Bon Vivant's written and pictorial diary of her culinary adventures that will amuse and excite your virtual taste buds...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Few of Bon Vivant's Parties: New Year's Eve

Have had so many parties since December that I figured it might be a good idea to dedicate some time to them. Often times I'm so busy with the preparation and playing hostess that I often forget to take photos. Luckily, Adorable Gourmet H took some pix on New Year's Eve.

If it's any indication of how my holiday season turned out, see the photo below of how it began:

That's not me dancing but I was a member of Daryl's harem that night. Yes, Daryl spun the wheel of fortune that night and the needle landed on the you'll-be-the-only-guy-in-private-room-at-Moun of Tunis-filled-with-women slot.

Here is a photo of the "spread." What you don't see close-up pix of are the wonderful Russian salads and savory pastries that Raven and I bought during one of our Russian Deli Crawls along Santa Monica Blvd. I have to give Raven even more credit since the Russian theme was her idea and she knew what to buy.

We first bought some cheese and meat stuffed blintzes and peroshki at the bakery with the Georgian bent. A loaf of brown bread was de rigueur. They also had some fabulous looking salads so we got "Russian Salad" (translation: really good potato salad), a wonderful diced beet, potato, and kidney bean salad (my favorite), and a very garlicky eggplant salad. Next, we headed over to New York Deli, everyone's favorite, and bought what turned out to be the most popular salad: the marinated shredded cabbage and cucumber with beaucoup de fresh dill.

It was pretty crowded at all of the delis but nothing prepared us for the Soviet era lines at Odessa Grocery. Stubborn me had to get the garlic marinated cherry tomatoes but I paid a price! Not only did we have to wait forever, but we were so packed in that I nearly got impregnated by the guy in front of me.

Raven and I got a ton of food for like $50 bucks or less. The next day I was worried that I wouldn't have enough food so I went over to my beloved cheese store and got a pound of Fra' Mani soppressata and a big chunk of the Basque cheese, Etorki, and it came to $43! Oh, the sticker shock!

Hiking Gourmet T who just finished her glass of Lakefront Brewery's Holiday Spice Beer. Or was it the Almond Champagne? Or was it the Limoncello?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Nevera: The Reason to Get Your Car Washed in the City of Bell

Three views of the making of Bionico, the luscious fruit salad of Mexico. Our bowl of friut consisted of banana, strawberry, guava, mango, apple, and melon. The fruit is doused with a wonderfully sweetened crema and then topped with shredded coconut, raisins, granola, almonds, and wheat flakes. The flavors work so well together that I could eat this 24/7.

A group of us foodies lead by My Doppelganger met one early Saturday morning to sample the delightful Mexican fruit juices (jugos, agua frescas, and licuados) and other treats. Nevera is located in the City of Bell right off of the 710. It shares a mall with the most crowded car wash that I've ever seen (I should have used the service since the M3 was looking kind of dowdy - if that's even possible.)

Several of the juices that we sampled. First is the Vampiro (which really is the color of blood) made from beet and carrots. Next we had dietetico which we were told was very popular with the ladies as a dietary aid. It's made with the juice of cactus paddles and acts as a diuretic. The last juice that we had was my favorite: a cucumber lime slightly sweetened. It was so refreshing.

My favorite items that day were the raspados: flavored shaved ices. First we had the cafrio which was so friggin excellent! It was a wonderful cafe de olla mixed with milk, poured over the shaved ice, and then topped with a dulce de leche sauce. Divoon! Just when you think that life can't get any better, we sampled the diablito which was tamarind juice poured over the shaved ice topped with a mango pickled in chamoy sauce (chamoy sauce is like a spicy vinegar sauce). It was harmonic convergence of three great flavors.

We liked the chamoy sauce so much that the owner then pulled out some savory snack mix and stirred in some chamoy sauce. Oh, man, was that good.

Yeah, I would bomb down to this place, get the car washed and nurse a cafe de olla and a Mucho Mango smoothie.

4846 Florence Avenue, 101
Bell, CA 90201

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Breakfast at Blair's in Silver Lake

What looks like a perfect cinnamon bun; but, alas, perfection eluded this breakfast pastry: simply put, it was a bit too dry.

I met with some fellow foodies on an early Sat morn, with high hopes, at Blair's, a restaurant that is becoming a Silver Lake institution. I've been to Blair's many times for dinner and once for breakfast a few weeks ago and have always had great meals. On this morning, however, the restaurant was way off. I'm hoping that it was an atypical situation as opposed to a sign that the place is going downhill after only being open for breakfast a short time.

My cafe au lait. I was really shocked when our server asked me what exactly was in a cafe au lait. Huh? How can anyone in over-caffeineted Silver Lake not know what a cafe au lait is? After a while I was kind of glad that she asked me since if she didn't I may have ended up with a caffe latte (made with espresso instead of brewed coffee).

Some photos of other pastries: a beautiful banana muffin with a decorative design et une tranche de banana bread.

Two views of my main dish: scrambled eggs with kale and fontina cheese. Certainly nothing wrong with the eggs but the cook really skimped on the cheese. This cheesehead hates that! The spinach served on the side was a real problem: while my dining companions received fresh sauteed arugula with their meals, my sauteed spinach tasted old and was very gritty.

The blueberry mascarpone (please, not marscapone) pancakes that half of the table ordered. These were a big hit with the foodies.

Poached eggs with sides of mushrooms and that arugula. The cook committed a cardinal sin by leaving too much water in the bowl - one needs to gently drain poached eggs!

Now, a word about the service: it sucks. From 10 am to 11 am the restaurant was fairly empty so one could expect the service to be somewhat attentive but when you are one of three tables in the place, it's unnacceptable to wait 3 minutes for silverware and for butter and syrup for the pancakes. Why didn't the servers have enough sense to bring the necessities before the food came?

2903 Rowena Avenue
Los Angeles, California 90039

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Sapp Coffee Shop

Two views of the funky yet highly addictive Thai Boat Noodles. I think that foodies agree that Sapp Coffee Shop has the best Thai Boat Noodles in the City. Since I had ordered the beef version before and ended up with the offal version (still really good) my dinner companions were forewarned. But they did end up with the beef versions with a handful of chicharrones thrown in for good measure. Nothing better than those crispy chicharrones soaking up that delicious broth - spicy, sour, sweet, and salty with a touch of that je ne sais quoi (actually, it's pigs' blood.)

On this very cold and lack of street parking night, us foodies converged onto Sapp Coffee Shop (it got bumped up to a B rating!) to celebrate not the Thai Boat Noodles but the Jade Noodles. Jade Noodles can be ordered "dry" with big heaping tablespoons of sugar and red chile flakes, or in a soup version. As you can see from the photo below, the noodles are really the color of jade. This soup was a big hit with the foodies.

The table split an order of pork fried rice. This was so good and cost less than $5.

chickfillet and Les Beaux Cheveux, Esq. split an order of duck with greens over rice.

Two views of my shrimp wonton soup with the addition of noodles. This version came with egg noodles; last time I received rice noodles. Which would you prefer? I thought that it worked a little better with the egg noodles. Sapp Coffee Shop has a really good basic broth and on my soup they added lots of fried shallots. Divoon!

What trip to Sapp Coffee would be complete without a trip to the snack shop next door? When we walked in, our eyes were treated to colors as vibrant as a Rose Parade float. I don't know what most of this stuff is but it's good looking, no?

Sapp Coffee Shop
5183 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

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