Episode 5: One Minute Gourmet: Renaud’s Patisserie and Bistro

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My husband discovered this quaint little French patisserie in Santa Barbara a few years ago.  The place is so charming, I imagine this is how Jane’s The Bakery from the movie, It’s Complicated, would be like if it really existed in the lovely seaside town.

Renaud’s Patisserie and Bistro, a small shop tucked away in the corner of a shopping center, is not as flashy or as big as the fictional bakery in the movie, but I would imagine the feeling you get would be similar, with the aromas of buttery croissants and dark roasted coffee beans welcoming patrons walking into the door.  It’s absolutely heavenly.

So, ever since the discovery, we’ve been driving to Santa Barbara, just to get our eager hands on the mouthwatering Almond Croissant (and macarons … and apple tarts … and financiers … and …).  Those trips were made willingly, of course, but we wished that there was a way to get a hold of the goodies without the 100-plus mile drive up the 101 freeway.

Well, well, what do we know.  There was Renaud’s inside the Gelson’s supermarket in La Canada, which is a mere 20-mile drive from our place, THIS ENTIRE TIME!  eek

Sure, a part of me was extremely ecstatic at the idea that those amazing sweets are available just around the corner for us now, but I also did have a momentary “W … T … F” moment, like “Ummm … I would like to get reimbursed for the money I spent on gas all these time, thank you very much.”

635 Foothill Blvd, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

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Episode 4: One Minute Gourmet: Giada

What happens in Vegas doesn’t really stay in Vegas.

I usually don’t have any remorse over things that happen in Vegas. Even if I lose a few bucks gambling, or went a little overboard shopping, I’m over it by the end of the trip. But I can’t get over when I overpay for a meal … and Giada De Laurenttis’ signature restaurant, Giada, inside The Cromwell is one hand I totally regret.

I must admit that the food was pretty decent. I won’t say it’s a four star restaurant but the plate of Gnocchi with tomato sauce was simple but flavorful, and the Eggplant Lasagna had the wonderful combination of rich and cheesy flavors. The Spinach and Ricotta pizza was mediocre, at best, but what doesn’t taste good if it’s washed down with a glass of fruity Sangaria?

I think the restaurant perfectly represents Giada herself, or the way I feel about her:  It’s gorgeous and there’s no denying that this place has an impeccable taste, but it’s not interesting enough for me to return, especially with the outrageous price tag that’s attached to it.  Yes, you’re good but you’re no Mario Batali or even Bobby Flay.

Think:  Overpriced California Pizza Kitchen, with below average service.  But it does have a nice view overlooking the Vegas strip.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day … and congratulations to all the Los Angeles Marathon finishers today!

Giada
At The Cromwell
3595 Las Vegas Blvd South, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Episode 3: One Minute Gourmet: Benitora

Once in a while, I get hit with an intense craving for some nice, juicy gyoza. I like dim sums too but there’s a special place in my stomach for the Japanese-style dumplings.

Today was one of those days so we drove to Benitora in Sawtelle Japantown to satisfy my raging urges.  I was tempted to veer off from the original plan and go with the white sesame dan dan tsuke men (ramen with dipping sauce) when I saw the mouth-watering photo on the menu, but I stayed strong and stuck to my initial instinct and devoured Benitoro Big Gyzoa … I was happy with the decision.

Benitora
2002 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

Episode 1: One Minute Gourmet: Huckleberry Cafe

I have decided to combine my two obsessions – making short videos and dining out – and create a video series called “One Minute Gourmet.”

Each video will feature my dining experience, with footage of the restaurant interior, what I ordered, etc., in 60 seconds or less. It won’t be anything fancy but I hope you enjoy it!

Episode 1 features Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica. I wrote about the cafe back in 2011 and I still adore this place, four years later.  My favorite dish here is Lentil Ragu.  It’s pretty amazing, especially topped with its homemade hot sauce.

Without further ado, here’s the video!