Category: When I’m Not Eating Sweets…

Short Cake LA Winner!

and the winner is…

Krista Simmons

BUT Krista is sweet enough  to share the cake and I want to help! So I’ve added to the pot and now 3 of you (Krista Simmons, Justin Mak and Kate @ Savour Fare) win a $15 gift certificate each to enjoy coffee and a treat or a couple of sweet treats your choice at Short Cake LA!

AND if your are lucky enough to get there when Brioche Donuts are hot out of the oven get one. More brioche-y than donut-y but still buttery delicious and coated in cinnamon sugar love!

Buñuelos | Tinto Palm Springs

These buñuelos have stolen my heart.

You can find them at Tinto restaurant tucked away in the Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs. They are an hour and a half drive outside of LA but so worth the trip and a great excuse to visit beautiful Palm Springs. And hey it’s Coachella weekend so why not visit Tinto while you’re in town. I know I will!

These delectable doughnuts are fried to perfection with a delicate sugar coated crust that gives way to a rich and soft center. They are served alongside spiced honey, date jam and a refreshingly delicious date olive oil ice cream.  The pairing of honey, spices and sweet dates was incredible. A bite of  buñuelo, jam, honey and cold soft olive oil ice cream and you’re in heaven.  It is a stellar combination of flavors and textures that will make your mouth curl up in a big smile as you sigh from the sweet satisfaction. These are some of my favorite buñuelos to date.

 

TINTO

1800 East Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92264

Eating My Way Through Vietnam | pt. 2

Vietnam left an indelible impression on me. Walking the street in the sweltering heat with motorbikes whizzing past every which way, it was hard to not feel exhilarated and excited by Vietnam’s fast beating pulse.  The cities are packed to the gills with vendors of every sort – it is hard to not fall in love with the crackles, sizzles and the savory smells from all of the extraordinary street food. With so many memorable bites and over 1200 pictures that capture our unforgettable experience it is hard to share it all, but here are some highlights (mostly sweet) from the rest of our vacation.

While enjoying a tasty bowl of pho bo at a streetside café in Hanoi, we stumbled upon an unassuming dessert from a vendor walking by selling varieties of sticky rice. I had no clue what it was so had to ask my guide to all Vietnamese cuisine, Cathy. We believe it is banh it ngot (correct me if I’m wrong) – they were sweet and sticky coin shaped purses filled with sweet mung bean paste, and they had a wonderfully chewy bite.

 

Vietnam has fresh squeeze juices covered! We found a café serving nothing but fresh squeezed juice (nouc ep) in any variety of fruit you desire. It was so good we made several visits, each time ordering seconds. The fresh guava juice was my favorite. The guava was sweet and floral with a nice, almost grassy essence from the fruit’s rind.  Nuoc ep can be found throughout Vietnam. Don’t miss out.

 

We had one last delicious night in Hanoi before we were off to Hue. We delighted in what I will boldly declare the best ice cream ever at the Fanny Ice Cream Parlor next to Hoan Kiem Lake. The coconut ice cream is milky, a little nutty and super creamy smooth. The banana ice cream is sweet and wonderfully gooey. The passion fruit ice cream (not pictured) is puckery tart and refreshing. AND on Fridays they offer an all you can eat ice cream night!

As in Hanoi, the streets of Hue are filled with life. We slurped up bánh beo, we ate our weight in bánh mi, we devoured banh xeo, we chased bikes strapped with racks full of steaming hot bánh bao and we slowly savored chè (Vietnamese sweet soup that is super gelatinous and gooey).

One of my favorites in Hue was the nuoc mia – super sweet, yet surprisingly refreshing freshly-pressed sugar cane juice. It was so addictively good it disappeared within a matter of seconds.

 

From Hue we ended our trip in Hoi An, a calm and quaint beach town. I will always miss Hoi An and its famous Cao Lầu (thick, chewy yellow noodles, roasted pork shoulder, a porky broth and fresh herbs topped with crunchy pork cracklings- swine heaven). My favorite sweet find in Hoi An was the sinh to from Mai N:4 inside the central market. This smoothie was velvety, rich and bursting with fresh bananas, mangos and topped with thick toasted coconut strands.

All in all, Vietnam is truly a gastronomical wonderland. Each region is rich with its own specialties that surprise and delight. My belly and I miss Vietnam!

 

* side note: being the donut loving fiend that I am, I sampled fried doughy delights wherever I found them throughout Vietnam. I even went out of my way (one expensive cab ride later) to find a German-owned doughnut shop outside of Hanoi. Each and every time, the doughnuts were a disappointment: dry, oily, lifeless.  If you know something I don’t about doughnuts in Vietnam please share.

* favorite experience: spending two days in the breathtakingly beautiful Halong Bay aboard a “traditional junk.”  The emerald sea provided mile upon mile of striking scenery.  We took a small bamboo boat through a fishing village, swam in the bay, climbed through a cave and enjoyed bia (Vietnamese beer) on the boat’s deck as the sun set.

* and here is a pic of the Cau Lau I mentioned previously, it is a Hoi An specialty and i miss it daily!

 

Eating My Way Through Hanoi, Vietnam

It has only been a little over a week since I returned from vacation in Vietnam and it already feels like a distant memory. If I could hop on a plane and go back to Vietnam tomorrow I happily would.

the people and the buzzing energy

the incredible food lining the streets

the lazy afternoon coffee sitting at a corner café

I miss it all, even the heat.

We sampled everything we could and were amazed by how spectacular each bite was. With so many memorable dishes, I enjoyed surprisingly few sweet treats. On a morning in Hanoi we visited Café Kinh Đô for Vietnamese coffee and French-influenced Vietnamese pastries.

 

The café is simple and quaint, with a convivial atmosphere. We nestled into our plastic chairs and placed an order for coffee and sweets. The coffee in Vietnam is addictive. Rich, sweet, chocolately and smooth, it is scarily easy to drink and you may find yourself wanting more than one.

After many enjoyable cà phê sữa đá (Vietnamese black coffee with sweetened condensed milk over ice) experiences around Hanoi, Hue, and Hoi An, I noticed that each cà phê is slightly different; some cà phê is sweeter than others, some richer, some thicker.

At Café Kinh Đô the coffee had a nice frothy touch.

 

We started with a Bánh Nhân Táo (apple tart) that was wonderfully flaky. The apple center was nicely spiced with a vivid caramel flavor.

 

We also enjoyed a gato chuối (banana cake). Can I just tell you that the bananas in Vietnam are so much better than the bananas here in the US that I couldn’t get enough of them? When I found them in cake form I couldn’t help myself. This cake was gooey, sweet and full of yummy caramelized banana goodness.

Café Kinh Đô is also known for their sour yoghurt, but after some many sweet treats we had little room for yoghurt. If you find yourself wandering the streets of Hanoi, this is a great little spot to stop into. Plop into a seat under a large fan and slowly savor cà phê sữa and a pastry.

Café Kinh Đô

252 Hàng Bông

Hoàn Kiếm, Hanoi

 

P. S. if you are looking for something savory nearby try:

Bún Chả is grilled pork served with a sweet tangy broth, rice noodles, fresh herbs and bean sprouts. This dish will be something you crave. The meat is chared and succulent, the rice noodles comforting, the broth fragrant and the herbs bright.

Dac Kim

67 Đường Thành, Hoàn Kiếm

Hà Nội, Vietnam

 

Chả Cá is Vietnamese Style Fish with tumeric and dill. You heat the fish yourself with spring onions and fresh dill. After it all sizzles together you scoop it on top of your rice noodles and add crushed peanuts, fish sauce and peppers. The fish is tender and the whole meal filling!

Chả Cá Lã Vọng

31 Đường Thành, Hoàn Kiếm

Hà Nội, Vietnam

Postcard from Vietnam!

Greetings from Vietnam!

We have spent several days enjoying the streets of Hanoi and are now spending time in Halong Bay.  I cannot begin to tell you unbelieveably beautiful it is here.

Next we off to the Imperial City (Hue)  and from headed to the beaches of Hoi An for some much needed relaxation.

The food, the people, the food – we are enjoying Vietnam!

See you soon!

The Denver Donut Hunt

Hello? Anyone still out there? I’m not dead… just been busy running a food truck. So as you can imagine my time has been spent smelling like a fryer, driving a beast of a truck, and rolling lumpia to the point where I think I’m becoming a lumpia. I just haven’t had much time to share delicious adventures with sweets. But have no fear – it’s a new year and I plan on blogging more. On that note, I’d like to share with you about my unrelenting love for donuts!

On my last trip to Denver with R, we decided to spend the entire weekend in search of these delectable fried delights. I see some of you rolling your eyes back there, but hear me out. I know you may think donuts are so 2009 – and I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about maple bacon donuts – but for me this is beyond a fading trend. I am absolutely, whole-heartedly besotted with donuts.  What’s not to love? It’s dough. It’s fried. It’s sweet. Done!

My journey can be broken down into three categories of donut shops.

1. You daily donut: LaMar’s

LaMar’s is a Denver staple. It wasn’t hard to find this shop since there are plenty of them scattered throughout the city. After talking to a few locals, it was evident that Denver loves LaMar’s.

LaMar’s has a large variety of donuts to choose from. Upon inspection I noticed that most of the donuts seemed to be of the old fashioned cake donut variety. While I do enjoy a good cake donut (it is cakey afterall) I prefer the fluffier fried variety. R on the other hand was in heaven preferring the dense delicious cake donut over the others. We decided to get a half dozen to fully enjoy the spectrum of offerings. We ordered a blueberry cake donut, a german chocolate cake donut, a red velvet cake donut, a pumpkin cream cheese cake donut, an apple spice donut and an original glazed.

The cake donuts were dense, moist, and packed full of flavor, exept the red velvet which was a dry crumbly mess of a thing. My favorite of the cake donuts was the apple spice cake: bursts of cinnamon, juicy apple sweetness and a perfectly spongy texture. The original glazed was everything I love about a good glazed donut. The glaze gently cracks with each bite revealing the soft semi-sweet dough below. All in all I can see how LaMar’s is Denver’s perfect daily donut joint. I only wish LA had something similar.

2. The creative and hip donut:  The Hole

When doing our research for donuts around Denver we came upon The Hole. A newer establishment in the hip, fun Highlands neighboorhood, The Hole is a beer and donuts joint ( yeah I know, awesome right?) They are open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. While their menu isn’t limited to beer and donuts, those are the focus.

This isn’t necessarily the type of donut shop you would go to on your way to work like LaMar’s, but unlike LaMar’s it is a great place to hang out with friends or to satisfy a late night sweet tooth craving. They have a full counter display of freshly baked donuts in addition to their specialty donut offerings. Their flavors are anything but ordinary. Their elaborate inventions range from amaretto donuts and elvis donuts to pizza and churro donut bites. With so many mouth-watering options it was hard not ordering the whole menu.

We started from the menu and ordered the salted toffee bites. They are served in a paper cone sprinkled with salty toffee. They come to the table hot and fresh from the fryer. We popped these salty sweet bites one after the other without blinking, but then we realized while we loved their hot doughy texture, we found the salted toffee flavor to be missing. There was a sugary salty sprinkle on the bites, but that was about it.

Next we ordered from their selection of daily fresh donuts at the front counter. It was tough to narrow down only two donuts among so many, but now I have a reason to come back (the pina colada is calling my name). We ordered the Elvis donut and a lemon rosemary. Again, these donuts had the perfect texture. Nicely fried, not oily, and ribbons of dough that fold so softly and sweetly together. The lemon rosemary had a flavor profile that was a little too subtle for me. I expected a tart tangy lemon bite balanced with a verdant floral rosemary burst, but instead the flavors were flat. The Elvis on the other hand is a donut worth dreaming about! Thick and rich, it is filled with ooey gooey banana, coated in chocolate and sprinkled with crispy salty bacon. All of these ingredients formed the most harmonious marriage. The banana folds into the yielding dough, both enrobed in chocolate that adds bitter sweetness. The sweet notes are rounded out by the bacon which provides a salty, savory, meaty depth. I could have easily consumed 10 of these they were so addictively good.

3. The expensive donut you should probably only have once a year: Table 6

Table 6 is a well known eatery in Denver. It is a favorite among locals and visiting foodies. Table 6 offers a convivial American bistro style that has patrons coming back for more. R and I were full off of donuts already so did not have a chance to enjoy their full menu, but full or not we came for donuts.

The donuts at Table 6 are what I’m going to call the “fancy gourmet donut:” chocolate beignets. You have probably seen a version of these before on the dessert menu at many fine dining restaurants. However, these are anything but your ordinary gourmet $9 order of donuts. The chocolate beignet provided a fried shell of a donut covered in powdered sugar that gently collapses to reveal liquid chocolate heaven hiding inside. There was a passionfruit syrup spread across the plate upon which the beignets sat. The lovely contrast of citrusy tang with the oh-so-decadent melted chocolate inside each donut was divine. It is a very small order, but these lovelies are so rich you only need a bite to fully enjoy.

While this was a great start for my donut hunt, I can’t wait to go back and try Il Posto for their famed Italian donuts and the Sugar Lips food truck for their donut holes. Mmmm deep fried sugary heaven!


If You Don’t Know, Now You Know!


Have you heard the news!? Of course you have I can’t stop talking about it. But here it is again and I couldn’t have put it better myself! Straight from my partner Marvin Gapultos’ (aka BurntLumpia) blog! http://burntlumpia.typepad.com/burnt_lumpia/2010/06/heres-the-filipino-food.html


We are both so excited to have embarked on this amazing adventure! Together we are bringing Filipino food to the masses of Los Angeles with LA’s FIRST Filipino food truck! I hope I see you all out there on the road and please please help us get the word out! Tell all of you friends and follow us on Twitter @manilamachine! Find our weekly schedule on our website www.themanilamachine.com!

Our launch June 10th Downtown LA Artwalk…


people were lined up before we even opened…



and the line continued for three and a half hours until we sold out of everthing on the truck!
First night on the road check! Success check!



the next week we were invited as a special guest addition to the
Americana at Brand Streat Feast!


again never ending line! The excitement is awesome and we are so glad to be bringing Filipino food to the masses!

We are on the road now and the fun never stops! Hope to see you out there!

The Manila Machine Hits the Streets!

photo courtesy of Cathy Dahn www.gastronomyblog.com


I have been absent from the blog lately, but for good reason … I am now co-owner of LA’s first and only Filipino gourmet food truck, the Manila Machine! It has been so exciting and crazy the past few weeks. The Manila Machine officially launched last Thursday June 10th at the Downtown LA Artwalk. The response was overwhelming. We got a great spot right on the corner of 5 th and Main and before we finished parking we had a line of people. Three and a half hours later we sold out of everything on the truck. What a night! Tomorrow we will be at the Americana at Brand for Street Feast, which is sure to be a huge event. I’ve been rolling lumpia, baking leche flan and buying up the city’s ube! So come share in the fun and try some tasty Filipino home cooking off a truck! Follow us on twitter @manilamachine to find where the truck is rolling each day. Hope to see some familiar faces out there!


photo courtesy of liezl estipona


Enjoying Vancouver One Sweet Bite At A Time

Vancouver is a city that will instantly capture your heart. Fresh air, clean streets, flowers blooming all around you. There are spectacular mountain views from every angle and a sea that seems to encircle you, with big beautiful buildings and gorgeous parks for miles and miles. What isn’t there to love about this city?

Vancouver is the perfect city for visiting gastronomes with a culinary concept of terroir that will satisfy any palate. Each meal is an adventure around the world from Japanese gyozas to Indian curries to Pacific Northwest seafood. The multicultural influence of produce and cuisine are astounding and refreshing. The abundance of fresh, diverse seafood is inspiring. Beyond the savory selection, Vancouver offers an impressive selection of sweet options. We are not talking your average cupcake or tiramisu, there are extraordinary desserts from across the globe, with more choices then one would know what to do with. Dining in Vancouver is a complete, well-rounded and gratifying experience.

Here are a few unassuming places to find great sweets in Vancouver:

Salt Tasting Room

45 Blood Alley Square

vancouver, BC V6B 0C4, Canada

(604) 633-1912

Among the magnificent array of charcuterie and cheeses, Salt Tasting Room offers one seasonal dessert that is impossible to forget. On my visit to Vancouver, rhubarb was in season and available in abundance. It was the star ingredient in Salt’s dessert tasting, a stellar trio of rhubarb cheesecake, rhubarb pudding and a rhubarb crumble. The presentation highlighted the beauty and creative genius of the menu at Salt Tasting Room.

My favorite of the desserts was the rhubarb cheesecake. The graham cracker crust was moist and crumbly. The cheesecake was lush and silky. The rhubarb compote top was unfailingly juicy and vibrant. The combination was an explosion of flavor. If not just for the dessert, I highly recommend a visit to Salt Tasting Room if you are in Vancouver.

Pourhouse

162 Water Street

Vancouver, BC V6B 1B2, Canada

(604) 568-7022

We came to Pourhouse for some after-dinner cocktails, however after glancing over the menu to find our drinks of choice we discovered a dessert menu that included house-churned salted caramel ice cream. Warm chocolate cake with house churned salted caramel ice cream to be exact. Full as I was, I could not pass it up.

The chocolate collapsed under my fork to reveal bittersweet liquid gold! Ribbons of caramel sauce danced across the plate. To the side lay the salted caramel ice cream. It was magical, buttery to no end with an undeniable salty presence. Paired with a nice artisan beer, this dessert is sexy!

Medina Cafe

556 Beatty Street

Vancouver, BC V6B2L3, Canada

(604) 879-3114

Since the moment I first discovered the ‘true’ Belgian waffle known as a liege at Le Pain Quotidien in Los Angeles, I fell in love. Perfectly golden brown, with a gooey doughy center, these waffles have sugar pearls hidden inside each fold and square of dough. I haven’t found another liege since – that is until this visit to Vancouver.

Café Medina in the Gastown district of Vancouver specializes in liege waffles. A steaming cup of coffee and a waffle in the morning – what more could you ask for? Café Medina offers an assortment of accompaniments to the liege from white chocolate pistachio to mixed berry compote. I gave a few toppings a try, but I have to admit I am a purist at heart and I enjoy my liege unsullied and unadorned. The sugar pearls give you all the sweetness you need. Take note: just one waffle won’t be enough – they are so good you will need to order two or three!

class=”Apple-style-span” style=”font-family:georgia;”>New Town Bakery

158 Pender Street EastVancouver, BC V6A1T3, Canada(604) 689-7835

One of my all time favorite desserts are sweet sesame balls. Imagine my delight when walking down the quiet streets of Vancouver’s Chinatown on my last Sunday in the city I stumble upon a window full of hot, fresh (and may I add gigantic) sesame balls. I had stumble upon New Town Bakery a Chinese Filipino bakery with a dessert case of sweets that will make your mouth water.

A sesame ball is mochi rice flour that is deep-fried and rolled in sesames. The crust is so crisp, almost like a brulee; one delicate touch and it folds into itself revealing a sweet, sticky, starchy inside. Dig even deeper and you reach a center of sweet red bean paste. The combination of ingredients is idyllic, not too cloying, just pure soul satisfaction.

Big Things Are Happening…

photo credit: Burnt Lumpia www.burntlumpia.typepad.com

I know I haven’t been posting much lately, but I have a GOOD reason for it. Unfortunately I cannot tell you the reason yet, but trust me, some big things are in the works. So please stay tuned because you are not going to want to miss what I have coming! For now you can take a peek at this (and maybe guess what it is). The big news will be announced in a little less than two weeks. I can’t wait to tell you!



xo,


LetMeEatCake