CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Kim Watkinson, The Ninja Baker. Her bio appears at the end of the post!
Note from Kim: Jessie Oleson Moore, The CakeSpy, brings readers like me such joy with her whimsical artwork and recipes. Remember Donut Stop Believin’ and Why Cupcakes are Nutritious? Like a rich chocolate cake, I am currently relishing every page of Jessie’s latest book, The Secret Lives of Baked Goods. So, I am thrilled to write this guest post for the Cake Spy whilst she is busy on her book tour. Thank you, Jessie!
White lilies and other snow-white flowers strain their necks forward as if to say hello. A slight breeze ruffles the white tablecloth. I reach for my goblet of water with lemon and sip contentment. For a moment I feel like a movie star. After all I am taking lunch at Villa Blanca owned by celebrity Lisa Vanderpump. (One of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.)
Well-coifed BFFs with designer bags and shopping bags labeled Chanel and Ralph Lauren swinging from their arms chatter away as they wait to be seated. I feel lucky to have been seated at a table open to California sunshine and people watching. Oblivious to the splendor inside the restaurant in Beverly Hills, Italian suited businessmen on iPhones engrossed in the world of commerce rush by.
A friendly server comes over with menus. My darling niece, Jasmine and my friend Nobuko-san contemplate our choices. Nobuko-san and I are sticking strictly to dessert. (Life is short, right?) But Jasmine sensibly chooses a coconut milk and miso soup – which she generously shares. Nobuko-san and I prefer traditional Japanese fare so we wouldn’t have thought to combine coconut milk and miso. But we both agree it works. Jasmine observes the asparagus is “perfectly cooked and crunchy.”
As our English Toffee Bread Pudding arrives, we all play dessert detective. (Lisa Vanderpump is from the UK so we had to try this traditional British treat.) Supersweet! (I believe there is both white and brown sugar involved.) And the dessert stays true to its heritage with a sticky topping. My well-traveled niece was wary of the pudding, but found it “surprisingly good.” We all agreed the vanilla bean ice cream served with Villa Blanca’s version of the pudding is sublime.
The pink champagne was uber-pretty and left bubbly puddles as it melted.
Next we dug into the Green Tea Tiramisu (pictured top). Nobuko-san and I thought the green tea accent was a tad weak and thought the cinnamon was a bit overpowering. But, Jasmine who grew up in California thought it was a winning blend of tea and strawberry. I’m not saying I didn’t love all the creamy goodness, but wished for a bit more matcha or green tea. (Sorry. You can take the girl out of Japan but you can’t take the Japan out of the girl.)
Whatever tastes may or not be wanting in a dish at Villa Blanca, the atmosphere and stellar service are well worth the Beverly Hills prices. Oh! You may just spot Ken Vanderpump, Lisa’s husband. He is 100% sweetie. While his lunch waited for him, he let a whole gaggle of customers take photos with him. To see the smile on my niece’s face and her excitement about meeting him was the crowning moment to a lovely afternoon at Villa Blanca.
Final word? Definitely worth the visit. Do make reservations. Villa Blanca 9601 Brighton Way Beverly Hills, CA 90210 Tel. (310) 859-7600. Online here.
About the Ninja Baker, Kim Watkinson: The Japanese language and food was all I knew until age 5 albeit I’m a towheaded American. My 17 years in Tokyo influences my baking, blogging and book writing. At Ninjabaking.com I share scrumptious Asian fusion, American classics and gluten-free how-tos as well as fun facts about Japan.