Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Penthouse - Santa Monica, CA

Everyone enjoys a nice surprise and I received one Monday morning! I was chatting with my pal Dana and she said to pack my bags, and be ready by one because we were headed to Santa Monica to stay in a nice hotel, eat at a fabulous restaurant and discover the a part of the Los Angeles food scene. She didn't have to ask me twice, I had my errands done and was packed in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

We arrived at the Huntley in Santa Monica in the early evening and I could not get over how beautiful it was! Stunning, excellent staff and they house a fantastic restaurant at the top level of the building. How great is that?!

Our crew for the evening. I have to say we clean up quite nice! We loved this downstairs area complete with gorgeous fireplace, huge garden of mirrors and comfortable outdoor seating to enjoy Southern California's wonderful weather.

 We had a late evening reservation and were seated by an amazing spot by the window so we could overlook the twinkling lights of the city and observe he ominous blanket o black, otherwise know as the night time ocean. To liven up the party we settled on an evening cocktail of vodka and grapefruit. Light, crisp and refreshing as we perused the menu!

The chef sent out an amuse for us to enjoy and it was prosciutto wrapped asparagus drizzled with a balsamic glaze. it was salty, sweet and everything you want in a bite. I loved this start to our meal. 

We ordered the seared Ahi to start as we all were interesting in sharing a lot of our dishes. The ahi was perfect, the potato puree that it rested on was delightful as well. Everything was served cool so the pickled red onion and powdered wasabi gave the dish a kick that you were looking for.

Christian and I were all about sharing the Beet and Goat Cheese Salad. We love our beets! The variety of the cuts and colors made for a very pretty picture. We supposed to be sharing but I think I ended up eating most of it!

I for once did not order the scallops! Christian did. I did grab a bite and they were halved (my pet peeve) and set on the plate with a lot of garnish. I like my scallops served whole please!  It was served with a leek ravioli, shaved mushroom and micro greens. Christian seemed totally satisfied but it is kind of a cop out trick the eye into thinking you received four scallops when it was truly two.

 Dana ordered the Duck breast and it was a beautiful plate. With a hearty scoop of forbidden rice, also known as black rice, she ate the meat with bites of carrot, aus jus, rice and meat until her plate was perfectly clean.

Fish and beans? Sure, why not! I ordered the Sea Bass with crispy skin attached. The beans, had pieces of lardons and each bite reminded me of baked beans and went surprisingly well with the fish. I liked it a lot! I cleaned my plate and was totally done for.

I just want to send out a special THANK YOU to Christian and Dana for including me in their fun adventures and blessing me with their friendship. I am a lucky, lucky lady!


Monday, November 24, 2014

Lure Seafood Restaurant - Ventura, CA

I took my family to my favorite place in Ventura to chow down. Where everything is fresh, plentiful and all seafood, Lure! Come virtually enjoy our lunch...

After a morning playing with the horses we all declared ourselves first and foremost, famished but also a little wiped out. How about a little cocktail to treat ourselves after the hard work of plating hard? The Bloody Mary proved itself to be highly potent and a good choice if you want a little seafood snack with   a leaded cocktail. I ordered the Blood Orangtini, it was sweet and lovely. 

For the table we ordered Guacamole and Chips to start and they came out fast. It was a good thing too because we all tore into it like it was the last plate of food on Earth. We also ordered the Lobster Spinach Dip served with crostini and it too was tasty. We just kept chowing down and happily enjoying each others company.

Charbroiled Oysters! I love them. I was excited to order two plates and they all went down the hatch once they were cool enough to handle. They are always so big and tasty. Today was no exception! 

As our entree's arrived person to person I became jealous of everyone's order! First up, Sand Dabs lightly breaded with panko and sauteed with a lemon butter caper sauce. She chose her side as rice pilaf as well as a side salad that came out before her main meal. 

Look at this Louie!
The seafood on this salad was so gorgeous and plentiful. The salad itself was a large portion and did lack dressing, but they gladly will bring more on request. It was ordered x2 at the table and not one left the table without food on it. It is a large portion so beware you salad orderers out there!

I ordered this Idaho Trout Almondine and loved every bite of it! The butterflied, boneless fish is pan seared and served skin on. The almonds and parmesan coating gives a crunch to the otherwise soft delicate fish. My side is the Cilantro Corn Salsa packed with jicama, onion, red pepper and jalapeno. I love this stuff! I couple eat many more cups full! The Parmesan Potato Cake was a great second pick of sides because the smooth creamy red potatoes seared flat with butter, parmesan was a perfect pairing partner to the fish. I loved my lunch, loved, loved it! 

I left feeling stuffed but in a good way. The way that makes you feel satisfied but still comfortable enough to walk and shop. And that is exactly what we did. The weather could not be any more gorgeous in Downtown Ventura so we took advantage of the sunshine!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

California Oil Museum - Santa Paula, CA

I have lived in Ojai for four solid years and I had never actually set foot in the California Oil Museum. I have always wanted to and had heard fabulous things about it from my father but never made the time to do it. With my sister in town, I decided today would be the day and we went to check it out. We are fourth generation in the Petroleum Industry so it was very special for us to check out the early beginnings of oil in California.



The memorabilia and expiation of the extraction of oil from the land and sea was fabulous! 


They even have an oil rig set up in an outdoor building to give you a sense of how amazingly brilliant early gassers were. It just is hard to believe how bright and innovative they were in comparison to how the rest of the world was living at that time. 

After all that learning I had to grab some lunch. I had my favorite green salsa, chile relleno and soda with the best crunchy ice Santa Paula has to offer. If you are a local, give the California Oil Museum a look. You will learn a lot and the donation of $4 to enter is well worth it!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Jimmy's Pub - Ojai, CA

Yesterday felt totally like a wonderful Fall day. Although it has been Fall for quite sometime now, it just truly has felt like Summer. Warm, sunny days are always welcomed but I do want to update my wardrobe and dress in my favorite cozy clothes for awhile. I slipped on one of my favorite sweat shirt dresses, leopard tights, Frye boots and went on my way!

Christian, Dana and I decided to all meet at Jimmy's pub inside the Ojai Valley Inn to celebrate Dana's birthday a little early. Christian brought Veuve Clicquot to toast Dana and we were well on our way to a leisurely lunch. I did notice one thing about Jimmy's menu as it was sat in front of me, it has changed! in a much better way! It includes higher end options and more seafood! I like that!!

Christian ordered the Green Bean Salad with horseradish, onion, peaches, apples, potatoes and toasted almonds. I personally would probably never order this reading it off a menu but in real life the salad looked scrumptious. 

Dana loves her greens and she raved on this Caesar Salad. She really thought it was perfect but what surprised me the most is she doesn't like anchovies! I think that is the only part worth eating! How funny.

The soup of the day was Clam Chowder and you know I jumped all over that. The chowder was on the thinner end of the spectrum and was totally enjoyable. It really was more like a Corn Chowder which is fine but there was a lot of corn involved. I liked it but didn't finish it as I knew I had my entree coming...  

 Fish and Chips! My favorite! I was so happy to seem them as an addition to the new pub menu. I swear breakfast, lunch or dinner can be solved with an option of Fish and Chips! The fries were thin and crisp, perfectly salted. The star of the dish, even if cod and not my beloved halibut, was quality and lightly breaded. The cole slaw was nice, a perfect bite of freshness amongst bites of fried food.

What a special day! I got to spend a lovely lunch with two of my closest friends in Ojai and dine at a beautiful eatery. Fall is finally here so break out your favorite snuggly sweaters and boots guys and gals!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Azu - Ojai, CA

Last week Dana and I went into Azu just for a little late lunch and sampling of the Ojai Alisal Wines. When I heard about the Upper Ojai based winery I became a little sentimental because that is where I come home. We both sampled the Viognier and it was served cool and frosty in a large beautiful glass. It was a total winner and is the type of wine that could be eaten with all sorts of food.

We decided to order a bunch of tapas so we could share and have a little bit of each. Dana went for a nice salad and the honey baked brie with candied walnuts. I order the gambas (shrimp) and bacon wrapped dates. They all were delicious but that brie was just unreal. We finished our lunch and left totally satisfied with everything we had that day.

What great day for Ladies Who Lunch!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Rosti - Calabasas, CA

A couple days ago I had to make a trip to LAX to pick up my dear friend Dana. The trip was an exhausting one for the both of us and we were craving a nice lunch. Dana had been to Rosti before and wanted to share her experience with me. Upon entering you can see that it is a casual eatery featuring Tuscan cuisine. 

After reviewing the two sided menu and reading through selection after selection of salads, pizzas, sandwiches and pastas I was totally undecided on what I should order. After a few bites of the bread that was brought to the table I knew what I was going to go for...

You know I am a total sauce girl so when I saw the Tilapia with Spicy Pink Mushroom Sauce I thought that might be worth a try. The sauce was in fact a little spicy, but mostly totally flavorful from the rich mushrooms. The sauce leaned heavy on the salty side but as I ate it with bites of fish and mashed potato I thought it was a perfect component to the dish. I ordered sauteed spinach with roasted garlic with it as a side and did have a couple bites. The entire plate was a win as a whole!

 Now this dish is so Dana. She loves a good Caprese Sandwich but when you add Milanese to the party it is just awesome! The breaded chicken cutlet, mozzarella, arugula, tomatoes and pesto on the ciabata baked in house was crazy good. French fries were served on the side and could not have been better. Hot, crispy and salty!!

I left feeling full and totally satisfied. That is the way you want to feel leaving any restaurant but on this day it just felt lovely because it was also affordable. I cannot wait to go back and explore the menu further, the salads in particular all sounded amazing. Ciao!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Chico's Cafe - Paso Robles, CA

There is nothing like a great breakfast! My Mom and I were waking up from a night out in Paso Robles and decided to treat ourselves to a sit down breakfast in the town square. I have walked passed Chico's Cafe a million times on my way to other restaurants so I figured today was the day to give it a try.

 My Mom ordered the Huevos Rancheros and said it was very tasty. The eggs cooked to perfection, salsa flavorful and beans a perfect consistency. The only suggestion was to crisp up the corn tortillas before layering them on the plate. A little bit of texture on the plate goes a long way!

I always order the same breakfast where ever I go! I like the dessert like qualites of the pancakes slathered with butter and syrup. The pancakes were very nice. I liked that there was a hint of sweetness from extra sugar in the batter. The eggs were over easy and perfect for dipping my sweet pancakes in for a savory blast. I like my bacon crispy and it came out just so.

A great breakfast place can be hard to find but look no further in Paso Robles. Their dinner menu sounded fantastic as well, with prices being totally affordable. A return visit will be in the works!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bonnie Lu's - Ojai, CA

Bonnie Lu's is like "THE" place to go for breakfast in Ojai. On the weekend you cannot drive passed its arcade location without seeing people waiting outside to get a seat inside. I have had their breakfast before and it is solid. What I wanted to try was their lunch, could it compare?

Any lunch place worth going to has excellent soup selections. This is what they call their Chicken Tortilla. I didn't know if I should grab a fork and knife or what. The huge chunks of vegetables were what the cup was full of and lacked my craving for a savory broth. I ate as many pieces of the vegetables before the waitress took it away. 

When I saw the Strawberry and Spinach Salad on the menu I knew that is exactly what I wanted. With feta cheese, almonds and sweet creamy dressing I knew it would be delicious. The only thing that I thought was missing was a nice protein option so I asked for chicken to be added to it. I made this mistake all on my own. The chicken that was served on the salad was obviously cooked on the same part of the griddle as the eggs and other breakfast goodies because the chicken sopped up all that flavor and it was all I could taste. It ruined the salad and I could not take another bite.

I ate paying for a meal that I got absolutely no pleasure out of. I had high expectations for this lunch because of their breakfast success and left feeling disapointed. I hate that. I guess you live and learn...