Friday Food Bites: Brie and Truffle Oil Pizza from Venice Beach Wines

This might come as a surprise to you but Chris and I have been really, really bad about trying out new restaurants in Los Angeles. It's shameful to admit that in the last few months, we've probably only been indulging in one....maybe two meals a week out on the town. Between watching our spending and watching our weight thanks to our wedding day and European honeymoon quickly approaching, we've been reluctantly avoiding all of the tempting food lovers' heavens that surround us. 

But sometimes, we just have to let loose and live a little. Because we aren't getting any younger and because this city really does boast some exceptionally delicious eateries. Take for instance, Venice Beach Wines on the delightful Rose Avenue. Just a few blocks from the Santa Monica border, we can easily ride our bikes to the street that claims many delectable and diverse food options.

We've been to the gluttonous Superba Snack Bar more times than we can count. Hostaria Del Piccolo has been a solid go-to for pizza and pasta cravings. But we hadn't stepped foot into the hole in the wall known as Venice Beach Wines until last weekend. And how it impressed my palate so.

Nothing fancy. Super casual in fact. Mostly al fresco dining, this little spot has an extensive wine list and a small bites, sandwich, and cheese and charcuterie kinda menu that makes for quick selections. In fact, I think it took 20 seconds for me to decide. That never....ever happens. Lambwich, that's which. Curry rubbed rotisserie lamb, manchego, mint pesto, tomato and onion jam comes warm and melty and with all the flavor diversity one could ever hope for. It's actually pretty magical. And I will be ordering it again.

But that's not why I'm here today. While that sandwich does earn some of my highest praise, (especially for a sandwich category) it's the impeccably simple Brie and Truffle Oil Pizza that got my attention. From the beautiful dough that's nice and light with a picture-perfect twisted crust to the generous cuts of just slightly melted brie to the earthy sautéed mushrooms to the rich and harmonious truffle oil...it's quite decadent indeed. Oh, and I must mention, we added prosciutto...because one can never have enough prosciutto.

Normally I'd turn my nose at a pizza without a sauce. I'm also a snob for pizza made in a wood-burning oven, with that lovely charred crust. But this pizza needs no sauce or charred crust. It needs nothing more and nothing less. I even believe it'd be quite heavenly without the prosciutto addition.  Flawless in each and every way...if you live in the area, I'd highly recommend you order it today. 

Healthy and Easy Game Day Grub: Pesto Infused White Bean Hummus

I have a confession. I've never watched a Superbowl in its entirety. In fact, I don't recall a time when I've focused on the big game for more than 10 minutes... Oh wait. As I sit here typing about my indifference to one of America's most favorite days, I remembered. The Tampa Bay Bucs did make it to the Superbowl when I was a senior in high school. And I did watch that game. In its entirety. But I am positive that was the only exception.

Don't judge me...but I don't give a rats behind about professional football. I'm a college football fan through and through and I'm certain that will never change. Thankfully, my fiance shares my sentiments. Yes ladies, it's okay to be jealous. I don't have to deal with all that obnoxious "hoot'n hollerin' on Sundays and Mondays. He will never need a "man cave" either. (I really hope I don't jinx that)

But I freaking love Superbowl Sunday. Because while I don't care about the game, I get to behave like an absolute glutton and no one will question it. Buffalo wings, crunchy potato chips with French onion dip, sub sandwich platters, and fried God knows what...it sure does suit my palate's fancy. Sometimes it's that kinda food that makes me happy. Food that's tried and true and just about as American as it gets.

Problem is, I'm kind of on a wedding diet this year. In case you didn't know, I'm tying the knot in just a couple of months. Before that, I'll be flaunting my stuff in Puerto Rico with my closest girlfriends. So this petite bod is not allowed to be plump. That means no fried goodness for me. Even the occasional "cheat day" wouldn't allow me all the game day grub I'd normally consume. 

So today I'm bringing you a healthy game day food alternative. Something that won't make you regret all those bad eating decisions on Monday. Something that still boasts tons of flavor and is actually, quite addicting. Something that's also insanely easy to prepare.

Pesto Infused White Bean Hummus. It's smooth and creamy with one kick ass bite from the homemade pesto. It's also refreshing too, since my pesto contains a bit of mint and the hummus boasts a nice zing from the lemon. 

Happy Superbowl...but more importantly, Happy Eating!

Pesto Infused White Bean Hummus

Ingredients:

1 can organic cannellini (white kidney) beans

2-3 tablespoons Pesto (recipe below or store-bought is fine)

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon lemon juice

salt and pepper

Directions:

1) Combine all of the ingredients except for the pesto into a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Add more olive oil if needed.

2) Add a tablespoon of pesto and pulse 2-3 times.

3) Spoon into a small serving bowl and create a well in the middle. Pour the rest of the pesto in the well and top with a few pine nuts.

4) Serve with carrots, celery, pita chips, etc.

5) Enjoy!!!

 

Basil and Mint Pesto:

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons pine nuts

1 garlic clove

salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add more olive oil if needed.


Friday Food Bites: Bay Cities Italian Deli's Famous Godmother Sandwich: My Review

I hate to sound like a snob...but when I heard word of the famous Godmother sandwich from Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica, I wasn't impressed. Sure, the sandwich sounds tasty - layers of Italian meats, cheeses, and a delightful relish of peppers, onions, and crunchy lettuce all stuffed between two slices of freshly made crusty Italian bread. What's not to love? But, haven't we all feasted on sandwiches much like this one before? Like many, many times before? Truthfully, the so-called "best sandwich in L.A." didn't sound the least bit unique. 

But we can't all be fancy. And you know what? Sometimes those tried and true kinda recipes live on...and...on...and...on for good reason.

So...I had to try it. And it had better live up to its name.

After waiting in a 30-minute long line for one of the sandwiches everyone and their mother in Santa Monica rank supreme, I finally got to the counter to place my order. "One Godmother to go." For there wasn't a seat in the house. This place stays slammed. You'd think they were giving away the sandwiches for free.

No substitutions? No problem. For I'm down with all of its Italian ingredients. Genoa salami, Mortadella Cappacola, Ham, Prosciutto, and provolone made to order with “The Works” (mayo, mustard, onions, pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, house made Italian dressing, and pickled hot or mild peppers) - it all sounds rather satisfying to me.

Paper-wrapped and rolled I could still smell the deli aromas on my 10-minute drive home. While I wasn't exactly ravenous, I did find myself salivating a bit as I thought about taking a large bite out of the massive meat and cheese filled beast.

Within seconds of walking through my door, I unwrapped the Godmother and took a big bite. And to my surprise, it kinda sorta lived up to the hype. I wouldn't dare say it's the best sandwich in all of L.A. but its flavors and textures are pretty solid for a splurge meal on a Saturday.

The bread boasts a deliciously crunchy exterior with a perfectly soft and salty interior. The various meats all compliment one another with tastes of spicy, peppery, and slightly sweet. The sandwich veggies add their own something special to the party too with a little bit of crunch and a little bit of heat. Let's not forget about the impeccably portioned mayo and mustard spread either. Keeping the sandwich ever so moist, the condiments also harmonize so beautifully with the other sandwich ingredients.

While I'll still stand by my opinion that this sandwich isn't exactly unique, it is, well, pretty damn tasty indeed. Following classic Italian sandwich rules, Bay Cities does kick it up a notch with delectable freshly-made bread and of course, some tender, love, and care given to each and every sandwich.

Is there a famous sandwich shop where you live? Does it live up to the hype?