In a very commercial strip mall on the corner of Ventura Avenue and Main Street, just a bit away from downtown Ventura, is a very delicious find. Himalaya is an Indian restaurant with the perks of just being a couple miles away from Brandon’s house. We found ourselves there one afternoon for lunch when another place we were going to try was closed. As we walked in, we were greeted warmly by the waiter and promptly brought water and asked if we had any questions about the menu. As we looked over the menu, the lunch specials looked particularly delicious.
Since we hadn’t been there before, I opted for the more traditional Chicken Tikka Masala. The lunch special came with soup, mango chutney and rice. The chicken and sauce was appetizing and the service couldn’t have been nicer. We also had an order of potato and pea samosas, which were fried to perfection—the dough was crisp and delicious. They were accompanied by a sweeter sauce and one spicy herbaceous sauce, both of which had really amazing flavor. Brandon had the lamb curry, which was really spicy, even for just being the middle level of spiciness. All the food was really flavorful and they had other dishes from Tibet and Nepal as well. A very delicious and affordable lunch find for Ventura. I’m sure we’ll be back soon.
One afternoon this month, a bunch of friends gathered together to share some food and fun for Jabari’s birthday. Jabari is the author of realtalkonsports.com and has been a family friend for ages. I’m so happy and honored to know someone with as much passion for what they do as Jabari. Thanks for contributing to the family in more ways then you know.
So we all gathered in Pasadena at Robins BBQ http://www.robinsbbq.com/ for some large plates of deliciousness.
My sister and I decided to take on a couple of pretty intense sandwiches. We shared the Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich with baked beans and the Bodacious “que” Stacker with macaroni and cheese. The Carolina pulled pork was succulent and smokey with the flavors of mustard and the combination of sweet vinegar coleslaw, which made this an over-the-top BBQ favorite. The bodacious “que” stacker is a combination of tri tip, pulled pork, and a smoked hot link all combined into one massive sandwich. It’s topped with pepper jack cheese, spicy bbq sauce and spicy pickle chips. The whole sandwich was just out of control–one of those fun things you eat and think, “wow did I really eat that”, but it was so good that it doesn’t matter. All the flavors melded well together, the smoky flavors with the gooey pepper jack and all that richness was cut by the intensely spicy sweet pickles. I really loved the bbq sauces and the prominent flavors of smoke in the meats.
Everyone ordered an array of ribs and tri tip and everything else on the menu and no one had any complaints. We were attended to a little haphazardly because of the section we were sitting in, which was probably our only complaint. Valinda, Jabari’s girlfriend, said that you really do have to try the blueberry corn bread. Overall, we had an amazing time together with lots of laughs and good food. I’d recommend stopping in if you’re ever in the area.
Life is a funny thing–just think about it. When we think the same hum drum happenings couldn’t get any worse, they do; and when we decide life is peachy as a whipped trifle on a sweet summer day, it sometimes is. I love that I’m not talking about worse gets better and better gets worse, because we can focus on those terrible things every second of every minute of our lives and everything is somehow cyclical, but I’d like to think about the beautiful moments in life and the wonderful pieces of happiness that freshly follow me around. The rest we’ll figure out later.
I’ve just come off a great set of adventures. A lovely, interestingly strange and a tad bit awkward trip to Laughlin, Nevada with my Mom and Grandma, as well as a breathtakingly gorgeous and extremely whirlwind catering adventure to Lake Tahoe for a wedding with my good friend and old co-worker, Brandon. Both of these trips were very impromptu, but much needed. As you know, I have a terrible travel bug that is awesomely running my life as we speak. I’m so fortunate and grateful for all these amazing experiences and also to be able to share them all with you as well!
Laughlin was a Sunday through Thursday trip of interesting happenings. I love my mom, but it seems we have never really been able to get away on a vacation with just the girls. Being so much alike definitely puts a couple of bulls in a china shop at times, but we love each other fiercely and would do anything for one another. My mom is my love, my heart and has shown me how to care for people beyond the normal parameters of what love can contain. My Grandma Ruthie is an amazing person, at 78 years young, she’s so full of life and love for everything she does. Grandma Ruthie is one of my great inspirations. This woman is the person I get my flighty, witty and sometimes unruly attributes from, but don’t tell her I told you. So finally, I was able to make it on the road with these two wonderful women and share some cocktails, food, a couple of pennies in the slots and a good time.
Laughlin is Las Vegas without the glitz and glamor for mature adults. I’m not trying to understate it, but we were staying during the week and I’d say the majority of people in the casinos were in the high 50s and above, which there is absolutely nothing wrong with, but I found it hilarious and fun. Food in Laughlin is a bit on the turn your head the other way and eat because you’re starving side, which is tolerable for vacations to the desert. Laughlin is on the border of California, Arizona and Nevada. I think it’s pretty awesome to be in three states within the hour. Also, the road to Laughlin on the Arizona side is pretty intense, like a mini roller coaster that my grandma and I had more fun on than my poor mom, who suffers from motion sickness; however, she was definitely a trooper.
We stayed at the Tropicana Express, free of charge for four nights, so who can complain. The rooms were nice. We had a view of the pool and of course my favorite feature of hotels is air conditioning. Boy did we need it! During the entire trip the weather was in the 100s–talk about melting.
We ate at coffee shops/diner-type places, where the food was pretty much the same on each menu; everywhere serving simple American classics and seeing which place could get the better deal on flap jacks and eggs for $3.99. I had a Cobb Salad at the Riverside Riverview Restaurant our first night, where, even in the dark, you could see the moon beaming off the Colorado River. Gorgeous. Grandma Ruthie and Mom both had hot turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy, which was stick to your ribs good. As for my salad, well let’s just say I could have passed on it, but the turkey my mom had was juicy and delicious.
We had breakfast at the Colorado Belle overlooking the Colorado River; dinner at the Pioneers restaurant Boarding House ; buffet at Harrahs; and popped into a place in the Golden Nugget called Harlows. I had a Cesar salad, my mom had fish and chips, and grandma had chicken fried chicken which was interesting and good. The food here was amongst the best offerings of the area with very pleasant service.
I’d say the Fresh Market Fair Buffet at Harrahs is a lavish display or mismatched globally traveled foods for any pallet even better after a few good rounds of cocktails of course, which are the best and most well-served along the entire row of Casinos.
Laughlin is a great place for a little poolside, hotel side relaxation getaway. I enjoyed my time with my Mom and Grandma immensely–times we can never get back and will always cherish. I love you Mom and Grandma!
This year I turned 26 years old. Still, some things never change and I like it that way. I was in Mammoth Lakes, CA for my birthday, which is where I spend most of my birthdays since I was very little.
My birthday this year was not just one day, but seemed like a whole month of celebration. I’ve honestly had one of the best months of my entire life. With so many beautiful people involved, my family and of course my amazing friends, it’s so easy to appreciate the beauty of life. On my actual birthday I spent the whole afternoon fishing at Lake Mary along with the sandwiches and snacks that we brought. I drove up to the lake a little later than the rest of my family because I didn’t feel like waking up at 5:30 a.m. to go fishing, but I was at the lake around 10:00 a.m. We caught a good amount of fish, like almost 30, and I was able to finish the 4th Harry Potter book The Goblet of Fire.
Unfortunately, it was a Saturday and many tourists like to boat and kayak on the lake, which is fine, but most of them don’t understand that there are people fishing from the shoreline so they go right where our lines are cast. Well one boat in particular was close to shore that they almost beached themselves, but instead managed to rudely catch the line of my mom’s fishing pole and take her whole pole into the water about 15-20 feet out from the shore line—this was a new pole mind you. My mom was very upset and those people didn’t even stop to help. They just sped away. Lucky for us, a kayaker that was nearby saw what happened and she paddled over to help but was unable to get the pole from the bottom of the lake. Now I don’t normally like diving to the bottom of ice cold lakes to get fishing poles, especially because of idiots, but my mom would have been so upset for the rest of the day if I didn’t get it. So being a good daughter, I walked out until only my head was just barely over the water, finding a rock to keep me up, and then at the count of three I dove to the bottom of the lake and got the pole from under the rock. I have to say I’ve never been head-in deep, let alone diving to the bottom of a lake that was freezing cold before. So, moral of the story, if you’re on a boat, stay in the middle of the lake so I don’t have to dive in to get another fishing pole.
Anyway, that’s a crazy story and in all the years we’ve been fishing, this is the first time that someone took the fishing pole out that far. My aunt, uncle and cousin were there and they pretty much jaw dropped. I’m pretty sure no one else would have gone in after it, except maybe my mom, but no way. It was a good thing I had extra clothes, so I changed and we showed our extended family around the lakes. After, we went back to our respective condos and got showered and all that good stuff and went out to dinner at Shogun.
Shogun is a Japanese eatery in Mammoth. They specialize in combination plates of hot food, boats of different varieties and sushi. We’ve been coming here forever. It’s not the greatest place, but we’ve never had a problem. We ordered a couple of rolls of sushi to share amongst everyone and a boat for 3 people to share between my mom, dad, me and my grandma. All the food was delicious and of course I had to have a Sapporo to cheers to my new year. The boat consists of tuna sashimi, mixed tempura, tonkatsu, chicken teriyaki, and beef teriyaki. It comes with hot white rice, cabbage salad, spicy Tsukemono, and miso soup. Then for dessert you get your choice of ice cream. It’s a lot of food but everything is always as I remember it. Shogun is one of those places that you’re so used to eating, you never have to complain, except sometimes the service is a little off, but we got a free beer out of it.
After my food coma settled, my aunt, uncle and cousin brought over a birthday cake in the shape of a lady bug that came from Schat’s Bakery in Mammoth. The cake was tasty but I had so much food at dinner that it was difficult to fully enjoy it. But it was definitely cute and tasted good—vanilla and red velvet.
After I finished putting the last punctuation on my last blog I took off to a dear friend of mines house as we prepared to go to Las Vegas. Our trip was filled with lavish drinks, dancing for hours, roaming the neon lights by the falling and rising sun. I even took a little gamble myself. I’d say I probably broke even on the food I chose but lost a couple of dollars along the way. Here’s my little get away, the food and the fun.
We left the valley at about 1230 to get on the road my friend Katie has a beautiful 18 month old son who was staying with his grandmother for the weekend while we had a little adult time. I believe fullheartedly every mother needs a good second hand every once in a while so they are able to have time to themselves, though I’m sure she was thinking about him the entire time. That’s what a good mom does. We drove up about 5 ½ hours and we were arrived at about 6 pm. I drove into the city to our hotel resort which was the Paris Hotel centered in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip. We checked in and were on our way up to our room on the 7th floor. We had two queen sized beds and a beautiful view of the pool and Eiffel Tower they contrasted to build this French dream.
The ladies were off to take a trip to visit their uncle so I had a couple of hours to eat dinner. I dine solo on occasions, it gives me the time to think about what I’m eating but solo dinning isn’t for just anyone. There are pros and cons to anything, as is such for eating alone. I love sharing the food experience which is why I blog but eating with others is also an experience you can truly see what candid expressions and thoughts are of the other people you are eating with. But I decided that this trip to Vegas might be my chance to reacquaint myself with some Italian food. If you know my past experience as Executive Chef you know I worked for a Northern Italian Cuisine for over 3 1/2 years and so I have a very high expectation of Italian food and for the most part I cook it on my own. I still can’t bare to buy a plate of pasta, I don’t think I’ll be able to really anywhere but there are some things I just desire which are mostly Italian cured meats, thin style Italian pizzas, calzones, aged balsamic and Sicilian Extra virgin olive oil. If I had a pizza oven at home and a fridge in my garage believe you me I’d never have to go anywhere for Italian food except if your Italian grandma was making me something to eat or a couple of other people I know. But I decided to give Vegas a chance to change my mind and to tell you the truth it didn’t!
After the girls headed to visit with relatives I lounged in the hotel room stretching my legs from the lengthy car ride took a hot bath and got ready. I walked from Paris where we stayed to the Palazzo where I decided to have dinner. There are always so many places to go in Vegas, I get overwhelmed but I have passed by CARNEVINO many times and thought it might be a good choice. This is Mario Batali’s Steak House in Vegas. I love the concept of and Italian steak house it is one of my ideas for future restaurants. While I wasn’t in the mood for a 51 dollar Bone in New York Strip Steak I wasn’t expecting service from any old restaurant either and unfortunately the latter is what I got.
I walked in to CARNEVINO a lavish and brilliantly built gorgeous restaurant. Low lighting and tond of people were keeping me from seeing the intricate details of the lay out of the restaurant. There were people waiting outside and the bar and restaurant were very full I kindly asked the hostess for seating for one she brushed me off and said its first come first serve in the bar. Okay sure no problem its Saturday Night no reservations I was expecting about that. I rushed over to a seat thinking on my way out I’d be able to look around the dining room. Good hostesses are hard to come by I guess even in Las Vegas. So I sat myself in the bar at a small table people watching and looking over at all the noisy slots of the casino, I finally felt like I was in Vegas. My waiter approached me after about 15 minutes but still I wasn’t upset I was having a good time looking at the restaurant. I was asked if I’d like a drink I promptly asked for menus and a minute to decide. Looking over the menu of this restaurant is mind blowing. The amount of effort that goes in the type of wine list this place has compiled is brilliant. Those details are the things I wish to remember. The food menu was simple creating classic dishes from around Italy and also providing a large selection of high grade meats and other menu additions. I was also given a bar menu which had a good selection of the items on menu as small plates. I like to try different things so if I get one plate at a restaurant of this caliber it’s extremely rare. I also knew that later on I would be going out dancing and a giant steak and something really heavy was going to be a horrible idea.
So I looked over the menu for a while and finally was greeted by my server again and asked what the farmer’s market cocktail was for the evening. After stumbling over his words about 4 times he finally had to go ask what the cocktail was. I was so displeased with this stammering, this should not of happened somewhere like this. I know people have bad days and things aren’t always amazing but if you can’t tell me the evening cocktail that’s not looking very good for you. But finally when he did get it out the drink was a lovely mixture of cucumber, heirloom sage, ginger bitters and gin. It was refreshing and perfect. I really enjoyed everything about the cocktail even if it took 20 more minutes to get.
After I got my drink I ordered but first had a simple question which was what meats where on the Affettati Misti, is a plate of mixed Italian Charcuterie. I love charcuterie so much, I worked in a deli for longer than I ever wanted to but it was amazing how much I learned about meat and cheese. The waiter really had no idea what was on the plate at all. He stumbled over his words some more and I figured I would order it anyway because I’ve wanted bresaola and coppa for a while now. Also on this platter were Salami , Prossuito, and Mortadella. I also ordered a side of asparagus with garlic, thyme and guanciale. Guanciale is pig cheek that is unsmoked and cured. After I ordered I was sipping my cocktail and look around about 10 minutes later my waiter came back to the table and asked me to repeat my order to him. At that point I was trying to dismiss it but it was pretty much just the fact that this guy could care less about me as a customer. With all my questions I would expect him to be a little more attentive but apparently not.
My Affettati Misti and Asparagus finally came to the table
I could eat a giant mortadella and coppa sandwich for the rest of my life, the meats were sliced very thin just as they should be the mortadella was pressed very well and not waxy which was really wonderful. Bresaola was beefy and slightly sweet. Coppa was fatty and salty and the Salami was softer and different then I’d ever had. The plate was well rounded with a sweet peperonata, a couple of Shishito Peppers that were roasted and salted, and a larger pickled yellow pepper stuffed with cured ham and goat cheese. When you get a board of meat its common knowledge that you describe what the person is eating. Not for this waiter. By this time I was texting one of my best chef friends Brandon telling him that I can’t believe I decided to have Italian food for once and this is the kind of service I’m getting. It really did blow my mind. I looked over at my asparagus which was 12 dollars mind you for asparagus but I figured I really wanted Guanciale I haven’t had it in a long time and when I look at the asparagus there is really nothing to it there was maybe a small slice of garlic, barely any time, and a speck of Guanciale. I take a bite and the asparagus is over cooked and flavorless, like boiled salted nothing. How disappointing. My waiter came back and I informed him he didn’t ask to make it over or if I wanted anything else he just committed to taking it off the bill which was fine.
I finished my meat platter and was asked if I’d like anything else I kindly informed him no thank you. He brought my check which he then over charged me for my meat platter and when I told him about it he said he had served me the entrée sized portion though I pointed to the affettati on the bar menu. He didn’t say he would fix it or anything. I paid and left him 2 dollars for some of the worst service I’ve gotten in a very long time. I could have wanted to see a manger but honestly it didn’t seem worth it to me. I think Brandon said it best…. “Mass production! Generic! Orange shoes says it all” So much more passion and heart should go into something so beautiful as Italian food with the amazing ingredients and potential this place could have, the simple things that don’t need much. The experience overall was just dull and flat, not like the beautiful luster of ltaly I’m so used to. I hope I just had a bad night there but this experience had too many things wrong with it that made me not even care to see what the rest of the place looked like or take more pictures.
I say Learn something from everything, I’m glad I had my Affettati and my cocktail but I think next time I’ll just go to the deli make a selection of meats and sit outside with my own Gin Cocktail and enjoy.
I have a couple more restaurants to talk about, dancing, and drinking…
So to be continued…
I’d like to introduce you all to my little brother Kyle. He’s a little brother/fireman/married/ condo owner/foodie/wearer of plaid. But those are just a couple of little things about him. Most of all he’s my little brother who likes to think I’m his little sister cause were so close in age but we’ll skip over that subject for now. Kyle loves food, he always has, since the days of tomato soup with lots of black pepper, macaroni n cheese in the blue box with just enough milk and hot dogs in tortillas with mustard. (don’t judge us or do) My little brother and I have made the culinary transformation and since I’ve become a chef, he always texts me with his foodie finds and calls me for recipes if he’s stumped on his day to cook at the firehouse. Kyle is a better than average cook and a more sophisticated than most eater but don’t tell him I told you that.
This is how excited he was when I told him he was gonna be on my blog! LOL
My brother and his wife Viet Linh are avid yelpers and their one year anniversary of being married is on Monday the 30th. (Happy anniversary guys!)
They are always on their Iphone’s looking for the coolest places to eat and bookmarking the rest for later.
So today this is an adventure to Korean BBQ.
I’ve eaten Korean BBQ a few times, I love it but the smell of BBQ on your cloths is something you have to be up for because you will smell like you came out of a burning building as soon as you get out of there, it’s not like your gonna spray a little body splash on yourself and it’ll be gone either you will smell. So fair warning, Kyles a fireman so he smells like fire all the time, it doesn’t bother him and I’m used to working on charcoal or wood burning grills so I’m good too.
The place that we went to is called Fresh Korean BBQ. (their website doesn’t seem to be working here’s their yelp ) The location is this large shopping center on the corner of Sherman Way and White Oak in Van Nuys, CA. The shopping center is comprised of Asian specialty stores such as a karaoke place, market, perfume store, electronics sellers, and all sorts of things tucked away in this large mallish type looking place. Parking is ample. Walking up to Fresh is a bit of a neon experience. The outside of the restaurant is adorn with rainbow colored menu boards, a neon open sign, and posters asking you to recommend them on yelp. In these hard times you can’t blame a place for trying to get as much publicity as possible. As you walk in the tables are all accompanied by a hood hanging above each table to suck up the smoke as you cook your food. We went there for lunch so it wasn’t very crowded which probably would of been harder to bare if there was so many people cooking at the same time it would be really smoky so I could only imagine how you would smell after that.
We sat down and were greeted by a very sweet older waitress who asked us what we would like to drink and we ordered water and looked over the menu. I was of course intrigued by the shiny chrome grill sitting in front of me. We decided to get the lunch deal with was all you can eat Korean BBQ with 4 choice of meat for 14.99. Marinated Chicken, Pork Belly, Beef Brisket, and Marinaded Sliced Beef. I was a little disappointed that there were no short ribs on that menu but for that price I can understand why. We were also asked if we’d like soup, rice, salad and they brought about 6 different sides to the table for us to choose from.
Over all I like Korean BBQ cause I can cook my own meat. I know when its done and how long it needs to be cooked. If you don’t know then you run the risk of over cooking or under cooking your chicken so I’d be careful just for the sake of poisoning yourself how you cook things when you go to places like this and that’s not to be mean or anything its just facts.
They give you these sides that are all sorts of delicious pickled Korean goodness. Kim Chi, Picked cucumber, seaweed, fish cake, broccoli, and bean sprouts. I’d say i liked the kim chi, pickled cucumber, and bean sprouts the best. The flavors were very unique and interesting and they compliment the meat well. The meat was pretty good. The brisket i found to be a bit fatty and the chicken a little under seasoned. I never have the highest of expectations for all you can eat type places. Definitely something gets lost in translation but there are enough additions here to over look a few of these things. They give you a side of oil and sauce which helps with cooking and eating. I loved the purple/red rice that comes with the meal. And the Soy Bean Paste stew was really delicious with tofu and this semi-sour refreshing hotness to it. The meat that i would say was the best was the marinaded beef we asked for a second helping. It cooks quickly and has a lot of flavor. I thought that next the pork belly was good which they give you scissors so you can cut the meat (see kyle demonstrating), brisket and then chicken.
So we cooked, sat, ate and joked around and it was a fun lunch. Over all I’d say go for dinner and get the larger 19.99 all you can eat and try the really strange stuff for the full effect but for a fun lunch with my little brother this place was a Korean cultural blast.
I Love you little brother!