Sunday, October 20, 2013

Orsa & Winston

Orsa & Winston is the newest kid in the dining scene, the brainchild of Chef Josef Centeno of Bäco Mercat and Bar Ama fame. The restaurant is described as Italian-Japanese fusion cuisine and doesn't come cheap. Prie fixe menus only, with a few items that can be added on the side (two of which were truffle shavings and a cheese plate).

The dining room is small, with only ten tables. Reservations are hard to come by, but luckily we were able to snag seats just a few days in advance. However, be warned that they require a credit card to book seats, and they will charge you $50 per person if you do not cancel within 24 hours of your reservation or you don't show up. Surprising, since I've only had this requested in very high end restaurants but we were undaunted.

We started out with the testa, which is just a fancy word for ... pig face. This was the best version I've had, including the one at Girl and The Goat. The capers provided a good salty, briney balance to the dish. Super well done.

heritage pork testa with shiso

served with grilled bread

We decided to go with the five course, which is incidentally the lowest number of courses on the menu. We were a bit worried about portion sizes but as it turns out, we were too full to even go get dessert or coffee afterwards because so many additional courses came out!

fennel panna cotta, potato leek mousse, pickled champagne grapes

kampachi crudo, shishito peppers, grapefruit

chicken liver mousse, berbere, huckleberry preserve

Sharon wasn't able to eat the crudo, so the kitchen kindly substituted the chicken liver mousse for her. Great start.

breakfast in a shell - coddled egg yolk, sherry cream, bacon, chives

Japanese milk bread meets Italian foccacia, house-made oregano-togarashi butter

local burrata, house made meyer lemon marmalade, sauteed sugar snap peas

satsuki rice, uni, geoduck

braised veal breast, king oyster mushroom, cod tanodo, spinderella

And with that, the savory courses were completed. Also, I had no idea on the spelling of the items in the veal dish but it did lead to a long discussion on who DJ Spinderella was.

intermezzo - Tuscan melon granita, ginger sabanyon, mint

pear and ricotta strudel, honey casis, marscapone cream

chocolate ninja-bread men

Get it?! Ninjabread men! So awesome. The service was attentive and friendly. There were a lot of servers and kitchen staff - loved the fact that it was an open kitchen. My favorite dishes were the burrata with sugar snap peas, satsuki rice with geoduck and uni (two of my top three favorite courses at sushi) and the pig face. The desserts were also all very well executed.

I totally recommend Orsa & Winston if you're in DTLA. There are just some great choices opening up right now, with Bestia, Stumptown Coffee, etc. There are pre mixe menus with more courses, with the ultimate being the Chef's Omakase at $195 per person. Someday ...

Orsa & Winston
122 W 4th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap Year 3

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013

It's that time of year again! I've been a part of the cookie swap since it started in 2011 and I'm super excited to participate again. I'll going to be in Korea and Hong Kong, then back for a week and a half before jetting off again to Japan ... so I'll have one week in between those trips to bake my heart out.

If you want to participate, go here to sign up. There is a $4 donation made via Paypal and all proceeds are donated to charity. Sponsors will even send you goodies - last year it was an adorable little rubber spatula, just made for prying cookies off those baking sheets and into boxes to be shipped to your cookie swap matches. Looking forward to the goodies this year!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


The Japanese really know how to do breakfast. Look at this spread! There is only only one place that I know of in Southern California that serves this traditional style of breakfast. For the price of an extra value breakfast sandwich meal at Carl's Jr or McDonalds, you can get this instead.

Rice, cold tofu topped with bonito flakes and green onion, seaweed, pickled vegetables and miso soup. The miso soup has the dried bean curd in it, instead of regular silken tofu, and is pretty on point. But the best part are the two items you have choices on: your breakfast protein and your breakfast egg.

The breakfast comes with fish, either grilled salmon or grilled saba. For $1 more, you can get steak instead, but I'm all about the healthy, omega-filled fish. And the egg comes in a variety of ways: tamago, hard boiled, fried or raw. Which I didn't understand at first, but there is another breakfast combo where you get natto, and people like to mix raw egg into that. And by "understand at first" I mean that I totally just realized that right now. It's like a egg shaped light bulb went off in my head.

Looking at the picture on top, the breakfast may not seem like anything special but it's well prepared and will keep you going through the morning until lunchtime! Plus it's delicious, and the restaurant is quiet in the morning, which provides some zen time before the hustle and bustle of the work day. Bon appétit!

1630 W Redondo Beach Blvd, GardenaCA 90247

Friday, October 11, 2013

Crab Fest IX 2013

Another year, another Crabfest at The Hungry Cat (see Crabfest VII and Crabfest VIII) ... YUMZ! I wouldn't miss this for the world ... even though sometimes I really have to move my schedule around to accommodate the crab eating. This year, my boo Judy went with me (hi Judy!) and it was her first time. I was excited to show her the ropes.

The menu is prix fixe and consists of five courses. Taxes and gratuity is included within the price of the ticket, but drinks are extra. I'm not a drinker, but I have watched the bartenders/mixologists make their concoctions and they look tasty. Fresh squeezed juices for the drinks and everything.

crab cake, pork belly, fingerling potatoes

Maryland crab soup

jean's marinated heirloom tomatoes, provolone cheese

grilled corn, smoked paprika

beer battered soft shell crab sandwich, B&B pickles, spicy remoulade

Maryland blue crabs!!!

cornmeal scone, berries

I have to say, the dessert always kills me. Last year, I asked for TWO desserts because it was so good. We had great fun using the hammers and just tearing into the crabs with our hands - the best way to eat. Do I seem barbaric? Maybe a little bit.

But I have to admit, this year's Crabfest wasn't as good as the previous years. They stopped serving in real/ceramic plates and bowls, which is fine ... but I feel like the portions are smaller as well. Also, the prior years they let us have all the crabs that we wanted but they capped us off this year. Maybe the service was different because of the waitress this year? I'm not 100% sure but I'm still eager to try Crabfest again next year!

Also, this was the first year we didn't see Joel McHale. Noooo! Joel, you must go back to Crabfest again and enjoy the delicious crabs. This was the year where I was finally going to ask him for a picture too so that plan failed. But we did see Felicity Huffman and William H Macy with their kids.

The Hungry Cat
1535 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028