Tag Archives: Seafood

OUTLAW’S Restaurant at The Capital – Knightsbridge – London, England

Iimg_2304 am happy to blog about my experiences in London as it was the first leg of the “Jenzie’s Euro-extravaganza 2016”. What a great weekend of foodie-fun, old faces and new areas explored! Sadly last year’s London-eats were not reported and I let my faithful readers down. By the time I reached Blighty my excitement had been waning due a stressful sequence of events. Eventually the memories of my meals were deleted due to travelin’ drama-trauma.

Four years ago (and many lives) I was introduced to my foodie-friend Elliot at Launceston Place.

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The following year he was so kind as to liaise with the wonderful chef Tim Allen to organize my very first stage in that very kitchen. This was a truly memorable experience!

Since then we were lucky to convene for a “chat and chew” at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant MAZE in 2014 and once again at Angler in 2015 (which I failed in my duties to report). Le sigh* I was impressed once again this year with a phenomenal lunch at Outlaw’s restaurant at The Capital Hotel in Knightsbridge, London.

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Since our initial foodie meetup in 2014, I’ve become much more blonde.

What Happened:

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As soon as I greeted Ello(zie), he brought my attention to the fact we had the best seats in the house. If you sit in the far end of the dining room facing towards the entrance, there is a small window (to your right) which gives a tiny glimpse into all the magic happening in Outlaw’s kitchen. It’s a quiet dining room with a simple yet elegant décor clearly influenced by aquatic life in the most understated way. I happen to be a huge fan of seahorses, so I was excited to see a large picture of one at each side of the room.

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Here we were, seated for a midday lunch on a Saturday. A matcha-chai  from timber yard was enough to send Jenzie off the deep-end that morning. I had to make Elliot aware of my fragile state and was grateful we had Bellinis on the way. It was barely 36 hours since I’d landed and I was elated when the crostini turned up with a delightful spread made of cod’s roe. I hoped a little drink and a little nosh would sort me out.

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Two delicious types of rolls were served including Cornish cheddar and Cornish (?) Doom Bar beer. The Cornish cheddar was by far my favorite. (Was it Cornish though?) I actually ate two. #naughty #IheartCarbs4eva

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OUTLAW’S offers a set menu for 32 pounds per person. This includes three courses and a Bellini. It would have been great value for a hypothetical $64.00 when the pound was still worth something. I’ll take it for a comfortable $39.00! #BrexitExchangeWin

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(Pictured Above: Cornish Fish Soup with Red Peppers and Paprika) This soup happens to be prepared with “pap-rick-a” not “pap-pa-reeka” in case there was any confusion. I struggled to taste or see anything that resembled a sea creature in my soup. It was puréed into a very smooth and velvety consistency. The red peppers and paprika added a pleasant reddish hue to the presentation and a muted spice with a light acidity on the tongue. I really wanted some salt.

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After the Bellinis had disappeared, Elliot took the liberty of ordering wine. He went with a lovely Sauvignon Blanc that complimented our fishy-fare very well. David Levin (owner of The Capital Hotel) started growing grapes in the Loire Valley in 1985 in efforts to provide quality wine for his luxury hotels and restaurants. They pride themselves on producing a world-class sauv-blanc that also happens to be organic. I felt privileged to be sipping this wine and appreciate its story.

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(Pictured Above: Lamb Scrumpet with pickled chicory, anchovy and coriander.) This is a piece of lamb shoulder which is slowly cooked and fried. It was a much heartier starter than my selection and much better value for the set menu price. This dish gave way more of a “bang for the buck” so to speak. Thanks to Elliot, I was able to see another one of the delicately presented starters…This was the correct one to order.

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I couldn’t help but feel like I might have let him down by ordering the soup.

The Mains:

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My eyes were instantly drawn to the plaice. (Pictured Above: Plaice served with warm tartare sauce and baby gem lettuce.) The adjectives warm and creamy were speaking to my soul. This light and flaky filet was delicately placed in a pool of creamy-goodness and garnished with a fish stick that brought me right back to childhood.

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Elliot also enjoyed a sea creature option as opposed to the Beef Rump on offer. (Pictured Above: Hake with curry sauce, cabbage and shallots.) This brought up a very funny conversation about an allergy I swore I had to Hake. As it turns out it’s Skate that makes me ill! A quick search on the “goog-lay” is enough to make me understand why. Skate fish look like miniature stingrays. Any time I see the fanned out grain of their fleshy bits I steer clear!

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After we cleaned our plates (and we did) a sudden anxiety ensued about the meal ending. I was still really hungry. #haha

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I knew I was in good company when Elliot wanted a mixed cheese plate in addition to a dessert. Out came a selection of British cheeses with tomato and pepper chutney. Jenzie never turns down a cheese plate. #nevagiveup

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I chose the Passion Fruit Ice Cream Sandwich served with coconut sorbet for dessert…Who doesn’t love passion fruit?

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Elliot selected the Plum & Almond sponge cake with almond cream & lemon crème fraiche. I was happy this was a midday lunch…I didn’t require a breakfast or a dinner and I was about to roll out the door.

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The honeycomb chunks were intriguing. They made the perfect snack as we sat and created a plan for Jenzie’s adventures ahead.

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A picture that started off with the resemblance of Hangman would soon turn into the most detailed pinxtos tour of San Sebastian! #epic

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Sadly we had to take Elliot’s artwork on-the-go due to a time constraint. We couldn’t leave without a complimentary shot of Harvey’s sherry first. It’s part of the full experience here at The Capital!

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Elliot’s dedication to his map proved incredibly useful.

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Alas, through tube rides and rain he finally completed it.

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It was time to take a selfie!

<3 Jenzie xoxo

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Just Because Seahorses Rule:

Workshop Kitchen+Bar – Palm Springs, CA

I started reseaJICrching restaurants well before my trip to Palm Springs. At the time I thought I only had 48 hours to work with before forcing myself to run through the Grand Canyon in less than desirable climates. I wanted to get maximum foodie-fun into the itinerary, but had to be very selective with such limited time. Therefore, I created a P.S. check list to tick. The first restaurant to catch my eye online that exuded a NY standard of style and appeal was The Workshop Kitchen + Bar.

 

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Offering impressive mixology and impeccable plate presentation, Workshop was on their A-game that week.

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Before committing to an entire dinner we wanted to see what the restaurant had to offer IRL. We arrived and b-lined it to the inviting bar in the back. Their bartender greeted us with menus straight away and offered two seasonal cocktails which we decided to partake in.

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Pictured Here: Bee’s Knees (left) and Mai Tai (right) Their Mai Tai’s claim-to-fame is its original ingredients, “The way it was intended to be.” These ingredients include: two types of rum, home made orgeat, creole shrub, and lime served over crushed ice with a mint bouquet and a lime hull. You could put anything in these cocktails really… The bartender had a way with a shaker.

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Pictured Here: Two Happy Cocktail Sippers- It was nice to have a fresh-rendition on a Mai Tai instead of the usual suspects which are often all jammed up with fructose corn syrup and artificial juices.

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What happened at dinner you might ask? When we took the plunge and reserved for two on the patio, we revisited their delightful cocktail list before ordering a glass of wine with our meal. Eyeing up the sophisticated Nouveau-American menu with a tinge of western flare was nothing short of a delight. We decided on the Little Gem Caesar with rustic croutons, shaved manchego and white anchovies. It was nice and savory also a great size to share!

imageWe were all about the sharing that evening as we decided on their fish dish du jour as our main. Truth is that we glanced over and saw our neighboring table eating it and demanded to know what it was. Their red snapper (pictured below) was pleasantly gutted for our enjoyment and mixed with wild rice, artichoke hearts, radicchio, arugula  and served with a roasted lemon wedge alongside a mini skillet of the most perfectly seasoned rosemary potatoes. The presentation was a little bit of a massacre but a delicious one at that!

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When you go, it is imperative that you save room for dessert…You gotta put a slice of that there Drake Farm’s Goat Cheesecake inside you! Maybe even follow it up with some of that Vale D. Maria port. You can say “I told you so.”

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If you’re brave enough to leave your heavenly resort life in P.S. for a classy night on the town, Workshop Kitchen + Bar will not let you down! Get it done.

<3 Jenzie xoxo

For More Information: www.workshoppalmsprings.com

Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: JenzieInTheCity@gmail.com

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Just Because:





Casa Sanchez – Los Angeles, CA

I flewPeanutPimpMama1-300x300 to L.A. in hopes of some premature rays in my life. What I got was a soggytown! While rain can like TOTALLY excite a local, it was the last thing I wanted to see coming from the tundra-NYC. Not sure what is going on with the weather this year but it took forever to get warm. I was so excited to be “Best-Coast” bound, but even L.A. can lose a little luster under some clouds.

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It was Saturday and my intro to Playa Del Rey started off with an excellent brunch at Bacari PDR. After filling up on Italian small plates, we checked out a local pop-up gallery and decided to hit the road for additional shopping opportunities.

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An obligatory trip to Abbot Kinney was in order, as it is always in order. All of the fabulous weather allowed us to snag a parking spot with no issues.

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We even spotted a hipster with a very large camera in its natural habitat.

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Many times I have taken notice of the back garden areas of stores on Abbot Kinney. Do people really sit in them? They’ve managed to incorporate them fabulously into environmental marketing. Sweaty Betty’s garden made me a believer!

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So did this dog…

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He was chilling in front of this.

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We decided to head back to the car when I saw this green silhouette. I can’t turn down a good photo opp. and Abbot Kinney is full of them! After an intense photo session we returned home with our finds and freshened up for dinner at Casa Sanchez.

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Ah, the moment I had been waiting for! When I saw “live mariachi band” I knew it would be perfect for a Saturday night rendezvous with old friends. What seemed to be a totally kitsch and silly experience online turned into quite a heartwarming and belly filling time. It all started with a massive (complimentary) plate of chips, incredible salsa and guacamole accompaniments upon arrival. I didn’t even have to order this for an additional $20.00, say what?! Okay, okay I kind of wish they were a little colder than room temperature but they had authentically fresh flavor!

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We gathered round the table and ordered the margaritas which were TOTALLY “on point”. Five rounds later we were very merry!

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The lighting was a little tough given the stage situation and it was hard to take photos. (Lucky them!) Casa’s large menu was divided by appetizers, animals and lastly desserts. I was happy to see a generous selection of seafood present. True to the many Yelp reviews, their “Salmon Al Tequila” was popular with our group. I had the shrimp “fa-ji-tas” with a steaming skillet of goodies (all that-that entails). The shrimps were cleaned well and overall I was impressed with the general portions and plate presentations. Casa Sanchez provides an environment that’s suitable for all ages and situations with an interactive mariachi band that rocks the house and provides a heck of a lot of laughs!

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Celebrating a birthday or anniversary? Think you might need to plan your quinceanera twenty years too late? Well this is your place! If you’re lucky, the mariachi band might even give you their guitar!

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All great things must come to an end… So they brought out this massive dessert plate to tempt us. We ordered the chocolate mouse thing (finger is pointing to above) along with a flan. By the end of the night the entire dining hall which included a couple birthdays and anniversaries was filled with merriment and dancing couples to boot! It warmed my heart to see old and dear friends around the table that night, filled to the brim with tequila sharing stories and mucho mucho laughs! Cheers to the many more West Coast nights ahead! <3

That Mariachi Band Tho…

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Thankfully they take a little break so you can hear yourselves think as you eat your foodies.

<3 PPM

For More Information: www.casa-sanchez.com

Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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Casa Lever – Midtown, NYC

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Another restaurant week just passed! I visited The 21 Club with Momzie and Casa Lever with my dear old friend Gabbrachella. She had suggested Le Cirque, but after a really awful glass of wine there last Summer (and service to match) I thought we should enjoy our resto-week discount elsewhere. After perusing the menus I noticed Casa Lever was offering a wine pairing. After my friend’s stamp of approval, we were celebrating her relocation to the (almost) city for just under $80.00!

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#fabulous (and 18 here).

The Experience:

After a long stand at the bar with a mediocre cocktail (bartender’s suggestion with my choice of spirit) we were finally seated twenty minutes after our requested reservation time. The bar area had started with standing room only. It cleared out rapidly leaving us with the entire area to ourselves. I ordered two drinks while waiting for our table and was underwhelmed with each impromptu “spicy mezcal cocktail” shaken “especially” for me. The cocktail list looked very sweet and lacking in any edge. PeanutPimpMama needs an edge!

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We finally arrived at the table and within moments our zippy servers had a basket of fresh bread and olive oil for our consumption. We selected our dishes from our resto-week menu along with our wine tasting and out came an amuse-bouche that looked like something ripped off a Caesar salad on-the-line. Seriously, it was a cheesy crouton on a plate with herbs. (scratches head*)

image3Thankfully that was redeemed by a really fresh Caprese salad with super soft mozzarella balls sliced in half with beautifully ripe Kumato tomatoes and delicately plucked leaves of basil with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and crushed black pepper. This course was paired with Riesling “Le Dragon” Josmeyer (2012) from Alsace. This salad is a perfect example of beauty in simplicity. I could eat this until the cows come home.

15959bf9-e44c-4724-bc4a-58ba147f2f16My main was a succulent piece of salmon cooked medium rare and served on a bed of beluga lentils with a leek sugo sauce. The salmon was topped with a “row of roe” (drum roll*). It added an interesting flare that didn’t feel quite so…Italian? I was a bit caught off guard by the roe’s flavor and the odd sense of humor in presentation. Egg on a chicken anyone? This moist and savory course was paired with a Bourgougne Blanc Guy Amiot (2012) from Burgundy.

c5fc417a-58e2-487d-8334-8aa0d07f6a55My meal ended with their famous chocolate dessert “The Gianduia” which is regularly featured on their menu. It’s basically a chocolate moussey block with a moist crust topped off with formations of hazelnut mouse and dark chocolate walls and ceiling. If you like chocolate, this is the way to go.

322f0468-b52b-4a28-b68d-ec9c3d90bb42My friend (always keeping it light in true spirit) received a turkey shaped mass of sorbettos. (Pictured above): lemon, raspberry and mango sorbet with a crispy biscotti feathered tail? All gelati were prepared by Sant Ambroeus. (of course daaaaaaahling*)

image1 (2)It’s a cool place inside with a slight art-deco influence. If you come with a larger party you might get to sit in one of the cool tables that appear to be set into the wall in a cut-out geometric cell-like formation (not pictured here). The place had a great after-work buzz, but definitely not the ideal clientele for two single ladies out on the town. I would have thought the contrary given the area. It could depend on what demographic you’re after. 50<

For More Information: www.casalever.com

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La Marée – Monte Carlo, Monaco

PeanutPimpMama1-300x300While on the train to Monaco for our official reunion dinner, we had two reservations booked at Alain Ducasse’s – La Trattoria and La Marée in Monte Carlo. After taking a consensus of who preferred Italian over another amazing seafood option, we were swayed by the fireworks show displayed over the port (at 9:00pm) which is visible from LM’s terrace. The only catch was that we had to make our dinner reservation (on time). Evidently ten years apart left us with a lot of catching up to do. We were so entranced by our deep conversations that we passed right by the station in Monte Carlo. Anyone familiar with that train line would know that’s pretty hard to do, as it’s the only station that is very well lit and certainly far from residential feeling. #adventureswereahead

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A couple beach towns later we found ourselves missing the reservation (let alone the fireworks) and in dire need of a taxi. A couple cars pulled up to our train station like a SWAT team with some very serious looking drivers. They asked us where we needed to go and we asked for a fare quote. The game of negotiation began and we were at their mercy, stranded helplessly and hungry in Menton. Seventy euros later we were cruising through the picturesque coast line. This might have been one of my favorite moments that day as I forgot exactly how breathtaking it is to see all of the lights twinkling in the distance at night. After many laughs and poorly spoken french we finally arrived at Port Palace Hotel. All of my “par-laying” earned me a big and unexpected wet kiss on the cheek from the driver. #ThanksPal #ImNotThatFunny (Pictured Above:The port of Monte- Carlo from the balcony at La Marée located in the Port Palace Hotel. They even left a little room for PeanutPimpMama’s yacht.)

IMG_9229The hotel had a cozy foyer and some scantily dressed Russians waiting for the lift as we entered. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we reached the restaurant level. To my surprise we were greeted by a party of the smaller variety, a bunch of children dressed in costumes. It made for an interesting first impression to say the least and one contrary to the “chic-fish” vibes their website exudes. #chicfishmeetschuckEcheese 
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Our poor lonely table had been waiting inside patiently. The real party was happening sur la terrasse with great house music pumping and a couple of magnums and champagne bottles on ice (as to be expected). We were finally greeted by an adult and sat patiently with our menus for our server to arrive. That bread though…It was the only food we had for quite some time. For saying we were a party of six I expected a bit more enthusiasm. Lesson Learned: Don’t turn up late and keep your terrace view of the port…Maybe even catch some fireworks and eat before midnight.

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Eventually our group required a second round of rolls. Additional rolls meant another butter to be had, which soon became an issue as we realized they were coveted little beurres to be passed out sparingly. I believe it took at least five more requests with five different people to be reluctantly gifted another one. Evidently there’s more to that gold wrapper than meets the eye.

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Oysters, they’re an acquired act aren’t they? Do any children ever wake up and think to themselves, “Ah I’d sure love some freshly shucked oysters and a nice glass of brut champagne.” Or perhaps I’ve spoken too soon? I was about 26 when I finally learned to appreciate them as a latecomer to Oyster-land. On this very special evening half of our table decided to start our repas with some local fuits de mer. These creatures were a good four inches long and about an inch and a half deep with the silkiest of oyster flesh. Startling as they are upon first glance, they went down easily.
IMG_9232This dish (pictured above) was my contribution to the meal. I saw the artichoke salad come out of the kitchen and it was instant love. I just knew…It really was as simple as that. (Now if that could be applied to other areas of my life besides food.) This sturdy little salad was composed of some grilled and chopped artichokes with generous tranches of parmesan cheese and dressed with a balsamic glaze. Amazing how something so simple can be such a strong dish. All I needed was full command of a pepper mill to loosely grind my kernels. #winning
IMG_9238Next out was the “The Black Crimea”. I sensed an ironic double entendre here…What you’re actually getting: An heirloom tomato fort with some of the creamiest burrata you’ve ever had in your life. Seriously I gained ten pounds just staring at it. Breadstick anyone?

IMG_9233Et enfin the fishy-doodles! La Marée is a seafood restaurant with lots of sea creatures on display for everyone to gawk at. Some are dead and some are very much alive. After taking a stroll over to the in-house fish market and having a talk with the monger, we decided that buying our prey for the evening (by the kilo) was not an option. A smaller portion was suitable given the greediness of our current selection of dishes. It’s always nice to try a little bit of a LOT of things. When you order the fresh fish of the day you can select one of three ways to prepare it and of course your starches and veggies are a la carte.
IMG_9244The dessert was a nice note to end the meal on. Pictured Above: “Dessert du Jour”- A white chocolate mousse center surrounded by a creamy chocolate shell and finalement topped with a raspberry coulis and fresh fruit. It wasn’t life changing but it hit the spot.
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This wouldn’t have been a proper french meal without finishing with the Chef’s selection of cheeses.

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I must make mention of the peculiar artwork at this restaurant. There was a lady staring at us all evening from the corner of the dining room. It took a while to realize it was just a life-like statue of a French Maid. It was the most random installation I may have seen in my entire life but she made for some great after-dinner entertainment. #sofrench

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But for real, aren’t we a good looking group? (#cutezies) I can’t wait until the next reunion. #Mexico2016

For More Information: http: www.lamaree.mc

Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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Bodega 1900 – Barcelona, Spain

Last tPeanutPimpMama1-300x300ime I was in Barcelona was Autumn of 2010. It was my second attempt at conquering the city since 2005 and I felt that it would not let me love it (no matter how hard I tried). Keeping up with my 5 year average, it was time to touch down again. I had a very short window of opportunity to make the most of it. All considered, what I thought would turn out to be a good day turned into an unforgettable one! Maybe there wasn’t time for a museum, the beach or even strolling at a leisurely pace, but it was time to eat Barcelona! With a failed attempt at snagging a ressy at what is currently one of the top restaurants of the world (Tickets by Albert Adrià) I figured his traditional experience with a nice vermouth and tapas at Bodega 1900 would have to suffice.

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When I walked in I was impressed by the tiny yet lively space. The restaurant is completely open-plan and you are literally dining in the kitchen as all tapas are prepared right in front of your face. We were greeted quickly in a curt fashion with menus as we sat in one of the best seats of the house. After ambivalently skimming the list we decided to go for the tasting and wing it “Chef’s Choice”. While tapas are not an indigenous dining experience to this city, I was excited to see one of the Adria concepts while trying to keep it purely as Spanish as possible.

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They started out strong with a little molecular gastronomy! (Pictured Above:  “La acetuna-S con piparra” – Liquid Olive) This spoon held an olive bubble which burst in your mouth with a pungent pop of olive later finishing with tinges of smokey brine. I would have loved to see how this olive embryo came to fruition. It was almost egg-yolk-like in appearance and consistency upon first glance, minus the eggy center. It actually exploded on your tongue with a clean burst of olive-y goodness.

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With our palates now primed by that savory delight, we scarfed some snow crab pintxos otherwise known as “Pulga de cangrejo”. Here the snow crab salad was detailed with a mixture of creamy avocado and romesco dots.

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The serving became a bit more aggressive in speed with two more tapas placed before us. (Plate 1)-Smoked salmon with truffle honey and (Plate 2)- Berenjenas con salmorejo – Eggplant fries with tomato purée . The salmon pintxos had a little complexity with the mixture of truffled honey and the saltiness of the salmon and spice from the horseradish yogurt. Essence of truffle was a nice touch to what could have tasted like an NYC brunch. It’s an instant lox and cream cheese correlation… There’s no getting around it. The zucchini fries were less inspiring and served with salmorejo sauce that cooled off the piping hot fried vegetable stick in balsamic drizzle.

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Then this happened…I was expecting something a little more sophisticated than shrimp cocktail. Thankfully the shrimp were fresh (and clean) and the sauce wasn’t a typical cocktail sauce. That would have been a travesty. Instead it was a sweet mustard based dip.

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With all of these animal parts on hooks… We knew they had to end up on our plates eventually.

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They started us off with a dry aged beef carpaccio called “Rubia Gallega” which is cured for at least three weeks before being sliced for enjoyment. I swear they sprinkled some olive oil on there in efforts to resuscitate it.

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A little Manchego never hurt anyone. I was happy this made an appearance after the salty meat slivers.

IMG_9118Next up were the “Croqueta de jamón Ibérico Joselito” – These are deep fried and filled with Joselito Iberian ham and bechamel then served on little grease blotters. Thankfully we were only served one each. I think they could tell we were fading fast.

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Next we moved on to hot dogs! “Mollete de calamares picantes”- a hot-dog-like miniature bun filled with calamari and topped with a kimchi chipotle drizzle along with aoili. It was certainly a playful Asian-inspired presentation, but the squid was lost in all of this stuff. (wah*)

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Then there was meat on a stick! (Lamb to be exact)

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Finally another course worth writing home to mom about! Evidently this region of the world is known for the best squid. I have to say that this was the most amazing piece of mollusk I’ve had in a while. It was juicy and tender and my knife cut straight through what (can go all wrong) and tends to be a rubbery mass. Hiding beneath our grilled tentacle was a bed of roasted rosemary potatoes. Nom*

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With night time cocktails around the corner in Barri Gotic, we decided to keep the dessert course rather light. Pictured Above: “El melón con vermut blanco”- A boozy honey dew tranche soaked in vermouth. This might have been right up there with the un-olive and the octopus for me personally. It was a refreshing palate cleanser that left us feeling less pig-like and ready to hit the town.

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PPM witnessed a magical storm that evening with an interesting view of Park Güell. It might have been the first time she was elated to be stuck in a dark alley sans umbrella. She did not sleep a wink that night and would do it all over again if she could. Finally some great memories in Barcelona!

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Cheers!

~PPM

For More Information: ca.bodega1900.com

Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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LA LLOTJA @ El Nacional – Barcelona, Spain

As you all know PePeanutPimpMama1-300x300anutPimpMama has been on a European-Extravaganza recently. It came to a sad ending a week and a half ago when I landed in JFK with a heavy heart but a whole darn slew of new adventures and funny times to write about. This trip was extra special since it marked the 10 year anniversary of PPM’s first move overseas to study at IPAG in Nice, France. Oh the adventures that have unfolded since! IPAG reunion planning turned into an amazing trip choc full o’ birthday celebrations and revisiting old stomping grounds that are ever-so-layered with precious memories and more nostalgia than words can express. A decade later and I can still say that Nice has my heart. #ThatRivieraTho

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(Pictured Above: Ralph at Casa di Ip – Home for a night)

With a good friend having just relocated to Barcelona, it seemed like an opportune time for a stopover and some quality beaching with the city’s newest resident. Funny that our host decided to return home to the U.S. upon our arrival to sort out visas etc. leaving us minus a tour-guide and plus a set of house keys. He wasn’t the only thing that went missing that first day… The mystery of the runaway suitcase began.

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With stress levels on the rise (and no clothies for my friend), we spent the greater part of the afternoon arguing with Royal Air Maroc. (PPM Note: Do not fly Royal Air Maroc under any circumstances EVER.) Her lost case called for an impromptu shopping and styling session on Las Ramblas. This bittersweet success had to end with a celebratory meal. With two restaurants on my hit-list for our big day in Barca, El Nacional was our next stop.

IMG_9080The concept reminded me of a Spanish version of Eataly with multiple dining concepts existing under one roof. It seemed intriguing and worst case scenario, a great place for a cocktail and a light nosh. When you enter the restaurant you’re greeted by a rather large display of random plants stacked on shelving for your enjoyment. (Seriously random). Of course my initial thought was, “Pretty…Can I eat these?”

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We took a lap around to avoid making hasty decisions. The Cocktail Bar was alluring but sans bartender which was probably for the better.

IMG_9067After a gander we settled on LA LLOTJA which prides itself on a concept where one purchases their fresh fish by weight then selects from five different preparation options including; baked, charcoal-grilled, steamed, fried or cooked on the griddle. That was way too much to think about for a late afternoon visit, so we decided to stick with smaller sea creatures in the end. In case anyone is against the aquatic life, you’re probably in the wrong corner of El Nacional but there are a couple meat items to keep you occupied.

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Light seafood-bites are exactly what happened alongside a couple of nice glasses of Cava juuuuuuust to get the edge off. The foodies had: (6) Mediterranean Oysters at 3,50 €/each, Steamed mussels with fresh herbs for 12,00 €, and of course the Bread with virgin oil, salt and fresh herbs for 2,75 €. We needed that crusty-goodness to sop up all of the herbal-mussel delisch! (PPM Note: Larger and deeper than your average oyster, these magical shellfish had flavors of the sea progressing towards a slightly fruity and creamy finish. Amazing.) Lucky for us the Cava (Juvé y Camps, Macabeo, Parellada) was only  4,75 €. We had two rounds served back to back to put the fire out. I would love to see this place during more appropriate meal times since it must be jumping! With four restaurants and four bars to choose from you could stay here for a while.

Thankfully that Euro is at a favorable exchange rate…I’ll cheers to that!

~PPM

For More Information: www.elnacionalbcn.com

Questions, Comments, Concerns and Review Requests Please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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The Ordinary – Charleston- SC

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If there were ever a meal I was happy to get fat over, THIS was IT. After hearing a lot of buzz about FIG before arriving, I was lucky to have the opportunity to dine at The Ordinary on King St.. Contrary to the restaurants name, the place was anything but “ordinary” with its formerly gutted old bank space adding a unique old-fashioned-Charlestonian twist to their dining experience. They have a banging menu consisting of mouth-watering aperitifs and cocktails to start, a nice wine list for pairing and a classically indulgent selection of seafood dishes from raw bar to hot mains along with their healthy-ish vegetable and starchy accompaniments. No wo-man leaves hungry.

 

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Upon first glance it reminded me of where I held my mom’s big-50 last year in Asbury Park, NJ. The Jersey Shore also has their own reno’d-bank-resto space by the name of Bank on Mattison. The Ordinary, much like “Bank” makes good use of the space with upstairs dining on the balcony. Here one can gain a unique perspective of the venue with an almost bird’s-eye view. The boozey floor to ceiling book cases and hanging lamps fill the space while creating a sense of coziness and intimacy. There’s a nice cruising-factor here.

The Experience:

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After being greeted by the friendly staff, they sat us in the main dining area where the fun began. I decided to keep it simple and started my meal off with the “Intro to Vermouth” including: Priorat Natur, Dolin Dry, Carpano Antica. When the menu arrived and I saw the Oyster Bar section, I was over-the-moon to see an oyster shooter featured alllllllll the way at the bottom. It had PPM all over it. It was going to happen… It did happen.

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Oysters were the way forward. We had a beautiful plate assembled with three pairs of oysters that our awesome server suggested. While I’m not exactly a huge oyster-buff I truly appreciate the presentation and act of consuming them as a shared experience. I would like to get to a point where I understand the difference between our slimy friends and their logistical whereabouts. The only way that will happen is by consuming more of them which I seem to be quite good at.

383I particularly like the shallow oysters that are less-meaty and slip right out of their shelly-habitat and right into the back of your tongue so-easily (like it never happened). One or two chews and poof* it’s gone! I really prefer consuming them with a punchy Mignonette sauce as well as a little Tabasco. Nom* Nom* Nom*

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 We were so sad when the oysters were gone. How did we finish six so fast?

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The second course shared was the Squid Ink Tagliatelle: (pictured above) with clams and chorizo. There’s something about squid-ink pasta that is always eye catching, and paired with a buttery sauce makes it look even more decadent! No doubt the half-*ssed vegetarian that I am enjoyed every bit of flavor that the chorizo added to my saucy clams.

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Wait wait stop here! See this prawn dish (pictured above)?! You never have to have another meal as long as you live. If you haven’t had this dish yet, you haven’t lived! (That was my excitement for today.) For serious: BBQ White Shrimp, Charred Bread… GET ON IT. Then when you have sucked every fleshy bit from these little sea floor crawling crustaceans’s exoskeletons, I want you to eat all of the charred bread that lies beneath! When that is through, I want you to continue to sop every single drip of  this precious buttery and godonlyknowswhatkindofmagical sauce that’s left. (PPM’s strict instructions)

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If you need any sopping utensil inspiration please see the Baked Hawaiian Rolls (pictured above). That’s right kids… These perky little bunzies are baked with coconut milk! The velvety texture when you first pluck open their soft centers and apply that sea-salted butter- I can’t even, but I did, and like OMG, those bunz “tho”. Trust me, you’ll feel the same way.

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If there is any room left in your stomach and you are daring enough to venture into the entrées I recommend the steamed triggerfish with rapini and Meyer mousseline. It’s a delicate ending to an ass-whippin’ of a feeding!

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For real, you can’t leave hungry or displeased. This was one of the most memorable eating experiences I had in Charleston. Go there now and get the BBQ shrimp and those Hawaiian rolls-(if you know what’s good for you, or if you know what’s good and now you should.)

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#PeanutPimpMamaSpeaksTheTruth

#CharlestonYumYumz

For More Information: www.eattheordinary.com 

Questions, Comments, Concerns please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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MUSHA Izakaya – Santa Monica- Los Angeles, CA

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After having a couple of bevvies at various bars in Santa Monica, I had worked up quite the appetite. My friend had sushi on the brain and I am always down for some quality Japanese food. First we checked out Sushi Roku (a delicious spot) then decided to wander inland to discover this magical little place. One of three locations including Pasadena and Torrance, CA, MUSHA Izakaya is a curious little joint that clearly has a local following. Their website seems to express a huge emphasis on relaxation and enjoyment through dining. They have a small and neat interior with authentic decor but the space is a far cry from zen as they pack their customers in quite intimately on tables of two (combined for larger groups).

The Experience:

Their motto: ” Fun to eat, and fun to make. Fanciness not requires when eating good food. Just eat, and drink. We call this the “The Greatest Fun of the World”.

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Pictured Above: A customer partakes in “The Greatest Fun of the World”.

We were seated promptly for not having a reservation and given menus straight away. (All business here at Musha.)The Izakaya-dining style can be quite the learning experience. No stress while perusing their extensive menu as they have plenty of plum wine to calm the nerves. The menu can be a bit overwhelming with an unsightly collision of hot and cold, mutiple rice dishes to confuse your mind, along with some sashimi to throw you over the edge. There is no explanation available for first time diners which would probably be helpful to understand the general concept of small-plate-dining.

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Pictured Above: Cheese Tofu

It’s most important to remember that this stuff comes out Tapas-Dim-Sum-howeveryouwanttothinkofitstyle (basically in no particular order). When you order the Cheese Tofu- a  mix of cottage cheese, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese (mixed with their genuine soy milk vs. anyone else’s disingenuous soy milk) their “new creation of tofu” served with honey and baguette, you are ordering dish of spreadable cheese served with sweet honey and teething biscuits. This may start your meal off on a sweet note. Are you prepared?

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Pictured Above: The Spicy Tuna Dip

Oh these savory rice krispies treats “tho”! They are strategically placed on top of freshly chopped tuna sashimi with “secret spicy sauce” as a dip, or rather as a Dip?! They seem to question the physical state of this “Spicy Tuna Dip” on their very own menu. PeanutPimpMama did not care what they wanted to call it… It was fresh and delicious!

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Pictured Above: Takana Meshi

Let’s talk about this rice page “tho”. It is really something special and might be my favorite page on the entire menu offering six steamy rice dishes including an “Italian dish with Japanese creation” called “Musha’s Risotto”. This dish is literally served in a bowl made of cheese. Not sure what can be more decadent than that! We opted for some lighter rice with the Takani Meshi- Stir fried and chopped mustard leaf pickles, steamed rice, shiso and mitsuba leaf, grilled in a hot stone bowl and topped with shredded Nori seaweed. It warmed my heart and I appreciated the tableside scooping service provided.

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The last addition to our small plate selection was the “Sakekasu Salmon”- a filet of salmon marinated in sake and miso overnight for flavor and moisture then served grilled. I was very pleased with most of the dishes and felt the price points were extremely fair given the quality. Next time I would totally go for their signature risotto and skip out on the biscuits.

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At least you get the consolation oolong tea for free. PeanutPimpMama Warning: Don’t bite the bean!

(PPM does L.A. Right 2014)

For More Information: www.musha.us.com 

Questions, Comments, Concerns please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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Duke’s Malibu – Malibu – Los Angeles, CA

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Have you ever traveled to a place or had a moment where you thought to yourself, “Will I ever be back here?” Some places you may not care to ever see again and some places leave you with such a feeling of urgency like you need to swallow it whole. Other places you may seem to take day by day (on a slow drip) with a sense of contentedness that there will be another time or chance to experience them. Your gut knows that you are meant to come back. There are certain cities that have had some sort of gravitational pull in the last 32 years and L.A. is one. I have traveled there half a dozen times for family and friends as my own personal circuit seems to be assuming a bi-coastal divide…I don’t mind this.

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It’s interesting to think that the first time I stepped foot into Duke’s Malibu I was only five years old. (Although Duke’s wasn’t Duke’s back then.) PeanutPimpMama was a lot smaller, and mom’s hair BIGGER THAN EVER.

10653501_10152506449033509_7472720789298098598_nMy friend and I were on the hunt for a good chat n’ chew spot to have a long awaited catch up. There was enough of Venice Beach for the last 48 hours so North was the desired direction. Duke’s Malibu popped up and I was sold on the tiki-themed seafood restaurant description known for it’s incredible ocean views.

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No exaggeration there… Duke’s ocean views are so good that one would require a submarine to get any better. We had the full experience that afternoon with surfers and dolphins galore! (Proper L.A. Entertainment: Dolphins swimming pictured above) I seriously have childhood memories of sitting by the window wondering how this restaurant wasn’t washed away by waves. Perhaps this is the reason behind my recurring tsunami dreams…

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While the drink list offers a nice variety of wines and bubbles (including locally sourced) I started my meal off with a Lava Flow: blended pineapple juice, cream of coconut, strawberries and light rum with an optional Meyer’s dark rum float. Of course I opted for the Meyer’s dark rum float! (If there is an option to modify, PPM is going to take it.)

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For a starter we selected the Tahitian Shrimp: Grilled papaya, coconut milk, avocado, tomato, cucumber, lime and shaved peppers. Look at how clean those beautiful little shrimp are. I love anything with coconut milk…It had a little sweetness and a little spice (everything nice).

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Unfortunately I went a little shrimp-heavy for lunch (my fault). I ordered the Shrimp and Crab Salad: Chilled sweet crab and shrimp crisp romaine, avocado, asparagus, corn, tomatoes, Kalamata olives and a creamy lemon dressing. The food was almost as good as our conversation. I’m a huge fan of tiki-anything (as an aspiring tiki bar owner myself) and I was really hoping it would be a little more flamboyant inside. Staring at the Pacific wasn’t too shabby in spite of the lack of kitsch paraphernalia I was hoping to encounter . Duke’s is a great place to meet if you want to hear yourself think and chill out with the most zen view you can get. It’s funny to think I was there 27 years ago. I feel too young to say I went anywhere 27 years ago…

 “I’m on a seafood diet. If I see food I eat it.”

~PPM

(PPM does L.A. Right 2014)

For More Information: http: www.dukesmalibu.com

Questions, Comments, Concerns please email to: PeanutPimpMama@aol.com

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