Archive for October, 2009


We were the first customers at Takao – literally the very first customers the day they opened. It is our favorite neighborhood sushi bar – we have OUR seats that we can reserve ahead of time, we can BYO wine (although my husband drinks beer) and we can just let Takao do his thing.


monkfish cavia

  Monkfish Liver with Caviar


oysters rtakao

 Kumamoto Oysters with Green Onion and a touch of chili sauce 


scallops - takao

Thinly Sliced Scallops with Summer Black Truffles with Chives, Sesame seeds and a Sesame Seed Oil- Based Dressing 


tuna presented

tuna and tomatoes

 Heirloom Tomatoes, Green Zebra tomatoes, Pea Shoots, Yama Kaka Slices and Skip Jack in a ponzu dressing. The first picture is the dish as presented. The second photo shows the dish “spread apart.” 


nato takao

 Spanish Mackeral Tatake and Nato with Nori – I do love nato and yes, it is an acquired taste.


Baby crab and soy bean tempura

Blue Crab and Young Soy Bean Tempura – Takao is a master of tempura.


grilled toro

Grilled Toro with Onion, Eggplant and Asparagus 



A “no limit” Chirashi that Takao made for another table.


takao uni and salmon eggs

Uni with Quail Egg and Salmon Eggs with Quail Egg


Takao yelloetail

Yellowtail Belly Sushi


salmon skin hand roll

Salmon Skin Hand Roll

Flourless Chocolate Cake

choclate cake before frosting


chocolate cake after frosting


Michel Guerard’s Mother’s Cake

To serve 8


10 ounces semisweet chocolate

10 ounces butter

9 egg yolks

1 1/3 cups sugar

5 egg whites

1/4 cup light rum


10″ pan

piece of cake cardboard – 10″



Preheat the oven to 325

Line the pan with parchment paper. Lightly butter the paper and put in some flour and shake all the flour out so only the flour that sticks to the butter remains.

Melt the chocolate with the butter in the top of a double boiler.

Separate the eggs. Put the 9 yolks in the bowl of the mixer. Put the 5 whites (notice that there are less whites) in another mixer bowl. MAKE SURE THAT THE BOWL WITH THE WHITES IS VERY CLEAN WITHOUT ANY GREASE. ALSO DO NOT GET ONE BIT OF YOLK INTO THE WHITES OR THE WHITES WON’T BEAT. The trick to doing this is to put the white of each egg in a small container, then add to the mixing bowl of whites. That way if you are on the 5th egg and you get a speck of yolk in it – you throw away only that egg not the whole bowl.

Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the egg yolks to break up at low speed. Turn up the speed to medium and gradually add the sugar. Cream or beat the egg yolks and sugar until it is pale( almost white) and creamy. (from 5 to 8 minutes).

Put the mixer on medium low speed and beat the chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture. Blend well. Take a spatula and mix by hand to make sure that the everything is really mixed.

Using the balloon whip attachment, beat the egg whites until they hold a shape. I beat with the mixer until I get very soft peaks, then using a hand whisk, I finish beating. DO NOT OVERBEAT!!!! You want it to look like soft clouds; they hold a shape, but they are not grainy looking.

Fold the the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.

Pour 2/3’s of the mixture into the pan (SAVE THE REST OF THE BATTER – just put it aside at room temperature) and bake for 1 hour. Remove cake from oven and place on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Unmold the cake by placing the cardboard on top of the cake, turn it upside down and the cake should fall out of the pan onto the cardboard.

Let the cake cool completely. When cool, sprinkle the top of the cake with rum. Frost the cake( top and sides) with the batter that you saved. Put the cake in the refrigerator. When the chocolate is firm (about 1 hour) put saran wrap or tin foil over the cake gently so as not to ruin the top of the cake. The cake will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator.

Bryan Flannery Steaks

I very rarely endorse a product and never do I get anything for free. I have been hearing about Bryan Flannery’s steaks and everyone who has had them has raved. Well, when he did his helluva a deal promotion, I couldn’t resist and ordered 8 New York Strips and 4 Rib Eyes. I must say my husband declared that the strip steak he had this morning (yes, it was 10 am and he couldn’t wait) was one of the finest steaks he has ever eaten.

steak saesoned

Steak seasoned

steak on grill

On the grill

steak served

Ready to be eaten


Website here:


HelluvaDeal here:


Lunch at Spago is always a treat and the patio is just a lovely place to dine. I have said this numerous times, but having a tasting menu is the only way to order at Spago.

Spago patio

The Patio

Spago patio 1

Another view of the patio

Spago dining room

Inside dining room

Spago bar

The bar

Spago garden

The garden – Patio

Spago garden 1

Sculpture in the garden – Patio

Spago garden 2

Waterfall – Patio

Spago Krug

BYO Krug Champagne


Spago tuna cones

Tuna tartar in a sesame cone


Spago ceviche

Hamachi Ceviche with Heirloom Tomato Confit


Spago mousse with blini

Smoked Trout Mousse, Salmon Eggs, Chives, Red Onion, Corn Blini


Spago duck liver

Duck Liver Mousse, Pear Compote, Golden Raisin Tartlets


Spago BYO white wine

BYO White Wine


Spago bruchetta 1

Bruschetta, Heirloom Tomatoes, Basil Aioli

Spago bruchetta

Close-up of the Bruschetta


Spago bacon en croute

Bacon En Croute


Spago tomato sorbet

Heirloom Tomato Sorbet, Tomato Carpaccio, Basil Oil


Spago red wine

BYO Red Wine


spago pig'es ear

spago pig's ear 1

Warm Crispy Baked Pig’s Ears, Gigantic Beans, Chanterelles, Balsamic, Mushroom Emulsion, Wild Arugula


Spago pan roasted langoustine

Pan Roasted Langoustine, Maryland Crab, Baby Leek Puree, Matsutake Mushrooms, Fresh Grated Yuzu


Spago pasta

White Corn Agnolotti, Shaved White Truffle


 Spago lamb

Roasted Saddle of Sonoma Lamb, Blood sausage, Sweetbreads, Ragout of Porcini Mushrooms, Figs, Natural Jus


Spago cheese



A lovely lunch on a warm, sunny afternoon.

Il Treno – Vernon

The only real place to eat in Vernon! Il Treno (The Train in Italian) is on the property of Peacock Cheese Gourmet food distributors. They bought two real honest-to-gosh Santa Fe train dining cars and built a patio around them to serve local businesses. Only open 5 work days for lunch but it’s amazing. This is truly one of those rare LA things and worth playing hookie for a trek to Vernon for the experience. Ironic that they are on Santa Fe Blvd.

comment from

This comment reflects the feelings of the Refined Palate ROVING REPORTER exactly.  If business associates in Huntington Park did not bring me there I certainly would not have found Il Treno. It is a very good restaurant with a nice setting, simple service and high quality food…I don’t find many places to have home made spagetti and meat balls and lasagna…it is a treat.

Photos tell the story…well worth finding time to get there for a good, reasonable cost different lunch. 

 Il Treno Sign big




The Train Santa Fe
Il Treno front door
Il Treno counter

rolls and olive oil with fresh garlic
Rolls and Olive Oil with Fresh Garlic

Pounded chicken breast
Pounded Chicken Breast


4 cheese Lasagna

Four Cheese Lasagna



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