Everything I ate (and drank) on a Princess Cruise

I don’t know about you, but for years I resisted taking a cruise. One of the reasons is because, as a chronic dieter, I feared I’d gain too much weight. I had visions of me sunning on the pool deck while simultaneously stuffing my face with all-you-can-eat EVERYTHING. Frankly, the thought of multiple, unlimited buffet stations and countless cocktails (while confined on a ship) just freaked me out.

Writing about food and travel is my chosen profession, so I’ll always have to watch my waistline. Before I started eating low carb (at home) and got serious about my fitness tracker, I was gaining about five pounds a year. That all stopped when I started walking 10,000 steps, at minimum, per day and cut carbs from home meals. When I eat OUT, I try to eat low carb (when I can) and it’s a balancing act that, thankfully, stopped the annual weight gain.

In my home kitchen I stock no sugar, sweets, white bread, rice, pasta or potatoes. That old “out of sight and out of mind” mantra definitely works when I cook and eat at home. But out on the open sea, on a large cruise ship, with thousands of strangers and endless food options tempting me? SHEER PANIC.

But here’s the thing. When I went on my first cruise (with Princess Cruises) last year, I ate A LOT and surprise, surprise… I didn’t gain ONE pound. It probably helped that I was traveling with my sister Janet, who is a super fit health nut. Even though I didn’t work out at the gym with her everyday, I still got extra steps in by walking as much as I could while on board. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t suddenly go mad and run with my sister as she took the stairs UP to Aloha deck 12, but I did skip the elevators going DOWN and surpassed my 10,000 steps goal each day.

PHOTOS: Everything I ate and drank on a four night Princess Cruise (and didn’t gain weight)!


Welcome champagne awaited us in our cabin. Plus we brought a bottle of Prosecco. Cheers!


Lunch (buffet) on the deck. LowCARBish. Slaw, prosciutto, meatballs, fried scallops, brisket, beef, sweet & sour pork.


Fried scallops. I thought they were tater tots. These were way better.


Back to the buffet line.


Roasts for miles. Also, low carb happiness.


Wine on the top deck as we left the harbor.


It’s always happy hour on a cruise right?


Tempura Prawn in spicy sweet chili sauce. Happy hour (media meet & greet) at The Crooners Bar.


Chicken Lollipops with sesame. Happy hour (media meet & greet) at The Crooners Bar.


Wild Mushroom Sauté w portobello & shitaki mushrooms, crispy poached egg, oregano smoked scamorza, truffle garlic puree and lemon zest. Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastropub by Chef Ernesto Uchimura.


Charred Asparagus and Toasted Haloumi cheese, greens, vinaigrette. Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastropub by Chef Ernesto Uchimura.


Pale Ale Pork Cheeks, cauliflower polenta, roasted leeks and thyme apple puree. Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastropub by Chef Ernesto Uchimura.


Lobster Mac & Cheese, aged cheddar, gruyere and parmesan, truffled cream, crispy crumble. Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastropub by Chef Ernesto Uchimura.


Lemon Posset with pistachio crunch. Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastropub by Chef Ernesto Uchimura. The Salty Dog Menu. Just one bite. I don’t have a sweet tooth.


Sipping a vodka soda at the Salty Dog. Just times this by two each evening. Dinner at the Salty Dog Gastropub by Chef Ernesto Uchimura.


Unlimited Bacon. My heart was racing… I had to pace myself. On board breakfast buffet.


Breakfast carbs. I went for a slice of whole grain. And more bacon. On board breakfast buffet.


More options. I chose smoked salmon over French toast… and more bacon. On board breakfast buffet.


Late breakfast by the pool. My sister Janet’s breakfast to the left. Juice, muesli, egg white, fruit. Obviously mine is to the right! On board breakfast buffet.


Round one included bacon, sausage, eggs, corned beef hash, smoked salmon and whole wheat toast. On board breakfast buffet.


My adorable sister Janet.


Serve yourself poached pears at the buffet. Fancy (and a nice afternoon snack). On board buffet.


Charcuterie: Jamon Iberico, Salami Finocchiona at SHARE Restaurant by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Chicken Liver Parfait at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Little Gems, Pickled Pearl Onion, Oro Blanco, Nasturtium Pesto at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Shrimp Salad, Lemon Gel, Turnip, Citrus Salt, Brioche at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Butter Poached Lobster, Caramelized Endive, Endive Foam at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Cavatelli, Beets, Castelmagno, Sun Choke, Brussel Sprout at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Potato Gratin, Truffles, Cream at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess). Side dish shared at the table.


Roasted Alaskan King Crab Tagilatelle, Chili, Parsley at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Beef Cheek Pie, Porcini Mushrooms, Buttery Pastry at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Roast Turbot White Fish Gratine, Gruyere Crumb, White Vermouth, Mushroom Duxelles at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Shaft Blue Cheese, Crab Apple Mustard, Chestnut Cracker at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess).


Tarte Au Citron Vert, Raspberry, Granola, Meringue at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess). Just one bite.


Dark Chocolate Cremeux, Toasted Hazelnut Feuilletine, Burnt Vanilla Ice Cream at SHARE by Curtis Stone (on board The Ruby Princess). Again, just one bite. More photos of SHARE Restaurant here.


There’s a Pizza and Ice Cream bar on board!! Lines were long, but I waited (for pizza). Hand-tossed and cooked on deck. It was far from my cabin so extra steps. HA!


Buffet brunch on board. My sister’s salad to the left. My egg and meat fest to the right.

Crown Grill, Ruby Princess (Sep 2016)
Dinner on board at The Crown Grill Restaurant (premium seafood and chop house). Photos were difficult (so dark). Black Tiger Prawn & Papaya Salpicon, with Mustard Seed Aioli. Grill Salad with Mesclun Greens, Roasted Bell Peppers, Hass Avocado and Grape Balsamic Dressing.


Pan-Seared Pacific Scallops with Fennel, Celery and Spring Onion Slaw Golden Delicious Dressing & Moroccan Glaze. Spiny Lobster Cake (ball), Tarragon Foam, Cured Olives, Grilled Asparagus on board at the Crown Grill.


STEAKS! I tried both the filet mignon and New York strip steak. The Crown Grill (on board The Ruby Princess).


Desserts on board at the Crown Grill. This was shared with several people. Lemon Meringue Pudding, Tart with Macadamia Nut Shortbread White Chocolate Tuile, S’mores Stack.


Early morning room service (before excursion) on board.


Room service breakfast sandwich on board. Excursion tender (boat) in background. I skipped the muffins.


First stop on our Cruise Excursion to Santa Barbara was Buttonwood Winery in nearby Solvang.


We started with Buttonwood Sauv Blanc at Buttonwood Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Solvang.


Goat Cheese at Buttonwood Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Solvang.


Cucumber, Avocado, Jalapeños, Scallions, Cilantro, Yogurt Chilled Soup at Buttonwood Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Solvang.


Santa Maria Trip Tip Sandwiches at Buttonwood Winery. Ate the meat, left the bread. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Solvang.  More photos of Buttonwood winery here.


At Sunstone Winery we started with Chardonnay. Cruise Excursion to Santa Barbara.


Foie Gras Mousse Tarts w Tomato, Strawberry Jam & Pistachio at Sunstone Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez.


Pork Belly Sliders with cumin & cinnamon with apple, fennel relish and baby arugula at Sunstone Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez. Pork fest.


Blackened Seared Ahi tuna, Sticky Rice Cake at Sunstone Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez.


Seafood Spring Rolls at Sunstone Winery. Cruise Excursion: Wine Tasting in Santa Ynez. So much fun! More photos of Sunstone Winery here.


Shrimp Tacos at Tacos Marco Antonio. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour. Indulge time. I ATE all the tortillas and tacos today.


“Ramses Especial” Breaded fish fillet with shrimp and chipotle cream at Tacos Marco Antonio. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Crab tacos at Tacos Marco Antonio. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Agua Fresca (I had the horchata) at Tacos Marco Antonio. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour. More photos of Tacos Marco Antonio here.


Sea Snail Ceviche with slices of sea snail (Ceviche De Caracol Con Lajas De Caracol) at La Guerrerense & Sabina. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Sea Urchin Ceviche with Clam on top (Ceviche De Erizo Con Alma) at La Guerrerense & Sabina. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Cerveza at La Guerrerense & Sabina. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour. More La Guerrerense photos here.


Santo Tomas Wine Tasting. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


San Aura Vino Reserva Experimental Rosado, Grenache, Santo Tomas Wine Tasting. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Alisio Reserva Vino Blanco, Chardonnay, Santo Tomas Wine Tasting. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Fiery salsa and chips at Restaurante 645. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour.


Chile Relleno and Tacos at Restaurante 645. Cruise Excursion: Ensenada, Mexico Food Tour. Quite a day in Ensenada!


Still hungry? Me too. Let’s go!

This media trip was paid for by Princess Cruises.
Culinary Cruise, September 26-30, 2016. The ship departed from Los Angeles and made stops in Santa Barbara and Ensenada. Info: Dining on Princess Cruise’s Ruby Princess

Thinking about taking a Princess Cruises cruise? Read about my first day on board.

Guest Blog Post –  Diary of a Princess (Cruise).

Princess Cruises on twitterinstagramfacebook.

Video – The Ruby Princess.

More information on Princess Cruises:

Princess Cruise News (including the debut of Ocean Medallion).

Princess Cruise Teen & Youth Centers

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Wee Haggis Bites!


I love haggis. Never had haggis? Well, it’s an acquired taste for sure. I hated haggis as a kid but eventually learned to like it, love it even!

In case you’re new to the blog, I’m half Scottish (Clan Maxwell), and half Okinawan. My father and stepmum live near Glasgow in a village called Bridge of Weir. I visit them in Scotland regularly and the first meal home always includes haggis.

From the Visit Scotland website:

Haggis is a type of sausage or savoury pudding that combines meat with oatmeal, onions, salt and spices. Often served with mashed neeps and tatties (that’s Scots for turnip and potatoes), haggis is traditionally cooked in a sheep’s stomach – a historic way of preserving meat – but most haggis nowadays is sold and cooked in a synthetic sausage casing.

Made largely from oatmeal, haggis has a soft, moist, crumbly texture – similar to stuffing – while the earthiness of the oats and meat combine with salt and spices to give the dish a spicy, rustic flavour with a peppery kick – delicious!

Each January 25th, Scots celebrate Burns Night with haggis. If you’re not Scottish, you may not have heard of the poet Robert Burns, but you probably know Auld Lang Syne, a poem he wrote in 1788. Think about New Year’s Eve at midnight. Champagne popping, you’re hugging your significant other, lips coming together and suddenly someone starts singing (at least in my circle) “Should old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind?”…. Yup, the lyrics (poem) is a Burns original. He was quite a character and a real ladies man. Read more about him here.

I celebrate Burns Night here in Los Angeles to keep connected to my family in Scotland, plus it can be quite the raucous party if you find the right pub! Music, whisky, dancing and pipes, LOTS of bagpipesDeep-fried bangers, mashed potatoes and heaps of haggis soak up all the booze. Like I said, it’s quite the party! And of course there’s the traditional reading of Burns with an “address to a haggis“.

Want to celebrate Burns Night but not into the pub/bar scene? You can cook up an easy celebration at home. I made Wee Haggis Bites (“Baby Burns”) a couple of years ago. I was inspired by this simple recipe by Macsween Scotland (my dad’s favorite brand). If you can’t find haggis at a local British shop, you can order it on Amazon. Still can’t find haggis but want to try this recipe? Grab a can of roast beef or corned beef hash instead. I know, I KNOW… it won’t replicate the intense offal flavor of haggis of course, but the celebration will be just as fun. Slàinte!

Photos: Wee Haggis Bites (Baby Burns)

Veg for
Baby potatoes, turnips and carrots. Tossed in olive oil then roasted in 450º oven for about 20 minutes. You want the carrots and turnips soft enough to mash.  Macsween recipe here.

Making
Turnip and carrots mashed. Potato ready to cut & fill with haggis. See Macsween recipe here.


Wee Haggis Bite: Baby potatoes stuffed with haggis, topped with mashed turnips, carrots and garnished with scallions. I added Whisky Cream Sauce but these were actually really delicious without the sauce. I just wanted more whisky I guess! Again, the original Macsween recipe is here.

Ziggy Stardust & Scotch!
My Ziggy Stardust and Scotch whisky.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
We always end Burns Night with a bit of Sticky Toffee Pudding. If you live in the San Fernando Valley, you can pick it up at Piccadilly British Shop in Burbank. Call ahead if it’s close to January 25th as they may run out before Burns Night. Here’s a recipe if you want to try making it. Enjoy!

About Haggis

Robert Burns: 16 Little Known Facts

About Burns Night

6 Great Burns Night Recipes With A Twist

Family Photos – Scotland

Macsween’s Baby Burns Recipe

Whisky Cream Sauce Recipe

SCOTLAND

I’m a huge OUTLANDER fan. Photos from my visit to locations in Scotland.

Originally posted January 2016

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Russ & Daughters NY


“100 years, 4 generations and 1,800,000 pounds of pickled herring” refers to one of my favorite documentaries, The Sturgeon Queens. The film is about the family behind Russ & Daughters, the beloved New York institution. In the early 1900s, Joel Russ got his start selling schmaltz herring out of a barrel to Eastern European Jews on the Lower East Side.

I don’t want to share too much of the story here, because The Sturgeon Queens really is worth watching. This heartwarming film is directed by Julie Cohen and you can rent or purchase The Sturgeon Queen’s on iTunes here. Watch the trailer below.

Joel Russ’ great grandchildren, Josh Russ Tupper and Niki Russ Lederman (cousins), took over the business in 2009, and in 2014 (the 100th anniversary) they opened Russ & Daughters Cafe.

Russ and Daughter’s Cafe is such an adored spot for locals and visitors alike. Unless you get there before they open, you’ll (most likely) be waiting quite awhile for a table. I went this past June and again this month (photos below) and it’s so very worth it!

If you’re planning on visiting Russ & Daughters (or the shop nearby), and haven’t seen The Sturgeon Queens, do watch the movie before you go. It will absolutely make you appreciate every bite.

Anthony Bourdain said: “Russ & Daughters occupies that rare and tiny place on the mountaintop reserved for those who are not just the oldest and the last—but also the best.”


Getting in line (June 2016). This trip was a “girls trip” with my good friend Jenn. All our NY photos tagged on instagram with #JoJennNY.


On our most recent trip, we got to the cafe an hour before they opened (Sep 2016). Still, we were SECOND in line. This September trip was an early 60th birthday fest for my husband Peter. Jenn joined us for the food-filled celebration. Photos tagged on instagram with #PPP60.


The cafe opened in 2014 but the decor is beautifully retro. The shelves are similar to the originals in the shop (Russ & Daughter’s Appetizers).


On holiday? Taking the day off? Definitely order the cocktails for some epic day drinking. On both my visits I ordered the super, refreshing “Lower East Side” (top right). It’s made with Tanqueray gin, lime, dill and cucumber. Top left is a ginger soda with gin that Jenn ordered (off menu). Hubby Peter ordered the “Breakfast Martini” made with Beefeater gin, jam, lemon juice, egg white, Pernod Absinthe and Angostura Bitters.


Sturgeon eggs & onion w salad, Lox & bagel, Super Heebster (our favorite) with whitefish, salmon, wasabi-infused roe, horseradish dill cream cheese.


Closeup: Super Heebster Bagel with whitefish, salmon, wasabi-infused roe, horseradish dill cream cheese.


Going in.


Walking past the cafe kitchen.


Hubby Peter so happy (Sep 2016)!


Jenn with owner Nikki (from our June 2016 visit).


Don’t forget to grab your Hopjes when you get your bill. Bonus: If Becca is your server… it’s your lucky day!

Russ & Daughters Cafe Website

Russ & Daughters Appetizers (Shop)

Russ & Daughters on Twitter

Sturgeon Queen’s Documentary Trailer

The Sturgeon Queen’s Documentary Website

The Sturgeon Queen’s on iTunes

All my Russ & Daughters Photos

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Churrasco + Spicy Herb Sauce


My husband Peter and I love grilled skirt steak and we eat it several times a month. The beef is so flavorful that it really doesn’t NEED a marinade, and it cooks up quickly on the grill or stovetop.

Skirt steak is usually so much cheaper than rib eye or filet mignon, and (in my humble opinion) it tastes better than those more expensive cuts.

Churrasco is (according to Dictionary.com), “a South American method of grilling meat on a wood or charcoal fire, especially in Argentina and Brazil.” The Spanish word churrascar means “to scorch or singe.”

Luckily for us, we have an Argentinian restaurant just up the street, and since we try to eat low carb at home, it’s our “go to” take out dinner when we’re working late.

However, I love it best when Peter and I cook steak together, especially on the weekends when he has time to tend to the hot fire. I do the prep work and mix cocktails while he’s grilling.

Churrasco-Style Skirt Steak & Spicy Herb Sauce:

First, make the herb sauce.

Spicy Herb Sauce Ingredients:
3/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup jalapeño chilies (I like it SPICY)
1 small white onion, chopped
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups fresh parsley leaves (packed)
2 cups fresh cilantro with stems (packed)
1 cup stemmed fresh mint leaves (packed)

To make herb sauce, add all ingredients to a blender and mix until smooth. Cover and chill while you’re grilling the steak.

Grilled Skirt Steak:
2-3 lb. skirt steak (I cut steak to fit grill or pan)
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil

To make the steak:

Bring steak to room temperature before cooking.

Heat your grill to medium-high or heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat.

I like to add oil the actual piece of steak, then add salt and pepper to both sides.

Grill the steaks (turning once), about 6 minutes for medium rare, depending on thickness.

Rest the steaks for at least five minutes before serving with the spicy herb sauce or make a classic chimichurri.

If you want to cut the meat before serving, make sure you cut AGAINST the grain.

Photo above: Skirt steak with spicy herb sauce, avocado with fresh chilies and a quick salad I made with purple cabbage, kale, radish, onions and lime vinaigrette.

Use leftover herb sauce to top eggs, quesadillas or grilled veggies.

If you don’t want to try my spicy herb sauce, here’s a recipe for classic Chimichurri sauce.

Thanks Dictionary.com, for letting me choose Word of the Day!
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Brown Butter Rum Cake


A classic rum cake is one of my husband Peter’s favorite treats. I make it for him at least once a year, which is pretty much the only time I make a dessert at home. I’m just not into sweet things, except for my husband of course!

Last year I changed it up and made the rum cake a bit more savory by adding brown butter at the end. It really helped to balance out the sugary cake and even I enjoyed the salty-sweet flavor. If you’ve never made brown butter, here’s a video by Kitchn. It’s a terrific (and simple) cooking tip to have on hand, as the nutty flavor really makes almost anything better. I’ve drizzled it on everything from steak to veggies, and Peter regularly makes brown butter eggs on the weekends.

After making the rum cake (recipe here), just slowly pour the warm brown butter on top of the rum glaze. Note: I used an entire stick of salted butter in the photo above. It was definitely “carb worthy” and a decadent treat.

More photos of my Brown Butter Rum Cake here.

Classic Rum Cake Recipe

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Mind of a Chef, Starring Ludo!


I am BEYOND thrilled that my friend Ludo Lefebvre will be featured on season 5 of Mind of a Chef (MOAC), one of my very favorite shows. If you love cooking, travel and the science of food, definitely plan to tune in or check out past episodes on the official site. MOAC is narrated by Anthony Bourdain, who stars in Parts Unknown another favorite show of mine.

I first met Ludo back in 2009 when he and his wife Krissy started the popup restaurant craze called LudoBites. Over the years, I’ve joined him in the kitchen, on the job and he’s even spent time in my home kitchen for family dinners. In fact, my entire family adores Ludo (and his wife Krissy). We shared many, many fun nights at various LudoBites and continue to support every venture.

Ludo’s restaurants in Los Angeles include Trois FamiliaPetit TroisTrois Mec and Ludo Bird. Perhaps you’ve seen Ludo on television? His TV stints include The TasteLudo Bites AmericaNo Reservations, and more. Still not familiar with the incredibly talented and handsome French chef? Read his bio here.

Last weekend a group of us original LudoBites fans were invited to a reunion of sorts, to tape an episode for Mind of a Chef. We gathered at Ludo’s home and reminisced about the good old days, which included TASTING those memories as well. As we stood around Ludo’s gourmet kitchen, he cooked up old favorites from his LudoBites Cookbook. Look for the episode on the next season of Mind of a Chef.


Chef Ludo and his wife Krissy greeting us in their beautiful kitchen.


Not your grandmother’s pasta. Chef Ludo’s squid pasta.


Squid Pad Thai by Chef Ludo Lefebvre. Recipe on page 264 in LudoBites Cookbook.


Chef Ludo plating his ham sandwich soup (seriously).


Ham Sandwich Soup by Chef Ludo Lefebvre. Recipe on page 164 of LudoBites Cookbook.


Chef Ludo slicing tuna.


Besides the tuna, Ludo also prepped foie gras, tobiko fish eggs and lychees for the next dish.


Mayo, tobiko and Sambal sauce too.


Chef Ludo searing the foie gras.


Blow torch action (mayo, tobiko and Sambal sauce)… almost done… it’s so worth the wait!


Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s Hot Foie Gras Dynamite with Raw Tuna, Lychee and Cracker Puree. Recipe on page 224 of LudoBites Cookbook.


Vadouvan is a French curry spice mix (Ludo makes his own). The first time I tried it was at LudoBites, so I was pleased to see him cooking with it for the reunion.


Butter with monkfish.


Monkfish being plated with veg.


Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s Monkfish, Légumes de la Jardinière with Vadouvan. The recipe is on page 175 of the LudoBites Cookbook.


Panna Cotta and Caviar… for dessert??


YES, yes, a thousand times yes! This is one of Ludo’s best creations (in my opinion). A salty-sweet perfect ending to a super fun day. Crème Fraîche Panna Cotta, Caramel and Caviar. The recipe is on page 301 of the LudoBites Cookbook.


LudoBites fans forever! Left to right: KevinDiana, Will, Josh, myself, Esther.

Huge thanks to ZPZ and Mind of a Chef for such a magical day!

About Chef Ludo

About Mind of a Chef

Live Mind of a Chef blog about our day with Ludo

Mind of a Chef on Facebook

Follow Chef Ludo on twitter @ChefLudo

Follow Mind of a Chef on twitter @MindofaChef

Follow Zero Point Zero Productions on twitter @ZPZproduction

Follow Anthony Bourdain on twitter @Bourdain

Mind of a Chef website

Ludo’s website

More Ludo Photos

Already a fan of Chef Ludo? I tweet daily Ludo news over at @LudoBitches! Nice mention in his cookbook here.

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Low Carb Jalapeños Pops


This simple recipe is adapted from the Inn At The Crossroads (Game of Thrones) website.

To make them low carb I used ground pork rinds instead of cornflakes and skipped the milk.

Pork rinds are a staple in my low carb kitchen, and I even keep extra bags in the freezer. Anytime a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, I just use the pork rinds instead.

Ingredients:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (8 ounce) package shredded cheese (whatever you like)
1 onion, minced
1 tsp ground garlic salt
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
15 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and halved lengthwise
2 cups ground pork rinds (Have a full bag ready as this depends how fine you blitz them)
Crushed red peppers (I used ghost peppers)
A few leaves of chopped parsley for garnish
Olive oil cooking spray (optional)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line with foil.
In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, shredded cheese, onion, and spices. Stuff jalapeño halves with the mixture.
Gently top each piece with enough ground pork rinds to cover.
Spray with olive oil (for crispier crumb)……
Bake in for 30 minutes, or until filling is bubbly and the top is lightly browned.
Add crushed peppers and parsley before serving.

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List of 40 low carb foods (I keep this bookmarked for carb counting).

Recipe adapted from Inn At The Crossroads

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Love Me Some Love Boat

I was a HUGE fan of the show Love Boat as a kid. Oh the stories of travel, romance and the fabulous guest stars. Sure, I look back and it’s so goofy NOW, but how I wanted to BE the Love Boat captain’s daughter, Vicki Stubing (Jill Whelan). We were about the same age, and I sometimes fantasized about Captain Stubing being my dad too.

Princess Cruises Media EventWhen Andy Warhol (my favorite artist) guest starred on Love Boat in the mid 80s, I threw a cruise-themed party with life preservers and faux Warhol prints pasted on the walls. I met Warhol in 1986, during a birthday trip to New York, which was absolutely a dream come true.

Over the years I did a lot of traveling, including expeditions and safaris when I worked for a wildlife photographer in the early 90s. No luxury cruises though, until last weekend, well sort of.

Princess Cruises held a media day to launch new restaurant menus on the HUGE Ruby Princess ship, which was docked in San Pedro. My good friend Jenn Harris (Deputy Food Editor, L.A. Times), invited me along for the all-day affair. Check out her L.A. Times article here.

The “Come Back New” preview (#ComeBackNew on social media) included lunch (photos below) in Curtis Stone’s new onboard restaurant called SHARE. You may know Curtis from his award-winning, impossible-to-reserve restaurant, Maude, in Beverly Hills. Or from his stint as the host of Top Chef Masters. Besides the signature restaurant, the cruise line will also feature his “Crafted by Curtis” menu items on other ships in the fleet.

We also checked out the Salty Dog Gastropub and got a taste of Ernesto Uchimura’s new gourmet burger (photos below). He brings some seriously mad skills to the table. Ernesto helped develop the original Umami Burger and runs several Plan Check Kitchen & Bars throughout L.A.

Besides experiencing a taste of the cruise life, I also got to fulfill another childhood dream. Actress Jill Whelan (that’s right, the Love Boat star) was on board as a Princess Cruises “celebrations ambassador”. I may have geeked out. She looks great doesn’t she?

Planning a Princess Cruise soon? Lucky you. Details about the #ComeBackNew campaign here.

Princess Cruises Media Event
The main SHARE dining room.


Curtis Stone’s SHARE Menu


Charcuterie Platter: Jamon iberico, Salami Finocchiona, Chicken Liver Parfait, House Pickles


Shrimp Salad: Lemon Gel, Turnip, Citrus, Salt, Brioche


Tagliatelle: Roasted Alaskan King Crab, Chili, Parsley


Roast Turbot White Fish Gratine: Gruyere Crumb, White Vermouth, Mushroom Duxelles


Braised Kale, Smoked Ham, Crispy Shallots


Potato Gratin: Truffles, Cream


Beef Cheek Pie: Porcini Mushrooms, Buttery Pastry


Twice Cooked Duck: Fennel, Bacon Jus, Parmesan Crumb


Chef Curtis Stone meets the media


Chef Curtis Stone with my friend Jenn Harris (I made her take the photo).


Desserts by Norman Love. His flight was delayed so the ship’s chefs were on hand to talk chocolate.


Chef Ernesto Uchimura


The “Ernesto” Burger: Fresh ground ribeye and short rib patty, grilled pork belly, cave-aged gruyere, caramelized kimchi, beer battered jalapeño, charred onion aioli, smoked salt on a brioche bun!


Tasting portion of the Ernesto burger and killer truffle-parmesan fries.

Princess Cruises Official Website

All my photos from the Princess Cruises Media Event Here

Curtis Stone Official Website

Ernesto Uchimura Bio

More details about the event> L.A. Times (by Jenn Harris)

Follow @Jenn_Harris_ on twitter

Event Date: 1/24/16

 

Wee Haggis Bites

Sweet Maxie in his wee kilt last yearI love this photo of my sweet Maxie. This was his kilt for Burns Night last year. Sadly, he past away recently, so I’ve been going through lots of photos for a shrine, I mean scrapbook.

If you follow me on instagram, you’ve seen the hashtag #LoveBugMaxie, where I shared photos of his wonderfully pampered life and also a bit of his struggles. His knee replacement last year was a big commitment of time, money (two surgeries) and love. He was worth every penny and I was so happy he got to run again before he passed away. This photo of him in his tiny kilt (with sporran!) just warms my heart.

In case you’re new to the blog, I’m half Scottish (Clan Maxwell), and half Okinawan. My father and stepmum live near Glasgow in a village called Bridge of Weir. I visit them in Scotland regularly and the first meal home always includes haggis.

Never had it? Well, it’s an acquired taste for sure. I hated haggis as a kid but eventually learned to like it, love it even! From the Visit Scotland website:
Haggis is a type of sausage or savoury pudding that combines meat with oatmeal, onions, salt and spices. Often served with mashed neeps and tatties (that’s Scots for turnip and potatoes), haggis is traditionally cooked in a sheep’s stomach – a historic way of preserving meat – but most haggis nowadays is sold and cooked in a synthetic sausage casing.

Made largely from oatmeal, haggis has a soft, moist, crumbly texture – similar to stuffing – while the earthiness of the oats and meat combine with salt and spices to give the dish a spicy, rustic flavour with a peppery kick – delicious!

Each January 25th, Scots celebrate Burns Night with haggis. If you’re not Scottish, you may not have heard of the poet Robert Burns, but you probably know Auld Lang Syne, a poem he wrote in 1788. Think about New Year’s Eve at midnight. Champagne popping, you’re hugging your significant other, lips coming together and suddenly someone starts singing (at least in my circle) “Should old acquaintances be forgot and never brought to mind?”…. Yup, the lyrics (poem) is a Burns original. He was quite a character and a real ladies man. Read more about him here.

I celebrate Burns Night here in Los Angeles to keep connected to my dad, plus it can be quite the raucous party if you find the right pub! Music, whisky, dancing and pipes, LOTS of bagpipesDeep-fried bangers, mashed potatoes and heaps of haggis soak up all the booze. Like I said, it’s quite the party! And of course there’s the traditional reading of Burns with an “address to a haggis“.

Want to celebrate Burns Night but not into the pub/bar scene? You can cook up an easy celebration at home. I made Wee Haggis Bites (“Baby Burns”) last year. I was inspired by this simple recipe by Macsween Scotland (my dad’s favorite brand). If you can’t find haggis at a local British shop, you can order it on Amazon. Still can’t find haggis but want to try this recipe? Grab a can of roast beef or corned beef hash instead. I know, I KNOW… it won’t replicate the intense offal flavor of haggis of course, but the celebration will be just as fun. Slàinte!

Photos: Wee Haggis Bites (Baby Burns)

Veg for "Baby Burns" Haggis
Baby potatoes, turnips and carrots. Tossed in olive oil then roasted in 450º oven for about 20 minutes. You want the carrots and turnips soft enough to mash.  Macsween recipe here.

Making "Baby Burns" Haggis
Turnip and carrots mashed. Potato ready to cut & fill with haggis. See Macsween recipe here.

"Baby Burns" Haggis
Wee Haggis Bite: Baby potatoes stuffed with haggis, topped with mashed turnips, carrots and garnished with scallions. I added Whisky Cream Sauce but these were actually really delicious without the sauce. I just wanted more whisky I guess! Again, the original Macsween recipe is here.

Ziggy Stardust & Scotch!
My Ziggy Stardust and Scotch whisky. Speaking of whisky.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
We always end Burns Night with a bit of Sticky Toffee Pudding. If you live in the San Fernando Valley, you can pick it up at Piccadilly British Shop in Burbank. Call ahead if it’s close to January 25th as they may run out before Burns Night.

About Haggis

Robert Burns: 16 Little Known Facts

About Burns Night

6 Great Burns Night Recipes With A Twist

Family Photos – Scotland

Macsween’s Baby Burns Recipe

Whisky Cream Sauce Recipe

SCOTLAND

I’m a huge OUTLANDER fan. Photos from my visit to locations in Scotland.

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Locol Watts (Opens Jan 18)

Locol is a new fast food eatery by chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson. I attended a friends and family preview tasting with my good pal Kate Krader over the weekend, and we were both blown away.

Locol, WattsI could go on and on about how it’s a much healthier version of fast food. Or how the price points are kept low so locals can actually afford to eat there. Or wax poetic on how the new Watts location is invigorating the entire neighborhood. All absolutely true (listen to Roy talk about all that here).

Instead I want to talk about how freaking good the food tasted. How shocked I felt that it didn’t taste “overly healthy”. How I’d happily chow down on a burg (aka burger) or a foldie (aka taco) after a night of partying.

That’s right, Locol is legit STONER FOOD. Also, it may just be the most delicious, hangover-preventive eats ever! If you know me at all (or follow me on social media), you know I love my Taco Bell and have a peculiar weakness for the glory that is Horsey Sauce. The fact that Locol is actually HEALTHY is just a secondary bonus.

If you’re planning to visit the new Watts location soon, do take a few moments to listen to Evan Kleiman’s interview with Roy. There’s much insight that will really make you appreciate the chefs, the project and (of course) the food.

The official Locol website notes:
We fundamentally believe that wholesomeness, deliciousness and affordability don’t have to be mutually exclusive concepts in fast food. We believe that fast food restaurants can truly empower the communities they currently underserve. We believe that the giant corporations that feed most of America have degraded our communities by maximizing profits over decades. We believe that chefs should feed America, and not suits.

Need more info? Tuck into the full backstory on Locol by watching the two videos below (in order).

Video 1: Roy Choi speaks about hunger at the Mad Symposium in 2013.

Video 2: Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson announce Locol at Mad 2014.

A few food photos from the preview:


BBQ Turkey Burg $4


Fried Chicken Burg $4


Locol CheeseBurg $4


Carnitas Foldie $2


Messy Beef Chili Bowl $6


Yotchays: Beef and Onion Gravy $1, Flat Bread $1

The chocolate soft serve sundae ($3) was really good too, but I didn’t get a great photo.


Our tasting spread (all food was complimentary). Sundae is back left (with marshmallows).


The Watts location of Locol opens at 11am on Monday, January 18th (Martin Luther King Day). Go early and prepare to wait a bit. It’s worth it.

Locol (map)
1950 East 103rd Street,
Los Angeles, CA 90002

Locol website

Locol on Twitter, Instagram, FaceBook

Roy Choi on Twitter & Instagram

Daniel Patterson on Twitter & Instagram

The original Indigogo campaign for Locol

I donated a wee bit and scored a Locol sticker last summer!

About the Mad Conference

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