Archive for August, 2009

Bazaar – Brunch

Jose Andres’s Bazaar at Brunch is one of my favorite restaurants. It is fun, innovative and the food is very, very good.

Service is exceptional; Joey takes very good care of us and Ryan is the best server.




ryan - B



Bloody mary - B

Bloody Mary – the base is a mix of tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire, lime juice, salt and pepper. It is topped with celery-wasabi foam that is created by loading wasabi-infused lime juice and celery puree into a CO2 canister.


Krug - B

BYO Champagne


caviar buns- B

American Caviar, Creme Fraiche, Blinis – The blinis were more like a Chinese steamed Bun – a good start


egg - B

Tortilla de Patatas “New Way” – warm potato foam, caramelized onion with a slow cooked egg 63 and topped with chives – excellent and perfect when you mix the runny yolk with the potato foam.

Ryan explained that the egg was cut with a laser. The closest utensil I could find on the web is the ultra carver.

I use the Japanese egg cutter discovered by Michel Richard.

See here:

I intend to “steal” Bazaar’s presentation and will look for slate. I have the glue gun!


lox and eggs- B

Bagel and Lox Cone – actually a cone filled with salmon eggs, crème fraîche and topped with a sprig of dill


sweet potato - B

Sweet Potato Chips with a Greek Yogurt, Tamarind, Star Anise Dip


white wine - B

BYO White Wine


12 eggs - B

12 Tiny Eggs Sunny side up – Huevos a la Cubana “Andy Garcia” – a crispy rice cake was topped with 12 fried quail eggs, crispy shavings of Jamon Serrano, dabs of an intense, spicy tomato puree and topped with some diced chives. I love this dish – the combination of flavors is perfect.

I explained the reference to Andy Garcia on an earlier post but I will repeat it here.

 “As a youngster, Andres “Andy” Garcia dreamed of playing professional baseball. Born on the Island of Cuba, Garcia’s family fled to Miami Beach, Florida in the United States of America following Fidel Castro’s communist revolution. At Natilus Junior High School and later at Miami Beach Senior High School, Garcia excelled in baseball. In his senior year, illness prevented him from playing and he drifted into the drama department. He studied acting with Jay W. Jensen. Jensen was a South Florida legend, counting among his numerous students, Brett Ratner,Roy Firestone, Mickey Rourke, and Luther Campbell. Following his positive high school experiences in acting, he continued his drama studies at Florida International University. From there he traveled to Hollywood, California to make his mark in movie-stardom. To his friends and fans in Miami Beach, Andy Garcia will always be remembered as a friendly, down-to-earth, all-around good guy.”


oysters - B

Fresh Kumamoto oysters, lemon, black pepper – presented in a tin. Absolutely do not think canned food – the oysters were fresh and briny.


asparagus - B

White Asparagus, Greek Yogurt, Creme Fraiche topped with Black Olive Powder – this functioned as a light transitional course – almost like a palate cleanser.


eggs Benedict - B

Eggs Benedict “New Way”, Serrano Ham, Tarragon, Toasted Brioche – The eggs are poached in a cryovac machine at 63 degrees for about 40 minutes. Some of the ham slices were crispy and some were thin slices of room temperature ham. The eggs were just not warm enough. There are 2 tapas bars, each with their own kitchen. At brunch, they use the Rojo kitchen, although you are sitting in the Blanca space. My guess is that the distance from Rojo to Blanca makes it very difficult to serve “warm” eggs.


mogo - B

Moho 1 - B

mojo 2 - B

Mojito with mint, rum and lime with the cotton candy functioning as the sweetening agent. Ryan threw this in for fun. Unfortunately they don’t serve the foie gras cotton candy at brunch so he added a cotton candy drink.


Red wine - B

BYO Red Wine


foie - B

Foie Gras, Quince, Brioche Buns – this reminded me of the foie that used to be served at Spago – I do wish Spago would go back to using foie instead of duck liver


Philly - B

Philly Cheesesteak- air bread filled with oozing cheddar cheese and topped with Wagyu Beef – our friends were in heaven with this dish so was I.


Hilly - B

Hilly Cheesesteak – air bread filled with oozing cheddar cheese and topped with Royal Trumpet Mushrooms


drink 1 - B

Tableside “Nitro” Blood Orange Screwdriver: Frozen liquid nitrogen blood orange and vodka

What follows is a blow by blow of Ryan preparing the Screwdiver:

drink 2 - B

drink 3 - B

Whisking the mixture stops it from freezing and sticking to the bowl

drink 4 - B


drink 6 - B

drink 7 - B

drink - finished - B

 Expresso is scattered on top – a “refreshing fun “dessert.”

What a wonderful brunch with exceptional company.



Santa Monica Seafood

I have been going to this fish market for years. Recently, they opened a Cafe and it seemed like a good idea to sit at the Oyster Bar and have a quick bite with some good wine.

SM Wine

The BYO wine was terrific.


SM Oysters

Oysters: Coromandel, Kumamoto, Sinku, Malpeque and Fanny Bay – they were freshly shucked – the best were the Kumamoto


SM Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder – absolutely horrid and inedible – tasted like tin. This should never have been served and if a cook tasted it, I have questions about the tasting ability of the cook. I was going to buy a quart to bring home – I wouldn’t have bought one teaspoonful. John complained and they did take this off the bill.


SM Calaramari

I asked our server if the calamari fritti was lightly battered as I was debating between that and another couple of dishes. I was assured that I would love the calamari – think heavy, zero flavor and a waste – two bites only was enough. Paid for this in full.



Vin Bar’s exquisite calamari – I hope the photo tells the story.


SM Salmon

Instead of the soup, John ordered their lox with bagel, avocado, HB egg and cream/mayo dressing (???) Think absolutely soggy bagel, barely, if at all toasted, and no one in his/her right mind would want it, let alone eat it. I suggested that John deep-six the bagel and just eat the lox with the avocado and some of the dressing. Edible.

Santa Monica Seafood used to be one of my favorite fish markets. This is a joke – I used to look at whole pristine fish, carefully laid out on crushed ice and “talk” to the fishmongers about which fish would be best for a certain preparation. I was going to buy some fish, but one look at piles of prepared sliced fish, convinced me not to bother. Of course, the absolutely lousy lunch wasn’t exactly a major plus factor.

Bottom line:  I wouldn’t go back if they paid me. What a shame!

Riva – Santa Monica

I have been a huge fan of Riva in Santa Monica. I love the concept of small plates and the crudo is some of the best in the city. Susan Miller, The GM, is doing an outstanding job and the service is exceptional. That being said, lunch is just not the equal of dinner. The menu is limited – no crudo, although the pizza fans will be happy. Execution is not as crisp and seasoning is a hit or miss affair. To be fair, Riva has concentrated their revamped menu on dinner and it shows. The lunch menu needs work. Also, I am not one of those ladies who “lunch” crowd and just want salad with dressing on the side. I like to dine whether it be at 11:45 am or 8 pm.


Krug - Riva

BYO Krug Champagne


Mushroom salad - Riva

Wood-fired mushroom salad, mixed lettuces, parmesan – this should have been called just mixed lettuces as there was a very small  amount of mushrooms relative to the greens. I ended up deconstructing the dish and separated out the mushrooms, topped it with some of the parmesan and used a small handful of greens on the side. 


Stella - Riva

Stella, our excellent server


White wine - Riva

BYO White Wine


Mussels - Riva

Mussels, Vermouth, Tarragon, Sausage – the problem with this dish was a lack of vibrancy of flavor. I think if I didn’t know what the kitchen is capable of i.e the tonnato sauce on the tuna, the house made mustard with the cured Ocean Trout, the Bacon Sabayon with the Beef Tartare, the Hamachi Parfait, the Wood Fired Tuna Meatballs to name just a few, then I wouldn’t have been so disappointed. This was just flat.


Mussels Riva 1


Mussels Riva 2

We ended up taking the mussels out of the shell and making it more of a soup.


Riva - pizza

Molto Maiale Pizza – Sausage, Bacon, Meatballs, Caramelized Onion, Tomato – still excellent.

Riva at lunch is a work in progress. Dinner is an “A” experience and I just hope that for those of us who truly want to dine at lunch, Riva can add some zest to their lunch menu.

Estacion Atocha – Costa Rica

Refined Palate’s roving reporter from San Jose, Costa Rica.

The husband whose normal responsibilities within the Refined Palate organization are [1] drive [2] take photos, and [3] pay was in San Jose, Costa Rica this week.

Normally, there are very few meals of interest when John visits Costa Rica.  The food is not bad, the value is generally good, but there are very few places he would take Liz or recommend to her readers.

For many years he has enjoyed Casa Luisa, a small, almost exclusively locals sophisticated restaurant in an old house.   He found it several years ago through some web research.  Meals there have been very good with great service and some unique dishes.

When John asked YoYo Fernandez, their travel coordinator in San Jose to make a reservation, she was unable to get an answer on the phone.   Information and the web had nothing to contribute. What to do?  Yoyo said, “let’s drive by, perhaps we can find out something” 

We got lucky and met up with a security guard who told YoYo where they had moved to.   He did not know that the name had changed also.  Because Ms. Fernandez is a local she was able to figure out the address for our driver and we drove a few miles to check it out.

Maria Jose Guzman Mora who looks like a teenager, explained the situation that she and fiancé Francisco [not sure he is business partner] had a “situation” with the former owner.  Obviously, things got a bit “nasty” and the former owner would not let Maria Jose keep the phone number or put a sign on the building directing people like us to the new location.


Maria Jose Guzman Mora 

We made a reservation and asked for the mixed Paella for 8:30 that evening.



Menu – Estacion Atocha is the old commuter railroad station in Madrid



 A wine deal, 2005 Marques de Caceres Rioja from Spain.  Buy the 750 ml  and get the 350 ml FREE.  John brought the baby bottle home to share with Liz this week.   Excellent and a good value at $ 44.00 (My editorial comment – at least I didn’t get a lousy T-shirt).

Appetizer–tomato spread and tuna spread… Roving reporter was slow so no photo. This was served as 2 pieces each for a party of 3…very simple and nice start 



 Mixed salad–huge, we all shared



  Superb lentil soup with egg and croutons


soup 1

Soup with the eggs and croutons added by the diner



paella 1

Paella–mixed seafood, pork, chicken…done beautifully and quite a value at $ 26.00 for 2 — you must order 24 hours ahead.



 Sea Bass for another guest

The result, a superb meal well served in a beautiful setting.   A top recommendation for San Jose if you are in the neighborhood.

Ludo – Goodbye for now

I am astonished that Ludo is all of a sudden a “found” sensation by the food community of Los Angeles. He is NOT an overnight sensation. He has worked at his craft for years. I have enjoyed his food at L’Orangerie, absolutely adored his food at Bastide and loved how he was able to transform Breadbar into LudoBites under very trying circumstances. I only hope his new found fans will follow him wherever he goes. I know I have and will continue to do so.

In case you missed his Bastide retrospective, it is here:



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