Category Archives: Foodie

Should Thai food be eaten near the beach?

Should Thai food be eaten near the beach?

When you see pictures of Thailand, you see picture perfect beaches, temples, and busy urban streets. But, the parts of Thailand everyone wants to go to are the beaches it seems. I have never been to Thailand, but I’m surrounded by Thai people and Thai culture right here in Los Angeles.

Since Thailand has a very long coastline, and many famous beaches near Phuket down South, it just seems that Thai food just isn’t the same if you don’t eat it near a beach. Hmm.

In any case, I have Thai food all the time in the city, but a discussion on Twitter made me think that I need to eat it on the beach. I tweeted that Thai food “should” be eaten on a beach and a few others replied that they agreed.

So, I headed down to our closest approachable beach. Santa Monica beach is the closest in miles, but parking is a huge problem. That is why I normally hang out at Pacific Palisades another mile or two up the shore when I go to the ocean. Last time I was driving around that area, I decided to head a little further

West into Malibu. I hadn’t been there for a long time. I had fun at both of Malibu’s Starbucks and on the way back spotted some Thai restaurants. The only thought that went through my head was that I needed to try one of those restaurants.

So, tonight, I finally tried one. I went to Cholada Thai Beach Cuisine. There is another Thai place a little further down the road which I’ll try next time. I ordered red curry sea bass. It was delicious. The brown rice looked more like black rice, but went very well with the coconut milk sauce.

I sat in the patio in the back, but in an elevated wooden structure that was kind of like a cross between a balcony and a cabana. The view from my seat was of hills, palm trees and the ocean. The view looked like photos of parts of Thailand a little bit. I asked the waitress if Thailand looked like this. She said there were lots of resorts near Phuket, and that it was more “fantasy.” Furthermore, the vibe near the ocean is very calming, just like the Thai culture.

Although I love Thai food anywhere, it was a different experience having it near the water. I feel that you “should” eat Thai food on the coast at least once to get that unique experience.

On a final note, I feel that this restaurant should have a few Mexican-Thai fusion dishes like a chili basil en-cholada, since their name is Cholada.

Dining at the Gladstone in Pacific Palisades

I often visit Pacific Palisades to calm down. It is very pacifying by the ocean. I often drive up a road that is on a cliff, sit in my car, and enjoy the soothing vibrations from the gentle waves down below. But, this time I decided to change things up a bit. I wanted to dine at the Gladstone.

The Gladstone is a seafood restaurant right on the water. It just changed ownership, so the future of their menu is unpredictable. I ordered a few dishes which turned out to be interesting.

Macadamia crusted battered shrimp
This dish was very delicious. The batter on the shrimp had a very smooth consistency. But, the description on the menu didn’t have any consistency with the actual dish. They sprinkled on crushed macadamias as an afterthought instead of cooking the shrimp in an encrusted exterior of macadamias. I think the dish had good fruity flavor in the batter, but needed a lot more macadamias.

Crab cakes
This lovely dish came with some arugula, mini-tomatoes, and a sweet Thai dipping sauce for appetizers. The crab cake came with a subtle hint of dill and touches of corn to accentuate the flavor. I don’t mean to sound corny, but the crab cakes were dill-icious!

Mango Fish Tacos
This dish was the dish. I couldn’t believe the size of the plate it was brought out on. It was more like a metal dish covered with newspaper, and three huge tacos. To the left there were three chutneys. Mango, Avocado, and Roasted blackened salsa. All three were yum, and went perfectly with these huge salmon BBQ tacos. The tortillas were what I call flash deep fried, so they held their shape a little, but were not completely hard and crispy either. They cooked the tortilla just the right amount for the perfect touch. What struck me at first about these tacos was the aroma. Was I smelling chipotle, mesquite, or the barbecue flavor — or a combination of the three. Go and see for yourself.

Parking was the most fun of all. I parked next to the ocean. You can park until 10pm. The gentle waves caressing the shoreline was very relaxing. I love being in Palisades at sundown when the weather is in the 60’s. Daytime is nice too, but there is something very soothing about that combination of conditions.

In any case, I think you will enjoy dining at the Gladstone too. Next time I’m going to try their Thai yellow curry. I’m excited about that!

6 places to get empanadas in Los Angeles & San Diego

It is ironic, but the places I prefer to get Empanadas are in San Diego, not in Los Angeles. Los Angeles is a city famous for its culinary delights and movie stars. However, with our 40% Latino population, you will be hard pressed to find good Mexican or Latin American food here. San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, and New Mexico are the optimal destinations for Latin cuisine! Ironically, once again, San Diego, which is right next to the border, has some of the world’s worst tacos. But, in Los Angeles, you can get very tasty tacos from trucks on the street at midnight!

Old San Juan: Los Angeles
This place has allegedly closed in the last few months. Their appetizers were spectacular, but their dishes didn’t suit me at all. They had amazing empanadas (which they call pastelillos in Puerto Rican Spanish) with chicken, beef, pork, and crab. The soft and flavorful fillings made these empanadas my favorite anywhere. Additionally, they had salsa tropical with mango and other wonderful non-Mexican ingredients in it which went great with their tarot chips. Something to try at least once. My favorite was their plantain alcapurrias. They were shaped like plantains made with ground and deep friend plantains. The insides were chicken, beef, pork, or crab. Personally, I liked beef the best in their pastelillos and alcapurrias, but all of their appetizer variations were amazing.

Here are some yelp locations that also have alcapurrias in the Los Angeles area
http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=Alcapurrias&find_loc=Los+Angeles,+CA

Nonna’s Empanadas: Los Angeles
This is a place right on the West-side of Los Angeles near Beverly Center and Beverly Hills that specializes in empanadas. They have dozens of varieties of empanadas including fruit empanadas. The place is run by Argentinians by the way. What I noticed is that the flavors for the Argentinian and Chilean empanadas seemed to my not that well educated palatte to be authentic. Unfortunately, although the other nationalities of empanadas tasted good, they were obviously not made by someone who knew the culinary culture of those countries.

I tried a samosa there. It tasted remarkably un-Indian. Good though! The shape of a samosa is supposed to be triangular and three dimensional, and a particular size. The shape adds authenticity. Food at this restaurant is in a sense mass-produced, so having customized shapes for the turnovers just isn’t part of the plan — so far. But, maybe things will change. I also tried a Russian Pierogi. I had one at a Russian Deli in San Francisco which had the authentic flavor. But, Nonna’s had neither the huge triangular shape, not the distinct greasy and brothy flavor that the real thing had. I recommend Nonna’s for a great experience and a fun time, but not for authenticity unless you order the Argentinian or Chilean empanadas.

La Paella: Los Angeles
This is a very nice restaurant right on the border of Beverly Hills on San Vicente. They have all types of paella to share (no individual portions to my dismay.) Their wines by the glass were very affordable and in very good taste as well. They have many traditional tapas dishes, and other entres from Spain. The staff is excellent and consist generally of people from Spain who prefer traditional food (based on my conversations with them.) The chocolate moose is a favorite of mine, and their empanada is the icing on the cake. Recommended, especially for a date!

Little Spain: Los Angeles
This is a place that has been in the 3rd Street Farmer’s Market for about two years. I went there twice and liked it. They offer paella for single customers in small sizes which is unusual. Great wine, nice service, and of course is it always a pleasure to be in the Farmer’s Market which has an ambiance of fun! They have chicken empanadillas too.

Bertas: Old Town, San Diego
There is a place in Old Town, San Diego called Bertas which has a very nice Lamb empanada. I enjoyed their ambiance, food, artwork, service, as well as the relaxing environment of San Diego in general.

Sevilla Night Club: Downtown, San Diego
It was a long time ago. But, I enjoyed some unusual tapas dishes there including an empanada. Great service. They are right on 5th ave in Downtown San Diego.

Espresso with Coca Cola? Does that work?

I just dropped by our local cafe. The guy who works there most is a lot of fun. I told him that he should start his own cafe. He actually did, but they got shut down due to some plumbing problem that the landlord didn’t help fix. Bummer! In any case, I saw him mixing espresso with coca cola. “Can you do that,” I thought? I asked him if that mixture “worked.” He said it did. Then, I had the idea of mixing coca cola syrup, espresso, and pouring it over haagen daz vanilla bean ice cream. He said he had tried that and that was really good too.

I remember an experience I had as a seven year old. This was a long time ago. My parents dragged me to some event somewhere. I have no idea what is was. In any case, there was a cafeteria where we ate. I had some other friends there who were about my own age. Their mother wouldn’t let them have coca cola until they had finished their milk. So, they created this concoction called, “Milka-cola.” At first, I didn’t want to try it. But eventually I did, and it was not bad.

Personally, I can’t have any espresso, coke, or anything with caffeine after 2pm. I call it the 2 o’clock rule. When anyone asks me, “Hey, wanna cup of coffee?” I say, “Sorry, no, 2 o’clock rule, you understand, right?” Nobody has ever heard of this rule, but they understand. But, if I could have dessert for breakfast, I would experiment with espresso, ice cream, and various other flavors like raspberry, cherry, Coke, root beer, and the sky is the limit!

Tweets:
(1) I tried “Milka-cola” when I was at a retreat at the age of 7. The other kids’ mom let them have it. Just mix milk with Coke!
(2) Espresso w/Coke, it actually works. But, try this mixture over some Haagen Daz vanilla bean ice cream! Wow!

Espresso & Liquor Pairing?

We have all heard of food and wine pairing. You need to be saavy to pick good wines, but to do pairings you need to be a sommelier, and a good one! In a recent blog, I wrote about pairing 80’s songs with Thai & Japanese food. To my surprise, that zany topic became popular on Twitter. I even created the idea of food and joke pairing. But, espresso and liquor have long been mixed together. Let’s take a more detailed look.

Coffee and alcohol are natural friends. It doesn’t have to be espresso paired with alcohol, but it could be.

Wine with chocolate!
In Napa, pairing Cabernets and chocolate has become popular. Many Zinfandels and Cabernets have subtle chocolate notes, but in Napa, many wineries took it to the next step. You can purchase small bon bons that are Cabernet infused in boutiques in Napa. You can even buy bottles of wine with heavy doses of chocolate. Interestingly enough, in New Mexico, the home of Green Chile, they have Hatch Green Chile Chardonnay. I tried it just to see what it was, and it was really good! Personally, I don’t like wine with any more than a subtle chocolate note. However, it is common for me to consume dark chocolate and wine together simply because both are on my antioxidant regiment!

Coffee with Kahlua
The Hawaiian coffee flavored alcoholic beverage goes well with coffee (not surprisingly,) but also mixed with milk, and in a vast variety of mixed drinks. I read online that you can mix Kahula, Vodka, and Espresso for a really potent concoction! (shaken, not stirred, and served in a Martini glass)

Coffee with Amaretto
Coffee with nut overtones, another popular choice.

Coffee with Baileys Irish Cream
I am a lover of Baileys, but it is off my diet. Nothing tastes better or gives you a more jovial feeling. I feel the luck of the Irish in every sip, but that’s after I’ve had way too many sips already! Some people add a little Frangelico in the mixture as well.

Coffee with Tequila?
You can mix other flavors with this one. Vanilla, cinnamon, pumpkin, or whatever works. Add some whipped cream when you’re done. Mocha wouldn’t be hurt by a little tequila.

Espresso with Frangelico.
Mix this with Vodka and you are in business!

Espresso with Triple Sec & Vodka
Why does each recipe call for Vodka? I don’t even like Vodka!

Coffee with Coffee Liqueur
Not very original, but some people like it. Some people like to add nutmeg and vanilla as well.

Espresso with Gin, berries and orange juice.
I think we’ve crossed the line here, but to each their own!

Coffee with Vodka, Caramel, and Whipped Cream!
OMG, now we’re talking

Coffee with Raspberry Liqueur
Wait until the holidays for this one

Coffee with Rum and Schnapps
To bring out the pirate within you!

Coffee with Jack Daniels, Brown Sugar, and Cream
You might find this hard to believe, but I’m allergic to American Whiskey, so you’ll have to try this one without me!

Coffee with Chocolate Liqueur
You can add coffee liqueur as well to this one

Espresso with Orange Syrup and White Chocolate Liqueur
I’ve never heard of this before. Sounds like something to have on Christmas.

Thai style: Coffee with mint, rum or vodka, fresh lime juice, basil, and whipped cream!
This is based on a Thai mojito recipe. Not sure if this will go well with Espresso. Never tried it before, but it will be fun to find out! I would go easy on the lime and basil if I were you. Those are the questionable ingredients.

Many of these coffee & alcohol recipes can be improvised upon and many of these spirits blend well with each other and with coffee. You can sort of mix the recipes up a bit and see how it tastes. You could even go wild with freshly ground spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, vanilla and have a chai flavored alcoholic coffee beverage. The sky is the limit.

You might also like:
Pairing 80’s songs with Thai & Japanese Food
http://blog.meander411.com/2013/10/30/pairing-80s-songs-with-thai-japanese-food-am-i-crazy/

Food & Joke Pairing
http://blog.meander411.com/2013/11/21/food-joke-pairing/

Places to have crab & crab cakes in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is not famous for crab, crab cakes, or crabby people, but I had to write this article since I found the perfect crab cake. When I go to most restaurants and order their crab cake, it is nothing special. The only memorable experience I have had eating crab in general was at a sushi place that served crab, shredded salmon, corn, and put it on a circular tortilla chip with a little sauce. Those flavors go together perfectly! But, enough about Japanese food, let’s crab about crab cakes.

#1 Pick
Asia de Cuba
This restaurant is right next to the world famous Sky Bar featured on Entourage on Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. It is a Cuban style interior with Asian-Cuban fusion going on. Try the smoky rum alone or with a mojito. It’s a bit expensive, but there is nothing like it anywhere. We tried many dishes there over the years. The coffee encrusted steak was an anomaly to my taste buds. I’ve never had anything like it. The bold flavors blended perfectly. I tried similar coffee encrusted dishes elsewhere, but it just wasn’t anywhere near as good as the experts at Asia de Cuba cook it. By the way, the chef normally comes out to greet the customers at this restaurant which is a wonderful touch!

But, what about the crab cakes, ah, the crab cakes. They were recommended to me by the waiter, and I will always trust that waiter from now on, except I can’t remember which waiter I had any more. The crab cakes are flavorful, moist, and oh so fluffy. The texture, the flavor, and the size of these isosceles beauties was acutely pleasing to my equilateral taste buds. In any case, if you live in Los Angeles, Asia de Cuba is a must if you like Cuban or Chinese food. Bring a thick wallet, because it is expensive!

Whole Foods
Are you a restaurant lover? You love to eat out at places with a nice ambiance? Whole Foods might not be what you have in mind, but I love being there, and I love the staff, especially in the seafood section. They know how I like my salmon seasoned and cooked. Whole Foods allows you to pick from many choices of raw or prepared seafood options. They have various types of fish, plus kabobs, crab cakes, salmon cakes, shellfish, and other goodies. They will cook it for you. Everything they have including the crab cakes is excellent. I prefer their Atlantic Salmon as part of my daily health routine. But, their crab cakes are really large, much less expensive than any restaurant, and the texture is fabulous.

Ruth Chris’ Steak House
I had crab cakes once there. They were great, but they are more famous for their steaks cooked at a very high temperature with butter. Their cooking process is a bit unique. It has been years since I was there, so the details are a bit hard to remember. The food there is expensive, but if you like their unique style and attentive staff, you will like it.

Gladstones
This Pacific Palisades shore restaurant has a unique seafood menu. I ordered the crab cakes which have a hint of dill, corn, and a sweet Thai dipping sauce. They were good, but nothing to write home about. Try the salmon tacos. Those were some of the best I’ve ever had and came with three chutneys — mango, blackened salsa, and avocado. Yum.

Crustacean
Sorry to change the theme from crab cakes to crab, but Crustacean in Beverly Hills is the place to go. It is my assistant’s favorite place in the world. Although they don’t have crab cakes to my knowledge their whole roasted crab is one of their most famous dishes. It goes amazingly well with their garlic noodles which is a dish that they specialize in. I tried a lot of their fusion cooking and enjoyed it every time. I didn’t like any of the desserts at Crustacean, and their wine list was average. But, go for the food. You can park for free after 6pm in the parking structures behind the stores on the other side of the street on Little Santa Monica. Oh, and before I forget — this is a hang out spot for the stars, so don’t be surprised if you see someone famous.

Itzakaya Japanese Restaurant
This little gem on 3rd street on the West Side of Los Angeles is where I had the crab, salmon, and corn kernels on circular tortilla chips. they have all types of kushi and small dishes to choose from. But a warning — there is no place to park unless you walk for four blocks, and expect to wait in line. This place is popular.