A Breakfast Fit for a Chef

A Cute Cafe, A Breakfast to Brag About

A Cute Cafe, A Breakfast to Brag About

Innovation and creativity are two things that make a restaurant desirable, interesting, and newsworthy. The Pfunky Griddle has it all!

On the first Sunday of our trip to the South, our family and some friends went out for a unique breakfast. The Pfunky Griddle in the Berry Hill area of Nashville is a breakfast and lunch venue that is located in a place that was once a home. What makes this so different from a typical restaurant is that they give you batter, toppings, and a spatula…and you get to make the pancakes on your own! We’ve been to fondue and teppan grills but never a make-your-own breakfast cafe. This was right up my alley, and it was all-you-can-eat, so we decided to try it.

The decor of The Pfunky Griddle was perky and cute, and while we did have to wait, the employees were friendly and patient.  Once we were seated inside this cozy joint, I enjoyed the two toppings that I ordered with my batter: peanut butter and banana slices, and the bacon and homemade syrup were both great. They served white, wheat, and gluten-free batter and the toppings to choose from read on and on.

Little Bakers at Work

Little Bakers at Work

The immense griddle in the middle of the table was hot and cooked the pancakes quickly, but it was safe for everyone and we saw toddlers in there cooking away with their parents. I cooked the bananas into my pancakes and spread the peanut butter on top afterward, and I had at least five mini pancakes. They were yummy and all eight of us enjoyed our meals. I thought it was a cool idea and my dad labeled it as “one of the best breakfasts out we’ve had”. So, if you’re in Nashville, please go ahead and try it. It may not be the most Southern breakfast I’m going to have, but it was a lot of fun and I would definitely suggest it!

A Different Kind of Stadium

Dream Team Photo

Dream Team Photo

It was dark outside when we woke up, but I’m used to that. I’m definitely an early bird and I love the mornings, but today I awoke with the feelings of someone who had stayed up late last night. To tell you the truth, one thought and one thought only occupied my head: I don’t want to get out of bed! Nevertheless, I got up, packed my bag, and jumped in the car, excited for the day ahead of me. I couldn’t wait to see the stadium and the stars, to eat, and to write. This would be spectacular.

But today, we were not tailgating at the Rose Bowl or the Coliseum. This was a different kind of stadium… what I might call a “food stadium”. The first annual All Star Chefs Classic was hosted on Sunday, March 23, from noon to 2:30 at the new “Restaurant Stadium” at LA Live, and both local chefs and nation-wide foodies came to cook at an event not to be challenged.

The All Star Chefs Classic

The All Star Chefs Classic

A bar lit up the center of the large room, and around it sat tables surrounded by ten food booths. At each station, one fantastic chef or another would whip up an amazing sample, and you would be able to try it without a wait. The decor was classy and prestigious, and it made me nervous even to be in this foodie’s paradise. At the same time, however, it was almost laid-back and an awesome DJ kept us all on our toes.  Everyone was trying to balance a plate, a cup, and a camera, and yet I didn’t feel that it was touristy at all.  You were close to the chefs, but there weren’t too many people and we never had to wait more than two minutes for anything. Oh, here I go. I won’t be able to find anything wrong with an event featuring spectacular food AND Han Solo’s grandson.

Chef David LeFevre and His Creation

Chef David LeFevre and His Creation

First up, Chef David LeFevre. If you’ve followed my blog site before, you’ll recognize him as the genius behind the restaurant I spent my eleventh birthday at: MB Post. (http://www.southbayfood.com/?p=1795).  At his booth, creamy mashed potatoes were complimented by grilled asparagus, speck, mushrooms, and a delicious potato puree on top. It was adorned by crispy leeks, and I wouldn’t have changed anything about it. The flavors melded together perfectly but were still distinct in the best ways, and each thought back to it made my mouth water for more. Overall, it was an astounding first dish and I was extremely happy with Chef LeFevre’s creation.

 

Then, we slid over next door to Chef Vinny Dotolo’s station, where beef tendon with kolrabi salad was being presented. The beef tendon had a really nice texture, and it was soft but chewy. A perfect amount of what seemed to be a peanut sauce was drizzled over the top, and it was subtle but noticeable and definitely sweet. Overall, it might not have been my favorite dish of the night, but it was extremely impressive nonetheless.

By Wylie Dufresne

By Wylie Dufresne

Next, we walked to Chef Wylie Dufresne’s booth, which revealed a creative new idea: edamame gazpacho. I loved the textures with the milky gazpacho and the crunchy chunks to top it off. It tasted fresh and you could tell that a lot of effort was put into the making of it.

 

 

Lamb Sweetbreads, there's nothing better

Lamb Sweetbreads, there’s nothing better

Chef Alex Seidel’s dish blew me away. It was lamb sweetbread confit (otherwise known as lamb organs :)) but it was fantastic! The lamb had a beautiful texture and a great flavor, and it was overall very impressive. I’m so glad I got the chance to meet him, because this was the spectacular outcome of the work of a man who knows what he’s doing. The dish had an amazing “mushroom marmalade” and the mushrooms paired outstandingly with the creamy sheep’s milk ricotta. Also, Chef Seidel let us try his cheese, which was aged for two years in his home of Denver. Overall, Chef Seidel came and left us all awaiting the next time he can come to LA to cook us some more of his delicious food.

Let’s travel over to Chef David Myers’ dish: tuna with sesame tofu and a kumquat fava bean salad. Chef Myers prepared this cool dish for us in the booth right next to Chef David LeFevre’s. Although I didn’t enjoy the tofu very much, that’s probably just because I’ve been a carnivore since birth. The kumquat fava bean salad was strongly flavored and very citrusy, but in the best way because it was a great match with the tuna. I’m glad that Chef Myers included it. The tuna was the bomb; pink, silky, and impeccably prepared. I can’t say I’ve ever had such perfected,  melt-in-your-mouth tuna, and I only have one thing to say to that… yum.

Chef Ben Ford

Chef Ben Ford

Scrumptious Sea Bass Crudo

Scrumptious Sea Bass Crudo

And guess who I met next? One of the friendliest chefs ever, good in the kitchen, and he has a famous history. Chef Ben Ford, son of Harrison Ford and father of Indiana Jones’ grandson, happens to be madly talented, as I figured out as I practically inhaled my serving of sea bass crudo. The fish itself was smooth and tasty and it disintegrated in my mouth with a lingering taste of lime. The chilies on top added a nice spicy kick at the end and the avocado, which was also enriched by citrus, I think, was fantastic paired with the sea bass. It just overall showed a great knowledge of food and I’m really glad Chef Ford made it. I also got to see his son, an adorable little blond boy that seemed to be all smiles. (The Force is strong with that one.)

Chef Josiah Citrin: A Legend

Chef Josiah Citrin: A Legend

A legend held up the next station with a focused expression and hardworking hands. I could tell that Chef Josiah Citrin took his job seriously, and it definitely paid off. The wild monkfish cheek reminded me a bit of scallops, and monkfish might be known as the “poor man’s lobster”, but this was anything but insufficient. I hadn’t tried very much monkfish before this event, but I really enjoyed it and I look forward to trying it again soon. Though I didn’t know exactly how it was supposed to be cooked, I thought that it tasted great. The fish wasn’t too tough but it wouldn’t fall apart, with a great texture, and the herbs, like fennel, paired nicely with the monkfish. I was very happy with what I tried from Chef Josiah Citrin’s booth and I hope to eat more of his food soon!

My mother’s dentist, local foodie Dr. Gary Warburton, had suggested this event to us in the first place, and all throughout it, we had stopped around to talk to him and his wife Terry. What was really cool was that he knew a lot of the chefs, so I met a lot of them and I was so thankful that Dr. Warburton included us. Thank you!

Chef Ludo!

Chef Ludo!

I also met Chef Ludo Lefebvre, the famous chef who stars in TV show “Ludo Bites”. And although his persona on TV is definitely intimidating, he was really patient and friendly in person and I am very grateful for him for letting me waste his time. 🙂

Dr. Warburton, Chef David LeFevre, and a few others were having a conversation as we walked up. Chef LeFevre raved about the event, its great kitchens, its reserved parking, and just its atmosphere in general. It was nice to know that not only did the guests love the event, but the chefs enjoyed it as well.

 

Chef Elliot:  Salad Pro

Chef Elliot: Salad Pro

After a quick break, my dad and I returned back to our food

Deconstruction Site

Deconstruction Site

sampling. Next up was Chef Graham Elliot’s twist on a classic Cesear salad, otherwise known as his “deconstructed Cesear salad”. It was a lettuce wedge with a fantastic crunch and doused in crumbled parmesan cheese. On the side came a crispy toasted bread slice with a white dollop of soft spread on top, which was almost buttery, and I’m not sure exactly what it was but it was addictive. It was a fresh spin on a classic dish, I really enjoyed it, and I was very glad to try it. Nice job, Chef Elliot!

Pork Belly Not To Be Forgotten

Pork Belly Not To Be Forgotten

Two words could be used to describe this next station, and that’s all you need to know that it was a positive review: PORK. BELLY. The cardamom brined meat had a great texture and really stood out for its creativity with spices and flavors. A creamy coconut asparagus veloute topped it off and the flavors matched each other very well. I enjoyed this dish, and I thought that it was a great way to prepare pork belly.

 

Chef Silverton and Me

Chef Silverton and Me

Lastly, Chef Nancy Silverton’s booth stood next door with a black sign sporting kale salad. Being a meat-lover, I thought I would be disappointed to end on this, but boy was I wrong! The kale salad was served with ricotta salata, pine nuts, and an anchovy on top, and although I was not a fan of the anchovy, the nuts and cheese went well together and the kale was perfection. In all, it was a great way to end the event and the salad definitely left you craving more.

In all, this amazing culinary event was a great way to spend my Sunday, and not only was the food delicious, but the chefs were friendly, welcoming, and, above all, inspiring. I have been slow to post recently because I’ve been very busy and I had been putting other activities before this (mainly soccer). This spectacular day reminded me how important it is to continue my blog and put in that extra effort, and I am so glad that I got to experience such an extraordinary event.

Thank you especially to Gary Warburton for encouraging me, showing us around, and keeping us laughing all day. Also, thank you so much to the chefs that I met: Ben Ford, Josiah Citrin, David LeFevre, Nancy Silverton, Wylie Dufresne, Alex Seidel, Graham Elliot, and Jennifer Jasinski. They were all so inspiring, kind, and, of course, spectacularly talented!

And, last of all, thank you Dad for a memorable opportunity and an experience I will never forget.

Day 4: Happy Hiking

On Top Of The World!

On Top Of The World!

We were at Camden Hills State Park, hiking as our activity of the day.  We chose a moderate trail called the Mount Megunticook Trail, which I think was perfect for the family!

 

A bit steep, wet, and slick, this hike had its challenges.  But high, adventurous, and exciting…that was one of the most fun hikes I had ever done!  We had so much fun and we were sad when it was over.

 

 

 

* * * * *

Go Mount Battie!

Go Mount Battie!

On our way back home, we stopped at Mount Battie’s Take Out and Ice Cream.  A small, locally owned shack, this place was friendly and yummy.  For lunch, Tabitha and I tried Mount Battie’s clam chowder, and Mom decided on our fourth New England lobster roll contestant.  Dad received fried clams and scallops, and we all got ice cream afterward!  Now, let’s explore the flavors of Day 4’s lunch…

 

The clam chowder was almost flawless.  The texture of the clams was perfect.  The taste was flavorful and competed with The Golden Egg’s clam chowder.  And, it was served in a good-sized cup with a decent amount of clams!  So, what could go wrong?

 

The temperature.  Tabitha and I both couldn’t eat it for a while due to the Styrofoam cups locking in the heat.  I like soup warm, of course, but this was searing hot.  If you get Mount Battie’s clam chowder, I suggest you get it cool for a while before you burn yourself.  But, eventually, I could eat it, and we were impressed with our lunch!

 

Good or bad? Lobster all the same! :)

Good or bad? Lobster all the same! 🙂

Mom’s lobster roll; not the best, but not bad either.  Chock full of meat, lobster tumbled out every time Mom took a bite.  But it was a small bun, so there appeared to be more lobster than there really was.  It was good and fresh lobster, and it filled your mouth with scrumptious juices, but unfortunately, mayo was dumped over the top of the roll so it was inconsistent.  Mom rated it

 

 

 

 

 

3 shells

because although we hoped to try better, she still enjoyed her lunch.

Dad’s fried seafood did not impress him very much.  The clams were soft and mushy and could not compete with Cappy’s in my dad’s opinion.  The batter would not stay on the scallops, but they were plump and tasty.

 

Memorable Moxie!

Memorable Moxie!

In addition, we also tried Maine’s famous state soda, Moxie.  I’d read on blogs about a horrible aftertaste, but we really enjoyed it.  Bitter than most sodas, we though it was similar to root beer and Dr. Pepper, and it was delicious!  We loved the bitter sourness and it was definitely worth a try.  Have you tried this memorable drink?

 

 

* * * * *

Mount Battie’s ice cream was incredible!  Many unique and interesting flavors were listed on a green sign, and I chose the Maine Black Bear.  This was a vanilla ice cream with raspberry ribbons and raspberry-filled chocolate cups, and I very much appreciated my sweet dessert.  The raspberry melted into the chocolate and the cups gave the vanilla some crunchy bites.  It was memorable and addicting.  Tabitha got the rainbow sherbet, a fruity, refreshing cone.  Though creamy and sweet, it wasn’t the prettiest sherbet.  The purple looked brown, and the colors ended up being a murky gray from being melded together so well.  It also melted very quickly which displeased Tabitha.  But it was tasty and yummy, and Tabitha couldn’t have been happier that she ordered it.

 

Dad’s not usually a dessert guy, but I cannot blame him for wanting to try the Chocolate Rainforest Crunch.  This was dark chocolate ice cream, caramel swirls, chocolate chunks, and peanuts all assembled.  It was a delicious mix and an unforgettable one, too. Dad had a rich, chocolatey cone, where as Mom received an amazing blueberry ice cream.  It was flavorful and creamy, and Mom really enjoyed it.  She was happy with her little dessert, and to be honest, I think everyone else was as well.

 

* * * * *

Mouthwatering; A Satisfying Special

Mouthwatering; A Satisfying Special

For a fantastic dinner, we went to Fresh, a restaurant supposedly inspired by Maine cuisine.  Mom and I shared a seared tuna entrée and a lentil and parsnip puree soup.  The incredible pink-to-perfection tuna was served over a bed of penne pasta, artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, spinach, and lots of olive oil.  The best bites were the perfectly prepared bluefin tuna, the al dente penne pasta, and the fresh, yummy artichoke heart together.  The juicy, bold flavor of the artichoke heart, the smoothness of the penne, and the melt in your mouth tuna blended for an amazing concoction, and the tart kalamata olives and savory spinach had some factor that made you want more and more!  I am not a huge fan of the kalamata olive, but it was a great blend with the artichoke hearts. Not to mention the sundried tomatoes!  I had not had them in a long time, and I remembered disliking them, but I tried them and I couldn’t have liked them better.  My only regrets of this dish were that it was not, in fact, distinctly “Maine inspired”, and there were so many flavors in just one mouthful! Incredible flavors, yes, but maybe a little bit too many. Nevertheless, this dish pleased me beyond what I had expected, and  could not have been happier with my dinner choice; the tuna was outstanding and all of the flavors along with it just added to a blog-worthy entrée!

 

Superb and Splendid!

Superb and Splendid!

Our parsnip puree lentil soup was much better than it sounded.  Mom and I got it to share, but everyone at the table ate their fair share—especially Tabs.  We found yet another soup that she loved!  But it wasn’t just her, everyone liked it.  It was creamy parsnip, with a dollop of whipped lentils in the center.  It was delightful, flavorful, and creative, and I would highly recommend it.

 

For a rich, strong dessert, I chose a chocolate truffle with fresh berries and whipped cream.  It was chocolaty and sweet, and the fresh fruit dipped into the fluffy whipped cream made it a yummy dessert.  Overall, I was incredible happy with the fantastic dinner and dessert at Fresh.

 

Check in with you tomorrow on Day 5!

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Mount Battie’s Take Out and Ice Cream

254 Belfast Road

Camden, Maine 04843

Tel: (207) 236-6122

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Fine Foods @ Fresh

Fine Foods @ Fresh!

Fresh

1 Bay View Landing

Camden, ME 04843

Tel: (207) 236-7005

www.freshcamden.com/

 

 

Day 3…

ENTIRE EXCELLENCE

Today, on Father’s Day, we went to brunch at a Cajun kitchen, attended a Portland Sea Dogs home game, and bought our own live lobster to cook for dinner!

First of all, it was Father’s Day, so Tabitha and I enjoyed giving our dad cards and showing him his gifts. For a Father’s Day brunch, we tried out Bayou Kitchen. My dad loves the Cajun cuisine, and it looked like everyone could find something in the custom pancake shop/cajun cafe and diner.

Bright and Bold

Bright and Bold

Yellows, purples, and greens lit up the rooms, and the Mardi-Gras decor was definitely eye-catching! As we scanned the menu, many items looked suitable, and I had a difficult time choosing my meal. Bayou Kitchen’s custom pancake shop was extremely creative, offering many unique pancakes. On this section of the menu, there were many pancakes, from pecan pancakes to ginger pancakes to coffee pancakes!

 

Alongside a custom pancake menu, a Cajun section gave us many more selections. Jambalaya, gumbo, and Cajun omelets were some items on the Cajun addition.

Mom ordered a blueberry banana pancake breakfast, and Tabs got chocolate chip pancakes. Dad received a Cajun scramble, and I decided on the jambalaya. Also, we ordered gumbo for the table!

Blueberry Banana Bliss!

Blueberry Banana Bliss!

Mom loved her pancake, a sweet breakfast that started off the day with a smile! The texture of the pancake was perfect: filling and doughy, but moist. The blueberries were local and fresh, and the banana added a wet component to the dish. Splendid and healthy, this was an attractive dish and definitely a favorite!

Tabitha’s chocolate chip pancakes were filling and YUMMY! But as luscious as they were, they were a bit dry, and they could have used more chocolate to keep it running smoothly through your mouth. Overall, the chocolate chip pancakes were not flawless, yet still memorable, and I would try them again!

Bayou Kitchen’s jambalaya was utterly disappointing. I didn’t care for the tomato base, and it was served cold. The sauce was redder, where as our family prefers thicker, browner sauces. In addition, it had more veggies, and less meat, which I wish was NOT  the case. However, the seafood was fresh, and there was a decent amount of jambalaya on a serving. Overall, as good jambalayas go, this wasn’t one of them. I hate to say that I would not suggest Bayou Kitchen’s jambalaya.

Gumbo to be Reckoned With

Gumbo to be Reckoned With

But I must say, the gumbo almost made up for it… This was by far the best dish on the table! The whole family hogged the perfect concoction, and I much preferred it over my meal! It was moderately spicy, thinner than usual, and different than any gumbo I’d ever had (probably because we were in Maine…:)). I’ve been to New Orleans, and while this obviously was no real, authentic gumbo, it was impressive!

 

Overall, our brunch had ups and downs, but in the end it earned a thumbs-up!

* * * * *

Across the street from Bayou Kitchen was a fresh bread factory, store, and cafe. As we entered this perfection of a business, The Big Sky Bread Company was immediately on my good side! I walked in and a fresh, doughy smell drifted through the air. Stacked on shelves, unique bread sat, waiting to be devoured by local customers. Some unusual breads were the Cinnamon Walnut Raisin, the Deep South Cornbread, and the Black Forest Pumpernickel. The locals obviously stopped in often, just to buy everyday bread, but my dad and I were fascinated! There was even a sample of their bread with butter, and it was yummy, warm, and it definitely tasted homemade (the good kind)!

I also loved that the bakery was right in front of you, so you could see them baking the bread in action! It was also a good idea to have a restaurant too. On the menu there were panini sandwiches, soups, and salads. I thought it was a really interesting experience to be able to visit the Big Sky Bread Conpany!

* * * * *

Next, we attended a Portland Sea Dogs Game. There is not much food to write about from this baseball game, except for our third lobster roll contestant: the baseball roll.

"The Ball Park Roll"

“The Ball Park Roll”

For baseball park food, it was great! For a lobster roll… Not so much. Not that it was terrible, but there was way too much mayonnaise, and the lobster was ice cold, which is maybe a little too cold for a lobster roll in my preference. It was creamy, but inconsistent, and the lobster was nothing memorable. Unfortunately, my dad rated it:

 

Two shells

shell-harbour-removals

shell-harbour-removals

 

 

 

 

That’s all I have to say about the Sea Dogs game (they won!), but I can’t wait to tell you about our incredible lobster dinner experience!

* * * * *

Oyster Alert!

Shellfish Alert!

Somewhere along our drive from Portland back to Camden, we entered the coolest road-side stand I have EVER encountered. Advertised on roadside signs, Glidden Point Oyster Company is a live lobster and oyster shack. The owner and operator, Barb Scully, dives for the oysters herself, which is rare these days. “She says the technique is less disruptive for the shellfish and ensures superior taste,” I read from an article on The New York Times website. They are freshly farmed in the Damariscotta River, along with the lobster the Glidden Point Oyster Company sold.

 

 

The Three Not-So-Little Lobsters

The Three Not-So-Little Lobsters!

What my dad thought made this cool shack one THOUSAND times cooler is the “Honor System”. If the Scullys were out oyster diving, they would trust you to take the seafood, and leave the money. Luckily, Mrs. Scully was available when we came on Father’s Day, because we had no idea what we were doing! I loved the business so much, I bought a shirt from the Glidden Point Oyster Co. On the back, it says their slogan, which is: “You don’t win friends with salad“. A quote from Homer Simpson, I immediately loved the shirt, the slogan, and its meaning!

In the end, we bought 3 lobsters (totaling 5 lbs) and 12 oysters, all live on the way home!

* * * * *

When we got home, my dad immediately opened the cooler and tried to grab the lobsters. Big mistake! Though we had done this before, we had not expected the feisty lobsters! They were fighting and flailing against my dad, and, boy, did it surprise us!

Ruby Red and Looking Good!

Ruby Red and Looking Good!

But once they were boiled and shelled, they just couldn’t have been better! Dipped in warm, dripping-down-your-chin, heavenly butter, this lobster was succulent, juicy, and fresh. My dad, mom, and I all have the same favorite lobster part: the tail! However, my sister preferred the legs, from which you got practically no meat… But everyone has their preferences, I guess.

 

The splendid meat practically melted in your mouth, and the butter was a fantastic addition! I found myself wishing that it wasn’t gone when the plate was cleared. But I guess that’s how good food works.

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The Bayou Kitchen

543 Deering Ave.

Portland, Maine 

Tel: (207) 774-4935

http://www.bayoukitchenmaine.com

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Big Sky Bread Company

536 Deering Ave.

Portland, Maine

Tel: (207) 761-5623

http:/www.mainebread.com

 

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Glidden Point Oyster Sea Farm

707 River Road

Edgecomb, Maine 04556

Tel: (207) 633-3599

http://www.oysterfarm.com

 

 

Day 2…

Part 1: TERRIFIC TRAVEL

I awoke this morning and we immediately jumped into our rental car and started our road trip journey to Maine. Soon, we encountered a small town fit for breakfast: Portsmouth, New Hampshire. This cute town has been a part of New Hampshire since 1623! We were eager to explore, and we took many pictures along the drive.

Portsmouth is made of simple, Victorian-style homes and small shops. spending much of my time in super-modern Los Angeles, I was intrigued by the older, but attractive, architecture.

DSC03913Somewhere along Sagamore Avenue, my parents found “The Golden Egg”, an old-fashioned, red-checkered curtained cafe. Tabitha and I were hungry, and so we were glad to stop in!

“The Golden Egg” was exactly as you would imagine a small-town, local’s cafe. The sweet smell of real, fresh syrup filled the air, and the servers were friendly and courteous.

As a drink, Tabs and I both received hot cocoas. They were rich and yummy, and they tasted like chocolate cookies were crumbled into the warm milk. It was a pleasant treat and probably my favorite hot cocoa in a long time! Yum!

I ordered a combo, with French toast, a scrambled egg, and bacon. I immediately asked for hot sauce for my egg, and they gave me an incredible homemade hot sauce. I tried it and was surprised to find it was spicier than I expected! It had a tangy kick that I very much enjoyed! If you ever venture to the Golden Egg, I would suggest their homemade hot sauce!

C&C: Citrusy Clams

C&C: Citrus and Clams

Tabitha ordered New England clam chowder– yes, again! But unlike Connolly’s clam chowder, this one was outstanding and unlike any clam chowder I had ever tried! It was thin and broth, and full of spices and bacon. It also had a powerful, addictive citrus flavor that we could not identify. This citrus really made it fantastic, and we were impressed by this unique flavor. It was much better than FishBar’s, which says something, and I finished off Tabitha’s big bowl! That clam chowder was–no exaggeration– probably my favorite clam chowder ever! Then again, we are on the East Coast, and I will probably try many more clam chowders. I look forward to those!

A Mouthwatering Masterpiece

A Mouthwatering Masterpiece

Dad ordered the “Eggs Sagamore”, which was English muffins, two poached eggs, and lobster in a creamy remoulade sauce. Though I am not a fan of runny eggs, I tried a bite of lobster in the remoulade sauce and fell in love! Delicious, juicy, addictive, fresh! My family was undoubtedly happy with a fantastic brunch at “The Golden Egg”!

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The Golden Egg

960 Sagamore Avenue

Portsmouth, NH 03801

Tel: (603) 436-0519 

Website: http://www.goldeneggrestaurant.com

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Part 2: DISCOVERY DAY

After brunch, we continued along our route to Camden, Maine. Still on Sagamore, we stopped at Seaport Fish, a small seafood market. Dad and I got out of the car and decided to explore!

Splendid Seafood, Marvelous Market

Splendid Seafood, Marvelous Market!

Seaport fish was an incredible stop! The seafood was fresh, inexpensive, and ice cold. Raw fish slabs lined the refrigerated counter, and ice boxes were over-flowing with lobster, clams, oyster, and more! Prices were great: you could buy an entire lobster for $6.00! It was super cool and I was impressed by their many varieties!

In addition to a wide-range seafood selection, Seaport Fish offered cheese, meat, cocktail sauce, and fish rubs. Menus were posted on the walls and the decor was natural and nautically-themed. Cards were piled in baskets with interesting seafood recipes and inspirational ideas, and the workers were friendly and helpful. Overall, Seaport Fish was a great stop and a lucky opportunity!

* * * * *

After exploring the seafood market, we decided to stop in a cute bookstore in Kennebunk, Maine called Kennebooks. It was cute at first sight, and we stopped in without hesitation!

Kennebooks was brimming with books of all kinds, genres, shapes, and sizes! It was a reader’s heaven, and they even played P!nk, who is one of my favorite artists! Two young women worked at the counter, and they seemed fun and friendly. They were obviously locals, and I loved their casual, soothing bookstore. Tabitha was fully entranced in the Mad Libs rack, and she would NOT stop pleading for them! Mom was looking at books that took place in Maine, and Dad was looking at New England cookbooks. Everyone found their picks at Kennebooks, and my dad loved it so much that he bought a Kennebooks t-shirt!

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Seaport Fish                                                     

13 Sagamore Road

Rye, NH 03870

Tel: (603) 436-7286

Twitter: @SeaportFish

Website: http://www.seaportfish.com

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 KenneBooks

149 Port Road

Lower Village Kennebunk, ME 04043

Tel: (207) 967-6136

Website: http://www.kennebooks.com

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Part 3: EVENING EVENTS 

At last, we checked into our rental home and settled down. We decided to walk into town and pick a restaurant that looked good to eat at. Camden is a wonderful town, and the magnificent main street was full of shops, restaurants, and other businesses. We were sure we would find something to eat, so we explored!

The neighborhood we stayed in was very nice, safe, and not at all like LA. Pebbly roads, a calm harbor, and Victorian design everywhere distinguished Camden from what I was used to: a busy city life. Everyone knew each other, people walked the streets smiling, and you could always stop in and say hi in the cute shops. I realized the benefits of living in a relaxing small town, as opposed to a busy, frightening city. The bottom line: I loved it there!

After walking along the main street for a few minutes, we found Cappy’s Chowder House, a seafood restaurant that caught our eye. I must admit, Cappy’s was a bit touristy, but the ingredients were fresh and authentic all the same.

After our waiter, Cassady, seated us, we scanned the menu and found our interests: Dad and I shared Cappy’s three course, market price meal. The “Maine Seafood Bliss” consisted of three components: a starter, a main course/ entree, and a “sweet ending”. The starter was a cup of Cappy’s clam chowder. On the menu, it said, “Maine chowder law says white! … never red!” I liked this, and I knew that this would be one knock-your-socks-off chowder!

The entree, or main course, was a pot full of fresh steamed Maine shellfish: mussels, clams, and lobster. Lastly, for dessert, homemade blueberry pie was served, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. In addition to our seafood dinner, we ordered a clam roll to share. Fresh Maine whole-belly clams, fried to perfection and stuffed into a roll, sounded pretty darn good to me!

Outstanding Oysters

Outstanding Oysters

First, we ate an appetizer of fried oysters. These reminded me of the good old days of Ragin’ Cajun! They were served with a mild horseradish sauce, which was quickly gobbled up! With a kick, but not overpowering, the horseradish sauce was greatly appreciated at our table, along with the crispy, plump, fresh oysters.

 

Next, our clam chowder arrived. Boy, was I right about it being magnificent! Fresh, rich, and balanced, it was almost as impressive as The Golden Egg’s chowdah’. I was struck by it’s incredible spice, unique flavor, and flawless viscosity. My dad and I loved Cappy’s clam chowder!

 

Third, our second “New England Lobster Roll Challenge” contestant stepped up to the plate. “Cappy’s Maine Lobster Roll” was overflowing and delicious! My mom enjoyed the fact the it was meaty and just barely doused with mayo. I would rate this lobster roll:

four seashells

Four Shells!

 

 

 

Why? Because it was better than Connolly’s lobster roll, but it was still not the heaven I’m searching for. It was still very appealing, though, and I would suggest it!

Chewy Clams

Chewy Clams

Then, our clam roll arrived at the table. Placed directly in front of me, I could smell a satisfying aroma waft through the air. It was tempting, so… WE DUG IN! My dad loved them, and I will tell you right now that these were his favorite fried clams of the trip! The clams were huge and the roll was bursting with them, and they weren’t too fishy, which I liked. Unfortunately, they were a little too stringy and a bit hard to chew. However, they were crispy and juicy, so although not my favorite dish of the night, still passable.

A Perfect Way to End a Day!

A Perfect Way to End a Day!

Finally, our main course arrived: the shellfish pot! Steam rose from the pungent pot, and fresh seafood filled it up to the top. Dad handed me a clam, two mussels, and a humongous lobster claw. I tore off the pincher and sucked the juice from the shell. I cracked the claw in half, then I wolfed down the succulent meat. I remember thinking, “This is too good to be true!” But it wasn’t . It was juicy, fresh, and absolutely real!

The clams and mussels were terrific, not at all gritty, but locally caught and fresh as can be! I liked the clams, regardless of the bit of shell I had to pull out of it, because it was large and plump! Though the mussels were smaller and less moist, they had a great flavor! I found myself wanting more, but they were already gone! Delish! I guess the clams and mussels were a big hit in our family!

In addition to the lobster claw, I got part of the tail meat. The tail is probably my favorite part of the entire lobster, but it still couldn’t surpass the juiciness of the claw! Still, the delectable meat was tender, and I overall loved the buttery, scrumptious Camden lobster!

Our “sweet ending” was shared by Mom and Dad. I tried a bite, however, I am not a cooked blueberry person. I am sure that if you love blueberry pie you would really enjoy this! The ice cream was regular, nothing special, but still a yummy classic with the warm pie!

I received a chocolate bread pudding for my dessert. This luscious delicacy was served warm and quite perfect, and drizzled over it was a heavenly raspberry sauce. A mountain of whipped cream towered above the pudding, which I didn’t love, but once I got down to the rich, chocolaty goodness it was all worth it. Overall, I loved my dessert from Cappy’s!

In all, I would definitely suggest Cappy’s as a yummy place to eat! The servers are nice, the decor is bright, the food is great, and overall a wonderful atmosphere. Cappy’s was a great experience and an even better memory!

See you tomorrow on Day 3 of my East Coast extravaganza!

********

Go Cappy's! Cappy’s Chowder House

1 Main Street, Camden ME 04843

Tel: (207) 236-2254

Website: http://cappyschowder.com

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Marvelous Maine!

DSC04247Where are you going this summer?  This year, we traveled to a place we have never been before:  Maine!  Lobster heaven and blueberry-mania, this place was made for me!  But was it made for you?  Read the upcoming diary entries to form your own opinion of Camden, Maine.  (Plus, if you haven’t already, please read my diary entries on St. John from last summer.)

So, watch out, Maine!  Southbayfood.com is coming to town.  Check into Megan’s World of Food ASAP for an update of our trip to Camden, Maine.  Please follow my blog for stories of our exciting adventure!

And, if you are traveling this summer to camp, a vacation spot, or even a cruise, I suggest that you write a diary of your adventures.  Both food-related and not, please send them in, and I might post them here as guest posts!

DSC04187Enjoy as my family records yet another culinary journey!  Stay tuned to read about Day One, two long plane rides and our first dinner in New England …

 

A Fantastic Week!

Go Southbayfood.com!

Go Southbayfood.com!

This week has been crazy, but rewarding!  Today is Easter, and this week was my Spring Break, not to mention three articles were published about our own southbayfood.com!  Talented reporter Stephanie Cary (@stephiecary) interviewed me about my blog and wrote an astounding article about my culinary love and my likes and dislikes in the kitchen.  Congratulations to Stephanie on her article being printed in both The Daily Breeze and The Beach Reporter (as well as online with several newspapers partnered with The Daily Breeze)!

Thanks to The Daily Breeze for the great picture!

Thanks to The Daily Breeze for the great picture!

Also, Grub Street LA’s blog posted a piece about young chefs elevating, and southbayfood.com was a big part of it.  They were very supportive of kids’ talents, but just so you know, I’m no professional chef.  I’m just a girl who is still learning and following her interests.  Thank you, Grub Street Los Angeles!

I haven’t done much for Spring Break, but here is the news flash on Easter 2013 …

 

 

Happy Easter!

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Our Creative Creation

Our Creative Creation

“Perfect!” my dad smiled proudly, as I placed the last decoration upon our watermelon Easter egg basket.  We had just hauled every last bit of watermelon from the rind.  We filled the watermelon three-fourths the way full with fake grass, and then I carefully placed our polychromatic Easter eggs in the basket.

What you need:

  • One watermelon (pick a size that will fit your contents), or other melon
  • A melon baller or a scoop
  • Paper towels or fake grass to cushion the eggs (or whatever your basket will contain)
  • Easter eggs, refreshments or whatever else you will stash in your basket
The delightful by-product of our creation was a boatload of melon balls.  We might do something artistic with them before devouring the sweetness, but most likely, they will just end up in our mouths in about 2.5 seconds!
Merry Easter! ;)

Merry Easter! 😉

 

Happy Easter and Spring, and have a great day!

The Teetering Tower: I’m Undecided

Heaven

Heaven

Have you ever been to Tower 42? Tower 42 is a seaside restaurant in Playa Del Ray. I recently went with my mom, dad, sister, and another family. I’ll tell you what I thought…

Tower 42 was pretty good; I didn’t think it was spectacular, and it was too pricey to become a regular there. I’m not sure if I will ask to return. Some dishes were made note of in my mind, yet some were not pleasing. I will have to think on it.

When I first stepped into Tower 42, I admired it. There is really no other way to say it; the décor was subtle and soothing, and an icebox full of oysters glowed 10 ft. in front of me. A fire crackled in the otherwise dim dining room, the flickering flames reflecting off of my sea blue eyes. It was calming, quiet —I liked it.

I Love Lunas!

I Love Luna!

I shuffled towards the oyster chest, my 4-year-old friend Tyler gripping my hand. “Don’t touch anything,” I whispered to him.

“Hello! Would you like to look at the oysters?” the friendly man behind the icebox asked.

“Sure!” I replied immediately, tugging Tyler over to the icebox.

“These smaller, brinier oysters are Luna oysters, and the ones to the left are bigger and creamier,” he told me.  I smiled.  I had tried Luna oysters before, and I liked the small, salty ones, so I knew which oysters I would order tonight.

“Thanks!”  I smiled brightly and walked back toward my dad with Tyler.

**********

Choices, choices!

Choices, choices!

“4 kids?”  The hostess forced a smile on her face and added, “We’ll get you into a private room.”  I smirked at the floor and thought, “Families get lucky here!”

Our table was huge!  And it literally was in its own room.  Two cushy chairs were placed on either side of a larger-than-life flat screen TV.  I took a seat and scanned the menu.  It looked pretty good.  My mouth watered at the sight of Espresso Bean-Crusted Sirloin Steak with Lobster Risotto, but it was $32!  I glanced over at my dad, laughing at something Angie just said.  No way.  Not happening tonight.  Too expensive.

“What are you getting, Meg?” my dad asked about a second later.

“No idea,” I murmured, but thinking of the Luna oysters.  “Though I know I’d like some oysters.”

“How about the gumbo?” Dad asked, pointing to the Soup and Salad section of Tower 42’s menu.

“Perfect!”

***********

Priceless

Priceless

This is what I ordered:  Fried Oysters, Luna Oysters on the Half Shell, and Gumbo (with oysters in it).  I was in for one heck of an oystery night.

My mom ordered some delicious Salmon Tartar!  The avocado and icy-cold salmon blended perfectly together, and the wasabi gave it a hint of spice that my mom really enjoyed.  A ring of fried potato held the dish together, and I thought it could not have been much better.

My dad, on the other hand, got a crudo that I didn’t particularly enjoy.  Raw Hamachi was surrounded by pickled watermelon and radish.  The watermelon was mediocre, and the watery radish didn’t taste like much, but I didn’t care for the fish at all.  It carried a stench and taste that was way too fishy for me, but to other perspectives, it was a tasty dish.  It probably didn’t help that I don’t like hamachi very much.

Meanwhile, I was enjoying my fried oysters.  They were perfectly fried, with the right amount of seasoning.  Crunchy crispiness coated the outside of the briny oyster, and I gulped them down like I hadn’t eaten in weeks!

Next, we received our raw oysters.  I had only two of the irresistable Luna oysters;  I guess I wasn’t in the mood like I thought I was.  Mignonette (an onion and vinegar drizzle) and a cocktail sauce were served with our oysters.  I used some of both! 🙂  Overall, our oysters were incredible!

**********

Not Quite Gumbo

“Entrees, entrees, coming right up!” I whispered to Luke as a bowl was placed in front of me.  My smile faded and frown lines appeared above my nose.  “I ordered gumbo, right?” I thought to myself.  The bowl in front of me was filled halfway with rice, and vegetables, only two shrimp, and only two oysters filled the rest of the bowl.  No broth, no moisture. I was disappointed.  The meats were dry, and there was too much rice.  I would not recommend the gumbo at Tower 42.  Luke, to my right, savored a fancy sirloin steak, pink and juicy, like we like it, and Tyler, to my left, ordered the kid’s chicken tenders.

My dad chose the — What do you know? – Espresso-Bean Crusted Sirloin Steak with Lobster Risotto.  I smiled regretfully, but I did get to try it!  The espresso beans gave the steak a deep, alluring flavor that you just couldn’t get tired of … but my dad disagreed.  It was medium-rare, pink and juicy, just like my dad and I cook ours at home.  I say, if it tastes like shoe leather, it ain’t proper steak!   Killer Shrimp, watch out!  Tower 42’s steak could kill!

For dessert, I selected “The King”.  A banana cream pie covered in peanut butter cream and chocolate ganache, this dessert was unbelievable!  I truly thought it was irresistable, unforgettable, and addictive.  The sweet

Obvious Royalty

banana cream filling was wrapped up in a Captain Crunch crust (crazy, right?!) and it blended together with the heavenly peanut butter cream like two peas in a pod!  (It reminded me of my Aunt Jayne’s Heath Bar, Peanut Butter, and Banana pie masterpiece from Thanksgiving!)  The chocolate ganache worked magic with the strawberries on the side, and I felt like singing by the time I had devoured the sweet treat.  Angie was practically in love, and she downed her slice like the world was ending.  My mom was the only one who didn’t love it.  She thought it was a little rich, but she liked it for one bite.  Overall, “The King” was a huge hit in the second private dining room.

In all, I loved some things, and I didn’t love others.  But now that I have written it all down, I know I would gladly take a trip back to Tower 42.

*********

Tower 42

119 Culver Boulevard

Playa Del Rey, California 90293

Tel:  (310) 823-6800

tower-42.com

Facebook.com/tower42

 

Chef Jessica Jordan, FISHBAR Manhattan Beach: Past, Present, and Future

As a kid, Jessica Jordan took after her mother, a chef, and learned to love the kitchen at a young age.  Growing up, Jessica decided that cooking was a dream she wanted to pursue.  After going to the Art Institute of Santa Monica for two years, Jessica had her culinary school diploma and she set out to find a place to work. After putting the weight of cake decorating on her shoulders for years, Jessica moved to North End, a seaside restaurant in Hermosa Beach.  She began by only doing Wednesday night dinners, but she eventually took charge of some Monday night tapas as well.  Soon, chefs and customers alike were following the talented, young chef like crazy!  Jessica Jordan was a star!  And she deserved it too!

A Restaurant Established!Meanwhile, a man bought a big bar on Highland Avenue in Manhattan Beach.  He wanted to open a restaurant in the building, but he had no chefs.  Not surprisingly, the landlord heard about Jessica Jordan, so while he was thinking up hundreds of themes for his restaurant to be, he sent spies — watchful eyes, you might call them — to monitor Jessica’s incredible work like hawks.

Jessica knew the whole time that people were watching her and reporting to someone, but for what?  To who?  She didn’t know.  She just kept doing her best and pushing these visitors out of her mind.  A while later, the landlord walked up to her with a proposal.  He asked her to come be his Executive Chef!  After much thinking, Jessica took up his generous offer.

The landlord decided that FISHBAR was going to be in his building.  He wanted his bar/restaurant to be seafood-based!  And don’t get me wrong, Jessica loves seafood, but at first, everyone was a little shaky about the idea.  A fresh seafood place in an old Sharkeez building?  No one was sure, but Jessica came up with a menu anyway.  It consisted of not-too-pricey, but unbelievable dishes, and everyone’s thoughts were changed when business began.  People love FISHBAR, and soon lines were forming around the soon-to-be-famous restaurant.

**********

Chef Jessica JordanAs Jessica Jordan, Executive Chef of FISHBAR Manhattan Beach, told me her story, I listened with fascination.  I had never heard anything like that!  As I complimented Jessica on her phenomenal accomplishments, we started to get into her life now.  The same landlord that owns FISHBAR owns a place called Katella Deli in Orange County.  We talked about why she likes it there at FISHBAR and her favorite foods.  Her favorite dish at FISHBAR is her crispy fried chipotle calamari, and her favorite restaurants in the South Bay are Charlie’s in Redondo Beach and Gjelina’s in Venice.  She loves Mexican food and seafood.  We talked about other careers we would like to have.  Jessica told me: “Well, if I wasn’t a chef, I would be a food blogger.  It gives you the opportunity to eat, write, and travel.”

“I’d love to be a chef,” I told her, “but what I would also love to do is judge on a cooking reality show, like Food Network Challenge or Chopped.  I’d get to eat and compliment such good food,” I explained.  She nodded.

“Do you have any hobbies other than food blogging?” she questioned.

“I like to sing,” I told her with a smile.  She nodded again.

After I asked her pretty much every question I could think of, I thanked her for her time, and she drifted over to have lunch with the restaurant manager, Jacqueline Leanza.  “I’ll cook you up some of my favorite dishes.”  Soon afterward, crispy fried chipotle calamari was on the table.

An Amazing Suggestion“Yum!   I love that!  Maybe we will get crispy-fried calamari next time, instead of our usual sautéed calamari,”  I exclaimed to my mom.  She agreed.

“This is delicious, and so nice of Jessica,” Mom added.  Next, Jessica herself brought her sweet and sticky shrimp.  They were delicious beyond belief!  I’m telling you, Jessica Jordan is a chef you will want to check out.

I would like to thank Jessica Jordan for being so generous and giving her time to meet me!  We love FISHBAR, and I really enjoyed interviewing a chef like her!

 

FISHBAR Manhattan Beach

3801 Highland Avenue

Manhattan Beach, California 90266

Tel:  310-796-0200

www.fishbarmb.com

Twitter:  @FISHBARMB

Twitter:  @ChefJessicaJ

Restaurant Camp, Day 2: Decisions and a Tour

Kitchen Kid Campers!When I arrived at Kitchen Kid Camp for Day 2, Kylie rushed up to me with a smile on her cute little face.  “We’re going to be deciding our restaurants today!” she told me with excitement.  I smiled back.  I was so excited!

After lots of debating (at least a half hour), Leslie called out, “So I guess our winners are … a Filipino kitchen and a dessert bar!”  Wiley, Sabrina, and I were cheering for the fact that our idea had come out as a champion!  We split into groups to decide some concepts for our restaurant.

Kylie, Wiley, Sabrina, Joycie, and I were all in the “Sugar Coma” group.  Dylan wandered over, even though her sister and best friends were in the Filipino kitchen group.  “I figured that desserts would be more fun than a Filipino kitchen,” Dylan told us.  We were fine with that!  Caryn told Stella, Max, and Alex, who were undecided, to go to the Filipino kitchen, because they had fewer employees than us.

We started on a new list of ideas – good ideas.  Our instructor announced, “So here are our winners:  Name – Sugar Coma.  Theme – Hospital.  Menu – Chocolate Fondue, Peach Tarte Tartin, and Kitchen Kid-Style Canolis with Ice Cream.  Anything else?”

“Megan and I can design the menu and logo,” Dylan exclaimed.

“Sure!”

We got to work.  After lots of brainstorming, our final logo was a big red hospital cross with “Sugar Coma” written across it.  Three scoops of ice cream were piled next to the “A” in “Coma,” and a hospital heart rate monitor was strung across the bottom.  It looked just like this:

********

Listening to a Line Cook“Time to go to MB Post!” Caryn said as she rounded us up.  We were ready for a tour of this new, popular restaurant in Manhattan Beach.  When we got there, Chef Ray (MB Post’s talented soux chef) showed us around.  First, we met MB Post’s prep chef.  This chef cuts up all of the raw ingredients and, well, prepares every ingredient before they are combined and cooked.  Next, we met the pastry chef.  He was very creative with his dishes, and the wonton-like dessert he was making that moment looked irresistable.

“Did you go to cooking school?” I asked.

He replied, “Actually, I went to pastry school.”  I was intrigued by this.  I didn’t know that there was a culinary school other than chef’s school.

Then we walked through MB Post’s walk-in refrigerator.  It was cold and felt good.  There was so much fresh produce.  I saw shelves of fruits and vegetables that had to be from the farmer’s market that Chef Ray talked about later.

When we left the sweet-smelling, mouth-watering refrigerator, we took a seat in MB Post’s family-style dining room.  “Here, I am going to talk to you about decor, menus, and decisions, as I understand you are putting on your own restaurants on Friday,” Chef Ray explained.

“Mainly, our menu is designed with the focus of fresh, seasonal ingredients.  Here at MB Post, we produced dishes made of only the most ripe components.  We take pride in the sensational feeling that comes out of our food and our spirit, so we choose menu items that not just our diners will enjoy, but also foods that we chefs are passionate about.”

“As for decor,” he continued, “this building used to be a post office.  Here on the walls, we have paint marking parcels, air, etc.  We thought it would be great to intensely get into this building’s long history as a theme.  For your restaurants, I suggest thinking of a solid theme for your restaurant.”  (“Check,” I thought in my head, as I shared a smile with Sabrina.  We had a great theme in mind!)

“The decisions are harder,” Chef Ray went on.  “Deciding jobs, dealing with money, and getting business, for example.  You have to be precise with the way you work.  Make sure you listen to what your client’s want, as well as your fellow chefs.  Just stopping to look around at what needs to be done, and admiring what you have accomplished, can boost your confidence and give you inspiration.  Also, don’t forget to praise yourself whenever possible.  Think on the bright side,” he concluded.  “But right now, it is time for ice cream.”

Sundaes!Two line cooks brought out mini-sundaes.  We were so excited!  They looked very original and they tasted luscious!  They all had a decent amount of heavenly chocolate sauce and some black cherries on top.  What a great end to the tour!

After walking back to the Manhattan Beach Neptunian Ladies Club building, it was time to leave.  We had Wednesday off because of the Fourth of July, but I was so excited to return!

 

(Photos courtesy of Samantha Barnes, Founder of Kitchen Kid.  Thanks!)