Less salt, more spices!

20 Feb

It is a common fact that Americans eat too much salt. You can blame the fast food or the frozen dinners but it’s a growing issue and it only gets worse with age as it can lead to a whole magnitude of health problems. Consequently, one of my new year’s resolutions was to decrease my consumption of salt. It’s tough thing to do because salt makes food so good! It’s difficult but I will only add a dash of sea salt to my kitchen creations when necessary!

Anyway, I came across this article on Men’s Health and it’s a short and sweet summary of The Perfect Spice Rack. I will definitely use this guide to flavor my future kitchen adventures and to figure out the best health benefits of each spice. I strongly recommend it to you too!

Before I go, I want to share with you the benefits of my favorite spice… the lovely garlic 🙂

“A compound called allicin helps give garlic its cure-all profile. Allicin is a strong antibacterial and antifungal, linking garlic to lower cancer rates, stronger cardiovascular systems, and decreased fat storage and acne inflammation.”

Garlic rules!!

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Leaning Sideways at the Hitching Post

19 Feb

The Hitching Post
Buellton, CA

Do we have any Sideways fans here?! Since we were wine tasting in Santa Ynez, we couldn’t just not stop at the famous Hitching Post!!
Our party of four did not have a reservation on a busy Saturday night so unfortunately we had to wait an hour before we were seated. So it would be in your best interest to make a reservation if you are planning to visit -_- I had a glass of their pinot noir while waiting, not sure which one it was but meh, I don’t think I would be a fair judge since I had been wine tasting the whole day =X

And now onto the food!

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Grilled Artichoke
Our most popular appetizer, unique smoke flavor from the grill, seasoned with Magic Dust (blend of salt and spices) and served with a spicy smoked tomato mayonnaise

I love love love artichokes!
The smoky grilled flavor with the Magic Dust definitely kicked things up a notch for this artichoke. The mayonnaise was delicious; I could just eat that mayonnaise all day with every meal. Yes, it was that good. Apparently you can buy a jar of their smoked tomato pesto and make your own so that is definitely a possibility! For $10.95, there should be at least two artichokes.

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Roasted Garlic
Slow roasted to a soft and smooth texture so you can spread it on toast with herbs and roasted peppers

Most of my friends know that I am a hardcore fan of garlic so of course this dish is a winner… but I really felt like I could’ve done this at home… and I have done this at home. (Email me if you want the recipe.) Roasted garlic is roasted garlic.

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Filet Mignon
The rarest & most sought after cut. Prized for its fork-cutting tenderness and enhanced flavor from our grill.  This entree also included garlic bread, an organic mixed green salad and the soup of the day, add $1 if you want the shrimp cocktail.

The filet mignon… oh my goodness… the filet mignon…
I usually avoid steak because I need to have my red meat well done. It’s usually a dry, tough-to-chew piece of meat. BUT this well done filet mignon was so tender, with its juices oozing as I cut each piece… it was simply divine. That cow’s death was not in vain because I definitely celebrated the entirety of its life in this one sitting. The French fries and garlic bread were well seasoned and complemented the awesome-ness of this steak too. And my 5 oz steak for $27.95 included salad and soup. Not a bad deal at all.

Grand Master Foodie says…. FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS
We should’ve made reservations… please learn from our mistake.
Good service and delicious food makes me a happy lady 😉

I’m baaaaccckkk!!

16 Feb

Sorry for the hiatus, I was so sick I could barely make it to work 😩

Mid-recovery, we took a trip up to Santa Ynez for wine tasting. Amazing trip, great friends and wonderful memories 🙂

And for your viewing pleasure, breakfast on Saturday in Solvang before we hit the wineries… Crepe topped with Jack cheese, side of fresh fruit and freshly squeezed orange juice!

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With a breakfast like that, your day is guaranteed to be awesome!

My first Moroccan experience

4 Feb

Marrakesh
Studio City, CA

Let me first start off with this: I am very disappointed with this restaurant. This was our first experience with Moroccan food and although the food was very good, I’ve never felt more awkward and un-welcomed in a restaurant before.

It was a bad omen when we arrived at the restaurant and some car almost hit us when we were pulling into the valet. The exterior of the restaurant needs work, as well as a new pair of doors to replace its heavy gymnasium  doors. We had reservations for 8:00 pm. With the whole car fiasco, we checked in at probably 8:05. Also note that when we walked into the restaurant, there was no one at the hostess stand. We were waiting for a few minutes until someone arrived, ushered us into the bar/waiting area and told us that we would be seated soon. We ordered some rum and cokes and sat down at the bar. The group of four women that were already there got seated so we automatically thought that we would soon be seated as well. THEN a group of four people arrived… AND got seated before us. We asked the guy who told us to wait, how much longer? He said, almost ready. We were honestly thinking about leaving but we had driven this far for Moroccan food (we live in Long Beach). Fifteen minutes later, he leads us into one of the many rooms of the restaurant where there were a TON of open tables. There were open tables on both sides of where we got seated. It was 8:30ish. I was so confused. We had reservations for 8:00, bigger parties got seated before us AND there were so many empty tables!!

The waiter comes by and we tell him that we want to do the dineLA prix fixe menu. There were no physical menus available so he proceeded to dictate the menu to us. He leaves and another waiter comes by with a big Moroccan bowl and washes our hands. I realized that other parties of two were also seated when we were. It seemed like he only washed our hands and none of the other parties in the room. Awkward. Looking around, I also realized that the other parties were given what looked like soup in little bowls. Our waiter didn’t even offer us soup. And there was no menu to verify what to expect.

Enough rants… on to the food!!

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Moroccan Trio Salad with Hummus
Marinated eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers and spiced carrots. Accompanied with bread freshly baked that day in the restaurant.

OK you caught me.. we were so hungry that we dove in before I could get a picture! But hey, you can still tell what it looks like! The bread was used to scoop up the sweetly marinated eggplant and it complimented the drier texture of the hummus. The tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots gave a splash of color on the plate and really gave a fresh taste for an appetizer.

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B’Stilla
A blend of tender shredded chicken, eggs, almonds and spices wrapped in filo dough and baked. Served with a dusting of powdered sugar and cinnamon.

I’m not going to lie, I was a little scared of this combination but I was pleasantly surprised that the flavors went together really well. It was like a savory pastry. Really good flavors and I love the flaky exterior.

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From top and counterclockwise:

Beef and chicken kabobs
Served on skewers on a bed of cous cous vegetable with harisa (hot sauce) on the side.

Honey Lamb
Succulent roasted lamb in a honey sauce topped with almonds and raisins.

Lemon Chicken
Fresh chicken slow simmered with lemon zest, herbs, and the perfect blend of spices. Garnished with preserved lemon rind and olives.

Of these three dishes, I have to say that the kabobs on cous cous was my favorite. The beef was grilled nicely and the harisa did nothing but enhance its smokiness. The cous cous was cooked perfectly too. My second favorite was the Lemon Chicken. The chicken was sliding off the bone, it was so tender and juicy. I didn’t quite taste the lemon zest though. The Honey Lamb was no doubt good and I am a big fan of lamb but I’m not sure how I feel about fruit in my meat…

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Baklava and Moroccan Mint Tea

I’m not a big fan of baklava because it’s usually too sweet for me.. and yes, this one was too sweet. The Moroccan mint tea was good though.

Grand Master Foodie says
. THREE OUT OF FIVE STARS
I was very pleased with the food, including the presentation and portion size.
The restaurant and decor needs some remodeling.
The belly dancer was entertaining but she didn’t spend very much time with us.
The low rating is due to the lack of welcome we did not receive. Quite honestly, you can have great, delicious food but if your patrons don’t feel welcomed, they will not return. I would recommend some lessons in customer service.

 

 

I love Gordon Ramsay!!

4 Feb

Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood
West Hollywood, CA

I was ecstatic when I saw this restaurant on the dineLA list!! We were super late for our reservation but they still seated us (we would’ve been soo disappointed!) The waiter brought us the prix fixe menu and brought us water first. We told them that we wanted to do the wine pairing and the sommelier was very knowledgeable. He would read the label, explain why it was paired as so, and tell us the origin of the wine.

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Grilled Kingfish sashimi, sauteed foie gras, sake soy dressing
I actually liked this appetizer better than my entree. Yes, it was that good! The kingfish sashimi was tender. The foie gras was creamy and smoky. The dressing tied everything together very very nicely, including the baby carrot and lone mushroom. I would go back just for this dish.

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Baked Pacific halibut, white bean cassoulet, artichoke and zucchini
The fish was cooked perfectly. The skin was crispy and the inside was melt-in-your-mouth soft… scrumptious!! Not sure what the orange sauce was.. I think it was some sort of coulis. The white beans and artichoke gave the dish a twist on halibut. I especially liked the crunchy texture added by the zucchini.

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Lemon verbena cheesecake, fromage blanc ice cream
First off, I love cheesecake; it’s my dessert of choice! Creamy with blood orange slices on top… yum 🙂 The tiny scoop of ice cream was not enough!

Grand Master Foodie says
. FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS
Beautiful hotel, beautiful restaurant, beautiful presentation of every dish.
The food was delightful and interesting with different flavors and textures.
It was an extra $35 for a wine pairing with each dish… so worth it!!

Ethiopian food in… INGLEWOOD?!

31 Jan

Ibex Ethiopian Restaurant
Inglewood, CA

I’m not even going to lie, the area looked sketchy. I was nervous as we parked the car but I needed my Ethiopian spongy bread and spicy meat fix. We were greeted by a woman who is the wife of the chef. She sat us down and gave us the menu. It looked like this:

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We ordered a round of waters but she came out with bottled waters so you might want to specify during your visit! We told them and they brought us regular water.

My two coworkers and myself ordered the following:

1. Awaze Tibs (Tender beef sauteed with onion, tomato and red pepper paste) SEASONING WAS BOMB DOT COM
2. Green Chicken (Boneless chicken sauteed with onion and collard greens) GOOD BUT NOT AS SPICY AS THE AWAZE TIBS
3. Vegetarian Combination with Fish (pan fried trout to perfection) THE TROUT OMG OMG OMG!!

She asked us if we wanted everything together on the same plate. Yes please! See below photo for the beautiful presentation and the basket of injera. Injera is the national bread of Ethiopia and traditionally made with teff flour. You can read more about it on Wikipedia!

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For newbies, please note that you’re supposed to eat everything by hand,  no utensils or plates. Tear off a piece of injera and scoop up the delicous portions. Don’t be afraid to mix the lentils with the meat or add the spicy sauces with everything else. They will bring out forks if needed…

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The trout was the best part. As the menu had stated, pan fried and seasoned to perfection.. and indeed it was. We were definitely the most impressed with the fish! Also, the green spicy sauce on the left of the sauce caddy is DELICIOUS. They need to bottle that and sell it. It’s tangy, spicy… simply amazing…

Grand Master Foodie says
. FIVE OUT OF FIVE STARS
The food was delicious and they definitely gave me my Ethiopian fix. I will definitely be back for the fish. The only thing I have to complain about was that it did take awhile to bring out the food. (But I figured it was a lot to prepare) Don’t be scared to go to Inglewood for Ibex!!

Taiwan’s Toilet Restaurant

31 Jan

Though I agree that Asians are generally are more open about bodily functions, this still strikes me as bizarre. Imagine eating dinner on the great porcelain throne! I am so very intrigued by this concept. Damn my curiosity!!! But the article claims that the restaurant is clean and the food is good. Any takers? 😀