Archive for the ‘Ice Cream/FroYo’ Category

California Soul: Hot Date with Oishii Eats (LA)

March 1, 2008

In LA, I was finally able to meet up with my personal favorite food blogger, Oishii Eats aka Jeni (I hope her name isn’t a secret). I’m embarrassed to say, but in the overcrowded sea of food blogs, OE is the only one that I consistently keep up with- it’s totally unpretentious, easy to navigate, and the pictures are always stellar. She’s been doing it for 2 years now, alongside her job as a 2nd grade teacher. Cute!

Before our big first date, Jeni suggested I walk to Scoops, an ice cream parlor that she had written about a year ago. I remembered this post, so I started my trek from Sara’s in Silverlake to Scoops.

The ice cream here deserves all the hype– it’s all homemade, very unique flavors, and the texture was like nothing I had ever tasted before. It’s gelato style in it’s creaminess but also airy, even lighter than sorbet. Bizarre, right? It’s so hard to explain! Fantastical flavors include blueberry/coconut, pistachio/lemon, vegan strawberry/balsamic, chai and horchata. Scoops definitely pushes the limits of ice cream flavors.

I got the strawberry/jasmine and jackfruit/kiwi sorbet. Flavor explosion!!! I really loved the jasmine flavor- subtle and refreshing. Pretty ingenious to pair that with the strawberry.

Seems that they’re known for their vegan line- there’s a vegan restaurant across the street, so there were lots of people leaving the restaurant who came over for ice cream.

The Super Scoops Spoon pseudo Calder-mobile!
From here, Jeni picked me up- even though this was our first date, it was as though we had known each other forever, so it was weirdly normal and casual. Like “Hey Jeni, what’s up, take me to tacos pronto.”

We drove a little ways (a few blocks) to the best fish taco. Like literally, the place is called “Best Fish Taco in Ensenada”. Kinda weird, but pretty awesome that this dude would name his joint simply “Best Fish Taco”.

This place opened less than a year ago, in a shared lot with an auto mechanic. So my style! The place is super mellow, with seating inside, as well as picnic tables out front. Thank god for the umbrellas- you know, just another scorching day in February. Jeni confessed that she’s addicted and comes here for her fix at least twice a week.

Dude (seriously, the guy sorta reminded me of The Dude) only has 2 items on the menu: fish tacos for $1.50 and shrimp tacos for $2. Sweet deal.

We got one of each, and horchatas. I guess the dude has a rule about only ordering one taco at a time, so they don’t get soggy. Good lookin out. The fish and shrimps are breaded and fried- Jeni asks for the totillas doradas, so the totillas are crispy.

After you get your tacos, served on square styrofoam plates (like when you buy meat at the grocery store), you go to the salsa bar, where there’s mango salsa, pineapple salsa, spicy, mild, a bowl of cabbage, and as Jeni yelled, “Don’t forget the cream stuff”. I didn’t.

These tacos were THA BOMB. No other real way to describe them. It’s so magical that something as simple as fried shrimp and fish wrapped in a flour tortilla could taste so damn good! The crunch of the batter, the moist, tender heat of the fish and shrimps, the crisp from the cabbage… I could go on and on here.

Fresh horchata!
I’m a total pig and I went in for another shrimp taco. I took my plate with me, cause they encourage you to reuse for Round II. You probably don’t care to see my half-eaten taco, but I can’t not share this heavenly bite:

Can’t vouch for Ensenada, but these fish tacos could very well be a major contender in the fish taco race of LA. If I lived in LA, there is no doubt Jeni and I would meet here everyday for a little afternoon delight (sky rockets in flight).

712 N Heliotrope Dr.

Best Fish Taco in Ensenada
1650 N. Hillhurst Ave.

Mangiamo 2007: Da Enzo

February 24, 2008

In Rome we stayed in Trastevere, which is a hip, bohemian hotspot on the other side of the Tiber, near Vatican City. It’s a great neighborhood, sorta Williamsburgish, lively at all hours of the night- lots of bars, clubs and restaurants.

For my last supper in Italy, I wanted a typical Roman meal- and Trastevere is as good as place as any to get it. The place we had read about in some guidebook had a long wait, so we decided on this place instead. It turned out much better this way. Da Enzo was really unintimidating, with its tables and chairs out front, and kid’s crayon drawings covering the walls of the interior.

We snagged an outdoor table- it was a cool night, but always a treat to sit outside. I remember our waiter was a jolly dude- Romano to the core, as was the food here. No frills, really robust, simple but delicious.

We started with sundried tomatoes. Assuming it’s a roman thing to serve them this way, drenched in olive oil. Bittman would dig it.

Grilled veggies
This was pretty awesome- carbonara, but with huge bucatini pasta, instead of spaghetti. Also, this had guanciale, not pancetta, which really makes the dish more porcine. So good!

Matt got the pasta all’amatriciana, which we didn’t get a picture of, but is pasta with tomato sauce with guanciale, hot pepper flakes and onions. The pasta dishes were definitely only lightly sauced, letting the ingredients really flavor the dishes.

Dessert was vanilla gelato with little tiny strawberry-like berries. Again, simple but delicious:

Da Enzo was on the corner of Via dei Salumi! Street of Cured Meats! I want that address.

Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere- it’s a gem.
Here’s a great post about Da Enzo that I just found from the blog At Home in Rome (she lives in Trastevere, lucky lady). Next time I’ll definitely need to get the fried artichoke!

Da Enzo
Via dei Vascellari 29 (Trastevere)

Tel. 06 581 83 55

The CA Ice Cream Tour

January 18, 2008

Next time your in Oakland…take me with you to Fenton’s.
You’ll need my help. A Fenton’s sundae is larger than your conventional ice cream joint, dripping with sauce, nuts, and whipped cream overflowing. Fenton’s has an unmatched selection of flavors. My favorites are the Swiss Milk Chocolate or the Toasted Almond. The place usually has a line out the door on weekends, but its worth it. And bring a sweater. Its cold inside, and it gets colder when your eating ice cream.

If you head to San Francisco across the Bay Bridge you’ll find the Ice Cream options are astounding. In the Mission you’ve got a few choices. Bi-rite is a clean stylish shop with an ordinary assortment of flavors and additional vegan options. I had a scoop of Soy Chocolate. It was good, creamy and rich, but when I was finished I wanted some real ice cream. If that’s the case you can head over to Mitchell’s, which is also in the Mission. Mitchell’s is less stylish inside but has unusual flavors in wacky colors. My favorite is the Mexican Chocolate. Rich, creamy chocolate with a hint of cinnamon and a kick of spice.

If your on the other side of San Francisco you can still grab a cone. Joe’s in the Richmond district is a quaint little shop on Geary. They serve burgers and hot dogs and they make their own ice cream. The staff is always eager to give out samples and there is usually no wait. South of Golden Gate park, in the middle of the SF burbs, there is a hidden creamy gem. Polly Ann’s is excellent but totally hard to find. I’m eating a tub of their Jamaca Almond Fudge as I write this. Yes, it is spelled Jamaca. Yes, it is all over my keyboard.

One final stop. Further south. My all time favorite Ice Cream shop is in Los Angeles, in a little strip mall near Hollywood. Its called Mashti Malone’s. They’ve got exceptionally creamy flavors and some exotic Persian rosewater flavors too.

Cheers to Ice Cream.
Bump Cones for me.


Mangiamo 2007: The Best Gelateria

November 7, 2007

Upon arriving in Siena for the wedding, one of the first things I did was visit my favorite gelateria right behind the Campo. It was where I had my very first gelato ever, having just moved there 7 years ago (not counting the very forgettable cone Erin, Leslie and I got in Firenze that cost a small fortune– warning: do NOT get gelato in Firenze, you’ll be so pissed off that you spent $10 for a cup of gelato to enjoy it).

This place is on Via Banchi di Sotto, if you go up the stairs on the right side of the Campo (when you are looking at the tower). I’ve been trying to find the name of the place, as I always just knew it as “Gelateria”, and I think it’s called Gelateria Bibo, although I can’t be sure.

You can choose up to 3 different flavors for a ‘small’ cone. The boys behind the counter are experts in vigorously scraping off the frozen cream from the small tubs and methodically balancing the individual little scoops onto a cone. I had nocciola (hazelnut), pistacchio e fior di latte (milk).

Ahhh, it was nice to be back in Siena…

Mangiamo 2007 Archive:
Spanish Home Cooking
24 Hours in Madrid


August 14, 2007

Pinkberry is opening up a new location on 2nd avenue between 54th and 55th!!!!!! Apparently opening this coming Thursday. Although I can make my own, sometimes 8oz of heaven from the store during work hours will be great. Japan Society staff will be there everyday! Also according to this site below, some 31 new leases have been given to franchising of Pinkberrys. I wonder what kind of royalty is required…

The Secret Ingredient

August 6, 2007
(well, not completely, but this is as close as it gets without using crack/cocaine/heroin/chemical powder!)

I went there 3 times last week, and each time, i was very careful to figure out what they have in it. After all, Pinkberry is from Korea, Japanese and Koreans eat somewhat similar things, especially snack wise, we have a lot of stuff in common. So I thought about what this sour/sweet flavor is all about. I googled everywhere, and some blog site said to use Yakult.

[Here is wikipedia info on Yakult for those who are not familiar with it]
“Yakult is a Japanese probiotic yogurt-like product made by fermenting a mixture of skimmed milk with a special strain of the bacteria Lactobacillus casei Shirota. It was created by Minoru Shirota who graduated from the Medical School of Kyoto University in 1930. In 1935, he started manufacturing and selling Yakult. Official claims state that the name is derived from jahurto, an older form of jogurto, the Esperanto word for “yogurt”.”

It definitely has that tangy yet sweet, and yogurt-ish flavor. Although regular frozen yogurt recipe calls for strained Greek style yogurt such as Fage, it’s too creamy. Pinkberry stuff has A LOT of water in it, that’s why it’s so refreshing. All the Japanese ice cream use less fat, and that’s why it’s lighter.

Enough bullshit, and here is the recipe, and trust me, it is damn good.

1 pint of fat free plain yogurt -strained
3 yakult (each is about 2 oz)
2 tablespoon of sugar

After straining the yogurt (it renders a lot of water, and since we are adding liquid (Yakult), it’s important to strain yogurt first), mix it with Yakult and sugar, put them into ice cream maker, and churn it for about 20 minutes.

As Aya Orangeoilgwa says, it gets way too firm once you freeze the mixture (due to high water content), so the key is to eat either right away, or thaw it pretty good before you eat them.

Due to the lawsuit against Pinkberry, we might get the exact recipe soon, but until then, this recipe will do the magic. I am making a batch tonight using Bikkle (similar to Yakult). I will report the result soon.


July 31, 2007

I love it. Who cares they are not yogurt, or their health benefit was a lie. Pinkberry is awesome. It’s totally worth dealing with very incompetent store staff, who can’t remember 3 toppings you order. I just went to K-town after lunch because I was craving it too much.
But I can’t afford $5.68 for snack, and I am known to make things at home. So I have tried using Fage, Stonybrook, low fat, fat free, everything, but it’s not the same. Can someone please find a recipe? I will make it and serve you with three toppings for $3!

"Expect the Best": My New Mantra

June 24, 2007

By Jane Stillwater

I was raised in the most Republican town in Northern California. Very early on in life I learned to always expect the worst. And guess what? The worst always arrived — like clockwork.

Now I’ve gots a new view on life — “Expect the best!” That’s the new me. Do we have the most corrupt group of people in the history of the United States camping out in our White House? Does a man whose campaign contributions come from “Vulture Fund” beneficiaries and war profiteers sit in our Oval Office, gleefully wringing his blood-covered hands? Not to worry. Americans aren’t dummies. Sooner or later they throw crooks in jail. “Expect the best!”

The State Department is keeping me from embedding as a progressive journalist in Iraq. Heck, this might be a good thing. Who needs to go over there anyway? It’s hot and dusty and if I want to watch pathological killers blowing everything up, I can do that at the local cine-plex for only five dollars (I get the senior discount). “Expect the best!”

I live in a housing co-op that’s run by a bunch of self-interested schmucks whose only goal in life appears to be to see how many of their relatives they can move in illegally. And because I’m a whistle-blower, they keep doing nasty things to me and it looks like it’s only gonna get worse. “Expect the best, Jane.” Yeah, right. But what if the schmucks and me meet over tea and they offer to give up their greedy ways and we patch things up? Hey, it could happen.

I gotta start imagining that good things can come my way and not just catastrophes. We can stop global warming. We can stop war. America CAN have better education and healthcare. People CAN get along. “Expect the best!”

So. Where does the sushi and chocolate come in? Good things are also happening to one of my daughters. After graduating from high school, she floundered around a lot — many young people do. But now she’s got her own apartment and a new job! I’m so proud of her. I gotta admit that I had expected the worst — but now look at her! Hurray! And, even better, my daughter now works with food. “If you come over, I’ll give you a free sample,” she said last night. What can be better than that?

It turns out that my daughter works in a delightful little secluded indoor alleyway in North Berkeley’s “Gourmet Ghetto” — three doors down from Chez Panisse, only not that expensive. Let me take you on a tour.

Located at 1611 Shattuck Avenue, its entrance is innocuous. If you didn’t know it was there, you might miss it. “OMG, look!” I exclaimed. “Kirala has a carry-out place!” The best sushi bar in Berkeley has just gone on-commando. Sushi-to-go! And bento boxes too. And udon.

Then there’s Soop, a specialty food bar featuring soups made right on the premises and served with a chunk of warm buttered corn bread. “Our soups are completely organic,” the counter person told me, “except for the onions. We can’t seem to get enough organic onions.” Good to know.

Next comes Picoso, a small kitchen alcove that sells Mexican food with hand-made salsa. “And they make their own guacamole,” my daughter whispered in awe.

Then there’s a gelato counter named Ciao Bella that offers a whole rainbow of gelato flavors. I tried a scoop of their chocolate jalapeno and my friend Abhi tried their pistachio. Delicious. And the young lady behind the counter was very cheerful and helpful and funny. I left a whole quarter in her tip jar — I was that impressed.

And way in the rear of this delightful food-court wannabe is a tiny little cubby that sells the best chocolate in the world, called Alegio. “Ours actually IS free-trade chocolate,” said the proud proprietor. “Would you like to try some of this dark chocolate imported from a co-op farm off the coast of West Africa?” Would I!

“Expect the best.”

The whole alleyway smelled totally wonderful. Rich aromas battered my senses. Hey. Forget about blogging my poor fingers to the bone and substitute teaching at juvenile hall for a living. I wanna work HERE.

After you mix and match your meal from the menus of the various shops, you can carry it up some stairs in the back, to a small outdoor garden with picnic tables and a waterfall. At one table, I found a family of five happily eating their dinner. “We come here often,” said the dad. “For perhaps $15 you can get a healthy gourmet meal and dessert plus a magical place to eat it in.”

Oops, I almost forgot. Up above the waterfall is an old-fashioned Chinese tea shop called the Imperial Tea Court, modeled after the kind that Chinese poets used to frequent back in the day. they sell freshly-made noodles and every kind of tea. “And be sure to say that the noodles are hand-made,” my daughter informed me.

“Expect the best.”

The people who run these shops are mostly small-business owners, taking a chance on the American economy because they love to make and sell food — and chocolate. I hope their efforts succeed.

My son and his significant other are expecting a baby on January 1 — so 2008 looks like it’s going to be a good year too. And I turn 65 in two weeks. You know what that means — cheaper transportation rates, senior benefits and Medicare! Plus maybe we’ll finally get a president in the White House who actually cares about America and not just about pulling off the biggest heist in the history of the planet.

Things are going to be okay. “Expect the best!”

PS: I really don’t eat all that much chocolate any more. Since I started my new high-fiber diet, I’ve noticed that my legendary craving for sugar has gone way, way down. But unfortunately there’s no fiber in chocolate. But maybe they could start making chocolate-covered salad? Chocolate-covered roast beef? Chocolate-covered All-Bran!


April 17, 2007

“On Tuesday April 17th from 12pm until 8pm participating Ben & Jerry’s scoop shops around the world will be hosting Ben & Jerry’s Annual Free Cone Day. Click here to find a participating scoop shop near you! “


April 13, 2007
Here’s the scoop:

Print this coupon and bring it to your local Baskin-Robbins store to receive a FREE 2.5 oz scoop of your favorite Baskin-Robbins ice cream flavor. Some restrictions may apply. Available at participating stores in CT, MA, ME, NH, NY, and RI. Offer expires 4/13/07.”