You may have questions about skin tightening for cellulite. You will only be able to answer them after knowing some facts about the process. Skin tightening is a process that is not unique to cellulite reduction. It is also important in the problems of skin firmness. Is actually composed of several processes that you can [...]
Do you have problems with how to reduce stretch marks after weight loss? You simply have to read this page. Reducing stretch marks especially after weight loss is often cumbersome. You may end up sitting in your couch doing nothing about it. The good news is you do not have to suffer the ugly sight. [...]
Happy Easter! We celebrated the occasion with a delicious whole lamb roast at Tender Greens in Hollywood. The lamb was lean but tender and moist. In the spirit of the event, we even tried the heart and liver. Add to that a juicy fish, lentils, asparagus, potatoes, mushrooms, a couple of salads, pea soup, artichoke [...]
I have a new story up on Dinela.com called “An LA Carnivore’s Guide to Veggie Dining.” The biggest delight in writing the piece was the wonderful meal I experienced at Madeleine Bistro in Tarzana. Run by husband and wife team David and Molly Anderson, Madeleine serves fine, animal-free cuisine. Sound like an oxymoron? I was shocked by how tasty [...]
Flora Springs 2005 Trilogy from Napa Valley is our wine pick of the day. I had an opportunity to sample half a dozen Flora Springs wines at a dinner hosted by the third-generation, family-owned winery at Wilshire, one of my favorite Santa Monica restaurants, back in March. The 2005 Trilogy is a Meritage blend of traditional [...]
Potato pizza? Sounds like a far-fetched idea in carb-phobic Santa Monica. I, too, was skeptical, but let me tell you, this creamy pizza with fontina cheese and rosemary is a decadent delight. It’s one of the highlights at chef Jason Travi’s new coastal Italian restaurant, Riva. (Travi also runsFraiche in Culver City.) We started our meal with [...]
Fans of Tender Greens, rejoice. New locations in San Diego (opening in June) and West Hollywood (slated for September) are just the beginning. Owners of the wildly popular, eco-friendly salad spot in Culver City have plans to expand across the city, state and nation. “I think we see ourselves growing sustainably, maybe three restaurants a year,” owner [...]
Huckleberry Cafe, from Chef Zoe Nathan and Josh Loeb, the husband and wife team behind Rustic Canyon, has barely been open three weeks, but word has clearly spread. There was a line out the door today at lunch, despite the rain. Nathan is pretty famous for her pastries, and while Rustic Canyon only had Saturday [...]
We’d like to give a shout out to Lesley Balla, former writer/editor of Eater LA, who is launching a new food blog calledChow Balla. At Eater LA, Lesley pretty much kicked ass — constantly breaking food stories, seemingly everywhere at once. She made Eater LA a must read for food news and gossip addicts. Everyone will [...]
You’ve probably heard the term, “Never trust a skinny chef.” But in LA, chefs often have to be camera ready. You never know when the Food Network might call. This city is full of beautiful chefs serving food to beautiful people, and I’ve always wondered how they manage to stay so trim amid all that temptation. Then [...]
Victor and I had the pleasure of checking out AK Restaurant + Bar this week, another relatively new hot spot on Abbot Kinney in Venice from former Four Seasons chef Conny Andersson. We enjoyed a cool beer tasting featuring a selection of brews from around the globe paired with various dishes. I’m more of a wine [...]
I must have walked past China Beach Vietnamese Bistrodozens of times without going in. It’s an unassuming little spot right next door to a corner liquor store and across the street from the Canal Club in Venice. I have always wondered whether it could be one of those divey, under-the-radar finds. Given that I live only [...]
Vic and I finally checked out the newest hot spot on Abbot Kinney in Venice, Gjelina, which opened over the summer. We walked in without a reservation at 7 p.m. on a recent weeknight and had no trouble snagging a seat the the communal table. (If we had arrived an hour later, we would have [...]
I already have a good phone, so no sale there, but this did succeed in making me hungry. If you enjoyed the clip, give it a vote in this poll. – Victor.
Sincere apologies for our protracted absence. We recently attempted (unsuccessfully so far) to transfer our blog to a new host. And while our Grubtrotters motto is “chow, fun,” we also spent the past month recovering from a decidedly un-fun family health crisis that coincided with our nation’s economic collapse. We’ll spare you the details, but [...]
If you name a place Delizia Cafe, the food had better deliver. Unfortunately, what they call food at Delizia is anything but delicious. Victor and I had been stuck inside our Venice Beach pad most of Sunday and wanted to get outside for a nice walk and to grab a quick bite. I have bladed past [...]
More proof of the power of food to bring two souls together. The LA food bloggers behindOishii Eats and Eat Drink & Be Merry, met and fell in love over food and just got engaged. They detailed their food courtship (with lots of lovely photos) and announced the happy news on their blogs today. Congrats and best [...]
My favorite late summer picnic grub is:
Here is your chance to be on TV. The Food Network is developing a new show called “Eat The Clock” that is being billed as a culinary version of “The Amazing Race.” The program plans to showcase chow buffs in different cities, including Los Angeles. We have the official pitch from the casting execs: Are [...]
You may have noticed I have been missing in action for much of the summer. That’s because I just returned to L.A. from a five-week teaching gig at Northwestern University in Evanston. Make that five weeks of sheer food hell. I was forced to eat most of my meals in the 1835 Hinman cafeteria with [...]
Sierra Nevada beer fans should considerBrooks in Ventura for a special event Wednesday night. For $100 a person, including tip and tax, you get a dinner of five courses, each paired with a different Sierra Nevada brew. We just tried the Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale — say that three times fast after you’ve enjoyed a few — [...]
The toasted sesame seeds get shortchanged in the promotional material. SugarFish provides a printed guide to explain the sauces and seasonings that accompany each selection of sushi. For example, the tuna sashimi comes with scallion and ponzu while you can enhance your yellowtail with soy sauce and a few drops of lemon. But aside from the [...]
With Jenny out of town on business, I found myself on a date with a pretty young girl the other night in Santa Monica. Her name is Sophia, and she wanted some ice cream. We were at the Third Street Promenade, which actually doesn’t have as many ice cream options as you might figure. I [...]
Business gained steam for Venice-basedPlatine Cookies in 2004 after being featured on the Food Network. We keep missing that “Food Finds” episode, but we just had the pleasure of tasting some goodies prepared by chef Jamie Cantor, so life is good. Freshness is one of Platine’s calling cards, and that was evident from bite one. Everything is [...]
Not that we’re cracking any kind of huge mystery here, but you know one of the reasons Communism flopped was because nobody had any choices. That’s why we love the spirit of the DeTox-ReTox promotion at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. Every Sunday this summer from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., its blue on blue poolside lounge will [...]
We went back to Mozza Pizzeria recently for the first time in more than a year, and this time we shared the experience with four others — one veteran and three rookies. Here are some of their thoughts: Setting The one major complaint was that the music was too loud, which made conversation more of a strain [...]
Guilty as charged. Jenny was taking a picture from above the open staircase at Anisettewhen chef/owner Alain Giraud raced up to her to ask if she was a blogger. We had popped in for breakfast over the weekend after noticing significant buzz in the blogosphere about Giraud’s new establishment in Santa Monica. Apparently Giraud, former chef at Bastide, had been [...]
I don’t make it to Koreatown very often anymore. An ex of mine used to live there, and I’d rather not revisit those memories. Of course, when Josef Centeno was the chef at Opus, I did occasionally override my aversion. (Incidentally, I can’t wait to try Centeno’s new place, Lot 1 in Echo Park, and I hear [...]
The DCK was better than the STK. There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself. We’re huge duck fans, and Jenny’s order of duck breast with caramelized fennel, shallots and ginger confit was outstanding. But when the restaurant builds its name around the word, it needs to deliver a killer cut of steak. STK fell [...]
We’ve all heard of organic and fair trade chocolate. But there’s a new product on the market called Intentional Chocolate, which has the blessing of the Dalai Lama. In fact, the chocolate itself has been blessed by Buddhist monks and other expert meditators who infused it with good intentions: “Whoever consumes this chocolate will manifest optimal health [...]
A source tells Grubtrotters that hot French Chef Christophe Eme at Ortolan is on the hunt for a TV gig. Eme is married to actress Jeri Ryan so he certainly has the connections. His menu is full of creative genius so he’s got the chops. The only barrier? Some insiders think he needs to soften the heavy [...]
Los Angeles Times critic S. Irene Virbila gives BLT Steak two stars in this week’s Food section. I had my birthday dinner at BLT Steak’s Washington. D.C. location last year, with James Carville, surrounded by a bevy of blondes, sitting a few tables away. The meal was fantastic. Those cheese popovers are unbelievably addictive. We haven’t had the pleasure [...]
LA Times Food Critic S. Irene Virbila rips into Nobu Los Angeles for being more scene than substance. In her weekly review she disses the restaurant for its lack of creativity and for sub-par ingredients. Some of the raw seafood is first-rate, some just a notch above mediocre. But the rice is gummy, and the nori sash around the [...]
It was girls night out at the new Father’s Office at the Helms Bakery Building in Culver City earlier this week. The second incarnation of this insanely trendy Santa Monica-born gastropub opened a month ago to massive hype and lines worthy of holidays at Disneyland. We figured some of the initial frenzy had probably died down by [...]
Wine: Bodega Melipal Malbec. Year: 2005. Country: Argentina (Mendoza region). Price: Under $20. Tremendous value. Notes: Fruity (blackberry) and robust (coffee). We were sorry we only picked up one bottle, a mistake that will quickly be rectified. We enjoyed this wine with baked red snapper in a creole sauce. Lots of bold flavors all paddling [...]
The most memorable part of our lunch atFlame, a Persian establishment in Westwood, was the Doogh Abali. We weren’t familiar with the concept of a yogurt soda. But it stood out on the menu: Orange juice. Snapple lemonade. Green tea. Coffee. Milk. Doogh Abali. It was sour, salty and sparkly all at the same time. [...]
After all of our posts of late about strange meats and speed eating, I thought I’d toss one to the veggie crowd. Walking along the Venice Beach boardwalk moments ago, I stumbled across a little hole in the wall called the Fruit Gallery just off Oceanfront Walk at One Westminster Ave. Waiting inside like a [...]
I sat down with Chef Akasha for a piece on DineLA.com. The Q&A focuses on her efforts to make her Culver City restaurant eco-friendly. But we also wound up chatting about everything from vegetarians to gay men and feng shui. You can check out the interview here, and below are a few extras just for Grubtrotters readers: Jenny: [...]
We wanted to let you know (just in case you have been hiding under a rock) that Father’s Office has opened a second location in Culver City. Of course, you might have already noticed the line of people snaked around the Helms Bakery Building. We doubt that the new spot will actually ease the crowd at the [...]
The ice cream at Scoops is so tasty you want to curse. This is so #$%*# good! When a friend — inspired by our pot gelato posts — invited us for dessert at this ice cream/gelato/sorbet joint on Heliotrope just off Melrose, we were fired up. We had sampled gelato throughout our tour of Italy, and we [...]
Esquire admits that its feature on the Best Sandwiches in America is incomplete. We will help fill at least one gap. The only real downside to Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica is that the parking lot during lunchtime is the automotive equivalent of a steel-cage death match. Even that hassle is not enough to dissuade devotees of [...]
We live in Venice Beach, and our friends Rob and Ash are near the Grove so finding a casual brunch spot in between can be tough. After searching online, we settled on a place none of us had tried, Cafe Laurent in Culver City. We walked in through the back patio, shaded with large umbrellas, where a [...]
Feeling a bit under the weather, I ordered the spicy chicken soup ($9) for lunch at Axe on Abbot Kinney in Venice. Made with white chicken and rice in a simple, clear broth, it tasted clean and healthy. I’m not usually a huge fan of cilantro so I asked for the spicy relish on the side. But [...]
As the groom, I didn’t get overly involved with the wedding details. But I did insist on one thing: We were going to serve pie, because most civilized people prefer pie over cake. Even if they didn’t, I prefer pie over cake, and I actually had a say in this matter. I only mention this [...]
I tasted steaks at both extremes of the tenderness scale at Boa Steakhouse in Santa Monica tonight. I started with the 2-oz. premium Japanese Wagyu appetizer. It’s a cashmere sweater of a steak — soft, smooth, expensive and wonderful. For the main course, I ordered the certified organic, grass-fed New York strip, the yogi of steaks, if [...]
The Viceroy’s poolside back patio in Santa Monica is as swank as it gets on the West Side. And we’re big fans of Whist Chef Warren Schwartz’s eclectic palate and focus on seasonal local ingredients from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. But the $8 valet fee and lengthy gourmet lunches have always kept busy business midday diners [...]
Seems LA restaurants have noticed the economy is tanking. Table 8 on Melrose feels your pain. It’s offering diners “Recessions Concessions,” a three-course prix fixe meal from chef Govind Armstrong for just $38 on weekdays. Optional wine pairing is an extra $18. Those who prefer the bar scene can order an “Inflation Libation,” a glass of wine [...]
We checked out two new tapas and wine bars last week, Bar Pintxo in Santa Monica and Vinoteque in Culver City. Both were festive, yummy and fun, albeit with completely different menus and vibes. Bar Pinxto is a Spanish-style tapas bar from one of my favorite neighborhood chefs, Joe Miller, of Joe’s in Venice. We stopped in after work [...]
If you name a place Delizia Cafe, the food had better deliver. Unfortunately, what they call food at Delizia is anything but delicious.
Victor and I had been stuck inside our Venice Beach pad most of Sunday and wanted to get outside for a nice walk and to grab a quick bite. I have bladed past Delizia many times since it opened last year and have always wanted to try it. Something about its modern outdoor decor, bright orange sign and simple Italian menu made it looked enticing. But clearly the boardwalk location is the only thing keeping this place hopping.
Delizia has sunset specials every night that include beer, drinks like sangria and what they call “tapas.” Perhaps the use of the Spanish word “tapas” instead of the Italian “cicchetti” for small plates — not to mention the Spanish Sangria — should have tipped us off that this would be nothing like the Italian food we spent our honeymoon grazing on every day. The only authentically European thing about Delizia was the vast number of smokers. (Their palates must be burned out.)
We ordered the pizzette, cannellini crostini and four pieces of dark meat roasted chicken with greens and garlic. The four tiny squares of pizzette on thick bread ($5) barely resembled any pizza I had ever seen. It looked and tasted like it had been sitting around all day. The cheese was burnt. The toppings were dried out. One of the pieces tasted like cardboard. We complained to the waitress, and she said, “I’m sorry, should I bring some olive oil and vinegar to spice it up?” OK, but no amount of oil and vinegar was going to make this pizza edible. The Amy’s Organic and Trader Joe’s frozen pizzas at home are far superior, and that’s kind of scary.
The crostini topped with a mixture of white beans, onions and parsley ($5) was bland but edible. It also tasted like it had been mixed hours before and refrigerated. Clearly they don’t make the tapas fresh at Delizia. I splashed some vinegar on that just to kick it up a notch, too.
Next she brought out chicken, along with a supposedly “clean” plate that had bits of food still stuck to the surface. Vic’s plate was also dirty. At this point, I was a little afraid to eat the chicken. It was slightly pink in the middle, and I had visions of salmonella running through my brain. Victor was equally unimpressed by our meal.
Despite our trepidation, we asked for fresh plates and did eat the chicken ($10). It was moist and mildly spiced, accompanied by broccoli and greens that were drowning in lemon juice and chunks of garlic. It’s been an hour, and I haven’t gotten sick so far, but that’s probably the ony compliment I can generate. The roasted chicken at Ralph’s is much better.
Delizia Cafe and Catering, 301 Oceanfront Walk, Venice Beach
–Photo courtesy of YoVenice.com
More proof of the power of food to bring two souls together. The LA food bloggers behindOishii Eats and Eat Drink & Be Merry, met and fell in love over food and just got engaged. They detailed their food courtship (with lots of lovely photos) and announced the happy news on their blogs today. Congrats and best wishes to them. We asked whether these two food lovers will keep their blogs separate or join forces like we did. And apparently they are planning a joint blog and other food ventures. Our Chicago writer/foodie friends Claire Bidwell Smith and Greg Boose also got engaged recently and launched a joint blog called She Wrote, He Wrote, where they each detail their shared meals and experiences from their separate points of view. Couples that blog together stay together. At least, that’s the plan. – Jenny
Here is your chance to be on TV. The Food Network is developing a new show called “Eat The Clock” that is being billed as a culinary version of “The Amazing Race.”
The program plans to showcase chow buffs in different cities, including Los Angeles. We have the official pitch from the casting execs:
Are you are a connoisseur, critic, chef, aficionado, restaurant owner or are just in a serious love affair with food?
The Food Network is currently casting foodies of all kinds in the Los Angeles area to be a part of a fun and exciting new TV series!
The show focuses on two teams who race through many of LA’s culinary hot spots competing in challenges in the ultimate chowhound smack down!
It’s an amazing “food-adventure” race!
We are looking for high-energy, dynamic and competitive two-member teams (husband & wife, parent and child, two good friends, two co-workers, etc.) who are 25-45 and have some connection, knowledge or experience in the food industry. Who thought fighting for your next meal could be so fun?
Sam Kivi 818-255-9330
Pete Brophy 818-255-9329
You may have noticed I have been missing in action for much of the summer. That’s because I just returned to L.A. from a five-week teaching gig at Northwestern University in Evanston. Make that five weeks of sheer food hell. I was forced to eat most of my meals in the 1835 Hinman cafeteria with 88 teenagers who promptly labeled the place “Nastytown.” I have been teaching at the same summer program for the past seven years, but never before have I experienced such a culinary Death Valley. The program has a soft spot in my heart because it’s where Victor and I met. This was the first year that his job prevented him from joining me, which didn’t help matters. I just couldn’t bear writing about the horror show until I knew it was over.
Of course, I did complain about the sub-par chow the first week, and the new Hinman chef and his bosses at Sodexo provided a lame excuse. They told me a “rogue chef” had been at the helm in prior years. His crime? “He tried to make the food too good,” they said. Believe me, this so-called rogue chef was no Thomas Keller, but, apparently, people forced to eat at other cafeterias complained. So instead of raising standards elsewhere, they lowered them at Hinman. Bureaucratic brilliance at its best.
The entrees for lunch one day looked like a menu for a C-rated restaurant called Carbotopia: potato burritos, corn dogs, popcorn, cauliflower and Mexican rice. That was it. The only green vegetable was in a bowl on display amidst this carbo-loading wasteland. A week later, I actually had to call the Evanston Health Department after finding bugs crawling on my breakfast berries. (My apologies to those who just lost their appetites.) Northwestern officials weren’t too happy with me for going “outside the system” to complain. So I told them, “Surely you aren’t opposed to any effort to protect the health and safety 88 minors?” Needless to say, that was my last breakfast at Hinman. They reimbursed me for the unused portion of my meal plan and let me eat elsewhere.
I’d like to thank a handful of Evanston restaurants that helped me through this culinary abyss. Evanston, the suburb on Chicago’s northern border, is not exactly a foodie haven — at least not since Grant Achatz left Trio to start Alinea. But there are a few down-home joints that seemed like nirvana compared to what I had been enduring.
Olive Mountain: This unassuming Middle Eastern restaurant is an old favorite. It has some of the tastiest hummus I have tried in a while — loaded with olive oil, sumac, parsley and spicy lemon juice on top. I can also recommend the pureed lentil soup, the couscous salad packed with veggies, and the combo platter of kifta kabobs, beef and shish taouk with vegetables and yellow Middle Eastern rice. Don’t expect much in the way of atmosphere. There’s a cheesy chandelier and pink and aqua tables. But the service is terrific. The staff is friendly and attentive, and the food is delicious, unpretentious and cheap. Lunch specials are $5.95 to $8.25 for an entree, beverage and your choice of hummus, falafel, Lebanese salad or soup.
Joy Yee’s: Having lived in L.A. for more than a decade, I was a little skeptical about trying Asian food in Evanston — especially at a restaurant that featured Japanese, Chinese, Thai and Korean dishes. But Larry Yee (no relation), a Chinese student from San Francisco who attended the program last year, had raved about it, and I was seriously jonesing for some noodles. Plus, Joy Yee’s had just reopened after a long renovation and was filled with Asian diners when I walked by. The walls were painted bright yellow, and the modern, web-like plastic chairs were not exactly inviting, but it turned out to be a perfect lunch spot. The menu read like a novel. I finally settled on some Udon noodle soup with soft shell scrab. The crab batter was a bit thick for my taste, but the soup came in a huge bowl with fresh bok choy, carrots and mushrooms. The noodles were thick and slippery. The broth was delicious. It really hit the spot. (Later in the month, when I ordered the same soup for delivery late at night, the broth was overly salty. Perhaps it had been sitting too long.) I also tried the lemongrass chicken and noodles, which was served with green peppers. Solid dish, but nothing to write home about. My favorite discovery, however, was the fresh fruit smoothies, served with tapioca balls. The smoothies were amazing. I tried multiple combinations of mango, lychee, strawberries, coconut and bananas. They’re served at a counter with shimmering rainbow tiles. Maybe the name carries the power of suggestion, but Joy Yee’s really did make me happy.
Union Pizzeria: This new place is a bit out of place in Evanston. Or perhaps it’s a sign of the “new” Evanton — home to skyscraper condos and loads of yuppies. Union has a decidedly urban feel with a large warehouse space, exposed brick walls, high ceilings, chic hanging light fixtures over the bar and modern couches in the lounge. If you live in Chicago, Union is probably not worth the drive, but for Evanston, it’s nice to have a place that could be at home in LA or New York, too. There’s a wood-burning oven that serves nine different pizzas. I tried most of them and can recommend the sausage, sweet pepper, onion and Sicilian oregano, as well as the mushroom with bechamel, fontina and sage. The pizzas don’t rival the ones in Rome or at Mozza. But it’s a really nice change from the huge quiche-like, Chicago-style pies from Giordano’s. The Baccala of pureed salt cod, potato, cream and garlic was sinfully rich. And for health nuts, the white wine-braised Tuscan kale is also a winner. Service can be really slow, but there’s a strong beer and wine list, and this is a nice place to chill for a glass at the start or end of an evening. It is open late, at least by Evanston standards. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union was founded there, and Evanston was a “dry” until the 70s. So Union is certainly a sign of progress.
Despite these bright spots, I have probably never been so happy to be home. — Jenny
Sierra Nevada beer fans should considerBrooks in Ventura for a special event Wednesday night. For $100 a person, including tip and tax, you get a dinner of five courses, each paired with a different Sierra Nevada brew.
We just tried the Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale — say that three times fast after you’ve enjoyed a few — and it is among the selections for this dinner, which starts at 6:30 p.m. There were still some openings at last check. Call 805-652-7070 for reservations. Here is the scheduled menu:
Seafood Nacho: Whole wheat tortilla, crab, sea bass, lobster, black beans, white cheddar cheese, cilantro aioli. Beer pairing: Summerfest Lager.
Wild Game Gumbo: With Pale Ale rice. Beer pairing: Pale Ale.
Smoked BBQ Pulled Pork: With beer-honey cornbread. Beer pairing:Anniversary Ale.
Crispy Harvest Caribbean Marinated Game Hen: With sweet onion yam puree and jerk vinaigrette. Beer pairing: Southern Hemisphere Harvest Fresh Hop Ale.
Mixed Berry Crisp: Ginger crumble topping and malted cream. Beer pairing:Bigfoot Barleywine Ale.
Brooks, 545 E. Thompson Blvd., Ventura 93001.
The toasted sesame seeds get shortchanged in the promotional material.
SugarFish provides a printed guide to explain the sauces and seasonings that accompany each selection of sushi. For example, the tuna sashimi comes with scallion and ponzu while you can enhance your yellowtail with soy sauce and a few drops of lemon.
But aside from the freshness of the seafood, the most memorable aspect of SugarFish’s salmon and shrimp sushi was the toasted sesame seeds on top. They were distinctive but not overpowering, a superb complement.
Not that we’re lobbyists for the sesame industry, but it is unfortunate that the seeds are not mentioned in the literature. This really isn’t a complaint. More of a fussy observation. It’s just that the sesame seeds worked so well you’d like to see them get some credit.
Anyway that was one of the lasting first impressions of SugarFish, which opened last month at the Waterside shopping plaza in Marina del Rey. Neighbors include Chipotle, Cold Stone, California Pizza Kitchen and Pinkberry, whose bright but minimalist interior is replicated at SugarFish.
SugarFish is a venture involving Kazunori Nozawa and his son, Tom. But unlike the flagship Nozawa in Studio City, which is all about tradition, SugarFish offers what you might call “Omakase For Dummies.” The food and preparation are still authentic, but the vibe reflects its location, a strip mall anchored by Ralph’s. It has a three-tiered menu — $19.50, $29.50 and $36.50 are the ballpark ranges — that includes tip and tax.
These three options are billed as “Trust Me,” the translation of omakase. But trust isn’t an issue because the menu lists exactly what you’re going to get. If you really want to take your chances, there are days, depending on inventory, when the “Surprise Me” option is available.
The albacore (with scallion and ponzu) and the crab rolls were other highlights. Given the location, relatively reasonable pricing and high quality of fish, we can see this place becoming a part of our regular rotation. – Victor.
SugarFish: 4722¼ Admiralty Way, Marina del Rey 90292. 310-306-6300. Beer and sake available.
With Jenny out of town on business, I found myself on a date with a pretty young girl the other night in Santa Monica.
Her name is Sophia, and she wanted some ice cream.
We were at the Third Street Promenade, which actually doesn’t have as many ice cream options as you might figure.
But according to her mom, Sophia almost always gives gelato a thumbs-down. It just isn’t really ice cream to her. Quite the perceptive 4½-year-old. This meant Angelato had to pass the Sophia Taste Test if we were going to cap the date with dessert.
Fortunately for us, Angelato offered her favorite flavor: Pink Bubble Gum. After a sample spoon, Sophia flashed a thumbs-up, and we were in business. I opted for the pistachio, my baseline for gelato judging.
This wasn’t the greatest gelato I had ever tried, but it was pretty darn good. I will be back to check out more of their flavors. Almond Avalanche and Chocolate Peanut Butter are at the top of my list. The Raspberry Blackberry Sorbetto also looks intriguing.
Sophia with Pink Bubble Gum.
301 Arizona Ave., Santa Monica 90401. 310-656-9999. Cash only.
Not that we’re cracking any kind of huge mystery here, but you know one of the reasons Communism flopped was because nobody had any choices. That’s why we love the spirit of the DeTox-ReTox promotion at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. Every Sunday this summer from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., its blue on blue poolside lounge will offer selections to either keep the Saturday night party raging or ease your pain. (Our favorite hangover description is from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” courtesy of Lou Grant: Did you ever feel so sick you’d have to rally to die?) The options:
Mixed berry smoothie with bee pollen ($8).
Sparkling pomegranate lemonade ($6).
Pitcher of cucumber/lemon water ($3).
Build your own Bloody Marys ($14).
Mimosas & mixers ($14).
DeTox Menu ($8 each)
BBQ brisket sliders
Thai chicken with cucumber cream
Fingerling-ricotta baked tater
Crab and corn hushpuppies
Spicy beef rice wraps
ReTox Menu ($8 each)
Tuna sashimi & pina-soy colada
Salmon BLT flatbread
Duck and apricot strudel
Chicken and vegetable pot pie
No doubt that sometimes a greasy burger is the perfect hangover cure, but trust us when we tell you that those spicy beef wraps (above, right) can provide just as much comfort with 38 times the taste. And if you can eat them in a swanky, modern spot in the sun, so much the better.–Victor.
Avalon Beverly Hills, 9400 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills 90212
We went back to Mozza Pizzeria recently for the first time in more than a year, and this time we shared the experience with four others — one veteran and three rookies. Here are some of their thoughts:
The one major complaint was that the music was too loud, which made conversation more of a strain than it should have been. Doris: “I don’t want accordions and ‘That’s Amore,’ but something less KROQ would have been better.”
Jason suggested the chopped salad, which he had tried on his previous visit. Doris: “Excellent. Great call.” The fried squash blossoms received thumbs-up around the table, but Matt was particularly impressed with the mussels. The shells were relatively small but the meat was plump, copious and tasty. Score.
We ordered six and spread the wealth. The white anchovy pizza was particularly memorable from our first Mozza experience, and Doris reinforced that sentiment this time: “I liked the slight pickling of the fish, and the hot chili strips were a great contrast.”
Matt raved about the prosciutto pizza: “Better than the one I had in Rome!”
Cynthia loved the funghi pizza in particular and the dough of all the pizzas: “It was thin where you wanted the impact of the toppings but chewy and crunchy at the same time toward the ends.”
Rosemary cookies were the biggest hit.
Cynthia: “In the end, really excellent food. Really expensive valet!!”
Mozza, 641 N. Highland Avenue, Los Angeles 90036. 323-297-0101
Guilty as charged.
Jenny was taking a picture from above the open staircase at Anisettewhen chef/owner Alain Giraud raced up to her to ask if she was a blogger. We had popped in for breakfast over the weekend after noticing significant buzz in the blogosphere about Giraud’s new establishment in Santa Monica. Apparently Giraud, former chef at Bastide, had been monitoring the same sites.
Perhaps Jenny’s acknowledgement to Giraud that we are bloggers paid off. We received our food before the couple next to us even though they had arrived and ordered first. Maybe this was a perk due to our blogger status. Or maybe this was just one of those wrinkles that needs to be smoothed during this semi-opening process. Giraud and friends just opened for breakfast last week and are scheduled to expand to lunch and dinner hours this week. They also plan to be open late, a welcome development in L.A.
Jenny went for the Anisette omelette featuring goat cheese feta, red peppers, wild argula and mushrooms. As an unadvertised bonus, it also arrived with extra veggies including fresh asparagus and onions. I had the savory croissant with turkey that came with Gruyere, scrambled eggs, sauteed spinach and slices of vine-ripe tomatoes. We both classified our orders under the category of “very good but not mind-blowing.”
Perhaps a bit soured by the delay, the couple next to us didn’t necessarily grumble about the food but they weren’t heaping praise either. But they also said they were big fans of Giraud at Bastide and would definitely give Anisette another try, knowing these are the kinds of snags you encounter the opening week before the kinks are ironed out.
The party of three on our other side also ran into a production problem. Two received their orders while the third looked on enviously for several minutes before her food arrived.
The décor was old-fashioned with flair and grandeur: tall ceiling, red leather booths, tile floors, antique-looking mirrors and an entire wall of bottles behind the bar. Clearly they put in a lot of work into the look, but frankly I was more impressed by the fresh-squeezed orange juice. Sweet. –Victor.
Anisette, 225 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica 90401. 310-395-3200.
I don’t make it to Koreatown very often anymore. An ex of mine used to live there, and I’d rather not revisit those memories. Of course, when Josef Centeno was the chef at Opus, I did occasionally override my aversion. (Incidentally, I can’t wait to try Centeno’s new place, Lot 1 in Echo Park, and I hear he may still be chef at the upcoming Latin restaurant downtown called Casa. The more Centeno, the better.)
In any case, my Koreatown famine ended a few days ago when I had to visit the Chinese Embassy to get a visa for my trip to Hong Kong and Beijing next week. My visa adventure coincided with the lunch hour so I stopped off at Beverly Tofu House on Olympic, just west of Vermont. Lucky pick.
With valet costing just $1.50, I knew this was going to be a great deal. Beverly Tofu is an odd little spot resembling a woodsy cabin inside and out. It’s decorated with family-style picnic tables, with legs made from logs and hard wooden benches for seats. The attentive servers start you off with lovely Korean banchan: tiny bowls full of pickled cucumbers and turnips, a potato dish, cabbage floating in a bowl of spicy water, bean sprouts, spicy kimchi, which is fermented cabbage, and, of course, their signature tofu dish. The tofu was so delicate and ethereal, it was impossible for this Westerner to eat with chopsticks. Fortunately, they provided a spoon.
I ordered the seafood combo soon tofu, which is a steaming hot stew that arrives at your table popping and sizzling and spitting like a volcano about to erupt. Because this was my first visit, I ordered it medium spicy, which was perfect for my palate. It was loaded with tiny unshelled shrimp — heads and all — oysters, clams and mussels that tasted like they had just been snagged from the sea. The server cracked an egg right at the table and plopped into the center of the stew, which was so hot it cooked the raw egg on the spot. Watching those around me for guidance, I scooped out a few spoonfuls the stew into a little steel bowl full of rice, mixed it in and then took a bite.
Delicious. This meal was hearty, spicy and warm. I filed it away mentally as the perfect dish to have the next time I catch a cold. There was so much food, I couldn’t finish, which is rare for me. I’m sure the banchan is meant to be shared. Despite the vast quantities of grub for someone lunching solo, the meal was still light enough not to make me feel over-full. The kimchi, by the way, was wonderful, and you can buy it to go.
I’m not sure I’ll be going out of my way to drive from Venice to Koreatown very often, but the next time I find myself back there, I won’t hesitate to revisit this spot. –Jenny
Beverly Tofu, 2717 W. Olympic Blvd., 213-380-1113.
The DCK was better than the STK.
There is nothing wrong with that in and of itself. We’re huge duck fans, and Jenny’s order of duck breast with caramelized fennel, shallots and ginger confit was outstanding. But when the restaurant builds its name around the word, it needs to deliver a killer cut of steak. STK fell short in this regard. Our 20-ounce bone-in rib wasn’t terrible. It just wasn’t special. Again not to put too fine of a point on this, but if the name of your establishment is STK, you simply cannot allow other entrees to overshadow the quality of the red meat.
Perhaps the tipoff should have been the various steak sauces on the menu at $2 each. Hey, if you’re going to charge high-end steakhouse prices — the bone-in New York is $75 — the beef had better be perfectly seasoned when you put it on the plate in front of me. Extra for sauce? The nerve. It’s not the two bucks that bothers us. It is the idea behind it: We can slack on proper seasoning because we know these suckers will actually cover our lack of detail by coughing up extra for sauce. It’s like a car dealer charging extra for the keys.
In addition to the duck, the other highlight was an appetizer called Shrimp Rice Krispies, a tasty concoction of tiger prawns drenched in shrimp bisque with cilantro. This was a winner. But the dessert was a letdown. The server touted the bread pudding. We rarely turn down a chance to inhale every morsel of bread pudding, but this time we left half of it on our plate. Too much whipped cream. Most of all, though, the bread was hardly soaked with the stuff you need to soak it with. We would have panned this pudding anyway, but the intensity of our reaction was perhaps colored by an absolutely scrumptious version we enjoyed recently at Murano from just-departed Chef Kristi Richey. (Let’s hope they keep the same recipe on the menu there.)
Clearly STK is more sizzle than steak. We saw David Spade greeted by paparazzi on his way in. We caught a glimpse of Lions Gate CEO Jon Feltheimer inside with his wife. We heard Lauren Conrad was there as well with Chace Crawford. Perhaps they were attending one of the three birthday parties featuring gaggles of women dressed like they were auditioning for “Sex and the City, the Next Generation.” The parking attendant confirmed there were other celebrities in the house. He was unsure about names but repeatedly said, “Lots of blondes, lots of blondes.” We saw plenty of them in the bar. If you’re a single guy, this should be prime pickings. The steak here was not a 10, but some of the implant work was. — Victor.
STK, 755 N. LaCienega, Los Angeles, 90069. 310-659-3535.
We’ve all heard of organic and fair trade chocolate. But there’s a new product on the market called Intentional Chocolate, which has the blessing of the Dalai Lama. In fact, the chocolate itself has been blessed by Buddhist monks and other expert meditators who infused it with good intentions: “Whoever consumes this chocolate will manifest optimal health and functioning at physical, emotional and mental levels, and in particular will enjoy an increased sense of energy, vigor and well-being….for the benefit of mankind.”
Sounds nice, but does it really work? Well, the founder of Intentional Chocolate wanted to find out, too. So he commissioned Dr. Dean Radin, author of “The Conscious Universe” and senior scientist at theInstitute of Noetic Sciences to conduct a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled pilot experiment. Radin’s study, published last November in Explore, the Journal of Science and Healing, found that people who ate an ounce of Intentional Chocolate for three days scored themselves 67% higher on a standard psychological scale measuring well-being, which was much better than those in a control group who ate regular chocolate. You can watch Radin give a one-minute explanation (aka commercial) here.
This is one small pilot study, and perhaps it was a fluke. But what if it’s replicated, and we someday learn that the mood and intentions of the people making your food actually affect the food and how you feel after eating it? Perhaps someday we will all get to know our restaurant chefs before eating out. Angry chefs will be considered hazardous to your health. We’ll light a candle and set the mood when we cook at home. Sound far-fetched? As a fledgling yoga teacher, I can tell you that we always set an intention before class becausesankalpa, as it’s called, is a powerful thing.
Regardless of what you think of the study, I can definitely recommend Intentional Chocolate for its flavor. The truffles are especially divine. Among the most nirvana-inducing chocolate I have tasted, for sure. It comes from the makers of Hawaiian Vintage Chocolates, which is a favorite of chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay and Charlie Trotter. It may have been the power of suggestion, but I started having some pretty interesting insights after eating it. The chocolate isn’t cheap, but you can feel good knowing that 10% of the proceeds go toward the Deer Park Buddhist Center. Log ontowww.intentionalchocolate.com to order some chocolate, boost your mood and make a difference. What could be better? –Jenny