Friday, February 25, 2011

Pizzeria Mozza

Yes, I am raving about Pizzeria Mozza by showing desserts! My Chocolate Monkey tea friend (see December's Village Pantry post) was in town, and she said to pick the place for dinner. One of my work friends gushed about Pizzeria Mozza, and it sounded like the perfectly yummy place for the latest round of girly catch-up.

Pizzeria Mozza is the more casual space of the Mozza restaurants on the corner of Melrose and Highland. (The connected Osteria Mozza seems the fancier-schmancier side of the Nancy Silverton-Mario Batali food partnership.) There's a big pizza oven with adjoining "pizza bar" to watch the food being made. The tables are almost on top of the other, which made for some fun conversations and recommendations with adjacent dinners.

Finally, the food. I had heard the fennel sausage was the way to go. There were two versions, so we each ordered one. Mine was nicknamed "meat lovers" due to the bacon, salame, guanciale (which was more bacon!) and fennel sausage. YUM! And if that wasn't enough meat, we started with their awesome roasted Brussels sprouts with proscuitto and breadcrumbs.

And if my pants weren't sausage-casing tight enough, we went with the dessert tasting pictured above. We were able to limit it to these three: lime torta with blueberries, blood orange gelato with crispy wafer, and butterscotch budino (pudding) with a tease of sea salt to zing the sweet. I polished off the pudding, while my friend favored the torta. The gelato was a superb transition between samplings.

So now I'm gushing about Pizzeria Mozza to all my friends! Be sure to make a reservation, or it could be a long wait.

Click here to go to Pizzeria Mozza's Web site.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pann's Restaurant and Coffee Shop

Pann's Restaurant and Coffee Shop
is one of my LA treasures. Right up there with the closed Ship's and new-fangled Cafe 101 (see my post from December 2009), its Googie slanted roof, faux rock wall, red vinyl booths, dancin' font, and awesome "futuristic" light fixtures just delight me.

Oh yes, and the food. It's diner all the way! Here you see their brisket with the steamed spinach (yes, an attempt to be healthy) balanced with some fantastic macaroni and cheese. Dang, I was totally eyeing the peach cobbler in the pastry case, too, but decided I could - and probably should - come back another time.

Just a soapbox moment here: just because Pann's has been around since 1958, it doesn't mean it'll be here forever. Let's remember to support this and other classic eateries to keep them in business. Stepping down now, and wishing I got the cobbler to go.

Click here to go to Pann's Web site.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Gale's Restaurant

I was due for some giggles with several of my former NHM chums. Five of us (two current and two other former Natchers) cross paths in Pasadena. This time, Gale's Restaurant was the destination.

Gale's is on Fair Oaks, near the antique malls south of Del Mar. It's the cool glass-bricked building; once you eat there you won't drive past ever again. The food is Northern Italian style, where they start with the crusty bread for dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Then there's the appetizers. Here you see my Pera, Gorgonzola e Speck, which was seasonal poached pears served with gorgonzola cheese, imported smoked prosciutto and a drizzle of balsamic syrup. Beautiful and delicious!

I followed it up with a super-thin crusted margherita pizza. Two-thirds of it came home with me for subsequent meals, and I ordered the small.

All the food on the table looked and smelled amazing! Of course, we had lots of laughter along with the catching up. It was a great reminder to get the gang together more often, AND to eat at Gale's!

Click here for Gale's Web site.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Hitching Post

Finally, the "real meal" for the day courtesy of the Hitching Post. I read about the Hitching Post on the site, one of my absolutely favorite food references. They said it was worth a drive from anywhere; that little notation was relevant because the Casmalia original location is literally out in the middle of nowhere! (I grew up in the sticks, so I definitely know what the middle of nowhere looks and feels like.) The place was packed, and everyone seemed to know everyone else.

The Hitching Post does Santa Maria style barbecue, which means it is slow cooked, served with salsa, with bread to sop up the juices. Here you see my delicious petite filet, grilled veggies and artichoke, and garlic bread for the soaking action. What you don't see is the crispy relish tray, fruit cocktail (for the non-shrimp cocktail eaters) and heaping green salad with bleu cheese dressing for starters, or the raspberry sherbet for dessert.

I concur with the Roadfood guys, as this meal was well-worth the drive. Tummy more than full, it was time to wrap up this trip and head home for a return to reality. And, to start thinking about the next big adventure...

Click here to go the the Hitching Post's Web site.

Linn's of Cambria

Between Hearst Castle and the next real food stop was Cambria, a delightful little oceanside town with wine shops, art galleries and jewelry stores, plus my fave antique malls. Linn's Pies was recommended to me from a local, and the billboards teased their yummy wares on the drive.

I had to go with an olallieberry pie, and this mini version was available to go. Olallieberry is a cross between blackberries and raspberries and is a regional treat, and what a tasty treat!

Click here to go to Linn's Web site.

Hearst Castle

Fueled by healthy fare, the next stop was Hearst Castle. Talk about over-the-top, but in a totally different way from Madonna Inn. If you haven't seen it for yourself, one word - decadence - sums it up! Remember, this man was a gazillionaire, and he was not afraid to spend his money. He even had a pier built to unload his auction purchases from Renaissance castles and cathedrals. Massive fireplaces, huge tapestries and awesome carved wood ceilings (my mind wonders how those were transported!) all intermingle in the rooms. Oh yes, and then there's gold leaf on the tiled floors of the indoor pool for some keeping-it-real perspective.

Keep in mind that this was a working ranch, and the Casa Grande was thought of as a ranch house. Hmmm, what did the "real" house look like?!

Since it seems this trip's pictures have been focused on food, I went with the special WRH napkin on the immense dining room table. Apparently, Mr. Hearst kept a huge kitchen staff, yet put ketchup on everything. Vintage Heinz glass bottles and mustard jars sat on the table with this beautiful china.

Finally, Hearst Castle was the one snowglobe score on this trip. Nevermind that I really wanted the glass one with the sled; I'm happy with the cheezy one I got!

I'm feeling some more food coming on...

Click here to go to Hearst Castle's Web site.

Madonna Inn

The next stop was Madonna Inn! Google cheezy, over-the-top, central California coast and the Madonna Inn should be in the first few results.

For the uninformed, it's the pink hotel on the 101 in San Luis Obispo. It has themed-decorated rooms, like the Caveman and the Edelweis, and it is totally kitsch! You may also have heard about the waterfall urinal in the men's room by the wine shop. Sadly, it was being serviced this time, so I have no photos to share.

Anyway, I've wanted to stay there for most of the 20 years I've been in LA, after stopping on trips up and down the coast. This adventure was my chance! I got the China Flower room, which was perfect since it was the beginning of Chinese New Year. Gold ceiling, lots of feng shui mirrors, brocade bedspread, orangy velour curtains, bamboo-styled bathroom fixtures, you get the idea! As there are 100+ rooms, I am now starting my check-off list to stay in them all!

Since I couldn't capture all the cheezy details in a single photo, instead I'm going with a food shot. Here you see the Madonna Frittata with spinach, tomato, mushrooms and zucchini, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. So cheese and cheezy! Note the special container of pink sugar. I had to have some tea just to use it! And those biscuits were begging for some sausage gravy, but you might recognize that this was a healthier choice for breakfast.

Spurred by a wise first meal, do you think I could maintain it for the rest of the day?

Click here to go to Madonna Inn's Web site.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Paula's Pancake House

Since I was at Pea Soup Andersen's, I absolutely HAD to swing by Solvang. If you don't know Solvang, it's a Danish community celebrating 100 years on California's central coast. It's pretty cheezy, with the windmills, (Check out my September 2009 post about the Self Realization Center. The whole town looks like that!) wooden shoes and storks for good luck everywhere.

Then there's the food. Since I was only having one meal there, I had to go with Paula's Pancake House, Solvang's original pancake joint. Here you see thin Danish-style pancakes with substantial chunks of medisterpolse (Danish-style sausage), and the fresh-squeezed OJ. I'm happy to share that stuffed between the two pancakes is a whole slab of sausage. YUM!!

And, note that I said one meal, as there was other serious snacking going on with bakeries galore in Solvang! Since I had to pick one, I went with Olsen's (conveniently located next door to Paula's) for the most awesome raspberry shortcake Pop-Tartish treat (see Fred's 62 post in November for Pop-Tart insights) and a chocolate-covered custard which fueled the drive to the next spot, which was....

Click here to go to Paula's Web site.

Pea Soup Andersen's

Remember my Cee-dee's Big Adventure posts back in September? That was the roadtrip that started when a flash of inspiration, fueled by "Pee-wee's Big Adventure," that flared up into a series of cheezy fun stops.

This time, the spark came from Pea-Wee and Hap-Pea from Pea Soup Andersen's (PSA). They're the little cartoony characters and mascots for PSA. This idea has been stewing since last January, when I drove to Carlsbad for the Half Marathon. I was sadly disappointed to learn the PSA down there was closed, and I've been thinking about their Traveler's Special for over a year now.

Flash forward 13 months, and when faced with two connected days off, PSA and the California central coast were front of mind. Stay tuned for the other adventures, but here you see a sensible variation of the Traveler's Special. It's their delicious pea soup in a bread bowl. You don't get to trial the all-you-can-eat option, but it's an ample portion of soup, and you still get all the fixins.


Click here to go to Pea Soup Andersen's Web site.