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Drink of the Week and 100th Post!

Gaelic SourGaelic Sour

  • 2oz Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 3/4oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4oz Orgeat
  • 2 dash Angostura Bitters

Garnish: Lemon Wheel

It’s that time of year again… ST.PATRICKS DAY! Also known as ‘An excuse to get drunk on Irish Whiskey and beer day!’. Every year I have been in America I have ended up more and more intoxicated on this day, moreso I think than I ever was in the UK.  The Americans (well Californians for sure) love this holiday and celebrate with Irish themed drinks, Green colored beer and clover designs all over the city.

Today FutureGreg and I are dressed in green and heading down to Townhouse in Venice Beach for their Irish themed events.  They have Irish bands playing, an Irish stew, Punch bowls and the above drink on sale all day. If you are in the neighborhood I suggest you join us.

The above recipe is a delicious Whiskey Sour with a subtle twist using the orgeat. It is sweet, flavorful and simply delicious. If ‘Irish Car Bombs’ aren’t your thing this drinking day, this is a great option instead.

On a completely different note, this is my 100th post on The Fussy One!!! Seems only fitting that a blog about alcohol would have it’s 100 post on a national drinking day 🙂

Everyone have a great time today and be safe!

Remember: DO NOT drink and drive!!!!

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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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Drink of the Week

The Fussy One Cocktail

The Fussy One

  • 2oz Rum Blanco
  • 3/4oz Lime Juice
  • 3/4oz Vanilla syrup
  • 3/4oz Fresh Beet juice

Garnish: Lime wheel

Next week sees some big achievements for me. On Monday 28th January I will have been living in the States for 5 years…then on 30th January I will be celebrating my 1st ‘Bloggerversary’.  Yep, this little blog will be one year old on Wednesday!

The above drink recipe was created lovingly by my Beverage consultant boyfriend Greg Bryson, as a nod to me…and my fussiness! This drink is nothing short of delicious, and perfectly fits my personality.  The use of beet juice gives it an almost healthy taste and vegetive flavors, for some reason the beet reminds me of carrots at times too.  When Greg first met me (read about me) I would never have eaten a vegetable by choice, so incorporating it in a drink with my namesake is pretty smart and somewhat amusing.

This drink has everything I love combined. It has Rum as the base (my favorite), it’s Sweet, Strong, Pink, Fruity and Girly. (Add a dash of crazy and it would be describing my personality!)

In essence this drink could be described as a Vanilla Beet Daiquiri, but I prefer to call it by it’s new name… “The Fussy One” 🙂

Head on down to Greg’s new Venice location of Hostaria Del Piccolo on Wednesday for a drink to celebrate. Greg will be making this recipe as well as loads of his other creations, it’s going to be a fun night.

A big thanks to all my readers, keep following and commenting. I love your suggestions and feedback!

Here’s to many more years of eating, drinking and blogging…

The Fussy One xx

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Drink of the Week

Market DayThe Market Day

  • 2oz Plymouth Gin
  • 3 Cucumber slices
  • 1oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4oz Simple Syrup

Muddle cucumber, shake and double strain all ingredients in to a coupe glass.

Garnish: Cucumber slice

OOOOOH I love cucumber! It’s so refreshing, crunchy and light in flavor. I have also discovered that I love it in my cocktails, as I have had a few cucumber style martinis recently that I really like.

The above recipe was my drink of choice last week for my birthday celebrations. It was created by Brandon Ristaino for the ‘Mixology Bar’ in The Penthouse at Mastros.  For those who don’t know, The Penthouse is the fabulous new third floor addition to the already successful Mastros restaurant in Beverly Hills.

This drink is very tasty and probably my favorite on their menu right now. It is subtly citric with refreshing cucumber notes. The gin used is Plymouth which is very light in juniper flavors so is a great option for someone who tends to lean towards vodka as a base but wants to start trying Gin. This drink definitely does have a sweetness to it that I always love, but it is nicely balanced with the sour elements too.

Definitely worth a trip to The Penthouse for this one, or if you’re not in the area try making it at home.  Will be great when the summer months roll around, just so nice and refreshing.

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The Fussy One 2012 Report

The WordPress team (the platform I use to prepare my blog each week) have prepared me a really cool 2012 annual report on my blog! If you’re interested to see how I did last year (stats, countries that viewed me etc) then Click here to see the complete report.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. The Fussy One.com had over 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

I am so very pleased with all the achievements I made in 2012. On January 30th TheFussyOne will be 1 year old and bigger than I ever imagined.  I never thought I would get so many opportunities (like Tasting Panel Magazine) purely because of my love of writing and going out to try new places with my boyfriend!

Thank you so much to all my readers for your support, kind letters and overall interest in my little space! I look forward to what 2013 will bring and hope you continue to follow.

Love and well wishes,

The Fussy One xx

TheFussyOne

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Drink of the Week

Irish Coffee (Caifé Gaelach in Irish)Irish-Coffee

  • 2oz Irish Whiskey
  • 3/4oz Brown Sugar
  • 4oz Hot Black Coffee
  • 2oz Fresh thick cream

Serve in an 10 oz Glass Coffee Mug/Toddy glass

This may not be the most original drink recipe to post, but is certainly one of my favorites at this time of year.  When my boyfriend (FG) and I went to Ireland 2 years ago we had several of these delicious beverages and couldn’t believe how much better they were than the ones we’d ever had in the States.  The secret, we discovered, is in two major components of the drink. There is NO baileys in a true Irish Coffee and the cream topping is NOT whipped cream. This is a terrible misconception, for some reason everywhere I go in LA offers whip cream on top and Baileys Irish cream inside.

Thick cream is what you should actually use, and although to some extent it is slightly whipped with a fork, it is still very much a liquid. If you can dollop the cream on top you have whipped too much.

Pour the hot coffee into an Irish coffee mug then add the Whiskey and sugar, stir until fully dissolved. The sugar is essential for floating liquid cream on top. The cream is carefully poured over the back of a spoon initially held just above the surface of the coffee and gradually raised a little. The layer of cream will float on the coffee without mixing with it and looks amazing. You should then drink the coffee through the cool layer of cream.

Although different variations of coffee cocktails pre-date the now-classic Irish coffee by at least 100 years, the original Irish coffee is said to have been invented by Joe Sheridan, a chef at Foynes Port in the county of Limerick, in West Ireland.  Passengers arriving to Foynes were often tired, freezing and in a bad mood. One evening in the winter of 1942, a Pan Am plane took off from Foynes but had to turn back due to severe weather. The passengers on board were apparently terribly upset and tired after returning to the airbase, and Joe wanted to prepare something special for them and warm them up. He created the Irish coffee recipe on a whim and when the American travelers were immediately hooked, and when one guest asked, “Is this Brazilian coffee?” Joe responded with: “No, That’s Irish Coffee.”

Kind of a cool story (if it’s true, which i’m not able to verify) but even if it isn’t true, this is a great drink to heat you up on a cold winters day. Enjoy!

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