Saturday, August 11, 2018

Paninis at Pirolo's Panino (Fairfax, Los Angeles)

by @discovering_LA

August is National Panini Month. Because I like to take time to find a unique way to celebrate food holidays, I recently visited Pirolo’s Panino. They are located on Melrose Ave in the Fairfax region of LA. Pirolo’s Panino has only been open for 3 months. Michael Pirolo is behind the line of Italian panini sandwiches. Pirolo was born in Queens, but was raised in Italy. He is a Torino culinary school grad and has worked in New York, Philadelphia and most recently at Macchialina in Miami’s South Beach.

Restaurant Hospitality recently named Pirolo’s Italian Dip the “Best Beef Sandwich” in America. After eating it, I can see why.

The toasted ciabatta is from artisan baker Clark Street Bread. The beef is tender, not fatty, and sliced super thin. The salsa verde and caramelized onions nicely compliment the beef. An au jus dipping sauce is included. This sandwich alone is worth a return trip.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Guinness Storehouse Tour and Lunch at 1837 Bar & Brasseries (Dublin, Ireland)

A visit to the Guinness Storehouse is one of the most popular things to do in Dublin, whether or not you're Guinness lovers. Growing up in Indonesia, I only remember two imported beers that were sold nationwide: Heineken and Guinness.
The Guinness Storehouse at St. James Gate is originally the fermentation plant of the brewery, built in 1902. It was closed in 1988 and they decided to reopen it as a visitor center. It opened in 2000.

First, though, I had lunch at 1837 Bar & Brasserie, one of the dining options in side the Guinness Storehouse.
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I had local oysters with Guinness. If you think this is an unusual pairing, it isn't in Ireland! Oysters and stout was a popular pairing in the 19th century, the maltiness and creaminess of the stout complements the brininess. In fact, the restaurant's name 1837 is taken from the year that the pairing first made headlines.
Guinness Storehouse

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Winery Tour and Tasting at Clos du Val (Napa Valley, CA)

Napa Valley is famous for their Cabernet Sauvignon wines, and in large part that is due to the grapes grown in the Stags Leap District. This area gets the heat that comes down from Calistoga and he breeze from San Pablo Bay, creating a micro climate that is apparently perfect for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Clos du Val is one of the early wineries to open in Stags Leap District. Stags Leap District is the first (and smallest) appellation in Napa Valley and it is best known for the Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, there are now 107 appellations (known as American Viticultural Area, or AVA).
Clos du Val
Initially after opening the winery, Clos du Val was making 90,000 cases of wines that are easy on the wallet, but about 40 years ago, the winery decided to return to their roots and make the best Cabernet Sauvignon they can make. They cut down production to 30,000 cases to focus on making high quality estate wines.

For our tour and tasting, we started in the old tasting room with a taste of the 2017 Estate Pinot Noir Rosé from Carneros.

Clos du Val rose
Photo: @foodiesnapstagram

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Heritage Distilling's Brown Sugar Bourbon (Review + Cocktail Recipes!)

Bourbon is always a good intro to whiskey drinking, thanks to its sweeter flavor profile. I recently tasted Brown Sugar Bourbon from Heritage Distilling, a distillery in Gig-Harbor, Washington.

The Brown Sugar Bourbon, or BSB, is an award-winning spirit in the Flavored Whiskey category, having received the gold medal from American Distilling Institute and World Whiskies Awards.
The whiskey is a corn, rye, and malted barley mash aged for less than 2 years in new American oak barrels. After aging, natural brown sugar and cinnamon flavors are added.

It's rich and sweet on the palate, naturally with plenty of cinnamon flavors. I imagine drinking this neat by the fireplace in the winter. Or on the rocks by a campfire, either way. This flavored whiskey had enough going for itself that you really don't need to mix this with anything, but just enjoy it on the rocks. It's easy enough drinking on its own!

I got this around July 4, though, and I had a BBQ with friends in my "backyard" (it's basically a parking lot but whatever). I decided to make a cocktail for my friends using a grilled ingredient!
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Sunday, July 22, 2018

Rhode Tripping: A Food and Drink-filled Day in Providence, RI

At the end of last year, I took a day press trip down to Providence, Rhode Island to explore some of the eating and drinking scene down there.

Our first stop was The Guild, which is actually in Pawtucket, RI. The Guild is a partner brewery comprised of a few New England member breweries that brew their beers there. The members include a big one that we were there to visit: Narragansett.

Gansett, as it's lovingly known, has a long history. It was founded in 1890 and Jacob Wirth was one of the six founders. It was once the best selling beer in New England but after changing hands the brewery was closed in 1981. In 2005 the brand was brought back by a team in Rhode Island who also hired former Gansett brewer Bill Anderson to recreate the original recipes.

We tried the Bancroft ale, Three Red Fez, It's About Time IPA, and the Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout.
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The Bancroft had notes of pines. The Fez was a lager with noble German hops and had floral notes and a little touch of caramel. The IPA is a traditional style IPA with new school hops and it is malt forward.

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The Guild

The most interesting thing we tried that day for me was the Lovecraft Whiskey. The whiskey is the result of distilling the I Am Providence Imperial Red Ale and it was distilled by the Sons of Liberty distillery in South Kingstown, RI.
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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Foie Gras Burger and Craft Cocktails at Best Burger Bar in Brookline (Boston, MA)

There's a burger and bar joint in Brookline that went under my radar because of the rather generic name, Best Burger Bar. However, I was invited to try the place not too long ago and was quite pleasantly surprised! The restaurant opened last summer in 2017.

Best Burger Bar specializes in dry aged burgers, which gives it that extra umami flavor, and they only use certified Angus beef. They also have an outdoor dining area / porch that's open throughout the summer. Get some burgers paired with a Margarita Fishbowl for two ($29.50). The fish bowl has tequila, lime, blue curacao, orange curacao, and sesame syrup.
Best Burger Bar
Their burgers start with a classic for $5.99 and go up from there depending on the ingredients. For the quality of meat they use, this is a good bang for your buck in Boston.

For the ultimate decadent burger, get the Bully Boy Royale ($13.99). It has a black truffle foie gras mousse, Bully Boy whiskey bacon cranberry jam
Best Burger Bar

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Michael Schlow's New L'Ancora Pop-Up at Eataly Boston

Chef Michael Schlow just started a new pop-up restaurant inside Eataly Boston. The latest pop-up is called L'Ancora and will feature cuisines from Italy's coastal cities. I recently attended a media preview tasting for the new pop-up. We started our lunch with some arancini.
L'Ancora

Bruschetta con 'Nduja (La Quercia, 'nduja, provolone, parsley). 'nduja came from the village of Spilinga in Calabria.
L'Ancora
If you've never had 'nduja, it is a spicy pork salumi spread. The combo on the toasted bread helps temper the spiciness and enhanced the flavors.

Insalata di Zucchine (raw farm zucchini, capers, lemon, arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano)
L'Ancora
This was a simple, yet extremely fresh salad. Isn't that what Italian food is all about?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Holbox: LA's Best Yucatan-style Mexican Seafood

Holbox is not that new anymore in LA, but just in case some of you are still not familiar with it, I'm letting you know that it's the place to get the best Yucatan-style seafood in LA. Holbox is a stall inside Mercado La Paloma in Downtown LA (which also houses Chichen Itza). Despite the casual environment, Holbox puts out the highest quality seafood at reasonable prices.

Among the many great things to try there is the pulpo (octopus) taco. The Spanish octopus is braised then fried and served on a handmade corn tortilla and squid ink sofrito ($12)
Holbox LA
The texture of the octopus is perfect and the flavors are spot on. Definitely order this.

Kumiai oysters from Guerrero Negro Lago in Baja California.
Holbox LA

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Discovering the History and Intricacies of Madeira Wines

Now that it's just after U.S. Independence Day, I thought it's the perfect time to talk about madeira wines! Did you know Madeira was the wines used to toast the Declaration of Independence? Madeira was very popular with the founding fathers and others during that time. New York received half of the total exports of Madeira out of Portugal during 1785-1787. George Washington himself ordered 15 barrels of Madeira from 1759-1783.

Madeira wine comes from the island of Madeira in Portugal. The island sits on top of a shield volcano. Back in the old days, winemakers would add neutral spirits to their wines so they not spoil during the long sailing time to the New World. Some of the unsold wines are returned, and they found that the heat and movement had changed the flavors of the wines. They recreated this effect using the Canteira system, the traditional system of making Madeira wines. Instead of keeping the wines cool in a cellar, to make Madeira the wines are slowly heated.
Madeira

Monday, July 2, 2018

Luau on Spectacle Island (Boston Harbor Islands)

Boston Harbor Cruises and Boston Harbor Now have added some fun events to their summer lineup. They've partnered with Barbara Lynch Gruppo for the food portion, making a trip to the harbor and islands even better this summer. There's now a sunset cocktail cruise, a brunch cruise, clambake on Spectacle Island, and also a luau on Spectacle Island. I recently got invited to experience one of the events and I went with the luau.
Luau on Spectacle
The ferry to the luau boards at 5:30pm each Sunday in the summer from Boston's Long Wharf.
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Saturday, June 30, 2018

Ocean's Table Delivers Fresh Seafood Direct from the Fishermen to Your Door

If you're the type to enjoy cooking your own recipes and want to get sustainable, local products but don't have the time to go shop, try Ocean's Table. This service brings fresh seafood directly from the fishermen shipped to your door. They work with fishermen and vessel captains from Gloucester in Massachusetts. Their facility is located right on Gloucester Harbor, where they will meet the captains to get the seafood, fillet and prepare the seafood and ship them.

I recently got a box to review, and it was filled with scallops, red fish, halibut, and more. There are different packages you can choose from on their website.
Oceans Table
Each package was labeled with the port they're harvested at, the vessel name and the name of the captain.
Oceans Table

Sunday, June 24, 2018

75 on Courthouse Square Brings Upscale American Fare to Boston Seaport

Seaport has gotten a lot of new restaurants lately, including 75 On Courthouse Square by Thomas Kershaw, the restaurateur behind Cheers!

There are a few restaurants in the 75 franchise. The latest Seaport is quite spacious, with plenty of space for private events. There's a good wine menu and a solid drink list. The restaurant sits in the same building as King's and the ShowPlace ICON movie theatre and overlooks the Courthouse Square (it was unfortunately raining when I was there).
75 on Courthouse
I started with crab cake, served with marinated cucumbers. It was filled with quite a bit of crab and little filling, just the way I liked it.
75 on Courthouse
If you want a New England seafood dish, get the Nantucket Seafood Stew with scallops, shrimp, and fish.
75 on Courthouse

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Comfort Food and Classic Drinks at Seaport's OG Lucky's Lounge (Boston, MA)

Before Fort Point was the hot spot that it is now, there was Lucky's Lounge. I have to admit since it wasn't hot and new, it wasn't really on my list to check out after moving to Boston - but I'm glad I finally did.
Known for its live music and Sinatra brunches for many years, Lucky's Lounge also has a great beer list and serves surprisingly good comfort food and variations on classic cocktails.

I was pleasantly surprised at the cocktails I had here. There were seasonal Pimms cup, classic cocktails and in general a more interesting menu than what I expected. The drink was smooth and well balanced - I can recommend this place for cocktails in the Fort Point area!
Lucky's Lounge
The food here is comfort food with a twist, like this fried buffalo brussels sprouts with blue cheese and bacon. I'd recommend this to share with a few people, it was pretty rich with all the bacon and blue cheese!
Lucky's Lounge

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Preview: Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week, June 1-17, 2018

by @discovering_LA

The annual Greater Palm Springs Restaurant Week is currently taking place through June 17 with over 100 participating restaurants throughout Coachella Valley offering prix-fixe lunches from $15-25 and dinners from $29-49.

Executive Chef Jason Moffitt of Chi Chi at the Avalon Hotel Palm Springs recently collaborated with Executive Chef Michael Reed of Viviane at the Avalon Beverly Hills for a pre-event tasting that I was fortunate to attend. We were seated outside near the hotel’s famous hourglass pool. It was rather chilly and we benefited from the non-obtrusive heaters. This hotel is historically preserved from Beverly Hills in the 1990’s and was renovated to make this property retro-chic to restore the glamour of Beverly Hills. I thought the exterior pastel colors really set the tone for the evening.

We began with Spanish Octopus.

The octopus was perfectly grilled with a pleasant wood-smoked flavor. The combination of smoked eggplant labneh, bulgur, pickled fresno chile, mint and zaatar gave it nice flavors with a bit of spiciness. It was served on top of grilled lavash.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Spectacle on Spectacle Brings Gourmet Eats and Drinks to Boston Harbor Islands on June 21, 2018

The ultimate Boston summer food festival might be Spectacle on Spectacle, which brings guests to Spectacle Island, part of the Boston Harbor Islands, for a food and drink extravaganza complete with a ferry ride to and from the island.

Since last year, the Boston Harbor Now has signed on Barbara Lynch to be in charge of their culinary programs, so you can bet her restaurants will be participating at the event as they did last year. This year's Spectacle on Spectacle will take place on June 21, 2018 and there will also be a fireworks display.

The evening starts with a ferry ride to Spectacle Island, and there were appetizer stations and beer/wine served on the boat. It actually did rain that evening during the event, but they were ready with tents and the rain didn't stop any of us from having a blast.

There were other great Boston restaurants participating last year in addition to the Barbara Lynch Gruppo. Some of my favorite dishes included this sea trout crudo from SRV.
Spectacle On Spectacle
There's of course, the iconic butter soup (with mussels and caviar) from Barbara Lynch's Menton.
Spectacle On Spectacle

Monday, May 7, 2018

Omakase at the Hidden Sushi | Bar (Encino, CA)

I heard about a sushi bar in Encino with a name pretty impossible to google: Sushi | Bar. This is Phillip Frankland Lee's hidden omakase-only sushi bar behind Woodley Proper in Encino. Sushi | Bar has two seatings per night and only seats eight people at a time. Reservations for the night opens at 10 am that morning on their website (EDIT: Sushi|Bar now takes reservations up to 2 weeks in advance!)

Sushi | Bar is hidden inside Woodley Proper. You check in at Woodley Proper and wait at the bar with a welcome cocktail before the party is escorted to the secret room. Sushi | Bar is not a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant. Phillip Frankland Lee and his team serves up a creative 17-course omakase of sushi with unusual garnishes and preparations.

We chatted with the sushi chefs and other diners and the 17 courses and their drink pairings come and go in rapid succession. I wasn't able to take detailed notes of every single preparations and photos of all the dishes, unfortunately, but here are what you might expect out of this wonderful and unique omakase experience.

We started with a West Coast oyster with whipped nigorizake and caviar, among other ingredients. I opted for the drink pairing which mixed in sake, beer, and cocktails - starting with sake to pair with the oysters.

There's the Purple Peruvian scallop with noc chuom and leche de tigre
Sushi Bar

Oo-toro, pineapple, brown sugar, wasabi, soy
Sushi Bar

White prawn from the Gulf of Mexico marinated for 3 days in chermoula. The prawn was oasted, then topped with dehydrated matcha, kelp, wasabi, and soy
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The prawn was paired with a cocktail made with Japanese whisky, port, lemon, matcha, kelp, soy - the three ingredients matched the garnish on the prawn sushi itself.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Where to Drink Cocktails in Boston: Fenway / Kenmore

If you were to do a cocktail crawl in Boston, the Fenway Kenmore neighborhood is actually a great place to do it, due to the concentration of good cocktail spots in close vicinity to each other. Drink at one of these spots next time you're in the neighborhood - or just go to all of them!

The Hawthorne
Hawthorne Thirst Boston
Owned by Jackson Cannon and currently managed by Jared Sadoian, The Hawthorne is the cocktail lounge to go to in Boston when you want to feel fancy in a quieter spot with excellent drinks. Their oft-changing cocktail menu features well thought out classic variations. For a more casual vibe, visit them on Swizzle Sundays on the patio.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Spring Cocktails, Crab Toast, and More at OAK Long Bar + Kitchen at The Fairmont Copley Plaza (Boston, MA)

A month or so ago, I finally visited OAK Long Bar + Kitchen for a proper cocktail tasting. I often neglect hotel bars, but I've heard good things about this particular one so I decided to try it.
I was given a special sneak peek of their spring cocktails, which at the time didn't even have names yet! I was waiting until "spring" to post about them, and I think it's finally here, right?

I started with one that really invokes spring, a cocktail that's now been named Home Grown. It's made with Gunpowder Irish gin, English pea syrup, lemon, honey.

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The vegetal notes of the pea worked really well with the botanicals in the gin. But don't worry, this refreshing drink is not overly vegetal, it was tempered nicely with the honey.

The restaurant manager Will Caines did a great job pairing up the cocktails with some bites from Oak's food menu. Will was previously a bartender at Doretta Taverna.
The first drink was served alongside Avocado and crab toast (peekytoe crab, burrata, pickled jalapeno, cilantro, $18)
gourmetpigs.com

Friday, April 20, 2018

Fish by José Andrés at The Cove at Atlantis (Bahamas)

The day I headed out to The Bahamas, I found out that Fish, a seafood restaurant by José Andrés, had just opened at The Cove at Atlantis the day before (on April 12, 2018). I love José Andrés and have generally had great meals at his restaurants including Bazaar Steak in Las Vegas, so I really wanted to try Fish while I was in the area. I couldn't get a reservation online but I was told that they take walk-ins.

The restaurant wasn't full when I got there, and I managed to get seated in the lounge area for dinner. Fish by Jose Andres

I started with probably the one healthy dish I had all weekend: Brussels sprouts, lemon pith puree, apricot, grapes ($12)
Fish by Jose Andres
The brussels sprouts was tender and delicate and I loved the unusual combination with sweet grapes.

For me, the must order here is the conch, the Bahamian treasured mollusk! FISH offers a few preparations of the mollusk, and I ordered the grilled conch with chimichurri sauce ($24)
Fish by Jose Andres

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Tasting Menu of Mind Fish Co's Tuna from the Maldives

by Bryan Tsunoda @discovering_LA

If you haven’t experienced a collaboration before, it is an opportunity to see what is possible when two artists combine their efforts. The effort could involve many creative efforts such as a motion picture, a song, or even a breakthrough in science. I was invited to see a menu collaboration between two entrepreneurs: Mind Fish Co and chef Teresa Montaño.

“Pole-and-line fishing is a centuries-old technique and continues to employ the fishing communities of the Maldives, where their only natural renewable resource is the wild skipjack tuna,” said Mind Fish Co-Founder Jerry Lin. “All our skipjack tuna are pole-and-line caught and processed/packed in the Maldives.”

Lin obtained his masters in Aquatic Biology and wrote his thesis on the Maldives fishing industry. His interest and passion for sustainable seafood grew, which led him to starting Mind Fish, a company that exports canned tuna from the Maldives. Teresa Montaño was previously the executive chef of Ración which was on Jonathan Gold’s top 101 Best Restaurants. There she prepared beautifully plated Basque and Spanish tapas. She created a Spanish-inspired menu emphasizing sustainability, local ingredients and dishes to share with Iberian wines and beers.

The first was a crostini topped with a whipped goat butter, anchovy and tuna and topped with roasted radishes and fresh herbs.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Support Community Servings with LifeSavor on April 26, 2018

Community Servings is one of the nonprofits in Boston I love supporting .They prepare nutritious meals for the homebound and critically ill, each meal catered to each patient's condition.
Each year, they fold a big fundraising event called LifeSavor, which starts with a festive gala reception at The Langham Hotel.
LifeSavor 2017
Guests can sign up either for the reception alone or for a multi-course dinner. After the reception, they will be transported to one of the participating restaurants for dinner and after the dinner they'll be transported back to The Langham for a dessert after party.
This year's participating restaurants include Bondir, Craigie on Main, Bar Mezzana, Toro, Oleana, Mistral, and many more. See here for a full list.

There's plenty of food at the reception itself, provided by The Langham ...
LifeSavor 2017

Thursday, April 5, 2018

LA: Taste of the Eastside, April 29, 2018 + Giveaway!

You know it's spring in LA when it's time for Taste of the Eastside! The food festival is coming back for another run on April 29, 2018 to the Los Angeles River and Gardens. The festival showcases restaurants in the Eastside neighborhoods including Eagle Rock, Silverlake, Highland Park, Los Feliz and beyond.

This year's participating restaurants include Melody, Oki Poki, Malo Restaurant, Daw Yee Myanmar Corner, Cliff's Edge, Momed, Cento Pasta Bar, and more. There will be ice creams from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, Pazzo Gelato, and McConnell's Fine Ice Creams. Drinks will be served by Frogtown Brewery, Green Bar Distillery, Silverlake Wine, Eagle Rock Brewery, and others.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Thirst Boston Returns April 27-29, 2018

Thirst Boston is Boston's cocktail festival. The afternoons are filled with various workshops meant for bartender and cocktail enthusiasts. They cover molecular mixology approaches, ice carving techniques, as well as tasting seminars about cognac and other spirits. There are also seminar on woman in cocktail history and a hands-on make-your-own gin workshop that I wrote about here.

Now, why should you care about Thirst Boston? If you're not a big enough enthusiast to attend the seminars and workshops, there are still other Thirst events that will interest you! Namely, their fun cocktail-filled evening events.

One is Blender Bender, which this year will take place on Sunday, April 29 at Whiskey Saigon. The event is pits teams of local bartenders in a blended drink competition. There's always a theme to this event and the bartenders are known to go all out in costumes and garnishes! It's a big dance party with great blended drinks all night.
Thirst Boston
Last year's theme was the Gender Bender Blender Bender, and this year will be a Mad Max theme.
Thirst Boston

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Beyond Malbec: Argentinean Wine Tasting with Proemio Wines at Prezza (North End, Boston, MA)

Argentinean wines = Malbec. That's what most of us would think of, I think. At least I did as well, but there is so much more happening in the Argentinean wine industry beyond malbec and I recently got to taste some at a luncheon featuring Proemio Wines.

Proemio was founded in 2001 by Marcelo Bocardo, a third generation winemaker and an Italian descent. They have three vineyards in different wine regions of Mendoza and as of 2017 all the grapes are organic certified. Most of the wines we tasted came from Maipu, Mendoza where they have 148 acres of vineyard.
The wine luncheon took place at Prezza in Boston's North End with a special menu by Chef Anthony Caturano.

We started off with a glass of Proemio Chardonnay 2017. This wine was 30% aged in new French oak (the rest in stainless steel). The wine was pretty delicate. The winemaker wanted vanilla rom the oak but still wanted good acidity and freshness, hence the blend of oak and stainless steel.

For appetizers: tuna tartare crostini and crispy shrimp with cherry pepper aioli
Proemio Wine
The wine lineup:
Proemio Wine
Our first course: Grilled quail over red wine lentils and bacon. The quail was grilled perfectly.
Proemio wine
We tried each dish paired with two different ones. For the quail, we had the Proemio Terroir Blend 2017 (Petit Verdot) and the Proemio Syrah/Garnacha 2015.

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