Tag Archives: reviews

Remember That Wine We Had?

photo by Serge Esteve

Love wine, hate remembering labels? What’s a Foodie to do? 

I go out to dinner often and get to taste a lot of new wines with my friends in the process.  The ‘always trying new wines’ used to be because I couldn’t remember “that wine we had last time that we all loved.” My memory just isn’t that good.  I know the grape varietals and blends that I enjoy and the ones I don’t love so much (Merlot, anyone?) and why, the parts of the world that create the wines I do love. Sometimes if I’m lucky I even remember a favorite winemaker label!

But, I’m confessing here. I’m not that person who has a photographic memory for these things (even after all my years owning restaurants). I don’t necessarily know why enjoyed a particular bottle – just that I know for certain that I wished I could drink whatever “it” was again.

I used to tell people to just take a picture of the bottle label, especially if they were drinking was something they truly enjoyed. I admit that I have a pretty big album on my iPhone of wine bottle labels I’d like to drink again.  That was way before all the apps that now allow you to keep track of bottles you like, tell you how much they should cost, and even let you add tasting notes.

I use Vivino which works best for me.  I just have to take a picture of the label and up pops everything I want to know about what’s in the bottle.  It then saves that info in the app if I want, it even allows me to rate the wine and leave my own tasting notes in the profile.  That way I can just go back to the app and see if there’s anything in my list that is offered on the wine list wherever I am.  You can even scan the wine list and it will tell you the rating and review of each wine.  Pretty cool and it takes up a lot less space than all those photos on my phone!

SĀMBĀR: Craving Indian Cuisine in Los Angeles

SĀMBĀR

I love Indian food, but my favorite place closed a few years ago. I hadn’t been able to find a new place to satisfy my craving until recently when one of my best friends, Akasha Richmond, opened SĀMBĀR in Culver City, CA.

If you’re looking for wonderful flavors presented in a slightly untraditional way, then SĀMBĀR needs to be on your list of go-to restaurants. They’ve recently opened for lunch and have some fantastic salads and Kati Rolls on the menu if you want something lighter. For dinner, they offer a curry I thought I’d never eat in Los Angeles – Truck Stop Goat Curry. Don’t let the goat scare you. If I tell you it’s amazing – I wouldn’t be exaggerating. They have beautiful little samosas, oven roasted curried cauliflower and yogurt roasted vegetables to mention just a few of their vegetarian offerings. All of their sauces and chutneys are made in-house – the best! Their bar is incredibly creative, as well, with unusual spiced cocktails (using infused alcohols and flavors that are inspired by the cuisine), punches and their own take on the classics. Clare Ward, who created them all, is a genius and you’ll see her behind the bar most nights. For dessert, they serve a wonderful food memory of mine – soft serve ice cream. Oh my! Run, don’t walk. You won’t be disappointed.

Sfixio, Discover Your Secret Italian

I’m going to make a confession here – my favorite cuisine is Italian and my hands-down favorite Italian restaurant is Sfixio in Beverly Hills, CA.

It’s the closest to any food I’ve eaten in Italy that I can find in the States. So, think of it as getting your Italian fix, without the expense of traveling to that gorgeous place – imagine, Firenze in the spring.

Sfixio means “on a whim” in Italian slang and I’m so glad that Mara and Massimio (husband and wife owners) decided to open this “on a whim” in 2011.  At the time, I lived almost down the street and walked by one evening looking for a place to have dinner and went in.  I am SO glad I did.  It has been my “go to” place for a birthday celebration, the place I always take friends that I want to impress with great food but it’s especially my favorite when I don’t want to eat at home and am craving some fabulous Italian food (can you say all the time?).

Mara, who rules the front of house, is from Milan and Massimo, who’s the master in the kitchen, is from Florence so the atmosphere and cuisine are definitely Northern Italian.  This means a lighter hand in the kitchen and dining room- not your typical Italian (dark wood, red table cloths, etc.) restaurant atmosphere.  They have no freezer so everything is fresh including the pasta that is made to order and not before.

Do not expect huge American portions – these are the same size portions you will find in Italy.  That means that you eat courses here – you will not get a heaping bowl of pasta (actually they never use bowls for pasta) so don’t expect one.  Pasta is a course in Italy, and not a main course, a Primi Piatti – First Course.  That being said, I’ve come in for a simple salad and a pasta and been completely satisfied.  The sauces are always light and never over powering.

If you like truffle you must try their Truffle Caviar Pasta.  It’s a signature dish and not on the menu.  Do not expect caviar in the pasta as there isn’t any.  The caviar in the name refers to the shape of the little beads of truffle that are tossed in the fresh pasta.  This truffle caviar is imported from Italy regularly and is incredible tasting and incredibly rich in flavor.  This is a dish that contains cream as well so it’s not exactly dietetic but DEFINITELY worth the calories.  Amazing, to say the least, and worth every fabulous review it receives.

They have a wonderful whole grilled Branzino but my favorite fish on their current menu is the Salmon with Caponata.  They used to have it only as a special when Massimo would make the Caponata but it was so wonderful they’ve finally put it on their regular menu.  I can’t resist.  They also serve some wonderful beef, veal and chicken so everyone has something they can order.

Please save room for dessert.  I’m not a big sweet eater but Massimo’s desserts are so light I always save room.  My favorite is Ricottina con Amarene- a fresh ricotta served with imported Italian cherries.  Perfect.