Showing posts with label burrata. Show all posts
Showing posts with label burrata. Show all posts

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bar Toscana, Brentwood's Hidden Italian Gem

Bar Toscana is the cocktail bar next door to longtime Brentwood favorite, Toscana. The Italian trattoria has been in business for 26 years. In the competitive culinary world of Los Angeles, that means they must be doing something right!

For their cocktails at Bar Toscana, they have brought William Perbellini who came from Italy to head the bar program here.

Bar Toscana

Perbellini's cocktail menu ranges from the classics to the seasonal, like this Costa Esmeralda (cognac, Grand Marnier, grapes, and sage)
Bar Toscana
I love grapes as a cocktail ingredient, and here it is paired with a grape-based spirit.

Barrel aged negroni with Plymouth gin, campari, and sweet vermouth
Bar Toscana
This was an unusually good negroni, expertly made and even smoother thanks to the barrel aging.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Summer House Santa Monica (North Bethesda, MD)

Pizza fans in Los Angeles are already familiar with chef Jeff Mahin's name and the two Stella Barra locations in LA (it's been so long ago that I've written about it, back when the restaurant was still called Stella Rossa).

Chef Mahin is bringing Southern California to the east, though, and I was reunited with his food while visiting Washington, DC. You see, Jeff Mahin is also in charge of another restaurant from the same group, called Summer House Santa Monica. Summer House currently has two locations: Chicago and North Bethesda in Maryland (if you're geographically challenged, that's a stone's throw away from DC).

The interior evokes that beach house ambiance, as one would expect, but they've done it better than what I had imagined. I love the lights hanging from the ceiling!

Summer House
You have to start with: Baked-to-order biscuits with poblano honey butter ($8.95)
Summer House
The biscuits, which are served piping hot, are incredible, perfectly flaky and buttery. Combined with the honey, it's even better. I knew I had a big dinner ahead of me, but I couldn't stop eating it.

Jeff Mahin's burrata dish has always been one of my favorites at Stella Barra, where it is served with roasted grapes. The one at Summer House is served differently but still uses fresh and creamy local burrata. Here it's served with tomato jam, arugula, grilled bread ($13.95)
Burrata

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Food Preview: Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert

by: guest blogger @iam_robot

The Food + Wine Festival Palm Desert is back for its fifth year, and this year’s celebrity chef and culinary master includes Iron Chef Cat Cora, Award- winning pastry chef Gale Gand, Broke Williamson, Ari Taymor, Zack Bruell, and Brian Malarkey, among others.

Aiming to benefit The Friends of James Beard Foundation, these chefs will educate attendees with cooking demos, unique exhibits, and various industry panels on March 27 – 29 in Palm Desert’s famed El Paseo shopping district. And let’s not forget about the Grand Tasting event – sip, nosh, and party your way through the heat with more than 70 premium spirits/wines/ beers and 50 premier Palm Desert-area restaurants.

Last week I had a chance to sample of the wonderful bites and wines to be featured at this desert food festival. There were many memorable dishes but my favorite was the English muffin with burrata, caviar & licorice herbs by Ari Taymor of Alma (named “Best Restaurant in America” by Bon Appetit).

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This dish is the ultimate comfort food – Initially I was over the moon with the fresh briny character of the uni but as I chewed through, I loved the flavor mesh of the burrata creaminess and subtle saltiness from the caviar. Everything gels like a perfect symphony on top of this bite-size pillow soft English muffin. I could eat a tub of these!

My other highlight was Brooke Williamson’s (of The Tripel, Hudson House, and Playa Provisions) Gougere - a baked savory choux pastry made of choux dough mixed with cheese. It was buttery goodness – I had to jot down the step by step when she was demonstrating.
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Brooke Williamson demonstrating her gougere recipe

Thursday, September 26, 2013

CAST: The Reinvented Restaurant at Viceroy Santa Monica

Whist at The Viceroy in Santa Monica has reinvented itself as CAST, but Chef Tony DiSalvo is still going strong in the kitchen. The new name, CAST, draws focus to its proximity to the ocean and the seafood dishes.

Pay attention to the crostini section, and don't miss the sea urchin crostini with sea salt, lemon, and larda ($6 each). Perfectly creamy, and the light dressing of salt and lemon brings out the rich flavors even more.

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Equally worthy but less of a splurge is the burrata crostini with pesto, tomato ($3 each). This was also one of the creamiest burrata I've had in LA.
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The crostinis are thin, meant to serve as a vessel to the uni and burrata without masking the flavors.
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Oh, if you are on Instagram, be sure to take a photo and tag @viceroySM. You will get a free glass of sparkling wine for doing so! For a glass of white wine that will go with seafood dishes, we enjoyed the 2010 Supernatural Sauvignon Blanc, Napa, California ($13).

It's not all seafood here, of course. Chef DiSalvo kept his famous Lamb Kefta meatballs because riots might break out if he ever takes it off the menu. At the moment they are served with orange, pistachio, and yogurt ($10)
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We started our feast with the Diver scallops, dungeness crab risotto, snap peas, shiso vinaigrette ($18 or $33 for full size - I believe the one pictured is the half size)
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Perfectly cooked scallops, creamy risotto with chunks of sweet crab, crisp snap peas. What a nice seafood dish, the flavors are light yet satisfying.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Build Your Own Pizza at PizzaRev (Studio City, CA)

If you're particular about the toppings you want on your pizza, try Pizza Rev in Studio City where you can select the cheese, toppings, and sauce for your individual, customized pizza.

It's similar to 800 Degrees in Westwood but cheaper. In fact, at Pizza Rev your very own crafted pizza will cost $7.95 despite how many toppings you put on, although there are some premium options that cost extra like gluten free crust or burrata (or vegan "cheese").

You go down the line and ask for or point to the toppings you want. It's hard not to go overboard when everything is in front of you.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Casa Del Mar's New Lobby Lounge Bites, Barrel Aged Cocktails

Casa Del Mar has been elevating their cocktail program under the radar, inviting renowned bartenders locally and internationally to train their staff and help with new menus. One of the latest such consultant is LA's own Aidan Demarest.

Not only that, now you can age your own 5 liters of cocktails with your name or logo etched into the barrel! Choose from Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Vesper, or consult with the bartenders for your own. Once you finish the contents, you get to take the barrel home as a keepsake. The pricing for this starts around $500 per barrel (it depends on the spirits you use).

Barrel Aged Cocktail
I tried their Barrel aged Vieux Carree (Hudson rye whiskey, Tariquet Armagnac VS, Carpano Antica, Angostura bitters, aged 8 1/2 weeks in new American white oak barrels).

The lead bartender, Raymond, has also been coming up with fun new cocktails using fresh produce, like the
Smoky Beets (Alipus mezcal, fresh beet puree, lime juice, Ras El Hanout). This may be my favorite out of the cocktails I tried. The beet flavor wasn't overpowering and the ras el hanout is a unique touch.
Beet Cocktail

Sunday, November 25, 2012

New Fall Menu at Public Kitchen & Bar (Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel)

Before Vartan Abgaryan exited Public Kitchen and Bar at The Roosevelt, he and Executive Chef Tim Goodell left them with a solid Fall menu.

I was there to try their Halloween eye ball cake pops but was treated to quite a feast instead, starting with a jar of very creamy burrata with bagnet vert and cherry tomatoes ($13)

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We couldn't stop snacking on the Chicharrones with chili and lime ($8)
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The various vegetable dishes are great for this season. It's the season for squash, so try their Kabocha squash, sheep's milk ricotta, pumpkin seeds, rapini leaves, pumpkin spice vinaigrette ($11)
squash

The pumpkin spice vinaigrette was so good, this dish was almost like eating a savory pumpkin pie.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Completely Revamped Vitello's (Studio City)

Vitello's in Studio City was an old school Italian restaurant in Studio City famous for being a mafia hangout in the 50's and the site of the Robert Blake shooting incident. If you were to ask the current staff, even they will admit that the food back then was no bueno. All that changed recently. Major renovation of the interior, an entirely new menu under a new chef (who for once is actually Italian), and a wine and cocktail program.

Vitello's

Carrot Cocktails
The cocktail menu was pretty interesting. I ordered the Bad Lil' Wabbit made with whiskey, carrot juice, agave, lemon, mint, and ginger beer ($11). I was wary at first. Carrot juice? But this drink was good! The ginger beer complements it nicely.

The chef likes to put out special items and customers can pretty much request whatever they wanted, as long as they have the ingredients. My dinner ended consisting of dishes not on the regular menu (except for the dessert). Fresh salmon tartar was served with diced apples and cucumbers.
Salmon Tartar

A big mound of smooth, creamy burrata is served with sweet and crisp heirloom tomatoes. I welcomed every chance I got to eat heirloom tomatoes before the season ended.
Burrata and Tomatoes

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cucina Enoteca (Irvine, CA)

Cucina Enoteca is the new restaurant at Irvine Spectrum, the second venture of Cucina Urbana in San Diego. The decor in the large space varied from a rustic patio, a high ceiling with caged bulbs in the dining room, and abstract painting in one section of the wall.

Cucina Enoteca
Cucina Enoteca has an adjoining wine store, where you can pick out wines at retail price and pay minimum corkage (on Sundays, you can get free corkage for any bottle over $20 that you buy here).
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The kitchen is now headed by Chef Lauren "Lulu" DeRouen (formerly of Pinot Provence). She wasn't in the kitchen the night I was there so I ordered instead of having the kitchen send out stuff. They did anyway!
The kitchen sent out a trio of vasi : ceci bean hummus with piquillo jam, burrata with roasted garlic confit, and duck rillette with apricot mustard.
Vasi
All three were great - I also enjoyed combining the burrata with the duck rillette together. The fresh, creamy burrata is made by DiStefano Cheese in Baldwin Park (the same one they have at Stella Rossa Pizza).

I didn't realize they were sending out the burrata vasi, so I had ordered the burrata and speck ‘caprese’ salad, with pickled pear, arugula, candied pecan, fried shallot, and sherry vinaigrette.
Burrata Salad
Well, I didn't really mind more burrata, and this one was great especially with the pear.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Stella Rossa Pizza (Santa Monica)

The latest buzz on pizza in LA has been coming from Stella Rossa Pizza in Santa Monica. Stella Rossa is a sister restaurant of and shares an entrance with M Street Kitchen on Main St. The chef, Jeff Mahin, comes from a fine dining background, including The Fat Duck and L2O. He says he's now doing what he's always wanted to do, making pizza. (Is it just me or is there a movement of fine dining chefs turning into making sandwiches and burgers and pizzas).

Upon placing our order, the server suggested we order a different appetizer since we're getting a white pizza, but my friend has never had burrata before so I insisted that we order some.

Fresh local burrata ($10.95) with organic extra virgin olive oil, sea salt
BurrataThe burrata is made locally (in Baldwin Park) by Di Stefano and was one of the creamiest you can find in this city. I would've been very happy with the burrata and olive oil alone, but the sweet grapes made for an amazing accompaniment. Every piece of grape I had that night was sweet and ripe. Remember the scene in Ratatouille where Remy makes Emile try eating a chunk of cheese and a piece of grape at the same time?

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