>Crepes Bonaparte — as sweet as truckin’ gets!


I love good food and I love good food on trucks. Sometimes, I just don’t want to sit down and be served, but want something fast and tasty. I’m not a crepes fan as most of you well know, nor am I a dessert fan, so when my friend and I attended the Go Go Gourmet charity event and I saw Crepes Bonaparte, I was adamant that this was going to be my least favorite truck of the night and that I was only going to get one to taste just for the sake of it. Boy was I wrong!

Not only did Crepes Bonaparte’s crepes give me a new-found appreciation for crepes, but I even liked it in its sweet format! We tried two of their dessert crepes, one with strawberry and banana slices together with nutella and served a la mode. In fact, we got both a la mode, the second being the spiced apples (pictured), which wasn’t the consistency of compote or jam, but were chunks of apples with perfect texture — not too mushy and not hard — and the sweet/tart ratio completely to my taste.

I honestly can’t remember when I’ve ever liked a crepe — and I mean EVER! Didn’t like ’em in Paris, didn’t like ’em outside of France, and although the crepe itself here is thicker than traditional crepes, it worked for me. I was actually a little aghast when I first saw them make these supposedly paper thin pancakes into a thicker version, but hey, it tasted good and that’s all that’s important.

Since my experience here, I’ve been more open to trying crepes elsewhere, savory ones, sweet ones, I’m not completely opposed to crepes anymore and I thank this humble food truck for changing the lifelong aversion I’ve had with these things. Who woulda thunk it huh?

Crepes Bonaparte Tel: 714-595-9995. Find them at or follow them on twitter https://twitter.com/CrepesBonaparte
Crepes Bonaparte Food Truck on Urbanspoon


>Sanabel Bakery — not your ordinary baked goods


Tucked away in the corner of a strip mall, Sanabel Bakery is really hard to find if you’re not actually looking for it. Look for the strip mall Sizzler is in and you will soon notice Sanabel hidden sandwiched between other mid-eastern shops, but this is the only one specializing in middle eastern food. I come here for the pizzas, small thinly crusted individually sized pizzas, called sphihas. They are topped with a bunch of different things ranging from chicken, ground beef or lamb to just cheese and spinach (pictured), each with its own unique flavor and each more delicious than the next.

My favorites are the ones, incidentally, the most traditional ones called lahmbiajin, are topped with tomatoes, onions and ground meat or the shredded chicken and cheese, though heavier than the lahmbiajin, is non-threatening enough for even the most unadventurous of palates. If you have room, try the spinach and cheese version where they top the pizza with fresh spinach after it comes out of the oven. The freshness of the leaves gives a wonderful contrast to the heat emitting from the pie right out of the oven.

Zaatar (or zahtar, za’atar) is a blend of different dried herbs generally consisting of thyme, oregano, salt and sesame seeds. Some versions may include cumin, coriander or even caraway seeds depending on the region. Zaatar is used on one of Sanabel’s pizzas which makes it a perfect side item to a meal such as kofta or falafel plate.

I find that there are days when I’m completely craving one of these pizzas and so we make the almost 30-minute drive to Anaheim just to eat two pizzas each. The pizzas are cheap, most are under $2 and even if it is over, it’s only a few cents more than the $2, nothing that would break the bank, and best of all, they’re so damn good so even if you end up eating four of them, it’ll only set you back around $10.

Sanabel Bakery, 816 S Brookhurst St, Anaheim, CA 92804. Tel: 714-635-4353

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>Yard House — a very happy hour


I don’t drink often, nor do I drink much, so the concept of happy hour is sorta lost on me, except for the fact that most of the time, the food would be served at happy hour prices as well, and THAT is music to my ears! Generally the only time I go to happy hour is if some friends of mine want to hang out in the afternoon and grab a bite to eat and then I’m totally there with bells on! I’ve been to Yard House many times, for lunch, dinner AND happy hour for that matter. I’ll admit, in Irvine, Yard House offers one of the better happy hours with a good variety of appetizers at half price. On this particular visit, my friends and I all got some beer and a few items to share. From the appetizer menu we decided upon the Chinese garlic noodles, Jamaican jerk chicken wings (pictured above) and from the regular menu, their kick-ass mac and cheese.

The mac and cheese here is seriously good, and I mean, addictively good. This is my crack and it’s something I really shouldn’t really eat much of because of the carbs! But naturally, I couldn’t resist and ate a little more than I should’ve. The mac and cheese here is absolutely delicious with applewood bacon, wild mushrooms, chicken and a blend of cheddar and parmesan cheeses baked to perfection, and if that wasn’t enough, a drizzle of white truffle oil takes this to a level that’s not just luxurious, but pure decadence! For a chain restaurant, Yard House does its mac and cheese extremely well!

Chinese garlic noodles (pictured left) are also pretty good — and I’m comparing these with the garlic noodles from AnQi by Crustacean and there is absolutely NO comparison! The AnQi noodles were dry and clumpy, the noodles here were  smooth and delightful on the palate. You also get about three times more noodles with mushrooms too! Jamaican jerk chicken wings was a recommendation from our server. I had asked about the Firecracker Wings and I didn’t like the fact that they were sweet on top of spicy so the jerk version was suggested to us. Not only were these wings not spicy — and one of my friends can attest to this because he is a wimp when it comes to eating spicy foods — but they weren’t very flavorful either. I’ve made jerk chicken at home and it certainly didn’t taste like this. The accompanying sauce was very strange and I asked my foodie/blogger friend to taste it and she agreed it was weird.

Yard House has always been a good choice for me whenever I’ve had out of town guests who aren’t very adventurous with food, and/or they’ve got young children. I’ve found that everyone’s palates can be satisfied and there are some things I’m quite happy eating here. This isn’t fancy food, but it’s good food. It’s food I’m not opposed to eating when the need arises and most of all, my kid loves the mac and cheese here — they don’t use orange cheddar cheese!

Yard House, Irvine Spectrum, 71 Fortune Drive, Irvine, CA 92618. Tel: 949-753-9373.

Yard House on Urbanspoon

>Gelato Bar — smooth gooey enticements

>Although I’m not big on sweet, nor am I too excited about desserts, there is one thing I am crazy about and that is ice cream. I’m not fussy, as long as the cold treat is creamy, smooth, tasty, I’m pretty much a happy camper. What I really hate are icicles in my ice cream and that can totally dampen my ice cream experience tremendously. I was walking around with my friend when we chanced upon Gelato Bar. At first it was out of curiosity that we popped in for a look, but after sampling a few of the flavors, we ended up unable to resist the temptation of just getting a small cup of yumminess to enjoy.

The pear and blood orange were both refreshing and light, tasting exactly like the fruit itself. My favorite was the honey, fig and marscapone — just heavenly — but as a diabetic I thought best to stay away from those and opt for the sugar-free version they had. Sadly it was only the chocolate, but fortunately, it was very good chocolate and I couldn’t even differentiate that aspartame was used instead of regular sugar. Smooth, delectable — yeah it’s hard to resist this stuff!

Another thing I was highly impressed about was when you asked for samples, they don’t give you those plastic disposable spoons, but rather, used a regular spoon which they can wash and re-use. I’ve always marveled at how environmentally unsound these ice cream places are when it comes to the casual use of these plastic throw-away spoons — I often ask them about it and they give me the brush-off with a casual shrug. Kudos to Gelato Bar for making a green effort!

Gelato Bar, 1936 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027. Tel: 323-668-0606

>Spice Station — a home chef’s paradise


Can anything be lovelier than a room filled with the wondrous aromas from the world over? When a friend suggested we stop by Spice Station, I was more than enthused about that idea, I mean, a store which sells spices? I’m SO there! The space is tucked away like a secret hideaway only revealed via a pathway, making it all the more an exciting venture. When I stepped into the store it was as if the hundreds of spices just infused into my being, causing my olfactory senses to go into overdrive. The staff were really friendly, welcoming us and encouraging us to pick up the bottles, open them up, smell what’s inside and then, taste if we so wished. For a minute there, I was mesmerized by just what was visually in front of me, the masses of different spices all brought together into one small room.

After relishing the possibilities, I started picking up the jars and opening them up, from the simplest such as cinnamon, which incidentally there were several varieties, to dried peppers of all sorts, curry powders, dry rubs and then, the very exotic — I was like a kid in a candy store touching, smelling, tasting, my eyes wide with wonder and my heart skipping a beat.

What truly blew me away were the salt varietals Spice Station has. Different flavored salts ranging from black truffle, white truffle to balsamic, lemon and lavendar — my favorite was definitely the black truffle which I knew I had to have. The other thing were the peppers, some were simple like jalapenos but then I came across something called Urfa Biber which smelled so incredible, like a cross between a pepper and a raisin. The guy gave me some to sample and I immediately fell in love with it.

So after a long time at Spice Station, I ended up with black truffle salt, Urfa Biber and some red zahtar. I’ve been using the salt in scrambled eggs, in fact, eggs of all sorts. I’ve yet to do something with the Urfa Biber and red zahtar though, but I know, it won’t be going to waste! Spice Station also has a tea room where a myriad of teas are on display for sale. For those who don’t cook, perhaps the adjoining tea room might entice you for a visit.

Spice Station, 3819 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026. Tel: 323-660-2565 

>Catal — adult approved and kid friendly


Slap in the middle of downtown Disney is an unassuming place named Catal. From the street level you can’t really tell how large the restaurant really is until, that is, you take the two flights of stairs up to the large dining area both inside and out. Ordinarily, a restaurant such as this found in the middle of Beverly Hills or New York City would be considered high end and perhaps, unwelcoming to children, however, Catal is far from being kid-UNfriedly, quite the opposite since Disney epitomizes making children happy.

I’m not a Disney fan, let alone choose to go anywhere near Disneyland for that matter, but what do you say when an old friend comes to town and informs you she is now working for Disney, and is here on business and let’s go to dinner in Anaheim around the happiest place on earth? Well, I couldn’t say no. I didn’t really care about where we met because the most important thing was that I spend time with her — the last time I saw her was 7 years ago. However, my fears diminished once I perused the menu, and was surprised to find several things which appealed to me, but that didn’t surprise me once I found out that Catal is part of the Patina Group.

We started with Jamon Iberico de Bellota with pan con tomato, a wonderfully salty cured meat from the black Iberian pig — or, at least these days, about 75% of the time, it is. Thick slices of bruschetta-like toasted bread with a thin layer of tomato is served alongside to accompany the ham. I’ve had this before in many reputable Spanish restaurants and this is pretty darn good stuff! I love salty foods and Iberico ham is a nice indulgent treat.

Abalone and potato hash (pictured top) was the other appetizer we ordered purely because we were both intrigued by the poached egg which came with — it was tipped to be cooked at 62 degree Celsius and I really wanted to know what exactly an egg cooked exactly at that temperature was going to be like. Well, I guess the egg is just perfectly cooked and perfectly oozy when cut into! The abalone itself was uninspiring but the salty brown butter and scallion sauce brought it up a notch.

Our entrees soon arrived, she ordered the roasted halibut with poached artichokes and olives (pictured right). It looked absolutely awesome, but unfortunately, the fish was overcooked and a little on the bland side. My roasted duck breast (pictured right) was tough and chewy and although the description it said there were Szechuan peppercorns, I couldn’t detect any of it. The redeeming quality of the meal was the fact that the sweet and tart flavors of the cherry agrodolce went well with the duck. Had the meat been tender it would’ve been an excellent dish.

The appetizers were far better than the entrees and I had expected a lot more from the Patina Group than this, but after taking a step back, I realized that Catal was catering to visitors to Disneyland and perhaps they weren’t looking for loyal return customers. Their target customer was the visitor who is looking for a reasonably good meal with good service, in a nice atmosphere and not bad food. With that in mind, Catal delivered!

Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar, 1580 S Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, CA 92802. Tel: 714-774-4442

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