Friday, August 28, 2009

Eclipse Chocolat (Summer 09)

I've been singing praises to Will's dessert cafe Eclipse Chocolat for almost two years now and with good reason. Though I am a self proclaimed sugar-fiend, I don't enjoy desserts just for their sugar content. I want various harmonized flavors to accent a dessert with sugar as a compliment, not the main event.

Eclipse has adopted a new system for its famed seasonal dessert plates. In the past, items from dessert plates were unique to that season. Thus, if you particularly enjoyed something, ya got no luck in seeing it ever again. Now, however, there is a rotating selection of six items (choose four) that make up the dessert plate, guaranteeing new experiences as well as trusty old stand-bys.

On my most recent visit (July 09), I had the pleasure of enjoying Eclipse's new gelato sandwiches (gelatowiches) along with Will's phenomenal bread pudding, which friends and I just can't get enough of. We'll skip over the bread pudding and focus on gelatowiches since I've raved and rambled about them far too much in the past.

Gingerbread Ice Cream Sandwich - bourbon caramel gelato

Best of the two. Firm yet soft and yielding cookies are the star in this creation. It has been almost a month since this photo was taken, but I distinctly remember rich, fragrant flavors of brown sugar, sweet malts, caramel, and perhaps some cocoa. Dunno about ginger though...*@#$^!!! This is what happens when one puts off a blog entry for too long. Well what this means is, you guys get to go buy one and give me additional details. That way I can both taste it vicariously and provide a thorough review!

If Eclipse Chocolat had the option of shipping these babies, I'd probably order a dozen.

Sea Salt Nib Ice Cream Sandwich
cyprus sea salt, cocoa nib-flecked cookies, banana-brown sugar gelato

Excellent combination of flavors, though this particular gelatowich was a touch too salty. Creamy malt and banana flavors dominate the palate with a brown sugar backbone while cocoa nibs and sea salt accent each bite. Cookie consistency and moistness were spot-on--soft and chewy with enough structure to hold this behemoth together.

The two featured sandwiches were plated with a not-to-be-missed mixed berry and sticky toffee bread pudding, but they totally stole the show. They appear as "normal" 3-4 mouthful sandwiches, but make no mistake, each beast of a gelatowich is the size of my palm.
You could share with someone, of course....but that just leaves you with less gelatowich to enjoy.

Life's too short for sharing. Order a plate for yourself and tell your friends to get with the program.

Be sure to check out my other Eclipse Chocolat posts to see what you've missed in the past year and a half!

Eclipse Chocolat
2121 El Cajon Boulevard
San Diego, California 92104

Monday, August 17, 2009

South Bay Greek Festival

Oh lordy it's been over a month since my last entry! Anyone still even read my silly little failure blog? In my defense, it's been an awful summer for blogging. Abandoning my medical science background to pursue a completely different career was no small feat. Tremendous amounts of time and energy spent there... Then there was me researching and sinking a motherload into the stock market in June/July (superb shopping time). Poof went the summer/fall blogging fund. On the bright side, I'd make a real tidy sum even if I sell right now! ;D

Still, I found time and redistributed funds to introduce friends to good eats and drinks. Heck, I've always enjoyed and deeply appreciated it when Charlie showed or even treated me out to phenomenal gastronomic experiences so I too began to edumacate my pals about the joys of good eating. Thought I'd give friends a peek at Greek food.

Every summer, St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Church in Redondo Beach hosts the South Bay Greek Festival. Three days of Greek food/beer/wine, live music, dancing, arts & crats, etc. Admission is $2 but you can print out a coupon on their website to get in free if ya don't like donating to church. Food isn't exactly cheap if you want to get filled up. I ran a $25+ tab without breaking a sweat. Worth it? For the most part, yes.

Lamb souvlaki $7+?

I bought this first and friends followed my example. I really wish they hadn't. These hunks of meat were so dry that with each chew, more and more fibers worked their way in between my teeth. Hella annoying since I don't have carry a man-purse stocked with dental floss. It was a shame (more of a waste), really. The herby rub they used was quite good. Too bad folks working the grill left the meat on too long. Those jerks. It's a crime to ruin good meat. Punishable the ruined meat.

Fried Calamari $6

A winner! Delightfully light crispy batter tossed with a lil bit of salt and dry herbs. Could easily give good restaurants a run for their money. Loved the texture--perfect balance of crispy n chewy.

Bit of this n that

Yes yes I know. The photo took zero amount of thought and planning. But can you blame me? I just wanted to dig in! Photoblog be damned. There are only four items here since I decided to go bananas on sweets. Of the four, I'd have to say I particularly enjoyed the mousaka (think lasagna, sans sauce), which was incredibly cheesy n creamy. Gonna try my hand at making this at home soon. Close second is that fat meatball (soutzoukakia?) cooked in a thick rich tangy tomato sauce. Loosely packed and plenty juicy. Reminded me of those awesome hamburgs (no thats not a typo) sold from Maestro in Mitsuwa, Costa Mesa. Not sure what was mixed into the ground beef, but it was damned good. Definately did not enjoy the dolmathes. Way way too much olive oil. Like em better at Christakis in Tustin. Gawd I miss that place.

Had the opportunity to try the roasted chicken, and I give it an A+. Crisped skin, succulent meat, and well flavored throughout. Can easily hold its own as an entree in a good restaurant. Extremely impressive considering that it was made in bulk.

Not pictured is the effing huge tub of rice pudding (risogalo) I bought. Milky, spiced with cinnamon, creamy texture. It was kinda like Kheer-light. So did I finish that huge tub o pudding as well as all the other stuff I bought? You betcha.

dessert pastries!

Woulda been nice if I were able to plate these individually at home, but they didn't last long enough. Ate half of each while buzzed at 2 or 3am and tore into the remainder seven hours later so forgive me if my memory is a bit fuzzy. Baklava was spot-on. Can't believe it (or any of these) was homemade... The kadaifi (hairy lookin' one) was particularly fun to eat. Loved 'em all! Made a mess of myself while eating the kourambiethes (powdered sugar on top of a pastry cookie) though. Know the sad, longing feeling when you realize a great meal is coming to an end? That's how I felt as I finished the remaining pastries. Buying two boxes next year.

Walking around, I came across this:

So then came the intense internal struggle: $5 and settle for the small? Or go balls out as I usually do and blow $10 on a monster sugar rush? Oh jeez oh no it's almost my turn to order!


Yeah I'm surprised too. I demonstrated uncommon restraint and went with the small. My god this dessert was awesome! Amazing how such a simple pleasure--syrup drizzled over donuts with a dash of powered sugar, cinnamon, and pistachios--can bring me so much happiness and get me all giddy with glee. $5 buys enough for one to enjoy and share with others. Doesn't last nearly long enough, though.

Shoulda went with the large.

Not a bad way to pass an evening. Now that I'm more familiar with what the festival has to offer, next year will be an even better experience as I pick through the goodies and turn my nose at the baddies. ...G'damn that dry kabab. C'mon!

South Bay Greek Festival @ St. Katherine Greek Orthodox Chuch
722 Knob Hill
Redondo Beach, CA 90277