Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Road Tested: Frosting Bake Shop

Home for the Holidays always provides a nice chance to check out any new foodie delights that have popped up since my last trip to the Bay Area... and this time I stumbled upon a gem.

It's no secret the a good cupcake is 50% of the way to steal my heart (the other 50% belongs to a cute Jewish boy). Frosting Bake Shop in cozy downtown Mill Valley is beyond adorable from the moment you step in the door. The whimsical paint - brown polka dots and bright pink and orange stripes - brings a smile to your face upon entry. And then, there's the cupcakes...

Adorably lining the counter in individual glass display cases, the flavors range from classic Black & White to Peanut Butter Bliss and Juliana Banana. Karen, the baker and owner, also creates seasonal cupcakes, which she often samples in the store. I was able to taste Gingerbread, and although I'm not a fan, that cupcake alone inspired me to buy two to take home and share with the family: Black & White and Oreo.

Okay, I'll be honest, I had full intention of sharing the cupcakes with my parents, but upon entering my car, I happened to take a bite of the moist and rich Black & White cupcake, and neither treat made it home.

Now I just have to make sure Frosting doesn't become a Bar Mitzvah, or my boyfriend will have some stiff competition.

7 E Blithedale Avenue
Mill Valley, CA 94941

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jump on La Botte

If you're feeling romantic, or in search of a place where romance drips off the Italian waiters that pour your Italian wine, head on down to La Botte. The food is rustic but elegant. From homemade pasta to tables made with the slats of wine barrels, this place doesn't miss a beat. The food is impeccable as well. The evening will start with a basket of fresh foccacia, which is divine, and if you're looking for something to start your meal, both the Corn Soup (may be seasonal) and the Branzino Carpaccio ($18) are to die for. I went with the Papardelle with Pistachios and Lamb ($20) for dinner, while my date dined on the Seafood Risotto - both of which were outstanding.

Save this one up for a date night.

La Botte Ristorante
620 Santa Monica Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 576-3072

Thursday, July 17, 2008

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

In case you're looking for some local food events happening in LA in the next couple of months, here are some to look for, courtesy of DineLA.com:

August 3
More than 50 Central Coast wineries will be pouring yummy stuff at Wally’s 5th Annual Central Coast Wine and Food Celebration benefiting the Michael Bonaccorsi Scholarship Fund. A handful of Los Angeles’ best restaurants will also be representing. Among them: Spago, Sona, Lucques and The Hungry Cat. For tickets, call 310.475.0606 or visit wallywine.com.

August 5
If tequila and red meat are the source of pleasure for your palate, you won’t want to miss tonight’s Herradura Wine Dinner at The Palm West Hollywood. Each course will be paired with an Herradura tequila for sipping. In addition, each recipe integrates tequila. Think aged filet mignon in an anejo cream sauce paired with Herradura Anejo. Sabroso. Call 310.550.8811.

August 18
Club Culinaire, the local organization founded to promote French cuisine, sponsors a series of dinners throughout the year. Tonight’s “Chef a Table” takes place at Grace, the stylish Beverly Boulevard eatery. Like all Chef a Table dinners, this one begins at 7 p.m. with a Veuve Cliquot wine reception. A five course dinner follows during which chef Neal Fraser will table hop, giving guests a chance to hobnob with one of our biggest talents. But Fraser’s not French you say? True. You need not be to be a club member. You simply must cook in the French style. $105 for members, $115 for non-members. For reservations, call 323-934-4400. For more information on the club, visit clubculinaire.org.

August 31
Join five of Los Angeles’ most celebrated chefs along with Giuseppe Tentori of Chicago’s Boka—Tentori was named one of Food & Wine’s best new chefs of 2008—at tonight’s 5x5 dinner at Water Grill downtown, the penultimate in this year’s series. Water Grill chef David LeFevre teams up with Josiah Citrin of Melisse, Gino Angelini of La Terza, Michael Cimarusti of Providence and Walter Manzke, formerly of Bastide, to prepare a six course menu that promises to blow away even the most jaded foodie. Make your reservations asap. Even with the $150 price tag ($215 with wine pairings), seats promise to go quickly. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Southern California Chapter of Special Olympics. For reservations, call Water Grill at 213.891.0900.

September 7 – 21
Angelenos can get into the spirit of California Wine Month by sniffing-and-swirling their way through over forty restaurants during wine & dineLA presented by American Express. Top LA restaurants will strut their culinary stuff with heavy-hitting wine pairing menus designed to highlight the best of our local grapes. Watch for participating restaurants and their menus at dineLA.com.

UPDATE: Gayot also has a great list of events going on this Summer. Some noteable ones are the 888 Menu at Gonpachi on August 8 & 9 which features 8 courses for $88 (for two people), as well as the Backyard BBQ Series at Vinotèque in Culver City for $28 per person, going on now through August. Get out and eat something!

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Toro Go Down

Good sushi is simple, fresh and no frills. At least, that's the opinion of Chef Nozawa, the mastermind behind sugarFISH, a new Marina Del Rey strip-mall installation. Nozawa hopes to popularize the traditional Japanese style of omakase, which roughly translates to "trusting the chef," and obviously was the inspiration behind the cleverly titled menu choices: Trust Me 1, 2 & 3.

The restaurant plans to include specialty items and more variety in the future, but nothing like your average sushi joint. You're not going to find a crunchy roll at sugarFISH, but I dare you find a place without pretention, where the fish melts in your mouth and the homemade ponzu and soy sauces deserve their own spot on the beverage menu.

Another perk: tip and tax are included, so even with the most expensive of the 3 choices, you're only spending $39 - and trust me, you'll leave full.

NOTE: if you can't eat your sushi without a beer or sake chaser, wait until July when their liquor license kicks in.

4722 1/4 Admiralty Way
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
(310) 306-6300

Hitting the Bars

I'm not a baker. I don't claim to be a baker. I burn cookies. My breads are doughy in the middle. For those of you who may think I'm perfect, I've uncovered my (one) flaw.

I recently was invited to a cookbook release party for Dana Slatkin's, The Summertime Anytime Cookbook. Amongst the fantastic recipes that adorn this creative and thoughtful book, is a no bake dessert recipe that will leave your guests singing your praises. I made these a day ahead and just wrapped them in saran wrap on the counter (uncut) and cut with a hot knife the next day. They'll last up to a week in an airtight container.

Peanut-Butterscotch Crunch Bars
makes 16 bars

1/2 cup sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup smooth, salted peanut butter
6 cups Special K cereal
1 cup milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Lightly grease a 9x12 inch baking dish.

In a large saucepan over low heat, dissolve the sugar into the corn syrup, being careful not to let the mixture boil.

Dissolve the peanut butter into the sugar mixture, turn off the flame, add the crushed cereal, and mix well.

Spread the cereal mixture evenly into the prepared baking dish.

Over a double boiler or in a microwave, melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips together. Spread the topping over the cereal mixture and let it stand at room temperature until firm, about 1 hour. Cut into 2x3 inch bars.

It's a Small World After All

There's nothing like the "bite-sized" factor when it comes to the sweet stuff. Vanilla Bakeshop, Santa Monica's resident cupcakery has mastered the art of itsy bitsy treats. Cupcakes that fit in the palm of your hand range in flavor from Passion Fruit to Peanut Butter Chocolate, but the cute confections don't stop there. Vanilla also offers a variety of miniature pudding cups and cheesecake bites. Now you can have your cake and your dinner too - and not feel so guilty about it afterwards!

Vanilla Bakeshop
512 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 458-6644

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

That Lovin' Feeling

A few people have asked me for Valentines Day recommendations, so below are some of my favorite romantic restaurants in Los Angeles:

Cafe La Boheme
8400 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, 90069
(323) 848-2360

Il Cielo
9018 Burton Way
Beverly Hills, 90211
(310) 276-9990

Off Vine
6263 Leland Way
Hollywood, 90028
(323) 962-1900

Green Door
1429 Ivar Ave
Los Angeles, 90028
(323) 463-0008

7213 Sunset Blvd
Hollywood, 90046
(323) 850-5350

Moon of Tunis
7445 1/2 Sunset Blvd.
Hollywood, 90046
(323) 874-3333

1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd
Venice, 90291
(310) 314-0004

Or check out this article for a few restaurants offering free items specifically on Valentines Day.

Go on, lovebird!

Monday, January 21, 2008

I Heart Terroni

Courtesy of DailyCandy

I'm going to keep this brief because a) I didn't have my camera, so I have no images to share and b) I can't find a menu online so I'm pulling from the gut. However, I don't have to waste any time on fancy words or verbose beggings to visit this authentic Southern Italian haunt. That is because the food at Terroni speaks for itself.

Over 30 thin crust pizzas (which you have to cut yourself, because, dammit, it tastes better that way) and every kind of homemade pasta you can think of. Pappardelle that melts like butter, and bites of pizza with salty pancetta and sweet pears - oh man, I think I need to sit down.

I my opinion, this place far beats out Pizzeria Mozza, from the Eames inspired booth seating to the Italian documentary projected on the wall. This place screams "cool" but doesn't sacrifice one bit in the taste department. And, they know it too. With a motto like: "No reservations, No substitutions, No modifications," they know they have a good thing going and 'aint no one going to tell them any different.

Go. Go now. Go hungry.

7605 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, 90036
(323) 954-0300

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Week for the Weak (in the wallet, that is)

DineLA's restaurant week starts next week and takes place from Jan 27 - Feb 1 and Feb 3 - Feb 8. This is your chance to get a table at some of LA's best and most expensive restaurants for a discounted price. All offering 3 course menus that range from $15 - $34, this is your chance to have a fantastic meal without having to sell anything via the black market to pay the bill. Check out this address to find more and see all the menus:


I'll be dining at Beacon-LA and 3 on Fourth, and you'll be the first to know about them!

Good Things Come in Threes, Right?

Okay, I have to be honest with you. I was so very very much looking forward to my lunch at 3 Square Cafe, as much as I would assume a young, toe-headed child wakes up hours before the sun rises on Christmas morning. For one, the cafe (which stands adjacent to the 3 Square Bakery) is on my favorite street in Los Angeles: Abbott Kinney. And second, there have been so many good things said about this little Venice cafe that it was like Tickle Me Elmo all over again.

So there I was with this fantastic sounding menu in front of me and not knowing what to pick. So I did what every hungry girl does, and ordered the one plate that offers the most options, which in this case was the Mini Sandwich Sampler, of which I chose:
Tuna salad with avocado and red onions on brioche roll, Bavarian meatloaf on pretzel roll with sweet mustard, and, Chicken curry.

As you can see from the picture, the sandwiches were almost too cute to eat. As they say, you eat with your eyes first and my eyes were watering. Here's the thing. The sandwich's weren't bad, but they weren't this either. The tuna was tasty, but it wasn't anything different. And although I'm a fan of curry chicken salad, this one wasn't any better than my favorite salad at Quality. And then there was the Bavarian meatloaf... which I think... was SPAM. I don't want to insult and Bavarian people out there, but is it? I mean, I've never had SPAM, but if it looks like a duck...

Needless to say the best part of the meal was the bread that my lovely piece of SPAM was sandwiched in between. It was a homemade pretzel roll which just melted my little heart. Long story short, I think I'll give 3 Square another shot in the Brunching hour, and make sure I go next store and grab some pretzel rolls to go (sans the SPAM).

3 Square Cafe & Bakery
1121 Abbot Kinney
Venice, 90291
(310) 399-6504

Kiichi Kiichi Koo!

Photo Courtesy of sagehen_93

Sometimes your in the mood for a nice heavy meal, and sometimes, you'd rather spend the calories on beer. But why must you sacrifice flavor and quality (you can only beer batter SO many things) when you want to have a mostly liquid meal? Well, you don't.

The izakaya, or Japanese "snack bars," revolution has swept over Los Angeles like it's famous brothers before: cupcakes, frozen yogurt, "shmancy" pizza. Izakaya has spread all over the city from east to west, and is even featured in January's Los Angeles magazine. So with a desire to stay with the times coupled with my equal desire to drown my day with sake and cold beer, I headed to West Hollywood's Kiichi with one of my best dining partners, Sam (wait - didn't I call him a drunk the last time I blogged about our food adventure? I'll try to be kinder).

I'm always a little weary when I'm one of 5 people in a restaurant, which was the case with Kiichi on a Saturday night. However, I was there so I was going to give it my all - and I'm glad I did. Luckily we made it right before last call on Happy Hour, which opened the door to $2.50 beers and $3 bottles of Sake. They also were happy to have us order more than one drink to take advantage of the happy hour prices, but were kind enough to keep the beers chilled until we required a refill. I guess that's one of the benefits of a slow night at Kiichi.

One of the other benefits was fantastic service. Not only did Sam and I enjoy a 3 hour dinner/drinking fest (heavy on the latter), but everything we ordered was recommended by the staff (I left it up to the experts), and everything was fantastic. So, let's get down to it:
We started with Yellowtail & Jalapeno Sashimi ($8.50) which was on the special menu. If you like a little spice in your life, you will love this dish. The yellowtail is so fresh, it basically falls apart in your mouth. This was my favorite part of the whole meal.
Next we moved on to the Sashimi Tortilla ($6) also on the specials menu. Anytime I can combine my two loves: Mexican and Japanese, I'm one happy chica. Here, tortilla chips are topped with tuna sashimi, fresh cilantro, avocado and chili sauce. Taka me to the border!
Next, Raymond's favorite dish: Everybody Loves Spicy Tuna Roll ($7.50). A crispy rice cake is topped with spicy tuna and jalapenos in a bite sized treat (actually, it's two bites - these honkers are huge). There's really yummy and creamy, spicy and crispy. I'm starting to sound like a Taco Bell commercial but you get the deal.
I swear this next roll was created by a mom trying to get her husband to eat vegetables - Teriyaki Beef Roll ($7.50). Crispy grilled asparagus is tenderly wrapped in thin slices of beef and drizzled with teriyaki sauce. Oh man, this dish was rich and delish. I should note that their portions are huge for tapas style food, and by this time Sam and I were stuffed. I should ALSO note that somewhere in between these dishes and our second bottle of sake, I also had the Scallop Ceviche ($5) which jumped into my mouth faster than I could take a photo. Another refreshing fish dish that I couldn't get enough of.

So there you have it. Sam and I left Kiichi full of good food and good drinks and ready to take on the night. If you're in the mood for light fare, and great service, than hit up this West Hollywood spot for a meal you won't forget.

8351 Santa Monica Blvd
West Hollywood, 90069
(323) 654-4404