Category: Sweets in LA

It’s Like Winning the Loteria!

Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner. How are you going to celebrate? My suggestion, margaritas and flan at Loteria Grill!

A few months ago I had an amazing lunch with my food blogging gal pals at one of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles- Loteria.

Owner and Executive Chef Jimmy Shaw opened Loteria Grill as a stand in the Original Farmers Market. It was nestled in the middle of a buzzing culinary labyrinth. Despite the distraction of numerous food stands around it, Loteria is a favorite among market visitors, myself among them.

In 2008 Loteria opened a second location on Hollywood Boulevard in a grand space. Lofty windows, floods of light – this was a full-fledged restaurant. The stand still remains, but if you want a sit down dining experience the restaurant offers the same menu and the same quality.

Loteria has a great classic margarita, but if you are more adventurous than we are the restaurant offers countless tequilas to choose from. We stuck with the classic in pitcher form. The more the merrier!

As a starter, Loteria always offers chips with chipotle salsa. This salsa is amazing. It will be hard to stop yourself from devouring the whole basket and leave room for tacos. The tomatoes in the salsa are almost creamy with a mild heat and smokiness.

To start we ordered the chihcarrone de queso, also known as a cheese hat. As Jimmy explained to me, this is a larger version of the crispy, salty bits of cheese that ooze out of a quesadilla and cook on the griddle – everyone’s favorite bite. The queso is crunchy and savory and it has the same appeal as tortilla chips. Bite after bite you can’t stop yourself.

The cochinita pibil taco is unlike any other: Bold zesty flavors cradled in a soft corn tortilla, dripping with sweet sauce.

Delicious tacos aside, one of the main reasons I love Loteria is the flan de cajeta. It is made with goat’s milk that adds a nutty depth to the flan. As a perfect flan should be, this flan is velvety with exuberant caramel flavor.

On this visit I discovered what could best be described as the most incredible union of desserts – cake layered with flan. This is a sweet and spongy vanilla cake that is layered with thick creamy flan and topped with a caramel frosting. It is miraculous. The pairing was glorious.

A Year of Sweetness and a GIVE AWAY!

It is here – my one year blogiversary! It has been quite a sweet year.
One of my favorite places to get a sweet treat in Los Angeles is Sweets for the Soul. This is a sweets shop to rival all others. They make an amazing brownie. The exterior is faintly crisp like a French macaron, while maintaining a satisfying chewy soft texture. The Valrhona chocolate is stunningly rich with a delicate creaminess. These brownies are just sexy. So buttery they almost melt away.

On a recent visit I discovered the Caramel Bliss brownie. Is there anything better in the world than combining chocolate, caramel and pecans? This brownie is dense and luxurious. The caramel is sweet and toothsome. The pecans supply the perfect bite, blending together all of the flavors.

While Sweets for the Soul is known for their seductive brownies, they do have an enticing glass cake stand right by the register. This glass carapace is home to daily specials from pb&j; cupcakes to cookies and more. To my surprise I found one lone cinnamon sugar cake donut shyly hiding beneath the glass lid.

I ordered it instantly.

It was perfect.

Crumbly soft and sweet, it was a heart shaped piece of heaven. What are you waiting for? Get in your car and visit Sweets For The Soul in Atwater Village, I promise you will not be disappointed!

On this blog I often wax poetic about my on going love affair with desserts. Let me eat cake is really just a philosophy for enjoying life’s sweet pleasures. To celebrate my blogiversary I have a GIVEAWAY. Sweets For The Soul’s owner Lilly LaBonge has kindly donated a $20 gift certificate for one of my readers! Simply leave a comment below and I will be picking a winner at random on Thursday. For a second chance to win tweet a link http://bit.ly/b6Kp79 to this blog post and leave me another comment letting me know you have done so. Be sure you leave an email so I can contact you if you win!


Good luck!

* must be a Los Angeles resident to win giveaway*

On The Lamb



Have you heard of On The Lamb?

A chef, a baker and a sommelier.

Young, hip and fun.

Let’s get something straight- these ladies know how to throw a party!

After first catching wind of On The Lamb, I quickly signed up to receive information about their events. A few weeks later, I received a mysterious email: a “postcard” from Santiago de Cuba. It talked about sun and sand. It talked about rum and pork. But that was all. An alluring love note beckoning me further, it enticed me to RSVP to my first On The Lamb event.

The address was revealed the night before the party. The setting was a home in the hills of Echo Park. Classic Cuban tunes playing in the background, lights strung across the porch and coconuts all around, it was an intimate gathering of strangers.

This was On The Lamb.

As we entered our destination we were greeted with a honey negressarita – black lime honey simple syrup with fresh orange and lemon juice and rum of course. It was a light and refreshing way to start of the night.

Soon after came bowls of creamed plaintain soup topped with black bean and citrus zest salsa and El Salvadorian chorizo. The subtly sweet plantains were suffused with a rich coconut milk broth, zesty citrus, salty black beans and crunchy spiced chorizo. The flavor combination was invigorating. I happily polished off the entire bowl.

Next up we enjoyed the Sally Kick: guava juice, rhubarb bitters, Turkish chili pepper syrup and rum. The drink was sweet and spicy all at once. The guava added a delicate sweetness while the rhubarb added complexity and depth.

These delicious cocktails were paired with what will forever be known as the best media noche sandwich I have ever had. The media noche
s=”Apple-style-span” style=”font-size:medium;”> was comprised of layers of thinly sliced ham, slow roasted
mojo pork, provolone cheese and butter pickles on a perfectly toasted roll. The flavors of this mojo pork were unrivaled. Combined with a mojo sour orange guava aioli, I was bursting from my shirt having snuck back for seconds. The flavors in the sandwich were striking; the nuances became more pronounced with each bite.

Our final drink of the night was the Tres Leche Cubano: cinnamon infused rum, coffee syrup, three milk fat wash and coconut cream. It was dessert in a cup. A thick creamy top layer gave way to rum, sweet rum. I was almost fooled by the sweetness, but this drink packed a punch at the end. There was just enough bite to balance a beautiful malt coffee flavor.

The coup de grace was Many Leches Cake: almond cake soaked in evaporated milk, coconut milk, half and half, sweetened condensed milk and rum. All those leches made for one mind blowingly good cake. Sweet but not cloyingly sweet. Rich but not swimming in richness. It was a thing of sheer beauty. The milk glistened on top of the cake creating an almost gossamer casing.

Everything we enjoyed was handmade and hand crafted by these three amazing ladies. Their talent and creativity made for one delectable evening. I will be dreaming about rum and mojo pork until I receive another mysterious email to whisk me away to what is sure to be another brilliant evening.

twitter.com/onthelambfb

A Neighborhood Gem: Four Cafe, Eagle Rock

It is such a good feeling to have that one reliable place that you can go to for dinner when you have had a long day and don’t feel like cooking. A place that is comfortable and inviting with food that makes you want to come back again the next day. Four Café is just that place. Open a mere six days along a stretch of Colorado Blvd. in Eagle Rock that is quickly becoming a culinary mecca, Four offers soul satisfying food, ethereal desserts, and impeccably friendly service.


fresh english pea cup 4 bowl 6

shallots, spring potato topped with chive oil, (vegan)

This is Spring in a bowl. Verdant flavors that continue to develop and expand with each bite. It is evident that a scrumptious attention to the detail is given to each ingredient in this soup.

grilled flank steak 7.95 half 12.5 full

napa cabbage, arugula, avocado, and tomato with an

apple-shallot soy vinaigrette

I do not often order a salad for dinner, but this was not your average salad. Spicy arugula, creamy avocado, crunchy cabbage and thick and chewy pieces of flank steak grilled to a nice pink with a vinaigrette that married all of the flavors to
gether beautifully. I devoured the salad and was left satisfied and pleased.


oven roasted tomato panini 8.95

tuscan kale,tomato, and burrata

A crunchy and flaky ciabatta is home to decadent burrata melting to perfection with juicy sweet roasted tomatoes balanced with bitter kale. Each bite leaves you eager for more.



meyer lemon yogurt cake 3

I lifted the delicately placed glass cake cover to get a good picture of these cute meyer lemon yogurt cakes snuggly leaning against each other on the stand. What lay beneath was fantastically aromatic. Had I not already decided to order one, the tempting smell would have sold me. The meyer lemon yogurt cake was spongy while at the same time dense. At first the cake is milky with a slight tang from the yogurt, then a bright lemong flavor builds and lingers on your tongue. It is memorable.


blood orange upside down cake
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Caramelized oranges, cinnamon biscuit

This cake will change your life. I’m not the biggest champion of blood oranges. In fact I think they look better than they taste, but this blood orange upside down cake has changed my perspective forever. The cake is crumbly and sweet with nuances of vanilla and cinnamon. The blood oranges provide a refreshing zesty punch to the sweetness of the cake. Near the end of the cake I’m floored – the caramelized oranges have bled into the outer crust of the cake leaving the finally bites gooey, rich, and sweet. I smile and sigh; now that was one damn fine piece of cake!

After my first dining experience I knew that this would be a weekly habit. With affordable prices for stellar food there isn’t any reason not to frequent Four Café. What seems like a typical seasonal menu is truly anything but. From the minimal wood decor to the housemade sodas to the sandwiches, it is clear that there is a mechanical precision taken in choosing every detail. The flavors in all of the dishes evolve into something even more magical as the meal goes on. The personal touch to the service from the husband and wife team that operate Four is the cherry on top of an already amazing dining experience. With affordable prices for great seasonal food, there isn’t any reason not to frequent Four Cafe.

FOUR CAFE

2122 1/2 Colorado Blvd

Eagle Rock CA 90041

323/550-1988

info@fourcafe.net

Latin American Dessert Crawl

A few weeks ago, after a truly delicious day of exploring the streets of Los Angeles with Bill Esparza (StreetGourmetLA), we started to talk about desserts.

And more desserts.

Eventually we started talking Latin American desserts.

A few weeks later, Bill had the brilliant idea of going on a dessert crawl. I messaged a few fellow food enthusiasts, settled on a date and time and we were ready for sweets.

We began our crawl in Huntington Park at El Carriel, a Colombian bakery. El Carriel is an unassuming small panaderia tucked away in a strip mall. The space is snug and clustered with the focal point, a glass case enclosing an array of Colombian confections, in the middle. El Carriel offers a full breakfast menu as well as pastries. The owner Myriam told us that her recipes are what she learned to make while living in Cali, a city west of Bogota. To accompany our hot fresh coffees, Myriam prepared for us Pandebonos and an Arepa de Choclo.

Pandebono is Colombian cheese bread made from cornmeal or masarepa (precooked corn flour). Shaped like a small donut, the exterior is crusty while the innards are warm and toothsome. The cheese baked within the dough imparts an irresistible nutty flavor.

Arepa de Choclo is a delicate griddled corn cake that is found throughout Colombia. The corn was sweet and buttery. The Arepa was topped with queso fresco that added a nice salty contrast.

For added indulgence we each enjoyed a Colombian version of Bunuelos.

Bunuelos are simply fried doughy balls. When cut open they are fragrant and soft. They are more like a beignet than a doughnut, very cakey and eggy. They were simply divine.

We caravanned to the next stop on our crawl, Amalia’s Guatemalan restaurant. Amalia’s is a converted house turned restaurant located on Virgil in East Hollywood. Here we enjoyed plantains served two ways, representative of Guatemalan cuisine.

Rellenitos de Platano is a mashed plantain filled with black beans and served with a side of crema. The rellenitos were tender perfection. Delicately sweet with a distinct cinnamon flavor, the black bean filling melded with the plantains and was almost indiscernible.

Next up was Platano de Mole. The mole is a chipotle and chocolate sauce bursting with sweet and savory spice. The platanos were swimming in mole and after a few bites my taste buds were burnt out. Throughout all three platano versions cinnamon seemed to be the dominant flavor.

From Amalia’s we ventured a few blocks west to Rincon El Chileno. With minimal décor and minimal crowd I was not sure what to expect, but I bite of the Panqueques Celestino and I was in heaven.

Panqueques Celestino is a Chilean version of pancakes. They are somewhere between a pancake and a crêpe and are filled with manjar, also known as dulce de leche. The dough is sweet with crisp edges. It is slathered with manjar and rolled. Dusted with powdered sugar, each bite of panqueques celestino is irresistible. This is a sexy dessert.


We were able to squeeze in one more stop on our crawl. The last stop was El Colmao Cuban restaurant. Here were sampled Flan de Guayaba and Coco Rayado Con Queso Crema.

Guayaba seems to be a favorite ingredient of Cuban desserts. Guayaba is guava shell that has been boiled with sugar. It is super sweet and grainy. The flan was smooth and pliant but to my dismay was swimming in sweetness from the guayaba. A few bites and I was well on my way to a sugar coma.

Coco Rayado con Queso Cream is grated and sweetened coconut with cream cheese. While many around me loved it, I have yet to understand or appreciate the marriage of super sweet fruit in syrup with cream cheese. Not for me.

Stop after stop, this dessert crawl was the perfect day of indulgence. I only wish we had more time or more room in our stomachs to try more desserts.

El Carriel Panderia

2405 Randolph Street

Huntington Park, CA 90255

Amalia’s

751 North Virgil

Los Angeles, CA 90029

Rincon El Chileno

4354 Melrose Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90029

M-Sun 10am-10pm

El Colmao

2328 West Pico Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90006

M-F 10am-8:30pm Sat/Sun 12pm-8:30pm

Breakfast at the Farmers Market


Breakfast is one of my favorite meals. When done right, there is really nothing better. I love a perfectly buttered and toasted piece of bread with fresh cheese and jam. I love crispy salty bacon with a nice chewy bite. I love oily flash fried potatoes with rosemary and garlic. But most of all I love pancakes.

Sunday mornings the Gastrobus parks at the Los Feliz farmer’s market for their Organic Sunday breakfasts. This truly is one of my favorite breakfasts in Los Angeles. A bold statement I know, but having had my fair share of breakfasts in my life as an Angelino I have to say the Sunday breakfast from the Gastrobus is always inspired. I have yet to be disappointed by their seasonal fresh menu.

Today we enjoy Raspberry Pancakes with Lemon Curd and Mint.

Fluffy, tart and fresh.

This was the perfect marriage of flavors.

This was springtime in a pancake.

The Blueberry Pancake Shoot Out

My idea of the perfect breakfast is a stack of pancakes with hot melting butter and sweet maple syrup dripping down the edges. Throw in some juicy fresh blueberries and add some ricotta cheese and you have a perfect pancake. Slightly sweet, bursting with flavor, and light as a cloud. While nothing beats a hot fluffy pancake for breakfast, nothing is worse than going to a restaurant and ordering pancakes that taste like a thick, rubbery, bland mess. Here are a few of my favorite Blueberry Ricotta pancakes in Los Angeles.


BLD


BLD serves up a heaping stack of pancakes ($13). The serving is truly more than you could ever eat so here is a little tip: you can order just one luscious blueberry ricotta pancake, and that is precisely what I did ($6). One giant pancake later and I was bursting at the seams. The pancake at BLD is dreamy. It is golden and thick with blistering blueberries throughout. The syrup is warm and rich. Forkful after delicious forkful you will be sighing over each bite.

7450 Beverly Blvd

Los Angeles, CA 90036


Little Dom’s

These pancakes are perfection ($8). Just the right amount of pancakes that yield easily under the fork. The ricotta creates a light-as-air texture and the blueberries offer a vibrant burst of flavor. These pancakes had a nice delicately crisp and buttery exterior. While I was full after three little pancakes, they were so good I was left wanting more.

2128 Hillhurst Ave.

Los Angeles, CA 90027

The Gastrobus


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For a cheap and quick breakfast I visit the Gastrobus. The Gastrobus offers a seasonal menu of market fresh ingredients. On a recent visit they featured blueberry pancakes with lemon curd($4). The pancakes were delicate and light, enlivened by the thick, puckery topping. It was the perfect balance of sweetness to acidity. The thick lemon curd was a pleasant change from the tradition maple syrup accompaniment to pancakes.

* you can follow the Gastrobus on Twitter to find their location*

Foodbuzz 24 24 24: A Glimpse Inside The Foodie Underground- Chicks with Knives

Each month Foodbuzz.com selects 24 food bloggers from among their Featured Publishers to prepare or enjoy a meal all on the same night across the globe. I was selected for February’s 24 24 24. My meal? Shhh! It’s a secret! Around Los Angeles, people whisper of a supper club that pops up once a month in an undisclosed location. The address is given only to those fortunate enough to receive an invitation. Welcome to Chicks with Knives.

Chicks with Knives is an underground, invite-only supper club. It is a gathering of individuals with one thing in common: an interest in consuming delicious dishes creatively prepared using sustainable, organic, local, and ethical ingredients. The night is a celebration of one of life’s simple joys – pure gastronomic pleasure.

I was fortunate enough to join these secret ranks for an evening, and so I offer you a rare glimpse inside Chicks with Knives.

The setting for tonight’s dinner is a non-descript building on a quiet Downtown street. The night is dark and the sky dewy from the day’s rain. I walk up a narrow staircase along the side of a building to the loft above. When I enter I am greeted by warm smiles. In true Chicks with Knives fashion, the space is big, bright, and convivial, just like the women behind the dinner.

The main course of the evening was duck. For an amuse bouché, our hostesses used the delicious duck liver to create creamy duck liver mousse on house-made brioche toast topped with apricot-saffron jam. I’m generally not one for mousse or pate, but this improvised concoction was a savory delight. The brioche toast had a nice toasted edge to compliment the smooth duck mousse. Flecks of salt enhanced the sweet, smoky apricot jam. A few of these and our appetites were whetted.

The dining area contained three small tables that were precisely set. At each table were the cutest Kichu tangerines fresh from the farmer’s market. They were a sweet palate cleanser. While we waited for the appetizer, we nibbled on the Easter-egg radishes with cultured butter, pickled Persian cucumbers, and German butterball potatoes.

I have never enjoyed pickled food more than I do when it is pickled by the hands of Rachael of Chicks with Knives. She has a talent for pickling that is unmatched. At a previous dinner I had the pleasure of attending, I enjoyed the most amazing pickled beets. For tonight’s dinner, we were served a lovely dish of pickled Persian cucumbers. Crunchy yet soft, tangy with a hint of sweetness, these pickles were altogether perfect.

There is something so wonderful about a simple plate of radishes with butter. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top and each bite is blissful. To go with tonight’s radishes, the Chicks provided homemade cultured butter that had more flavor than any other butter I’ve tasted. This butter was truly inspired.

The roasted German butterball potatoes with green olive and roasted garlic tapenade surprised me. This was not your average spud. The green olive and roasted garlic tapenade was explosive with flavor. The rosemary spike in each potato provided a fragrant compliment to the fla
vors.

The first course was a wild mushroom consommé with smoked mushroom tortellini and roasted chanterelles. The broth was comforting and rich. There were a few beautiful strands of chanterelles sprinkled throughout. Tender pillows of tortellini rested in the broth. With each loud slurp satisfying warmth filled my body.

The second course was a pain d’epices blini with roasted fennel, winter citrus and hollandaise. The verdant flavor of the fennel paired well with the zesty Oro Blanco grapefruit, while the Cara Cara oranges provided delicate sweetness to offset the rich Hollandaise.

The main course was a duck pot-pie with pate a choux crust and English peas. This sat atop a duo of buttered carrots and sautéed garden greens (kale, sorrel, Swiss chard, amaranth and collard greens) with garlic. The duck was tender and rich, swimming in a sea of savory béchamel and peas. This viscous stew was pleated between two soft flaky crusts of bread- the pate a choux. The bitterness of the sautéed greens nicely offset the lush pot pie. This meal was sumptuous and memorable.

Along side the main course was a vanilla scented rutabaga puree. This was the most heavenly bowl of creamy, smooth, vibrante mash I haven’t ever tasted. The vanilla beans shine through the buttery rutabaga. Each bowl was practically licked clean. (Find recipe below)

Already full from the bounty of amazing dishes, each guest was presented with a bowl of key lime cheesecake with key lime curd and rhubarb compote. These petite works of art were crowned with a “graham cracker” tuille. The dessert was transcendent. The cheesecake made from farmer’s cheese was silky and lush. The key lime curd was so deliciously tart there were puckered lips around the table, followed by satisfied smiles. The subtle rhubarb compote paired harmoniously with the bright flavors of the key lime. The graham cracker tuille was firm with a delicate crumble. I wanted three or four more of these tuilles they were so good.

Our small group left bewitched and delighted. Each course was mesmerizing and impossible to forget. To be invited to one of these secret dinners is to be one of the lucky few that gets to enjoy one of the best meals in Los Angeles among the a select group of new friends.

** Chicks with Knives recipe Vanilla Scented Rutabaga Puree**

1 tablespoon hazelnut oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Salt

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes

1/2 pound rutabaga (aka Swede)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup heavy cream (yup!)

2 (more) teaspoons vanilla extract

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, and seeds scraped out

Salt

Preheat your oven to 275F.

Toss the hazelnuts with the oil, extract and some salt. Roast for 5 -8 minutes or until just fragrant. Rough chop and set aside.

Peel and chop the potatoes and the rutabaga. Boil in salted water until soft (the rutabaga takes longer…so either chop it smaller than the potato or boil them separately.)

Drain and mash with the remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning to preference.

Worth Every Penny


Sometimes there is nothing more soul satisfying than a well-seasoned patty of beef and a slice of flavorful cheese on a soft toasted bun. Throw in a heaping helping of crisp tender fries and all of my troubles melt away.

When Diana of DianaTakesABite told me that she had never had a cheeseburger before, I knew I had to be present for the momentous occasion when she enjoyed her first cheesy, meaty bite. After much debate on Twitter over where to get the best cheeseburger in Los Angeles, Diana settled on Rustic Canyon for her cheeseburger and me as her dinner date.

Rustic Canyon is an upscale restaurant and wine bar that offers an extensive menu of contemporary, market-driven comfort foods. The menu ranges from Butternut Squash soup, Crispy Polenta, Parpardelle to Roasted Jidori Chicken. A cheeseburger would hardly seem like the thing to order at a restaurant like Rustic Canyon, but the burger is definitely part of the attraction and does not fall in the shadows of the restaurant’s other dishes.

Rustic Canyon serves a Niman Ranch burger with sharp cheddar, onion fondue, bread and butter pickles and an herb remoulade on a Rockewagner brioche bun ($16). Each strata of this cheeseburger is well thought out and inspired from the beef to the bun to the pickles.

The ratio of ingredients is ideal. The thick juicy patty is coated with the right amount of sharp melted cheddar cheese. A resonant onion fondue sits atop the melted cheese. A nice slather of herb remoulade brings all the flavors together. The slightly sweet brioche bun is tender and firm and cradles all of the components. With each bite the bright and spicy notes of the arugula stand out. The cheeseburger is unfailingly juicy.

Rustic Canyon demonstrates how with the right ingredients even the most ordinary dish can be transformed. This may be one of the more expensive burgers in Los Angeles, but it is worth every penny.

Rustic Canyon

1119 Wilshire Boulevard

Santa Monica, CA 90401

(310)393-7050