Wednesday, November 4, 2009

This Weekend: Support the Heritage Square Museum

About Heritage Square Museum:
A living history museum reflecting the settlement and development of Southern California from the Civil War to the early 20th Century, the Heritage Square Museum has saved eight historic buildings from demolition. You can now visit these buildings during museum hours.

On Saturday, November 7, the Heritage Square Museum will host their 40th Anniversary Fundraiser and Luncheon at the historic San Antonio Winery. This event will help raise critical funds for Heritage Square Museum to continue for another 40 years, so please come on by and support the Museum while drinking wine and eating good food!

The Fundraiser begins with tours of the San Antonio Winery and wine tasting at 1:30 pm and the luncheon buffet will be held at 2:30 pm-4:30 pm.

Honorary Event Chair, Councilman Ed Reyes, District One, will be in attendance and making a special presentation. Your master of ceremony will be Al Downing of the Dodgers fame.

Saturday, November 7, 2009,1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
San Antonio Winery, 737 Lamar Street, Los Angeles, CA 90031.
Tickets are $125.00, call (323) 225-2700

Allston Yacht Club: Refining Echo Park Neighborhood Dining

The recently opened Allston Yacht Club offers something quite different from other places in Echo Park. A small-plate restaurant combining American, Asian, and African influences with a wine bar and an inventive cocktail program. All the plates are priced under $10, making it quite the affordable neighborhood destination.

Not that Echo Park is my neighborhood, so it wasn't like I just meandered over there one day.

AYC has gotten some buzz recently since the owners have started blogging about their restaurateur-ing experiences (Apparently they left their careers in the entertainment industry to open up a restaurant. You know, something more relaxed. Ha :P ). So when their PR person contacted me and invited me to check out the food, I took up the opportunity.

As soon as I entered my eyes were drawn to the yellow backdrop and the giant Hokusai waves. I want that for my room, please.
My friend and I started the night with cocktails. She got the Lena's Holiday (vodka, St Germain, cucumber, pear & ginger - $9)
The drink was on the sweeter side, though not overly so.

The server brought out a plate of cheese (Istara, Sheep, Basque) and saucisson sec by mistake instead of our brandade gratin. Oh well, we are not about to turn down cheese.

I quite enjoyed the firm and smooth Istara.

We never did get our brandade gratin, but there was more than enough food anyway.

Duck Confit with BBQ sauce and green papaya salad ($7)
The duck confit was tender and moist and the sweetness of the bbq sauce was balanced quite well by the tart green papaya. The duck confit preparation here changes daily, and at this price point it's very doable to come regularly and check out what's in store.

The next plate we got was the Merguez Sausage ($8)
Our favorite dish of the night. The lamb sausage was very flavorful and had a great texture that's complemented by the melange of vegetables.

AYC also offers side dishes to go along with your small "plates". We tried the Brussels Sprouts with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and bacon ($6)
This was my only disappointment of the night. The balsamic vinegar made the dish too salty and covered up the taste of the brussels sprouts themselves. We liked eating the bacon bits by themselves though, they were quite good.

We also tried the Spinach Tian, cooked in savory rice custard ($6). A warm and comforting dish, although the egg flavor came through much more than the rice.

The PR person came and talked to us and told us how much she loves the grilled cheese sandwich here. The sandwich preparation changes regularly and seasonally, sometimes incorporating truffles or apricots.

Of course, we had to order one.
No truffle in sight today, but the aromatic melted cheese on the warm, crisp, and buttery bread was very satisfying. My friend did note that it was a bit too greasy for her usual fare, but you know I do not mind it.

For dessert, I tried the Amandine, a South African almond-based cake
A light dessert that's prepared well with a strong almond flavor and crunchy texture.

I was waiting for my friend to finish her drink, so I tried a second drink too, the Ultraviolet Martini (gin, vermouth, lemon, violet syrup - $9)
A very well balanced drink and the aroma and subtle flavor of the violet syrup made this quite a unique drink. Loved it.

Instead of doing my own recap, here's a summary of AYC from my friend and dinner companion (who has her own blog Whiners n Diners):

" Enter the warm, inviting Allston Yacht Club and you will experience a variety of tastes as richly colored as the decor itself. Imagine a great blue Hokusai wave against a vibrant yellow backdrop as you sip delicately crafted cocktails like the UltraViolet martini, the Echo Park Mule or the Allston Sunrise. You can nosh on anything from an assortment of small plates to savory entrees influenced from a variety of world cuisines. Our favorites include the merguez sausage and barbecue duck confit with green papaya. You can also find the tastiest grilled cheese - it is known to take on different forms at times- from plain to truffle infused. The staff is welcoming, and with prices between $7 and $9 for large plates, why not just make AYC your go-to place? "

Allston Yacht Club
1320 Echo Park Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 481-0454
Allston Yacht Club on Urbanspoon
Allston Yacht Club in Los Angeles

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Food Event 2009. Another Year, Another Blast

Last year's The Food Event, hosted by Los Angeles magazine, was at the top of my favorite food events in 2008. This year, The Food Event was a huge success yet again.

I was excited to see the Petrossian booth as soon as I came in and enjoyed their offerings, including this tartar topped with caviar.

There were plenty of notable bites that day, including a slider from Dakota, pear and burrata salad from a new tapas place in Pasadena called Noir, desserts from Essential Chocolate, and various offerings from Gordon Ramsay, Gaylord's, Dominick's, and more.

Lemonade LA offers something different with their mint lemonade and cold deli items such as the couscous and the poke.

Naturally there were tons of wines to sip and sample. The ones I got to try some Syrah Rose from Eagle Castle, a blend called RED from Vina Robles, and of course some Semler wines from Malibu's very own vines.

And then there were the cooking demonstrations! Famous Los Angeles chefs standing 5 feet away from you showing you how to cook?

First up was Chef Andrew Kirschner from the Wilshire restaurant demonstrating his Steamed Mussels in Curry Broth (here's the recipe).

Chef David Myers from Sona and Comme Ca showed us how to make Pumpkin Creme Brulee, just in time for the holidays.

In case you missed the video I posted on Monday, Chef Ludo Lefebvre of Ludobites showed us how to make his Spicy Chocolate Mousse with Orange Olive Oil puree all the while making jokes and bantering with the audience.
For those of you who missed it, here's the video, sans subtitle.

Chef Suzanne Tracht couldn't make it but the chefs from Jar came and whipped up a simple but amazing salad.

Last but not least, Chef John Sedlar of Rivera and his chef de cuisine talks about tortilla and the history of guacamole and his tortillas florales.

Chef Sedlar also talks about his recent trip to Tijuana with some of us foodbloggers and hitting 22 restaurants/taco stands in 48 hours (oh yeah, that's how we roll) and some of the implications of the surge of foodbloggers.

Read estarla's coverage here

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