Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

A's pretty cupcakes
We had an awesome Memorial Day long weekend with A. & J. who were in town from New York and staying with us. We ate (since we all know life at the W. house revolves around food) a ton and did a lot over the 6 days: In-N-Out burgers (animal style), sushi handrolls at home, visit to the Getty Center with an architectural tour and picnic with Bay Cities sandwiches, the Tasting Kitchen in Venice, bike rides (and flat tires) down to the beach and Urth Caffe, lots of walks and visits to Caffe Luxxe, pool and hot tub time, Musha, rock band, lots of grilling including a BBQ pool party with lots of friends on Sunday, Yogurtland and Sweet Rose Creamery, and shaved ice and Din Tai Fung for soup dumplings in Arcadia. All my favorite things, hopefully they had a good time at well. We rocked out all weekend to K-Earth's Top 500 countdown, including the top 20 last night with the #1 song of all time being...The Temptation's "My Girl" in 1965. A controversial pick in our opinions, but hey, it's hard to please everyone. Full list here.

For the BBQ on Sunday, A. made delicious and patriotic vanilla cupcakes and ricotta lemon cookies. We kept it traditional and grilled up burgers, portobello burgers, Nathans hot dogs, chicken sausages, yuzu chicken served with antipasto pasta salad, caramelized onions with turkey bacon, homemade guacamole and chips and salsa, S.'s fruit salad, D.'s strawberry trifle, and lots of beer and Jen's famous sangria. S. & J. also brought a couple of hilarious pinatas; I wish I had a "before" picture of Hello Kitty and her pink dress before she was decapitated.
Post pinata smashing; a little macabre
Following images are all W's artistic shots

"Before" picture, courtesy of A. Doesn't she look lovely?
Getty Center, courtesy of A.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Tasting Kitchen Review: Eclectic Italian Inspired Cuisine in Venice

A. & J. were in town from New York for the weekend so we all went to the Tasting Kitchen in Venice on Abbott Kinney on Friday night. I had never been before but had heard positive reviews so I was looking forward to checking it out. The restaurant has been open about 2 years under the guidance of Chef Casey Lane. I really like the space: open airy and rustic industrial with really comfortable and cool looking leather covered hybrid Bertoia / Eames inspired chairs with a nice hip Venice buzz in the air. The menu is a bit cryptic but quite appetizing and changes quite often.  I thought the food was excellent; some of the best cooking I've had in awhile. To share, we ordered deliciously crusty yet pillowy soft bread with soft butter and maldon salt, a tiny beet salad, clams and chorizo, and some awesome sticky chicken wings. I had the taglierini pasta with uni and squid which had great big flavors and the table shared a side of lentils and rapini as well as a few slices of tres leches for dessert. K. had the best grilled pork chop we've both ever had; it was thoroughly charred from the grill on the outside and juicy on the inside. It was very steak-like; reminded me of Jocko's spencer ribeye steak which I had a few weeks ago, the best steak ever. I really enjoyed my summery well-crafted '57 Chevy pineapple and gin cocktail in its retro glass, and we had an earthy funky German pinot noir with our meal. We had a minor issue with the delivery of food, but the restaurant was more than made up for it; the service is really top notch. I'm really impressed by the food coming out of the kitchen; they fresh make their pastas every day and even butcher their own meat. While I've had good food at Gjelina a couple blocks away, I enjoyed the experience at Tasting Kitchen more, both in terms of food and service. I'll definitely be returning soon.
Really delicious: slightly sweet, good char
Clams with big chunks of chorizo were really good with a flavorful broth and grilled bread
It's very dark in the restaurant so subsequent pics didn't turn out. I loved my pasta with squid, uni and breadcrumbs. The pasta had the perfectly cooked chewy, toothsome texture that you only get from fresh pasta, and the chewy squid and briny and creamy uni were perfect match
Tres leches cake; really good, swimming in and soaking up the sweet milk cream
1633 Abbott Kinney Blvd
Venice, CA 
(310) 392-6644

Saturday, May 28, 2011

2nd Annual Westside Wine Club Trip

Last weekend, I headed up north to Santa Barbara for a weekend of wine tasting and fun with my Westside Wine Club girls. The 11 of us had a blast; we had a private shuttle and tasted at Roblar, Rusack, Buttonwood Farms, Longoria and Tensley. We ordered pizza and stayed overnight at a big house right by the beach in Mesa, Santa Barbara and my group hung out the next day as well doing what girls do best: shopping in downtown Santa Barbara and having a great lunch (despite the hour wait) at La Super-Rica, before heading back to LA and the real world.
The lovely Rusack where we had a private tasting and also picnicked

We learned that they plant rose bushes at the ends of the rows of grapevines because pests will first attack the roses, so that they will get the heads up to protect the wine grapes. It's also pretty

I find being in wine country immediately relaxing
In the barrel room at Buttonwood
Love barrel tasting
I love seeing the whole wine making operation from beginning to end
Nothing like a private tour with the assistant winemaker
Can you see the baby grape cluster
Showing Westside love
I love Los Olivos, so quaint. Hard to not love a town centered around wine. Everyone just seems so...happy
Longoria, always one of my favorites
Shopping in Santa Barbara on Sunday. Such a lovely town to leisurely stroll around
Lunch at La Super-Rica
Yes, we waited about an hour
Finally inside the front door
But oh so worth it: the special Calabacita taco with zucchini and pork
Al Pastor pork taco. They handmake fresh all their corn tortillas
Cheese and chorizo to be wrapped in warm tortillas. What could be better
Super Rica Especial, chili with pork and cheese
La Super Rica
622 North Milpas Street
Santa Barbara, CA


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