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I moved back to the U.S.A. from France about 2.5 years ago, but I am still a citizen of both countries and hold two passports. My languages, tastes, and sensibilities are cross cultural, so it was wonderful to go home to France for a two week visit. It felt like a family reunion with my friends at one of my homelands.

Cantine de Marius in Saint Germain-en-laye was one of my go to places and I was very happy to find it is still a wonderful place for fabulous French food 🙂 They have a lunch menu for only 17.50 Euros for two courses or 21 Euros for three that will amaze your taste buds!

The menu changes daily (as it should), but the day we were there the appetizer was a tuna crudo with cucumbers and radishes,

 and mackerel with a purée of broccoli

and a white nectarine dessert with sorbet that bespoke the perfume of summer fruits.

It was a wonderful welcome back to France with friends. We strolled the grounds of the chateau to walk off lunch afterwards:)

I will post as soon as I return from France 🙂

In the meantime, I will be posting pictures during my trip on my Instagram page.

Recommendations by people who share my tastes led me to Doma Kitchen. If you like or would like to try Eastern European foods, Doma is a wonderful place to begin your journey. It’s also just a great place for anyone who appreciates fresh, well prepared food. The wine list impressed me with the geographical scope they included, and when I saw a Greek wine I had not drunk since I was  in Greece, I had to order it! If you would like to sample more of their wines and just a few bites, they have a happy hour menu from 3-6pm Tuesday-Friday offering 2 for 1 on all beers and wines!

I came for dinner with a friend, and we tried to sample as many items as possible with just the two of us. Their very crisp falafels for $11.95 were huge and the garlic dip was very potent. This could easily have been a meal for one big appetite, as it was we each ate one to save some room for the rest of the meal.

Their Quinoa salad for $13.95 was fabulous for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who loves a good mix of avocado, dried cranberries, cherry tomatoes, Quinoa, spring greens, almonds, and red onions. I was not a fan of the dressing (too much oil in the ratio), so I was glad it came on the side. 

My friend is a pickle fiend, eating them with everything, so we ordered the pickled vegetables for $8.95. It was the first time we had ever tasted pickled cherry tomatoes so it took some getting used to the taste when you usually expect an unpickled tomato taste! 

The highlight of the evening was the panko crusted and herb butter filled chicken Kiev for $24.95, on a bed of pearl couscous and vegetables. This was so delicious that we savored every bite even though we were completely stuffed by they time it arrived at our table! The vegetables were lightly cooked, the chicken was moist with the butter streaming out once we cut into it, and the panko crust was fried to crisp perfection. 

They have art on the walls, music on some nights, and friendly servers who have regulars, so if you are looking for a respite from the loud, bland chains, come to this neighborhood spot hidden in a shopping center next to a supermarket (where Aunt Kizzy’s used to be). 

I remember when The Wood opened at their busy intersection and I was happy to find on a recent return visit, that they are still thriving. Their blend of American favorites with a Californian sensibility is a tried and true formula. Coupled with fantastic service and a warm inviting fire pit on their large patio, this place is an easy choice if you are in the neighborhood. Since it’s been raining heavily all week, the warm glow of the fire pit and the thought of comfort food drew a friend and me to the sheltered patio lit with heat lamps and the large bar height fire pit. 

The chicken pot pie for $15 looked like a pie a la mode when it came out with a scoop of mashed potatoes. They use free range chicken and make their own crust, so the quality of ingredients was top notch, however I found the filling lacked seasoning.It was a huge portion, so easily enough for two or a big appetite.

The roasted beet salad for $13 with candied walnuts, goat cheese, and a balsamic dressing was absolutely delightful, with contrasting textures, nice flavors, and good balance of ingredients.

The lentil soup ended up being taken to go because it was a meal in and of itself!

As a pure indulgence, we ordered the truffle fries for $8, they weren’t addictive, but they weren’t bad either; the three choices of dipping sauce made us eat more than we intended!

If you stop by on a Tuesday night, they offer half off their bottles of wine, so come and leave in a taxi or driver service if you would like to indulge 🙂

Happy New Year!

First stop at Smorgasburg was of course at Mid East Tacos, because I always support my friends, especially those who cook well 🙂 They have upgraded and expanded tremendously since they started in the beginning of the year, and I am thrilled and happy to have witnessed and tasted the evolution. 

Their grill is now TWICE as big, and their corn tortillas are the best I have eaten (made by hand in the back of the stand). Since the grill is helmed by Paul and the recipes come from Armen, this is a must stop for at least ONE taco, if not the trio of beef, chicken, and falafel.

 With my “backstage pass” went behind the stand to see the set up.

 Paul and his skewers.

 It takes a team to prepare the tacos and burritos

 including the woman who was making all the corn tortillas on the spot!

After some tacos and a walk around, it was time for a small snack of Mama Musubi‘s Kelp with upgraded rice.

Ugly Drum was the designated main stop, with a short stack, some burnt ends, and pickles. They had a new horseradish mustard from a fellow vendor that was fantastic.

 Burnt ends could have been a meal by itself.

The short stack was plenty for two people to share, especially with the burnt ends. As a bread fanatic, I was very impressed by the Bub and Grandma’s they used for the sandwich.

Milk was there so I had to try their confetti cookie. Thankfully it came in its own package to take home since the incredibly moist and perfectly sweet cookie had to be saved for later.

 Food marathon completed, for now 🙂

There were of course sides and desserts galore 🙂

Roasted corn with lime and Manchego cheese..

 Scalloped potatoes

 Cornflake topped orange sweet potatoes

 Many pies….

 Chocolate of course

A generous gift from an overseas visitor for the hosts 🙂

My favorite day of the year is the prep day for Thanksgiving when I get to cook with friends in this wonderful kitchen 🙂 Everything is made from scratch and it took 6 of us 8+ hours to prepare this feast for forty.

Yes that is a water faucet over the stove top, two ovens and eight burners!

Even washing dishes was fun with this flexible magnetic sheet sprayer.

 

 The x’s marked off our progress throughout the process….

 

Soup is served.

 

Salad was also served.

 

With focaccia sprinkled with some coarse gray French Sea salt.

 

There was a layer of duck fat between the skin and meat making both turkeys very moist and succulent 🙂

Cranberry sauce

and cranberry sorbet palate cleanser:)

The ham was incredible!

Plenty of libations 🙂

Very cute salt and pepper shakers for every table!

 

Talented people may begin working for other people, but most yearn to strike out on their own and create unfettered art, whether their art is hung in galleries, or presented on plates. Some are not good at business and do not work with people who are adept at the skills required, so they end up back where they started, but others soar to new heights as they flex their creative muscles.

Fishing With Dynamite is a small restaurant in Manhattan Beach, the seafood outpost next door to MB Post, both owned by renowned chef David LeFevre. Reservations for the 35 seat space are hard to get, so book your seat at least a week in advance, especially if you want to eat during prime dining hours. It’s worth the trouble; trust me:) I went twice in two weeks during DineLA week because their $25 lunch menu was too good not to repeat (prices noted below are the regular menu prices).

The rockfish and shrimp ceviche, with persimmon, radish, serrano, cilantro, avocado, and lime for $12 was as wonderful to eat as it was to behold. The textures and flavors belied the quality and freshness of the ingredients, and two orders would have made a very nice light meal.

Another appetizer was the hamachi, served with ponzu, avocado (hidden underneath the hamachi), radish, serrano and shiso for $18. If you are craving sashimi, this is a dressed up version.

When I saw the Shrimp Po Boy for $14 delivered to the table next to me, I had to order it on one of my visits. It comes LOADED with crunchy shrimp, weiser potato chips, and topped with a cajun remoulade on a buttered and toasted brioche bun. There was no way to hold this, even with two hands, until I ate two or three of the shrimp first!

My favorite meal was the Ono special during DineLA week; grilled rare, and served with eggplant (underneath the fish), pinenut gremolata, celery, and orange.

I don’t usually eat desserts after two courses, but I am very glad I got the Key Lime Pie, made with a graham cracker crust and kaffir lime meringue for $8. It was the BEST version of Key Lime Pie I’ve ever tasted!

The fresh meringue and the creamy filling were just slightly sweet and slightly tart over the buttery crust. I took half it it to go, unable to leave what I could not finish!

After a great meal, great scenery 🙂

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