Monday, October 31, 2011

Pam Mac D's: New Gluten-Free Market Opens in Burbank

A couple of years ago, I knew nothing about celiacs and gluten intolerance. I've heard about gluten free diet as a fad back in college, and didn't get why people would want to cut out gluten.

Then upon meeting a friend's best friend, I was told that he had celiac disease and could not eat gluten. Now, my roommate is also gluten intolerant. As I started paying attention to it, I realized that it's a pretty hard lifestyle. I thought my roommate would be fine at an Asian restaurant since she can eat rice, but soy sauce is also a no-no!

Well, for these people, life just became easier with the opening of Pam Mac D's in Burbank, an entirely gluten-free market.

From gluten free beer made with Sorghum (which was actually pretty good, light beer) to almond flour, it carries pretty much everything. They also have packed vegan meals from Rahel Ethiopian Restaurant.

Even if you're not on a gluten free diet, doesn't mean you won't enjoy some of the things here.

I absolutely loved the ThinKrisps. I mean, they're cheese crisps!! Crunchy, crispy, cheddary goodness that are so addictive. I can eat a whole container in 5 minutes.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Last Day for Chimu. Go!!

Today is the last opening day of Chef Mario Orellana's beloved Chimu, a takeout window next to the Grand Central Market offering "Peruvian soul food". His new restaurant, Red Hill, will be opening in December but he plans on serving "Neo-American" food, which means that today may very well be the last day you can have his Peruvian dishes. So, if you haven't gone yet, change your lunch plans and go!

After hearing the closing news, I myself jetted to try it for the first time yesterday. The Lomo Saltado ($12) may well be the best version I've ever had. The beef was so tender and the tomato slices surprisingly juicy.

The Seco de Cordero ($11) made with lamb belly, canario beans, and black beer sauce gives a very different flavor profile that is equally great. Again, the lamb belly was very tender with lightly crisped edges, the crunchy corn provided a nice texture contrast. The sauce was rich and slightly spicy. Soul food, indeed.
Try the traditional Peruvian drinks, too, like the Chicha Morada (purple corn), green barley tea (I believe this was called Emolliente?), and Maracuya (passionfruit).

I regretted not ordering the Chancho (pork belly) - I heard that's great too. Really, I should've ordered the whole menu. Maybe I'll see you there today.

324 S Hill St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
(213) 625-1097
Chimu on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 28, 2011

Foie Friday #2: Potted Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait, Larry's in Venice

Week two of Foie Fridays. Go foie!

Chef Brendan Collins of Waterloo and City quickly became quite famous for his charcuterie, and he expands his repertoire at the new Larry's in Venice. This week's Foie Friday is his Potted Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait ($12), a must try at Larry's for foie fans.

Foie Parfait

The smooth decadence is topped with sweet potato jelly and housemade pickles, and served alongside wonderful toasted brioche. I don't really "get" the pickles, but that aside I could probably easily eat half a pot by myself.

Oh wait. I did.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stone Beer Pairing Dinner at Sammy's Woodfired Pizza and Grill

It was only a few years ago that I started getting into beer, and I'm still not one for IPAs. Still, I know that Stone beers are supposed to be great. Not long ago, Sammy's Woodfired Pizza and Grill in El Segundo sent out a dinner invitation, paired with Stone beers. I figured I would probably enjoy IPAs much better when it's paired with proper food, especially when the promised food included lobster mac and cheese.

Sammy's Woodfired Pizza has many locations in California (and some in Nevada), but the newest El Segundo location is the first one that also has a grill. This makes it the best location, since it has awesome, inexpensive grilled lamb chops! More on that later.

Our dinner started with the Ahi Poki [sic] with Chukka, soy sauce, green onion, sesame oil ($11)

Ahi Poke
It's a pretty nice poke dominated by the flavors of the sesame oil (no complaint). I like the unusually puffy wonton crisp.

Lobster Mac and Cheese with Tillamook® cheddar cheese ($9), made with real lobster chunks, and lobster bisque as a base.
Lobster Mac n Cheese
Real lobster chunks for a hot, cheesy, $9 bowl? Yep, and it's a good sized bowl, too! The added lobster bisque made for a nice flavor base, as well.

Joining us for dinner was Stone's sales rep for the LA region who explained to us the reasoning behind each pairing.
Stone Cali Belgique
The above two dishes were paired with Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, 6.9% ABV. This was a beer made using Stone IPA as a starter and Belgian yeast. It was not too bitter and well balanced. It brings out the spiciness of the poke. For the mac and cheese, the hops and the cheese balance each other nicely and the dry finish cuts the richness. As far as IPAs go, I can easily drink this even without food.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Barrel Aged Cocktail Flight, New Fall Menu at 1886 Bar

Vintage Caprice, 1886's barrel-aged gin cocktail has been on the menu since last season. At that time, it was a 4-month aged cocktail. What we didn't know then, is that they were still aging 2/3 of the barrel. Now, the 8-month aged version has hit this Pasadena gem, and guests can now enjoy a whole flight of the Vintage Caprice: a freshly made one, the 4-month, and the 8-month aged. It's the best way to see what barrel aging does.

Vintage Caprice
The Caprice is a forgotten classic cocktail made with gin (1886 uses Beefeater), benedictine, dry vermouth, and orange bitters. 1886 barman Danny Cymbal thought it had potential for aging. The "Vintage" Caprice is this cocktail aged in a Hudson bourbon barrel that has been rinsed with sherry. To fill the barrel, they dumped 24 bottles of Beefeater.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fleming's: Annual Wine Tastings, New Small Plates

Every September, Fleming's revamps their "Fleming's 100" wine list. Now, what that means for you is that every September, there are multiple wine tasting/pairing events at Fleming's! That included a series of "Opening Nights" on Fridays, where guests can taste 25 wines from their list of 100 for just $25! Not only that, this year we also got a sampling of their new small plates menu.

The first three weeks showcased the same wines across all Fleming's, while the last week featured wines chosen by the local Wine Manager. I made it to this last night to Fleming's at LA Live in downtown LA.

Fleming's Wine Tasting
The wine selection included Kelly Fleming wines from Napa Valley which is owned by Fleming’s cofounder’s wife.

Here are some of the highlights for me:
1. Il Conte d’Alba, Moscato D’Asti, Italy, NV. This sparkling moscato is made from the Moscato di Canelli grape, the sweetness is just right for me.
2. La Croix Gratiot, Picpoul de Pinet, Coteaux du Languedoc, France 2010. Very crisp and clean.
White Wines

3. Meyer Syrah, Mendocino county, 2006
4. Rombauer Zinfandel, Napa Valley, 2009. Suprisingly pretty sweet. Smooth.
5. Justin Cabernet, Paso Robles, 2009. Always a crowd pleaser. Fruity, a bit of tannin for a bright finish.


The middle table was also consistently refilled with a tray of their new small plates items. They had started with some flatbreads then moved up to scallops (these ran out quickly), Filet Mignon Skewers with gorgonzola bacon fondue, ...

.. to New Zealand lamb chops with pistachio-mint pesto!
Lamb Chop
Even when preparing a whole tray of them, they still managed to get the lamb chops medium rare and so tender.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Foie Friday #1: Foie Gras Sushi, Eva Restaurant

Yes, they're apparently banning foie gras in Los Angeles come July 2012 ... Alas.
That means I'm going to eat it every chance I get before then. I'm also introducing a new series on my blog: Foie Fridays!

Every Friday I will (try to) post a foie gras dish that you can order in Los Angeles, or an article/video about why foie gras is not as cruel as they make it out to be (I mean, really, have you seen how they raise chickens? Watch Food, Inc!)

First up is a dish (sometimes) served at Eva Restaurant in West Hollywood:

Foie Gras Sushi, smoked tea plum, toasted sesame.
Foie Gras Sushi
This dish by Chef Mark Gold won the LA Magazine's "Island Style Cook-off" aka the "pupu challenge". With a generous piece of roasted foie gras and only lightly sauced, it's one of the most decadent "sushi" you'd have. Their menu does change regularly, but you can always try to ask for this dish!

What are your favorite foie dishes?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Meat 101 Classes at Nick+Stef's

Can you taste the difference between bone-in and boneless steaks? How about wet aged vs dry aged? Or meats from America vs New Zealand? or Argentina?

Well, now you can learn by tasting them back to back during one of Nick+Stef's Meat 101 classes, starting on Thursday October 20 (that's tomorrow).

The classes happen every other Thursday at 7:30PM and will last about 30 minutes. The cost is $35 and attendees will get the meats for that class plus whatever wine/beer/whisky pairing they are doing. Here is the class schedule:
10/20: "Which Rib-Eye to Buy?" Bone-in, Boneless, or Dry-Aged.
11/3: "New York, New York, ... and New York!" Same idea as the rib-eye, but with New York steaks.
11/17: "A Well Aged Steak". Try wet aged vs dry aged rib-eyes, and wet aged vs dry-agged New York steaks.
12/1: "US vs The World". Learn the difference between steaks (and wines) from New Zealand, Argentina, and America.

They held a media preview last week for the third class ("A Well Aged Steak"). Clockwise from the top left is the dry aged rib eye, wet aged rib eye, wet aged New York, and dry aged New York.


Monday, October 17, 2011

FIG Restaurant Launches Catering Service with Whole Pork

FIG Restaurant at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel recently launched a catering arm (available mostly for events held at the hotel and select off-site events). Just walking into their launch party I already know what I want to have at my wedding (if and when that happens): a whole roasted pig brined in pineapple in chile arbol!

Don't eat pork? For their launch party, FIG also prepared a gigantic whole grilled fish
The meat from the two was used to make tacos with island influence (the pork taco was topped with pineapple and the fish had mango salsa). Stay until the end of the night, though, when they start handing out pieces of the crispy pork skin. Cracklins!
Pork TacoIMG_4111
Now, if you'd like a more traditional bites for your event, they can certainly deliver with spoons of quinoa salad, mini lobster rolls, grilled beef skewers with chimichurri sauce, and oh-so-tender braised short ribs.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

New Chef at Roy's Downtown, and a $20 Giveaway!

Roy's Restaurant in downtown LA recently brought in a new chef. Blaine Villasin is a Hawaiian-born Filipino who started his career as a line cook at Roy's in La Jolla after training at the Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena.

We were invited to try out the new chef's own creations (instead of Chef Roy Yamaguchi's signature dishes) with a tasting menu, which started with a plate of Striped Bass Sashimi, tamari chimichurri, black lava salt

Striped Bass
The fish was fresh and I certainly liked the intense flavors from the tamari and the black salt, but the chimichurri might be a little overwhelming for the delicate sashimi. The dish was paired with a glass of Le Colture Fagher Prosecco, Veneto, NV. A nice glass of bubbly to start off the night.

5 Spice Seared Scallop Salad with tangerine, baby mache, kumquat, orange vanilla vinaigrette
The scallops were tender though they could be fresher, and I liked the addition of kumquats here.
This was paired with a semi-sweet wine, a 2009 Pfeffingen Riesling, Pfalz.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Meltdown: Artisanal Popsicles in New Orleans

On a blistering hot day in New Orleans - which seems to be every day - there's hardly anything better than a quick stop at Meltdown, a gourmet popsicle store near the French Market.


Made with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, Meltdown offers some pretty interesting flavors that change regularly. My friend got her favorite Salted Caramel (do try this!) and I tried their lime ginger pop which was very cooling and refreshing! I can't remember what our third flavor was now ...
Meltdown Pop
If you're not in the mood for popsicles, they also serve fresh squeezed lemonade. What happens during the winter? Stop by Meltdown anyway for some hot chocolate and soups!

508 Dumaine St
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 301-0905
Meltdown on Urbanspoon

NOLA/New Orleans, LA

Cafe du Monde
Cochon Butcher
Commander's Palace
Frenchmen Grocery and Deli
Johnny's Po Boy
Willie Mae's Scotch House

Bar Tonique
Bombay Club Martini Bistro
Cane and Table
French 75
Latitude 29

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Classic Po'Boy at Frenchmen Grocery and Deli (New Orleans)

If there is one thing one must eat in New Orleans, it's a po' boy. For my trip two years ago, I did some research and went to Johnny's Po' Boy. This time, I stayed with a friend's friend and decided to go with the local. She said the best traditional po' boy is at Frenchmen Deli, so to Frenchmen I go!

Frenchmen is a tiny grocery store with a deli just beyond the French Quarter. If you walk up Frenchmen St, you can't miss its colorfully decorated front.

Inside, it's a cramped grocery store with barely any aisle space (they sell Louisiana-made Zapp's potato chips, with many unexplained flavors like Voodoo or LSU Tiger Tators). Order your sandwiches at the register, or call ahead for pickup.
My favorite po' boys are probably shrimp or oyster, but since I can only fit one (alas), I went with the Fried shrimp Po'boy ($6.79). As far as po' boys go, you don't choose individual condiments but instead you either ask for it "dressed" (that means lettuce, tomato, and mayo) or not.
Po Boy
Crispy battered juicy shrimp, a light touch of mayo, fresh lettuce and tomato, on a fresh, moist baguette. It doesn't get better than this. Oh wait, it does get better with a bit of Louisiana's Crystal hot sauce!

*Sigh* I want a po' boy...

Frenchmen Grocery and Deli
602 Frenchmen St
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 944-6800
Frenchmen Deli and Grocery on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tuesday Wing Nite at Delphine (Hollywood)

Dining at the W Hotel in Hollywood doesn't have to be stuffy. Now you can eat with your fingers after that Pantages show with Delphine's Tuesday Wing Nite.

Spiced Honey Wings
Fried chicken wings with spiced honey
All night on Tuesdays, you can get an order of chicken wings for just $4.50 (4-5 wings per order) and choose from a variety of flavors, not just your usual spicy buffalo wings or fried chicken wings, although naturally they have those also.

Among my favorites was the grilled chicken wings with Honey Sriracha sauce, sweet and spicy! Don't forget to lick your fingers after.
Honey Sriracha Wing

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Taste of Korea: Gala Dinner, Fashion, and Dance Show

I recently had the privilege of attending "A Taste of Korea" gala dinner in celebration of the Korean Chuseok holiday (Korean thanksgiving, kind of) and the launch of Cathlyn's Korean Kitchen show on PBS (earlier this year I was one of the judges for their Top Chef Korean Food Challenge). The dinner was part of the Korean government effort to promote Korean food and culture in the US.

Held at a hotel in Koreatown, we had a lavish spread of traditional Korean food, some of which I wasn't very familiar with - like this vibrant "roll" of vegetables wrapped in squid!

A whole tray of marinated pork belly served with spicy noodles and lettuce wrap ...
Pork Belly

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Modern Kaiseki at n/naka

My first kaiseki experience was at Wakuriya in San Mateo, and I was very excited when I found out that Chef Niki Nakayama from Inaka had opened up her own spot in Palms and was serving modern kaiseki.
While there is a seasonal menu posted online, Chef Nakayama may change a few dishes any day depending on what looks good in her garden that day. The restaurant was a little hard to find, sitting in a dark corner of Overland Ave. There's no sign, just the number. On my visit, we opted for the 9 course Chef's Tasting ($110) with wine pairing ($55).

Saki Zuke (a pairing of something common and something unique)
Chef's garden eggplant puree, Scottish smoked salmon, Osetra caviar, creme fraiche, chives
The dish was paired with a sparking wine: Jean Philippe Cuvee
Eggplant Puree
This was one of those item the chef decided to put on after seeing what looks good in her garden that morning, and indeed the eggplant puree was excellent. The combination of eggplant and smoked salmon is not one I would've expected, but it worked wonderfully.

Blue crab stuffed sword squid, mushroom sautee, bacon powder, balsamic reduction
Paired with 2010 Morgadio Albarino, Rias Biaxas, Spain

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Taste of Piemonte: Vietti Wine Dinner at Ombra (Studio City)

What better wines to pair Italian food with than Italian wines? Recently, the newly opened Ombra in Studio City held a wine pairing dinner with an old winery from Piemonte, Vietti. Mario Vietti started making Vietti wines in 1919, although the history of the winery itself traces back to the 19th century.

Ombra is chef Michael Young's first venture as a chef/owner, but he has trained under some big Italian names in Los Angeles including Angelo Auriana at Valentino and Celestino Drago. Story has it that the lawyer working with French Laundry was impressed by his cooking at Domenico's in Silver Lake. He then suggested that Young open his own restaurant - and that was Ombra.

As with any meal at Ombra, our wine dinner started with arancini (fried risotto) and bread with eggplant caponata.


Vitello Tonnato (roast veal with tuna sauce)
Vitello Tonnato
Apparently this is a traditional dish from Piedmont. Why have I not had this before? All the garnishes that normally come on smoked fish is here, but with veal! I will have to keep an eye out for this dish in the future.

This was paired with a 2010 Vietti Arneis

A very clear white, with hints of stone fruit and light acidity - refreshing but does not overpower the dish. The wine takes away the sharpness of the onion and the fishiness a bit, while the creamy tuna sauce cuts the acidity.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Get On the Lobsta Truck!

I'm not one to chase down food trucks, but I've been curious about the Lobsta Truck for a while since all my friends and fellow food bloggers seem to love it (one Boston transplant says that it's legit). My chance to try it came when they parked outside of Scoops Westside one Tuesday evening.

They were already out of the crab roll by the time I got there, so my companion and I got one of each lobster roll: with mayo or with butter. Apparently, for Bostonians, the proper way to eat a lobster roll is with mayo (celery and pepper optional).

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