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

I Heart Pasadena

IMG_5098

It may have topped the America’s Snobbiest City list, but Pasadena is still a gem of a place, filled with some of my favorite things, like Urth Caffe and its beautiful latte art. I think this Twitter logo-like bird is my favorite art to date.

IMG_5096

And how about the Oxtail Chili Cheese Fries from Bachi Burger?  Just pour a glass of wine and order this and you got yourself an amazing dinner.

IMG_5071

Oh, and these mouth-watering spreads from Le Pain Quotidien. My favorites are Noir (Belgian dark chocolate) and Blondie (white chocolate).

IMG_1476

And of course, Color Me Mine.

All these establishments are a chain and you can find them in other, less “snooty” areas, but it’s nice to know that I can find all my favorite places in one corner of this quaint little Old Town.

Eating Ehomaki on Setsubun

I picked up a few Ehomaki (恵方巻き which translates to “lucky direction roll”) at Mitsuwa and ate them at home to celebrate a Japanese holiday called Setsubun (節分).

It’s a tradition to eat a giant hand roll sushi on February 3, facing the lucky direction.  The direction changes every year and this year was South South East (南南東) … I know, it’s SUPER strange but I’m all for a holiday that you celebrate over delicious food.

In addition to eating Ehomaki, you also do a thing called “mamemaki (豆まき)” as part of the celebration, where you throw a handful roasted soybeans outside the door while yelling “Demon out, Luck in.”  I skipped this part this year because I was out of soybeans.

I know — you can make these things up!

Homemade Kimchi

IMG_4625

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and have settled nicely into the new year! I’m happy to report that I recently checked off one item from the 2016 “To Do” list – make kimchi at home!

The homemade kimchi was so delicious. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. (I’ve wanted to make my own kimchi since 2008!)

I shared the kimchi with my family and friends and they all seemed to enjoy it.  I have a feeling that I’ll be making more batches in the next week or so … and it might even become a regular thing around here!

You can check out Maangchi’s kimchi tutorial that I used to make kimchi here.  Her channel is nothing short of amazing.  If you’re interested in learning about the Korean cuisine or want to hone your skills, I also highly recommend her cookbook, Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking:  Authentic Dishes for the Home Cook.

I also documented my kimchi-making adventure here!

 

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!