Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Crepes Bonaparte

I have never been particularly fond of crepes--perhaps because I've never been able to pinpoint their exact nature. Are they breakfast, lunch or dessert? As an egg-phobe, I've also found myself overly concerned that they would taste like egg (*the horror*).

J and my friend Gaby, on the other hand, love crepes and were thrilled to hear that the newly launched Crepes Bonaparte truck would be near us. Thus, I was outnumbered, and crepes were to be our afternoon snack.

Crepes Bonaparte

This, dear friends, is Gaston the Crepe Truck. Gaston is the latest venture of Crepes Bonaparte, a French crepe catering service specializing in French crepe stations for private events. I adore his little mustache!

Crepes Bonaparte

The Crepes Bonaparte truck offers traditional crepes ($1.99-$2.99), breakfast crepes ($3.99), savory crepes ($4.99) to which you can add a side salad ($1.99) and dessert crepes ($3.99) to which you can add ice cream ($0.99).

Menu @ Crepes Bonaparte

In a delightful touch, the truck has been laid out for your viewing pleasure with the crepe-making stations placed directly behind a large window. J, Gaby and I enjoyed watching our snack go from a ladle of batter to completed crepe.

Crepes Bonaparte

I ordered the HazelBerryAna ($3.99), which features strawberries and bananas atop a layer of Nutella. Obviously, I also ordered ice cream ($0.99). Duh.

Crepes Bonaparte

I appreciate their dedication to the Gaston mustache.

Crepes Bonaparte

Although I was initially reluctant to visit Crepes Bonaparte, I am so happy that I did! Whereas other crepes are thin and quickly fall apart, the folded and, therefore, double-layered crepes at Crepes Bonaparte are the perfect thickness--still light but more substantial. The fruit was also delicious and clearly fresh. The creamy vanilla ice cream was a perfect companion for the dessert.

HazelBerryAna Crepe @ Crepes Bonaparte

After visiting Crepes Bonaparte, I can safely say that I am a crepes convert. I'd also like to try the Spicy Apple Bottoms (cooked cinnamon apple, caramel and whipped cream) and, after that, who knows? Maybe a breakfast crepe? Ok, let's not push it.

Crepes Bonaparte

Crepes Bonaparte in Los Angeles

Dumpling Station

Hitting the streets this week is Dumpling Station, the latest Asian-inspired food truck. As a dumpling (and gyoza) fan, I decided to pay Dumpling Station a visit yesterday.

Behind the scenes are the warm and affable Chris and Helen, who hand-make the dumplings every morning from Helen's Taiwanese family recipes. They told me that, at this phase, a little bit of guesswork is required as they try to figure out which dumplings will be most popular and how much they should prepare of each type.

Dumpling Station

Dumpling Station offers five types of dumplings, sides such as wasabi fries ($2.50) and desserts such as chocolate banana wontons ($2.50). Dumpling prices range from $5.25-$5.50 for eight or $2.75 for four.

Menu @ Dumpling Station

I was intrigued by and decided to order the kimchi beef dumplings ($5.50), and Chris recommended that I try the traditional pork and leek dumplings ($5.25).

Dumplings @ Dumpling Station

The kimchi beef dumplings were stuffed with beef, rice noodles and kimchi flavor. I was a little disappointed to find that there was no actual kimchi (i.e. cabbage) inside the dumplings and had hoped that they would pack more of a spicy punch. Some dumplings, however, were spicier than others, so perhaps Dumpling Station is working out the kinks with uniform flavor.

Kimchi Beef Dumpling @ Dumpling Station

The pork and leek dumplings, on the other hand, were bland until dunked in the accompanying soy sauce. Sauces such as soy sauce should enhance the flavors of a dish rather than define them and, unfortunately, the pork and leek dumpling's flavor wasn't strong enough to stand on its own.

Pork and Leek Dumpling @ Dumpling Station

Although my visit to Dumpling Station left something to be desired, I really enjoyed chatting with Chris and Helen and was impressed by their menu's mix of traditional and modern flavors. I hope that they can find their way after this soft launch period.

Dumpling Station

Dumpling Station in Los Angeles

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mexican Passover at Rosa Mexicano

Passover begins tonight at sunset, and many restaurants are hosting Passover dinners (or seders) or offering Passover-inspired menus. Although a seemingly unlikely candidate for a Passover menu, LA Live's Rosa Mexicano will be hosting a "Mexican Passover" from March 24-April 5 as part of their "Flavors of Mexico" program.

This weekend, Rosa Mexicano's Executive Chef John England hosted a cooking demo of some of the Passover-inspired dishes--complete with recipes. Although some of the dishes include flour or mix chicken stock and dairy, these ingredients could easily be substituted with ones that are kosher for Passover.

Mexican Passover @ Rosa Mexicana

On Saturday, Chef England made (and let his wannabe chefs sample):

Crema de Pollo con Chile Guajillo/Creamy Chicken and Guajillo Chile Soup
Spinach and Potato Kugel

Mixiote de Barbacoa de Res/Banana Leaf Wrapped Beef Brisket

Emparedado de Helado/Mexican Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwich with Blueberry Swirl Creme Fraiche Ice Cream and Pistachio Macaroons (garnished with Tomatillo-Blueberry Compote and Lemon Creme Fraiche)

Although some of the dishes were a little too complicated for this kitchen novice (it was difficult just to follow Chef England as he made the macaroon!), I intend to pull elements from all of the dishes for this year's Passover. For example, the salsa for the mixiote (brisket) can also be used as a marinade for skirt steak, chicken, or short ribs. I'd also love to attempt to make my own macaroons.

Mexican Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwich @ Rosa Mexicana
The Mexican Macaroon Ice Cream Sandwich

Chef England was lovely, informative and was very helpful in suggesting grocery stores/markets where one might find the uncommon ingredients in the dishes.

Rosa Mexicano hosts themed cooking demos throughout the year. Be sure to check out the Chef's Corner of the Rosa Mexicano website for details on upcoming events.

Feel free to email nomsnotbombs@gmail.com if you're interested in any of these recipes.

Rosa Mexicano at L.A. Live
800 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(213) 746-0001

Rosa Mexicano on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Saffron & Rose Ice Cream: My New Obsession

As a lover of 1) Persian food and 2) ice cream, I was delighted by the prospect of sampling Persian ice cream for the first time. I had heard that it was altogether unlike American ice cream or gelato and was curious to experience the difference for myself.

Located on Westwood Boulevard--home to many Persian restaurants and stores--Saffron & Rose Ice Cream is a small shop that offers around 15 flavors of home-made Persian ice cream. Working from a generations-old family recipe, manager Michael Kash and his father use saffron as the ice cream's key ingredient and, to this, add hormone-free milk and fresh ingredients such as fruit and nuts.

Saffron & Rose Ice Cream

When it comes to visiting ethnic restaurants, I am of the mind that, the less written in English and the less I understand, the better--both because the food is more likely to be more authentic and because I love being thrown out of my comfort zone and learning about other cultures. I particularly liked that Saffron and Rose's neon signs and much of the signage in the restaurant were in Farsi.

Saffron & Rose Ice Cream

Saffron and Rose offers several different sizes-- small (one scoop, $2.50), medium (two scoops, $4.00), large (three scoops, $5.25) and XL (four scoops, didn't get this price). You can order your ice cream in a cup, a cone or as an ice cream sandwich with two thin wafers.

These are only two of the three ice cream cases. There is a wonderful mix of exotic and more traditional flavors, and they are very accommodating about giving generous samples of all the flavors you'd like. No one will criticize you as a "sample abuser" here.

Saffron & Rose Ice Cream

Saffron & Rose Ice Cream

After trying the mixed berry, passionfruit, guava and white rose, I ordered a scoop of the white rose. All I can say is, "Oh. My. God." I don't remember the last time something I ate for the first time made me this happy! The saffron lends an incredible, sweet, lavender-y taste to the ice cream that is, in fact, unlike any type of other ice cream. The texture is also different than that of other ice creams--uniquely thick and somewhat sticky. The rose flavor was perfect--not too overpowering like I found the rose macaron at Jin Patisserie to be.

My face must have said it all because a woman in the shop who was clearly a regular joked, "You must be half Persian!" She also suggested that I try the saffron and pistachio, which is the most traditional flavor and a favorite among Persians.

After I finished my scoop, I almost bought another one, and I am not joking!

White Rose Ice Cream @ Saffron & Rose Ice Cream

Saffron & Rose also sells its ice cream to-go. I will definitely be back to grab a container (or two) soon.

Saffron & Rose Ice Cream

The only thing I regret about my trip to Saffron & Rose Ice Cream is that I was too full from dinner to order two scoops because the guava was also absolutely fantastic. I have found my new (complete and utter) obsession and am already plotting my return...as in as soon as possible.

Saffron & Rose Ice Cream
1387 Westwood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90024
(310) 477- 5533

Saffron and Rose Ice Cream in Los Angeles

Friday, March 26, 2010

New Look!

What do you think of Noms, Not Bombs's new look?

Still working out a few kinks, but this is pretty exciting stuff!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Big Man Bakes

*Note*: My apologies for the awkward colors! The fluorescent lighting did not agree with my little camera, and I tried to make the pics more appealing.

At 6'5, William "Chip" Brown of Big Man Bakes is definitely a big man and definitely not the most obvious candidate for a cupcake baker.

Brown began selling cakes for fun at the hospital where he worked as a physician-in-training, but soon (and luckily for us), word spread about his cupcakes, and he began baking full-time and eventually opened a shop in downtown LA last year.

As a cupcake-lover, I was thrilled about the idea of a cupcake closer to me than Sprinkles in Beverly Hills (a.k.a. my first love) and started stalking Big Man Bakes online before they even opened.

Big Man Bakes

Big Man Bakes

Big Man Bakes has five staple cupcake flavors (carrot cake, red velvet, double chocolate, the "old school," and coconut cake) with specials such as lemon zest.

They offer mini cupcakes for $1 and XL cupcakes for $3.25 or boxed deals.

Big Man Bakes

Mmmm...cupcakes. Big Man Bakes's cupcakes have a delicious combination of thick, sweet frosting and dense, moist cake.

Big Man Bakes

Here are Big Man Bakes's mini red velvet cupcakes, the flavor which recently won 1st place in the "Best Traditional" category of the 2010 LA Cupcake Challenge. As someone biased towards both red velvet and Big Man Bakes, I have to say that I agree!

Big Man Bakes

On this day, I was picking up a birthday gift for a friend. Does it get any better than $5 for a guaranteed smile and a happy tummy? I submit that it does not.

Big Man Bakes

I love how beautifully decorated and detailed even these mini-cupcakes are.

Big Man Bakes Mini-Cupcakes

I also recently tried BMB's Lemon Zest flavor. Although the actual lemon zest on the frosting was a little too strong for me, I loved the subtle lemon flavor of the cake.

Lemon Zest Cupcake @ Big Man Bakes

If you haven't yet visited Big Man Bakes, I suggest that you pay the Big Man a visit and try his award-winning red velvet...or the carrot cake...or the original...or...

Big Man Bakes
413 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 500-4351

Big Man Bakes on Urbanspoon
Big Man Bakes in Los Angeles

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I'm on TV!

Here's a segment I filmed for KTLA's Kurt the Cyber Guy about Foodspotting.com--a user-powered food porn website. For someone like me who prefers to be behind the scenes this was truly terrifying. Luckily, I don't look like/sound like an uber-dork as I feared!

Monday, March 22, 2010

The High's and Low's of Pizzeria Mozza

Pizzeria Mozza has eluded me and J for quite some time now.

While others fondly recalled their fennel sausage pizza or their butterscotch budino with a hint of drool on their face, J and I could only talk about the 4:30 PM or 10:30 PM reservations we'd turned down. For J's birthday, however, I was determined to change our Mozza-less-ness and booked surprise reservations a month in advance.

What's left to say about Mozza that hasn't been said already? Founded by superchefs Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich in 2007 and helmed by Matt Molina (announced today as one of the final nominees for the 2010 James Beard Awards), Pizzeria Mozza is still one of the hottest reservations in town and is often heralded as the best pizza in LA.

Would the food live up to the hype? J and I were about to see.

Pizzeria Mozza

We started with the Mozza caprese ($12). I've eaten my fair share of caprese in both the US and Italy, but this dish was absolutely mindblowing. Each tasty tomato literally exploded with juice when I cut into it, and the pesto and mozzarella cheese were delicious to the tenth power. There was a thin, crunchy layer of something on the cheese that I couldn't identify but, whatever it was, it worked and was gooood. I seriously need to look into whether or not crack is an ingredient in this dish because I am jonesing for my next Mozza caprese fix.

Caprese @ Pizzeria Mozza

I ordered the famed Squash blossom, tomato and burrata pizza ($22), which lived up to every rave review I have ever heard. I've never eaten squash blossoms (which are, apparently, so delicate and perishable that grocery stores don't bother to carry them), but I'm now a fan. The giant mounds of burrata can only be described with one word-- "NOM." And the crust! Flavorful! Crunchy! *Swoon* $22 is a lot to pay for pizza, but this is worth every cent.

Squash Blossom Pizza @ Pizzeria Mozza

The birthday boy ordered the Prosciutto di parma, rucola, tomato and mozzarella pizza ($15). Wow, were the prosciutto and the rucola fresh and tasty. This one had a little too much going on flavor-wise for my taste, but J happily gobbled it up.

Prosciutto di Parma Pizza @ Pizzeria Mozza

As wonderful as the food was, however, it was overshadowed by very poor service. Our waitress paid us no attention while being completely attentive of all of her other tables and didn't even mention J's birthday, let alone celebrate it with, say, a complimentary glass of wine or dessert. I noted the special occasion both when I made the reservation online and when I called to change the reservation time but was willing to chalk the omission up to the information getting lost in translation...until I saw our check, which had "BDAY" clearly written on it. After going out of our way to go to Pizzeria Mozza to celebrate a special event, J and I left feeling neglected and disappointed despite the delicious dinner.

I've since emailed the manager of Pizzeria Mozza and received a very nice, completely apologetic response, asking for my phone number to call me tomorrow, which I greatly. appreciate. We'll see what happens! The food was so good that I'd hate for this bad experience to turn me and J off from Mozza for forever.

I'll post an update after I speak with the manager.

Pizzeria Mozza
641 N. Highland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 297-0101

Pizzeria Mozza on Urbanspoon
Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles

Freebie Alert!

Double freebie alert for tomorrow, Tuesday the 23rd! Woo hoo!

1) Starbucks is giving away free breakfast pastries until 10:30 AM with the purchase of a drink and this coupon.

2) Also, and perhaps more importantly, it's free scoop day at Ben 'n Jerry's! The offer is good at any Ben 'n Jerry's from 12PM-8PM. To find the store closest to you, click here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Santa Barbara Day Trip!

With graduation, the "real world" and unemployment on the horizon, a vacation to Cabo was not in the cards for my last college Spring Break. I was, however, fairly certain that I would shoot myself in the face if I did nothing to change up my routine. With this in mind, J and I headed North to Santa Barbara (a first for both of us!) on a day trip. Sadly, because this was just to be a day trip, no wine tastings were involved (*wah wah*).

After asking for a food recommendations, J and I made our first stop of the day (obviously a food-related one) at La Super-Rica Taqueria. Literally translated, "la super-rica taqueria" means "the super tasty taco shop," and, indeed, it is.

Menu @ La Super-Rica Taqueria
Look at that menu!

With its open-air ordering area and covered outdoor patio/eating area, La Super-Rica Taqueria has a nice, relaxing vibe. If I lived in the area, I'd definitely be a regular.

La Super-Rica TaqueriaLa Super-Rica Taqueria
La Super-Rica Taqueria

I ordered the chorizo quesadilla ($3.50) and arroz. La Super-Rica Taqueria hand-makes its tortillas on location, and you can taste the difference; they're so light and fresh. The quesadilla oozed with yummy cheese, and the chorizo added a nice smoky flavor.

Chorizo Quesadilla @ La Super-Rica Taqueria

I'm not sure what was in this rice, but it was delicious. The flavor was milder than that of traditional Mexican rice, but J and I really enjoyed this.

Rice @ La Super-Rica Taqueria

Next up, The Burger Bus--how could we come to Santa Barbara without trying it? Operating out of a shiny yellow school bus, The Burger Bus uses only grass-fed/free range/hormone-free beef and local bread, jelly, cheese and produce.

Burger Bus

Burger Bus

Burger Bus MenuBurger Bus Menu

The Burger Bus is best known for it's CB&J ($7.50)--or cheeseburger and jelly. Because the #1 had a cautionary "Hot!" written next to it, I opted for the #2 with cheddar cheese and olallieberry (a hybrid of blackberry and raspberry) jelly.

There was nothing not to love about this burger. From the crusty ciabatta to the sweet jelly to the gooey cheese and the juicy meat, this burger was delicious.

CB&J @ Burger Bus

We also ordered yam fries ($2.50), which were delightfully simple. They tasted like sliced-up yams with a little salt thrown in. So fresh! A dip in ranch dressing took the fries to a whole 'nother level.

Yam Fries @ Burger Bus

J and I then took a stroll around the UCSB campus which is, apparently, a 5(-ish) minute walk from the beach. Clearly I made the wrong choice in university. The campus and surrounding area were gorgeous! I have no idea what their programs are but, if I had toured the campus in high school, I would have definitely applied (you can take the girl out of Hawaii but not the Hawaii out of the girl).

Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara

Next up was the Santa Barbara Mission, which was founded by Spanish Franciscans in 1786. Because the day was getting late, we didn't take the tour which, in retrospect and as a history buff, I regret. I guess I know what I'm doing on my next trip to Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara Mission

Santa Barbara Mission

Santa Barbara Mission

Afterwards, we headed to State Street, parched and hoping to find a smoothie, which we did at Blenders in the Grass. If you ever happen upon one of these, I highly highly recommend you check it out. My Tropical Guava smoothie was all fruit and flavor and no gritty ice. Yummm...

While walking around State Street, J and I noticed a farmer's market...and just when we thought that the day couldn't include any more of our favorite things! We ended up buying some of the best tangerines I've ever eaten and some behemoth strawberries.

Santa Barbara Farmer's MarketSanta Barbara Farmer's Market
Santa Barbara Farmer's MarketSanta Barbara Farmer's Market

Although J and I were both pretty stuffed, I had been very strongly urged to visit McConnell's Ice Cream and Yogurt, a locally-based ice cream chain. Far be it from me to ignore any ice cream recommendation, so off we went.

McConnell's, Santa Barbara

The first thing I noticed was the size of the servings of ice cream and frozen yogurt of the people around me; they were huge! I then noticed the completely reasonable prices and began trying to convince myself that I was not too full for ice cream.

McConnell's, Santa Barbara

McConnell's, Santa Barbara

J ordered the Macadamia Nut ice cream in a cup ($3.75), which had whole macadamia nuts in it. So good.

Macadamia Nut Ice Cream @ McConnell'ss

I ordered the Burgundy Cherry in a sugar cone ($4.25). With its creamy cherry base and chunks of fruit, this was mind-blowingly good.

I'm already trying to find a grocery store near me that carries McConnell's ice cream pints.

Burgundy Cherry Ice Cream @ McConnell's

Sadly, it was then time to head back...but not without one last look at the gorgeous water.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

I thought this was funny.

Santa Claus Lane

And so, my day in Santa Barbara was fun, gorgeous, relaxing and delicious. I didn't even wish I was in Mexico, instead!

La Super-Rica Taqueria
622 N. Milpas St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93103
(805) 963-4940

La Super-Rica Taqueria on Urbanspoon

The Burger Bus

Blender in the Grass

Santa Barbara Farmer's Market

McConnell's Ice Cream
201 W. Mission St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
(805) 569- 2323

McConnell's Ice Cream - Mission St on Urbanspoon