Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Don't you just love Happy Hours? You get to sample popular places like Prospect without putting a huge dent into your wallet. Although, I think I get order happy and end up with a huge bill at the end! lol Their bar area was PACKED for a Friday night. Be sure to get there with plenty of time because there is limited seating and sometimes people reserve part of the bar area. Quick tip: Don't be afraid to be aggressive and just squeeze! There is also nothing wrong with one person seated and the other one hovering over you at the bar to enjoy drinks and food.
The bartender was super nice and sweet! Even though they were super busy he was still very attentive and had a great smile. You could feel the sincerity and warm atmosphere so a huge plus in all the crowdedness.
Ms. Lin started the night with a Fleur d'Orange, $5. It is a mix of Citrus Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liquor, Sparkling Wine, Soda, and Orange Twist. The drink was refreshing and a great value. There were a few potent potables that looked and sounded good, but I will wait until next time to try.
Limited seating and time limits don't mix because you have to make quick and greedy decisions! I ordered one of everything except the Chickpea Fritters, because let's face it... I need my meat! There wasn't enough time for us to try the dish and order another round of the dishes before last call. That day I was very well behaved and only ordered one to try rather than over order.
All the appetizers were $5 each and that night they offered a Foie Gras & Truffle Mousse served with Toasted Sourdough. Really? For only $5? Bring it on! The mousse was nice and smooth. I was surprised at how generous the portion was. Even though it is suppose to have truffles inside, I couldn't really taste or smell the flavor. You can definitely taste the foie gras so I am not complaining! The only down side was it came with 4 small pieces of toast. We probably could have asked for more bread but we didn't want to be a bother.
Luckily there were some Kennebee Chips left over to top off with the foie gras & truffle mousse. I make do with what I got. The French Onion Dip that came with the chips was nicely seasoned and had a smooth texture. A tribute to good ol'fashioned potato chips and dip.
The Pork Belly encased in Steamed Buns with Brussels Sprouts and Miso was only so-so. It is Prospect's version of "gua bao", a typical Taiwanese snack. The pork belly needed to be cooked just a tad longer for the meat to melt in your mouth. My piece didn't have enough savory flavor. I personally make super delicious pork belly so I am a tough one to please.
They offered Trotter Tots with Lobster Aioli, Salsa Verde, and Capers. I think I was a little confused because I was expecting fried lobster but it was really fried pork. Still, I am not one to turn away bite-sized fried meat. Can't really remember anything good or bad about this dish, but I do think they did a nice job on the batter and crispy texture.
Ms. Lin is a huge fan of oysters so we were happy to see Fried Oysters served with Tasso Aioli on the $5 bites. The batter on the oysters wasn't as crisp as the trotters, but they were plump and juicy. Again, there was nothing wrong with this dish but nothing really stood out either.
What sounded really good was their Flat Bread with Bacon, Caramelized Onions, and Gruyere Cheese. How can you go wrong with bacon and melted cheese? The bacon was more like slices of ham and there wasn't much melted cheese. For me, the dish was a little on sweet side and had no savory characteristics. Maybe it was the caramelized onions that were too sweet but I also think the bacon didn't hold its end of the deal by bringing in the salty/savory component.
All in all I thought the bartender was super nice and welcoming. The food... was not bad but nothing special. I am glad I got to try their small bites to get a taste of what their restaurant might be like because their dining room menu is a bit more on the pricier side. This is why I love that they have a Happy Hour where you can still try them at but at a fraction of the cost. If I had to pay a lot for the food and drinks, I would have given them a harsher review. It is all about weighing the cost and taste. They do change their bites menu and if the next time I am up there they offer a good selection, I just might return.

300 Spear St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 247-7770
Prospect on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Today was the opening of DG Burger by the Charlie Palmer Group. What does DG stand for? Damn Good! The previous private dining section in Charlie Palmer has now been turned into DG Burger by day and back to fine dining at night. DG Burger is open 11:30 AM - 4:00 PM daily, but if there are no private parties and customers there hungry for a burger they will stay open serving burgers.
As to celebrate their Grand Opening, DG Burger offers FREE BURGER to the First 300 customers and a lot of people caught wind of the news! When I arrived at 10:30 AM for the Media Preview there were already a few people in line. As the afternoon went on, the line started getting longer and longer. So long that it wrapped around the corner of Bloomingdale's!
In need of a quick lunch? Stop in to DG Burgers for a good ole fashioned burger and shake. They will take your order and give you a number. Just display the number at the center of the table and they will bring the burger right out to you. No fuss no muss.
So what's the secret behind these burgers? The patty is a combo of beef chuck, the fattier parts of short rib, and hangar steak. They have been experimenting with the bun. The dough is made out of unbleached wheat flour and potato flour. All the buns are buttered and toasted. I like how they grilled the burgers to medium rare so that the Black Angus beef patties are juicy with each bite.
The fries were nicely fried, but the best part was the sauces. Alone, the fries were very tasty but we enjoyed exploring the different dipping sauces. If I had more time, I would have loved drizzling some of these on the burger to bring out a different kick. (Clockwise from left) Chipotle Aioli, Curry Ketchup, Roasted Garlic Sour Cream, and Bacon Mayo. I thought each of them had a spunk and went great with the fries. The curry flavor added a nice pizazz to the ketchup and garlic in my sour cream? Sold! How can anyone say no to bacon? They all are definitely worth trying!
We were able to try the Sausage Sandwich with grilled garlic sausage and roasted peppers in a semolina hoagie. Even though the buns are similar, I liked the hoagie bun a little bit more because it was thinner and crispier. The sausage was plump and had a bite. Personally I'd stick to the burger but if you ever want to switch it up, it is good to know that you have choices.
To enjoy the sausage and burger they offer a wide variety of sodas, shakes, beer, and wine. I grabbed a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola and Henry Weinhard's Orange Cream. Got to love the different taste of Coca-Cola across the border. The orange cream does taste like a orange creamsicle too! lol
They took a while to bring out the shakes but they were definitely worth the wait! Yum! We tried their Strawberry and Malted Chocolate Milk Shakes that were so deliciously flavorful and sweet. Even though it is cold outside now, they still hit the spot! Next time I am shopping in South Coast Plaza, I just might have to do a grab and go! I love a refreshing shake! No fake foamy flavor here. Just wholesome fresh ingredient taste.
DG Burger
South Coast Plaza
3333 Bristol Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 361-4264

Monday, November 22, 2010

After being denied the joy of trying Hawaiian Style Poke, I made it a goal to go when they are actually open. For some reason I always cut it close on time to Hawaiian Style Poke and this time they were open! Yay! Exhausted from driving and a little hungry I picked up greedily a bunch of ahi poke. Never buy under the influence of hunger! I bought way too much and no fridge to store the food. =*(
None of the fish were out on display so I sort of chose blindly. When I saw that they had a Garlic Ahi Poke, I had to have it. There was a good amount of garlic and the poke was very fragrant from the sesame oil. The only thing I wished was that it was more flavorful. It was a little on the bland side. Being so fragrant, I thought the taste would match up but it fell short.
Their most well known poke was the Ahi Limu Poke. Limu is Hawaiian for algae. This definitely was more unique and added a little more bite to the texture. Again this poke didn't really have much flavor to make it tasty. I actually thought this would have more citrus because I saw the word limu before I knew what it meant. If I was at home, I'd be able to add a couple more seasonings to really make this dish. Still, I shouldn't need to be the one flavoring it for taste.
I think the Shoyu Ahi Poke was the least flavorful because it was just huge fresh cubes of tuna loaded down with sesame oil. The soy sauce didn't help give the whole thing more flavor. It felt a little one dimensional with soy being the only source of flavor, salty.
All in all I really regret buying sooooooo much. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that they ran out of the raw crab. They were super nice and friendly but the food just wasn't good enough IMHO. I should have asked if I could try any of it. Don't know if they would have let e but the other really yummy poke place in Vegas I found did. Stay tuned for that mouth-watering review!

Hawaiian Style Poke
3524 Wynn Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89103
(702) 202-0729

Sunday, November 21, 2010

What's a girl to do when she hated the Foodbuzz seminar because it was boring and no food was provided? Well let me tell you... I just leave and do my own thing! If you are not going to entertain me, at least FEED ME!! Ms. Lin an I just left and headed down to Macy's to shop and decide where to grub before meeting up with fellow bloggers. She suggested Frontera Fresco from Rick Bayless. Sounded good because I have been wanting to try his real restaurant but I haven't quite made my way there yet and this was a great way to cheat and cut corners. O=)
First off the bat, Ms. Lin wanted their Raspberry Prickly Pear Limeade ($1.95). At first I was skeptical because it had raspberries and I detest the taste of raspberries. IN the end it was refreshing and sweet, so a good choice on her part.As soon as I saw that they offered a Sweet Corn and Green Chile Tamale ($3.95), I had to have it! Mine! It's made with fresh Corn, Roasted Chiles, Creamy Goat Cheese, Ricotta and topped with Tomatillo Salsa. The tamale was well made and they loaded it with cheese. This had a lot of potential if it wasn't served luke warm/cold! The bites with sauce or cheese were colder because the tamale itself was barely heated. An extreme let down because I love tamales and to be made with sweet corn is what I always look for!
Ms. Lin and I decided to share the Roasted Chicken Quesadilla with Salad ($7.95). Man! Can that quesadilla be any smaller or flatter? If this was a "real" meal and not a snack, it would take almost 3-5 orders of this to fill me up. At that rate I might as well hit up a high-end restaurant for real food! Again, the quesadilla was not hot and the cheese was not melted. Huge negative points there because the whole point of quesadillas is to eat melted cheese! The flavor was decent but it's comparable to what I can get at Del Taco or Taco Bell really. We tried the different sauces and they were good but if I have to use sauces to pep up the dish... there's something wrong there too.
All in all not impressed. I am glad I tried it but not worth the $15 for this. Cold and unfulfilling are not words I would want my food to be described as.
Frontera Fresco
170 O'Farrell St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 296-4349
Frontera Fresco on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 15, 2010

In the quiet and serene vineyards of Napa there's more that meets the eye. Not only will they be known for their infamous wine and breath taking views, now they will be known to everyone for their cultivation of aromatic black truffles. Robert Sinskey Vineyards in the Carneros Region partnered with the American Truffle Company will be the first to cultivate truffles in the soil. The average time it takes about four to seven years for the first truffle harvest, which I am sure will be worth the wait.
It's so exciting to know that truffles can now be cultivated in California and the amazing possibilities it can bring. Not only is Napa known for their wine but also for the many wondrous Master Chefs and their restaurants for one to enjoy after a luxurious day out in wine country. I am simply reeled by the thought of all the fragrant truffles mixed in with the great food and wine. Imagine if one day they offer Truffle Wine? I'd be the first in line to try this delectable concoction.
To honor the introduction of truffles into the Napa vineyards they have launched first of I hope many Napa Truffle Festival. It will be a weekend of culinary and truffle exploration. There will be cooking demonstrations from the Culinary Institute of America, Truffle & Wine pairings from Michelin Star Chefs, the 13 Michelin Star Truffle Dinner, and more! Needless to say that this weekend will be one of the most sensual flavor exploration for a gourmand. Count me in! They had me at truffles! I can't wait to learn all there is to know about truffles and visit the Robert Sinskey Vineyards to see the beginning of a very fruitful endeavor.
Start planning your winter weekend getaway to check out the Inaugural Napa Truffle Festival that will leave you wanting more. Book your tickets now to secure your spot. Imagine one dinner where you will be able to sample some of the finest Chefs around the US and in just one night.

Event :
Inaugural Napa Truffle Festival

Date :
December 10th-12th

Location :
Westin Verasa
1314 Mckinstry Street
Napa , California 94559


Ticket Prices :
The Epicurean Grower Scientist: $850 per person
• Welcome Reception and Truffle Prix Fixe Dinners at Napa restaurants including
Bardessono, La Toque and Martini House
• Saturday Continental Breakfast
• Keynote
• Truffle Lunch at La Toque
• Truffle Seminars 1, 2, 3
• Robert Sinskey Vineyards Truffle Orchard Tour

The Gourmet: $950 per person
• Welcome Reception and Truffle Prix Fixe Dinner
• Saturday Continental Breakfast
• Keynote
• Gourmet Lunch at Greystone
• The Art of Wine-Truffle Pairing: Cooking Classes 1 & 2
• Champagne Brunch
• Epicurean Marketplace

The Truffle Gourmand: $1,325 per person
• Three-day pass to all events including Michelin Star Truffle Dinner

Michelin Star Truffle Dinner: $475 person

Description :
The American Truffle Company proudly introduces the inaugural Napa Truffle Festival, presented by Lexus, December 10-12, 2010—featuring a unique gathering of leading truffle cultivation experts and scientists, along with internationally renowned Michelin Star chefs and special guests from the food and wine world.

The focus of the Festival is primarily black truffles—specifically, Tuber melanosporum (the winter or Périgord truffle) and Tuber aestivum/uncinatum (the summer or Burgundy truffle), which will be discussed, examined, probed, prepared, demonstrated, and finally paired with wines and feasted upon.

The Napa Truffle Festival weekend kicks off Friday evening with an opening reception at The Westin Verasa and organized dinners at select Napa restaurants. Saturday includes cultivation and culinary seminars, cooking classes, a truffle orchard tour excursion and the Michelin Star Truffle Dinner. Sunday concludes the Festival with a Champagne Truffle Brunch, followed by an Epicurean Marketplace.

The highlight of the Festival will be Saturday night’s Michelin Star Truffle Dinner, hosted by Michelin Star Chef Ken Frank of La Toque restaurant and featuring a multi-course truffle menu (each course prepared by a Michelin Star chef) and wine pairing.

Throughout the Truffle Festival weekend, local Napa Valley restaurants will provide seasonal truffle menus, and contribute to culinary seminars and classes focused on truffles.

Cultivation experts and scientists include Dr. Paul Thomas, partner and chief scientist, American Truffle Company and Managing Director, Mycorrhizal Systems Ltd (UK); and Dr.Alexander Urban, University of Vienna.

Michelin Star chefs, with 13 stars among them, include Josiah Citrin of Mélisse, Santa Monica, CA; Ken Frank of La Toque, Napa, CA; David Kinch of Manresa, Los Gatos, CA; Gabriel Kreuther of The Modern, New York, NY; Nancy Oakes of Boulevard, San Francisco, CA,; and Sylvain Portay of Le Louis XV (Monte Carlo), Mix (Las Vegas) and Adour (NY).

Truffle Festival Schedule

Friday, December 10, 2010
• Welcome reception at The Westin Verasa
• Truffle Prix Fixe Dinners at select Napa restaurants

Saturday, December 11, 2010
• Continental Breakfast
• Truffle Seminars
1. Science-based Truffle Cultivation – with world-renowned truffle scientists Dr. Paul Thomas and Dr. Alexander Urban
2. The Economics of Truffle Cultivation – with ATC Robert Chang and Dr. Paul Thomas
3. Proprietary Truffle Science – by invitation only (for existing ATC client-partners)
• The Art of Wine-Truffle Pairing: Cooking Classes 1 & 2 – each session taught by a Michelin Star chef
• Robert Sinskey Vineyards Truffle Orchard Tour in the Carneros Region – see what an
operating truffle orchard looks like!
• Michelin Star Truffle Dinner

Sunday, December 12, 2010
• Champagne Truffle Brunch
• Epicurean Marketplace - fresh black truffles for sale along with local organic farmers and
artisanal gourmet vendors on hand to show and sell their fresh produce and specialty food products.
Participating Michelin Star Chefs
• Josiah Citrin of Mélisse, Santa Monica, CA
• Ken Frank, La Toque – Napa, CA
• David Kinch, Manresa - Los Gatos, CA
• Gabriel Kreuther, The Modern - New York, NY
• Nancy Oakes, Boulevard - San Francisco, CA
• Sylvain Portay of Le Louis XV (Monte Carlo), Mix (Las Vegas) and Adour (NY).

A portion of the proceeds from the Napa Truffle Festival will go to support the Hunger Project and Feeding America.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

At Last Cafe has been on my list for a while and I finally had the chance to come try them out. After a grueling trip to Vegas and directly into Long Beach for a few days, I was looking for a way to catch my breath. Of course that never happened as I just continued to use this rare chance to explore as much of Long Beach as I could. I am still on my whirlwind travels without a breather. Thank goodness I had my GPS to guide me around because I could have sworn that somewhere along the line I was in Compton, but then again I didn't know where I was heading. At first I was aiming to have lunch in Compton but Ms. Lin convinced me not to because she would like to see me return in one piece. Can't blame a girl for trying to be adventurous.
After a few blocks the neighborhood was a little out there but eventually I found At Last Cafe. There was plenty of parking on the street in the afternoon. Its quite a cozy and quaint place tucked away at the corner. The staff there was super friendly. Everything about the place screams out comfort food home-cooking. It's a perfect neighborhood restaurant where you can just waltz in and grab a nice lunch. I'm sure after one visit they will remember you and greet you with a smile the next time they see you.
What really lured me here was the promise of delicious Three Cheese Mac-N-Cheese with Bacon topped with Toasted, Buttered, & Seasoned Breadcrumbs ($8.25 + $3.50). One thing I really love is Cheese and to add Bacon to that??? Say what? I am so down for it. My only qualm is that I wished this dish had a stronger cheese flavor that emanated through. The Mac-N-Cheese itself was nice and creamy but fell a little short in flavor. I thought this dish was nicely cooked but I was looking for a salt & pepper shaker the whole time. The saving grace was the huge bits of bacon! OMG! Each delightful crunch just shot the dish up into the nines! They do give a generous amount of bacon to enjoy the dish. **note: I only got the 1/2 order**
I was a little greedy that afternoon and wanted to try it all! After all, who knows when I will make another trip back up to Long Beach, got to take the chance to make the most of this visit. Upon the server's recommendation I decided to try the Beef Flat Iron Steak ($12.50). The steak is served with Sauteéd Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Smashed Potatoes, and Fresh Vegetables. They use real potatoes and hand mash them. I really liked the sweet caramelization of the onions. The components were all good on their own but I am not sure it came together harmoniously for me. It was a solid dish but just not for me. I think it might have been the pre-cut steak that came with the dish. The steak just didn't pop for me, but I think the flavors were good here.
My favorite thing of the day here was the Brick Chicken ($9.50). This was fabulous! It's half a Chicken that's flattened and grilled under a Brick served with Smashed Potatoes and Fresh Vegetables. Whatever brick they were using, don't stop! The seasonings used on the chicken really popped and was absorbed. At first I was not a believer of cooking chicken in this manner but all the wonderful flavors really get caught up the chicken. Not only was the skin crisp and flavorful, I couldn't stop eating this dish. Maybe this is what deterred me from the previous dish. Once I had a bite of the chicken, I was expecting the other dish as great as this one. Normally I am not a huge fan of chicken but the smokey flavor just lingered in my mouth. **drool drool** The sauce for the chicken and beef seemed to be the same but the preparation seemed to make a huge difference. I'd definitely come back for this dish. Yum!
All in all I had a nice afternoon lunch. Everyone there was really nice and inviting. It's simple good home-cooking at a great price. I like that I can enjoy many items on the menu without breaking the bank. The portions were generous and filling. I was a little too greedy because I had to package most of it home, but I was happy to do so. Mmmm I want some more of that Brick Chicken!

At Last Cafe
204 Orange Ave
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 437-4837
At Last Cafe on Urbanspoon

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