Amused at Aimee’s

Aimee’s is located in a non distinct strip mall in Redondo Beach. If it wasn’t for a friend of ours recommending it to us, we would have missed it for sure.
We were also told that Aimee will talk your ear off. We were prepared but truth be told, I prayed it wouldn’t happen as I just wanted to enjoy my dinner.

We were greeted by the woman herself. She also shook our hands & welcomed us to her restaurant which was a nice touch. Other than that, she would check on us every now and again which I appreciated, rather than her talking to us all night long.

She was present the entire evening, also checking up on other tables, refilling drinks, and talking with guests. Something that’s really not seen these days.

Our server was very attentive at first, suggesting specials and taking our order. However, once that was done with, she disappeared. Another server brought our food. I had started with the butter lettuce salad special.

The salad was served with a sweet vinaigrette, apples, pomegranates, and topped off with goat cheese. A sweet and light way to start the evening.

Up next was the bavette de veau a la bordelaise, or veal skirt steak with a red wine sauce.

At first I thought the price was a bit steep but I definitely got what I paid for as it took me twice as long to finish my meal than my husband! No complaints with the side of mashed potatoes. The veal overall was very good. However some of the pieces were juicer than others. It would have been nice to have a more consistent dish over all.

For dessert I had a chocolate & hazelnut tart. It was rather rich and truth be told, I couldn’t finish it solely due to that. Half a portion would have been good enough for me.

Overall the service was slow or European depending on your perspective. As I mentioned, the server was attentive at first but as the meal went on, she all but disappeared with other staff picking up the slack for her. She only reemerged for dessert and to pick up the check. This is definitely not the place to eat and go. I would recommend arriving early in the evening as the service gets even slower as the night progresses.

http://www.zagat.com/Verticals/PropertyDetails.aspx?VID=8&R=100236590
Aimee's on Urbanspoon
Aimee's in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Joe’s Restaurant Tasting Menu


Fellow foodie Andee, the blogger behind LA Easy Meals, invited me to Joe’s Restaurant in Venice Beach. I was excited to try this place out, as I admittedly am not familiar with the Venice area, especially Abbot Kinney, where the restaurant was located.

Our hostess, Andee, greeted us and once we were seated we were presented with a personalized tasting menu that was even signed by Joe himself. I was rather amused with seeing my name on a menu and it was a very nice touch.

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The evening started out with a charcuterie plate, which included pork, rabbit, duck, prosciutto, and chorizo. This was a night of firsts including my first time having rabbit and I was pleasantly surprised that I liked them all. My favorites from this dish were the prosciutto, which wasn’t salty and seemed to melt in my mouth. I also loved the duck galantine which was very sweet and of course one of my all time favorites, the chorizo.

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Up next was an amuse buche of chestnut soup with Parmesan froth. The soup was made ewith a vegetable stock and the flavors of the chestnut, Parmesan, and a bite sized portion of pork blending together perfectly.

Next was the eastern fluke crudi sashimi, which was made with finger lime, radish salas, salted grape, and saletta. Needless to say, the fish had a very citrus taste and was a good palate cleanser.

After taking a few minutes to chat and pace ourselves, the pan seared foie gras with chocolate and cinnamon persimmons, brioche, and huckleberry vinaigrette was brought out next. I’m not a fan of foie gras but this one was an exception. The foie gras wasn’t fatty but rather firm and meaty. If all foie gras tasted like this, then maybe I’d like it a bit more.

After some more pacing which I am thankful the chefs did as we were starting to fill up came two equally delicious seafood entrees. Scallops with braised artichoke, sun choke puree, and cauliflower mushrooms, which were a colorful mix of deliciousness.


However, my tablemates and myself were very impressed with the grilled fijiian escolar, parsnip puree, calimari, purple sweet potato, and pink peppercorn vinaigrette. The colors of the dish screamed fall, however, the dining table was abuzz with “mmm” “delicious” and as my table mate Melissa said, “OMG OMG OMG OMG” my thoughts exactly. The fish came apart very easily and was in fact very fresh, almost as if they caught the fish as we were seated for the evening. The pork belly was also a very good accent to the dish.

The final entrees of the evening were a jidori chicken with pistachio roulade, chestnut foie gras pasta, Brussels sprouts, and pancetta. For me, this dish was the low light of the evening. It was rather dry but the chestnut foie gras saved the meal for me, as it was en pointe.


Finally we indulged in the lamb sirloin, beet risotto, and lamb ragout. Beets are another food item I don’t like but once again the staff at Joe’s turned the experience around and made it delicious. I had just recently started cooking lamb and this dish echoed why I love this protein so much. Firm yet malleable, and seasoned to perfection. Once again the beets and the lamb were a winning combination.

Last but most definitely not least was three desserts.

Up first was a pumpkin creme caramel flan with pumpkin seed streusel, and chestnut ice cream, which was devoured rather quickly.

Then was the baked apple with cranberry caramel sauce, and allspice creme fraiche that to me was the “safe” dessert. Every restaurant has a standard dessert that pleases the masses and this to me was the one.

Mascarpone Cheesecake


Finally was the mascarpone cheesecake with fig, candied pistachio, honey cinnamon sauce, and vanilla ice cream. This to me was the best dessert of the three. The mascarpone was much easier to stomach than cream cheese as it was much lighter and the fig & pistachio ended the night on a sweet note.

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As we started to unwind from the massive food feast, I was given coffee and rich fudge chocolate cookies. To me that was extra icing on the cake.

I thank Andee of LA Easy Meals for organizing this event. Next time I’m in the Venice Area, I know where I’m headed, especially for their brunch that I hear is also very good.

Joe's Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Joe's Restaurant in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Joe's

Restaurant Review: Delicieuse Redondo Beach, CA

Old fashioned ice cream cooler

Old fashioned ice cream cooler

Delicieuse is a humble store on Artesia. No gimmicks, simple architecture, it’s easy to miss. However, it’s those who pass by that are missing out. For this simple store holds such passion, such good taste. It all started as an ice cream stand at farmers’ markets. Now, it’s grown to be so much more.

Patricia Samson, the owner of the family owned Delicieuse, lets the bright exterior of the quaint store one Artesia shine through the interior. Speak with her for a minute and you can tell she is passionate about her work. Following traditional techniques of  French ice cream making, her frozen treats use carefully selected ingredients made in small batches. All of the ice cream in her store is made without pre-made ice cream mixes or powders. Handcrafting the recipes gives her more control over the taste, flavor, nutrition, and of course, the calories. Delicieuse offers over 100 flavors utilizing cow and goat milk. The flavors change frequently offering guests new selections with each visit. Patricia and her staff of three make it their mission to educate their customers about their products so that ice cream can be what many hope for, part of a healthy diet.

Escape to France for a while in Delicieuse's dining area.

Sunlight from the glass windows shines through the small cafe where the ice cream is housed. Cozy and intimate, it captures the feel of a cafe in France. Guests can enjoy their ice cream or traditional French food while they people watch and escape to the French country side if only for an hour.

Delicieuse's charming back dining area

Delicieuse also offers a larger dining area. Its former life as a craft store only adds to its quaint charm. With old fashioned furniture and decor, one cannot help but feel cozy.

Let the world pass on by at Delicieuse

Let the world pass on by at Delicieuse

If the ice cream isn’t enough, Delicieuse also offers a traditional French Bistro menu. Enjoy a croque Monsiuer, a crepe, or a salad. Have a coffee, tea, or soda alongside your meal or with your dessert.

Croque Monsieur at Delicieuse

The Croque Monsieur, a traditional French sandwich with cheese atop the bread and ham and mustard inside didn’t fail to disappoint. However, its small portion to me was just an appetizer. Yes it was fun getting slightly messy due to the cheese sitting on the outside the sandwich, and the taste was great, but I felt it was just preparing me for the ice cream that had beckoned from the entrance.

The ice cream case welcomes guests upon entry

The ice cream case was filled with a good selection of goat & cow milk based ice creams as well as sorbets. Patricia offered as many free samples as the customer would like and was happy to share more details on each flavor. With so many great tasting flavors, the decision was difficult.

The cow milk based lavender ice cream was definitely unique. Just a subtle hint of the fragrant lavender was detected. Not overwhelming a flavor or the portion size, it truly hit the spot. With the popular strawberry basil flavor selling out quickly, it gave another reason to come back.

Delicieuse is open to the public on the weekends only. Ample parking is available in front of the store and limited space is available in the back. Stop by and enjoy for good things come in small packages.
Delicieuse on Urbanspoon
Delicieuse in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Restaurant Review: Restaurant Christine Torrance, CA

Sitting on a hillside just a few miles from Palos Verdes is a small strip mall that’s tucked away from the main road. This strip mall has many eating establishments but is a near miss if you’re not careful.

One of the restaurants is Restaurant Christine. Just like the rest of the occupants of the strip mall, the storefront of this restaurant is nothing more than a beige exterior. Nothing about it stood out. Infact even when I walked into the restaurant, I wasn’t sure what the theme was.

What I did notice though was that it had a patio that was hidden from view by tall shrubbery., It immediately reminded me of a quaint little cafe.

As soon as we entered, we were greeted and seated at the small but busy dining area. I thought it may be one of those hidden gems. I hoped I’d be right as I perused the menu.

The starters had an eclectic mix of your typical salads like Greek and mushroom but it also included out of the ordinary items such as pork shumai, lobster mac & cheese, and ahi tuna three ways.

The main courses had a wide variety as well including sesame glazed salmon, cioppino, and braised short ribs.

Tomato Bisque at Restaurant Christine Torrance, CA

Tomato Bisque at Restaurant Christine Torrance, CA

If that wasn’t enough, there was also a daily special menu. From that, I selected a cup of tomato bisque ($8) which was very creamy & warm with just enough salt to give it a good kick. It was so good that it made me want to order the bowl next time.

Center Cut Jamaican Swordfish at Restaurant Christine Torrance, CA

Center Cut Jamaican Swordfish at Restaurant Christine Torrance, CA

My entree was the grilled center cut Jamaican swordfish ($27). It came with charred vegetables, a pineapple broth and sticky rice. The fish was already moist to begin with but the pinapple juice just enhanced it & brought a welcome sweetness to the dish. The charred vegetables had a nice carmelized texture. I was a bit indifferent about the rice. Yes it was sticky, yes it was good, but nothing to write about.

The food was great but unfortunately I cannot say the same about the service. Our server himself was knowlegeable and witty but unfortunately he had the entire dining room to himself & it was rather busy. He didn’t buckle under the pressure but at the same time he was spreading himself too thin.  I would return in a few months just to see if the service improved but I’m in no hurry at this time.

Restaurant Christine
24530 Hawthorne Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505

(310) 373-1952

Restaurant Christine on Urbanspoon

A Hermosa Beach Gem: Creme de la Crepe

One of the many hidden gems of Hermosa Beach can be found on Pier Avenue. This restaurant is a tiny French cafe called Creme de la Crepe. This is the real deal. A vast majority if not all hail from francophone countries including of course the motherland herself. The menu is not just the dessert crepes that Americans have come to know and love. Those crepes come in a wide variety from basic fruit and sugar encased in the thin pancake itself to more complex toppings such as the ever popular Nutella, whip cream, Grand Marnier, jams, and ice cream to name a few.

These sweet crepes can also be found on the breakfast menu with fresh fruit, syrup, and sugar as some of the selections.

The lesser known crepe is the savory buckwheat crepe. Creme de la Crepe makes adequate use out of these with several selections on the breakfast menu with choices of cheese, breakfast meat, vegetables, and of course, eggs.

The crepes on the lunch and dinner menus can be described as sandwiches with a twist. Brie, spinach, salmon, chicken, and shrimp are just some of the ingredients of these crepes.

Of course crepes are not the only thing on the menu. Oatmeal, Quiche Lorraine, French toast and omelets can be found on the breakfast menu.

The lunch and dinner menu include appetizers such as cheese fondue, escargots, and pate. The very French quiche as well as the ever popular sandwiches and paninis are offered in a wide variety. Signature French dishes such as Beef Bourguignion and Steak au Poivre make their appearance on the menu.

Whether it’s a sweet or savory crepe, a signature French dish or a salad, Creme de la Crepe will satisfy your craving while offering a little French flair moments away from the sands of Hermosa Beach.

Recipe: Basic Crepes

I first started making crepes back in high school for French class. I was hooked on these thin pancakes but forgot about them until I encountered my mother in law’s recipe years later. Now my husband and I enjoy them a lot more frequently! Just cant get enough of these.

Crepes are quick and easy to make. It is important to keep a close eye on them while cooking as they are thin and will cook quickly. Be sure to only use a quarter cup of the mixture per crepe.

Crepes are a quick & easy breakfast recipe

1 cup flour
1 1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp oil
1/4 tsp salt

Mix all together with whisk in a medium bowl. Use 1/4 cup of mixture per crepe.

Heat a small saute pan over medium heat. Lightly brush the pan with melted butter. Spread crepe mixture evenly over the pan in a thin layer. Cook until light brown, about 1 minute. Gently flip over & continue cooking another minute.

Transfer to plate.

Fill with jam, chocolate sauce, nutella, fresh bananas, canned peaches, etc


Basic Crepe Recipe

Restaurant Review: Cafe Pierre Manhattan Beach, CA

Cafe Pierre, located in the heart of Manhattan Beach brings a little of that French and Italian charm. Over a dozen of us foodie bloggers were invited to a wonderful dinner hosted by @TinyNancer and @ThatsSLife. I gladly obliged as I wanted to try authentic French food and meet my fellow bloggers as well. This meal was accompanied by the flash of many a camera. I for one was glad that I wouldn’t be the only one being the food paparazzi this evening!

Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach

Starting off with bread accompanied by olives and herbs and an eggplant caponata which is composed of olive oil, garlic, basil, and balsamic vinegar. The bread was warm and very fresh. The olives were a bit spicy, however the eggplant was sweet and smooth in texture which was very agreeable. This was just the beginning of what would be a very memorable meal.

Next up were a series of dishes served in mason jars that were all made from scratch. The presentation was unique and memorable. Among the selection of jarred dishes were pig trotters ($8) head cheese with mustard dressing ($8) hand cut prime bavette beef tartare ($14) pork rillete ($10) and sardines.
Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach
Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach
Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach

I found that the beef tartare had the one of the best presentations. Although it was slightly spicy for my taste, it was one of my favorite dishes of the night.

Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach

The pork rillete was remniscient of pulled pork sandwiches found back south in Tampa. The rillete didn’t have the sweet taste associated with Cuban pulled pork, rather a very very mild adobo taste. Truly nothing like filipino adobo but very faint notes of it were  in the dish.

Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach

I’ve always been fond of sardines and these were no exception. My only qualm was picking out all the bones from the fish, which proved to be slightly amusing.

After the interaction, discussion, and of course consumption of the jarred meals, a series of starter dishes were brought out that included  brandade provencale which was salted cod and potato puree with toasted bread crumbs and olive oil ($12), house cured Tasmanian trout with lemon,serrano,and honey mustard ($13) roasted marrow bone with pickled radish and red wine onion compote ($11) and escargots with garlic flan ($12).
Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach

I loved the texture of the brandade provencale. However, the taste was nothing too memorable.
Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach

The house cured Tasmanian trout with its accompaniment of lemon, serrano, and honey mustard was another one of my favorite dishes of the evening. Very light in taste (and hopefully in calories) the portion was just right and something I would probably order again.

Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach

I wasn’t a big fan of the marrowbone. I may be in the minority on that one but to each is own. It was a bit too gelatinous for me.

Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach

The escargots, served with a garlic flan and pine nuts had a chewy texture and was earthy in taste. The garlic flan made for a wonderful complement. This was the first time I tried escargot and yes it probably won’t be the last time I eat it.

Pan seared sweetbread veal sweet bread with roasted carrots and parmesan jus ($28),70 hours beef short ribs cipollini onions, swiss chard, fries and red wine sauce ($28), and Becker Lane pork special were just a few of the selections on the next round of entrees.

Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach

The sweetbread was a bit too rich for my liking, however I truly loved the carrots and parmesan jus.

Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach

The short rib was very tender and the steak fries were cooked well. I’m not too big on red meat but I think I’ll make an exception with this dish. Out of all of the entrees, this one was my favorite by far. As long as the steak is cooked to the point it cuts like butter and is juicy and flavored well, I’m a fan. Looks like I’ll be coming back to Cafe Pierre for this one.

Cafe Pierre,Manhattan Beach

Chef Lauvand spoke to us about some of the dishes. He explained that
the pork dish originated from an acorn fed pig. The shoulder alone weighed 50lbs and the sausage was stuffed in house. He was proud to say that the charcuterie and jar meals were also made from scratch.

The pork sausage was definitely one of my favorite dishes. Growing up on chorizo and longaniza, and many sausage & egg quesadillas in college, I think it’s safe to say I can’t turn this down despite my diet which was admittedly forgotten about that evening.

The dessert course included chocolate and vanilla bread pudding which I had never tried previously to that night. I liked the chocolate pudding just slightly more. The poached pear had a nice texture considering that I’m not too fond of a pear’s uncooked texture. It was a light dessert, something I’d get on my own since the dinner portion was pretty filling. Finally there was nothing to complain about as far as the apple tart was concerned. The fruit and crust were cooked properly and the portion was perfect. These three desserts were a wonderful way to end the meal but if I had to pick one it would be the bread pudding.

I thoroughly loved the meal. If I had to narrow it down to my favorites of the evening, they would be the pork rillete, house cured Tasmanian trout, short rib pork sausage special, and bread pudding. It was a experience that I will mention to friends time and time again. I truly enjoyed getting to know my fellow bloggers and also be given the opportunity to dine at a wonderful restaurant in my own backyard. I would definitely recommend Cafe Pierre as one of the places to go on a date, just like Valentine’s Day which is right around the corner!

Cafe Pierre is located at the heart of Manhattan Beach and is open for lunch and dinner. A metered parking garage is conveniently located behind the establishment. Reservations are highly recommended. The average menu price for dinner is $22. I would like to thank the ladies at @ThatsSLife for hosting this wonderful meal and for inviting me to join them.

Cafe Pierre on Urbanspoon
Cafe Pierre in Los Angeles

Restaurant Review: Soleil Westwood, CA

Soleil means sun in French and this little restaurant was a bright gem in bustling Westwood. The moment I stepped in, I was greeted right away and I also loved all of the celestial decor in the candle lit dining room. The tables were your typical wooden chairs associated with a French cafe. The tables were draped in white linen. The patio was shielded in from the inclement weather. No cold could be felt thanks to all of the heaters that ensured the diners would stay warm.

As I glanced over the menu, I noticed that they served poutine at breakfast. I was delighted when the server said that they could still serve it to us that evening. I was very much curious about poutine and I really wanted to try it because my friends in Canada raved about it a lot.
Poutine,Soleil,Westwood

The poutine arrived in a timely manner and is composed of thinly sliced french fries, gravy, and cheese curd. It was delicious & I couldn’t stop eating it! It’s definitely an easy guilty pleasure to prepare & I’m sure I will in the future.

Pommes Frites,French Fries,Soleil,Westwood
Mussles,Moules,Soleil,Westwood
Next up were the mussles and french fries (moules et pommes frites) which was the special that was offered at a generous $10. The mussels were delicious as were the french fries. The portions were also very decent considering the low price! I definitely got what I paid for and then some. It was definitely a good offer and I am sure I’ll come back once again for this special as it was fun to eat & also delicious!

Tarte Tatin,Soleil,Upside Down apple pie

The tart tatin was for dessert. It’s essentially an upside down apple pie. No complaints with this dessert. It wasn’t overly sweet or rich and a good way to end the meal.

The mussles & fries special was $10. The average menu price on the regular dinner menu was $18 and up. Limited street parking is available so plan accordingly. The meters are free after 7pm. Alternatively, a parking structure is at the Borders next door. Four hour parking with purchase.

Soleil’s food quality was excellent as well as its service. I’ll definitely be back for more.

My rating **** out of 5 stars

Soleil Westwood on Urbanspoon
Soleil Westwood in Los Angeles

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