Food Adventure Collage.

carnitas snack shack. c-level. world famous. woodstocks. terra american bistro. buddies. corbins. casey's cupcakes. mandarin beijing. nazca grill. eiffel tower restaurant. gordan ramsay burgr. in-n-out. bankers hill bar and grill. los primos. bistro sixty. ruth's chris.


... to a place I like to call my very own. *waving hello*

I invite you to enjoy reading about the food adventures that I have with friends, family, and colleagues.

I adore food and I cannot just choose one particular food that is my fave.

Food is really is my favorite. Enjoy!

Monday, September 16, 2013

[Guest Post] Mia Francesca: "Cook Like an Italian" with Chef de Cuisine - Del Mar

From the desk of Crystal K....

Hope you all have been well and enjoying the last bit of summer. I am especially excited to share this post with you because……because it involves COOKING! I was extended an invitation by Janice to attend a cooking class hosted by Mia Francesca in Del Mar (a huge thank you to Chemistry PR for the media invitation). The class was led by Chef de Cuisine Woody Benitez, who welcomed us all to the world of Italian cuisine. 

Mia Francesca offers famous rustic, Italian cuisine, created by acclaimed restaurateur Scott Harris, friendly service and fair prices. The restaurant features a large open patio, indoor trattoria style dining and a 50 person private dining room. Chef Woody Benitez leads the kitchen, providing Francesca’s classic fare of zesty, earthy cuisine of Rome and the surrounding areas of Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio.

As you can see, Mia Francesca’s is the perfect restaurant for date night. The ambiance, the food, how can one go wrong?

I walked into the private dining room where the cooking demonstration took place. There was a station set up as shown below, and all the cooking was taken place right then and there. It got pretty smoky in the room on a few occasions without those industrial kitchen vents, though. No biggie though -- on to cooking!

Each of us was given a folder that contained the recipes and instructions for the five-course meal that left us all immobile by the end of the night. By immobile I mean the combination of delicious food followed by an overwhelmingly comforting sense of food coma….

The very first course was the Risotto Funghi. Chef Woody shared some tips and tricks to cooking the perfect risotto. I do not know what it is about risotto with mushrooms, but this dish was just out of this world flavorful. 

Here, Chef Woody is walking around the room with the pan of risotto to show us the consistency and color we want to achieve.  As we all know, risotto is a pretty tough technique to achieve, even for professional chefs.  Chef Woody accomplished this with ease.

The risotto was creamy, fragrant (from the mushrooms), and the perfect consistency. It spread on the bowl perfectly.  It really melted in my mouth.

The second course was the String Bean Salad. It was the perfect summer salad. Delicious, refreshing, and ridiculously easy to make. It was a tangy and crisp salad which balanced the creamy, savory risotto served before this.

The technique shown here is called “shocking”, which means after Chef cooked the green beans in boiling hot water, he immediately transferred them to an ice bath to stop the cooking process and preserve the crunch as well as the crisp green color of the beans.  The green bean salad was topped off with pickled red onions and chopped tomatoes.

The third course was Pasta Melanzane ("eggplant" in Italian).  Below, Chef Woody has sliced the eggplant into one-inch disc circles and seasoned them with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. The sauce for the dish was Mia Francesca’s signature homemade marinara sauce, which is used as a base for many of their pasta dishes.

Divine.  Perfectly cooked pasta, eggplant, basil and ricotta cheese.  

The fourth course was my personal favorite, as well as one of their most famous dishes on the menu, Salmon Fresca

The side accompanying the grilled salmon and grilled asparagus is a simple salad made of tomatoes, avocados, and red onions dressed in balsamic vinaigrette. 

The final course, the dessert, was Mascarpone with Caramel

Above, Chef Woody whipped up the mascarpone cheese with sugar.

He mixed in crumbled oreos and homemade caramel sauce and we had an ooey, gooey, chocolatey and cheesy mixture of heaven. So easy to make. SO. GOOD. 

The entire cooking demonstration lasted three hours, and by the end of it, all of us were extremely satisfied and well fed. Happy campers, we were. 

Chef Woody made the experience enjoyable and memorable, and I want to thank him, Mia Francesca’s management team, and Chemistry PR for hosting this wonderful event. If you would like specific ingredients and detailed recipes, please feel free to e-mail me at crystal [dot] k [at] foodismyfavorite [dot] com and I would be more than happy to pass them along to you!

12955 El Camino Road
San Diego, CA 92130 
(858) 519-5055

Monday, September 02, 2013

[Vacation] Eiffel Tower Restaurant - Las Vegas, Nevada

I LOVE VEGAS!  We visited this summer for a mini vacation and boy, was it HOT.  The heat won't stop us from visiting.  We love visiting the city and we will now make it a tradition to go at least once a year (maybe, twice).

I felt the pressure (put on by myself, of course) to find a restaurant for our summer date night in Las Vegas. The choices are seriously, and literally, endless -- especially in Vegas!  You know?  For me, it's all about the food, food, and food. But for my hubby, M... and I quote:

"The only thing that I would like is a different experience. We can go to a steakhouse any day. We're in Vegas!"  

I know, I know... it can be perceived to be a bit touristy, but wait, folks...  I want to let you know that we really loved our experience here!  I guess part of the experience is because no matter where we are together, M and I, we always have fun, but seriously, the food, service and the views were really awesome! 

Some of the Yelp reviews said that the service was really "stuffy and snobby," but we always come in with an open mind and optimistic attitude at every restaurant we visit.

True, our server did not laugh at our jokes (we saw him smirk once!) but hey, it became the challenge of the night to make our server laugh.  He was really good though... helpful, knowledgeable about our dishes, and recommended one of the best flavors ever.  We even pondered if he is a total different guy outside the restaurant atmosphere.

Here is the view from the front of the casino. Back in 1998 when I first turned 21 and went to Vegas, they were building the Eiffel Tower.

The elevator to the Eiffel Tower Restaurant appeared to be located right in the middle of the casino floor.  There is a hostess stand in front of the elevator.  The hostess acknowledged our dinner reservation before pressing the elevator button to the restaurant.

When the elevator doors opened, there was view of the busy kitchen.  I could have stayed here all day and watched them work.  It was great to see them hustling, cooking, plating, yelling out orders, and expediting. 

This is the initial view from our table -- the Bellagio.  The sun peered at the top of the hotel right into our eyes, but we soon knew then it would slowly go down.

Here is a shot of the bright red charger plates for each place setting.  I loved the contrast of the red and the white table cloth. 

An amuse bouche was brought out, compliments of Chef Joho, a sweet corn veloute.  It was served cold.  The sweet taste of the corn was very prominent and it was very refreshing, given that it was over 100 degrees outside. 

We had a choice of a French baguette or whole wheat rolls to start.  The bread server came by, every so often, holding a bread basket and gave each piece to us with a pair of tongs.  I chose the baguette to keep with the French theme.

I started off with the warm lobster salad ($26.00) with braised leeks and a mustard jus.  When our server put my plate down, my braised leek shavings fell from the top...  booo, right on the mustard jus ring.  

The lobster was nice and sweet to the taste; succulent and not overcooked.  There was a lot of acidity from the braised leeks and mustard jus that overpowered the lobster a bit.  I could tell the flavors of my dish as a whole were a bit bold for M.  Still, I enjoyed the dish.  

There is something on the menu that caught M's attention.... the non-traditional Caesar salad ($16.00).  He asked our server what made it non-traditional and he simply said that it did not have egg in the dressing.  Made sense.  I immediately thought this salad would have been great if I was pregnant.  The warm dressing consisted of anchovies, capers, garlic and olive oil.  It was simple and flavorful.  

Now that the sun was behind the Bellagio, here is a better view.  

I ordered what I craved -- the 24 ounce bone-in ribeye steak ($64.00) with an herb pistou and caramelized onions. The steak appeared to have been broiled to seal in the juices.  It was cooked to perfection and I did enjoy every single bite of my favorite beefy well-marbled cut. 

The hubby ordered the roasted rack of lamb ($48.00) with a pistachio, herb crust and a tarrogan jus.  The lamb was juicy -- a tad gamey, but had an overall nice flavor.  

We shared the potato gratin ($10.00) as a side for our yummy meat dishes.  I love meat and potatoes so I had to have this; especially in this mini cast iron skillet.  Super cute -- super creamy and super delicious, too.

THIS has to go into one of my lists as one of the best tastes I have had ever.  Their famous soufflés -- which we had to put in an order when we ordered our dishes.  Our server suggested we have the pistachio soufflé ($16.00) to end our evening.  OH yes.  Another server offered to pour the warm pistachio cream for us into our perfectly puffed up soufflé.  

It was heavenly --- eating the soufflé was like being lifted away in a soft, poofy cloud.  The cake, itself, was very light and not too sweet.  When eaten with the cream, oh.... my tummy just warmed up with happiness. It was so delicious.  I seriously... could have eaten the whole thing by myself.  I want another -- especially now that I am thinking about it.  It was the perfect end to our romantic dinner date!

The Bellagio fountain show!

M and I had such a nice time here between our laughs, conversation and the delicious food.  We are happy to have experienced the Eiffel Tower Restaurant and it was worth every penny!

Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino
3655 S. Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
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