Friday, February 29, 2008


Huh? Butternut squash fries?


Deep frying is better than baking, but they're good baked too as long as you toss them with some oil first. If you bake them, I suggest doing a thicker cut because you do have to turn them half way through, and it's a royal pain in the ass to turn a million little shoestrings!

Just peel the butternut squash and cut it into your desired size. Deep fry until golden, or toss with some veg oil, then arrange on a baking sheet and bake at 425 until they start to get brown on the bottom... at which time you will turn them and let them brown on the other side. Salt to desired taste and enjoy. A drizzle of honey is good, if you want to add a sweet element.

Monday, February 25, 2008


We found this place on our last visit to San Diego, and liked it so much it was our first stop last weekend when we went back to SD.  The Ivy Hotel is very contemporary and stylish, but it's in a part of town that you don't really want to walk through at night (San Diego has a lot of transients, and unfortunately they are not all pleasant human beings) so we will probably never stay there, but we'll certainly visit during the day and eat lunch at their restaurant! 

The same guy took care of us both times we've been there - he is the bartender. Very nice guy. We always get there too late for the regular lunch hour, so we end up in the bar section, but that's OK because it's totally empty during the day and pretty cool to hang out in (we sit outside in the covered courtyard). And the bartender is so attentive and helpful and just makes the visit all the more pleasant. It's the whole package. 

We sat at a table right near the kitchen window.

You can see into the kitchen from the courtyard. Very pretty kitchen. I could sit here all day and just watch them work. I'm not kidding. 

At night, on the weekends, it's more of a hot spot hangout for SD's young & hip crowd, but on Saturday afternoons we get the whole place to ourselves.  

This was my Caesar salad. I love the poached egg addition, rather than just making the yolk dressing. You get to break the yolk yourself, then mix the egg through the greens. Very French.  It also had the freshest anchovies - which I gave to Theo and he loved - that I have ever seen. Very simple and just fresh and delicious! This is so my kind of food.

This was a really good Kobe burger/wiener combo that Theo had. Definitely not the healthier and low-fat dog that I buy in the grocery... these were the real thing baby, and SO delicious! :)

Popcorn shrimp..... pretty standard. The dipping sauces were excellent, a ponzu, a honey sauce and a spicy creamy sauce. 

These are the dipping sauces for the shrimp, and the chili fixin's for the dogs.

How cute is this highchair! It really fit in with their contemporary decor. And I think the baby liked it too! Fashion is always better when it's functional too. 

Some more pics from around the Hotel...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Balboa Island is just 5 minutes away, but we only recently discovered Basilic a few months ago. It's a very small place, like the types of family owned Bistros you see in Paris - 8 or 10 tables in a warm, dimly lit room with only one waiter. You can't just walk in at dinner time and expect to be seated, they were always booked up. Then, when we'd think ahead of time about it, we could never remember the name! Long story short, we made reservations eventually and the rest is history. It's one of our favorite places!

The food is Swiss French. Classic French cuisine, with a Swiss flair. For us, it's one of those splurge places. It's not extremely expensive, but it's extremely decadent, and I think it should be appreciated, so we don't overdo it. On Saturday night it's always full of super wealthy Newport snobs. Doesn't bother me. The owner isn't a snob, either is the waiter or the chef. Besides, it's the kind of place that you just feel comfortable at no matter who you are, what you're wearing or who you're sitting next to. 

So, on to the food. 

Appetizer: Braised Endive with Prociutto and Gruyere Gratin (this was out of this world!)

Appetizer: Foie Gras, seared with Balsamic Glaze and Blackberries (huge piece of Foie, seared perfectly!)

Entree:  Steak au Poivre - Grilled New York Steak with creamy Black Peppercorn Sauce (I highly recommend it!)

Entree: Coq au Vin - Braised Chicken, Burgundy Wine and Mushroom Sauce

Dessert: Strawberries & Whipped Cream atop a Merengue

Dessert: Ice Cream - Strawberry & Vanilla

About this time the Chef is going table to table, asking how everyone's dinner was. 

Friday, February 15, 2008


On Friday night we usually either have steak, or we get take-out. Thai food and pizza are the house favorites. Our neighborhood Thai place is AWESOME. Thai Wave in downtown Huntington Beach. They used to have one in Newport Beach on PCH but unfortunately that one closed. The food is very high quality; fresh and delicious, and the owner is a great guy. Very friendly. Tonight though, I wanted pizza! I'm a pepperoni lover, but this pizza pictured here is just special. Garlic sauce, ham, bacon, sausage, tomatoes and green onions. The combo just really works. Thin, crispy crust. UBERyum.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Birthday dinner, Feb 7th.

I'm late posting this... but I'll try and recap best I can.

This was a fabulous restaurant - Providence. It's in the old Patina location. It was a birthday surprise, and I was in a Limo, so I don't know the address- Beverly Hills, possibly Hollywood? I'll post the exact location later.

A yummy "amusement." :)

The bar.

The room.

Truffles anyone!? This risotto appetizer was LOADED with the decadent black slivers!

This was Theo's lobster ravioli.

The entrees arrive - lobster poached in butter. It was, well, lobster poached in butter. It was good!

Theo had the duck breast. He said it was nothing special. That turnip on the plate though, that was fabulous! It was stuffed with mushrooms. OOoooooo!!!!!!!!!!! It was unique and different, and it was really, really good.


Friday, February 8, 2008


This is one of the best places to see celebrities in Hollywood, but is the food really that good? Yes, it is! And the service is wonderful too. Don't expect a snob wait staff, because they don't work here; only professionals who treat you good no matter who you are. I like to eat here as often as I can, just because it's fun and the food rocks, but making it up to Beverly Hills from Orange County for lunch isn't really easy, so I save it for special occasions like birthdays or a place to take friends from out of town. Every once in a while we'll hit it on a weekend, but weekdays are really the best time to go. We went last week, for my birthday. We arrived late, so the place was pretty vacant, but we still saw Lionel Richie and Gene Simmons.

OK, so, this is "the door" - the door everyone wants to be facing because it's the door all the people (aka celebrities) walk in and out of. The courtyard is pretty open, as seen above, but it also has some hidden booths - so you may not know Michael Douglas or Kanye West is even there, until they walk out through this door.

But enough about the celebrities. Lets talk about... umm.... THE FOOD. Their menu has some constants, but you can usually always find something new as well - seasonal foods or special occasion dishes.

This was my citrus poached salmon. Isn't it beautiful. And it was just melt in your mouth yummy!

This was Theo's steak tartare. Made table side. I don't "do" tartare, but he said it was really good. It sure looked pretty.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I love collard greens, green chard & red chard. And obviously they're good for you - so we eat them a lot. I cook all my greens the same way. Fast. I know a lot of people cook them for hours, especially collards, but not me. I just never saw the need. I've obviously had other greens, the kind that are cooked for a long time until they fall apart, and I just prefer mine to be honest.

I don't like bitter greens, so I always get the most mild varieties, such as collard greens (these are best in the winter months), or green chard. Red chard is also fine, but it's not as sweet as the green chard. At least not in California.

Here is my super-simple and fast method:
Wash them good, take out the stem. Bring to boil some water or broth (enough to submerge greens in), add 1/4C red wine, then boil greens for about 5-10 minutes until tender. Taste them, are they tender enough for you? Cook a few minutes longer if needed, but I think the texture is better when they're cooked until tender, but not overcooked and mushy. See how pretty bright green they are? When they're done, drain them.

Finally, mix in a teaspoon of bacon fat. Oh yeah. This will give them that smoky-n-porky-n-fatty taste that goes so well with greens. You can also garnish with crumbled bacon as well.

Eat your greens! They are a good source of Protein, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Niacin, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron and Manganese. All that and they taste good too!

Monday, February 4, 2008


At 7:45am Sunday morning the power went out. Being Super Bowl Sunday and all.... I figured it would be back on fast, since people want to watch the game, and cook all their goodies for their parties and stuff. But no, it was out for 8 HOURS. It didn't come back on until almost 4pm. I bet there were a lot of pissed off people. :) As for me, I didn't care about the game. I would have liked to turn the heat on though, but at least we're in southern California - it could have been a lot worse.

So after I cleaned the house and put away all the clean laundry, I found myself with plenty of additional time on my hands and remembered I was out of marinara. Gas stoves don't need electricity. YAY! I can cook!

My recipe is very simple.

Mince one large carrot and 3 celery stalks. Add about 1/4C oilve oil to a pan and saute until the carrots start to get soft, then add 2 diced medium onions (you choose your favorite color, I like yellow). Cook on low until soft and mellow. You can add water here and there to keep it from drying out. At the very end add 4-8 cloves minced garlic (some like it more garlicky than others).

No power means no food processor. No problem- I just used my food mill to puree the vegetables. I like it best through the food mill anyway. Now, I like my sauce smooth, but you are welcome to keep it chunky. It's all just personal preferrence.

Add the veg & oil puree to 4 large cans crushed tomatoes. Toss in a few bay leaves, salt & pepper to taste, some oregano and parsley and you're good to go. I happened to have some leftover pistou in the freezer, so I added that also. Heat through, then you're done. 15 min or so is all.

I cook the vegetables a long time so I don't have to cook the tomato a long time. I like the tomatoes bright and fresh, if you cook them a long time they get concentrated and stronger. We just prefer it fresh tasting, rather than a super strong tomato sauce. I freeze this in batches and can add other stuff later, like meat, cream or mushrooms to customize it.