Archive for April, 2012

Tar and Roses

We have been anxious to try Chef Andrew Kirschner’s new restaurant Tar and Roses since we enjoyed his food when he was executive chef at Wilshire. I think Chef Kirschner has matured incredibly as a chef – his flavors are powerful without being fussy food or the school of throw 15 ingredients on a plate and hope it works. What he serves is finely tuned and edited. This is gutsy cuisine executed with a competent sureness. Andrew utilizes quality ingredients and knowingly allows each ingredient to speak for itself. Basically, I will let the photos tell the story and what a wonderful story it was.

For the record we were with dear friends who love food and wine as much as we do so it made for a perfect evening.

BYO White Wine

Wood Roasted English Peas, mint, sea salt – this should come with the warning you can’t eat just one

Popped corn in bacon fat, crisp bacon, brown sugar, chili – absolutely addictive! My husband had thoughts of a new TV snack food for sport-watching.

Crispy pigs ears, saffron aioli, pickled vegetables – the vegetables were a terrific compliment to the pigs ears

Dipping the pigs ears in the absolutely superb aioli

Balsamic glazed ribs, chili, fried basil – boneless ribs cooked to perfection topped by the fried basil

Chicken oysters on a stick, tamarind – the star of this dish was the tamarind sauce with a hint of lemongrass and ginger – absolutely off the charts A+

2nd BYO White Wine

Charred octopus, garbanzos, fennel, piquillos, blood orange – what I like so much about Andrew’s cuisine is that the supporting players to the main protein are equally important and essential to the over-all success of the dish.

Another view of the octopus.

“Vitello Tonnato” – seared ahi, crispy sweetbreads, pickled tomato, arugula, red wine sauce – again each element was crucial to the success of the dish with the tomato adding an important role relative to the sweetbreads and the tuna. The red wine sauce would have made any French chef proud.

BYO Red Wine

Braised lamb tongue, creamy polenta, pickled peppadew peppers – again each component was essential and the polenta was to die for.

Braised lamb belly, minted apple chutney – another winner!

Wood roasted half chicken, heirloom tomato bread salad – my husband and our friend devoured the salad, particulary the bread cubes.

Baby carrots, currants, chermoula creme fraiche – to me these were more addictive than the popped corn.

Grilled asparagus, bresaola, coddled duck egg

wood roasted whole branzino served with

Meyer lemon risotto

Strawberry ricotta crostata, honeycomb ice cream

Chocolate hazelnut budino, whipped yogurt, candied wheatberry

Andre our wonderful server and Chef Andrew

Bottom line: this was a fantastic meal and I can’t wait to go back to Tar and Roses.

Spago

It has been quite some time that we have been back to Spago. This was not due to not loving the restaurant; it was just a matter of scheduling and not making the time. What a mistake that we waited so long! There is a new Chef de Cuisine, Tetsu Yahagi who is absolutely fabulous. “Now as Chef de Cuisine at Spago Beverly Hills, Tetsu comes full circle.  It is a dream realized. In his new role Chef Tetsu’s mission is to keep the history and tradition of Spago Beverly Hills vibrant; bringing his Japanese influence and sense of refinement to the cuisine. He uses Farmers Market ingredients to create exciting new menu selections. Under his elegant hand there is no doubt the legacy will continue.”

See his full bio here:

http://www.lafw.com/index.cfm/chef-Tetsu_Yahagi_372.htm

Chef Yahagi with sommelier Maria

First let me state that the patio at Spago is a lovely place to have a leisurely lunch on a Saturday afternoon – it is peaceful, relaxing and the service is A++ under the expert guidance of Assistant GM Laurent. We basically said to Laurent you decide what we will eat and that was the only decision we made.

BYO Krug Champagne
Spicy Tuna Tartar in a Sesame Tuile – a signature dish that is delicious
Hamachi Ceviche with Grapefruit
Sturgeon Mousse in a squid-ink crust, topped with oscetra caviar – this is a new creation of Chef Yahagi and was off the charts fabulous plus beautifully plated
Sauteed Kusshi Oyster with Madras Curry Aioli, Mango Chutney, Cilantro Flower – another new creation from Chef Yahagi and another winner. The aioli was so good that we mopped the sauce with our fingers.
The Oyster up close
House-smoked Salmon with Dill Creme Fraiche, Salmon Eggs on a Corn Blini – a signature Spago dish executed perfectly
Bacon Confit en Croute – another signature dish
Sauteed French White Asparagus, Ragout of Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Crawfish, Fava Beans, Orange Segments, Orange-scented Bearnaise Sauce – This just shouted seasonality and was executed with finesse.
BYO Red Wine
Rye Crusted Loup de Mer, Mussels, Squid Ink Sausage, Sweet Peas, Shellfish and Chorizo Broth – another winning combination of flavors with perfect execution
The loup de mer with the rye crust lifted a bit
Sweet Pea Agnolotti – the pasta was cooked beautifully and the peas were a lovely nod to Spring.
Tenderloin and Loin of Lamb, Cumin-scented puree, Young Baby Carrots, Pearl Onions, Baked Shoestring Potatoes, Natural Jus with Black Olives – enough to say we ate every bit!
Close-up of the  lamb
Now I am known to steal ideas from chefs I admire and I was very intrigued with the presentation of the potatoes. First that they were baked not fried and the round cylindrical shape made for a wonderful presentation. The potatoes are cut shoestring on a mandoline and then wrapped around a parchment covered aluminum tube.
This is an unbaked tube of beets ready for the evening’s service.
Cheese Plate – 24 month Gouda, Midnight Moon (Sheep’s milk from Corsica), Latour (Sheep, Goat and Cow’s milk cheese) , Road River Blue from Oregon with a Mostarda of Figs and Nuts, Orange Honey
What a perfect afternoon of incredible food and stupendous service!!!! I can’t wait to go back.

Valentino

We were extremely lucky to secure reservations for an exclusive visit by Dario Cecchini, the renowned butcher from Panzano in Chianti, hosted by Valentino. It was an extraordinary evening.  Many of the cities finest food writers were there and I can only describe the evening as a tremendous party hosted by one of the great restauranteurs in the country, Piero Selvaggio.

The evening took me back to the late 80’s – the glory days of the Los Angeles Dining scene – Jean Bertranou and his chef Michel Blanchet of L’Ermitage, Paul Bruggemans and his chef Camille Bardot of Le St Germaine, Bernard Jacoupy of Bernard’s, Mauro Vincenti of Rex Il Ristorante, Michel Richard of Citrus, Susumu Fukui at La Petit Chaya, Patrick Healy of Colette, Elka Gilmore of Camelions, Roy Yamaguchi of 385 North, Ken Frank of La Toque, John Sedlar of St. Estephe and later Bikini, Michael McCarty with Ken Frank and then Jonathan Waxman, Joachim Splichal first at Max au Triangle and then Patina, Patrick Terrail and Wolfgang Puck at Spago, L’Orangerie and of course Valentino who will be celebrating their 40th anniversary this year.

It was definitely an evening to remember and will remain in my memory as one of the greatest hits of dining experiences.

Piero  and Dario Cecchini

DINNER WITH DARIO CECCHINI

Non- Solociccia Menu

Roberto Cavalli Vodka with Rose Water

Proscecco

Pinzimonio di Verdure Croccanti e Olio Buono

Raw Garden Vegetables (purple, white, yellow carrots, celery, leeks, artichokes)

with the Best Olive Oil from Tuscany



Crostini di Natale – Holidays Meat Ragu Hot Crostini 

The beef was actually beef cheeks mixed with pureed vegetables

Movia Wine from Valentino’s List

We had a choice between 2 dishes served as Antipasto, Primo and Secondo – John and I choose different dishes so we could taste everything!

Antipasto

“Sushi” del Chianti Battuta al Coltello – A Crudo of Chianina Beef Tenderloin Thin Sliced and Tenderized with a Knife

“Tonno” del Chianti Cotto nel Vino Bianco – 
A Salad of Pulled Mule Foot Pork Poached with White Wine, Arugula, Cherry Tomato, House-made Italian dressing

Red Wine from Valentino’s List

Primo

Pici al Sugo di Chinghiale – Hand Rolled Thick Spaghetti with Wild Boar Ragu

Tortelli alla Mugellana
 – Potatoes Stuffed Ravioloni with Pecorino, Butter and Thyme

Secondo

Arista in Porchetta al Fiore di Finocchio con Mischianza di Fagioli e Ceci all’Olio – Roasted Mulefoot Pork Loin with Garlic, Herbs, Wild Fennel Pollen and Tuscan Beans Salad

Costata alla Fiorentina Cotta alla Brace come “Dio Comanda” e Cartoccio di Patate al Burro del Chianti  – Chianina Beef Porterhouse Cooked on a Wood Burning Grill as “God’s Order” with Baked Potatoes with Lardo Spread 

Cheese Plate

Dolce

Schiacciatine, Biscotti e Vin Santo

Grappa

Throughout the evening the ever ebullient Dario “worked” the room and literally blew his own horn! He deserved to do so!

What an evening!!!! Oh for the glory days of LA’s dining scene of the 80’s. Valentino continues to remind us that those days are not completely dead! Thank you Piero!

Milo and Olive

From their website:

“Milo and Olive  is a neighborhood bakery and pizzeria brought to you by the team behind Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry and Sweet Rose Creamery. Owned and operated by Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan, Milo and Olive serves a menu of fresh baked morning pastries and bread, wood fired pizzas, farmers market inspired salads and small plates in a very intimate and warm environment.”

When we heard that Walter Manzke would be directing the kitchen at Milo and Olive we knew that we just had to go. We have been huge fans of Chef Manzke from his days at Patina, then at Bastide and finally at Church and State. We know this is only a temporary position as Manzke and his wife Margarita are still working on opening their own restaurant République and Factory Baking Company. As soon as it opens, I will be there! Until then, I can enjoy Chef Manzke’s approach to cuisine at Milo and Olive.

“Walter Manzke grew up fluent in “seasonality,” with family gardens and orchards full of organic, seasonal vegetables and fruits populating his dinner table from day to day. This mentality, the now popularized farm-to-table ethos, is something Manzke learned as a kid and took it with him everywhere he went.”

The above quote is from Walter’s bio on the site detailing the Los Angeles Food and Wine Event held in October 2011:

To see Chef Manzke’s marvelous cuisine at Church and State see here:

http://lizziee.wordpress.com/category/southern-california/church-and-state-downtown-la/

Walter and Chef Miguel

Walter and Miguel again

Milo and Olive is a tiny restaurant with communal tables and counter seating in front of the open kitchen. I highly recommend sitting at the counter.

The open kitchen – right side

The open kitchen – pizza oven side with Walter working in front of the counter

BYO White wine – corkage is $20.00

Hedgehog and Yellow Foot Mushroom Salad, Miners Lettuce, Ramps, Garbanzo Beans, Walnuts

The mushrooms had been sautéed and this was a great nod to the season that was executed beautifully

Wood Oven Roasted Prawns, Nicoise olives, baby tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, fennel – this was a nod to the Mediterranean with delicately cooked prawns and a refreshing salad.

Then Chef Manzke and AGM Lavay insisted we try a selection of their seasonal salads.

Charcoal Roasted Asparagus on a bed of Romesco sauce – again a light seasonal dish that was executed perfectly

Baby Beets, Faro, Roasted Hazelnuts, Feta Cheese – a perfect combination

Warm Marinated Artichokes, Baby Spinach, Toasted Pine Nuts, Capers, Golden Raisins, Goat Cheese – we inhaled this dish!

My husband who thinks that a meal that isn’t dominated by meat and potatoes was beginning to entertain the idea that just maybe a meal of seasonal vegetables and produce is not only satisfying but a delicious option. We were delighted to indulge in these special treats.

Fried Local Calamari, crispy lemon, Chimichurri – not in the least greasy or overcooked

Baby Caraflex Cabbage ready to be sliced for

Baby Caraflex Cabbage Salad, grapefruit, pistachio, chili, lime vinaigrette

BYO Red Wine

Housemade Pork Belly Sausage Pizza, braised greens, tomato, fresh mozzarella, fried farm egg – my only criticism of the pizza was there wasn’t quite enough sausage relative to the pizza dough. My husband decided that a to go pizza was in order and asked for extra topping for his take-home order.

Take-out Pizza with extra sausage for next night’s dinner

Crispy Duck Leg, Blood Orange, Medjool dates, pistachio, bitter greens, agrodolce – an absolutely juicy and crispy duck leg

What a surprise and what a wonderful meal. We didn’t expect to rave about a neighborhood pizzeria. I could go back in a heartbeat and just indulge in the seasonal salads but I would hate to miss the other options as well. We will definitely return.

A word of warning however – Milo and Olive doesn’t take reservations so there can be a lengthy wait. Go early!

Bar Bouchon

On a beautiful day in Los Angeles, I can’t think of a better place to be than at Bar Bouchon.

Sancerre from their list

Luna and Misty Point Oysters

Salmon Tartare  surrounded by chopped egg whites, chopped egg yolks, capers, chives  —  absolutely perfect and delicious

Cod Brandade with Tomato Confit and Fried Sage – equally delicious

BYO Red Wine

Red Wine Braised Burgundy Snails with Garlic and Puff Pastry – back on the menu!!!!!

Ragout of Duck Confit, French Green Lentils, Poached Hen Egg, Brioche Crouton – one of our favorite dishes!

A perfect place to relax with great food and service.


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