A few weeks ago, I saw this rose tea at the middle eastern kosher market down the street from my house in Los Angeles. After learning that a dear friend LOVES rose tea, I decided to pick up a box for her birthday the following week. The box said “rose chai,” but knowing that “chai” in many cultures is just a word for tea, I figured it would be a plain rose petal only (herbal) tea. When I went to visit my friend for her birthday and drop off her tea, we brewed a pot together and found it’s actually a blend of India black assam tea, rose hips, cinnamon, and coconut. Perfectly blended, not at all bitter, with just a hint of sweetness. In fact, it was sooooooo good, I went to pick up a box for myself the next day!
As a happy accident, when I brewed myself a pot, later that week, I had some left over and thought to chill it. Then, I remembered that I had some fresh lemons in the fridge from a Kristen’s yard. Woot! That’s when the idea struck! “Rose tea Arnold Palmers? I wonder how that would be.”
Um. The answer is AMAZING!!!! It’s so light, refreshing and just a little bit sweet. And a nice way to thin out the home made lemonade, which though very tasty, is a bit too syrupy sweet for me to drink on it’s own. SO, for your BBQs this weekend, try something new for a light afternoon refreshment or pairing with dessert.
For the home made lemonade:
Add equal parts lemon juice and sugar (so, if you end up with one cup of lemon juice, use one cup of sugar) in a quart sized pitcher.
From there, add 4 times the amount of water (so again, with one cup sugar, use 4 cups of water).
Mix well and serve chilled over ice!
This proportion is still a LITTLE sweet for my taste, but is perfect for mixing with other things like sparkling water or iced tea.
For the rose tea, visit your nearest middle eastern market (or Amazon). Brew on the stronger side so that you can still taste it when it’s paired with the lemonade. The brand I used (in the picture) is Wissotzsky. For this tea, I can brew about 12 ounces per tea bag, and it’s still strong enough to use in an Arnold Palmer.
Remove the tea bags after steeping and refrigerate the tea until you’re ready to serve it (plain over ice, or mixed with the lemonade).
Now, while I have access to so many free, good quality lemons, I want to try making ALLLLLL kinds of Arnold Palmers. Maybe I’ll do earl grey next!
Happy Memorial Day everyone! Be safe!
Today will be nice and easy! With the holiday weekend coming up, I thought I would share a quick and easy recipe that makes a great snack/appetizer for a BBQ (or inside picnic). Baked Zucchini fries!
It’s my absolute FAVORITE food time of year in Los Angeles. Winter Dine LA (which IMHO is superior to the summer version). There are more participants, more menu offerings and more options per course. Or at least that’s how it seems to me. I haven’t done any actual numerical research. But I do generally find that I am much happier with my January dining choices (and yes, there are many vendors who only participate in Winter).
Below are my top picks for this go-round, including a peak of my first dinner, from last night at Upper West.
3 courses (including dessert!)/ $40 dinner/Santa Monica
Could you be excited to eat the $20 lunch menu at Upper West during Dine LA? Sure. But you’d be missing out if you skipped DINNER!
I went last night, and am prepared to say confidently that THIS dinner tops my list of ALL the DINE LA meals I have had in the past 3 years. Yup. My boyfriend who was with me agrees that this was an exceptional meal! This is also a good time to remind you to do DINE LA with a friend or significant other. Aside from the fact that food is a great bonding experience, it also lets you pick more options per course if you’re a good food sharer—so you can try more things! See, totally practical.
What do you need to get here? Hands down the Coffee Crusted Kurobuta Pork Tenderloin. This is one of the top meat dishes I’ve ever had. In my life! I was completely taken by surprise–this is definitely the ‘dark horse’ candidate that came up and bit me from behind (and I’m glad that it did!). We also shared the Short Rib, which is would certainly eat again. It’s just that the pork, with the apple and jalepeno chutney and the goat cheese potatoes (which were not recognizable as anything but a magical pile of some secret side dish from another dimension) is the perfect flavor combo. Seriously. You NEED this.
We also had the lamb crepes (good, but a little too gamey tasting on the lamb) the burrata salad (solid!), and shared the carrot cake ice cream sandwich (do yourself a favor and get this one!) and the bread pudding (one of my top 3 bread puddings ever). All around, great choices for each course, and one of the most satisfying meals I’ve ever had (in case you didn’t get that before). The service was superb, and I can’t wait to go back. I think Upper West may now officially have taken the place of Baco Mercat as my current favorite spot in Los Angeles. Apologies for the poor photo quality, but it was kinda dark in there and I since I’ve just scooped Andy up, I don’t want to freak him out too badly yet by making him light my foodie shoots with his phone flashlight. That will have to wait til at least Dine LA date #2.
I also learned while I was there that they have Happy Hour daily, and all night on Mondays! Plus a prix fix menu option every Weds night $36 for 3 courses. Well worth it!
3 Courses (including dessert)/$25 lunch/$50 dinner/Downtown
After being blown away at the opening of Terrine LA , I can’t WAIT to finally get over to Faith & Flower (same owners). And for those on a more modest budget the $25 lunch offering (also 3 courses) looks very promising as well. If you can get over there for lunch (or ‘mysteriously disappear’ from work for a ‘work lunch’) I would highly recommend this place. Haven’t been yet, but have heard nothing but amazing reviews from all my favorite foodie friends.
Da Pasquale Trattoria (Italian)
3 Courses (including dessert)/$30 dinner/Beverly Hills
I’ve been here before and I would gladly go again! The most authentic Italian food (and atmosphere) I’ve experienced outside of Italy! Make sure you make a reservation! Once they are seated for the evening (as per usual in Italy) you are expected to enjoy your evening, and they don’t turn tables over much. Once you’re there for dinner, you’re free to stay for the evening and enjoy the food and conversation. Well worth it! Add a glass of their Pinot Noir or a Tuscan Red for about $10.
Mud Hen Tavern (American)
3 Courses (including desser)/$25 lunch/$30 dinner/Hollywood
Though I wasn’t necessarily a huge fan of Susan Feniger’s STREET, the offerings at Mud Hen Tavern are more up my alley (and more diverse as far as options). Might have to go for lunch AND dinner so I can sample the lemon poppyseed pancakes AND Wood Roasted Pork with Biscuit.
3 Courses (including dessert)/$30 dinner/Downtown
This spot has been on my list for a while. While their Tikka Masala Tacos are not currently on the menu (they have been swapped out for Tikka Masala Poutine—everyone is doing poutine now, apparently)—but I love Indian food, and I still want eat here anyways.
Go forth and tell me what is GOOD people. I’m counting on you to help me cover all these spots (and others that I have yet to cross off my list!)
This is a post to honor my dear friend (and fellow ice cream lover!) Victoria–who just moved to Montreal a few months ago for an awesome new Producing job in Animation.
The last time we hung out while she was still in LA, we went to McConnell’s Fine Ice Cream. Holy Cow. It was amazing.
For one thing, I had never been to Grand Central Market in Downtown LA before…WHERE HAVE I BEEN???!!!!
This place is amazing! Feels a lot more like an outdoor market in Seattle or San Francisco. Very fun, and lots of variety. I’d seen random posts and videos by other foodie friends about McConnell’s the previous week, and so Vicky and I decided to go check it out before she left town.
The folks who work there are patient and let you taste everything (we did, I think, taste everything…) And this is what I ended up with…
That is 2 scoops of CHURRO ice cream, one scoop of Sweet Cream and one scoop of Marionberry with Lemon. Um, yes. That is correct. You need to go here and try this -ish out! Though the ‘double scoop’ pictured here is really 4 SCOOPS ( each full ‘scoop’ is 2 scoops). And they make their ice cream with like 800% butterfat or some other such nonsense, so it’s quite filling. Next time I will get the flight which is 3 ‘half scoops’ (ie: slightly smaller than regular full scoops) instead.
All the flavors were great, but the carmely-chunky-chewy Churro ice cream was definitely my favorite.
We had a lovely visit, and I’m sad to say my friend is now living somewhere where the outside world probably feels a lot like the inside of one of these scoops of Churro ice cream. Come back to LA soon Vicky!!!
Okay, okay….it’s a bit delayed (again!)—but here is my review for the one spot I managed to hit for DINE LA a couple of weeks ago.
Open Sesame is a lovely spot in the Melrose neighborhood, and lots of neighborhood street parking before 6pm! The portions were huge, the spices – divine, and the ambiance is so SO lovely!
I certainly recommend it if it’s on Dine LA the next round.
For more looks at the food and my thoughts, check out my Tastemade Video review!
Another great dining experience from my DINE LA excursions last July. Taste on Melrose.
Truly a delightful meal with so many flavors and textures! The mac and cheese was ok. But the lamb burger with pickled onion and the lemon pot de creme with blueberry compote were EXTRAORDINARY!
I went to catch up with my dear friend Susie (the non-compliant vegan) and she said the seared Ahi sandwich was also lovely!
Sadly, noneof those options are available this time around – BUT for $20 this spot gives you more choices in that you get 2 of 3 courses (appetizer, main and/or dessert). For dinner, pay $35, get additional options per course and try one of each of the 3 courses! Not too shabby! Parking can be ugly, but hit lunch during the week and it’s not so bad. Make sure you look at street cleaning signs though, lots of parking in the area is limited to only an hour or so!
The good thing about the same foods not being available? All NEW foods to try! WIN!
And go with a friend! A good excuse to try new foods and catch up! Here’s one of my favorite people Sues, modeling her peach poundcake. Delicious!
Da Pasquale Trattoria is one of my favorite Dine LA experiences yet! I hit the dinner special (only $25 for 3 courses!) last July and was SO glad I did. I must admit, I had more than a little apprehension going to an Italian restaurant in Beverly Hills. But the reviews were so great, they peaked my curiosity.
The food, atmosphere and staff are the most authentically Italian that I have experienced outside of Italy. One of the few places outside of Europe where, if you take less than 2 hours for dinner, the staff might think that you dislike the food/service. The entire place is SO welcoming and the food is exquisite! And the glass of Tuscan red I had (a simple house favorite) was one of the best I have ever tasted. And I HAD to snap a picture of the specials that were hand written by out waitress. AH! A simple bit of art. I love looking at handwriting samples. Especially when the words relate to food!
Truly outstanding dining experience! Go and relax with a friend–and prepare to experience what REAL dining was always meant to be! Since they let you take your time, they don’t have as many dinner openings as other places that turn their tables over quickly. So make a reservation ahead of time and you’ll be set! We made a reservation same day and had no problem!
I am so excited! It’s DINE LA, the summer edition from July 14-27, 2014 .
Below are my ‘hit lists’ for lunch and dinner. These are new-to-me restaurants that I have not been to before, where the YELP reviews are good (4 stars or higher), and they have multiple dish choices per course (and multiple courses!)
Badmaash Indian Gastropub/ Downtown
I am obsessed with Indian food right now! The luxurious spices and flavors?! What a great time to try out a new place. And any Indian spot with a lunch special for Dine LA? Sign me up!
Vinoteque on Melrose/Melrose
Now THESE menu choices look fancy! I love variety and artisanal food pairings. Drool.
$20/3 small bite courses
La Vecchia Cucina/Santa Monica
Ooooh! Lots of options at this Italian restaurant! Makes up for only being 2 courses.
Ciboteca/ Santa Monica
Italian Panini Sandwiches, a salad, dessert and a drink? Bellissima!
$15/ 3 courses and non-alcoholic drink included!
This was on my lunch hit-list last year and I didn’t get to try it out. Definitely want to taste their sandwich/salad, side and dessert this time around!
$15/3 courses and a non-alcoholic drink included!
Open Sesame Grill/Beverly
My friend Tina has recommended this spot a couple of times. Dine LA might be the perfect time to hit up this middle eastern grill.
Pono Burger/Santa Monica
Have been hearing GREAT things about Pono Burger over the past few weeks! In my continued quest to find the best burger in town, I think I might have to try this out!
$15/2 courses OR go for DINNER and get 4 courses for $25 including a speciality milkshake!
Faith and Flower/Downtown
Lemongrass Pot De Creme? Yes, please! This lunch spot doesn’t have as many options per course, but I can’t get past this dessert! Gotta try it!
Not necessarily the most offerings per course, but the choices they do have look thoughtful and tasty!
Upper West/Santa Monica
I will be having the carrot cake ice cream sandwich (butterscotch carrot cake with cream cheese ice cream?! Shut up!)…possibly for all 3 courses, if they’ll let me.
This Mediterranean spot looks delicious and includes a variety of options (including delectable desserts!).
Heather has been telling me for weeks that this is her favorite Italian place in LA. Can’t wait to try it! I think I’ll go for dinner since there are more options in each course, and dinner includes dessert (one extra course for $10)!
Vinoteque on Melrose/Melrose
Lamb meat balls with marinara and goat cheese? Just one possibility during your 5 course small plates meal!
$35/5 small plate courses
Since I’ve done such a TERRIBLE job of tracking my Dine LA adventures the last 2 years (at least as far as posting pictures and reviews of the things I actually ATE), I will be posting photos and brief entries over the next 2 weeks of places I’ve visited in the past that were amazing, and that are currently available for Dine LA this time around.