Old Town Shenkeng is famous for it's stinky tofu. As soon as you arrive the pungent smell invades your nostrils like a men's locker room. There's so much to see though, and it's a charming quaint street lined with all kinds of shops for eats and goodies...mostly different kinds of eats, with each shop offering you all sorts of samples, so it's almost like having lunch at Costco, but better.
Pink's is an LA staple, especially for tourists. In my 26 years of life on earth, and as a native of this great city, I've only been once--today--and will probably never go again. It's not because it's bad...it's hot dogs, which aren't exactly a staple in my regular diet.
First of all, Pink's is known for it's super long line, however, I can tell you now that if you go at 10am on a Sunday you can get lucky like we did and face ZERO line. Hot dogs in the morning? Why not? Go hike to the Hollywood sign first and you won't feel as guilty or gross--we did. Moreover, my friend was visiting from Brazil so we thought, what the hey let's do it.
I didn't feel like having bread, so I went with the Poli Bacon Burrito Dog. Who would've thunk it--hot dog inside a tortilla. I dig it. Now, when they say big flour tortilla on the description, they mean BIG. My hot dog burrito was ginormous. I can't believe some people order it with two dogs! I had the spicy Polish dog, which really was quite good. Spicy is as spicy does and spicy did. The dog itself was quite hot, but the spiciness cranked up the heat. Make sure you've got some water on you.
The chilli I enjoyed, the cheese was just cheese--nothing fancy--and the bacon was nice as bacon often is. The problem was that before I even picked up the burrito, grease was already seeping through one of the ends. Not only was the burrito ginormous, but with all that grease, I knew my stomach was going to hate me if I consumed the whole thing. So, I couldn't even finish it.
Overall, I'd say my experience was quite enjoyable in a university-days-3am munchies type of way, only I'm not in university anymore and it was not 3am. In fact, it reminded me much of my late night adventures to Freebirds for all you fellow Isla Visters who know what I'm talking about.
I say go at least once in your life just to go. They do have a surprisingly large menu of, not just hot dogs, but burgers as well.
BIG LOVE & HUGS
Röckenwagner is known for their pretzels--pretzel croissants, pretzel burgers, pretzel crusted chicken, chocolate pretzel bread pudding...yeah, you heard me right. What's a chocolate pretzel bread pudding? Well, for a chocolate lover, one might say that it's a rich chocolatey explosion in your mouth... And apparently there's pretzel mixed into it. I couldn't quite make the distinction, but it was in there somewhere. Of course, you can't have something so rich without a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The ice cream is a necessary compliment to soften the blow--in a good way of course. It wasn't as gooey as bread pudding normally is, but it was still quite good--a little too rich for my tastes, but I imagine heaven to chocolate lovers. To help you imagine this delight, there is a photo of it on the bottom left corner of the frame above.
Who doesn't love basking in the sweetness of sunshine and ocean air with a spread of drool-worthy food laid out in front of you? It's a joy that's hard to beat. Over the weekend, another Dinner Club adventure led us to one of the great blessings of living by the beach in Southern California--a blessing that is abundant, but never gets old.
Before our last dinner club, our master of social media texted us asking if any of us would like to try some cookie dough, made by his friends who started a cookie dough company. I mean, really--did he have to ask? Duh, we wanted some. Who doesn't want cookie dough?
So, Sunday morning (yes, we had a dinner club brunch), he brought us these adorable little containers of chocolate cookie dough--compliments of his efforts in helping out his good friends who started the the company that make " Ready to Eat Edoughble Cookie Dough." I immediately dipped my little pinky into it to taste it. Lovely, just lovely. It was the perfect cherry on top to an already beautiful Sunday on the beach.
The husband and wife duo behind this delight started "Edoughble" because people were becoming ill after eating raw egg-filled, ready-to-bake cookie dough, so--as any cookie dough loving person would do--they found a way to make cookie dough without the raw eggs. Brilliant, right?
Check out all the flavors they offer, and get yourself some cookie dough!
BIG LOVE & HUGS
By: Julia Harris
This charming restaurant serves up French cooking with a Moroccan twist. This hard-to-find (because all you see from the outside is, literally, a little door) romantic outdoor dining venue is also home to a great wine bar that boasts wines from all over the world. If you're looking for something casual, it’s adjacent to Little Next Door, which is a café, and provides a less expensive way to sample some of the restaurant's culinary favorites.
The best seats in the house are arguably outside, under a lush canopy of flora and vegetation, where candlelight dining provides a charming experience (great date place! – just ask Jennifer Lawrence…shhh!).
The crowd is chic but not flashy or obnoxious (as many hippstery venues in Venice can be). We sat at the casual wine bar, which is a great place to grab a cocktail after work, and there are several wine-by-the-glass options. I’m going to be honest – I can’t remember what I ate! But I do remember the way I felt afterwards – wonderfully satiated.
I heard that the best fig tart in LA used to reside on the menu – unfortunately we didn’t see it this time around…but that just means I have to go back and stalk the menu again in hopes that it’s departure is merely a temporary one.
The Little Door is a European exotic oasis in LA. Stop in for a glass of wine after work, and stay for dessert!
The Little Door, 8164 W. Third St., Los Angeles, CA 90048
(between Crescent Heights and La Jolla)
Everyone in Nashville knows, that you have to go to The Pharmacy for burgers. It took me a couple years to finally get there, but I did, and I was not disappointed. It’s a nice little spot in East Nashville, and on a weather friendly day, the patio is a great place to lunch.
They make a rather large burger, using 100% Tennessee-raised beef and it’s delicious. Their buns are lightly toasted Provence buns, which are made especially for them, and they’re lovely, without being too much bread. I hate when there’s more bread than burger.
What I love about this place is that you don’t have to worry about ingesting processed junk—even when it comes to the pop. I went all out my first time there, because of this, so I enjoyed a root beer float with my burger, and it was fabulous.
I’ll definitely be returning. I’m curious to try their wide selection of wursts. They look delicious.
Also, if you’re a beer person, The Pharmacy is also a beer garden—hence the beer and brat on the menu. I’m not a beer drinker, so I can speak for their beers; however, I imagine if you are, that you won’t be disappointed as you will not be served your regular tailgating canister.
And if you’re lucky, a squirrel may join you for lunch.
Visiting Music City? Definitely stop by for some good eats :).
BIG LOVE & HUGS
By: Julia Harris
It’s common knowledge that LA restaurants, clubs, and lounges fall off after about 6 months. If they’re lucky. It would be easy to think the same about Hinoki and the Bird as another flash-in-the-pan L.A. hot spot. It is a pseudo Japanese-inspired, small-plates restaurant that caters to the cocktails-after-work crowd. But while Hinoki is a perfectly good spot to imbibe cocktails and eat yummy desserts, when you stop to notice the ambiance at the bird, it's hard not to want to keep the place a secret, so that you can have it all to yourself.
The chef who currently runs Comme Ça, has come up with what is an LA hot spot through and through. It's a trendy, stylish restaurant/bar without the pretentious, top-of-the-Hollywood-status-sphere air.
You feel as though you’ve discovered the rabbit hole after the triumph of locating the restaurant, which is under a luxury condo tower on a road off of Avenue of the Stars that no GPS can find (literally, my in-car GPS, Garmin, google maps, and Siri could not find it). The door doesn’t look like a door, and if you don’t know where to push, after the valet has left with your car, you stand staring at what looks like a solid door. Once inside, you stand on a platform that looks out over the dining room, with seating tucked between the bar and a glowing-with-tiny-candles, open kitchen.
My friend and I sat at the bar, and the calm and friendly (and cute) bar tenders are ready to help with the menu, and assist you with selecting a drink you’ll love. The menu is broken up into categories: raw bar, fun bites, simply grilled, inspiration, and vegetables and grains (there’s also a separate dessert menu). We both had two rounds (because one was just not enough) of the Gordon’s Cup (Gin, muddled lime, cucumber, Szechuan pepper, salt). Believe me, I don’t like anything but vodka, but with this drink you won’t be able to tell the difference.
There are so many things here I'd classify as must-try dishes, enough that you'll have to return a few times in order to eat them all (and you should return – it’s hard not to want to). We didn’t have the lobster roll, but we hear it’s a must try. The miso mochi, butterscotch, togarashi on the dessert menu is a must try, as is the Cotton cheesecake, rhubarb, raspberry cream, strawberry yogurt ice cream. Desserts are very small, so order a couple. Drinks are pricey, but worth it.
The room feels lively, like you're in the place everyone wants to be, and casual in the most relaxed way. Bottom line: it’s a must try, and you’ll want to go back. But shhhhh – don’t tell anyone.
HINOKI AND THE BIRD | 10 Century Drive, Century City Full bar | Valet parking, $9.50 for dinner.
Julia works in the legal department of a major studio. She enjoys eating, drinking, and eating and drinking at the same time. Due to her love of all things food she is constantly looking for amazing new restaurants and bars in the greater Los Angeles area so that she can force her friends to go out with her and pretend that we’re all big shots.
She is a member of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, the Los Angeles Bar Association, and the Love Justine fan club.
Where Red Rooster on Demonbreun used to stand, now stands a swankier get up called The Pavillion, and I must say I was delightfully impressed with it. Nashville needs more spots like this. I mean, not just because it's swanky(er), but because the food was delicious, too!
The owner is actually the same, they just gave their spot, as well as their menu, a major facelift. It’s like when Michael Jackson went from Black to White.
So, I met up with a friend for drinks, and actually she is the first person I ever knew in Nashville. She moved away for a bit, but thankfully she recently returned as well. And now we can have these awesome rendezvous.
There were a lot of tempting items on the menu. The Croquet looked like a Cajun ball of delicious madness. However, I decided to go with the Pulled Pork, because the description noted that it was “pork butt.” Not pork belly, not pork shoulder, not pork whatever…but pork butt. The immature child in me could not resist ordering pork butt. So I did. And it was a FABULOUS decision. It really was.
If you’ve read some of my recent food related posts, or if you are familiar with southern cooking, you’ll know that one of my biggest complaints is the tendency for restaurants here to over flavor everything—whether it’s with salt or sugar. And although I only had one item from the menu, I will say that my Pulled Pork at The Pavillion did not fall victim to flavor overkill. It was lovely. And the sweet, tangy purple cabbage and apple slaw was a nice pairing.
My friend ordered the Margherita Flatbread, which was not her first time ordering it, so you know it’s good. They drizzle balsamic vinaigrette on it which gives it a nice kick. Her hubby ordered the chicken and biscuits, which apparently is his favorite item on the menu, and southern boys know their chicken and biscuits, so that’s all I have to say about that.
So yeah, Nashvillians…especially those of you on the Row…need a new lunch spot? Try The Pavillion. I think you’ll enjoy it :).
BIG LOVE & HUGS
I had dinner with my dad, his colleague, and his colleague’s wife at Red Pony in Franklin, Tennessee the other night and it was quite fabulous. I’m always complaining about how there’s not much food choice out here, and of the choices, the quality just does not compare to L.A. or New York. I know that may be an unfair comparison, but c’mon, there’s something not right about being served canned green beans whether you’re dining at an upscale restaurant or Cracker Barrel.
Anyways, back to Red Pony. First, who doesn’t want to dine at a place called Red Pony. I love the color red. And I love ponies. As soon as you step through the front doors, you leave the quaint and charming Main Street of downtown Franklin, and into a chic, low light, urban atmosphere. The paintings on the wall are very cool and vibrant. They complement the restaurant’s modern southern urbana feel. I think I just made that word up, but hopefully you catch my drift.
I immediately had great expectations for this place, because I quite enjoyed the mini jalapeno corn muffins and the rosemary (?) bread. I can’t remember exactly what the other bread was. There may have even been mini biscuits. But in any case, I quite enjoyed it, and I have a habit of judging a restaurant based on the bread they bring out.
I was delightfully surprised by the fusion flavor of their menu. We started with appetizers—a most fabulous guacamole made with just the right amount of lime to give it a nice kick, and garnished with slices of jicama; and the lobster roll which was a tempura fried sushi with lobster meat on top, not a New England style lobster roll as I had assumed. I’m not a big sushi person, but I’d say it was roll to please the fusion inclined taste buds.
For our second course, my dad and I split a kale salad with pickled onions, goat cheese, mushrooms, toasted almonds, and dressed with bacon dressing. I’m not a huge fan of pickled onions and I think the combination of them with the goat cheese, another strong flavor, was just a bit overpowering. However, that may be a personal preference thing.
As for the main course I ordered what appeared to be a house favorite, the shrimp and grits. The cheese grits were fabulously creamy, and everything tasted wonderful. My only reservation about it though, was that it was extremely rich with the creamy grits and powerfully seasoned shrimp, plus the apple bacon and the mushrooms—true to southern cooking though. What would Paula Dean say? “You can never have enough butter!” Wrong, Paula! Wrong! You can have enough butter! My dad ordered the Red Pony B.L.T., which was bacon, lobster, and tomato served over Yukon Gold Ravioli and Truffled Corn Cream. Again, massively flavourful, but after a few bites it becomes a bit much. Of course, this is to be expected when it comes to southern cooking, so if you’re not used to it, I’m giving you the heads up.
Before dessert came out, they brought out a little palate cleaner of thinly sliced green apples topped with thin slices of parmesan cheese, drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette glaze. This I quite enjoyed. I think I could’ve done without the vinaigrette, but it looked nice and gave it a different kick. I enjoyed it.
Then the most important course of the meal came—dessert. The four of us shared the crème brulee and some kind of chocolate pie sprinkled with Goo Goo Clusters. The crème brulee was perfect. I mean, I have yet to have a crème brulee that I do not like, but yeah, I thought this one was just lovely. The chocolate pie felt like it was made out of a giant chocolate bar. You have to be careful when trying to break off a piece, because it’s quite hard. And as terrible as they are for you, I do love Goo Goo Clusters. It was the perfect southern touch to this chocolaty explosion. This was definitely one for the chocolate lovers.
Red Pony is a great place for out of towners, a date, or just a good night out. And downtown Franklin is just so darn cute.
BIG LOVE & HUGS