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For those of you who do not recognize the food in the picture, it is the garlic chicken from Versailles on Venice Blvd., perhaps the one restaurant responsible for most Los Angelenos’ love of Cuban food. Versailles has been in Los Angeles since the 1970’s and has several branches throughout the area from Manhattan Beach to Universal Citywalk. The garlic chicken ($10.95) is still as fabulous as it always has been with the tangy citrus sauce, slightly sauteed onions, white rice, black beans, and fried plantains.

It is always good to check and see if the classic is still as good as it always was even with time and popularity. Walking into the Culver City location, I was immediately greeted with a welcoming smile (as always in any location I have ever frequented). My friend Mika is coming to town and when I told her I was going to Versailles, she immediately started drooling over their oxtails ($14.95), which are falling off the bone tender in a slightly spicy sauce that is served with white rice and plaintains. I ordered a serving (I may have to get another since I ate half of the one I got “for her”) along with their famous crispy skinned garlic chicken.


A close up view of the meltingly tender oxtails.

The very Cuban black beans that accompany the garlic chicken have a nice depth of flavor, but I like to perk them up with a few dashes of Tabasco.


Having been to Cuban restaurants in New York and Miami, I have to say that Versailles in Los Angeles is still my favorite Cuban restaurant in the US, and that is saying a lot with the plethora of Cuban transplants who have great restaurants on the East Coast. Versailles will forever be my definition of truly fabulous Cuban Food.

Versailles on Urbanspoon

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Good deals don’t last very long, and today is your last day to book a trip to Mammoth Mountain from LAX through Horizon Air for only $39 for a flight (each way) and $39 for a room (based on double occupancy)! The small print says that you must book your flight first to get the room rate, you need to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday with a 14 day advance purchase and these prices are not available November 20-30, October 4-10, or October 14-17. But those are all the rules and you can book at this rate through December 15, so take a trip and say cheers (beer and wine on Horizon Air is free)!

If snow and mountains aren’t your idea of a vacation, then you might want to book at Club Med. They have September and October departures (including Labor Day Week-end) starting at $399 for 3-7 nights with no single supplement fee, a reduced upgrade fee on room categories, and free excursion and massage when you book a suite or deluxe room. All these extras are based on availability and today is the last day to book, so get online or on the phone and say “WOW” (that is what they are calling the sale)!

May we all live true to ourselves everyday 🙂

I am making my wish today so it can come true tomorrow 🙂

Please vote for my essay. You can vote once a day through your Facebook account or simply register for a regular account on the website to vote with only your email. Thanks to everyone who has voted (194 times!) to make me #74 of 1498 entries!

If you would like to give me a gift, please make a donation to Doctors Without Borders.

I have been eating at World Cafe since the 1980’s when I first moved to Los Angeles. It has evolved over years from a beachy casual cafe to an eclectic place that still manages to combine a comfortable ambiance with delightful fresh flavor combinations.

Since the heat of summer finally came to Southern California this week, I sought out a place with a nice patio for lunch along the beach and I remembered World Cafe had exactly what I was looking for: a tasty salad in a shaded patio with lovely ivy covered walls keeping the street traffic and noise out of sight and earshot.

With a selection of specials starting at $9.99 for a seafood Louie or seared salmon salad, I opted for the grilled shrimp and corn salad on romaine with asparagus, red and yellow peppers with tomatoes for $18. The dressing was a tangy tarragon vinaigrette that was a perfect accent to the fresh ingredients and very generous salad. I loved the freshly roasted corn and the perfectly grilled shrimp so much that I started eating the salad without any salad dressing! The crispy fried onions added a nice crunch to the plate and would have been good just by themselves (they are offered as an appetizer if you so desire).

With sandwiches, burgers, pastas, entrees for vegetarians, or grilled seafood and meat, and desserts galore, all under $20 for lunch, this is a wonderful place to go with friends or alone. Service was absolutely professional and the location on Main Street in Santa Monica, means there is plenty of city parking behind the restaurant (meters) unless it is a sunny week-end.

Nice to know that after all these years of traveling the world, the World Cafe is still a good place to come home to in Southern California.

World Café on Urbanspoon

In Memorium of Pascal who passed at 12:56am yesterday, singing a song he loved.

My Way*
*You must sign in with Facebook to watch the video

I have been on a quest to find my sushi restaurant in Los Angeles since the 1980’s (yes, I am old enough to say that). I’ve found several good ones that have changed (for the worse), closed, or where the chefs have moved back to Japan, so my search goes on as I continue on my quest to find my Holy Grail of Sushi one day, and it will stay open with the chef who created the place, for many years.

My latest find is Kaizuka in Culver City. Everything about the place is very pleasant, from the reception to the shaded outdoor patio. The friendly service and the sculptured water fountains added more nice touches to a good experience.

They promote themselves as a fusion place, but they offer all the standard sushi bar fare from sashimi to sushi, with a few interesting twists on classic Japanese cuisine, like their asparagus beef ($7.50), calamari with creamy basil ($8.50), and yellowtail sashimi garnished with jalepenos, yuzu and olive oil ($15). Since I was here for standard Japanese, I decided to go with some classics, like Spanish Mackarel sushi ($6) to start. The Spanish Mackarel was wonderfully fresh and presented beautifully even though it did not adhere to the rice soaked in ponzu.


And their lunch special of tempura and sashimi ($18), which came with a tasty miso soup, steamed rice, and a green salad with a light dressing on field greens. The box lunch set was superior to what is offered in most other Japanese restaurants, with mixed field greens instead of iceberg, home made ginger, daikon and cucumber for the sashimi, and the tempura was a generous mix of shrimp and vegetables in a crisp batter that could have been lighter but it was still a very good version.

This was not my Holy Grail, but it is a very pleasant place, definitely worthy of another visit, perhaps during a dinner with more people so we can travel around the menu a bit more.

Kaizuka Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The newly reopened Santa Monica Place Mall is now an open air affair with a rooftop dining terrace that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Since I was at Sonoma Wine Garden for lunch (see yesterday’s post), I also wandered around the shops to see what was there besides the big name brands like Nike, Louis Vuitton, Kitson, Bloomingdales, and the soon to be opened Nordstrom’s.

I found Love Culture, a cross between forever 21 and H&M, geared for either teenagers or those who are budget conscious fashionistas. There was nothing in the store over $30, and although they don’t carry designer quality clothes, shoes and accessories, if you are looking for an outfit for one night, one day, or just as fun look, you really can’t go wrong here.


I got this hair clip for $3.90


I got this ring for $5.90


I got this necklace with matching earrings for $6.90


I got this dress for $13.90

Which all adds up to less than $35 (including 9.75% sales tax) for a completely accessorized outfit, and even adding shoes would have put this ensemble at under $60 out the door! Amazing! I didn’t realize how much I Love Culture until I saw the prices at this store; this is one place where price really is no object when it comes to fun fashion.

My vacation muscles are a bit weak, so I decided to train myself by acting like a tourist at the beach. The new Santa Monica Place Mall has just reopened and the new panoramic rooftop terrace houses some very nice additions to “mall food”, including the Sonoma Wine Garden. What better way to start off an inauguration than with a glass of champagne (Domaine Chandon $12)?

The restaurant space is like a huge outdoor patio fenced in with olive trees and planters, so you can see out, but you feel ensconced in a private area. The lively bar sits in the center, while lounge areas with tables are set out around the perimeter, giving the place a casual relaxed feel; I’m sure you would want to hang out all day here if you had no other plans for the day.

My plan was to eat a nice leisurely meal while enjoying the sunny summer day, so I chose one of the brunch options (brunch is as close as I get to eating breakfast) of Kobe Steak and organic eggs ($15). I asked for my steak very very rare and my eggs over medium; I was thrilled that I got both items prepared exactly as I had ordered them. The cherry tomato salsa added a nice acidic balance to the rich steak and eggs. A delightfully chewy piece of grilled peasant bread lay underneath the steak and some field greens; this meal was a wonderful way to start the day.


It is so good to find anyplace in Los Angeles which serves truly rare steak, especially important when the steak is Kobe beef.


If you want burgers, pizza, or salads, they have those too, along with some cheese and seafood bites if you just want to nibble while you sip. My waitress was a consummate professional, and the busboy was completely efficient, both added to my joy at finding good food with good service in a touristy location. This place is a definite find atop a mall, facing the ocean (yes you get a view of it too), with quality food and impeccable service.

Even when the tourists* leave in a few weeks, the locals will have this treat to enjoy without any crowds and that is why many of us live here in balmy sunny California all year.

*For all tourists who try to find this place through Google, the map is WRONG; Sonoma Wine Garden is IN THE MALL, not on Santa Monica Blvd.

Sushi Roku has several branches all over greater Los Angeles, but their branch in Pasadena is celebrating their 10 year anniversary with a 40% discount off all their food all day starting today through Friday August 27th.

Ten percent of the proceeds for this week will go towards the charity Five Acres which is an organization helping empower families to raise children to become caring and productive adults by building on their strengths and those of their families and communities.

So go eat great sushi at almost half off and help some families while you do it; sounds like a good deal to me.

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