Category Archives: Dessert

2011 already???

I have been in and out of so many diets that I may have slowed down quite a bit on my visits and blogs, but never to fade away into non-existence.  This is for the year that was…

– Thank you Castle Korean BBQ…you may not be the best but I have been your staple customer for so long that it is your squid and your brisket have been our saving grace countless times.  I have been hungry, and you have been more than willing to feed to poor and needy (thank you inexpensive Korean BBQ).

– Thank you Senor Fish…because when we have no where else to go, you are but a block away of goodness on a plate.  Loving all the more that we do not have to walk with alcohol in hand, your sangrias make you such a popular cheerleader.

– Thank you Yogurt Haven…I have been hooked with your delightful Taro enticing me to the core that even through the coldest of winter I will never tire of you.

– Thank you Starbuck’s on York…for our many nights of hanging out and playing our card games and providing us with such great service every single time.

– Thank you to the many Happy Hour places offering solace after 10pm: Burbank Bar and Grill, Octopus Glendale, Coffee Table Lounge, Red Lion Tavern, Wokcano Pasadena, and the many Korean cafes within reach.

– Thank you Boiling Shrimp…you may not the same as Boiling Crab, but you have never let us wait more than 5minutes, whether for our seats or our food.  It is a plus that you are sans liquor license and have a store next door. Picture this, ready seats and cheap drinks that we can bring in to your establishment.

I am still thankful for my 2009 findings, add to them are the 2010 gems and hole(s)-in-the-wall that will surely be revisited and never forgotten.  I may find more in 2011, but it is not to say that you will be unnoticed and untouched.  Let’s do this 2011.  Pardon the diets I may have, after all…a foodie will live on food alone.

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Filed under BBQ, Crab, Dessert, Drinks, Happy Hour, Korean Food, Related Article, Seafood, Squid

Aritisanal LA 2010, Downtown LA (Sweets Edition)

Organic. Grass-fed. Sustainable. Hand-made. Local. Healthy. Gourmet. These are just a few words to describe the assembly of the finest artisans in LA at the recent Artisanal LA Fall 2010 at the Cooper Building Downtown last October 24 and 25. With over 100 participants, including chef demos, workshops, and speakers, it was not hard to muster up the strength to come and visit. I didn’t need any encouragement by MultiCultural Cooking Network to cover this event. In fact, my foot was already out the door as soon as I got my tickets a week before.

You can actually divide the room into two obvious sides: the Sweet and the Savory. Here are my finds perfect for those with a serious sweet tooth:

Max Lesser and his Morning Glory confections. Featured on the Cooking Channel’s Foodcrafters, Max presented his handmade and of the finest ingredients brittle in different enticing flavors such as the most popular: Fleur de Sel and peanut.  But what really caught my attention was his New Mexico and Pumpkin seed creation. It had a sweet beginning with a mean, twisted, spicy kick towards the finish. Can you say YUMMY with me?


Cake Suzette, LLC and her unique creations had one my favorite sweet bites for the day (and maybe for the whole year): the Chocolate Peanut Butter Mallomore. It was a chocolate marshmallow with a peanut butter ganache, a milk chocolate crust on the outside and homemade graham crackers, regrets came after the first bite as I only had one square in my possession. She is also famous for her bite size Cake O’s with beckoning combination and coated in different flavor: coconut with a milk chocolate outside, red velvet covered in white chocolate, and cappuccino chocolate with a dense chocolate cake on the inside.

Sweet Dreamery Desserts had more than just your usual cravings. Other than their delicious cupcakes, they also have seasonal and all-occasion bakery baskets filled with different goodies. They can customize your sweets with different toppings such as Tiffany blue cookies, musical notes, pumpkin frosting while filling the basket with table cloths, aprons, decors, and more befitting any special event you may have.

Need a snack fix? Try out P.O.P. Candy and their handmade creations such as the Chai TeaGranola Pecan Bar. They also have a herbed line: Rosemary and Almond, and Thyme, Walnut, and Cherries which were surprisingly well-balanced. I had to keep coming back for more of their Rosemary and Almond brittle which came in small addicting bites. It was so convenient to pop in your mouth that you tend to forget how much you’ve actually consumed, hence the name: POP. They can also custom wrap, label, and serve your choices for any special occasion.


Coupled with such a great story, Welsh Bakers featured one that I haven’t had in a very long time: Welsh Cakes. “Not quite a cookie, not quite a scone”, this bite was long missed. Thank you Denise Carbone, her husband Joe for bringing this ancient Celticrecipe into our century. And thank you to your mother, who still lives in Wales and approved every single flavor prior to production. The Lemon Poppy seed was a great early morning upper with my coffee, which also ironically reminded me that my sweet Artisinal journey just passed.

Don’t get me wrong, there were more Artisans that featured their best desserts forward. All were with unique ideas, combination, and style. In fact I started to have immunity problems. At the end of the day, the sweets started to taste almost the same. So I had to alternate between the sweet and the savory. Well, after all, I would like to give everyone equal opportunity to extract from me the sighs, the OOHH’s, the AAHH’s and the OH MY’s. But, I was never disappointed, I had plenty of other explicit expressions long after I left the building.

Please take your time and read the savory edition, and support our local Artisans.

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Filed under Artisan, Cakes, Cupcakes, Dessert, Event, Occasion

Octopus, Glendale 

For the sushi lovers out there. Here’s a little delicious serving of Octopus in Glendale. I wanted to share one of my favorite places to go to for sushi. It’s just a laid-back, unpretentious, casual place where friends and I can have inexpensive yet fresh sushi, be served by really friendly and accommodating wait staff, and enjoy drinks and conversation ’til we finally give up. It’s not really one of those where they blow you off the water, but sometimes simple and generic, like a chain restaurant such as Octopus, is as gratifying as authentic and high-end. Here are the photos and I hope you all enjoy and salivate as much as I do whenever I get a peek at them:

KAMPAI!!!

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Filed under Clams, Dessert, Fish, Ice Cream, Japanese Food, Mixed Seafood, Sushi

Viva Las Vegas Day Three- Carnival Buffet at the Rio

So after a night of over-indulging of many, many, many, never-ending diuretics, we definitely needed some carbs and protein in generous variety. We failed at agreeing as to where to do Sunday Brunch Buffet so with the help of friends already waiting in line we moved on to the Carnival World Buffet at the Rio.

After waiting in line for an hour we finally made it inside and didn’t even bother to warm the seats. Here comes plate #1.

I proceeded to chew. The chow mein were hard and cold, an expected disappointment. The shu mai were also hard and cold. The turkey sausage from the breakfast line was salty and cold. The har gow was a better bite as they just came off their steamers, were still hot, and filled with plump shrimp.

Seeing as my plate looked nowhere near empty, I knew I needed more than a taste here and there. So I went for plate #2. The fried catfish was actually pretty good. The batter was light and crunchy, with a touch of Cajun seasoning as well as salt and pepper. The fish inside was still warm and flaky. I also wanted eggs with my mimosa to complete the brunch’s plated environment. This was not egg. And no, I do not consider boxed, diluted eggs ideal. The pork sausage was a little too salty even for sausage standards, but had a good snap and was surprisingly still warm on the inside. But the best part of my plate was the prime rib. With a perfectly salty crust on the outside and a tender, medium rare meat. I needed no assistance from my knife as my fork did the job just fine. I thought two slices were more than enough but I was proved wrong. But there were more to come so I had to make room for plate #3.

I was really on my way for desserts but for some reason I wanted to walk around some more. I saw a friend waiting for the roasted duck that’s still sitting on the chopping board waiting for the butcher’s knife to strike. I had to try it. Feeling the plate so empty with just one piece of duck, I had to get some more carbs with it, and pasta seemed to be the untried dish of the whole vacation. The pasta was overcooked but the bolognese was well-seasoned and packed with flavor; subtle hints of thyme, garlic, basil, with a touch of spicy-most likely cayenne. The duck was unexpectedly good. It was glistening with the good oils, crispy skin, and the fat in between melted in my mouth. The meat was cooked perfectly with a balance of salty and sweet. Delicious.

I knew I had room inside my stomach for sweets. After all, their spread looked so enticing I felt my feet flying effortless towards their display. The cheesecake was sour. And it wasn’t a lime cheesecake. The gelato had to be tried. The tiramisu was actually bland, and did not taste a tiramisu at all. It had a very indescribable after-taste. The coconut gelato was actually ahead of both, although the coconut tasted like the syrup vs the fresh one, but an artificial taste more comparable to the real one. Moving on again.

But of course, I will not leave without my own version of my bread pudding. Bread pudding, topped with vanilla ice cream this time and hot chocolate fudge drizzled all around. Their pudding is less dense as the Hilton’s but with more cinnamon and vanilla flavor. And the chocolate fudge was still warm and sweet, elevating this humble plate to a masterpiece inside my mouth. Delicious indeed. I’m sorry, I really can’t help but brag about my sugar overload.

Whew. I didn’t think I would survive outside of the buffet. The mimosas were overflowing and the food was gluttony at it’s worst. But the prime rib, duck, and bread pudding were all worth coming back and waiting in line for an hour. In fact, I would get multiple servings of each, and even with only these three I would chew without regret. Ignoring the rest of the hundreds of dishes will not be a painful undertaking.

Goodbye Vegas. Until I see you again, which will be soon. After all, over-indulgence is a magnetic pull hard to resist. And everything in Vegas is evident of excess.

 

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Filed under American Food, Beef, Breakfast, Buffet, Chinese Food, Dessert, Drinks, Duck, Dumplings, Fish, Gelato, Noodles, Pasta, Sausages, Shrimp

Viva Las Vegas Day One- Las Vegas Hilton Buffet

Coming to Vegas,  food is always last on the priority list. But not for me. I know the calories will pile up and exercise will be a necessity after but you cannot blame a foodie for trying to enjoy the pleasures in life wherever I may be.

But first we couldn’t leave LA without a stop at Auntie Em’s Kitchen in Eagle Rock for their delicious cupcakes. Not that we weren’t full yet from the brunch I made. But this is Auntie Em’s people! The red velvet is and will always be delicious. The coconut was a little too sweet for my taste, but the shavings on top were good added sprinkles. The carrot and chocolate I had no more room for, but according to reliable sources they were both delicious. But the star of the show was the peanut butter and jelly, a new flavor. The peanut butter must have been incorporated in the batter as the taste is very assertive in a very good way.

Of course when you go to Vegas you think of the buffets. A linear presentation of gluttony at its peak. So it is but natural for us to go to the first buffet we saw after the many hours of traveling the long and winding road. We happened to have complimentary tickets to the Las Vegas Hilton buffet (also where we stayed) so we just dropped off our luggage and skipped merrily down to the buffet line.

I started with soup. I needed something hot going down my throat. The clam chowder was runny, I missed the thick soup and the generous add-ons. I had no clams and barely some potatoes, but it was not lacking of celery which I do not know if an upside or downside.


Any measure of a good buffet is a test of across the board dishes popular at any location. Meat is always a good starting point. So I went and picked my weapons of choice. The ribs were a little dry. The turkey sausage was actually not as bad as I expected, the casing had a good snap but I doubt that this was made from scratch. The bbq chicken was fine, it wasn’t too sweet nor bland. But nothing exciting to brag about. The New York steak was cooked to medium well, a little too much for my liking but very well-seasoned. The dumplings/potstickers were very oily. But star of the plate was my grilled lamb. Seasoned simply with salt and pepper, and cooked to perfection. It was very tender and needed not much effort to devour inside my mouth.

The savory showed little promise of satisfaction. So I got off my seat and moved towards the dessert section. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. The cherry crepe was too sour. I barely made it to my second bite. I went ahead and tried some more. The wafer roll was hard to bite, if you say wafer hard is the last thing to associate it with. The frosted cookie was killing my palate with sweetness. But the bread pudding was my favorite so far. It was so good that I had to get a separate plate just for my much needed happy place.

Now this is how I make my bread pudding. Top it with chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, a little bit of nuts, and drizzle with hot chocolate fudge. And it was finished to the last morsel without me even batting an eyelash. Now this was a good ending.

Maybe it was a little too much to expect in a buffet. But there is more to come and this food lover will have more chances to love Vegas once again. I’ve been to their finest restaurants with award-winning chefs at the helm of the kitchen, now its about time to really go back and explore Vegas once more. Maybe dimsum tomorrow (or is it today already)? Sounds like a plan, we shall see.

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Filed under BBQ, Beef, Buffet, Clams, Cupcakes, Dessert, Lamb, Related Article, Soup

Mayflower Seafood Restaurant, Los Angeles

Spring is in the air on Spring St in Chinatown. It may be time to smell the roses but dinner must be first priority for now, after hearing multiple complaints from an empty stomach. Inspired by the recent win of boxing great Manny Pacquiao in Texas, I was told that he frequents Mayflower for one of the best Chinese food in the area.  And of course, being a Filipino, I was more than excited to go. With the rows and rows of places to choose from, hearing of the best must not be missed. And so when it was time to pick a place, Mayflower was first in mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It did not look like one of those places one would pass by and immediately want to try. The front needs a major overhaul, seriously. But a fan of hole in the wall places, this was a perfect dinner destination. The place is deceivingly bigger than its facade, with even an event hall on the side that fit 100-150people if need be.

The menu had over 400 items to pick from. But having help choosing from two regulars, the orders were flying out of the kitchen in no time.

First came the soup, lobster and fish maw soup. It needed a little bit of help from the chili oil. After a few drops and the soup was almost perfect. It came with chunks of lobster (I had a whole claw-lucky), and the fish maw was chewy but cooked perfectly. The pan-fried fish came next. It was crispy sole that came with a soy and vinegar dipping sauce. It was almost crispy enough to eat the bones; very enjoyable and clearly not enough for four people.

We had to return the house special seafood chow mein, it had a “long and black” unwanted ingredient. We suggest shaving or hair nets please. They were apologetic enough to deliver a new, clean plate (but did not take this off the bill, which I think is more than appropriate since we already started eating the noodles). Moving on, the sauce was a little bland. Understandably, it is usually thick and underseasoned, but this one really had no hand at all. The vegetables and seafood were overflowing, and were well-cooked. A very typical, unspectacular dish. Next, please.

The salt and pepper squid were overly breaded and over-cooked, chewy to the point of no return. We were excited at first glance as this dish is a staple of any Chinese restaurant, and they rarely miss the mark. Today was one of those days.


The fried pork chops were a favorite. They were lightly breaded and perfectly fried, not to oily at all with a little taste of salt that did not overpower the dish (I kept coming back for more that I felt bad for the rest of the table). Having had Newport’s and Coral Reef’s plenty of times now, I admit, I am a salt and pepper pork chop snob, but Mayflower’s was a decent plate of pork. Not as good, but holds its own very well.


At the end of the meal, they bring your dessert. A warm sweet coconut milk soup, filled with tapioca balls and bits of sweet yam. Now this was a good, much needed ending to the meal. The tapioca balls were tiny, chewy jewels that added a surprising bite, and the soup was sweet but not overly, delicious.


Inside, Pacquiao’s pictures were hanging all over the place. He wasn’t there but he was pretty much a part of the decor, therefore part of the place. No proof though, whatsoever, if he liked this place or which dish he would never leave without a taste of. But after a full stomach, it was hard to really care about that.

Outside the restaurant, spring calls once more. All four on the table needed to stand up and smell the flowers, otherwise the rest of the 395 items on the menu would be tried and tested. Giving credit to the place, it does make you want to try every bit of interesting item on the menu, even the usual fried chicken and beef and broccoli. Being so busy, it was easy to have table envy even though disappoints came one after another. The brisket over rice looked good, the house special noodle soup smelled fantastic, the house special lobster looked spicy yummy, and even the snow peas smelled garlicky addicting. Soon, spring needs to be revisited more frequently now.


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Filed under Chinese Food, Dessert, Fish, Mixed Seafood, Noodles, Pork, Pork Chops, Soup, Squid, Vegetable

Blue Hen, Eagle Rock

Organic living correlates with healthy living. Supposedly “health is wealth”. Blue Hen prides itself of eating and drinking organic, so try it out if you must for organic food that is hopefully healthy because it will not leave you wealthy after you walk out the door.

This place is Zagat and Citysearch recognized, amongst many others. But with the coming paragraphs, it makes me doubt myself as to what I did a couple of hours before i tread to this Vietnamese place. Was this karma, I asked. Its menu is somewhat authentic and fairly small, but considerably larger than most Vietnamese places. There are additional specials on the wall, next to the many 8.5 X 11 customer artwork.

The imperial rolls ($6.75) were stuffed with chicken (or tofu) and were fried crispy, not too oily as they may tend to. But they were the highlight of the meal. The hand-cut turmeric fries ($4.75) were a mix of soggy and oily russet and Japanese sweet potato, served with diluted fish sauce dip and organic ketchup. The vegetable Vietnamese crepe ($8.95) with tofu was the special of the day. It was filled with fillers; more bean sprouts and carrots, not enough tofu. They all came disassembled on a plate, too much work for something unremarkable. The caramelized ginger and organic chicken and tofu ($9.50) was served with brown (or jasmine) rice and market greens, which at that time happened to be Chinese broccoli. The caramelized ginger was misleading as it did not exist on this dish, maybe it was the “aromatic broth” that tasted more like concentrated fish sauce. It was too salty, failing anything else on the dish to come through. The warm organic banana pudding, although ordinary, was a welcomed taste after the salty onslaught.

Maybe it was my fault to not have their Pho, after all this is a Vietnamese place. But LA does have a lot more really good Pho places and lesser organic Vietnamese restaurants. The better choice might have been to try the soup regardless, but too late now. And their prices question sustainable offerings if one needs to save up for a bruising kidney after. Sad to have such a frowning experience in a promising location. But Blue Hen did make the rest of my day blue.

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Filed under Chicken, Chicken and Rice, Crepe, Dessert, Organic Food, Vietnamese Food