Archive for June, 2012

Milo and Olive

Jason Mattick has taken over as executive chef of Milo and Olive and he is terrific. He was executive chef at Palate and in addition he has done stages at Fat Duck, Quince, Ortolon, Sona and Ritz Carlton, Laguna Nigel. That is one impressive resume. He is passionate about cuisine and ingredient quality. Every Wednesday he is at the Farmer’s Market in Santa Monica and the “goodies” he finds are extraordinary.

We like to go early so we can sit at the bar and chat with Jason and their wonderful staff before the crush of people.

Jason

BYO Wine

Marinated white anchovies on a bed of pickled jardiniere, nicoise olives – perfect dice on the jardiniere, full of flavor anchovies and the whole seasoned with a deft hand

Musk melon, burrata, American proscuitto, opal basil seasoned with fleur de sel, pepper and Saba – grape sweet syrup. Jason had picked up the melons that morning at the farmer’s market. The combination of ingredients was a perfect marriage and the addition of the saba was extraordinary. I intend to buy Saba ASAP!

Saba from Milo and Olive

I did buy Saba from Bay Cities

BYO Wine

Charcoal roasted squash (again chosen from the farmer’s market that morning), scallions, French feta, garlic, Tzatziki – John is fast becoming a “veggie” person.

Deep Fried Soft Shells that had been tempura battered with beer with a sauce of wholegrain and dijon mustard, mayonnaise, lemon and red wine vinegar

Soft Shells – up close – you can see that the soft shells were fried to perfection and the sauce a perfect accompaniment

BYO Wine

Red Rose potatoes, artichokes, Fontina, Black Truffles – this was in a word decadent although the addition of eggs did cross my mind.

Bentagliati Pasta with Lamb Ragu, Nicoise olives, mint, mirepoix, parmesan – the ragu was perfectly seasoned. This is a staff that actually tastes the food continually to check for seasoning and it shows in the final product.

To say I am impressed with Chef Jason Mattick is a huge understatement. He is definitely a chef to watch. I would label him a rising star chef.

Providence – West Hollywood

I have done many write-ups about Providence. Our last meal just reinforces my position that this is one of the finest dining experiences not just in Los Angeles, but anywhere in the country. I am a huge admirer of Chef Michael Cimarusti; he rightfully deserves all the accolades he has received. I thought it fitting that I give a brief summary of his biography to highlight his extraordinary culinary background.

HIS BIO FROM:

http://www.southernrocklobster.com/about/recipes/Cimarusti.aspx

“Michael Cimarusti’s passion and curiosity for food was ignited at an early age by his grandmother. In the great Italian culinary tradition, his grandmother alongside his great-grandmother and aunts, made sure that every Sunday get-together was a veritable gastronomic event; today Cimarusti’s traces his reverence for ingredients and proper technique back to those Sunday family meals.”

“Cimarusti knew early on that he wanted to be a chef. 

After a couple of apprenticeships, he attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduation he landed his first job in New York City working under Larry Forgione at An American Place. Wanting to hone his classical French cooking skills, Cimarusti began working at le Cirque, where he worked his way up to the saucier position. To this day Cimarusti names le Cirque chefs Sottah Khunn and Sylvain Portay as his greatest influences, and their reverence for quality ingredients and refined technique can be seen in his menu at Providence.”

“Cimarusti’s stint at Le Cirque lured him and his wife pastry chef Christina Echiverri to Paris and an apprenticeship with Alain Passard at the Michelin three starred L’Arpège La Maree. On returning to New York his reputation earned him an invitation from the Maccioni Family to serve as opening chef at their new venture, Osteria del Circo.”

“Later looking for new culinary experience, Michael headed for Los Angeles taking up the position of Chef de Cuisine at Wolfgang Puck’s original restaurant Spargo. Cimarusti was then head hunted by the Water Grill to help refine the restaurant to fine dining, and whilst there was named in 2004 as Los Angeles Rising Star by StarChefs.com.”

“Cimarusti’s passion for produce, knowledge of wild produce, especially seafood, and his extraordinary culinary experience has meant his first restaurant Providence was nominated for a James Beard award as ‘best new restaurant’ in the United States in it’s first year of operation 2005-2006. In 2006 Providence was also named in American Gourmet as one of the “Top 50 restaurants in the United States”.

”

“Cimarusti’s devotion to produce and technique is evidenced in his recipe writing and his outspoken condemnation of farmed and other inferior produce has gathered him legendary respect. In a global world Cimarusti is an icon for young chefs desperately in need of mentors who run their kitchens with the same morals that they publicly espouse. Interestingly all completely driven chefs, wherever they might be located in the world share similar beliefs. Their dedication to showcasing the best seasonal produce, sustainability and excellence.”

OUR SPECTACULAR MEAL with exceptional service from GM/Owner Donato Poto, sommelier Drew Langley and our server Stephen.

BYO Champagne

Japanese Izaki with pickled plum and apricot – a wondrous bite from the sea

Scallop wrapped in a nasturtium leaf – the scallop had been chopped up with some pickled nasturtium. Crispy rice cracker was also in the wrap.  The texture and taste of the rice cracker with the scallop was a perfect combination. The presentation was spectacular.

Uni with lard, black truffle, nori focaccia bread – a one bite wonder

on a skewer – grilled octopus, pieces of lard bellota, lemon, espelette – I was in fish heaven

BYO White Wine

“Chips and Dip” – the chips were crispy salmon skin and the dip cured sea trout mousse, chives and smoked salt – absolutely spectacular and addictive

“Chips and Dip” up close – just look at that crunchy beautiful salmon skin

Drew wanted us to taste this and was kind enough to give us a glass

Fluke, Giant Clam, crispy rice, pickled mung bean, yuzu, koshi pepper – what Michael does so beautifully is his ability to marry ingredients to perfection

Kelp cured char, oscetra cavair, salmon eggs, crouton, cooked chopped egg white and egg yolk, smoked buckwheat panna cotta – Michael was doing a take on the traditional accompaniments to caviar – what a successful and satisfying dish

Alaskan King Crab grilling on the Binchu grill (“Bincho cooking is believed to have originated in the 8th century and, while used throughout Asia, is often identified with Japan. The making of Bincho charcoal is time consuming involving multiple refining steps of burning the wood over a kiln until it reaches temperatures of 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit and several days of curing. The end result is charcoal that burns at an extremely high temperature and is virtually smokeless in comparison to other charcoal.”) The crab was served with sun choke puree, deep fried sunchoke strips, smoked sea salt, Australian black truffle

The next series of photos will tell the “story” of the crab dish

Presenting the Crab

The Crab being grilled on the Binchu

Sunchoke puree being poured in the dish

The crab placed on top of the puree

Deep fried sunchoke strips

Crispy Sunchoke atop the crab

Black Truffle being shaved on top of the crab

The sensational finished dish

BYO Chablis

“Peel and Eat Spot Prawn” – on the left the grilled tail, middle the crispy fried head and on the right spot prawn roe on lemon, smoked butter – each dish was perfect

Japanese Ayu (also called sweetfish due to the sweetness of its flesh), morel and watercress veloute, woodear and black trumpet mushroom streusel – I can’t wax poetic enough about how well Michael composes a dish

Striped Bass Cheek being presented

Striped Bass Cheeks, Fava Beans, Tokyo Negi Onion, yuzu kosho sauce, fried bass skin. “Yuzu kosho is a hot, spicy and aromatic Japanese condiment made from hot chiles and ultra-citrusy yuzu zest.” – Again what Michael does best is the way he “edits” his dishes – each ingredient is perfect sand adds to the whole

Copper River salmon belly (barely roasted), cherries, daikon radish, pickled ramps – lovely to look at and even better to eat

Turbot being presented

Turbot layered with black truffles, grilled tomatoes, zucchini, porcini mushroom, radish, potato with a sauce of dark roasted chicken broth with basil

We were full yet so completely satisfied with this ode to the sea that we decided to skip cheese and dessert. This was an A+++ meal.

Donato graciously gave us a box of chocolates to enjoy at home.

A huge thank you to Michael, Donato, Drew and Stephen.

Villetta

It is a pleasure to dine at Villetta – everyone works hard to make sure you have a wonderful experience and you do.

BYO Champagne

Pizza Capriccio – tomato, mozzarella, artichokes, proscuitto cotto and mushrooms – this is a new pizza on the menu and it is delicious

BYO wine

Ahi tuna tartare with avocado, red onions, balsamic, toasted bread – my photographer dug in before snapping the picture – top grade tuna handled expertly

Paparadelle with wild mixed mushrooms, pancetta and sage – another winner – toothsome pasta and the mushrooms and pancetta a perfect addition

BYO wine

Grilled Lamb Chops with farro and eggplant caponata – this is a half portion!!!! Perfectly done lamb – rare, juicy and well-seasoned

Bottom line – a lovely meal served with panache


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