Some photos used in this article were provided by Ice Cream Lab. I received no compensation for this article.
It’s August and the heat is still standing in the city. So naturally, as we’re melting away we’re looking for a fancy way to cool down. And yes, you could go to your freezer and pull out one of the plain old ice cream sandwiches. But why not try something new and exciting?
I recently went to see my lawyer in Beverly Hills and decided to take a stroll, when I stumbled onto the one-of-a-kind ice cream parlor. The Ice Cream Lab is pretty inconspicuous from the outside but once you enter it and you see the graffiti-like artwork on the wall you know you’re in a special place.
But wait until you order your ice cream!
The flavors change on a regular basis, so you should check their website to see what’s currently available. My personal favorite is the Blue Velvet, that they’ve always had available when I’ve stopped by. Once you’ve picked out the flavor you desire, it’s onto the fun part. Here is where the Ice Cream Lab really sets itself apart from other stores.
The “Lab Technicians” as they call themselves here, mix the ingredients together in front of your eyes and put it in a special ice cream mixer that gets instantly frozen by liquid nitrogen. The fun part: the process fills the room with cool fog as a special effect!
And what comes out of this process is super-creamy, yummy and especially fresh ice cream. So if you’re ever in the area stop by and try a scoop. It’s fun to watch the process and you get good ice cream on a hot day.
Also, we’ve got some good news: They’re planning on expanding even more from Beverly Hills to Westlake, Old Pasadena and Little Tokyo in LA. And according to their website they’ll even go overseas to Dubai!
Hot Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream
In case you want to stop by, here’s their address. It’s right next to Rodeo Drive.
Ice Cream Lab
9461 S Santa Monica Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA. 90210
As usual: Please let me know what you think. Are you interested in stopping by? Or if you’ve stopped by, what’s your opinion on their ice cream?
We recently took a trip to Austria. Even though people think that Austrian food and German food seem similar, they are actually quite different. And not just because they use totally different words for their food items. Seriously. Nevertheless, their food is to die for and should you find yourself in Austria you should definitely head over to a restaurant and order one of these 5 dishes below.
1) Wiener Schnitzel – Viennese Fried Veal Cutlets
Yes, Wiener Schnitzel is a fried veal cutlet outside of the U.S. and has nothing to do with hot dogs. It baffles me every time how the “Wienerschnitzel” hot dog chain got their name as they are so far off the real thing. Sometimes you will even find it made from pork but the real deal is made of veal. It’s usually served with french fries or potato salad.
2) Sacher Torte
The first of many desserts on this list, Sacher Torte is a chocolate sponge cake with apricot jam and dark chocolate icing topped with whipped cream. It’s perfect for chocolate lovers. If you’re ever in Vienna, try and get the original at the Hotel & Café Sacher near the Vienna state opera.
Yes, it’s technically pancakes chopped up and it’s named after the Austrian emperor, because it literally translates to the “emperor’s folly.” It’s usually served with caramelized raisins and apples. But you can get it with any kind of jam, apple sauce and sometimes, although very rare with chocolate sauce. It all depends on the cook.
4) Apfelstrudel – Apple Strudel
I think everyone has heard of this one. Apple strudel is one of my favorites, although it also comes in some variants. You can order it hot or cold, with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or vanilla sauce. I prefer it with vanilla sauce or ice cream. Some of them contain raisins, some don’t. You can get this delicacy fairly easily even here in the US. I know they serve it at Disneyland for example.
5) Marillenknödel – Sweet Dumplings filled with Plum
This one is a little bit harder to explain. As you can see it’s a sweet dumpling filled with plum. However, the original is actually filled with apricots that the Austrians call “Marillen”. The dough for the dumpling is made of regular potato dough and “Topfen” which is something like cream cheese/yogurt/quark. After boiling them in water, they get rolled in sugar and crispy breadcrumbs.
If you like this list, but are nowhere near Austria or an Austrian restaurant. (Hey, I know they’re rare. We’ve been looking for a while!) You might want to check out one of the following books with recipes and try to make some of these specialties at home. I promise they’re not as hard to make as they look:
Oh and let me know what your favorite Austrian dish is or which of those you would like to try, in our comment section below.
A lot of you might now that besides traveling, I also like to eat. Restaurant, street food, home cooked meals I’ll try it all the more exotic the better. Growing up in Bavaria, the heart of food in Germany, I was allowed to experience many different food items and now I’d like to share them with you, in case you ever end up there.
If you’re a big chicken or turkey fan, I’m going to have to disappoint you. These two types of meat are not very popular, although you might encounter them every once in a while. Our main protein is pork in every kind of way; sausage, roasted, grilled – you name it! And since we found that many ways to cook pork, it never gets boring. Our main vegetables are potatoes and cabbage, although you will usually find a free house salad to go with your meal.
These are the 5 food items anyone should try if they ever stop by Bavaria:
1) Bratwurst and Sauerkraut
Americans are usually semi-familiar with Bratwurst, although in Germany they are usually significantly smaller than the American counterpart. Bavarians usually like to eat their sausages with Sauerkraut or on bun, accompanied by medium-spicy or spicy yellow mustard. If you want to taste the best Bratwursts, try getting the Nuremberger Bratwursts.
2) “Schweinshaxe mit Knödel” – Roasted ham hock with dumplings
Roasted ham hock with crispy skin, potato dumplings and dark sauce is another Bavarian delicacy. It’s usually enjoyed in winter due to its heaviness, but you can get it year-round. The dark sauce usually contains beer and on occasion caraway seeds.
3) Weißwürste and Brezen
American’s are familiar with pretzels. However, the Bavarian Breze is a little bit different. It’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, covered with salt. Bavarians like to pair it with Weißwurst, which literally translates to white sausage. Try it with some sweet mustard for breakfast. Yeah, you heard me right. It’s often eaten for breakfast.
Bavarians love to sit outside in the beer garden with their friends to enjoy a cold brew. And what goes better with some beer than some heavy cheese on dark bread? Obatzda is a cheese delicacy made of soft cheese and butter. The orange color comes from the added paprika powder.
5) Weizen, Helles, Pils and more! – Beer, of course!
All these food items are only half as good, unless they’re accompanied by a beer. Bavaria is heaven for beer lovers. Of course I know that it’s not really a “food item”, but I had to include it in this list. After all, that’s the big draw of coming to Bavaria! Bavaria has approximately 1300 breweries which produce about 5000 brands of beer. That’s going to take a while to try them all.
Of course these aren’t all of the many dishes that are good in Bavaria, but rather a glimpse of my favorites and must-tries. Let me know in the comments or on facebook which ones you’d put on this list.
So all that’s left to say is: Cheers!
Yusho Restaurant at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas
I’m finally back from the dead. Well, not literally, of course but at least I’m back to writing blog entries. And the first one I’m bringing to you guys is about food. Who doesn’t love food? But when it comes to Asian food, a lot of people tend to disagree. So do Justin and I.
For my birthday weekend, Justin & I went to Las Vegas. Knowing us, where else would we go right?
As soon as we got to the Monte Carlo, we were pretty hungry and decided to grab a bite. My preference for Japanese food is nothing new to Justin and so he gave in. We were lured in by the concept of Japanese food like Takoyaki, Yakitori and other grilled specialties. However, what we got was quite different than any of our expectations.
As soon as we entered the dining room, I noticed the special ambiance and wall colors. The furniture reminded me of a casual dining restaurant with colorful chairs, turquoise walls and wooden tables.
When we got seated at our table, we looked over the menu and realized that the items were neither priced as street food or casual dining, nor resembled anything we had expected.
The waitress explained to us that the food would be served “tapas-style”, meaning small portions to share, so we should order many of them.
We decided to order mushroom miso soup, Japanese griddle cake, chicken drummies, house pickles, grilled duckbreast, grilled octopus and two steamed buns (crispy cod & pork shoulder).
Mushroom Miso Soup & Pickled Vegetables
The mushroom miso soup came first and the light mushroom broth was a delight with tofu and sea weed.
As a second dish we got our pickled vegetables which included lotus root, carrots, cucumbers and sea weed and was also really good and quite tangy.
Justin got his chicken drummies and he said he really liked it. I didn’t try it because chicken’s not my thing and it really was the only thing he wanted to eat off the menu except a pork shoulder steamed bun.
The grilled duck breast was wrapped around mushrooms and accompanied by a sweet but savory shiitake mushroom marmalade.
Our grilled octopus dish was quite peppery in taste and it was loaded which enoki mushrooms, which made the dish quite special.
Overall our experience was really great. If you guys want to check it out, click the link in this post. It’s a great place to enjoy some different Japanese food, but beware it tends to be quite pricey.
at the Hotel Monte Carlo, Las Vegas
Grilled Octopus with Enoki Mushroom
Grilled Duck Breast with Shiitake Marmalade
Crispy Cod Steamed Bun
Pork Shoulder Steamed Bun
Japanese Griddle Cake
Interior of Yusho
Loxex Scramble – Salmon & Brie
Usually, I don’t get up early on a Saturday. Well, I don’t get up early on any day unless I have to or someone promises me something I find rewarding or entertaining enough to cut my beauty sleep short.
So when my friend Angelica invited me to brunch, I was naturally a little lazy. And indeed it took us a couple of weeks to actually go through with it.
But last Saturday we ended up meeting at this place called Blu Jam Cafe in Sherman Oaks. The cafe itself is pretty easy to find, located on Ventura Blvd. When I arrived there, I tried to park in their small (but free) parking lot in the back and after a while I found a spot. If you’re there on a Saturday, be prepared to battle for it. Or you can park on the meters on the street.
When I entered the restaurant, there were a lot of people waiting to get a table and it took us 30 minutes to get seated.
Our table was nestled in a small outside area and it was pretty crammed but I didn’t feel bothered by the other guests. When I took a look at the menu, I was ecstatic.
The menu had a vast array of items you don’t usually see on a brunch menu – or at least I’ve never seen them before. Which other place serves Italian Breakfast Risotto and Breakfast Carbonara? And indeed, it looks just as delicious as it sounds. According to their website, their Breakfast Carbonara is risotto with crispy smoked bacon, green peas, parsley and parmesan, topped with two poached eggs and herb pistou.
We chose a little more traditional breakfasts. I picked the Lorox scramble, which are made with smoked salmon, chives and brie. Unfortunately, the waitress messed up my order and I got the regular eggs, instead of egg whites. But hey, let’s not be difficult here. So I let it slide.
Crispy French Toast & Breakfast Quesadilla
My friend ordered the Breakfast Quesadilla which also looked delicious. Even though both our orders came with fruits, we decided we needed more sweets. So we went, with the specialty, which they are known for, crispy french toast. That’s regular french toast rolled in cornflakes and served with fresh berries and a vanilla bean sauce. It was my first time trying any kind of french toast and I really enjoyed it.
The price overall was very affordable and I had a great time. Well, until they declined my card and I found out someone had stolen my credit card information but that’s a story for another day. And it’s definitely not their fault, so if you’re ever in the neighborhood of Sherman Oaks or just feel like a really good brunch place. Check them out.
Blu Jam Cafe
15045 Ventura Blvd. Sherman Oaks, CA 91403
Breakfast at Blu Jam Café!
Meizhou Dongpo at Westfield Century City
Since my spring semester won’t start for another week, I have quite some free time on my hand. And yes, I’ve been preparing and bought my books already, most of my time is spent running around the city.
So one of these days, I decided to waste my time at Westfield Century City. I love this mall. It’s the perfect mix between high-end fashion/luxury brands (because we are in Century City!) and open-air family mall.
I was especially excited when I heard that the Chinese restaurant Meizhou Dongpo had finally opened its doors. (It took me a bit to spell this one right.) They had been advertising it for a more than half a year and it was scheduled to open in October. Somehow I had lost track of it or I would have stopped by sooner.
Recently, I’ve found out that this is somewhat of a chain. When I sat down, they were just training their new staff at the other table and they served them a feast of all the items on the menu.
Pork belly over cabbage
I wanted to order some of their crispy peking duck but they told me right when I sat down that they were out of duck. What a bummer, since 3 of their main dishes included duck. A little disappointed, I decided to go for the pork belly, which sounded absolutely delicious. For some reason, I thought it was going to be crispy. It was served on a bed of cabbage and could have used a little less salt. Nevertheless, it was quite the pleasant experience.
Should you ever get to that side of town, you should definitely try that place out or go to one of the Japanese joints in the food court. They are amazing, too. I can recommend the baby octopus.
At the japanese joint: Baby Octopus, Kiwi Green Tea, Spicy Tuna Roll
Blue skies over Century City
Inside the restaurant