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A Heartfelt Adieu with New Beginnings... Happy 1st year food blog Anniversary Unrivaledkitch [09 Sep 2011|05:29pm]

As I sit in the dim light of my laptop thinking about how it’s taken me a week to write this entry but knowing it’s been a long time coming. I’ve decided to unveil my new site on my one year anniversary of food blogging. I’ve been going through entries, seeing my transformation from the writer I was a year ago, to the writer I am today. I’m very pleased with my ongoing progress and every day I strive to be a better chef, writer, and photographer.

I love food blogging; I love the community effort and the amazing friendships and relationships I’ve built by deciding to write about my culinary adventures. Going through my entries was very time consuming but I knew I needed to move them and organize everything into the new world of blogging that I intend to embark on. With I hope to offer the functionality and ease that livejournal was lacking. contains a Recipe Index under the Food Maker Section as well as a Dining Guide under the Traveling Diner section, compiling the many adventures in my kitchen as well as others.

Livejournal has been a huge part of my life for 10+years and it is very hard for me to say goodbye to a place where my thoughts have found home on its pages for so long so I will continue to write about day to day events here for as long as I see fit under the friend’s only option. My food entries will now be hosted at Please update any information necessary to follow my love for food to its new home.

Thank you all for your continuous support, comments, love, and delicious inspiration.

Happy one year of blogging Unrivaledkitch
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Much Gratitude
The Handmade, Homemade Dishes of an Ambitious Food Maker, Chef, and Traveling Diner
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My Birthday [08 Sep 2011|11:34pm]
This year I turned 26 years old. Still, some things never change and I like it that way. I was in Mammoth Lakes, CA for my birthday, which is where I spend most of my birthdays since I was very little.

My birthday this year was not just one day, but seemed like a whole month of celebration. I’ve honestly had one of the best months of my entire life. With so many beautiful people involved, my family and of course my amazing friends, it’s so easy to appreciate the beauty of life. On my actual birthday I spent the whole afternoon fishing at Lake Mary along with the sandwiches and snacks that we brought. I drove up to the lake a little later than the rest of my family because I didn’t feel like waking up at 5:30 a.m. to go fishing, but I was at the lake around 10:00 a.m. We caught a good amount of fish, like almost 30, and I was able to finish the 4th Harry Potter book The Goblet of Fire.

Unfortunately, it was a Saturday and many tourists like to boat and kayak on the lake, which is fine, but most of them don’t understand that there are people fishing from the shoreline so they go right where our lines are cast. Well one boat in particular was close to shore that they almost beached themselves, but instead managed to rudely catch the line of my mom’s fishing pole and take her whole pole into the water about 15-20 feet out from the shore line—this was a new pole mind you. My mom was very upset and those people didn’t even stop to help. They just sped away. Lucky for us, a kayaker that was nearby saw what happened and she paddled over to help but was unable to get the pole from the bottom of the lake. Now I don’t normally like diving to the bottom of ice cold lakes to get fishing poles, especially because of idiots, but my mom would have been so upset for the rest of the day if I didn’t get it. So being a good daughter, I walked out until only my head was just barely over the water, finding a rock to keep me up, and then at the count of three I dove to the bottom of the lake and got the pole from under the rock. I have to say I’ve never been head-in deep, let alone diving to the bottom of a lake that was freezing cold before. So, moral of the story, if you’re on a boat, stay in the middle of the lake so I don’t have to dive in to get another fishing pole.

Anyway, that’s a crazy story and in all the years we’ve been fishing, this is the first time that someone took the fishing pole out that far. My aunt, uncle and cousin were there and they pretty much jaw dropped. I’m pretty sure no one else would have gone in after it, except maybe my mom, but no way. It was a good thing I had extra clothes, so I changed and we showed our extended family around the lakes. After, we went back to our respective condos and got showered and all that good stuff and went out to dinner at Shogun.

Shogun is a Japanese eatery in Mammoth. They specialize in combination plates of hot food, boats of different varieties and sushi. We’ve been coming here forever. It’s not the greatest place, but we’ve never had a problem. We ordered a couple of rolls of sushi to share amongst everyone and a boat for 3 people to share between my mom, dad, me and my grandma. All the food was delicious and of course I had to have a Sapporo to cheers to my new year. The boat consists of tuna sashimi, mixed tempura, tonkatsu, chicken teriyaki, and beef teriyaki. It comes with hot white rice, cabbage salad, spicy Tsukemono, and miso soup. Then for dessert you get your choice of ice cream. It’s a lot of food but everything is always as I remember it. Shogun is one of those places that you’re so used to eating, you never have to complain, except sometimes the service is a little off, but we got a free beer out of it.

After my food coma settled, my aunt, uncle and cousin brought over a birthday cake in the shape of a lady bug that came from Schat's Bakery in Mammoth. The cake was tasty but I had so much food at dinner that it was difficult to fully enjoy it. But it was definitely cute and tasted good—vanilla and red velvet.

My day was absolutely beautiful thanks to my amazing family and the text messages, facebook posts and phone calls from all the people I love so much. I guess 26 isn’t so bad after all.


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The simple pleasures of the eastern sierras; Mammoth Lakes, Ca. [07 Sep 2011|03:28am]
As a young girl, and even now in my twenties, I looked forward to our family vacations in the summer all year long. Three pretty rough, very close in age, small kids: my sister, brother, and I, crammed in the back of a car together with enough belongings to last us on our one to two week trip, was always a tight fit. But even with the five and a half hour ride ahead of us, we were able to survive killing each other every year. I love Mammoth. A lot of people do, but it's most famous for its ski resorts and snow; during the summer time its beauty is astounding. You don't ski in the summer, so when people ask me if I went skiing up there and I go in the middle of August, please pardon my backward glance--it happens all the time.

Lake George
Lake Mamie
Twin Lakes
Lake Mary
Horseshoe Lake

Mammoth Lakes is home to some of the most pristine clear blue lakes and creeks, thousands and thousands of tall pine trees and other green beautiful vegetation, and nights of pitch black skies with stars all a flutter, like nowhere else I've been. The basin of Mammoth Lakes is home to many smaller and some larger bodies of water. The main lakes accessible by road are Lake Mary, Lake Mamie, Horseshoe Lake, Twin Lakes, and Lake George. These lakes are all beautiful with their own mystery and stories to be told. The lakes are stocked with Rainbow Trout and have some of their own native varities at the depths of the clear waters from the winter’s melted snow. We always go fishing and this year, as with most years, we were very sucessful. We catch usually catch over 40 trout, not to mention the ones we let go, but keep and cook, as well as freeze, fish to bring back to family and friends. Catching fish is not all fun and games; I love fishing, but cleaning fish is another thing. I can clean them and I do clean them, but it's not my favorite part. My dad so wonderfully decided to let me photograph the steps for cleaning trout. I hope you enjoy the labor that goes into the fish you eat.

Here’s a photo log of how to clean a trout. (please click on the pictures for enlarged photos)

Now that's fresh fish!
Also, in Mammoth we pay homage to the local eateries that we’ve been frequenting for years on end. Places like Angels, Roberto’s, Giovanni’s, and Shogun are likely stops in town for lunch or dinner.


This American style BBQ house is doing well and very crowded on most days of the week. For a nice BBQ sandwich or a very icy cold beer, this is a good place to go. They serve warm scones with your meal and their shoe string onion rings and house made BBQ sauce are delicious. I had a brisket sandwich that was tender and flavorful. They also have a pretty mean rack of ribs here, but I opted to go with the sandwich.


Mammoth's answer to Mexican. We always go here. My dad loves Mexican food and I think everyone knows, so do I. We stopped in with the whole gang to have chips and salsa, some margaritas, and a little lunch. I had a chili con carne burrito and my family had a very affordable lunch special consisting of one cheese enchilada and one taco, choice of chicken or beef, with rice and beans for six dollars. My dad always gets the chimichanga here, a fried burrito with all the fixings. Delicious.
This pizza parlor is always packed with kids and families, all getting in a slice of pie. Though rather expensive--most things are in Mammoth--the pizza is hot, scrumptious, and huge. Giovanni’s is home to the Mammoth-size pizza which is an impressive 19-inch pizza that feeds 6 or more. It's not on the menu anymore but ask for the Meatzza pizza with all the types of meat they have. Order it to go and relax at the cabin with a slice of pizza and a nice movie.

As the mountain has become vastly more popular with tourists many new establishments are up and coming in the area. Supporting local eateries in such rough economic times definitely helps. While we were visiting town didn't seem to be hurting but we were in mammoth for their music and wine festival.

So between the eating out, fishing, hiking and enjoying the beautiful sunshine and weather, we went swimming and soaked in the hot tub, and of course, I cooked for my family.

Everyone that came up was very excited we brought my little niece on her first vacation and trip to Mammoth. She was so awesome up there; I think she loved it. The altitude and the car ride are rough on kids, but she was great. So my sister, brother-in-law, mom, dad, and grandma all came up and we enjoyed our week together. My sister only stayed with the baby for 3 days because they had to get back and didn't want to overdo it, but it was still really nice. My uncle, aunt, and cousin joined us for a day on the lake, which was a nice surprise as well. Unfortunately, my brother and sister-in-law couldn't make it, but we hope the entire family can go up next year.

While in Mammoth, I made scallops with sautéed spinach and bacon, mashed potatoes, tomato and goat cheese salad, roasted artichokes and spinach with flank steak. We enjoyed this on my mom’s birthday, August 14. The next night we enjoyed rosemary and mushroom pork chops with scalloped potatoes and green beans. On another night we had BBQ chicken quarters with mixed green salad. It was very nice to make food for everyone to enjoy all together. High altitude cooking is very interesting because there is less oxygen and atmospheric pressure in the air. The boiling point is only 208 degrees instead of 212 degrees and evaporation of water is therefore faster, so liquids have to be increased for even cooking.

Times flies whenever I’m in Mammoth and before I knew it, we woke up and it was time to go home.

On the way back home we stopped at the famous Erick Schat’s Bakkerÿ  for some cheese bread and raisin bread. They have loads of amazing things, from the most extravagant breads to the simple sheepherders. Sandwiches, sweets, drinks, and so many different eats are piled high into this tourist attraction. It's like a bread Disneyland--you will
definitely wait in line.
We also always stop to buy beef jerky at Mahogany Smoked Meats. This place has some of the best beef jerky I’ve ever tasted. It’s so flavorful and it’s tender, not like those leathery pieces of meat you get at the supermarket in the check out. We always get Sweet and Spicy and my brother and dad like Habanero, which is very spicy. They also sell sausages and smoked bacon and have other meats made into jerky, so ask for a try and stop in to get some. It’s really very tasty.

And just like that, we were back in Los Angeles. I love Mammoth and I love condo life in the Sierras, so skip the snow one time and see for yourself, all the beautiful sites that this area has to offer in the summer sunshine.

Also pictured Convict Lake just outside of Mammoth and Grant Lake in the June Loop.

Convict Lake
Grant Lake

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Last Day In Seattle [04 Sep 2011|05:59pm]
On the last morning in Seattle I did a lot before heading down to Sea Tac for my flight to long beach. I woke up early and had a lovely cappuccino from a local coffee shop in Queen Anne called Caffé Lardo . The coffee shop was simple and the espresso was wonderful.


As I left I decided to stop at a local market Metropolitan Market  in Queen Anne just to take a peek inside, the place was beautiful. They seem to take lots of pride in their grocery establishments here in Seattle which I enjoyed immensely.


 I also took a trip to a local record store called Easy Street Records which had so much used music and new music is was really wonderful. I listened to some tunes for a bit and then took off to the Space Needle . I took the elevator up to the top to see the lovely sky view of Seattle and out towards Lake Union and over the Puget Sound. It was a bit cloudy and cold but really lovely. I spent a good amount of time sitting and looking into the sky.




After the Space Needle, I headed down to have a bite of sushi at Obasan in Queen Anne. The sushi was very tasty and the service was excellent. That last meal capped off my adventures in Washington and I took the monorail to the middle of the city then caught the light rail to the airport. I had so many amazing adventures this time around. Seattle really is a place I feel in love with the first time I went there, this trip reaffirmed how much I love it there and I’m sure I’ll be back soon.

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My favorite day in Seattle [30 Aug 2011|12:42am]
I’d have to say the best day I had in Seattle was the last full day I was there. An honest save the best for last type feeling occurred to me and I was able to get in an amazing amount of fun. My morning started off with breakfast at Toulouse Petit  this lovely eatery is located in Queen Anne, its décor is chic and welcoming. The food is fantastic and southern inspired, I love breakfast when I’m in the mood for it and here I was very happy with the outcome of my meal. I ordered Fried Oyster and Bacon Eggs Benedict. The absolute luxury of this dish was something to recoil at because it was such an early hour but seeing this item on the menu was too tempting to pass up the offer. I had chosen correctly and was happily on my way through three quarters of the platter before second guessing its lavish appeal on my taste buds. The influence of the south was present on my plate, thick cut crispy bacon, perfectly fried corn meal battered oysters flowing with runny egg yolk and Creole hollandaise sauce over a lightly toasted muffin take the cup on one of the best breakfast plates I’ve had in a very long time. Breakfast Happy Hour is an affordable and awesome way to start the day.

After breakfast I took the bus down to the city and took a stroll over to the market and looked into some shops. Later on I made my way back to my hotel and decided to stop at the Experience Music Project I absolutely loved this place, it’s a combination of music and science fiction. They have amazing exhibits on Nirvana, so many guitars, Jimi Hendrix, and also they had a really amazing exhibit on Avatar which is one of my favorite movies. I could have spent an eternity in there looking at all the music pieces and reading about guitars as well as playing in the sound labs. It was really one of my favorite museums I’ve been to.

After that I met up with a new friend I made at Ashley and Bryan’s wedding Lia. We had drinks and happy hour at Toulouse Petit because she said it was one of the best happy hours in town which I’d have to say was correct. We had a plethora of different dishes ranging from amazing mouth watering modern southern flavor to the classic down home fried bar grub. We chatted and made it through the menu, I love meeting new people who love food.

Fried Okra with Remoulade

Wild Mushroom and garlic bruschetta with arugula

Ahi Tuna Tartar with Quail egg and horseradish cream

Golden Beet Salad with haricot vert, blue cheese, kalamata olives, citrus vinaigrette and candied walnuts

Katie Mae pearl vodka, st germain, grapefruit juice, prosecco

After some awesome conversation and lots of good eats, Lia offered to take me the other side of Lake Union to Gas Works Park which had an amazing view of Seattle from across the lake. Before getting to the park we stopped at an awesome Pie Shop in Fremont called Pie. They specialize in all things pie, sweet and savory. I ordered a Raspberry Peach Pie and Lia got Banana Cream we sat in the sunshine and ate pie by the lake, which was delicious light flaky and wonderful. It was such a beautiful afternoon. After that Lia let me off at my hotel. I hope one day we’ll see each other again soon.

After I got situated I decided to take a walk on the waterfront and watch the sun set over the sound. I walked by the water front and along Olympic Sculpture Park.  I sat alongside the sculptures and watched the sun fade into the distance, taking note of the beautiful Washington sunset. Something I knew I wouldn’t see again for at least a little while.

I finished walking by the countless bustling shops and eateries got money for the bus in the morning and turned in looking into the cloud ridden skies at the space needle for the last night.

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From Bellevue to Queen Anne and the In between [27 Aug 2011|09:44am]
After the wedding we packed up and left Coastal Bellevue Hotel and headed up the huge hill with our luggage to get on a bus to Seattle. It was still Seafair and our bus driver was furiously trying to make it over the 90 bridge before it was shut down for the blue angels show. I’ll have to say that was one of the most insane bus rides I’ve ever been on. My nerves were a wreck but lucky for us we made it over the bridge before it closed or before the bus driver ran anyone off the road. People were lining up to see the arial show it was a very packed shore line over lake union. So we made it to our destination finally after taking a pretty long or what seemed to be long hike with our bags from Downtown Seattle to Queen Anne. Note to self make sure you take a cab next time. We stayed at the Inn at Queen Anne just a couple of blocks away from the Space Needle. We decided to have lunch finally and made it to the quaint little Greek restaurant in Queen Anne called Athina Grill  I ordered an Antipasto Plate (Greek Style) that came with tomatoes, kalamata olives, Peperoncini, feta cheese, and pita. I also ordered one skewer of Chicken Souvlaki which was pieces of tender white meat chicken that were grilled with Greek spices and citrus. It came with Tzatziki sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, and red onion. I was able to make perfect little bites out of my mixture of ingredients. The flavors are some of my very favorite. Lunch was wonderful.
While in Seattle I explored downtown stopping by the famous Pikes Place Market, one of my favorite places I’ve been for food. I love this market and yes it is annoyingly packed with tourists but the fruits and vegetables are just picture perfect. They have so many different things all seasonal and beautiful as well as some amazing fish markets. I wanted to buy and eat so many different things there. It’s a wonderful place for food.
On my exploration I found this adorable coffee shop called Macrina. This lovely little place has some of the most beautiful breads and pastries but I opted for my favorite fatty whole milk cappuccino because I have to have at least a couple when I’m in Seattle. It’s located in Belltown and I’d check it out if you’re in the area.
I also stopped into Vital Tea Leaf is a very interesting Chinese Tea Shop. They let you sit at this bar and taste free tea from their selections. They have so many strange and awesome verities of tea so if you like Chinese tea or are looking for something new this place has so many different leaves to choose from. I left having experienced new flavors of tea I’d never had before. They have locations in San Francisco as well as Seattle.
Tons More to share coming up.
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Bridal Shower and Ashley and Bryan’s Wedding in Kirkland, Washington [25 Aug 2011|10:50pm]
So as I mentioned before I went to Washington to attend a couple of good friends of mines wedding. I extended my visit from a couple days to about a week and was lucky enough to be able to attend my friend Ashley’s bridal shower. Bridal showers are always strange events for me, the melding of two new families. There’s definitely bound to be a bit of awkward awesomeness. Ashley’s friends and family made a beautiful little spread of food and drinks and we had cake and she opened presents. It was nice to see Ashley before the wedding because it’s always hard to get to people on their special day.

This is Ashley and I at her home in Snoqualmie, Washington.

A couple days later Ashley and Bryan were married in front of their friends and family at the beautiful Watermark Hotel in Kirkland, Washington. The weather was picture perfect with the sun beaming over Lake Washington and the ceremony brought tears to my eyes. They truly are a fairy tale come true and I couldn’t be happier for them both! I love you guys, thank you for including me in your special day.


Food was fantastic at the wedding, all the small details of Ashley’s crafts from the 1500 handmade origami cranes to the beautiful flower place cards, made this wedding so special and gorgeous. We all danced, drank, laughed, made new friends and reconnected with old ones the whole night. I had such an amazing time.


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Bellevue on the way to Seattle [24 Aug 2011|11:53am]
As I return from Washington I have so many beautiful memories to share, beautiful memories of nature, food, friendship, and travel. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

Taking this trip to the Bellevue and Seattle area of Washington was so beautiful. The weather was breath taking and as it’s been brought to my attention many times this is not very often the case, I’d like to think I brought the sunshine from California but I hope I haven’t taken it back with me.

The main objective of my travel to Seattle was to attend two amazing friend’s wedding. I’ve known Ashley and Bryan since we worked together at Starbucks about 8 years or longer ago now. They met at Starbucks and have been in a relationship ever since and on 8/6 they were married in beautiful Kirkland, Washington alongside the stunning Lake Washington. I was able to stay close to the wedding services for 4 days of my trip which was nice because it gave me a different perspective of what business/suburban style living in Washington is like.

Lake Washington was filled with people all along the shore line, site seeing and getting ready for Seafair weekend. The Blue Angels were practicing in the sky for their over the weekend aerial shows which was an amazing site to see. While in Bellevue I took it upon myself to do as much as I could within reason which included a little stop at the Bellevue Art Museum, Museum of Doll Art, Bellevue Botanical Gardens, Bellevue Yacht Basin, Meydenbauer Beach Park, Clyde Beach Park, Downtown Park,  Main Street Bellevue, taking peeks and walks at Bellevue’s many malls and other shopping profligacy.

Seeing these places made me realize how much pride people have in their own towns all over Washington which is a beautiful thing. I loved the feeling of Bellevue, which was business driven and suburban with small bits of tasteful art, nature, and other brilliance.

I ate well and affordable in Bellevue. I had gastro pub style eating at 520 in downtown Bellevue, Indian cuisine for lunch at Chutneys, and Peruvian food at Amazon Grill.

I took a stroll into a local Asian Market called Uwajimaya that was amazing. They have small counters for prepared foods, large sections of Asian utensils and containers, beautiful sea food counters, sashimi and beautiful fruits and vegetables. I wish I could pluck that market from Bellevue and put it in my neighborhood. The selection of items was remarkable, along with an amazing array of gorgeous sea foods and produce items, two of my very favorite things.
Walked up a gigantic hill to the Bellevue botanical gardens, beautiful lengths of tall trees shaded my face and brought to my attention how much I adore nature. I walked for what seemed like forever but I didn’t mind the beauty of Washington was everywhere. Breathtaking.

520 bar and grill is situated in old town Bellevue. A little street lined with all different types of food and small cafes as well as some bars. The restaurant is a style of gastro pub catering to the masses with American style cuisine. I decided to have a local beer and a burger but changed it up by getting a lamb one instead. It was juicy and served with a nice taziki sauce as well as some steak fries. I sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine sipped pale ale and soaked in the Washington sunshine as most were.

The next day a friend and I started out for lunch we decided to take our chances on an Indian style lunch buffet at Chutneys and we weren’t let down. There was a large array of freshly made choices. I filled my plate with different curries of vegetable, tiki masala, and tandori chicken as well as some lovely saffron rice. We filled up and the service and atmosphere was wonderful. We had a lovely lunch for a very affordable price.

After that we made our way to the museum of doll art. This is one of the most interesting and strange places I’ve ever been in my life. Sorry to say if you’re in the area please check it out because the woman at the front told us that by March the Dolls would no longer be on display. They don’t allow pictures but it’s something to see with your own eyes. In the museum there are dolls from all over the world and their play things and accompanying houses and other crazy items of small delicate detail.

Inside this gorgeous shopping center called The Braven is this lovely little place called Vovito. Vovito is a genius idea of the melding of sweet icy treats such as the lush and delicious Italian style gelatos and sorberttos as well as the accompaniment of booze and a full service cafe. They have everything I love here. I enjoyed a nice glass of Burt Champagne and some blood orange sorbetto. Wonderful!


Downtown Park is beautifully situated in the heart of the city. It is dedicated to those who have outdoors in mind with fountains pouring water and paths of dirt for dogs and owners to roam around and stretchy their legs. There were plenty of children about enjoying the sunshine and jungle gyms.

Another day I found myself roaming Clyde Hill but I didn’t know I was on Clyde Hill till I turned up at Clyde Beach Park. I found myself sitting for a length of time on the dock staring deeply into the blue sky over lake Washington, mesmerized by the beauty of such amazing homes and gorgeous morning water front. Sitting on the dock thinking about the next steps of life, I could still feel at ease. I finished my trip by walking back down passing Meydenbauer Beach Park and dipping my toes in the lake, and then after that finished by walking past the large Yachts at Bellevue Yacht Basin.

I had a Peruvian style lunch at Amazon Grill, which was lavishly decorated for the masses. The menu was situated with lots of not only Peruvian style foods but also other Latin American favorites. The restaurant is known for Rodizio style dining which is the carving of various meats table side for your eating pleasure. I decided that Rodizio would be way too much food for my liking for lunch. I was given a appetizer of plantain and various other root chips as well as three dipping sauces of various heat from yellow, orange, and red peppers as well as small corn like dried nuts.


I decided to have just an appetizer for lunch which was a sampler platter of Peruvian specialties which included
Chicharron de Camaron- Crunchy Pacific black tiger prawns deep fried in a quinoa batter and served over a bed of glazed yams with creole sauce
Cebiche Clasico de Pescado-Fresh fish of the day, sliced red onions, aji amarillo and celery
Fresh fish marinated in "lech de tigre" (tiger’s milk) made from lemon juice, kion and other herbs prepared in the classical Peruvian style, served with a side of sweet potatoes and inca corn
Causas Tradicional Yellow and purple mash, chicken salad and avocado slices
Causas are classic, elegant and tasty “cakes” of mashed potatoes with a myriad of different toppings.

Everything was very flavorful and the textures were different and pleasing. I thought the shrimp was cooked very well and the cebiche had such nice acid contrast. The Causa was something I’ve never had before and I’d like to explore them more.

Over all it was a very nice lunch something very different and I enjoyed myself thoroughly.

So with all this my time in Bellevue came to and end, this place reminded me much of where close to where I used to live when i was in Ventura county. Still having its mystery and gems but being not far from the city and its adventures. Next the bridal shower and wedding. 


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A beautiful Summer time Birthday Dinner for Guy! [22 Aug 2011|08:40am]
A very dear friend of mine asked me about a month ago if I would be able to help cater his 26th birthday for about 14 people. Of course I obliged, birthdays are my very favorite times to cook for others. As you’ve seen I’ve cooked for about every family member’s birthday I can lately but it was nice to do a sort of family and friends style elegant dining which I believe was our theme. We upped the stakes with a multitude of dishes complementing the flavors of summer in California. I worked with the very talented and awesome Chef Tony who attended culinary school and decided to work in a different field but still enjoys cooking for other very much. I hope to work with him again someday, thank you for all your hard work Tony, beautiful job! I want to thank Guy for giving us the opportunity to work in his beautiful home and just being an amazing friend. Guy and I have been friends since the 6th grade, he shares a deep passion for awesome food. I love you Guy may life be enjoyed with love, happiness, friendship, of course food, and fun.

The menu was as follows

Pancetta Wrapped Gorgonzola Stuffed Shrimp
Crostini - (Roasted Mushroom and Parmesan, Sweet Pepper & Caper, Zucchini & Gorgonzola, and Brie & Pear)
Caprese Bruschetta

Beet Salad – Baby Spinach Marinated in Ginger Citrus Vinaigrette, Red & Golden Beets w/ Candied Walnuts and Goat Cheese
Baby Mixed Green and Arugula Salad with Mango Pico de Gallo, Roasted Red Peppers, Cayenne Croutons and Passion Fruit Vinaigrette

Homemade Balsamic BBQ Chicken Breast
Mixed Veggie Skewers (Red Onion, Mushroom, Tomato, Peppers, Zucchini)
Moroccan Spiced Lamb Kebab with Chimichurri
Pan-Seared Scallops w/ Lemon Beurre Blanc and Sauteed Asparagus and Bacon

Roasted Cauliflower with Artichoke, Parmesan, and Pistachio
Whole Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Herbs
Saffron Curry Rice

As I return from the multitude of trips (Seattle and Mammoth Lakes, Ca) I've had this month and also my birthday which just passed on the 20th I have so much to share. I hope you all haven't gone too far because I have so much to offer in the coming weeks. I hope all is well and you're taking full advantage of the beautiful summer which is so swiftly dissapearing. 

All my love and gratitude

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Adventures with Stephanie [30 Jul 2011|11:00am]
Sometimes I think to myself I’m so terrible with keeping up with content but  there’s so much to write about when it comes to food, life, and fun. And every day I’m so fortunate to be able to share the things I love and eat with you all. I hope that this is something I can continue to do forever.

Now for some Food and drink adventures with Stephanie, you can view her lovely entries about our outings at her blog

Over the last couple of months we’ve been hitting the town aka San Fernando Valley and other outer lying cities around us in search of fun, food, and just a great time. We always have amazing conversation and candid acts of photography. I’m so glad to have this beautiful lady in my life. Here’s a recap of fun in the SFV.

A couple months ago we headed out to Boneyard Bistro . I loved the beer selection here and the fact that we could choose to have flights of beer and try different things. We also made it in for happy hour and had a couple of appetizers.

We’ve found ourselves at the Blue Dog Tavern  which is a local Sherman oaks gastro pub having burgers and sandwiches with local beer and sunshine on the patio. Eating at this little place is a brilliant way to spend a summer California afternoon, the food is good but the beer is even better. I had an Ahi tuna burger with coleslaw.


Stephanie and I love local eateries so we just recently went to Sweet Butter Café . This adorable little corner of Sherman Oaks has a really lovely country style feel to it. It is set up in the style of a café where you order inside and you get a little card that has a name of a fruit on it and that’s how they know to bring out the food. Sweet Butter is known for its breakfast and lunch style offerings. We came right in between the two and decided to have


The Yoga Housemade Ranch Gordo White Bean Spread , Roasted Cherry Tomatoes & Dressed Arugula on Toasted Rustic Millstone w/Arugula Salad with avocado


Mixed Greens with Fuji Apples, Laura Chenel Chèvre, Dried Cranberries & Sweet Butter’s Candied Pecans with vinaigrette


The food was good. I loved the use of white beans because I use them so much, they are a delicious under rated food. People really do need to eat more beans and legumes. The food is a bit pricy for what it is but normal for Ventura Blvd. It’s an adorable place but I wouldn’t brave it on a Saturday or Sunday when it’s always crowded and crazy. If you’re looking for a chic weekday breakfast or lunch go to Sweet Butter.

We always play in the Sherman oaks Galleria, if I do say so myself, this place has an awesome happy hour selection to choose from. We frequent The Cheesecake Factory for 5 dollar long island ice teas and cheesecake, we seat ourselves with Cadillac margaritas for 5 dollars at El Torito Grill which has happy hour from 2-8 every day and some tasty flour tortillas and salsa for snacking, and we enjoy happy hour dumplings at P.F. Changs with 4 dollar draft beers and cheap specialty cocktails. This is a great cheap place to have a quick drink with a girlfriend then walk around urban home pondering of your dream furnishings.


Aside from food you can find us having fun at the beautiful Japanese Gardens, walking Ventura Boulevard, snagging something sweet, taking photos in shops and on escalators or looking over the city tops into the beautiful LA night, we're just out having a good time.

Gastro Pubs, A Café, and Happy Hour all make for amazing adventures. I hope you take your city by storm and have wonderful afternoons/ evenings of food and fun.

Just to clarify we didn’t do this all in one day, it’s over the course of a couple months. But I do like to eat/ drink a lot so don’t put it past me.


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Bachan's 88th Birthday [25 Jul 2011|06:44pm]
Yesterday I presented some of the best food I’ve ever made. In my cooking experience this is what it comes down to, delivering something with love and something so honest as the things you grew up with, or just love yourself that the food you’ve always loved and the food other people love is what makes your best dish. On July 21st it was my Bachan's ( dads mom Grandma in Japanese) 88th birthday. She is one of the most amazing, wonderful, strong, and beautiful people in my life. I started cooking in her kitchen at a very young age on long summer weekends or just after Christmas onto new years. We would experiment with vegetables and pickles and make nothing into something every time. Her fridge was always filled with the most bizarre amazing things and it all tasted incredible. I learned so many things from her not only in the kitchen but in life in general. I love you so much Bachan. Thank you for everything you’ve given me.

I attempted to recreate my childhood memories from Bachans house to share with not only her but my dad’s family who may or may not have eaten these things in many years. I also created things that were familiar but different to put my own spin on classic dishes we all loved,others I left just as we all remembered. I hope you have these customs with your families and live a life full of love with the people that mean the most to you. Thank you for sharing in our families tradition, my love, and my art.


Tofu Salad with bonito flakes, tomato and white mushrooms with sweet miso dressing, Chirashi (Japanese sushi Rice with Kamaboko), California Roll, Spam Musubi, Spicy Shrimp and Cucumber Roll, Grilled Kabocha with Honey, Sake and Mirin Steamed Japanese Sweet potatoes, cha siu (Chinese BBQ Pork) style pork tenderloin, Sake and Soy Mirin Marinated Grilled Chicken Thighs, Terriyaki Beef Skewers, Beef Korokke (japanese style fried pototoe dumplings) Shitake Mushroom scallion and green bean Korokee, Pork and beef water chestnut Wontons, Inari, Crab Okonomiyaki, takuan-zuke (pickeled Dikon) , Tsukemono (Pickled cucumbers and Cabbage) Kamaboko and scallions for Somen (japnese cold noodles) , Togarashi and Ponzu Grilled Chicken Drums, Spicy haricot vert with sesame seeds and soy sauce. Roasted Broccoli with soy sauce aioli, sunomono


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Chicago-Saturday John Hancock, Signature Bar, The Field Museum, Taste of Chicago, Ditkas [20 Jul 2011|03:34am]
Saturday. My ending in the windy city

Saturday we woke up and prepared to get out on the town to see as much as we could on my last day in the city.

We took a walk and took pictures at Millennium Park with all the people lining up on the streets. Also Chicago was booming with people that day because it was the opening day of the Taste of Chicago. After our pictures we walked around to find a good spot to enter the food fare. Like anything some things were good and something not so much. here's what we had

loukaneko Greek Sausage


pulled bbq chicken

Smoke Daddy


Arya Bhavan

Bourbon Chicken

Oak street beach cafe

Mustard fried catfish

Bj's Market

Red Beans and Rice with Grilled Jerk Chicken

Vee Vee African Restaurant

Chicken Enchilada 

la justicia

plain cheesecake

Eli's Cheesecake

Cherry Italian Ice


Oreo Parfait

Chicago Sweet Connection Bakery

After eating ourselves in a coma we had to head back to museum park so we could go to The Field Museum of natural history. They had a really amazing exhibit on whales and the biggest put together T-Rex in the country or maybe even the world I forget. We mused about there till it closed and finally I said my last good byes to grant park, museum park, and millennium park taking a couple pictures along the way.




We went back to our hotel and had a couple of drinks in the room determined not to spend too much money which we did anyway. And after that we went to the Signature Bar in the John Hancock Observatory. It was really beautiful to see the sky lit up at night so high up. We had a drink and then went to our final dinner suggested by the door man at Ditka's a steak house.

Ditkas we had

seafood platter

king crab, oysters, big eye tuna, shrimp

Mikes Salad pecans, apples, cranberries, goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette

Fillet three ways Horseradish, Oscar (béarnaise and asparagus) style, Blue Cheese
broccoli and mashed potatoes

We also had drinks which were ginger and peach vodka and ginger and vodka

The meal was satisfying and really filling but a wonderful way to end the evening, nothing too out of the ordinary just a good steak house dinner.

And with that my travels in Chicago ended

A early train ride into O'hare and I was back in LA in no time. I can't wait till my next trip. I'll be headed to Seattle August 3-9th

Thank you guys so much for coming along on my memories :)

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Chicago; Friday The Dog Joint, Navy Pier, Churro Factory, Harry Caray Tavern, The Gage, BuddieGuy [18 Jul 2011|01:18am]
As we got our stuffed together to exit the Belden Stratford Hotel, I looked out to the beautiful view of Lake Michigan with a happy feeling. This was by far one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed. I’m very glad that we stayed outside of the city for a portion of our trip because it allowed me to see many things I probably wouldn’t have been able to see or think to go to.

After we checked out of the hotel we had the hotel hold our luggage so that we could do a little last minute site seeing around Lincoln Park. We set down to get a little lunch at the Dog Joint. The place was filled with working class men, locals on their lunch breaks which I always approved of when going out to lunch. This was a local little gem, with many options at a very affordable price for a quick bite. We had our Chicago style Hot Dogs from here. They were very tasty!


After lunch I took a quick stroll through the zoo and the conservatory with Michelle because she hadn't seen it. After that we walked down to Lake Michigan to see the water and take pictures by the shoreline.  

After that we went back to pick up our luggage and got in a cab to go to the last of hotel Swissotel in downtown Chicago.

We settled down and then went off to Navy Pier. The pier has so many wonderful touristy things to do there as well as just a gorgeous view of the whole city from the water.  We saw some stained glass, went on the fairs wheel, ate churros smothered in caramel from the Churro factory and had some good local beer Argus Pegasus IPA at Harry Caray Tavern which had the most horrible music ever.



So we made our way back to the hotel and I changed and we headed toward Millennium Park to eat at The Gage.

The Gage was filled to the brim when we got to the restaurant but it was cultural mix of people from Chicago and tourists as well. The affair seemed casual and elegant. Everywhere you looked there were people in large groups sharing food and enjoying themselves with good company.

The dining experience here is rather chic. White linens and an extensive wine list are presented to you upon arrival. Our server was very cordial an extremely busy. We looked over the menu and I let Michelle pick things that seemed to shine out to her seeing as I’d already eaten at many lush places. She has an excellent pallet and likes most of the same things I do so we finally decided on

Hot Poached Shrimp Sambal, Sticky Rice, Herb Broth

these shrimp were perfectly poached the sticky rice was actually black rice that I’m very familiar with it has a floral beautiful scent and a brilliant texture that goes well with the delicate flavors of the shrimp. The sambal had a quiet heat to it with a finishing burn that was pleasant and over the top was poured a small amount of very green cilantro broth. A beautiful simple dish.

Gage N-17 “Fondue” Butter Kaase, Brie, Spinach, Toast

This fondue was very rich. Almost border lining too rich but very delicious. I loved the flavor of the kaase which I would akin to a sweet butter rich and a very pleasant melting cheese along with the brie. Came with these delicious long pieces of toasted baguette

Caramelized Lobster Lemon Quinoa, Basil, Chili

Lobster was caramelized in a very sweet almost orange flavored type of mild candying and the texture of its mild cooking process with the crunch of the quinoa and the cooling of the basil was a really beautiful way to express this dish.


Maple Leaf Farms Duck Roasted Breast Duck Confit Tortellini, Roasted baby beets, purslane, goats cheese

Duck breast was cooked almost medium which for me leads to a bit of a chewy texture. We were told it would be medium rare but I think it was slightly over cooked. The flavor was delicious, the small duck confit ravioli were so perfect and small you could barely spot them on the plate. The braised endive gave bitterness so the sweet cherries and beets while the radishes cleansed the pallet.

We finished our bottle of wine and opted to skip dessert, over all this experience was an interesting expression of a chef’s notion.

After dinner we went to see some blues at Buddie Guys and finished our evening with a stroll back to the hotel.


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Chicago Sprout by Chef Dale Levitsk and Sous Chef Sara Nguyen [11 Jul 2011|09:56pm]



Sprout is a beautiful restaurant situated on West Fullerton. The street is filled with small places to eat, convenience stores, and homes which if you blink twice you may miss the green banners for Sprout. I did the 1st day I was in town, I walked by completely unknowing. But once inside you really get the feel of a classy and elegant dining experience. The tables are lined with white linen and these strange kind of abstract ash tray looking holders with little flowers. The table is set with classic silverware and the lighting is dim but not too dark. The color is of brick, beige, and dark woods and along the side of this restaurant is a beautiful wooden bar. I was sat early for my reservation seeing as my dinner partner was no longer going to meet me but was sat promptly as the restaurant was to close at 10pm. My server Scott was brilliant, very knowledgeable and kind. As I looked over the menu Scott made sure all the details were explained well with charisma and confidence. The items are placed on the menu with no explanation just a list of ingredients that play a main role in the entree and then once inquired about are explained to their full potential with intricate detail so pay attention. If you’re allergic just have the server explain what’s going on in your dish, these very eloquent dishes are worth the inquiry. The menu is devised so that you choose an appetizer, entrée and dessert as three courses after each of the 1st two courses an intermezzo is served from the chef and is not stated on the menu. As I looked over the menu certain things popped out at me and so I decided on my three courses which were explained on the menu as

DUCK: foie gras : cherry : corn : mustard
SKATE WING: strawberry : zucchini : bacon : beet
BERRIES: white chocolate, hibiscus, coconut :ginger

I began with a very ingenious cocktail of  champagne mint blueberry and white port. It was so refreshing and a perfect way to start out my meal. My server also placed a little dish of bread and "butter" which was an very smooth delicious white bean puree.

Duck: My meal started out with this beautiful dish. The duck was a very smokey thinly sliced cured duck breast. It was situated aside a nicely baked corn cake that had wonderful texture and was very moist. It was also sitting on top of a sweetly tart cherry sauce. Piped atop the corn cake was this smooth creamy foie gras mousse which had the buttery fully whipped quality of whipped cream but was savory and extremely luxurious. Every bite was a new experience and if that wasn’t enough there was also a small tossed salad of radishes, raw zucchini, arugula, and mustard vinaigrette which cleans the pallet and refreshes the taste buds from the creamy richness of the foie mousse.     

Yellow Beet Soup: This small soup so delicately prepared reminded me how much I love soups and how under appreciated they are in kitchens all over. The smoothness of the soup was something to rival many others I’ve had with a very luscious texture but cleansing and not to heavy either. Red Micro Shiso that's what I'm talking about.


Skate Wing: This skate wing is one of the best things I ate in Chicago. I loved the preparation of the fish itself which was lightly panko encrusted and seasoned perfectly. The skate wing was sitting atop a bed of bacon which had sherry vinaigrette that gave a really strong sharpness of sherry that had been cooked down with the crispy bacon pieces.  I sorted through my dish on a scavenger hunt of flavors, picking through a sea of watercress, perfectly ripe strawberries, seasonal radishes, slivers of zucchini, and perfectly prepped pink beets. The flavors were so fun and well thought out. I even started at the top of the dish and missed some of the sherry bacon but once I found it the full flavor or this amazing dish blossomed. A dish to remember forever. Skate wing is so delicate and flaky definitely something everyone should try.  

Grilled Cheese with Prune Dijon
This grilled cheese is almost as if you’re eating a very sharp cheese crisp filled with more cheese and a lovely bite of green apple, it’s served alongside a huge portion of prune Dijon mustard for the small sandwich which the flavors should be experienced on their own in my opinion. I loved the prune Dijon though, it was fantastic. This is a very intelligently made cheese course thought out  and covered the basics of a good cheese board in the form of a small sandwich. The course also comes with a very good hard apple cider that compliments the sandwiches saltiness with its crisp sweetness.

Berries: This dish had a really lovely explanation that just put it over the top. The berries dish is conceived of various textures and flavors. You have this wonderful hibiscus broth that is at the bottom of the bowl then sitting in the broth is this gorgeous jello like texture of fruit jelly then on top of this was this very soft sweet coconut and ginger whipped topping with shaved white chocolate and a beautiful mountain of huckleberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. One bite is a multitude of flavors something easy on the pallet after so much amazing food.

After so much amazing food in such an elegant place with the best service I’ve had in such a long time by not only my server but others working in the restaurant as well as the lovely and talented Dale Levitsk who was the sweetest most modest person I’ve ever thanked for the many meals I’ve had. Chefs like Dale, Sara his sous chef, and the people in his kitchen deserve credit that is not often given to them.  This is an amazing place for dining in Chicago, I’d have no problem going back one day.

Thank you everyone at Sprout.

1417 West Fullerton, Chicago, IL - 773.348.0706

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Chicago Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower, Adler Planetarium, Bourgeois Pig, The Purple Pig, Ravens [11 Jul 2011|01:32am]
As I walked through the many miles of culture and community that Chicago has to offer I was struck in awe but the simple beauty of a big city by the lake. It was all such an amazing group of places situated in the heart of commerce and business but with an airy feeling of art and style. I love it.

On Wednesday before Girl and the Goat I situated myself at the Shedd Aquarium, looking like a child at jelly fish, beluga whales, and all sorts of other marine life. It made me feel young again, though I'm not too old let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. After the animal life I decided to make my way over to the Skydeck of Willis Tower and see the city from above, it was like nothing I've ever witnessed before to be so high up and everything looks so small almost like being in a plane traveling over the city. You could see the rain washing through the suburbs and the lights just start to peek out through the clouds. A truly amazing day I’ll never forget.

Thursday, I woke up and headed to the train station but on my way I decided I would like a tea so I stopped into the Bourgeois Pig . This adorable little cafe serves a multitude of different items from coffees and teas as well as in house baked goods and some really awesome sounding sandwiches and salads to choose from. I just stopped in for a Chai Latte but I couldn't help myself I got a beautifully just made still gooey in the center snicker doodle to go with it. It was the perfect sugary way to start my day. There's something about a well done foamy hot Chai that I just love. This place was just perfect for a mid afternoon chat with friends or to get some work done with two levels of seating and free wifi.


I walked over to the train station and I decided to head back over to Museum Park to see the Adler Planetarium . Getting in all I could was necessary but at least this time I knew where I was going. I thought the planetarium was really interesting. I love seeing those IMAX versions of the sky with millions of little lights flickering above. One of my favorite past times is to stare into a starry sky. I miss Moorpark for just those occasions but I’ll be going to mammoth in August and I’ll have all the stars I could ever want. I wondered about for a while there taking in all the sky and its discoveries.


After that I found myself on Magnificent Mile walking with a plethora of shops and craziness. I'm not much of a shopper, I spend my money on food or drinks and the like so I did a little window shopping and walked around looking at all the people going up and down the street. I decided a nice glass of wine would be in order I stopped into The Purple Pig was sat right next to where the food was coming out. These guys are pulling off a miracle with burners that are electric and a small 3 foot grill but the food looked amazing. I decided i would have to have an appetizer while I was there and decided on the mortadella smear over crusty baguette topped with aged balsamic, and arugula. I love mortadella is the Italian version of Bologna so I could see how people might be turned off by it but i adore it. From the days of working in an Italian deli I love that stuff. So anyways this was a smear which kind of reminded me off almost ham butter. It was so delicate and fluffy that it was almost a moose. I really enjoyed the richness cut with the balsamic and arugula it went really well with my red Italian wine from Perugia. A perfect afternoon snack. The restaurant itself was jammed packed with people just grabbing a bite after working or tourists checking out the Chicago River outside. The bone marrow looked particularly interesting as well as many of their small plates and cheese



After all that I then headed back towards Lincoln Park waiting for my 9pm reservation at Sprout as well as my friend Michelle. I stopped for a beer at Ravens  which is a small pub on Clark Street with a mystic quality and 4 dollar pints and is open till 4am. I wrote a little pen and paper action for myself. Michelle ended up running late from her dinner with her fellow butterfly conference attendees so I headed down Fullerton to Sprout  myself.


Stay Tuned

To see the rest of Chicago click

day one, day two, Girl and the goat, Frontera

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Chicago: Girl and The Goat [03 Jul 2011|03:34pm]

Stephanie Izard has been on my list of brilliant female chefs for a long time now. I love her demeanor, her presence, her comedy, the whole shebang. She’s got it and now I just love her even more. As female chefs times are a little hard but it’s always nice to see people doing what they love, making their way in a battle field of male donated industry. This girl is kicking some serious chef butt, guy or girl for that matter. I really love the style of Girl and The Goat and I’m so thrilled that I spent almost the latter or 4 1/2 hours there. 2 1/2 was waiting for a table because I couldn't make reservations in time for my trip.

Stepping into Girl and the Goat is like a little piece of contemporary art museum and local eatery in one. The decor is dark and mystic and the food is wild and imaginative. But most of all, the kitchen is an amazing sight to see. Lining the whole back wall of the restaurant is a giant open kitchen fenced in by a towering Lattice of shelving containing plates and utensils to the ceiling. The orange glow of a wood burning oven, and the slight mist of smokey hot food wafting through the dining room, the dance of 15 chefs on one hot line is a magical place for any foodie or chef to see. Dancing in harmony these are people not to be reckoned with, they produce some of the towns best, most flavorful, interesting ideas I've been witness to.

Steps from the outskirt of Chicago’s West Loop lies Girl and the Goat 809 W Randolph St, Chicago IL, 60607, the streets surrounding are lined with some of Chicago’s best eateries a competitive battle ground for any chef. There in the mists of Blackbird, The Publican, Avec (all places I plan on eating at sometime) Girl and the Goat still makes its presence known.

As I said this place is booked up about a month out and by the time I was able to make reservations there was still no space for me. So I braved it without one and I’m very glad I did. Though waiting took about 2 1/2 hours to even sit at the bar, which was partially my fault because I wasn't acting like a hawk like some of the people at the bar where I had drinks and was dizzy looking at all the amazing things coming out of the kitchen. Stephanie was at the restaurant that night so it was a very nice touch to see her diligently at work. I started of course with Cocktails I ordered the best of three. The best of three is a mixture of gray goose vodka, pimms liquor, a bit of bitters, mint and cucumber all mixed together with lots of ice for a very fresh tasting not too sweet style beverage. The bartenders were "get to the point" girls which I liked but which is also why I wanted to wait for a table. I know if I was bartending I would want people do be eating drinking as much as possible. During my little adventure I was able to score a free drink from a couple I let have two seats that were next to each other I felt bad that I was going to take one and someone else would probably take the other so I let them sit down. Good manners are rewarded folks. Then I got to chatting with a couple of cool ladies one from the area and the other from new port beach for that matter which is in CA. Do I have California written all over me? Must be anyway they were sweet ladies gave me some good tips for eating and actually took my space at the bar cause they couldn't hear themselves in the dining room. The atmosphere there is very lively, extremely loud people all eating and having a great time with no pretentious fancy feel to it the communal tables and lounge style seating at the front of the bar kind of set the tone.

At the Bar I had two dishes while I waited for my seat at the kitchen counter.

I ordered the very popular roasted Cauliflower which was chard brown from just the right amount of roasting, and topped with picked pepper, pine nuts, mint, and parmesan cheese and I’ll tell you that it couldn't have been easier but it was tasty! The combination of sweet from roasting the cauliflower, salt from the cheese and pine nuts, vinegar from peppers and the freshness of mint is a culinary jack pot Easy make it at home I promise you'll love it.

I also had more oysters, my culinary love affair. These were shibumi oysters with radish mignonette. I loved how tiny the radish brunoise was it was flavored with sherry and tarragon. The oysters were subtle refreshing and a little smoky.

After the oysters I was informed that the kitchen counter was open for seating so I took my place to watch a bit of magic happen.

As I situated myself, the chef has sent over a beautiful hiramasa Curdo with crispy pork belly and aji chili. Along with that there was this lovely tart caper aioli micro greens and these wonderful crispy over the top. Texturally this is really wonderfully conceived for the pallet. The lay of crispy salted pork belly with its fatty crunch and the lean clean brilliance of hiramasa is just the surface layer of flavors in this dish. The combination of aioli and use of pepper elevates something simple to a divine experience. If you want to learn about Hiramasa a sustainable yellowtail amberjack

Next my very favorite dish of the night. Girl and the goat is known for its use of goat meat in the restaurant that is locally and sustainably raised from farmers that work in close ties with the restaurant. Goat is brought to Girl and to Goat by Kilgus Farm, Love it... I ordered the Confit Goat Belly with shaved fennel, and lobster and crab butter. Rich luxury on a plate. The subtle gaminess of the goat with its very crunchy and contrasting melt in your mouth textures was amazing. The combination of fresh fennel lightly dressed and the lobster pieces of crab pieces sopping in more melted fat is ingenious.

I finally finished with a couple of samples from the amazing people behind the counter on Garde Manger( I hope I got the names right!I'm terrible with names I'm sorry!) Rachel, Gabe, and Dustin rocked the whole night and shared their war stories and happiness with me as I chatted and took in the deliciousness of this food. A tight group of chefs these line cooks make 300 covers look like a walk in the park. On busy week days they'll hit 400 covered busy weekends over 600 that’s a lot of food. By heart and soul and a pretty awesome chef these guys win each day. Stephanie came by and had a little chat with me which was awesome, she's friendly, funny, and down to earth.

I also sampled a really beautiful Salmon Tatar atop homemade wheat thins with saved zucchini, summer truffle and truffle oil and aside it was a beautiful lightly battered tempura zucchini blossom. I sampled also a small bowl of the kohlrabi salad. Kohlrabi is to me very close in flavor and texture to broccoli stems its said to be between cabbage and turnips as well. This kohlrabi was shaved very thin and in a salad of mixed greens blueberries, fennel. Evalon which is goat’s milk cheese that is very mild and unique flavor there was also hints of ginger dressing and crunch from toasted almonds. And lastly I had a roasted beet salad with wonderfully sliced on the bias gorgeous green beans with roasted beets, white anchovies which I love and an avocado crème fraiche the whole salad was just gorgeous and of course the best way to eat it is to mix the whole thing together, just a really wonderful fresh group of flavors and textures.

Bu the time I finished my night food coma was the least of my worries and getting back to Lincoln Park was on the priority list but I have to say this meal will live on in my memory forever. A beautiful atmosphere incorporating life, food, art, music, community and flavor.

I'm full just thinking about it all, but something really important happened for me sitting at an open kitchen talking with chefs like I used to do but opposite in my old restaurant made me more restaurant sick than I've been in a very long time, there's something about that magic and I know one day, I'll be back with elegant vengeance on my side. 

I took home more than a full stomach that night.

Thank you everyone at Girl and The Goat, you  made Chicago just that much better.

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Chicago The rest of Tuesday Art & Architecture , Indian at Hema's Kitchen, Beer at Lincoln Station [30 Jun 2011|07:56pm]
After eating a lush meal of my favorites the rest of the day was mine to seize and seize I did. It followed with a quick trip around the streets following my senses back to where I started and getting in a peek at Museum Contemporary Art Chicago , Right outside was a small fading farmers market but it made me smile to see that even in industry can we find awesome growers everywhere. Free on Tuesday which was a nice surprise, I walked through the exciting art and was reminded that I should be doing this all the time. Art museums are amongst the top 10 things I love to do when I'm out and about. There were really crazy things at the museum so here are some of my favorite ideas. Also on exhibit was a Los Angeles artist by the name of Mark Bradford he did some really amazing work with maps. I hope you enjoy

After that I walked along lake shore to see the waters of Lake Michigan and found myself at the tip of millennium park one of the biggest most awesome places for public havoc I've ever been. But it was amazing. I saw kids playing in these large pillars of water(Crown Fountain ), a spaceship looking concert hall (Jay Pritzker Pavilion) and the bean (Cloud Gate) as well as a shooting fountain (Wrigley Square and Millennium Monument). So much for a pair of eyes to see but it was so awesome to see such art and such community in one place.

I followed my feet to the Chicago Institute of Art where iI paid a 1/2 price admission because I was there about an hour 1/2 before they closed it was worth it to go in there. I would of loved to go back and pay more attention because they really had some amazing pieces of art, culture and heritage. But here are some of my favorite paintings I saw.


After that i found my way back to Lincoln park and down to Lincoln Station which is a little bar and grill place where I got a Matilda from Goose Island nice darker amber rich ale and a 2.50 great lakes which was more IPA and extremely drinkable. Michelle met me there and we had beers and hung out till a crazy thunder storm passed through and the whole block when pitch black. We were drinking by candle light paid out tab in cash and were off running through the storm.


It was about 10 by then and i wanted to eat something so we stopped for Indian at Hemas Kitchen  on Clark street. The decor was of traditional Indian flare and the food was very good. Warm and hot and the way a rain soaked person prefers. We had vegetables curry and the flavor of the chicken masala was different not as sweet, the spices  seemed bolder but still well rounded. Over all we liked it. The Garlic Nan was amazing.



Then we managed our way back to our hotel got out of rain soaked clothes and I got ready planning my next adventure.


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Chicago Frontera Grill by Rick Bayless [30 Jun 2011|01:25am]
I love all different types of food, the kind that’s interesting, witty, and playful as well as the type that is just straight forward and tastes delicious. But what I like the most about eating other peoples food is the guessing game of what’s inside. The best menus to me are not ones that tell all about every little tiny thing that’s in the dish though I know there are people with allergies and food preferences that need to know what’s going to be in side, I prefer to taste and find out.

So on my second day in Chicago I woke up and looked online at the maps and tried to figure out where I was going to go so I wouldn’t be as lost as I was the day before. A good plan I assumed, I don’t have an Iphone or a fancy phone where I can just follow my navigation which I think is cheating. So I just got out that big map and tried to find where I was going old school style.

I decided that I wanted to go to Frontera Grill by Rick Bayless for Lunch. I’ve been to Red O on Melrose before which is in Hollywood, Ca but Frontera is the flag ship restaurant of the Bayless Fine Dining Mexican Empire. Frontera was opened in 1987 by Bayless and his Wife and since has grown to incorporate the beautiful Topolobampo  which is right next door and shares the same bar, host stand, and facilities but offers a more refined, upper class, and chic place to dine. As well as the corner store just outside XoCo this little place is where Bayless and his wife offer Mexican street food and snack to a sidewalk of eager eaters for a quick bite and bustling inside of hungry customers.

Walking up to Frontera the sidewalk is lined like so many places in Chicago with a little planted fenceing that gates off where diners can enjoy the somewhat tumultuous playfulness of the scattered sunshine with the clouds that this windy city is so well known for. As you walk into this bright beautiful restaurant with playful colors of sizzling and frosty notes, a little piece of bright Mexican culture peeks its head at you. Having no reservations here is a big mistake but what can you do, I’m not about to plan out every step of my vacation, I’m just not that type of girl so I asked if there would be any seating available for lunch and they assured me I could have a table. Most places aren’t very accustomed to single diners but I wasn’t pushed off to the bar which I liked.

My server Ray was fantastic. His demeanor was calm but busy the way a server should be. He paid just the right amount of attention necessary with the absolute chaotic feel of a wildly busy restaurant in the peak of lunch time, though I saw this from my trained eye; no diner would have been able to feel the chaos at all. As I perused the menu for ideas and inspirations some things caught my eye but others just seemed a bit heavy for my liking when I eat lunch. I started with Topolo Margarita: Sauza Conmemorativo tequila, Torres orange liqueur, housemade limonada, shaken table side. The blend of tequila with the limonada was heaven; perfectly tart with just the right amount of sweetness in this margarita gave the perfect mid afternoon buzz to my 2nd day of vacation. Ray kindly informed me to take a sip and he would pour the rest just so nothing was wasted.

After going though the recommended dishes I decided to go with a sampler platter of seafood Marisquera de Lujo: Grand Seafood Platter with one dozen oysters & their accompaniments, classic Ceviche Fronterizo and Coctel Atun Tropical. I was by myself so I got the ½ portion which still came with 6 oysters I chose to have two of each kind because they were offering 3 types that afternoon. The accompaniments that were given were a chipotle sauce that was perfectly sweet and hot with a very nice smoky finish, as well as a tomatillo and habanero mioneta oysters (mioneta is a Mexican version of Mignonette which is a condiment made from minced shallots, cracked pepper, and vinegar used for oyster eating) which had a very different type of heat that was not over powering but subtle as well as a very acidic finish lovely with cilantro and cut up pieces of onion. The three oysters were verities of Fanny Bay from British Colombia, Wianno from Massachusets, and Shibumi from Washington.


I ate the oysters 1st by themselves with no sauces just to have experience the favors of the oyster unaltered except for a small amount of lime. The Fanny bay I’m most familiar with these larger oysters have a very distinct flavor with nice brine but a more firm texture when chewing. I also chose to put the chipotle accompaniment on the other one which was really wonderful. I love the slight smokiness the chipotle offers. The Wianno are really very good as well. They offer a sweeter high brine and smoother finish. These are farmed sustainably in the waters on Cape Cod delicious, I chose to put the Mioneta on this oyster which was a really good balance with the acidic lime and sweet oyster with the crunch from the onions. Finally my favorite of the bunch because they were so unique the Shibumi, they have a very sweet, pump, full texture with a slight saltiness. So small and perfectly shippable, with the last oyster I decided to add a touch of both sauces which I thought was one of my most perfect bites of food I’ve ever had.

Fanny Bay

Moving from oysters to the other two dishes which were in small margarita glasses sitting atop crushed ice, the 1st glass had Ceviche Fronterizo which is a traditional ceviche with albacore tuna which had the correct balance of sweet, hot, acid, and salt that makes ceviche the most perfect thing to eat in my opinion. The addition of warm crispy tostaditas makes a wonderful crunchy addition to the smooth fish. The 2nd glass had the Coctel Atun Tropical a mixture of Big eye tuna from Hawaii, a smokey avocado tomatillo guacamole, and lovely mango grapefruit salsa on top. The whole thing gets mixed together and it’s just wonderful. How many times can you hear good in this a thousand I guess and I haven’t even got to dessert. To be honest though everything was amazing. I was thinking of getting one other savory item but I decided to just go to dessert because the seafood itself was just so wonderful on its own, a perfect taste of the sea.

Now the best for last dessert, This Duo de Flanes: A duo of caramel custards: "cafe con leche" & classic Mexican vanilla. Cacao nib-pecan shortbread, sweet milk froth. Now I don’t have to say much of anything for this because it was that good. Along with the bitterness of the espresso I had this flan was the best I’ve ever had easily. The cocao nib shortbread gave the crunch to the dessert and the smooth caramel with its bitter after notes from the Mexican vanilla was to die for. As I grew more and more full I couldn’t help but to finish the plate lingering over the café con leche with milk froth my absolute favorite and something I’ll have to work on to make on my own. Just wonderful!
My meal ended on such a high note that I would definitely recommend coming to Frontera a long standing amazing establishment of fine foods with Mexican flavor in Chicago.

Thank you very much to all that made this awesome meal happen, you are all truly masters at your craft.
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Your Best Recipe June [28 Jun 2011|12:56pm]
Lots of love as always to the talented and wonderful people participating in Your Best Recipe for details please check out !

This month I chose to have my Pozole featured

The round up with every ones choices will appear on the 30th at spicefoodie!


Chicago Austrian Bakery, Lincoln Park Zoo And Conservatory, Lou Malnati's [27 Jun 2011|11:29pm]
My trip to Chicago is more than words could ever really put together. Just as my trips to Tokyo, Seattle, North Carolina, and Vegas, my whole world is always centered on food. Maybe that makes me a lush, maybe it makes gluttony my number one on my list of seven deadly sins but I adore it. I adore seeing what other like minded or even ill minded people care to do with the foods of their city, culture, art, and love and here just like in many cities food is at the utmost center of the universe.

I’m from a large city so seeing other ones is a different experience than those people who are from small towns. I’ve seen high rises and sky scrapers, I’ve dogged traffic, and road subways but everywhere in the world is somewhere that is unique but has some of the same old things going on.

I stayed in three places over the course of about 7 days in Chicago. My flight was simple and quick O’Hare is a monster of an airport and I was lucky enough to meet someone nice enough to give me a couple pointers on how to get around the city at approximately 2 am while I was trying to find my hostel and one of the subway lines i was going to take had just stopped running. Smart move? I think not but it worked out for the best, lucky for me. After hoisting my ridiculous luggage up and down flights of stairs and through pee scented elevator shafts (welcome to Chicago) I traveled a couple of blocks to a small neighborhood and stayed at Chicago Getaway Hostel for about 35 bucks for the night. I “slept” (well not really) then packed up, got a quick shower and headed over to store my luggage. A hostel is a truly funny thing like a not so organized barracks with crazy people sharing the same space. I like my own space just fine but for a couple of hours I couldn't complain too much.  Welcome to 8 women sleeping in a chaotic clammy basement, oh joy.

Hostel Photos

I decided to get a quick breakfast and coffee I headed to north Clark street a lovely little row of restaurants,shops, and such in Lincoln Park and had breakfast in an Austrian Bakery called Österreichische


I had a quick coffee and a really delicious egg, swiss, homemade sausage, and spinach filled croissant. The croissant was one of the best I’ve eaten. It was so buttery and delicious that I couldn’t finish all the eggs I chose to eat the pastry and sausage instead. The German sausage was very tender and wonderful you could tell that it was homemade pressed pork with different spices in it than a regular traditional breakfast sausage. This place is also adorable because they sell a plethora of different regional pastries, cakes, cookies, and homemade breads, as well as Austrian specialties. If you’re ever up there check it out. The strudel looked to die for. The waitress here was also amongst the best servers I've had. Sweet and attentive but not overbearing.


Flowers From the Lincoln Park Conservatory.


After my quick breakfast/lunch I continued on about a 10 mile hike around Lincoln Park. I saw the conservatory of amazing flowers and plants, the Lincoln Park Zoo which was fun and free and I hadn’t been to a zoo in ages, walked through Bucktown and down Lincoln Avenue and essentially got lost for 4 hours. I love roaming places so it didn’t bother me. Finally my co captain for my trip Michelle called me and I had managed to get back towards the hostel and find where our other hotel was going to be and we made it. The Belden Stratford is where we stayed it is an older building facing Lake Michigan, with a gorgeous view and just the right amenities. after we got settled we were on our way to our 1st dinner in Lincoln Park. On my little afternoon of getting lost I found a place that my brother and his friends has talked about called Lou Malnati's. Lou Malnati's is a chain of deep dish pizza restaurants that even delivers to other states by mail. The atmosphere in the restaurant is fun and family oriented just as a pizza place should be. The middle of the dining room was even centered with a couple of couches and a big screen TV with the baseball game on. The dining room was packed and for good reason. The pizza here is awesome. What we also agreed on was that the place was filled with people from Chicago and not just tourists. I love eating at places that are good enough for anyone to go to whenever they want something good to eat. This was just that kind of place.

We started with a Malnati Salad

Romaine lettuce, diced tomatoes, black olives, sliced mushrooms, crumbled Volpi salami and gorgonzola cheese. Tossed with Lou's famous dressing with a touch of romano cheese.
The salad was a good combo of sweet and salty, with the hungry people that we were if we hadn’t gotten the salad we could of eaten each other, since pizzas take 30 35 minutes to prepare, which was perfectly fine for us to eat and hang out talking about our flights in and my little day packed of getting lost.

Our pizza came which I ordered


The "Malnati Chicago Classic"
House made specialty sausage, a very thick richly ripe tomato sauce and thick melted fatty mozzarella cheese and a deep dish butter crust
You can taste the butter in the crust it flakey and rich with very little salt. But the salt from the thick perfectly melted cheese and the sausage is a really perfect balance. I love that the tomatoes are on top which leaves the crust to have a crisp texture with the wonderful flavor of tomato.

A really awesome pizza and salad for my 1st dinner in Chicago. Michelle had The Lou spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes covered with mozzarella, romano and cheddar cheese. Good pizza!

So that was my 1st day in Chicago you got 5 more to go. Fair warning. I took over 1200 pictures, they wont all be here but it does take a lot of work to get through them all. I hope you enjoy this adventure as much as I did. 

Keep checking back
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