Santa Monica Farmer’s Market

October 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Want to know the recipe for the perfect Sunday morning? Early bike ride through Venice canals, up on the boardwalk and along the beach, through the pier then down Main Street in Santa Monica. Pull over when you reach the Farmer’s Market for tunes, people watching and perfectly fresh food.

The tomatoes out here were TO DIE FOR and I grew up on Jersey tomatoes…

Apparently October is squash season even on the West Coast

They have everything. Literally ponies

so fresh

The lighter choice

California staple, the breakfast burrito

Why do I leave every time?

Superba, Venice Ca

October 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

This weekend, the stars aligned to create the perfect time for a quick trip to California. Since my brother lives in Venice Beach, we always have a vacation and place to stay at our fingertips there. The flight out from Nashville is much easier than from the East coast so even leaving after work on Friday, I landed in time for dinner. I’m so glad I did because the restaurant was fantastic. It was an Italian spot with a Southern Californian twist called Superba that invites lingering late outside over wine (they have blankets table-side if you catch a beachy breeze). We chose the tasting menu which was served in a totally unique way- small plates style. Instead of everyone getting their own mini portion of each dish, plate after delicious plate was set down before us to share. It’s my favorite way to eat and with pastas made in house, the food was four stars.

I am not one for terrine (center) but I do love me some pastrami and this was some o the best ever (left)

elderflower persimmons, burrata, pistachio crumble, butter greens & hibiscus jelly. I have a confession to make, before this trip, I had never heard I burrata. Have you tried it? It is smoother, creamier, yet somehow lighter mozzarella that I then continued to nine on all weekend. I can not imagine it not going with anything.

black kale salad, parmesen, pickled raisins, pine nuts, croutons & olive oil. Perfection.

broiled hamachi collar, thai bbq glaze, apple & celery leaf salad. I love the way it’s served with the tail on, gorgeous!

crispy brussels sprout, bacon, dashi broth & poached duck egg. Oh this broth was heaven. You could put anything in there, chicken, beef, etc but it just made the Brussels sprouts even more succulent.

brown butter gnocchi, burrata, spigarello, chestnuts & pomegranate. Believe it or not there were two other pasta dishes as well but I didn’t want to gloat. More burrata, and some beautiful gnocchi.

In other news, today is Food Day celebrating real food!

Vegas Part II, The Food

August 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

The reason we were in Vegas was for the Garth Brooks show–which absolutely knocked my socks off. You laugh, you cry, you sing and sway as he puts on a one-man wonder show. It’s amazing and I can’t recommend it enough. I was just as excited for the food as the show though since the city is known for its amazing food.  Every celebrity chef has an outpost there and each is more extravagant than the next. With so many great choices, we didn’t even need to leave the hotel.

I love a good cheese board.

First up was La Cave, perfect for cheese boards and small plates sitting outside overlooking the pool. They have different themed wine flights like “Adventurous Whites” or “Sommelier’s Selection” which adds a really fun element to dinner.

We kept checking back to the menu: “Which one am I tasting now? Ooo the Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Definitely floral notes.”

Three Bean Salad with Fried artichokes. I definitely want to try this one at home: green beans, white beans and garbanzo beans with grape tomatoes.

The Big Guy was our dinner at Bartolotta. The focus is Italian Mediterranean and all of the pasta is handmade and 42 different kinds of fish are flown in from the Mediterranean daily. We obviously had to try the Lasagnette Con Ragu Di Crostacei, which was Bobby Flay’s pick for Italian Seafood in The Best Thing I Ever Ate. The dish was so soft and buttery, it melted. The meal was so enjoyable, I couldn’t interrupt for pictures, except for the branzino fish, served tableside. It was silky whitefish topped with a wonderful light tomato sauce.

Branzino with sautéed zucchini and roasted fingerling potatoes served tableside. All the fish are served family style because the fish are so large.

Live Jazz

We finished off our trip with a Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Country Club which overlooks the golf course. The appetizer buffet was amazing–greeted with enormous king crab legs, shrimp cocktail, prime rib… and that’s before you even choose how many entrees you want from the menu! Come with a very large appetite.

Round 1. I took FULL advantage

French Toast Bread Pudding.

So bummed we didn’t bump into Prince Harry on the trip…

Vegas Part I, The Setting

August 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sometimes I judge my hotel room by the bathroom. That’s where I spend most of my time in the room anyway besides sleeping! If I’m not getting ready to head out on the town, hopefully I’m already out there. In the case of the Wynn, Las Vegas, if all other signs didn’t point to over-the-top luxury (which they did), the bathroom sealed the deal.

It’s a 10 in my book

Staying at the Wynn is a two-for-one deal since its sister hotel, The Encore, is right next door and the restaurants and pools are all accessible to both guests.

There were beautiful indoor gardens with enormous rose balls hanging and twinkling lights. The sky shines through the glass above.

I am a novice gambler so even more than playing the tables, I just enjoyed people watching. Visitors run the gamut- families, old, young, foreign, american, bathing suits, cocktail dresses. Anything goes.

Only picture taken at a casino EVER. We had a very lucky roll to commemorate.

The high rollers get special rooms. Greeted by peacocks with glass tail feathers that light up. NBD

If gambling ain’t your thang, there are plenty of other ways to lose your money. Six pools in total (some even with swim-up casinos, if you want the best of both worlds), spas and high end shopping to rival Rodeo Drive. The spa at the Wynn was under construction so we headed over to the Encore which was voted one of the most beautiful by Forbes Magazine.

The spa was one amazing lounge after another inviting you to hang out in your robe and be pampered with amazing treatments, steam rooms, saunas, waterfall showers, jacuzzi, cold plunge, etc. I could spend a week in there alone

A gal could get used to this place!

Porcini, Philadelphia

August 15, 2012 § 2 Comments

Don’t even get me or any Philadelphian started on The Barnes Foundation–just watch The Art of The Steal and you will be outraged too. Since I attended high school near the Merion location, the former residence was a popular field trip destination. However, my mom had tickets and my brother was in from CA so the family was going to the new campus. The art is still incredible–an amazing collection of impressionist and post-impressionist work with the largest collection of Renoirs in the world. It should be an absolute top priority if you are planning a trip. After taking it all in, it was time for a great meal

We head to Porcini near Rittenhouse, a fabulous Italian BYO with melt-in-your-mouth handmade pastas. The space is very small and the tables get noisy, which I like. You’ll see the owners schmoozing the guests and it gives the all around feeling that you are at an enormous, Italian family dinner.

Mussels and Prosciutto con Melone. Perfect starters–both light, one sweet, one savory

Pulpo e Calamari. This was perfectly dressed with a light lemony olive oil but it went too quickly for our table.

I ordered the pasta special, penne arrabiata. This version had shrimp and even though it wasn’t the spiciest version I’ve had, the sauce is still delectable. I cleaned my plate.

Gnocchi con Salsiccia. I always think of gnocchi as so heavy but these little guys were so light and delicate. With the sausage though, the dish is definitely filling. More of that amazing tomato sauce.

Vitello Affumicato. The veal was thin and savory and so good, I don’t even think it needed the mozzarella, although I guess everything is better with cheese.

The entree special was halibut and it was perfectly cooked with just a light lemon-wine-caper sauce. Perfection

THIS is the star of the night. I forget the name but it translates to “a thousand clouds” and this was light was air with soft layers of crispy pastry and the sweetest creams you’ve ever tasted. I am a huge cannoli fan but they paled in comparison. Call ahead and see if they have it.

Snooze, Denver

August 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

What I thought was an even BETTER brunch experience out in Denver was Snooze, an A.M. Eatery. You can expect a wait (about an hour for 2) but that is fine because they have very cool, fun sidewalk games for all the people waiting outside like cornhole and sidewalk chalk.

Honestly I don’t even remember this few people waiting outside, there was much more of a crowd throughout the wait

We went to the Ballpark location which I admit was not my favorite area of the city but they have a few other locations that I may need to check out. The trip was worth the hike though. Inside, the place is hopping. The retro-futuristic (if that is a thing) booths are packed full of chic-edgy (if that is a thing) people. They have a great breakfast cocktail list and you’ll hear some fabulous Michael Jackson tunes that make you want to get up and dance. At breakfast. You can just tell everyone in there LOVES their job.

This + this = I’m ’bout to get up on my booth and shake it.

And then there is the pancake special everyday. Today it was Chocolate Chip with bananas and whip cream–to which we immediately said yes before even looking at the menu.

It was basically a banana split pancake minus the strawberries. It was sweet and rich and the pancake was soft and fluffy. Perfect.

Then it was the  Breakfast Burrito for me and the Breakfast Pot Pie for him.

I’m not sure if the photo captures the enormity of this thing. Packed full of scrambled eggs, black beans, cheese, hash browns. And that green chili sauce that you just want to lick. I got mine with avocado.

This pastry was so perfectly flaky and buttery, I’d eat it any time of day. Smothered with homemade rosemary sausage gravy.

Oh, and if I didn’t already feel like I was in San Fran, we passed this on the way home.

 

Painted piano for the people 

A beautifully hand-painted upright piano in the middle of the mall (probably leftover from this project). I didn’t take a picture of the sign but it said something along the lines of, “We invite everyone to sit down and play.” Make music. Make peace and love. Ok I improvised there; I love this city!

Le Grand Bistro & Oyster, Denver CO

August 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

We started our trip with brunch at Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar. We picked it because it was near our hotel and the barbecue festival happening in LoDo–and it was the perfect spot! We chose to sit outside on such a gorgeous day but the inside was very typical French brasserie feel with lots of white tiling, chandeliers and bar stools.

Plenty to choose from on their menu.

Is there a better way to start the day than champagne and beignets?

The beignets are served with a fresh lingonberry jam. No I did not make that up, it’s a real thing and it’s delicious–sort of like a cranberry only not quite as tart.

Duck Confit Hash

Gruyere and Ham Crepe. I made the mistake of ordering my eggs scrambled which was a little bit of a weird texture but the crepe was so light and somehow fluffy it was all good.

Cranberry scones with pistachio and Cream Cheese glaze. Since the beignets weren’t enough sweet for one breakfast.

 

 

 

 

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