Paula Maack

I'm an outspoken foodie, budget traveler, luxury junkie, amateur chef, writer and television producer. My blog Ambrosia Quest features anything that brings me pleasure and celebrates life, love, and beauty, as I see it.

  • Website
  • Location: California
  • Favorite foods: Fois gras, caviar, oysters, uni, florals, caramel, bone marrow, salsa, beans, beef, lamb, artichoke, lemon, arugula, salmon, cardamon, pork belly, gelato, raspberries, hollandaise, figs, carbonara, yogurt, salt, fat, chili peppers
  • Last bite on earth: FOIS GRAS sends me straight to heaven every time it passes my lips. So PLEASE, leave this precious food commodity alone and pick on the REAL bad guys, Otherwise, I'll be forced to die without access to the promised land via foodgasm.

Latest Comments

11 Burgers That Are Worth the Hype

Love the photo, Damon. But, have to disagree.

Oh, and that spoon of "ketchup" they serve is the worst! The condiments at Umami are a complete miss - all of them.

Los Angeles: Grinding It Out in the Shadow of Greatness at Phil's Deli & Grill

What to get at Phil's are the dogs, baby. . That's the problem. Just sayin'.

Still, their burger looks better than I would expect. I'll be sure to try Charlie's for their burger. Thanks for the tip, Damon!

Best Food Porn on Serious Eats in 2010

As usual, Damon's photo is my favorite. Gorgeous decadence!!!

Travelers: What's Your Favorite Airport Food?

Loved the food at the airport in Venice, Italy.

Am I being too sensitive or do women still get the crappy tables?

I have had similar experiences.

For example: I recently dined at Umami Burger on La Brea Ave. Solo. At an off hour (3:30-ish p.m.). I was traveling between meetings, and had not eaten all day, so I stopped in. I was famished.

On previous occasions, I had seen a few gentlemen dining solo at this Umami location, and they were all seated in the main room, enjoying themselves. However, when I came in, I was promptly led into the tiny side room, which is dark and looks like a jail cell, with only one table in it. Mind you, there were plenty of two-tops available in the dining room.

As if it isn't bad enough to have to eat at a restaurant solo, the kind and thoughtful staff insisted I sit alone in a tiny room, staring at the walls, like a kindergartner who was being punished. It was dreadful. To top it off, the meal was bad. Quite bad. Not a first at this spot, either.

I swear, Umami Burger has to be the most over-rated burger joint in L.A. Seriously. But, I digress...

Needless to say, I left Umami Burger completely dissatisfied, and quite angry.

Long story, short... I would have to agree that women are treated/seated like 2nd class citizens in some restaurants. And, those restaurants will not enjoy my patronage again, after such an offense.

That said, I will not be returning to Umami Burger - ever.

The Return of General Mills' Monster Cereals

Thanks for the awesome tip, Damon!

Shame they didn't include Fruit Brute, though. *pout* *pout*

While the new graphics aren't bad, I would still much prefer the original artwork. #nostalgia

Creamy Scrambled Eggs with Caviar

I often think of caviar as a go-to midnight snack. Great choice!!

The Design Flaws of the Corkbar Burger in Los Angeles

Great read. Tragic looking (and sounding) burger.

That patty looks like Spam!!

Food Blog Glut?

I have a food, travel, lifestyle & entertainment blog called Ambrosia Quest.

I receive a steady stream of local and international traffic with consistent numbers, despite the fact that I blog rather infrequently these days. I have return visitors (fans, I guess), and mostly random visitors from around the world that find me via search engine. Some stay and keep reading beyond what they were searching for, and others get what they came for and move on.

There is a lot of noise out there, and a good deal of redundancy, so I try to avoid that - both as a reader, and a blogger. If I come across something new, unknown, or that I feel I need to share with the world, and I have the time and inclination to photograph and write about it, I will. Meanwhile, I have a backlog of posts waiting to be published, some that will eventually get polished up and posted, and many that will remain in blog purgatory forever.

The thing is, there is a downside to blogging.

Blogging about a place I love can end up ruining it. I still want to get a table and good service at my favorite spots, and I don't want my secluded hideaways to be over-run with crowds all of a sudden. Thus, I have to be careful about what I write. After witnessing food bloggers collectively destroy Pink's, I will never share my favorite hotdog spot. No way.

Don't get me wrong. I love sharing. It is who I am. And, that is what blogging is all about. However, sometimes being guardedly selfish is good idea, too. I suppose that is why I blog less these days.

(Though, I do tweet.)

On the other hand, I failed to blog or tweet about one of my favorite local spots, and it recently closed. Now, I am kicking myself. So, there's that.

I enjoy food blogs, and am glad there are so many to choose from, but I don't have the time or interest to read them as often as I used to. I'll maybe check out a new blog if it stands out as interesting or unique. Otherwise, I have a list of favorites that I visit from time to time, and try to keep up with.

Serious Eats is at the top of that list.

Post Oral Surgery - What Foods to Eat?

Well, I'm all healed up and off the pain meds. Finally! Thank you all for the great feedback and ideas!

@jakey I hear you with the month of salads. I see myself doing the same thing. Had my first salad yesterday. So happy about it!

@boobird Aww, yes. Chicken livers. Yummy stuff!

@emilydev Thank you for the words of wisdom.

@prunesaregood Thank you sympathy, kind words, and unique savory porridge suggestions!

@BitchinFixins That Avocado Milkshake suggestion was a real winner. Thanks so much!

@hungrychristel No worries. There is nothing in the world that would cause me to put those two food items in a blender and consume them.

My suggestion to those in undergoing oral surgery who think they want to blend burgers, or complete dinners, etc., is to go for smooth pates, savory mousses, fricasses, and the like, instead. Or, grind up some sausage or something similar, and mix it into some mashed potatoes with gravy, or something along those lines - much more palatable.

Here are a few more food items I have enjoyed while recovering:

Meringue (and meringue-topped pies)
Soft Roasted Veggies (such as zucchini & other squash, eggplant, etc).
Creamed Spinach (or Indian Saag)
Pistou (or pesto) for some green/nutrition influence
Mashed Bananas & Banana Milkshakes
Roasted Garlic

Thanks for all your support! This thread was helpful to me, and I hope it helps others in the future.


Can you add red wine to the beef stew?

Red wine is perfect in any beef stew. Although, I agree with everyone above, there are better cuts of meat to stew up than filet mignon.

If your filet is already cut up for stew, you can use it for something more upscale like Mini Tournedos of Beef in a Mushroom Sauce (stew-like), or Mini Bacon-Wrapped Tournedos, perhaps as cocktail apps with asparagus spears rolled in, as well (just prepare the minis as you would the regular sized versions in the same recipe), or you could even grill up a really good Shish Kabab.

If your Filet Mignon is intact, you could prepare simply by sauteing, searing, grilling, etc., in which case, a red wine reduction sauce would make a perfect accompaniment.

Stewing and braising are methods of cooking generally utilized to make tougher, fattier cuts of meat tender and palatable. Regardless of what cut of beef you use to make your stew, here is a recipe I wrote that was previous featured in the "Weekend Cook & Tell" feature here on SE that uses red wine in the braising liquid. You can use this recipe as a guide for your stew, should you decide to go that route:
Braised Deckle of Brisket - 2 Ways

Enjoy your filet, and let us know how you ended up preparing it.


Dear AHT: Burger Recs in Las Vegas?

Though I haven't had the burger there, the best beef I have had while in Vegas was at Craftsteak in the MGM Grand.

The worst burger I've had in years was at The Burger Bar in Mandalay Bay. Avoid.

a Trader Joe's Disappointment

Trader Joe's is not a "grocery store" and perhaps that's why you don't get it. They are a specialty food store that buys out stocks of food/sundry items in bulk and transfers the savings to their customers. Their stock changes, based on availability. Sometimes that's a bummer when your favorite item is no longer available, but those are the breaks.

The fact that they consistently carry quality dairy, eggs, and produce (in California, the produce selection is above average in most cases - i.e., local, unwaxed, organic apples, lots of organic fruit & veg, fresh figs, berries, basil, etc.) is impressive.

I am a "cook from scratch type" most of the time, but I have also raised a child, and prepared foods are helpful, and even necessary, as a back-up. Trader Joe's offers some of the best prepared foods around. I have tasted many of TJ's frozen items, and their pizzas are all pretty decent for what they are (you know, frozen), their fz. green enchiladas, taquitos, and desserts are all pretty good, too. I do enjoy their hummus, and they have a lovely frozen Alsatian Tart (pizza) for about $5, I used to enjoy back when I ate wheat. When it comes to snack items, they have you covered - for much less than competitors.

I agree with comments above; Trader Joe's is the perfect one-stop shop before hosting an impromptu get together. I have catered last minute parties of up to 40 people in 15 minutes flat from TJ's: cheeses, crackers, breads, pates, chips, dips, crudite, caviar, smoked salmon, cookies, chocolate, fruit, beer, wine... placed it all on/in some dishes/bowls, and was set! Gets compliments every time, too.

But, if that's not your thing, no probs. More goodies for me, and less crowds to wade through to get to them. :)

how do you preserve tomatillos for later use?

I wish I had your problem. I have a hard time buying enough good looking tomatillos to do anything substantial with.

I have been wanting to make this recipe for a simple, clean and bright Tomatillo Salsa from Sean at, but I haven't acquired enough tomatillos at one time to pull it off.

If you give it a try, let us know how it goes. It looks so yummy!

Restaurant Pet Peeves....anyone?

Wait staff that stand around - outside of view - talking to each other, rather than paying attention to their tables.

Dinner, Wed. 8/25: What's on your menu tonight?

I am whitening my teeth this week & can only have white foods as a result.

Thus, tonight's dinner will be white gluten free crustades slathered with white bean puree (made from Rancho Gordo Marrow beans), and topped with boneless and skinless sardines, sliced white pearl onions & sel de mer. Normally I would add fresh parsley, capers, some colorful veg, and maybe some lemon confit and call it a small plate, but tonight it is dinner sans colour.

What's the worst odor you've smelled in a restaurant?

I'm with Madelyn on the Pine-Sol/mop water, and would include ammonia, bleach and any other cleaning products.

I close second is when someone comes by with a rolling bus tub to clean nearby tables. Ick!

Make a Stop at Hamburger Depot in Beaumont, Texas

Gorgeous, Damon! Thank you.

I agree with you on the crust being critically important to a great burger. I was sad to see your burger was overcooked. (I would have sent that patty back and asked them to nail it, but that's me.)

I do have to say... I am glad you had a good time with extended family, although you are killing me with these great looking and sounding burgers in towns I'll probably never visit, despite their documented charm.

Downtown LA: Bottega Louie

Um. No offense. But, 7th & Grand... Rough & ready???
Excuse me, while I indulge in serious laughter.

The wait queue can be a silly concept. I agree.

I have been disappointed by the food at Bottega Louie, also. In my experience, it was the execution that failed, not the choice of ingredients. I did not, however, try the pizza.

On the other hand, I was highly impressed with the macarons at Bottega Louie, which are quite exceptional. Almost on par with those at Laduree, in Paris. Almost...

Condiments in ... Puerto Rico: Mayoketchup

I almost always eat my french fries/onion rings, etc. with this.
I believe it's called "golf" in Argentina.

Food to feed a sore body

1. Drink water before, during and after workout.

2. Omega-rich oils are great for inflammation (fish, flax & hemp seed are great choices)

3. Try to soak in hot water as soon after workout as possible, even if it's just a hot shower for 20 minutes.

4. Slap your sore muscles hard all over, several times - this releases the lactic acids, and helps prevent and relieve soreness.

5. Arnica (ointment, oil, etc.), which can be found at health food stores, rubbed into sore muscles helps relieve pain and heals muscles naturally.

6. Alternate muscle groups when working out (i.e. upper body one day, lower body the next).

7. I am not a nutrition expert, but I used to be an amateur athlete, and found that loading up on complex carbs mixed w/ fats, sugar and protein (such as oatmeal with nuts and fruit) before a workout can help boost and maintain energy. I would include good clean proteins in your post workout meal.

Weekend Cook and Tell Round Up: You Say Tomato

Nice round-up, Caroline. I like that you posted two photos. I have wanted to see all of the participator's photos included in the round-up, all along. A second photo is a good start. :)

Wow, willasaunt! That tart is GORGEOUS! My compliments to the chef. Brava!!! I believe, I will be making a version of that tart tomorrow for brunch - thank you very much!!

Lots of limes and lemons... what to do?

Nice problem to have. Here are a few suggestions

- Lemon Meringue &/or Key Lime pies or tarts
- Lemonade &/or Limeade (which can also be frozen for popsicles or ices)
- Ceviche
- Greek Lemon Oregano Chicken & Avgolemono
- Preserved Lemons &/or Limes (depending on quality of the citrus)
- Lemon Cake w/ Lemon Glaze Icing
- Sorbet
- Lemon Ice Cream (here's a link to a recipe that doesn't require a machine)

Pucker up, and enjoy!!


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