Thursday, May 31, 2012

5x5 Chef Collaboration - Providence

This post is a bit late, but last Monday I was graciously invited to join PinoyPanda, food je t'aime and kevinEats for a 5x5 chef collaboration dinner at Providence. This is the second dinner of the series, with three more to come until September.

For this dinner, the five chefs were Michael Cimarusti of Providence, Michael Voltaggio of ink, Gino Angelini of Angelini Osteria, Rory Herrmann of Bouchon, Josiah Citrin of Mélisse, and guest chef Jeremy Fox, who does not have a set restaurant at this moment. The host restaurant provides the amuse bouche and dessert for the evening and each chef makes a course each. It was a great way to try different preparations and styles of food all at the same dinner. Plus, the atmosphere and service of Providence can't be beat.

butter and breads (olive, bacon with sundried tomato, seaweed)

seaweed bread - light and fluffy but not much seaweed flavors

amuse bouche - (clockwise from top) chips and dip, the uni or the egg, a scallop in the weeds

The "chips" weren't actually chips at all, but a piece of salmon skin fried to a nice crisp, accompanied by a trout mousseline. So creative! And look at the tiny straw that they provided for the egg, which was filled with an uni custard. The brine-y flavors totally hit you in the face, but the presentation really topped everything off. The waiter laughed at me because I actually clapped with it was brought to the table. Coolness fail.

blue crab - blue crab jelly, rice milk ice, ice plant, tomato pickle
Michael Voltaggio

twice shucked peas - pod consommé with white chocolate, chocolate mint and macadamia
Jeremy Fox

Props to Jeremy Fox for twice shucking these peas. I learned what that meant from Ms food je t'aime that night ... it means not only taking the peas out of their shells, but also taking off the thin skin/membrane that surrounds them. So many peas! So many membranes! His prep staff must hate him. Also, I really didn't taste any chocolate in the dish, everything was very fresh and light.

olive bread - so good but getting so full (excuse the shadow)

ravioli al nero di seppia - ripieni di granchio, salsa ai ricci di mare
Gino Angelini

Basically black squid ink ravioli pasta stuffed with crab and then topped with squid and sea beans and dressed with uni sauce. I wish there was another couple plates of this because four was definitely not enough. My favorite dish of the night! The twice-shucked peas come in as second favorite.

spanish mackerel - chorizo, marinated firefly squid, pickled jingle bell peppers, young fennel cucumbers, extra virgin olive oil jam
Roty Hermann

dry aged lamb loin and braised shank - courgette, santa rita hills porcini, green almonds, lamb jus
Josiah Citrin

manjari 64% - espresso, sweetened condensed milk, gianduia, ube
David Rodriguez

Dessert capped everything off and it was super rich and intense. Intense chocolate and intense coffee. The ube that accompanied it gave a bit of sweetness, so I wish there was a bit more.

petit fours - cascade hop pâtes de fruits, peanut butter cups, chocolate truffles, kaffir lime macarons

The chefs walked around the restaurant throughout the course of the night and were happy to chat with patrons enjoying their dinner. A hot topic going around the room was of course the foie gras ban, which is set to be implemented in a month's time. We shall see if it gets overturned!

The restaurant also provided us with a box of pastries for breakfast the next day, which I thought was totally sweet and adorable, although when I woke up I was still a little full from dinner. The cherry scone, blackberry financier, and lavender shortbread cookies were enjoyed with a cup of tea the next morning. The 5x5 collaboration was a great experience and of course the company made it better (aww!) ... if you're interested in one of these meals then try to get into one of the dinners!

5955 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Osteria Mozza

When Boyfriend was out of town visiting some friends in New York, I took the opportunity to go out with some friends ... every single night. One night I actually had no plans and got home early from work, so I took the opportunity to drive out to Osteria Mozza and have a solo leisurely dinner by myself.

The restaurant was fairly empty when I arrived fifteen minutes after the dinner seating started, which was nice because I've come to Osteria Mozza before during dinner hour and waited over 1.5 hours for a seat. I brought along my book and my (nice) camera and had a grand time to myself. Bar seating was the best option for me at the time, as I could take advantage of the Amaro Bar menu. Every Sunday through Thursday, you can get a three-course menu for $42 - one item from Nancy's Mozzarella Bar (or share the Mozzarella Tasting for two), a pasta, a dessert and a glass of either Bastianich Friulano or La Mozza Morellino di Scansano. As I wasn't going to drink, I was offered juice or soda in its place.

amuse bouche - crostini, goat cheese, olive tapenade, basil

diet coke in lieu of wine

smoked stracchino crostone - tiny lettuces, shaved spring vegetables

squid ink chitarra freddi - Dungeness crab, sea urchin, jalapeno

The one time I had come to Osteria Mozza, I ordered this cold pasta dish because who doesn't love urchin and Dungeness crab? Now I'm totally hooked. I thought about getting another dish but I couldn't resist. The restaurant is definitely NOT skimpy with either the crab or the sea urchin. Every single mouthful was enjoyed - if you haven't tried this pasta, you definitely need to do so because it is a revelation. How come I have an Italian boyfriend and he can't make me pastas like this? He only makes me Easy Mac.

strawberry & fig crostata - meyer lemon panna cotta with saba

The bartender was a bit ... hesitant to review the different desserts with me. I know I'm not a huge expert in oh, speaking Italian, but he was kind of snide and rude in answering the different questions I had about the Italian words on the dessert menu. Not everyone knows what "bombolini" is!

If you ever find yourself along the Melrose area on a Sunday through Thursday night, definitely stop by and take advantage of this menu. The prices at Osteria Mozza, while not crazy expensive, are not on the cheap side either so this Amaro Bar Menu is a great deal. Seating at the bar only, so if you get there early then you are definitely guaranteed a seat with a minimum wait time.

Osteria Mozza
6602 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Farewell to Foie

I was having dinner at Black Hogg last week and telling WeezerMonkey that I actually don't get invited to attend any media or restaurant events, even though I have a blog. Granted my blog isn't read by thousands (or hundreds or even dozens) of people. But then lo and behold - Anne of TunaToast emailed me this very week to invite me to a Farewell to Foie dinner, completed with wine pairings (most importantly) at Takami Robata and Sushi in DTLA.

There were about 15 other food bloggers and media members in attendance, which gave me an opportunity to meet more bloggers and branch out a bit. The night was very relaxed and welcoming, with a lot of information given about the wine and the food. I'm disclosing here that I'm a super lightweight (like allergic to alcohol lightweight) drinker but I was able to at least try each of the wines ... there were ones that I really liked.

vichysoisse of foie gras
paired with 2011 Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah

seared foie gras, carmelized mango, rose reduction
paired with 2010 Montes Alpha Chardonnay

braised daikon, foie gras, shallot butter broth
paired with 2010 Montes Alpha Pinot Noir

nigiri of ahi tuna & foie gras, eel sauce
paired with 2007 StarAngel by Phones, Syrah, Paso Robles

filet of beef & foie gras, black truffle
paired with 2009 Montes Alpha Carmenere

foie gras truffle, fresh berries, butter wafer
paired with 2010 Montes Late Harvest

Located on the 21st floor of a high rise in DTLA, the restaurant boasts great views and we really enjoyed the private dining section that was closed off for us during the event. Montes Wines (click to go to Facebook page here) are based in Chile and though I'm not a wine expert by any means, I especially liked the cleaness of the Rosé of Syrah, the Alpha Chardonnay and the Late Harvest. I think it is because (and laugh at me if you will) these two wines were a bit sweeter, with a cleaner taste and without a strong alcohol flavor. I did try all of time wines and they paired very well with the food but as you know, a few sips for me (probably totaling 1/3 of a glass) left me feeling a bit lightheaded by the end of the night.

At the end of the night Chef Stan Ota came out to thank us for attending the dinner; he is a Japanese chef who is french trained, as was evident in his cooking. A few years ago, my company had their holiday lunch here and I think the food has really improved since then.

Favorite courses of the night were the seared foie gras with mango (mine) and the filet of beef with foie gras (Boyfriend). The sauce was so good on the beef that Boyfriend said he would bathe in it, if he could. This foie gras menu along with the different wine pairings (with possibly a few tweaks) will be offered as a special until June 30th, upon which the ban on foie gras will take place on July 1, 2012. Each violation adds up to be about $2000 so there will probably be a total black market on foie gras now. Hopefully the ban will be repealed, but until then ... we will have to be driving to Vegas for any foie gras meals in the future. Thanks to Anne for the invite!

Takami Sushi & Robata Restaurant
811 Wilshire Blvd, #2100, Los Angeles, CA 90017

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Black Hogg

It's been a long time since I've met up with WeezerMonkey and we went to The Spice Table (no post for that) ... it was way overdue for us to grab dinner again. Luckily with Boyfriend out of town since last Thursday, I've had plenty of opportunity to make plans with people.

On a side note, since he left the whole apartment was immediately vaccumed and dusted. All the towels and sheets were washed, and the floors were mopped. The sinks, toilet and tub were bleached. Every day I come home and the house is just as clean and sparking as when I left it ... and it stays that way. I've never lived by myself before (I've always had roomates) but ... is this what paradise is like?! Boyfriend gets back on Sunday and then it's back to cups being left around the apartment, and stuff like that. *sigh*

But I digress. Before meeting up at Black Hogg, I grabbed a chai tea latte and a fruit plate at LAMill. Then I took the two minute drive to Black Hogg, which is at the intersection of Sunset and Silverlake Blvd. The restaurant had only a few tables occupied when we arrived but quickly filled up throughout the night. When we left at 8:15pm, it was a full house with more people waiting on the sidelines. Get there early!

ginger beer

uni toast, scallion vinagrette

popcorn bacon, maple crema

pork belly tacos, fuji apple slaw, jalepeño relish

buttery lamb burger, onetik bleu, fries

rhubarb brioche bread pudding

WeezerMonkey originally started out saying that she wanted to order a vegetable (the brussel sprouts) but changed her mind when I mentioned the pork belly tacos were given great reviews. I think her justification was "Well, there are apples in the pork belly tacos. That'll do." I loved it.

Everything was delicious and the service was great. I especially liked the uni toast, though I think the price is a bit steep for that one piece of toast ... maybe if there were two pieces? I'm not usually a fan of rhubarb but the bread pudding was outstanding - soft and moist and definitely not too sweet. It was the first night that they served the dish (FIRST!!!) and the manager or the owner came over to see how we liked it. The combination of the bread, slightly tangy fruit sauce and the whipped cream was stellar - be sure to get this dish, though I'm curious at how the churros are as well.

Black Hogg
2852 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Church & State and My 1-Yr Blogiversary

It's a pretty crazy announcement, but today is the official one-year anniversary of my blog! CELEBRATE!! Also, it is also my five-year work anniversary ... I started this blog last year with my very first post so I could have a bit of change.

I'm actually pretty proud of myself - this is Post number #107, I've kept up with my love of food and foodblogging, and being at work for five years is the longest commitment I've ever made. I mean, I've been dating Boyfriend for a little over two-and-a-half years (the first guy to make it past the two-year mark!!), high school was four years and college only three-and-a-half years. Yes, elementary school was longer but I really didn't have a choice to continue attending that.

Therefore, a re-design was in order. Yes, I still used a pre-constructed template but still - I changed things around to make it my own. I think this design is a lot better because it looks a bit cleaner and I can make the pictures bigger. We all know that people like looking at pictures of food, even if my camera isn't the best. Though that may change for special meals in the future, as evident by this post ... incredibly special meal with a brand new camera.

I figured my anniversary post would be something blog-y and work-y because it combines the anniversary of both events. Awhile back, my Asset Manager took us out to dinner at Church & State after we finished our budgets. Budgeting time is the worst - we have 125+ properties in our portfolio and must complete a budget for every one of them. People end up crying, threatening to walk out, staying at work until 3am ... good times!

complimentary cheese gougères

 complimentary bread & butter

foie de vollaille - chicken liver mousse, port wine gelée, toasted baguette

tarte flambée - caramelized onions, applewood smoked bacon, cave aged gruyère

fromages sélections

cassoulet - duck confit, sausage, broad beans

braised pork belly, apple, tuscan kale, cippolini onions

filet de vivaneau - seared red snapper, creamy rosemary polenta, oven baked carrots, parsnip chips, citrus veal jus

bouillabaisse - provençal fish stew, blue prawns, manilla clams, p.e.i. mussels, fennel, tomato, potato, leek

steak frites - new york strip loin, french fries, sauce béarnaise

pot de crème au chocolat et café - chocolate coffee custard, crème chantilly, sablés cannelle cookies

tartes du jour - chocolate & salted caramel

The meal was terrific and even better that it was paid for by work. I've heard of people running into Thomas Keller at the restaurant, so even though the restaurant strangely has only 3.5 stars, I would eat there because, come on ... Thomas-freaking-Keller eats there. Give it a try sometime, if you haven't gone. The mousse is a must-order for sure.

Church & State Bistro
1850 Industrial St,  Los Angeles, CA 90021