Archive for February, 2009

Baby Back Pork Ribs

From Bon Appétit – July 1995


At Clark’s Outpost Barbecue in Tioga, Texas, Warren Clark uses St. Louis-style pork ribs (slabs of ribs that have been trimmed to uniform size) and prepares them in a smoker. To make this recipe easier, we call for the more readily available baby back ribs and suggest a combination of baking and grilling for equally delicious results.

5 pounds baby back pork ribs, cut into 8 pieces of about 6 ribs each

4 cups Clark’s Barbecue Sauce* (about two 16-ounce bottles)

16 tablespoons Clark’s Ole #8 Rib* Rub (about two 4-ounce jars)

 3 cups (about) water




Preheat oven to 300°F. Rinse ribs under cold water. Pat dry. Arrange ribs bone side up on 2 heavy large baking sheets with rims. Brush 1/4 cup sauce on each 6-rib piece. Sprinkle each with 1 teaspoon rub. Turn ribs over. Brush each piece with 1/4 cup sauce. Sprinkle each piece with 1 teaspoon rub.

Bake ribs meat side up 1 1/2 hours. Add 1/2 cup water to each pan. Continue baking until ribs are deep brown, every 30 minutes adding 1/2 cup water and basting, about 1 1/2 hours more.

 Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Grill ribs until lightly charred, about 2 minutes per side. This is in the original recipe, but I rarely barbecue the meat and just serve it after being in the oven.

Serves 4.


After 2 hours







Renny Update

In answer to Loving Annie and YoBro, here is a current picture of Renny. 


Eventually, Refined Palate will get back to food. Unfortunately I had to cancel a trip up north and meals at Manresa and French Laundry. Renny comes first at the moment. I did find a number of dog friendly restaurants in Los Angeles and we just might give that a try.

Dog friendly restaurant site:

For YoBro, I do have 2 other dogs – all from the same breeder, Barbara Page.


Casey – 8 years old


Brodie 4 years old




Update for YoBro. The doggies love steak (the little one can’t have it yet).




Wine is for us.


Totoraku – West Los Angeles

We took friends to Totoraku for their first experience.  I had warned them that there was zero ambiance, that it was run as a private club, that it was smoky and that basically it is beef and more beef.






Chef Kaz



Appetizer Plate

Melon and Prosciutto

Asparagus with walnut paste

Fresh White Turbot

Hard Boiled Quail Egg topped with Caviar


Broccoli and Blue Cheese

Fresh Bamboo Shoots

Sauteed Abalone

Pork gelee

Smoked Salmon Roll with avocado and sprouts






Beef Ribeye



Steak tartar – to be mixed by the diner



Beef Tongue (to be eaten with lemon sauce)

Ashima, Kaz’s wife now brings out the grill.



Filet Mignon with onion, pepper, mushrooms



The filet on the grill


Not pictured:

 – a bowl of veggies – carrots, lettuce, cucumber, cabbage with a small bowl of miso dipping sauce or more like a paste.

 “Salad” of cut up tomatoes



Outside of the Ribeye



Inside of the Ribeye






Skirt Steak


Not pictured – soup for me



Ice Cream


We BYO’d wine from my husband’s cellar. He picked unusual things that our friends might not have tasted before as they aren’t from the US.

NV – Gruet, Brut Blanc de Noirs, Albuquerque, New Mexico

2002 – Edi Jimiic, Chardonnay, Slovenia

200 – Pinot Noir, Santa Ynez Valley, Melville Vineyard, Lane Tanner, California

1988 – Ch. Cos D’Estournel, Saint Estephe, France

1992 – Ridge Vineyards, Cabernet Sauvignon, Montebello Santa Cruz Mountains, California

1988 – Essenia, California Muscat, Andreww Quady, Madera, California

The menu doesn’t change that much from one time to another so this is not the sort of place you would go to once a week. But Kaz and Ashima are wonderful hosts, the beef is superb and it remains an unique and wonderful experience.

XIV – West Hollywood

From a meal before new puppy.

I have known Michael Mina for years. I have many fond memories of wonderful meals at the original Aqua restaurant in San Francisco. One of my favorite dishes was his tuna tartar with diced tuna, pine nuts, pear, sesame oil, ancho chile topped with a quail egg. At Aqua, they mixed the ingredients table side and it was always an A+ dish plus you knew you were in a chef driven restaurant that was all about fine dining. I have also known executive chef, Steven Fretz, for years when he was with George Marrone at Fifth Floor – I remember his pig tail! So this post is very, very difficult for me to write

XIV is the equivalent of fast food masquerading as fine dining. Everything is prepped ahead of time and the “chefs” are just putting the ingredients on the plate or at least that is how it tasted. Hot dishes were an abomination, particularly the risotto. 

This is “scene” food, but not done well. At Bazaar (the same SBE group) it was a scene, but the execution was spot on. At XIV, it was an ordeal and I kept wishing for the “old” Aqua.

A word about the service. They couldn’t have been nicer. Christopher Lavin, the sommelier, was terrific. Steven Fretz was cordial and enthusiastic. Michael Mina was in house and as welcoming as ever. But great service and a great welcome just can’t substitute for poor execution. 

We did not do chef’s choice as I was looking forward to having some of Michael Mina’s signature dishes that I had loved so much at Aqua.



Naan Bread is served as a bread course with Feta and Fenugreek on top – this was an auspicious beginning and delicious.



Michael’s caviar Parfait – on a potato pancake, a layer of hard boiled eggs,  house-cured salmon, chives mixed with creme fraiche and in the interest of economy, topped with American paddlefish caviar – the potato pancake was soggy and the salmon completely overpowered the dish.

See here for original:



Ice Cold Shellfish – At the back, white shrimp panna cotta, Kushi Oster and Alaskan King Crab with orange aioli sauce – excellent course



Close-up of shrimp panna cotta



I don’t have a picture but below is a link to the original.

This wasn’t even close to the wondrous tuna tartar at Aqua. (see above)



Foie Gras Terrine, Cranberry, Cardamom, Greek Yogurt, Flatbread – Good, but not the equal of Manske’s foie at Church and State. Also it was a miniscule portion of foie  in relationship to the accompaniments.



Manske’s foie



White Asparagus, Risotto, Porcini, Chervil, Castelmagno Cheese – This was awful – undercooked risotto – think tiny hard bits of rice. 




California Lamb skewer loin, Merquez sausage, Chickpea, Raita – The standout in this dish was the Merquez sausage.




Rabbit – I have no notes on this dish, but remember eating just a bite. I think that speaks volumes.


A word about the concept of having to order the same dish. If I am choosing my own menu and not doing a tasting, I hate having to order “for the table only.”  Maybe, you are better off letting the “chef select” from the options of 8 courses, 11 courses, 14 courses or 35 courses. But, overall, I was disappointed. I think I was expecting the precision and finesse of Aqua and it just wasn’t close.



New Puppy Update

Life has changed dramatically. The kitchen is basically closed and dining out has been put on hold. 


Renny in Pensacola


Renny’s Mommy, Dreamer



Renny in his carry-on case for the plane – obviously quite relaxed


To get a Barbara Page puppy go to her web site at:

New Puppy

For a while, Refined Palate will be on hold. Today, I am going to Pensacola to pick up the newest addition to our family – an adorable 8 week old  Shih Tzu. I don’t think you want to read about the horrible food served on Delta Airlines. Not only don’t I want to write about it, I don’t want to eat it.

Our new puppy.

Church and State – Downtown LA

Church and State is Steven Arroyo’s newest restaurant. It is located downtown in the former loading dock of L.A.’s Nabisco Biscuit Co. Building. From what I understand it was off to a shaky start, but with Walter Manzke now in the kitchen, this is a definite must restaurant. The menu is French classic bistro done perfectly. Service, overseen by Joshua Goldman, is professional and efficient.  

There is an other-wordly quality to the decor in that you honestly don’t feel like you are in LA – more Paris or New York in feel. The high ceiling is latticed with exposed vent ducts and strings of lights. Tables are well-spaced so you have none of that Anisette feeling of being squeezed and cramped.  The kitchen is open and Chef Manzke is absolutely in charge – this is a chef who understands and executes bistro cuisine to a tee.

My only negative is that from the Westside it is a long drive, particularly during rush hour. But, it is worth the hassle.


Gougeres – light, airy


Salt Cod Beignets (baccalo) with crispy, deep-fried parsley and saffron aioli – if these are not done right, you might as well be eating leaden, heavy “fish cakes” – again perfect temperature, done right with an excellent aioli

Josh then brought a huge platter that contained a bounteous array of incredible “goodies.”


Pickled vegetables and the most delicious assortment of housemade pates, terrines and saucisson sec


Rabbit balontine with pistachio and herbs de Provance
Wild Canadian goose pate with black trumpet mushrooms and green peppercorn
Jambon persil (ham, pigs feet and parsley)
Duck ham
Terrine of blood and tongue
Three salamis (one wild boar, two Berkshire pork)




Rillette de Saumon, confit of organic Scottish salmon with a topping of gribiche (chopped pickles, capers, parsley, hard-boiled egg yolks and whites) – this was stupendous and the gribiche topping was perfect



Terrine de Foie Gras topped with port-wine gelee, toasted brioche – another absolute winner and again what Chef Manzke does so well are the additional touches to each dish. In this case it was the port-wine gelee.



Rillettes de Cochon, Berkshire pork from Heritage, prune confiture

Marinated Olives


Pickled Vegetables – close-up



Kushi and Malpeque Oysters on the half shell




Escargot de Bourgogne, snails topped with a pastry dome and baked in garlic, parsley, shallot butter with the addition of pernod. The pernod was wondrous, adding an aromatic note to the dish.



Pig’s feet (not pictured as they were off to the side) with a frisee salad sitting on a bed of lentils, finely diced potato and carrot with what appeared to be tiny lardons. I inhaled this dish.



Roasted Marrow Bone – rich, yet delicious


Tarte Flamiche- caramelized onions, bacon, Gruyere cheese – the last time I had a tart done this well was with Alsacian Chef Eric Klein.



Eric’s tart


Now compare Comme Ca’s tart – burnt edges and no where near as good.




Steak with Bearnaise sauce – we were getting very full and the steak was just as good as leftovers – perfect bearnaise.


Frites – 



Cheese Board – 7 different types of cheese plus 5 different accompaniments



Don’t have a clue – chocolate something, fruit something and bread pudding something

BYO Wines 

’96 Compte Audoine Dampierre, Champagne

’04 Chablis Wm. Fevre, Le Clos

’03 Gevrey Chambertin, Mes Favorites, Alain Burquet

’81 Ch. Clos Labere, Sauternes

A fun dining experience with superb food and service