Tag Archives: Los Angeles

VeganCheese & Wine Tasting Event!

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Please join me for a VEGAN WINE & CHEESE TASTING event

on Wednesday, September 7 at 7:30pm

V Wine Room, V Cheese Shoppe, and I have teamed up to bring you an incredibly scrumptious tasting event. Featuring #VeganCheese and Decadent Desserts paired with Vegan Wines and Live Jazz.

Come sample, sip, and sway until your heart’s content.  Space is limited, so be sure to purchase your tickets today via this link.

Food by yours truly, Yvonne Ardestani, Vegan Chef
Wine Pairings by Adam Monte’, Sommelier
Music by Ryan Roberts and Brad Rabuchin

 

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La Dolce Vita

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As you can tell, I am not an avid blogger.  That said, I have a lot to share.  Since the start of the year, I rediscovered oatmeal, I started a private chef and catering business, I exercise regularly, I make time to enjoy my free time, I’m no longer with David, and I rekindled and improved relationships with friends/loved ones I lost touch with in years passed.

My relationships.  They have always been a big part of who I am.  I’ve maintained a strong spiritual relationship with God, meditating every morning.  I improved my relationship with myself- looked at myself from an outsider’s perspective, observing myself in my relationships.  The biggest thing I learned that affected my state of happiness is, I’ve always changed myself to be the person I thought my mate wanted me to be, losing sight of the goals I set for myself.  In my relationship with David, I wasn’t being true to myself.  He wasn’t happy with my schedule and was appalled by how much the restaurant paid me.  I learned that people/men will come and go in my life and if I don’t pursue what I truly want, I’ll have lingering and bothersome “what if” thoughts.  He felt I put my job before him and resented me for it and retaliated by being an unfit partner.  I’m grateful that God was looking out for me.  And, I am grateful that I held onto my job and didn’t give up on my training.  Working at a restaurant was a necessary training ground.  For as long I can remember, my sisters and I wanted to open a bakery/cafe.  I now have a realistic idea of what it takes.  It’s not glamorous, but extremely hard work and a sacrifice.  I wouldn’t be able to do it alone – it takes commitment, a lot of planning, stamina and a lot of capital to get started and to become successful.

I have done some very interesting things, tried out and work/ed many jobs, and dated and befriended an eclectic bunch.  Whatever I have done in my life, I have no regrets.  All my choices shaped me into the person I am today…and honestly, I am happy with the person I am today.  With every experience I learned a ton and those experiences added some color, vibrance, flair, sugar and spice to my life. These experiences have given me a clearer focus on which direction I’d like to go in my life.  I am responsible for my own happiness.  I don’t ever want to depend on another person to make me happy.  To rely on someone else for my happiness is setting myself up for disappointment.  I want to be independent before I am interdependent with a mate who is the same, that way neither of us will lean on the other too much but will be there to support and contribute to the relationship.  I never want to be alone in my life- that’s why I always talk about my relationships and work interchangeably.  Both are big parts of my life and happiness.  Both decisions are big and take commitment.  I’d like to eventually get married to my best friend, who is supportive of my goals and dreams.  Peyman is my best friend.  I’ve told him what I want up front, he is supportive, and as a result is reaping the benefits.  I practice recipes that are healthy and scrumptious and he gets to indulge, as long as he gives me constructive feedback to improve.

I’ve decided to grow up and stop living a somewhat reckless and experimental life- learning lessons through excessive trial and error.  I know what I like and dislike now and I have come to realize that I can trust my own instincts because I respect myself more and see myself as a logical and reasonable human being.  In a month I will be 32 years old.  I want to be more practical and realistic with my goals.  I feel like I have reached my midlife…and instead of having a crisis, I feel I am at my prime.

I must say that I am relieved to have a clearer picture in mind for how I’d like to live the rest of my life.  I love food.  I appreciate it.  I want delicious food always in my life.  I always want to share good food with family, friends and even strangers.  Of course, I want to entertain in my comfy but modest future home that I picture to be serene, peaceful, elegant and just lovely…fountain in the courtyard, neighboring an herb garden and citrus trees, mini English and Japanese tea gardens, berry bushes and yada.. yada.. yada,..  In my career, I want to continue to contribute positively to someone’s life.  I want the feeling of accomplishment and reward.  I want to do for others what I have started to do – to cook delicious, yet health-conscious food.

My new venture as a private chef for a very busy and successful partner at a reputable law firm in LA has brought much clarity and purpose to my life.  Her goal, as well as her personal trainer/life coach’s, personal assistant’s, and my goal is to get her living a healthy lifestyle.  This includes eating healthy yet delicious food, exercising, and sleeping more, while keeping her busy schedule and having a personal life.  So far, she told me she loves the food, “it’s delicious”, and she feels “more energized” and has “lost weight”.  If I could help people stay healthy, energized, and still satisfy their palates, I will live a happy life.  To help someone in such a way is very satisfying and rewarding.

Early last week, I made 15 quarts of chocolate buttercream and thought, wow… if someone ate all this buttercream, they’d have a heart attack.  Sure it’s their choice to eat the buttercream and usually people eat it in moderation, but it just drives me a little crazy to make it available to them.  I’m one of those people who doesn’t cook with butter (only in baking which is not often at home…and if ever I cook with butter, I reach for a butter substitute called Earth Balance), but I am a pastry cook.  I cook with butter at work and it tastes oh so good.  I taste here and there because I have to make sure it tastes good and the way it should be, and after I do, I feel so terrible.  My inner voice cries out to me and says, “why are you killing yourself?!”. My close friends and I know that I’m somewhat of a nut and, fyi, my crazy idiosyncrasies stem from not only some of my family members being very anal and constructively critical of me, but also from watching years of the Oprah Winfrey show.  First, it was the dust mites that made me scratch my back and shoulders, leaving me with marks on my skin as a kid, then it was the show on fatty plaques in arteries that can never be scraped away that lead me to eat healthy.  I know, I’ve been told I’m quite neurotic in this way, but these mental notes, along with my father passing of a massive heart attack, motivate me to live a healthy lifestyle.  When I do what I know is right, I feel at peace.

I’ve been crazy busy lately, but when I have a few hours to just relax and do nothing, I feel so good.  It would be nice to live a long time so I can do what I’d like to do in my life – eventually travel the world, eat local foods in those places, have a family, dance and sing, and just spread peace, love and happiness.  Working at Tavern though, it’s hard to stay away from cookies, cakes, and the best croissants ever mde.  I eat what’s equivalent to at least one broken cookie a day because of it.  I have little self-control there.  There is some disconnect here – with the life I want to live and the work that I do.  I love eating deliciously, but eventually, I think I’m going to have to transition out of an environment that doesn’t agree with my lifestyle goals.  I do enjoy working, but I would be happier helping people live healthier lives or at least, for now, having a steady, regular schedule where I have time off to enjoy my life.  I do want to stay at Tavern and learn from the new pastry chef, Brooke, but I don’t know if I can continue to keep working all my jobs and stay sane.  If I got paid enough, I would’ve planned on staying at Tavern forever, but because I don’t make a living wage there, I had to pick up my other jobs and experience what I now find joy in.  (I sell real estate too! And am listing my sisters house for sale in about a month..that is going to be overwhelming!).  3 jobs is tough…I’ve been losing sleep over this.  I would like to cut my jobs down to 2 or 1.5.

If I could be a private chef to another person, I will be set.   I would be stoked! If you’re reading this and know of anyone that wants a private chef that can cook health-conscious yet flavorful food, please direct him or her or them to me.  I have to be honest, there is a price to pay for such diligence, care and pleasure… but I may be reasonable.  You never know until you ask me.

Currently, I work with a healthy lifestyle coach/trainer.  She tells me how much of what a person needs to eat in order to stay energized, to lose weight, and away from bad salty, sugary, high calorie snacks.  Right now, I cook 5 days a week for a client.  I deliver on Sundays and Wednesdays.  I provide 2 meals a day, lunch and dinner, and 2 snacks a day.  Each meal usually comes with either 1-2 cups of a delicious soup or salad, a 5-6 oz. portion of a lean, flavorful protein, and 1-2 cups of a non-starchy spiced vegetable and 1 serving (1/2 C) of a hi-fiber starchy, tasty vegetable/grain.  Snacks usually consist of 2oz. of toasted almonds and 1 cup of fresh, gorgeous organic berries or homemade hummus with sugar snap peas.  Meals and snacks change all the time but follow the same guidelines.  I can custom-tailor menus and meal plans with clients so it’s not as strict or even more strict.  I would like to stay within the same health-conscious yet flavorful framework.  Please send those with a need for my services to me. I would love the opportunity to get someone on track with a healthy diet.  I can also use someone to walk/run and hike with when my partner is unwilling.  I am also willing to teach newlyweds or single people how to cook simple, healthy, and delicious food.  Just give me a holler!

I must be on my way now, to visit my very pregnant best friend, Susan.  We’re going to walk, check out some real estate and then grab lunch at an open house, haha!

Till my next post, hope you enjoy your day, make good decisions, and love what you do.  Bon appetite!

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My Restaurants of Choice

When I was introduced to the Zagat guide in 1999, I didn’t want to waste my time or deprive my taste buds.  In doing so, I visited several restaurants ranked 24 and above in food, according to the Zagat – now that was living!  Today my favorite restaurants include Lucques, Izayoi, Loteria Grill, Crustacean, and Water Grill in Los Angeles.  For 5 years of my life, I lived in Santa Cruz. My favorite spots in Santa Cruz are Star Bene, Cafe Brasil, and Pink Godzilla.  Why are these my favorite restaurants?

My most memorable lunch took place at Lucques.  I actually ordered a brunch item, eggs benedict.  I remember taking my first bite, which almost brought me to tears and gave me goose bumps.  This eggs benedict was like no other.  The poached egg, canadian bacon, bread and hollandaise sauce were so light and perfectly balanced.  It sat on a bed of greens that were magical. I remember asking myself, “how did they do this? what were these leaves tossed in? I want to know what’s in this dressing!”.  As a self-claimed eggs benedict connoisseur, I named Lucques’ eggs benedict the world’s best eggs benedict.  It brought on pleasure that I’d never experienced before…in food.  Sadly, Lucques no longer serves this. However, everything on their menu is excellent.  I’ve loved  just about everything I’ve tasted there, especially their soups and desserts.

Izayoi is the Japanese spot where my boyfriend and I have dinner religiously every week.  We start with their green salad, my favorite! It’s packed with beautiful color and texture from an assortment of greens and thinly sliced onion.  There’s also a nice crunch from what I believe is thin strips of fried daikon.  The salad dressing is wonderful with a special miso flavor- I could easily eat this everyday!  Izayoi has a unique menu.  They have your traditional raw fish varieties as well as small plates that have an authentic feel and taste.  Some are very inventive, like the toro katsu.  While the food has an authentic feel, the restaurant is contemporary in style.  If you’re ever in the Downtown LA area, give this place a try.  I love this place.

Loteria Grill at the Grove’s farmer’s market is really special.  Whenever I’m at the Grove around lunch or dinnertime, I walk over to Loteria Grill and order the same thing over and over, chicken enchiladas de mole.  It is so good!  It’s served with black beans and their signature green rice.  The rice has an usual yet nice flavor.  It’s fragrant, almost minty or cilatro-y flavor – not sure what it is, but I like it.  It’s delicious.  I always pour salsa into my rice since I like a lot of heat, but without the salsa it’s still delicious.  Growing up in Chula Vista (it’s about a 5 minute freeway drive from the San Diego/Mexican border), I was always a fan of mole.  Mole’s flavor is almost chocolate-like and I’m a chocolate-lover.  I love mole’s sweetness and richness.  When you take a bite into Loteria Grill’s chicken enchilada smothered in mole sauce and add a little rice and beans to your bite, it’s like dynamite..an explosion of some of the most sophisticated flavors I’ve had in Mexican cuisine.

Crustacean is a restaurant everyone should try at least once in their life.  This is a great place to have a birthday, anniversary, or any special occasion dinner.  My recommendation is to have a glass of your favorite white wine with an order of the restaurant’s famous roasted crab – cracked whole dungeness crab with a secret garlic sauce. And don’t forget the garlic noodles!  Crustacean’s garlic seasoned crab is the best crab I’ve had.  The first time I tried it, I couldn’t stop talking about it!

Water Grill is another restaurant that is perfect for a special occasion.  My boyfriend brought me to Water Grill 2 years ago for my birthday and the staff made my day extra special.  Upon being seated, on the table was an envelope with my name handwritten on it.  It was a birthday card from the restaurant.  Also, the menu had my name printed at the top of it.  I loved the personalized touches.  They have a wonderful wine list.  To start we had mouthwatering oysters served with several dipping sauces, the champagne sauce (my favorite) is so divine.  Their seafood is fresh and delicious.  I had the scallops and they were rich and succulent, dripping with flavor.  The dessert paired with a recommended dessert wine made the experience even more memorable.

Pink Godzilla in Santa Cruz is so much fun.  They have a creative sushi menu.  My favorite roll is the Jimmy roll.  It has tuna, avocado, cucumber, macadamia nuts, and sesame seeds.  As you can imagine, it’s packed with a great crunch from the cucumber, macadamia nuts, and sesame seeds, and it’s delightfully fresh with the avocado and cucumber in the mix.  It’s refreshing and satisfying.  Their other rolls are great too.

Star Bene is a very intimate and authentic Italian restaurant in Santa Cruz.  They have the best gnocchi I’ve ever tasted.  The texture is perfect- they almost melt in your mouth.  If you’re ever in Santa Cruz, I recommend trying their gnocchi.  The gorgonzola sauce is really good with pancetta and peas.

Cafe Brasil in Santa Cruz is a nice breakfast and lunch spot.   In college, there was great energy in this cute, bright and cozy restaurant.  Cafe Brasil serves up delicious food, some of it is vegetarian too.  My favorite lunch was the Grilled Chicken Breast A Francesa.  The grilled chicken breast is served with sauteed onions, green peas, ham, and amazing french fries.  Rice, farofa, and salad is served alongside.  If you’re ever in Santa Cruz, I recommend breakfast or lunch at Cafe Brasil.

One more place in Santa Cruz that’s worth mentioning… Chocolate.  It’s a cafe where they serve food and sell chocolates.  I love their rose truffles.  They are so light with a touch of rose water… so nice.  When in Santa Cruz, I try to pick one or two up.  I actually have more recommendations, but I’ll put that list together some other day!..like Marianne’s Ice Cream‘s pumpkin ice cream… ok, I’ll save this for later.

Restaurants I still want to try are Mozza in Los Angeles and French Laundry in Yountville.

I came close to dining at French Laundry last year.  My boyfriend, Peyman, surprised me with a trip to Napa Valley for my birthday.  He knew I always wanted to go to French Laundry but he didn’t know we needed to make reservations a few months in advance.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to taste their famous, full-of-emotion creations.  However, we were able to delight ourselves with fantastic wines in the surrounding area, Napa Valley.  Luckily, one of my best friends works at a vineyard and was able to give us a nice tour while comping a lot of our tastings! (thanks, Rosy!)  We loved wines at Darioush and Caymus vineyards most!  I love full-bodied wines like Shiraz and Zinfandel and I enjoyed everything I tasted at those two wineries…even the Merlot (at Darioush)!

In Napa, we stayed at the Cottages of Napa Valley, which I highly recommend.  When we arrived, there was a little bucket of gourmet snacks, a bottle of wine, and other special touches.  I loved waking up and having a basket on the porch filled with fresh pastries from Bouchon Bakery, fresh fruit, orange juice, and a newspaper.  What a special place!

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This entry is pretty long so I will end it here.  I hope you were able to learn a little about me and what I consider to be delicious.

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