Allison Day
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Archive for the ‘reviews’ Category

Chop Daddy’s

Formerly known as Pork Belly’s, Chop Daddy’s is a barbecue restaurant in Venice, CA.

With a LivingSocial deal in-hand, Son and I headed to Venice to try it out late last year.

The Chop

The Chop: Brisket smoked for over 12 hours in their in-house smoker, then chopped. Topped with homemade BBQ sauce and cole slaw on a brioche roll.

The Chop
The Belly Up

The Belly Up: Smoked BBQ pork belly topped with homemade coleslaw on a brioche roll.

The Belly Up
Fried pickles and sweet potato tots

Both sandwiches were juicy and delicious, a perfectly messy barbecue meal. The fried pickles and sweet potato tots (which are delicious dipped in the sauce that comes with the fried pickles) rounded out the meal wonderfully.

We don’t get out to Venice, CA very often, but we definitely want to visit Chop Daddy’s again!

Fishing with Dynamite

Fishing with Dynamite, in Manhattan Beach, CA.

New England Clam Chowdah’, with Neuske’s bacon, Weiser Farm potatoes, and (super snackable) house made oyster crackers.

Overall delicious, and the clams were really sweet.

Squash rolls from the chef’s mom’s recipe, with rosemary butter.

The rolls were light and airy, and we loved the rosemary butter.

Albacore Tuna Tartare with shrimp chips, spicy aioli, Asian pear, and kimchi furikake.

Definitely on the spicy side, but delicious, super fragrant and flavorful, and we loved the idea of using shrimp chips with it.

Thai Shellfish and Coconut Soup, with shrimp, mussel, rice noodles, kaffir lime leaf, and coriander.

Really loved the flavor of the soup – the only problem is it makes me crave Keizo’s Green Curry Soba like crazy!

Poached Half Atlantic Lobster with aromatic vegetables, pee wee potatoes, and Pernod butter sauce.

There was nothing about the meal that we didn’t love, however this was by far our favorite dish of the meal. The lobster was sweet and tender, and the broth was wonderfully fragrant. Oddly enough, it smelled and tasted quite a bit like pho (perhaps from the Pernod?), which got us contemplating how delicious lobster poached in pho broth might be. I’ve been dreaming about this lobster ever since…

Key Lime Pie, with a graham cracker crust and kaffir lime meringue.

This was just tart enough, and not too sweet. We LOVED it. The contrast between the cold lime filling and warmer meringue topping was refreshing, and the roasted marshmallow flavor of the broiled meringue really took the dessert up a level. A fantastic ending to a fabulous meal.

celebrating 6 years

May 15, 2005.

That was my first date with Son. Our anniversary. That means I’ve been with this boy man for over six years now.

Holy cow.

It doesn’t seem like that long. But at the same time it feels like we’ve been together forever. You know?

Going out has never been much of a big deal for us. I mean, come on… he didn’t even take me to dinner on our first date (or for several dates after that first one, either.) We just talked for hours, and by the time we realized we still hadn’t eaten, it was time for him to get me home (so my parents wouldn’t meet us at the door with stern looks). (Yes, I was living at home at the time. Long story, but it was the end of my freshman year of college.)

Even now, we generally prefer to eat at home than at a restaurant – and when we do go out, it’s certainly nowhere fancy. Maybe Mottainai for ramen, or Panda’s Express (don’t judge, I know you have your guilty pleasures too).

But every now and then, it’s nice to get out and go somewhere a little fancier.

So, on Son’s recommendation (he had gone here once for work, he said), we headed to Fritto Misto.

It’s a quaint little Italian restaurant just blocks from the beach. Perfect.

Warm, delicious bread

Of course, we couldn’t decide what to order. (I never can.) So since it was a special day, we splurged and got all three of the pasta dishes that had caught our eye, knowing we’d get to enjoy it again for dinner that night. (Do you do that too? Order a bunch, even if you’re with a tiny group, because you want to try everything? I tell ya, leftovers are a wonderful thing.)

Pasta Pancetta

Italian bacon, sundried tomatoes, caramelized onions, and garlic cream, tossed with tomato fettuccini.

Definitely my favorite of the meal, although all three pasta dishes were delicious.

Sweet Potato Ravioli

Striped sweet potato ravioli with sage cream sauce and wild mushrooms.

I’m a sucker for ravioli. Anytime it’s on the menu I have to order it… and it’s almost always amazing. This was no exception.

Garlic Shrimp

Shrimp sautéed in herb butter, garlic, and brandy, then tossed with black and white pasta and garlic cream.

This one was Son’s choice. Delicious, especially if you love shrimp.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Rich, dark, and dense flourless chocolate cake topped with fresh whipped cream.

Delicious. It’s a good thing I made a point not to stuff myself (we knew we’d be bringing home leftovers no matter what), because the dessert was incredibly rich, as every flourless chocolate cake ought to be.

(The cake was on the house – when we asked to have our leftover pasta wrapped up to go, they brought this out for us. My guess is that they noticed the camera and were hoping to sway any review in their favor. We’d have given them a rave review anyways, but the chocolate cake was not unwelcome.)

A wonderful restaurant, with wonderful service, and fantastic food. (Even now, weeks later, I still dream about that Pasta Pancetta. Oh boy, we’re going to have to go back there sometime soon.)

Happy anniversary, Son.

Fritto Misto
316 Pier Ave
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254

Herb Garden

Baby Basil

Recently, I’ve really been wanting to start a garden. This desire to grow my own herbs, fruits, and vegetables began a couple of years ago when I really began to take an interest in cooking, and was only exacerbated when I was introduced to Diane and Todd’s amazing garden. Seriously, that’s my dream garden.

Skinny Chives

Problem is, my apartment isn’t exactly overflowing with free space, and I have, er, less than a green thumb. I’ve tried growing things before, and everything but some very hardy bamboo has died. Kaput. Gone all too soon. Heck, I’ve even managed to kill a Vietnamese herb that is supposedly considered a weed. I unintentionally killed a weed! This gardening aspiration was not getting off to a good start.

Itsy-Bitsy Sweet Marjoram

So when my brother got me a Chia Herb Garden for Christmas, I was understandably excited. Finally an opportunity to grow herbs in an easy, compact way that even I could do correctly. I mean, come on. It’s a Chia garden. I couldn’t possibly kill that… right?

The herbs have been growing for almost a month now, and they aren’t dead yet! In fact, they’re starting to look like the herbs that you buy from the store. These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago, and since then the cilantro has begun to grow those spiky leaves that you normally associate with Mexican or Asian food, and the basil and chives are getting bigger by the day. And even though it’s still itsy-bitsy, I have high hopes for the sweet marjoram!

Graceful Cilantro

Tanto Izakaya – Sunnyvale, CA

Tanto Izakaya

Every now and then, Son has to travel up to Sunnyvale for work. Now that I’ve graduated and am no longer required to be in Southern California all the time, I travel along with him. When we are in Sunnyvale, we will often go to dinner with his co-workers. This week we visited a Thai restaurant and a Chinese restaurant, neither of which I’m going to review. However, we also went to a Japanese Izakaya – Tanto.

For those unfamiliar with this type of restaurant, an izakaya is like the Japanese version of a tapas restaurant. Many small dishes are served, and meant to be shared by the entire table rather than as individual meals. However we instead decided to order dishes individually, instead of to share as a table.

Son and I ordered several dishes to share between the two of us. The first to arrive was the edamame. This was, well, meh. Nothing special. It wasn’t bad, but it definitely could have used more salt.


As we always do when offered, we ordered a sashimi dish. Since we like to try new types of sashimi when given the opportunity, we decided to try the white tuna. This was alright, not something I’d order again though. Whoever sliced the sashimi did a poor job – they looked like chunks of meat rather than expertly sliced sashimi. The taste was… interesting. Much meatier than other types of fish, and while it wasn’t going bad, it didn’t have the same sort of fresh, clean taste that most types of sashimi have.

White Tuna Sashimi

Son’s favorite dish was the Hotate Butter Uni Nose. This was a sauté of mushrooms and scallops in butter, topped with uni and ikura. He thought that the scallops were perfectly cooked, and the uni reminded him of eating crab eggs. He really enjoyed the salty uni, and easily ate most of the dish by himself. (I only got one scallop!)

Hotate Butter Uni Nose

My favorite dish was the anago tempura. This consisted of a fillet of anago (eel) coated in tempura batter, then fried and sliced into inch-wide slices. Delicious. I have never had eel prepared in this fashion, but my goodness, it is delicious! The crunchy fried tempura batter complements the meaty, soft anago flesh. Incredibly good. I would get this again, and even make it at home if given the opportunity!

Anago Tempura

Although no one would admit to it, someone ordered sashimi spring rolls. Since the dish went unclaimed, everyone tried a piece of the spring roll. Son enjoyed it, although in my opinion it was just alright. The sashimi was very chewy which made the rolls difficult to eat, and I wasn’t blown away by the combination of sashimi and vegetables they used in the roll.

Sashimi Spring Rolls

Although we didn’t get pictures of most of the other dishes at the table, we did sneak a photo of the tempura dish next to us. The typical sweet potato, green bean, and other vegetables were present, but there were also a few types of tempura I had never seen – lotus root tempura and shiso tempura. Definitely out of the ordinary, but the person who ordered it didn’t complain, so they must have been good.

Vegetable Tempura

At the end of the meal, several people at the table decided to order fried bananas with vanilla ice cream. Like most of the dishes here, I found this to be just okay. The ice cream was pretty much regular vanilla ice cream topped with a drizzle of chocolate sauce, and the banana was like any other fried banana I’ve had. This is definitely not something I’d order again… I could make it better and for less money at home.

Fried Banana with Vanilla Ice Cream

Note: I know there have been a lot of restaurant reviews lately, but I promise I’ll be back to recipe posts soon. I’ve been traveling for two of the last three weeks, and when I was home I barely had time to make two TWD recipes, never mind trying to cook other foods!