Monday, March 24, 2008


This was a really good dinner. 

I think we've tried to visit Pascal's several times, but for whatever reason it just didn't happen. But Saturday we finally made it! And it was fantastic. 

We didn't do the tasting menu. But it looks good. 

We ordered, of course, the foie gras as an appetizer. It won out ~ just barely~ over the escargot.  It's not often when I see foie on a menu that we don't get it. Unfortunately, it was the least favorite dish of the night though.  Overcooked, and over salted. I could still eat twelve pounds of it, but I wouldn't enjoy it near as much as when it's done right. Here they have plated with what seems to be baked or grilled pears. They just weren't sweet enough to cut through all that salt though. And the fois was just rubbery. 

OK, now this dish (below) was one of the best things I have had in a loooong time! It was thyme crusted sea bass. It just worked, with the sauce and the buttery crust. It was fantabulous! 

Theo's dish rocked it as well... he got the rabbit with wild mushrooms. Both his rabbit and crispy fingerling potatoes came in their own cast iron pots, which made for a very authentic French presentation. His rabbit was so good - fall apart tender and it was swimming in a rich, mushroomy sauce. 

They weren't very busy, maybe only half full, so I felt like we were there on a Tuesday rather than a Saturday...  and it was as quiet as could be. Some music would have been nice for atmosphere and just creates a background buzz that you're used to hearing in busier restaurants. Dead quiet makes you feel like you're in a place that can't wait for you to leave so they can close.  Just a suggestion. 

Our server was very pleasant and friendly though, but seemed to maybe be handling the entire room alone? That also would be authentically French though. :)

We had a good time, and the food was very good. We will definitely be back. 

Saturday, March 22, 2008


This was the view from outside Izakaya Zero at about 8pm. They were very busy (except for this lonely "reserved" table) and I had high hopes for the food. There had been a flattering article in the paper about this place and it was just down the street so we went to check it out.

These guys had a really neat contraption that keeps your beer fresh and cold. We weren't in the mood for a gallon of beer however, so we just ordered something else. I got sake - they had Dewasansan, so that was fine for me. Theo got some sort of bottled beer.

The decor was nice. Japanese-ish with a modern, sassy, cafeteria feel. I didn't love it, but it was alright. 

This was one of the few dishes that was OK, but it's kind of hard to screw up sashimi. And halibut is such a scarce creature lately.... so we enjoyed this. 

This was some sort of roll. Theo said it was very bland. No rice, and the cucumber just was a flavorless wrap that added nothing to the other mellow ingredients. 

Ahh... the food. Ick. Most of it was ick. I was not impressed at all. Maybe it's because I'm used to quality Japanese food and posers just don't "do it" for me... or, maybe it's just because this place's chef sucks. Could be either. 

We had a variety of small dishes, as is typical at Japanese places. Most of it was not very good. I think they tried to be original with their food, but most of what we ordered (which was about half the menu) just wasn't exciting at all. 

The sake was fine though. :)

Dessert. Choc souffle and lychee sorbet. The sorbet was very good. I'd have that 
again.  It was the hit of the night for me. 

Now, to be fair, Theo's experience with this place was not as bad as mine. He said he'd definitely go back. I think by now you'd know if I would or not.  

Here's a weird thing about this place also.... for a place that was totally packed just an hour earlier, by 10pm they were almost completely empty. (crickets)

Monday, March 10, 2008


Marche' Moderne is a fantastic restaurant located above Tiffany & Co. in the world famous South Coast Plaza in Santa Ana.

Let me talk a minute about this dish - Riesling Pressure Cooked Choucroute Moderne. Short ribs, belly, ham hocks, sausage and pork cheeks - with sauerkraut and potatoes. It was the kind of thing I remember eating as a kid - my Mom has a German background so we ate this kind of thing often. Maybe it was because it was easy to make for busy moms?Just toss your meat of choice in the pot or pressure cooker and leave it. Add veggies at the end and serve. Well - a little more to it than that, but not much. 

Their version of this type of dish was AWESOME. Meat falling apart it was so tender, and a variety to keep things interesting, the potatoes and cabbage and that salty broth. This is my kind of food! Thank goodness Theo ordered it and not me, because I would have eaten the entire gigantic portion and then exploded. This may be a "French" restaurant, but their portions are not typical French portions. They're huge! I had steak frites - which includes a very large 8oz super-tender filet and that comes with a large salad and enough fries (the thin crispy kind too!) to feed a family of six!! I couldn't even eat half of this.

The interior is almost Swiss like - and I always feel like I'm sitting in some upscale restaurant at a ski lodge. Warm and small - and you can see right into the kitchen, as it's literally part of the room. 

Our appetizer - Charcuterie. How fun is this! And, it was delicious!

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Here is one of my favorite snapshots from New Orleans. It was a sidewalk sign outside a cafe. It's no secret that they love them some fattening food in the south.

OK, so this little lunch spot we happened upon while taking a walk through the Garden District.

The trolley stopped at the end of it's line, and we got off and walked a few blocks before finding Ignatius Eatery (4200 Magazine St., 504-896-2225). I'm not sure if it's considered in the Garden District or not, but it was in that general area though. It had the BEST roast beef Po' Boy sandwich... probably in the entire world! To this day, I think of it and my mouth waters. The bread in NOLA is awesome - that crispy, paper thin crust and delicate chewy inside - and then it just simply had fall apart gooey lean roast beef, pickles, lettuce and mayo. It was probably the best sandwich I have ever had in my entire life. The guy taking the order said, "This sandwich is rad - you'll love it."  And he was right.  

After a lot of walking around in pretty warm weather, the first thing we ordered was a cold beer, for Theo, and a white wine spritzer for me. And the baby had milk :) 

There it is. The Sandwich.

Theo had gumbo, which was also pretty awesome. 

Their shelves were lined with pretty displays of hot sauces and traditional southern spices. It made for some pretty pictures.


This is a shot of the street it was on.

A guy commented to my husband recently about how nasty he thought New Orleans was. They had a conference there last year and he was apparently not impressed. But I wondered, what did he do while he was there? Did he troll Bourbon Street at night in his spare time and hang out at strip clubs? I mean, because if that's all you do, then yes... it's nasty. Not that the French Quarter is bad... it isn't. I think it's beautiful in fact, and we walk around for hours in the FQ everyday when we're there. There is so much more to New Orleans than just Bourbon Street and sitting in a bar getting drunk. And the section of Bourbon that's "nasty" is really only about 3 blocks long. Every city has it's seedy neighborhoods. Why do people give so much attention to the ones in New Orleans? Don't go into the bad neighborhoods and you'll be fine (that statement applies to pretty much everywhere in the world). The French Quarter neighborhood is actually a good place to explore. And for those who enjoy a good cocktail - aka, ME - you can find lots of decent and interesting places to wet your whistle.

They have lots of boutiques and antiques and art galleries. There are so many outstanding restaurants in New Orleans I can't even begin to tell you. Many neighborhoods in the city are just beautiful, and a great way to spend an afternoon is to simply walk through one of them. Check with your hotel concierge, they can give you a walking map that will not only keep you in safe areas, but will allow you to see the best places. I haven't done a cemetery tour (don't go alone, always go with a professional tour guide) but I hear they are really interesting because of the stories behind some of the people buried there, as well as their unique above ground crypts. 

So, get your ass off of that smelly bar stool and take a walk. Hop on the trolley. Make a dinner reservation.

I also highly recommend - and I know this will sound very touristy but just trust me - go on a swamp tour. And if you do, it must be one that goes into the Honey Island forrest (I think that's what they called it?) with all the cypress-tupelo trees that have the moss hanging off of them. It's just stunning.

We saw the neighborhoods damaged by hurricane Katrina about 6 months after the storm hit. Although they are now rebuilding, back then it was almost completely deserted and looked as if a bomb had been dropped. I've never seen anything like it. It's something that will stick with me forever, and it really makes you appreciate the good people of New Orleans. The person bringing you a bowl of gumbo is probably someone who spent a day or two on their roof, and lost everything. Our friendly bartender at Bubba Gump Shrimp was, so was the charismatic young man serving oysters to Theo at the oyster bar . 

Saturday, March 1, 2008


I absolutely love avocados. It used to be that I'd only buy them once in a while - maybe at the peak season when they were on sale - but they were never a regular staple in the house. Which makes no sense to me, because I love them, so why not just buy them every week? 

Excuse #1. They can be kind of expensive. 

So what. Lots of things are expensive, but I buy them anyway. So, that's a weak excuse.

Excuse #2. They are really fattening. 

That is true, kind of.   They are fattening (about 150 calories/15g fat for half a Hass avocado), but it's a healthy fat. Actually, it's monounsaturated fat speeds up the basal metabolic rate and can lower cholesterol - and they're packed with nutrients. The high fat content helps you feel fuller faster, and stay feeling full longer. So you really don't need to eat a lot of it to feel satisfied.

It gets down to quality over quantity. Just as with anything else... like animal fat, or butter, or breads or sugar or salt. Eat it, but don't pig out. 

We went to Paris 2 years ago - my first time. We had an apartment on a wonderful street that was lined with markets. We had whole milk and croissants and cheese -sometimes eggs - for breakfast everyday. And lunch was always something good. We drank lots of champagne & wine. And dinner, well- we didn't hold back. But I actually lost weight on that vacation. I couldn't believe it. But the way of the French is... they eat wonderfully rich foods, but in small quantities. This must be why French women don't get fat?  I definitely saw my share of pencil thin women eating fries - but I swear, you could walk the streets of Paris all day long and the only overweight people you will see are tourists. 

Anyway.... avocados....

Now I buy them every week, and like onions, we always have them. When I make a sandwich, I like to use a few thin slices of avocado instead of mayonnaise. I love them on my eggs. I love them mashed up and put them on lean chicken and pork. Spread some on a crispy piece of bread, in place of butter. On salads, I always add a little avocado. Theo doesn't like avocados (gasp!) but me and the baby.... we eat it almost daily.