Archive for the ‘Food’Category

Seeing Canada on a Rocky Mountaineer train

When my mom approached me with the idea of taking a train ride through Canada, I was skeptical. I suffer from motion sickness pretty badly, and the idea of being on a moving vehicle for multiple days in a row made me weary.

But my fears were quickly put to rest as soon as we boarded the Rocky Mountaineer train in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the company has its own fancy train depot. After being welcomed by a live bagpiper, we boarded the train bound for Jasper in Alberta, with an overnight stop in Kamloops.

rocky mountaineer

The view from inside the Rocky Mountaineer

Mom treated us to GoldLeaf service, which meant we had seats on the upper level of the train car with a see-through dome, perfect for viewing all the beauty Canada has to offer, as well as allowing me to see the horizon so I wouldn’t get ill. There was a ton of leg room, and the ride was super smooth — no sudden stops and starts like on the Metro Expo Line at home in Los Angeles.

A post shared by Maya Meinert (@shopeatsleep) on

A post shared by Maya Meinert (@shopeatsleep) on

What about the food?

You get two meals on the train, breakfast and lunch, as well as drinks (there’s a full bar on board that includes local beer and wine) and snacks throughout the day — and it’s all included in the price of the journey. You will definitely not leave hungry! Because this was a two-day trip and the downstairs dining room isn’t big enough to seat everyone at once, you eat in shifts. But if you’re eating in the second seating (this switches from day to day, so it’s fair), you get even more snacks to tide you over. The scone with butter and strawberry jam is especially delicious.

A post shared by Maya Meinert (@shopeatsleep) on

I enjoyed all the food on board — lunch comes with wine, too! — but dessert was a bit lacking in execution (dry cake, hard crumble topping). My favorite dishes were the egg souffle for breakfast served with potatoes and sausage, and the salmon for lunch served with risotto (not really, but still tasty) vegetables and a mustard vinaigrette.

Would I do this again?

Mom and I took a Rocky Mountaineer train twice on this trip: once from Vancouver to Jasper, then back from Banff to Vancouver (with some sightseeing by coach in the middle). The first and last legs of these trips were exactly the same, so I’m not sure I would want to do that again, but we bookended our trip with stays in Vancouver, so it made sense this time. We saw so many beautiful things — lakes, rivers, waterfalls, mountains, wildlife — even though the air wasn’t clear due to wildfires in British Columbia (this was in August earlier this year).

I would recommend this trip to anyone wanting to see western Canada while taking it easy in the lap of luxury. Mom was very pleased. In fact, there were a lot of older people on these trips, for exactly this reason, I suspect. But I’d say we younger folks could use a luxurious relaxing experience like this, too.

A post shared by Maya Meinert (@shopeatsleep) on

18

11 2017

Warm cheese and spicy cocktails at Barcito

One of downtown Los Angeles’ best low-key spots for a drink and a bite to eat is Barcito, an Argentinean-style tapas restaurant and bar.

Located in the South Park neighborhood, Barcito has been my go-to after-work hang for the past couple of years, taking over the short-lived ChocoChicken space on 12th Street. It’s easy and convenient — gratuity is included in the menu prices, and it’s within walking distance of a Metro stop. And drinks on the happy hour menu, called aperitivo hour here, come with snacks.

Food + beverage

My favorite dish at Barcito is hands-down the provoleta, grilled Argentinean provolone cheese served warm with toasted bread and a grilled half lemon. This provolone is mild in flavor and crumbly, unlike its Italian cousin. Squeeze the lemon juice over the cheese, cut off a slice of warm cheese, spread it over the toasted French bread and enjoy. So simple, so satisfying.

Provoleta at Barcito

Provoleta

As for drinks, I’m partial to the Paloma on tap. Barcito’s version is spicy with the addition of habanero to the requisite tequila and grapefruit.

Paloma at Barcito

Paloma

During aperitivo hour, Barcito offers a cocktail, beer and a shot, or a glass of wine for $9, which includes a snack trio (nuts, olives and chips) and gratuity. Stick to the beer + shot or glass of wine for maximum value here. Also, happy hour is offered every day of the week, which should be attractive to all the people living in the nearby new apartment and condo buildings.

Barcito recently started offering breakfast and lunch, so I’m going to have stop by soon to check it out. Stay tuned!

05

11 2017

Punch Bowl Social Denver Offers Pumped Up Brunch

Brunch at Punch Bowl Social Denver

Brunch at Punch Bowl Social Denver

ShopEatSleep contributor Eros David has moved to Denver, expanding our coverage. Stay tuned for more from Colorado!

As the original location of the nationwide watering hole playground, Punch Bowl Social Denver took over an old Big Lots building and made it a destination for craft cocktails and scratch kitchen entrees. On the corner of 1st Ave and Broadway in the historic Baker district, the place is hard to miss with big windows and a giant neon sign.

After teaming up with Top Chef’s Hugh Acheson to revamp the menu from standard bar fare to their own take on Southern-influenced entrees and side dishes, I dropped in to check out their brunch.

The food

For starters, it might be worth grabbing a table here just for Punch Bowl Social’s biscuits. That might be blasphemous to say with Denver Biscuit Company just a few blocks down the road, but PBS really did biscuits justice here. Served with a house-made jam, the buttery-not-oily biscuits are accented with a unique strawberry jam highlighted by hints of ginger, sambal and orange zest.

Biscuit at Punch Bowl Social

Biscuit at Punch Bowl Social

The always-popular chicken and waffles is a satisfying choice at PBS. The chicken is fried with no complaints as to the technique and even has a little kick toward the end of your bites. They tell me there are no special spices on the chicken, just garlic salt and iodized salt, so it might be more sodium than anything else. It’s a solidly executed dish that won’t disappoint, but it’s not my favorite version of chicken and waffles. (That distinction goes to Black Swan in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn).

Chicken and waffles

Chicken and waffles

Keep reading

04

09 2017

Get 15% off admission to Masters of Taste food festival

Masters of Taste

Masters of Taste

The 2nd Annual Masters of Taste, a luxury food and beverage festival, will be held May 7, 2017, on the field of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Masters of Taste will bring together food and beverage from more than 70 restaurants and chefs, confectioners and bakers, bartenders, wineries, craft breweries, pressed juicers, coffee roasters, as well as live entertainment. The list includes:

Bone Kettle and Komodo, Chef Erwin Tjahyadi (Pasadena and Los Angeles)
CAST at the Viceroy Santa Monica, Chef Larry Monaco (Santa Monica)
Celestino, Chef Calogero Drago (Pasadena)
Church & State and Spring, Chef Tony Esnault (Downtown Los Angeles)
HACHÉ LA, Chef Michael “Mick” Schepers (Silver Lake)
Hamasaku, Chef Yoya Takahashi (Los Angeles)
Hyperion Public, Chef Paddy Aubrey (Silver Lake and Studio City)
Little Beast, Chef Jose Perez (Eagle Rock)
Magnolia House, Chef Evan Colter (Pasadena)
Mama Lion, Chef Michael Hung (Koreatown)
Mexikosher, Chef Katsuji Tanabi (Los Angeles)
Milk & Honey, Chef Lulu Cai (Hollywood)
Miro, Chef Gavin Mills (Downtown Los Angeles)
Momed, Chef Alex Sarkissian (Beverly Hills and Atwater Village)
SpireWorks, Chef Kuniko Yagi (Westwood Village and Eagle Rock)
Redbird, Chef Neal Fraser (Downtown Los Angeles)
The Raymond 1886, Chef Tim Guiltinan (Pasadena)
True Food Kitchen, Chef Phil Noresetter (Pasadena)
Venice Whaler, Chef Nick Liberato (Venice)

Masters of Taste, which is for those 21 years old and older only, will take place Sunday, May 7. A VIP Power Hour will be held from 3-4 p.m. and general admission from 4-7 p.m.

Tickets cost $105 for general admission and $185 for VIP. But use code SES17, specifically for ShopEatSleep readers, and get 15% off the ticket price. Buy tickets today!

Best of all? All proceeds from Masters of Taste will directly benefit Union Station Homeless Services. Last year, the event raised more than $435,000 for Union Station Homeless Services, and this year Masters of Taste hopes to reach  $560,000!

ShopEatSleep Masters of Taste

23

04 2017

Travelogue: Anna Maria Island, Florida

I recently visited Florida for the first time since I was a child. I have to admit that I wasn’t very excited about it; I mean, I live in Los Angeles, so I don’t need to go to Florida to find a beach (and then there’s the humidity…). But I have to say that visiting Anna Maria Island in mid April was actually pretty darn nice.

We stayed in a rented house just a couple of blocks away from where Bradenton Beach meets Holmes Beach. The beach wasn’t crowded, had clean, white sand, and clear blue water.

Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island

Bradenton Beach on Anna Maria Island

We took a boat tour of Sarasota Bay with Capt. Kathe. Actually, since our group was so large, we needed two boats, so I was on a boat helmed by Capt. Kathe’s daughter, Capt. Katie Scarlett (I assume Kathe is a fan of “Gone With the Wind”). Katie Scarlett is easy-going and fun, and she took us from Cortez around the bay so we could see dolphins, some of which even played in the wake of our boat. We didn’t see any manatees, though it’s supposedly possible. We also made a stop at Beer Can Island, which is beautiful, despite its name.

So this happened today. #dolphins #nbd #florida #imonaboat

A video posted by Maya Meinert (@shopeatsleep) on

Dolphin action #dolphins #florida #video

A video posted by Hon. Rory Owen Delaney (@mbdfilms) on

Capt. Kathe docks at Star Fish Company Market & Restaurant. If you’d like to eat there after your tour — and you should — Kathe and co. will call in your order while you’re on the boat so you don’t have to wait in the huge line that forms at lunchtime. I had the fried grouper sandwich with cheese grits on the side. The grits are really, really cheesy, so maybe go for the fries if you’re not inclined to that kind of fish-and-cheese combo.

Fried grouper sandwich and cheese grits at Star Fish Company

Fried grouper sandwich and cheese grits at Star Fish Company

My husband and I also went parasailing, something I’ve always wanted to do. There are lots of parasailing companies on Anna Maria Island, but we went with Bradenton Beach Parasailing. We got 15 minutes up in the air, which came with photos, a higher height than the 10-minute flight and a dip in the ocean, for $89 per person (the 10-minute option is $69 per person). Those 15 minutes go by fast, so I can’t imagine how quick the 10-minute flight would be!

Going up! parasailing

Going up!

Parasailing

Parasailing

We had lunch one day at the City Pier Restaurant located at the end of the Anna Maria Island City Pier. While the food wasn’t necessarily anything special, the fish was cooked nicely, and the ambiance — which includes a view of the ocean while listening to a live musician — was spot-on. The blackened grouper on top of a Greek salad hit the spot. (You’ll find grouper on just about every menu in this area.)

Blackened grouper on Greek salad at City Pier Restaurant

Blackened grouper on Greek salad at City Pier Restaurant

For my mother-in-law’s birthday, we had dinner at Beach Bistro. We started with a sunset cocktail hour, then moved inside for our meal.

Sunset cocktail hour at Beach Bistro

Sunset cocktail hour at Beach Bistro

We opted for the three-course $65 tasting menu (there’s an optional “exotics” course available for an extra $25 that includes your choice of tenderloin rillette, seared foie gras, seared scallops or “Lobstercargots”). I had the oyster mushroom farro, bouillabaisse and Prailine Alexandra, a house-made praline with vanilla bean ice cream and Frangelico. I heard a lot of good things about Beach Bistro from other visitors to Anna Maria Island, but in the end, I thought the meal was nice but not necessarily a standout.

Oyster mushroom farro at Beach Bistro

Oyster mushroom farro at Beach Bistro

Bouillabaisse at Beach Bistro

Bouillabaisse at Beach Bistro

Praline Alexandra at Beach Bistro

Praline Alexandra at Beach Bistro

This trip to Florida changed my mind about the state — well, as long as I’m staying on an island or beach (wink, wink).

09

05 2016

Chef Tara Lazar brings home cooking to Chi Chi Palm Springs

Chef Tara Lazar Chi Chi Palm Springs

Chef Tara Lazar

I met Chef Tara Lazar in the lounge of her restaurant Chi Chi Palm Springs in the Avalon Hotel. It was a slow night. Palm Springs is a resort town at the mercy of seasons and travelers.

But all is not what it seems: Lazar was also overseeing three simultaneous catering jobs as owner of Foundation 10 Creative Group. In other words, getting her food out to the people.

She cares deeply about what she’s feeding people. Beyond the execution of the dishes, Lazar is in charge of sourcing the ingredients from local farms, keeping everything within 100 miles of the restaurant. Maintaining freshness and nutrient integrity of proteins and produce makes a true difference in her dishes, and she does not compromise in the quality of her farm sources.

Lazar is most intrigued by home cooking, something cooks and chefs crave to eat themselves. Small, particular tweaks that their grandmothers might do to make dishes their own can make all the difference, and she loves the realness and care in that.

The realness carries over to Lazar’s menus. At her popular brunch establishment Cheeky’s, the menu can change weekly. At Chi Chi Palm Springs, the menu is more consistent, but the dishes on offer always account for the seasonality of ingredients. It’s understood that certain boxes need to be checked to get a popular draw from what’s in demand (see: cauliflower and kale), but that’s just the gateway to introduce people to food that’s more loving than trendy.

Keep reading

09

04 2016

Eat well without breaking the bank at Yalla Mediterranean

Yalla Mediterranean falafel and steak

Yalla Mediterranean falafel and steak

Yalla Mediterranean is quickly becoming one of my go-to spots for a quick and healthy meal. For someone who loves all kinds of Mediterranean food, Yalla is the perfect option, as it offers foods inspired by Greece, Morocco, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Tunisia and Egypt. Chicken, beef, lamb, salmon, falafel — you name it, Yalla Mediterranean‘s got it.

Yalla’s fast-casual set-up is kind of like Chipotle’s. You choose a preparation — a wrap, salad (including fattoush), or plate with rice, grilled vegetables or lentils, and three sides. Then you choose your protein — falafel, chicken (skewers or shawarma), steak skewers, salmon skewers or kefta skewers. There are even different wrap styles to choose from — Greek, Jerusalem street style, Moroccan and Lebanese. Doesn’t look like I’ll be running out of options anytime soon!

I’ve tried the harissa-marinated tri-tip and falafel on a plate with rice and lentils. The proteins were cooked perfectly, and the lentils were flavorful without being overpowering. The Israeli couscous and Greek potato salad sides were my favorite. I’ve also had chicken shawarma on a fattoush salad, which is a tasty low-carb option. My husband liked his ground beef and lamb kefta wrap, which he got Greek style per the restaurant’s recommendation.

Chicken shawarma on fattoush salad Yalla Mediterranean

Chicken shawarma on fattoush salad

Not only is the food at Yalla Mediterranean delicious (it’s all made to order, so that’s a definite plus), it’s also hormone-free, responsibly raised and locally sourced, according to its press release. There’s even compostable plates, cups and cutlery.

And there’s beer. And wine. And Greek frozen yogurt topped with chopped baklava. I repeat: fro-yo with baklava.

Yalla has locations in Northern and Southern California, including one in downtown Culver City, where I’ve visited a couple of times.

Perhaps the best part? For the ample amount of food you get, the mains are reasonably priced at just under $10. Healthy, tasty and economical? I’m there.

Note: A meal here was hosted.

06

03 2016

Cafe Diva Steamboat Springs offers eclectic seasonal menu

Elk sausage and manchego empanadas at Cafe Diva

Elk sausage and manchego empanadas at Cafe Diva

Every year I visit my in-laws in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and I try to visit a different restaurant each time. This year we went to Cafe Diva, a favorite among the family.

Located in Torian Plum Plaza at the base of the ski mountain, Cafe Diva Steamboat Springs focuses its menu on local, seasonal ingredients. Dish preparations vary in style and include influences from Latin, Asian, European and other cultures.

My favorite dishes came at the beginning and end of the meal.

My starter of elk sausage and manchego cheese empanadas with a poblano-pepita pesto and cilantro-lime cream was an interesting take on the Latin-American snack using very-Colorado elk meat. This was my first time eating elk, and I liked it a lot, mostly because it wasn’t as gamey as I thought it would be. My husband’s elk tenderloin was really nice, too.

The dessert we shared — a take on bananas foster with Grand Marnier-vanilla bread pudding, roasted banana gelato, rum salted caramel and candied pecans — was also a standout. All the flavors worked together nicely, as did the different textures. The roasted banana gelato was my favorite part, as I love everything banana!

Bananas foster at Cafe Diva

Bananas foster

When it came to my main dish, seared diver scallops wrapped in bacon and served on a bed of spinach spaetzle with lemon-vermouth butter and capers, I wasn’t as impressed. The dish was too salty, which made it hard to enjoy. I should have ordered the sablefish with white balsamic-orange miso served in a coconut broth with snow peas, shiitake mushrooms and crispy ramen noodles. I had a taste of my sister-in-law’s, and I found it much more balanced. However, she thought it was a bit on the sweet side, so maybe I just liked it because my dish was so salty.

Diver scallops

Diver scallops

Sablefish

Sablefish

Even though there were some hits and misses, because my family likes Cafe Diva Steamboat Springs so much I’d be willing to try it again, especially since it is one of the few nicer restaurants in town (which is not very big).

07

02 2016

BFree gluten-free bread won’t crumble in sad, dry mess

BFree gluten-free bread Multiseed Bagels on board

I’ve tried many gluten-free breads. Not because I’m one to (blindly) follow food trends, but because my husband has a gluten intolerance (for real, OK?). Most GF breads just aren’t up to par; they’re often dry, crumbly and tasteless. But I’ve finally found a brand that is none of those things, which means it’s pretty darn close to bread with gluten in it.

BFree gluten-free bread, based out of Dublin, Ireland, with U.S. manufacturing in Montebello, California, offers a range of products that you’d swear had gluten in them. The sliced bread, bagels, rolls and wraps are all close approximations of their conventional counterparts, though some succeed better than others.

The sliced bread, which comes in both white and brown seeded varieties, tasted best to me in terms of both flavor and texture. The bagels are also decent. The rolls are a bit doughy, while the wraps are a bit dry, though not dry enough to fall apart when handling them. I did notice that none of the products toasted like bread with gluten in them, though I’m not one to toast my bread too dark anyway.

BFree gluten-free bread Brown Seeded Sandwich Loaf

BFree gluten-free bread is made with a blend of buckwheat and corn flours, and gets its protein and fiber from peas, apples and potatoes. The products are billed as allergen- and vegan-friendly (no gluten, wheat, dairy or egg), low-fat and high-fiber, and non-GMO. And for the calorie-conscious, the multigrain wraps contain only 100 calories.

You can’t buy the breads online yet, but you can find BFree gluten-free bread products in California at Ralphs, Lucky’s, Raley’s and Save Mart stores, as well as at DeMoulas Market Basket in the Northeast, ShopRite on the East Coast, Meijer in the Midwest and BJ’s nationwide.

Note: Complimentary BFree products were provided for this review. All photos courtesy of BFree.

21

01 2016

2015 holiday gift guide for foodies

Art of Tea sampler

Art of Tea sampler. Photo from Art of Tea.

Need a holiday gift guide for that foodie in your life? Check out some of my personal picks:

Art of Tea sampler sets: For just $25, you can gift someone four small tins of hand-blended organic teas. The Holiday Tea Sampler, with Winter White Chai, Pumpkin Pie, Butterscotch and Dark Chocolate Peppermint flavors, is a favorite and seasonally appropriate. Use code “hellohandmade” for 15 percent off (good through March 31, 2016). Order by midnight tonight, Dec. 11, to guarantee delivery by Christmas!

Ocha Teapot: The handy (and cute) personal Ocha Teapot brews the tea and dispenses just the right amount into your cup. Just place over a cup when ready and watch the tea flow! Great for people who like to control the amount of tea in their cups or for sharing with others. I first encountered this at Max Brenner in Las Vegas and thought it was so cool. Teapots are 30 percent off right now for the holidays.

Big Sur Bakery stollen

Big Sur Bakery stollen. Photo from Big Sur Bakery.

Big Sur Bakery stollen loaf: This holiday bread loaf, with layers of butter, almond paste, rummed raisins and house-candied citrus zest, all coated with granulated sugar is an elevated take on the traditional German stollen bread. Big Sur Bakery’s stollen would be a treat for anyone who appreciates artisan foods.

My Fat Dad by Dawn Lerman: Author Dawn Lerman, who has written for the New York Times’ Well blog, tells the story of growing up with a parent who struggled with his weight in her book, My Fat Dad: A Memoir of Food, Love, and Family, with Recipes. Part memoir, part cookbook, My Fat Dad offers insight into how our parents affect the trajectory of our lives, as Lerman’s father’s near-constant diets and yo-yoing weight prompted her love of food and cooking, as well as healthy eating. At the end of each chapter, Lerman gives us recipes for some of the dishes mentioned, many of which come from her beloved grandmother. An easy read with lots of heart.

 

 

Related Posts with Thumbnails

11

12 2015