Category Archives: Food

Books Food Food Finds Gift Guides Inspiration Style

Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Moms are so important in the world and they do so much each and everyday. If you ask me, I think they should be celebrated year round. So with Mother’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be nice to share some of my favorite gifts for my own mom and all the special motherly figures in my life.

  1. Sometimes the nicest gifts aren’t gifts at all. But rather words from the heart on a pretty little pink and gilded gold card.
  2. Since Mom’s do so much for everyone else, encourage her to take some time for herself and relax with a luxurious bubble bath, candles and all.
  3. These floral mosaic loungers will make any woman feel stylish even when she’s just getting comfortable at home.
  4. As kids, we’ve all been caught with our hands in the cookie jar, now it’s Mom’s turn with this adorable porcelain Gnome jar.
  5. Show her how much she’s impacted your life by inserting a personal page about her inside this book of wise women.
  6. This Neapolitan coffee maker will turn her early morning pick me up into an Italian morning ritual.
  7. If you can’t afford to send her off to Paris just yet, bring Paris to her with my personal favorite, French Macarons. Bake them yourself or order them online at a few of my favorite local and international patisseries: [Ladurée (Paris), Pierre Hermé (Paris), Duverger (The States), Sparkles Macaron (California)]
  8. For the lady who loves to entertain, these beautiful Moroccan styled tea glasses will make any drink classy.
  9. Splurge on her with this 18k gold ‘mom’ charm and pink quartz necklace from my jewelry line, Mei Elizabeth, that shows her exactly who she is to you. Add a personal touch and customize it with her birthstone or that of you and your siblings.
Food Food & Entertaining Health Recipe Remix

Recipe Remix: Warm Asparagus & Coconut Rice Salad with Spinach & Mint Pistou

I’m an avid believer that the key to success in any situation is to be inspired by your surroundings, to be able to think on your feet and to improvise. Hence my tendency to look at a recipe as more of a convenient advice column rather than a concrete instruction manual. I hardly ever follow a recipe to a tee because as a businesswoman and working professional, for the sake of time, I tend to substitute certain ingredients and cook with what I have on hand rather than make specific trips to the market just for one particular ingredient.

So when I came across this perfect recipe for a light and fresh Spring meal from Sprouted Kitchen, but failed to have at least half the ingredients within a fifty foot radius, I decided to improvise and freewheel it. And to my surprise, I turned something utterly French into something deliciously Thai inspired and beyond satisfying. Sometimes the most successful dishes are the accidentally inspired ones.

WARM ASPARAGUS & COCONUT RICE SALAD WITH SPINACH & MINT PISTOU

Serves 4

Recipe adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

I used coconut rice instead of the suggested brown rice to give it some extra fragrance, richness and depth to the citrus. Any variety of rice and beans are fine. Cooking times will vary. To save yourself time, you may purchase pre cooked frozen rice or at your local Chinese or Thai takeout. Also, the beans provide enough protein that this dish can be served as either a main or a side dish.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups cooked jasmine coconut rice (easy recipe at She Simmers)
1 ¼ cup cooked cannellini beans (or any other bean you’d prefer: lentils, chickpeas, edamame, etc.)
1 lb. asparagus
½ cup roughly chopped, fresh flat leaf parsley

SPINACH & MINT PISTOU

4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. sea salt
½ cup raw walnut pieces
¼ cup raw almonds
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about one lemon)
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

1. In a food processor or blender (preferably a VitaMix), add all pistou ingredients and pulse a few times until everything is coarsely combined. Don’t over do it or else you’ll be left with a thick paste rather than a chunky pistou.
2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut the asparagus spears on a diagonal, about one inch pieces. Add them to the boiling water for about 1.5 minutes. Prepare another bowl of ice water. Remove and add the asparagus to the ice water bath to set their color. After a few minutes, drain completely.
3. Prepare the coconut rice and cannellini beans according to instructions. If using canned cannellini beans, be sure to rinse with cold water. While rice is warm, mix them together in a large bowl. Add the asparagus and a few big dollops of the pistou (amount based on personal preference), and fold gently to coat everything in the sauce. Garnish with fresh flat leaf parsley and mint.

Food Food & Entertaining Health Recipe Remix

Recipe Remix: Spring Vegetable and Buffalo Ragù Pasta with Pecorino Cheese + My Inner Little Old Italian Lady

My mom and I have what many typical mothers and daughters have, a love hate relationship. Don’t get me wrong. I love my mom to death and admire her to the ends of the earth. She is the strongest woman that I know. Correction. That I will ever know. I take her and my dad to dinner every week and there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for that woman, nor her for me. But there are some days when I just wish she would tone down the ancient Chinese tradition of tough love, better known to her as “putting your children down so they can grow thicker skin and build themselves back up.” Interpreted by her children as “Mom, why do you hate me so much!”

So as a child (and intermittently as an adult), I always had this fantasy of having an overly affectionate and sensitive June Cleaver-type mom who would bake cookies for me after school and tell me she loved me at the end of every sing-songy conversation we had. Or even better yet, a nice plump little Italian mama who would cook pasta and sauce from scratch and overfeed me every Sunday afternoon, while incessantly cupping my face and kissing my forehead while telling me how bellissima I was…even when I wasn’t. I wanted my mom to be all of those things but unfortunately for me, she wasn’t. And for a long time, I struggled with this.

It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was casually catching up with a psychologist friend of mine over the requisite vino with a side of relationship recap that she tapped into my insides from a Freudian obtuse angle, and let me have it in the most nonchalant of ways that only a professional could. Leaning back in her leather smokers chair at the bar with her arm draped across the back, she told me from across the table that my infinite quest to find my soul mate of epic proportions would never materialize because the kind of love that I was looking for, was the kind that…get this…only a mother could give.

Say what?” I thought. “You crazy!

She then continued to explain to me that it was the kind of love that was one hundred percent selfless, unconditionally supportive and infinitely without end.

Yea? And? What’s wrong with wanting that?

And even though it was the kind of love that could only come from a mother, even the most perfect of moms aren’t always able to meet such high requirements, let alone a man of the hour/week/month/fill in the blank.

Ohhh…” That was a tough one to digest. My heart sank. “So what then? Do we just give up on love?

No was the short answer. The long of it, as morbid as it sounds, was that we have to mourn the loss of the mother and the love we wish we had, just as we would mourn the loss of a loved one. (Woh…talk about deep for weeknight cocktails). Appreciate the fact that most moms are barely treading water, and that they love their children as best as, and at times, the only way they know how. Probably the way their mothers loved them. Because at the end of the day, the only other person who could possibly love you that selflessly, unconditionally and infinitely is you. The day you accept that and start giving to yourself what you’ve been searching for from everyone and everything else around you is the day you can stop looking…for whatever it is that you’ve been looking for.

What was supposed to be a light happy hour of Pinot and calamari had turned into quite the heavy emotional meal of food for thought. But she spoke the truth. And to this day, that conversation has stuck to my ribs real good. They’ve stuck to my ribs like…well…a good sauce. So this past Sunday when I was feeling a bit under the weather, rather than pining about how I wished someone would come and take care of me, I dug deep, took some pain killers and channeled my own inner little old Italian lady to soothe and take care of me. I whipped up a hearty, healthy and comforting pot of Pasta with Spring Vegetable and Buffalo Ragù with Pecorino. And as the rustic delicious aromas of the old world filled the kitchen, I took a deep breath and said to myself, “Bellissima…”

SPRING VEGETABLE AND BUFFALO RAGU PASTA WITH PECORINO CHEESE

 

INGREDIENTS

Feel free to be creative in your vegetable choice to include anything from broccolini to cauliflower to asparagus. 

serves 7

  • 4 roma tomatoes
  • 2 medium sized carrots
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 Italian squash or zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 head of garlic
  • basil
  • 1 lb ground buffalo or lean beef
  • 16 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 8 oz can of tomato paste
  • handful of flat leaf Italian parsley
  • grated pecorino cheese
  • 1 box of dried pasta of choice (I used Barilla Whole Grain Medium Shells for the added fiber)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ teaspoon smoked sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon Spike’s seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • oregano
  • thyme

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Dice tomatoes, carrots, celery, red bell pepper, onion and zucchini into small ¼” pieces
  2. Peel and pulse garlic in blender to create a chunky paste. This will extract the juices of the garlic that you don’t get when you mince them.
  3. Heat olive oil in wok or large pan over high heat. Add ground buffalo. Season with salt and pepper. Brown the ground buffalo until it’s thoroughly cooked. Set meat aside. (I like to use a wok because 1) it conducts heat evenly 2) its high walls prevent ingredients from overflowing which also allows it to be used as a pot for the sauce 3) I’m Asian)
  4. In same pan, heat olive oil. Add onions and chilli flakes and cook for 3 minutes. Add all the carrots, celery, zucchini, oregano, thyme and 2/3 of the red bell peppers. Cook vegetables down for 10 minutes or until somewhat browned and tender.
  5. Add garlic. Cook for 10 minutes
  6. Add tomato paste. Cook for 3 minutes.
  7. Add roma tomatoes and fire roasted tomatoes. Once it starts to boil, add ground buffalo, smoked sea salt, chicken bouillon and Spike seasoning. Stir. Turn the heat down. Let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Add half the chopped flat leaf parsley and half the chopped basil.
  9. Boil large pot of water. Add generous amount of sea salt. When it comes to a roiling boil, add dry pasta. Refer to box for cooking time until al dente.
  10. Drain pasta. Rinse with cold water.
  11. Spoon pasta onto plate. Spoon sauce over pasta. Top with chopped parsley, basil, red bell peppers and freshly shaved pecorino cheese. Serve hot.
Dined & Dished Dining Food Food & Entertaining Fun Restaurants

Dined & Dished: Natas Pastries + Portuguese Pasteis de Nata

Being part Chinese, I’m no stranger to the ubiquitous egg custard tarts or dan tat that little kids and old folks, alike, clamor for at dim sum restaurants. They’re crispy, buttery, delicate and flaky on the outside and lightly sweet, rich, creamy and decadent on the inside.  They’re absolutely delicious and insanely addicting. I hate to admit it, but I’ve probably run over and tackled an old Chinese lady or two, trying to get my grubby paws on the last ones. What I wasn’t too familiar with, in spite of my Portuguese side, is the dan tat’s predecessor and European influencer, the Portuguese pasteis de nata. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across Natas Pastries, a Portuguese bakery and café in Sherman Oaks. I could finally do a taste off between both egg custard tarts and determine whose dessert reigned supreme.

I thought there would be a clear winner, but after trying the pasties de nata, I was just as confused as I ever was. Because to be honest with you, I couldn’t decide. They’re both so magically delicious. Making me choose would be the equivalent of having me choose which one of my kids I like better. Granted, I don’t have any children but you get my point. I just couldn’t do it. But consider my addiction for all egg custard tarts, dan tats, pasties de natas and all, reawakened. So next time you see me at the Portuguese bakery or the Cantonese dim sum restaurant, be sure not to stand between me and my dessert or somebody might get hurt. Consider yourself warned.

For those of you who don’t have easy access to a Portuguese bakery near you, here are my favorite recipes to try to make your own here and here.

If you’re wondering how a Portuguese pastry ended up in your local Chinese restaurant, here’s a quick history lesson:

Beginning in the 1550s, Portuguese merchants were heavily involved in trade with China by way of Macau. This resulted in Macau being rented to the Portuguese as a trading port in 1557, which subsequently led to Macau becoming a colony of the Portuguese Empire from 1887 through 1999. It goes without saying that during their extensive time there, the Portuguese definitely left their mark. And they did so in the form of a pastry. Their pasties de nata were so well received by the Chinese and interwoven into their culture, that to this day, the pasties de natas, dan tats, egg custard tarts or whatever you’d like to call them, can be found all over China, including their KFCs and McDonalds. In fact, they’ve become such a Cantonese dim sum staple that most people attribute the egg custard tart solely as a Chinese culinary invention without realizing its European roots. The Chinese variety, uses more of a puff pastry dough crust versus the Portuguese version that uses more of a layered phyllo dough crust and has a hint of lemon and cinnamon. Both are exquisite.

Natas Pastries

13317 Ventura Blvd  Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

818.788.8050

Dined & Dished Dining Food Food & Entertaining Fun Restaurants

Dined & Dished: Tar & Roses + Pig Tails

The great thing about growing up in an Asian household is that you’re introduced to a lot of “interesting” foods like chicken feet, sea cucumber and fish sauce that other eight year olds may not have so much as been made privy to, let alone been forced to eat. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, with a tiger mom like mine, even if it looked ugly, sounded weird or smelled bad, if it was placed in front of your face, you had to eat it. No ifs, ands or buts…well, maybe chicken butts…but that’s a whole other conversation. So learning from a very young age that being picky was not an option really cultivated my palate and openness to try and truly enjoy pretty much anything. Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods got nothing on my family.

So when I took a sneak peek at the menu at Tar & Roses in Santa Monica, I was super excited to see that they were serving crispy pig tails with sriracha, honey and cilatro. Finally! A childhood favorite that hadn’t been completely hijacked, bougie-fied, hyped up and played out by the culinary world just yet (ie: bone marrow, banh mi sandwiches, pig ears…I could go on and on). To be honest with you, I went in expecting to be disappointed but instead, I was very pleasantly surprised. No joke. It was really really good. Crispy, tender, flavorful, rich, unctuous, slightly sweet, perfectly salted and just enough spice. What more could a girl ask for in a pig tail?

We ordered a few different dishes that were all fabulous. But the standouts for me were definitely the following:

1. Crispy pig tails with sriracha, honey and cilantro
2. Wood roasted English peas with mint and sea salt
3. Skate wing with lemon risotto, pea tendrils and salsa verde
4. Duck liver paté bruschetta

So if you find yourself on the west side, be sure to pull your hair back, get your hands dirty and pig out.

Tar & Roses

602 Santa Monica Boulevard

Santa Monica, CA 90401

(310) 587-0700

Dined & Dished Dining Food Food & Entertaining Fun Restaurants

Dined & Dished: Fig & Olive + The Sister Zone

There’s this girl, I know. Her name is Julie. I call her Julie Bulie. Why? Because when you love someone, you can give them ridiculous nicknames that don’t really make any sense other than that it rhymes.

She’s surpassed best friend status and has found herself in the coveted and sometimes elusive “Sister Zone”. It’s a title that is rarely granted. But when it is, it is only granted upon you, once you’ve seen each other at your worst, as well as your best. Once you’ve lived together, made each other ugly-cry and still managed to love one another. Once you’ve cheered each other on and cheered each other up. Once you’ve prevented each other from making bad relationship, fashion, career and (insert noun here) decisions simply because their happiness is your happiness. And once you’ve celebrated each other’s successes, only to hold back each other’s hair after said night of excessive celebration. These friendships are hard to come by but when they do, they’re forever cherished.

Crostini Tasting: Manchego, Fig, Marcona Almond; Copa, Goat Cheese, Honey, Almond; Salmon, Ricotta, Citrus, Cilantro

So needless to say, when it comes time for our biannual catch up sessions, I get giddy and can’t wait to see her. And often times, I can’t wait to see what restaurant she chooses to serve as the backdrop for us to air the accomplishments and grievances of our theatrical lives, as she never fails to choose one that is the perfect representation of our friendship: refreshing, open-aired, and ever-evolving yet constant. And once again, she did not fail to deliver when she chose Fig & Olive on Melrose.

It’s a beautiful open space with dramatic presentation that still manages to maintain the air of California clean. Smoke, without the mirrors, is used to brilliantly flavor their Rosemary Lamp Chops but the star of that show was the Roasted Honey Eggplant accoutrement. Their Beef Carpaccio with 18 year old balsamic vinegar is something to be, nothing less, than revered, while their wall of olive oils is as impressive as it is diverse. And finally, their Dessert “Crostini” with Amarena cherries, mascarpone cheese and crushed pistachios on homemade shortbread ultimately coerced Julie, the chocoholic, to abandon her Chocolate Pot de Crème ship and find refuge on my dessert plate.

Needless to say, the meal was delightful but what made it even better was definitely the company. And like family, although we don’t see each other nearly enough, when we do, it means a lot. So as far as I’m concerned, Fig & Olive has earned itself a new nickname and will forever be known, in my book, as Mei & Julie. Because a sister who feeds, is a sister indeed.

Sea Scallops & Truffle Artichoke Tapenade: Seared sea scallops, truffle artichoke, arugula pine nuts with aged balsamic & white truffle olive oil
Beef Carpaccio: filet mignon, 18 year old balsamic vinegar, baby arugula, tomato, parmesan truffle olive oil

Penne Funghi Tartufo: cremini mushroom, black trumpet, parmesan, parsley, scallion & white truffle olive oil
Rosemary Lamb Chops: grilled lamb chops smoked a la minute with a bouquet of Herbs de Provence goat cheese & chive gnocchi, roasted honey eggplant & rosemary garlic olive oil

Dessert “Crostini”: Amarena cherry, mascarpone, pistachio on shortbread with micro-basil
Chocolate Pot de Crème: crunchy praline financiers & vanilla cream

Manchego, Fig, Marcona Almond Crostini

Copa, Goat Cheese, Honey, Almond Crostini

Salmon, Ricotta, Citrus, Cilantro Crostini

Thanks for treating, Julie Bulie!

Fig & Olive
8490 Melrose Place
West Hollywood, CA 90069
310 360 9100

Dined & Dished Dining Food Food & Entertaining Fun Restaurants

Dined & Dished: Milk – Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

In a fast paced city like LA, the years go by fast and the days go by even faster. So much so, that it gets to a point where your thoughts and memories begin to blur and bleed into one another. In a fast paced city like LA, we’re quick to grow up and once we’re grown, we realize that we should’ve never wished it upon ourselves to begin with. Because before you know it, you’re no longer playing Tour of Duty or MacGyver with your brother in your backyard anymore. Instead you’re scheduling meetings and meeting deadlines, all the while planning for the rest of your life.

However, it’s days like today – days like Halloween – where we’re all reminded that, behind our suits and our titles, our Louboutin stilettos and our crazy schedules, everyone of us were all kids once. And more often than naught, that kid is vying to come out. Luckily for us, the folks at Milk seem to truly understand and empathize with this duality dilemma by offering grown up versions of the childhood favorite ooey-gooey, get-it-all-over-my-hands-and-face ice cream sandwich. Sandwiching a baseball sized scoop of homemade ice cream between two dessert-plate-sized, freshly baked French macaron cookies, Milk manages to cater to our childhood wishes while satiating our adult palate and eye for design with flavors such as red velvet, Thai ice tea, and salted caramel, that are then coated with thick icing to create a mod masterpiece that is almost too beautiful to eat…Almost.

It’s places like Milk that make us realize that maybe growing up isn’t so bad. Because after all, although kids can want ice cream for breakfast, kids at heart can actually have it. So in the wise words of the late Steve Jobs, “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

MILK
7290 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323.939.6455

Social Scene: Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival – Success is Sweet

My fan shot with Chef Paul Prudhomme

There’s something about the west that compels people to leave loved ones, forsake all reason, throw caution to the wind and relinquish all claims to a sense of security in exchange for the small chance of achieving something bigger and possibly, a lot brighter. Behind every miner who searched for gold, every pioneer looking to score some land, and every artist and performer waiting to be discovered is the same belief that their lives were meant for something different. Their lives were meant for extraordinary success. And if you’ve ever been to LA, you’d probably believe the same thing.

Rock Shrimp Tempura with Creamy Spicy Yuzu Sauce by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu

It seems like behind every pair of Ray Ban aviators you come across, lives a chart topping indie pop artist, a 21 year old fashion blogger whose opinion matters more than all of the editors at Vogue combined, a reality tv star who’s making a fortune off of her well endowed money maker, a self made millionaire who’s still an undergrad, an actor turned tech investor, and in our case, an Iron Chef.

Chef Masaharu Morimoto‘s Station being bombarded by fans

And nowhere was this made more evident than last week’s Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival where wining and dining’s finest gathered together to raise money for St. Vincent’s Meals and Wheels. It was overflowing with so much talent that the venue could barely contain all of the positive energy that was being exuded by all the celebrity chefs, boutique wineries, musicians, photographers and guests. And that’s when it dawned on me. The stories of success in this city are as varied as they are common but the path usually remains the same.

Kobe Beef by Chef Wolfgang Puck of Spago

Those who achieve the greatest successes in life are the ones who know who they are, what they love to do, and have enough faith in themselves to do it. They are the eternal optimists who can’t help but see the brighter side of things and not let things get them down. Even when things are not going as planned, they see the silver lining and keep going. Those who are the most successful in this town, or any town for that matter, are those that realize that the path to success is success. And I, my friend, will definitely drink to that!

Chef Wolfgang Puck pouring yours truly a glass of wine
Trio of Pork Belly Skewer with Miniature Lo-Mai-Gai & Sunomono Salad by Chef Wofgang Puck of Spago
Nobu Style Sashimi Tacos with Tuna & Salmon by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu
Sushi Chefs of Nobu
Pork Belly Skewer by Chef Wolfgang Puck of Spago
Fresh Whole Ahi Tuna at Chef Sam Choy‘s Station
Ahi Tuna Tartare by Chef Sam Chow of Kai Lanai
My favorite dish of the evening: Wild Mushroom Ragu with Foie Gras Foam & Duck Crackling by Chef Michael Ginor of Lola Restaurant, Hudson Valley Foie Gras
My other favorite dish of the evening: Maple Glazed Pork Belly & Butternut Squash Purée by Chef Richard Reddington of Redd
Bouchon‘s Seafood Ice Serving Sculpture
Seafood Spread of freshly Shucked Oysters, Mussels, Crab Claws & Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail by Bouchon
Pot Roast Sliders with Horseradish Creme by Chef Suzanne Tracht of Jar
Steamed Sea Bass with Coconut Basmati Rice, Mushrooms & Mango Salsa by Chef Floyd Cardoz of North End Grill
Seared Shrimp, Cajun Sauce with Smoked Ham, Okra, Green Chile Grits by Chef Diego Velasco of Memphis Cafe
Goats Milk Yogurt Custard with Shiso and Plum Blossoms by Chef Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant At Meadowood
Maine Lobster and Chestnut Veloutè by Chef Joachim Splichal of Patina
Salmon Sashimi Croquette by Chef Nathan Eckhaus of South Gate
Pâté Trio & Ribs by Osteria Mozza
Cheese Gnovioli w/Wild Mushrooms & Sage Brown Butter by Luciano Pellegrini of Valentino
Train performing live just for us!
The Red Carpet. Dress: BCBG. Shoes: BCBG. Purse: Louis Vuitton. Jewelry: Mei Elizabeth
My empty tasting glasses by the end of the night
A few of many wines that I tasted & loved but I was only sober enough to remember to photograph the following:

Dined & Dished Dining Food Food & Entertaining Fun Restaurants

Dined & Dished: Kristy’s Wood Oven & Wine Bar – Peace. Love. Malibu.

There is definitely something to be said about what crisp California ocean breeze does to a person after excessive exposure to the world of the virtually mundane. (ie: newsfeeds of other people’s babies, beers and bridal showers, videos of mindless stunts that effortlessly manage to stunt your own mental growth, and truncated conversations consisting only of hash-tags, at-signs, abbreviations and acronyms. #FML @danieltosh) I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been the perpetrator of an Instagram Lomo-fi filtered image or two of my gelato, as well as my newborn niece, Morgan. But that doesn’t change the fact that once the cool salt hits my senses and my toes sink into the warm sand that is Malibu, I am all but ready to don my rose colored glasses and give it all up for a simpler life of peace and love.*

And that’s what Kristy’s, a Wood Oven and Wine Bar overlooking Zuma Beach, is all about. Natural ingredients combined with love to make simple familiar dishes such as their Wild Mushroom Arancinis that are, harmoniously both, humble and refined, sensuous and comforting, rich yet delicate, and served with a romantic ocean view on the side. It’s little gems like these that remind me that balance of the mind, body and soul is obtainable even in this city of ever-changing relationships, careers and status updates. Correction: especially in this city of ever-changing relationships, careers and status updates.

It’s about carving out a little bit of simple and a little bit of joy in spite of a world filled with a whole lot of crazy, and keeping it in a place that is easily accessible just for you. And that’s the beauty of it all. You don’t have to go far to find what you’re looking for and you don’t have to give up everything to get it. In fact, in Malibu, you can sit back, relax, have your coconut cream cake and eat it too…and with just enough reception to check an email or two.

*give up my electronic leashes; not my newborn niece…or gelato, for that matter.

Kristy’s Wood Oven + Wine Bar
Malibu Country Inn, The Collection Restaurant:
6506 Westward Beach Road
Malibu, CA 90265
310.457.2602

Dined & Dished Dining Food Food & Entertaining Fun Restaurants

Dined & Dished: Piccolo – A Little Bit of Venice in Venice Beach

Having studied abroad in Italy during an era that only existed in, what feels like a Diane Lane movie, I came back to the States on the eternal pursuit to find, not just delicious Italian food but authentic Italian food. The kind that is so incomprehensibly magnifico that at first whiff, it takes you back to the simple, romantic, it’s-so-intimate-you’re-bumping-chairs-and-rubbing-elbows-with-your-neighbor kind of trattoria. One that exists only within the cobblestoned medieval city center of a town like Siena. That was what I was looking for here in the concrete jungle that is LA. And to my surprise, after much searching, that is exactly what I found.

Tronchetto – Imported Mascarpone and fresh banana semi-iced-cream

After my six year long quest that spanned across Beverly Hills to Santa Monica, from Manhattan Beach to West Hollywood, for the most titillating and tantalizing pappardelle di cinghiale, I finally came across the one that screamed home to me and resulted in me coming to a screeching halt. Maybe it was because the restaurant was literally in my backyard, nestled so perfectly upon the pothole laden back alleys of Dudley Avenue. Maybe it was because all signs pointed to yes as its lights shimmered, right there, tucked behind some mediocre bar alongside the “other Venice”, Venice Beach, where I run every morning. Or maybe it was simply because with every bite that I took of their handmade, blueberry tagliatelle with wild boar ragú, I couldn’t help but be taken back to a time and a place that I remember with such joy and happiness. Whatever it was, all I knew was that they had me hooked and I wanted more of whatever it was that they were pushing. And just like anything else worth longing for, this restaurant is clever in its subtlety. It’s delightfully understated. It’s casually impeccable. It’s my home away from home. It’s Piccolo.

Pane: freshly baked squid ink rolls, olive focaccia, breadsticks, pane
Riccióla e Bufala – seared yellowtail, thyme-sicilian oil, mozzarella di bufala, italian ponzu

Tagliatelle al Ragú di Cinghiale – blueberry tagliatelle with homemade wild boar ragu
Germano Reale al Miele Tartufato – breast of mallard (wild duck) pan-seared, truffled-honey sauce

Bignole – pastry puffs filled with Belgian Gianduja chocolate cream

Tronchetto – Imported Mascarpone and fresh banana semi-iced-cream

Piccolo
5 Dudley Avenue
Venice Beach CA 90291
310.314.3222