Van Nuys, CA: Colombian Cuisine at Meson Criollo Grill Restaurant

On a Sunday afternoon, I walked into joy my friends at Meson Criollo Grill Restaurant.  The husband is from El Salvador and his wife a Colombiana.  She would order for me and plate could have been three dinners for me.   We started with these piping hot crisp empanadas.   I would go back for those alone.   Then my hearty meal of steak, egg, rice, beans and plantains were the feast.   When in pseudo Colombia you drink as they do so I order a Colombian soda.

As for the decor, it seem casual.   I was so into my food and company that I barely noticed.  The restaurant is located in a strip mall.

– Crystal Johnson, MCCN Editor

Meson Criollo Food

Popular Instruments of the Dominican Republic

Music is the colorful backdrop of the Dominican Republic.  There are few favorite instruments there:

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The Tambora

The Güira is a metal scraper from the Dominican Republic used as a percussion instrument in merengue and, to a lesser extent, other genres such as bachata. 

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Watch tutorial on how to play it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KxIDwcmWY0

Inside Haiti: Getting Around in Haiti

Haiti is a land where the celebration of cultures of African countries still live but poverty and corruption plague the land.    In Port au Prince many of the roads are rocky and unpaved.  As you ride in the popular mode of transportation called the tap tap, you find your body jolting to point of fearing whiplash in thoughts of this foreigner. Tap Taps are gaily painted buses that serve as share taxis in Haiti.  A tap tap is often packed with people.  Instead of ringing a bell to get off you to tap tap on the window to signal that you need to get off.

tap tap collage 2

 

The other major form of transportation is motorcycles.   Much like New York, you have to acquire special talent to drive in Haiti.  Don’t be surprised if you see people drive on the sidewalk.   There are not many traffic lights either.

Busy commerce street

 

 

Spotlight: Hilton Mandalay Beach Embassy Suites Oxnard, CA

Mandalay

The Hilton Mandalay Beach Embassy Suites in Oxnard, CA is perfect destination for the Angelino and a person coming from anywhere in the world.  What is really has to offer the person in live in Los Angeles is a real sense of escape without jumping on a plane or train.

We booked 2 rooms for 2 days and most agree we would wish it would have been three. You don’t have to leave the hotel. If the whether is right you can close eyes and dream you at an island destination. Open your eyes and not be disappointed.

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With heated pools, a jacuzzi, tennis courts, a gym and the beach right out your gated weekend community stay. You couldn’t ask for more but you get it. We had a nice size refrigerator in our room and a microwave. We stayed in building 2 with views of beach shores and ocean.

Now let’s talk about grub on the premise and nearby.  Breakfast may be called continental but it a buffet with a choice of sausage, bacon, pancakes, waffles, fruits, hash browns, scrambled eggs and custom made omlette station.  Walk down a little a little further and you will find healthy section with yogurt bar, cereals, various toasts and maybe not so healthy option of morning pastries.    At lunch time, chef are grilling hot dogs and hamburgers poolside.  It’s a little pricey but if convenience is what you want then you have it.     There is also inclusive reception/happy hour every evening.

Healthy section with yogurt bar, cereal, and juices

Healthy section with yogurt bar, cereal, and juices

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Northridge, CA: The Falafel Palace

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This reviews pains me a bit.  Sometimes, a meal falls short.  I normally enjoy The Falafel Palace but this dinner fell short for not all me but my friend too.  She was a first visitor so she wasn’t impressed.

Let’s talk my plate first with lamb sitting a top of head lettuce( which I hate but that’s not their fault) complimented with tabouli and baba ganoush. My lamb was flavorful but  dry. My tabouli was just too dry and lacked flavor.  The baba ganoush was good.  They also offered me a sample of their falafel which I enjoyed.  However, my dining order a pita filled with falafels and she thought it lacked flavor.  Considering that I have been to restaurant in a year.  I want to give them the benefit of the doubt of a bad day.  My others visits, I have no complaints.  That is why I have kept coming over the years.

Review by Crystal A. Johnson

9255 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324

Phone:(818) 993-0734

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Hateful Eight

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This will be one of my shortest reviews for a film.  As, it says below…”Hated It.”  Normally, there is a foodie review and I could give you some witty suggestions on what to eat but in light of not advocating this film,  no food review.

Now why do I hate it?  At 3 hours and 7 minutes, it is too long given the execution of the story which could have been finished 60 minutes earlier.  There is no payoff by the end of the film and no truly likable hero.  This a bloody mess of a film.  However, in my opinion less bloody than most Tarentino films which admittedly in the past I have enjoyed.   Django, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs are some of my favorites.   If you insist on seeing this then please don’t have children around.  Multiple heads  are blown off.

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Woodland Hills, High Tea Cottage

High Tea Cottage Stacked plate

What a wonderful little spot in the San Fernando Valley.  The High Tea Cottage is located one block south of Ventura Blvd in Woodland Hill.  The staff is friendly and don’t be surprised if they engage in conversation with.

Crystal and Julia at High Tea Cottage

Look out for special days like Downton Abbey Teacher or Customer Appreciation day which prices are slashed in half.  I was fortunate to visit on a Good Friday customer appreciation day.

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We started with tea and delight fruit salad.  Then we enjoyed our tea sandwiches and scones and enjoyed our fruit filled Belgian chocolate cups.

Address: 21938 Costanso St, Woodland Hills, CA 91364

 

Northridge,CA: Szechuan Place

Spicy wonton soup

Spicy Wonton Soup- Photo by Crystal A. Johnson

While going to do my laundry at a strip mall, a vibrant place caught my attention called the Szechuan.  Something about it even from afar screamed authentic.  The crowd mostly, if not all Asians except me tends to validate my authenticity suspicion.

The restaurant has an extensive menu.  Things caught my attention like Szechuan pork, a couple nearby sharing tofu stew,  and corn chowder soup.  However, I settled on something that I don’t see everyday which is spicy wonton soup.   This is not you standard American Chinese won ton soup.   Instead it is a mixture of chili oil, broth, green onions and garlic and my wontons were filled with pork.  Though, I enjoyed the flavor,  I did think it was too oily.  I would like to maybe had more broth based.  It was very rich.  The garlic and green onion tasted very fresh.   I also order some crispy spring roll that were perfectly crispy and the vegetables inside tasted fresh and were crunchy.

I believe this restaurant is relatively new.  The service was extremely slow but the staff was very nice.

The decor is beautiful.  It make you kind of forget you are in s strip mall by a laundry mat and cleaners.  I definitely would like to explore some of the other dishes.

Szechuan Place

The restaurant is located by California State Northridge University.  It should do well and better than previous establishments in that location.

Where: 9250 RESEDA BLVD UNIT #7-8 NORTHRIDGE 91324