Tag Archives: Delicious

Drink of the Week: Morning Sex

Not sure what kind of “spam” messages I am likely to get posting this drink name, but it’s too darn delicious NOT to put on the site!

Morning SexMorning Sex

  •  2oz Bourbon
  • 3/4oz Lemon juice
  • 3/4oz Passion Fruit Puree
  • 1/2oz Masala Chai Syrup
  • 3 dash Peychauds Bitters

Shake and serve over a large ice cube.

Garnish: Orange twist or pansy flower

You can find this drink, among other greats, on the drink menu at The Wallace, Los Angeles- A fantastic new spot in the heart of Culver City. The food there is nothing short of exceptional (so much so, that I am coming out of my writing drought to discuss it!) and the drinks, although great already, will be getting a fresh spin in coming weeks from their new beverage director- Greg Bryson.

The drink listed above  is currently my favorite drink in Culver City.  From it’s memorable fun name to it’s accessible flavor profile, this drink has everything I could love in it.

The bourbon is subtle enough that any type of drinker can enjoy its flavor, no matter what their usual base alcohol preference is. It  has a delicious tropical sweetness coming from the fresh passionfruit juice, with no unnatural flavors to it (that tend to come from sweeter/fruity drinks.) It is refreshing, summery and makes me feel like i’m on vacation in Hawaii or the Caribbean when sipped on a hot day!

The presentation at The Wallace over a large ice cube also makes it an accessible ‘not too girly’ looking drink option for both men and women., which I think is very smart. In past few visits they have started to garnish it with a pansy (flower), which looks really pretty and a nice alternative to the orange peel.

I admit this recipe will be hard to reproduce at home, in particular the ‘chai syrup’ but it’s definitely worth heading in to The Wallace to try it on its home turf.  Whilst you’re there, try some of the food too…it’s all fantastic. I would write a review on the whole place right now, but I plan to go back for a 4th visit (in 2 weeks) to try even more food before I write about it. It’s just that good.

Delicious, Delicious, Delicious.

 

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Drink of the Week

Delicious drink "China Doll"

Delicious drink “China Doll”

China Doll

  • 1 1/2 oz Caprock Gin
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1 oz Coconut Jasmine Cream
  • 5 drops Jasmine Rose Water
  • Egg White

Garnish: Edible Rose Petals

In December I celebrated Repeal day (for a reminder of what that is, click here!) and ended up at No Vacancy in Hollywood. First off, I adore the entrance to No Vacancy. I used to go there when it was ‘Jane’s House’ and the building itself is, well, a house!  The Houston Brothers totally utilized this look for No Vacancy by creating an elaborate entrance wherein you enter a bedroom and a lady tells you the “house rules”, then the bed splits in half and you walk under it and end up in the main house staircase. Very cool and different.  I recommend checking it out when you’re next out in Hollywood.

Anyway, I digress. At the Repeal Day event I tried the above cocktail and it was nothing short of delicious! The original drink recipe was created by Sean Hamilton (Bar Manager of No Vacancy) and I had it made for me on this occasion by bartender Jimmy Avelar. I loved it!

It was beautifully balanced, sweet and creamy but with a delicate feminine quality from the jasmine.  From my first sip I knew it had to be a ‘Drink of the week’ on here and because of it’s ‘lady like’ qualities, I plan on serving it at my bridal shower!  Clearly it is a recipe not so easy to replicate at home, what with the jasmine infusions, but if you decide to give it a go, I don’t think you will be disappointed. 🙂

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Drink of the Week

Coquito CirocCiroc drink

1.5oz Ciroc Coconut
1/4oz Pineapple Juice
1/2oz Coconut cream
1oz Milk
1 Egg White
1 dash Cinnamon
1 dash Nutmeg
1 dash Allspice

Combine all ingredients. Shake and strain in to a Collins Glass

Garnish: Coconut Shavings

I was totally craving a Pina Colada the other day (no doubt missing Hawaii) when I recieved an email from Ciroc telling me about their signature holiday drinks.  As most of my readers know, I try not to advertise particular brands on this site (unless I think they are necessary for the drink) and I RARELY pick vodka as a base…however this one recipe spoke to me.

Minus the rum, it has all the makings of a Pina Colada but with all the spices and warmth of Fall.  It is creamy, refreshing and tropical but with that wonderful seasonal twist. Quite simply, this is a great Holiday drink that works particularly well for those of us stuck (oh it’s so hard! ;))in warmer climates in the holiday season eg. Australia/Los Angeles/Singapore etc… it tastes like Summer and Autumn in one! 

Ironically I don’t like Coconut shavings or cinnamon, yet I love coconut flavored drinks. This one calls for the shavings on top and the cinnamon is subtle enough so as not to overpower the drink.  If you are totally against flavored vodkas (I totally understand!) you can always substitute the Ciroc Coconut for Rum, Gin, Malibu or just plain vodka. It’s quite a versatile little drink. At the end of the day, the coconut cream and pineapple kind of mask the base spirit. Seeing as this recipe was created by Cicoc, I felt it only fair to write it as they intended but as you know, switching it up is always an option. 🙂

If you want to try something a little different this Winter, I say give this recipe a go.

Enjoy!

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Drink of the Week

Hotel NacionalHotel Nacional

  • 1 1/2oz Rum
  • 3/4oz Pineapple Juice
  • 3/4oz Lime Juice
  • 3/4oz Simple Syrup
  • 1/2oz Apricot Brandy

Shake in ice and strain in to a coupe.

No Garnish


Hello my Fussy followers! I know I haven’t written in quite a while, but sadly life simply got in the way of my writing.  Trips to Hawaii, San Francisco and Disney Land have been among my most recent endeavors so I have struggled to find time to document and write about cocktails etc (it’s a hard life, but someones got to do it!)

My parents are currently in LA from England and I have been out showing them all the great places to drink and eat in this town.  It has reminded me of a number of drinks I wanted to share with you all.  I have recently started to enjoy Tiki drinks in particular, and although the above drink isn’t particularly of this genre, it definitely has a little bit of a tiki vibe with the rum and pineapple.

Today is Mothers Day in America so I thought I would put up a drink I feel most mothers would enjoy. Plus it’s a really easy recipe to execute at home.

I have had this drink a few times in the past 2 months at Short Order next to The Grove shopping center.  I will undoubtedly be writing a post on them soon, seeing as their food is also fantastic (their Mac and cheese is divine).  The above recipe is perfect for the coming summer months, because it is pleasantly sweet and refreshing.

Take note, this is VERY easy to drink, almost like lemonade and if you’re not watching yourself you can get buzzed pretty quickly. (I am talking from experience of course!)

Anyway here is a nice simple recipe that is easy to make for your mom/mum today. Enjoy.

Happy Mothers Day!

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Eat Less and Taste More @ Hostaria Del Piccolo

Hostaria Del PiccoloHostaria Del Piccolo
512 Rose Avenue,
Venice Beach, CA
310.392.8822
 

I have been writing this post for a few weeks now, because I have a lot to say about this restaurant in particular.  I finally decided I need to put it up because all the other media seem to be beating me to it, and i’ve been coming here since opening day!!!  Reviews and press have just started to come out about this place (LA times did a feature and they have been mentioned on KTLA radio) and rightly so, it is a wonderful restaurant to get really well made Italian food. It is also a fun place to go with friends for a drink.

The space

The location I am discussing in this post is the brand new Hostaria Del Piccolo in Venice Beach, California. However please note that the same wonderful menu can be found at their original Santa Monica location on 6th and Broadway, I highly recommend checking out both as they have the same amazing food and drinks but totally different vibes.

Back of house

Hostaria Del Piccolo in Santa Monica has always been one of my favorite dinner spots, so I was excited when they opened this new location on Rose Ave (a really popular area for great restaurants right now.)

This location is much larger than the first and you really feel the openness when you first walk in. Their signature bright blue aprons can be seen on the staff dotted around the room and they’ve cleverly accented the bar with this color too which make it look young, fun and cool.

Blue lit bar

I actually really like the lighting in general at this place, there is a tunnel light that wraps across the ceiling giving it a modern vibe that works well against the wood communal tables.

Kitchen

The Kitchen is in open view to the customers so you can watch pasta being rolled and pizzas being made in front of you. This is an authentic Italian restaurant and the food is nothing short of fantastic.

Pamperdella   Verdura

The owner is Italian,  a lot of the staff are Italian and you feel its authenticity not only when you taste the food, but when you talk to the people there (many of whom are Italian). In particular I want to mention one of the managers Christian Bertolli, who is probably one of the most charismatic, friendly and delightful Italian men I have ever encountered.  All the staff are lovely here and the bar team are extremely knowledgeable on ‘real’ drinks and cocktails, due to their new Beverage director Greg Bryson who was hired to update the bar program at both locations a few months ago.

Greg Bryson at work

I have been to this new spot three times already and every time it is busier than the last. I am going to talk about some of my favorite dishes, however I am yet to find one I don’t actually like.  There are many more on the menu that are worth trying, but the ones below are my top choices.

The Food

GNOCCHI  ricotta-potato gnocchi, fresh tomatoes, basil, parmesan $15 ($6 on Happy Hour menu)

Gnocchi to me is best described as a potato dumpling. I imagine if pasta and potato had a baby, they would have a gnocchi! Most places I have tried gnocchi before I didn’t really like it too much.  I found it to be a stodgy and heavy dish, however this is not the case at Hostaria. Their Gnocchi (made fresh daily) is soft and fluffy, it is deliciously cheesy with a rich tomato sauce on top.

to go

It is also not a ridiculously huge ‘American’ portion. All the portions at Hostaria are just right, they take quality over quantity to a new level. In fact, their slogan is EAT LESS, TASTE MORE! In a country that is often over indulgent I really love this idea, I am always full when I leave and never have a doggy bag. The portion sizes are just right for a comfortable evening.

COSTICINE  roasted pork ribs, cannellini beans    $12

Ribs

When I am trying not to eat breads or cheese (so hard at an Italian place) this is my go-to dish of choice.  You get three delicious pork ribs that are perfectly seasoned and full of flavor but not covered in sauce, on top of cannellini beans which are filling without being over indulgent. A really yummy, simple appetizer.

GRIGLIATI  grilled fresh calamari, mild spicy Swiss-chard $12

Grilled Calamari

I am a big fan of fried calamari (which they also have on offer) however when you want something less greasy this is a nice appetizer option. The spicy chard gives an almost peppery spiciness to the dish. The texture is a little more rubbery than the fried version but really good nonetheless.

The Pizza

There are way too many pizzas on their menu for me to possibly discuss here, but I will name a few that particularly stand out. The main thing about their pizzas are the delicious thin crusts that taste freshly baked (because they are!)

There are white pizzas (without tomato sauce) as well as gluten free dough as an option, vegan and vegetarian choices. Some of the best i’ve tried so far are as follows…

FIGOS prosciutto, seasonal figs, mozzarella, mascarpone, vincotto $16

FORMAGGI mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, ricotta, goat cheese, gorgonzola $13

ASPARAGI asparagus, egg, mozzarella, parmesan shavings, truffle salt $15

I want to keep going on the menu (haven’t even begun to touch on their other delicious pasta options, not to mention they also have a phenomenal brunch menu that has items such as Ricotta Stuffed Pancakes, Espresso rubbed Pork and Eggs and a Salmon Eggs Benedict to name but a few) but I have to talk about their drinks too.

The Bar

Greg Bryson created some delicious drinks for the menu and will be rolling out his Spring creations soon i’m sure. They only makes drinks using fresh juices and local produce (as is the only way these days) and Greg has stocked the bar with a wide range of Amari (beverage bitters from Italy) which is great for those who love bitter sweet digestivo.

I have mentioned several of Greg’s drinks in past posts, because they are excellent.  Acero was one of my favorites during Fall and is still available at both locations.

CuccioloThe cocktails on the menu are all great, but if you ask Greg (when he’s tending bar) to make you something ‘bartenders choice’ he always comes up with something fantastic whether it’s a classic made correctly, or something he makes up on the spot, he always makes sure his customers are happy.

IMG_8420All the bar staff seem focused and friendly and I am yet to have a bad drink at this bar.  Here are two other popular drinks on the current menu…

CUCCIOLO Plymouth Gin, St.Germain, cucumber, lemon $12

BLACKWORK ORANGE 100% Agave tequila, fresh lime, tangerine juice, agave nectar, black sea salt rim $12

This place gets 5 out of 5 for food. It is hands down one of my favorite places to eat because I love Italian and this is done to the highest degree.

5full (1)

Drinks easily get 5 out of 5. I have only ever had drinks made by Greg himself so I may be biased, but from what I can tell all the bartenders have been trained to make the drinks correctly too and the options are a great range for all tastes.

5full

This is a great ‘first date’ restaurant because it is fun and friendly, with a romantic edge without being overly loved up. Definitely stop by and see for yourself when you are on the West side 🙂

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SugarFish

SUGARFISH
1345 2nd Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
 
Phone: 310 393-3338

 .

This week I wanted to write about a restaurant that is always consistent, seeing as recently I keep finding places I love (and write about) have changed their menus a week later (to keep up with trends) and the items I craved have been taken off! 😦 I do understand that some foods are seasonal but it’s so hard for someone like myself (fussy) to find a dish i’ll eat at all, so once I have done it’s even more distressing to not be able to get the same meal again on the next visit.

Anyway, I have been coming to SugarFish for over a year now, and their quality of food has always been above and beyond. They also never change their set menu (hooray!), which is what I’m going to cover in this review.

A lot of people tend to be very shocked that I am a huge sushi lover, and I have to admit I don’t understand it myself.  The fact that I never used to eat anything other than pasta, and now regularly enjoy raw fish is a somewhat dramatic leap. Yet, for some reason, it is a genre of food I really enjoy.  I have always liked smoked salmon, so when I first went to a sushi restaurant I tried the salmon sushi and found that the  raw salmon is a similar consistency to smoked, which didn’t bother me at all. From eating salmon sushi, I eventually branched out to trying other light fish like ‘yellowtail’ and ‘halibut’ although I never found myself wanting to try tuna. For some reason the smell of tuna really bothers me (well canned tuna anyway) and for the longest time I couldn’t get my mind set out of that.

Anyway, walking in to SugarFish about a year ago, my boyfriend (FG) and I didn’t know what to expect.  The place itself is small with bamboo style wood everywhere and plants on one of the side walls. They don’t take reservations so make sure you arrive well in advance of when you want to eat, because they do fill up quickly. We had been told repeatedly by people that they make ‘great sushi’ but our understanding at the time was limited and we really just thought, ‘it’s just rice and raw fish, how good can it be’. How little did we know!

Chef Kazunori Nozawa is a Japanese Chef who has been working with sushi since he was 15 years old.  When he came to America he started Sushi Nozawa in Studio City, California with the aim to get Americans out of the thinking of extravagant rolls and back to the no-frills basics of what Japanese sushi really is, very simple yet exceptional quality seafood.  Sushi Nozawa closed this year (2012) but the SugarFish chain continues his philosophy and the ‘Trust Me’ set menu is similar to one at the original Sushi Nozawa location.

The ‘Trust Me’ set menu is the one we always get, not just because of it’s value for money ($29.50 pp) but because it has a nice range of dishes within it.  The first item is the Edamame.  Plain, simple and nicely chilled with a little salt but not too much.

Next is the tuna sashimi. Now, as I said before, I never wanted to try tuna but on my first visit to SugarFIsh I felt obliged to try it as it was part of the set menu and they don’t bring the next dish until the one you have is finished!

So worth it, WOW this dish is good. The sauce is divine.  It is slightly sweet like a ponzu sauce but a little more citric and sharp on the tongue. The scallions on top gives a nice change in texture to the moist soft flesh of the fish. Yummy.

What immediately stood out to me was how ‘non-fishy’ it tasted, in fact all the dishes at SugarFish have that same quality and it’s because they use the freshest fish daily, never from frozen.

Next come 4 little sushi pieces, two of albacore and two of salmon.  The Albacore on my most recent trip (last night) was exceptional. It had the softest texture and melted in the mouth, there was a subtle sweetness to it and the cold fish over warm rice made for a really delicious combination.

The salmon was also flavorful but I have had salmon sushi so much now, I find it dull in comparison to the other options.

Next dish was the Yellowtail sushi (2pieces) and Halibut sushi (2pieces).The Yellowtail was the lightest in flavor but it had a nice texture and was clearly very fresh and slightly firm.  The Halibut had a citric almost spicy tasting sauce added to it, which paired beautifully with the flavors of the fish itself. Another two great sushi pieces.

I should mention, they do give soy sauce and wasabi on the side but we often find ourselves not using it at all because the fish flavors really speak for themselves.

The Toro roll came out and our waitress told us it is best enjoyed whilst the seaweed is nice and crispy. I have to admit, i’m not a big fan of seaweed wrapped rolls usually but this one was good… Soft moist chilled toro inside warm rice with a crispy seaweed shell.

The Blue hand crab roll was the last item to come out, and the crab was almost creamy in texture. It was very cold crab meat which is an odd sensation against the warm rice but seems to work and this is apparently the true Japanese way of preparing sushi.
After the crab roll you’re all done off the set items, occasionally they have a special of the day they feature instead or as well as.  There are also other set menus (a larger and lite version) or you can order off the general menu, but value wise and selection choices makes this particular set option our favorite.  All the dishes appear tiny (by Western standards) but the leisurely timing in which the items are brought to the table somehow fills you up and we feel very satisfied every time we eat there.

On our last visit we also enjoyed a nice bottle of Nigori Sake called ‘Sho Chiku Bai’ which was creamy, silky and mildly sweet. It paired beautifully with our dinner and I highly recommend.

Food rating gets 5 out of 5 platters

I’m yet to have a bad experience here, so they get full marks!  It sounds obvious, but it makes SUCH a difference when seafood is so fresh. I always thought I knew good sushi until I came here, now I won’t go anywhere else. Their consistency of both quality and taste makes them one of the best sushi places I have ever been to and although the service can be slow at times, the staff are all very friendly and helpful so they don’t lose marks their either.  If you like good sushi then this is certainly a restaurant you should check out.

The Santa Monica location is the one we personally know and love, but SugarFish have a number of venues now, so look on their website for the closest one to you.

Enjoy!

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Drink of the Week

Stay up late

  • 1 1/2oz Plymouth Gin
  • 1/2oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Brandy
  • 3/4oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4oz Simple Syrup
  • Topped with 3oz Soda Water

Garnish: Luxardo Cherry and Orange Wheel

I recently visited Mastros Steakhouse in Beverly Hills.  The new rooftop restaurant ‘The Penthouse at Mastros’ has it’s grand opening this evening and I felt it was important to share this info with my readers!  The beauty and difference of this third floor addition is the inspiring mixology program and hand crafted cocktails that have been put together by Brandon Ristaino and Andrew Trauth.  The upstairs adds more of a cocktail lounge feel to the usual Mastros set up and is described as giving ‘sensual sophistication’ to the dining experience. The Penthouse is a really gorgeous space and I am very happy to be a part of it’s opening.

Having had a chance to sample all of the current cocktails I felt compelled to write about the above one. It’s so simple, yet so delicious! A very refreshing, slightly bubbly but delicate drink, with a gorgeous sweetness from the brandy and subtle orange notes.  Plymouth works beautifully in this drink because it’s not a strongly flavored Gin, there is no intense juniper taste so it’s a great option for vodka drinkers to start enjoying Gin.

There are a number of great cocktails on the menu (I will be talking about them more in coming weeks) and I highly recommend stopping in for a drink when you’re next in Beverly Hills.  Yes, Mastros is known for being expensive and this is still the case but the quality of drinks you will be getting at The Penthouse makes it well worth a trip to the top floor.

Hope to see you there!

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We fit in just great at The Misfit!

The Misfit
225 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310 656 9800

 * * * *

I have to say, this bar/restaurant is a really great destination in the heart of Santa Monica. The boyfriend (FG) and I headed there this week for a friends birthday and as soon as we entered I couldn’t believe we’d never seen this place before.

The restaurant itself is visually beautiful when you enter, dramatic high ceilings, a muriel painting behind the bar and tiled floors that made me think of restaurants in Europe.  My boyfriend and I are big fans of Santa Monica, FG runs two bar programs off of Broadway, and we have several dinner spots we love to visit in the area, so I was more than happy to find another craft cocktail bar in the same vicinity.

Not only did they have a good looking bar, I must point out their ludicrous happy hour. 12pm to 7pm daily. Yep, thats 7 hours of $5 drinks. This includes their great specialty cocktail selection as well as their well drinks. I would think this was good either way, but when you factor in what their well includes (see list below) it’s astounding to me this place can stay open. The quality of the products they have in their well puts them leaps and bounds above the competition, although their cost percentage must be insane!

The Misfits Well

Martin millers Gin

Herranura silver tequila

Appleton white rum

Eagle rare

Glenfiddich

 

In terms of Happy hours in the area, I thought Copa D’Oro was the ruler ($5 drinks nightly), but this well selection for 7 hours daily easily just stole the title of Best Happy Hour in Los Angeles.

The first drink I tried was the Bees Knees.  It was well balanced, but reminded me of a honey lemon concoction i’d make myself if I had a cold.  The martin millers gin was a subtle option and didn’t over power the flavors. It was certainly refreshing but the lavender was very subtle, I doubt I would have known it was even in there if it wasn’t on the description.  I can’t really say it was watered down, but it tasted very light and although the drink was balanced, it did air on the weaker side…but for $5, really there were no complaints!

Kd Bees knees- Martin millers gin, House infused lavender honey and Lemon juice $10 or $5 hh

FG had the ‘Misfit cocktail’. It tasted like a Martinez but with the Haymans it was soft and the juniper wasn’t as intense as other places i’ve had similar drinks.  It had a sweetness and weakness to it that I actually rather enjoyed.

Misfit cocktail- Haymans gin, Carpano antica vermouth, Orange bitters $10 or $5 hh

The food was delicious. I had the salmon on my friends birthday, and then returned for lunch 2 days later so I could have it again- it was that tasty. Beautifully cooked fish that was moist and flavorful with a bbq coating. It came with a refreshing arugula and cucumber salad on the side. Perfect for lunch or dinner, I love dishes I don’t have to modify and I enjoyed every bite on this plate. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

BBQ salmon- Scottish with arugula salad $17

We tasted the Mac and Cheese (which is gluten free and made with brown rice pasta), it tasted great with added Chorizo.  It had a little spice from the chile and chorizo that went nicely with the creamy and cheesy pasta. I must say I didn’t get a photo of this dish because my friends devoured it before I had a chance, but I would probably recommend this as a side dish.

Mac and Cheese- Green chile, brown rice pasta, chorizo (+$2) $9

Roasted parsnips- Basil pistachio pesto $7

Organic french omelet- Gruyere, sautéed spinach, pancetta(+$3) $11

We tried the roasted parsnips which were crunchy (a little too ‘al dente’ for my liking) but still very tasty. The pistachio pesto was a nice touch and complimented the light flavors of the parsnips.

FG had an Omelet with egg white and added pancetta.  It was very light and tasty, not a heavy dish at all. A lot of places he has omelets that are way too filling and big, this was just the right balance of ingredients and the pancetta was a nice addition to the dish.

I tried a sip of my friends Basil Gimlet which was very refreshing, and again I was just awe struck by how incredible the prices were for drinks with such good products in.  This place is certainly somewhere we will continue to return to.  The service was friendly and the atmosphere was fun and inviting on both visits (day and night.)

Food here gets 4 out of 5 platters.

The salmon is divine and i’ll probably return to order it again some time this week, there were other interesting options on the menu that I want to return to try also. The parsnips were just ok, and the mac and cheese was decent. All in all it was pretty good for food, and the rating may in fact increase once I return to try more dishes.

Drinks get 4 out of 5 Clover Clubs.

None of our drinks were truly spectacular and realistically both our cocktails tasted a little weaker than usual but other than that they seemed balanced and were certainly still enjoyable.  The main points this bar gets is for it’s truly fabulous well alcohol selection and it’s insanely long happy hour.  Anywhere with a Manhattan for $5 deserves at least 4 out of 5 in my opinion!

I definitely recommend popping in to this place when you’re next in Santa Monica. It is attractive, inviting and a great deal.  Check it out!

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Drink of Week

Beet Daiquiri

  • 2oz Metusalum Rum
  • 3/4oz Beet Juice
  • 3/4oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 3/4oz Simple Syrup

Original UK recipe:

  • 60ml Havana Club
  • 20ml Beet Juice
  • 20ml Sugar Syrup
  • 20ml Fresh Lime

This drink popped to mind this morning after I was thinking of Beets in a salad and I remembered the wonderful Beet drink that Brand Ambassador for Havana Club, Meimi Sanchez had created.  We had the pleasure (my boyfriend and I) of having an in depth talk with Meimi at London Cocktail Week last year about Havana Club and it’s history.  Part of the talk included tasting a number of cocktails, and the recipe above was the one that stood out for me in particular.  In true Fussy One style, I admit I had never actually tasted a beet until I had this drink, it was so delicious that I have continued to enjoy the deep red-purple Vegetable ever since.

The beauty of this drink is in the vibrant appearance from the natural colors in the Beet juice, the drink itself has an almost ‘healthy’ taste (if that makes sense) and you can taste the vegetable flavors.  I felt like I was cleansing my system even though I was drinking alcohol, hard to describe but it just tastes good for you!

The version we had in London (Uk recipe is above) was created using Havana Club Rum (I adore!).  Obviously most people in the US cannot get their hands on Cuban rum due to the Embargo, so Metusalum Rum is a good alternative.  The overall drink is sweet, refreshing and stunning in appearance, it’s a daiquiri at heart so great for summer.

Anyway, give it a go and let me know what you think!

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Pimms Jelly (Jello!) Sundaes

The following post is not my own creation, however it has certainly sparked some interesting recipe ideas in my boyfriend.

I felt the need to re-blog it because it looks delicious, is a pretty unique dessert style drink and a great option for Summer! 🙂

Just so all my readers understand, in England ‘Jelly’ is what Americans call ‘Jello’, and what Americans refer to as ‘Jelly’ (like in a peanut butter & jelly sandwich) is what the British would call ‘Jam’.

The title of this post is ‘Jelly Sundaes’, however the original writer Hayley is in fact referring to the British sense of the word…I do hope that helps avoid any confusion!

                             British                     American

Jelly          =          Jello

Jam           =          Jelly

 

You will notice a number of British words like ‘a bit’ and ‘dollop’ in this post, which is one of the reasons I like it so much. Living in Los Angeles as a Brit can make me miss the little things sometimes. Check out the blog this post is taken from by clicking here.

Enjoy!

Pimms Jelly Sundaes

 

I realise that the past few recipes I’ve uploaded have been alcohol based. This is not because my diet consists of booze, honest! After making my Mailbu and pineapple jellies, my Pimms infused mind conjured up a creation in my head, and the Pimms Jelly Sundae was born!

These are refreshing, delicious, fat-free summer desserts, perfect for barbecues. They’re so different, and taste as gorgeous as they look. They’re also easy, and take minutes to make, so are great for dinner parties too. Have I said enough?! Okay, one more perk is the fact that it involves Pimms for crying out loud!

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of lemon jelly
  • 3/4 pt of lemonade
  • Pimms
  • 5 large strawberries, or 10 small ones
  • 10 grapes
  • a handful of blueberries
  • 1 orange
  • Mint

Make up your lemon jelly by using 1/4 pt of boiling water, and 3/4 pt of lemonade.

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While the jelly is cooling, wash and prepare your fruit, and divide it between individual glasses.

Now it’s time for the main event…All hail Pimms!

Add a one cap and a drop more of Pimms to the fruit…

then add your fizzy jelly.

Now your jelly, Pimms, and fruit need to be acquainted with each other, so use the sprigs of mint to give it a stir, then leave the mint in the jelly for about 30 – 60 seconds.

Now they’re ready for the fridge. If your fridge is rubbish like my mum’s, you’ll need these to set for a good seven or eight hours, if it’s fierce like my one at uni was, five hours should do it.

Ta-Dah! Summer in a glass.

Garnish with mint, and serve.

If you fancy making this a bit naughty, serve with a dollop of creamy vanilla ice cream.

Now that’s more like it.

A  perfect dessert to give to your in-laws/boss/anyone you want to like you, because once they’ve tasted this, they’ll be wanting to see you a lot more!

Feel free to use different fruit, but not kiwi, papaya or fresh pineapple (tinned is fine), as the water molecules in these fruits prevent the jelly from setting, and will result in wasting Pimms.

Summer is finally here, Britain (for now)!

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Sprinkles at all hours?…Yes, please!

Sprinkles Cupcakes
9635 South Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA, 90210
310 274 8765
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Unlike my usual reviews this is not for a fine Los Angeles restaurant, a fun filled Hollywood event or an exciting new Mixology bar. It is in fact a review about a bakery that serves “little pieces of Heaven” 24 hours a day, in the heart of Beverly Hills.  I am talking, of course, about the delicious Sprinkles Cupcakes.

I have been coming to this location (the original) since the first month I moved to Los Angeles, and the irony is that I don’t actually like cupcakes normally. I’m serious, cake in general is not my favorite dessert because it is often either too spongey or too dry for my tastes, and the style of frosting isn’t the same in the States as the butter icing I like in the UK.  I am true to my ‘fussy’ name when it comes to cupcakes.  So how did I end up at Sprinkles? Well, 4 years ago I saw an episode of ‘Girls of the Playboy Mansion’ in which Hugh Hefner’s girlfriend (now ex) Bridget went there and got a cute little box of cupcakes for a party, as well as mini ones for her dogs.

So in true tourist fashion, when I first move to Los Angeles it was one of the places I went to have my photo taken at.  I didn’t think i’d like it much but when I took my first bite I couldn’t believe what I tasted.  Sprinkles cupcakes are ALWAYS soft, moist and fluffy cakes with the most incredibly sweet but creamy style frostings. I became an instant fan, so much so that when I lived in the South Bay I would still drive the 35mins+ drive to Beverly Hills just to get my favorite (Vanilla Milk Chocolate) and drive back home. They really are that good.

Word to the wise, if you don’t like sugary treats so much then this may not be your thing.  The one complaint (that you’ll never hear from me) that i’ve ever heard of these cupcakes is that the frostings are too sweet, but I think they are just right and there are some other flavors like the Red Velvet with a less sugary cream cheese icing.

History

Sprinkles Cupcakes Company was founded by Candace Nelson and her husband in 2002.  After visiting ‘Magnolia Bakery’ in New York they decided they could do better and decided to open their own cupcake bakery in Beverly Hills. Candace is said to have stated;

 “It was time for cupcakes to stop being the back up dancer to cakes”.

After endorsements from celebrities like Paris Hilton, Tyra Banks and Barbra Streisand (one of their first customers) Oprah Winfrey got hold of a box and requested 300 more for her “Breakfast with Oprah” show in Chicago.  The next day sales went up 50% and have continued to have a stream of constant customers ever since.  The thing about this place, in my opinion, is that many people go there because of the press it gets, but almost everyone returns because of the product.  When the quality is there, people will come!

The bakery building itself is sleek and minimalistic in design, painted a simple chocolate brown with a neon pink ‘icing font’ Sprinkles sign in the far corner. The packaging is also simple and elegant and anyone who knows them would recognize the jagged edges of a Sprinkles sticker anywhere. The brand now has 10 locations throughout the United States, with plans to open in 15 more cities including London and Tokyo. The Nelsons also started a traveling “Sprinklesmobile”, a Mercedes Sprinter van that i’ve seen driving around.  They sell a line of cupcake mixes, t-shirts and other merchandise with their logo on at their stores.

New to the Beverly Hills location just this past week is the cupcake ATM. Wait, what was that? Yes, you heard me right. They added an ‘Automated Teller Machine’ that shoots out cupcakes instead of money.


Cupcake A.T.M

I couldn’t leave on my last visit without a purchase from the new ATM.  I thought I would document the occasion step by step for all those interested.  It’s pretty straight forward.  After waiting in line (and there will be a line) you get to a bubble gum pink machine that reads ’24hour Sprinkles’. A fun and girly song about Sprinkles cupcakes is playing, then you touch the screen and are given a list of your cupcake choices.

  1. Scroll through the choices of cupcakes available at the machine
  2. Click on the cupcake of choice. (I went for the Irish Chocolate seeing as it’s nearly St.Patricks Day.)
  3. Read the detailed description of cupcake you’ve chosen
  4. Confirm selection
  5. Pay with a debit or credit card
  6. Watch a live video feed of a suction arm collecting your chosen flavor
  7. Collect your beautifully boxed cupcake from the tray
  8. Enjoy it’s deliciousness!

                

They bake and fill the machine all day then an extra 600 is added to stock up through the night time.  Funnily enough my friend in the UK was shocked when I told her this and said “600? They can’t possibly expect to sell that many in a night”, from the looks of things so far 600 cupcakes may not be enough.

I was going to go the other night at 1am until I saw a tweet by blogger Caroline on Crack saying “wtf? This late? I wonder when there won’t be a line. @Sprinkles ATM has a line around the block! Insane.” It doesn’t surprise me that much.  There is almost always a line outside the Sprinkles bakery itself, partly due to the small size of the building but mainly because of the sheer number of customers.  I am told people are coming by at 3am after the bars close to get a sweet fix before they head home.  That’s actually sort of how this idea started too.  The owner would crave cupcakes in the middle of the night (not drunk though, she was in fact pregnant!) and would be upset that the store was closed.  She decided there should be an option to get them at all hours. Proved to be a genius move because now the ATM is in operation it is clear that it is going to be a success.
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Flavors

The flavor option availability changes daily, although classics like Vanilla Milk Chocolate, Red Velvet and Black & White are always being made. They also try out new and seasonal flavors all the time and with St.Patricks day around the corner they created an ‘Irish Chocolate’ which is what I got on this trip.  It tasted like it had a subtle Whiskey flavor in the frosting as well as vanilla notes throughout the cake. There are too many options in rotation for me to review, although I think I have nearly tried every one of them.  The choices are in the picture at the bottom of this post and they put a little sticker next to those that are available that day. Check out their Facebook for daily deals too.

I am going to talk quickly about my favorite flavor here the The Vanilla Milk Chocolate.  This is the one I get by the box load for my birthday and parties, it is by far my favorite although the boyfriend finds this flavor to be on the sweeter side.  It comes with the option of sprinkles of no sprinkles. I always say do the sprinkles, but each to their own.

Vanilla Milk Chocolate– Madagascar bourbon vanilla cake with fudge milk chocolate frosting

The cake has a hint of vanilla to it and is soft and moist. The chocolate frosting is like no other i’ve found in the States. Sweet, creamy and fudgy. Pure chocolate decadence. It is just a perfect little cupcake and saves well too. These cupcakes don’t taste terrible the next day, my boyfriend actually prefers them a day old.  So there you have it. Sprinkles Cupcakes are so far the best i’ve found in the World.  In fact, my writing of this review has given me the bright idea to head back there right now and get one! If you’re in the area…I suggest you do the same.

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Piccolo Ristorante

Piccolo Ristorante

5 Dudley Ave

Venice Beach, CA 90291

(310) 314-3222

My boyfriend (FG) took me here on Valentines Eve this year and having never been before I was excited to be trying somewhere new, especially an Italian restaurant.

Italian is officially my favorite cuisine. I am not a huge fan of Venice beach and honestly find it particularly scary at night, especially down some of the graffiti ridden dark alley ways.  Sadly this restaurant is in a slightly less than desirable area, and less than a block from the building I was convinced I was watching a hardcore drug deal go down!

However I was utterly shocked and excited by the restaurant that emerged once I turned the corner.  The restaurant Piccolo is beautiful, aesthetically it is a really lovely looking space. Great attention to detail has been made from the elegant glassware down to the tasteful green glass candle holders on every table which are decorative and beautiful.
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The decor is Venetian inspired (as in Venice, Italy not Venice Beach) decorative masks and tasteful black and white shots of the canals adorn the walls. There is a roaring fire on the side and a wall of wine at the back. As soon as we entered we were greeted by a friendly host who took us straight to the table. There is no host stand or bar area, which makes me wonder where you would stand/sit to wait if you arrived sooner than your reservation. Fortunately for us our table was ready straight away and we sat straight down. The owner Vittorio Viotti came over and said hello (he has worked with FG in the past and is a lovely Italian man from Rome).  The menu allows you to do a set meal called ‘In bobo we trust’ this is a great option if you’ve never been as the Executive Chef Roberto Ivan (Bobo) will choose a ‘Six-course tasting for $80’ or ‘Ten-course tasting for $100’ Two people minimum and entire table only.  Seeing as we didn’t want quite so many courses we decided to just pick ourselves, with the occasional recommendation from Vittorio and our server.

As cocktail drinkers I was sad to discover they don’t have a mixed drink list here, however the wine choice is beyond impressive. There is an extensive wine list in a leather bound book with huge range of Italian wines organized by area (a little map of Italy colored in to represent regions).  Almost all the wines are by the bottle, but Greg went for one of the reds by the glass and I had a prosecco.  The red was smoky and rich with a tobacco finish, perfect for FG and my prosecco was light with a hint of sweetness. Great start to a romantic fine dining experience.

A bread basket came out with bread sticks, olive ciabatta and baguette inside. Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore good bread.  This bread was warm with a freshly baked crisp crust and fluffy inside, just how I like it.  Came with olive oil for dipping but I told myself not to fill up on bread so I mainly munched on the sticks which were a not so filling alternative. Great idea.

Antipasti Freddi

The first dishes we chose from the ‘Antipasti’ section of the menu were the Prosciutto and Carpaccio (see item descriptions below).

The presentation for all our dishes was nothing short of pure elegance,  I really like duck but it was actually a little rich for my taste.  It had a herbaceous celery/watercress dressing on top though which was light and creamy and helped dilute the richness of the meat slightly.

Prosciutto d’anatra– Homemade duck proscuitto, fresh watercress drizzle $17

The Carpaccio FG ordered was delicious. I should mention that I hadn’t eaten lamb since I was around 11 years old and saved a lamb from drowning in a river in Wales, strange reason I know, but I just never found myself wanting to order it since then.  I did however try some of the carpaccio this evening. I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed it, it wasn’t gamey but complimented wonderfully by the truffle and celery shavings.

Carpaccio di agnello– Seared lamb, thinly sliced,  celery, piave shavings, truffle shaving $17

Antipasti Caldi

The next dish we ordered were the Scallops.  Now, if you haven’t read the ‘about me’ section, I suggest you do it now, because it will astound you that someone as fussy about food like myself would ever like sea food let alone Scallops.  The scallops were nothing short of divine.  To go from not trying a salad to devouring scallops is quite a dramatic change, but my goodness did I enjoy these.

Delicious on every front. Texture, sauce, cooked to perfection. The cheese sauce was very light but the little addition of truffles was all the richness it needed. Ironically I don’t like parmesan or truffles for that matter but adored this.  My only complaint was portion size, but this restaurant is more tapas (small plate) style. I could have easily gone for at least 8 of those beauties! This dish came with 2 scallops and they were nice enough they split our dishes without us even asking, we just told them we’d be sharing everything.

Capesante scottate– Seared sea scallops, parmesan-truffle fondue, truffle shaving $17

Primi

The second section of the menu had dishes that were created using their own hand-crafted fresh pasta prepared with organic eggs.  FG had the Tagliatelle which was certainly interesting, but tasted a little like christmas in my opinion. The use of cloves/all spice in the aromatic spices I believe is what gave this affect, the venison was a little overpowered by the spices but was well cooked.

I went for the black kale and beef tenderloin filled ravioli.  It was rich but very tasty.  I couldn’t taste the kale itself, but the dish altogether was flavorful and very good.

Agnolotti al cavolo nero– Tuscan black kale-beef tenderloin filled ravioli roasted garlic, rosemary, parmesan $24

Ragu di capriolo– Tagliatelle, slow braised venison ragu, aromatic spices, red wine $24

Secondi

The Duck from the final section of the menu was delicious and my favorite ‘main’ course.  The honey truffle sauce was light but had the perfect level of sweetness.  The meat was cooked to perfection, and they don’t ask for a temperature because they know how it should be cooked (seemed about medium/rare).  I had no complaints, juicy and perfectly tender duck slices.

Germano reale al miele tartufato– Breast of mallard (wild duck) pan-seared, truffle-honey sauce $34

Please note the photos of the duck and scallops are ‘half’ the regular portion size as the plates were split for our convenience.

Dessert

I don’t know how but we managed to squeeze in a little dessert at the end.  Bobo chose the Bignole and the Tortino. The tortino was soft and light with a slightly unusual lightly orange taste (reminded me of a children’s medicine in Uk called Calpol actually).  I preferred the little pastry chocolate puff balls. They had a crisp pastry surrounding a sweet, soft chocolate truffle center. Very delicious and a great end to the meal.

    

Tortino- Ricotta and mascarpone torte. Saffron coulis

Bignole- Puffs filled with belgian gianduja chocolate

I’m giving Piccolo 4.5 out of 5 Platters

All in all this restaurant was truly excellent. The service was friendly and fast, but not rushed. The food was beautifully presented and tasted great.  The only down side of this place is it’s location, although the interior strongly makes up for it. The pasta dishes were my least favorite, but I will happily return to try other dishes on the extensive menu.  I felt the food was pretty reasonably priced although I know it may seem a little pricey for some, especially when the dishes aren’t huge portions. It is fine-dining however and for a romantic night out is well worth the cost when the quality is there. Definitely worth a visit!

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