Monday, May 7, 2018

My Experience at the Gourmandise School + My Favorite Recipe from the Class

Photography by Eddie Sanchez

We’ve all had a cooking fail. We start out in the kitchen thinking we're on our way to beating Bobby Flay and end up with a dry chicken breast or rubbery salmon over bland rice. Just because we see how easy things look on TV or Facebook videos, doesn’t mean we’re going to be the next Top Chef. If you're  beginner cook like me, it takes direction, instruction, practice, and passion to be able to learn the skills to cook well. You probably have the last part down, no one follows more food Instagram accounts than you but you’ll need the help of some pros to get you to tap into the skills you need to take your cooking to the next level. Good thing there’s The Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories. 

Located in the Santa Monica Place Shopping Center, The Gourmandise School offers hands-on cooking classes in LA for all levels of cooking - beginners to pros. There are several baking and cooking classes, including professional series and special food workshops. Unlike just learning recipes online, the school is designed to teach you how to develop your culinary intuition and create amazing meals. You acquire the knowledge and skills on not just how to cook a specific dish, but how ingredients and cooking methods relate to one another. The classes are taught by chefs, and industry professionals who are passionate about teaching you their specialties and techniques. 

One of those instructors is Chef Carol Cotner Thompson who has been teaching people how to cook for over 25 years. She recently led the "Learn How To Cook" 10-week series that I had the pleasure of attending along with a group of home cooks from all levels, some pursuing a culinary career while others, like myself were wanting to take their cooking skills to a new place. The 10 week series was broken down into 10 main topics that helped you master that technique or ingredient by the end of the class. The class, approximately 3 and half hours started with a quick lecture of the ingredients and cooking techniques we were going to learn. Chef Carol explained everything in a way that was easy to understand and when the lecture was over and we were at our cooking stations, I felt confident and assured that I could cook the dishes we were set out to execute that day. Every class ended with delicious meals that resulted in leftovers to bring home. I know my wife looked forward to the days I was in class because of those tasty leftovers I got to bring home!

Chef Carol Cotner Thompson - one of the instructors at The Gourmandise School. 

The Gourmandise School was a game changer for me. Prior to that, I could say I dabbled in the kitchen but knew I definitely needed to up my game. After just the first week in the “Knife Skills class,” I felt confident and actually looked forward to chopping veggies and handling a knife like a pro. The skills I learned in the several cooking methods Chef Carol taught us has been invaluable to me as I continue cooking. Above all, my love and passion for food has intensified and I truly enjoy cooking for myself and for others. I’m so grateful for the experience and know that it’s just the beginning to a lifelong culinary journey of gatherings with friends and family over amazing meals

Below is one of my favorite dishes from one of the cooking classes. I find myself making this more often than I should! It’s that good and so simple to make. Read on for the full recipe. 

The Gourmandise School has a specialty shop with the best culinary tools you'll need in the kitchen as well as tasty eats. 

Spaghetti all'Amatriciana

2 tablespoons: olive oil
2 ounces  of diced guanciale or pancetta
1/2 red onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 teaspoons of hot red pepper flakes 
1 cup of crushed tomatoes (preferrably San Marzano) 
1/4 lb of spaghetti or bucatini
1/4 cup grated of Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese 
1 ounce of butter 
Render the pancetta in olive oil.
Add the onions and continue to cook until the onions are soft.
Add the pepper flakes and garlic and continue to cook one minute.
Add the tomatoes and simmer for fifteen minutes.
To serve, toss the cooked spaghetti, cheese and butter. Season with salt and black pepper.

The Gourmandise School of Sweets & Savories
395 Santa Monica Place
Santa Monica CA 90401

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Special thanks to The Gourmandise School for collaborating with Hungry in LA. As always, the content and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Italy Is Closer Than You Think - Escape to The Resort at Pelican Hill

Photography by Eddie Sanchez

You remember that Italy trip that you’ve been planning for ages? You know, the one where you’re at a seaside village staying in a villa perched on a hill that overlooks the water? It’s the trip where you are eating hand made pastas and drinking luscious velvety rich DOCG wines. This is the luxurious trip you have been waiting for and you only need to travel about an hour away from LA when you’re visiting The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach. 

The Resort at Pelican Hill is one of the world’s finest Five-Star, Five-Diamond destinations offering service and luxury like no other. Sitting on 504 acres with magnificent ocean views, the opulent Italian Renaissance architecture, inspired by Palladio, transports you from California City hustle to seaside Italian village harmony. It’s your escape to a beautiful serene coastal setting where authentic Northern Italian cuisine, luxurious poolside cabanas, award winning spa,  and premier golf courses await. This is your ultimate getaway. 

S T A Y 

Over 200 spacious bungalow guest rooms and suites, as well as 128 Villas are available to call this place your new home away from home. They are lavishly appointed with large walk -in showers, deep soaking marble tubs, fire places framed by Italian limestone, and hand-crafted wood beam ceilings to give an intimate residential ambience. Of course one of the best features has to be the private terraces with incredible ocean views. This truly is your well-appointed Italian home for the length of your stay. It has everything you need including modern amenities like MP3 ports, wireless internet, and a superb Bose sound system. Staff members make sure that your Nespresso machine and wet bar stay fully stocked. At night, you can fall asleep peacefully to the glow of the fire place and the comfort of your 500-thread-count sheets on the most comfortable bed you have ever slept in.

The Resort features the largest inventory of luxury two-, three- and four-bedroom Villas that are available for daily rental.


Dining at The Resort is just as impressive. The resort’s signature restaurant, Andrea Ristorante, offers Tuscan-influenced Northern Italian cuisine with an extensive wine list that is sure to please the casual enthusiast as well as offering you rare vintages. Chef Marco Criscuolo sources seasonal ingredients and creates flavorful classic Northern Italian dishes. Pastas are hand-crafted in a one-of-kind, temperature-controlled “Cucina della Pasta” (pasta room) that stays at a constant temperature. Yes, they’re serious about their pasta and oh, is it so good. The must-order item to start, is the table-side risotto that’s finished in a large wheel of parmigiano-reggiano. Also the off-menu carbonara is one of the best pasta dishes you’ll ever have. 

Barrel- aged Acquerello risotto with forrest mushrooms prepared table side.

Ahi tuna cone
Prime filet mignon with roasted heirloom carrots, asparagus, turned potatoes and peppercorn sauce.

For a Napa-inspired menu, Pelican Grill features innovative seafood, steak and wood-oven pizzas, and Sunday brunch offers à la carte California cuisine. Chef Luke Turpin creates fresh comforting California classics. For lunch, try the off-menu steak sandwich with grilled onions, gruyere, and arugula. The ahi tuna tartare with Meyer lemon, avocado, cucumber, scallion and sesame oil is the most refreshing start to your lunch.

Tuna Tartare

The more casual Coliseum Pool & Grill is a perfect place to sit poolside during brunch and enjoy a delicious lobster scramble and French Press coffee or perhaps a mimosa. The serene and casual ambience is a great way to start your day. 

Lobster scramble.


The amenities at Pelican Hill are outstanding and simply some of the best that you can find at any word class resort. The Coliseum Pool, inspired by the timeless curves of Rome’s famed landmark, is one of the largest pools in the world. With more than one million hand-cut glass mosaic tiles and 136 feet in diameter, it resembles a precious gem in the midst of the beautiful architecture around you. Treat yourself to a day at the Five-Star Spa, that’s more than a place to enjoy a good massage, helping you restore health and balance through the ultimate personalized care. The golf club, designed by Tom Fazio, boasts 36 holes with stunning ocean panoramas and is consistently ranked among the best in prestigious annual lists. 

Your Italian seaside getaway is waiting for you. The Resort at Pelican Hill is a one-of-a-kind experience that takes you 6,000 miles away without ever getting on a plane. Italy is a lot closer than you think. 

22701 S Pelican Hill Rd, Newport Coast, CA 92657
(855) 467-6800 |

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Special thanks to The Resort at Pelican Hill for collaborating with Hungry in LA. As always, the content and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Stay / Eat / Do: Dana Point Edition

Photography by Eddie Sanchez

When a city's official motto is, "Harboring the Good Life," thoughts of an amazing oceanside getaway in a beautiful locale immediately come to mind. Picture a place with unique shops and interesting restaurants, on a latern-lined street complete with a trolly cruising by. The "Good Life" means leaving your cares back at home while you relax in a world-class resort, watching the most beautiful sunset over the ocean. This is Dana Point and everything about it is good. That's why when we were invited to explore Dana Point and share our experience, it was no surprise to us that we fell in love with this charming city characterized by coastal bluffs and rolling hills. If you're planning to visit, we've narrowed down our favorite restaurants in Dana Point and the best things to do. Here's our recommendations for where to stay, where to eat, and what to do in Dana Point. 


Dana Point provides many options for accommodations. Everything from camping at scenic beaches to quaint Victorian-style bed & breakfasts, to luxurious 5 Star resorts, the city will have exactly what you're looking for. And if you're looking for an amazing resort with luxurious amenities like fire-side guest rooms, scenic views, private beach, and a breathtaking pool, look no further than the Monarch Beach Resort. The property offers running routes, golf and tennis for the active traveler, kids club for families, chef-driven cuisine for foodies, and a romantic setting for couples. There's something for everyone here. 

Fireside terrace guest room featuring a private terrace with a personal fire pit to keep you warm on cool, coastal nights. 

Large soaking tub.

Why get out of bed? Have in-room dining delivered to you. 

Monarch Beach Resort
1 Monarch Beach Resort N
Dana Point, CA 92629


Ceviche from Sombra, Monarch Beach Resort's poolside Mexican cantina. 

The Good Life is not complete without good eats and Dana Point has plenty of them. The unique restaurants in Dana Point will have any foodie bookmarking a food-crawl on their next visit. From farm-to-table cuisine that revolves around seasonal ingredients at a high end resort, to a casual taqueria in a strip mall, you'll find exactly what you're looking for in this city. 

Monarch Bay Club
Only open to resort guests or members, this place is not to be missed if you're staying at the resort (and we already told you to). Savor char-grilled meats and fresh-caught seafood in a breathtaking oceanfront setting. Expect California-style cuisine here in a more relaxed environment by the beach.

Shrimp roll with basil aioli on a sweet roll.
Monarch Bay Club

AVEO Table + Bar
Offering seating on a large terrace overlooking the resort for the ultimate al fresco dining experience, AVEO is a Mediterranean concept focused on seasonal ingredients to create fresh California-inlfuenced dishes. Taking a "Farm-to-Bar" approach to cocktails, the bar program features ingredients harvested from the resort's own garden. Try the Catalina Sunset for a refreshing aperitif.

Chef's special: Chilean Sea Bass pan seared with vegetable ragu. 

1 Monarch Beach Resort N
Dana Point, CA 92629

We're always asked the question, "What restaurant do you recommend that has great food and an ocean view?" That answer will now include Raya at the Ritz Carlton, Laguna Niguel. Chef Richard Sandoval brings Pan-Latin flavors through locally sourced ingredients. Highlights include the Arroz Negro, a paella-like dish, as well as the lamb lollipops. 

Arroz negro - black forbidden rice, Maine lobster, prawns, mussels, calamari, Dungeness crab and Spanish chorizo. 
1 Ritz Carlton Dr
Dana Point, CA 92629

Crank & Grind
If you're like us and are very picky about good coffee (AKA coffee snob), then make a stop at Crank & Grind. Organic, fair trade, and roasted by the best roasters around the country, you're getting a premium cup of joe at this cool, underrated spot that shares a space with a bicycle shop. If you're hungry, make sure to grab one of their toasts. 

Smoked salmon and avocado toast with a perfect cortado, complete with beautiful latte art. 
34150 Pacific Coast Hwy
Dana Point, CA 92629

Lupe's Mexican Eatery
For a fast casual lunch, look no further than Lupe's for traditional Michoacan dishes mixed with Baja style seafood (think fish tacos). The small space, with a hip vibe, features some of Dana Point's best tacos and burritos. Plus they also serve Mexican sodas and craft brews from Baja.
Surf & Turf Burrito - steak, shrimp, pico, guac, rice, cheese, and white sauce. 
33621 Del Obispo St
Dana Point, CA 92629

Craft House
Open for just over a year and already a Dana Point staple, Craft House is that place you go to have a great food and a great time. With unique craft cocktails (no pun intended) to round out the experience, this is a lively restaurant perfect for a night out.

34094 Pacific Coast Hwy
Dana Point, CA 92629


There are so many things to do in Dana Point that you may not have enough time to do it all. You already know that the city has some of the best resorts and with it are some of the best pools. Take a day to relax in a cabana while eating and drinking poolside. Or perhaps you love to actually be out on the ocean, the Dana Wharf offers everything from boat rentals, to kayaking, jet skiing, and paddle boarding. If you love to fish, there are options for sport fishing but if you're more of a spectator, whale watching excursions are the perfect way to get your sea legs. Of course the area offers great shopping, golfing, and world class spas as well. There's no shortage of things to do in Dana Point.

Private cabana at Monarch Beach Resort. 
Private beach for resort guests of the Monarch Beach Resort. 

Charters take off daily from the Dana Point Wharf. 

Watersport activities like kayaking and jet skis are a great way explore the Wharf.

Couples treatment room with a private hot tub at Miraval Spa. 

Award winning Monarch Beach Golf Links.

Sunset over Dana Point.

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Special thanks to Dana Point for collaborating with Hungry in LA. As always, the content and opinions expressed here are entirely our own.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

How Brilliant! Healthy and Delicious Food at Grilliant

Photography by Eddie Sanchez

From an outsider’s perspective, Los Angeles seems to be obsessed with healthy eating. We’re portrayed as eaters that only chow down heaping bowls of raw kale and flavorless nutritious food but that’s not the case at all. While California cuisine and our LA lifestyle promotes health and well being, that doesn’t negate the fact that we want food that’s as flavorful and delicious, as it is healthy. One of those places that embodies that ethos is Grilliant!

Grilliant is a healthy place to eat with an emphasis on delicious Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors at an affordable price. “Fast casual,” you ask? You can say that, since the process of ordering is at the counter but the cuisine is above your typical fast-casual spot. Their focus is to serve and prepare food fresh with only the best quality ingredients that shine through in every bite. The menu is grounded in traditional Mediterranean dishes and ingredients but served with a fresh Cali-style twist - think organic quinoa or kale salads with Mediterranean ingredients. Of course, kabobs and flat bread wraps are staples and various hummus and spreads round out the menu as well. 

Grilliant is the brainchild of wife and husband team Bahar & Amir. For Bahar, hospitality is a big part of any Iranian family and the most important part of it for her, is always food. Coming from a big family and passion for food, Grilliant came to life with husband and partner Amir by her side. Mediterranean cuisine that combines her heritage with healthy California living is what it’s all about. So the next time someone gives you a hard time for thinking LA doesn’t healthy and delicious food, take them to Grilliant to prove them wrong. 

Organic quinoa salad with salmon. 

Fire-grilled chicken wrap
Mediterranean Labneh with pita bread

Banana Strawberry Smoothie

Dining area at the Westwood location 

Grilliant (3 Locations)
4007 W Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA 91505;
3850 Main Street Unit C, Culver City, CA 90232;
10861 Lindbrook Drive, Westwood, CA 90024

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