Happy New Year! 2019 just flew by, but in reflecting upon the ups, downs and adventures of last year, many highlights centered around good food. Some dishes were fancy schmancy. Others were simple delights made special by the company or context. In no particular order, here’s what tickled our taste buds and surprised us in 2019.
Beef Soup Noodles
On assignment for another publication, SCVFoodie checked out the mom-and-pop operations of Dai Ho, a Taiwanese noodle shop in Temple City that was awarded a Michel. The beef noodle soup makes for perfect comfort food especially during the SoCal winter.
Chilaquiles and a Cinnamon Roll
The Old Town Junction in Newhall, which has already established itself as one of Santa Clarita’s go-to eateries, offers phenomenal weekend brunch items. Why spend Saturday or Sunday mornings waiting in a ridiculous Egg Plantation line when your chances are better at the Junction? We had a memorable meal with the chilaquiles (tortilla chips, slow-braised short rib, fried egg, crema, picked onion, serrano, queso cotija over black beans and topped with cilantro. And as a shared breakfast/brunch dessert item, we opted for the so-much-better-than-Cinnabon roll (for the table to share, of course.)
Did you ever have breakfast envy? Mr. SCVFoodie ordered this delightful flavor bomb at Cici’s in Tarzana, and my club sandwich order was really good, but not this good. The pancakes, powdered sugar, almond slices and whipped cream were a strawberry lover’s dream. Cici’s has an extensive menu (re: HUGE) and we can’t wait to try all the strawberry and blueberry pancake options..some day.
We would have never have known about Annie’s Sweet Oven were it not for a friend who lives up the street from this small strip mall in Sylmar (off the 210 at Yarnell). It’s a simple bakery and cafe, and this egg, spinach and cheese breakfast croissant was amazing. The croissant was flaky, buttery as any good croissant worth its salt should be — and at $5.75, it was a bargain.
Lobster and Clam Rolls
Doug’s Seafood is a family-run market and restaurant that has grown in popularity over the years in Bonita Springs, Fla., located near the cities of Ft. Myers and Naples. The Maine transplants have brought wicked good New England style seafood to Florida, and their lobster rolls are some of the simplest and best ones we’ve tried. (We’re partial to the Connecticut style —hot and served on a buttered roll — instead of the Maine roll, which is served cold with mayo.) On a recent trip in November, we tried something different: Their clam strip roll. The battered and fried clams were tender, not chewy and immediately transported us back to the clam rolls we had growing up in New England and the Northeast. It was that good. Plus, the clam roll was way cheaper ($7.95) then the hot lobster roll ($15.95 for a small to $26.95 for a large).
Summer Vacation Eats
Eating Through Amsterdam and France
This summer, SCVFoodie was fortunate enough to go on a Rhine river cruise that started in Amsterdam and ended in Bern, Switzerland. As you can imagine, we ate pretty well throughout the two-week trip, particularly in France. Highlights include a fresh goat cheese salad in Lourdes, France, near the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains to Dutch pancakes at a street fair.
Oedipus Beer and Arancini in Amsterdam
Dutch Mini Pancakes in Amsterdam
SCVFoodie found these mini Dutch pancake puffs (poffertjes) at the Albert Cuyp street market. Served hot and topped with powdered sugar, these tasted like what would happen if a funnel cake and a popover had a baby. The video below shows how they’re made.
Tarte Flambée in Strasbourg, France
The city of Strasbourg, France, has been governed by France or Germany, with rulers fighting for and taking over several times. Located in the area formerly known as Alsace, in northeastern France, the food in Strasbourg is reflective of both cultures. We had the opportunity to create our own thick-cut bacon and onion tarte flambée at the Brasserie Dauphin as part of a tour activity. It’s a very thin-crusted dough topped with crème fraîche, bacon, onions and seasoned with salt, pepper and nutmeg. It was fired in a pizza oven for a minute or two, and it was fresh, hot and as simple and tasty as you can imagine it to be.
Lourdes, France: Country Cuisine
Lourdes is located in the south of France in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains; it’s closer to Barcelona than Paris. The region is known for its lamb, chicken, trout and cheeses like the Pyrénées and le Barousse and Basque influences. The city is filled with tourist cafes and brasseries, but for the most part, we were pleasantly surprised with the food. The three best items were the chicken risotto from Le Geneve; a goat cheese salad and a croque madame (a grilled ham and cheese sandwich — a croque monsieur — with a fried egg) at random street cafes. While those restaurant names are forgotten, the dishes certainly aren’t.
Key West is located approximately 90 mi. from Cuba, so naturally, we wanted Cuban food and coffee while in town for two days. We stumbled upon Key West Cuban Coffee, which seats about a dozen people. The cortadito was strong and perfect, and the midnight sandwich (medianoche) with its roast pork, ham, mustard, Swiss cheese and sweet pickles was more so as served up on a soft, sweet egg bread. Never judge a book — or restaurant — by its covers.
Pierogi Spot opened in 2019 on Golden Valley Road, offering Polish comfort food like pierogis, sausages, cabbage rolls, stews and soups. It’s a terrific family-owned restaurant. The pierogis come with a daily soup and salad, so on our visit, we tried the creamy dill pickle soup. Not being huge fans of dill pickles, we were a bit skeptical, but it was not sour or acidic. The soup was creamy and comforting and perfect for winter.
Sluttiest Brownies in West L.A.
B Sweet Dessert Bar on Sawtelle has been around for several years, and the Sluttiest Brownie has been there from the beginning. On a recent Christmas shopping trip to West L.A., we stopped in for a treat. B Sweet’s known for its rotating bread pudding flavors each week, but this brownie is a classic. The five-layer dessert includes a brownie, chocolate chip cookie, Oreo cookie, graham cracker and marshmallow. It’s rich, decadent and delicious as it sounds.
Happy New Year to all and happy eating in 2020!