Jamaican Me Hungry

This is a review of Natraliart in LA and Jamaican food in general. The need for this came when my co-worker said she’d never eaten Jamaican food. You mean you’ve never had jerk chicken? Crazy, right?

I made sure to order some classics and highlight what they do better than anyone else. Obviously, the jerk seasoning can’t be beat in Jamaica. Also… you need to try ackee with some kind of salt fish. Here we had cod. Plantains are a must, as well as some good greens. Throw in a Jamaican beef patty and it’s a complete meal. Oh, but don’t forget to wash it down with some ginger beer.

Enjoy the pictures and always remember to try different cuisines! Oh, and they do a good job here… especially with the plantains, oxtails and jerk chicken. IMG_4555IMG_4553IMG_4549IMG_4545


Amandine Review (Los Angeles)

No, this is not by any means a full review of what Amandine does. I can’t do that since I’ve never been there, but I can tell a lot about what they from the four or five dishes we ordered via delivery.

Here’s what I know.

They don’t know what bread to filling ratio is. As you can see in all of the pictures below (and above) there is way too much bread with far too little in between. This might not be an issue if the bread was better or even toasted, but that’s not the case.

This leads to overwhelming sense of blandness.

The egg salad had some nice, potent flavor but there weren’t many other high-notes when it comes to flavor in the meal. The salad dressing was far too caustic and the béchamel fell flat, or was just lost in the bread.

So, remember how important it is when selecting bread for a sandwich. It can impact everything and throw off the balance of the dish in a major way.

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50 Shades of Food Reviews

First of all, I apologize for the title. I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea, but I need to take responsibility for my actions… so it’s not going anywhere! But, to bring a little more clarity, this is more like 3-5 shades of food reviews.

You might know us as the team who brought you the Hungry & Fit blog, which covers food, fitness, and trying to create a healthy lifestyle for different kinds of folks. You might not. Either way, think of this blog as the bastard child of our first child.

What’s that mean? Well, to get to the point, it means that we have written over 500 or so restaurant reviews, if you’d call them that. The thing is… they’re shared over different platforms. Why? Because they’re all meant to serve a different purpose, and not, to get us more views… although we never mind that consequence.

If you see us post something about food on Instagram, we probably loved it, but if you read the caption you’ll know for sure.. If you see us post something about food on Twitter, we probably hated it and want to shame whoever made it. (Okay, maybe that’s extreme.) Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. are all NOT a part of our little food network.

The Hungry & Fit blog is where we publish our legitimate restaurant reviews. They typically have pictures. They’re in-depth. They’re intelligently written from the point of view of a critic, even though we’re not professionals. When we review a restaurant, we order differently. We’ll generally choose one dish and let the server choose the other. We’ll do that for appetizers, entrees, and dessert. We’ll get their signature drinks as well. We will give them a fair and fighting chance to show us what they can do.

The Hangry Life blog is a vehicle we use (and plan to use more) to well… be hangry, kind of… sort of. (Who gets that Worst Cooks in America reference?) I wouldn’t say we use it for rants, but we post our more critical reviews here. In fact, I wouldn’t even call them reviews. We basically highlight a more significant theme in food that we experience and try to… educate people with it. We also use it to try to get a message across to help a restaurant or eatery that might need some help, whether they want it or not.

The Yelp account has nearly 500 reviews and this platform is used to help people using Yelp to find the right place to eat when they’re traveling or curious. We don’t write anything long or emotional on it. We, more or less, use a template in order to address certain issues that might attract or defer possible customers, based on our experience and observations.

And with that, hopefully, you have a better idea about what to expect. Why is this relevant? Because I’m about to write a review about Amandine Patisserie in the Santa Monica/West LA area. I always debate which platform is the correct choice for each review and this one will as all others go on Yelp, but it will also go on here because they have a major flaw in their execution of something they do a lot!

Stay hangry!

Casting Call for Dog Lovers

We might not normally post something along these lines, but we wanted to give any of our followers a cool opportunity to maximize a possible dog adoption effort that they have in mind.

The letter below is from a casting agent, so we can’t take any credit for it, but please feel free to take advantage of this!

Hello Dog Lovers!!

If you or anyone you know (in Southern California) are planning to adopt a dog in the next few months … LET US HELP with our expert and a second season TV show called FINDING FIDO!

The show is hosted by the award winning dog photographer and now dog expert, Seth Casteel (www.SethCasteel.com), who’s book “Underwater Dogs” is a New York Best Seller!  (yes, you will get a photo shoot with your new dog afterwards!!)

Since 2007 Seth has helped thousands of dogs get adopted by capturing their personalities in photographs and through this work he has honed the skills to perfectly match people and their environments with the perfect dog!

We are looking for families, singles and couples who are ready to adopt a new dog in order to follow their journey and help pair them with the perfect pet! This is an incredibly heartfelt and emotional show that is helping dogs and people fall in love and place rescue and shelter dogs in forever homes!

I have included our fliers below in hopes that you can share them to your FB and your friends, if you yourself aren’t currently seeking FIDO.


Please reply here or to email on flier with your name / contact info /  why you are ready to adopt this summer!

Thank you so much and all the best!

Iron Chef Gauntlet Review

This isn’t really a critical, in-depth review of Iron Chef Gauntlet. Why not? Well, first of all, I won’t be finishing the show, so it’s a bit unfair to really go at it. I know what you want to ask so I’ll give you the answer… because it’s not about the cooking, and that’s the problem… it never is… anymore.

Food Network is more of a drama-based entity than it was in the past. As a child growing up, I watched Emeril Live, Iron Chef, East Meets West, and many other shows when they were airing. Food Network was, even as a 5 year old, my cartoons and I couldn’t miss a single episode.

Back then, there weren’t all these competitive shows, and while Iron Chef existed, it was the pure Japanese version (with English subs and even some dubs) that still seemed to focus on the cooking.

Fast forward to Iron Chef Gauntlet and everything wrong with Food Network shows its ugly face. The show is all about drama and ego, which is painfully evident in this past episode where *SPOILER* Chef Nakijima is eliminated by Chef Izard. Here are my three main issues.

  1. It isn’t really a gauntlet, or well constructed, at all.
  2. Early advertising was misleading… surely, on purpose.
  3. Food Network’s more interested in drama than cooking.

Watch the show and you can figure out the first one, if you know what a gauntlet is. It’s just not well put together as it creates a system that allows Chef’s to go, more or less, untested into the finale. There was a way to do it right, and they just didn’t.

They made it seem like it would focus on Iron Chefs that are established in the very beginning of marketing efforts in order to get you to watch the first episode, and you’ll be disappointed when you watch the premiere.

And as for the most significant issue, since it has taken over Food Network completely, they try to trick viewers into not being able to guess who won rounds by editing in the worst way possible.

You can see that in this past episode, when it seems painfully obvious that Chef Nakijima would win by a landslide. Cat had one bad thing to say, about his meatballs being dense, but other than that they praised him on creativity, plating, and taste.

As for Chef Izard… she was blasted on every dish. Boring plating on the chicken feet, typical cooking of the chicken thigh, and missed opportunities to feature the secret ingredient in the desert. Yet, she destroyed Chef Nakijima.

I remember being able to enjoy all of the programming on Food Network, but now I’m stuck with having to tolerate many of the shows on Food Drama Network, and I can’t wait for the day that it’s about the food again… not drama, ratings, or egos.

And as for the egos… don’t even get me started on the personalities they feature who can’t even cook. And remember, this is all coming from someone who doesn’t hate Food Network, but rather, is disappointed in the changes over the years. We saw Alton at his show recently; we took a tour of Thai Town with Jet Tila; we visited Eric Greenspan’s eatery on Melrose. We just want to see Food TV be what it should be… honest, and about food!

Comparing McConnell’s Ice Cream

A few words after recently sampling the newest McConnell’s location near Los Feliz, on Hollywood Blvd. What are we comparing it to… itself, of course. McConnell’s is McConnell’s biggest competition.

Why? What are they trying to accomplish in opening this one?

The one downtown is a tiny spot that allows you to have some of their flavors. It was their non-retail store opportunity to become public and it worked. GCM is a hub for these places.

The main location on State Street has everything. It’s a huge space… well, it’s a decent size but they highlight all of their products.

Why would you open a brand new location with such limited selection? It’s beautiful. It’s charming. It’s an enjoyable place to enjoy your ice cream, which is possibly the best pre-packaged product in the world. The problem is, I’d rather enjoy the ice cream sitting on a garbage can. Give up seating to allow the interior to host all the products you create.

I just don’t get it. Make it your flagship LA store. It only competes with the one in GCM, but it should obliterate it. It doesn’t even come close to State Street. If you’re going to drop that much capital, go the extra mile. In this case, go the extra dozen flavors and cookies.

And I won’t forget the original location, which is a landmark. It will, but it should never, change.

Very hangry.

The top picture shows the far from perfect sandwich at the new LA location, while the second showcases what you can get at State Street. The third is the beautiful, but unnecessary outdoor seating area at the new location.


Hangry or Not? Fork-In Aussie Pie Kitchen (Santa Monica, CA)

To be hangry or not to be hangry, that is the question. Did I leave hangry or not? Well, the bottom line is that I left Aussie Pie HANGRY, and this why!

Fork-In Aussie Pie specializes in pies specializes in pies. The kind of pies that you’d get in… well… Australia. Now, I’ve been to New Zealand and Bermuda, where I’ve devoured dozens of pies. I’ve also had my fair share of pies in British, Scottish, and Irish establishments, so there’s something to compare this fare to.

At the end of the day, I had three issues with Aussie Pie. Here they are:

  1. The wait. A sign outside said they take three days to make and 30 seconds to re-make. That wasn’t the case. We went when it was slow and still waited about 10 minutes for our order. I don’t mind waiting for good food, but manage the expectations of your patrons. Be honest.
  2. The value wasn’t quite there. At $8-9 a pie, they could afford to give you more filling. The ratio of crust to what was inside was just off and the reason that bothered me was not just for the value, but also for…
  3. The top crust was not as good as the bottom crust. Now, the problem is that their bottom crust is so damn good that you can’t help but expect the same for the top. When it fall short of those expectations, you’re disappointed. I’d much rather have it open, without the top crust and with more of the filling, because all five of the different pies that I tried had great filling.

So the good news is that the filling and bottom crust are well done. The texture provided by the crisp and flaky lower crust contrast beautifully with the soft center, whether it’s made with meat or vegetable based. Also, the flavors are vibrant. Their use of alcohol in their cooking process is masterful.

Aussie Pie would win my heart if they kept their price point while improving their top crust and adding more filling. Otherwise they can lower the price point of the current pies they offer and I’d still return.

Still, I left hangry and I’d love to see some minor changes made here because with those adjustments I know I would leave not-so-hangry!

P.S. – The gravy that comes with the takeout lacks flavor and doesn’t feel like the flour has been totally cooked down. It’s grainy and the flavor in the pies themselves outshine it completely.

With that being said, their packaging for to-go orders is excellent and their marketing on the sidewalk is both clever and amusing. Good work! Here are some images for you to enjoy…. Australian food porn, if you will.




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