Monthly Archives: November 2011

A Sweet Thanksgiving

For most of us, the Thanksgiving meal is all about succulent roast turkey, savory herbed stuffing, buttery mashed potatoes, and tart and sweet cranberry relish. However, a great Thanksgiving meal should be like a great concert at the Hollywood Bowl; you need to end it with a fireworks finale! So whether you’re hosting a Thanksgiving dinner or you’re an invited guest thinking about what to bring, here are some really cool and unusual Thanksgiving desserts which are sure to impress.

Gourmet Thanksgiving Pies

1. Gourmet Thanksgiving Pies. These are probably the most beautiful, upscale and delicious Thanksgiving pies I have ever seen or tasted. Super talented French pastry chef Romain Drocourt of The Little Door and Little Next Door has created elevated versions of pecan and pumpkin pies with French flare. These elegant and sophisticated pies make the ones at Marie Calendar’s and House of Pies look like their poor Hillbilly cousins. The Pecan Pie is made with toasted and caramelized pecans, a thin gingerbread spice tart shell and lemon mascarpone and maple syrup cream on top and comes with a side of Earl Grey sauce. The Pumpkin Pie is made with organic pumpkin, praline custard and yummy homemade cinnamon marshmallows. You can purchase them both (make sure to order in advance) at the bakery at Little Next Door, along with a really cool table centerpiece: a large French baguette bread with sesame seeds in the shape of a Turkey (pictured above). I like to call it a “Vegetarian Turkey.” Little Next Door is located at 8142 W. 3rd Street, Los Angeles (in Mid-City near West Hollywood)

Thanksgiving Cupcake Fourpack

2. Thanksgiving Cupcakes. Starting this Monday, for only three days, Yummy Cupakes will bring back their Thanksgiving themed cupcakes. These Turkey Day-inspired flavors are Marshmallow Yam (yam cupcake filled with marshmallow fluff and frosted with a brown sugar buttercream), Lime Jell-O (lime cupcake filled with lime Jell-O and topped with lime whipped cream frosting), Pumpkin Pie (pumpkin cake topped with a pumpkin cream cheese frosting) and Turkey Gravy Cranberry (a turkey gravy cupcake seasoned with savory Thanksgiving gravy, filled with a fresh cranberry relish and topped with a cranberry cream cheese frosting). I haven’t tried the Turkey Gravy ones but you can bet I will be first in line try one on Monday. Yummy Cupcakes has three locations: 2918 W. Magnolia Blvd in Burbank, 313 Wilshire Blvd in Santa Monica, and 220 26th Street, Santa Monica (near Brentwood).

Candied Yam Ice Cream

3. Thanksgiving Ice Cream. One of my favorite ice cream shops in LA, Sweet Rose Creamery, is now selling several fun and delicious Thanksgiving flavors including Candied Yam, Cranberry Orange Sorbet, Spiced Pumpkin, Apple Cider and Quince with Manchego. I’ve tried them all and my favorites are Candied Yam (which has pieces of marshmallow in it) and Spiced Pumpkin. They also have three special holiday ice cream pies which look like traditional pumpkin, pecan and apple pies (make sure to order these in advance). The Pecan Ice Cream Pie has Salted Caramel Ice Cream and butter pecans in a chocolate cookie crust. The Pumpkin Ice Cream Pie has Spiced Pumpkin Ice Cream with whipped milk and pepitas and is dusted with cinnamon sugar in a ginger cookie crust. The Apple Pie Ice Cream Pie has Apple Pie Ice Cream topped with caramel sauce and is dusted with cinnamon sugar in a graham cracker crust. Sweet Rose Creamery is located in the Brentwood Country Mart at 225 26th Street in Santa Monica (near Brentwood).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Little Next Door on Urbanspoon
Yummy Cupcakes on Urbanspoon
Yummy Cupcakes on Urbanspoon
Sweet Rose Creamery on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Brentwood, Burbank, Mid-City, Santa Monica, West Hollywood

The New Object of My Affection

Stella Rossa Pizza
Please don’t tell my wife, but I have fallen in love with a recent acquaintance. We met at a bar in Santa Monica a couple weeks ago and I have been thinking about her everyday since. The object of my affection is hot, enticing, earthy but sophisticated. In all candor, she’s also doughy and cheesy. She is a mushroom and truffle pizza; the best pizza I have ever had in LA and one of the best pizzas I have ever had in my life. I discovered this amazing umami white pizza, which has shaved Crimini mushrooms, gruyere, melted onions, black truffle, torn parsley, romemary and thyme, at Stella Rossa Pizza Bar, an exciting new restaurant which opened earlier this year.

The surprising thing about this pizza discovery is that I wouldn’t usually order a mushroom pizza; it was selected by my daughter who was dining with me. I almost always go for the meat and, accordingly, we also ordered the Housemade Organic Sausage Pizza with ground sausage made daily at Stella Rossa, tomato, fresh mozzarella, hand-picked oregano, fennel pollen and optional calabria chiles for extra heat. I loved the sausage pizza, but the mushroom pizza is the one that really blew me away.

The mastermind behind these amazing pizzas is a young genius chef named Jeff Mahin, who, at age 27, has already worked in three of best restaurants in the world – Arzak in Spain, Nobu in New York and my all-time favorite restaurant, The Fat Duck in England. The son of a scientist and an engineer, Mahin fashions himself a “food scientist” of sorts and has spent years researching and developing the perfect pizza. Although the quality and combinations of toppings on these pizzas are phenomenal, everyone knows that what makes a truly great pizza is the crust and the crust here is incredible. Chef Mahin uses a special blend he created of locally milled flour, filtered water, sea salt and fresh yeast and allows the dough mixture to ferment for at least 18 hours before assembling the pizzas and baking them in an ultra-hot 600 degree oven. The result is a crust which is golden and crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside. I am salivating just thinking about it.

Stella Rossa has other great offerings besides pizza. Their Oven Roasted Beet Carpaccio made with fresh burrata, toasted pistachios, aged balsamic and wild arugula, is an absolute must-have. I also like their Spinach & Purple Kale Salad with pecorino romano, medjool dates, shaved radishes and mustard vinaigrette. For dessert, I highly recommend the Salted Caramel Pot de Creme with Creme Fraiche; it’s a really delicious cup of pudding. The dimly lit restaurant, which plays great music and has a hip and relaxed atmosphere, also features a really great wine and beer list.

Stella Rossa Pizza Bar is located at 2000 Main Street in Santa Monica. UPDATE: Stella Rossa has changed its name to Stella Barra Pizzeria and has opened a second location in Hollywood.

Oven Roasted Beet Carpaccio

Spinach & Purple Kale Salad

Homemade Organic Italian Sausage Pizza

Roasted Apple Cobbler with Creme Fraiche

Salted Caramel Pot de Creme

I love this place!

Stella Rossa Pizza Bar on Urbanspoon


Filed under Santa Monica

The People Who Come Here Suck

This place has a cool concept, gourmet popsicles, and an even cooler name, “Suck It Sweet & Treats.” They sell homemade frozen treats called “Sucksicles” (“Popsicles” are apparently a trademarked brand), which are made from fresh, seasonal farmer’s market ingredients and natural sweeteners; they have no artificial colorings, flavorings or preservatives. The Sucksicle is the invention of store owner, Keileigh Brelle, a trained pastry chef, who was looking for a special treat to fit within her gluten-free diet. Besides being gluten-free, many of the Sucksicles are non-dairy and vegan.

The flavors change everyday and are posted on Suck It’s facebook page. Past and current fruit (and vegetable!) flavors include Raspberry Hibiscus, Lavender Lemonade, Pear Frangelico, Cucumber Lime Mint, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Peanut Butter Banana with Chocolate Chips, Baked Banana Walnuts, Pineapple Chile, Grapefruit Jalapeno, Mango Lassi, Kiwi, Plum, Key Lime Pie, Gazpacho, Spicy Avocado and Dill Pickle. Past and current non-fruit flavors include Coconut Cream, Saffron Pistachio, Chai Tea Latte, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Peppermint and Carmel Pecan. I haven’t tried the Dill Pickle Sucksicle yet, but my favorites are the slightly spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate and the yummy Cinnamon Roll. The only flavor I haven’t liked has been the Spicy Avocado. The Sucksicles are $4 each. On the weekends, they also sell gluten-free cookies and tarts. I haven’t tried the baked goods yet, but I suspect they don’t suck.


Assortment of Sucksicles

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Raspberry Hibiscus

Spicy Avocado

Cinnamon Roll

Suck it Sweets and Treats on Urbanspoon

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