Love & Salt makes everything taste better

After almost 40 years of serving French cuisine in Manhattan Beach, in 2014, father-and-daughter restauranteurs Guy and Sylvie Gabriele of Café Pierre were looking for change. They found inspiration in Michael Fiorelli – who previously worked alongside the late “Rock ‘n’ Roll Chef” Kerry Simon – and his philosophy that food only needs two ingredients: love and salt. Together, the three set out to reimagine a new restaurant, fusing Italian and California cuisines.

 

With a new chef as well as a new name, the pair renovated the Café Pierre space with Ana Henton from Mass Architecture and Design. The walls are now a soothing slate gray, and the blue hue of the decor echoes the nearby ocean. To add a bright focal point, the restaurant hired tattoo artist Johnny Vampotna to paint large ruby-colored flower near the front door. In the back is a granite bar with high stools, and two chef counters for diners to peer into the open kitchen and watch the chefs in action.

After a bike ride along the beach, my husband and I brushed off the sand, and went into Love & Salt for an early dinner when the restaurant opened at 5:30 p.m. Escorted to a coveted corner window table, we had the perfect spot to watch people on their way to the Manhattan Beach pier.

 

The front side of the Love & Salt’s menu features Fiorelli’s Italian-inspired cuisine, offering an array of interesting, locally sourced dishes. The back of the menu lists classic cocktails crafted by consulting bartender Vincenzo Marianella, of Copa d’Oro. He makes a good pisco sour and mai tai. The wine list also offers a nice selection of domestic and international wines that can be ordered by the glass or 9-ounce quartino.

 

Who starts a dinner with English muffins? I did, and it was one of my most memorable 2017 culinary experiences. Fiorelli makes incredible homemade muffins ­­­– two large, warm and doughy spheres arrived with a large slab of cultured butter sprinkled with sea salt crystals and rosemary. Cutting horizontally into one of the raised, yeast-leavened muffins, I spread the butter and watched it melt immediately into the sponge-like crevices. It was simply delectable.

IMG_2377

To start, we ordered the black kale salad chopped into thin strips with pieces of salami, sliced olives, pickled peppers, breadcrumbs and a sprinkling of ricotta. A sweeter salad was the Mission figs with sliced black grapes, Frog Hollow Farm pears and dollops of creamy burrata. These salads paired well with thick-cut ciabatta toast.

Next to arrive was the lamb Reuben, a take on the classic Reuben with lamb tongue, tomato aioli, fontina cheese and pickled peppers served on rye bread. Fiorelli’s Italian arancini rice balls, bathed in a traditional rustic Bolognese sauce, and wood-oven-cooked meatballs were especially delicious.

IMG_2395

The executive chef also makes wood-fired blistered pizzas that are visually beautiful. His duck-egg pizza is topped with pancetta, potato, rosemary, mozzarella, Parmesan and a soft egg that bathes the pizza in a savory yolk. The roasted mushroom pizza offers pleasing earthy flavors with creamy Taleggio, fontina and touch of thyme.

IMG_2399

Another forte of Fiorelli’s is homemade pasta. He makes a heavenly bucatini with bite-sized fennel sausage, black kale, Parmesan and bread crumbs. His trottole pasta, shaped like spinning tops, dazzles with rich roasted garlic, bone marrow, parsley, Parmesan and cracked black pepper.

Even though Fiorelli believes salt is the essence to perfecting the flavors in each dish, none of the dishes we experienced tasted salty – chef Fiorelli adds a just pinch.

Entrées take about 20 minutes to prepare, and include the roasted Mediterranean branzino; 10-ounce, grilled skirt steak with crispy fingerling potatoes; and 12-ounce pork chop Milanese with heirloom tomatoes, wild arugula and shaved Parmesan.

Chef de cuisine and pastry chef Rebecca Merhej’s desserts include warm Italian donuts served with lemon curd and Nutella, and a warm fig cake with pistachio. My favorite was her brown sugar pudding that tasted a bit like a butterscotch budino.

Merhej’s pastries are showcased during Love & Salt’s weekend brunch. Some of the signature brunch fare includes ricotta pancakes with blueberries and lemon curd, and wood-fired eggs with stewed tomatoes, Taggiasca olives, fingerlings potatoes, Parmesan, torn herbs and grilled bread. The Downlow burger is a favorite topped with fontina cheese, caramelized onions, house pickles and house-made tomato aioli.

After a morning jog, bike ride or walk along The Strand, treat yourself to a Love & Salt breakfast on Saturdays. Starting at 10 a.m., the first 15 guests each Saturday will receive a free chicken sausage breakfast sandwich. They are also pouring Tequila Sunrise beverages to the first 15 diners for just $5.

$$ Open for dinner at 5:30 p.m. and weekend brunch at 10 a.m. 317 Manhattan Beach Blvd., (310)545-5252.

dineMB in Manhattan Beach

logoManhattan Beach celebrates its second year with ten participating restaurants starting January 25 through January 30. Each participating restaurant offers a pre-fixe dinner menu that includes an appetizer, entrée and a dessert for $30, $40 or $50 per person. Here is a list of some of the participating restaurants:

1. The Strand House is offering a dineMB menu with unobstructed ocean and the Manhattan Beach pier views. 117 Manhattan Beach Blvd. (310) 545-7470.

2. The Rockefeller Crafthouse is offering a $30 dinner by Executive Chef Cody Diegel from Sunday January 25 – Friday January 30. Guests choose one appetizer, one entree and either a hot chocolate chip cookie +ice cream or vanilla crème brûlée or chocolate pots de creme dark chocolate custard with whip cream. It’s available at both the Hermosa Beach & Manhattan Beach locations. 1209 255514_112694085485430_106259519462220_126159_1623814_nHighland Ave. (310) 545-5810 and 422 Pier Ave. (310) 372-8467.

3. FISHBAR is offering a $30 dinner during that features an appetizer, entree and dessert. Entrees include Mesquite grilled salmon, Mahi Mahi Mediterranean and Chicken Piccata. 3801 Highland Ave. (310) 796-0200.

4. Petros offers a Petros Hellenic California Cuisine Pre-Fixe Menu Dinner for $40.00 per person. Starters include Avgolemono – a thick and warm egg, lemon juice, chicken and rice soup or a Market salad. Next order from the appetizer section a personal veggie pizza or spanakopita with spinach, dill, green onion and Feta cheese. Entrees include a lamb sandwich or grilled salmon. Finish with a dessert of apple bread pudding with chocolate mousse. 451 Manhattan Beach Blvd. B110 (310) 545-4100.

photo-35. Lido di Manhattan is celebration dineMB with a multi-course $30 dinner menu. Choose a first course or tomato soup, Caesar salad or calamari. Next, select pesto gnocchi, chicken Marsala or lemon herb crusted salmon. For dessert the offerings include Tiramisu or a gluten-free chocolate mousse cup or vanilla bean creme brule. Manhattan Marketplace, 1550 Rosecrans Ave. (310) 536-0730.

 

The Strand House – Tour de Pier

IMG_8540I always enjoy sitting upstairs at one of the tables near the wall of glass windows inside The Strand House. I gaze out at the Manhattan Beach Pier and Pacific Ocean watching pelicans soar along the shore line. My blood pressure lowers and I gain a sense of well-being.

I met with Heath Gregory, partner of The Strand House and co-founder of Tour de Pier to learn about his second annual Tour de Pier fundraiser on May 18, 2014.

Gregory’s fundraiser is to raise funds for cancer research and support. The three charities that will benefit from this event are The Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, Cancer Support Community and Livestrong Foundation.

“I’ve lost my brother-in-law to Brain cancer,” said Gregory.  “Cancer has touched our family and I want to do something about it.”

Michael Zislis, Heath Gregory and chefs Greg Hozinsky and Austin Cobb created a special antioxidant and cancer fighting menu for the Tour de Pier event. On May 1 to May 18 come have lunch at The Strand House and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Tour de Pier fundraising efforts.

The Strand House Sous Chef Austin Cobb
The Strand House Sous Chef Austin Cobb

The Tour de Pier charity event takes place outdoors on 300 stationary cycling bikes lined up along The Strand below the restaurant and on the pier. The South Bay’s best instructors and celebrity guests will spin riders through a four-hour session with great music and excitement motivating their legs to pedal. One of the celebrities is Olympic Cyclist Antonio “Tony” Cruz.

I had the opportunity to chat with Cruz during lunch. He told me that at the age of 12 his father encouraged him to enter his first cycle race in Manhattan Beach. When he hit the finish line, Cruz was hooked.

We talked while enjoying a Kale salad with sliced red grapes, candied pumpkin seeds, goat cheese and faro. I learned that Kale is high in fiber and has zero fat. It’s high in vitamin K, A and C. Studies have shown that Vitamin K helps against various cancers. It has shown a slow down and even stops a tumors growth when taken as a supplement. Kale can lower cholesterol and is a high calcium detox food.

Cruz became a professional road bicycle racer from the United States. From 2000 to 2009 he rode on the US Postal Service team with Lance Armstrong. He also has been on the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team and the BMC Racing Team. “I had 22 friends and family members come to many of my events,” said Cruz. “Their smiling faces and encouragement kept me going.” He owes so much gratitude to his mother and father. They have supported every spin he has made.

Next we all enjoyed a hamachi crude with lovely slices of avocado with a drizzle of tomato seed vinaigrette and red alaea sea salt. Avocados are known as a great cancer fighting food. They are high in lutein and has been shown to lower rates in breast cancer. They are rich in nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats. Red alaea sea salt is a product from Hawaii that offers healthy minerals, electrolytes and IMG_8550digestible dietary iron.

We also ate a citrus Ahi tuna salad, because Ahi is densely packed with B vitamins and vitamins that help maintain a healthy immune system. These vitamins are beneficial for digestion, metabolism, healthy skin and neurological functions.

Another salad that The Strand House serves is the raw salad filled with asparagus, broccolini, raw cashews, greens, carrots and a herb vinaigrette. Asparagus is a good source of fiber, folate and Vitamins A, C, E, and K. It helps break down carcinogens and harmful compounds. Eating asparagus has been known to help protect against and fight certain forms of bone, breast and colon cancer.

To participate in the Tour de Pier – the registration fee per rider is $125. Each bike team must raise a minimum of $500. The registration fee will count towards the $500. The deadline is May 4. Riders can ride a bike for four hours or share the bike with team members. Check in is May 18 at 7:30 a.m. The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Manhattan Ave. and 10th Street at the pier and The Strand.  Last year they raised $339,000 for local charities. Please visit www.tourdepier.com.

On the day of the event, there will be a Health & Fitness Expo and Kid’s Fun Zone with games, activities and entertainment.

The Strand House is located at 117 Manhattan Beach Blvd, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266. 1 For reservations, visit The Strand House page on OpenTable or call (310) 545-7470.

The Hirshberg Foundation of Pancreatic Cancer Research is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing pancreatic cancer research. For more information, go to www.pancreatic.org.

Livestrong Foundation provides support to guide people through the cancer experience, bringing them together to fight cancer and work for a world in which the fight is no longer necessary. For more information, visit www.livestrong.org.

The Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach offers a free program for cancer patients, their families and loved ones. Visit www.cancersupportredondobeach.org.

 

 

 

Zinc @ The Shade Hotel with Devin Alexander

DSC_0768When The Cheesecake Factory’s Bistro Shrimp Pasta recently topped the list of Xtreme Eating Awards with 3,120 calories, (put out by the Center for Science in the Public Interest) I shuddered to think of all the calories I consume when I go out to dine.

A friend told me about a terrific chef, Devin Alexander, who cooks up nutritious low-calorie dishes at The Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach. Her dishes are lower in fat than at most restaurants.

Currently, Devin has published eight popular books, including “The Biggest Loser” cookbooks. She hosts “America’s Chefs on Tour” on PBS and has a show “Healthy Decadence” which can be viewed on FitTV.

Recently. I went with a friend to meet Devin and try her healthier dishes. She shared with us that at the age of 15, she weighed 70 pounds more than she does today. After being bullied and feeling bad about herself, she learned that if she could cut 100 calories from her diet each day, she could lose weight. In one year, she lost about 20 pounds and felt better about herself.  She realized that you don’t have to deprive yourself of good food to be fit and trim, and learned how to cook healthier and more wholesome dishes.

Restaurant and hotel entrepreneur Michael Zislis, the owner of Shade Hotel, met Devin last year and asked if she would cook for him. He was so impressed with her delectable dishes, that he hired her to create “30-Days of Devinly Decadence” menu to be served at his restaurant, Zinc. Zislis has proudly lost almost 10 pounds by eating Devin’s food.

A group of us sat down to enjoy nine of Devin’s dishes featured on her menu. Each week Devin creates some new items, so those who want to dine at Zinc daily, will always have a brand new dish to experience.

We started with a chocolate peanut butter breakfast banana split. What? How can that be low calorie and healthy? Devin splits a banana in half and scoops fresh ground peanut butter on top. Next she adds non-fat vanilla yogurt and high-fiber Grape Nuts cereal to give the dish texture and a delightful crunch. It was heavenly.

When the egg white goat cheese omelet arrived, it was topped with fresh tarragon and chives. The goat cheese makes this dish pop with wonderful flavors. The best part of this dish is it’s DSC_0771only 141 calories and a miniscule amount of fat.

For lunch, Devin serves a bountiful salad with a twist on buffalo chicken wings. It’s a grilled white meat chicken dipped in Devin’s secret wing sauce. The chicken is cubed and tossed with mixed greens, celery, tomatoes, carrots and red onions. This pleasing dish is less than 500 calories, even with Devin’s housemade low-cal blue cheese dressing.

To read the rest of my review, click on this link: http://parklabreanewsbeverlypress.com/news/2013/01/healthy-dining-zinc-shade/

This article is published in the Beverly Press on Jan. 24, 2013. http://parklabreanewsbeverlypress.com/news/2013/01/healthy-dining-zinc-shade/

30 Days of Devinly Decadence at Zinc @ shade

DSC_0768Since I have vowed to eat healthy during 2013, I was excited to meet Chef Devin Alexander to try some of her dishes at The Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach.

Currently, Devin has 8 popular cookbooks, including the Biggest Loser cookbooks. She hosts America’s Chefs on Tour on PBS and has a show Healthy Decadence which can be viewed on FitTV.

She has also frequently appeared on The Biggest Loser, Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil, and The View.

Devin is adorable with her bubbly personality. When she met restaurant and hotel entrepreneur Michael Zislis, the owner of the Shade Hotel, she cooked for him. He was so impressed with the quality and taste of the food that he offered her to create a 30 Days of Devinly Decadence menu to be served at his Zinc Craft Kitchen in the Shade. As of Jan. 10, 2013, Zislis has lost 5 pounds by eating Devin’s food.

At the age of 15, Devin weighed 70-pounds more than she does today. After being bullied and feeling bad about herself, she learned that if she could cut 100 calories from her diet each day, she could lose weight. In one year, she lost about 20 pounds and felt better about herself.  She realized that you don’t have to deprive yourself of good food to be healthy, and learned how to cook healthier and tasty dishes.

A group of us sat down to enjoy nine of the dishes featured on this week’s menu. Each week Devin will create some newer dishes, so those who want to dine at Zinc daily, will always have a new dish to experience.

We started with a chocolate peanut butter breakfast banana split. What? How can than be low calories and healthy? Devin splits a banana and scoops fresh ground peanut butter. Then she tops it with non-fat vanilla yogurt and high-fiber Grape Nuts cereal to give the dish a delightful crunch. It was satisfying, sweet and healthy.

Next, arrived an egg white goat cheese omelet flavored with fresh tarragon and chives. The goat cheese gives this dish a pop of wonderful flavors. The best part of this dish is it’s only 141 calories.

For lunch Devin serves a bountiful salad with a twist on buffalo chicken wings. It’s a grilled chicken dipped in Devin’s secret wing sauce. The chicken is cubed and tossed with mixed greens, celery, tomatoes, carrots and red onions. This pleasing dish is under 500 calories, even with Devin’s housemade low-cal blue cheese dressing.DSC_0771

The Little Dev burger looks just like a Big Mac, tastes just like a Big Mac, yet is only 317 calories with 11 grams of fat. Compare that to the traditional Big Mac with 560 calories and 30 grams of fat. Devin’s is served with seasoned light-skinned sweet potato chips or a mixed green salad.

Craving Mexican food, but don’t want the high fat and calories? Devin’s grilled chicken enchiladas are only 366 calories. They have a zing to them with Devin’s special seasoning.

Everyone knows that crab cakes are fried and filled with fat, however Devin’s are unfried lump crab “balls” seasoned with panko bread crumbs and served with a salad. Three crab “balls” with a lemon caper dipping sauce are only 215 calories.

I love potato skins, yet never eat them because of all the cheese, sour cream and bacon bits. Devin reconstructs a healthy potato skin type of dish with low-fat cheddar cheese, seasoned sweet potato rounds, nitrite free turkey bacon bits and tops them with non-fat Greek yogurt and sprinkles some green onions. The entire dish is 288 calories with 9 grams of fat.

DSC_0777It’s easy to save room for Devin’s Divine Desserts, because one doesn’t feel overstuffed or guilty for consuming too many calories. Her life altering lemon bundt cake is fat-free, gluten-free and filled with fiber. The entire portion is only 207 calories. Craving chocolate? Devin makes a Godiva chocolate bundt cake that has 239 calories and 3 grams of fat. It’s rich, gooey and oh-so-delicious! The lowest calorie dessert is her banana mania muffin at 131 calories and a trace of fat. It’s gluten-free and has no weird sweeteners that give you a chemical aftertaste.

For drinks her unsweetened passion green ice tea is pink in color and full of tropical flavors. For those craving a cocktail, The Shade Lounge and restaurant are serving Devinly Decadence cocktails that are all under 200 calories. The sparkly greyhound is made with Ketel One, fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice and grapefruit sparkling water. Her frozen blueberry margarita is only 188 calories, compared to 500 to 750 calories. A nice night-cap is the Ripped Russian with Kahlua, Ketel One, and Devin’s all natural Devinly cocoa-infused creaminess. It’s dreamy with only 118 calories, vs. a traditional 450 White Russian.

I walked out amazed to eat all of those low-calorie dishes and not one tasted bland or like cardboard. They were Divine!

Visit The Shade Hotel in Manhattan Beach to have you taste buds tantalized and you don’t have to loosen your waistband.

Next week Devin will prepare a Breakfast Chili Bowl, Drippy Ahi Tacos, a Thai beef papaya chopped salad, chocolate-glazed soft pretzel bites and a luscious red velvet bundt cake with a cream cheese glaze.

1221 N. Valley Drive, (310)546-4995, http://www.shadehotel.com

%d bloggers like this: