Sunday, August 26, 2012

Blue Curacao Melted Mango Cocktail Recipe

 Your first and your last sip will taste like two different -- and equally delicious -- drinks, via the melting action of the mango ice cubes.

1 shot Blue Curacao
1 shot orange rum
1 can or bottle of pineapple soda
1 can or bottle of mango nectar

You'll Also Need:

an ice cube tray


 1. Fill the ice cube tray with mango nectar. Freeze.

 2. Place the mango ice cubes in a glass.

3. Add a shot of orange rum to the glass.

4. Add a shot of Blue Curacao to the glass.

5. Fill up the glass with pineapple soda.

6. Enjoy! As the ice melts, enjoy the addition of sweet mango nectar to your drink.

Serves 1.

The AHH Factor:
Our American Standard air conditioner is broken again. It is only three years old, yet it has broken not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, but five times in the past year. After fiddling with it for an hour, the most recent in the revolving door of repairman declared that he had no idea what was wrong with it. At least he's honest! So now we wait until later this week to have yet another company (mis)diagnose it. There are few things that are more frustrating...AHH. In the meantime, I have tried all manner of creative ways to stay cool. One solution was this cocktail.

The adorable fish-shaped ice cube tray was a birthday gift. Isn't it cute? Of course, any standard ice cube tray will do for this recipe. The beauty of this concoction (in addition its pretty blue-green color) is that the drink continues to make itself while in your glass. My friend Joan told me about a bar in Atlanta that too serves a drink with flavored ice cubes. Many people flavor ice cubes to match their drink (like freezing lemonade then adding it to a glass of lemonade), but I love the idea of adding a whole new ingredient by way of ice cube. You first sip of the drink tastes like pineapple. Your last sip tastes like mango. The orange mango nectar even makes your drink change to a deeper green like a mood ring telling you that you are feeling happy. (That happy feeling probably has something to do with the Blue Curacao and orange rum too.)

Pineapple and orange are probably more indicative of Caribbean-tropics rather than Indian-tropics and the mango goes both ways, but you'll have to excuse me for the barely-passable take on fusion. I blame it on the lack of air conditioning melting my brain.

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Jaipur Cuisine of India, West Los Angeles, Restaurant Review

 There's lots of choice for Indian food on Pico Boulevard in West LA, but Jaipur Cuisine of India holds its own against the competition.

9 out of 10 Peppers = Extra Spicy

Is it weird to have two Indian restaurants cater-corner from each other? And is it weirder that I fell so in love with the first one I tried that I've gone back multiple times for Indian food, but still haven't managed to take that first big step across the street to try the other one? (I'm sure there's a "Why did the chicken cross the road?" joke in there somewhere.) Well, Nizam Indian Cuisine, I promise next time I'm on this stretch of Pico I'll walk in your doors instead, but this review is for one of my visits to Jaipur Cuisine of India, your arch-rival across the street.


Jaipur provides an intimate setting of only about 14 tables with saffron-colored walls and warm lighting. From the dining area, there's an open window to the kitchen so you can see behind the scenes. I love the transparency of being able to peer into the kitchen. I figure if it's an easy glance away there's nothing sketchy going on in there, or that's my theory anyway.

Parking is officially street parking, but there does happen to be an entrance to the Westside Pavilion's free parking garage right next to Jaipur's entrance...


When I see something on a restaurant menu that I've never heard of before, I pretty much always order it. I don't recommend this tactic -- and I'm sure Nick doesn't either, as it sometimes results in my eating Nick's food instead -- but regardless, this is how the mint-filled Tandoori Jumbo Mushrooms were ordered. And, in this case, you can now safely order this dish as it is saagAHH approved -- mouthwatering! The mushrooms were presented hissing from the tandoor like a fiery beast that can only be silenced by slicing and swallowing.

Nick ordered the Chicken Makhni, which was buttery delicious. It tasted just like a great Chicken Tikka Masala, so I am a bit confused as the restaurant also has tikka masala as a separate dish on the menu. The only difference I can gather is in the menu descriptions: makhni is described as "tandoor" chicken pieces whereas tikka masala is described as "barbequed" pieces of chicken. I have a feeling you won't go wrong with either. (Actually I think I had the tikka masala on another visit when I did the lunch buffet.)

We also got the Mutton Sohitya, which is lamb cooked with lemon, corn, and a touch of cinnamon and cloves. I love the corn kernels scattered on top for color. (Rice has to be ordered separately, so we got the Plain Rice -- steamed basmati -- for $3.50.)

We ordered several breads, as Nick can never resist when he sees Poori on the menu. It's so fun and fluffy that I can't necessarily blame him.

We also couldn't resist trying one of the Stuffed Naans. You can choose from an assortment: spinach-stuffed, onion-stuffed, dried fruit and nut-stuffed, lamb-stuffed, etc.

As is standard, Papadum was offered as a complimentary starter, with two chutneys.

Not standard, but somehow we scored free Ras Malai, which is soft paneer soaked in cream and is so yummy.

On another occasion I tried Jaipur's Sunday lunch buffet with two friends who were visiting, and all three of us loved it...maybe having another Indian restaurant across the street keeps Jaipur on its toes?

Jaipur Cuisine of India, 10916 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064. (310) 470-4994.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Annapurna Cuisine, Culver City, Restaurant Review

 Annapurna Cuisine is a South Indian vegetarian restaurant that showcases delicious Indian comfort food at its finest.
8 out of 10 Peppers = Spicy

There's a huge variety of Indian restaurants on Venice Boulevard in West LA/Culver City, and Annapurna Cuisine is one of my absolute favorites for two reasons. One, the food is excellent -- it's a totally vegetarian menu but even as a meat-eater I leave feeling satisfied and full. Two, there's free parking in a surface lot, albeit shared with the neighboring businesses in the strip mall.


The look is strictly casual, both from the outward strip mall appearance (it's on the first floor is a two-story building and neighbored by a hodgepodge of other businesses including an Indian grocer) and the inside, which is fairly bare-bones except for the odd computer on the table ("for internet surfing," our server advised) and a filmstrip image just below the ceiling that features Bollywood stars in various cheesy poses.

On this Friday night, the restaurant was three-quarters full, with a mix of Indian and non-Indian customers.

The restaurant's website design is much more impressive than the restaurant's own interior design. On the website, the online menu showcases real photos of what all of the dishes look like. And these aren't stock photos either. I can see the restaurant's tabletop design as the background.


While most Indian restaurants on this blog, and in the U.S. in general, feature North Indian cuisine, Annapurna Cuisine features South Indian. South Indian food is as different from North Indian food as Italy's cuisine is different from France's is different from Hungary's. Some of the staples are the same -- rice, lentils, potatoes -- but even then are incorporated in completely different ways. Many South Indian restaurants in the U.S. are vegetarian only, though in actual South India (especially in coastal areas), many residents eat seafood.

Two great items to try if you find yourself in a South Indian restaurant for the first time are Dosas, lentil "crepes" with savory fillings (potato fillings are common), and Uthappams, savory thick lentil "pancakes" topped with onions, tomatoes, etc. Both these dishes are generally served with Sambar, a vegetable soup made of pigeon peas, into which the Dosa or Uthappam can be dipped, or you can simply drink the soup separately.

If your first try is at Annapurna Cuisine, then try to stop by the buffet. It has a lunch buffet, plus even a dinner buffet on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

We started with the potato-filled Samosas. These were good, but nothing to write home about.

If you're going to write home (email home?), then I'd start here, with the Dosas. As it standard (though exciting to first-timers) the dosa is happily too large for the plate. The restaurant offers over a dozen varieties from plain (Sada Dosa) to Masala Dosa (potatoes) to Spinach Masala Dosas (spinach filling) to "Paper" Dosas, which are marketed as thin as paper and which are usually even larger than other kinds of Dosas.

This "Cheese Dosa Annapurna Special" was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Cheese Dosas themselves are fairly common in the U.S. (though not authentic, as the only cheese authentic to India is paneer, which I've never seen plain in a dosa), but I've never seen one served open-faced like this and with such a hybrid of ingredients. In addition to mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, it contained tomatoes and cilantro. It was like a hybrid of Indian, Italian, and Mexican food. It was delicious.

Here's a close-up of the Sambar. Each Dosa came with its own metal bowl of it.

Nick and I ordered way too much food for the two of us (and way too many potatoes), as we also got these Aloo Parathas from the restaurant's bread menu (which also includes roti and naan). It's whole wheat bread stuffed with spiced potatoes and peas cooked in butter and served with a yogurt sauce, and it became Nick's lunch the next day.

I also opted to try the restaurant's Indian Coffee ("Annapurna Special aromatic coffee brewed with hot milk"), mostly out of curiosity, but it tasted like standard coffee to me (and I felt guilty adding sugar to it), so I'd probably steer you in the direction of the Lassis instead if you want an Indian-inspired beverage.

South Indian cuisine done right, such as at Annapurna Cuisine, is Indian comfort food at its finest. It sounds like a contradiction to say a meatless meal can be stick-to-your-ribs good, but that's really how I felt after eating here. Plus I felt much better than I would have if I'd eaten my usual go-to comfort food dish of mac-and-cheese (though there's always next time).

Annapurna Cuisine, 10200 Venice Blvd., Culver City 90232. (310) 204-5500.

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