Fiona Bakery was a cute little cafe in West Hollywood serving up seasonal dishes and baked goods that truly allow California’s bounty to shine. I say was, because unfortunately I just got word that they closed their doors for good this past Sunday! Such sad news, to be honest. But with crazy high rent costs and never-ending competition, the restaurant industry is a super difficult place to find success. Ever since I first spotted their sesame butter toast on Instagram, I knew I had to check it out. So when I stopped by for lunch with a good friend recently, the aforementioned bread was obviously ordered. I’m pretty much obsessed with anything involving sesame or tahini, and this did not disappoint. I loved the sweet and savory vibes going on- the sea salt honey was the perfect complement to the creamy sesame butters and chewy, yet fluffy brioche! After ogling over the beautifully impressive pastry case (and vowing to return to try more items soon), we decided to balance things out with a couple of their fresh salads. I loved the Vietnamese-meets-Cali-influenced menu- both the shredded cabbage & chicken salad and little gem salad were bright and flavorful. The menu also featured rice noodle salads and savory sweet potato pancakes- not to mention classic banh mi sandwiches that my husband absolutely adores! Those cookies stacked high in the pastry case (and the carrot cake!) continue to call my name to this day as well. Although I’m super bummed Fiona has since closed its doors, I remain hopeful the team will open another spot soon!
I love discovering tasty, new-to-me places in my (or a close by) neighborhood. Hippo in Highland Park had been on my radar for a while now- multiple friends had raved about it, and I couldn’t help but drool over their Instagram. So when we had good friends in town staying with us recently, I knew just the spot for dinner. Nestled off the busy street, just behind Triple Beam Pizza (another fave!), Hippo’s rustic, Italian-American vibes make it seem very New York to me. Perhaps that’s why I liked it so much from the moment we walked in, but once we tasted the food, it truly won me over. The bread basket of housemade focaccia was perfectly crusty and chewy, and I strongly suggest you start with the burrata di bufala (imported from Lazio-Italy!), served with even more delicious, carby goodness. I was a huge fan of the veggie starters- from the cool haricot verts with serrano chili toasted hazelnuts & Frenchie vinaigrette, to the griddled cauliflower with cauliflower “tahini” & walnut raisin caper relish, the flavors were truly unique. Of course, several housemade pastas are on the menu (and worth an order!), including the semolina spaghetti with guanciale, tomato & spicy pickled peppers, as well as the winter squash cappellacci with browned butter, sage & amaretti! Carefully handmade pasta, perfectly cooked to al dente, truly makes all the difference. Be sure to check out the rest of our meal in the slideshow above- there were honestly so many noteworthy dishes! We actually already had plans for ice cream after dinner, so I didn’t get a chance to try Hippo’s desserts- but there’s always next time! Post-baby, I’d like to go back for “Hippo Hour”, their version of happy hour, for some tasty small plates and a cool cocktail as well!
Now that the weather is finally warming up, and perhaps because I’m eight months pregnant, I could happily eat ice cream every day. The cold and creamy goodness just always hits the spot! So many amazing places come to mind, but one that really stands out is Pink’s Creamery on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. My husband and I visited on a recent trip- our babymoon, actually!- and were blown away by the quality and taste. Pink’s has been slow-churned on Maui since 1932, and serves local-inspired flavors like my husband’s fave, the Kona Mud Pie (Kona coffee ice cream with Oreo cookies and fudge), and Haupia (a classic coconut custard). I was all about the Banana Mac-Nut Brittle- a delicious banana ice cream with roasted macadamia nuts & crunchy bits of brittle! Holy yum! Just thinking about it has my cravings going wild. Guess we’ll have to plan another Hawaiian getaway soon!
Triple Beam Pizza, “the place where they weigh the pizza”, is a casual joint in Highland Park serving up classic Roman-style pies. That means you walk in to a mouth-watering view of several slabs of freshly made, thin crust pizza, and show how much you want of each with a simple hand gesture. The guys behind the counter grab the scissors, and cut you just the right amount. Pizza here is weighed by the ounce, so get as much or as little of each kind as your heart desires! I’ve been a few times, and I must say, I truly love this no frills approach. You can also eat it Roman-style (straight from the counter), or get it American-style, so it’s reheated and crisped in the oven for a few minutes. Plus, knowing that Nancy Silverton is the mastermind behind this spot, you know the pizza is going to be totally legit. There’s always a great variety available, from the uniquely delicious acorn squash with honey, to more classic options like margherita or sausage with mushrooms. Yum! The focaccia is also fluffy, chewy, and baked to perfection if you’re wanting a more bready, less cheesy option. I’ve heard they’ll even do a made-to-order vegan pie, so I’ll have to try that out soon as well! Definitely stop by next time you’re in Highland Park!
Where do I even begin with Misi? This South Williamsburg beauty from celebrated chef Missy Robbins focuses on handmade pasta dishes and vegetable antipasti inspired by simple Italian cooking. That’s truly just it. The menu is very straightforward- ten antipasti and ten pasta- but everything is executed with such finesse, that it feels like a luxury dining experience. You may remember Chef Missy Robbins from Lilia, her in North Williamsburg hotspot in a converted auto body shop. She’s back with a bit simpler concept, but doesn’t skimp on taste or flavor. Misi had been on my husband’s and my must-visit list for some time now, but since we've been spending so much time in Los Angeles, we still hadn’t gotten the chance to stop by. Finally, on a recent trip to New York, we decided to walk in early on a Friday evening (risky with no reservation!), and were lucky enough to be greeted by Missy herself! After a private tour of Misi’s beautiful pasta room (check out my Instagram story highlights for more), we were seated at some of the best seats in the house overlooking the open kitchen, and started to devour the menu while watching the sunset over the Williamsburg bridge.
It was hard to narrow it down- so many dishes sounds appealing- but we ended up with three antipasti and three pasta! A nice, light meal for two people, no?! Scroll through the slideshow above for details on each dish, but honestly I’m not sure I could even choose a favorite. The raw fennel & celery salad with parmigiano & walnuts was the perfect light, crunchy complement to the garlicky, grilled runner beans. And as simple as the fettuccine with buffalo butter, parmigiano extra vecchio & black pepper was- wow- it truly blew us away. There’s sometimes nothing better than fresh, simple ingredients done right. Missy even told us that the fettuccine was the first dish created for the menu at Misi, before the restaurant was even open! Definitely a must-order if you’re lucky enough to go. We were both pretty full by that point, but I’m never one to pass on dessert, and once again Misi keeps things nice and simple. There are six housemade gelati available (plus the current off-menu pistachio!), as well as a nice offering of digestivi like grappa & amaro. We went with the super creamy pistachio gelato (loved the chunks of toasted nuts), as well as mint stracciatella gelato, which was smooth and refreshing, with just the right amount of mint infusion. We had such a delicious and memorable meal thanks to Chef Missy Robbins, I truly cannot thank her enough. The passion and care that goes into her food is evidently clear, and as a #chefswife myself, I respect her so much for that! Cheers to plotting our next visit sooner than later!
Ok shave ice, where have you been all my life?! I shouldn’t necessarily say all my life. There was this amazing ‘lil shave ice stand in the Texas Hill Country that my family would frequent during the summertime when I was a kid. But man, I forgot how good that stuff is! I’m not talking about the typical sno-cone you find at your local amusement park or state fair. Those are icy, hard, and way too syrupy. True Hawaiian shave ice is another beast entirely, and I found some of my fave at Wishing Well Shave Ice in Kauai. The ice is shaved so finely thin (go figure!), it’s like the fluffiest snow you’ve ever tasted. No hard crunches to the teeth here! Plus, the typical flavors are made from local, seasonal fruits like coconut, mango & papaya, so they aren’t too crazy sweet. Your shave ice bowl gets topped with fresh fruit for a nice, refreshing finish! Many of Wishing Well’s offerings are even organic as well- pretty awesome if you ask me! Now, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll take advantage of the optional ice cream scoop that gets put at the base of the bowl. Oh my glory, it’s the perfect, creamy complement to the fruity shave ice. But go for the macadamia nut ice cream (a local favorite!) over classic vanilla, and thank me later :) Enjoy!