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.
Category: My favorite GEMS in Los Angeles
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:
Photos by Mando Lopez
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.
141 South Grand Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90012
213 972 3331
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.
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
Snackas of the day: Raspberry Macaroons from Canter’s Delicatessen on Fairfax. Their macaroon is unlike any other in the city. The base is made of a soft sugar cookie then an almond paste is piped on top and a jewel of raspberry preserves sits dazzling in the middle. When you bite the cookie it is soft on the bottom but has a crunch up top and a spread of raspberry that will please your tastebuds. So delicious. I don’t drive down Fairfax unless I am prepared to stop and buy my treasured raspberry macaroons, otherwise it’s too tempting. Lucky for me, I bought a box full yesterday.
Photos taken by: Nicole Presley
Canter’s Raspberry Macaroon is one of my top 5 absolute favorite cookies in Los Angeles.
I have been a busy bee this past week. Catering dinner for a rock band, and not having a minute to relax. When the french food celebration presented itself at Elysian Park, well how could I resist? It was my first day off and I was ready to explore. I found myself going from booth to booth seeking out my options. Should I have the chicken mushroom crepe or the nutella crepe? I settled on the chicken mushroom crepe, as if one wasn’t enough it was so good I had to order another. With a semi full belly I knew I needed to satisfy a sweet tooth. That’s when the heavens pointed me to Les Macarons Duverger….. OH MY YA YA’S. In one word. SPECTACULAR! I polished off a pistachio macaron, salted caramel macaron, and blueberry lavender macaron within a couple of delicious minutes. French macarons are one of my favorite treats, and for a long time you could not find them here in Los Angeles, not until the last couple of years have they started to pop up more and more. Les Macarons Duverger definitely are one of the best I have tasted here in the states. Perfect in every way and gluten free. Turns out they are now being sold at farmers markets all over town, and some fancy gourmet markets too. That’s music to my ears…. I now know where to buy my macarons. 🙂
All photos taken by: Nicole Presley