious, and since I have yet another friend who has relocated up there, Craire (formerly known as CMac Attack).  All of us met up at the Italian restaurant of Top Chef Master, Chris Cosentino, winner of season 4.  To my shock, he was actually IN the kitchen cooking when I arrived, but moved to expediting by the time we were seated.  Expectations were certainly high for me knowing this.

Foccacia Bread olive tapenade
Pretty tasty, even more so because we were pretty hungry by this point.

Handkerchief Pasta rustic pork ragu, sizzled duck egg
A really solid, hearty meat pasta dish.  No complaints here.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Triple F and Running Man really love this place. Apparently the guy who opened up Roku actually had a food truck serving Japanese curry and was successful enough to open up a brick and mortar joint serving a larger selection of food, izakaya style. The menu is surprisingly extensive here so I was a bit wary of the quality. I mean the place serves pretty specialized Japanese dishes like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and ramen so it could easily do it all wrong. Fortunately, it does it all right!

Mentai Bowl crab meat, spicy cod roe paste, rice
I'm not sure why Triple F loves mentaiko so much. It's quite fishy funky and Triple F is not usually one for unusual foods. Anyways, this was ok but I'm not a fan of mentaiko I guess.

Mochi Bacon
Running Man loooved this, which again was not my thing. The bacon wasn't crispy enough and it wasn't enough meat to balance out a big hunk of starch.  

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

LA Food & Wine Festival 2013: Live On Grand

I like going to food festivals, almost exclusively the non-FREE ones. You may be asking yourself, why would you prefer to pay for something rather than get something for FREE? I really hate large crowds and long lines. Free food festivals just attract a TON more people, so you end up having to elbow your way around and stand in a long ass line in the, usually, brutal hot sun, to pay for your food plate for plate in the end.  I'd rather pay a larger sum of money upfront for an all-you-can-eat experience, which naturally weeds out a good chunk of people. Buuuut, I suppose I took this attitude a bit far when I gathered the forces, Triple T and Smooth Obturator, for the LAFW festival at $250 a ticket. Was it worth it you might ask?  Wine was pouring from every place you turned, lines moved quickly, celebrity chefs actually prepping and serving their food, and Gavin DeGraw performed live! I guess most of your probably care more about the food though, so on we go...

Kris Morningstar | Ray's  & Stark Bar spiced lamb with pistachio yogurt
Salty but a good amount of spice and heat.

Johnathan Sadler | Rivera autumn corn custard, asparagus, morel mushrooms
Definitely one of my favorite dishes of the night. It's summer, so all the corn dishes I've been eating have been fantastic and this was no exception. It was just a pile of umami goodness. Sweet from the corn, salty from the mushrooms, crunch for the asparagus. Smooth Obturator and Triple T went back for seconds. 

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Little Goat

Stephanie Izzard's first restaurant, Girl & The Goat, is probably one of the hottest tickets in town since it opened in 2010.  Reservations are still hard to come by and sometimes can't be snagged even months in advance.  I dined here some time ago and was very pleased with my meal here, though I feel like there are plenty of other restaurants in Chicago that are just as tasty, if not tastier, and a lot easier to eat at.  Anyways, Triple F and I needed a place to brunch at and even though Chicago had many other stellar offerings and Buff Bear only gave it a lukewarm recommendation, we were intrigued by Little Goat, mostly because of our good experiences at Girl & The Goat.

Little Goat is more like a diner, which means more typical American fare like burgers, sandwiches, eggs/bacon, pancakes, biscuits/gravy.  But, this is Stephanie Izzard here right?  Everything's got a twist.

Breakfast Spaghetti 'N Clams 'N Crabs eggs, parmesan, pork guanciale, bok choy
We were intrigued by the possibilities of this dish but SEVERELY let down.  Don't order this.  It's frankly BAD.  I guess they took spaghetti and fried or baked it with cheese to make this giant carb conglomerate sitting in a pool of clam broth? topped with all that stuff above.  It was difficult and messy to eat.  It tasted fishy.  I didn't understand what was going on here.  FAILURE.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Grace came highly recommended by Buff Bear, who has been living in Chicago for the past 2 years.  He said it was better than Alinea.  Dems strong words there Buff Bear!  So of course I had to try the place out, on my now third visit to Chicago.  Triple F never heard of the place, I guess because it hasn't been open for even a year!  It definitely falls under the category of fine dining, with a tasting menu costing $185.  Yes, I know, really steep, buuuut you only live once right??  After the wine pairing, tax, tip, oh god, it was a killer to the wallet to say the least.  Buuut, it was good.  Modern, innovative, tasty.  Better than Alinea?  I guess we'll see...

Amuse Bouche
Alaskan king crab, encapsulated butter
The plating here is so beautiful, I almost didn't want to eat this but it was a delicious, more elevated version of steamed crab legs dipper in butter.  The buttery sphere burst in your mouth with an intense butteriness.  It was a tad too salty overall but still good.

Black pepper melon juice, caviar, mint
This was another ball that exploded in your mouth.  This may be the first time where I didn't find the caviar too salty.
Plum sodaTriple F didn't seem to like this refreshing palate cleanser as much as I did.  It wasn't that sweet, it was more tart and watery.  I like the little seed pulps swimming in my mouth.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Marugame Monzo

I love all kinds of noodle soups.  It wasn't like that when I was a kid.  I was all about rice and my mom always had to make me something else when everyone else was eating pho.  I also was a big tomboy and hated wearing dresses.  It's amazing how some things change so much.  Marugame Monzo is known for making fresh udon.

Here's the udon man slinging fresh noodles.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Tokyo Fried Chicken Co.

Since getting back to the blog after a long hiatus, I haven't had any real noteworthy dining experiences.  But along comes Tokyo Fried Chicken Co., which restores my faith in the delicious possibilities of this world.  You're probably thinking, what's so special about this fried chicken?  The meat is juicy and tasty, while the outside is just perfectly battered and seasoned.  Mmm, my mouth is watering just remembering it.  It tastes like a more mildly seasoned karaage chicken.  But what really makes the place special are the Japanese style sides.  Lo-Ma Linda and Big Head Talks ALot did not know what to expect coming to this little joint all the way out in Monterey Park, but they were very very pleased with the food.

So much beer! Too bad I don't like beer, except to wash out the taste of stinky tofu in my mouth (long story).

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

DK Donuts

The cronut craze has taken LA by way of Santa Monica.  What's a cronut you might be asking yourself?  Uhh, have you been living under a rock?  I guess there are actually a lot of under rock dwellers.  It's been described as a "half donut, half croissant pastry hybrid."  It originated at Dominique Ansel's bakery in NYC and there have been many knockoffs popping up across the country.  

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Maccheroni Republic

When I was in college, too many years ago, the only reasons we went to downtown LA was to volunteer at the soup kitchens and feed the homeless people by Skid Row.  Fast forward, again, too many years, and downtown is a destination to dine and spend a night out, what with LA Live, the Nokia Theater, Staples Center, and many restaurants popping up throughout the area.  It certainly feels a lot safer hanging out in downtown LA, so I was a bit surprised to find Maccheroni Republic in a sketchy part of DTLA on Broadway.  The rustic Italian cuisine showcasing a variety of handmade pastas is a stark contrast to the neighboring McDonald's and random shops selling bridal gowns, CDs, discount goods, etc.  I think what was more off putting was the fact they don't serve wine!  What kind of Italian restaurant does not serve wine?  There's no corkage fee so we could have brought our own bottle had we known.  Or we could have hiked over a few miles to the nearest wine shop like our waiter had suggested.  I think The Face Puncher and Lactose Intolerant T (formerly known as Quack Man T) were both thinking the same thing I was, which was "you want me to what?!"

Polpettine di Gamberi crispy pan fried shrimp cakes, caramelized onions
These were golden fried on the outside and shrimpy and snappy on the inside.  The caramelized onions were sweet and added nice contrast, though really I'm not sure how they two went together.  I'm not even sure what was Italian about this, but I do believe the place was authentic.  Our waiter was a real Luigi, with the accent and all!

Fettuccine slow cooked venetian braised duck sauce
The pastas were perfectly al dente.  The duck could have been any other meat really, but tomato sauce was not too overpowering.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Fundamental LA

If you know me, you probably know I'm not a huge fan of Dine LA.  First of all, I haven't had very good experiences.  Second of all, I'd rather spend more money to get what I want than to be restricted to a prix fixe menu for less money.  What can I say?  I'm particular about my food and I don't mind paying for it.  That being said, I made reservations for Fundamental LA not knowing it was Dine LA week, but we decided to partake in the offering anyways because it pretty much included most of the things we would have ordered anyways.  Since there were 3 of us, we were able to order 1 of everything off the Dine LA menu.

Requisite open kitchen shot

Summer Salad mesclun greens, hazelnut, white nectarine, celery, champagne vin
I could have made this at home!  Really not much special going on here, and I would have expected the nectarines to be sweeter.  Fun fact, Oregon produces 99% of the U.S. hazelnut crops!

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Maruhide Uni Club

In the past 2 years I've really developed an appreciation for uni.  Smooth Obturator would order it all the time but I would just give him and those ugly fleshy orange blobs the stink eye.  I don't really know when/how things changed for me, but I just can't get enough uni nowadays.  So when I heard about Maruhide Uni Club as a restaurant solely dedicated to serving uni bowls and other more interesting preparations of uni, I jumped at the chance to go.  Big Willie, who should probably be renamed to Ugly Mullet Head, and Speaker Monkey were down to join me for a slice of uni heaven.

The place is pretty spacious with high ceilings which is sort of unusual for Japanese restaurants as we all know.  They have a fridge with all sorts of uni preparations including the marinated uni, or uni shuntou.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013


Oh Ricardo Zarate, you've come such a long way since your days at Mercado La Paloma, the original location of Mo-Chica.  I first dined at Mo-Chica when it was housed in this food court-esque type venue.  It really blew my socks off at that time, probably being the best fancied up Peruvian food I'd had, even better than the highly lauded Andina in Portland.  Since then, I've tried Picca, Zarate's second effort, but was a bit disappointed.  I left that meal still wearing both my socks.  The H.o.P. (House of Piggy - this is the reference for my family for all of those new to my blog) dined there without me and was also unimpressed.  Soooo, I have yet to try Paiche and instead wanted to try Mo-Chica again to see if it was still just as good as a I remember.

Ceviche Mixto halibut, prawns, scallops, squid, red onion, rocoto, leche de tigre, camote
I think I'm REALLY over ceviche at Peruvian joints.  They're just SOUR SOUR SOUR.  It's hard to appreciate anything else, say the inherent freshness of the seafood?  Nope, nope, NONE of that.

Yellowtail Tiradito rocoto ponzu, garlic chips, green onions
I apologize for the poor quality photos.  It's been awhile since I've blogged and I'm still trying to remember how to use my camera again!  Anyways, the yellowtail was not as fresh as it could have been.  Not much special going on here.

Causa de Cangrejo Aji amarillo mashed potatoes, fresh crab, avocado
I thought the causa was really good last time with the freshness of the crab shining through on top of a tasty mash of potatoes.  The crab seemed a bit too mayo-y this time.  It was still a pretty dish.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Woodsman Tavern

I had been wanting to go to Woodsman Tavern for a long long time and finally got around to it thanks to some friends.  Verde, Perpetually Underwhelmed,  The Gunner (though she's not doing much of that anymore these days), Big Spoon, joined me for some good ole grubbin'.  

Marinated Octopus pickled lemon, oregano capers
This was a big disappointment.  It had a fishiness to it that I could not overcome.  Big Spoon and Verde did not seem to mind it.  Texturally, it was meaty without being too rubbery or too soft.  I'll give this one a pass but I wouldn't order it again.  

Pacific Coast Oyster on the Half Shell Kusshi (BC), Sea Cows (WA), Shigoku (WA)
Pacific Uni grapefruit vinaigrette
I love me some oysters! I can't remember which were which, but I loved them all!  They were fresh, sweet, briny, and meaty on the whole.  I think oysters taste great with just a squeeze of lemon, no mignonette or horse radish needed usually.  I thought the uni was well done with an interesting flavor profile from the tangy vinaigrette.  Perpetually Underwhelmed seemed unimpressed (duh, look at her name!) and preferred her uni unadulterated.  

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