Monday, June 30, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Thank you for reading The Food Monster Blog! Over the weekend, only after 19 days with the new name, we have passed 1000 hits. That is cause for celebration I think. I am glad it coincides so well with my vacation to the East Coast. I will be flying to the wonderful state of North Carolina for a wedding and a beach vacation with my girlfriend and her family. Nothing like a week at the beach. Now while I will try to post between now and my return trip, I will definitely be eating, cooking, enjoying food, and taking pictures as I go, so I can let you know how the food part of my trip went, when I get back.
As for the blog, to celebrate 1000 hits, I figured I should give some highlights of what we have seen so far. So, I give you the my 5 favorite posts from the past 20 days. As for the future of the blog, if you would like to see something specific, or have me review a restaurant, don't hesitate to email the Food Monster at, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reading and enjoy!
- The Food Monster
5. Dark Chocolate Almonds
I really like the photo in this post. I am glad I teamed up with John David Devirgilis Food Photography. Also, the snack is amazing. I hope you find a Trader Joe's near you and can pick some up.
4. Avocado Salsa
There are not many things I enjoy more than a ripe Avocado. When you add fresh ingredients, you usually get something tasty and delicious. That is what happened when I made this Avocado Salsa Recipe, adapted from a Mango Salsa recipe that we make at camp. It seems Avocados are grown year round here in California.
3. Black Bean-Artichoke Hummus
Hummus, was a staple of mine while I lived in Wilmington. I was glad to use a few other flavors to create a different yet great dish. Perfect for the game in the Fall. Go Panthers!!!
2. Mega Bagel Sandwich
This was a really fun Sandwich to make. I was still in NY and had a bag full of Bagels from a breakfast at Credit Suisse. There were all sorts of goodies in my fridge and it came together really well. In fact, I recall eating this 3-4 times that week.
1. Watermelon-Cucumber Gazpacho
My first attempt at this cold appetizer. I enjoyed the whole process of creating a mixed recipe from what I thought would make a great Gazpacho. As well as adding in ingredients from various recipes and articles on the internet. It turned out to be a great way to cool off on a hot day.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Another day, another stop at John David's Brunch Shack. This time, Panqueques were on the menu. Which makes me believe they are some sort of Argentine influenced Crepe creation. The ones in the photo had a filling of Dulce de Leche.
The other items we had for filling included, shredded Mozzarella, Dulce de Leche, Peanut Butter, Blackberry Jam, Applesauce, Yogurt, Honey, Maple Syrup, and Nutella.
1 Part Egg
1 Part Flour
1 Part Milk
1 TBS Sugar
3 drops of Vanilla Extract
Beat, until soft peaks form. Use a hot pan, add some sort of oil, butter to help keep from sticking. Ladle on just enough to cover the surface of the pan, the thinner the better, flip and remove from pan.
Roll up with any sort of filling, whether it be spinach and ricotta, dulce de leche, peanut butter, jelly, nutella, etc.
Then garnish and serve, or cut in half and arrange artfully and enjoy!
Thank you John David for the photography, as well as sharing your recipe.
We started out on Saturday by heading to the raved about Yuca's Tacos, A stand on Hillhurst. Many of the reviews I read, encouraged me to try this food or that food, a few even for the yummy burgers that they serve.
Burgers at a Taco Stand? Yeah, I was thinking the same thing too. There were also encouragements to eat the free pickled carrots while you wait for your food, and to skip a drink and get it from the liquor store next door.
We arrived at the stand, there was ample parking, and a line out of the small canopy of shade (100+ degrees that day). Two small tables to seat maybe 6 if you are lucky. A woman on the outside of the stand was sitting writing orders on a plate, for here, or on a brown paper bag, for to go orders. It turns out there was no line, only people waiting to get their food.
Now, I am thinking to myself, cheap plates, cooked-to order food, this must live up to the reviews and be a great place.
I placed my order, 1 Shredded Pork Taco, and 1 ChiliBurger. I would have ordered cheese, however the only cheese they had was American. I find it hard to believe, that a Taco stand, doesn't have any other cheese besides American. Which, isn't really cheese, just chemicals and milk processed together to replicate it.
Irregardless, I had my order in and about 10 minutes to wait, so I went to get my drink from the liquor store. So far, the most satisfying thing about this visit was the $0.99, 16 oz. Tea that I bought, it was chilly and refreshing on the hot day.
Back at the stand, my group had ordered and we were able to secure the only 4 top under the canopy. Kirby wanted to try the pickled carrots, so I got a small plate full, enough for both of us. They were ok. Spicy, at first taste, and tasted like a carrot. Not exactly something I wanted on this hot day. Finally, my food came out, followed by Joe's, Curvi's and Frank's. I would like you to note who I was there with. Joe, Kirby, and Craig. I guess it is not big deal, but I wouldn't ask people for their names if I couldn't get more than half correct.
The shredded Pork taco was, interesting to say the least. I can't remember a single thing that was special about it. Also, sort of small for the $2 price tag.
The burger on the other hand, was cheap and tasty, albeit small as well. $2.50 for that Chili goodness, yet still not the best burger in the world. Overall, after all of the hype this place received, for me it was a disappointment. Especially, with Machos Tacos down the street. I would also like to note that we were chip less the entire time. I don't even know if you could buy chips here.
Sunday evening, Craig and I got the hankering for a real Taco, so we headed on down to Machos Tacos, for our regular treat. Unfortunately, at 8:57pm they were closed. Boo! When you go to Machos, you are either walking, or have to park in the neighborhood next door. So, we had found a parking place and then discovered it was closed. Oh well, there was another stand I had been looking forward to trying. El Siete Mares on Sunset. The allure of cheap good tacos was too great, to go back home.
Craig (Frank) and I showed up, and was directed by an asleep (while standing) parking attendant to not park in the Parilla parking place, but to wait for a spot over in the 7 Mares lot. I had originally thought they were run by the same people, yet they have distinct parking zones, one was empty the other vibrant and full of life, and about 3 cars too full. The other attendant tried to get me to double park in front of a handicap space, I just calmly waited for another space to open up.
Now, I knew that Yuca's was not vegetarian friendly from their online menu, which boasted, all Tacos contain meat, the Beans have pork fat. This place was no different. I didn't notice any non-meat options.
They serve seafood and tex-mex fare. We each decided to get a burrito and a Taco. I got a Carne Asada Burrito, and Chicken Taco, Frank, got the opposite, Chicken Burrito and Carne Asada Taco. The place was cheap, Tacos for $1.29, Burritos, $3.99-$5.99. After about 20 minutes our food was up, and we sat down, chip less again. I sure miss those chips from Machos that you get when you order in.
The tacos were extremely small. They looked like they had been served on Silver Dollar soft Taco shells. It seemed like 7 Mares, tried to mask the flavor with an abundance of Cilantro in both the Taco and the Burrito. Craig enjoyed the Carne Asada much more than the Chicken, however, it looked more like ground beef to me than Carne Asada. Oh well, I guess we learned our lesson. Leaving El Siete Mares hungry, we realized we will just have to frequent Machos Tacos, until we find another Taco stand worthy of a test-run.
Yuca's - C-
2056 Hillhurst Ave.
Los Feliz, CA 90027
El Siete Mares - D
3131 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Monday, June 23, 2008
My house mate has been eating these for months, and is always more than willing to share.
The item: Dark Chocolate Almonds
The description: "Made with Belgian chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt and turbinado sugar"
The size: 10 oz. (248 g) of goodness
Now, if you knew me, genetically speaking, I come from a long line of Chocolate Monsters or Chocoholics. However, I was born with the milk chocolate gene. My mother is a big fan of the Dark, and would absolutely love these (too bad there isn't a Trader Joe's near her).
At first, I was skeptical of trying these, as a) Almonds aren't my favorite nut, and b) Dark isn't my favorite chocolate. With the urging of both John David, and Joe (house mates), I gave in anyway.
The crunchiness of the almond finishes off the quick snack, and leaves you begging for more. My suggestion, is to never try one of these, cause if you do, you will be buying them for life.
What are your favorite snacks? Comment, or email me at email@example.com
Photography provided by John David Devirgilis Food Photography.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
After perusing several recipes online, I decided to combine some concepts and throw together some ingredients in a blender and see how it turned out.
I was thoroughly impressed. It turned out fantastic. Cool, refreshing, with a hint of warmth. To help matters, I just completed the top three herbs of my "Essential Herbs in a Chef's Garden. And I wanted to use them. Here was what I came up with. Watermelon-Cucumber Gazpacho
In a blender combine
1.5 pounds of cubed seedless Watermelon
1/2 of an English Cucumber (use whichever cucumber you like, I even left the seeds in)
1 cup of plain Yogurt (I use the kind with cream on top to give it a little more substance)
4-6 slices of Marinated Greek Tomatoes
1/2 jalapeño pepper
3 limes, juiced
1/4 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp of black pepper
1/2 tsp of cumin
5-6 leaves of Mint
4-5 leaves of Cilantro
yields: 1 Blender full
I slivered some Watermelon slices and added that along with a mint sprig for garnish. If you can't stand the heat, or don't want the heat, use less black and jalapeño pepper.
Also try serving with, Oyster Crackers, Saltines, or Goldfish, as if it were a normal hot soup.
I hope you try making Gazpacho, or another dish that you have always enjoyed and never got around to making. It is days like these that remind me why I love cooking so much. Enjoy!
My photographer for this dish was John David Devergilis. He is the same roommate who made the Banana Challa French Toast (as well as photographed it).
Ah tomatoes, what a delicious sounding fruit, vegetable or whatever it is. Or it would be if it weren't for all this hoopla about Salmonella and that sort of thing. I heard somewhere that tomatoes from California were safe as well as those off the vine. So, I don't mind using the ones I got from the Farmer's Market on Sunday. Anyway, the recipe calls for vinegar which helps cure, or cook the tomatoes like the citrus acids do in Ceviche. This recipe is a staple in quite a few other recipes that I come up with. It also gives you something to do with those almost too ripe tomatoes.
That was the case here. I had 2 tomatoes left, and about 15 grape tomatoes and needed to use them. So, here is a recipe passed down from my step-mom who used to work in a restaurant in the Greek Isles. So, I give you Marinated Greek Tomatoes.
1-3 Tomatoes Sliced of medium Thickness
1 TBS of Olive Oil per Tomato
3/4 TBS of Balsamic Vinegar (or other Vinegar) per Tomato
Salt to tatse
Pepper to taste
1 tsp of Garlic (minced) per Tomato
2 tsp of chopped (fresh) Basil per Tomato
Assemble sliced tomatoes on a plate, drizzle with Oil and Vinegar, sprinkle S & P, garlic and Basil. Cover and refrigerate overnight (keep level).
It is important that you use fresh Basil as it will give you a better taste. Now, while the Tomatoes are great on Fried Egg Sandwiches, or on a Burger, or Bagel Sandwich, the oil/vinegar residue is what I really love. I crisp up any bread I have lying around and you have the best appetizer in the world. Fresh Tomatoes, with bread, and Tomato Au Jus. Yum-o!
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
4. Parsley (Italian)
5. Rosemary or DillBasil (pictured)- I use this in many dishes. Anything that involves cheese or tomatoes can safely use fresh Basil. I love marinating sliced tomatoes in Olive Oil with Garlic and fresh Basil overnight. Basil is my go to staple Herb. Whenever I move, I always plant a fresh pot of Basil. Above is my new Basil plant in California.
Mint - I think Mint may have even more uses than Basil. It is such a pungent and flavorful herb. For me, drinks are its primary use, although it complements any fresh fruit. I also use it in Salsas and Desserts. Just understand that Mint is an invasive herb, and will take over the area where you plant the herb. To start out with, I would highly suggest a terracotta pot for this one.
Cilantro - The Mexican/Spanish Herb. Definitely a must for Salsas, Guacamole and fresh Tacos. There is no comparison when it comes to a Mexican dish with and without fresh Cilantro.
Parsley - The good old Italian Herb. Can be found in many Soups and Italian Dishes. A great versatile Herb to have on hand.
Rosemary, Dill- Fresh Rosemary is a taste to experience. Once you start cooking with Fresh, you will never go back. Dill has a distinct taste and complements Carrots among other things. However, I feel the herb has a more narrow appeal than the other herbs listed.
Other Herbs I would consider are Thyme, Sage and Lavender.
I hope you enjoyed my top 5, now it's time to go find some Herbs, get a few pots and plant your own, before you know it your cooking will be more robust, flavorful and enhanced.
Directions for planting: Take plant and break apart the root system. Put an inch - two inches of soil in the bottom of your pot. Add plant. Hold it up so that the roots are about an inch below the surface of the pot, and add soil to fill up the pot. Add water. Enjoy!
Well it turns out a neighbor locked himself out of his apartment, so he came over to see what was going on. As this was my roommates day off, so we decided to make Brunch of the situation. We all piled in the car and headed to Trader Joe's to pick up ingredients for Banana Challa French Toast, a JD (roommate) specialty.
Since I didn't directly make it I will treat this more as a review than a recipe post.
I ordered the Banana Challa French Toast, it came crispy on the outside and warm and gooey on the inside. Made with both mashed up bananas in the batter as well as a few slices of fresh Banana on the plate. I choose fresh Maple Syrup, honey was also available. Fresh Blackberries completed this dish.
To drink, Proseco was served in over-sized wine glasses with Blackberries floating in the bubbly concoction. A great complement to the sweet dish.What a delicious happenstance brunch. I want to thank my neighbor for getting locked out, as we probably wouldn't have decided to make something that elaborate without him. I will definitely be going back to JD's brunch shack soon.
As many food bloggers have noted, the entire community has been mourning Tastespotting, I decided not to say anything redundant regarding the matter until we had a suitable replacement. Well fear not my foodie friends, Food Gawker is born.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
She got two Chicken Tacos, and I got the Fish Burrito. As we ate in house we got complimentary chips and salsa. Please note, if you get the food to go, you don't get free chips. This is a new concept to me as back East every Mexican or Tex-Mex establishment gives you free chips and salsa. In the above picture you can clearly see each plate, in the below picture the Chicken Tacos are in focus but in the background and that big lump of blurry food is my Fish Burrito. Burritos, I have come to the conclusion, are hard to photograph. Not getting them in focus or making them show up. No, the hard part is photographing the insides without cutting them. All you are basically photographing is a flour tortilla. Not much variance from place to place. This could be a steak burrito, you will never know. If you will trust me though, it is in fact a Fish Burrito with guacamole, salsa, cheese, beans and rice. The tortilla is such a spotlight hog.
After a relaxing meal, we both came away refreshed and filled up. Occasionally, I have been a little put off by the crowd, or heat, or something or another from visiting Machos Tacos, but today, not at all. What a great visit. I really enjoyed the Fish Burrito and am now wondering why I haven't ordered it from there before. I haven't been a big fan of their beef or chicken in the past. From now on I will get fish or something vegetarian. $4.75 makes it a cheap meal.
Next stop for us was a return trip to Yogurtland!This batch included Peanut Butter and Cheesecake Swirled, Blueberry and Raspberry Swirled, Peach and Green Tea Swirled, and a little bit of Chocolate and Cookies and Cream. As for toppings, the stand bys in Butterfinger Shavings, Raspberries, Strawberries, Cookie Dough, and little Cheesecake bites. Yummy!
1670 N. Vermont Ave (cross-street Hollywood)
Los Angeles, CA 90027
It was a small farmer's market, no more than 25 booths total. Some were selling duplicate items. They definitely covered the basics, from Tomatoes to Apricots. I picked up some Squash, zucchini and Tomatoes for the week. They also had 4-5 food stands. One served several different types of Humus and other Middle Eastern Fair, there was a Tamale Staion, a Juice Station, the token Bread booth and even a popcorn stand. I went to the Tamale stand and got Esquite. A typical south of the US food, steamed corn, with spices, salt, mayo, and cheese. It turned out quite nicely. I had seen many people eating something similar at fairs, or on my trips to Mexico, Peru, Argentina, and Chile but have never had it in this form before. It was usually on the cob.While the corn could have been steamed a bit longer, it was a satisfying side to my main course. I really enjoyed the spices, they had great flavor and warmth without being overpowering and too hot to eat. The item I decided to pair it with came from the Pupuseria. A pupusa is an El Salvadorian treat, a corn tortilla is stuffed with a filling in this case, Beans and Cheese. You can read more about a Pupusa here. They added a slaw type salad that had a vinegar based dressing, salsa, and sour cream. I squeezed some lime from the Esquite over the dish. It had a good mix of flavors and was quite filling for one pupusa. The salsa wasn't too hot and was complemented by the sour cream.
Esquite $2.50, Pupusa $2 - $3 each. $5.50 for a filling vegetable filled meal, that supports local merchants and farmers is my cup of tea.
Wherever you are, try and get out to your local farmer's market, I would love to hear about any unique ones or specialty items you come across: firstname.lastname@example.org
Atwater Farmer's Market
3250 Glendale Blvd. in the Wells Fargo Bank Parking Lot
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Sundays from 10am to 2pm
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Meanwhile, back in California, apparently somebody decided it would be a good idea to start charging over $5.00 a gallon for gas as this news article shows. However, I found a little gem in Los Angeles. I have been there a time or two before and just filled up there today. The station on Robertson and Olympic in Los Angeles, always seems to charge a few cents to dimes less per gallon than the other stations in the city. As a bonus, it is a completely green gas station. The gas station is made with recycled materials, and LED lights. The structure contains tin and steel to reflect the lights where it needs to go. In the bathroom there is a bamboo wall, a recycled wood wall, and a slab of granite or stone where the water from the sink just gravitates towards the trough style drain. There are even two different buttons for the toilet, one for a large amount of water, and the other for smaller amounts. The ground is partially made with recycled glass bottles, and they also have recycled material postcards with information about the station that contain wildflower seeds, so all it takes is a little soak and watering and you have fresh compost and wildflowers sprouting. Find out more about this sweet place to fill-up at BP's TheGreenCurve.com
I plan on hitting it up whenever I am near the West Coast. From the Atlantic to the Pacific I am sure there are plenty of Green restaurants in between, if you find any good ones be sure to let me know about them at email@example.com
Enjoy and happy travelling!
-The Food Monster
Friday, June 13, 2008
However, it is hard to improve upon pure Ice Cream. The peanut butter and waffles were just filler. Do yourself a favor, get your favorite flavor of ice cream, put a couple of scoops in a bowl and curl up front of a movie and enjoy the best dessert ever made. Something that even Google can't improve on...Yet
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I started off my two-day journey with a Roast Beef Croissant. Now I wasn't really in the mood for sandwich Roast Beef, so I tried to get a different meat, but Ham was another option so I just went with it. I added avocado and bacon. I don't know what they made in there but out came a gem of a sandwich. A perfectly toasted halved croissant with juicy flavorful warm Roast Beef (Not like the dry sandwich crap you find at a deli), fresh ripe avocado, (would have been tomato as well if not for the salmonilla scare), bacon egg and cheese. Delicious. I checked in and got my uniform on, and went back for another.
RB Croissant count: 2
I would also like to add they had an assortment of normally great breakfast items, with cereal, yogurt, danish, muffins, fresh fruit, etc. however, I normally pass that up when they have a hot grill and cook you something made to order. There was also a thin layer of dust forming on the food set out as we were in the middle of the desert (near Edison Air Force Base past Lancaster).
No worries, after 6 hours on the set, it was lunch time.
In those 6 hours, they were ready to serve us grilled to order New York Strip, Sliced Roast, and Salmon, with an accompanyment of an Indian Style Chicken Breast, Rice Pilaf, Pasta, Fresh Asparagus, etc. There was just too much food to eat something of everything. I was quite pleased. I didn't think they could do as well as breakfast.
The second day brought about 200 additional extras. I arrived just in time to get another RB Croissant Sandwich.
RB Sand count: 3
The head guy knew me by this point, and how I liked my breakfast. Even with a line, the boys in the trailer were speedy, efficient, and gave each individual order the precise attention it deserved, unheard of with catering companies these days. The line oohed and ahhed at the finished product as I sat down to eat. There were many other things on their list I wanted to try from the banana pancakes to a poached egg with hollandaise sauce. From experience, I knew it would all be good.
As I was getting dressed in my costume for the day, I wasn't really hungry, but decided to go back down to the trailer and finish the last day's breakfast with another sandwich.
RB Sand count: 4
Boy am I glad I did, Yum!!!
Lunch proved to be more of the same deliciousness. This time with filet and cooked to order Tuna with a Pineapple or Mango Salsa. They also had a delicious pasta, rice, etc., three types of salad greens and Cesar salad, where did they find the time to make all this goodness?
I want to make my own movie just so I can hire them. If you are looking for a good catering truck, I suggest you hire Hollywood Caterers. I hope I am on a set with them again real soon. Like their motto says they go coast to coast and sometimes beyond!
Catering Ranking: A- (highest score given so far)
7527 Reseda BLVD #B
Reseda, CA 91335
Monday, June 9, 2008
My goal, was to make a tastier, cheaper vegetarian version of the Fred 62 sandwich, as I grew up in Hendersonville, NC, the new sandwich shall be named the Tower of H'ville.
I started with some 8 grain Wheat Bread. Two slices. I felt that three was a bit much unless there was a sauce to balance it out. To further combat the dryness, I added a thin layer of Mayo. The only tomatoes I had in the house were sweet Cherry tomatoes, so I sliced 10 of them up into 3 slivers each and covered each half with tomatoes. As for Cheese goes, I used a New Zealand Sharp Cheddar. Probably a much higher quality cheese than the standard Fred 62 slice of Cheddar. After broiling the open faced sandwiches until the cheese melted, I added an entire ripe avocado.
I decided to leave the sandwich open faced and eat it with a fork and knife. Another problem with the Tower of Babel, was method of consumption. I had to squish the sandwich and run through a 15 minute jaw warm-up exercise routine in order to get a bite of the large sandwich. With having two open-faced sandwiches, that problem has been eliminated.
The verdict: The only thing the open-faced Tower of H'ville lacks are the fried onion straws. However, you don't miss them, with the flavorful avocado, tomato and cheese, this sandwich was not lacking, but could have been enhanced. The problem of consumption and dryness were eliminated and the total cost from store to dishwasher came out to be about $2.06. Not bad for a delicious meal.
Sandwich Rating: B
I hope you enjoyed this sandwich, if you would like me to make a cheaper alternative to a high-priced restaurant item, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
-The Food Monster
If you know anybody who lives in Los Feliz, or frequents this East-side neighborhood in Los Angeles, they can all tell you about the diner that is open late, and serves all kinds of foods. From goat cheese egg sandwiches, to south of the boarder items, everything categorized as traditional and non-traditional diner fare can be found at Fred - 62
The above photo, shows a smattering of options, from a sandwich, to an egg sandwich with sidecake, to a burrito/wrap off of their south of the border menu. The only thing missing is a hand scooped milk shake.
As it was around brunch time, I went with a giant sandwich, known as the Tower of Babel. This vegetarian option, uses avocado, Lettuce and Tomato to make up for it's lack of meat. With Cheddar, and fried onion strings on a grilled sourdough bun, you won't be leaving hungry.
They even throw in a side kick of fries, salad, fruit or potato salad.
The things I were impressed with: The avocado, perfectly ripe. The fried onion strings, works on the sandwich without meat. The tomato, it made it on the sandwich.
A few things I was not impressed with: The lettuce, they could have used a higher quality lettuce than iceberg. The cheese, super cold, nowhere near a melting point, tasted like it was only out of the freezer for an hour or so. The sandwich itself, it needed lots of mayo, and mustard in order to get it down, very very dry. The price: $11 without a drink. I won't be getting this sandwich again.
Looking back on Fred-62's menu, all that came to mind was overpriced diner fare. Sure you can't get some of their unique creations anywhere else, and sure most of it tastes great, but I was a little underwhelmed in the price to quantity of delicious food ratio. It therefore goes into my average diner category with a C+. The sandwich wasn't amazing, but it wasn't terribly either. A little too expensive and dry for my tastes.
I think I will stay home and try to make a better sandwich next time. I will see what I can come up with that is similar yet still full of flavor.
1850 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027-4215
Phone: (323) 667-0062
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Most of my group had plans to see a show at the UCB theater for a 10:00pm show. So, after gathering everybody we left around 8:30pm for a thai place down on Hollywood and the 101. Realizing how slow we all were, we decided to change up the restaurant to PiMai It's Thai, which is about 2 blocks East of the UCB theater. Boy am I glad we did.
I started things off as I usually do at a Thai restaurant, with Thai Iced Tea. The tea comes with a heavy cream on top, here are before and after shots of the tea/cream. Incredibly flavorful with a hint of sweetness, and oh so chilly. Delicious in my book.
As we were in a hurry, everybody quickly decided on their selections and ordered. I went with my go-to favorite in Beef Pad Thai.
Luckily for me, I have been here before and have tried both the Islander Curry (w/pineapple), the Yellow Curry and the Pad Thai. Both curries were excellent, although the yellow curry only had potatoes and carrots. I could use a bit more vegetables or variety with that flavorful curry. I imagine this is remedied in the Vegetable Yellow Curry dish. The Islander seemed to have canned pineapple in it, and wasn't as appealing as I had hoped for when I read it contained pineapple. However, the curry sauce more than made up for it. But I am here to talk about the pad thai.
I was pleased with the Pad Thai. Not the best I have had in the world, but well above average. I like how it came with a lime and crushed peanuts on the side, rather than already on it. I of course love both, but I also enjoy that the option is there. The plate was large and filling and the green onions were fresh. The dish as a whole tasted like it was prepared only after I had ordered it, which is what I like to taste in a Thai dish. My friend on my left ordered a Cashew Chicken dish, which less desirable in flavor and presentation. Although, there was clearly effort put into the dish. I won't ever order that from PiMai when they are still making a delicious Pad Thai and these fantastic curries.
Total price, with tax, tip, drink, and dish for me was around $15, so very affordable. For a great curry or Pad Thai, head on over to PiMai. They also have cheaper lunch options. Then afterwards check out the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater.
PiMai It's Thai
5833 Franklin Ave. Hollywood, CA 90028
Friday, June 6, 2008
Ok, so back to food. When I go snowboarding, I always marvel at how good even simple foods taste after a long day on the slopes. My favorite snack is a good gouda and crackers or bread, right after getting those boots off. Even more incredible is the hot chocolate I frequently drink to "warm-up". Peppermint Schnapps anyone?
As you probably have guessed by now, my sweet tricks involved not falling down, with the occasional 2 inches of air. What you can't see in the video is my backpack that I took off at the top of the trick section. It is filled with granola bars, water, and other goodies to snack on the chair lift. I especially like the Nature's Own Oat's and Honey for an extra energy boost, which it's dryness couples well with water on the lift.
If you would like more tips on how to keep from going hungry on the slopes, email me at email@example.com
Before we get to this magical place, let me tell you about my views on Frozen Yogurt and Ice Cream. I love Ice Cream, it is by far my most favorite dessert, drink, meal, etc. Frozen Yogurt is not ice cream. I recall walking into a frozen yogurt shop and only seeing signs for 2% fat, 10% fat, and half-fat. There were no full-fat varieties. Now imagine if you substitute the word flavor for fat, what kind of flavors do you get? At best half-flavor, who in their right mind would eat half-flavor ice cream?
I digress, after being assured there were no ice cream or full-flavor varieties, I decided to make the best of it and get some frozen yogurt. I feel the best part of this experience, is the ability to get your own samples out of the elementary style swish and spit cups (At TCBY you have to ask the worker each time, and they decide the amount per free sample). If you fill the cups over flowing with yogurt, you can get a few ounces per cup. With 4-6 samples of various flavors, you already have $3.00 worth of soft-serve in your belly before you pick you cup size. The cup sizes range in big for one serving to large pint. And with 10-16 flavors, including sugar-free (don't get me started), you have lots to choose from. Onto the flavors, I choose a Kaluha/Strawberry mix, Pistachio/Green Tea, Peanut Butter/Cheesecake all in one bowl, topped with Butterfinger shreddings, Strawberries, Raspberries, and little cheesecake and cookie dough pieces. Total for this heaping bowl was a little over $3 Not bad for a late night visit. They also serve water with fruit soaking in it for free, and have a hip-modern looking store. Other toppings include various fruits, fruity pebbles, coconut, granola, and other various sundae toppings.
If there wasn't an ice cream store in sight, I would go back. Definitely one of the top soft-serve places around. However, never will it compare to a double scoop on a sugar cone.
If you feel you have the best Ice Cream store around, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
#1 I renamed the blog The Food Monster. It became The Food Monster Blog as both thefoodmonster and foodmonster were taken. The name food monster comes from playing with my girlfriend's nieces. I would always be some kind of monster depending on the situation. It started out as the tickling monster, then I helped somebody move and I became the moving monster...
#2 The other reason, was I had trouble spelling both reviews and recipes the first time I set it up. Not sure why, but if I misspell two words in the title of my own blog, it probably isn't a very good title. Hence the Change.
Now on to a delicious recipe.
Black Bean Artichoke hummus is a combination of the spicy Wilmington Hummus and a delicous Artichoke hummus my girlfriend makes, with some black beans to change it up.
This makes a large batch, about two blenders full. I made it in two batches and mixed them together.
2 Cans of Chick Peas (save half a can of water per blender full)
1 Can of Artichoke Hearts
1 Can of Black Beans (All cans drained)
4 tsp Lemon Juice
6 TBS Garlic
4 TBS Ginger
small handful of pine nuts
1 TSB Paprika
1 TSB Kosher Salt
1 TSB Black Pepper
1 tsp Old Bay
2 TSB Olive Oil
Water to consistency
Blend ingredients, garnish with some extra pine nuts and paprika, chill and serve.
You can really get creative on the spices, feel free to substitute your own and add some.
My only recommendation is to add more artichoke hearts. There was not a presence in every bite. I would think about 1 can of artichoke hearts to every 1.5 cans of beans would be sufficient.
-The Food Monster
Jenn DiPiazza, Travel Writer, Creative Cook, Food Critic, and Professional Foodie (www.leftoverqueen.com, travel blog @ www.travelcloseup.com), we are now able to share other wonderful blogs with you via the Foodie Blog Roll.
This comes just in time for a change in the address of the blog. ALL NEW CONTENT CAN BE FOUND AT The Food Monster Blog. http://thefoodmonsterblog.com so please adjust your bookmarks and RSS feeds accordingly.
Have a great day!
-The Food Monster
Normally when I think of Vegan food, a bag of freshly ground dirt on a bed of lettuce comes to mind. However, I thought I would give it a chance. 5 of us ended up going, the three bloggers, and two of my roommates.
We arrived around 8:30pm on Saturday night, and every table was packed. It took about 15 minutes to order at the register and we sat down at a tiny 4 person table in a corner that was un-bussed. After another table left, we had enough chairs for everybody.
Our food arrived eventually....
Top Right Clockwise we have: Jack-fruit Carnitas Tacos w/ cesar salad, Torta Sandwich w/ Sweet Potato fries, Burrito Wrap w/ salad, Tofu-Pesto Sandwich w/ Sweet Potato Fries, Burrito w/ cesar Salad
Von Scrumptious got the Tacos, and that is her go to here at Pure Luck, she has already blogged twice about this place and will have another post up shortly regarding our night out. I did not get a chance to sample the dish, as it was gone quickly. Joe had the torta, which I also didn't sample, but his sweet potato fries were delicious. It also came with a side of BBQ sauce which was not overpowering and had a great flavor. I was a little nervous about it but was thoroughly impressed with it's flavor.
My dish was the burrito wrap (not to be confused with a burrito) $9. It contained Jack-Fruit Carnitas, other stuff and sweet potato fries. I elected to add Avocado for $1, bringing the total to $10
I wanted to try the bottomless Lemonade ($2), which was basically a glass full of diluted lemon juice. While not something I would order again, I found it better than the Tea that Liz ordered, and it washed down the Wrap with great ease, helping me to begin my digestion process a little earlier.
My burrito wrap was ok, there weren't any fantastic flavors, but there was nothing bad with it. Completely average I would say. However, since we were talking about Vegan food it was pretty good. Some of the best vegan food I have had. Then again I eat real people food so it will be compared as such. The salad was poor. Baby Spinach leaves and tomatoes with a vinegarette left a lot to be desired. I think I would have also enjoyed the sweet potato fries as a side rather than a filler. Rating C
Liz's Pesto-Tofu Sandwich was really good for Tofu, and a vegan sandwich, but paled in comparison to a burger with thick melted Cheddar on it. They have found a good thing in the pesto sauce. It has a great consistency and flavor. Her sweet potato fries were also super, again out of the wrap. Her tea was basically a lightly flavored water. They need to work on that.
Last but not least, Craig's Burrito had rice and beans and had a much more mexican taste to it than my burrito wrap. I did not sample the cesar salad, but it is kind of hard to mess up a vegan burrito. Just leave the cheese and meat out and voila. That said, it was not super fantastic.
The atmosphere definitely brought back memories of Asheville, NC. Without being offensive, because that's not where I want to go with this the best word I can use would be Granola. You either understand it or you don't. That's not saying it's good or bad, just is.
After the meal we went over to Scoops for some gelato or sorbet. They also had vegan flavors for liz. They hit a home-run with the Thai Iced-Tea flavored Gelato. I tried to go back on Sunday night but they were closed. As a note they close at 10pm on Saturday night, we were the last customers getting in the door at 9:59.
A few things I learned from this experience are that Vegan food isn't necessarilly healthy, as was the case with a fried heavy pub food spot, and also that not all Vegan food tastes like ground dirt.
As a Vegan restaurant, overall: A-
As a normal restauran, overall: C+ (slightly above average)
I will go back just for the sweet potato fries, but only because Liz needs a vegan place to eat at. I wouldn't attend without a Vegan in party.
on the other hand,
707 N Heliotrope
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Hours: 11am - Midnight
If you would like a place reviewed in the Los Angeles area, please send an email to email@example.com
This started out as a bag of Bean Sprouts in the fridge. My then house mate Felicia decided to sautee them up with green beans, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and maple syrup. They were not bad at all, yet felt like they were missing something. I had always wanted to cook with Pad Thai noodles or Rice Noodles, so I decided to combine them into a soup.
Bean/Bean Sprout Mixture
Sauteed Onions (3x)
Handful of Sliced Mushrooms - Sauteed
Garlic (Handful of cloves)
Ginger -fresh is better, although in this I had a combination of Fresh and powder, to taste
Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper, Soy Sauce to taste. I had no need for salt.
Soy-Ginger Broth from Trader Joe's
Small Package of Firm Tofu
10-12 leaves of fresh basil
Yields: 1 big ol' pot full
I cooked the Rice noodles, added the bean/sprout mixture, basil and the soup broth, then all of the other ingredients were sauteed together and added. I let it sit covered for about 4 hours. When I came back to it, all of the moisture had been absorbed by the vegetables and rice noodles, yielding a delicious dry soup. There is still something missing that I am sure an authentic Thai chef would be able to add, both in flavor and presentation. But for a Thursday night dinner not bad at all.
***About half the photos in this blog were taken by expert photographer Joe Saunders. Including this one. As I proceed I hope to attribute the proper photographer to the photos.
For those of you out there wondering. Avocado Salsa is not Guacamole. Or Whack-a-mole as I was first introduced to it. There are a few subtle differences. First of all, Guacamole, is usually mashed, smashed, reduced, squished, or otherwise pulverized from its original state. Leaving a nice creamy concoction that can be scooped up with chips. It also contains onion and lemon juice, with the rare exception.
Enter me, I wanted to freshen things up a bit, so I borrowed a recipe for Mango Salsa from Supreme Chef Roz Taubman and began changing it around so the main ingredient was Avocado. This dish is best served chilled, with Chips, Tacos, Burritos, Steak, or any other food with it. You can even eat it by itself.
For 1-2 Servings you will need:
1 Small ripe tomato
1 small handful of fresh Cilantro, Washed/Chopped
1/4 of a Jalapeno Pepper, minced (add more if you want some hotness)
the juice of 1 Lime
a little Salt and Pepper (I prefer Sea Salt or Kosher Salt) to taste
That's it, pretty simple. Just cube up the avocado and tomato, mix, and chill
*As a note: You can keep an avocado pit or two in the bowl when storing it. Also make sure to press plastic into the mixture when covering to help keep it from turning brown.
Today I wanted to share with you a take on a classic, the Grilled Cheese. My step mom used to make a variation on this when I was about 12 years old. She claims she learned it while working in a restaurant in the Greek Isles. However, first, let me tell you, that Kirby Von Scrumptious and I threw down some serious sandwiches last Saturday Night (April 26), and the real winners were the judges. You can also check out her blog at: kirbyvonscrumptious.blogspot.com for more details. Back to the Greek Grilled Cheese.
To make them you have to start with a large appetite. These aren't you Kraft American Singles between two pieces of Miracle Bread.
4 Slices of Wheat Sourdough Bread
8 oz. (or 1 cup) of assorted cheeses (For these sandwiches I used an English Cheddar, Havarti, and a 6 cheese blend
1 Ripe Large Tomato
Handful of Basil, Washed and Ripped.
Butter one side of each slice of bread. Heat skillet to medium heat, add one slice of bread face down. Immediately add cheese, tomato and basil. I like to have my cheese already in a sandwich shape so I can just lift it off the plate and put it directly on the bread. Then top the sandwich with another slice of bread, butter side up. When golden brown, about 2-3 minutes, flip. Just brown the other side and your cheese should be gooey. Cut Diagonally for best flavor, and largest crustless surface to bite into. I also like to warm up some Tomato Basil soup while I am making the Grilled Cheese, that way it is all ready at the same time. Enjoy!!!
Go read her blog, hate it, tell her you hate it, because we are enemies. Enemies, competing for the hearts of foodies everywhere, the battle has begun. She will be my motivation to bring you more recipes, reviews and the like of things you want to see/eat. Together we can show her how much better my food blog is than hers. Sure, she has fancy pictures, and a Jack LaLanne Juicer, but I have a bigger stomach.
In actuality, we will probably end up working together more than competing, maybe even reviewing a few places together, eating the same foods and enjoying lots of Ice Cream, but if doesn't change the fact that we are enemies. However, while technically we are enemies in the food world, we are friends in the real world. So, Kirby Von Scrumptious, with all due respect, consider this a challenge, and may the best food blog win!
If you would like to see a review for a particular restaurant, or want me to whip up a specific recipe, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
-The Food Monster
Currently #2 on Cheesesteak Tour
It starts with the bread, Parmesan and oregano, white, or wheat, add let tom and mayo, then choice of grilled green peppers, mushrooms and onions. I usually get mush and onion as the peppers can overpower the sandwich. The secret here I think, is that they let the steak marinate in its own juices kept at a high temperature, then separated into smaller pieces by a grillmaster on a hot grill, Provolone is applied and then they pour a little of the juice on top to melt the cheese. scoop and arrange it on the bread.
They also have delicious fries with an optional Cajun seasoning. Maybe a tad pricey as far as my appetite, but well worth every penny.
Currently #1 on my Phillysteak tour.
The only highlight was the neighborhood, multi cultural and unique. There were many outdoor shops/stands, sort of like an urban farmer's market.
Currently ranked #3 on my Cheesesteak tour.
6 TBS Tahini
1 TBS Pine Nuts
6 TBS Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup of Water
1/2 Cup of Water from Beans
10 Pitted Large Black Olives
6 TBS Minced Garlic
1 TBS Ginger Powder (or 1/4 TBS of Minced Ginger or Ginger Paste)
3 Tsp Kosher Salt
2 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Chili Powder
1 Tsp Paprika
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 Tsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Ground White Pepper
1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
1 Tsp Curry Powder
Blend on Low until Beans are to a mince, then blend on high until well blended, don't overblend. Stir after 10 seconds if not mixing well. Re Blend.
Pour into Several Bowls, Garnish with Paprika, a sliced Olive and Pine Nuts.
Yields: 1 Blender full of delicious tasting, healthy, yummy Homos (Wilmington Style, kicked up a knotch, perfectly paired with previous post Mangoritos)
Mango (Peeled and pit removed)
Small Handful of washed mint (muddled)
1 Sprig of Mint
2 oz. of pure platinum white meyer's rum (other white rum's may be susbstituted)
1.5 oz of simple syrup (that's water with sugar dissolved to saturation, silly goose)
15 cubes of ice
Kosher Salt (Optional)
Combine, Ice, Mango pieces, Juice of Lime, Muddled Mint, Rum, and simple syrup in a blender.
Blend on High for 1 minute, until light and well blended.
Optional: Rub the rim of a glass with the rest of the lime, pour kosher salt into a salting ring, salt rim of glass
Pour drink into glass, garnish with sprig of mint
Yields: 1 Mangorito
Adrienne's Pizza Bar is nestled in the heart of the financial district, when I lived in NY I had the opportunity to visit for an evening dinner. It instantly became a favorite in my book. The cobblestone streets leading up to it, street tables, and surrounding shops are reminiscent of small-town Italy. The Grandma pizza is fantastic as well as the other Italian specialties. My party of 3, split a salad, a couple of appetizers, a pizza and a bottle of Red Wine. We were stuffed, and got out under $15 a head including Tax. Next time I am in NY I will bring back pictures and a more in depth look at the menu and dishes. However, do yourself a favor and find it, order something, anything, and enjoy.
Caution- unusually long lines at lunch, make it hard to make on a lunch break.
Opened til Midnight except on Sunday.
54 Stone Street, New York, NY
1 fine new york bagel, halved
1 roma tomato, sliced
black pepper, to taste
2 slices of deli turkey
2 slices of wide cut salami
1 oz. of mayo
1 oz. of brown stone-ground mustard
2 slices of muenster cheese
2 slices of provolone cheese
fresh basil, washed, chopped
Broil each bagel half so the top is crispy while the tough outer edge is warm and soft,
To each half, in this order
Mayo, 1/2 sliced roma tomato, black pepper
Turkey, mustard (brown stone-ground), roasted garlic hummus,
Slice of salami, provolone slice, muenster cheese slice,
Sprinkle of parmesan, a big ole thing of organic alphalpha sprouts, and some freshly chopped basil
Then put the two together,Warning: may cause jaw injury if entire bagel is attempted to be put into mouth. Try eating some ingredients with the top half, then again with the bottom half in a double bite. No chewing between to ensure thorough mix of all ingredients tastes, and aromas.
Important tip, make sure the tomato slices touch the mayo, and the salami touches the mustard.
20 oz. of raspberry, strawberry, lime infused rum
lime quarters (for garnish)
sugar (for rim)
rub lime quarter over rim of glasses
put sugar on a plate
turn glass over and touch rim to sugar lightly
shake (or blend) rum with ice
pour into glasses
to infuse rum:
1 pint of rasberries, rinsed
2 pint of strawberries, rinsed, stem doesn't need to be removed
1 vanilla bean, or a few drops of vanilla extract
zest from 2 limes
1 half of a lime, quartered
3/4 cup of sugar
1 quart amber rum (such as cackspur or Rondel Barrilito)
1 pint dark rum (such as meyers or Goslings)
1 pint white rum
Rinse Fruit, Cut Limes
Put Rasberries, Strawberries, Lime, Lime Zest, and Sugar into a wide mouthed 1 gallon container and seal
Shake container gently to disolve the sugar, set aside unrefridgerated for 3 weeks
Strain, discard solids, refrigerate liquids
Yields approximately 1/2 gallon of infused rum
This recipe was adapted from a pineapple mango dauiri recipe found in a great southwestern cookbook of which I no longer have, I do not take credit for inventing infused rum.
1/4 Cup of Olive Oil
4 Cloves of Garlic
1/4 Cup of Balsamic Vinegar
2 bagels (cut in half)
4 oz. of cream cheese
Dash of Black or Cayenne Pepper
Slice 1 Tomato (the thinner the better)
Spread out slices on a plate, add pepper
Drizzle lightly with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2 Tbs.)
Place in Fridge
Thinly Slice Garlic
Place Garlic, remaining Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar in a small non-stick frying pan
Place pan on Medium Heat for 6 minutes (Garlic should turn deep purple)
drizzle warm oil/vinegar garlic mixture on top of tomatoes
Let sit one hour in fridge or over night
Slice 2 bagels in half
Toast lightly, then broil for one minute
Spread with cream cheese
top with Tomatoes
Yields 4 Open Faced Mediterranean Breakfast Bagels
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
Welcome to the Food Monster blog. I am happy you found my blog. Here you will be able to find recipes of my own creation, or adaptions from other sources, and reviews from restaurants I hit among my travels. If you would like a restaurant to be reviewed or a recipe to be shown, please email me at email@example.com
For Older content, please see http://reviewsandrecipes.blogspot.com
Thank you and enjoy!
-The Food Monster