Sunday, December 8, 2013

Warm Herb and Jam Goat Cheese Spread

warm herb jam & goat cheese spread

When I saw Joy the Baker's Warm Herb and Jam Goat Cheese Spread recipe, I was immediately intrigued by the flavors. It sounded like a fresh take on the cheese spread and I didn't want to forget about it. So, I put it at the top of my mental to-do list and boy, am I glad I carried through with it. It is fantastic for two reasons: the flavor combination is superb and it can be thrown together in two shakes of a lamb's tail (how delightful to have the chance to use that phrase).

I used cherry fruit spread with rosemary and thyme and it was a very pretty, very festive home run. The genius of it is that it takes all the flavors normally seen on a (goat) cheese plate and puts them in one bite. Also, perhaps even more exciting for all the hosts and hostesses out there, it's just one dish and one spoon for serving! Thank you to Joy for this game changer!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Miscellany of Berlin Food

As a traveler, the food of a place is very important to me. A lot of times, everything else is the backdrop or the stuff I do until it's time to eat again. Here is the roundup of the other things I ate in Berlin:

kamps backstube cheese pretzel
A glorious cheese pretzel from Kamps Backstube, which was an extra welcoming sight after a very jet-lagged night.

dom curry currywurst
Currywurst is a local dish of "wurst" with curry powder. I've had currywurst before and thought it was fine, but I liked it more in Germany eaten at Dom Curry. When in Berlin.

German Coke
Obligatory photo of soda in a different country.

brauhaus lemke bratwurst
This meal of bratwurst took place after a quick visit to the Schloss Charlottenburg. I was fading quickly and had to skip the gardens to make a beeline for food. Thank you, Brauhaus Lemke.

This post concludes the Berlin series. I hope you've enjoyed reading about my travel eats; I would love to visit the other German cities (and eat their food) at some point. Usually when traveling, I'm already thinking about my next big trip (I am constantly trying to live more in the moment, I will get there). This time, I was relieved to be home and settle in before the holidays. November and December are my favorite months of the year, but we can probably agree that we all need a break between the end of sweaty summer and the peppermint bark and eggnog latte-fueled holiday cheer phase! That's basically what it feels like out here in southern California, at least.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cafe Einstein Stammhaus (Berlin)

Researching food destinations for travel can become overwhelming very quickly. I always start big and whittle down. Past experience has shown me that I don't want to be too ambitious because a) there will be a time (if not more than once) when I cannot bear the thought of another subway ride and subsequent walk of x number of blocks just to try some ____ when I'm nowhere near peckish, and b) I need to leave room for the unplanned (you can't imagine how delighted I was when I came across a grocery store during a long walk in Berlin. Oh, the snacks and dairy section!). But, I always have a list to provide direction and two of my Berlin must-try dishes were Wiener schnitzel and apfelstrudel. So, I headed to Cafe Einstein Stammhaus, a Viennese coffeehouse in the Tiergarten area.

cafe einstein wiener schnitzel
Wiener Schnitzel with potatoes, cucumber salad and lingonberry jam (the English menu says cranberry, but I think it was lingonberry). Ladies and gentlemen, what you see here is the small portion. The jam was fantastic with the richness of the schnitzel; add a bite of the cucumbers and it was a symphony.

cafe einstein cucumber salad
Loved this cucumber salad. It was so simple, but the flavors were perfectly balanced. I enjoyed everything I tried, but these cucumbers with dill made such an impression on me. I also happen to love cucumbers.

cafe einstein apfelstrudel
Apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce. We meet at last! A refined dessert with lots of apple filling; I was happy to try this classic, but I was very full by this point.

I didn't take any interior photos because the place was pretty packed, but it's just so lovely. Think of a European cafe, a bit worn in, but with a lot of elegance and gorgeous light coming in from the windows. Just the kind of place where I imagine serious writers discussing broken hearts and the state of politics. You would be correct in guessing that I was in heaven lingering over my meal; a pretty magical experience for me.

Cafe Einstein Stammhaus
Kürfürstenstraße 58
10785 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 263 91 918

Monday, October 28, 2013

Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt (Berlin)

I went to Berlin recently and it was my first time in Germany (finally)! The weather was a bit chilly and perfect for lots of eating and wandering throughout the city. I'm not the type of traveler who plans to visit every notable landmark and sight; instead, I try to go for a blend of touristy activities and local life. Also, obviously, eating good food is a big part of travel for me.

Although Berlin has many different cuisines and restaurants, I wanted to have the traditional German and Austrian food experience. So, I ended up eating a lot of meat and potatoes (probably 3-4 times the amount I eat in a given week). But, I was in Germany! First up, in the Mitte area, is Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt, where I ate twice:

augustiner pork knuckle
Crispy knuckle of pork. Holy smokes. It was no ordinary feat eating this hunk of meat, which was encased in a layer of skin with hot steaming pork inside. The most memorable dish of my trip.

augustiner potato soup
Yes. This. Potato soup Berlin style with Wiener sausage. I adore (seemingly) simple dishes that hit that rare level of perfection and this soup was one of those cases.

augustiner spätzle
I had to try some spätzle! Hearty comfort food. I'm sure it goes well with pork, but at that point, I had met my limit of meat consumption and wanted something "lighter." In the form of a huge plate of spätzle.

I was looking for old school German food and found it in spades at Augustiner. I saw tourists at nearby tables, but it seemed like there were some locals as well. As you may have guessed, it's the kind of place that is excellent at fortifying you to face the cold evening air, which came in handy.

Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt
Charlottenstraße 55
10117 Berlin
Phone: 030/20 45 40 20

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Avocado, A Nearly Perfect Snack


I say the avocado is a nearly perfect snack because although portable, it's no banana. You need a knife to get to that glorious "nature's butter," not to mention salt and pepper (lime juice really takes it to the next level, but I rarely buy limes as I don't use them much in daily life). While you can't just forget about avocados on the counter or in the fridge (I have had to throw out way-past-ripened avocados before and yes, it's sad every time), pay a little attention to them and you will be rewarded. I personally feel good about eating them because they offset all the popcorn and Chex Mix I consume.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Milk Jar Cookies


I have found my favorite oatmeal raisin cookie in LA at Milk Jar Cookies. It is undeniably good and everything I want in an oatmeal raisin cookie: slightly crunchy on top, chewy in the middle and lots of raisins. It's memorable and for someone who doesn't give cookies a lot of thought on a daily basis, that is certainly something.

Milk Jar Cookies
5466 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Green Beans with Butter and Dill

green beans with butter and dill

Green beans are so easy to make, no joke. I was looking for a vegetable side that wasn't another lettuce salad and all I had to do was throw the green beans in boiling water for a few minutes, drain, run under cold water (I have seen enough cooking shows to know that you're supposed to "shock" them in an ice bath, but honestly) and throw back in the pot with butter, fresh dill, salt and pepper. And you're done! My favorite part of making green beans is that they require no prep aside from rinsing; yes, you can trim the tips, but I don't find it necessary.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Let's just jump right back into it, shall we? Happiness is...



3839 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

L'Epicerie Market

L'Epicerie Nutella crepe

A Nutella and banana crepe with good coffee makes for an excellent breakfast. L'Epicerie Market also offers savory crepes, but I generally gravitate towards sweet varieties. I enjoy little breaks like these to think about things big and small. As you may have guessed, many of these moments involve food.

L'Epicerie Market
9900 Culver Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 815-1600

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pa Ord Noodle

Chamomile tea with honey. Hot cocoa with tiny marshmallows. Pancakes with butter and warm syrup. All things I associate with soothing the soul and creating calm within.

This is not that.

Pa Ord Crispy Pork

No, the Chinese broccoli with crispy pork at Pa Ord Noodle is not going to lull you into a relaxed state. It's more like the chorus of Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer" on the highest volume setting. And I got the medium spicy. 

After I finished my meal, which included a small sized portion of tom yum noodle soup (excellent and also medium spicy), I was relieved to have made it through all the spice. Of course, as I look at the photo, its siren call beckons. I get the fanfare now.

Pa Ord Noodle
5301 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 461-3945

Friday, January 4, 2013

Olympic Noodle

Olympic Noodle

My preferred version of chicken noodle soup can be found not in the pantry, but in Koreatown. Now, don't get me wrong. What I consider to be the traditional American standard (without getting into what American means, let's just use the definition of "if I order it in a diner, I am expecting a bowl of this stuff") can be beautiful and lovely when made at home. But, when I'm weary or recovering from illness, I do not think about making mirepoix. [Sidenote: due to Food Network, I think of Emeril Lagasse when I hear or see "mirepoix." I don't know how many, if any, of his episodes do not include mirepoix.] 

Instead, I usually do one of two things: purchase below average soup from the grocery store or pine for Korean food (more times than not, the second one is almost always the case). So, recently, when in need of a restorative meal, I headed to Olympic Noodle. The chicken noodle soup was $8, a respectable bargain, but the best part was the immediate sense of contentment that followed. Happy New Year! 

Olympic Noodle
4008 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90019
(323) 931-0007