Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lido Deck & a mini foodbloggies reunion by the sea

LA & OC Foodie asked if I wanted to join a dinner in Newport Beach on a weeknight. Eh ... kinda far ... but then he said that the space used to be Blanca, which was where I first met him along with other bloggers for a Foodbuzz-hosted dinner.

inomthings and RumDood are coming also, he said, both of them I also met for the first time at Blanca. Oh! It's like a mini foodbuzz reunion at the exact same spot (though different restaurant now). We were also joined by Hey Hey Scenesters and e*starLA.

That Blanca space is now Lido Deck, a new restaurant helmed by Chef Don Schoenburg, formerly of Leatherby's Cafe and Tradition by Pascal (which I remembered reading a good review by LA&OC Foodie).

Though the space is right by the water and there are plenty of outdoor, water-side seating, as luck would have it, it was raining and freezing that night, thus we were seated inside one of their dining areas.

We started with a Charcuterie platter, all made in house: rabbit rillette, duck & olive, pork & parsley terrine.
Cheese: Humboldt Fog, 18-month dry aged Gouda, Spanish blue cheese (made from goat, cow & sheep), hard Tres Leches cheese from Northern Spain. Accompanied by honeycomb from Santa Monica Farmers Market.
I liked duck & olive terrine but my favorite was hands down the rabbit rillette. As for the cheese, I particularly liked the hard Tres Leches, especially with the honeycomb.
The platter was paired with a crisp 2008 Round Hills California Chardonnay.

New Zealand calamari, english cucumbers, black jewel heirloom cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives.
The squid was meaty, chewy, and firm. The black tomatoes may look funny and unnerving at first but it was actually firm and crisp and had a lot of juices. This was a nice and light dish to cleanse the richness of the charcuterie platter.

Next, to warm ourselves up in the chilly and wet night: Tomato soup w/ fennel, gruyere & brioche. Served with a little grilled cheese sandwich

Spicy shrimp w/ mango sorbet and mango gastrique
The shrimp were rubbed with Chile, pepper, and cayenne. The idea for this dish was for a beer-friendly dish, which it certainly was. It was on the spicy side for me though (working on it, I promise), but the others seemed to like it.

We then move on to the "main entrees" (not that we're not already getting full! :P ).
Cinnamon rub pork tenderloin w/ ratatouille, sweet corn polenta, with red mole.
The pork was well prepared, very tender and goes well with the sweet, flavorful mole.

Scallop, bacon, white truffle foam. Braised escarole.
The scallop is nicely seared and the bacon is a pretty tender and fatty slab. This is a revved up rendition of "bacon-wrapped-scallop" that is a tad decadent. Luckily the braised escarole helped balance it out.

Braised rabbit roulade, asparagus, chanterelle, celery root puree, white truffle foam.
The roulade was a rabbit tenderloin stuffed with mushroom salad (it had a nice fatty skin too). My only complaint was that the celery root puree was too cold. The white truffle foam shows up again here, but in both dishes I feel that the flavors of the rest of the dish overpowered the truffle foam, making it perhaps unnecessary.

We had another game meat entree in order: Venison, honey glazed, red wine reduction, root cauliflower puree, cippolinis.
We were so full at this point that we couldn't finish it. The venison was so good though, tender and pink in the center and just a bit gamey, the way I like it. I was sad to see them take away the uneaten pieces, but I couldn't fit any more.

We all shared a plate of four desserts, made by pastry chef/wife Christi Carter.
1) Medjool date cake, 2) Brioche french toast w/ brown sugar, braised pineapples, bananas.
3) Chocolate cake, 4)Sorbets: Strawberry, poached peach, lemon mango.
The date cake, dubbed "crack cake" by inomthings, was easily the table favorite.

I also really liked the Brioche French Toast, especially the addition of the braised pineapples.
The slight tartness from the pineapples really helped cut the richness of the french toast and made this exceed your usual french toast.

Don & Christi came out after dinner to chat with us and shared a bit of their story. They're both so friendly and are such an adorable couple.
Apparently if dining next to the water is not romantic enough for you, you can get a three course dinner from Don on a gondola!

While not all the dishes worked 100% for me, it was a solid meal throughout. This husband and wife team is a deserving star of the OC dining scene and I'm glad to see what they are bringing with their new restaurant. Waterfront dining with house made charcuterie, game meat, and decadent, addictive desserts? Maybe the OC isn't so bad after all ...

The Lido Deck
3420 Via Oporto Suite 101
Newport Beach, CA 92663
(949) 673-9500
The Lido Deck Restaurant & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: This meal was hosted.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Cart for a Cause: Eat off a Truck, Feed a Senior

"Meals on Wheels." What do these words mean to Angelenos these days?

Taco trucks, cupcake trucks, banh mi trucks, bustaurants?

But that's not what the term used to mean, is it?

Meals On Wheels Association of America. Provides home-delivered meals services to people in need.
That's what the term "Meals on Wheels" was all about. But now, with Cart for a Cause the two come together.

Cart for a Cause is a food truck-based fundraising where every Tuesday brings gourmet meals from a different famed Los Angeles chef to the LA area.

All the proceeds will go the St. Vincent Meals on Wheels.
In short: you buy lunch from this truck, one homebound senior gets a hot meal delivered.

Sounds good enough? It gets better. This truck isn't playing around food-wise. They've got quite the chef lineup to feed all you hungry, picky folks:
Alex Becker (Nobu West Hollywood), Susan Feniger (STREET), David Myers and Dong Choi (Comme Ça), Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook (Animal), Josef Centeno (Lazy Ox Canteen), Eric Greenspan (The Foundry), John Cuevas (Montage Beverly Hills) and Sal Marino (Il Grano).

We don't know yet what they'll be offering, but the possibility of eating kaya toast or poutine or pig trotters while knowing you're feeding a homebound senior is high.

So stay tuned for their menu and locations via @CartForACause or their Facebook page.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Tuesday Night Debauchery. Radio Room at The Edison.

Once a month on a Tuesday, The Edison brings in talented bartenders from around the nation for a one-night mayhem called The Radio Room.
Set in LA's first power plant, the speakeasy feel of The Edison comes naturally. I had been to their Tuesday "speakeasy" nights a long time ago, when it was small and only held in one of the rooms.

Now Radio Room goes big. Last month Radio Room returned to The Edison and featuring their new Director of Spirits Joe Brooke (formerly from Copa D'Oro), Brian Miller from Death & Co in New York, and Erick Castro from Rickhouse bar in San Francisco.

Probably thanks to the Tasting Table coverage of the event that morning, the place got packed as the night goes on, so for the next one either come early or come really late to avoid the lines!
We got there somewhat early and managed to score a side room to ourselves along with fellow bloggers I bumped into there.

Each of the three bartenders featured three special drinks each. I hit up Brian Miller's from Death & Co station first.

The first drink I had that night became my favorite: Hispaniola from Brian Miller featured rum, Summer Royale tea, lime, ginger, and syrup.
Not that I tried every single special drink that night. They did have 3x3=9 drinks to try!

I also enjoyed Sancho's Lady from Erick Castro.
The wait to order a drink did get really long later that night, what with people going up to these guest bartenders and asking for a gin and tonic and all.
Not to worry for next time, though, The Edison promises to bring even more bartenders and also "satellite bars" where their regular employees will man for those of you who want to just order a hi-ball, a beer or whatnot. That will certainly free up more of the time and hands of the renowned guest bartenders to make their own special, complicated drinks.

Joe Brooke from Copa D'Oro, new Director of Spirits at The Edison

They also had live music from The Vagabond Opera. I didn't pay much attention the them until I hear Scott Walker's Amsterdam playing (at which point I immediately rushed close to the stage).
All is great if I can hear some Scott Walker!

Somewhat hidden in the back are gems from the sea. Christophe Happillon was shucking away some Fanny Bay oysters. I tasted one and - wow - amazing oysters. I do hear they will be back for the next Radio Room and I'll definitely be on the lookout for them.
The next Radio Room promises to be crowded too but with more bartenders and satellite bars, the wait should be much less painful. March 4th Marching Band will be there to keep the beat up throughout the night, and perhaps Happillon's amazing oysters will make a show too, so mark Tuesday March 30th on your calendar!

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