Europane

Saturday, March 31, 2007 8comments No tags Permalink 0


I’m in luuuuuuv (again)! This time my affair is with Europane Bakery in Pasadena. Trisha and I came west from Claremont for a day of eating and of course, an activity all college students engage in, ‘studying’. I don’t recall much studying being done but the eating aspect of our plans was well accomplished and left me blissfully happy the way that good food does.

We arrived here about 11am and the bakery was not nearly as busy as I anticipated. Online reviews had me thinking that the place would be packed with lines out the door. Located right off Colorado Blvd, the windows here are tall and wide, letting the lazy California sun shine in.

The interior is done in lazy day shades of brown, red, orange, and even some green. I suppose it sounds odd it writing, but just on come down and you’ll see what I mean. We ordered at the counter and picked a cozy corner seat and whipped out our Viao laptops like the intellectual geniuses we are. Hehehe.

Well the laptop was set aside (and never to leave my bag again) when the egg salad sandwich ($6.85) arrived. I like to eat my sandwiches in layers, I don’t know why, but perhaps it comes from my liking to taste everything one by one, on its own. You see those eggs?! Those yellow yolks, as bright as a lemon skin and creamy as pudding, oh pudding. And the pearly whites, so creamy it would leave you thinking that eggs are dairy food, softly whipped heavy cream, to be specific. Texture alone, I could have sworn they were not boiled, but barely poached till the yolks just came together. Layered between was a healthy mix of fresh spring greens, then a sweet, smoky roasted tomato spread, shielding the airy, buttery richness of the toasty warm brioche.

But you remember, no eating session comes to a finish without something just a tad sweet to round out the meal. My dear, you have honestly swooned over the pear tart ($3.75). Like SWOONED. I usually lean towards chocolate or very rich lustful tarts, but now I can say I’ve changed my ways. The buttery bosc pear half was sliced thin making it seem as if there were thousands, endless, even, slices of pears so juicy and sweet with reckless regard. I ate around the crust first, tasting of the best part of a croissant, that lightly browned, incredibly flaky first one or two layers. Hidden between the rich pears and buttery pastry was thin dusting of ground almonds and sprinkle of sugar. Gasp, what? You ask. Yes, yes! Almond and sugar! Between the pastry and fruit – could there be anything more satisfying? The only sweetness from this creation came from the fruit alone and light dashes of sugar under the fruit and around the edges of the pastry. It has my name, and possibly yours, written allllll over ;) I’ve eaten more than my lifetime share of pastries in my life so far, and I can easily confirm that this was perhaps the most divine fruit-based tart I’ve ever encountered. And no, I have absolutely no affiliation with this bakery whatsoever! If I had a car, I’d probably end up spending $20 a day on gas driving back and forth between the Europane and Claremont. “Call me when something, anything, comes hot out of the oven,” I’d demand. And then I’ll get call, dash off in my imaginary car and buy a million croissants!”

After I finished the tart, a horrible thought ran though my head – when would I next have the opportunity to return?! Attempting to push the thought aside, I sat back down and tried to do some work. A half hour later, Trisha went to up to the counter and ordered a pear and crème fraiche brioche tart. Holy moly, when I hear the words of ‘brioche, crème fraiche and pears’ strung one after another, my heart started to beat faster. She took the brioche back to the table and we both took a delicate ladylike bite, and let the soft, rich dough melt onto our tongues, then reveal a wealthy brush of crème fraiche, generously layered upon in creamy goodness and precious cuts of sweet pears. I can only imagine how much more wonderful it would have tasted if the brioche bottom were still warm, and perhaps a bit crisp! But I dare not ask, cause that…it was marvelous!

I feared for getting diabetes but I’m afraid my love of buttery sweet delights triumphed for today. I took home a simple named lemon cake that infinite times greater than the sum of its parts. The cakes layers are brown butter, slightly nutty and moist to the touch. A wonderful light crumb that holds its own yet dissapears into sweet crumbles ever so gently on your tongue. In between the layers, a touch of lemon curd spread about. More fruity than sweet, more tart than creamy, some sunk into the tiny crumbs holes of the cake, harmoniously melding tart lemon with nutty browned butter. As if that wasn’t heavenly enough, a whirl of soft meringue was the final finish. Like marshmallow butter it was! Sticky, and it left my lips covered in snowy sweet white, the trio of meringue, cake and curd, why, who needs a boyfriend when you got cake? ;)

We packed our bags to head back to the oh-so-exciting-Claremont a short while later. But no more than half a mile on the 210 East, a change of heart, and surprisingly good weather led us to abandon our plans for a day on the Santa Monica Beach, dinner in Koreatown and fried vegetable curry donuts for an after dinner snack. And of course, we could not let the cake sit in the car, so what to do, but eat it right then and there?! Now that’s what I call a fine, fine day :)

Europane
950 E Colrado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91106
(626) 577-1828

Friday, March 30, 2007 7comments No tags Permalink 0


Look at this – can you say, ‘ohlala?” hehe. We finally have pizza in a city once dominated by Domino’s and Papa Johns! Tamara over at the newly opened Claremont Village Pizzeria was kind enough to send me a quite a generous handful of samples from her new restaurant up on Foothill Blvd. The picture you see above is an extra-large pizza partitioned into four varieties.

My favorite of them all was the Classico Biano, simply done with parmesan, mozzarella and a bit of garlic for good measure. Chee, I never knew how well ricotta and capers went on a pizza. I was an anchovy and jalapenos girl, but this, well, it was a mighty fine combo. The drizzle of olive oil was in slight excess, but it’s hard not to love that distinctive olive oil-ly flavor, you know that flavor? I don’t have an underbelly of the pizza shot, but it’s on the thicker side and could use a bit of char for some of that smokiness I crave.

Moving clockwise around the pizza, we find ourselves next at Nick’s Special, a slice with garlic, shreds of fresh basil and goat cheese. Whoever created the idea of pizza is a genius, biting into warm bread, fresh herbs, and dollops of soft goat cheese all around has got to be the most tummy-pleasing combo ever. Oh yes, put creamy pats of goat cheese on my pizza any day ;)

The Queen of Hearts came tightly layered with sweet artichokes and slices of sun-dried tomatoes. There was barely any, yet at the same time, just the right amount of cheese, only enough to bind the toppings and let the tomatoes and artichokes shine through.

The California BBQ Chicken reminded me a lot of my sister’s favorite on our visits to CPK. Only the here the chicken was much more juicy in generous chunks layered upon slices of red onions and sprinkles of cilantro. The dazzle of bbq sauce made it too sweet for my tastes. You know how some pizzas find success in the crusts, and others in their toppings? Well this is definitely a topping place. While you’d be hard pressed to find an excellent crust, the wide and creative topping combos such as a trio of pesto sauces (cilantro, basil and tomato & garlic) is enough to catch my attention

I guess you’re supposed to start with the salad first, but if I did, then the pizza would have been cold! So, next, we get to the salad! A simple baby green salad adorned with candied pecans, gorgonzola and blackberries. Berries are a definite treat that that needs to appear more often in salads. A simple toss and you get you crunchy, sweet and creamy all in one bite. I didn’t use much of the accompanying raspberry vinaigrette, but that’s just cause I’m more of a savory vinaigrette type of person.

The Italian chop salad was substantial enough to be a meal on its own, a bed of mixed greens housed an assortment of sliced Italian meats, among them salami and ham, slices of red onions, provolone cheese, pepperoncinis, tomatoes and olives.

Our liquid accompaniment? Bottles of Calypso in a trio of flavors: natural lemonade, mandarin lemonade, and strawberry lemonade. I drank the natural lemonade which had a refreshingly crisp tang and just the right dose of sour pucker to it. I especially liked the little nidbits of lemon in the drink. Good for digestion and quite pleasing to the mouth.

Did I mention to you how absolutely incredibly stuffed I was?! I’m going to go running…in my dreams that is! Hehe ;)

But WAIT! There is MORE FOOD!

Like the slices of strawberry cheesecake which stood tall and more fluffy than creamy, with a basic strawberry topping and two little dollops of cream to tie it all in. I wasn’t so fond of the crust, which was soft and somewhat flavorless. Cheesecake has that funny way of enticing and drawing you in, even when you are very, very full. They are almost tricky, deceivingly light and amiable looking, but man do they demand a lot of you!

But if you’re willing to give, just dive right into that dark, dark slice of rich chocolate cake layered between layers of even darker ganache and a milk chocolate whipped frosting. Surprisingly more rich than sweet, the ganache melted like sinful, lustful butter over my tongue. Mmm, chocolate does wonderful things to your mind and some not so wonderful things to your waistline. hehehe

While less visually appealing, I found the brownie to my favorite of the three. The crust is of the crackly, crisp shell variety, breaking into an inch layer of brownie that manages to hover between fudgey and cakey. Oooh, sin I tell you! Especially after the entire cheesecake and half of the chocolate cake.

Yes, like any proper meal, breakfast, lunch of dinner – we must end with dessert!

Claremotn Village Pizzeria
928 West Foothill Blvd.
Claremont, CA 91711
(909) 445-1344

Wednesday, March 28, 2007 7comments No tags Permalink 0


Aiya! Uh-oh is right! Food blogging adds a great deal to the waistline! I’m not about to turn this into a weight management blog…but when I went to buy jeans last week (cause the old ones no fit no more!) I jumped FOUR sizes. It was a good thing I was thin to start with…sheesh. I used to do runway shows for Chanel and Christian Dior during my high school years – don’t think I can get into any of those clothes any more :( Well, on a brighter note, I went to get ice cream today! hehe. So much for any thought of weight management. Sometimes food is too good to care (until I try to squeeze into those jeans, that is :)

Bert ‘n Rocky’s is just a few streets down from my dance class at Pomona, so it works out really well. I dance then I eat! haha. That is my life on Mondays and Wednesday. But today was Tuesday, which is sit-in-a-million-accounting-classes day. I had no intention intention of ice cream-ing until that craving hit. You know that craving where you can do nothing but think of that one food item until you get it?

So I gave in like silly old goose and had me a scoop of Mocha Espresso and Caramel Cashew. The ice cream here never fails to impress and is consistently swoon worthy in that way that only old-fashioned ice cream, heavy on the butterfat and generous in the scoop sizes, can be. The mocha espresso tastes as if dark chocolate coffee beans were whipped and whirled into smooth creamy bliss. It is so dark in color, almost black and verges on bitterness, but the sweet shines in just right, just enough. The best is when it melts into the brown buttery cashew ice cream (the bottom scoop) with glossy ribbons of soft dark golden caramel swirled in with abandon.

In the afternoon when I feel less sinful and in a fruiter mood, I go for the Banana Walnut. The bits of chopped bananas are suspended in the ice cream, but still soft enough to sink your teeth in. It a subtle sort of richness, creamy and mellow, and never gets boring because there always the occasional crunch of walnuts. The only qualm I have about this flavor is the addition of food coloring to make the ice cream a more “friendly” shade. Let it be brown if it’s meant to be brown!

But alas, I am a chocolatey person when it comes to ice cream and this is something that I cannot help and cannot be blamed for. It runs in the family. Sometime last semester my frequent trips to Starbucks started to get severely out of control. I was constantly drunk on liquid sugar. Caramel Macchiatos, Mocha Frappuccinos, Double Chocolate Frappuccinos…and always with extra whipped cream. It is rather disgusting now that I think of it! So now when I feel sleepy, I no longer turn to coffee, I take care of my drooping eyes with a dose of Cappuccino Crunch! The ‘crunch’ comes in the forms of tiny shards of dark chocolate mingles in a smoothy milky ice cream, heavy on the coffee. It’s sweeter than the Mocha Espresso, but I doubt it has half the sugar of a Frappuccino. Sigh. Why am I so attracted bad, sweet, fatty foods?

The Devil’s Food and Java Rx is a potent combination to say the least. I like to let this mix sit it the sun just to soften a bit, then swirl them together so I get bits that mingle the dark chocolate flavors redolent of the cake it is named after and just as decadent, with a coffee that’s not as strong as the espresso but less creamy than the cappuccino. Don’t you like how they offer so many degrees of coffee-ness and chocolate-ness?

But sometimes I can experience chocolate overload. Like the time I went twice in one day within a three hour time span. Once right before dance class and once right after. I ate the once before in anticipation of the calories I’d burn off and the one right after to congratulate myself for breaking a sweat in class. The bottom scoop is the Mocha Espresso (you can probably tell by now that this is my favorite flavor)…but when I was deciding my second scoop, I was like, ehhh, lets go easy on the chocolate. So I had cheesecake! Blackberry Cheesecake to be exact. And you know what? She gave me a scoop so huge that I though I was going to explode after finishing it. Part of it had to do with eating another double scoop just hours ago…but still. The sample scoop of the cheesecake was good, but I do not think I can take cheesecake ice cream in significantly large quantities. I was out sugary-cheesed. It was too cream cheesey, too decadent for me and I would have like more blackberries in there to balance it out. Ahhh, I remember that well. It was the day I had to throw away part of a scoop because I honestly could not finish it. Could not. No matter how hard I tried!

hehe. maybe it was better for my protruding-ice-cream-belly that i did not finish it!

Bert ‘n Rocky’s
242 Yale Avenue
Claremont, CA 91711
(909) 625-1852

Sunday, March 25, 2007 8comments No tags Permalink 0


I’m not a Pinkberry weakling, nor am I crazy obsessed over the frozen yogurt at Kiwiberri. In my opinion, the $5 that would have been spent on a cup of fro-yo is better allocated towards a croissant or brioche. Then why is it that I find myself more often than not, standing in front of the Claremont Kiwiberri cash register?

It’s the smoothies!!! I went in the other week, positively dying under the LA sun, and seeking a something cool to bring down my body temperature. I noticed that they offered smoothies on the menu, so why not? And it’s a good thing I did, because now I’ve found another item to add to my short list of “things I’m actually excited to eat in Claremont.”

The Kiwiberri smoothie blends together a cup of plain yogurt, strawberries, kiwis, and ice. It’s as simple and straightforward as can be. And that’s what I like best about it. Sweet and tart, with popping bits of kiwi seeds and the occasionally surprise of a little strawberry niblet that hasn’t blended all the way, it goes down quite nicely. At $3, it’s a pretty good deal, given that most smoothies will cost you around $5. Plus it’s so pleasantly pink looking – it wants to be your friend! Note: I’m not near joining one of those Pinkberri/Kiwiberri cults, I just happen to have a soft spot for their liquid concoctions!

Kiwiberri
373 W Bonita Ave
Claremont, CA 91711
(909) 568-2306

Saturday, March 24, 2007 1 No tags Permalink 0


On a whim, some friends and I headed out to Nobu Malibu late last night. We had just celebrated the official “end of the first week back from spring break” with a dorm made dinner of spam, eggs, rice and furikake, when the random suggestion came up. No one had Friday classes, so off we went!

The restaurant was only half full around 9:30pm and we were quickly seated without reservations. We had a table smack in the middle of the restaurant – good for people watching and even better for food watching.

It was pretty neato to think that just an hour ago I was sitting in my dorm room studying for Accounting Theory midterm :)

While deciding on our order, we shared a plate of edamane, unremarkable at the best. However I did take a great liking to the generous, but not overly excessive sprinkles of sea salt. The best kine edamame is when you toss it with lots of garlic sauteed in butter…and then sprinkle sesame seeds on top!

I started with a bowl of Clam Miso Soup, simple and clean with a trio of sweet clams to the bowl. In retrospect I could have done without the soup and paid $2 more for another dessert, hehe.

Will had the special martini of the evening, some sort of tropical fruity something or another. I took a sip and once again reconfirmed my dislike for any alcoholic liquids. It was pretty though!

We decided to just go with a few sushi rolls being as we had already unfortunately stuffed ourselves with fried spam and eggs (but it was so good!). My favorite was the soft shell crab. Crunchy fried crab and cuts of avocado were rolled up nice and tight in nori, and then again in a thin cut of daikon. I can’t recall the roll on the bottom for the life of me (I’m sorry!) cause I didn’t eat …but…forgive me please? I’m so bad at sushi reviewing, as you can see. I just know when it’s good and when I like it, but that about ends there!

The salmon skin roll was salty, rich, and melded oh-so-nicely into the creamy avocado and offset by the crunch of the cucumber. Like the crab, a layer of daikon was also wrapped over the nori made for a clean ending. The yellowtail made for soft and buttery glory. Each piece was like a little drug bomb, I could probably eat a dozen more if you put it in front of me…but by then my mind already drifted to the dessert menu, which we had asked to look at, and had set aside during the beginning of the meal.

It was hard choosing among chocolate spring rolls, trio of brulees and chocolate ‘bento box’ but I decided to end the evening with the Shiso Crepe, two softly green hued crepes specked with bits of shiso leaf, filled with butter sautéed bananas, then folded into neat squares and stacked one on top of another. The bananas were sliced so thin that I could pick out each piece, hold it up to the dim light and see right through. I could not pick out the shiso flavor in the crepe very well, but the soft color was rather comforting. Accompanying the crepes was a scoop of shiso gelato on a bed of crunchy meringue. The silky gelato had a slight minty flavor, very soothing and melted easily as butter in tongue. A well spent $9!

And that was the end of our evening.
HAH! Or so I thought!
While driving along Pacific Coast Highway, we past by Moon Shadows, which Will insisted on going in.

It was kind of creepy looking on the outside, but we gave it a shot anyways. They were about to close when we got in, but there was just enough time for Will to have a gin tonic…

…and for us to have dessert again! Sorry the shot is so blurry, someone was eager to get a bite! The individually baked apple pie ran about four inches across with a rich crust verging on a buttery shortbread. The apples were diced into little pieces to match the little size of the pie. Flavors were just right, not too sweet with a heavy notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. On top lay a simple scoop of vanilla bean ice cream (the menu said rum raisin ice cream, but they were out)…I looked at it, and started to think, what’s with all these restaurants and small scoops of ice cream and gelato? This is the area where one should be more generous!

Fun ending to the start of a boring Thursday if I do say. I wish someone would make me shiso crepes for breakfast everyday. We made the trek back home in just over an hour, and by midnight, I found myself back in Claremont again. Bah.

Nobu Malibu
3836 Cross Creek Road
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 317-9140

Moon Shadows
20365 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 456-3010