Girls on Food

Women in Food

Speakeasy to Me: The BoardRoom in DTLA

Kendall’s Brasserie (Patina Restaurant Group) has been serving up traditional French cuisine to DTLA eaters inside The Music Center for 14 years now. This past month, they opened a speakeasy in the back called The BoardRoom, and I can assure you, the meetings held there will be nothing like the meetings at your 9-to-5. Think of The BoardRoom as Kendall’s artsy, Francophile little sister.

The BoardRoom at The Music Center
135 N. Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90012
http://patnagroup.com

The BoardRoom has the speakeasy essentials- a slightly tricky to find front door, dim lighting, live performances (Thursday – Saturday nights), cushy seating in booths (intended for large groups) and a menu offering updated classic cocktails and sharable foods. From the moment I walked in through what seemed like Kendall’s back office, I could hear singer Melissa Morgan crooning to a standard jazz tune with her band.

Front: Tennessee Williams (yes, it comes with a macaron), which is their take on the Ramos Gin Fizz. Back: Gertrude Stein, similar to a Pimm’s Cup

Our blogger Christina Russo, is currently the bar manager of The BoardRoom and has created a cocktail menu inspired by the arts. I always love seeing punches on a menu (they serve 4-6 drinks), not only are they trending, they’re perfect for larger groups. But what separates her menu out from others in LA is the Tripple Tipple, her 3-course cocktail tasting menu. This menu is looking like it’ll be changing bi-weekly to weekly and consistently inspired by the arts. It truly is the crème de la crème of the cocktail menu.

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Gina Homolka at Macy’s in NYC

I’d have never guessed that this was Gina Homolka’s first live demo, as a team member from the Macy’s Events team said. As a new member of Macy’s Culinary Council, she seemed calm and natural on stage after being introduced, giving a 45-minute presentation on demonstration of her favorite “skinny” recipes. Homolka is a well-recognized blogger of her venture called Skinnytaste, where she showcases healthier versions of favorite food items. Additionally, her intense focus on recipe testing and developing have helped her to create two successful cookbooks; her latest one, Skinnytaste Fast & Slow, was recently nominated for a prestigious James Beard Foundation award!

Skinnytaste Fast And Slow

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Poppin’ Cakies Celebration in NYC

Festivities were held on Friday, March 17, 2017, honoring the “Cakie”, the creation of Queens-based Pastry Chef Janice de Castro (owner of Jae NYC Eats) at The VNYL Bar & Restaurant. A Cakie is the classic Twinkie revived and revamped! Having assumed a different identity, the new and improved Cakie was a hit among the crowd. The flavor profiles are vibrant and welcoming like Janice herself, and are hand injected into a familiar shaped moist cake. 

Owner Janice also used the party as an opportunity to premiere some new flavors! A crowd favorite was the limited edition Bad & Boujee pair; the Bad Cakie combined the flavors of Hennessy, Valrhona Chocolate, and Cherry Cordials, while the Boujee Cakie contained Dom Perignon and White Truffle.

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Hello, Henrietta Red: Nashville’s Next Level Coastal Cuisine

Henrietta Red
1200 4th Avenue North, Nashville, Tennessee 37208
http://www.henriettared.com/

I stepped off the plane and literally, hightailed it to Nashville’s newest restaurant, Henrietta Red. Nestled between Cochon Butcher and City House on 4th Avenue North, Henrietta Red is a restaurant/barroom serving up a variety of coastal fare. Chef Julia Sullivan, a Nashville native, and business partner Allie Poindexter partnered with Strategic Hospitality (last seen here) to develop this chic-seafood concept in the ever popular Germantown neighborhood.

Chef Julia Sullivan built quite the culinary resume while in New York City.  Spending time at Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Franny’s in Brooklyn, her most notable assignment was as a cook in Thomas Keller’s Per Se kitchen. Julia and Allie were introduced to one another while working at Haven’s Kitchen.  A match made in heaven, if I say so myself!  Without further adieu, the pair left New York City and moved to Nashville to work on this labor of love, Henrietta Red.

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Isabella’s Boutique Restaurant

Isabella’s Boutique Restaurant
2328 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4E 1G9
https://www.facebook.com/isabellasboutiquerestaurant
https://www.instagram.com/isabellasbeaches

Exterior family shot courtesy of Isabella’s Boutique Restaurant
Interior

Isabella’s Boutique Restaurant is a new boutique restaurant that has opened in “The Beaches” neighborhood in East Toronto. Isabella’s is such an amazing and cozy restaurant owned and operated by an equivalent amazing and sweet couple. This lovely couple met in Japan, and now they are in Canada to offer us authentic, homey Japanese style dishes. This boutique restaurant is named after their bubbly daughter, Isabella, and you can tell where she gets her charm from! It is only the owners that work here but yet they are so attentive to every guest in making sure that you’re as comfortable as you can be.

Now onto the food! We’ve been here numerous times to try their various dishes from breakfast to lunch/dinner to their sweet treats. Below are (most of) the dishes that they currently have on their menu, but there are other surprises that they always have in store.

BREAKFAST

Mochi Mochi Pancakes with Nutella sauce, banana and chocolate chips
Mochi-Mochi Pancakes with Nutella sauce, banana and chocolate chips

Mochi-Mochi Pancakes
These pancakes are so thick, but still fluffy! Plus, Nutella sauce all over these?! Serious, real eats, and treats right here! These Japanese style pancakes are a unique take on your traditional pancakes.

Tamagoyaki
Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki
A stuffed Japanese omelet (contains onions, mushrooms, cheese and bacon). If you have never tried one, you gotta try this one! The way they prepare the omelet creates such a fluffy and lush texture that you’re eating a fluffy egg cloud.

Breakfast sandwich
Breakfast sandwich

Breakfast sandwich
The breakfast sandwich may sound like your ordinary thing, but you can taste the freshness of every ingredient. The egg is perfectly cooked and round (c’mon! Round egg!) and that thick cut bacon … C’mon, BACON! They also offer a breakfast combo for $5 (taxes in!) which includes a breakfast sandwich and beverage; perfect for busy mornings.

LUNCH/DINNER

Omurice before cutting
Omurice before cutting
The filling inside!
The filling inside!

Omurice
This was my first time having omurice, and if I could, I would be making this every day. It is another version of a stuffed omelet. This one is stuffed with fried rice, mushrooms and a protein (this one is beef). Traditionally, the omurice is topped with a ketchup type sauce but Isabella’s classes it up by topping it off with a homemade demi glaze. So heavenly!

Snack size chicken terriyaki
Snack size chicken teriyaki

Chicken Teriyaki
Can you believe that they make their teriyaki sauce in house?! Fresh, from glorious scratch sauce! Also, if you are not feeling rice, then you can also get this beaut in a sandwich form.

Japanese Curry
Japanese Curry

Japanese Curry
This curry is not your stereotypical spicy curry, but it is still rich with that familiar curry flavor. It is smooth and silky that you just want to lick up the whole plate!

Yaki Udon
Yaki Udon with Bonito flakes

Yaki Udon
Who doesn’t love them some noodles?! This yaki udon is a fried udon dish, very simple but delicious. It does come with an option for a protein, but we went simple and got the plain yaki udon which is topped off with some savory bonito flakes.

SWEET TREATS

Nutella macarons and cherry blossom macarons
Nutella macarons and cherry blossom macarons

In the picture are their classic sweet treats that will continually be available. These are their macarons and fluffy cotton cupcakes (also available in a full cake form). The macarons pictures are their cherry blossom (the pink), and a Nutella (brown). These macarons are a delight! They are not cloyingly sweet and are the perfect texture; a perfect portion of the shell and the filling.

(left to right) Nutella macarons, Matcha fluffy cotton cupcake, cherry blossom fluffy cotton cupcake, cherry blossom macarons
(left to right) Nutella macarons, Matcha fluffy cotton cupcake, cherry blossom fluffy cotton cupcake, cherry blossom macarons

Now for their fluffy cotton cupcake. These are my personal favorite. Not only are the ones above matcha iced (green) and cherry blossom iced (pink) but the main base is perfection. They are just like their name, fluffy. These cupcakes are not your typical cupcake taste or texture either; more like a cross breed between a light, airy angel food cake and a flavor-packed dense cake. I realize that doesn’t make much sense, but you have to try it! If you were to visit The Beaches, Toronto area just drop by here to grab a free sample (if available) of their fluffy cotton cake, and you’ll see what I mean!

There is always something new to try at Isabella’s Boutique Restaurant, and I have yet to try everything! If you’re looking for somewhere cozy and relaxing to enjoy a meal, this is the place to be.

A Whole Lot of Love: The Pie Hole in DTLA Arts District

The Romans conceived the first known pie recipe, and it was a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie. Then pies began to appear in the early 12th century, but mostly meat pies. Fruit and sweet pies are thought to be first made in the 1500’s. In fact, the English claim to have served the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I.

Fast forward to the English settlers coming to America. Fruit and sweet pies make their way over. And as you would expect from this melting pot of a country, we took it and decided that pie was an American treat.

I have no business ever being a history teacher.

Today, I’m going to take to take you into one hole you’ll never want to get out of – The Pie Hole in DTLA Arts District!

IMG_1381Whenever my friends from outside of LA are coming to town, The Pie Hole is always at the top of my “must-eat” list for them. Consistency with a brand I love is so important to me, and The Pie Hole nails it every time.

I’m a gigantic fan of their Maple Custard, Earl Grey Tea, and Mexican Hot Chocolate, but for this post, I decided to try other favorites, and a couple of the savory pies as well.

The Pie Hole
714 Traction Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90013
http://thepieholela.com

IMG_1383Upon this visit, I got to chit-chat with owner Lindsay Hollister. Lindsay runs The Pie Hole with her husband, Matthew Heffner. Their inspiration for opening their shop was inspired by the amazing pies Matthew’s mother, Becky Grasley, baked for them. Right after Lindsay took a bite of her mother-in-law’s apple pie, it inspired her to pursue owning a pie shop.  For a while, it seemed like a pipe dream, until 2010 when they got their first investor.

After lucking out on a Craigslist search for space in DTLA Arts District, they opened in 2011. At that time this area was on the gritty side, but they decided to take a leap of faith on the space. To this day, The Pie Hole is there, and it’s become an LA favorite for myself and many others.

What separates them from many other businesses is that a lot of thought goes into all of the ingredients. They do not compromise on quality, and you can taste it in the pie and their coffee.

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You can’t have a slice without coffee. The Pie Hole offers a light, medium and dark brew. I went with the medium and to quote Agent Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks) “A Damn Fine Cup of Coffee!”

IMG_1390The coffee is roasted locally in small batches to keep the quality in check. Lindsay makes sure only to use beans that are fair-trade and organic. She also stressed to me how she only works with certain farms to make sure employees are fairly treated with fair wages. This is why it’s so nice to go outside of a major brand!

Another fun fact about the beans they use is that all three blends can be used as espresso beans, it’s all in how to grind it.

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IMG_1385I started off with two savory pies. I went for the Chicken ‘N Cornbread and the Mac ‘n’ Cheese. The Chicken ‘N Cornbread reminds me of an improved chicken pot pie, which even in LA heat, I will crave. The crust texture is crisp, flakey and buttery and dense in the places you want it to be. There is a brothy chicken gravy with the chicken and bell peppers. So comforting. So delicious.

The Mac ‘N’ Cheese pie is so good; I think it should be featured on the Food Network! This pie is packed with mac ‘n cheese as the filling, and the top crust is dusted with herbed bread crumbs. It may feel silly to eat noodles in your pie, but trust me, it’s worth the treadmill session.

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IMG_1389I cannot believe I hadn’t tried the Salted Caramel Pecan before. It’s without a doubt, the best pecan pie I’ve ever had. The consistency of the filling was perfect, and the flavor is salty and sweet. I did get this one a la mode, and it was just beautiful.

I also ordered the Cereal Killer Cheesecake. This cheesecake had Fruity Pebbles cereal in the filling and topped with Corn Flakes. That cream cheese filling has the perfect amount of sweetness to it. The graham cracker crust is thinner than many cheesecakes I’ve had in the past, but was great. It allows the filling to shine.

The Pie Hole has expanded into three other locations in the Southern California area. Future locations will include the Westside (October 2016), and Lindsay hopes to open in the Valley. She is also expanding the business to Japan. The menu won’t have the exact items, to keep up with what is local and in season. A Matcha Green Tea pie will be an absolute must for them though.

The Pie Hole is bringing the love of pie and coffee to Southern California locals. We’re very excited to see how they grow. I have a feeling the options for expansion are infinite for these pies.

Queen of the Kitchen: A Visit to Chef Roxanne Spruance’s, Kingsley in NYC

As I walk down Avenue B in Alphabet City on the Eastside of Manhattan, I’ve noticed tons of cute little restaurants. Some fancy, some not so much. And of course, I want to add them all to my famous “list” of Big Apple dining destinations (I’m known for this roster). But recently, on one New York City summer night, as I strolled in front of one of them, a warm light and amazing aroma wafted through the big glass windows that pushed right up against the sidewalk I was standing on. I couldn’t help but stop and peer in, noticing a lovely epicurean environment, quickly moving this one to the top of my list. Enter Kingsley.

Kingsley
190 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009
http://www.kingsleynyc.com

Just off 12th Street and Avenue B, this beautifully decorated foodie haven is something straight out of a magazine. When I had the chance to check it out recently, I was stoked. 

IMG_4497Not really knowing what to expect, I was ready for anything (sometimes, that’s how you gotta roll). After sitting us at our table by the window (the one I was once on the other side of), we were immediately greeted by our server offering us three types of water (I always ask for New York’s finest – tap… it’s the best in the country!). We, of course, followed up with a proper adult beverage order – the Roselle (champagne based) for me and a Gin Gimlet for my guest. Between those and our first tasting order, the Bone Marrow topped with Tuna Tartar, we were well on our way into discovering the wildly delicious world of Chef Roxanne (Kingsley) Spruance. IMG_4500

Before we could start our dinner conversation, we had drinks in hand and the first of many courses (and probably my favorite of the night). The Roselle was light and refreshing, as was the Gin Gimlet, and the bone marrow… well that, I don’t even have words for. But, for your sake, I’ll tell you it was packed with flavor, texture and really, was the ultimate party in your mouth. Not too oily or fatty, like some bone marrow can be, and paired with a shot of some bold, bourbon infused broth, the Chef’s creation was simply magical…leaving me wanting 17 more pieces, of course. But because I just had to try everything else on the menu, we stuck with just one.

IMG_4504As I browsed the menu, I couldn’t help but want it all. Too bad, my stomach doesn’t have room for so much scrumptiousness. Instead, I went with some of the server’s recommendations including the Chilled Zucchini Soup, Celeriac Agnolotti topped with Foie Gras and a special chef’s offering, the Charred Octopus over a yogurt base. And that was just to start!

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IMG_4506I can’t say that each of these was better than the last, because they were each so damn delicious, but I can say, the creamy pasta filled pockets topped with melt-in-your-mouth foie gras was out of this world!

Let me move on, I know your mouth is salivating. But not before making note of the impeccable service. The wait staff constantly checked on us, refilled our water, changed our plates and cutlery and all with a smile… the way it should be!

IMG_4524Soon, we were onto the “main” course. Ok, not gonna lie, I probably could’ve stopped here, but why? Under advisement of our knowledgeable and friendly waiter, I opted for the Wagyu Basses-Cotte Steak on a bed of Fairytale Eggplant, Grilled Potato and Chimichuri (yes, I know, you’re drooling). My guest opted for the Long Island Duck with Summer Peach, Almond and Anise Hyssop. And while I LOVED my tender, perfectly cooked dish more, the duck was pretty on point!

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By this stage in the game, I was pretty much done, but I wouldn’t be the feasting princess I am if I didn’t top it off with dessert. There’s always room for dessert! For this final portion of the meal, we ordered the Chocolate and Mint option, as well as the Popcorn Crème Brulee. 
 Holy dessert gods! I think I could’ve gone straight for the dessert and been completely content. 

Finally, after a two hour, tastebud-bursting, belly-filling, grin-bearing meal, I can honestly say Chef Spruance and her team are rockstars. While I try not to visit the same Gotham gastropub twice (I mean, c’mon, there are too many to limit yourself that way), this is one I’ll definitely make an exception for!

Bravo, Chef, bravo!

Hummus Where The Heart Is: Semsom Eatery in NYC

What’s the best way to detox your body from a week of sun & fun in Las Vegas? Clean, yet flavorful eats! If only it were that easy…

Semsom Eatery
2 Astor Place, New York, NY 10003
http://semsomeatery.com 

However, on a serious note, Semsom Eatery is a chill Lebanese eatery serving up classic Lebanese and Mediterranean favorites with a modern spin. Semsom (it means Sesame Seed in Lebanese) was created in the Middle East by two sisters, Christine and Carine and it eventually made its way stateside.

Semsom focuses on fresh quality ingredients; this is probably most apparent in their hummus, which is made fresh daily. The flavors are simple, yet powerful and the texture is smooth and creamy. Unlike many other Mediterranean restaurants that may use canned chickpeas, Semsom cooks begin each batch with fresh chickpeas that are soaked overnight. Tumeric, Zaatar, and Sumac are prevalent flavors throughout the establishment, as well as, one particular ingredient that isn’t easily found; family. Many of the recipes hail from the sisters’ mother, grandmother, or the dynamic duo. When I was briefly chatting with Carine, she explained that she was an “emotional eater,” and that it made her really happy to see others enjoying recipes that reminded her of her happy childhood.

Spices
Spices

Meals are served with a choice of base (bowl or wrap, brown rice, romaine, or half/half), choice of a main protein, as well as two flavors. I chose a bowl, half rice, half lettuce, Taouk chicken, Tahini carrots, and of course, the hummus. I also opted for a little side of the sweet & sour eggplant. The colors and flavors were vibrant, rich, and they tasted as beautifully as they Instagrammed.

Taouk Chicken
Taouk Chicken

Semsom also offers freshly made lemonades. The Rose Lemonade was, by far, my favorite! In addition, I was pleasantly surprised to discover they brew La Colombe coffee!

If you’re in the mood for a sweet treat afterward, Semsom also offers mini muffins in three flavors; cranberry cardamom, chocolate halva, and turmeric. Should frozen treats be more up your alley, the Astor Place location offers Vegan soft serve ice cream, while the Columbus Circle offers popsicles.

When the meal is over, guests can check out the retail area and purchase some artisan soap, rose water, orange blossom water, or many of the other Mediterranean themed items the restaurant has to offer. For diners who are short on time, Semsom also offers freshly pre-packs Watermelon and Feta salads, hummus packs, and other tasty treats. Whether you’re looking to try some authentic Lebanese flavors or just needing a quick snack after that intense workout at David Barton, make sure to stop in at Semsom and “seed” what it’s all about.

Muffins!
Muffins!

barcito: Argentine-Inspired Shared Plates in DTLA

On the corner of 12th & Grand in DTLA sits barcito, an Argentine-inspired restaurant. The interior has a contemporary feel, with the Buenos Aries skyline on the wall and black and white checkered flooring. There is a full bar, a dining room and plenty of communal seating as well.

barcito
403 W. 12th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015
http://barcitola.com

If you follow the LA dining scene, you may recognize the name barcito, but not necessarily for the food.

Owner and General Manager of barcito, Andrea Borgen, has made waves this past April by recently adopting a no tipping policy for his staff. All food and drinks are priced to cover all FOH and BOH staff wages. After working alongside Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group in NYC, she wanted to bring the “hospitality included” workplace to LA. This way customers can focus on the food, ambiance, and their company while dining.

Uh oh. Doesn’t that mean the food is higher priced?

No!

Surprising, huh? I was pleasantly shocked when I read the menu and saw how budget friendly the prices are (especially for DTLA).

It’s tough to get out of the habit of tipping (my server did such a great job, how do I not reward her?) but you just have to remind yourself, they are paid fairly.

Ok, enough with the money talk. Let’s get to the food!

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Since I landed at 5 PM, I was just in time for their recently added Aperitivo Hour (5 pm – 7 pm daily). For $9, your choice of aperitif cocktail, beer with a shot or wine comes with a snack trio. The trio included walnuts, potato chips, and green olives.

For my aperitif cocktail, I chose the Rome with a View, made with Campari, dry vermouth, soda water and lime. I know Campari is not for everyone, but I promise the soda and lime cut out that bitterness.

barcito has a communal gastropub feel to it; the plates are intended to share with others. Since I had nobody to share with, I decided to try 3 of their most popular plates.

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When I think of Argentine fare, I think of steaks so I started with the Steak Tartare, which comes with potato chips to dip. The freshly fried chips are smokey and tangy and pair so well with fillet mignon. The tomato vinaigrette is light and doesn’t take away from the meat.

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Then I got an order of the Provoleta, seared goat cheese, charred lemon and French bread. The goat cheese spreads on the bread for a tasty treat.

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My favorite dish by far was the Cordero, lamb belly medallions with spring onions. I cannot believe I’ve come this far along in my life and foodie journey to have never had lamb belly before this tasting. I’ve had plenty of pork belly but never really thought of lamb. Maybe it’s because we just didn’t eat much lamb growing up? Anyways, the meat on the medallions are crispy with that light grassy flavor, but the rendered fat is so buttery and soft. I could’ve ordered 2 of these plates.

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I couldn’t leave with getting some type of Dulce de Leche dessert, so I got the churros. These are perfectly portioned to share. The churros are so freshly crisp, and the sauce was too die for!

After dessert, I reached into my wallet to leave a tip and had to remind myself not to! Old habits die hard! The food at barcito is great, and it’s budget friendly, especially for DTLA. So if you’re at Staples Center, or you just want to try the lamb belly, make sure to stop in!

Julianne’s Top 5 Honolulu, Hawaii Favorites

Aloha, foodies!

I just got back from my trip to Honolulu, Hawaii and I think it’s safe to say… I need to go on a juice cleanse. The food was so delicious; I couldn’t help but savor every moment! Below are my top 5 favorite foods from my trip:

Honorable Mentions:

Germaine’s Luau
Reservation required: http://germainesluau.com

IMG_8492I think everyone should attend one luau in their lifetime. Since this was my 12-year-old niece Sydney’s first trip to the island, we felt we had to take her to one. Germaine’s Luau honors Hawaiian traditions very well.

Cons: It’s packed with tourists, and you sit at communal tables (which means forced conversations with strangers).  It requires a rush hour bus ride where your participation is encouraged by the escort (again, forced conversations with strangers) and I can’t say the food was up to par with restaurants featured below.

They also insist you try poi. I’d never decline the chance to try traditional island eats, out of respect… but yikes. I can’t even. Poi is basically a goopy gravy made from the stem of a taro plant. It’s cold and weird and even when you mix it with other foods, it’s just one big NOPE. The most bizarre thing is that I’ve had taro several times in desserts, so how can something so right as a dessert, taste so wrong as poi?

Pros: The live show entertainment was awesome! It’s hula dancing, and they bring out fire dancers! Sydney even went up on stage to dance with them! There’s beautiful live music, the host of the show is great and our escort, Georgie, was very entertaining on the ride over. She made getting through rush hour traffic much more pleasant.

The Kalua pork was cooked in the traditional imu, which an underground style oven. There is something very special about seeing the roasted pig raised from underground. Traditional Kalua pork is not sold commercially in any other state except Hawaii, so I made sure to savor every bite of it.

M. Matsumoto Shave Ice
66-087 Kamehameha Hwy #605, Haleiwa, HI 96712
http://matsumotoshaveice.com

I’ve had a lot of bad shave ice in my life. They were just too syrupy, too sweet, too messy, it was never really my thing. I’ll be honest with you foodies; I didn’t even want to order anything when we got here.

IMG_8493Holy cow, I would’ve missed out on the best shave ice ever. I’m convinced it’s the best shave ice ever because I’ve never seen it prepared this way (note: I’m from California and part Filipino. Sorry, no one around me ever got this right).

I got the lychee flavor with a coconut cream. Mind blowing. The lychee flavor tasted refreshing and not artificial (although it may be). The syrup pour size was the right amount and didn’t overkill those last ice bites. But the coconut cream added a milky richness to it that I haven’t experienced with shave ice.

 

To view a video of shave ice in the making, click here.

5.) Island Vintage Coffee
2301 Kalakaua Avenue #C215 Honolulu, HI 96815
https://islandvintagecoffee.com/

IMG_7651Despite having such a lackluster experience with the taro based terror, poi, earlier, I heard rave reviews about the Island Taro coffee-free blended drink. Now, I’m a black coffee kind of gal. I’m not really one for sweets (I especially hate Starbucks Frappuccinos) so I wasn’t sure I’d be into it.

I was so wrong. I’m convinced this drink is made from the Hawaiian gods and delivered to us by hula dancing angels. It tastes like exactly like cake batter. Like an addictive cake batter that you can just drink down. I didn’t feel dehydrated or gross after it either. It’s just absolute heaven in a cup. It’s a must-try, and they have multiple locations, see website.

4.) Sweet E’s Cafe
1006 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816

When I think of Hawaiian food, for some reason I recollect Adam Sandler trying to woo Drew Barrymore in 50 First Dates. Remembering this scene made me crave pancakes, French Toast, and SPAM. Sweet E’s was recommended to me by a few locals, and when I saw owner Ethel Mathews graced the cover of Hawaii Business Magazine, I knew I had to drop in for a bite. I’m all about supporting #girlpower.

sweet eThat bite ended up with me ordering a full meal and a pancake on the side. And was a lovely overestimation of hunger it was! My mom and Sydney and I just ended up chowing down on each other’s plates, cause everything was so good!

I feel like this image reeks “This is why you’re fat”, but here’s what we had starting from the bottom left:

Blueberries and cream cheese French toast, side of Canadian bacon, side of banana pancake, Portuguese sausage, Everyday Breakfast with Kalua Pork and Kalua Pork Benedict.

Sweet E2

The Kalua Pork Benedict was my favorite item. The eggs were poached to a runny perfection, and the hollandaise sauce had the right amount of lemony tang to pair with the shredded pork. The blueberries and cream cheese French toast was also creamy, dreamy and sweet.

You can view video food porn of this dish by clicking here.

3.) Koko Head Cafe
1145 C 12th Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
http://kokoheadcafe.com

IMG_8491This island style brunch spot is another recommendation from to me by friends. And it just so happens to be another female-ran business, the owner is TV personality and Chef Lee Anne Wong.

Warning: The cocktail I got was a special, so it may or may not be available. Sorry readers, I hate doing that, but I cannot turn down a Coconut Margarita. I’m a big fan of Pina Coladas (and getting caught in the rain), so if I see coconut as the main ingredient in a cocktail, I’m all over it. I especially loved the toasted coconut rim.

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Oh boy. Cornflake French Toast. Topped with bacon and a Frosted Flakes gelato. I had to. It just sounded so ridiculous, and it was ridiculously delicious. The Cornflakes on the outside of the French Toast as crispy and buttery. And the bacon adds a savory bite to it. I think it should be mandatory to have gelato melting on top of all French Toasts from now on. This has risen the bar for French Toast so high; I don’t know if I can go back to anything else now.

You can see video food porn of Koko Head Cafe by clicking here.

2.) The Pig and The Lady
83 N King St, Honolulu, HI 96815
http://thepigandthelady.com

When you’re in Honolulu, you have to walk down Chinatown; the stretch features many restaurants, galleries, and shops.

Golden PigThe Pig and the Lady is owned by Honolulu-born chef Andrew Le, a James Beard Foundation Rising of the Year Semifinalist. His influence for The Pig and the Lady comes from his mother’s Vietnamese heritage. And, fun fact, she is the Lady reference in the title. I’m a big fan of Vietnamese food, so I was very excited for this lunch.

But first, drinks! I ordered the Golden Pig, herbs, lemon and sparkling rosé. I’m a sucker for anything with rosé so, of course, this was my choice, and it doesn’t disappoint.

Pate

We started with the Vietnamese pate chaud, a flaky, croissant-like puff pastry stuffed with savory pate. This French-Vietnamese treat is a perfect start to the meal.

pho french dip

My entree choice was the Pho French Dip, beef brisket roasted for 12 hours, glazed with P&L BBQ sauce, Thai basil chimichurri, charred bean sprouts, and onions and a load of cilantro. Every item in this sandwich contributes its unique flavor, and it’s not overwhelming in any way. The flavors play together beautifully. The pho broth on the side is meaty with a light essence of herb. This is one of those dishes I’ll never forget!

Click here to see more food from The Pig and the Lady here.

1.) Mahina & Sun’s
412 Lewer’s St, Honolulu, HI 96815
http://surfjack.com

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Mahina & Sun’s, well-known Honolulu local Ed Kenney’s fourth restaurant, is fresh to the Honolulu scene. It’s located in the recently opened Surfjack Hotel, which is close to Waikiki Beach.

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Mr. Pink

Surfjack Hotel has this kitch, vintage-inspired feel to it and I will for sure be booking a room there on my next trip. I feel in love with the pool that reads “wish you were here” on the flooring. That cute, mid-century-hip look extends into the restaurant as well.

Everything was phenomenal. That starts with my first cocktail, the Mr. Pink. Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin, Lillet, Yellow Chartreuse, Dry Curacao, lemon, egg white and rose flower water. It’s tart but has a mellow creaminess to it from the egg whites foam. I could sip on this and sit by the pool all day long.

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Shinsato pork pate

The first snack was a Shinsato pork pate, which was whipped to perfection. The dip-ready sides were pickled veggies, buttered and toasted sweet bread and a (so delish) mango mostarda, which is like candied fruit with a mustard syrup. Mostarda may sound a little odd to some of our foodie readers, but you have to try it. I just wish the portion was a little bigger.

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I’m known for getting pizza in whatever part of the world I’m in. I’d order pizza in Pakistan if I ever went. So although Hawaii isn’t quite known for perfecting pizza, we ordered a great one here. The Naked Pig Pizza is a thin crust pizza topped with Naked Cow cheese (fun fact: the only dairy farm in O’ahu),  bacon and maui onion. This results in a light but lovely pizza. We also tried the Sweet Land Farm chèvre beignets, which have a borderline doughy hush puppy consistency to them, so don’t expect a light NOLA style beignet.

M&S4My favorite dish was the Grilled He’e (aka octopus) & watercress salad, with ricotta, potato, green olive, and dill. The flavors together work perfectly, and it’s also a beautiful dish to gaze upon.

The dessert menu looked amazing, but I ended the dinner with The Lavender Rub, a cocktail with Tullamore Dew, Amaro Montenegro, Lustau East India Sherry, Femet and lavender bitters. There’s no better way to end the night than with a strong, floral cocktail- and this hit the spot!

I loved the use of local ingredients and unexpected flavors. I know it’s new to the Waikiki scene, but I highly recommend trying Mahina & Sun’s out!

You can watch a little video on dinner at Mahina & Sun’s here.

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