Posts Tagged ‘risotto’

NYC to Los Angeles: Foodie Reflections

April 28, 2015

It’s really hard to believe that it’s been almost two years from this date that I have touched this blog.  My last entry was right before I enjoyed Camp Blogaway in California and I dreamed about being here since that time. Fast forward and my journey has led me here to the city of Angels as of this past July.

I love blogging and I love writing. I love food. None of that went away when I wasn’t blogging here, but there was always a little sensation, a passing comment or curiosity peaked when I mentioned that I have a blog related to the culinary adventures I had documented here. Those little moments kept the blog alive for me even while I wasn’t faithfully writing.

So with that in mind, after a nearly two year respite of writing here, it only makes sense to me to share you with, dear readers, a journey from nearly 10 years in NYC to one in Los Angeles, a place I had wanted to be and now am, on this greater journey called life.

I was really fortunate to have experienced all the culinary delights I had the chance to explore in New York City – from City Lobster to Bell Book & Candle, Kaia Wine Bar, The London, Social Eatz, Koi, B. Smith’s, Dardanel, and my all time favorite (yes, I’m revealing it!) David Burke Townhouse, to name a few – these are not only the places I remember and have documented, but the moments I truly cherish in looking back on the delicious experiences – culinary and company wise, almost as if they were yesterday.  I remember exactly who I was sitting with and what the experience was like. After all, good food is supposed to take you right back to that moment you experienced it, right?

I don’t have a verdict yet on NYC vs. Los Angeles like you might be wondering as I’m still new-ish to Los Angeles, I can give you some compare and contrasts.  The biggest is certainly the distance. While in NYC you can easily get from delight to delight, Los Angeles is a bit harder in that way as it is very spread out. Both NYC and Los Angeles boast great chefs and great establishments so those are a fair comparison, and there are definitely hidden gems in both cities.

So what are some of my favorite haunts in Los Angeles thus far? Read on…

Greenbelt (36 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA) – Greenbelt serves everything using local farmer’s market produce and the dishes are delicious for it. I’ve now been for brunch, lunch and dinner and can tell you that you can’t choose a wrong item on this menu.  Depending on what meal you’re going for, I recommend the Grilled Avocado benedict with basil hollandaise. Best part? No bread and you get the healthy fats from the avocado with other great seasonal vegetables that’s filling and it’s also gluten-free for those who have any allergies. Lunch?  Go for a shared pizza like the burrata, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, basil and pesto. Simple and yummy. Dinner?  I love tuna so the Grilled Yellowfin Tuna with coconut black rice, shitake mushrooms and thai curry is great. Spicy alert on this one though, so the faint beware.

Grilled Avocado Benedict

Grilled Avocado Benedict

Grilled Yellowfin Tuna

Grilled Yellowfin Tuna

Uncle Bill’s Pancake House (1305 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach, CA) is the ultimate comfort food. I went on a weekday holiday with friends which was great as only on weekday holidays and weekends do they serve the eggs benedict which was delicious.  We also opted to share a side of what they are famous for – pancakes (when in Rome, right?) with coconut and chocolate chips. And for the view alone, the picture says it all.

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict & Coconut Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Uncle Bill's

Uncle Bill’s

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach

Others not pictured?

Mediterraneo (73 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach, CA) because of its can’t beat shared apps like the Deviled Eggs with harissa oil, Roasted Dates prosciutto wrapped and stuffed with cambozola blue cheese (my favorite on the menu), Polpette beaf meatballs with San Marzano tomato sauce and parmagiano (really you can’t go wrong with anything here), in addition to the very carefully crafted cocktails, do yourself a favor and check it out. Plus you can walk off dinner as you’ll be right by The Strand for a lazy afternoon or crisp evening beach walk.

Manhattan Beach Post (1142 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach, CA), it’s called a “Social House” for a reason. It’s always busy. And the food and scene is why. I also came on a Sunday for brunch when it’s likely at its peak. But it’s entirely worth the wait starting with some Bacon Cheddar biscuits with maple butter like the tasty ones at Red Lobster (but better) and for shared plates like the French Toast stuffed with house ricotta, bartlett pears and candied almonds and the benedict (yes of course I had to try it, lest you forget the name of my blog).  What else is cool?  The fact that the menu changes seasonally and on the whim of a chef. Can’t hate on that.

Zinc at the Shade Hotel (1221 N. Valley Drive, Manhattan Beach, CA) come for brunch, walk the beach later. Or come during the week and enjoy one of the festive cocktails like the Are You Man Enough? with the Patron Silver Tequila, Veev acai spirit, agave, lime and muddled jalapenos or for a less spicy option the Aviation with gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqeur and creme de violette.

Ok, ok, you’re asking where are all the places not at the beach?  Don’t worry, my friends, I have you covered!

Check out:

Taste on Melrose (8454 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood, CA) – their tagline is “eat, drink, indulge” and that my friends, you can do. I came with some friends who also happen to be awesome work colleagues and we shared the calamari and Pommes Frites with garlic aioli and remoulade. They have great dishes all around whether you’re going healthier with a grilled natural salmon, or more indulgent like the Rigatoni Bolognese I tried.  Fun fact: Grilled cheese night is every Tuesday and you can add their housemade Pommes Frites for only $5. Yep.

Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa (Multiple locations, I went to 4722 1/4 Admiralty Way, Marina Del Rey, CA) – You can’t explain this sushi, you just have to try it for yourself. It’s served warm and melt in your mouth worthy. I know what you’re thinking. After I was in NYC for so long, can it get any better?  But this truly is an experience.  If you’re really hungry, go for the Nozawa Trust Me. It’s worth it. It includes organic edamame, tuna sashimi, albacore, salmon and yellowtail sushi, halibut sushi, Toro hand roll, Blue Crab hand roll and the daily special.

041 Bacaro (9552 Washington Blvd, Culver City, CA) Chef Conrad came from NYC so that’s almost enough to be said there, but there is true Italian love in this food. Try the roasted brussel sprouts or french fries with truffle oil to start (or both if you’re sharing) and the entrees speak for themselves though I enjoyed the risotto with mixed wild mushrooms. It’s like a slice of Little Italy NYC. Go.

And of course there are more to come.  Have a must try place for me to check out?  Feel free to comment here whether you’re an Angeleno or just know some great spots here in the City of Angels.


Kickin’ It Trump Style

April 8, 2010

I had the opportunity to attend the Trump SoHo preview party this evening – and it was quite a preview!  From the splendid views overlooking the Hudson River, to the room full of decadent desserts to the freshly carved meat, risotto and cheeses … I was wowed.

Upon check-in, I was ushered up to the third floor which is called Hudson Square with adjoining access to the private Spring Terrace:

Trump SoHo Hudson Square

Trump SoHo Spring Terrace

In the Hudson Square, the chefs were serving up risotto and freshly carved prime rib:

On the other side of the third floor were some meeting spaces including the TriBeca, Trump Boardroom and the SoHo Ballroom (which can be split into SoHo One and SoHo Two) – which held the fine collection of desserts and gorgeous flower displays to showcase how these can be arranged.

TriBeca at Trump SoHo

Trump Boardroom at Trump SoHo

Soho Ballroom at Trump SoHo


I felt like a kid in a candy shop with the massive dessert table stacked with goodies ranging from tiramisu to doughnut holes filled with nutella and sprinkled with sugar to lemon curd chocolates, key lime pie tarts and even rosemary and olive oil cakes topped with mandarin oranges, reminiscent of the chef’s Northern Italian roots (also reflected in the hotel restaurant Quattro Gastronomia – to be discussed a bit later).

Following this, (I promise I didn’t sufficiently gorge myself on the desserts), I made my way up to the private rooms – deluxe rooms and one bedroom suites on the 26th floor. The 9 foot floor to ceiling windows offer amazing views of the city overlooking the Hudson and I certainly felt ready to jump in the lavish bath (stocked with toiletries from the Spa at Trump), tuck myself under the covers (Egyptian cotton!) and call this place home for a night. The furnishings are custom designed by Fendi Casa (yes, the design collection for the international luxury brand Fendi).

Trump SoHo Deluxe Bedroom

Trump SoHo Deluxe Bedroom bath

After touring the bedrooms, I jaunted back down to the Mezzanine level which offers The Library stocked with Taschen books (they publish art, architecture, design and photography).

The Library at Trump Soho

I then made my way into Quattro Gastronomia, the restaurant featuring Northern Italian cuisine as I referenced earlier. I had a chance to sample some fine Italian cured meats including prosciutto, bresaola and salami, paired with some fine cheeses including Italian goat cheese, blue cheese, parmesan and even one with sheep’s milk which had quite a kick!

Well, Mr. Trump – job well done and glad there is no firing to be done tonight. (According to Hotel Chatter, the inspiration was actually Ivanka’s).

High Notes from the Weekend

March 29, 2010

Literally and figuratively, this weekend was full of high notes as my parents came into town from Ohio to support me at my performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (“Ode to Joy”) with Dessoff Symphonic Choir and the Budapest Festival Orchestra.  It was quite an experience to sing with one of the world’s finest orchestras and they positioned us right in front of the stage in front of the first row of people, so those with the orchestra seats in the first few rows definitely got what they paid for.  Apparently this was how it used to be done in the 19th century before they started moving choirs onstage – very cool.

Of course, the weekend wouldn’t be complete without diving into some good culinary treats while the ‘rents were in town. One of their favorite parts about coming to see me in the city (besides seeing me of course) is exploring all the amazing delicacies NYC has to offer.

On Saturday night, I took them to Churrascaria Plataforma at 316 West 49th Street ( billed as “the steakhouse even vegetarians would love” for a lot of belly filling meats cut off the skewers and a taste of Brazil with the live music – fantastico!  You can enjoy the prix fixe here for $59.95 which comes with a great salad bar to start. And might I tell you this isn’t your typical salad bar, folks. The waiters will even tell you not to fill up on the salad bar which is very easy to do. My favorites were the asparagus risotto, fresh sushi (one of the rolls was wrapped in thinly sliced cucumber with fresh mango), cheeses and shrimp. 

After you haven’t sufficiently stuffed yourself on the salad bar (if you were following directions), you can turn your red sticker (a.k.a. stop bringing me meat – I’m a beached whale!) to green (a.k.a. bring it on!) for all types of meat delivered to your table – from lamb to pork loin to ribeye to chicken to turkey to flank steak… it’s certainly worth your $59.95.

On  Sunday, as I have been wanting to try this place for quite some time, we went to Bar Boulud, one of Mr. Daniel Boulud’s fine establishments near Lincoln Center – 1900 Broadway( This bistro is billed in the vein of Parisian charcutier Gilles Verot and features a seasonal menu of French bistro cooking.  Check out the cool architecture which features the design of Thomas Schlesser of Design Bureaux – he’s a 2002 and 2005 James Beard Foundation award winner for Best Restaurant Design. He created a long, vaulted ceiling, a communal table (I sat here for a while while waiting and the meat slicer is quite an accouterment in front of you), and intimate booths.

For weekend brunch, they offer an incredible four course prix fixe for $26 which includes a pastry and coffee, your choice of hors d’oeuvres, a main and a dessert. 

I started with the croissant filled with chocolate:

Followed by the Soup De Chou-Fleur (cauliflower) – this broth was so creamy and buttery…

Followed by the Croque Madame (only difference in this and the Croque Monsieur is the egg on top) and features ham and melt-in-your-mouth gruyere:

And to finish off the meal the Floating Island – a meringue in a floating round of cream anglaise and topped with crusted almonds.  This is quite a bold statement, but I think if I was asked (and this was a question asked when I filled out my Zagat Guide Survey), this would be the dessert I would request as part of my last meal (with even more cream anglaise so the meringue was drowning!)  Absolutely can’t stop thinking about this.

As if this meal wasn’t enough to satisfy and I didn’t get enough meats on Saturday evening, my roommate’s family treated us to a dinner at Del Frisco’s on 1221 Avenue of The Americas ( I had the pleasure of enjoying a jumbo lump crab cake, shrimp cocktail platter accompanied by creole mustard, Italian marinade and classic shrimp sauce, followed by a delightful trio of 4 oz. filet mignons in a Merlot demi-glaze and topped with jumbo lump crab meat:

So many high notes I’m surprised the glass didn’t break or I didn’t burst.

The Meatball Shop

February 24, 2010

I had the opportunity to visit this new lower east side haunt (84 Stanton Street) right after it opened on Tuesday, February 9. (Thanks to the tip from Daily Candy NYC!)

This place has just the right ingredients – from the interactive menu where you use check boxes to place your order (see below) to the delightful staff and just simple, good food at reasonable prices (meatballs served up in a variety of ways, along with homemade ice cream sandwiches for dessert!) it’s just right on.

I selected the pork meatballs with parmesan and spicy meat sauce with risotto underneath as my main dish, however depending on how you like your ‘balls, you can select what you want under your dish – from white beans to mashed potatoes to rigatoni under or as a side. My friend and I split sides of the freshly-milled polenta, steamed spinach and roasted vegetables.

The shop also serves up great “sliders” as a part of this which I had to try because I just loved the concept – a big meatball on each slider.

And as I mentioned above, if you haven’t stuffed yourself fully on the meatballs (actually, there is always room for ice cream, especially here, believe it or not), then trying the homemade ice cream sandwiches is a MUST. I got the peanut butter cookie with vanilla ice cream. Truly scrumptious.

This place ‘aint big, so come early as you’ll be waiting for a while – and hopefully a little longer after reading this. 🙂