Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Chicken & Spinach Curry

Hello! Back from hiatus! Hi there! With a good explanation too. Budget time. If you are responsible for any sort of budgeting, I feel for you. It is easily the worst time of the year at work. People are on stressed/snappy, there is little to no guidance (though this year has been better than years prior), stupid accounting systems that don't update in real time (what's the point of having a platform that only updates once every TWO HOURS?!) and people staying at work until 4am. No joke.

In the midst of all this, I managed to make a curry with no cream or coconut milk or block paste from a package. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Boyfriend wasn't a fan, but I think it's because he loves the block paste curry (japanese style) the best. I have no idea what he used to eat before we met but I've introduced him to japanese curry and foie gras, amongst other fooding items, and he hoovers them like crazy. No matter though, cause I was a huge fan of the curry. It had great flavors, and next time I think I'll make it a bit more spicy by adding more cayenne pepper and cutting back on the sugar.

Chicken & Spinach Curry
from Almost Bourdain

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1.75 lb chicken thighs, cubed
14 oz tin chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp soft brown sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cups baby spinach, finely chopped
Large handful fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a large heavy-based pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5-6 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the spices, garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the chicken and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is browned.

Stir in the tomatoes and salt and bring to simmering. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Add the sugar, lime juice and spinach. Stir until the spinach just wilts. Remove from heat, sprinkle with coriander and serve with steamed rice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Wolvesmouth at Wolvesden is an underground dining society that is kept super secret. It is not quite a "pop-up" like LudoBites (I'm assuming the dinners are at the same place every time), but reservations are hard to receive nonetheless. One or two dinners are held every month, and if you are on the mailing list, you receive an email about it and send one back stating you are interested in attending, and whether one or two seats are requested. Names are drawn out of a hat, and if you are one of the lucky twelve, an email is sent with details and the location. I have been trying to get into one of these dinners for the past six months and have failed miserably. I even offered to wear something slutty if chosen (haha), but I'm sure the chef (Wolvesmouth aka Craig Thornton) and DimSumPup (the organizer) receive those propositions all the time! And needless to say, I failed to secure a reservation again, and was graciously extended an invitation by WeezerMonkey.

Chef Craig puts together a dinner of 10-15 courses that are creative, driven by what is fresh at the market, and beautifully plated. We had 11 courses last night, and each of them were amazing. It's hard to imagine that everything is done in a regular four-burner kitchen, but he and his "staff" cook, clean and plate right in front of the diners. At the end of the dinner, the diner discreetly receives a red envelope and donate as much as they want to the dinner. There is no "charge" or "set price" and everyone is encouraged to bring wine, alcohol, soda, tea, etc to share. As someone eloquently put it "you come as a table of strangers and leave friends!" True enough, I was lucky to meet KungFoodPanda, PinoyPanda, TheRoamingBelly, Alex, pHeast, Taka, Jane, and a few others last night - and now everyone follows each other on Twitter.

dining table where the magic happened

Chef Craig hard at work. The "staff" were moving so fast in the background that I wasn't able to capture their hard work!

night's menu

pan fried brioche and butter

corn soup, cotija, aleppo gelee, lime, corn fritter

peach, nectarine, chorizo piquillo puree, almond, basque cheese, chorizo, sherry gastrique

smelt, fried green tomato, buttermilk, ranch

squash blossoms, marscapone zucchini duxelles, meloa, baby squash, balsamic

tomato, padron, tuna, basil buds, uliva olive oil, wasabi peas, white soy

lobster, potato, chive, creme fraiche

pork cheek, baby cabbage, carmelized onion, dill, pretzel, mustard

cucumber slush

lamb, turkish eggplant, watermelon cucumber, watermelon tartare, yogurt, rosemary

lookit this adorable tiny watermelon that's not really a watermelon!

mulberry, elderberry, fig, salted brown butta la cream, croquant

cherry sorbet, almond cake, cherry pop rocks, almond cream

And that concludes the gastronomic feast at Wolvesden. Every course was absolutely amazing and of course, so was the company (awww!). It's hard to pick out any favorite, but I especially loved the corn soup, lobster potato and salted brown butter ice cream. Be sure to check out everyone else's posts - their cameras and pictures were super technologically advanced compared to my Canon point-and-shoot!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Thursday, August 4, 2011

LudoBites 007

Snagged an impossible-to-get seat for the pop-up restaurant LudoBites 007 a couple months ago. On Opening Night, no less! I work in a datacenter, so I expect that since my building is the gateway to the entire Internet, I'd be guaranteed seats. Needless to say, so not true, as Boyfriend and I had to wait for walk-in seating for LudoBites 6.0. I'm glad we didn't have to try to do that this time around, because there is no walk-in seating available. If you didn't manage to grab a reservation in the 3 minutes before it booked up, keep checking OpenTable for possible cancellations.

gram & papas

Chef gearing up for the night - everyone is moving so fast, they are a blur!

lavender-ginger lemonade

Dorade ceviche, cucumber water, cornichons, borrage flower

egg, sea urchin, caviar, champagne beurre blanc

salt cod panna cotta, whipped fingerling potato, smoked tapioca, black olive bread

foie gras ravioli, crispy kimchi, sake-black truffle cream

Époisses cheese risotto, hazelnut, egg yolk, herb salas

duck, cherry, spicy saucisse, beets, radish

peach melba vacherin, lavender

crustless lemon tart, limoncello, thyme

Good thing the only thing I had eaten that day was a cup of soup. Next time I'll make a reservation for 4 and find people to come with me so we can order the entire menu. My favorite was the egg/caviar - so luxurious and creamy. The French really know how to make their eggs. Boyfriend fawned over the egg/caviar and the foie gras ravioli. I can't believe that he hadn't known what foie gras was when we started dating, and had no interest in trying it ... until he got me some terraine "just to be nice" on my birthday. Now he is OBSESSED. The table next to us raved about the tandoori octopus, but we were to full to order another dish.

Can't wait to see what there is in store for LudoBites 8.0. And of course, congrats to Ludo and Krissy for their new twins - they'll be helping out with LudoBites 20.0 in no time!

Gram And Papa's
227 E 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Soy & Sugar Grilled Salmon

There are so many different ways to cook salmon - grilled, baked, boiled, smoked, poached, not cooked, etc. People love it, but I generally prefer my salmon sashimi-style. Most times restaurants make it dry dry dry. That's why I prefer to cook it myself so I can leave the center a bit pink and rare. If I even cook it at all.

However, I can't have sushi all the time. My crazy mom told me a story once about an actress who ate sushi five times a week, and had a stomachache, and doctors found maggots in her stomach. Is this true?!?! Probably not, but it freaked me out nonetheless. Servved the salmon with sauteed "water spinach" or "on choy" (which can be found in any Asian market and is actually getting very popular/mainstream) with preserved bean curd sauce. If you don't like the strong flavor of preserved bean curd, you can always just use garlic. Finished a healthy dinner with a plate of healthy fruit.

Soy & Sugar Grilled Salmon
Serves 4-6

1 1/2 lbs salmon fillets
garlic powder
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Season salmon fillets with garlic powder, and salt.

In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and vegetable oil until thoroughly mixed. Place fish in a large resealable plastic bag with the soy sauce mixture, seal, and mush around gently a bit to coat/absorb. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat grill on medium heat and ightly oil grill grate. You can do this on an outdoor grill or a stovetop grill. Place salmon on the grill and discard marinade. Cook salmon for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily and is barely cooked through.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Las Vegas - miX

My two year anniversary with Boyfriend was on July 29th and we went to Vegas for the weekend. I've never had a two year anniversary before! It was an absolutely amazing weekend and we both had a lot of fun.

Anniversary dinner was at miX at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay. Located at the top floor, the views of the Strip are amazing.

bread basket

butter and homemade peanut butter

amuse bouche - halibut ceviche

duck foie gras terraine, apricot jam, cracked black pepper

tender potato gnocchi, spring pea puree, asparagus, veal jus

roasted Maine lobster "au curry", coconut basmati rice

filet mignon rossini, foie gras, black truffle

fork crushed potatoes

passion fruit puree, coconut foam

baba au rhum, Monte Carlo style

action shot, after pouring the rum shot

miX candy bar, coffee ice cream

fresh-baked madeleines, nutella

The only thing we really didn't like was the Baba Au Rhum dessert. Didn't like as in we both sent it back, and were comped with the miX Candy Bar instead. Basically it's sponge cake which you pour a shot of rum over, pour the thick cream, and then eat. Except you can't taste anything except bites of rum-drenched something. The sponge cake and cream flavors are completely washed out. I think our server was a bit insulted that we didn't like it, and even told us it was the most popular dessert in Monte Carlo - but maybe tastes are different in different countries.

For the most part, service was nice, but slightly lacking for a Michelin-starred restaurant. But maybe it is because Vegas is a bit lax and casual. The butter and peanut butter also needed to be at room temperature, not cold and solid. That being said, the foie gras terraine was very good, second only to Bouchon. The gnocchi were light and the steak was melt-in-the-mouth tender. It also didn't hurt that there was a huge slab of foie gras on top. It was a great anniversary dinner!

miX (Mandalay Bay Hotel)
3950 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89119