Showing posts with label pairing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pairing. Show all posts

Monday, February 25, 2013

Planned Parenthood's Cocktail Pairing at The Corner Door

Planned Parenthood is one of the more controversial nonprofit organizations, sadly. Each year, PPLA Food Fare receives their share of anti-abortion protesters in front of their event, even though the majority of PPLA's services (97%) include cancer screenings, STD treatments and testings, and contraceptive services.

PPLA Food Fare is the organization's biggest fundraiser of the year. It started 34 years ago with a simple cooking demo from Julia Child but now draws 1500 attendees to partake in good food and wine from over 100 vendors (see my recap of the 2011 Food Fare). The Food Fare is returning to Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on Thursday March 7th. There are two sessions. The daytime session rungs from 10:30am-2pm ($150) and the evening session, which usually have more restaurants participating than the daytime one, runs from 6:30-9:30pm ($225). You can buy tickets on their website or by calling (213) 284-3200x3700.

There are many great restaurants participating including Angelini Osteria, Drago Centro, the new Hart and The Hunter, Joe's Restaurant, and The Corner Door. Libations will be offered by The Beer Chicks, La Fenetre Winery, and more. To promote the PPLA Food Fare, I was invited to a cocktail paired meal at The Corner Door in Culver City. This new restaurant has become a very popular destination in Culver City, with waits up to an hour for a table at dinner time.

The chef at The Corner Door is Luke Reyes, who moved from from Massachussetts to work for Ludo Lefebvre. Since then he had been Chef de Cuisine at Gorbals, then Michael Mina, and most recently, Tasting Kitchen.

Behind the bar program is Beau du Bois. Beau has opened a few bars in the LA area, including MB Post.

The restaurant doesn't want to call itself gastropub because the term has been misused in LA lately. Instead, they emphasize that they offer a "laid back", ingredient driven menu.
olives and rosemary
Bread is made in house, including the foccacia with olive, red onion, rosemary

We started our pairing with Lettuces and Avocado, Bayley Hazen blue cheese, watermelon radish, peppercorn.
The salad has a citrus dressing and was paired with King's Assassin (gin, blanc sweet vermouth, Salers, Cocchi Americano, Cointreau).

The King's Assassin is a play on Negroni with a light, bright, vegetal quality from the Salers, which pairs well with the citrus in the salad. This cocktail is nicely balanced, strong but easy to drink.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Playing with DRY Soda Cocktails at Sadie

DRY Soda is a Seattle based company that produces colorless sodas with less sugar and great flavors like lavender, rhubarb, blood orange, and the like. While originally they were made to be drank straight from the bottle, they soon realized that bartenders like to use them as mixers, and they jumped on the opportunity.

The DRY Soda Co. owner then traveled to Los Angeles and held a cocktail pairing dinner at Sadie in Hollywood, where the main barman Giovanni Martinez created four cocktails made with DRY Soda.

Our welcome drink was a refreshing, lower alcohol cocktail, Rue and Barb made with strawberry, lillet rose, lemon, DRY rhubarb soda

The drink was paired with watermelon, grilled romaine, blood orange vinaigrette

Our second drink was the aromatic Lavande, made with scotch, honey, lemon, Lavender DRY soda, light absinthe spray. This was my second favorite cocktail of the night. The lavender soda works well and did not become overpowered with the strong scotch and absinthe components.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sake Pairing Dinner at Sake Institute of America and Japon Bistro (Pasadena)

After my first sake tasting and pairing with Master Sake Sommelier Yuji Matsumoto, I was sold. That's why I happily obliged to attend another pairing. That night I also heard the great news that he and his friend at Japon Bistro had started Sake Institute of America with a sake store inside Japon Bistro. Did I mention Japon Bistro is within walking distance from my apartment? Double score.
Sake Pairing Dinner at Japon Bistro

Mizbasho Sparkling SakeA toast to start the night with Mizbasho sparkling sake from Gunma, which is supposedly the only sparkling sake produced per the standards of French champagne production. It's more full-bodied than champagne. A little sweetness here, a little sourness there.

With this sake pairing dinner we had the chance to taste sake with food other than sushi, but of course, we all started with some sashimi.

Early summer assorted sashimi paired with Dassai 50 Junmai Daiginjo (Yamaguchi)

The most interesting part was seeing how the different sashimi interacts with the sake. The Aji brought out the floral aromas while the hotate (scallops) made it more subtle. It works the other way as well, the restrained Dassai made the saba (mackerel) less salty, sweeter.
I've been a big Dassai proponent since the last tasting. Dassai sake is made by the Asahi Shuzo brewery in Honshu, which only makes junmai daiginjo sake.
The number 50 refers to how much the rice has been polished, in this case to 50% of its original size.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dassai Sake Pairing at Sushi Central.

Hamachi sushi paired with Dassai 23 was a revelation.

Dassai 23

For this pairing we owe master sake sommelier Yuji Matsumoto.

Yuji-san invited us to a sake and sushi pairing dinner was held at Sushi Central, a strip-mall spot in Palms. This pairing featured Dassai sake from Asahi Shuzo brewery in Honshu, which only makes junmai daiginjo sake.

I haven't heard of this place until I received the invitation from Yuji-san although now I wondered why that is. Our conversation revealed that the sushi chef, Phillip Yi, was formerly director and instructor of the California Sushi Academy.

"Wait, the one in the Trevor Corson book? The Zen of Fish?"
"Yes. He interviewed my wife for that book, she was one of the first female sushi chefs."

I've read and own this book. How did I miss this place?

Sushi Central also has no alcohol license. You know what that means. Yep, BYOB. Throughout our dinner, local regulars fill the small place and taking out various bottles/cans from a brown bag. Mostly beers and that lovely Charles Shaw two-buck-chucks (I urge you not to ... bring some good stuff instead, this sushi is worth it).

While we were waiting for someone to bring the sake, we got to try some ono sushi - somewhat considered a "signature" dish here at Sushi Central and what his regulars affectionately call the "crack sushi." This ono sushi was also the subject of a Bobby Flay throwdown episode.
Amazing. The ono was meaty and had a light smoky flavor. Yi served very well-prepared sushi with a nice ratio of fish:rice.

Soon our bottles of sake was delivered. The man we need to thank for this was Kazuhiro Sakurai from the Dassai factory in Japan who flew in for three days. He probably didn't fly just to meet us, but we felt special all the same.

"Dassai 23." What does the "23" refer to? I know what rum "151" refers to, but nope. Not it. The numbers on sake bottles actually refer to how fine the rice has been polished. The junmai dai ginjo sake type is the finest and has to be polished at least 50% or lower. Dassai only makes dai ginjo sake.
Not sure you can really tell from that photo but there is visible difference in size between the three samples. Dassai "23" means that the rice has been polished until it only retains 23% of its original size. It also takes 3 days and 3 nights to do this, as opposed to 10 hours to get to 70%.

What happens to that other 77% of the rice? Who knows ... I should've asked but did I really want to know ... ?

Yuji san started our sushi/sake pairing with the climax: the hamachi and Dassai 23 pairing.
This hamachi is a pretty lean cut.

Upon first tasting the Dassai 23, I noted that it smells very fruity. It had a clean, crisp and smooth taste with hints of lychee - perhaps pineapple.

With the yellowtail? The sake transformed into a "rounder", smoother sake. This pairing really brought out the sake.

As we move on to some fattier cuts of fish, we also move on to richer sake.
The salmon belly was paired with the Dassai 50. The sake was richer and had a fuller body than the 23. This was heavier while the 23 had a much cleaner taste. Paired with the salmon belly ,the sake developed a fruitier and mellower taste.

Next we had some house-cured saba (mackerel) with yuzu.
The saba is not a common sushi as it had the reputation of being too salty and fishy. The house-cured version at Sushi Central is a little salty, but not overpowering. It was tender and had a great texture. This was paired with the Dassai 39 (polished to 39%) which is only available in Japan. Neither the sake nor the fish overpowered each other.

Spicy tuna roll came next, paired with an unfiltered daiginjo sake (Daiginjo Nigori).
The Dassai Daiginjo Nigori is a dryer nigori than what you're probably used to. The fermented smell reminded me of the nanchy drink I had in Tijuana. While the previous pairing focused more on the sake, the nigori sake cuts through the spiciness of the tuna and enhances the flavor of the sushi.

The classic near-end of a sushi meal: kani (crab) roll.
This was a great crab roll. We moved back to the Dassai 50 sake, which worked well with the butteriness of the crab.

We also had an ankimo roll. I enjoyed this as the ponzu sauce isn't as acidic as many - it had a subtler acidity that works nicely with the ankimo without overpowering it.

I've had the Dassai 50 before while dining at Hachi and while I already liked it quite a bit there, this tasting brought me beyond.

On top of that, I discovered a gem of a sushi place.

Thank you Yuji san, chef Phillip Yi, and of course Sakurai san from Dassai for bringing six bottles of sake ;)Sake sommelier Yuji Matsumoto and Chef Phillip Yi of Sushi Central

PS. Chef Phillip Yi also holds a sushi class every last Sunday of the month.
Yuji Matsumoto will be giving a seminar during the LA Sake Festival on March 27. He's also planning a sake/cheese tasting event, so stay tuned.

Read Shop Eat Sleep's post here and e*starLA's post here.

Sushi Central
3500 Overland ave. #100
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 202-6866
Sushi Central on Urbanspoon
Sushi Central in Los Angeles

Disclaimer: This meal was hosted and the sake provided by Dassai.

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