Girls on Food

Happy Hour

Belle Vie is Serving up the Fanciest, Frenchiest Mac and Cheese in Los Angeles!

Last week, French bistro Belle Vie opened it’s doors in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Being a Westsider myself, I can confirm that we are a little bit lacking in French restaurants (unless you counting the endless supply of Le Pain Quotidiens around) so I was beyond thrilled to try a this new neighborhood spot.

Belle Vie 
11916 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025 

The team behind Belle Vie, Owner Vincent Samarco and Head Chef Cedric Nicolas‘ (who met when working together at Michelin-plated restaurant Le Trianon) aim was to provide locals with classic French comfort food with hints of California flavors: mission accomplished.

My inner Fracophile was geeking out right when I walked in, because the design, decor and the littlest details are spot on Parisian. French restaurants may have a reputation for serving up smaller portions, but at Belle Vie the portions are more generous. This spot is perfect to bring a friend and share a few plates.


Weekly Wanderlust 8/4/17: Get $5 off Thrillist’s Taco Knockout Event in LA, Manresa Bread in Los Gatos, CA, Renegade Chocolate in Uxbridge, Ontario and Happy Hour at answer. in Nashville

Every Friday here at Girls on Food, we bring you Weekly Wanderlust, featuring the best our in cities, recipes, videos and advanced notice on events we’ll be appearing at.

TinTin here:

Thrillist’s 5th annual Taco Knockout is Saturday, August 12th, 1 PM – 4 PM at Lot 613, 613 Imperial Street, Los Angeles, CA.

This event is going to be packed with the most popular tacos SoCal has to offer, including Aqui Es Texcoco, Lola’s Mexican Cuisine, La Carmencita Restaurant and many more. There will also be chilled cervezas from Estrella Jalisco and a live DJ set from Electric Taco.

South Bay favorite The Standing Room will be serving an original creation, Tako Poke Tacos, which we’re the most excited for. We predict this taco—a blue corn tortilla topped with smoked octopus, tobiko, ikura and chives—will be the most innovative bite there.

General admission per person is $35, but if you use the discount code THRILLISTVIP at check out, you get $5 off. Just a little gift from Girls on Food. #yourewelcome

Traditionally this event takes place in NYC but it’s about time Thrillist brought it to LA! Not trying to start a Tupac vs Biggie feud here, but SoCal really is the home of the best Mexican street food in the U.S. 

For out-of-towners, I will be live on our Instagram stories feed providing you with footage of the event. But if you’re in LA and at the event, be sure to say hi!

For more info and to purchase tickets, check out:


de Vere’s Lighter Side of Ireland + Thursday Specials

Thursday is the new Friday!

Well, at least if you live in Sacramento and visit de Vere’s, they sure are. And unless you live under a rock and have never been to de Vere’s Irish Pub, not even for one St. Patrick’s Day!

de Vere’s Irish Pub // 1521 L Street – Sacramento, CA 95814 

Last year I brought you Chef Wes Nilssen’s Lighter Side of Ireland and apparently it wasn’t a one-summer wonder, because he’s back at it AGAIN! And thankfully for all the Sacramentans! Most people think of this as the place for beer + footy (soccer for you Americans), but Chef Wes has been consistently working his magic in the back, creating dishes on dishes of goodness that seem to be under ordered, in my humble opinion.

A group of Sacramento’s best and most active food photographers and myself (not one of those said cool photogs) were invited to de Vere’s to try the newest Lighter Side of Ireland menu, the Thursday burger of the month special, and the Thursday Moscow Mule specials. Seriously, ALL three of those things were graciously provided for our group to try, salivate over, and snap some serious food porn.


Chang’an Restaurant and Bar in SGV

One of the best things about living in the San Gabriel Valley is the sheer abundance of Chinese food (which just so happens to be my favorite cuisine!)

So I was more than excited to have to opportunity to attend a tasting at Chang’an Restaurant and Bar along with some other LA foodies.

Chang’an Restaurant and Bar
227 West Valley Blvd, #358 (Hilton Plaza Top Floor), San Gabriel, CA 91776

Chang’an is literally a hidden gem, tucked away on the 3rd floor of an unassuming strip mall. I had a little difficulty finding it at first, and I hope others won’t be discouraged by its elusive location, because this place is certainly worth seeking out!

Upon entering, I was greeted by Minda Zhang, who along with her husband, Hao, runs the place. Her enthusiasm and passion for her restaurant was evident in every dish that I tried, as you’ll soon see.


Megan’s Foodie Tour of Baltimore

I had written about Baltimore previously when I journeyed with my skeeball team in toe to compete in The Skeeball Nationals, but upon my return, I discovered so much more than the magical aquarium. There’s an entire other side of the harbor. Hold onto your crab shells because I’m about to make you fall in love with Fell’s Point.

One of the most exciting stops on my trip this time around was The American Visionary Arts Museum. Lauded by CNN as one of the best museums in the country this quirky, wonderful oasis features creations from self-taught artists and calls upon some of their favorites from all mediums to talk about FOOD!  That’s right; I spent a delicious afternoon navigating the halls of AVAM learning and experiencing unique installations about our favorite topic. NOMS.

American Visionary Arts Museum
800 Key Hwy, Baltimore, MD 21230

Upon entering this food phantasm, the walls are lined with some of the cheekiest confessions about how people counteract our cultural relationship with how much we acceptably eat, order, or what we clandestinely desire. If you’re familiar with Post Secret-they offered some of their most bizarre and fun food confessions as the four featured below.

Is this my Uncle? No, seriously, I think this might be a self-portrait.

Willie decked out in corn kernels.

Yes!  The Swedish Chef is really one of my personal heroes THE SWEDISH CHEF made entirely out of The Easter Candy Peeps. He-a’ll nefer cetch oune-a ouff Gunzu’s fefurite-a cheeckens. Bork Bork Bork! Yes, I found a translator. And yes, absolutely waste the next ten minutes of your life using it. (more…)

Megan’s Philly Tour Part 2: Eastern State Penitentiary and Philly Foods

Sure, I drank my way through Market Street, but surely, I wasn’t done. There is so much more of the Philly food landscape that’s ripe for exploring. To work up an appetite though I had to do a little sightseeing first. That brought me to The Franklin Institute and The Jurassic World exhibit.  ROAAAAAR, real monsters, and The Eastern State Penitentiary.

Straight up chillin’ in the prison yard, yo

The Eastern State Penitentiary is a pretty baller landmark to visit on a beautiful day. Using an audio tour, you weave in and out of its hallways, peak into Al Capone’s luxury cell, and get to take the tourist photo from atop the loft looking down a dark corridor. I accomplished all three and even got to work on my tan in the prison yard.

Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19130


a view from the balcony
classy pants art installation

They had some pretty neat art installations on exhibit. This in particular by Cindy Stockton Moore entitled “Other Absences,” showcased the victims of the inmates, hanging their photos from the ceiling of a corroding jail cell. I emerged triumphant, having experienced my very own Shawshank Redemption, falling to my knees and staring up at the sky my head turned slightly, and I looked across the street noticing a charming eatery cobbled out of an old firehouse.

Jack’s Firehouse
2130 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130

The day could not have been more perfect, and the warm April air joined us for our nosh. The large doors of the converted firehouse are left open when the weather is just right allowing diners inside to get a glimpse of the historical landmark and the gorgeous day.



Phil Er Up: National Mechanics, Revolution House and Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar

My DIY Bloody Mary

I have journeyed back to the historical land that is Philadelphia to further explore the city and its many food offerings. First stop was National Mechanics, a spot I hit up last time but while researching the ‘hood discovered that, during brunch, it has its very own DIY Bloody Mary Bar. I mean… how can I not? This eatery is unique, utilizing old wooden church pews for booths and showcasing fun bug collections, mounted bison skulls, and cute displays of plants.


A Fatboi in South Carolina

This past September, Fatboi Jess moonlighted as a country bumpkin and embarked on a mini vaca to South Carolina.

Rainbow Row

Boone Hall Plantation (they filmed part of The Notebook here!)

Husk Restaurant & Bar located in downtown historic CharlestonCilantro Will Prevail: tequila, fig, cilantro, lime, tonic, and salt.  Dahl’s Dessert: peach infused Bourbon, peach vinegar, anise, cream, and cinnamon.

Poogan’s Porch, one of Charleston’s oldest independent culinary establishments. The name comes from the pup Poogan that stayed behind when the home was sold and turned into a restaurant. Ole Poogan served as the official greeter before his passing in 1979.Pan Roasted Salmon, watercress, edamame beans, heirloom tomatoes, biscuit croutons, and basil gremolata Mac & Cheese with country ham and aged smoked gouda, bold, savory flavor. This was just the beginning of my mac & cheese journey as I ordered some each day.

Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts open til 2 am on Saturday nights for those post-bar munchiesJeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a scoop shop with dozens of unique flavors which prompted multiple trips and Forrest Gump imitations…JennayyyyCupcake Down South 

Charleston Farmers Market in Marion Square every Saturday from 8am-2pm April through December, with over 100 local vendors!

My personal favorite flavor, they taste just like a cinnamon roll!

Charleston’s RightOnQue BBQPulled Pork Sandwich, there’s nothing quite like authentic Southern BBQ!

Juice Joint pop-up juice barDreamsicle: orange, strawberry, banana mango (left) Watermelon Agua Fresca with fresh lime (right)Hominy GrillGrilled Eggplant & Herbed Goat Cheese with roasted red peppers and grilled red onion on sunflower toastJalapeño Hush Puppies with sorghum butterIf you don’t smother your hush puppy in mac & cheese, you’re doing it wrong.

Downtown Charleston

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, they ship nationwide if you’re in need of that Southern comfortSausage, Egg, and Pimento Cheese with The Glass Onion’s “Belle” sausage patty, pimento cheese, and scrambled eggs. I wish I could’ve eaten this twice.Blueberry Biscuit, blueberries baked inside with lemon cream cheese frosting made in-house with sugared blueberries

Magnolias, upscale Southern cuisineSweet Chili Rubbed Ahi Tuna, habanero hummus and Pepper Jack spring rolls, roasted mango salsa, Créole remouladeSouthern Fried Mac & Cheese, BBQ pulled pork, collards, black-eyed peas

Bakehouse Bakery & CafeNot your average s’mores bar with a cold block of chocolate sandwich between a toasted marshmallow and a thick graham cracker. Cold chocolate is the way to go.

Prohibition  Margarita Caliente: El Jimadore Blanco Jalapeño infusion, Cointreau, lime, agave, Scrappy’s lime, chipotle saltGrass Fed Angus Burger, bacon jam, cheddar, house pickles, garlic aioli, fries

I can’t report too much here on account of the jalapeño margaritas and a failed attempt at initiating a dance off with a bachelor party.

We stumbled upon the Savannah Bee Company tucked away in the King Street Shopping District, where they offer mead tastings. Mead is the oldest alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey with water and fruits, grains, hops, or spices. While you won’t ever find me ordering rounds of mead at the club, it was a great experience tasting the different types and learning about its rich history.

Notable Food Trends: Pimento cheese, Fried green tomatoes

Closing Thoughts: “If I lived down here I would most definitely end up on my 600-pound life.”

Jess, @FatboiTendencies

BOOzy Brunch Bunch: Caramel Apple Sangria


dessertLike any good toddler mom, I head to Pinterest for basically everything party related! Every month or so, I host a “Boozy Brunch Bunch” because well, if you play with kids all day and never see your friends, there is a chance you will lose your sanity. With “Boozy” in the title, I like to have a couple of options available, so thanks to #itsfallyall and Pinterest, I can bring you today’s concoction!


This month, I decided to host a BOOzy Brunch Bunch, because of Halloween. Unfortunately, Raleigh got hit way harder than expected by Hurricane Matthew, and my freezer got wiped out, so I didn’t have most of my normal go-to’s, like all the mini muffins I’ve crafted over the years, or the tiny eggos the kids love so much. (I’m seriously not complaining about this; there are towns in North Carolina that people still can not get into their homes, so my freezer is the least of my worries right now). But since I couldn’t just defrost a handful of muffins and throw eggos in the oven, I started to think about my favorite breakfast foods and realized: toasts are so hot right now!


My favorite restaurant up in Rhode Island is called Persephone’s Kitchen, and the owner, Persephone, has a delightful selection of toasts every morning that I decided to emulate. So for the guests at my home, there were avocado and cayenne pepper sprinkled with goat cheese toast, goat cheese and mini heirloom tomato toast, and the gold standard of Nutella and banana slices on toast! Of course, I provided mimosas and coffee, but I wanted to have a special beverage on hand as well. My sister-in-law and I had thrown a joint birthday party for our new one-year-olds at the beginning of October, and we tried this recipe for the first time then. I just knew it had to make another appearance this fall!

Caramel Apple Sangria

sangria-1This recipe is super easy and takes 5 minutes to put together! Deceptively sweet, so make sure kids don’t accidentally drink it (a valid concern) and make sure your adult friends know they just got sloshed before you let them hop into a car and drive home! It’s the perfect warm fall day beverage, as the sun is shining and you don’t want anything too heavy! Ideal for a southern fall day, for sure!




The first step is to cut up 2-3 apples and add them to your pitcher! I started this in a juice jar, and realized I needed something bigger midway through and transferred! Next, add a bottle of your favorite chilled white wine (I used chardonnay), a container of apple cider (I prefer Trader Joe’s  version), and then the coup de grace, is one cup of Smirnoff’s Kissed Caramel Vodka.


Everyone who has tried this loves it! I’m thrilled for the leftovers to share with my neighborhood tonight as the kids are out Trick – or – Treating!


Get Cozy With This Easy Spiced Red Sangria Recipe

One of my favorite go-to cocktails is Sangria! You can have it red, you can have it white, you can have it sparkling, and you can have it all…year…long. With Fall finally here and temperatures dropping, a Spiced Red Sangria sounded like the perfect cocktail for the season!

Spiced Red Sangria

As soon as temperatures dropped past 65 degrees here in D.C., I knew it was time to get in the kitchen and do a little recipe testing for a delicious Sangria. I decided to use the tastes and themes of Fall as inspiration and create a Spiced Red Sangria.

This super easy recipe uses Red Table Wine, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, Brandy and Triple Sec. The Spiced Rum and Brandy are what make this particular Sangria so comforting (caution: this recipe is strong). A little orange juice and fruits round it out to create a Sangria that will leave you feeling warm & fuzzy all over.
To start, cut up two apples, two oranges, and one small pack of blackberries. Add your fruit to a pitcher.

Then, pour in one 750ml bottle of your favorite red wine (Syrah, Spiced Red SangriaCabernet, and Pinot Noir work well).

Next add 1 1/2 cups spiced rum, 1/2 cup brandy, 1/2 cup triple sec, 1 cup orange juice and mix.

(*Please note: This comes out on the stronger side. Feel free to start with less rum and brandy and work your way up to your desired potency.)

Instead of orange juice, you can also try apple juice to give it a more spiced cider taste.

Once all ingredients are mixed well, chill the Sangria for 4 – 24 hours. When you are ready to enjoy, serve your Sangria over ice. For an extra level of classy, garnish your glass with an apple and orange slice.

Spiced Red Sangria

Sangria is such a versatile drink, and you can really make it your own. Plus, it makes a great pairing for any dish and can be a real standout at your next dinner party.

Sit down, relax and enjoy the cool Fall weather with a glass of delicious Spiced Red Sangria!

The Gallery Westlake: Keeping Us Very Happy in Westlake Village, CA

I’m a big fan of the happy hour concept. My budget is usually stretched pretty thin, so happy hours are the perfect time to get a deal on quality menu items for less money while mingling with a lively after-work crowd.

The Gallery is a hip spot in Westlake Village known for its gourmet New American cuisine and fresh seafood. It serves up a happy hour on weekdays from 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm that’s not only friendly on the wallet, but is also super-delicious.


The Gallery Westlake
30768 Russell Ranch Road, #C, Westlake Village, CA 91362


My friend Liz and I arrived right at the start of happy hour and took a seat at the bar, noting the elegant, yet inviting decor. I also couldn’t help but scope out the fabulous looking raw bar nearby. We visited on a Wednesday, but take note—during Thursday night football, happy hour includes .99 cent oysters!


Once we got settled in, Liz and I intended to make the most of our happy hour(s), so that meant drinks needed to be ordered straight away!

Liz ordered the gorgeous Violet Moon, which is a mix of Fords gin, Crème de Violette, and lemon juice, garnished with a caramelized orange wheel flambéed by the bartender with a torch.


Her drink was as tasty as it was pretty, with smooth floral flavors leading to a tart finish.


I decided to go with a good ol’ glass of wine. House wines are only $5 during happy hour, but I decided to upgrade to a Foley Estates Chardonnay which was still five bucks cheaper than the regular price. It was rich and buttery with hints of sweet caramel and toasty oak. It was so good, I could have guzzled several more glasses. (Don’t worry—I didn’t. Well… just a couple!)


As we sipped, we chatted with The Gallery’s owner, Karim Megji, who showed us some photos on his phone from a local farm. He had just been picking tomatoes a short while ago and told us that many of the things grown at the farm are used in menu items at the restaurant. Always a good mark in my book—nothing beats fresh, locally grown produce!

My appetite was fully whetted, so we tried our first happy hour appetizer, an impressive mound of Champagne Shoe String Pomme Frites.


They looked intimidating at first, but it’s ridiculous how quickly we devoured these. Made with Bouvet Sparkling wine and topped with lemon and cayenne, they reminded me a lot of my favorite potato chip flavor- salt n’ vinegar. Only, you know, more fancy—but equally as addictive!

Next, we tried the Ahi Tartare Tacos, with fresh and meaty chunks of raw tuna tossed with sesame, chili oil, and sriracha, nestled inside crispy wonton shells and topped with avocado. These were so good, Liz and I were side-eyeing the last taco until we finally agreed to split it.


duck-egg-rollsNext up, based on Karim’s recommendation, we deviated from the happy hour menu to try a regular appetizer, Duck Eggrolls. (Even better, these were easily shared with two for each of us!)

I often find duck to be a little gamey for my taste, but these were fantastic. Maybe it was the delicious sweet chili sauce the meat was drizzled with, or the crunchy mix of veggies and herbs within, but it tasted tender and delicious and actually reminded me of pulled pork.


Next, Karim suggested Roasted Bone Marrow, and how could I refuse his advice after he led us to the delicious duck egg rolls? I’d never tried bone marrow before but I was certain that if there was a place to try it, this was it.

When the plate arrived, I couldn’t help but think about how jealous my dogs would be if they could see me. But the question was… would I like it?


The answer is a big YES. In fact, it might have been my favorite item of the night. Liz described the flavor as the “essence of beef”, and she was right. It was melt-in-your-mouth juicy and meaty and was even better spread on crostini. It was also seasoned really nicely with herbs and hints of jalapeño. If you like the fatty part of meat (i.e pork belly), you will love this. The only downside is that there wasn’t actually as much marrow as it seemed. It was gone far too quickly!

Liz and I were getting pretty full at this point, but we were still feeling meaty after the bone marrow experience, so we tried the short rib tacos to finish out our meal.

short-rib-tacosMade with tender braised short rib mixed with dijon aioli, cabbage, and queso fresco, these were another winner. Like everything else we had tried so far, the meat was tender and nicely seasoned, and the slaw added a nice crunch and a pleasant finish to our meal.

Did I say we were finished?

tania-at-the-galleryWell, not quite. We had to try dessert, obviously.

Apparently Peanut Butter Turnovers are a very popular item at The Gallery, and we could see why. The presentation alone made me forget that I was feeling full and I was eager to dig in!

The pastries were crispy and caramelized on the outside, and fluffy on the inside with just the right amount of warm, oozy, gooey peanut butter-chocolately goodness sandwiched within. The vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and strawberries drizzled with caramel were also a welcome addition. This was one of the more unique desserts I’ve had in some time, and I can see why people return to The Gallery for this treat alone!


I’d say Liz and I had a very happy happy hour at The Gallery. I’d recommend going with friends and splitting several things—it’s definitely worth trying everything on the menu, and the prices are totally reasonable. Next time I’m coming back on a Thursday… those oysters are calling my name!

The Taste of Mexico Returns To LA

The largest all-inclusive Mexican tasting event The Taste of Mexico (TOM) returns on its 6th annual edition to Los Angeles and Girls of Food (GOF) was invited to the exclusive sneak peek event that showcased some of the food vendors that you would be able to try at the food festival.

Be sure to check out their site here.


img_9411 img_9419

The first thing we tried was a sample of Los Javis Mezcal. It is a family owned Mezcaleria from Oaxaca, México that dates 3 generations back. This mezcal is incredibly smooth. It had a lot of flavor and body but it didn’t leave that burning sensation in your throat that you normally get from drinking mezcal.


img_9334 img_9339

They also brought Chapulines (grasshoppers) and Sal de Gusano (salt with maguey worms).


Then we tried Anepalco’s Baby Corn which is their version of the Mexican street vendor corn. The Baby Corn was smothered in a Chile de Arbol Aioli, topped with Cotija cheese and grind up Chapulines sprinkled on top of it. We’re excited to try their new spot Maestro, in Pasadena, which is coming soon.

img_9456 img_9359

From Caló Provisions we got to see Ted Montoya in action and to try his Pozole. Ted’s take on Pozole has a twist he cooks it with Chicharron Dashi and adds an egg. I really like the egg, it gives an extra layer of complexity to the Pozole.

img_9375 img_9380 img_9384

Our pal The Choriman was also at the Taste of Mexico sneak peek and he was making Chori Panes. A Chori Pan is a chorizo sandwich. He made his with his Zacateca’s style Red Chorizo, roasted Corn Salad and Salsa Macha.

img_9366 img_9364

We also got to enjoy the delicious pastries from La Monarca Bakery. We had the strawberry cake, the fruit cake, the orejitas cookies and my personal favorite de Guava cake.

img_9428 img_9327

There will be plenty of drinks at the festival some of the ones we loved at the sneak peek were: The I Love Micheladas, Tepaches from Ancho Reyes a Chile Liqueor and Los Javis.

img_9402 img_9400

There will also have aguas frescas vendors like the Agua Lucha guys. They have flavors like: Mandarin, Lemon, Hibiscus and Tamarind. Not only that they donate some of their proceedings to retired Luchadores (wrestlers) in Mexico.

img_9417 img_9414

The 2016 Taste of Mexico will be the best one so far and it will take place under the stars in the beautiful courtyard of the Plaza de Cultura y Artes Museum in downtown LA. TOM has invited over 35 restaurants to cater the event and you’ll also be able to sample Tequila, Mezcal, Baja Wines & Spirits. And although the tickets might seem a little bit pricey keep in mind that it is an all you can eat and drink ticket so you only have to worry about what food vendor do you want to try next .The event starts at 7pm and ends at 11pm.