Archive for April, 2008

Great Weekend, Great Week?

April 28, 2008

Another summer weekend in April- packed full of unhealthy ultraviolet rays and ultra fatty food.
Saturday I was back in Malibu, this time for their best restaurant, Malibu Seafood.While watching morning beach traffic I had a squid steak sandwich, fried oysters and french fries… a healthy way to start your weekend.The sandwich was good, with fresh squid that wasn’t too rubbery. The oysters were juicy and the fries well done. Next time I’ll get some grilled fish with raw oysters.
Saturday night had dinner at Pane e Vino which I still think is a great restaurant for the price. One of the nicest patios in LA, good portion sizes for fair prices and ultimately the food is good.
Sunday went to the Dodger game. It was hot, we had great seats and the Dodgers won. More importantly though, the new concession system is much faster and easier to use. First the service stations are all larger and streamlined. Second the condiments have been moved out from the deeper recesses of the halls to the aisle directly behind the seats. Third, the addition of Ruby’s, Canters and Camachos doesn’t mean much to me as I’m a die hard Dodger dog fan. I did try Ruby’s cajun frieswhich were basically fries covered in pizza seasoning. They needed some cheese and pepperoni and then might be worth the $5+ price tag. Had a Dodger Dog and footlong corn dog as well…
All in all another great LA weekend. It will be interesting to see how this week goes, as my total at the market this morning was $6.66:


The ‘bu Food Marathon

April 21, 2008

Before Hollywood’s most talented thespians seek refuge from their tumultuous shooting schedules (with their adoring fans in tow), I thought I would do a Malibu food marathon.
Starting from the north end of the Pacific Coast Highway and working south, we hit Neptune’s Net first.This biker-haven has a ton of mechanical eye candy, but very little in the human variety. The fried fish is as described.
Can’t really do wrong in my book when you fry something… but next time we’ll try some of the less battered options. With a wide selection of cold beers it seems like a great place for cycle enthusiasts to reduce their reaction time before speeding down one of the most beautiful pieces of asphalt in America.
The newly opened Malibu Pier Club was our next stop.
We spent a couple of hours there enjoying the sun and view.
Once the Rudy’s Shake Shack opens at the end of the pier and The Beachcomber (next to the Pier Club) this place definitely will draw the Duke’s and Paradise Cove crowd.
The food, which currently is being cooked in a ‘roach coach’ behind the Pier Club was average at best. Once the Beachcomber opens, its kitchen will serve both restaurants. They have a lot of blankets for guests, which is a nice touch on a sunny but breezy spring day.
The buffalo shrimp salad was six fried shrimp covered in buffalo wing sauce served amidst a head of lettuce. There was a tiny amount of blue cheese crumbled on top. For $15 it’s a ripoff- then again, we’re in Malibu so I’m not surprised.
Alice’s Truffle Chips should have been french fries and shouldn’t have been covered with melted goat cheese. They should have just been truffle fries. The sauce congealed before we’d even finished eating them.
The Tiny Ahi Tacos were pretty good. Fried wontons filled with fresh tuna…
The desserts included an ice cream sundae on a stick, which were ordered covered in whipped cream.
Also the chocolate and mascarpone pudding- they gave it a fancier name but that’s all it was…
For now I’d say it’s better than the Ferrari-fest at Moonshadows, with easy access, comfortable chairs and a nice view. The parking is $4 for 2 hours and 20 minutes- otherwise it’s $10.
Last stop was Cholada Thai Beach Cuisine. Again, Malibu prices for mediocre food (at least compared to Thai town). You pay for the view.
The Golden Bags- crispy wonton filled with ground chicken and shrimp served with sweet sauce were nice looking but the meat was dry and bland.
The jungle curry (my picture didn’t come out so I stole this one) was ok. The curry wasn’t overpowering but had a slight kick. The quality of the ingredients (string beans, squash, bell peppers, chicken) was passable.
It was a beautiful weekend and great catching up with friends I hadn’t seen for a while. Malibu is really a great place until the summer- then it can be a bit of a hassle… Until then I think it’s best to pack a lunch from Bay Cities or stick to Malibu Seafood.

Pinknest in NYC

April 16, 2008

Pinknest leads a charmed life of eating.
This masterpiece is steamed lobster with uni mousse layers in a lotus wrap, garnished with smoked uni and caviar. That might be one of the best dishes I’ve seen this year.

The Block Party Food Marathon

April 14, 2008

Back in Wisconsin, spring was a brilliant time of year. Absolutely dreadful winter conditions subsided and unanimous sentiment was to proceed directly toward the sun. Everyone was infused with life and happiness. Block parties, like the infamous Mifflin Street celebration drew crowds from all over the state. As Los Angeles is beautiful year round, there isn’t that spring relief that’s felt in the midwest. After this weekend, it doesn’t seem like there’s any spring at all- just blazing, apocalyptic summer.
Yesterday in Hollywood, there was a block party for the spring celebration of Songkran (Thai New Years). The event is marked by country-wide water fights that are intended to wash away the bad of the previous year. Oddly, there weren’t any water fights on Hollywood Blvd yesterday despite the perilous heat. There was, however, a two mile long block party with Muay Thai (kick boxing), a beer garden, music, monks, food and thousands of people.
If you look carefully you can see two eight year olds beating the hell out of each other in the ring:My gripe with festival food (at Coachella, Sunset Junction, yesterday) is that it’s always the same restaurants from Arleta and Covina and other off-the-map places. I realize these “Chinese BBQ” and “Thai Sweets” stalls are equipped to cook on location, but I really would have liked to see Ocha, Jitlada, Yai and the other Thai town favorites. I know it’s never gonna happen…The waits at Ord, the Thailand Plaza Restaurant and Ruen Pair were too long we ate pork, chicken, beef, Issan sausages, lobster balls, meatballs, dumplings and bao from the street vendors.
Nothing was great. Greasy, not that cheap- overall just average.
We drank beer in the beer garden in front of the misting fans before watching some of the skilled kick boxers.
The fighting wasn’t exactly first rate (two old timers showing off their skills and one fight between a 42 year old and a 22 year old- you can guess who won) but it was fun to watch.
It wouldn’t be a trip to Thai town without Jitlada’s mango sticky rice, so we stopped there on our way to the car.
We wanted to make ice cream sandwiches with Square One’s chocolate chip cookies and Scoops’ gelato but Square One doesn’t sell their cookies anymore. Despite our disappointment we headed towards Scoops.
Luckily Heliotrope was closed off for the Bike Kitchen’s block party. This meant a lot of hipsters in vintage t-shirts and small hats on expensive bikes. They had contests, DJ’s and prizes. We walked over to Scoops and chose the alcohol flavored gelato: Vanilla Jim Beam, Chocolate Guiness and Corona Lemon.My favorite was the Vanilla Jim Beam, but they all had the perfect balance of sweet to liquor.Although it wasn’t a food-heavy marathon, it was a marathon with great flow and diversity. I mean what’s better than music, kick boxing, sunshine, ice cream and beer?

The Grand Finale

April 11, 2008

Fine dining is as foreign to me as driving a Rolls Royce. I bet the two experiences are very similar and, after my recent birthday dinner at Guy Savoy, my goal is to drive a Rolls Royce very soon.

I’d read a lot about Guy Savoy’s Menu Prestige (the $290, 10 course, 3-4 hour tasting menu) before our trip to Vegas. I don’t know why, but I didn’t expect the level of impeccability and perfection that they brought… course after course after delicious course. My immediate reaction was I need to win the lottery immediately for any other meal would now pale in comparison.

I’m pretty sure our meal would register on most foodie’s top lists of tasting menus in America (except maybe Joel Plotnicki who seems to eat like this every week).
From the stool to keep our female guest’s purse off the ground, to the wine list that easily could replace wikipedia in its vast content, no detail was left unattended. With Guy Savoy’s son running the restaurant (even serving dishes when no waiter was immediately available), there’s a comfort and elegance to the service that we sorely lacked the night before. To enjoy the meal thoroughly I decided not to take pictures (every photo in this post is stolen).
Floating back and forth through the restaurant throughout the night were a number of gourmet carts including: the cocktail cart featuring six champagne choices and a range of scotches, the bread cart featuring more than ten breads that would be paired with each course, the cheese cart strewn with cheese from all regions and finally the dessert cart which really deserves a trip of its own when one hasn’t gorged on 14 courses prior.
While we waited for our third guest to arrive we were treated to a mini foie gras club sandwich on a sturdy metal toothpick. Our first of many pieces of bread was delivered as well. To give you an idea of the type of abundance we’re talking about, we got another mini sandwich once our guest arrived, and she got a second just so she’d be even with us… Next was a similar toothpick but this time it skewered a mini black truffle hamburger. In three indulgent bites they’d made most tray-passed wedding appetizers seem like Burger King leftovers.
We were served sparkling and flat water before we chose a glass of champagne from the cocktail cart. We opted for one of the less expensive bottles of French wine (they range from $100-$16,000). All this and we were still only on the amuse bouche portion of the meal- the third of which was a small cup of onion soup with diced root vegetables. The cup was fused to another cup which was facing down. When lifted it revealed a surprise post-soup treat, some kind of cream and cracker combination.
The actual tasting menu began with a pairing of seaweed bread with
Oysters in Ice Gelée – Huîtres en Nage Glacée
For a menu of this size one oyster would have been plenty. Somehow we were each served three oysters each, which I wouldn’t have complained about unless I knew what was to follow. Of course they were succulent and delicious. The sweetness of the oysters with the citrus glacee was very memorable (like we’re still thinking about them right now).
–« Colors of Caviar » vinaigrette of caviar; cream of caviar; string bean puree; Iranian golden Osetra caviar; warm Saboyan.There’s no need to go in to detail as the decadence is self-explanatory. Again, if only we knew how much there was to follow. A multi-grain bread referred to as “cereal bread” followed with:
Crispy Sea Bass with Delicate Spices- Bar en Ecailles Grillées aux Epices Douces
The fish was a delicate and flavorful masterpiece beckoning an encore.
More bread followed including chestnut bread with:
Roasted Foie Gras “en Cocotte”, Cardamom Infused Duck Bouillon, – Glazed Chestnuts and Galette Grand Caraque- Foie Gras de Canard Rôti en Cocotte, – Bouillon de Canard à la Cardamome, Châtaignes et Galette Grand Caraque
As if the foie gras wasn’t rich enough in the amuse bouche, this course was a stunning presentation of intense flavor and rich texture. The chestnuts provided a nice crunch to compliment the softness of the foie gras.
Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup, -Toasted Mushroom Brioche, and Black Truffle Butter- Soupe d’Artichaut à la Truffe Noire, Brioche Feuilletée aux Champignons et Truffe This course was slightly less powerful than the previous delicacies, but not by much. I don’t remember the bread pairing but it may have been lemon bread or bacon bread.
Roasted Veal Chop, Black Truffle Potato Purée, -Young Vegetables Braised in Veal Jus-Côte de Veau Juste Rôtie, Purée de Pommes de Terre à la Truffe Noire, -Légumes Braisés au Jus de Veau
If this wasn’t so tasty I probably could have resisted finishing every bite. Unfortunately I couldn’t pass it up and as a result ate all of it including the richest, mashed potatoes that stuck to my ribs on the way down.
The special of the night (which we didn’t get with the tasting menu) was guinea hen cooked in a pig’s bladder. The steam and hen filled bladder was presented tableside where it was cut to reveal a fantastic aroma. Which reminds about the regenerative properties of a pig’s bladder.
Another special (which was added to our tasting menu) was:
Black Truffle Rissoto
To be honest, at this point I was getting full, but it was definitely very good. I don’t actually remember that well….
Sélection de Fromages Affinés
Apple walnut bread, something with raisins and one other were paired with an assortment of cheese including french cheddar, a camembert, a french blue goat cheese and some sort of sheeps milk cheese that I can’t remember. I love cheese as much as I love bacon, and it was disappointing to be so full by this course. Again, I would go back just for the cheese and dessert next time just so I could marvel at them on their own.
Citrus Salad- Salade d’Agrumes
This course was perfect as it was light and refreshing. An array of fresh, colorful fruit was served on a perforated ceramic plate which sat atop a wide ceramic bowl. Chamomile tea was poured over the fruit, before dropping through the holes to ignite hidden nitrogen sending plumes of tea-infused steam up like flavored towers.
Chocolate Fondant, Crunchy Praline, Chicory Cream- Fondant Chocolat au Pralin Feuilletée et Crème Chicorée
The chocolate began the dessert course, followed by a cart of the most insane looking lollipops, banana sorbet, 5 kinds of pudding, peanut butter and jelly macarons, truffles, mini chocolate chip cookies, short bread, chocolate short bread, caramels, pineapple marshmallows and a list of other sweets that I don’t remember.
Bescause everything was special, the teapots were beautiful.
At one point during the meal a diner at another table asked for a bottle of Tabasco sauce. We asked our waiter what happens in a situation like this and he admitted that they go to a different restaurant in the hotel, as they obviously don’t have Tabasco sauce in their kitchen, but will always make the customer feel at home.
It’s actually not hard to justify the $480 per person price tag. In Vegas many people go through $500 in a few minutes or hours, so spending it on a 4 1/2 hour meal is worth it. Also, you’re paying for the theater and experience. Some people pay $150 an hour for a massage or at a show, but I’d rather spend the money dining.
On the way out our female guest was given a gift box with little caramels and chocolates with hazelnuts.
I’ve been asked if it was the best meal I’ve ever had. The sheer volume and scope of the meal really puts it on a different level, but it’s not comparable to a regular three course dinner. It was definitely my most memorable meal and longest blog post to date.

Which Sandwich?

April 8, 2008

There’s a common gripe that LA, for all its variety, doesn’t offer a lot of good sandwiches. Burgers, yes. Hot dogs, maybe. Bahn mi, perhaps. But with all the possibilities it seems odd that there aren’t more amazing sandwiches. So this will be the inspiration for the sandwich food marathon:

“Roast Beef Caliente: In-house roasted top round thinly sliced then grilled with avocado, red onions, pickled jalapenos, lettuce and mayo on toasted rustic bread”

Joey’s Smokin’ BBQ
“Brisket sandwich – generously sized, I love their sauce, also not too fatty”

Artisan Cheese Gallery
“Duck Confit – Duck, fig spread, yummy cheese, pressed on a ciabbatta”

Throw in Bay Cities, maybe Stuffed Sandwich and it has the makings for a very filling food marathon…


April 7, 2008

After this post I really was expecting something better…. How did they screw up so badly? Eats was featured on Thrillist today. Unfortunately the site has been down for the better part of the day, squandering possible users and deflating my hopes that someone will build a master food site. Was the traffic so overwhelmingly large that they couldn’t handle it? Were they hacked?

UPDATE: was inundated with traffic which crashed their server. It’s exciting that so many people are interested and their gonna work out the kinks.
I like the restaurant Wishlist concept and suggest creating a profile.

Once Was Enough

April 1, 2008

I love to eat so much that I’m shocked when I come across something that I don’t like. Further, I love Jitlada so much I never thought they could shock me. But I was shocked with this dessert:It’s the sweetest syrup over regular old white bread, ice, garbanzo beans, red beans, palm seeds and jello cubes. Alone, the ingredients were fine (except for the syrup). Together it was like the culinary Tower of Babel. I’m sure it’s an acquired taste, just one I don’t choose to obtain- especially when the alternative is the harmonious mango sticky rice.