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Saturday, April 2, 2011

No-Fail Film Suggestion!

Everybody go see - "Win Win" - First film in a long time that I can recommend to everyone!


Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Very Sweet Find

I was in Santa Monica for an appointment and decided to treat myself to some sweets - my weakness....

My first stop was Huckleberry, where everything looked delicious but the Disneyland-esque line full of well-off Westsiders sent me to my final destination.

La Monarca is at the corner of Euclid and Wilshire, the Southeast corner to be exact! Oh my goodness - I had heard that this place was special - a Mexican bakery with a French touch. Upon entering, the first thing I noticed was the glass case holding all sorts of pastries, and the requisite silver tray and tongs allowing me to serve myself. I chose a slice of cornbread, a dulce de leche croissant, and a guava cheese cigar shaped pastry.  Next is a case of cakes, sold whole or in slices. I chose a vanilla cake with fruit in its layers, and vanilla frosting.  As I rounded the corner to the main counter, I was overwhelmed with all sorts of cookies, quiche, cupcakes, and on and on.

The workers were friendly and efficient and the only thing I could fault the place with is the small space between the counter and the tables. It makes it difficult for the workers to pass the line of customers with trays.

Everything I had was excellent - I have a particular fondness for the cornbread which is almost the consistency of bread pudding - with kernels of corn - yum.....

I actually returned the following week and noticed on their "Specials" board a Vegetarian Chorizo. I asked how this was served and chose a torta which of course used their wonderful bread as well. They actually gave me a sample on a small slice to try - and it was heavenly - full of spices and flavor.

They have many coffee choices and the prices are very reasonable.

Go there - now!

La Monarca Bakery
1300 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica,CA 90403

Friday, March 18, 2011

Pop-Up Restaurant Gone Wrong

When I read about a Baja chef taking over a local restaurant for three nights I got really excited. I love seafood - particularly the mexican preparations. The menu looked promising and I made my reservation. As luck would have it, my fellow food lover cancelled on me and I was left with the decision, go alone or miss out. I cancelled the reservation but asked if I'd have a chance to get a table as a solo diner. I was told to come by - no problem.

I hardly ate anything all day in preparation for what I expected to be a sumptuous meal. I arrived at the restaurant and was happily seated within minutes - and that's where the good news ended.

I should have noticed that only one table in a mostly full room had any food on it. My order was taken promptly but in the next 40 minutes only two tables received their orders. When my appetizer arrived,
a seafood soup, I wondered where the serrano chile and shitake mushrooms were that had whet my appetite on the menu - they were not in my soup. To make matters worse, I was without a spoon. I experienced a very bland broth with a small piece of fish and a couple shrimp. As I glared at my bowl, I caught the eye of the couple sitting across from my table. They had just received their main courses, and looked as thrilled as I felt. I shared a few words with them, and learned that I was not alone in my displeasure. I still held out hope for the entree!  Finally it arrived, my order of octopus. What I received was a very small rectangular plate with about 4-5 tiny bites of octopus, plenty of tomatoes and not much more.

My server was very apologetic, and very kind, but at that point all I wanted to do was exit as soon as possible and get something to eat. The folks I had spoken with had already looked up the closest taco spot, and they were on their way. At some point a woman came to my table and proudly asked how I was enjoying myself - she was not one of the owners and I do not know what her affiliation was - but when I answered that I was actually very disappointed - she merely said - "Well, you know it's a pop-up!" - as if that should make everything ok. Can anyone say "Test Kitchen"? - come on - we know it can be done right.

And all this for only $28.00 - I could have been happier at a food truck......