Monday, November 30, 2009

Rose Macarons

Rose-Infused White Chocolate Ganache Macarons
adapted from a recipe found on Cannelle et Vanille

I am macaron-obessed. I realize more and more people are starting to get into the macaron craze. I've aspired to create perfect macarons since the day I recieved my first hand-held mixer as a gift. Since then, I've been pursing the perfect macaron. They're tricky little things to make. I've got the technique down enough so that mine always develop the little "foot" now but I'm still not satisfied. I won't be satisfied until they taste as good as the Laduree macarons I had in Paris!

These turned out okay. I wanted to tint them a light pink and use some rose flavored syrup in the white chocolate filling. I found some sprinkles and decided to add them on before baking. They were little snowflakes. It's almost Christmas-time so it works! I will be trying them again soon and experimenting with different flavors.



Sunday, November 29, 2009

Earthen Restaurant, Hacienda Heights

I am very much a NorCal kind of person. I hadn't explored much of LA outside of Santa Monica, Westwood, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, etc. Although as a result of the unfortunate need to be near Rose Hills Memorial this past weekend, I got a chance to taste a few restaurants in the surrounding Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights area. Chinese carbohydrates have a comforting quality even in the worst of times.

Earthen Restaurant
1839 S. Azusa Ave.
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745


Seafood Noodle Hot Soup [$6.50]
I wish I could take more heat! The noodles were so delightfully chewy but the broth was too spicy for me to handle. I am such a wimp. Sadly, I only had a few mouthfuls before I had to move on to another dish.


Hot & Sour Soup (S)[$6.25] (L)[$7.25]
Not too spicy, not too sour--a well balanced hot and sour soup


House Chicken (S)[$7.95) (L)[$10.95]
This was some delicious chicken! No wonder this dish is a must-order at this restaurant. While already delicately spiced and flavored, the hidden crisp cucumbers under the chicken thigh meat also kept this dish from being too heavy.


Green Onion Pan Cake [$3.25]
Not too greasy at all! While not having as many layers as I expected, the dough was nice and chewy and most importantly, I didn't feel like I was eating oil-soaked pieces of bread.


House Vegetable Dumpling (2 pieces) [$4.95]


Pork Dumpling (10 pieces) [$6.25]
These dumplings had an obviously homemade skin that was so wonderfully chewy! Although the pork filling was nothing profoundly different or tastier than other versions I've had, the chewy, doughy, wrapper was great.


Fish Dumpling (10 pieces) [$6.75]
I don't usually go for fish dumplings...however, these were delicious! The filling was nice and tender and fresh. There was no fishy taste! I wish I hadn't been so busy downing one dumpling after another so that I could've taken a picture of the heavenly filling. Easily the best dumplings I've had in a while. I can't compliment the dumpling wrapper enough.

Not only was this restaurant a good deal, but the food was also very well prepared. I wish I'd taken a picture of the restaurant itself. There was a slight wait to get into the restaurant but once you're in, the ambiance was nice for such a busy place. There were no sticky floors or table tops yet the food was authentic and good! Just what my family and I needed after a difficult week. FYI, avoid the Thanksgiving buffet at the Pacific Palms Resort unless it if your very LAST choice. We had no other choice and I experienced the worst buffet of my life.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Bazaar Experience

My parents visited me for my birthday this past weekend and The Bazaar was one of the restaurants I chose for us to dine at. Since they were my parents and since it was just my birthday, they let me have total control over what we ordered. It was nice :)

Dinner at The Bazaar definitely lived up to my expectations. Being my first exposure to any kind of molecular gastronomy, I was beyond excited when each little plate came out. Some texture were just as I had imagined and some were a pleasant surprise. To me, it was a lot of familiar flavors presented in a new way with exciting new textures. I could tell that each little bite I put into my mouth had gone through extensive consideration and preparation. Much thanks to Chef José Andrés for making molecular gastronomy a little more accessible me!

Not only was the food exciting and innovative, the decor of the restaurant was also very eclectic while remaining comfortable and welcoming. We sat in the Blanca portion of the restaurant and it was a relatively calm and soothing atmosphere given the fact that the restaurant was at full capacity. I wish I had taken better pictures of the restaurant itself but I was too busy eating!

The menu itself was divided into Traditional Tapas and Modern Tapas--we ordered a good variety from both. The little plates were delivered to our table in small clusters. Initially I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of food that ended up being on our table at one point, but slowly we worked our way through them enjoyably.

The Bazaar by Jose Andres
at The SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048


West Coast Oysters
lemon, black pepper
perfect little bites of incredibly fresh oysters--the lemon juice added a wonderful acidity to the sweetness of the oysters


olive oil, vinegar, pimenton
one of the dishes that I did not enjoy as much--the mussels were a little tough


Papas Canarias
salty wrinkled potatoes, mojo verde
absolutely amazing! I could've eaten the whole bowl but I wanted to save room for other plates. Once you bite through the salty outer skin, you get to the warm tender potato. The purple colored ones actually had purple flesh and they were a little sweeter--it reminded me of mini sweet potatoes


Sauteed Shrimp
garlic, guindilla pepper
perfectly cooked shrimp in a nice spicy, garlic-y sauce--like a waaay better version of shrimp scampi


Not Your Everyday Caprese
cherry tomatoes, liquid mozzarella, pesto
I was so excited to try this dish and it did not let me down! The little spoonful was the epitome of the perfect caprese salad. The balls of mozzarella burst into liquid the second you put them into your mouth! It was so exciting for me.


Tortilla de patatas "new way"
potato foam, egg 63, carmelized onions
This dish exceeded my expectations. I didn't realize how much I would enjoy the potato foam. It had such a nice rich creaminess--and who could say no to a perfectly cooked egg with delicious runny yolk?


Norwegian Lobster
seaweed salad, soup of itself
I've said perfect way too many times already in this post but this bite of lobster was seriously perfectly cooked. It was tender and sweet and tasted of pure lobster goodness. I LOVE LOBSTER. The seaweed salad was also nicely seasoned--it wasn't some drab soggy mess. Finish with the little shot of lobster bisque and I was giddy with foodie satisfaction!


Boneless Chicken Wings
green olive puree
no bones! just a nice juicy piece of wing--skin and all


Seared Persimmons with Jamon Iberico Fermin
Pedro Ximenex reduction, walnuts (?), "edible flowers"
It is, after all, persimmon season and it paired beautifully with the jamon iberico. The sweetness of the persimmons and the salty pieces of jamon iberico, plus some crunchy nuts made for one balanced bite. I enjoyed this dish a lot!


Watermelon "Nigiri"
Hamachi, wasabi, red wine, soy, jalapeno
This was such a visually appealing plate. I love the concept of the watermelon nigiri. When I have nigiri, I hate it when the rice to fish ratio is off. I usually prefer a little less rice. This got rid of the rice all together and substituted watermelon. Ingenious! The lightly torched fatty hamachi went great with the sweet juicy piece of watermelon.


Cotton Candy Foie Gras
Two of my favorite things in the world combined together? Couldn't be! Well, it was true. The cotton candy melted into subtle sweetness the second you put it in your mouth and you're left with some crunchy corn nut crumbs and the creamy foie gras. It was only a tiny mouthful but a rich, exciting mouthful it was.


"Philly Cheesesteak"
air bread, cheddar, Wagyu beef
Although once you put the little "sandwich" in your mouth you can hardly tell that is Wagyu beef, the way the "bread" crumbles in your mouth and turns into cheesy goodness it is one bite that caused up to widen our eyes a little more. Definitely something I'd been wanting to try and now that I've tried it, I'm satisfied.


paella-style pasta, shrimp
Initially we did not order this but after seeing the piping hot paella pan of wonderful smelling goodness arrive at the table next to us, we decided we needed to try some as well. Although it was tasty--I enjoyed the slightly crunchy pieces of pasta--the honey aoili was a little to garlicky for me and I ended up with garlicky breath. Before that, I was fine. The other dishes were all nice and light. This was definitely heavier and I'm glad we saved it for last. I probably would not order this again.


Nitro Coconut Floating Island
with passion fruit and vanilla, caramelized bananas, espresso sauce (?)
BEAUTIFUL! However, it was more visually stunning than flavor-wise. Although breaking into the "nitro island" was pretty cool and the sensation of eating it was also a new experience. Without the bites of caramelized bananas, however, the flavor was just a little plain and flat.

Sadly, we were rushed for time so we did not get to enjoy our dessert in the patisserie part of the restaurant. However, before we left we did manage to walk over there and take a look. The little bonbons and cookies were so cute! I am definitely moving to the patisserie next time.

I can't wait for my next visit to The Bazaar! (hopefully its soon!)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blue Plate Oysterette, Santa Monica

While planning a weekday shopping trip to 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, I also had to decide on the perfect spot for a nice lunch. First instinct was Anisette Brasserie--I've been wanting to try it but hadn't had a chance to yet--but uncharacteristically, my usual default towards french food was overpowered by my discovery of this little oyster bar serving up east-coast style lobster rolls.


Blue Plate Oysterette
1355 Ocean Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90402


Blackboard of daily fresh fish and available oysters and clams


The chef was frying up cod non-stop the entire time I was there--the fish and chips was a popular dish and it looked delicious


Kushi and Bahia Falsa Oysters on the Half-Shell
served with mignonette and cocktail sauce


I usually only put a nice squeeze on my oysters but the cocktail sauce was very good and addicting. I knew I wanted some of the Kushi oysters (of the Kumamoto variety) and the waitress also suggested the Bahia Falsa oysters which had a nice cucumber finish. I have to say, although they were very fresh, they were not as expertly shucked as I would've liked them to be--there were bits of shell in a few that I had. However, I believe this was due to the fact that they were extremely busy--an order for 36 oysters going in right before mine.

Initially, I was a little disappointed when my lobster roll arrived before my oysters. I was perfectly content letting my sandwich sit while I waited for my oysters. However, the general manger was extremely attentive and asked why I hadn't eaten my sandwich. When I told him the reason, he immediately made sure that my oysters would come out soon, and he took the sandwich back to refry my fries for me after I finished my oysters. Now THAT is quality restaurant service.


Lobster Roll
with brioche roll and Old Bay seasoned fries



The fries were very good and the lobster roll was one of the best I've ever had. I asked for light mayonnaise and it came with the perfect amount. The spices were good, there was a good amount of lobster meat, and the celery and red onion were cut into small enough pieces that the flavors all melded together. The brioche roll was also nicely toasted on both side.

The manager also had a little surprised for me at the end of my meal. As a result of the oyster-mix up and long wait, my delicious half dozen oysters were on the house! Sigh, what service! Enough to make a girl swoon!


will definitely be back again!

BP Oysterette in Los Angeles

Thursday, November 5, 2009


The one thing I will miss the most about summer is a perfectly vine-ripened tomato. Sure there are hothouses nowadays that grow tomatoes year round, but there is just something about a ripe, juicy, bright red tomato that can't be found in any season but summer.


As the day gets dark earlier and the air gets crisper even here in sunny California, I realize that the days of flavorful summer tomatoes are coming to an end. I found some beautiful cherry tomatoes and decided to oven-roast them--further concentrating that phenomenal flavor and turning them into tiny precious morsels of tomato-y goodness.


Oven Roasted Tomatoes

- sweet cherry tomatoes
- olive oil (basil infused)
- dried basil
- ground fennel seed
- sea salt
- fresh ground pepper
- minced garlic cloves
- red pepper flakes

This recipe is not exact--I have no measurements because it just depends on the amount of tomatoes you want to use. Basically, just to the following:

1. preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2. cut tomatoes in half--use whatever kind of tomato you can find that is a pleasing shade of red (I prefer cherry or a nice roma tomato)--and place on a cookie sheet, cake pan...anything to put in the oven!

3. drizzle with olive oil--I had some amazing basil flavored olive oil that I carried all the way back from the culinary mecca that is Paris but normal olive oil would work just fine

4. sprinkle with dried basil, ground fennel seed (I ground my fennel seed using a rolling pin because I didn't have a mortar and pestle), salt, pepper, minced garlic, red chili flakes

5. Place in oven and roast for 15 mins, reduce heat to 300 and roast for another hour

Voila! delicious oven-roasted tomatoes! I put them on pita chips with a little bit of fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. Each bite was a flavorful party in my mouth!



Je les aime!
a bite after my heart ;)