Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I first heard about Cambinos Asian BBQ when it showed up as an outing on my dining club's calendar. Even though it was in OC, just the thought of Asian BBQ was enough to get me in my car for a drive beyond LA County boundaries, especially since I had such a wonderful experience with Park's Finest BBQ. By the way, owner James Sar, is Cambodian, but named his restaurant Cambinos after his former Filipino-Cambodian basketball team that used to play around Orange County.
While the very name of the restaurant seems to indicate that the BBQ served there is a fusion of Cambodian and Filipino cuisines, James' friend, who was managing the restaurant at the time of our visit, mentioned that the purpose of Cambinos is simply to serve home-style BBQ utilizing general Asian influences and not necessarily specific to any one country. We were also told that a different BBQ sauce was developed for each of the various meats on the menu.
To get a broad idea of the BBQ, our group opted to split several plates of their Mixed Plate to share. This Mixed Plate consisted of steamed rice, grilled veggies, chicken and pork skewers, chicken thigh, beef short rib and spare pork ribs. Normally priced at $9.95, you can get it for $7.95 on Saturdays.
The first thing I tried was the Boneless Chicken Thighs which was marinated in a house blend of spices and hoisin sauce. Unfortunately, the marinade was a little too sweet for my palate, so it wasn't a hit with me.
Next was the Beef Short Ribs, which was marinated in a soy based sauce with ginger. This was just an okay dish for me. It needed more ginger.
Then I took a bite out of the Pork Spare Ribs which was marinated with a blend of lemon and lime juices along with garlic and other spices, and I was completely wowed. First, the meat was tender and practically falling off the bone. Second, I enjoyed the tart and slightly vinegary flavor of the meat itself. These ribs are definitely a must order.
As for the skewers, I didn't realize at the time that there were actually two different skewers on the plate, which meant that I didn't get to try the chicken skewer. I did try the Pork Skewer with a special marinade blend of spices, brown sugar and ginger and I found it absolutely delicious. It reminded me of Filipino BBQ, which actually is always on skewers.
Seeing the Grilled Cornish Hens with a Pineapple Glaze on the menu piqued our interest, so we placed an order for that as well. I'm so glad we did. Along with the Pork Ribs, those hens are a must order. The chicken meat was tender and juicy with delicious tropical flavors.
For dessert, we also checked out their simply called Yellow Cake. A small cake that was moist and had a slight sugar glaze to it that even made it more appealing.
Overall, I really enjoyed my Cambinos. While there were a couple of items I could pass over, everything else was really stellar. So much so, I'm planning on bringing my assorted family members there for a meal sometime. If you happen to be in the Cypress area, be sure to check it for yourself as well and go for those ribs. Yum!
Cambinos Asian BBQ
5721 Lincoln Avenue
Cypress, CA 90630
Monday, March 22, 2010
Congratulations to Shane for winning this Platine Giveaway!
When it comes to food, I usually lean more towards savory than sweet. Things that taste too sugary to the point that I feel like I'm getting a cavity with every bite do not appeal on any level. When I do indulge in dessert, I like my sweet to be sweet, but not oversweet, which is why Platine Cookies is an awesome bakery that I'm always recommending to friends and family. I first experienced Platine when I had set up a dessert tasting there last year with my dining group. Chef Jamie Cantor graciously welcomed us into her kitchen where we got to sample 11 of her desserts and 1 savory item, her Gruyere Cheese Puffs.
Before I get talk about the tastings itself, I just wanted to give you some info on Jamie. Jamie grew up in Miami Beach, FL where as a child, she learned a love cooking from her mother and grandmother. Early on, it was clear that her passion and talent was for baking. Armed with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Emory University, Jamie also received an Associates Degree from The Culinary Institute of America in New York. Upon being awarded the 1998 Women Chefs and Restaurants Scholarship, she continued her culinary education at the CIA Greystone Campus in Napa Valley.
Once her studies were complete and she received a a Certificate in Baking and Pastry Arts, she began work at The French Laundry restaurant as Chef de Partie alongside James Beard Award recipient chef Thomas Keller, and Pastry Chef of the Year Award recipient Stephen Durfee. In late 2001 after several years at the French Laundry and a brief sojourn in Dallas, Texas, Jamie decided to follow her sweet tooth and moved to Los Angeles to begin Platine.
Now that we're caught up, let's talk sweets and in fact, let me mention my favorite dessert of our tasting, the Caramel Topped Brownies. If you are a caramel and chocolate lover, one look at the picture below is going to make you go ooooohhhhh! The caramel was thick and the brownie moist. A perfect combo!
My second fav were the Chocolate Gingersnaps made with fresh ginger, extra Brut cocoa and freshly ground spices. What was nice was the ginger didn't over power the chocolate flavor or vice versa. It was a nice balance.
On one tray there was a trio that included Chocolate Baby Cakes, Peanut Butter Chocolate Baby Cakes and her Mini Couture Cookies. I'm not much of a cupcake eater, but I really liked these smaller baby cake bites and the fact that they had a hardened chocolate top made them even more appealing. I should mention that while Jamie can bake any number of different desserts, her specialties are actually cookies. The Mini Couture Cookies can come in any shape, size or color for all kinds of special events plus they taste good. I actually just noticed that one those couture cookies had a "P" on them, probably for Pleasure Palate.
One of the desserts which I thought was unique was her Pineapple Upside Down Cake which had an interesting ingredient, pink peppercorns. The pink peppercorns added a little zest of flavor different from the tart-sweetness of the pineapple and I actually think it helped round out the flavors so that the cake wasn't too sweet.
The rest of our tasting included Carrot Coconut Cakelettes. Oatmeal Cookies, Chocolate Cookies and Chocolate Chip Cookies as well light and airy Gryuere Cheese Puffs.
Just recently, my dining group went back for another tasting event, but unfortunately, I didn't take my own photos. Shame on me! However, I did find some photos online to show you some of my favorites from that event. First up were Jamie's version of Oreo Cookies. The top cookie is her Camee, which is a vanilla cookie with fleur de sel while the bottom cookie is her Platino.
Next was her Disco Ho-Hos, a gourmet version of the Hostess Ho-Hos that some of us grew up eating. Look at the deep dark chocolate and don't tell me that her version isn't a cut or more above the rest.
Jamie also introduced us to an item from her Mixology line. It's a line where she's trying to be more experimental with her desserts. That day, we got to sample her Butterscotch Pot de Creme made with Glenlivet Scotch. The alcohol is cooked out, but what's left is the flavor of sweet cream, brown sugar and the Glenlivet Scotch. Other items that were sampled were welcome repeats from before like the Chocolate Gingersnaps and the Caramel Topped Brownies.
Overall, I just can't say enough good things about Platine. If Platine was located on the Eastside, they would be my one stop shop for all things cookies, cakes and more and if you're living in the Westside, you definitely should check them out. You won't be disappointed.
Coming Soon! Coconut macaroons in March and flourless chocolate babycakes for Passover. Platine will also be offering Rhubarb Tartelettes and what Jamie refers to as the "shortstack" (tiny stack of house made pancakes drenched in Maple OJ emulsion and topped with candied bacon and bacon candy), both in Spring.
Click here to see more pictures of Platine Desserts!
10850 Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
(Open only to US Residents)
Now that you’ve learned more about Platine Cookies and have seen some of their desserts, here's your chance to WIN either a Dessert Tasting for you + 9 of your Friends (only if you're in the LA area or willing to travel to the Bakery itself) OR a Platinum Deluxe Cookie Box (includes 2 dozen cookies and 1/2 dozen brownies) shipped to you anywhere in the US.
There are multiple ways to enter, so check them all out below.
1. Leave a comment and tell me why you'd like to win either the Dessert Tasting or the Platinum Deluxe Cookie Box. (Please leave your email so that I can contact you. Spell it out like abby at pleasurepalate dot com)
2. Follow Platine Cookies on Twitter (if you aren’t already doing so)
3. Fan Platine Cookies on Facebook (if you aren’t already doing so)
4. Tweet: Win a Sweet Prize from @platinecookies via @pleasurepalate: http://bit.ly/dpitnM
You can have up to 4 total entries each; however, please note that you have to comment back and let me know which of the actions you took, so that I can keep track of them. This is especially true for 2 through 4. If you don’t let me know which actions you took, then I won’t count them as entries.
Contest ends Tuesday, March 30 at 11:59 AM, PST and a winner will be randomly chosen from all entries. Open only to US Residents. Good Luck!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Last December, I was invited and hosted by Chef Amy Jurist, of Amy's Culinary Adventures, to attend one of her decadent underground dinners. With the theme being "Cheese Please!" and with my love of cheese, this was one invitation that I definitely did not want to turn down. This is actually my second time attending an underground dinner. That first experience was on a much smaller scale and took place at the chef's home; however, Amy's version was definitely much grander and was held at the Bradford Stewart Studio in Culver City with around 90+ in attendance.
The evening started with wine being served along with a trio of appetizers and plenty of it. It could have been really easy to fill up on all those starters. First, there were the mini Crab and Swiss Cheese Quiches with the Swiss Cheese adding a nice little sharpness to the sweetness of the crab.
Next up were the Port and Honey Goat Cheese Napoleons with Pistachios. I honestly don't remember really tasting the port, but I enjoyed the pungent/sweet/nutty flavors of all the other ingredients.
To finish off the trio was the Queso Fundido Con Chorizo. Who could say no to Chorizo?
Soon, we sat down to dinner, but before we got started, Chef Amy came out to tell us a little about herself and her inspiration for that night's theme.
After her introduction, our first course was a Roast Cauliflower and White Cheddar Soup with Sharp Cheddar Tuile. I loved the tuile. It added a nice crunch component and sharpness to the otherwise mild soup.
When we were done with the soup, out came bread. Oh my god, the bread! It was totally amazing. If I could have snuck out to the the kitchen area and brought home an entire box, bag or whatever I could find, of this Blue Cheese Scallion Bread, I would have done so with a smile on my face and without a trace of guilt in my heart.
Our next course was the Yam and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce. I have to admit that I was confused by this dish. First, I think this was actually a Raviolo. Ravioli is the plural of raviolo. Also, this raviolo didn't seem like a closed pasta. Instead, it was open at the sides? Of all the dishes, this was my least favorite. The sage butter sauce seemed a little too oily and the yam too sweet. The flavors just didn't come together for me.
Next up was the Proscuitto Wrapped Chicken with Fontina and Spinach Gratin. Although a tad salty, perhaps because of the proscuitto, this was a good dish. I loved how the breading of the chicken was crispy and cooked to the point that it was a little caramelized. The chicken breast itself was moist and I liked that there was no skimping on the spinach filling.
Even before the chicken, I was getting really full, but I didn't want to miss dessert, which was Pecan Pie Cheesecake with Vanilla and Raspberry Sauce. Normally, I'm not much of a cheesecake person, but this one I enjoyed a lot. The pecans and brown sugar topping had a sweetness to it that surprisingly wasn't cloying. It was just right and when you ate the cheesecake with a little bit of the raspberry sauce, the addition of the tart fruity notes was a nice touch.
Overall, this was a really fun evening. Not only was the food great, you definitely did not go home hungry. What was also nice was mixing and mingling with other food lovers, whether it was during the cocktail hour or sitting at the long communal tables and chatting with your neighbors. To get more info about Amy's Culinary Adventures, check out the links below.
Click here to visit Amy's Culinary's Adventures Website!
Click here to get info on Amy's next underground dinner, the Bacon Affair!
Sunday, March 14, 2010
For the past month, I've been hearing a slow buzz about a new hot dog joint called The Slaw Dogs. I finally decided to Google it and see what the fuss was about. When I read about the unique ingredients that made up their Specialty Slaw Dogs, I was intrigued and when I found out that The Slaw Dogs was in Pasadena, a mere 15-20 minutes away from me, my mind was made up. I had to check this place out and brought along some of my dining club members for the ride.
Since I never know when I'm going to make a return visit to a restaurant, I thought it would be a fun to set up an impromptu hog dog sampling and between the 7 of us, we tasted 8 different hot dogs along with a few sides. Before I talk hot dogs, let me just briefly mention the sides we shared, starting with their Beer Battered O-Rings. I'm an onion ring fan and these were awesome. Light, crispy and not too oily. If you love onion rings, too, you definitely should order these.
Our sweet potato fries were first served to us lukewarm, but after pointing that out, they graciously cooked us up a new batch. Those sweet potato fries were also light, crispy and sweet, but if they were topped with chopped fresh herbs, they would go up a notch even higher.
I'm not exactly sure what makes a Belgian french fry different from regular fries. Is it the fact they're double-fried and/or come with dipping sauces? I liked the Belgian french fries we ordered, but I'm not sure what it is about them that make them "Belgian". In general, all the fried items we tried were cooked just right. I don't think you'll go wrong with either the fries or the onion rings as a side for your dog.
Now let's get to the meat of the matter. Pun intended. As mentioned, we tried 8 different hot dogs, starting with the Picnic Dog. The ingredients for the Picnic Dog included a grilled Vienna all beef link, BBQ sauce, onion rings, potato salad and pickle. This actually wasn't one of the more memorable hot dogs for me although I liked the idea of it; however, about half the group named it as one of their favs.
Next was the Thai Slaw Dog with chicken sausage, spicy peanut-coconut satay dressing, cilantro-carrot slaw, crushed peanuts and siracha aioli. I loved the chicken sausage. It was juicy and had good flavor, but the rest of the ingredients didn't pop for me as much as I thought it should have. I'm not exactly sure why. Maybe, the flavors seemed a little to spread out or competed with each other? Along with one other hot dog that I'll mention later, the Thai Slaw Dog was one of the least favorites of my hot dog loving crew.
Life definitely started looking up when I took a bite of the Caesar Dog which was comprised of chicken sausage, chopped romaine, roast garlic, Parmesan, garlic crouton and Caesar dressing. Again, that chicken sausage was wonderful and I can tell you right now that this was my favorite hot dog of our sampling. I loved the freshness and crunch of the romaine, the slight saltiness of the Parmesan and of course, the garlic, from the roast garlic to the garlic croutons. I would definitely order this again.
The yay train continued with The Reuben Dog with a butterflied spicy polish sausage, pastrami, swiss, sauerkraut, Russian dressing on grilled rye. With that pastrami and hot dog duo, it brought me back to the time I had an Oki Dog, a "burrito" that also had hot dogs and pastrami as part of its filling. All the ingredients just went so well together. I liked that there was just the right amount of sour to the sauerkraut and I loved that the bread was grilled to a dark brown versus a pale brown with patches of yellow that I've seen with other grilled sandwiches at other restaurants. This was simply a great sandwich.
Hot dog number 5 was The Green Monster with roasted green chili, chipotle mayo, grilled onion, pepperjack, spicy garlic salsa. This particular wasn't the hit of the Monster Mash. In fact, it was the least favorite of the bunch. This was actually the one I was looking forward to the most, too. The general consensus was that the chili was just too mushy. One of my dining partners mentioned that when these particular chilis are roasted, that the consistency is supposed to be softened; however, that piece of knowledge did little to change our mind. Perhaps, if a crunch component was added to counterbalance the texture of the green chilies, it might be much improved.
Our sixth hot dog was one of the specials for the day and not on their regular menu. The Market "Cali" dog was made with spicy polish sausage, kumquat chutney, habanero pickled onion, mint grilled onions and curry ketchup. I loved, loved the addition of the kumquat chutney, which I never would have imagined on a hot dog. It added fresh, tart, citrus notes. I did think that there were just too many onions. I couldn't really taste the mint from the grilled onions, but loved the kick of the habanero pickled onions. Though subtle, the curry ketchup did shine through.
You'd think we'd be done by now, but nope, two more hot dogs to go with the seventh one being The A.B.L.T Dog with double bacon, chopped romaine, tomato, avocado, roast garlic aioli. With B.L.T sandwiches being one of my favorite sandwiches, the A.B.L.T. dog was definitely a hit with me and I really liked the addition of the roast garlic aioli. I'd rather have that over just plain mayo anytime.
To end our hot dog feast, we had the Country Breakfast Dog which was a special for the day along with the Market Dog "Cali", which I mentioned earlier. Originally, my plan was for us to just try 6 dogs, but when I heard the words"fried egg", all bets were off and that's how we ended up adding the two specials to our hot dog line up. The Country Breakfast Dog was simply a hot dog topped with gravy, bacon, cheese and an over-easy fried egg. Over-easy, of course, meant egg with yolk. Cutting into the egg and letting the yolk soak through to the bun made this one of the messier hot dogs to eat, but it was definitely worth it.
Also with each hot dog came little yellow peppers, which I absolutely loved. A nice hit of heat never hurt anyone. Overall, with a couple of exceptions, I really enjoyed the hot dogs at The Slaw Dogs. I thought the creativity that went into coming up with the unique ingredients really was stellar. A Caesar Dog and a Country Breakfast Dog are definitely not something I would have thought of, nor would I have ever considered topping a hot dog with kumquat chutney or potato salad. The one thing that I do want to nitpick about is the bun. It needs to be a bit firmer to hold the all the ingredients, but I think that's fixable and hopefully, something The Slaw Dogs will look into improving.
What's also nice about The Slaw Dogs is that if you're feeling creative, you can even choose your own toppings as well as from 11 types of hot dogs. You can even choose if you'd like your hot dog simply charbroiled or "rippered", which means deep fried until the meat pops out of the casing. I don't eat hot dogs on a regular basis, but if I was feeling it, you'd definitely see me chowing down at The Slaw Dogs.
The Slaw Dogs
720 N Lake Ave, #8
Pasadena, CA 91104