Tag Archives: Food

The Fussy Little One’s

It’s kind of funny, but many times when I mention this blog to people, particularly mothers, they respond with;

“Oh that’s great, i’d love to be able to get my kid to stop being so fussy”.

I realized many people often think ‘The Fussy One’ is designed to help others overcome their “Fussiness” with food.

If you have been a reader of mine for a while you will know that I really don’t have the answers to help children start eating their greens. In fact, if you read my bio you will discover the reason behind my Fussy name is based on the fact that I too was one of the fussy kids these parents want help with! In truth, I find that forcing myself to try new things has been the only way to actually improve my diet. Something that took me 25 years to realize!

Having just got married and with plans to start a family of our own soon, I found myself questioning parents about how they get their children to try new things and eat various items. I mean if I am so fussy, I can only imagine what my children will be like!

Below is a list of some of the suggestions people have given me for their Fussy Little eaters.

Fussy Eater

1. Force them, tell them they won’t get dessert or be able to get up from the table if they don’t eat the item.

Ok, so as a fellow fussy eater, I don’t like this option. At all. I think it’s cruel and starts a bad relationship with food. There definitely should be an element of authority at the dinner table, but asking a child nicely to try something and assuring them they can spit it out if they don’t like it is one thing…but saying they have to eat it all, or punishing them if they don’t only causes anxiety over food and should be avoided in my opinion.

I have a terrible memory from when I was about 7 years old and staying at a friends house over night. The friends mother insisted I eat a ball of pickled red cabbage on my plate. I remember I felt so awkward and upset because it wasn’t my parent telling me I had to, and I’d been taught it was always important to be polite as a guest. The smell of the cabbage made me feel sick so I held my nose and put it in my mouth, the taste was vile and salty and I remember wanting to cry. When the mother turned away I secretly spat it out in my napkin and told her I was full. Have I ever tried cabbage again? Absolutely not. More than 20 years later I can’t bring myself to even smell red cabbage…or anything pickled for that matter. I’m pretty sure it all stems from that one incident. So in conclusion, forcing anyone to eat something they don’t want to is never going to end well.

2. I’ll give you a dollar
This makes me laugh when I hear it, because it comes from my Father-in-law who told me when my husband and his brother were younger he would bribe them with money to taste an item they were unsure of. “I’ll give you a dollar if you just try a piece of this pear”. A part of me (the greedy part) likes this idea, because I probably would have forced myself to try more things if I had been offered money. Most kids over the age of 8 will be happy to gain money i’m sure but I worry bribing with cash opens up a whole other can of worms, like if the child becomes smart enough to pretend it doesn’t want to eat something in order to gain money. It also won’t work for very small children, my nephew (5 years old) couldn’t care less about money right now, but he sure doesn’t want to eat almost any of what he did a few short years ago.

dollar

3. Make the food fun!
This is a good one. I’ve had a few mothers mention it to me which reminds me of my mum who used to make faces out of my food. I must have been very young when she did this, because I barely remember it now…however mash potato spread in a circle made the face, there were peas for hair, and a sausage for a mouth (cannot for the life of me think what the eyes would have been…sliced sausage circles maybe?) I know I went through a phase of not wanting peas, but this got me trying them again and was a great way to get me to eat certain items I usually ignored. The Sausage was sometimes swapped out for fishsticks (fish fingers in UK) and there were bacon and egg type faces I recall at breakfast time. For younger children I believe this is a good method to get them at least tasting items. Also makes the whole idea of ‘food time’ more approachable.

When looking for a photo example online, I came across this ingenious item now available to buy (if they had only had these in my day! haha)

Face plate for food

If you want to buy one for your child, they are easy to find on amazon. (Site link: FACE PLATE)

4. Lead by example
This will be a tough one for me when we have children, but child specalists often recommend eating the “questionable item” in front of a child to show it’s actually good. Making over exaggerated moans of yumminess also helps them become more interested in said item. However, for me, if it comes to certain vegetables I may have to get the husband involved, because even I am too fussy for that! haha

5. Let them help you make the food
Children are more likely to want to eat food they help prepare, according to my friend with 6 year old twins at home (and various other mothers on the toddler forums!) I love this idea. Provided no burns or cut fingers happen, I think it’s a great idea to get a fussy eater (or any child!) involved in the preparation of food. I used to help my mum bake cakes, sifting the flour, stirring the icing and licking the bowl after it’s use! I was a great help as you can tell. 🙂

Cakes are one thing, but preparing a salad or a healthy snack would be just as exciting for a child.  I don’t have children of my own yet, but I do know that children I have baby sat for in the past certainly love getting involved with messy activities! So rolling fresh dough for pizza would be a great introduction to cooking. A vegetable pizza (which can be re-named “Rainbow pizza” so it’s more appealing) can be a great meal option, because it’s healthy, fun to make and can be colorful with the vegetables you choose. Ingredients like squash, tomato, bell peppers, broccoli and cheese (the more color the better-a lot of small children are drawn to bright colors in their food) are a good idea. Test them out, lay out a number of items and see what they are inclined to add on their pizza as a topping…they will be more interested to taste the end result of what they put their effort in to making.

6. What they don’t know, can’t hurt them!
I hate to say it, but it’s true. If I don’t know what something is before I try it, i’m more likely to enjoy it. My husband does it to me all the time with his morning smoothies.

Eg. Me-  “Ooh whats in this one?”

Husband- “The usual things you like…banana, apples, mango, pineapple”

Me- “Oh, it’s great”

Husband- “… kale and Spirulina”

Seriously?! I certainly wouldn’t have tried that on my own accord. However, when mixed with items I enjoy he can mask the “questionable” ingredients. This would work for little ones too, as creamy smoothies are always yummy as a snack.

Blended or ‘Cream of’ Soups are a great option for that too. All sorts of healthy vegetables can be added to a tomato soup or potato soup and the end result is a healthy and nutritious way for a child to get it’s 5 a day in.

Another ‘sneaky’ option is the name you give an item. When my fussy nephew was in the States we went somewhere that served ‘Veggie chips’. I made a point of neglecting to use the word ‘veggie’ and he loved them. I’m sorry to say, sometimes a little deceit goes a long way to trying new things! 🙂

7. Let them be fussy!
This is an odd one to put on a list of how to help a child get over fussiness when eating, but honestly it can end up sorting itself out without the parent having to worry. I was fussy for years, I think I pretty much lived on pasta and cheese for the majority of my childhood,with the occasional apple…but i’m here, i’m alive and now i’m older my taste buds have changed and i’m willing to try just about anything. So most fussy eaters will usually grow out of it.

The other thing to take in to account is a condition many toddlers get- ‘Food neophobia‘. I found this really interesting when researching picky eaters online. Food Neophobia is basically a ‘fear of new food’ that a lot of toddlers start to get around the age of two. Doctors say it usually starts when very young children don’t want the World they know around them to change. Deciding not to try new things means that what they know will stay as it always has been.

Ironically, the same condition is often found in the elderly who often become stubborn about food because they are stuck in their routine and don’t feel a need to disrupt that.

Change is often scary for anyone, so a change in diet for some children really can cause anxiety.

If you have any suggestions of how to help a fussy little eater, please feel free to comment below with your ideas! 🙂

Photo credit for fussy girl image: http://www.news.com.au

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Drink of the Week

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 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Great Food, Speciality Cocktails

A “British” contribution to Thanksgiving Dinner!

Today my post will be a Fussy One first… I am going to give you a FOOD recipe! As everyone in the United States should be aware, yesterday was Thanksgiving.  This means there was probably a lot of drinking and even more eating across the country. As most of my readers know, I myself am not from the US, however I have been living here in Los Angeles for 5 years in January (is it already that long??!!) and have plenty to be thankful for.

I live with my Beverage Consultant boyfriend, (known on this blog as FutureGreg or FG) and his wonderful family.  Every year on thanksgiving we have a big sit down dinner with extended family and friends, and although FGs Dad does the majority of the cooking, most of the guests bring a dish as part of the meal.  For the past few years I have been contributing the following dish and it’s proved so successful I thought I would document it for the blog this time.  So here you go, the first cooking recipe on the fussy one…

STEAK AND GUINNESS PIE

This recipe is a variation of one originally created by British Chef Jamie Oliver.  I admit, it does take a little while to make this one (a good 2.5 hrs in the oven stewing the ingredients) but it is well worth the effort because the pie itself is delicious.  Jamie calls for mushrooms in his recipe, but considering I can’t stand the texture of mushrooms when they’re hidden in food I have chosen not to include them.

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

  • 2.2 lb.. (1kg) Brisket of Beef
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 30g of Butter
  • 2 Sprigs of Rosemary (leaves picked and chopped)
  • 2 Sticks Celery
  • 2 Carrots
  • 3 Medium Red Onions
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 can of Guinness (440ml)
  • 2 Heaped tbsp of Flour
  • 200g Grated Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 large Organic Egg (beaten)
  • Pastry Sheets (pre rolled) or 500g ready-made all-butter puff pastry

Making the filling

  1. Ok, first off lay out all your ingredients and equipment to check you have everything you need. I don’t cook often so when I do I get pretty frustrated when I realize half way through I don’t have the correct pan or am missing a vital herb!! This recipe calls for a pan that can transfer from the stove top to the oven, so double check you can do that. I have had issues before when I realized the pan i’m using will not last in the oven.
  2. Pre-heat your oven  375ºF/190ºC/gas 5.
  3. Next start chopping the ingredients.  Bare in mind that 3 medium red onions looks like a lot when chopped up and I always worry it’s too much, but it reduces completely in the stew so don’t be put off by how much there is.  I personally think it’s a good idea to finely chop the celery and carrots (mainly because I hate the texture of ‘bits’ in my food) but you can chop them larger if you prefer.
  4. Cut the meat in to 1 inch thick cubes.
  5. Pour a ‘glug’ of olive oil in to the pan. A glug is the ‘technical term’ Jamie Oliver gives, I take it to be about a tablespoon or so…just to get the onions frying without burning. Add the onions and on a low heat start to reduce them, stir for about 10 mins.
  6. Add the garlic, butter, celery and carrots once the onions start to go clear (but don’t let them burn).
  7. Mix everything together before adding the rosemary and then the chopped beef. Season with a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of black pepper. (You will season more later.)
  8. Fry fast for 3 to 4 minutes then pour in the Guinness, the flour and just enough water to cover all the meat. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan then place in the preheated Oven for 1 1/2hours.
  9. After an hour and a half take the stew out the oven, give it a stir and place it back in for another hour. The house will start to smell so yummy by this point, but don’t be deceived…still a long way to go!!!
  10. When the time is up and you take it out, the meat should be tender and the stew  should be rich, dark and thick.  If there still seems to be a lot of liquid (almost always is with mine) then reduce it on the stove for a little longer. A good filling needs to be robust. At this point stir in half the grated cheese too. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If you want to stop at this point you can cool the mixture and place in the fridge over night until you’re ready to fill the pie. I always make my mixture the night before, then cook it in to the pie an hour before I plan to serve it the next day.

Filling the pie

  1. The next stage varies from person to person. The original recipe calls for “Puff Pastry” but I have established that most Americans don’t know what this is and certainly don’t sell it pre-made in Los Angeles.  You can choose to make your own puff pastry or buy a pre-rolled regular  pastry.  Puff Pastry, for those that don’t know, is a deliciously flaky pastry used in pies in England. It is buttery and divine, but don’t be disheartened if you struggle to find a recipe because regular pastry works fine too…it’s the filling that makes this pie in my opinion!
  2. Roll out your pastry (if needs be) to make sure it will fit a deep dish pan.
  3. Line a deep dish pan with the first sheet of pastry and make sure the edges are dangling over the sides so you can fold them together at the end.
  4. Pour or spoon the mixture in to the lined pan and even it out.
  5. Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheddar on top.
  6. Roll the second sheet of pastry over the top. I like to twist the overlapping pastry together to make it look pretty, but you can simply crush it with a fork and cut off the excess if you like.  Poke some holes in the top and brush with a little beaten egg.
  7. Place the whole pie in the oven on the bottom shelf for 45 minutes at 375ºF/190ºC/gas 5.  
  8. When the top is golden, take it out and serve. DELICIOUS!!!

I hope you like this recipe, it’s very British to have a pie on a cold day and although it never gets THAT cold here in LA, it still is a great dish to make once in a while.  If it’s not a holiday you can serve it simply with mash potatoes and peas, always goes down a treat. 🙂

Thanksgiving is a day when we get to say what we’re thankful for, and so I want to say “I am thankful for my American family.”  My loving boyfriend and his wonderful parents have always made me feel so welcome in their home and I appreciate them so much…his brother and grandparents, Aunties and cousins have done the same and made me feel part of the family every year.  I am also thankful to my parents in England, and this British pie is a representation of them too.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

3 Comments

Filed under Great Food

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!

1 Comment

Filed under Great Food

Crafted to perfection

Craft
10100 Constellation Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
90067
310.279.4180 
 

Monday date night last week led us to a restaurant just minutes from our house, yet neither my boyfriend (FG) or I had been there before.  The list of drinks and food on offer all looked appealing and appetizing, and the decor of the bar area was inviting and warm when we entered. We decided to sit at the CraftBar which is separate from the restaurant itself and has a different food menu, but we decided to mix and match and got a few bar menu items and then our entree from the regular restaurant menu.

FG informed me that the “Craft” team pay a purveyor a lot of money just to travel the country in search of the best produce for all three of their locations. Only the best, organic, fresh and seasonal products are used so the menu changes constantly with what is and isn’t available.

Front Porch: Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Peach, Lemon and Iced Tea $11

I started the night off with the ‘Front porch’ drink after our bartender (Scott) pointed out that peaches were at their best right now. It was wonderful, like a deliciously peachy ice tea with bourbon! It was sweet, strong and fruity.

FG had the ‘Here today… gone amaro’ which was just as tasty as the name was imaginative!  FG best described it as a Manhattan with a subtle sweet bitterness at the end. Rabarbaro Zuca is an amaro made with Rhubarb, which I have only seen on a menu once before, ironically in my boyfriends drink ‘Maguey after Amaro’. I like it when places use unusual ingredients though.

Here Today…Gone Amaro: Old Overholt Rye, Chai Tea infused Carpano Antica Vermouth, Cio Ciaro and Rabarbaro $14

FG was intrigued by the number of Amari they had on the back bar, including the Cio Ciaro (he’d never heard of) which he sampled and described as having a burnt caramel flavor with a slow bitter finish.  Craft also makes a home made velvet falernum which was delicious, sweet and zesty.

Negroni Mio: Aviation Gin, Campari, Americano, Cocchi Vermouth di Tornio, Prosecco & Strawberry. $13

FG’s second drink was the Negroni Mio, this was a good drink, but not great. It sounded amazing on paper (they barrel aged the Negroni then bottle age it with strawberries), but the flavors really came through as simply a Negroni with aperol.

Many of the food options looked interesting but we started with the cheddar hush puppies that came with a smoked maple syrup to dip in. Delicious maple flavor from the sauce altho the puppies had little spicy kick to them.  The cheese didn’t come through for me but still the dish was very tasty.

Cheddar Hushpuppies & Smoked Maple Syrup $6

The risotto balls were also on the spicy side with a marinara type sauce named romesco, the crispy thin layer on the outside of each ball made them not too rich and another good starter dish.

Risotto Fritters & Romesco $6

They also brought a bread basket out with delicious breads in.  The dark loaf was incredibly different and hearty. In fact Scott gave us an extra loaf to take home, as he informed me it is the perfect bread to make french toast with the next day.  I loved the wooden box the bread came in too, the presentation of all the dishes was exquisite and although this was a slightly more expensive place than we’d usually go just for monday date night, it became clear very quickly why they deserved to charge so much.

For our main course we agreed on a steak (like always!) and decided to share the dry aged sirloin. When it arrived I realized just how incredibly large 22 ounces of meat is and worried we’d way over ordered!

We also chose some sides, the sugar snap peas (which i’m really in to recently, so sweet and crunchy) and the yukon puree.  I had wanted a potato but couldn’t decide what kind, Scott had said these were “deliciously decadent.”  Of course, alarm bells should go off when you hear a server/bartender describe something as decadent…it usually means, extremely fatty and high in calories.  We didn’t care though, it was an indulgent night.  

The potato was certainly nothing less than decadent! Creamy, rich and full of flavor.  It was like a very soft buttery mash but still had a lightness to it, I couldn’t eat too much but it paired beautifully with the earthy flavor of the steak.  I’m not sure i’d had dry aged beef before but it gave the meat a much stronger fuller flavor.  The meat came with a bone marrow on the side, which greg emptied out on to a piece of remaining bread.

I think bone marrow is definitely an acquired taste, it reminded me of chicken dripping my mum would keep to put on sandwiches after a roast dinner. Not that it tasted like chicken, it just had a very greasy and fatty texture that reminded me of that.  I didn’t like it at all, Greg devoured the whole bone full.

Roasted dry aged sirloin 22oz $56

Sugar snap peas $11

Yukon Gold Puree $10

To finish we saw the wonderful dessert list but felt too full to get anything (believe it or not, we had at this point eaten the entire steak and sides!!!). Scott brought us some little bites from the pastry chef which included some caramel popcorn and little nectarine upside down cakes.  They were the perfect touch of sweetness to end the evening.

Before we left Scott gave us a little pack of complimentary Craft Granola for the next day. FGs parents went the following week and were given some complimentary Craft muffins, it changes daily what you’ll get but I think it’s such a cute and unique idea to give something like that for breakfast. When we ate the granola the next morning (which was great) it had us remembering our wonderful evening the night previous. Very smart marketing move!

Drinks here get my rating of 4 out of 5 Clover Clubs.

My peach cocktail was fantastic, and FG certainly enjoyed his two drinks also.  Scott was professional and informative behind the bar, and the look of the place was welcoming and attractive.  The only negative of the drinks was the Negroni Mio that wasn’t as flavorful as the ingredients suggested, overall it was a close to excellent bar program. They also had an extensive wine list, for those not as excited by cocktails!

My Food Rating here is 5 out of 5 Platters

Overall this place had it all, relaxing music, a nice chill vibe and excellent professional service.  The food was fantastic, it was different and adventurous without being too overwhelming for a fussy person like myself.  The only negative, which i’m not even sure is fair to give, was the high prices of this place.  I hadn’t expected it to be on the higher end, having said that it really was worth the extra expense. The service really was amazing, and my boyfriends parents decided to go a few days later and had the exact same reaction. For that reason, this is the first place i’m giving 5 out of 5. Watch out Bottega Louie (our most popular location), Craft may soon take over as our favorite place to go for dinner in LA!

All in all, Craft (and Craft Bar) are an excellent night out.  I highly recommend anyone looking for a romantic, quality restaurant in Los Angeles to head there.

Leave a comment

Filed under Great Food, Speciality Cocktails

Sprinkles Ice Cream!

Ice Cream
9631 South Santa Monica Boulevard,
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
 

“I scream, You scream, We all scream for Ice Cream!”

Having only just reviewed the Sprinkles ATM a few months ago, I was shocked to discover yet another new addition to the Sprinkles portfolio.  ‘Ice Cream’ is the latest sweet tooth’s dream on Beverly Blvd.  The grand opening was yesterday so I anticipated a long line but was pleasantly surprised to see it wasn’t overly busy.

Entering a white room I saw the ice cream and topping choices listed on the wall beside me. The inside is certainly attractive (in true Sprinkles style) with red calligraphy scribble style writing on the ceiling. The only negative about the appearance is the menu placement which seems awkward in its positioning.  When a line forms inside it’s hard to see the options because they aren’t written anywhere else in the building, just on the side wall as you enter.

Sprinkles ice cream is handcrafted using Straus organic dairy and i’m told the flavor options vary daily.  This particular trip the options were: Red Velvet, Chocolate Chip, Butter Pecan, Vanilla Bean, Coffee Fudge Almond, Pistachio, Dark Chocolate, Cherry Vanilla, Mint Chip, Peanut Butter Cup, Rocky Road and Strawberry sorbet…WOWZA! That’s a lot of choices.  They only allow two tasters, so be sure to choose wisely!

I tasted the Butter Pecan first and although it was good, it wasn’t like a traditional butter pecan that i’m used to. The pieces had a saltiness to it that I quite liked but although it was tasty, I just wasn’t in the mood for a full cup.

My second taste was the classic Red Velvet, which was so good I decided to go for it as my ice cream of choice.  I went all out and had it in a red velvet cone to match too!  The cone was great and had a very sweet and rich chocolate flavor.  The ice cream is slow churned to incorporate less air which results in a densely creamy dessert.  Having said that it did seem like a simple vanilla base and not a cream cheese flavor (which I think would have been more unique). The main feature were the delicious chunks of sprinkles red velvet cake which were moist, rich and delicious.

The toppings and sauces available include Hot Fudge, Salted butterscotch and Marshmallow Cream to name a few.  There are also Cookies, Ice cream sandwiches and options to buy a ‘Pint for later’.

As summer is quickly approaching I can see this new addition to the Sprinkles family becoming another huge success.  What I tried was certainly good, but I have to say the main appeal of the flavor I chose were the pieces of cake within it which made me think…I should just go to Sprinkles and get a cupcake!  Seeing as it was just next door, that’s exactly what I did.

I’m sure I will return to Ice Cream to try other flavors in future, but I have to say that the original Sprinkles Cupcakes will always have my heart!

Leave a comment

Filed under Great Food