Archive for July, 2010

Update – Stay Tuned

Leaving for up north this morning. Stayed tuned for posts next week on


Don Giovanni

French Laundry (2 meals)



Bouchon – Yountville


Roast Chicken

ROAST CHICKEN – loosely based on Robuchon’s recipe

1 free range chicken, approximately 4 1/2 to 5 pounds
Unsalted butter – 1 stick
1 tablespoon rosemary plus 2 sprigs
1 tablespoons thyme plus 2 sprigs
2 whole heads of garlic, unpeeled, cut in half horizontally plus 2 cloves peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 to 1 cup white wine

Save neck and giblets.

Loosen the skin from the breast and wiggle your fingers in over the meat, separating skin from breast meat. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO TEAR THE SKIN.

Leave the chicken, uncovered, on a sheet of foil in the refrigerator the night before roasting. The skin will become dry and taut. This makes for a crispier skin.

Make a compound butter. For a 4 1/2 pound bird use one stick of unsalted butter.
Beat one stick of unsalted butter until fluffy. Add 1T of the chopped fresh rosemary and 1T of the chopped fresh thyme to the butter. Mix well. Can be made ahead, but let the compound butter come to room temperature before using.

2 hours before roasting, take the chicken out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Dry chicken, if needed.

Preheat oven to 425.

Just before roasting: Spread the compound butter under the skin of the bird. Put a dab of butter on your fingers and smear it directly over the meat. You need only a thin ( I like more than very thin) coverage.

Salt and pepper the inside cavity of the chicken. Put 2 peeled garlic cloves, 1 sprig of thyme and 1 sprig of rosemary into cavity. Truss the bird loosely with twine.

Smear compound butter on outside of bird. Salt and pepper outside of bird.

Place the chicken on its side in the baking dish. Along side the chicken, scatter the reserved neck, the halved garlic heads ( cut side up), the rosemary and thyme. Place the baking dish in the center of the oven and roast, uncovered for 20 minutes. Baste the chicken, turn it to the other side, and roast for another 20 minutes. Baste again, turn the chicken breast side up, and roast for 20 minutes more, for a total time of 1 hour. These times are for a 4 3/4 to 5 pound bird. By this time the skin should be a deep golden color. (I don’t do this next part – Original recipe – Reduce the heat to 375 and baste again. Roast until juices run clear when you pierce a thigh with a skewer, about 15 minutes more.)

I let it roast for 1 hour only for a bird that weighed about 4 3/4 pounds –

Remove the dish from the oven and season the chicken with salt and pepper. (I don’t do this) Transfer the chicken to a platter and place it at an angle against the edge of an overturned plate, with its head down and tail in the air. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes. The chicken will continue to cook as it rests.

To make the jus – put pan over heat on the stove and deglaze with wine. Let simmer a bit and strain.

Chicken resting



Notes from the Roving Reporter….major challenge…the rover had to do a seminar 2.5 miles from Cassell’s, the great burger place, and 3.2 miles from Langer’s. Where to go?  It has been 6 months since going to Langer’s, so…

I’ve been going to Langer’s since 1971 when we moved to LA. It has been the most consistently good deli in LA, a town where good deli food is hard to come by. Mr. Langer has died, but his son has taken over.

Recently they have been advertising on ESPN Radio. They give away a $100 gift certificate in some contest once or twice a week and there is a lot of talk about how fabulous Langer’s is. If you ever had any doubt about the power of advertising, look at this photo.  I’ve never seen it this busy.

The busier the better. The quality was tops. The only problem is that one person can only eat so  much.

Langer’s is on a very non descript block near MacArthur Park in a very poor, very densely populated Latino neighborhood that is not terribly safe after dark.  As such, Langer’s hours are from 8:00 AM to 4:00PM.

The address: 704 South Alvarado
 Los Angeles, CA 90057.

Mushroom Barley soup with giblets…this is a cup because a bowl would kill the appetite too much. It is not heavy, but it is truly rich.

Spoon shows clean, fresh ingredients…delicious.

Sandwich # 19, very famous…after 39 years of eating this sandwich I’m still impressed with the wonderful rye bread [I bought a loaf of bread and a quart of soup for tomorrow night]. The hand carved pastrami has a layer of swiss cheese with a generous portion of delicious slaw and topped with Russian Dressing. According to the menu, the pastrami is “a Select Cut of Beef, Sugar-Cured and Seasoned as Corned Beef, Then Slowly Smoked for Tenderness and Tantalizing Taste and Flavor, Then Covered with Choice and Costly Spices.” The beef is procured from Vienna, Chicago’s famous beef and hot dog producer.

Wow!!  Double wow!!  This is great!

You can almost taste it in this close up…perfect.

Langer’s has old fashioned waitress service. A good one delivered a real old fashioned chocolate milk shake…not a thick mass of ice cream too thick to drink like a human being…no made right with whipped cream on the top and the metal container for the balance of the shake.

It was so good and went down so well, I just had to have two.

What a meal. Langer’s is still on the beam after 60 years. It is too far downtown to go regularly, too bad, but if I’m within 10 miles, I’m there.

Bar Bouchon

Bar Bouchon is just the perfect place for a late afternoon lunch/early dinner. Rory Herrmann, chef de cuisine, is unbelievably accommodating to us. Bouchon has just started offering brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and he offered to let us order from the brunch menu, even though brunch had ended.

Krug Champagne from their list and BYO Pommard

Kumamoto Oysters and Oysters from Coituit, Mass

House-made English Muffin with a soft poached hen egg, smoked salmon, crispy capers and sauce hollandaise (from the brunch menu)

Hollandaise sauce – served on the side as requested.

Just perfect

Pan-roasted trout with haricot verts, almonds and beurre noisette (from the brunch menu) – absolutely superb

Boudin Blanc – white sausage with potato puree and poached prunes – I must admit that I happen to like boudin noir better than boudin blanc – personal preference and not a reflection of the boudin being executed poorly – it wasn’t. Pictured is a split -half portion.

My husband’s portion – he couldn’t wait and starting eating immediately and then snapped the photo.

What a wonderful place with exceptional service.

Bastide – Chef Joseph Mahon

Dining with Sybil and Simon is always a treat – they make any dining experience an occasion. See here for Simon’s posts and twittering.

We have eaten at Bastide in all its different phases – Alain Giraud, Ludo Lefebrvre, Walter Manske and now Joseph Mahon. Each chef has a very personal style and Chef Mahon has definitely transformed Bastide to his culinary vision. I would characterize Bastide as California cuisine much like Michael’s in its hey day. The flavors are clear and pure, the ingredients are first-rate and there are few if any extraneous ingredients on the plate i.e. none of the school of throwing 30 ingredients in the air and hope that it makes sense. The bells and whistles are not from manipulating food to be clever, but rather from letting the ingredients shine and not be overshadowed with superfluous flourishes. Chef Mahon’s food exhibits a chef who is comfortable and confident with his expertise and skill.

Service at Bastide is perfect – A++  Tina, our waitress, was tremendous. It didn’t hurt that she grew up in Pittsburgh ( my husband is from there), but she also worked at Per Se in New York and Bouchon in Beverly Hills.


I don’t have a picture of Dario, but he was equally as gracious and accomodating.

We were seated in what is called the garden room.

Notice the campbell’s soup can “chandelier.”

We decided to just let Chef Joseph Mahon devise a tasting menu.

Bread service – Fennel and Olive, Apple/Cashew, Regular Wheat, Raisin – delicious and we had a repeat serving.

Compressed watermelon, toasted pine nuts, celery leaf, feta water and parsley added for color – very light and refreshing. I liked the watermelon beginning so much that I made a watermelon/heirloom tomato salad with feta for our 4th of July barbecue. (I love stealing ideas!)

Corn Soup, Crispy Pork Nuggets, Orange Segments, Curry Oil – Simon was a little put off by the orange segments, but John and I were not as affected. The soup itself was delicious and the pork just a lovely addition – pork and corn what is there not to like.

On the left, frisee salad with whole grain mustard, crispy pig ear and on the right pork terrine, pickled ramps and cornichons – focused food done well.

Yellowtail blanched in brown butter, Chinese long beans, soy beans, shaved asparagus, radish with an apple soy vinaigrette – lovely and light and a different  and unique take on the yellowtail crudo plate offered all over LA.

Heirloom Tomato Salad, Grated Goat Cheese, Mache, Avocado, Nicoise Olive, Croutons – this was summer on a plate and absolutely wonderful.

Scottish Salmon slowly poached in olive oil and duck fat, Beluga lentils, sugar snap peas, Port wine sauce – this was one of the dishes of the evening. I am not a great lover of cooked salmon – I often find it dry, overcooked and in a word boring. This was melt in your mouth perfect; I am guessing that the duck fat poaching had a great deal to do with that. The port wine sauce just added to the excellence.

Colorado Rack of Lamb. Baba Ganoush, Favas, Tomatoes, Natural Lamb Jus – I was getting very full and Simon managed to finish some of my portion and I think some of Sybil’s. John didn’t share at all with Simon – he loved it and ate every bite.

Cheese Course – Epoisse, Blue, Petit Basque, Apple  (Simon likes his cheese course after dessert – the English way. We like our cheese course before dessert – the phrase “When in Rome” applies here.)

Sorbets – Yogurt, Mango, Cherry – this was a miss.

Chocolate Souffle, Rum Vanilla Ice Cream, Mango Chocolate Sauce – the souffle was perfect.

Bastide in its current incarnation delivers a very solid meal – far superior to many of the  mid to high-end dining experiences around Los Angeles. It is civilized dining – not about the scene, but about the food. You can actually have a conversation. As I mentioned earlier this is classic California cuisine – ingredient focused, well prepared. Chef Mahon doesn’t cruise the room. (He came out at the very end of our meal). Rather this is a committed chef whose concern is what is on the plate and it shows.