Archive for June, 2011

Villetta

We have tried Villetta for dinner twice and it seemed like a lunch experience should definitely be on our agenda.

The patio is a lovely place to dine, particularly during the day.

White Wine from their list

Quattro forrmaggi pizza with wild arugula, shallot jam and tomato. The four cheeses were goat cheese, taleggio, crescenza and parmesan. The cheese was deliciously gooey and the crust perfect.

Me – Steamed Baja Mussels with white wine, braised fennel, tomato confit, white beans and focaccia breadcrumbs. Chef Pippa handles ingredients perfectly – the seafood broth was textbook perfect – she never takes short cuts and it shows. The mussels were plump and also executed perfectly.

John – Lamb polpettine and tomato gravy

Served with mini balkies

You are in charge of putting your sandwich together and John loved the tomato gravy so much he asked for extra sauce.

This was a leisurely lunch in a lovely setting with delicious food — a great addition to Brentwood.

Avocado Soup

AVOCADO SOUP

3 ripe avocados, mashed

4 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp minced onion

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

2 to 3 tablespoons dry white sherry

1 cup sour cream

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 cup minced chives

Mix first 8 ingredients in blender at low speed until smooth. Add sour cream, 1/4 cup at a time, until well blended. (A 5 cup blender will not hold the entire recipe so adding the sour cream must be done in two batches)

Be sure to taste as you might like it spicier – I add some Tabasco

Chill the soup for at least two hours. Also chill the bowls to be sure they are nice and cold.

Garnish with bacon and chives.

Served with an absolutely spectacular wine – Berry Bros. & Co 1934 Chablis


Vin Bar/Valentino

Vin Bar/Valentino is a very special experience for us. I continue to feel that Piero Selvaggio ranks as one of the best restaurateurs in the country. He and his entire team from Sommelier Paul Sherman, Restaurant Mgr. Giuseppe Mollica, Executive Chef Nico Chessa, Pasta Chef Fabio and the entire FOH team are first-rate. From the welcome greeting of buona sera from Piero to the last thank you for coming, each and every diner is treated as a special guest – nothing is too much or “we can’t do that.” The experience is just the opposite; “we will do anything to make this a special evening for you.”

We never bring wine to Vin Bar/Valentino and always just let Piero choose the wines.

Champagne to start

Mozzarella Marinara “revisited” – a classic preparation that was simply delicious

Anchovies served on the side for the Mozzarella dish

Second wine

Soft Shell Crabs on a bed of spinach with Agrumato oil infused with orange. “The making of Agrumato olive oil is a very tedious and labor intensive process, resulting in a truly unique flavored extra virgin olive oil. Small amounts of olives are actually ground simultaneously with citrus fruit to produce an extra virgin olive oil with an unparalleled taste.” I love soft shells and these were cooked to perfection. The saucing with the infused Agrumato oil was light and a perfect balance to the soft shells.

Porcini Mushrooms on a grilled Heirloom tomato with a saucing of 10 year old Balsamic Vinegar Reduction – the porcini mushrooms were the finest I have ever tasted and Piero did mention they were very expensive. The saying “You get what you pay for” certainly holds true.

Gluten free gnocchi del Norcino with a tomato-based sauce that had just enough spice without being overwhelming.

The reference to Norcino refers to the following:

“Between the 12th and the 17th centuries, Italy sees a strong development of the jobs linked to the processing of pork. This is the period when the figure of the norcino (pork butcher from Norcia) appears and thanks to his skills, he creates new charcuterie products.”

The gnocchi del Norcini featured 3 different pork products – pork shoulder, speck and Guanciale.

“While most pork bacon products are taken from the belly of a pig, Guanciale is made by drying the meat from a hog’s jowls. Though the resulting meat is leaner than traditional pork pieces, it has a noticeably richer flavor. It is this richness, combined with a delicate porkiness, that more than merits the meat’s three-week drying period. Making guanciale may require a little more planning than simply buying good-quality bacon or pancetta, but its abundance of flavor distinguishes guanciale from the rest, making every dish that much more succulent.”

Above from:

http://www.babbonyc.com/in-guanciale.html

Third Wine

Beef tenderloin topped with foie gras and goat cheese served with asparagus and sweet onions. The saucing was a raspberry, olive oil sauce with shallots and a touch of basil – rich and unctuous.

Pasta Chef Fabio couldn’t resist and asked if we could handle one more course. Risotto with diced spinach, braised lamb ragu and sprinkled with goat cheese on top – perfect risotto with a full-flavored ragu.

Cheese Course – Raschera (an Italian pressed semi-fat , semi-hard cheese  made with partly skimmed raw or pasteurised cow milk, to which a small amount of sheep’s and/or goat’s milk may be added) and Robiola (an Italian soft-ripened cheese of the Stracchino family, made with varying proportions of cow’s, goat’s milk and sheep milk) served with white truffle honey, sweet peppers, fig salami, toasted hazelnuts and walnuts.

Valentino has been around for a long time, but it feels as fresh and new as any restaurant that gets a ton of twitter buzz and recent press. I urge everyone of all ages to just go and experience exceptional ingredients executed with finesse with incredible service. Vin Bar/Valentino defines the true meaning of hospitality.

Bar Bouchon – Beverly Hills

I am a broken record when it comes to this restaurant – I love it and Alex is one of the best waiters in Los Angeles.

Sancerre from their list

Misty Point, Kusshi and Kumamoto Oysters

Asparagus and Mushroom Crepe, Bellweather Farms Ricotta, Preserved Meyer Lemon, Toasted Pinenuts, Brown Butter Vinaigrette, Arugula Greens – an ode to perfect seasonal ingredients executed with a “light” hand.

Inside of the Crepe

BYO Red Wine

Summer Truffle Risotto with Parmesan Foam – the risotto was firm to the bite with an extra creaminess from the parmesan foam

Just then Rory showed up after doing a major event at Williams-Sonoma where as part of their Guest Chef Series, he hosted a cooking demonstration with samples of menu items from Bouchon. Even though he was exhausted , he was able to sit for a while and chat before dinner service. What a great guy plus an extraordinary chef. For the record, more special events are planned both at Bouchon and off-site. Stay tuned for details!

Pics below from the Williams-Sonoma event:

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.196459240399596.49689.170073189704868

3/4 eaten already! – Boudin Blanc, Soft scrambled Hen Egg, Toasted Brioche – John inhaled this dish before he snapped  a picture. I liked the boudin blanc, but I have put in a request for Rory to make his boudin noir again which is incredible.

Now I am a complete nut and love their roasted chicken. So I ordered take-out for today!

Roast Chicken with spring nettle greens, riz rouge, Michigan sour cherries, bacon lardons and chicken jus – tonight’s dinner. Just finished eating it and it was delicious.

What a wonderful place, what wonderful food, what great service – what more could one ask for?


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