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I met Melissa years ago when she was the manager at Lindy & Grundy. I will never forget her running out to the parking garage to catch me before I drove off because we got so wrapped up talking about recipes that I left my entire purchase on the counter 🙂 I think that was the start of our friendship, finding a mutual love of cooking and food that surpassed any business transaction. When I moved to France, I knew I would find great butchers, but none of them became friends like the ones I had in the USA.

Melissa’s Bavette Meat & Provisions has an online store (she delivers once a week), and she sells at the Altadena and Hollywood Farmer’s Markets, so bring your cooler and ice packs if you want to pick something up.

I picked up two chickens to roast, knowing that they were truly pasture raised and humanely reared, because Melissa verifies her sources; she does not merely believe the advertising. I stuffed them with herbs and lemon and they came out beautifully.

I realized that roasting whole chickens means lots of leftovers if you are not having people over for a meal, so I also bought some chicken legs, for times when I am eating alone. They come two to an order, so the perfect size portion for a hearty eater, or in my case one to eat now, one to eat later 🙂

I roasted one set with herbs de Provence, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon (left) and I marinated the other set (right) in black vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sambal, oyster sauce, and shallots overnight, before roasting.

Choose whatever recipe you wish for yours:)

When Melissa told me she was getting a lamb, I immediately asked if I could get a neck, and she RESERVED IT FOR ME on her website! One of the perks of being friends with your butcher!

I seared then slowly braised it in san marzano tomatoes, curry, and garlic until the tender meat fell off the bone.

For times when I just want a quick and easy dinner, I love eating a pork chop, and because of my food sensitivity, I only buy pork from clean sources like Bavette because my body will not tolerate what most markets sell. I love having the extra fat to crisp up and add to other things I am making.

Sometimes quick and easy heat it and eat it is the way to go, especially at the end of a long day when the comfort of being home outweighs any desire to go out or cook. The frozen Bison Cottage pie is topped with wonderful mashed potatoes and filled with bison, carrots, and peas. It was so good that next time I am going to get extras for my “just in case” freezer stash.

The ultimate comfort food may be chicken pot pie, and when someone else does all the cooking and all you have to do is put it into the oven, that is the best of all worlds! The crust was perfect, and the filling was so good that I literally slurped up the last bits 🙂

Hmmm I think it’s time to place another order….

Happy Hours are some of my favorite times of the day; in a Venn diagram it is the sweet center spot.

 

I’ve written about a few of my favorite places in previous posts, so today’s post is an addendum of some places where I have gone, but are not on my rotation of frequent visits, either because of location, or selections.

Salt Creek Grille has several locations scattered throughout Southern California, and they feature very comfortable and chic decor, with a varied menu Happy Hour is M-F in the bar and lounge from 4-6:30 pm. Choices range from $6 for chips to this $11 plate of mesquite grilled baby back ribs with cole slaw and Asiago garlic fries. The meat was tender and the BBQ sauce was sweet but not over done, and the fries were nicely done, although I could have done without the sprinkling of asiago.

It was a good deal for the food, but I didn’t care for the Paloma, a beautifully presented drink with a candied grapefruit rind, but so sweet it was like drinking dessert. I would have opted for a martini but they make theirs with Tito’s and it’s not a brand I like. Ah well, I think I will just have wine next time.

Local Kitchen in Torrance is a family friendly sports bar that delivers all that you would expect from a neighborhood place, including huge portions, and a large selection of beers. I love their yardbird salad, so I went in one day during happy hour, which is 3-6 pm everyday at the bar for their wings at $7.50. It was a HUGE portion, definitely enough to share with 2 or 3 people. They have a decent selection of wines, but go for one of their beers on draft here, like the Smog City IPA.

Abigaile in Hermosa serves some of the best bar food in the South Bay, and their happy hour M-F from 5-7 pm is their testing menu for food that may or may not make it to the main menu. The menu changes constantly, but if you see the French dip on their menu, it a worth ordering for the tender meat and rich dipping sauce that is perfectly dunkable with the pretzel bun.

Before dunking,

after dunking 🙂

The Whisper Lounge in the Grove, offers happy hour M-F 3- 6 pm, and all day on Sunday. The calamari was over fried and dry, but the short rib sliders for $8 were so good that we contemplated ordering another plate. Their wine selection has enough depth and quality to make a wine snob (like me) happy, and with happy prices $4 less than regular, my friend and I indulged in 2 glasses each:)

No matter where you are, there is bound to be an option (if not happy hour, maybe go to the gym, yoga studio, or a movie) that is better than sitting in freeway traffic for a few hours, and that alone should make you happy 🙂

KimBap Paradise is known for their Korean rolls, kind of like sushi rolls but with different fillings, like beef 🙂 However tempting they sounded, I knew that there was no way that I could eat an entire roll, much less one with a bowl of soup or Bibimbop, so I opted for the bowl of Bibimbop alone. Of course it came with soup, rice, sides of kimchi, and pickled radish. The ingredients were all fresh and delicious, especially after I added the umami laden red chili bean paste (not spicy) into the bowl. Nothing on the menu is over $15 so you can experiment with new flavors without exploring going into debt.

I’ve written about Eboshi before, but I went back with a friend who had lived in Japan and spoke Japanese, so it was an “upgraded” lunch experience my second time around. We started with grilled beef tongue, a simple bite that is rare to find in Los Angeles.

My friend ordered the cold bowl of ramen Hiyashi Chuka for $11.50 that he devoured with gusto, saying it reminded him of his time in Japan.

I ordered the fried oysters which were wonderfully crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, and even though they were flown in from Japan, the price was very reasonable. Since I hate macaroni salad, I can’t tell you how that tasted, but it was included with a small green salad for around $6.

Even though I no longer live in the neighborhood, the area around Sawtelle known as Little Osaka, Korean Super is still a good place to stop for a bowl of comfort food like this sweet savory chicken with pickled radish. It’s a hearty portion, served in an easily transportable container, so you can take your leftovers home:)

So many bowls to choose from, where should I eat my next bowl?

My favorite way to spend my birthday is sharing great food with friends, and as an added gift, we dined at my friends’ restaurant, A Food Affair. Babette and Christian welcome everyone as friends whether it is your first visit or fiftieth, so my friends who had never been felt as welcome as my friends who revisited.

The whole branzino with grilled lemons served with a side a sauce of mint and parsley was perfectly cooked and I completely forgot to add the side sauce because the clean fresh flavor of the fish was so delightful.

The lamb shank tagine was a special that was actually delivered in a tajine! The meat was falling off the bone tender, redolent with Moroccan spices, and the portion was enough for two meals (I devoured the leftovers the next day).

You may not see the escargot because they are smothered in a smooth garlic, parsley and cream sauce over potato, but they are like hidden gems that burst with flavor. If you have never had escargot, this is a perfect introduction, and if you are an escargot fan, you will be enthralled by this version.

For vegetarians, the hearty Farmer’s Market Casserole with eggplant, brussel sprouts, mushrooms and a spaghetti squash and tomato terrine could be a main dish, or large a vegetable side dish.

We chose a nice Bordeaux to accompany our meal.

And even though we only ordered one dessert, the marvelous Royères sent out practically every dessert on their menu with candles and birthday wishes!

The coconut crème caramel was my favorite, filled with lots of coconut, passionfruit coulis, and sprinkled with pepitas, the textures and flavors all complimented each other.

My birthday wish is a secret, but it’s no secret that I love A Food Affair!

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