Archive for April, 2010

Breadbar – Hatchi Series – Saul Cooperstein

Saul Cooperstein is SBE’s Managing Director of Business Development. “SBE has been a feeder system for more than a third of the guest chefs, including The Bazaar veterans Michael Voltaggio, Marcel Vigneron and Waylynn Lucas.” It seems fitting that Saul should have his turn as guest chef and he had  dubbed it Deli 2010 and what a deli it was!

Saul

Also there was Noriyuki Sugie, the “Chief Gastronomy Officer”  who supplies all the chefs at Breadbar’s Century City monthly “Hatchi Series.” I will add that Chef Sugie cooked a superlative meal for us at Breadbar.

Chef Sugie

Saul and the chefs going over plating

There were 8 plates each priced at $8.00 per course. We ended up eating the menu and splitting each course – an absolute bargain.

BYO Wine #1


Bagel with Lox ‘Nigiri’ – Puffed Rice, House Cured and Smoked Wild King Salmon, Dill Cream Cheese, Smoked Salmon Roe and Pickled Red Onion


Matzo Ball Soup – Clarified Chicken Stock, Matzo Ball, ‘Chicken Noodles’ Soup, Vegetables, Horseradish and Fresh Dill


Reuben Croquettes – Japanese A-5 Wagyu Rib Cap Corned Beef (Saul’s Corned Beef), Béchamel, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Sauerkraut and Toasted Caraway Seeds all Coated and Fried in Rye Bread Crumbs with Thousand Island


BYO Wine #2


Lamb Pita –  Deboned Rack of Lamb Cured and Smoked with Vadouvan and Traditional Spices, Toasted Pita, Cole Slaw ‘Tzatziki’–Served with a Melon and Pickled Tomato Skewer

Sky High Sandwich –  Warm Veal Pastrami Stacked High on Pumpernickel with Mustard –Served with Salt and Vinegar Potato Chips

Saul’s Pastrami Sandwich –  Japanese A-5 Wagyu Rib Cap Pastrami (Saul’s Pastrami), Served Warm on Jewish Rye with Mustard–Served with a Half Sour Pickle Spherification


Babka – Cinnamon Babka French Toast with Bourbon Maple Syrup and Orange Blossom Ice Cream

Rugelach –  Traditional Cream Cheese Rugelach with Passion Fruit

What a delicious deli evening!

“Next up for the hatchi series the menu will feature cocktails priced at $8 each, made by the featured mixologist of the night. Kicking off the series is Devon Espinoza from Abbot Kinney’s Tasting Kitchen.

Devon

Earlier in the evening, Devon treated us to gin infused pickles and a sake cup of gin

Petrossian

The more I get to talk to Chef Benjamin Bailly, the more I admire him. His knowledge equals his resume – L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Monaco, Paris and Vegas before becoming executive chef at Petrossian.  We had a chance to chat as we were there around 3:45 before dinner service. We discussed restaurants and chefs and no wonder I respect his cuisine; we admire the same chefs from Thierry Marx at Cordellian Bages to Jean Georges Klein at L’Arnsbourg to Constant’s bistro, Fables de la Fontaine. He has the same passion that we do and I urge everyone to run not walk to Petrossian. I had a list of what I wanted to have and Chef Bailly had some ideas of some things he wanted us to try – namely skate. Unfortunately, I filled up faster than I wanted to and will just have to return to Petrossian for another wonderful experience.

The best thing to drink with Petrossian’s food is champagne.

Petrossian’s beautiful wine bucket

BYO Champagne #1

BYO Champagne #2

Petrossian Sampler – absolutely decadent

Caviar, Trout Roe and Salmon Roe

Blinis, Chopped Egg and Creme Fraiche for the Caviar and Roe

Toast points for the Roe and Caviar

Roasted potato side – Yukon Gold, Purple and Red Potatoes tossed with olive oil and chives – perfect

Caviar Pizza – On flatbread dough that is cracker-like in texture – creme fraiche, chopped eggs, capers, diced red onions, chives and caviar – what made this dish was the contrast in texture.

Napoleon tartar – hand-sliced steak tartar with capers with a layer of caviar in between and topped with a quenelle of caviar – as good as the first time we had it.

Panko-encrusted crispy egg, onion soubise, smoked salmon topped with caviar – another repeat that we requested and also just as luxurious as the first time.

Unfortunately, I just got very full. I wanted to try the shrimp papillote again and then there was that skate. Next time, I will just let Chef Benjamin Bailly cook and I will eat and there will definitely be a next time.

Bar Bouchon – Beverly Hills

I can’t rave enough about Bar Bouchon. We get there at 3:30 pm and enjoy a leisurely late lunch/early dinner with well-crafted food, excellent service and great ambiance. Rick mentioned that Thomas Keller was in town and who should walk across the “park” shortly thereafter but Thomas. What an incredible person! I am so lucky to know him.

We tend to order the same things, but Rick always adds a surprise.

Kumamoto and Island Creek Oysters with a couple of prawns. We liked the prawns so much that we had a full order of those. (not pictured).

Tartare of blue eye tuna, haricot verts, strains of seaweed, gribiche sauce (capers, cornichons, shallots, champagne vinegar, mayo) with won ton crisps flecked with black sesame seeds – perfect as always and again consistency is the goal and always attained.

Escargots de Bourgogne – marinated snails in garlic-parsley butter and puff pastry – who needs France when you can have this in Beverly Hills

Snails – up close

Steak tartar made traditionally with capers and cornichons topped with a raw quail egg, nicoise olives on the side – this is a new dish for us at Bar Bouchon and it was done beautifully with just the right amount of seasoning

Boudin Noir – blood sausage with potato puree and caramelized apples – the potato puree is not for the no fat crowd – luscious, smooth and I can only guess at the amount of butter

Boudin Blanc – white sausage with potato puree and prunes – another first time dish for us and I really loved the prunes with the potato puree. I will add that both boudins were just as good for dinner the following day.

What a wonderful restaurant – just perfect.

Magnolia’s- Charleston, S.C.

Your roving reporter from Charleston, low country, USA…here for a conference of Reps who sell motors, chains, etc.

Time out for one nice dinner.  Charleston oozes Southern charm.  It is very pretty and at this time of the year the humidity is low and the weather  is beautiful.   So a nice 4 block walk from Meeting Street to East Bay for a 5:15 dinner.

Magnolia’s is part of a 3 restaurant group owned locally.  It was highly recommended for real Southern food.  LA ultra thin, anorexic gym rats would cower at the menu figuring they would gain 3 pounds just from reading it. The restaurant has that comfortable, wood, high ceiling down home look.  It definitely has a quality feel.

I love Southern food, grits, dirty rice, etc.   So “paradise” for me.

Uptown Appetizers

BLUE CRAB BISQUE with fresh chives – $6.00 for a cup, $7.00 for a bowl

Delicious, deep flavor, creamy, plenty of crab, not stringy, no shell to bite into and break your teeth.  Thick the way I like it.  A cup was plenty, very filling.

FRIED GREEN TOMATOES with white cheddar and caramelized onion grits, country ham, and tomato chutney  $9.00

Its been years…these 3 slices on top of a bed of creamy grits, surrounded with a rich tomato sauce.  The tomatoes were separated by country ham.   A few stewed tomatoes and peppers on top.   Absolutely perfect, delicious.

Small Plates

SPICY SHRIMP AND SAUSAGE with tasso gravy over creamy white grits $15.00

I had a similar dish at the Mill House Hotel at a conference banquet the night before.  The previous one was good.  This was fabulous.  Big chunks of link sausage surrounded a sauce filled dish with beautiful white shrimp on a mound of creamy white grits.  On the side dirty rice with andouille sausage.

I thought about buying the book, but no room to carry it.

MAGNOLIAS AUTHENTIC SOUTHERN CUISINE COOKBOOK

by Chef Donald Barickman…29.95

Over-all a delicious experience.  Filling but not overwhelming.  I’d go back in a minute.  Service from Sarah was excellent.  And, a very good value.

Lizziee’s comment – without the cookbook, I can’t make this at home.

Urasawa

This won’t be my best write-up of Urasawa. The meal was perfect, but I was having such a good time that my notes are horrible with sketchy, possibly inaccurate details. Obviously, I will have to let the photos tell most of the story.

The wonderful Hiro

Seasonality is the key to dining at Urasawa. To get the best of Urasawa, if you can afford it, would be to go at least 4 times a year – winter, spring, summer, fall.

Spring Flower Arrangement

BYO Champagne

As best as I can reconstruct from my notes, a slice of toro had been “stuffed” with monkfish liver, held together with a slice of turnip from Kyoto, then topped with scallion and gold leaf,  yuzu dressing

Goma tofu, Kyoto-style. Tofu made from sesame seeds, stuffed with  Uni, spring vegetables on the side. The tofu was topped with freshly grated wasabi and gold leaf. Saucing was a light dashi seasoned with shoyu and mirin. I love this dish

Inside of the Goma Tofu

Spring vegetables – Fiddlehead, Bamboo, Okra and Salmon rolled around Japanese Mountain Root, Dried fish eggs, Sweet miso

BYO White Wine

Beautiful Toro to be prepped for sashimi

Sashimi served in a hand carved ice bowl. The ice bowl is never re-used; Hiro carves a fresh one for each person. The Sashimi consisted of Toro, Kanpachi, Shima Aji (Amberjack) and Uni placed in a manila clam shell. The wasabi is freshly grated, Hiro’s soy sauce is made by him and the gorgeous flower again defined the beautiful seasonality of this dish.

Hiro and I then started talking about uni – this is definitely interactive dining. I mentioned that I loved the Hokkaido uni that Corey Lee served us at French laundry. He said he had some but didn’t want to serve it as it didn’t look “pretty”, but tasted perfectly. Of course, I said I’ll eat it.

Hokkaido Uni

Hokkaido Uni served simply

Russian Caviar

Beef Tartare from Northern Japan with Russian caviar, Red Pickle radish – superb

Red Snapper ‘Bundle” steamed with sake. The red snapper was  placed on hot stones and sake mushi was added. The steaming process cooks the dish evenly and produces an incredibly moist and succulent dish. Dipping sauce of ponzu with radish was provided.

Spring Vegetable Tempura

Hoba Yaki – On a giant Hoba Leaf were fresh shrimp, beef and ???? sitting in a puree of Kyoto miso sauce that is made by mixing egg yolk with sweet miso.  The dish was being lightly roasted in the Hoba leaf for a couple of minutes over the coals on the brazier.  Unbelievable and the sauce was perfect just by itself.

Preparation for Shabu Shabu

Real Kobe Beef – the beef is now fed with red wine – I would have made a good Kobe beef cow – massages and red wine.

Foie Gras And Kobe – Hiro sliced the Kobe and then pounded it flat with side of his knife

Broth for the Shabu Shabu, Dipping Sauce, Kobe, Foie Gras and Hotaru Ika/Firefly squid

Close-up

Shabu Shabu – thank goodness we didn’t have to cook it – we had help and the foie takes the longest to cook. After you have consumed each ingredient, you are given a soup spoon to enjoy the broth.

The squid cooked

The Kobe cooked

The foie cooked

Now sushi is presented. Hiro is still using 180 grains of rice per each sushi. John didn’t get a photo of each and every piece of sushi so this is not a complete array of what we were served. I was also not on the ball and didn’t write down each piece. I will try to the best of my ability identify each piece, but I can’t vouch for my accuracy.

Toro

Aji

Red Snapper

Grilled Shitake Mushroom

Maguro

Squid

Uni

Kohada

Needlefish

Giant Clam

Toro

Tamago

What a perfect restaurant, what a perfect evening, what perfect cuisine and what a master chef.

Stefan’s on Montana

I have no pictures – this was to be a pleasant lunch in a casual setting. We had been twice before and the service was excellent and the food good. This time, it was awful both to service and to the food.

My husband had Clam Chowder and a Caesar Salad – the clam chowder was thick but was a weird color – sort of brown, definitely not white which it should have been. My husband thought that it had been overcooked and was “scorched.” The picture below is from Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica – plenty of clams and the broth done correctly.

His Caesar Salad was a joke – mostly consisting of torn up Romaine, a light sprinkling of parmesan, a light dousing of Caesar salad dressing and a couple of white anchovies on top.

I had the egg white benedict that I have had before. This version was awful – the olive oil tomato hollandaise was tasteless, the egg white rubbery with 3 small slices of avocado and some stringy spinach on a cold English muffin.

This took over 25 minutes to make.

I still don’t know how they get away with charging a service charge for wine ($10) when they don’t have a license, don’t open the wine and can’t even touch the bottle.

Bottom Line: Don’t bother

Umami – Santa Monica

Umami Santa Monica has opened finally at 500 Broadway in Santa Monica. It is located almost in the Fred Siegel Store. Parking is not a problem as there is a large parking lot – free!

Bottom line: owner Adam Fleischman has a winner. This is the 4th Umami to open and the Westside couldn’t wait.

Adam Fleischman

April 7th Umami had a special party with mini burgers paired with French wines for $35. Chef Jordan Kahn did the first course and dessert. A word about Chef Kahn – he has quite an impressive resume starting at French Laundry, then Per Se, then Alinea, then Varietal and finally Mina’s XIV in Los Angeles. He is currently pursuing his own restaurant project – he is definitely a chef to watch. David Haskell, known for his innovative wine pairings and his well-developed palate (full disclosure – my son) did the wine pairings. David’s resume is also impressive from Guy Savoy in Paris to Le Cirque and Acquavit in New York, to Aubergine in Newport Beach, to owner of Bin 8945 in West Hollywood to Vertical Wine Bistro in Pasadena. David is also pursuing his own project.

The room is casual but well-laid out. I can see many happy hours at the bar, sitting at one of the tables or lounging outside on the patio.

Chicken Liver Mousse with homemade apricot marmalade and compote, air dried bacon, pickled pearl onions, pistachio – done by Chef Kahn. As busy as Adam was, he was kind enough to give me detailed descriptions of each of the dishes. He also explained that this was based on a Jean Louis Palladin recipe – one of my all-time favorite chefs. This could have graced the table of any fine dining restaurant anywhere.

Paired with:

Turkey Miso Burger with a Beef Reduction. All the buns are from a Portuguese Bakery and they are superb. What sets this burger apart from other burgers is the combination of ingredients – you feel as if you are eating something specially created and carefully crafted.

Paired with:

Midwestern, Corn-Fed Beef Burger, Homemade American white cheese, Mushroom, Grilled Onions with tater Tots and Ketchup. This was based on their famous Umami Burger. This is a fabulous combination!

A photo to drool over.

Paired with:

Lamb Burger, Katifi, Pickled Onions, Shaved Cucumber, Honey Harissa Sauce, Tempura Onion Rings – this had a North African element with the Harissa and undeniably a “5th taste.”

Paired with:

Dessert by Chef Kahn – This was a very intricate dessert and I am not sure I got each component correctly. As best as I can remember from my lousy notes – Nutella custard, popcorn mousse, puffed rice, financier, cherry pate – unbelievable.

Paired with:

A wonderful evening with great people, good wine and food and an excellent vibe for young and old alike. What more can one ask for?


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