A few days ago Michael and I both got facials from the amazing Diana Lund at Peaches Skin Care in Santa Barbara. Michael had been bugging me to make an appointment for us (which I never did) and so he finally called and after much back and forth with the front desk we got in. Michael was first to go while I was with the baby and then we switched. The facial was suppose to be an hour and a half. An hour and a half goes by and no Michael. An hour and forty five minutes goes by. Still no Michael. Finally after two hours he arrives glowing and excited about his experience. I just KNOW that he’s been up to something and can’t wait to hear Diana tell me how it went. You see, Michael is unlike any other man I’ve ever met. He’s intense. He’s interesting. He’s detail oriented. So I could only imagine how his facial must have gone. When I arrive Diana apologized for taking so long and mentioned that Michael had, “a lot of questions!” As we delved into the facial she was very curious about Michael as he evidently was asking such in depth questions that she had to pause and think about how to answer them. She told me she had never had another client (male or female) ask her as much as he did. She gave him a recommended face cleaning routine to do in the morning and at night. Evidently he told her he really wasn’t going to do the night time routine as he knew himself and didn’t want to set himself up for failure. She was speechless. Evidently no one had ever flat our refused to do her recommended cleansing system. Ironically, each night Michael does a thorough detailing on his teeth which includes flossing, brushing with his mechanical tooth brush and mouth wash… My facial on the other hand was the exact opposite of Michael’s in that we mostly chatted about life, babies and Michael’s interesting personality traits. By the end she apologized once again that she wasn’t as thorough explaining the process to me as she was to Michael. Of course, I could have cared less as I was pretty sure she knew what she was doing and had no problem executing the recommending cleansing system. When I got home Michael inspected my face and promptly told me I looked two years younger. Oh my wonderful husband. He has a way of driving me crazy with his little intense spurts and then very soon thereafter makes up for it by being something that no one else can be. Him. At the end of the day I’d rather have a husband that notices that I got a facial and comments that I look two years younger than one that would never notice at all. Michael your my BFF….
San Ysidro Ranch is the secret hideaway of all secret hideaway’s. Gaining notoriety for housing the Kennedy’s on their honeymoon (yes, THOSE Kennedy’s) it has the reputation of luxurious seclusion. Fortunately you don’t have to stay there to enjoy their beautiful indoor/outdoor restaurant, Plow and Angel. Although Michael and I don’t frequent this sort of restaurant on a nightly basis we felt we could splurge for our anniversary. As we drove up to the entrance the path was illuminated by lit olive trees with a carpet of lavender underneath. The night air was crisp with hints of the nearby ocean mixed with the misty mountain fog as we walked through the rose arches that lead the way to the restaurant. The outdoor dining area was situated under a canopy of tree’s with hanging chandeliers made out of dried gourds. The mood was a quiet bustle that was relax but still had a note of austerity as if only a certain type of person would know to eat at Plow and Angel. Not the most comfortable type of setting for me but I played it off as if I was suppose to be there as best I could. We skipped an appetizer and ordered our main course first with anticipation of having enough room for dessert. I chose the Roasted Shelton Farms Half Chicken and Michael decided on the Short Rib special. (Surprise surprise! Short ribs are his go to choice). Both were delicious and expertly made. We also had a side of brussel sprouts which were a disappointment seeing as I have an affinity for my own recipe. But alas, all was not lost when our Baked Alaska arrived and was immediately set on fire. Dinner and a show! We feasted upon this delectable treat with gusto and even took the half melted remains home in order to attempt an encore later on. (sans fire) All in all its hard to beat Plow in Angel due to its high level of ambiance, charm and of course good food.
I heard about Mozza Osteria from a few different places and just had to try it. I saw Nancy Silverton (the owner) at a book fair at USC and she did a little Q&A with Michael Voltaggio and of course they talked about this restaurant and its concept. Nancy wanted to create a restaurant that had the same sort of idea as sushi bar but with cheese instead. She got Mario Batali and Joseph Bastianich on board and they created Osteria Mozza. A client of mine corrected my pronunciation when I mentioned it so just so you know its pronounced “Moe-za.” I was ignorantly calling it “Mah-za” this whole time. smile. This restaurant is the sort of place I could move into and eat cheese as a full time profession. A whole lot of deliciousness is going on here… When we sat down we of course looked over the menu and made a decision on a appetizer. When we tried to order the server abruptly stopped us and told us we couldn’t order yet. She had to explain everything about the entire menu first and custom design our experience. It was very sweet how into this food designing she was.
We started with a fresh Buratta from the place in Italy where it was originally invented. Um…this was freaking awesome. It came on some garlic toast which was yummy but overwhelmed the cheese a bit. Truthfully, I didn’t really want to share with Michael but I did….
Then came the pasta course. Obviously the pasta is homemade here and was delectable and amazing. Most of all it was simple with a delicious red sauce and parsley. We gobbled that right up as well…
For our main course I ordered the Grilled Whole Orata (picture above) and Michael ordered the Braised Beef Short Rib (not shown. I think the short rib was down his gullet before I had a chance to snap a shot). My orata was super yummy. It was stuffed with fresh herbs and the grilled lemon really brought out the flavors of the fresh and flakey fish. Even Michael loved it and he isn’t a seafood fan. Michael’s short rib was succulent and delicious. We were both very happy and satisfied with our main course and at this point were slipping into a peaceful food coma.
Finally, I ordered the cannoli’s for dessert (it was my birthday) and they were pretty ho hum. I looked at the Mozza website before writing this post and it seems they were taken off the menu. It looks like others felt the same way as I did about this dessert. I don’t know what it is but I’m not a huge cannoli fan and am always confused when I try them. Why aren’t they better? The outside shell seems dry and not sweet enough. And the inside doesn’t hold up the how thick and crunchy the outside is. I thought that if I ordered cannoli’s at Mozza that would be the true test of whether or not I really like them since its such a great restaurant. I guess I don’t really like cannoli’s! But I don’t think it was the chef’s fault… Cannoli’s are just sort of blah in my opinion. But I doubt I’ll stop my quests to find one that I like so if you have any recommendations send them my way.
Michael and I overall had a great experience at this awesome restaurant and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back anytime. Located in West Hollywood its a bit of a jaunt for us from Santa Barbara but I’m sure it won’t stop us in the future. Thanks Nancy Silverton for creating this beautiful experience. We can tell it came from your heart.
Pulled Pork Sandwich
Blue Cheese Burger
My friend Joy and I go out to lunch about once a year. Joy is a wedding coordinator in town so we communicate and see each other a lot at events and other industry gatherings. Other than that we usually only spend time together once a year for lunch and this year Joy suggested Julienne. I had walked past the restaurant for years but never actually tried it due to my small fear of new restaurants. (My mind is like, “What if its not good and I could have just eaten some place I know and like!?”) Thankfully Joy suggested this gateway lunch and it was great! I had the Pulled Pork Sandwich and Joy had the Blue Cheese Burger. Both were delicioso and I really enjoyed the atmosphere.
Evidently the restaurant is owned by a husband/wife team that started in 2008 despite all the economic turmoil that was going on at the time. They are located on the corner of Santa Barbara and Canon Perdido in downtown Santa Barbara. I was also impressed that their menu is made up of local and sustainable ingredients. They didn’t even serve diet coke which I wasn’t a huge fan of but I respected their dedication to keeping it natural. (They did have those natural sugar coca colas in the glass bottle so I had that instead….) I like that they are directly across from the Royal Presidio which is a historical landmark and a cool structure. It gives the diner a nice view to look at.
I have yet to go to Julienne for dinner but I’m confident that the “offerings” will be just as tasty and enjoyable.
Okay, this pictures is making me so hungry for Tupelo Junctions vanilla bean french toast that I’m actually going to stop writing and go eat something yummy so I can get through this post…
I’m back and I made chocolate protein pancakes which were gross but at least I’m not starving…. (I’m doing a boot camp at the gym where I have to eat a lot of protein and I didn’t use a recipe…so there you go.)
Anyway…Tupelo Junction is one of the best freaking places to eat in Santa Barbara, no joke. The morning after we moved back to Santa Barbara in March of 2010 we walked down to Tupelo to celebrate. And we felt like we had made one big journey home. This place is BOMB. Its southern comfort food that hits you on all cylinders. Above is the vanilla bean french toast sitting in a pool of raspberry puree and topped with whipped cream. Its like biting into a slice of heaven with paradise on the side. The crunchy crispy grilled bread with the soft center swimming in sweet deliciousness is to die for. Michael gets it pretty much every time since he is the worlds biggest sweet tooth. I usually opt for the savoring options…
The red beans and rice with spinach, tomatoes and corn taunted me for years. But I just couldn’t stop ordering my favorite pulled pork sandwich. Finally I got up the nerve to order it and MAN its good! At first glance that combination just didn’t seem like it would be all that great but goodness me they know how to build depth of flavor. Its now my favorite thing to get there.
Other must try items:
Fried Green Tomatoes with Dill Dipping Sauce
Pulled Pork Sandwich with Fried Pickles on the Side
Fried Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds
So if you are in Santa Barbara you HAVE to go (and make sure you call me so I have an excuse to go too!)
Every year we have a little Oscar party with our family friends the Wrights. Brigitte & James and have three boys, one of which has flown the coop and is in college now. So this year it was just their twin boys Jace & Eli, us and our little Georgiana. We decided to do an Indian themed menu based off of the movie “Life of Pi.” It turned out great! Since I have recently been doing a “Skinny Jeans Challenge” at the gym (basically a boot camp), my meals of late have been a little more restricted. But fortunately every week I get a “free day” where I can be the pig that I am. j/k! Anyway, we had SO much food and the entertainment and company was amazing too. Here is what we had:
Samosas with Chutney
Salt & Pepper Potato Chips with Caramelized Onion Dip
Coconut Chicken Curry with Potatoes
Tandoori Beef Skewers
Naan with Raita
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Chocolate Rollo Cookies
Chocolate Oscars Awards
The only really important thing from the night is that Daniel Day Lewis won for his unbelievable roll in “Lincoln.” And of course that “Life of Pi” took a bunch of awards including best direction, production design, visual effects and original score. (A-MAZING movie!) So now let’s get down to the nitty gritty….
Jennifer Lawrence looked amazing in her Dior gown and it doesn’t even matter that she tripped on the way up to receive her Oscar because we got to view the back for that much longer. I think I’m partial to this dress because it looks like a wedding gown and if I had my way I’d just wear a wedding dress daily…
Charlize Theron is so freaking beautiful. My only thing is why do the pixie cut? She looks amazing in it but she is such a glamorous woman that keeping her hair that short just takes it down a notch. I heard that she had to cut it for a role but then decided to keep it short rather than growing it out. Oh well, whatever. Your gorgeous no matter what you do…
Anne you’re beautiful. What’s with the pointy boobs? I love your jewels though. Incredible job in “Les Miserables” and congrats on your Oscar.
Amy Adams gray ruffly dress I looove. A couture looking wedding-esque gown is home run in my book. Of course I HATED “The Master” so I’m secretly happy she didn’t win but also secretly sad she hasn’t won anything after 4 nominations. Oh well. Amy, you’re young and it will happen sooner or later. Keep up the good work (in acting and fashion that is….)
And finally onto the men. They all wore black tuxes except Samuel Jackson who had on a red eye sore from the front row. And that about sums it up…
I thought the Oscar’s host (whats his name? did a great job overall but did have a few doosies. The boob song WAS hilarious though… And of course Michelle Obama… What a surprise… Not sure what her career in politics has to do with being asked (did she ask or tell?) to read the Best Picture winner. Oh wait, she’s in politics I forgot. But Michelle does do a great job of being the face of the president. I use to go to lots of industry mixers without my husband back in the day too so I know how it is. And of course I had to cry while the “Les Miserable” cast sang their compilation number. I grew up listening to the soundtrack of “Les Miserable” on every major family car trip so its really sentimental for me and I’m also a musical theatre nerd….
Overall, we had a fabulous night with great entertainment, company and of course food. Is Oscar night better than Christmas??
I am sort of a die hard Top Chef fan and so reading Gail Simmon’s book, “Talking With My Mouth Full” was a true delight. Was it the culinary genius book of our age? No. But it was fun to get a few extra looks into how Gail got her job at Food & Wine Magazine and then subsequently on Top Chef and all the in-betweens. One thing I really enjoyed learning about Gail is that she went to culinary school not to become a chef but to get experience so she would be more equipped to work in the food world in general. I want SO badly to go through culinary school myself. I got through one semester at Santa Barbara School of Culinary Arts before I got pregnant. I was actually pregnant mid-semester so it was brutally hard to sit through lectures on cuts of meats and discussions about things like “offal.” I would actually have to leave mid class often to go puke so it wasn’t pretty. The program gets especially intense third semester when they make you work daily in the school cafeteria for free. Its pretty much slave labor so I’ll have to go through the program later in life when my kids are at least in school themselves. Anyway, I digress. Back to Gail…
The book had a few little hiccups that took me out of my relish in reading it. First of all she mentioned her boobs way too much. Its fine to note that you have large boobs once but she kept bring up the topic unnecessarily. Also, she showed a diagram of a tongue map highlighting the areas where supposedly you taste sweet, salty and umami flavors etc. As far as I know this theory of the tongue tasting different things in different places has been disproven. So that took me out of the book since it seemed common knowledge that the tongue map is questionable.
Overall, I had fun reading the book and also meeting Gail Simmons at the USC Book Fair where I picked up my copy. I got the book autographed and a taken photo with her (not shown because I look WAAAY to fat since I had just had the baby. haha) The book is a perfect read for that lazy Sunday afternoon when its time to relax and just have some fun. Enjoy!
Michael and I have been wanting to try out Cielito since it opened and finally made our way over there. This restaurant was previously an Acapulco which is a chain mexican restaurant in California. I have to say it was one of our FAVORITE places to go for lunch because the outside patio was so picturesque with a lovely fountain and turtles swimming around. When Acapulco closed we were very sad even though the food was fairly standard mexican. Every time we’d walk past the empty shell that used to be Acapulco it would remind us of joyous times gone by. And then….Cielito opened and we were chomping at the bit try it out. The branding is great. They are marketing themselves as a more upscale mexican dining experience. Here’s what we had…
Our favorite fountain with turtles basking in the sun. They didn’t put tables and chairs around the entire perimeter of the fountain as Acapulco had it. Still beautiful.
Chips and guacamole. Good but nothing I haven’t had before. Salsa at Playa Azul and Rose Cafe are still my reigning favorites in town. Here they charge for chips and salsa which always irritates me to pay for at a mexican restaurant. Its like paying for a fortune cookie at a chinese restaurant….
Michael ordered the Tacos de Costilla which is braised short ribs, salsa, cojia cheese and cilantro. It was an “over promised under delivered” sort of moment. They tasted like shredded beef tacos. They were good but nothing we felt would entice us for a second trip. The rice and beans also seemed standard. Although, to be fair maybe there aren’t that many exotic ways to do rice and beans.
I got the Mexican Chopped Salad with Shrimp which had chickpeas, olives, avocado, corn and jicama. Again, it was okay. I didn’t really like the dressing that much and the combination of ingredients didn’t sing.
Overall, it was good not great. I’d go again for the atmosphere and to try something else since their menu does have a flare to it. I really like how they have interesting offerings like pork belly quesadillas and mashed potato tacos. I would go again just to make sure we didn’t miss the stars of the show. Cielito is right next to the CaliBressan Chocolate store so we were able to eat some out-of-this-world chocolate which quickly made us forget that our lunch didn’t quite deliver what we were hoping for.
(For the full review scroll to the bottom
(Below: Shots of the modern dining room)
(Below: Cheese plate with quince jam, almonds and manchengo, murcia and la serena cheeses. Served with a tomato toast)
(Below: Vegetable Pistou with a poach egg 63)
(Below: Braised Wagyu Beef Cheeks with a California Citrus)
(Below: “Philly Cheesesteak” with air bread, wagyu beef and cheddar)
(Below: Potatoes de Patatas with Potato Foam, Egg 63 and Caramelized Onions)
(Below: Your Life Will Change Dashi Linguini with Quail Egg & Basil)
(Below: Baby Japanese Peaches with Buratta, hazelnuts and arugula)
(Below: Shots of the Patisserie)
(Below: Nitro Coconut Floating Island with Passion Fruit and Vanilla)
(Below: Bread Pudding with Saffron Sauce)
How does one review The Bazaar by Jose Andres? Its like being invited to the most exclusive dinner by one of the worlds best chef’s and then commenting on it later as if your opinion really matters. And even though we paid for the food and have a right to an opinion it still seems strange. So despite my hesitation to say just say I’m grateful Jose Andres has shared his talent with the world I’ll delve into it slightly more deeply. When Michael and I first walked into the restaurant I immediately felt a surge of excitement. The restaurant itself is so perfectly designed and the execution so precise that Michael immediately started talking about photo shoots. “This place is amazing” he commented “THIS is the sort of place I want to do a shoot at.” Don’t we all darling… The hostess asked us to have a seat in the bar while we waited for our table. We sat in a luxurious leather couch that had a wood sculptured lamp behind us made to look like a brown bear. The mood was vibrant but not obnoxious like a night club where you can’t talk because its so loud. There were little nooks and crannies with seating as well as a very long tall table right through the middle of the room with bar stools. We ordered some refreshments and waited anxiously for the next part of our culinary adventure. Soon the hostess fetched us and we were onto the modern tapas dining room. On our way over we were told that Jose Andres wanted to create a restaurant that not only delivered unique food but also a unique dining experience. The flow was from the bar to the dining room. And then after dinner guests are re-seated into the “patisserie” where they order dessert. I for one LOVE this concept because it irritates me to no end when paying for a nice to meal to feel like we should get out as soon as our last morsel is gobbled up. Having waited tables in the past I know that I hated it when people “camped” at my tables but on the same hand its frustrating to have to end your dining experience because your feel like you’re being watched…
As we sat down in the modern dining room (as opposed to the traditional Rojo’s y Blanco’s dining room which has a more traditional feel) I enjoyed the great care that my surroundings exuded. From the lighting to the furniture it was a delight to sit in this beautiful setting. We were greeted by a waiter and began our gustational experience. We started off with a cheese plate. The cheeses were delicious as was the tomato toast. We didn’t feel that it was a life altering experience but definitely an enjoyable one. Then onto our next course of a vegetable pistou with an egg 63 and Wagyu Beef Cheeks with Citrus. Mmmmm…the pistou was heavenly. It was just vegetables and an egg but my was it delicious. Somehow, someway the veg was made to be extremely savory and full of flavor. And since this is tapas, there definitely wasn’t enough. The Beef Cheeks were delightful as well with an interesting finish to it that we couldn’t quite place. It was a new taste experience for us having not enjoyed beef cheeks before. For those that don’t know what beef cheeks are, its the head meat. It seemed like it had been braised and was sort of like pot roast. It wasn’t a home run with my husband (who ordered it) but that’s okay because his next bite was of a “philly cheesesteak” on air bread with wagyu beef which was to die for. The air bread was just that, a little puffed up bread that melted in your mouth on contact. Sort of like if you crossed bread with cotton candy. The inside was filled with melted cheddar and the top with wagyu beef. Ummmm…can you say delicious? Michael seemed annoyed at the size of the bite I took. It was soooo good but a little salty. And for me, I had a new take on a spanish tortilla called Potatoes y Patatas which was a potato foam with an egg and carmelized onions. It was sort of like a very airy potato soup. The flavors were delightful but I wasn’t hot on the texture. It sort of made me want to eat an actual spanish tortilla. (For those that don’t know a spanish tortilla is thinly layered potatoes and onions binded with egg and baked). Then we came to our last course which was “Your Life will Change Dashi Linguini” and a salad of japanese baby peaches with buratta and hazelnuts. Both were amazing. By the time we got to the dashi I realized we ordered A LOT of things with eggs. Also, the dashi was a bit salty but the flavors were so scrumptious and the saltiness of the dash combined with the “linguini” and eggs was a great combination. Michael almost flipped out when he ate the japanese peaches and buratta salad. This little plate was amazing and we were trying to be nice and let the other eat the last peach. “No go ahead honey, you have it.” he would say. And then I would reply with “Seriously, darling you love peaches so much, YOU have it.” etc etc. I can’t remember who actually got it in the end. It was probably me. The whole tapas portion of the night was awesome. We did notice that everything seemed to be aggressively seasoned with salt. Michael, who loves salt even thought it was all a bit salty.
Finally, we were whisked away to the patisserie, our final destination of the evening. We were seated at a tall long white table and sat across from each other. We were the only ones at the table so it felt sort of like sitting across from each other at the dining room table in the first Batman movie with Michael Keaton. Behind us was a dessert bar covered with candy, chocolate, cookies and other delectables. We were given menu’s and ordered the Nitro Coconut Island and Bread Pudding with Saffron Sauce. The first bit of the coconut island was a beautiful moment. It was like eating a frozen coconut merique that melts in your mouth. Fantastic. And the Bread Pudding with Saffron sauce is the perfect dessert from someone who doesn’t really like dessert. It was slightly sweet with a savory note that gave you the satisfaction of luxury without it being overpowering. I liked it, but probably wouldn’t order it again. It was one of those experience dishes that was fun to try but you may not think of it in the future.
Overall, we had a fabulous time and it was truly the unique dining experience that Jose Andres was going for. I hate to say it but after all that food I still left not feeling completely full. The tapas are small so I think I could have gone for one more course before dessert. However, Michael felt totally full so maybe I was just especially hungry that day. We had a memorable and fun anniversary that we’ll never forget.
I am a Top Chef Fan. Shocker. Along with millions of other people I enjoy watching a show that I can ultimately take NO pleasure in since I can’t taste the food that they are making. Its actually sort of insane. With Project Runway you can see the clothes. With Biggest Loser you can see the weight loss. But with Top Chef you are merely tantalized and taunted and then its over. I must be a glutton for punishment. Anyway, I had heard that the UCS Book Festival was having food industry speakers and some Top Chef veterans at the event. So I left my 5 month old baby in the care of her daddy and drove 2 hours to the blazing hot festival. I was tired, hungry, parched and late. I was planning on making it to Michael Voltaggio’s cooking presentation but LA traffic got the better of that situation. So I decided to bake out in the open sun in order to reserve a front row seat to hear what Gail Simmons had to say. Gail Simmons is a judge on Top Chef and also works for Food & Wine Magazine. I actually had no idea she had written a book (although I don’t know why it wasn’t obvious to me – I was at a BOOK festival.) Gail made her cooking demonstration as simple as simple could be – a scrambled egg. However, I was delighted to learn some new tips on how to cook a scrambled egg properly. I found out that Gail had gone to culinary school but never with the intention of being a chef. Rather, she wanted to understand and get a foundational knowledge to help her career in media as it related to food. And that’s exactly what she’s done. After watching her presentation I was inclined (and felt obligated) to buy her book. And she was doing a book signing so I thought, “What the heck.” There is a picture of me and Gail but I didn’t post it because my figure after the baby is not as svelte as I’d like to be. That’s why there is an out of focus shot of Gail with some blonde hair (me) in the frame to represent the photo I’m not posting.
So onto the book. In short the read was very entertaining and well worth the purchase. However, it was somewhat weak in content and would only be interesting to Top Chef fans. It felt as if Gail was given the opportunity to write a book and took the offer as if she wasn’t sure there would be another one. I can’t blame her as I probably would have done the same thing. Overall the book encompassed her road to Top Chef and many experiences while judging the show. It was a fun and simple book.
The final experience of the day was a interview with Michael Voltaggio and Nancy Silverton. Michael Voltaggio is the Season 6 winner of Top Chef and new co-author of, “Voltaggio Ink” with his brother Brian. Nancy Silverton is a long time and well respected chef and restaurant owner whose most recent restaurant Mozza has had wide success. The topics revolved around the food scene in Los Angeles and was fun and educational. Some subject they went into were the foie gras debate, LA’s perception of not being a “food town” and behind the scenes of writing their books.
Finally, the food trucks were off the hook. LA is definitely known for the craziest food trucks and they were definitely there representing.
Overall, I got a wicked burn but thoroughly enjoyed watching these TV personalities in the flesh.
(Below: Me (blonde hair) with Gail Simmons (out of focus). I look REALLY good in this photo don’t you think?)
(Below: Michael Voltaggio & Nancy Silverton during their interview)