Category: My favorite GEMS in Los Angeles

Tasting Menu at Dodger Stadium

Tasting Menu at Dodger Stadium

UYIFE111Did I ever mention that I’m obsessed with the Los Angeles Dodgers?  Well I am.  So much so that we recently changed our cable company of many years because it no longer showed Dodger games.
JGFRR1 A few days ago I got a call from the Dodger’s front office asking me to come on down to the stadium to try out the new food items on the menu.  You could imagine my freaking utter happiness!

It’s very cool what Executive Chef Jason Tingley is doing for Dodger Stadium these days.  He’s revamping the food selection for those of us that are going to ballgames this summer and also want a little more to eat than just a Dodger Dog.  Not that there is anything wrong with the classic, beloved Dodger Dog.  25,000 Dodger Dogs are sold at every home game, an amazing number by any standards.  It’s just that now and again, food freaks like myself want a variety and oh man, is there a variety now!
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First, with the new addition of the restaurant stand, Tommy Lasorda’s Trattoria, you can find things like artisan cheese pizza (inspired by Chef Jason’s trips to Portland, OR),  chicken pamasian sub, the meatball sub, and Tommy’s personal favoratite, meatballs and pasta to which Mr. Lasorda says tastes the closest to the way his mama used to make.
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Let’s move on to the BBQ shall we?  Chef Jason Tingley really put out all the stops with his BBQ Beef Brisket Sandwich.  He says he’s willing to challenge anyone in the city to a BBQ Beef Brisket cook off.  Yes, its that good!  The Japanese jidori chicken is pretty darn delish also.  It has a potent spicy kick to it… but nothing you couldn’t  handle.  Then there is the old fashioned, Mexican street elote (Roasted Corn.)  It has all the trimmings and topped with mayonese and seasonings.
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Speaking of Latin flavors, the new Souveneer helmet nachos are to die for.  They are time honored with the ingredients:  Cheese, carne asada, beans, creama, toped off with a pico de gallo.  They went really well with the limited time “Cuban Dog.”  They’ll only serve them when they play the Miami Marlins but its so worth the wait.  They taste amazing with pulled pork, a piece of ham, a slice of cheese and a pickle on a dog.  Wow factor!  Chef Jason Tingley wanted to name it the “Puig Dog” but he didn’t want to hurt the rest of the player’s feelings.  (Awe…)

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A funny story from this evening:  Druing my food tour, I kept saying to Chef Jason that there isn’t enough simple sweet offerings in the stadium.  I said that a Dodger cookie would be nice and that they should consider making them on a regular basis.  I’m sure I was bugging him to no end.  But after the tour was well over and we were deep into the Dodger game, at the 7th inning stretch, I was brought 5 freshly baked chocolate chip cookies that were made just for me by the chef!  I know, Im spoiled!
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Oh BTW, the Dodgers won that night which was a nice capper to the amazing food-frenzied evening.  I highly recommend you give the new selects a try.  You won’t be sorry.
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 GO BLUE!

Webisode 5: Christmas Special: How to make Tamales

Webisode 5: Christmas Special: How to make Tamales

Merry Christmas Everyone!  We decided to put this webisode together to help anyone out who is anxious to start making tamales this holiday season or just wondered how it’s done.  Without further ado…. Here’s our Christmas Special (Everyone loves a Christmas Special, right!?)

Tamale Tips:

Buy your masa prepared from your local Mexican/Latin Market or use Maseca Masa for Tamale flour.  For those of you that live in Los Angeles, I buy my masa at a place called “La Favorita,” and have been buying from them for YEARS!  They are located at 600 N. Brannick Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90063.  The best in Los Angeles. 🙂

I wrap my tamales in corn husks but take it a step further and wrap them additionally in a grease resistant 12 x 12 sandwich wrap paper.

A friend asked where do you pour the water when you are steaming your tamales and want to replenish the water?  You pour it right on the side of the tamale pot.  The tamales are covered in corn husks on top and damp towels.  The water is NOT going to disturb them at all.

If you are looking to be less stressed right before the holidays, make your tamales in advanced and freeze them in a ziplock raw (make sure to mark them so you know which side is the opening). Then the day you are ready to enjoy them, take them directly from the freezer and straight into the steamer and steam them for 5 1/2 to 6 hours.

If you are unable to find a tamale steamer pot, you can always make your own.  Use a smaller pot with a vegetable steamer basket placed at the bottom or flipped upside down.  Place enough water and a penny at the bottom of the pot, when you hear the penny bouncing that means the water level is low and time to replenish.  Make note, the water level will go low.  Also, you don’t want the water level to ever surpass the vegetable steamer.  Then follow the directions in the video. Make sure to cover in corn husks on top and a damp towel.

Place the Idaho potato in the tamale raw, it will cook as the tamale steams.  The potato is the perfect addition to a meat tamale or a vegetarian one.

In the vegetarian tamales on the video, I used green anaheim chile strips, but I personally use jalapenos in place of the green chile strips for more heat. Feel free to swap them out if you love the heat or don’t at all.

I usually season my masa with green chile for the vegetarian tamales and for my green chile pork tamales.  For my red chile beef tamales (which were not featured in this video) I season the masa with the red chile.  I also use the red chile inside the vegetarian tamales.  I am adding the recipes for both chiles below.

I make my chiles the day before I’m going to make my tamales.  I also chop everything I’ll need and cook my meat in the crock pot. For the pork, I use the pork shoulder.

Feel free to leave me any questions and I will follow up with you right away.  This is a very traditional recipe but also a very ambitious one….. but heck, give it a whirl.  This is such a fun recipe to attempt.

Here is my green chile recipe:

  • 9 – tomatillos
  • 6 – guero chiles (yellow chiles)
  • 8 – serrano chiles
  • 7 – jalapeno chiles
  • 5 – garlic cloves (browned/fried)
  • 3 – cups of water (from water chiles boiled in)
  • 1 – teaspoon of vinegar
  • 2 – teaspoons chicken bouillon (I use Knorr)
  • 1 – teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 – teaspoon black pepper

Fill two pots halfway with water and place over a medium high flame.  Bring water to a boil.  Then put tomatillos in one pot and in the other put all chiles.  Boil tomatillos for 15 minutes, you will know they are ready when they go from light green to a greenish yellow color.  Remove from flame and set to the side.

 

Boil chiles for 30 minutes or until soft and a bit limp.  While chiles are boiling place garlic cloves in a frying pan with a little oil and fry till browned.  Set to the side.  Once chiles are boiled remove from flame but DO NOT discard water… you will need it to blend chile.

 

You will have to work in batches.  In a blender add chiles (discard stem), browned garlic cloves, water from the pot the chiles boiled in, vinegar, chicken bouillon, oregano, black pepper and tomatillos.  Blend until smooth about 1 minute.  Pour into a bowl.  Set to the side.

 

 

Here is my red chile recipe:

  • 1 – large onion peeled
  • 5 – garlic cloves peeled
  • 3 – ounces new mexico dried chile (I use Don Enrique)
  • 3 – ounces california dried chile (I use Don Enrique)
  • 1 – large dried pasilla chile (I use Don Enrique)
  • 3 – tablespoons salt
  • 7 – cups water

In a big pot add water, 2 tablespoons of salt, all chiles, onion, and garlic cloves. Bring to a boil.  Boil for 30 minutes. Water will turn dark brown.

 

Remove chiles and garlic cloves from water.  Discard onion.  Do not discard water, you will be using it in the next step.  Remove stems from chiles, then add to a blender along with 1 cup of water from the pot, garlic cloves, and a tablespoon of salt.  Blend for 2 minutes.

 

Once blended get a big bowl and add 1/2 cup of water from pot into the bowl, then take the blended chile and put through a strainer. It will be thick.  Add a little bit of water from pot to chile strainer and scrape with a spoon.  Use up to 1 3/4 cups of water for the entire process. It’s time consuming but your red chile will be clean and super tasty.  Set to the side.

 

A hundred hugs to my crew for all the hard work we put in together!  A special thank you to the Idaho Potato Commission for believing in us! Thank you to the Zardeneta Family for being the best! xoxoxox! Love you guys and Merry Christmas!

Zapien’s Salsa Grill

Zapien’s Salsa Grill

I crave Mexican food on the daily.  I usually prepare it at home to ensure I get something authentic.  I know you’re probably thinking  “you live in Los Angeles where Mexican food practically grows on trees”, with a Mexican restaurant or taco hole in the wall every 200 feet.  You’d be surprised how many of those places are just down right BUNK.  Then you have the over the top fancy pants places that take Mexican food to a new level and charge a shiny pretty penny to eat there.  But what if you just want real authentic Mexican food that tastes like your Mexican Tia made it who is considered the best cook in the family?  If that’s the case I have the place for you.  Zapien’s Salsa Grill in Pico Rivera.  Ayyyyyyy, so good.  Just real food that I am always craving.  Carnitas and Chicharrónes done right.  I fell head over heels in love with the mole, just tasting it on a chip was enough for me to know it was the best.  Did I mention they put bacon in the guacamole and chorizo in the refried beans?  Yes they do.  There are many gems on the menu,  including a beautiful assortment dessert plate with a sample of bread pudding, arroz con leche, flan and a pink velvet cheesecake.  No wonder they have won Best Mexican restaurant 4 times on LA hotlist since 2007.

Here is a small photo diary of the few dishes I enjoyed:

 

  

Let’s help Zapien’s Salsa Grill become the winner for the 5th time by clicking here. Voting ends Nov. 9th

Coachella: A Festival for The Senses

Coachella: A Festival for The Senses

Nothing could prepare me for the 103 degree heat that slathered my skin as I got out of the air conditioned car to head into the Coachella Festival 2012.  But once my eyes feasted on my surroundings, the colorful people, the lights, the crazieness of it all… it was like an eye massage.  The heat soon dissipated to an afterthought.

Coachella truly is a festival for the senses.  You have good food, fashion, art and music all in one location.  A candy store of sorts for adults.  Even though Mazzy Star was the draw for me, everything else made the experience that much more spectacular.

Here’s a tiny photo recap of my time at Coachella:

   

   

      

 

  

 FYI: The Pizza was the BOMB!

Photos by Mando Lopez
Patina Alumni Dinner- November 2, 2011

Patina Alumni Dinner- November 2, 2011

For some reason Wednesday night the stars aligned in my favor and I was able to get a seat at the sought after Patina Alumni Dinner.  The one night event was the 22nd anniversary of the celebrated Patina Restaurant highlighting every executive chef that has worked the kitchen over the past two decades.  The list shines with nine of the best masters of the culinary arts today.  It was a night of sublime eating, every dish that came out of the kitchen was on par with a grand slam.  A hard act to follow but each chef held their own.

Joachim Splichal and Michael Otsuka grabbed the spotlight with hors d’oeuvres…. appetizing creations to whet the palate.  Joachim dazzled with potato chip sandwiches, scallops and american caviar.  Michael took over the reins with porcini and barley stuffed cabbage.  Followed by rabbit rack chop with fennel pollen, onion jam and prosciutto bread crumbs.

All photos taken by: Nicole Presley

On to the main menu…..

 Octavio Beccera wowed the dinner goers with a beautiful dish reminiscent of a floral bouquet.  Fall Terrine- rabbit, squab, and foie gras perched on top of persimmon, fig, green apple and sprinkled with pomegranate clusters and pistachio aillade.  This dish had me convinced that it was made by angels in a fall garden, but NO….. it was Octavio. He created complete bliss.

The next plate was a seasonal glazed vegetable mosaic by Tony Esnault.  To me it looked like Japanese anime food, soft on the eyes with colors that would make up the quintessential spring day.  I expected this dish to be cold, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover all the vegetables were warm.  Each piece of this lovely mosaic is flawlessly poached separately.  Once the vegetables each reached their optimum cooking time they were brought together like a stained glass collage.  This is a signature dish at Patina and could be found on the menu now.

Theo Schoenegger made Uovo in ravioli with white truffle butter and burgundy truffle shavings.

David Feau prepared Saint Pierre vent basque with squid ink, prosciutto and red pepper.

Then a gorgeous poached lobster made it’s entrance into the room.  Sitting atop of Mole Santa Cruz surrounded by butternut squash and fried kale, dressed to the 9’s in a lime brown butter sauce.  The crowd went wild.  Chef Eric Greenspan should have done a victory lap.

Walter Manzke made sure to please the press serving up his roast duck along side a tourte gibier in a salmis sauce.  This dish left my fellow food blogger friend The Glutster‘s tongue wagging (who was seated next to me).  Hadley Tomicki from Grub Street LA (who sat across from us) had left a few duck morsels on his plate.  The Glutster sniffed them out and requested Hadley’s last bite….  Literally.

 Sarah Koechling brought the dinner to a close nicely with her light as air Green Apple and Coconut Battera adorned with crispy meringue, one sweet marigold and matchstick green apples.  The combination of green apple and coconut is genius…. this dessert made me blush as I scraped my plate clean.

Patina

141 South Grand Ave

Los Angeles, CA 90012

213 972 3331

 

The happy snacks of Disneyland.

The happy snacks of Disneyland.

Did I ever mention that I LOVE Disneyland?  It’s true.  When I was younger I would go several times a year, but now I get out there on special occasions which usually fall under the guidelines of my birthday, my fiance’s birthday, and now my son’s birthday too!  Of course I get uber excited knowing I’ll hop on all my favorite classic rides…. The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, and Peter Pan.  What really makes the thrill of visiting the happiest place on earth worthwhile are all the snacks.  I live to nosh and drink my way through the day.  Stopping along the way from each ride to the next to see what I could get my grubby little hands on. Today was no different then any of my other Disneyland visits, I had my fair share of all snacks Disney has to offer! Thank you for another beautiful memory!

All photos taken by: Nicole Presley and Mando Lopez

What we snacked on: Mickey Mouse Pretzel, Mint Julep,  Fresh Strawberries, Frozen Lemonade, Disney Lollipops,  Mickey Mouse Rice Krispy Treat Pop, Peanut Brittle,  and Ice Cream in a Waffle Cone.

No compensation was received for this post. Just a wonderful day spent celebrating my son’s birthday. These are my personal opinions and views of Disneyland.

Restaurant Review: La Casita Mexicana

Restaurant Review: La Casita Mexicana

It’s almost impossible to find delicious chilaquiles in this town, unless you are making them at home.  I am a chilaquiles lover and I’m always ready with fork in hand to eat a good batch.  Sometimes I don’t feel like cooking but still want to satisfy my Mexican breakfast craving with chilaquiles, well my prayers have been answered in spades. La Casita Mexicana makes the most delicious chilaquiles I have ever tasted in my life.   They offer a variety of different preparations/sauces to choose from.  Everything from a spicy red chile to roasted green chile to a smokey mole sauce.  I settled on ordering the “divorciados” half green chile and half red chile.  Perfectly crunchy corn tortilla pieces emerged in a bath of two chiles then covered in crumbled queso fresco, red onion, and cilantro.  A wall of sour cream divorces the two.  These heavenly chilaquiles are accompanied by a homemade corn tortilla quesadilla, and a mound of creamy refried pinto beans topped with a roasted chile de arbol.  The deliciousness didn’t stop there.  I enjoyed the finest cup of cafe de olla spiced with cinnamon sweetened with piloncillo and swirled with cream.  We finished our breakfast perfection with a cactus tuna (prickly pear) flan topped with a gorgeous pomegranate sauce.  It was exactly like flan should be dense and similar to custard with a sweetness unlike anything I have ever tried.

I’m thrilled when I say La Casita Mexicana makes the BEST Mexican breakfast in Los Angeles.  Not to mention they have a million write ups from respected publications hailing them for their dinner menu, but we’re talking breakfast right now. 🙂  Plain and simple: I advise you to visit as soon as possible.  Here are a few photos from an unforgettable breakfast.

All photos taken by: Nicole Presley

La Casita Mexicana

4030 East Gage Ave.

Bell, CA 90201

323. 773.1898