Tuesday, August 27, 2013

DeLuscious Cookies & Milk- Hollywood (Los Angeles), CA

Deluscious Cookies and Milk- Los Angeles, CA:

DeLuscious Cookies + Milk is a "luxury bakery in Hollywood" that aims to provide "pure indulgence" to their customers through "incredible desserts, impeccable service, and personalized care."

Deluscious Cookies and Milk- Los Angeles, CA:

With that said, when Katie of DeLuscious Cookies & Milk asked whether I would like to sample their new line of VeLuscious cookies (vegan cookies!), I was definitely curious! Just a few days after I said yes, a sampler box of their products arrived in my mail.

Opening the box was like opening a gift-- ribbon on the outside, a personalized letter, pink wrapping paper to present the cookies, individual packaging of the cookies with round, simple labels-- very fancy, and definitely an impression!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cheval Bistro- Pasadena, CA (CLOSED)

NOTE: Cheval Bistro is CLOSED as of May 2014-- This restaurant has been replaced with the White Horse Lounge.

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Cheval Bistro- Pasadena, CA: Exterior Signage

I wanted to try a cuisine that I haven't had in years--French--so recently, we visited Cheval Bistro in Pasadena, California, to check out what traditional French dining in the United States was like. Yes, Cheval Bistro is operated by the Smith Brothers, a restaurant group that primarily offers American cuisine, but this experience was quite French.

Cheval Bistro- Pasadena, CA: Interior

Though Cheval Bistro is conveniently located right next door to a parking structure, inside the restaurant, all thoughts of parking were removed. Instead, we saw a classy, dark wood interior, with fine dinnerware and plenty of french paintings/ magazine cover posters on the walls.

Our seating, unlike what you see in the photo, was bright, with plenty of light right above the table. Look for the booster seats to the right of you as you enter the restaurants if you want those seats!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Derby- Arcadia, CA: dineLA Dinner

The Derby Sign

DineLA Restaurant Week came around and as usual, the two higher-end restaurants in Arcadia-- The Derby and Sesame Grill-- were participating again. Since we've visited Sesame Grill recently, we decided to switch it up and re-visit the Derby. After all, from our last visit, the owners have changed, there's now a giant sign on the exterior proclaiming 15+ USD early bird dinner specials, among other changes. 
 The Derby- Arcadia, CA: Garlic Cheese Bread

We were slightly surprised to see that we had to wait for an inside spot, and unwilling to wait the 30 minutes advised for indoor seating, we asked for outdoor seating. This contributed greatly to taking better pictures for this post, even if it meant viewing all the cars entering/leaving the valet parking lot!

The menu didn't change much from its past, but there was definitely an emphasis on quality of ingredients, with one page dedicated to explaining their poultry and beef suppliers. After ordering, our waiter brought us a complimentary platter of garlic cheese toast, but first let us pick a piece off the platter before setting the platter on the table-- interesting touch. The toast had a thick crust, crisp exterior, soft interior, and background garlic and cheese flavors-- a nice start, if a bit oily.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Great Maple (Fashion Island)- Newport Beach, CA

Great Maple (Fashion Island)- Newport Beach, CA: Exterior

On yet another recent trip to the Orange County area, we found ourselves in Fashion Island hoping to eat yet again at one of our favorites, True Food Kitchen. However, it, as well as other notable options in Fashion Island, happened to be full. Not desiring to wait, we went to Great Maple instead, seeing happy customers enjoying giant noodle-sized bowls of salad and being satisfied with the menu options.

As the outside of Great Maple alludes, the interior was likewise rustic, with dark wood tones and minimal light. It was in fact, extremely difficult to take the pictures, and all of the pictures have been post processed so that you can actually see the food-- in person, this would be pretty dark, and very yellow hued.

Great Maple (Fashion Island)- Newport Beach, CA: Crispy Calamari

Dinner began with an appetizer of crispy calamari (12 USD), accented with chili flakes, fresh olives, and lemon caper mayo. (No bread and butter was provided-- perhaps this is only on request.) We enjoyed the freshness and creativity with the dish-- the chili flakes and seasoning added an interesting take to the fresh, lightly battered squid. Moreover, we found ourselves liking the lemon caper mayo, which had more than the three ingredients described-- we tried to decipher the other ingredients under the orange light, but to no avail. On the other hand, the olives were briny and salty-- quite an enjoyable contrast. With such a delicious appetizer, we hoped our entrees, which our waiter seemed to be happy with, would just be as good.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Inka Mama's- Santa Ana, CA

Oh that delicious aji sauce--a "spicy, green puree of herbs and chili,"said Edwin Goei of Monster Munching; good enough to eat pretty much anything Peruvian, "once again, with that wonderful aji," said Kevin of KevinEats. That "Chinese influenced" lomo saltado--a beef stir fry with "onions, tomatoes, and french fries! Golden-tinged Inca Kola?

Suffice to say, Peruvian food has certainly been a cuisine of interest since I started reading food blogs. Yet, it happened to be chance when I actually decided to visit one. During another recent trip to the Orange County, I stumbled upon Inka Mama's when looking up restaurants nearby South Coast Plaza. Then I read a glowing review of it from Goei. It was definitely settled-- I had to fulfill this 5+ year old desire that day!

Inka Mama's- Santa Ana, CA: Exterior

Inka Mama's is a small, Orange County family operated chain of Peruvian restaurants. Located right across South Coast Plaza from Magiannos in a large strip mall, Inka Mama's is easily accessible for nearby residents, shoppers, hotel visitors, employees, and tourists alike. Its own spot in the strip mall, though, is slightly covered-- it's in a lower floor of a multi-level structure, covered primarily by shade. Look for the Men's Warehouse nearby, and in our case, the flow of incoming and outgoing customers to Inka Mama's, to find the restaurant.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

True Food Kitchen (Fashion Island)- Newport Beach, CA

True Food Kitchen- Newport Beach, CA: Restaurant Entrance

It happened to be Easter on a recent trip to Irvine (coincidentally, we did this also three years ago), so was it the time to take chances and drive to an unexplored area of town for lunch? Not really. So, we headed to a familiar location --Fashion Island-- and finally tried out True Food Kitchen, which was under construction back when we visited its next door neighbor, Flemings.