Saturday, August 23, 2014

La Brea Tar Pits, Beverley Hills, Hollywood and Caffe Primo


Our Los Angeles hotel was near a Starbucks.  Our branch of Starbucks was hidden inside an office building, and on weekday afternoons, sold half price frappes from 3pm to 5pm.  Tim and I felt like aliens buying ordinary coffees, as frappes were clearly the drinks du jour.  The office workers snapping up the frappes looked as though they worked at a trendy IT company or similar, so we felt pretty daggy in our T-shirts and jeans in that crowd.

We also headed for Starbucks for breakfast.  I bought the gorgeous slice of raspberry yoghurt loaf at the top of this post as a takeaway treat for later.  It tasted as good as it looked - a rare thing with bought cake.

I started off with a raspberry lemonade iced tea that I remembered from my last visit:

and supplemented it with a yoghurt and granola with blueberries:

Tim had this cheese, spinach and sun-dried tomato panini:

After breakfast, we joined our coach for a city tour of LA.  I saw this cool Chihuahua mural on the side of a building:

and this garden of lamp posts, which has apparently appeared in heaps of movies, but I've never seen it:

Our first stop was at La Brea Tar Pits:

Never fear, the elephant is not real.  However, it is rather creepy thinking about all the creatures (including people) that have drowned in the murky depths of those thick black tar pits.

Here is a little plaque explaining how the tar pits came to be gifted to the people of LA:

There are statues all over Hancock Park of animals that drowned in the tar pits:

Next stop was The Farmers Market in West Hollywood:

before continuing our journey to Beverley Hills (that's Dennis's arm in the shot): 

There were no swimming pools or movie stars, but there were lots of famous streets and places:

Pretty Woman anyone?

Or Norma Desmond?

We then cruised into Hollywood:

We visited Grauman's Chinese Theatre:

Here's Gregory Peck's hand and feet prints (I adore Atticus Finch) in the concrete outside the theatre:

And nearby is the Hollywood Walk of Fame:

Across the road is the famous Roosevelt Hotel:

Tim and I then went on an optional Movie Stars Homes tour - you can't not do something touristy and tacky.   Our bus driver was a lady who drove at top speed, up hill and down dale, round winding bends and through thick traffic, and all the while taking non-stop.  It was a wild ride!

Among many, many other things, we went past the infamous Chateau Marmont:

and got a fantastic view of the Hollywood sign:

and saw Mulholland Drive:

That night for dinner, Tim and I went to Caffe Primo in downtown LA:

I ordered the turkey meatloaf with brown rice and kale, a bargain at $10:

It was pretty tasty.  For dessert, Tim and I shared this lovely slice of tart:

and I finished off with a latte ($3.50):

It was a perfect end to a perfect day.

612 S Flower St, Suite 103
Los Angeles CA 90017
United States
Ph: +1 213 895 5012

Friday, August 22, 2014

FFWD - Couscous Salad (Winter Stylee)

French Friday with Dorie this week leads us to another colourful side dish - a Couscous Salad. 

Now being winter here, I don't want anything cold/room temperature/ raw, so I cooked all of the vegetables for this salad - they were meant to be raw, but that did not appeal to me.  I halved the couscous and left everything else as per the recipe, so if you think there are lots of veges, there are.  I substituted red pepper for roasted red pepper from last week, and served the couscous as a side with Donna Hay's Balsamic Chicken.

Overall, this was delish.  I was glad, though, that I halved the quantity of couscous as I had stacks as it was.

To see what the other Doristas thought of this dish, visit the LYL section of the website.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Honey Cafe, South Yarra

On Saturday, I had ventured outside of my usual field to get my hair cut, and decided that as I was already in South Yarra, I would go to the movies at Palace Como to see The Hundred Foot Journey.  This is a foodie film starring Helen Mirren, and is a pleasant enough affair with no surprises.

As the movie was screening at lunchtime, I decided to do an early lunch before the movie.  Handily, I spied Honey Café on the same level as Palace Como in the Como Centre.  I was attracted to it, not just by the ultra handy location, but also by the gorgeous yellow interior with a beautiful flower mural:

Honey has a fixed menu, but the glass case at the counter contains a luscious array of daily specials:

I chose the tuna nicoise wrap ($11.50) from the glass case:

The gorgeous yellow yolk from the boiled egg in the wrap sold me on this option.  Just like a salad nicoise, the tuna nicoise wrap contained tuna, boiled egg, green beans and salad leaves.  It was delicious, and certainly filled me up.

I ordered a skinny flat white to go with my meal, which was served in a beautiful blue cup:

There was a tempting array of slices in the glass case, all only $3.50. 

The service was friendly and attentive, with the food coming out promptly and my water glass refilled without a word from me.

My experience at Honey Café was very positive - I would go again.

Como Centre
Level 2, Shop 9
299 Toorak Rd,
South Yarra 3141
Ph: 03 9826 2323 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WWDH - Flourless Date and Walnut Cake with Butterscotch Toffee Icing

Sarah has chosen Donna's Flourless Date and Walnut Cake with Butterscotch Toffee Icing for this week's Wednesday with Donna Hay.

This is a massive cake, but easy to make.   As it uses around 500g of walnuts and 6 eggs, it is not cheap to make, but was nice to make once.

The icing turned out more like a caramel sauce than the icing accompanying the recipe on Donna's site:

It will be interesting to see if everyone else had the same experience.  I also found that it took me much longer to get the desired golden colour in the sugar and water mixture than suggested  in the recipe; I assume that is where I had to get to from previous experience, as the recipe talks about time and temperature rather than appearance.

The finished cake is very much like sticky date pudding in a cake form - the walnut meal makes it crunchy rather than spongy in texture. 

To see what Sarah, Margaret and Chaya thought of this cake, visit their websites.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Light Ginger Fruit Cake

Do you like ginger?  I adore ginger in most formats - the only ginger I am not keen on is pickled ginger from sushi shops.

I have bought all kinds of curious ginger products as a result of my ginger worship, including most recently ginger syrup that I put on porridge and icecream.

A few years ago, I bought two bottles of Rochester's non-alcoholic ginger drink from the Good Food and Wine Show. There was a deal on if you bought two; the problem was, I have had trouble using my ginger drinks up, as the flavour is not as smooth as the ginger syrup, and hence I am not that fond of drinking it.

However, when I saw The Caked Crusader's Light Ginger Fruit Cake recipe, using ginger wine, I knew exactly what I would use some of my Rochester ginger drink for - to make this lovely cake.
TCC says that you can use 200ml of ginger wine for a spongy cake or 400ml for a pudding-y cake.  There was no debate here - it was pudding-y all the way!
I swapped around the quantities of raisins and sultanas because that is what I had.  The fruit soaks overnight in the ginger drink, which plumps up the fruit and makes the cake moist.
Doesn't it look devine:
And it tasted as good as it looks.  This cake is a keeper - I'd definitely make it again.  TCC suggests you really can eat it like pudding with cream and icecream, but I loved this cake just as it was, with no adornment.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Santa Monica, George's Bistro and the End of Route 66

The end of Route 66 is in Santa Monica.  Our coach group was going on an optional dinner excursion to Bubba Gump at Santa Monica Pier and for a squiz at the end of Route 66.  While Bubba Gump did not appeal to us, we were keen to see the end of Route 66 to finish our journey on The Mother Road.

We drove into Santa Monica on the coach on a balmy spring evening: 

and posed by the plaque dedicated to the Will Rogers Highway, officially the end of Route 66:

Here is a lovely shot of Santa Monica Pier from the park:

Tim and I left our tour group and strolled into town for dinner:

and scoured the Third Street Promenade for venues.  I liked these huge topiary dinosaurs on the Promenade: 

After a quick stop at Anthropologie for me to buy a pretty plate (love!), we decided on George's Bistro for dinner.  I am not sure what theme George's was going for with their interior, but it was interesting  - enchanted forest perhaps:

I started off with a glass of Californian Zinfandel:

We were provided with some  garden variety garlic bread:

to go with our starters, which in my case was spicy tomato soup:

For main, I ordered jambalaya - I am not sure if this version is very traditional, but it was tasty and not too hot:

Our waiter was very attentive, and caught our attention with his New York accent in California.  We liked our George's experience.

After dinner, we strolled back to Santa Monica Pier, where we were to meet up with our tour group for the ride home:

All in all, it was a lovely evening, and brought closure to our Route 66 adventure.

George's Bistro
1321 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
United States
Ph: +1 310 451 0436