Old School Charm Meets the Beach at Handel’s

The first time I heard about Handel’s Ice Cream was when I was volunteering at the Crown Jewel Club’s Beauty 360 event last summer. I noticed some women walk in with polo shirts with the store’s name embroidered on. Several people made comments about how good their ice cream was. As a foodie, I knew I had to swing by.

Well, like most things, I forget, & get lazy. However, I wasn’t going to let a visit to this place slip through my fingers as many a restaurant did back before my foodie days.

Yes I know it’s been chilly lately but I headed out to try this South Bay gem. As we all know, we could all use some ice cream every now & again for a quick pick me up.
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Like another old fashioned ice cream shop in Torrance, Handel’s was a counter only order format with a few tables up front. The staff was very friendly & the interior of the place seemed very clean, and also very bright. The menu was very organized & offered everything from milkshakes, floats, sundaes, and splits.

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Handel’s Ice Cream only has outdoor seating, a few tables on the patio it shares with the rest of the strip mall to be exact. I did like how it’s located in a very well lit strip mall area. My turtle sundae was delicious. For a small, it definitely was enough to take home & eat later too. The flavor was very rich. I couldn’t detect any powdery or artificial fillers to it. If there were they did a damn good job of hiding it. ;)

I’m glad I found another local gem in the South Bay area. I’ll be visiting a lot more once the weather warms up!

Handel’s Ice Cream

1882 South Pacific Coast Highway
Redondo Beach, CA 90277

Handel's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

Sweet Endings at SusieCakes Bakery Manhattan Beach, CA

It’s Friday, we’ve made it through another week. Can you believe it’s already halfway through September? That means that the holidays are slowly creeping up on us..and with that of course comes all the sweets! Of course you can always start your empty calorie intake gradually. Try cupcakes for instance. I don’t know a single person that can turn down these simple but delicious & downright beautiful mini cakes! I may be using mini as an understatement as we all know that cupcakes are in fact getting much larger.

SusieCakes in Red Velvet, Chocolate Mint, and Chocolate in Manhattan Beach, CA

Luckily for us South Bay dwellers, there are, albeit a few bakeries worth sampling. One of these is SusieCakes in Manhattan Beach. A cozy cottage that perhaps is reminiscent of those found in fairy tales is where you can find some of the best cupcakes in the area that are on par with the big shots like Sprinkles & Crumbs. While those two companies still hand make their products, there’s something even more authentic about Susies. The moist texture of these oversized cupcakes along with their creamy frostings feel as if someone painstakingly spent hours working on each and every cupcake by hand ensuring they did not leave the kitchen until they were on par with the rest of the batch. The atmosphere is that of  a corner store that we’ve only read about in school books or seen on tv & the big screen. The service was quick as the peak hour lines moved quickly. Gone are the gimmicks and in the end, a cupcake worth the trip and the crazy parking that is characteristic of the South Bay and most importantly, a return trip in the future.

SusieCakes on Urbanspoon

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The Kettle Stays Boiling for 24 Hours

It’s hard to find a 24 hour restaurant in the South Bay. Yes the beach cities have their fair share of bars & clubs but to find a decent meal during the wee hours of the day, you have to do a bit of searching. Fortunately, there’s a place in Manhattan Beach that serves more than the greasy diner fare at 2am. Enter The Kettle.

Overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean is Manhattan Beach’s own 24 hour restaurant. The first glance of the dining area immediately recalls the decor of another cafe albeit not 24 hours, Mimi’s. Decked in the same faux French cafe style with its dim lighting and earth tone furnishings, you wonder why it’s just not called Mimi’s. Even the menu carries the same comfort food such as meatloaf, stews, and soup. Breakfast is also served at all hours of the day & it includes the usual fare of French toast, eggs, and pancakes.

The restaurant was half  full on a Saturday evening but the servers were either overwhelmed or hanging around the bar area which was a bit awkward to see. Now I realize why my manager would always be on us servers for standing around. Just doesn’t look right. If you’re going to do it, go where the patrons can’t see you. With that being said, our server was one of those stop & go kind. Yes he was there to take our order & run our food but he went missing from time to time, like his mind was elsewhere.

Tortilla Soup at The Kettle in Manhattan Beach

My entree came with a choice of soup. I had ordered the Tortilla Soup which was a bit spicy but thankfully not so much. The soup to me was a good prequel to dinner.

French Dip Sandwich from The Kettle in Manhattan Beach

What was supposed to be the highlight of the evening was sadly a sore disappointment. I found the roast beef to be rather dry and had to depend on the au jus more than I should have to season the sandwich. Some extra remoulade dressing would have helped but sadly our server had managed to disappear at that time.

My husband on the other hand enjoyed his pancakes so perhaps I ordered the wrong thing. For being the practical identical twin to Mimi’s, I expected so much more. Instead I was sadly let down. I would stop by again when everything else is shut down for the evening as I did like the atmosphere here a lot more than the local diners. However, I won’t be stopping by when more decent restaurants are open.

The Kettle on Urbanspoon
The Kettle in Los Angeles on Fooddigger

Chinese Food Challenge #4 Express Chinese Food El Segundo, CA

Today brings us to our fourth installment of the Chinese Food Challenge. I can’t believe it’s been a month. The good thing is I haven’t gotten sick of it yet. It’s actually been fun!

It’s been slim pickings in the beach cities & El Segundo but I gotta make do with what I have right? This week’s challenge brings us to Express Chinese Food in El Segundo. It’s located in a busy plaza that houses many fast food restaurants so parking was pretty challenging to say the least. More of my time was spent looking for a parking spot than waiting in line for my food so I guess it evened out. I arrived at the end of the lunch rush and all of the restaurants had revolving doors of people, same goes for the restaurant I went to. My first impression of the menu was that the prices were slightly steep from what I’d been accustomed to. There was only one item on the lunch special as opposed to the other restaurants I’d been to that displayed a page to several pages of specials.

I was helped by a woman who spoke in a very monotonous voice. She would repeat the order back to the cooks over a microphone which also was very monotonous. Just hearing her dull tone was mind numbing to me so I’m glad my order didn’t take that long. Finally she called my order out. My food along with the others was in a styrofoam box. There didn’t seem to be a dine in option at this establishment. The restaurant had a small bar area to sit at. I felt so cramped in there  due to the amount of people in the tiny dining area that were ordering that I thought I’d risk going outside & fighting for a table with others on their lunch break.

Beef Chow Fun at Express Chinese Food El Segundo, CA

Beef Chow Fun at Express Chinese Food El Segundo, CA

I will admit that I was pleased with the portion size of my Beef Chow Fun considering the price ($9). The vegetables were very brightly colored and crunchy, a nice touch. The sauce was a very light texture and the beef wasn’t overly chewy. My favorite part was the noodles. I’m such a sucker for them and there were no complaints here. I even took some food home because it was too much for me in one sitting.

If you are in the El Segundo area, this would be a good place to go to get some takeout. I wouldn’t dine in as it has minimal seating inside & the tables outside are shared with the other eateries. The food was great as well as the portion. The price was a little steep for me & more lunch specials would do them good since they cater to many corporate employees. I wouldn’t go out of my way to this restaurant but I would probably go once in a few months if I was in the area.

Express Chinese Food on Urbanspoon

A Little Honest Tea Goes a Long Way

Honest Tea

My samples of Honest Tea and Honest Ade

After reading South Bay Foodies’ post on Honest Tea, I knew I had to try some. Michael let his readers know that this tasty tea is available in your local supermarket. As a fan of all things non carbonated, I commented “why am I not drinking this right now?” Kat Kirsch from Formula PR heard my question on the post and sent me two samples of their tea. I was very excited from the start. I tend to get stuck in a rut when it comes to non carbonated drinks & stick to the usual suspects: orange and apple juice and regular iced tea. With that being said, I’m always eager to try something new. Sometimes I need a little push and these samples were just that.

The samples arrived at my place within two days of my request. Kat enclosed a small note stating that “these new plastic bottles are more eco-friendly than glass.” I for one prefer plastic bottles since they are lighter and obviously are shatter proof. Moving towards something that is more helpful to the environment is always a good call in my book. Both certified organic and gluten free samples were 16.9 fl oz.

The first sample I tried was the Honest Ade Superfruit Punch flavor which was composed of Yumberry & Goji Berry. The smell was that of a sweet hard candy. The berries could definitely be tasted immediately. The drink was smooth and left no aftertaste. The label stated that the drink was “just a tad sweet” which was just right for me. Too much sugar would not just add calories but also overpower the light and refreshing taste. The drink was addicting, I kept going back for more!

The second sample was Organic Half Tea & Half Lemonade Honest Tea which contained 1/4 of the caffeine as coffee as stated on the bottle. The aroma was that of your usual black tea. The taste would start with the smoothness of the tea & then end with the tartness of the lemonade. This drink would be refreshing on a hot day. Like its sister flavor, it was also “just a tad sweet” which was perfect. This would definitely be too much if it was sweetened even a little bit more. Unlike the Superfruit Punch, the Half & Half left my mouth dry after each sip. I also couldn’t drink as much of this one as I could with its punch relative. Perhaps the tartness of the lemonade was a bit much for me.

In closing, I’m glad that I not only got to read about Honest Tea but was given a chance to try them. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m more of a hot tea fan than of iced & that I’m picky about iced tea. It can’t be totally unsweetened, and it can’t just be pure black tea either. Honest Tea did capture this balance with their Half & Half but I would be more likely to buy a smaller size since I couldn’t finish the whole bottle in one shot. Either that or I’d be drinking from the same bottle over the course of several days. I’ll try their other flavors of tea & hopefully find one that strikes the balance between sweetness and smoothness. Both drinks contained a message in the bottle. What was the message? You’ll have to drink to find out!

The Honest Ade Superfruit Punch was my preferred drink of the two. Its smoothness, sweetness, and healthiness are great in my book. I will definitely be looking out for this flavor in the future. It definitely adds variety to my apple & orange juice & Snapple world! Speaking of Snapple, their lables do say “Contains No Juice”. Honest Ade on the other hand contains 7% juice. It’s safe to say I’ll be choosing Honest Ade over Snapple when I can.

Please check out Honest Tea’s website for more information. Honest Tea is available at Ralphs and Target. Thank you Kat Kirsch for sending me the samples. I truly appreciate the opportunity to try something new!

Grilled Cheese Truck Review

Lately I’ve found that Los Angeles has many food trucks. I was first introduced to the idea of food trucks when I just moved here back in 2006. Back then my mom told me about this taco truck that she’d like for me to try. I didn’t think anything of it and for the most part, those were the only types of trucks I’d see in the area. That is until I started this blog and joined Twitter. Through other foodie blogs, and Twitter, I found out that in addition to taco trucks, LA offers a plethora of trucks.

The grilled cheese truck is the first of many I’ve set out to review.

Grilled Cheese Truck

I arrived at Sunset and Cole at 11:45 and immediately spotted the yellow truck that would serve the most simple, yet comforting sandwich. I started taking pictures when one of the staff started to set up. Two women joined the line and asked the man whose idea this was? I stopped to listen. I didn’t get his name but he kindly said “It was me, I’m the one behind all this!” He went on to state that he started this grilled cheese truck as a side gig. He didn’t think that it would turn out to get this popular; that the line frequently gets long within 15 minutes of opening. We asked him how he picks his locations and he said that CNN (where the truck was stationed that day) and MySpace have asked him to come back. He also said the locations change frequently.

Sandwiches and Sides

The Grilled Cheese Truck offers a few new takes on this classic sandwich. From caprese to cheesy mac, and harvest melt, and even a dessert sandwich too. They also offer many add ons like tomatoes and avocados as well as popular sides like pickles and tater tots. All the sandwiches could be ordered on white or wheat.

Another view of the truck

Juices, water, and soda are available and the truck is also equipped with many condiments. Be sure to take a few napkins, you will need them!

I was glad to be the third person in line as corporate workers and students alike started breaking for lunch and joined me in line. The staff member was very pleasant and took my order and settled my bill. Be sure to bring cash! I cannot stress that enough. It’s a truck… there’s no machine processing.

After waiting a few moments, my sandwich was ready.

Caprese Sandwich

The Caprese Sandwich was very warm ,the mozzarella cheese was very gooey, and the basil was very fresh. My only complaint on this sandwich would be that it fell apart easily due to the tomatoes. If you’re going to order this sandwich, I suggest to eat it as soon as you can. I just walked across the street to eat and it was already falling apart. I got my husband a cheesy mac sandwich and it held together well on my drive home to the South Bay area, about 30 minutes.

My bottom line? If the truck happens to be by you, or if you’re like me and like to go on a wild goose chase for these mobil meals, be sure to give this truck a try. At $4- $6 a sandwich, you can’t go wrong. Parking on Sunset and Cole is mostly coin operated 1 hour meters which to my surprise were in abundance. There are also some parking lots at the LA Film School a few blocks away and another one next to Amoeba music, all within walking distance of the truck.

 

Looking for more Food Trucks?

Grilled Cheese Truck on Urbanspoon

Siam I Am Redondo Beach, CA


 

As I was driving along PCH en route to work each morning, I’d see a tiny little restaurant with a cute illustration of an elephant holding a serving platter. The name of the place? Cleverly enough, “Siam I Am” The place was tiny, not really any room to dine so I wanted to try take out from there.

I checked a few reviews on Yelp & there were a slew of 5 stars. Well, all of the buzz was justified! My husband & I ordered delivery & it got here pretty quickly.

As I was driving along PCH en route to work each morning, I’d see a tiny little restaurant with a cute illustration of an elephant holding a serving platter. The name of the place? Cleverly enough, “Siam I Am” The place was tiny, not really any room to dine so I wanted to try take out from there.

I checked a few reviews on Yelp & there were a slew of 5 stars. Well, all of the buzz was justified! My husband & I ordered delivery & it got here pretty quickly. The Pad Thai was great and was served in just the right size portion which hit the spot & wasn’t overly filling. Most importantly, it wasn’t greasy like many Thai meals I’ve tasted before! This is my go to Thai place now. Yum!

Siam I Am gets ***** out of 5 stars
 


Siam I Am on Urbanspoon

Children’s menu available? no

Prices? Under $15

Cleanliness? Very clean

Service? Quick

What form of payment they accept? cash & credit

Parking ? Street parking