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What are you doing next Tuesday night between 7-11pm?

If you don’t already have plans, then I suggest that you head over to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel to eat some wonderful dishes prepared by Nobu Matsushisa, Wolfgang Puck, Mako Tanaka, Hideo Yamashiro, and Tim Goodell to support the relief efforts in Japan. Tickets range from $40 general admission to $300 VIP all access to all the dishes, chefs and open bar!

All the chefs are donating their time and the food, so that all of the proceeds will go towards helping people who have survived the Tsunami and earthquake in Japan, so even if you can’t attend, you please donate.

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Having been to Sonoma Wine Garden when they first opened for breakfast (see my previous post), I have been wanting to go back for a meal and finally did last week. Sunset on a balmy Southern California day is the perfect time to take advantage of the rooftop views of the Pacific and to bask in the last rays of sunshine on the outdoor patio.

The tomato basil soup with a drizzle of basil oil and garlic croutons, was a perfect way to start. 

I chose the Caesar Salad ($12) because it had white anchovies (my favorite), but I was pleasantly surprised by the high garlic content of the dressing and the Parmesan crisps which added a nice crunch to the crisp leaves of romaine.

Cindy chose the beet salad with shaved fennel and goat cheese ($12) and cleaned her plate. She loved the presentation as much as the flavor combination.

We both had the 2005 Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon from the Alexander Valley and very much appreciated the ability to order a half as well as full glass (Cindy never drinks more than a half glass). A truly wonderful way to end the day is watching the sunset over Santa Monica, sipping wine from Sonoma, with a great friend.

Sonoma Wine Garden on Urbanspoon

I love introducing my old friends to new places; it’s like watching kids discover a new toy hidden in their closet. Even though Cindy only lives about one hour away, coming to “The Big City” offers possibilities her bedroom community does not, and some of my neighborhood favorites, like Huckleberry Cafe, are exotic tantalizing experiences for her. Since she is a pescatarian (eats fish, but no other animal), a place which offers vegetarian choices automatically gains a spot on my list of places to take her.

Being an omnivore, my choice was the asparagus salad, made with arugula, Jidori chicken, fried prosciutto, roasted red peppers, feta, red wine vinaigrette, and of course asparagus for $12 (normally farro is also included but they were out). This was an incredibly luscious combination of crunchy prosciutto, tender greens, and juicy Jidori chicken. The light dressing enhanced the salad without overpowering it, and the tender asparagus was perfectly cooked. I would order this salad any day as a hearty meal.

Cindy chose a trio of salads for $12 from the deli, with brussel sprouts, squash, and the best quinoa salad she has ever eaten (her words) made with pistachios.

She adored the soft slice of bread that came with her salad so much she took it home.

She also ordered a cup of the pureed vegetable soup for $4 which was a symphony of fresh goodness in a cup.

I had to order a doughnut ($2.50) since Huckleberry makes my favorite fluffy yeast doughnut (but I did share it with Cindy).

I would have ordered some of the best beef brisket I have ever eaten to go, but we were going shopping and I wasn’t sure it was cold enough to leave it in the car for several hours. Oh well, that just means I have to come back (again)!

Huckleberry on Urbanspoon

Today is Earth Day and there are many ways to help the Earth with simple acts, some of which will get you free coffee and trees:

1) CREEDO is planting a tree in your honor if you simply click that you like them on your Facebook page by April 30, the more people click, the more trees get planted, so pass on the information and post it on your wall.

2) M Cafe is offering $1.00 off to all take out customers who bring in their own bag to take home their food, and if you bring in your own reusable mug they will give you a free coffee as well.

3) Lowe’s is giving away one million trees today, stop by a store and pick one up.

4) Starbucks is giving away free coffee today when you bring in your own reusable mug.

5) Do what you can everyday to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle 🙂

I prefer the European style of chocolate because it is less sugary and more intensely chocolate than the American style. Since the chocolate supply I brought back from Paris’ Debauve Gallais is now gone, I headed over to Madame Chocolat in Beverly Hills to get some truffles from my favorite local chocolatier for a friend’s birthday this week (and a few pieces for myself).

With Easter coming up, the store window and interior are both filled with delightfully whimsical and mouthwatering creations. Whether you are looking for a traditional chocolate Easter Bunny, Easter Eggs, or marshmallow “chicks”, they have them all, ranging from small kid friendly sized, to a gigantic decadent party centerpiece size. Her Glitter Truffles have been featured on television and you can have them shipped to you if you don’t live nearby.

Madame is famous for her beautiful (chocolate) shoes and handbags, so if you would like to get something truly unique for your favorite shoe-a-holic who also happens to be a chocoholic, the perfect gift of Blahnik, Louboutin, or Valentino heels can be had for a fraction of the inedible version! For the men, there are watches, golf balls, and cigars, and for the kids (even grown up kids), there are chocolate S’Mores, chocolate covered Oreos, and cheerios.

In a romantic chocolate love story, Madame Chocolat, Hasty Torres, is married to Mr. Chocolate, Jacques Torres, so some of his creations are also in the store like the Wicked (pictured above), made with a spicy chili, and Love Potion #9 (pictured below) made with dark chocolate ganache.

Fortunately, the love of chocolate does not involve the possibility of heartbreak, with the exception of not having enough, so make sure you stock up before the holidays.

Madame Chocolat on Urbanspoon

Since I was attending the French Film Festival COLCOA (City of Light City of Angels) all week, there were times when I could not go further than a few blocks for food in between movies. There is The Counter for burgers across the street, and Veggie Grill for vegans, two blocks away, and Trader Joe’s for ready made food, but I opted for the place I had not yet tried, Pizza Fusion, literally right next door.

It was more attractive simply because they advertised specials for Earth Day, they use organic ingredients, give all their employees who work more than 20 hours a week medical benefits, offer free sustainable classes for kids every month, and they even offer gluten free options for pizza, beer, and brownies; I don’t see either Veggie Grill or Trader Joe’s offering these kind of options and benefits.

On one break, I had a large Fusion Salad ($8.99), made with Arugula, romaine, cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, basil, shaved carrots and toasted crostini (all the green items are organic and you can omit the crostini for gluten free diets). I chose the balsamic vinaigrette but it was drowned in Italian when it arrived; they switched it out for another one as soon as I tasted it and asked for a replacement with the dressing on the side. Everything was freshly prepared and had the added “feel good” component of being organic, so I knew no pesticides were in my plate of greens.

Because this is after all a pizza place, I had to come back for a pizza, so I opted for personal sized ($8.99) a multi grain crust (you can also choose an organic white) made with sauteed spinach, roasted portobello mushrooms, goat cheese, and Italian sausage (which was hormone & preservative free). They offer several cheese options, from organic Mozzarella to Daiya vegan.The tomato sauce is organic and very tasty and although this is not a classic pizza, I enjoyed the thin crispy crust and the flavors I combined. I would order this again as an alternative to the traditional American “pizza” any day.

I saw the stuffed mushrooms ($6.99) on the appetizer menu and had to try them. They are criminis (mini portobellos) stuffed with sausage, goat cheese, and herbs and they were my favorite of all the things I tried here. They would be perfect paired with a glass of the Malbec ($8) and during happy hour from 4-7pm they offer specials on either their beers (they offer flights of beers), wines, or appetizers.

Convenience is always a good reason to try something, but when it is combined with ethical actions that combine healthy food with happy employees in the community, that is a reason to come back.

Pizza Fusion on Urbanspoon

Century City is one of my favorite places to go for movies and food, especially when for $25 (advance purchase) you can get EIGHT dishes (with drinks) from the restaurants in the Westfield Mall and 100% of the proceeds go to Food 4 All.

The offerings on April 12th for the 6pm-9pm event include:

Breadbar – Signature sliders with wine selection
Giggles N Hugs – Pizza bites, mini mac & cheese, mini cupcakes with a fresh fruit smoothie
Gulfstream – Smoked salmon and chef’s dressing with Sauvignon Blanc
Houston’s – Spinach & artichoke dip with white wine selection
Obika Mozzarella Bar – Caponata, eggplant parmigiana, ricotta mousse with a Pim’s mojito
Pink Taco – Signature pink-hued taco with a margarita
RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen – Princess shrimp, chicken samosa, spicy ahi roll with blood orange sangria
Toscanova – Mozzarella pizza, porcini mushroom risotto, umbricelli with sausage, spinach & ricotta ravioli, cherry tart and tiramisu with white wine spritzers

Not only is this a great deal, but your money will feed others as well as yourself; a win-win!

Dear Readers,

As you may have already noticed, I am not posting as often as I used to on my blog. Some other parts of my life need my attention, and as much as I love writing about restaurants, travel tips and shopping, they are not the focus of my life. Please continue to read my posts, even if I only post sporadically and less often. I enjoy sharing my finds with you and will continue to do so as I endeavor to balance time with those I love and writing about things I love to do.

Elaine 🙂

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