Monthly Archives: April 2015

Beer & (Shark!) Burgers: Tiato’s Summer Beer Garden

From July 15 to September 30, Tiato’s (tea-ah-tow) awesome outdoor herb garden/patio turns into a Summer beer garden every Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. The German-heavy brew menu clearly pays homage to the “beer garden’s” country of origin by featuring several quality German beers including the world’s oldest dark beer Barock-Dunkel, the light and dark beer blend Anno 1050 created for the 95th anniversary of the brewery, and the impressive pilsner Rieder Classic.
To add their twist of Asian fusion on the beer garden concept, Tiato will also offer numerous hard to find beers from Vietnam, including Hue and Saigon on tap, as well as some of other Asian beers from Thailand and Japan, such as Singha and Sapporo. In total, the Tiato Beer Garden will offer more than 20 beers on tap and by the bottle every Friday night.
Tiato’s Beer Garden

Photo Credit: Tiato
You’ve got the beer, but what about the bites? The Beer Garden menu includes three premium sausages: lamb Merquez sausage with grilled halloumi and harissa sauce; chicken apricot and basil sausage with tzatziki; and grilled rosemary bratwurst topped with sauerkraut and mustard sauce. For burger enthusiasts, choose from three varieties of sliders such as shark, grass fed beef, and vegetarian. Yes, shark. For the first time ever, Tiato will also sell mini-boxes of An’s famous garlic noodles for only $4; possibly the best noodles I’ve ever had. You’ve heard of them; they’re at Beverly Hills’ Crustacean, one of An’s more upscale restaurants. If you can’t make up your mind, try the Tiato Beer Garden Tasting Flight ($21): you get to pair three sausages with three premium German and Asian beers.
Tiato’s Grass Fed Burger (An’s Famous Noodles in Background)
Photo Credit: Flickr/Muy Yum
2700 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90404

Happy Cinco de Mayo + Casa Vega’s Skinny Margarita Recipe

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Or, more appropriately, Tequila de Mayo! Today is basically a day dedicated to meals at divey Mexican joints that serve, at a minimum, chips, salsa and killer margaritas. Having great food and a festive atmosphere is a bonus, but luckily I’ve got just the place that meets all the fiesta requirements: Casa Vega. You might recognize Casa Vega from the restaurant’s stint on Bravo’s Flipping Out, when the Valley establishment underwent a small renovation of its front patio. Other than that small change, the majority of Casa Vega’s decor and passed-down family recipes have remained untouched since its doors opened in 1956. If you’re one of the loyal patrons, you’ll be intimately familiar with the dark atmosphere, leather booths’ lining the walls and knock-you-on-your-butt margaritas.

Casa Vega Skinny Margarita
Photo Credit: Casa Vega

If you’re not lucky enough to have a reservation to celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Casa Vega, not to worry. I’ve got recipe for the restaurant’s famous Skinny Margarita. No, it’s not the original Cas Vega margarita, but for those partiers who are watching their calories, this recipe gives you an excuse to have two. Okay, maybe even three!

Casa Vega Skinny Margarita
Makes: One Margarita
  • 1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. organic agave nectar
  • 3/4 oz. spring water
  • 1.5 oz. Partida Reposado

Directions: Mix and serve over ice. Enjoy. It doesn’t get easier than that!

Casa Vega
13301 Ventura Boulevard
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423
(818) 788-4868

Trick or Treat: Chef Kerry Simon’s Halloween Junk Food Platter

LA Market, Chef Kerry Simon’s restaurant in downtown Los Angeles’ LA Live/JW Marriott Hotel, is known for its retro, comfort-food themed dessert platter. Think homemade milk & cookies, doughnuts, Froot Loop treats, cotton candy, snowballs and Faux-stess cupcakes. It’s a time capsule on a plate, filled with treats that nary an adult nor child can resist. It’s only natural that the king of junk food cuisine adds a “trick” to his treats, serving up a Halloween-themed dessert platter from October 15-31.
LA Market’s Signature Junk Food Platter, courtesy of Chef Simon Kerry
Photo Credit: GastronomyBlog
The dessert plate, aptly named Simon’s Spooky Sweets, includes the following treats:
  • Orange and purple coconut snowballs
  • Bat and mummy cake pops
  • Pumpkin-shaped Rice Krispy treats
  • Frosted brownies with gummy worms
  • Candy corn and carmel corn parfait
  • Fruit loop treats
  • Chocolate chip cookies
So head down to LA Market for a “ghoul’s night out” and stuff your face with Simon’s decadent desserts. It’s Halloween season after all, when candies and calories don’t count!
LA Market
LA Live/JW Marriott
900 West Olympic Boulevard


The Italian Farmers Market

In Rome, our hotel was right on this wonderful piazza called Campo de Fiori. In the mornings it was a bustling farmers market, with white umbrella’d stalls filled with produce straight from outlying Roman farms. The tomatoes, artichokes, zucchini, strawberries and blood oranges were practically screaming at you, their vibrant colors and aromas permeating the air as we walked by. On our first morning in Rome, we walked through the Campo and I could barely get by a stall of tomatoes without shooting a round of 20 photos. I’ve never seen tomatoes so plump, so bright, so red…all without hormones or pesticides. They tasted even better…sweet, slightly acidic and juicy, juicy, juicy!
Here are a few photos from our first morning at the Campo de Fiori farmers market. In addition to the produce there was a fresh fish stand, a truffle stand and flower stands that were just gorgeous. Sadly we weren’t able to buy anything because we didn’t have a kitchen, but these photos are one day going to be blown up, framed and hung in our future kitchen. I can’t wait.
Just a tiny portion of the stalls at Campo de Fiori


Roma tomatoes

Zucchini, blossoms and all!

Tomatoes…ahhhh, the tomatoes.

Sicilian blood oranges


Fresh fish stand

Pate al Tartufata (Truffle pate)

Beautiful selection of flowers

White Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Last week, I got my first cookie order. While I made Kitchen Sink, Chocolate+Sea Salt+Walnut+Fudge Drizzle, and Gingerbread cookies, I also created a brand new cookie recipe: White Chocolate + Crushed Peppermint cookies. These have been a serious HIT among our friends and family, so much so that my husband has banned me from giving any more away to our friends. He wants them all to himself. 🙂

Before I share the recipe, here’s a quick tip. Can’t find crushed peppermint? Buy a few candy canes – I prefer the traditional white+red or red+green combos – stick them in a Ziploc bag (make sure to close the bag!) and pound them with a heavy spoon, meat tenderizer or even a rolling pin. Saves you money and time spent searching for crushed peppermint.

Here’s how you make the cookies:
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (45-60 seconds in the microwave usually does the trick)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I use Bourbon vanilla extract for an added kick)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips (I use Trader Joe’s or Nestle Toll House White Chocolate Morsels)
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed peppermint pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl. You don’t have to sift the ingredients, but definitely whisk to combine. Beat the softened butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a bigger bowl until creamy and all lumps are broken up. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, a small bit at a time. Once both mixtures are combined and the batter is smooth, fold in the white chocolate chips and crushed peppermint pieces with a spatula.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick Silpat sheet. Drop 1 1/2″ spoonfuls of batter onto the baking sheet. Keeping about 3″ between spoonfuls, you should be able to fit about 9 spoonfuls of batter on each baking sheet.

Red+Green Peppermint Combo

Red+White Peppermint Combo

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until barely golden brown around the edges. Remove the cookies from the oven and wait about five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Once the cookies cool, the peppermint pieces will harden and give the cookies a great candy crunch. To give the cookies an additional holiday “glow,” melt 1/2 cup white chocolate and drizzle over the cookies. Drop a pinch or two of crushed peppermint pieces onto the warm drizzle. Let the cookies cool either on a cooling rack or in the refrigerator (so the chocolate drizzle will set) and you’ve got fantastic-looking and delicious-tasting holiday cookies!