Last week my friends and I got together to celebrate another birthday but this time for our “mother,” Shayla, at The Roof on Wilshire. Loved the setting overlooking all of Hollywood, with pink decor and white roses, and the sun beaming down on us.

 

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 Spinach and citrus salad with ricotta and hazelnuts

 

Although the service was subpar with occasional apologies from the manager, we managed to have a great time because everyone was there to celebrate the birthday girl! I would consider going back for brunch and/or happy hour just to see if the service is better.

 

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Summer has always been a time when my friends and I get together for late night escapades, poolside tanning and non-stop laughs. The month of June represented just that, but also a laid back Sunday dinner at Sugarfish in Brentwood to celebrate my friend Jessica’s birthday. My friends and I all ordered the “Trust Me” special. It’s always been one of my favorite things to have where the chef prepares six-seven small dishes of fresh sushi brought out one at a time. I love them all, but particularly enjoy the tuna sashimi, yellowtail and albacore tuna. Everything has a silky, buttery texture that’s absolutely delicious. I always forget to take pictures of all the dishes because it’s just that good.

 

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Since Sugarfish doesn’t offer dessert and we were down the street from Sweet Rose Creamery, I dragged the girls with me. If you’ve been here then you know how popular it is with the line extending out of the door. The wait is always worth the ice cream. Of course my friends and I had to take advantage of the wait, so we took at least 15 pics. Here’s the only one that got approved! By the way, Jessica is the one giving you the off camera Hollywood glam, hehe. Nydia is in the middle. :)

 

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Oh, and yes, I ended up getting the fresh mint chocolate chip ice cream on a waffle cone. My favorite!

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As I continue on my travels throughout LA, discovering old and new places to try, I ended up at Lukshon in Culver City to spend time with a friend over dinner…celebrating his belated birthday. *I’m so bad at remembering sometimes.* I never heard of the tucked away Asian inspired restaurant located in the famous Helms Bakery not far from downtown Culver City. Told the dishes come small, we ordered five things which in the end was much needed to satisfy our hunger. I can’t say this was my favorite restaurant nor will I say it was the worst, but I tried it. If you’re curious as to what we dined on, here you go: Chinese black mushrooms (maitake, woodear, shitake, mustard greens, lap cheon); dandan noodles with kurobuta pork, sesame, preserved mustard greens, sichuan peppercorns, and peanuts; and bhutanese red rice with lamb bacon, maitake mushroom, egg, scallion and Chinese celery. I liked how our additional two dishes were plated, so I took some pictures.

Have any of you tried Lukshon and loved it? Let me know…

 

hawaiian butterfish

Hawaiian butterfish with pickled watermelon radish, daikon, nahm jim and rau ram

spicy chicken pops

Spicy chicken pops using shelton farms’ drumettes, garlic, kecap manis and spicy sichuan salt 

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Ahhh! So it’s been a few days since my last blog post. I’m still trying to adjust to blogging and working full time, but I promise to get into a groove so you have new content to read on a regular basis.

Well, today I wanted to share a recent dinner I attended with a dear friend who is just as much of a foodie as I am. We made dinner reservations a few months back, because that’s what we do to guarantee we’re “in”,  to try AOC Wine Bar in Los Angeles.

As we approached the restaurant, the gradual hints of engaging conversations and laughs from the outdoor terrance assured us we would at least enjoy the atmosphere. Indeed when we walked in, we did. Greeted by a friendly hostess who assured us we’d be seated in a few minutes, we slowly glanced around to notice an open area bar inside of the restaurant, with tables extending out to the sunset laden terrace.

Once escorted to our seats, we happily with a slight stomach growl, went through the delicious menu and picked out several tapas style dishes that I’m still thinking about today. We started with the grilled peaches, ricotta and pistachio ail lade salad that was absolutely delicious.

 grilled peaches, ricotta & pistachio aillade

 

Followed by a crab and endive salad with blood oranges and kumquats that was just as good, although I would have skipped the endives entirely.

 

andive salad with bloog oranges, kumquats and crab

 

We then dived into the clams, sherry, green garlic and toast perfect for soaping up the savory sauce.

 

clams, sherry, green garlic & toast

 

Also, the Spanish fried chicken with romesco aïoli and chili-cumin butter.

 

spanish fried chicken, romesco aïoli & chili-cumin butter

 

In addition to these four dishes we ordered the black kale and two desserts – creme fraiche cake with blueberries and candied lemon and the butterscotch pot de crème with fleur de sel and salted cashew cookies. I thought the kale was ordinary, while the desserts proved to be a challenge my tastebuds weren’t willing to accept. Maybe it was the dense creme fraiche cake or the sweet butterscotch. They were good but not my cup of tea.

Final thoughts: I would recommend AOC  to anyone looking for a restaurant that offers fresh seasonal flavors from various parts of the world. The combination of techniques, textures and ingredients make for a delicious meal with friends and loved ones.

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In honor of it being almost Friday, I thought I’d share some details and pictures on the yummy chocolate chip cookies I made using Zynga‘s Farmville to Table: Chocolate Chip Cookies swag I received at BlogHer Food. The cookie mix is based on the company’s popular FarmVille games.

I must admit that I wasn’t sure what these cookies would taste like, but in the end, I wish I nabbed a few more jars for later. These cookies turned out great!

Although I don’t know the exact measurements due to the pre-packaged container, the ingredients did include: white wheat flour, sea salt, baking soda, pure cane white sugar, organic brown sugar and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Mixer
All I did was:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Creme together one stick (half a cup) of butter, one egg and half a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  3. In a separate bowl mix the Farmville dry ingredients
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixer until everything is combined
  5. This batch makes a dozen cookies, so add six tablespoons of cookie dough to a greased cookie sheet. I recommend using a silpat since the recipe already contains a stick of butter!
  6. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, rotating half way to ensure even baking
  7. Once done, transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 5 minutes before enjoying
Chocolate Chip Cookies
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For the longest time, I’ve talked about attending a food bloggers conference, but never went – until now. Two weekends ago, I attended BlogHer Food in Miami. I love Miami, so it was perfect, right? Yes and no. I landed the day before the conference in what looked like a weather apocalypse – thunder, lightening AND a tornado warning. From my Hilton hotel room, I watched it come and go. My nerves were NOT ready either.

Miami Weather

The actual conference was a ball of emotions – nervous as a newbie who didn’t know anyone but also anxious to meet new faces and soak up whatever info was being handled out. I ended up meeting a handful of people who were new and alum to events as such. Everyone had a lot of information to share about what did and did not work for their blogs. Things that really got me thinking about how to step up my blog presence in the cyber world.

McCormack Lunch

Grilled Moroccan Spice Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper and Honey Harissa Sauce

I also was able to attend several panels dealing with social media (ex: Pinterest, Facebook), Kelly Jaggers’ flakey versus meale pie crust demo (fabulous!) and Viva California Dairy! discussion on how to create delicious meals with Hispanic daily products lead by renowned Miami naive, chef Giorgio Rapicavoli. I enjoyed the various sponsors who were on-site the entire weekend sharing new products such as Brown Brittle, Pasta Chips, Hamilton Beach, KitchenAid, Jamba Juice, CVS, Pompeian and more.

Kelly Jaggers

Kelly Jaggers’ Pie Crust Demo

Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli

Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli

I really cannot wait to attend my next food conference later this year, and look forward to BlogHer Food ’15!

Lina, Crystal and Marni - Miami

(L to R:) Lina of Skandalous Cakes, ME! and Marni of Love and Duck Fat

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Rosemary Citrus Cake_4

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With summer approaching, I can’t help but think back to last summer when I traveled to the Dominican Republic, specifically Punta Cana to soak up the blistering sun and indulge in delicious meals. I stayed at the Melia all-inclusive resort which caters to the world. By that I mean, there were restaurants that only served Japanese, Italian, American, French, Dominican and Mexican food. It definitely was a food adventure, filled with some good and bad dishes. Here are some pictures of what I had. Have any of you been to the DR? If so, what were some of your favorite food finds?

Grilled Fresh Lobster
Grilled Fresh Lobster for $40!

Grilled White Fish and tomato bisque
Pan-Seared Fish and Tomato Bisque

The BEST Ossobuco

The BEST Osso Buco (Ever!)

Stuffed Shrimp Bell Pepper
Shrimp Stuffed Bell Pepper

Pac-Man Burger
The Dominican’s version of an American hamburger. (I spy Pacman)

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For as long as I can remember, I have always loved to eat chicken wings. Baked or fried, I’ll eat ‘em. Now that I’ve stocked my cabinets with a variety of spices and condiments, I figured it was time to test out a new chicken wing recipe. It’s a cross between hot wings and soy glazed wings. Try them and let me know what you think. They didn’t last that long in my house!

 

Lip Smacking Chicken Wings

Ingredients

Directions

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It’s hard to believe that February is almost over. Seems as if we just ushered in the new year.

Well, it has been a month of exploration for me where I’ve tried new things, some good and some not so much. Instead of posting multiple long overdue posts, I decided to gather my adventures into one post. Won’t be long, but well worth the read. Pictures to satisfy the palate which I hope might influence you to take a drive (if in LA), or try something new in your area. Enjoy!

The 2nd Annual LA Bacon Festival
Definitely worth trying at least once. Offered a variety of sweet and savory pork items to hungry foodies patiently waiting in short to somewhat long lines. From chocolate covered bacon, caramel bacon popcorn, bacon stuffed dates dipped in chocolate to beef/bacon burgers from Slater 50/50, this sold out festival is a popular event to attend.

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ConfeXion Cupcakes
By far one of my top ten bakeries specializing in uniquely flavored cupcakes including their special brioughnuts. The owners won the Food Network’s “Cupcakes Wars” twice and after going, I can see why. My taste buds fell in love with the lemon basil cupcake made with real lemons and fresh basil. The buttercream frosting wasn’t too sweet and the olive oil cake was moist. Of course I tried the house special, a glazed brioughnut. I liked it but not sure I would get it again. I never caught on to the cronut phase and ConfeXion’s take was good, but not my thing. I’m eager to try the coconut flavor in hopes that I might like that one instead. Overall, I’d go back for more cupcakes.

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Church & State
My friend and I had been wanting to try Church & State for the longest time. Like really long time. We finally made it last week but realized it wasn’t all that great. We loved the downtown LA setting, Parisian vibe and menu. However, the bone marrow, seafood bouillabaisse and steak frites we’re just ok. After speaking to several co-workers and friends about our dinner, they all said we ordered the wrong dishes. I definitely don’t want to “86″ Church & State, so now I’m determined to go back and try the good stuff.

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Sidecar Doughnuts & Coffee
Absolutely uh-amazing donuts. I had to refrain from getting every single donut because they looked delicious and tasted just that. From the crafted takeout box to the variety of fresh (non-preservative) flavors, I was in sweet tooth heaven. After drooling my way to the counter, I managed to order the Madagascar vanilla twist, huckleberry, sweet toffee pudding, maple bacon and lemon curd donuts. And yes, those were all for me. I’m surprised they made it home. Can’t wait to go back.

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