Saturday, July 31, 2010

Villa Sombrero

Who doesn't love a good margarita?  And after hearing from two different friends, on different occasions, that this little restaurant served the best margaritas in Los Angeles, I had to check it out.  So I did.  And it did not disappoint.

That was a few years ago.  Since then I've returned several times: for gals' nights; catchup nights with old friends; birthdays; and even hey-let's-have-an-early-happy-hour afternoons.  All good times.

Of course I was among the many disappointed to find out that it had closed -- as rumor had it, due to losing their lease to another restaurateur.  The new restaurant wasn't too popular, and within months Villa Sombrero was back, same wait staff, same bulky chairs, same guacamole-making station, and -- of course -- same margaritas.

When we discovered that some good friends were moving abroad, it made sense to have a bon voyage dinner at Villa Sombrero, especially because said friends were moving to a country where Mexican food is hard to come by.  Our circle of friends came out for a super evening of quality time together.  Just like our college days.

[viva villa sombrero!]

[strawberry margaritas, blended and on the rocks]

[fresh, fresh, guacamole]

I had two margaritas: strawberry and peach.  They actually mash and muddle real fresh fruit into the margarita, no artificial flavorings at all.  Delicious.  And deliciously strong.  Make sure you have the guacamole, as well as a meal, if you're going to have two drinks here.  Or make sure, like me, that you're not the one driving.  Luckily, there are many pregnant ladies in my circle of friends these days, who are the default designated drivers.  Thank goodness!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Eating out: The Kitchen

Dinner with my gals at The Kitchen in Silverlake.

Another restaurant serving locals delicious comfort food.

Great company.  Great catching up conversation.

A lovely evening.

Apologies for the terrible (3mp camera) pics.

[mac + cheese to share]

[sheperd's pie]

The buttermilk fried chicken is what people come for and rave over, but since I'd had it at Memphis Cafe not too long before, I decided to chicken out (ha ha) and go for the shepherd's pie instead -- which was very hearty and yummy.  The other girls ordered beef stew and turkey burger.

Another thumbs-up restaurant!  Highly recommended!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Eating out: Folliero's

As we were leaving Good Girl Dinette, a restaurant piqued our interest.  Couldn't quite make out whether the first letter was a "T" or a "P" -- the windows behind the sign made it hard to see, and we were in a moving vehicle.  But soon enough, Google and Yelp were consulted, and the restaurant was a definite for the "To Go" list.

[serving highland park since 1968]

Folliero's looks small on the outside, but is larger once you're inside.  The decor is simple, quaint: exposed brick walls adorned with old pictures of the neighborhood, dim lighting, salt + pepper and parmesean + pepper shakers at each table.  It was a packed night; there were four groups ahead of us!  But the wait was worth it:

[parmigiana di melanzane; garlic bread; gnocchi]


And it was totally affordable.  Downright cheap, even.  Our waiter was very pleasant; it looked like a lot of the patrons weren't first-timers by any means.  This restaurant is now definitely on the Visit Again list!

Three for three: not bad, innit?

I'm totally up for recommendations, too, so speak up, these ears are open!  Bon appetites!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Eating out: Memphis Cafe

I've known SarahG for years and have not been to one of her shows.  Decided to change that.  So: made plans to head down to the Anti-Mall (click link to The Artery) and see her work.  Also made plans to hang out with a dear old friend, who suggested dinner at Memphis Cafe.  In a word: delicious!

This place has been around for 15 years.  How could I not know about it while I was in these parts during my college years?!  Well, better late than never, I suppose.  But I suppose I can more readily afford it now, and have a drink along with the meal to boot.  So: better later than sooner, after all!

[memphis cafe interior]

[pulled pork sliders]

[buttermilk fried chicken]

I loved the casual hipster vibe, the mid-century decor, the open kitchen, and the sweet patio we spied on our way out -- that's where wi'll eat next time.  

Oh yes, there will be a next time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eating out: Good Girl Dinette

These days I have been catching up with friends and thus eating out much more often than usual. I am doing my best to break my creature of habit and try new places.  It's nice to have adventuring friends to lure me out of my comfort zone!  Last week alone I went to three new (to-me) restaurants. I thought I'd share here. (Looks like another Summer Project, no?!)

G+J (my bro and SIL) introduced me to Good Girl Dinette.  They were excited to hear that I was going, said I'd really enjoy it, it would remind me of Mom's cooking.  I liked the look of the restaurant,with its yellow mid-century chairs and exposed brick wall; I also liked the tagline: "American diner meets Vietnamese comfort food."  I would have liked to see some art on the wall, something besides the chalkboard, but I think the austerity is part of its style.  I can dig it.

[grandma's pho]

[slow-roasted pork baguette]

[beef stew]

I've had a lot of Vietnamese food in my life, from mom's kitchen, family get-togethers, hole-in-the-walls, to casual and fine dining restaurants.  GGD is definitely different from any other Vietnamese restaurant I've been to.  But honestly, I thought it was all right.  My friend thought the pho good and loved the baguette, but I was less than impressed with the beef stew.  It had a pretty thick layer of fat over it and was a bit too cinnamon-y for my liking.  (Of course, I was comparing it to my mom's beef stew, into which she adds tendon and potatoes, and which we eat with baguettes.  So maybe I'm biased... ) Also, the on-choy was way too savory; all I could taste was soy sauce (which, experience has taught me, is way too potent; I usually stir fry with several cloves of garlic, smashed, and a dash of salt).

Although I was a little disappointed, I would totally go there again.  Besides the liquor store around the corner and no corkage, I'd like to try some of the other dishes that G+J have ordered, especially the pot pies and homemade sodas.  I truly appreciate that GGD goes to great lengths to buy ingredients from local farmers and informs customers by writing where they got what on their blackboard.  It's a little gem in an area that I'd like to explore more of in the days ahead.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer sentiments

Each day after work I walk by a house with blue adirondack chairs in the front yard.  On the table in between them sits a cute little cup and saucer set, in which is planted a darling plant.  It always reminds me to slow down and enjoy the little things.  I thought I'd share that sentiment with you, too:


My dream is to build a pair of these chairs -- with a small table in between for books and drinks -- place them under the shade of a giant tree, and laze summer afternoons and evenings away.  I don't think I'll get to the making any time soon, so I'm also on the lookout at garage sales or on good ol' CL.  It's nice to have a Plan B.

Hope you're all having a lovely summer!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Projects: progress +

Summer's about halfway over and I've managed to put a small dent into my Summer Projects list.  Summer Picnic Club is going well; my tomato plant is being tended; I'm growing more herb cuttings; and my nails are going to be painted again tonight.  Setting up my craft corner and putting up art are going to be put on hold in favor of helping with my brother and SIL's living room... but I am still determined to complete the sewing projects.

[two champions]

[basil, lavender, mint; hang in there, rosemary!]

I've actually added some projects, too: on the crafty front -- a cross-stitch, already started; and a new knitting project to reduce some of my stash.


Reading: The Omnivore's Dilemma.  (Finished A Farewell to Arms in Kaua'i.  Sad, but I really liked it.)

And letter-writing.  I went through my postcard stash and found some that have gone unsent from as far back as 2000 -- the year I graduated university!  Yikes.

[unsent postcards]

I also have a bunch that were purchased when I studied abroad in England -- over 12 years ago! -- as well as a whole bunch I've picked up at museums and during travels over the past decade or so, and ones that I've received as gifts from Japan.  My goal is to write at least one postcard or letter each week -- and send it out, too.  Better get my inks out and start crackin'.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My turn to cook

[3:00 p.m.]

In the past few weeks I have become acutely aware of the awesomeness of my SIL's cooking skills.  She roasts chickens, makes stock, rolls her own meatballs, stews beats, and has recently perfected her iced coffee recipe.  She lovingly and conscientiously prepares meals for the baby, who is starting to eat solids.  She'll even make another serving of yogurt (with flax see oil and fresh organic fruits) for me -- so lucky!

So I am a bit intimidated with my cooking duties for this evening.  First of all, this is the first family dinner I've been able to attend for a month or so, and my cooking skills feel rusty and inadequate.  Plus, I won't be able to go to market until after work, which means this will have to be a quick meal.

[11:30 p.m.]

I ended up making Mabo Ramen.

I substituted ground chicken for pork, and added kinoko mushrooms and minced shiitake, potatoes, and water chestnuts, along with the tofu.  Oh, and I used two packets of Mabo sauce (it was a meal for eight).  Heated up some chicken broth, and added just one ladle to each bowl to keep the mabo sauce from getting too soupy.  Then fried up some on choy with garlic and salt.  Added sesame oil and it was delicious!  My family enjoyed it, too, to the tune of no leftovers!

For drinks we had mojitos made with cocunut rum because we couldn't find any of the regular stuff.  Mint + coconut didn't sound like a good combination, but tasted good!  My brothers are good improvisors when it comes to the bar.

[cocunut rum mojito]

The next time I make this dish I'll have to document it, it's definitely one to add to my repertoire!

Monday, July 19, 2010


An old college friend send out an email a few weeks ago, offering to buy tickets to see Inception at the Arclight Hollywood on its opening night.  What, all I have to do is show up?!  I hit Reply and typed, "I'm in!"

I arrived and got into the Cinedome as trailers were on (hooray for assigned seats!).  Then the lights dimmed and the movie started.  It was very complicated, nearly too much so.  And it got increasingly warm in the theater. 

We got to a seemingly telling part in the film: the part with Mal and the dollhouse... and... the screen flickered... and then went dark.  A moment of stunned silence, then shuffling, then talking, then getting up.  A couple of minutes pass, then someone comes to the front of the theater with a microphone.  "I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but the show has been cancelled due to an A/C problem."

If he gave any more instruction it was lost in the sound of voices, full volume now, expressing their disbelief, disappointment, and desire to get out of the infernal theater.  We, too, left in the wave of people -- only to wait in line at Guest Services to get our refunds.  I opted out of going to a bar with my friends, but still didn't manage to get home until past 11:30.  I still don't know how the movie ends, so please don't tell me! 

Two good things:  (1) Maybe I can understand it better by watching the first half again; (2) Thank goodness there is an Arclight theater closer to me now, no more truckin' to Hollywood!  Anyone up to see Inception in the near future?!

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Haven't seen these types of sparklers in a long time.  We didn't see any shows from our room, so lit our own.  Here's some photos my mom snapped just now:

Hope everyone had a wonderful celebration!


What do the following items have in common?



Kinda random, huh?  Well, here's another big hint:

[swim + snorkel]

I'm in Hawaii -- Kaua'i, to be exact.  With my folks. A last-minute getaway.  I brought my laptop, which means in addition to reading and writing the few postcards I've already purchased, I will be catching up on my ninja animation as well as keeping up with the blogging.  Woot.

I found some sparklers at the local supermarket, so we're off to have our own little show out on the balcony.  Happy 4th of July!