Tag Archives: delicious

Red Velvet Cake Ice Cream @ Baskin Robbins

If you consider yourself a true lover of ice cream, you will stop reading this right now and immediately drive yourself to your local Baskin Robbins. Seriously, I’ve had some great cake ice creams in the past, but this one, well, let’s just say it takes the cake. Pun completely intended!

Rich, creamy, cake-y to the max, the Red Velvet Cake ice cream at 31-Flavors is so good that I don’t know why I even bothered with a second scoop of my usual favorite Chocolate Fudge. I shoulda just got two scoops of Red Velvet Cake, and you know what? Next time I go, I will!

But if you’re interested in this amazingness, you gotta act fast because Red Velvet Cake ice cream is the flavor of the month for December, and, in just a few short days, December will be over. Forever. So, check it out while you can, and in case you’re wondering…that white, creamy stuff swirled throughout the scoop is frosting and it is AH-MAZING!

I’m not kidding, the flavor profile for this rocking ice cream is so subtle and lovely, you’d swear you wear eating a vastly more expensive cone.

This is Christmas for your mouth, amigos…so, start celebrating today!

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“American Mall” cookies!

Just realized that I never posted my pictures of the amazing “American Mall” cookies that Christine and I had at the post premiere party last week at the Cabana Club. Sorry…

As I think I mentioned more than a couple time, those big-ass sugar cookies were one of the culinary highlights of the evening. And the fact that they tasted as good as they looked made them even more enjoyable.

So, a big shout out to Jedi Master Melody Brandon for creating such beautiful edible art for the bash! You rock, Melody. And if you’re curious to see how Melody made such super cool baked goods, check out her rocking step-by-step photo gallery at mysweetandsaucy.com.

I only wish my jacket had more pockets so we could have smuggled more of those delicious cookies home with us…yum!

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Downtown L.A.’s “Ciudad”

On their very cool website, Ciudad invites one and all to “experience the bold and seductive flavors of the Latin World” and last night, we took them up on it!

Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, Ciudad is the brainchild of world-renowned Chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger and though a little pricier than their fare at the similarly-themed Border Grill in Santa Monica and Las Vegas, Ciudad is worth every penny you pay. Seriously…it’s kind of magical.

Although Christine has eaten at Ciudad a number of times over the years — her workplace, downtown’s Central Library is practically across the street from the restaurant — I had only been there on one other occasion, but the memory of that meal has stayed with me ever since.

So after enjoying the sunset from the rooftop bar of The Standard nearby, we hiked on over to Ciudad for a late dinner with some of Christine’s co-workers. And seeing as the late night happy hour at Ciudad had begun just minutes before we walked in — incredibly enough, they have house mojitos, sangria and a number of other rocking good cocktails for only $4 a pop from 9-11 on Friday nights! — we could not have planned it better!

The only hitch to the late night happy hour is that you have to enjoy your drinks literally at the bar and cannot move to your table until after you’ve settled your tab. Fine by us! So we drank ourselves silly at the bar, settled the tab and stumbled to our table around 10-ish.

And the food? Wow…word’s cannot do this place justice. Fusing delicious new and classic authentic dishes from Spain, Mexico, South America, Central America, Cuba and even Portugal, the menu is almost as rich, colorful and varied as the crazy hip decor and art work inside.

We started with some incredible tapas-style dishes. And though the Peruvian Ceviche with plantain chips and Argentine Empandas (with wild mushroom, warm chipotle sauce and swiss chard!) were fantastic, I gotta say that my favorite of the three appetizers we shared was the Fried Spanish Brie. Dios mio, that stuff melted in your mouth…it was incredible.

And this from a man who is not a huge fan of the Brie…don’t get me wrong, I love me some soft cheeses, but Brie has never been my favorite. Until now!

And dinner was even more amazing! Not only were the hip, mid-century dishes super groovy to look at, but the plating of this food was out of this world. Beautiful culinary art on every plate…just gorgeous!

I had the slow-roasted Niman Ranch Carnitas with mashed yuca, organic black beans, fried plantains and grilled corn salsa. Wow, even just typing those words is making me drool. It was probably the best carnitas I’ve ever had anywhere…and that mashed yuca is something I wanna make at home, like, every night. I loved it!

Christine had a huge crusted pork chop from the “Specials” menu that not only tasted like heaven, but rivaled the Brontosaurus bone on “The Flintsones” in heft. That thing was enormous!

And that lovely pork chop was not alone in the size department, because, unlike other hipster haunts downtown, the portions at Ciudad are authentically gigantic. That’s right, they don’t eat dainty in any of the countries listed above, so why should we do it here? Sí se puede, indeed!

I don’t have any pictures to back this all up of course — Christine forbid me to photograph my food in front of her work friends — but you’ll have to trust me when I tell you that even the heartiest eaters out there will not leave this joint hungry. It’s just not possible…

So next time you find yourself downtown on a Friday night between 9-11PM — gotta hit that happy hour, I mean, come on, regular-priced Supremo Mojitos are $15! — check out Ciudad! Sure, it might cost you and arm and a leg, but I swear to God, the food you eat here will flash before your eyes when you die.

Yep, it’s that good!

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The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe

OK, I know it sounds like all we did in Santa Fe was eat and that’s probably because, well, aside from drinking — gotta love that high altitude buzz! — that is all we did. Literally.

The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

At one point Christine and I were plotting out our day and realized that everything we wanted to do involved food. Of course, we eventually found plenty of other some awesome things to do and see, but, wow, with all that good food they got cooking, why not eat your way through Santa Fe?

And a great place to start your culinary day off right is at the rocking French Pastry Shop located inside the historic La Fonda Hotel downtown. Now, I should mention that my first visit here — yes, I went just about everywhere more than once…but, hey, I was in town for six weeks, what do you expect? — with Ginger was not that great.

Inside The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

I ordered a dry-ass crepe with ham and gruyere cheese that was way overpriced and, like I said, dry as, well…ass. Not my favorite breakfast. But when Christine and I went again a week later, things were much more to my liking.

To start with, they have no menus, so you have to stare at this chalk board hanging up by the register and pick out what you like then sit down and order. I didn’t do this the first time and simply ordered what the skinny waitress suggested…not a wise move at this place, as what I got was, no offense, skinny waitress food.

Another view of The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

So this time, I studied that menu board HARD and, man alive, what a difference! Christine and I shared the tasty looking quiche-type deal with ham, cheese and spinach and wow…just wow. I think the picture below says it all.

For “desert” we ordered a fresh blueberry and raspberry crepe with whipped cream and here again, we ordered correctly. I kind of wanted to marry that thing…you know, if I wasn’t already married.

But the topper was a cold coffee drink made with two shots of espresso poured over homemade vanilla ice cream and lots of ice. I am not kidding…that just might have been the best cold coffee drink I ever consumed…and this from a former Peet’s barista!

Tasty breakfast quiche @ The French Pastry Shop, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

All I can say is thanks again to “Santa Fe Sarah” for insisting that Christine try The French Pastry Shop when she came out, because had she not, I would not have gone back. Muchas gracias, Sarah…you were right, I was wrong.

Oh yeah, and one last thing, The French Pastry is a strictly cash-only enterprise, so bring some green, and don’t forget to study that chalk menu board up front, HARD. You won’t regret it…

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Cafe Pasqual’s & The Shed

While we tried tons of super cool restaurants in Santa Fe, these two were, hands down, our favorites of the bunch. And, trust me, with the caliber of kick-ass food being what it is in Santa Fe, that is really saying something.

Cafe Pasqual’s, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

Probably best known for their spectacular mole sauce, Cafe Pasqual’s has been one of the premiere destinations for gourmet Old Mexican and New Mexican dishes alike for the past 28 years. And while the prices are a bit higher than some of the other places in town and the lines are known to stretch down Don Gasper Avenue at all hours, once you’ve eaten at Cafe Pasqual’s, it all makes sense.

Ginger and I had an early lunch there one day where I sampled that legendary mole sauce on some of the finest chicken enchiladas I have ever tasted anywhere…including Mexico. The mole was dark as night, awesomely spicy and best of all, not too chocolate-y. I was in heaven…

Cafe Pasqual’s @ lunch time! (Feb. 2008)

The next time I went was with Christine for dinner and once again, the food was downright dazzling. I had some of the tastiest skewered filet mignon I’ve ever had and the bright green cilantro rice on the side was crazy good. In fact, we were so impressed with the food that we actually bought the newest of the two Cafe Pasqual Cookbooks they had for sale up front.

I should also note that I learned later from our friends James and Amy that if you ask nicely, the chef will add a fried egg on top of any of the dishes on the menu for the low, low price of $1.00. I don’t know that I necessarily needed the egg, but hey, I’ve done stranger things for a dollar…so, maybe next time!

Mole chicken enchiladas @ Cafe Pasqual’s! (Feb. 2008)

But while we both loved Cafe Pasqual’s, The Shed is the place we’ll dream about in the years to come…huge thanks to Christine’s co-worker, “Santa Fe Sarah” for recommending it to us, you rock! Located in a cool little hacienda dating to 1692, The Shed has been serving some of the finest, Spanish, Pueblo, and New Mexican food known to man since 1953.

Housed inside the thick adobe walls of the hacienda, the dining area is spread out across a series of small, brightly colored rooms linked by narrow doorways and halls adorned with some of the coolest art in town. The place actually felt more like someone’s house than a restaurant, and with little round fire places up front and an intimate, low-ceilinged feel throughout, you could have sworn you were eating in Yoda’s pad on Degobah. And yes, that is a good thing.

The Shed, Santa Fe (Feb. 2008)

And the food…my God. Amazing! Christine ordered the Chicken Enchilada Verde which is made with traditional New Mexican blue corn tortillas and bathed in a roasted green chile sauce that will leave you begging for more. Literally! I went back two days after she left and ordered the exact same thing…and it was even better the second time.

The other thing we really dug about The Shed was the garlic bread. Instead of chips and salsa — which you can still order separately if you like — every entree is served with this amazing, piping-hot basket of French Garlic Bread. I know it sounds kinda weird, but when you’re sopping up that spicy green chile sauce, that bread is exactly what you wanna have on hand. Whew…awesome!

And for desert, you gotta try the mocha cake. I’m not kidding, I actually woke up a couple of times craving that thing. Probably one of the best coffee-infused, chocolate mouse cakes I’ve ever had. If you like chocolate…you will die!

Anyway, like I said before, there were plenty of killer dining spots in town, but these two…wow…if you ever find yourself in Santa Fe, don’t miss them.

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Todos Santos Chocolates

OK, first off, I kinda want to sue Frommer’s for leaving this place out of their “Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque” guidebook. I lived and died by that book when I was in New Mexico — not to mention last summer when their “Nashville & Memphis” guide never left my sweaty hands — so I was stunned to find someplace as cool as Todos Santos Chocolates & Confections missing from their hallowed pages.

Todos Santos sign! (March 2008)
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Ginger and I stumbled upon Todos Santos one afternoon and returned at least one more time, but Christine and I made this joint our home away from home in Santa Fe. Seriously, we made a beeline for this place every time we went downtown…and well, that was a lot.

Located just a short walk up Palace Avenue from the main plaza, Todos Santos is nestled inside the heart of the historic Sena Plaza directly across from the legendary La Casa Sena restaurant. Never got around to trying the restaurant (like many eateries in Santa Fe, they keep kind of odd hours) but the gourmet chocolates at Todos Santos are truly out of this world.

Todos Santos chocolates in all their glory! (Feb. 2008)
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In fact, owner Hayward Simoneaux — who was spectacularly friendly and actually started to recognize Christine and I as “regulars” after a while — was named one of the 10 best artisan chocolatiers in the country by Chocolatier magazine in 2001. And man, does he deserve the title. Everything we tried in his shop was downright magical…

Our favorites were a dark chocolate mouse number with reddish fleur de sel on top and a dark chocolate morsel filled with homemade peanut butter that literally melted in your mouth. You never had peanut butter this velvety! Also good was a little dark chocolate horn filled with red chile cream…amazing!

And the chocolates are just the beginning, as the interior of the tiny shop itself looks like some crazy-cool fiesta scene from the Golden Age of Cine Mexicana. Beautifully decorated with colorful paper flowers, masks, Virgen de Guadalupe ornaments and tons of gold and silver (and even chocolate!) milagros, the place was breathtakingly cool.

Mas Todos Santos chocolates! (Feb. 2008)
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Todos Santos interior! (Feb. 2008)
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And the packaging was even cooler. Simoneaux’ bold, vivid boxes and wrapping were just as amazing as the chocolates inside…and, best of all, shockingly affordable. The funky little glass and silver box we bought below was like $10-12 and was filled with three or four of our favorite chocolates to boot. Hell, you’d pay almost twice that much for the chocolates alone in Los Angeles.

Cooler still was what happened my last day in Santa Fe. Knowing I had one more shot at securing some tasty take-home treats for Christine, I headed down to Todos Santos alone and was delighted to find the store completely changed for Easter. Everywhere you looked were bright spring colors, chocolate bunnies and a dazzling new array of handmade chocolates. Man, I wanted to buy everything…

Todos Santos packaging at its finest! (Feb. 2008)
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Luggage weight restrictions being what they are, however, I narrowed down my selections to a few individual pieces in another super cool box and two small bags of Easter goodness. One was filled with dark chocolate covered almonds lightly dusted with cocoa, and the other was filled with individually-wrapped caramels infused with chipotle pepper spice, that were even better than they sound. As Ginger would say: “Yummers!”

But perhaps my favorite thing about Todos Santos was the smell. If you could bottle that shit, it would sell like, well…chocolate-scented hotcakes. The aroma in that place was positively otherworldly, and I swear, if you stayed in there long enough (as we did on several occasions) you started to smell like chocolate…which, all things considered, is a pretty tasty way to start your day.

So, gracias, Todos Santos…your chocolates will live on in our dreams!

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Herb Peterson (1919-2008)

I’m sure you’ve all heard the news by now, but for those who haven’t…earlier this week, Herb Peterson, inventor of the McDonald’s breakfast staple, the Egg McMuffin, passed into immortality at the age of 89.

John Hayes’ AP photo of Herb Peterson (circa 1997)

A former McDonald’s executive and owner of a whopping six franchises in Santa Barbara alone, Peterson said he was inspired to create the McMuffin in 1972 by his deep, abiding love for another rocking breakfast classic, Eggs Benedict.

Ironically, I had the rare treat — I say rare, because I am hardly ever awake in time to buy one — of a McMuffin for breakfast two days ago and, as always, it was f-ing amazing! Although I’m not a huge fan of the classic McMuffin (sorry, Herb) I have been a devotee of the Sausage McMuffin with Egg (not to be confused with the dry-ass Sausage Biscuit with Egg, which I seriously loathe) for years.

And knowing that my favorite fast food breakfast sandwich is a direct descendant of Herb’s original McMuffin, I gotta give the dude props for making mornings a whole lot more tolerable for me. Seriously, whenever I am called upon to get up early, I actually think to myself: “Cool, I can get a #8 (two Sausage McMuffins, hashbrowns and coffee) at McDonald’s!”

I know, the breakfast of champions, right? Well, luckily for me…I don’t get up early very often. But next time I do, I’ll salute you, Herb Peterson. Before you came along, McDonald’s was strictly a lunch and dinner business…you revolutionized the way the world eats breakfast, dude.

Que viva la McMuffin revolution!

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