Planned Parenthood LA 2013 – March 7, 2013 – Santa Monica Civic Auditorium – Go!

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Leave it to my favorite food event in Los Angeles to get me to blog for myself again!

Anyways, yup, it’s about that time of year again. This is one of the few food events that I actually endorse. Why? Because well, there are A LOT of people that depend on Planned Parenthood for their free or low-cost birth control. At least, in the part of town that I grew up in where that kinda was the only option. Though, even though their services help so many, they are still demonized somehow and need all the support they can get.

As always, this lineup of restaurant and chefs that are participating is bad ass, including AOC, Craft, Rivera and the rising star, Superba Snack Bar.

I’ll be there covering the event. They’re having two sessions, an afternoon session and an evening one, so no excuses!

For ticket information, check out their website.

Gaucho–No Thrill–Grill

Since we were in the Santa Monica/promenade area getting my LAPTOP (oh yeah). I was already salivating over the thought of stuffing my face in the “Burger with the works” at one of my all-time favorite places, Real Food Daily. But then my pesky conscious got me thinking, if in want to do this for a living, I’m not always going to be craving what and where I go eat. With this in mind, I convinced myself to try something different. And since it was literally right across the street from the Apple Store and my brother said it was good, I figured “aww…what the hell”

Like we all have experienced already, you can’t win every time. And this was just another example. I knew by it being in the Promenade, in wasn’t going to be stellar, but I didn’t know it was going to be horrible. The menu seemed pretty promising, offering some traditional Argentinean specialties as long as some other Italian-influenced edibles. They even went as far as offering substitution on their Sautéed Spinach (because of the recent e. coli Outbreak I’m guessing). But with all this, this was still very, very sad.

The bread and Oil wasn’t nothing special, with an amazing resemblance to good ‘ol Wonderbread and the oil being lightly infused with Garlic and a bunch of Parsley. I ordered the Fresh New Zealand White Fish Grilled with “Lemon-Basil” Marinad (no typo) served with Red Skin Mashed Potatoes and of course substituting my sautéed spinach for sautéed Broccoli. A couple of minutes later the Tilapia like fish had arrived, looking like it had fallen apart into a million peaces and the cook tried to desperately put it back together, Very dry and bland. The mashed potatoes were just mashed potatoes and if it wasn’t for the heroic efforts of the garlicky Sautéed Broccoli, I wouldn’t have been able to eat half of it, already by force. My Dad’s “Pollo Al Carbon” was if not just as, then more drier and blander than my fish. His Grilled Zucchini was only cooked on one side. My brother’s chicken Provolone Sandwich was just a tad better than all of ours, but still bad.

I don’t even want to get started on Dessert. A “Chocolate Soufflé” that had been left in the oven all day and almost charred on the bottom with a scoop of the same kind of “Vanilla Ice Cream” that they sell at Food-4-Less or other inner city, lower quality market sold by the bucket for $5. Tasting of a whole bunch of chemicals trying to mimic the unduplicated taste of real vanilla. And to top it off, all literally drowned in Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup and “Dulce De Leche”. As if trying to somehow conceal the low quality of it all. Places like these, ruin food if you never had tried it forever.

Gaucho Grill
1251 3rd St Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401

Gaucho Grill in Los Angeles

Roses Are Red, Violet is…Blue.

Roses Are Red, Violet is…blue.

Still mesmerized by my experience at Orris, I certainly was looking forward to try out the much raved-about Violet that I have heard and read so much about. Both these places serve their food in Tapas style, having to order several small plates in order to experience more food and “more enjoy your dining experience”. Too bad they couldn’t live up to their hype. Sometimes I think reviewers take it a little bit too far with these type of things, I mean I love tomato as much as the next foodie but paying like 7 dollars for miniscule proportions of food such as the Japanese Tomato Salad which was literally just a sliced tomato with a little lemon and Whipped Goat Cheese? Like my dad says, “no mas es el lujo!”.

Normally, I wouldn’t of let such a small setback keep me from liking a place but no other thing seemed to really stand out, and we tried out several plates. I will admit that the Z’atar Spiced Fries or something like that were pretty addictingly good as far as fries go, chip like in texture, tiny crispy things with mixed in aromatic herbs that were also fried with them. The occasional little specks of grease here and there in the little half paper bag that they were actually served in could make you forget that they were actually fried. Any French fry Connoisseur should really give these a try. But sadly, that was about it.

The Daily Special Salad was OK. Today It happened to be some sort of Endive salad with a little bit of Caramelized onions, bacon bits, Avocado Slices and some sort of Goat Cheese. New concept for me, but was also just OK with no flavor really standing out.

The Lamb Meatballs were probably the most disappointing. Three little dry and overcooked spheres on a bed of White Corn, I’ve really been into lamb lately and know that lamb does NOT have to be that dry.

The cheesy Mushroom Ravioli were perfectly Al Dente and the browned butter added a nice nutty richness to them. But still, not enough to get me to change my mind.

After all these, I wasn’t expecting anything great for dessert neither. Of course, we tried out the Flourless Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Gelato which tasted like a whole chocolate cake somehow compressed into one little slice! Although 1/4 the size of any other slice of anything, the richness and chocolate level was only something a true chocolate FreaK(*cough, cough* ROY!) would really enjoy. It was even a little too much for me!

Too Bad…

Violet restaurant
3221 pico blvd
santa monica, CA. 90405

What was i thinking?…Chaya?

Chaya,,,the name mystified me every time we passed by it. The view of the dim lighting and the ongoing of hungry “westdiner’s” never failed to interest me. And with my mellowing obsession with health still inside me and the new rave that M Cafe has been getting lately, i could not take my meddlesome any longer.

I remember along time ago when i would try to “walk off” my late night gluttony not to mention easing my stomach and guilt, i came across the displayed menu on the window and reading something like “seitan with coconut lentils” and knew, because of my recent infatuation with coconut, i had to sample it. The only problem was, because of my ignorance, i had not seen the price of anything. So there i go, suggesting it without analyzing it. I mean, i knew it was gourmet, and like all great things, is not cheap but $25-35?!! For our situation that we are facing right now?!! C’mon!(and plus, i was really craving a lunchy kinda thing, since it was technically my lunch)

When we walked in i knew it was not going be cheap. There was a 45 minute wait for the dining area and the 20 minute wait for the bar so we decided to opt for 3 seats in the sushi bar. With my dad’s recent convincing lectures in making me really think about what i was doing every time we ate dinner did to my brother and the cheapest entrees being $18(which luckily happened to be what had caught my attention). I was feeling pretty bad. I could also tell that my brother did not want to be here. But what was i going to do now, leave? Well no matter how naive that was, my thickheaded ass still attempted it. Of course, we stayed and i was forced to try to enjoy my dinner.

What made it even worse that we were not served any complimentary bread, something that i highly look forward to. So i had to ask for it myself. The bread was actually pretty good, and i even amazingly enjoyed the olive tapenade that was served with it.

I eventually got my much-anticipated Crispy Seitan with Coconut-Curry Lentils, Kale and Sweet Potato Puree but was not able to fully enjoy it. Not because of my brothers forced consuming of Shrimp Penne Arrabiata that he probably could of made better himself or the weirdness of the lack of communication between the three of us that we all looked forward to because we were all seated looking away from each other but it was surprisingly not… very good.

We were served unusually fast…i’m talking about within minutes we had ordered. Which was good, since i am always starving and they were also extremely generous with my entree. but that did not make up for the lack of flavor that followed. It was displayed very beautifully and if it was not for my uncomfortableness of taking a picture of food, i would of said it was the most beautiful-lest displayed dinner i had ever ate. The 3 huge thick triangular cuts of deep fried seitan, laying on a mountain of potato puree atop a heap of Kale on a bed of lentils. It was easily enough for two.

The seitan was extremely dry, you couldn’t even tell it was fried, not a speck or taste of grease anywhere, maybe if it was cut in smaller piece it would of been better. The “sweet potato puree” tasted just a little bit different of your usual mashed potatoes, it looked a lot like them too, not any shade of orange but white. The Kale was very thick and the a very similar consistency to steamed spinach, It would of been a nice compliment to the meal if there was not so much of it! Too much is not good. The awaited coconut lentils sadly turned out to be a disappointment also, undercooked and with a very tiny noticeable amount of coconut flavor. All this still didn’t stop me from finishing everything, except the kale. But i’m just saying.

There were several appealing dessert options that i would of loved but could not think because of my stupid thoughts inside of my head. My brother suggested the Mango and Rasberry Sorbet with mixed fruit, and even though it was cold outside and there were many other things in the menu that i would of enjoyed…just settled for that. Which turned out to be perfect, with the oblong shaped bowl and surprising diversity of fruits. And plus, i was stuffed and did not feel like consuming 3 days worth of my calories tonight.

Bottom line, not worth the money.

Chaya Venice in Los Angeles

Informed Indulgences: My Dinner ar La Vecchia Cucina

My time is coming, sooner than i think. Pretty soon i’m going to have to decide what it is that i am going to do with my life. Will it be something along this newly found passion that i have for food? Or will my consolling affection with music prevail?

In my chaotic attempt to make a decision, my brother in my support, had a friend who happened to know someone, that knew someone that that knew someone else that was married to the new Head Chef/ owner of this italian place in Santa Monica, La Vecchia Cucina Italiana . He happened to mention me and my affection with food and seemed intrigued.

By next tuesday, we were having dinner their. The aroma of garlic and olive oil, the noisy chattering of blatant Westsiders, the fancy pyramidal set tables and me with my usual levis and back-patched black sweater…i felt like a fish out of water. But like so many times before, i was not going to let that ruin it for me.

I was really looking forward trying it out and meeting him. Italian food was probably one of my first cuisines that i’ve had other than Mexican. (even though it was probably some sort of enriched pasta product with a fake “Ragu” sauce, but it doesn’t matter!)
I was also really looking forward to the complimentary bread and olive oil that are given in most italian restaurants, me being the carb-a-holic and all. And soon enough, a big steaming basket full of fresh bread was in our table ready for my carb compelled indulgence.

This was probably the best complimentary bread and olive oil blend that i have ever had. The bread was warm, crusty, and toasty on the outside and soft as pillow on the outside. The oil was was the perfect accompaniment to this, especially since i had a craving for anything doused with garlic. I usually don’t like eating olive oil by itself but this was different, not having that “fruity” taste that most store brands have but this rich, smooth taste. It was full of shredded basil and was infused with garlic, but not the Prestos kind of garlic that leaves you reeking of garlic for days on end, but enough.

I don’t know why I’ve been having this huge craving for garlic and this hit the spot. I decided to try shrimp one more time(I don’t know why, i’m starting not to like shrimp anymore) and get theLINGUINE MARE E MONTI , Linguine noodles in a pesto sauce with butterflied shrimp and Shitake Mushrooms. It was alright, the noodles were perfectly Al Dente but the sauce was a little bit too creamy for me, and the shrimp…well, i guess i just don’t like shrimp anymore. That still didn’t stop me from finishing it though.

The best dish was the Penne Arabbiata that my brother got(like always). Exquisitely spicy with a little bit of tangyness. My dad’s INSALATA ALLA TIBURCIO, Baby mixed greens topped with roasted pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes
and goat cheese tossed in our raspberry vinaigrette was also quite good. Sweet enough to be a dessert, just how i like it.

After finishing, the owner/chef Mark had recognized my brother and came to ask us how it was. He was very nice, he answered many of my questions about culinary arts and what it took for him to get there. Very informative.

Like if we hadn’t had enough calories already, my brother had told my about the chocolate cake they had there. He said, they’ve had the same jewish lady make it for years and it my brother had told me that it was exceptionally rich compared to other ones we’ve had before, of course we hadto get it. “Rich” is an understatement. This is one of “the world’s going end and you know you’re going to die” kind of things to eat. Me and my brother could barely finish one slice! And thats us. I could almost hear my heart crying for mercy….poor little heart

By the end of the night, i know i probably ate like 4 days worth of calories, but i didn’t feel bad. It was worth it.


La Vecchia Cucina Italiana

2654 Main St.
Santa Monica CA
900405
(310) 399-7979

La Vecchia Cucina in Los Angeles

Blue Marlin

Aww…Sawtelle, where the hipsters come out and play. Colorful, young “cool” people killing time sipping their bobba and conversing about the latest whatever. This place has certainly been given a lot of attention lately. The restaurants leading the Japanese revolution, fusing it with such techniques as complex as French or as comforting as Italian.

I still dream about Orris, blending Japanese and Italian. So i thought i would try another place around there, Blue Marlin.

Italian and Japanese? Under one roof? Wow right?…Wrong.
I really had high hopes for this place, but too bad they will remain as just that.

I hate it when i am the one that suggests somewhere to go and it turns out to be crap, it makes me feel it’s all my fault and makes me feel bad. When i first walked in, i thought for sure it was going to be good, having that abating aroma that we all know and love of garlic & olive oil.

Being the carbaholic that i am, i find it really pleasing when any restaurant brings fresh complimentary bread before any meal, it keeps me from going ravenous and makes me savor every bite of the main course even more. But for some reason the waitress did not bring any to our table. At first i did not notice, but then i saw that everyone else was enjoying them, everyone except us.

Looking at the meny, they had a bountiful amount of both Japanese and Italian plates. Me and my brother decided on the most interesting sounding plates in the menu. Our entrees came with a small salad and a bowl of soup. The salad was pretty good, although the fluorescent soy/citrusy orange dressing did need some getting used to, i managed to like it. The bowl of “soup” was just a bowl of Miso Soup, which i don’t like so passed it along to my dad. Savoring the people next to us as they gorged their bread, i hoped the entree would be worth it.

After a couple of minutes, my Sauteed Jidori Chicken and Organic Vegetable-Salty finally arrived. Although they were extremely generous with an abundance of vegetables and a whole oval plate stacked with white rice, The chicken was overly dry, i mean i had to drown it in Ponzu sauce in order to make it somewhat acceptable. The selection of vegetables were nice though; broccoli, cauliflower and the root end of a carrot? Oh well, i didn’t really care about that but did mind that on both my brother’s dish of Stuffed Pork Cutlet with Demi-Glace Sauce and my dad’s Vegetable Tomato Risotto there a slice of what seemed to be some sort of fried squash that was really good. Why am i always the victim of unlikely odd’s such as these? The Stuffed Pork Cutlet was probably the best dish of the night(again my brother’s). Very moist and not greasy oozing with Demi-Glace Sauce and Mushrooms It came with a little shredded cabbage salad and a scoop of potato salad that none of our plates had. I wonder why? I also noticed that they used the same type of rice that they used for the white rice in the Tomato Vegetable Risotto. This was very similar to mexican fried rice but with enough garlic to feel it the next day.

After this, i was really looking forward to the oddly interestingChocolate Caramel Pyramid with Vanilla Ice Cream that I’ve had my eye on it ever since we walked in, But of course, they were all out. So we settled with a typical Chocolate Souffle that was nothing out of the ordinary. I was going to take pictures, but didn’t feel it was worth the walk to the car and get it. Maybe it’s just me but oh well.

Blue Marlin
2121 Sawtelle Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Blue Marlin in Los Angeles