Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cucina Alessa

Cucina Alessa in Huntington Beach is an authentic Italian restaurant.

I first came here January 2011 for my friend's birthday. Well last night I went for my friend's engagement dinner party. I am really happy for him. He is a really nice genuine guy and the girl he proposed to is super nice too. I know because she got me a Hello Kitty mug on my birthday and I had only ever met her three times and she didn't have to at all.

The food is really good as in not too cheezy or anything, though they will go around asking if you would like more cheese.

Last time I got the meatballs on the side. They were tasty. This time I got the Tortellini Carne, which is braised ribs stuffed pasta with walnut sauce on top. It was very yummy. I tried to share it with my friend but she did not like it as much because she did not like mushrooms; apparently the pasta is also stuffed with mushrooms. Truffles perhaps. Well, I loved it! I have had something similar at other places and there is a wierd aftertaste with the meat, like it had just been defrosted or something like that. So I was quite pleased with the dish.

My friend loved the fried calamari so we had started off with that for appetizers. I just thought that was ok, as it wasn't fried so that it was crunchy, but it was still tasty, topped generously with green onions and it tasted fresh.

The guests to my right had pizza; and the pizza is thin crust and it looked yummy. Well my friend sitting next to me got a salad, but it was not the type of traditional salad with lettuce. There were slices of tomato and a piece of pizza crust...she thought they made a mistake, but they said it was the salad.

And for desert, i got the tiramisu. I think I should have just stuck with my normal creme brulee. I don't like the tiramisu only because I'm not a huge fan of cream. It looked like a scoop of ice cream, but it was cream with layers of the sponge cake in between. And I'm not that fond of coffee either, to I was not too crazy about the taste. But I think for being tiramisu, it was pretty good, not super sweet or anything. Other people liked it anyway. My friend got the ice cream with chocolate lava cake. I liked that one, though the cake was a bit rich, but I liked the texture, a bit gritty, it was quite lovely.

I am really happy for my friend. They make a really good couple, even though they have just been dating for barely 2 years. I guess when you know, you really know! You don't want it to go over that long, there would just be no point in the relationship otherwise. I am really happy for him, he has a great job he's been with for over 5 years; he just bought a condo, he has his luxury car, and now he's got his girl! Everything seems to be in place, like a complete puzzle.

A restaurant with superb food means you do need to make reservations in advance. The place gets very packed.

Of course, what makes a meal great are the great people you dine with! Enjoy the food with good dialogue and special friends!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hop Li

This Cantonese style restaurant also calls itself a seafood restaurant. It has a generous selection from scallops to lobsters. They are very good for special meal events such as Thanksgiving lunch and the like with good service at a reasonable price.

Tonight I called to order their fried rice (they have quite a selection).I asked for the Fried Rice with Diced Taro, Chicken, & Dry Scallop.

I added that it was #163 on the takeout menu but it confused him even more. He said that it doesnt go up that high. Eventually I got the order in.

This dish is on the pricey side, over $17 with tax! The portion is very large though, could definitely split it with several buddies or have it for 2 days worth of meals.

The reason I am attracted to this dish is that there are very few places where you can get taro in your meal. It has a homey feel to it I guess, like reminding me of childhood. There is no egg in this dish though, which is a small disappointment, and it would have been nice with green onions and some other spices added. Otherwise it is quite a hearty dish, though could use some improvement on the taste.

This is the review for just the one dish. The place is accommodating to many, and great for hungry night owls, usually open til 2am.

The disadvantage is that it is on a very busy street, and next to KFC.

I do recommend this place and encourage you to explore their many dishes.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Harmony Gold Theater

Guess who is the happy girl who saw Mike Shinoda?

He just completed his first score to a movie called The Raid: Redemption.

Well I just got off work and traffic along Sunset Blvd. was a complete nightmare. It took me a good 20 minutes to go 2 miles. But I arrived at around 6:30pm and was hoping they had a concession stand...and they didn't!

In fact food is not allowed. I had a chicken sandwich in a plastic bag with sour patch kids and the staff would not let me in. I had to leave the food in the counter. But at least they let me leave it on the counter instead of just tossing it out or stuffing it in my stomach like some theaters.

The theater seats about 350 people but I think they would do better with less seats if they made them larger and therefore more comfy. The seat in front of you is literally on top of your leg and every time someone in the row in front of you moves or is talking to the person next to them, it just seems very claustrophobic.

I don't think I would pay to see a movie here; I'm just fine with the free tix I got. And Mike Shinoda was lovely!!

Watch The Raid at a theater near you.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Save the Date 3/27/12 for Free Dinner

Enjoy FREE dinner on March 27th courtesy of BBC America’s new cooking adventure series No Kitchen Required!

BBC America will be hosting the weekly Santa Monica food truck event with free food, drinks, desserts and t-shirts. Plus at 7pm enjoy an early screening of No Kitchen Required.

2612 Main St (corner of Main St and Ocean Park)
Santa Monica, CA
Get Directions

About: BBC AMERICA’s new original adventure cooking competition series, No Kitchen Required, follows three chefs as they are dropped into the most exotic and remote places on earth. There they must work with the locals to hunt, fish and forage for ingredients to create locally-inspired meals that will be judged by the communities. The three fearless chefs are Michelin-starred New York restaurateur Michael Psilakis, first ever Chopped Grand Champion chef Madison Cowan, who has roots in London, Detroit and Jamaica, and elite personal chef from New Zealand, Kayne Raymond. The trio leave the comforts of their kitchens as they are dropped into ten locations around the world including Dominica, New Zealand, Belize, Fiji, Chiang Dao – Thailand, Koh Lanta – Thailand, Hawaii, New Mexico, Louisiana and Florida. The series is hosted by British presenter Dr. Shini Somara (BBC’s The One Show, BBC World News’ The Health Show), who joins the chefs on the adventure. BBC AMERICA’s No Kitchen Required premieres Tuesday, April 3, 10:00pm ET/PT.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cafe on 2nd - revisited

I didn't mess up this time at all. I played the same songs: Tears in Heaven, Collide and Shadow of the Day; and this time Joaquin was there!

My old coworker showed up with his date too which was nice. I was really happy they came. He provided some valuable feedback; that he felt that I sang too softly...after all this time no one else had ever said that. On the other hand he has been to lots of heavy metal concerts and loud I don't know if it is really me or him. But I have recorded myself and have felt the same, though I thought it was because I didn't have a microphone.

Well the producer was there again. He said the show I premiere in will be in 2 weeks. I'm not excited about that one since I messed up so badly. I am most excited about this recent one. He said he would make a DVD for me, so I am wondering if this is something I can put on my resume??

Once again, he wanted to interview me. He asked me what Tears in Heaven meant to me, and of course I had to talk about old Whisk. He asked my opinion of some of the other members; and it kind of caught me off guard, I don't know why; everyone is great, they have their own style and they are confident in what they do and they are very entertaining; I wish I said all that, but instead I was just like....'um they're good, lol'. He also admitted he wanted to come check up in 2 weeks...he was going to have a 'work in progress' segment on me. I guess I'm ok with that. I know I'm not good, but everyone has to start somewhere.

I think I may have caught the TV bug. I don't think I have a great TV presence, but I do know people enjoy watching that is something to be proud of; I just wish I had the confidence!!

Slaw Dogs

In Pasadena,a quaint joint; it's got a ton of stuff on the menu. $4.50 lunch specials which come with fries and a drink. However you cannot mix the specials with any deals like Living Social coupons which my coworker had.

She got "the Picnic" which had a potato salad and onion rings; another coworker got the "thai" one which has peanut sauce and the slaw; and I got the Mac N Cheese dog. It looked exciting...but the mac n cheese was kinda bland. Bacon bits were thin and dry, not tasty, crunchy or toasty or anything. The bread was cold and brittle.

I'm not a fan enough to want to return. My coworker however got some kind of an icecream sandwich which salted caramel inside. I may like to try that though.

One coming soon in the City of Duarte, closer to work, so may check that one out instead of the Pasadena one next time.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A & J Restaurant

This is a Taiwanese joint located on Live Oak, the same shopping plaza as Rite-Aid.

It is a small joint with slow service. It appears only 2 people are serving regardless of how many people are lining at the door.

The food is just ok. I do like how their noodles are thick, that is just my personal preference. My sister got the beef noodle, which was well spiced. Mom got the fried pork noodle, its broth very bland, nothing more than water in noodles.

They also got the little pork dumplings; its skin is thicker than that from Din Tai Fung; its meat inside was decent; they skimp on the ginger.

The name of the place, lack of customer service, and quality of food completely puts the Taiwanese to shame.

I'd rather go elsewhere.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cafe on 2nd

This is a cafe I started going to April of 2011. It is quite unique in that it has live music, Thursdays being its open mic night from 7 to 11pm.

I was feeling really down about losing Hogmany after losing Whiskie...and had been listening to music to try to cheer myself up...and I also really wanted to write something to be able to convey all the mixed feelings I had inside but didn't know the best way to go about it. I had googled open mic and the name of this cafe showed up. So I drove there one day and well it didn't seem to be quite as I had expected. I told myself to at least walk by it and if I didn't feel comfortable to go home. So I slowly walked by it and well there was a guy standing out front and he invited me inside. He seemed so nice and warm and everything. He handed me a menu and I found that I was somewhat hungry...I hadn't been eating right at that time. I got a steak pannini which comes with salad. It turned out he was the host of the open mic and he also played the piano til late/ early morning. He asked if I played anything and I said that I did, but I wasn't really good and I just wouldn't be able to in front of people and he said that I should really give it a try one day.

I first tried to play Tears in Heaven in 2008. I could play it pretty well til I get to the part "time will bring you down...." I just couldn't get it right...well I went back and looked at several tabs and covers on Youtube; I musta looked at at least 2 dozen and mixed and matched various styles and finally got the whole song down. So it took me about 3 years to get the song and I must say it is pretty rewarding. I messed up really badly the first 6 times I played but eventually I got it right. And I followed it up with Teardrops on My Guitar and When You Say Nothing At all.

Well on 2/16/12, when I went, a cable TV producer for a show was there. He created a series called Searching for Open Mic night and it would only be on channel 28 in Torrance. Jon texted everyone giving them a heads up he might be there and I wasn't sure if I wanted to go...but I decided that I might as well...there was a girl who did this cabaret like song and dance; she was pretty cute and all the guys loved her...and then there was me about 10 acts later...I started off with When You Say Nothing At All, but I was so nervous with the camera right there and the lights brighter than normal I couldn't get my fingers to strum properly, they just kept on shaking....and then once I got them under control, I forgot the was quite horrible...although I think I got the chorus down right...I didn't really want to, I wanted to do Tears in Heaven, but the plucking of strings can be quite tricky, so I decided to do Teardrops on My Guitar next...I changed the lyrics a bit by with "you" in place of "Drew" as I didn't think it made much sense considering I didn't know any Drews. But then I messed up one line with the wrong pronoun...and I finished my performance off with LP's Shadow of the Day with Jon on the piano and Joaquin on percussion....I think we did pretty good....well the producer's friend said that he really enjoyed the last one, and that it sounded like I really sang from the soul...I'd never heard anyone say that to me before! And whether or not he meant it, it made me really happy.

They wanted to interview me and I was really nervous about it...they asked what made me start doing open mic and how long I have been playing....I didn't want to say anything too all I said was that I've had a guitar for about 5 years but never played it much...and decided that I should start picking it up again...and that I'd been coming in for a few months....a year really...and that I woke up one day and told myself to think of something I wouldn't normally do...and do it. It's funny because the friend said to go deep diving...and I told him I already got my SCUBA certificate the other year...then they asked what my favorite store at the mall is and I said Borders...but they went out of business, so I don't really have one anymore. What a geeky thing to say...I wish I had said Potato Corner...I'm addicted to the tots...but maybe that would have sounded stupid too.

The real story about my guitar is that I first got one of those acoustic Fender packages in summer of 2005; had lessons for 3 months, didn't want to pay for lessons anymore and figured I could play with the chords I learned and the Romanza song my instructor taught me with a few riffs including Sweet Home Alabama. Then in spring 2008, I got an electric because the acoustic strings were hurting my fingers. In September 2009, I sold my Fender acoustic as I just wasn't playing it anymore and liked my electric a lot more. Well after I sold it, I missed the sound of the acoustic. Also the bridge on my electric broke, so I bought an Ibanez acoustic/ electric hybrid summer of 2011. I am in need of someone to fix my Fender electric. I had met someone who said he would fix it and charge me only for parts but the weeks after, he stopped going. Anyway, I love my Ibanez!!

I didn't go the following week. I was sick with something in my throat. I went this past Thursday- 3/2/12...and he was there again! He asked me if I remembered He kept asking if I was next...and that he was going to have to get me on film...and I said but he got me last time....he said he wanted to interview me before I go he asked me what goes on in my head before I go on and that I didn't seem too happy when I did the Alison Krauss song last time...and I told him that it should have been a really simple song and I just kept messing up so yes I was disappointed in myself. He asked me what that song meant to me and I told him it was When You Say Nothing At All and it reminds me of animals...and he laughed....I said that they didn't have to say anything at all and yet they could convey so much meaning and emotion...and I just really like animals. Then he asked me about the Taylor Swift Song, what it meant...and I just told him it didn't mean anything, I just like to play it because of the very simple chords over and over again and it was very easy to play...then he asked me what everyone should expect from me that night. I told him that I was known as the girl that plays "Tears in Heaven". People get my name wrong, they ask "you're but you're the girl that plays Tears in Heaven..." and I had not been wanting to play it; I wanted to put all the Tears in Heaven and Teardrops on My Guitar behind me and move on to something new....but they have been asking about it, so I am going to play it tonight! After that, I told him I felt silly...and he said I shouldn't....but we will see what the final edit looks like...well I wouldn't be surprised if he puts captions or thought bubbles coming out of they do on that show Blind Date.

I was really nervous about Tears in Heaven...once again the camera made me really nervous...I kept wondering why he wanted to film me again?? Well then I told myself it was gonna be ok...but then I heard sniffling...and I worried if I may have made someone cry?? And it was awfully quiet, normally I hear people talking...and there was just silence...just me and my was just really scary!! But when I got to the end, everyone was really nice with smiles on their faces and I played Howie Day's Collide...and it went really well til the last stanza, I messed up...I lost track and messed up the lyrics and the chords....but it was the first time I ever played it on stage...and then I ended with LP's Shadow of the Day with Jon. Well I think I messed up the rhythm...I wish Joaquin had been there...but everyone seemed to have enjoyed it regardless, they were smiling...unless they were just relieved I was finished.

So it is a fun venue. You meet lots of interesting musically inclined people...some not so musically inclined but creative all the same. It's quite a mixed bag on different nights.

I really do recommend it. The food is good, though a bit expensive but it is a small privately owned place and I am all about supporting your local noncorporate businesses. And service is kinda slow so I don't recommend going if you are ravenous but just if you are looking to have a snack with no rush. Also some nights they have fried oreos and $1 tacos.

Come eat and entertain or be prepared to be entertained.