France and Italy continued…

13 Jun

A few more photos of my marvelous meals in the South of France and Cinque Terre, Italy!  These are all typical regional dishes that are guaranteed to make your mouth water.

Tomato Farci Provencale – stuffed tomato w/beef, parmesan, garlic, onions, sauteed veggies and provencal spices

Salade Chevre Chaud – Arugula, heirloom tomatoes, parmesan shavings, with warm goat cheese wrapped in puff pastry.

Socca –  Similar to a crepe.  Socca is made of chickpea flour, water, olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper.  It’s perfect for a warm, savory breakfast.

Socca man hard at work!

Fresh from the woodfire oven…almost ready!

Oh wait, there’s more…socca man sells fresh pizza too.

Pissaladiere: Very popular in the south.  Pissaladiere is a light and flaky pastry type pizza that’s generally made with grilled onions (onions confit), anchovies, olives and fresh thyme.  Unfortunately, anchovies are one of the few things I don’t enjoy, so I had to remove it, but luckily my dad was there to pick up the anchovy slack.

Can’t go wrong with some serious charcuterie at the morning market in the old village of La Turbie.

Sanglier meat: Wild boar meat that tastes like a less pungent version of prosciutto.  Tasty over a bed of arugula.

Gambas w/pesto – Big ol shrimps from the Mediterranean Sea.

Panna cotta

Nutella Creme Brulee – seriously as amazing as it sounds.  Surprisingly light and not overly sweet.

Sandwiches!

Pan Bagnat: Raw veggies, green onions, hard boiled eggs, tuna and olive oil on a fresh baguette.  This sandwich is a very typical lunchtime meal in Nice.

Grilled Merguez (Spicy Lamb) Sandwich

Merguez sandwich: Served with dijon mustard and Harissa (spicy paste from North Africa)

Cinque Terre, Italy

I love Italy. I love pasta.

Penne alla arrabiata

Caprese Salad: Burrata (creamy mozzarella), tomato, basil and pesto

Ravioli with zucchini and sun-dried tomatoes 

Testaroli with pesto genovese

 

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One Delish Dish does Côte d’Azur

6 Jun

The Streets of Vieux Nice

My family and I were fortunate enough to take some time off to travel to the South of France for my cousin’s wedding. The South is undoubtedly famous for its picturesque coastlines, impeccable building facades, lively Polly-Pocket sized streets and of course…its cuisine. Being that southerners have easy access to fresh seafood from the Mediterranean, as well as plenty of sunshine for their fresh herbs and locally grown produce, these regional traits lend themselves to the great food and leisurely lifestyle that exists in this region. Honestly, if I only ate a fresh baguette from around the corner with a different kind of wine and cheese everyday I’d be ecstatic in my dairy and vino induced coma – but I decided that it may be better to venture out and explore what the South has to offer. We started our trip in Vieux Nice (Old Nice) and I loved every minute of it, the food and markets were great, the sea was picture perfect, plus it had the best Gelato outside of Italy. As my dad always says, “I know the world frequently has a lot to say about the French, but when it comes to food, wine, cheese and desserts they truly know what they’re doing and they always have.”

Waiting for our great dinner at La Favola. I probably would have been smiling if my stomach wasn’t eating itself.

Focaccia de Jambon Cru (Focaccia bread topped with veggies and prosciutto). Drizzled some olive oil and balsamic on top - super fresh and tasty.

Salad w/prosciutto, provolone, tomatoes, mozzarella, avocado and melon

Amazing baked rigatoni with eggplant and emmental cheese

More rigatoni cheesiness

Fresh seafood pasta w/mussels, squid, clams and shrimp in a light olive oil, white wine, tomato and garlic sauce

Super popular French meal - Steak frites w/ a béarnaise sauce (a derivative of a Hollandaise sauce, made with butter, eggs, shallots, tarragon, peppercorn and herbs)

After dinner treat - on our way to find the famous gelato spot.

Gelato at Finocchio. Master gelato makers.

Gelato at Finocchio

Enfin - gelato!

Fenocchio bustling at midnight

Le Quebec - the best pizza place in town

Pizza Niçoise: Black olives, capers, anchovies and oregano

Pizza Niçoise and salad Niçoise are particular to the town of Nice since these small black olives grow specifically in this region. The sun and terrain here are great for the growth and longevity of olive trees, many around this area produce for an average of 300 years. In the neighboring town of Menton, there’s even a tree that has been alive for 1,000+ years.

Meet the man responsible for it all

…and his workshop

Hungry brother Alex

Spicy Sausage Pizza

Of course, a nice rosé to wash it all down. These Frenchies know good and well that a little mid-day drink never hurt anybody.

View of the Mediterranean from the Promenade des Anglais

For those of you who know me and for those of you who don’t, it’s probably obvious by now that between this post and my Little Next Door post, I have a slight love affair with France. It’s true, I admire the French because of how they genuinely enjoy life, and for that – I think they are worth a shout out or two. Really though, who can deny a life of 7 weeks of government mandated vacation time or spending 6 hours in a cafe catching up with an old friend over a Croque-Monsieur, pommes frites, 15 espressos and a pack of cigarettes? Certainly not moi. Stay tuned for more from France!

One Delish Dish at “WoodSpoon”

19 May

Being that I don’t venture out to Downtown LA as much as I’d like to, I’ve completely missed out on great places such as this tasty Brazilian hideout for far too long.  My dinner at WoodSpoon gave me a million reasons to explore Downtown eateries more often – WoodSpoon serves an assortment of freshly grilled Brazilian meats, fried dumplings, juicy burgers, short rib stews, handmade chicken pot pies and of course, Sangria to wash it all down.  Since Brazil has had centuries of immigrants bringing their respective cuisine and cultures from every corner of the globe (i.e. Portugal, Spain, Germany, Japan, Italy and Lebanon), there is no shortage of remarkable food in this country. Restaurant owner and Brazil-native Natalia Pereira, successfully provides amazing homemade Brazilian comfort food with all locally farmed, quality ingredients.  

WoodSpoon

Brazilian Sausage w/rice, beans, plantains and collard greens

Pork Burger w/roasted cabbage, onions on toasted potato bread and yam fries

Don’t let this messy looking mound fool you, this perfectly prepared burger is nothing short of mind-blowing.

Amazing Mix Plate - Coxinha, Potato Croquette, Portuguese Croquette, Pastel Portuguese, Kibe

Showcase of Brazil’s Popular Street Foods (aka little delish fried treasure balls)

Coxinha: Shredded chicken and spices

Potato Croquette: Mashed potato and cheese

Portuguese Croquette: Potato salted Cod

Pastel Portuguese: Dumpling stuffed with shrimp, coconut sauce

Kibe: Bulgur wheat, mint and ground beef (Middle Eastern inspired)

*All served with a tasty green chili pepper/cilantro mayo dip

Inside a Coxinha

Brazilian Chicken Pot Pie - fresh out of the oven, so fresh it scorched my starvingly impatient mouth

Sorry Marie Callender but WoodSpoon has got you BEAT in the Chicken Pot Pie department

Doesn’t get much better than moist grilled chicken wrapped w/perfectly crisped bacon.
Very simple, colorfully cute and clean decor – reminiscent of an authentic Brazilian eatery w/a little LA twist

Loved the food, coziness and everything about WoodSpoon!  I shall return with a quickness.

Click here to read more on the chef’s unique upbringing and how it shaped her beliefs on what constitutes a top-notch meal.   

107 West 9th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015
213.629.1765

One Delish Dish at “The Little Next Door”

9 May

Every time I’m at El Carmen fulfilling my incessant taco & margarita craving, I always seem to catch myself peeking over at the bustling patio next door.  Any restaurant overflowing with lively patrons always intrigues me, so needless to say, this wonderful French bistro immediately caught my eye. 

I finally had the pleasure of eating at The Little Next Door and my palate was jumping for joy.  This great restaurant not only had the adorably inviting decor of a traditional Parisian bistro or pâtisserie  (even down to the woven chairs and authentically Frenchie waiters), but it also had some amazing cuisine to support the ambiance.  

 Our Dinner:

Appetizers   Chef’s Special (cured meats, pate and yummy cheese plate)

                             Grilled Calamari Salad

                             Creole Soup (with shrimp and crisped bacon)

Entrees         Lamb Couscous (w/zucchini, carrots, garbanzo beans)

                            Steak au poivre (grilled skirt steak w/green peppercorn sauce)

                            Moules-frites (creamy white whine and shallot steamed mussels)

Dessert        Assortment of macaroons: Coconut, Lavender, Chocolate, Praline, Coffee,  Pistachio, Cookies & Cream

Outside patio area - great place for brunch or an early dinner

Amazing charcuterie and cheese plate

Gettin down on these succulent bad boys (aka Moules-frites)

Wine and moules make her pensive...

The steak screamed out "Eat Me," so we did...

Digging into the tasty treats

The Little Next Door – 8164 W 3rd Street Los Angeles – (323) 951-1010

I will most definitely be back again for dinner or a famous Little Next Door brunch!

FYI: Cinco de drinko is NOT Mexican Independence Day

5 May

 

Cinco de Mayo is probably the most misunderstood “holiday” of all time.  Since I grew up in San Diego and have a HUGE affinity for any food and/or drink related to Mexico, I’ve decided to post some One Delish Dish fun facts relating to this day:

1.  The actual Mexican Independence Day is September 16th.

2.  Sorry to break it to you beloved college frat boys, but Cinco de Mayo is not when Mexicans commemorate the invention of Jose Cuervo, Tecate and sombreros (you all know who I’m referring to). 

3.  Just so you can impress someone…Cinco de Mayo celebrates Mexico’s victory over the French in the 1862 Battle of Puebla.  French occupation of Mexico took place after the Mexican-American War, the Mexican Civil War and the Reform War (la Guerra de Reforma).  This was a significant victory because 4,000 Mexican soldiers overthrew the formerly undefeated, 8,000-man French army.

4.  This day is celebrated all over the U.S., but in Mexico, it’s mainly celebrated in the southern state of Puebla, where the battle was won.

5.  Ohhhh so this is why everyone here gets wasted… “Cinco de Mayo has been heavily promoted by U.S. liquor companies and distributors since the 1960s to boost springtime sales in advance of more solemn — and less party-hearty — observances as Mother’s Day, Armed Services Day and Memorial Day.”

I know you may want me to just let you drink your salt-rimmed margarita and eat your chimichanga in peace, and I’m all for that, please don’t get me wrong – but I do believe it’s nice to get a little perspective on a feasty fiesta occasion such as this one.  Have fun, be safe y Feliz Cinco de Mayo! 

Get your Matzah Brei on…

26 Apr

So I realize I am a few hours late for my One Delish Dish shout out to Passover and all of its culinary delights, but I’m hopeful that my tasty twist on Matzah Brei can be enjoyed at anytime of the year.  Among the Gefilte fish, bitter herbs and zero-yeast policy, Passover isn’t typically known as the holiday filled with amazing cuisine.  However, my close friend and fellow “Jewish-insider,” Jonathan Cohen, told me that Matzah Brei is the way to go during Passover – well, that and Matzah pizza, but I could never deal with a dough-less pizza.  That’s just not happening, I love a good dough a little too much.

Matzah Brei is an easy, healthier alternative to quiche that’s super tasty when spiced up a bit.  It’s basically softened matzah that is mixed with eggs and either made into a frittata-type cake or broken up into pieces.  It can be prepared in a savory style (served with meat, onions, chives and/or sour cream), or a sweet style (served with cinnamon, sugar and jam).  Since I would pick a cheeseburger over a cupcake any day, I chose to go the more savory route.  They key is to make it as crispy as possible on the outside (without charring it of course).

To make this you need:

– 4 or 5 pieces of matzah

– 4 eggs

– about 10 finely chopped chives

– 1/4 cup of fried onions (either freshly fried or dehydrated)

– salt and pepper to taste

– 2 teaspoons of garlic powder

– 1 tablespoon of butter

– 3 strips of turkey bacon, chopped into small pieces

– one large dollop of sour cream

avocado slices

Preparation:  In a large bowl, break the matzah into bite-sized pieces, then pour hot water over them (enough to cover).  As soon as the matzah is soft, drain out the excess water.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs.  Then add the eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder and chopped chives to the softened matzah, mix and set aside.  Heat the butter in the frying pan and fry the chopped turkey bacon.  When the turkey bacon is crispy, pour the egg/matzah mixture over it and let the mixture cook over medium heat.  I prefer to cook this like a frittata, so allow it brown and crisp on one side, then carefully flip it either by hand or with a spatula.  After both sides are crisped, slide it onto a plate and top it off with some sour cream, avocado slices and fresh chives.  You can either cut it up and serve it like a quiche, or simply dig in with a fork.  Enjoy for breakfast, lunch or dinner…and of course, don’t forget the Tapatio!


 

Finally tasted the elusive Gjelina – worth the wait

12 Apr

So here lies the long-awaited Gjelina verdictit was an amazingly savory and scrumptious dining experience.  The restaurant has a modern, yet warm feeling to it, mainly comprised of wood and brick decor and dimly lit antique light fixtures.  There are distressed wooden tables inside and a cozy courtyard out back (complete with lap blankets and heaters for people like me who are freezing if it’s under 75 degrees out).  The space has a lot of great character, the service was good, and the FOOD, ohhhhh the food…

Just to be clear, if I could have gotten a sample platter that consisted of everything on the menu I would have done so in a heartbeat.   The dinner menu was a mixture of Italian, French, and to my delight, even some North African cuisine.  It was beyond difficult to narrow things down, but here’s the breakdown of what we feasted on:

Salad – Grilled asparagus, frisee, pancetta vinaigrette, topped with a crispy fried egg and parmesan shavings

“Vegetable” – Salt and pepper fries with romesco and aioli dipping sauce (I know, a fried potato is a sad attempt at ordering a vegetable side, but they were irresistibly perfect!)

Charcuterie – Jidori chicken liver pate w/spicy greens, balsamic & grilled bread

Main Plates

  • Pizza w/Gruyere, caramelized onion, fromage blanc & arugula
  • Pork Meatballs braised in tomato and red wine w/parmesan & grilled bread

Everything we had was beyond amazing, but I’d have to say my top two faves were the chicken pate and the braised meatballs.  The flavors in each dish came together effortlessly and left you hoping for just one more bite…

Also big hits that I will be sure to order during my next visit:

  • Braised artichokes w/burrata, mint-pistachio pesto & crispy shallots
  • Mussels w/spicy chorizo, confit tomato, white wine & grilled bread
  • Braised chickpeas with greens, cous cous, harissa & spiced yogurt
  • Grilled housemade Merguez (North African spicy lamb sausage) w/sauerkraut, red onion, caraway & mustard
  • Mitake mushroom toast w/creme fraiche & truffle oil

Gjelina’s chef/owner, Travis Lett, has had an appreciation for organic and locally grown produce years before it was fashionable among the LA masses. Gjelina’s menu incorporates Lett’s long-standing belief that creating dishes based on seasonal availability and only the freshest ingredients will result in happy customers and a highly successful restaurant.  Alongside co-owner Fran Camaj, Lett opened Gjelina less than 3 years ago in late 2008.  It has since been featured in Vogue, was awarded 2nd best new restaurant by Los Angeles Magazine and has 4 stars on Yelp with nearly 800 reviews.

I’m ecstatic that this place didn’t stay a secret for long among Venice locals and LA foodies, and I will definitely be back for the tantalizing Gjelina experience very soon!

   Gjelina ~ 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd ~ Venice, CA ~ (310) 450-1429

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