Here, There, and EVerywhere – Day 15

A quick note of thanks to the Beatles for inspiring the title for this series of posts. This is the fifteenth in a series of posts written about our trip that will be published four weeks to the day of the trip.

Missed Day 14, click here.

Day 15 – Visit Northern New Jersey, Saturday, May 16, 2015

So today’s visit to New Jersey was really about just spending time with my cousin and his wife.

The location in Randolph New Jersey was the same one that we charged at 110V/6A (or approximately 1 mile per hour) on Monday evening (Day 10). We arrived the previous evening with 191 miles of range on the car (from the Paramus Supercharger) but we ended up driving to Rockaway, NJ and back and that consumed 17 miles of rated range.


We returned back to my cousin’s home with 195 rated range left. Since I forgot to take a photograph of the rated range when we left in the morning, I surmise that we added around 20-21 miles overnight.


One of the benefits of a casual day with family is we get to fiddle with things and found the optimum setting at my cousin’s 110V is 8A and not the 6A that I settled on Monday evening. The additional 2A (or 33% improvement in charging) raises the average mileage gain per hour from 1 mile per hour to 2 miles per hour. Since we figure to be “around Morristown, NJ” by Sunday, we’ve decided to join our NJEAA friends at their Sustainable Morristown event.

Now astute readers will notice that aside from my beautiful wife (and co-pilot), the only other folks that have driven our Model S on this trip have been my cousin in Ohio and my cousin in New York. Readers may wonder what about THIS cousin, the one in Randolph, NJ. He has both the other two cousins beat. He was the same one that visited us in Southern California during our Model S Pickup weekend. He and his wife were the first ones in the family to see and ride the Model S, he actually has driven our Active E and rode in my wife’s Roadster as well. Though I did offer for him to drive the Model S, he declined.

Driving Hybrid and Hybrid Garages

We decided to “drive hybrid” today and leave the Model S charging and we saw that this 8A held in the charge process.

Leaving the Model S in his garage to charge at 110V/8A reminded me of something that we did do to prepare for this long EV trip that we forgot to document on our Pre-Trip primer. As long time readers of the blog know, we don’t just drive Electric Vehicles. We have a hybrid garage that we’ve been running since we first acquired the Active E. In fact, we’ve been tracking the percentage of miles that we add on EV vs ICE as we were inspired by the tracking that Chevrolet Volt owners have published. We moved from approximately 80% EV/20% ICE in our first year of tracking to a 95% EV/5% ICE split in the second year. However, the danger of driving a hybrid garage with such a high amount of EV driving is that we have “killed” the battery on the ICE (and almost kill the battery two more times since then.) So, we figured with a long trip like this we needed to do something for our BMW X5 battery.

The simple solution was to plug the car in.


Basically, the contacts are connected to the battery posts of the X5 and plugged into the 110V outlet in the wall. Basically minimizing the need to start and drive the car once a week.

Blue Morel Restaurant and Wine Bar – Westin Governor Morris

We left the car to continue charging and rode in my cousin’s hybrid (non plug-in) for our night out. We went to the Blue Morel Restaurant and Wine Bar for dinner that night.

The Blue Morel has a great menu and the quality of the food and service was top notch. Normally, when we find ourselves this close to New York City, we go to restaurants in the City. But this trip we’ve decided to skip the City, so we picked a restaurant in Morristown and was duly impressed.

Being in a restaurant in a state located near major airports and the ocean, we opted for mainly seafood options. We imbibed in J.J. Prüm Kabinett Riesling, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Germany, 2011 to pair with our appetizers. The wine was so good, that we carried this same wine choice forward to go with our dinner. I had the Swordfish and my wife had Chilean Sea Bass. For dessert, I shared the S’Mores that the Blue Morel had on its menu with my wife. The quality of the food and service rivaled some of the finer restaurants in the city and we were glad to have dined there.

Go on to Day 16. Click here.

15_Randolph to Rockaway to Randolph

Here, There, and EVerywhere – Day 10

A quick note of thanks to the Beatles for inspiring the title for this series of posts. This is the tenth in a series of posts written about our trip that will be published four weeks to the day of the trip.

Missed Day 9, click here.

Day 10 – Drive on Monday, May 11, 2015

So, how was Delaware for the night? It was quite relaxing, actually.

Aside from spending the evening with my cousin in Randolph, NJ, we had several goals in New Jersey today. One thing that was high on our list was to pass by the Allwood Bakery (now known as Brothers Bakery of Allwood) in Clifton, NJ and to visit the EV destination of Nauna’s Bella Casa in Montclair, NJ.

Prior to reaching New Jersey, we made arrangements to meet some fellow BMW Active E Electronaut alumni (Airton Azevedo, Tom Moloughney, Chris Neff, and Michael Thwaite). These guys also happen to be involved with the New Jersey Electric Automobile Association (NJEAA), so we scheduled an EV meetup at Nauna’s for 6:00pm that evening. It was an open invitation to other EV drivers, and the guys invited other members of NJEAA and we were glad that they did.

Hampton Inn and Suites Newark

But first, we had to get out of our hotel in Delaware.

No, the car did not spring a leak. It’s condensation from the preconditioning.






So, we lost four miles after pre-conditioning. So, it’s not a great test of what the conditions were overnight. Though I didn’t have a picture of it, I checked my notes and had written down that there was 213 Miles of Rated Range in the morning, so that’s a one mile loss overnight, and another three due to pre-conditioning. The distance between Newark, DE and Hamilton Marketplace, NJ is around 75 miles, so we had a LOT of buffer. Actually, the distance between Hamilton Marketplace Supercharger and the Edison Supercharger is around 35 miles (or a total of 110 miles,) so we didn’t even need to stop in the next two New Jersey superchargers.  One of the main reasons that we did was to help with the entries for the beta of the (now released) Teslarati App for iOS.

The times that I’ve driven through Delaware over the years, the only thing I remembered was the Delaware Memorial Bridge.


No, it is not time to stop and check in to a hotel, we just started the day for crying out loud. The camera was just out of focus for the bridge and the “Welcome to New Jersey” sign.


Hamilton Marketplace Supercharger

The Hamilton Marketplace Supercharger was the first supercharger in the state of New Jersey and it was the first New Jersey supercharger that we stopped at.  As previously mentioned, we really didn’t need to supercharge there, so we stopped for a quick charge.



Went inside the Barnes and Noble.  On the way in, I spotted something that made me stop and ponder.


I wonder if the Barnes and Noble at the Hamilton Marketplace Supercharger stocked this book by the door, and close to the supercharger on purpose.  As tempting as it was to pick up a book on Nikola Tesla, I just passed on it.

If you do end up at the supercharger at Hamilton Marketplace, NJ, you will note that there is a Starbucks inside the Barnes and Noble. The store hours at this location are 9:00 am – 10:00 pm except on Sundays where it’s 10:00 am – 9:00 pm.

It started raining before we got to the Hamilton Marketplace Supercharger, and it remained actively raining by the time we got parked to charge. So, I waited for the rain to abate a little before I plugged in. Seeing that it was just raining and not thunder and lighting, we felt that it was safe to charge.




The six superchargers at Hamilton Marketplace is at the side of the Barnes and Noble.  A location that is closer to a shopping center than some of the other
shopping mall located superchargers from earlier in the trip.  Seeing that it was raining before I ran into the store, I appreciated the fact that the chargers were so close to the store.

After getting a little charge, we left for the Edison supercharger, and was met by even more rain.  Lots of rain.  As fast as drivers were going when the road was dry, it was notable how much slower the traffic adjusted to the wet weather.   We only had to travel 35 miles to Edison from Hamilton Marketplace.



Edison Supercharger

And just like that, we ended up at another mall located supercharger. This time though, the superchargers are at the edge, like most other mall locations in the country. The superchargers are split between two sets of four chargers. There was another Model S from New York a few stalls away, however, it was raining, and we really didn’t socialize.





Though we didn’t need to charge to full, we were tracking early for our meetup with the NJEAA guys and gal, so we charged up to not be reliant on any other charging going forward. Nauna’s does offer several charging options, but we’re meeting with other EV drivers, and I didn’t know if any of them would need to use any of the available chargers at Nauna’s.

Brother’s Bakery/Allwood Bakery – Clifton, NJ

Our first stop, prior to getting to the meetup, was the Brother’s Bakery of Allwood.


Whenever I find myself in Northern New Jersey, it has been a tradition that I’ve adopted to stop off at this bakery for its banana cake. The banana cake is not “famous” as it is “sentimental” (aside from being delicious.) My best friend’s grandmother used to live in Clifton and he used to share the banana cake with me when his family would travel back to Southern California after visiting her in New Jersey. I just adopted their family tradition as my own (and it does help that the banana cake is tasty!)


We got “primo” parking by the bakery. But, getting there when they have banana cake is the real “win” here.


Nauna’s Bella Casa – Montclair, NJ

Clifton and Montclair are very close to each other. So, we were able to make our meet-up in no time. When we got there, the first ones at the site were Doug Stansfield and Sal Cameli (pictured below left to right). A couple of Leaf guys we met this evening.

Sal likes to take photographs of vanity license plates and posting it on Instagram, so apparently we got some likes for our license plate that he posted earlier in the evening (May 11, 2015).

Meetup at Naunas Doug and Sal

I’ve written a review of Nauna’s from 2012. Since we had plans to meet with my cousin for dinner, we just had some appetizers at Nauna’s, I opted for “Grandma’s Rice Balls” and my wife had the “Spinach Ravioli” and they were both satisfying.

Arriving later in his Electric Motorcycle was Ben Rich (not pictured, but his bike is).


Chris Neff was here in his i3.


One of my biggest questions was what car would the Thwaites arrive in? The Roadster? Ford Focus EV? i3? Nope… They showed up in their Electric Smart Car.  As tight as the parking lot of Nauna’s became, the Smart did what all Smart cars do, and fit in at a niche.


Doug’s Leaf was next and it was parked at the other charger and right beside our Model S.

Airton parked his “Tesla Inside” powered RAV4EV 2nd Generation beside our Model S. Seeing that RAV4EVs are “usually” limited to California purchasers or lessors, Airton is taking a big “risk” in having a compliance EV outside of California. He really enjoys it.


Another shot of Chris Neff’s i3 and Sal Cameli’s “pimped out” Leaf (Sal not only possesses the most complete set of charging adapters for his car, but he also connected the biggest speakers I’ve seen on a Leaf.) And boy did we feel the bass when he drove off in his car.


We figured to take a panoramic with the cars, so, pictured here are (from left to right) Sal Cameli, a Nauna’s customer and Plug-in Prius driver whose name escapes me, Tom Moloughney, Michael Thwaite, Pamela Thwaite aka Transport Evolved’s own ElectraGirl, Chris Neff, Doug Stansfield, me, and Airton Azevedo. Not pictured is my wife (who was taking the picture) and, because he had another commitment, EV Motorcycle Rider Ben Rich.


A nice close up of Airton and I from Airton’s camera…


I’ve been visiting Nauna’s for a while now… However, usually it’s a picture with Tom and his car, however the red i3 was in for service when we had the meetup, so we didn’t get a picture of Tom’s red i3.

Here is a throwback to October 18, 2012 with the ActiveE version of “EFOPEC.”


So, we took the opportunity to take the picture with our car. After all, we did drive from California for this picture!


It was a great meet and not only did we just meet a bunch of the Active E guys and gal in real life for the first time, we also got to make some new EV friends with Sal Cameli, Doug Stansfield, and Ben Rich.

This dinner was a nice inflection point for the trip.  Since we didn’t know where we planned to go to next, we figured to ask our NJEAA friends where to go next, North or South, and it was a unanimous suggestion from the crowd to take advantage of the good weather and go North from New Jersey. So, we figured they were onto something and decided to go to New England.

Additionally, the NJEAA had let us know that if we were back in town the following Sunday that they were doing some EV advocacy at the Sustainable Morristown event on the 17th of May. Since we didn’t know where we would be, we made a soft commitment to make it, if we happen to be near New Jersey on the 17th.

Asahi Sushi – Morristown, NJ

We figured that we were close enough to New York City and my cousin is reliable for food suggestions that we would go to sushi. From the EV Meetup at Nauna’s, we proceeded to dinner at a sushi bar in Morristown, NJ called Asahi Sushi.



The sushi was very good and definitely worth going back to and we made a mental note to add it to the “good to go back” list.

Randolph, NJ

After dinner with my cousin and his wife, we headed back to their place in Randolph, NJ. Randolph is considered rural New Jersey, and our drive back to their home was a little nerve wreaking because of our new-found “nemesis”… The “Deer Crossing” signs. We developed an irrational fear of deer, and there were several points on the drive from Morristown to Randolph that we passed these same signs.  I suppose when your only means of getting home is the car that you’re driving in and it’s close to 3,000 miles drive to get back, you get to be a little conservative in your drive.

We were also challenged by the quality of the 110V feed in my cousin’s garage. It turned out that his garage outlet was the farthest feed from his main panel, so we found ourselves charging at 6A overnight. That looks to be a 1 mile per hour rate. Seeing that our goal for tomorrow is to visit another cousin (in Long Island this time) I was just trying to not lose the miles overnight.  We plugged in the evening at 189 miles of rated range. However, throughout the night, the charge kept tripping at 12A then 9A, worked at 6A.



It was a pretty fun-filled full day. Short on the miles, but long on the fun.

Go on to Day 11. Click here.

10_Christiana to Randolph

Range Anxiety and Range Insanity…

Today was going to be a longer day… (i.e. at least 102 mile roundtrip) and I got to the car and noticed that the car did not charge last night.

First thing I check is the state of charge… Basically the screen that looks like this:


Though, obviously, NOT the screen on the picture. It was registering close to 70% SOC or somewhere around a 65 mile range (based on what the guesstimator thinks I would do).

Now, when I first got the car, I would’ve been somewhat panicked at the lack of range for the ENTIRE roundtrip and would’ve taken one of our other ICE vehicles for the day and let the ActiveE sit at home. Today, it was a non-event. I figured my one way was about 51 miles and 60-65 mile on the guesstimator would get me there with 9-14 miles to spare, so I wasn’t worried. Additionally, we left earlier today, so I COULD stop for breakfast at La Dijonaise at Helms Bakery, so I could at least get a charge during breakfast. Which is what I opted to do…

Eggs Neptune at La Dijonaise

I had the Eggs Neptune, which was quite good, but I actually prefer either their Croque Madame or Salmon Omelette.

Which leads me to the idea of how far is too far. What is Range Anxiety and what is Range Insanity. I always assert that the range of the Active E is unlimited, if you have the time to wait for it to charge and the opportunity to get power. Active E users around the country are looking to meet up in a few weeks at a couple of locations. The Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York contingent are meeting at Tom Moloughney’s Nauna Bella Casa for this meet up and the Northern and Southern California Electronuts will be meeting at Morro Bay.

Morro Bay was chosen because it almost equidistant from LA and SF (around 205 miles from each city center.) Now for me it’s closer to 230 miles… Considering the fact that I’m not a very good hyper-miler (the product of a lead foot and impatient driver tendencies) and the following Monday is a work day, I think that I’ve discovered the upper bound of my tolerance to drive the Active E for a distance, and it’s not Morro Bay. I am considering driving one of two ICE vehicles that we have. If the weather is nice, we might drive that “top-down” in our 328iC or if I felt like being “funny”, we might get our LESS fuel economic X5 and drive that up there… Somehow, I’m sure I’d go with the more fuel efficient option between the two ICE vehicles, but not as energy efficient as the Active E to Morro Bay.

Two weeks and change to go before we have to make that determination.

To those who will brave that drive in their Active E, my hats off to them. Luckily there is a larger charging infrastructure NOW, but stopping and charging for at least 4 hours for three times in my Active E is 12 hours of waiting that I would rather not do.

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #6 in an ongoing series – Valley Road, Montclair, New Jersey – Nauna’s Bella Casa and ActiveE #1

I still owe you guys my first National Plug In Day experience.  However, to be a little more timely, I figure to update my Charge It! series.

As many of my readers know, I’ve been writing on a series of great restaurants to go to while you charge. Today’s post is a little different. It’s nowhere to be found in the Los Angeles area. It’s in Northern New Jersey, approximately 30 minutes (with no real traffic) from New York city – Nauna’s Bella Casa. No, I didn’t take several weeks to go from Los Angeles to New Jersey to go to lunch with my ActiveE. For this trip, I rented a Nissan Leaf from Hertz on Demand. Hertz car sharing subsidiary which allows members the opportunity to rent either a Nissan Leaf or SmartEV in the New York city area.

Nauna’s Bella Casa can be found at 148 Valley Road, Montclair, New Jersey, 07042.  (973) 744-3232.

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So, what takes me from New York City to Montclair, New Jersey. Frankly, I wanted to meet this guy, Tom Moloughney, aka Mini-E #250 and more importantly to me, Mr. ActiveE #1 and the top mileage leader that I foolishly challenged to try to “catch up” on top mileage use for all of the other ActiveE Electronuts.  As of the writing of this posting (in-flight from JFK to LAX) my ActiveE is waiting for me at LAX Lot 6 with 17,902 and Tom’s listed mileage on is 27,795…  Needless to say, this is a TOUGH challenge.

Here’s a picture of Tom Moloughney and me in front of Tom’s New Jersey EF-OPEC (AKA Active E #1).

Had a good lunch and great company with fellow @BMWi evangelist @tommolog Nauna's Bella Casa in Montclair NJ

So, how’s the food. It was good, home-style Italian food at a great value. I had the lunch special which was Soup, Entree, soft drink, coffee (or tea, I believe) and dessert for $9.99. As opposed to other posts in this series, I have NO picture of the food. I was too busy enjoying the discussions between Tom and myself on the Active E, EVs, new BMWs, Teslas, Energy Independence, etc.

For my choice of soup, I picked the Pasta Fagioli. There were other choices, but I really like Pasta Fagioli so I had that. For my entree, I went with the Fusilli e Pollo which is the spiral pasta with grilled chicken & spinach. I really enjoyed the Fusilli e Pollo, but since I went out to Nauna’s in Day two of my trip to the East Coast, the meal was biologically breakfast for me, so the portion size was a little larger than I could finish, so I brought the rest to go. I skipped coffee and had ice cream for dessert (chocolate).  The meal was very good and felt home-cooked.

How about the chargers?  Nauna’s has two J1772 chargers, one on Chargepoint and the other on the Blink Network.  If you’re eating here, the charging is gratis, otherwise, the network fees would apply, I believe that the Chargepoint is free, but the Blink is based on your membership plan, so to get that charging at no cost, check in with the restaurant before you plug in.

How did I do getting to Nauna’s.  Well, I picked up the Nissan Leaf (was hoping for a SmartEV, but that will have to be a different post) from Hertz On Demand’s location at 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.   This drive was approximately 20 miles away, but my consumption is closer to 35 miles from the range.  This was my first time driving a Leaf for ANY extended period and I must say that it was not as fun as my Active E, at least it seemed to perform better than the Coda that I test drove a few months ago.

So, if you find yourself anywhere near Montclair, NJ.  Even if it isn’t that near, give Tom a call and see if he’s available and you can enjoy a tasty lunch and have some fun “talking EV and stuff”.  I’ll probably get around to plug in day 2012 (Part 1, Part 2 to follow) and my Hertz on Demand SmartEV rental fiasco.

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #5 in an ongoing series – Mateo Street – East side of Downtown Los Angeles, CA (Arts District)

This update on Charge It! is a case of great food and Leaf/MiEV – CHAdeMO – Level 3 (L3) envy…


Well, I love my ActiveE.  It gets me almost everywhere.  However, since the J1772 Level 3 standard is yet to be published, BMW released the car with Level 1 and Level 2 charging capability.  Level 3 gets most L3 capable cars to 80% state of charge (SOC) in 30 minutes.  Yes, you read correctly, you get up to 80% of your range in 30 minutes.  Mitsubishi and Nissan support a Japanese standard called CHAdeMO.  BMW, GM and others all decided to go with extending the J1772 format for L3 and that is not quite done yet.

Lucky for you that the food at Church and State is SO great and the wine selection is SO good that you want to stick around for several hours ANYWAY to wait for the L2 charger to finish.

So, what makes it Great! It’s definitely the food in one of the best French Bistro’s in Los Angeles.

We started our meal with the Beef Marrow and Bread. It was AWESOME.

Moelle de Bœuf - Marrow

Moelle de Bœuf - Bread

You get some of the marrow and spread it on your bread and munch. No need for the butter, also as you can tell, it’s definitely carnivore food for that course!

To go with the Moelle de Boeuf, I went with the Tarte Flambee and it was a very good flat bread.

Tarte Flambée 2

Since we were dining in the summer and it was a nice, hot day, figured a Riesling was in order and the one recommended by the Sommelier was very refreshing.

A nice summer Riesling

For our Mains we went with Scallops and Pork, the other white meat. Both were exquisite! I ordered the Pork, but swapped meals with the better half!…

Scallops, Potato Strings and Asparagus

Roasted Pork and Figs

The scallop was tender and plump. It went well with the wine that we chose as well the asparagus on the plate. The Better half let me take a bite of her, formerly my, pork dish and that was great! The Figs and Pork made great accompaniment with each other.

The dessert was scrumptious. We chose a nice, sweet chocolate tarte and paired it with a glass of the 2005 Prieure D’Arche Pugneau Sauternes that was on the menu.

Tarte for Dessert 2

I would say that Church and State rivals another of my favorite French Bistros in Southern California and gives Bouchon in Beverly Hills a run for its money.

Now the negatives, the Sommelier was very good and helpful, however, our server was not as interested in taking care of us.  The restaurant had a lot of people, however, the restaurant also had adequate staff to cover all tables. Our server had a disinterested demeanor about her when she did get around to following up with us. Luckily, it’s a French bistro, so such behavior makes me think of other bistros I have been to in Paris…  Wait, that’s not right, I’ve had better, attentive service in Paris.

However, the biggest negative for me is really the location. It’s on the scary Arts District on the way East side of Downtown Los Angeles. Fine in the summer, really dark in the Fall/Winter. The neighborhood directly between the restaurant and charging station parking lot is well lit, but the rest is really dodgy.

Here is the Google Map to the restaurant

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Here is the Google Map to the Parking Lot, it’s across the street from the restaurant.

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That being said, Church and State does have great food, well-lit blocks between it and the parking spot and charging stations. The parking spot is $5 to park, lots of ample parking on the street for free. Blink Network chargers and this was free to charge at the time that I used it, however, a lot of these have gone to whatever plan you’ve signed up for with Blink!

Coming up next on the blog will be my post on Real Goods Solar and how they won my business from Solar City with the partnership with BMW and good timing on the deal announcement as it related to my Solar City installation.  I’m figuring out my math (and getting a whole new napkin to do that calculations with.)

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #4 in an ongoing series – Abbot Kinney Blvd – Venice, CA

I’ve been too busy enjoying the driving and eating to have updated the Charge It! series, but here’s a place that I went to a month ago in the Abbot Kinney section of Venice Beach.

The chargers are located in the aptly named Electric Lodge which has five Blink chargers on the wall located on 1416 Electric Avenue, between Milwood Avenue and California Avenue.


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However, after 7 pm, they CAN be ICEd by folks going to the Electric Lodge. The electric only restricted parking is only enforced during the day, 7am-7pm daily.


Since it’s after 7pm, THIS guy IS allowed to park there:


This area of town has been a “hip” part of Los Angeles for quite a while and two of the restaurants in the area have been in’s Top 38.  I liked both Tasting Kitchen and Gjelina, but today’s post is about Gjelina.

A bottle of "dry" Tokaji.  A lot like a dry Riesling, but slightly sweeter

We started our dinner with a nice bottle of a dry furmint Tokaji from Bottpince Winery.  This was the perfect summer wine to complement our meal.  It’s akin to a dry Riesling, but slightly sweeter.

The plates on the menu were categorized between smaller and larger plates and we opted to dine Tapas style and enjoyed two starters, the Copper River Salmon Crudo with lemon Aioli, Horseradishe, and Chive AND Grilled Monterey Bay Squid w/ Melon, Celery, Chili & Salsa Verde.

Copper River Salmon Crudo with lemon Aioli, Horseradishe, and Chive

The Copper River Salmon Crudo was excellent.  The fish was fresh and very refreshing.  It was melt in your mouth good.  The dish went well with the wine and would’ve been excellent without it.

Grilled Monterey Bay Squid w/ Melon, Celery, chili & Salsa Verde 2

The grilled squid salad and melon’s only flaw was the fact that I wanted a bigger dish.  However, as a single starter it would have been better, but having to share it with the better half left me hanging for more of the dish.

Luckily, I had other dishes that were still to come as this is Tapas style, after all people and we ordered more dishes.

Anchovy & Burrata Toasts with Pepperonata, Capers, & Sherry 1

The anchovy burrata toast was yummy!  Nope, not a loss for words, just required ONE WORD – Yummy!

The next several dishes were our warmer ones AND the the restaurant was getting darker, so I have to apologize for the photos having to be touched up to be seen, but such is the challenge of photographs with iOs devices with no flash.

Our next two dishes were both Pork dishes.  Luckily, I’m not restricted from eating pork as both dishes were awesome.  The Pork Meatballs were nicely sauced and very flavorful.  The meatballs were a great contrast to the light seafood that we had to start our meal.

Braised Pork Meatballs with Tomato, Red Wine, Parmesan, & Grilled Bread (Retouched)

After the meatballs, the Crispy Niman Ranch Pork Belly was the piece de resistance.  The pork belly presented the same protein in a different yet delicious way.  The pork meatballs is comfort food with a nice solid bite.  The pork belly was both crispy (as the name implied) and ideally marbled underneath the sauce and chili.

If it had been an Asian restaurant, the pork belly would’ve come with rice, and I suppose that would’ve made the rice that much better, but it would not have gone with the flow of the meal.  So, no fault of the restaurant, but this dish would’ve been great with white rice.  But that’s a matter of personal taste, and the dish was excellent without is.

Crispy Niman Ranch Pork Belly w/ Watermelon-Fresno Chili & Lime Salad (Retouched)

The culmination to this meal was the Banana and Chocolate Bread Pudding with Fresh Cream and Caramel.  The dessert was great.  It doesn’t look great, but it sure tasted that way.  As plain as it looked, the dessert spared no expense in taste.  What it lacked in looks, it made up for in the packed flavor in each bite.Banana & Chocolate Bread Pudding with Fresh Cream & Caramel (retouched)

Oh and Tasting Kitchen was great too…  But I’ll have to write about that at another time.  Just too stuffed after this one.

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #3 in an ongoing series – Malibu Country Market

Been enjoying going to lunch at the Americana at Brand, but those are my work-day eateries and I will probably write about those later…  However, today’s Charge It! location is Malibu Country Mart.  To recap, Helm’s Bakery and Santa Monica Place were our first two locations for the series.

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The charging station at this location is not on either of the two charging networks that I use (Blink or Chargepoint) and thus its a matter of faith to determine whether or not the charger will be available when getting there.  It’s an Aerovironment charger that Recargo’s notes says requires an RFID card, however, this was not the case when I got there (luckily).  The charger station is right at the entrance to the Malibu Country Mart market area.

Parked at the Malibu Country Mart, by the entrance. 2

Parked at the Malibu Country Mart, by the entrance. 3

Parked at the Malibu Country Mart, by the entrance. 4

It works great (as has been my experience with OTHER Aerovironment chargers.)

The Nobu in Malibu has been in existence for over a decade (1999, I believe).  Being Malibu, have to blend in with the natives and my better half requested that I NOT take pictures of our meal, therefore, a food entry with no pics.  However, seeing that Nobu Matsuhisa has been in business for a while, I do recommend that you peruse the link to his website for the food pictures.

As with a lot of Japanese restaurants, Nobu is best experienced if you enjoy the meal sharing many small dishes with your dining companions.  I did not enjoy the Miso Black Cod at this location, though that is quite a good standby for anyone who  visits Nobu for the first time.

Since this was our first trip to the Malibu location, we decided to try a few of their specialties, so we had the Tai Sweet Shiso with Crispy Shiitake and several of their Mini Tacos.  Additionally, the sushi at Nobu is top-notch.  However, it is also priced higher than other Southern California sushi bars that feature fish at the same quality level.  At the end of the day, a lot of less expensive restaurants feature food at the same quality as Nobu Malibu without the location or the expense.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy myself and the food was excellent.  However, other restaurants have caught up to the quality of meal that Nobu provides at a fraction of the cost.  Charging your EV may be free, but you’re definitely paying for the meal.

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #2 in an ongoing series – Santa Monica Place

Been meaning to write another of these posts in a while.  I had a good time this past weekend at L.A. Live, and thought to write about that, but decided instead to write about Santa Monica Place/Third Street Promenade first.  MKnoll on the BMW Forums had a quick post on things she does in Santa Monica, which inspired me to go with what I would recommend in that area for #2 in this series.  As a quick refresher, #1 was at the Helms Bakery District for breakfast at La Dijonaise

The EV Chargers that I use in Santa Monica are in the lot corner Broadway and 4th Street (Santa Monica City Lot 7).  It is in the ground level onramp toward the second level. There are four Chargepoint Network Coulomb chargers and One Clipper Creek J1772 charger. These Chargepoint chargers (at the time of my visit) are the older ones that do GFCI trip at times and it may take several attempts before the charge process takes. The Clipper Creek works great, but, as a good EV citizen, I only use those if all the Chargepoints are taken since all BMW ActiveE drivers are provided at least one Chargepoint RFID card to use, and I’m sure not all EV drivers have those.

The parking at the Santa Monica Place lots are Free for 2 hours 8 am to 6pm ($1 ea additional 30 minutes; $9 maximum daily) and $5 flat rate after 6pm.  Zengo provides free valet parking, but that defeats the purpose of great food by public chargers.

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I figure #2 should be a place for brunch… namely Zengo.  This place has a highly rated brunch and though I’ve been there for brunch, I prefer the dinner service.  Additionally, next door to Zengo is it’s sister restaurant La Sandia, I’ve only had dinner at La Sandia and I was not as fond of the food there.

As I like to leave the better option last, I will cover La Sandia quickly here.  Basically, the food was interesting, but I felt that it was somewhat overpriced and really a better bar experience than food experience.

The Kiwi Margarita was very good –


As was the Mango Margarita


This was the Guacamole Sampler that we tried… And yes, they had the edible insect on it on purpose (I ate these, the better half skipped on it)


I went with the Chili Relleno, which was top-notch, but I felt that it was a bit over-priced.


And the better half decided to go with the Carnitas Tacos. Again, tasty, just over-priced.


More La Sandia pictures.

All the photos that I have included in this article will be from dinner service that I had there earlier in the month.

So, brunch at Zengo is very popular aside from great food also provides unlimited drinks in its weekend brunches.  The fine print on the menu states – that the unlimited brunch has a 2 hour time limit per table, the entire table must participate in it, it includes unlimited small plates & brunch cocktails- bloody mary / bacon bloody mary / mango mimosa / traditional mimosa / sake sangria / lychee bellini for $35 per guest.  Thus if you like the things listed, it makes for a great deal.

When we went for brunch, we opted A La Carte as not everyone in the party would have made full use of the brunch deal.  However, I do intend to take them up on that deal one of these days.

As I previously mentioned, I actually prefer the dinner at Zengo. The servers are very good at explaining that Zengo translates to Give and Take in English, I boil down Zengo’s dining experience as Latin-Asian Tapas.  Their menu is split between smaller and larger plates and the mainstays stick around in the dinner menu and every month and a half to two months, they add a special “tasting kitchen” menu inspired by one Asian location and another Latin location, such as Hanoi and Havana (April 9 – June 30, 2012) or the previous menu of Shanghai and Sao Paulo.

On our third trip to Zengo, we had some dishes that stayed with us from the previous trip and we felt compelled to order again, and the Peking Duck-Daikon Tacos stood out from our previous experiences, and it was, once again, excellent.


Here is the Peking Duck-Daikon Taco ready to eat on my plate:


and another one


We decided on pairing our dinner with a Malbec that we found to be light in tannins, smooth, and very good with meat and duck.


We decided to go to the Pork Belly Steamed Buns next. I was expecting Char Shiu Bao, but got this instead:



And it was wonderful.

One thing that through us off was the next course, which I did not expect to be in a soup/broth form was from this Hanoi and Havana test kitchen menu of Morcillas.  I had no indigation that it was in a soup/broth format and was my least favorite in the meal, but it was still very well executed.


We ended our mains with the Wok Fried Rice and it was excellent. It’s a main on it’s own, though normally a side in many Asian restaurants.


We did get dessert, but did not quite make the photo gallery.  If you want to see more Zengo pictures just head over to my flickr gallery.

After a fun dinner like we had that evening, and since the parking is paid for the rest of the evening, a nice stroll down 3rd Street Promenade or some shopping at Santa Monica Place is quite easy to do from this location.  Additionally, the Santa Monica Pier is also very close and navigable at this point.

For this particular evening, we opted to go to a nearby AMC Theater to catch the Avengers again.  It made for a great date night with the better half.

After dinner and a movie, we got back onto our fully-charged ActiveE to head home.

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #1 in an ongoing series

One of the things about charging my ActiveE at public chargers is trying to figure out what to do while I wait for a couple of hours.  Shopping center public chargers are great ’cause there’s a ton of stuff to do at shopping centers. However, as much as I like to shop, it gets boring.

So, I figure that one thing that would be very helpful for readers of the blog is figure out what great food places there are around some of the public chargers that I use. The ActiveE has provided me with nice opportunities to slow down and enjoy life at times.  So, rather than fast food, some great food near chargers (read walking distance).  Though ever since I got this car, I’ve found myself walking more and more. (the L2 charger nearest my office is 3/4 of a mile away.) So I get a mile and a half walk most work days (for non-SoCal readers, that’s a long walk for Southern Californians.)

So, without further ado…  Let’s go with the first one…  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so I figured to choose my first location accordingly.

The Helms Bakery District

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This place is great. Two Clipper Creek J1772 L2 chargers are available and parking is free.  So, you can always shop for furniture and other home stuff at this location.  But, how often does one need to buy a new couch, table, bed, or chair.  At the prices that they are sold at the Helms Bakery District, not too often.

So, it makes it the ideal spot to grab something to eat.  The question is what time of day are you at Helms Bakery.  Breakfast or a snack at La Dijonaise is always great.  I’ve found it a great place to grab a cafe au lait and a macaron. They make some of the best macarons that I’ve ever had.  The one pictured below is a coffee flavored macaron. They have several different flavors, and the coffee is my favorite, the chocolate is pretty great as well. I’ve tried a raspberry, orange, almond, and others and the worst is better than most places macarons.

A little pitstop to recharge myself and my @BMWActiveE at the Helms Bakery charger...  Enjoying a Cafe au lait and Macaron!


This one was a little too tart..


Just tried today – Chocolate Eclair..  It was good!

Chocolate Eclair at La Dijonaise

Really the only other thing I’ve grabbed at La Dijonaise has been a raisin roll.  So, I can’t comment on the other food, (one of these days I will, just not today) but they really do the baked goods well.

Dinner or lunch (on some days) another popular place to go at Helms Bakery is The Father’s Office. I’ve been there once. The burger is good and it is very popular (there seems to be a good crowd at The Father’s Office making it a good place to hang out). It has been considered one of the top burgers in LA. However, I’m the wrong guy to pick burgers. I can tell good from bad, just not good from great nor any other superlative to describe burgers.  According to experts, this burger is really good, so I take their word for it.  If you prefer the reviews of others, it does pretty well on Yelp as well not too bad on Zagat either.  In all, breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Helms Bakery is good.

The J1772 chargers and easy access 24×7 makes it a good place for an Electronaut or any other EV driver in LA to stop by the Helms Bakery.  This place is a good place to go and charge it! (and get yourself a fill up as well).