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Best Dad in the World


“It was good especially since I can’t remember the last time I had pizza.”

– Ram Swaroop, 82

Today we gathered at my parents’ house to celebrate my Dad for Father’s Day.

As usual we had plenty of food including veggie and meat versions of California Grilled Pizza, green salad and then the dessert buffet including Haagen-Daz bars, mini-mint ‘n chip ice cream sandwiches, raspberry sorbet, strawberry shortcake frozen yogurt, fresh mango, freshly picked apricots and English cookies.

It seems like a lot, but all of that doesn’t even come close to thanking my Dad for all the support, guidance and help he continues to provide to me. Even now, he remains one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.

In addition to that he is smart, funny, analytical, kind, methodical, even-tempered and great model for character, intellect and compassion. He’s taught me that you can judge a person’s character on how he/she conducts himself on matters of money, time and keeping his/her word. And that character is what truly matters when looks, money and prominence fade away!

He jokingly considers himself tight-fisted and even cheap since that was part of his frugal upbringing in lower middle-class India where he grew up. Even though he moved here to go to school, brought his entire family over and proceeded to secure upper-middle class success here in the United States, he still thinks some of the prices we pay are outlandish!

The older I get the more I realize how blessed and lucky I am to have him in my life. He’s the one I always turn to in all matters of spirituality, finance and relationships. It astounds me how often his advice is spot on.

I love you Dad! In the picture below a pint-sized me with my Dad when I was less than a year old. I’m not sure why I look so scared, though. 🙂


Comfort food

Spicy turkey chili with a slice of fresh sourdough bread.

Sometimes all you need on a cold, blustery winter’s day is something simple like a bowl of soup with some crusty bread to make you really happy. I made this Spicy Turkey Chili along with some piping hot sourdough bread for myself in the height of the holiday craziness. During a time when there is too much to do and way too much rich, sweet food all around it was nice to have some comfort food while I took some time to relax after decorating the house in all its holiday finery.

It was simple, quick and very satsifying. I enjoy a bit of heat and this delivered it in abundance. I topped it with grated cheddar cheese and small spoon of sour cream to indulge myself.

Tasty & quick party fare

Fried ravioli was just one of the items on the spread for the holiday party. Others included grilled turkey sausage, mini-pastrami sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, chocolate fudge-raspberry cake and cookies.

“This is addictive.”

– Stephanie Endo, a guest at the 2011 holiday party, declared as she munched on some fried ravioli

It was time for our annual holiday party and we wanted a simple, fun spread to soak up all the liquor that our guests might be indulging in that night so we decided to do some sweets: a triple layer Chocolate Fudge-Raspberry Cake and some store-bought cookies and pair those with some savory dishes: Mini Pastrami Bites, Fried Ravioli, grilled sausage with spicy mustard and a couple varieties of flatbread pizza. Our only requirement of all the dishes were that they be tasty, quick to make and be easy finger-food type options for our guests who would be mingling and talking as they ate.

The cake I finished assembling the night before the party but the rest of the food we made in a few hours just before the open house holiday party started at noon.

Test Kitchen L.A.

9575 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles 90035 | 310-277-0133 | http://www.testkitchenla.com

Nyesha Arrington who is from Southern California created this Taro Dessert plate for the fifth course. It included custard with a vanilla sauce and puffed rice in the middle accompanied by pecan praline crunchies, right, and a delicious vanilla cream with a slice of baby Tahitian coconut on top at Test Kitchen LA on Saturday night. Delicious!

I loved the food, the service, the wine pairing, the up-and-coming chefs, the price and definitely the concept of the Test Kitchen L.A.

Test Kitchen is the product of many people’s efforts, but the concept of Bill Chait and Brian Saltsburg.  Test kitchen is a showcase for chefs by restaurateurs and allows for experimentation and testing of new ideas and concepts.  Visiting chefs will be serving dishes they are working on for future restaurant projects.  Mixologists provide innovative pairing opportunities and avenues to express their craft.  Each chef will be working alone or in consultation with Ricardo Zarate, who is currently finalizing his own restaurant, just upstairs from the discreet yet popular Test Kitchen.

We went Saturday, Oct. 9 and were treated to sweet, light island flavors of Nyesha Arrington. She comes from a multi-ethnic background and comes from Southern California. She cooked at Charlie’s Steakhouse in  Orlando, Fla. but decided to come back to Southern California where she  worked with with Josiah Citrin at his two highly-acclaimed southern California restaurants:  Lemon Moon in Culver City and Mélisse in Santa Monica.   Arrington  further honed her culinary expertise by working with legendary French chef Joël Robuchon at his Michelin and Mobil award-winning Las Vegas restaurants, L’Atelier and The Mansion.

“I love all sorts of food—French, Indian, Asian, Greek—and I’m a big fan of integrating different flavors of cuisine from around the world,” Arrington explains.

On Saturday, we chose the fried plantains with lime and chili accents. Light, crispy and a perfect starter to our six-course meal which we chose to pair with wines chosen for us. Then our courses began to come out. These are the courses we had in order of their arrival and paired with the wine listed with the course.

  1. Caribbean Ground Provisions| Jerk Tomato “Fondue”  with
  2. Snapper |Mussels, curry, basil
  3. Duck | Roti, pineapple, mint
  4. Pork Belly |“Loco Moco”, Tamarind
  5. Taro- Coconut custard| Sugar Cane Rum
  6. Banana Beignet|Grilled mango, Tahitian Vanilla

I enjoyed the Pork Belly course the best. It was braised to a tenderness that was easily handled by a fork. The item that I thought absolutely didn’t work was a thick, clunky roti that served as a mold for the minced duck that was the consistency of pate. I also thought the Taro-Coconut custard was a delight but the Banana Beignet was much too heavy and dense although the mango and Tahitian vanilla sauces were the high point of the course.

The best burger, ever!

This massive burger at about 8 ounces of ground sirloin, cheese, onions and a specially made Bobby Flay sauce was gobbled up at the Mesa Grill in Vegas.

This massive burger at about 8 ounces of ground sirloin, cheese, onions and a specially made Bobby Flay sauce was gobbled up at the Mesa Grill in Vegas.

The last stop on the grand trek from Norfolk to Southern California was Vegas. We met up with one of Suki’s best friends, Dawn Dean. We did all the usual Vegas stuff but I think the highlight for me was having the Mesa Burger at Bobby Flay‘s Mesa Grill inside of Caesar’s Palace. It has double cheddar cheese, grilled Vidalia onions and horseradish mustard. And, of course, it comes with these delicious steak fries. Truly a wonder for your taste buds.

Suki brought home some Vosges truffles from the Vegas trip. Surabhi eventually decided they were too pretty to eat.

Suki brought home some Vosges truffles from the Vegas trip. Surabhi eventually decided they were too pretty to eat.