Wednesday, September 30, 2009

OC Restaurant Week, Take 2

10YT was very motivated to take full advantage of OC restaurant week. After an appointment fell through for me a couple Saturdays ago, I signed up to be her dining buddy once again. This time we went to Old Vine Cafe, which several of our friends had raved about in the past.

I started off with the Caprese of Mozarella Buratta: Buratta, Flash Fried Arugula, Grape Tomatoes & Citrus Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This was perfection. The flash fried arugula added a really nice bit of texture and salt to the dish.

10YT had the Crispy Blue Salad: Certified Organic Greens, Crispy Proscuitto, Fried Onions & Maytag Blue Cheese Dressing. This looked delectable.
We were both in a berry champagne cocktail kind of mood.
For my main, I ordered a Pulled Pork Panini: Tender Pulled Pork & Chef’s BBQ Sauce with Smoked Gouda Cheese. The pork was very tender and well seasoned. It could also easily feed more than one person.
10YT had ordered the Porcini Mushroom Mac & Cheese: Macaroni, Porcini Mushrooms and a blend of Artisan Cheeses. I sampled a portion; it was heavenly. We had opted to sit indoors, which afforded us a lovely view of a shady nook at The Camp.
For dessert we both had cheesecake. I judge a cheesecake by its crust and this one did not disappoint at all. It was also the perfect portion: just enough to satisfy one's sweet tooth, but not enough to make one feel sluggish.
Two thumbs up for Old Vine! I hope to return soon.

Not Quite Nirvana

I'm still woefully behind on blogging about the spring and summer, but how about something a bit more recent in the meantime? Two weeks ago I met up with some friends for brunch at Nirvana Grille at the start of OC Restaurant Week.

Champagne is a good start to any brunch. 10YT agrees with me! Rather than buying individual champagne cocktails, the four of us split a couple bottles and added our own peach, pomegranate or blood orange purees. Blood orange definitely packed the most flavor.
Mrs50% and I started off with the salmon toasts. These were yummy. So were the chicken wontons that 10YT and Serendipitie ordered.
Mrs50% had the Nirvana Rancheros, which looked fantastic.
10YT and Serendipitie had the heirloom tomato sandwich served with thyme fries.
I ordered the Nirvana Poached Benedict served with house potatoes. It was good, but needed just a tad more salt. It was a good decision to order a side of bacon (more on that later).
10YT had apple pie for dessert.
Mrs50% had a molten chocolate cake that was divine.
Remember my side order of bacon? I saved half of it so that Serendipitie and I could jazz up our desserts.
Much to our dining companions disgust, Dipitie and I both ordered roasted figs served with maple ice cream flecked with pieces of crumbled goat cheese. This was good on its own, but a piece of crumbled bacon took it to the next level. The saltiness of the bacon set off the sweetness of the dessert and provided a nice contrast in textures.
So far so good, right? Good company, good food, decent service ..... what could I possibly complain about? How about the waiter stalking me down as I was exiting alone and inquiring about the amount of the tip we had left?
That's right. Our waiter stopped me as I was leaving the ladies' room and asked me if the amount we each paid on our respective cards was intended to cover a tip as well. When I said "yes" his response was that we left him only a 10% tip. I instinctively knew that couldn't be right, but he kept going on and on about it as I was trying to do some math in my head. At this point, a rational person would have asked to see the bill, gone over it and attempt to figure out any discrepancy. I was not that rational person. Serendipitie was. I was the deer in the headlights, please get me out of here, god I hate awkward situations, here take $10 type of person. Thanks Dipitie for getting my $10 back!
One place where I did not spend any of my money was the LF store, which we wandered into after lunch. If you ever feel like old costumes from Madonna's or Michael Jackson's tours in the '80s, head here quickly.
No outing would be complete without a group pic. Thank you ladies for a lovely afternoon!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Last Skating Post

We started off the morning at The Farm of Beverly Hills at L.A. Live. If only I could start off every morning with coffee and a mimosa.
R and I both had some variation of eggs benedict. It was good, but the restaurant is mighty stingy with its hollandaise sauce. R had even less than I did.
L had yummy looking french toast and fresh fruit.
I really hate this picture of me, but I left it in here anyways since it's a pic with L, R and Dorothy Hamill (squee!). That's her in the pink shirt behind us, just on the other side of the glass. We were 2 for 2 when it came to Dorothy sightings at The Farm.
After brunch we walked across the street for the Exhibition of Champions. Usually exhibitions have a tendency to be hokey, but this one was actually good. It was a shame that it wasn't televised.
U.S. ice dancers Samuelson & Bates performed a lively disco routine.
The Frech ice dance team not only continued its hooker theme with its costumes, they actually simulated sex on ice this time. I bet there was a lot of pearl clutching going on in the stands.
Tomas Verner brought the house down with a Michael Jackson routine. Who would have guessed that just a few months later Staples would be the site of MJ's memorial service?
This is one half of the Russian pairs team Kavaguti & Smirnov. He was quite popular with the ladies (and the men). The only urge I had, however, was to chop off that sad mullet.
Did you know that there is such a thing as synchronized skating?! As much of a skating fan as I am, I still think it's weird.
Here's me and R, ready to take the ice for our pairs number! This is a long running joke between us dating back to a skating charades game we all played back in '02.
Brian Joubert actually skated to music that wasn't from The Matrix! And it was wonderful!
The U.S. ice dance team of Belbin & Agosto are very obviously fans of So You Think You Can Dance. Their routine to "Bleeding Love" was clearly insipred by Mark & Chelsie's performance in season 4 of the show.

Apparently Brian Joubert loaned his music to Domnina & Shabalin. They performed to music from The Matrix. What is it with ice skaters and this piece of music?
The final curtain call. As I said before this is the final skating post .....................................................
.... at least until January 2010 when I'll be attending the U.S. National Championships in Spokane, WA! :-)

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Book Challenge: August Recap

I did a lot more reading than usual this month. Maybe all that vacation time had something to do with it. ;-)

27. The Reader by Bernhard Schlink

28. Legally Blonde by Amanda Brown

29. One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell

30. The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory

31. Secrets of a Shoe Addict by Beth Harbison

32. The It Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar

33. That Summer by Sarah Dessen

34. This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

35. Skating Shoes by Noel Streatfeild

36. Thirteen by Candice F. Ransom

I read the last two books while I was up in S.F., visiting my parents. I have always been an avid reader, but I thought I had packed away or donated most of the books I read as a teen. It was a pleasant surprise to come across a stash of my old favorites in the guest room closet. Skating Shoes had actually been out of print for quite some time (it's being re-released this fall!) and I must have read Thirteen at least twice a year through junior high. It was interesting to see the similarity of themes in young adult fiction from twenty years ago (#35-36) to the present (#32-34). While today's stories feature a bit more sex, drugs & drinking, the underlying plots in both eras seem to focus on friendships, rivalries, body image and finding one's identity. Perhaps there is some truth to the saying, "The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same."