Friday, October 17, 2008

Addictive Scones at the Gordon Ramsay

I went to have afternoon at the Gordon Ramsay at the London Hotel in West Hollywood with a bunch of other foodies, including LA&OC Foodie - we've been looking forward to it all week!

In the daylight the interior of the Gordon is classy and gorgeous. White walls with some gilded decorations. Pastel colored chairs contrast with the dark tables. It also has a great view of LA.The afternoon tea menu is fixed (at $28 per person) and all you have to do is choose the tea. Compared to Jin Patisserie or the tea rooms, the choices are fairly limited with Earl Grey, English Breakfast, Green tea, Darjeeling, etc. There were a couple of interesting choices such as Tangerine and Cassis. I opted for some fresh mint tea.

The fresh mint tea is made with real fresh mint leaves - not the dried stuff! I absolutely love the aroma of fresh mint (hence my fave cocktail is mojito).

Everything were brought out at once but T forwarded us a little article about proper afternoon tea etiquette, and you were supposed to start with the scones, so ... first up! Plain and raisin scones (one of each per person), served with blueberry jam and chantilly cream:
These scones were amazingly delicious and addicting. Very buttery, and with the wonderful blueberry jam and cream they gave us, each bite was just absolutely divine. The scones were definitely the highlight of our whole experience. We had to keep asking for more blueberry jam since it was soo good - they really should've just given each one of us our own dish of jam :P

We also had some spinach mini quiches that were oustanding!
The center of the quiche is very moist and gooey - a cheesy wonderful texture.

There were 4 types of sandwiches for everyone: Smoked salmon, prawn cocktail, prosciutto and mozzarella with pesto butter, and goat's cheese with sundried tomato and watercress.
Our favorite of the sandwiches were the Prawn Cocktail - fresh raw prawns with nice texture.
But I will show you a close up of the prosciutto instead just because I thought it looked nice :P
The rest of the sandwiches were also good. Great quality, solid taste, although they do not stand out.

Each person gets half of each type of pastry (one for every 2 people). The different pastries, from the left, are: Coffee&Walnut Cake, Lemon Tart with pistachio, Chocolate&Lavender cake, Fruit tart with lychee cream, and Lemon Pound cake.
I thought they were good but not outstanding - the chocolate lavender cake was my favorite, but overall cannot compare to cakes at, say, Jin Patisserie, or the ones at Ritz Carlton's afternoon tea. Lemon pound cake was pretty good, though.

I would come back for afternoon tea here just for the scones alone, even if nothing else. Knowing they have fresh mint tea will also make me come back though. It was a nice pleasant afternoon with nice views, good food (great scones), good fresh mint tea, and excellent company!

Gordon Ramsay
1020 N San Vicente Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 358-7788

Gordon Ramsay at the London on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 16, 2008

WineMaking 101: The Harvest and Crush

Okay, kids, let's learn how to make one of the most important fluids in the world: wine!
We're talking red wine here specifically.

I started making wine 3 years ago, when my professor at UCLA asked his students if we were interested. We bought 100 pounds of Sangiovese grapes from the Home Wine, Beer, and Cheesemaking Shop which is also a great resource on equipments and brewing nutrients.

That was the last time we bought though. That year and the years following, my prof's grape vines have started to bear fruits and we've been getting grapes from those vines.
So. First step - you harvest. Before the harvest, test your grapes regularly for its brix/sugar content. High sugar content will make much better wine (higher alcohol content)- if it is too low you have to add sugar but the natural sugar is always better. The later the harvest, the sweeter the grapes will be, but you may lose quantity.

Get the grapes in bunches and throw them in a barrel. We use the big gallon trash cans - new/clean of course! Don't worry about the stems/leaves at this point - we will get rid of those later, just get as much as you can.No, you don't have to wear funny outfits like we did. The only reason for the masks was that we were having bee problems.

Next, you destem and CRUSH.
The Home Wine, Beer, and Cheese Shop has a destemmer that will do the work for you, but in our low volume backyard process, I just crush them with my feet :)
It's been a tradition!

So destem the grapes, get rid of the leaves, throw them into a big, shallow bucket. Then CLEAN FEET in, and crush crush crush.

Once everything is crushed, measure the specific density - this will tell you the sugar content. 22 brix will give you 11% alcohol - Aim for 24 brix or so. The Shop's website also has a great list for charts etc on how much sugar/water to add to correct your sugar level.

Next you add the sulfite, tartaric acid, malo-lactic, super super food (nutrients for the yeast), and also water and some yeast. Grapes will have a white coating on its skin (see photo above) which will be covered with yeast. It is better to use natural yeast, but if there is not enough yeast you will end up with vinegar, so to be safe add some yeast.
Again, there's a chart/recipe on how much to add. People will tend to modify this based on experience, but of course I cannot disclose our secret recipe :P

We put everything in our big clean trash can. After these nutrient addition, cover the top of your crushed grapes with plastic - very important to make sure everything is covered and airtight! Air will promote the growth of bacteria and give you vinegar!

Then put on the cover for your trash can and leave it to brew for a week or so. Check the specific density every day. It should go down as the yeast is brewing, and you'd want to wait until you get as close as possible to zero.

When you hit that point .... we'll talk about it next time: PRESSING!

In the meantime, you have to get on to the most important part of the harvest .... The Feast :D
Always have a feast, with wine of course, when you're done harvesting ;)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Anniversaries, Giveaways, Fat, and Pungentness

My one year blogiversary is coming up! Is that a real word or did I just make it up?
Anyways, I decided to do not one, but TWO special things to celebrate!! (celebrating is just an excuse, I just want to do it)
I need your input and I'm turning this into my one-year-anniversary-blog-giveaway-contest.

So the background: I am planning: 1) a foie gras crawl, and 2) a durian crawl.
Am I kidding? Am I /ever/ kidding? I am totally serious. Not on the same day of course.
Well, maybe.

So here's what I've come up with for #1) foie gras w/ eggplant at Orris, and foie gras with mac&cheese and black truffles at Chaya Brasserie. What other particular foie gras dish should I include? The rule is that it has to be on their regular menu - otherwise the whole plan will go down the drain!

For #2) durian smoothie from Simpang Asia, sticky rice with durian --> where?
Fresh durian from the Ranch 99 in SGV area. Any other durian foodstuff and where can I get them?


You guys post what dish I should get for either #1 or #2 and where.
Post your suggestions in the comments section and include your email address so I can contact the winner.
You have until the date of my first post - Oct 23rd.

THE PRIZE: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations DVD

Gourmet Pigs   © 2008. Template Recipes by Emporium Digital