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

Hatfield’s

For a very special birthday dinner, R surprised me by taking me to Hatfield’s. This was my first experience enjoying a meal prepared by Quinn Hatfield and all of the reviews ring true- the food is phenomenal. Now let’s move on to dessert!

Coconut Custard “Macaroon” with marinated pineapple and vanilla tapioca. I changed the sorbet from elderflower to blood orange, since I’m not much of an elderflower fan. The blood orange was zesty and tart and provided a nice contrast to the sweet flavors of the custard. Sweet tapioca pearls for the base for a delicate and smooth coconut custard. A thin disc of a meringue with toasted coconut crowns the custard. Surrounding the dish is small chunks of sweet, almost boozy pineapple. Gather this all in one bite and the textures are amazing. There is a little bit of everything – chewy, crunchy, creamy, soft and juicy. This dessert packs a fascinating complexity of flavors. There is a depth to the pineapple and a hidden ingredient in the custard. The whole experience will leave you mmm-ing and sighing

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

Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Cookies & a Bakesale!

I like to bake when life’s stresses get the best of me. Creaming, folding and mixing help to put me at ease and bring me to a happy place. When I smell the sweetness wafting from the oven, a smile comes over my face and I forget I had any problems.

I was having one such stressful day and needed a little baking break. Thinking of what I had available in my fridge and pantry, I searched my favorite food blogs for inspiration. The result was browned butter vanilla bean cookies made with sour cream.

These cookies have a pure vanilla flavor. There is an underlying nuttiness from the brown butter and a slight molasses note from the addition of brown sugar. The texture has a feathery and pillowy appeal while still maintaining a nice chew. Simple and quick to whip up, this cookie is pure comfort.

Go ahead eat your emotions, I won’t tell a soul.

Tomorrow is the first annual Food Bloggers Bakesale to raise money for Share Our Strenth. Food bloggers across the country will be holding back sales the help fight child hunger. The Los Angeles bakesale will be at Morel’s at the Grove Saturday, April 17, 10:30 am to 1:30 pm at Morel’s French Bistro at The Grove, 189 The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036. If you are in the area pick up some sweet treats and help end childhood hunger!

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
an>
3

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