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Showing posts from February, 2019

San Diego: Bencotto

A midday flight gave me the perfect chance to visit San Diego's Little Italy. Bencotto was recommended to me and turned out to be a superb choice. The food was outstanding and the service was extremely gracious. My server explained that the black pasta with shrimp was a signature dish. The fresh pasta had a perfect texture and delicate taste. The shrimp were very fresh and highlighted by the cheese. This dish hit the perfect medium between comfort and excitement.

La Jolla CA: Dinner at A. R. Valintien

I enjoyed an excellent seafood dinner at A. R. Valentien. My meal started with this amuse bouche of butternut squash. My soup was rich and nicely balanced between savoriness with a touch of sweetness. The aged balsamic vinegar highlighted the flavors. My main course was sturgeon. As my server pointed out, this is a fish that one doesn't see every day. The fish itself was flavorful without being overwhelming. The preparation was superb.

UCSD: The Bistro at the Strand

My friends and I retired to one of the student eateries on the UCSD campus for a quick lunch and conversation. My tofu was exactly what I wanted: protein with good texture, some veggies, beans and rice to complement. We also enjoyed these tender edamame.

La Jolla CA: Breakfast at A. R. Valintien

A. R. Valintien is the restaurant at the Lodge at Torrey Pines. I got up early to enjoy my breakfast. My French omelette was classically styled and very nicely executed. The potatoes were wonderful with a buttery soft interior. The toast was crunchy and went very nicely with preserves.

Hermosa Beach CA: Abigaile

Hermosa Beach is a bedroom community snuggled on the Southern California beach. Our group headed to Abigaile for discussion and food. Some fun loaded fries, complete with tater tots for the full effect. Very nice fried chicken sliders. My schnitzel didn't make it onto the photo list but it was very nicely executed, both crunchy and tender.

Redondo Beach CA: Hopdoody

Our meeting took a break for lunch at Hopdoody, located on the Pacific Coast Highway in Redondo Beach. The theme is customized burgers. I seem to have been too hungry to grab a photo of my order, but it was a basic burger served protein style. The result was satisfyingly meaty. The lettuce wrap presentation was also done nicely.

LAX: Social at the Marriott

My trip coincided with a visit to Catherine and daughter to Gallifrey One, the big Doctor Who convention. This sign certainly confirmed that I was at the right place. Social is the hotel's nice casual restaurant. My prime rib was workmanlike but it did satisfy my protein hunger. The asparagus was nicely cooked. Catherine really enjoyed her Korean-style tacos.

Doraville: El Quetzal

I enjoyed my dinner at El Quetzal, a Guatemalan restaurant located in a quiet industrial district of Doraville. The family-run restaurant was friendly and welcoming and the food was tasty. Chicken fajitas provided my protein fix. The meat was tasty and plentiful. I just tasted the tortillas but they were fresh and soft. I also caught a glimpse of this spectacular fish.

Los Angeles: The Palm

I was in the mood for a steak so I headed to The Palm. Their LA location is very near the Staples Center. The service was truly superb: my waiter was wonderful; the maitre'd went out of his way to get me a cab for my trip back. My meal started with very nice bread. My steak was wonderfully cooked to medium rare, thick and meaty. My creamed spinach was the best I've had in quite some time. The cream highlighted the spinach without overwhelming it, which isn't always the case. I finished my meal with some fruit, just the right amount of sweetness to chase all that protein.

Los Angeles: Carmen Cantina

I enjoyed a great Chile burger at Carmen Cantina. The beef is wagyu and is laced with jalapeno peppers. The result was both juicy and with a nice kick of heat. The jalapenos were very nicely balanced with the beef. The fries were great, too. I ordered my burger protein style but the standard delivery is on a rich brioche bun.

Los Angeles: Water Grill

Water Grill has been a presence in downtown Los Angeles for twenty years. I enjoyed a superb dinner there. The space is one of those rooms that is halfway above the sidewalk, providing a comforting sense of coziness. The staff was extremely gracious. This superb bread got me started. My sea bass was perfectly cooked. The flesh was tender and very moist with a perfect texture. I carefully ate my fish to be sure I savored every bite.

Los Angeles: Pez Cantina

Pez is a lively lunch spot in downtown Los Angeles---a video crew was leaving as we entered. This is my Caesar salad with falafel that have been enhanced with nuts and some very nice spices. This was a healthy lunch that kept me going through the afternoon.

Los Angeles: Breakfast at Smeraldi

I enjoyed two breakfasts at Smeraldi, the breakfast spot at the Millenium Biltmore. The hotel has a long, elegant history and the restaurant reflects that heritage. The restaurant does provide a menu but the breakfast buffet seems like the smart choice. The omelet chef prepared me a very nice veggie omelet on both mornings. The fruit was fresh, firm, and flavorful. I enjoyed the yogurt with granola as well. Service was a bit scattered on my first morning but came up to speed by the time I was done. The second morning was very pleasurable. As I left, the maitre'd greeted me by name---these folks do their homework.

Los Angeles: McConnell's Ice Cream

I managed a quick visit to downtown LA's Grand Central Market, a historic facility that has been rejuvenated by a number of innovative vendors. McConnell's caught my attention as a great place for a treat. The single consists of two small scoops. I selected chocolate and coffee. This is superb ice cream with perfect flavors wrapped around a creamy base. Mmmmm, chocolate and coffee...

Los Angeles: Langer's Deli

Langer's is famous for it's pastrami. I managed to make it to the counter just before the restaurant closed at 4 PM. The decor is classic 1970's although the restaurant itself is much older. I enjoyed the cole slaw: slightly sweet and moderately crunchy. Here is my sandwich. The pastrami itself was flavorful and tender. I was a little disappointed in the rye bread. Although the center was tender, the crust was tough. Overall, a very good sandwich and I'm glad I made it to last call.

BWI: The Greene Turtle

I have found The Greene Turtle to be a reliable dinner spot at BWI. This time, I ordered soup and salad. The crab soup was hearty and appropriately crabby. The salad, which didn't make it into the photo, was small which turned out to be exactly the right size for me. The salad ingredients were very fresh and perky.

Pit Beef At The Canopy

After so many trips to Maryland, I finally realized that the suburbs have their own pit beef outposts. This Baltimore specialty has stayed very close to home, unlike some specialties like cheesesteaks. But food often travels with people as they move from the city to the suburbs. The Canopy was an excellent choice for my first sampling of this wonderful sandwich. The proprietor was very friendly and explained that they have been in business for over 30 years. The place is small. Most of the business is takeout but they do have a small counter. I ordered the classic pit beef sandwich with rare, thinly sliced beef. I followed the owner's suggestion on topping: horseradish, the homemade BBQ sauce, and sliced onion. That combination was excellent: a bit of sweetness, a touch of heat, just enough sauce to keep things moving. The beef itself was tender and juicy. The bun was just right---it provided both support and a bit of carbohydrate but didn't overwhelm the star …

Sykesville MD: French Twist Cafe

French Twist Cafe provided the perfect spot for a good breakfast, fortifying coffee, and space for morning work. It is located in a quaint two-story house in downtown Sykesville; upstairs is the spot to go for tables. As you can see, their two-barreled crepe stand would be a proud part of many a French crepe purveyor. I ordered two crepes. This is my savory Breton crepe with cheese, buckwheat, and a touch of black pepper. Superb! And this is my mandantory Nutella and banana crepe. Wonderfully sweet and satisfying.

Milu's Lamb Curry

My friend Milu made a delicious lamb curry using a simple Instant Pot pressure cooking technique. She started by browning the meat. Next, the potatoes and some chicken stock went into the pot for a round of pressure cooking. Next, the larger vegetables were pressure cooked for a few minutes. The smaller vegetables didn't receive any pressure cooking time, just a few minutes cooking time at room pressure. The result was delicious. The vegetables were perfectly cooked: soft and tender but full of flavor and just the right amount of texture.

College Park MD: Hanami Japanese Restaurant

Hanami, across from the University of Maryland campus, provided the perfect spot for our lunch meeting. The quite atmosphere was very conducive to discussion. My sushi lunch was very enjoyable. It featured many of the greatest hits, including my favorite tuna and salmon. We also had a chance to try dessert. This lava cake featured lava mainly on top but it was quite tasty.