Monday, October 5, 2009

South Coast Plaza Food Extravaganza II: Charlie Palmer & Marche Moderne + Giveaway!

The South Coast Plaza Food Blogger event was well on its way with a great meal at Hamamori and a salt/olive oil/wine tasting at Michael Chiarello's NapaStyle. Now we continue on to Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's for dinner (of course there's another meal that night, don't be silly).
We were first taken to their wine room downstairs, where they showed us their eWineList, supposedly the world's first electronic wine list where the sorting option easily makes all of their $17-$8100 bottles browsable.

Twice a month Charlie Palmer also holds "50 for 50" where 50 wines by the bottle go on sale for 50% off at their Next Vintage wine shop!

They brought down a selection of cocktails from their menu and I opted for the Blood Orange Mojito, which was refreshing and pretty light.
I tried Pleasure Palate's tamarind drink also, but it was too strong for our tastes. After the cocktails, we went to the dining room and had our dinner.

We start with brandade croquettes, followed by three-cheese risotto cake with chorizo aioli (pictured below).
The brandade croquettes were unmemorable, but the risotto cake was quite an interesting dish, the creamy, cheesy risotto is encased in a crispy shell.

Mussels with saffron aioli
Plump and fresh mussels soaked in creamy cheese was a hit at the table.
Next we had Kobe Beef Sliders with a tray of fries.
That's a pretty thick piece of meat there, but open your mouth wide enough and it would still fit. The meat was flavorful and moist, though the burger as a whole was a bit on the dry side. The fries that came with this was quite good though.

Burrata cheese with oven roasted tomatoes and arugula pesto.
This might've been my favorite dish from this meal, even if it seems so simple. But we all know how great a simple dish can be with quality ingredients, and this is the case here.

Seared oven roasted marrow with golden raisins and red onion marmalade.
Decidedly a lot of people's favorite and definitely a heavy duty dish. Even with the golden raisins cutting the fattiness, even a spoonful felt like my arteries are clogging. It's worth it though.

"Ham & Eggs" - tuna ham with truffled eggs.
Tuna ham? Yep, with the looks and smell of prosciutto, this tuna ham from Spain could easily deceive you. On top of truffled eggs this was excellent. I can have this for breakfast any weekend

Charlie Palmer at Bloomingdale's
3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 352-2525

At the end of the night we went away with goodie bags. But lucky you, I'm sharing :) Yep, there's a giveaway in this post! Just go to the end of the post to find out more.

Naturally, the night does not end there. We haven't even had dessert! For dessert we were then escorted to Marché Moderne, a restaurant headed by chefs Florent and Amelia Marneau that I knew was a favorite among many OC bloggers. These are what we had for dessert:

1. Pecan & banana mousse tart with caramel - a lovely mousse with a thin crumbly shell. Be careful when picking this up though, the shell can barely hold the heavy mousse filling.
2. Raspberry with meringue
3. Warm beignet with orange creme anglaise - my favorite, for sure. The warm beignet is moist and fluffy, and the creme anglaise has a great fragrance to it.
4. Green tea & apricot macarons- airy and lightly sweet. These macarons aren't as chewy as others I'm used to, but they are delectable nonetheless. Perfect with my cup of mint tea.
I was pretty happy with my dessert experience here, and can't wait to go back for a full meal one of these days.

Marché Moderne
3333 Bristol St
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 434-7900
Marche Moderne on Urbanspoon

Read E*starLA's report here.

Disclosure: In case it wasn't clear, our meal was indeed comped by South Coast Plaza. And I'm getting these posts out like mad cos even though SCP isn't paying me to blog, they are 'rewarding' those who finish posting fast enough (w/in 72 hours) with a $100 gift certificate.
Oh, and I got a goodie bag from SCP containing a cookie, an access card to the VIP Hospitality suite, tomato sauce, smthg from Kiehl's, etc. I also got a goodie bag from Charlie Palmer w/ a bottle of wine, a wine opener, and a $25 gift certificate.

You're probably hating me right about now, I got to eat all these for free just because I have a stupid blog?
Don't fret, I'm sharing some with you! Yes, you. Well, only one of you, actually.

I will be sending off a $25 gift certificate to Charlie Palmer to one lucky winner!
To win this gc, just comment below with your name, a way to contact you, and tell me 1)if you've eaten at South Coast Plaza and if you have, 2) your favorite South Coast Plaza eatery. Comment before next Sunday 10/11 (midnight). I'll pseudo-randomly pick a winner on Monday. Good luck!

South Coast Plaza Food Extravaganza Part I: Hamamori & NapaStyle

These days what i had considered "mall food" has been taken to the next level, with the likes of Breadbar in Century City Mall and others. Among these, South Coast Plaza probably has unparalleled food options in Southern California, housing some of the most highly regarded restaurants in Orange County. Being LA-based, I haven't explored OC much, so when an invite to a blogger event at South Coast Plaza came along, I took this opportunity to get to know the South Coast Plaza restaurants.

Their PR person had apparently organized quite a night for all of us bloggers and writers.

The first day of our visit started out at Hamamori, a chic sushi restaurant on the 3rd floor of the West Wing.
We were greeted by James Hamamori behind the sushi bar, the owner/chef who also own Wasa in Irvine and Newport Beach.

We started with seared albacore with crispy fried onions, vinegar soy sauce

Next is a duo of vegetable appetizers: Shiitake Fries with creme fraiche, and Asparagus Tempura with Japanese rice crackers.

A series of special nigiris followed suit. The first two became the favorite of most of us. They are Hokkaido scallop with Himalayan pink salt, shiso, lemon, and Osetra Caviar, and Hamachi with Himalayan pink salt, lemon, and Japanese chili paste.

They were both very fresh and the seasoning and garnish was not overpowering but quite enhanced the flavor of the fish.

The last of the nigiri was Freshwater Eel with Foie Gras, finished with orange zest.

May I remind you guys at this point that I've been out of town for a while and have not had foie gras for ... oh, I don't know, a loong time. Anyway, I'm justifying why this dish excited me so much and I mindlessly ate my piece without taking a photo! Luckily Pleasure Palate let me snap a photo of hers. The foie gras just melted in my mouth and added this delicious creaminess on top of the sweet eel. So good.

The next dish was a fun hands-on experience of cooking Oregon Kobe shortrib on a hot lava rock from Mt Fuji!

The lava rock was super hot and cooked the thin short rib slices within seconds.
The tender meat slices were served with three types of sauces: steak sauce, apple sesame, and sea salt with chili pepper.

3333 Bear St, Level 3
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 850-0880
Hamamori on Urbanspoon
Hamamori in Los Angeles

After our starter meal, we continued on with an interesting tasting at Michael Chiarello's store, Napa Style.

Here we were divided into two groups that started with different tastings. My group started with the salt tasting.
These are salts that chef Chiarello himself likes to use in his cooking like the popular Gray Salt, Truffle Salt, and even Jurassic Salt - possibly the oldest salt there is, found covered under volcanic ash in Utah.

Next we move on to the olive oil tasting. We had a couple of very interesting olive oil here.
One was an olive oil that somehow had the fragrance of banana ... somehow. A bit strange.
We also tried some Blood Orange Olive Oil - had a nice zesty fragrance and would probably be very good tossed with some salad. We got a goodie bag after and I received the Meyer Lemon olive oil - still yet to try it.

Our last tasting was the wines from Chiarello's vineyard.
Chef Chiarello named his five wines after his children and his wife. These are the wines we tried:

1. Giana ($39), a 2005 Zinfandel named after his youngest daughter. This had a spicy nose and taste, though the aftertaste is surprisingly short considering how strong the wine tasted. Quite a nice wine and pairs nicely with food.
2. Felicia ($49), 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel named after his 2nd daughter. These vines are from 98-year old root stocks that are all farmed dry. One of my favorites out of the tasting, full boodied with a nice fruity taste.
3. Roux ($45), 2006 Old Vine Petite Syrah. This is a smoother and more balanced wine that the previous. It had a subtler nose and a smoother fruity taste.
4. Bambino ($49), 2007 Cabernet named after his little boy (Aidan). A sweet wine that has a bit of spicyness to it. I liked this one quite a bit too.
5. Eileen ($69 but a $55 special is currently running), a 2006 Cabernet named after his wife. This wine has a sweet nose and is smooth and full bodied.
3333 Bear St, Level 2

Disclosure: In the spirit of the FTC guidelines, although SCP is not paying us bloggers to blog about this event, they are incentivizing us for blogging early by offering a $100 SCP gift card to those who blog within 72 hours. Will I make it? I have 2 more posts to go and 24 hours, so we'll see ..

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Upcoming Events!

October 4 marks the beginning of this year's dineLA Restaurant Week. Running for 2 weeks (Saturdays excluded), dineLA has managed to gather over 200 restaurants this year. My personal picks: RH, Spago, The Bazaar, and lunch at LGO Pasadena.

October 7 is Choctoberfest! at The Grove. That's Chocolate, Wine, AND Beer for you. With ~30 wine+beer lined up and artisan chocolates, you can still feel extra good with the fact that this event benefits the T.J. Martell Foundation for Leukemia, Cancer, and AIDS research. The event is held 7-9 PM. Tickets are $60 at the door or $49 advance.

October 11 has tons of stuff going on. The afternoon kicks off in Pasadena with the third annual LA Chocolate Salon with over 35 chocolatiers, wineries, confectioners etc. Event starts at 11 am and last year they did run out of chocolates so come early. Tickets are $2o for advance purchase and $25 at the door. 11 am-5 PM. The Pasadena Center, 300 Green St, Pasadena, CA.

Say you go to the Chocolate Salon at 11 am and fill up on chocolates and wines until 1 pm, then you can head down to Venice for A Taste of Abbott Kinney. This event features samples - food, wine, spirits- from Venice's favorite restaurants, cafes, bars, etc (including Joe's, Beechwood, Jin Patisserie, and Intelligentsia) and also discounts at participating retailers during the event. Tickets are $60. 2-7 PM.

At night, there's Savor the Season benefitting Break the Cycle to end domestic violence. Last year's event was a blast and this year's line-up includes BoHo, RH, Reservoir, Water Grill, Cakes Suzette, Stefan's at LA Farm, Beverly Hills Caviar, and much more. The VIP section includes Oyster Gourmet, The Beer Chick, and more. Tickets are $100 or $250 for VIP access. 6-9 PM. Global Cuisine by Gary Arabia, The Lot Studios, 1041 N Formosa Ave, West Hollywood.

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