Friday, March 29, 2013

Chinese Chicken Salad

I love Chinese Chicken Salad! I make a pretty darn good one too. Buy a bag of romaine and individually tear off the ribs. I hate biting into a salad with ribs in it. It takes a little while but very worth it. Slice up cooked chicken, I used breaded chicken strips. Add in wonton strips, I hand fried mine. Then mix in almonds and a small can of mandarian oranges. Toss with Girard's Chinese Dressing and you have yourself a party!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sushi Marina - Ventura, CA

I have driven by this restaurant for about three years without ever stopping. It is has been open, then closed, and it is now up and running again. The hardest thing about going to this place is the lack of parking out front. Plan to park in the structure or park on a side street and walk in. When I went in it was late lunch, I am sure it was getting close to prep hour for dinner and patrons had already come and went.

For starters I had the Spicy Tuna on a Fried Rice Cake. I thought this was outstanding. I loved the textural contrast of the crispy cake and then the smooth creaminess of the avocado and tuna. I would order this again.

This was supposed to be the Yuji Roll which was supposed to be shrimp tempura, crab, tuna and salmon wrapped in soy paper. I didn't think it came as the Yuji but possibly something else. Regardless, it was very tasty. 

The one problem I had with it though was the waitress didn't say a word to me from the second I sat down. She summoned my order by holding a ticket sheet and pen, plunked down my food and didn't reply a "your welcome" when I said, "thank you". Maybe I am just a little used to the happier sushi joints that chant out greetings upon entering?!  A little kindness goes a long way in the restaurant business. I paid my bill with cash, left a modest tip for her service and gathered my things.

I left with a sour taste in my mouth and it wasn't from the food.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Caffe Concerto - Los Angeles, CA

After I had my French Dip I decided I may need something sweet. After doing a review on the closest macaron in the area it took me to Korea Town. I was just traveling the countries via LA! Lol. I pulled in Cafe Concerto after driving street after street, advertising "The best Pho", "24 Hour Pho"... And a lot of stuff that I couldn't translate. 

I pulled up to Cafe Concerto and it was beautiful. The flavors I picked were: Lavender, Blueberry, Strawberry, two Pistachio and Vanilla Creme. They were all delightful! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Philippe The Original - Los Angeles, CA

I have always loved French Dips. Dipping in extra sides of au jus was my favorite. When I realized after dropping Scott off at the airport that I was only about 12 miles away from Philippe's - Home to the Original French Dip I was all in... I was directed through traffic in Chinatown, scoured a parking spot and made my way in...

There were six lines working and packed! Sawdust on the floor and cash in my hand I was ready.

I got a few extras in addition to my Double Dip Beef Dip. I got the chili straight, potato salad, a Wind and Sea Beer and my old stand by, Dr. Pepper. The beer was gross, one sip and I turned it away. The chili was smokey, not spicy. I wish there was more kick. The potato salad was marginal.

And how was the dip you ask? 

Well, it was ok. The au jus was not very flavorful and meat just ok. I really prefer to dip my own sandwich so I felt a little cheated the experience. I was not overwhelmed by flavor but I was thrilled to have made the journey, try a classic and explore Southern California.

It really was a special day!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Beaches, Burgers and Boys - Ventura, CA

Today was an excellent day for some afternoon sun! So why not catch in a few rays at the beach after a morning of chores at the ranch???...

Guess who got to come along for the ride... WILLY WEIS!

We couldn't forget Buster either... He likes the beach well enough but Willy, that dude, he really loves it. They chased each other, a ball and some other patrons but it was so fun to see them break loose from Upper Ojai.

Scott even brought me an umbrella, what a guy. My poor skin would be fried if I was out there without any kind of protection.

We attempted a family photo and called it good. I would say it came out quite nice!

Scott had been brag, brag, bragging about The Habit saying how much better it was than In-N-Out and then some. So he wanted to let me have a try to see if he was correct. The place was hopping. Ventura certainly must house many burger lovers!

I got the #1 The Charburger, fries and a drink. I loved my burger, it was cooked perfectly had a nice secret sauce, too much lettuce but I scooped it off and plenty of pickles. It rivals In-N-Out. The fries here are much better. So much so I think I will come back for the excellent fries themselves.

Scott ordered bacon on his burger. What was I thinking, not ordering the bacon?! I am trumped again by that darn Scott Good Taste... He has turned into an excellent foodie right before my very eyes. 

These are the afternoons that I will remember forever. 
Welcome to Southern California Springtime!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sicily By Gino - Ventura, CA

On Sunday after our horse show Scott and I had a nice date day. He surfed, we cruised Main Street and decided a bite to eat was in order. Right next to the movie theater there was outdoor seating, great looking Italian being served and prime grounds for people watching. Score! 

 Scott craved a beer and so he went for a Peroni to keep in theme. I thought some bubbly was in order to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine. The bread came out of the oven piping hot. It was made in house, points for them.

I ordered off the Special Menu and I cannot say I ordered what I was craving. Salmon with a creamy vodka sauce served with arugula. It was all fine but didn't leave me with that post carbohydrate glow.

Now this, this is what I wanted. Scott tempted me with a bite of Spaghetti Carbonara. The pancetta, parmesan and beaten eggs that make up this delicious creamsicle is what I was after. Scott Good Taste won another food battle...

Although we declined on desserts the owner did send complimentary shot glasses of port. It was a nice way to end our Italian meal. After we danced at Amigo's to a wonderful band named "Los Dudes" - bizarre name but killer tunes. We were still in the mood to stay out so we caught a movie. OZ. It wasn't so great, in fact it was painfully slow... 

What a wonderful day in Ojai, I am off to enjoy some more sunshine! Ciao...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Panolivio again... - Paso Robles, CA

I know, I know you are all probably saying... "You have already been there!" I have and it is good. When you stay in Paso Robles for weeks at a time you learn where to go dine where it is affordable and delicious. Panolivio is one of those places.

The Caesar Salad is one of better items on the menu. They can serve with anchovies or without. I prefer it with extra!

Kathy Good Taste ordered the Seafood Croustade because of her love for creamy wine sauces, puff pastry and seafood. This dish inspired her menu for an upcoming bridal shower she is hosting. Light, flaky and utterly delicious.

You know this is my order! I will never stray from this one. Perfection every time... Order the Salmon!

Cowboy Ron went with the beautifully striped Lobster Ravioli. Not too many to an order so be prepared if you are hungry. He was not so it was just perfect. 

The table shared Profiterolles and they were just enough.

I never leave this restaurant feeling cheated in my dining experience. It is moderate in price in comparison to other restaurants in the area with the same level of quality food. Always a two thumbs up from me.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Il Cortile - Paso Robles, CA

We had a very important celebratory meal this particular evening. Why you ask? Well, because Cowboy Ron had the ride of his life and was awarded Champion! He won a new shiny buckle, money and all the fame he deserves! Drinking fine wine with a champion is a pretty great way to spend an evening. This particular wine was new to me and worth an online order!

These seared scallops were served on a bed of celery root puree and finished with a yellow tomato, caper, basil sauce. I wish I ordered another plate of this for my entree. Delicious!

Buratta and prosciutto - Who could possibly go wrong with this? 

The pan roasted quail was delicious, however it is the sweet wine reduction that really makes this dish sing!

I had the fish special - Sea Bas and Vegetable Risotto. For once in my life I was disappointed in ordering the fish. I wish I went out of the box on this one. Nothing was bad per se, it just didn't leave me feeling satisfied.

The boys ordered the Osso Bucco and I was jealous. Very jealous. The tender meat, saucy gravy and creamy risotto were making me want to stomp my feet like a little kid green with envy. I took one bite and declared I would never make the same mistake again.

The panna cotta made me feel a little bit better after my order slip up. I just love anything custard!

Well, here we are the: Three Amigos. Horse show after horse show we remain the best of friends, congratulating each other on great runs and cheering up the other when things don't go our way. It is a special friendship that I am so fortunate to have.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Firestone Tap Room - Paso Robles, CA

How many times have you driven passed the Firestone Tap Room off Highway 101 in Paso Robles? We have many times. So many in fact it finally stuck with Scott this trip and we decided to have diner there on Tuesday night. It looks really cool and industrial inside. 

Hey! There we are. Happy and ready try the best Firestone Brewing has to offer!

Krissi and Kat too.

I had the Double Barrel Ale and it was fantastic. Probably better out of the tap than the bottle. I have had it both ways and this is my favorite.

The menu - full of all fine sounding things.

Did you say Crab Cake? I said, "Yes, please." You know me, I have to try every cake available and this one didn't light my fire. I am not going to lie, I did eat the whole thing because I was starving but it just wasn't one of my all time favorites.

Scott and the girls had the Onion Rings and boy were they battered! Almost too much batter and not enough seasoning. They were left underwhelmed.

Fish and Chips are my standard so of course I got those too. I was really looking forward to these because they were made with halibut. Unfortunately, the batter wasn't cooked all the way through and it was doughy in the middle. It really bummed me out because I am rarely disappointed when I go the deep fried route. Although, I must say the fries were outstanding and the cole slaw was lovely.

The rest of the table ordered the Fish Tacos and it pains me to say that no one enjoyed it. It looked delicious but they just said there was no flavor. They were craving all things saucy and it just didn't deliver to their standards. 

Were we totally disappointed?  Yes and no. I was happy to review somewhere new but the food didn't seem to blow me out of the water. The beer was good, the space was cool and it was a nice to try somewhere new. Cheers!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

OMG - Ojai, CA

The night before we left for the Pacific Coast Cutting Horse Association's Winter Round Up Scott decided to take his favorite girl out on a date. We went to the Osteria Monte Grappa and ordered house Chianti. It was nice, nice and Italian.

Scott surprised me and ordered the Radicchio Salad. What did not surprise me was that it wasn't very good. He claimed lack of dressing, I blame the radicchio. 

I had the Burrata and Arugula with strawberries and avocado. It was lovely. Strawberries not so much in season, but a taste as to what is to come this summer!

Scallops and Risotto for me! The amount of risotto was just crazy, way too large of a serving but maybe they just wanted me to leave totally satisfied! The scallops were cooked nicely, with a hard sear.

Scott ordered the Vegetable Spaghetti and it was content. It was exactly what I was craving and he left feeling perfectly full.

This was just a nice evening in our busy little town. Ojai has become quite the hub for dining, shopping and sight seeing? Have you ever been? What do you know about Ojai?