Archive for November, 2011

Bar Bouchon

I’ve posted so much on Bar Bouchon that there is very little to add re the lovely ambiance, the great service and the delicious food. It is just a wonderful way to spend the afternoon.

White wine from their list

Beausoleil oysters from New Brunswick, Luna oysters from California and Hama Hama oysters from Washington State

Tartare de thon- tartare of big eye tuna with wakame salad, cucumber, red radish and citrus coulis served with won ton chips – an old favorite

terrine de poulet fume – smoked chicken and mushroom terrine, Hobbs Shore bacon, fried cipollini onions, preserved cherries, frisee salad and violet mustard. This is a new addition to the menu and was absolutely delicious.

BYO Red Wine

Risotto with Shaved Truffles – Alex, our wonderful server, said that they just got truffles in – a very generous half portion!

We started  eating this before taking the photo so this was not the original plating. Magret de canard – Pekin duck breast with a cassoulet of fall pole beans, house made duck sausage and sauce au fenouil – another new addition to the menu and again executed perfectly with succulent duck.

What more could one ask for?


Clio – Boston

On recent trips to Boston, we have found the Eliot Hotel a great location and very pleasant set up.

Nov. 7 your roving reporter wanted to “do dinner” with father-in-law [93] and brother-in-law and another charming guest.
Clio in the hotel seemed to be the perfect location, especially after spending all day traveling from LA through Detroit.
Jimmy, brother-in-law and I got together early. While enjoying a cocktail in Clio’s very nice lounge, we met Michael Brafman the GM. Mike is a real restaurant pro out of NY.   We had a great visit.  I explained the nature of our evening and he obviously took careful note, because he selected Jonathan as our waiter. Lots of patience and a clear understanding of the elderly resulted in a very pleasant evening.
The food was absolutely tops. The service was perfect. I will certainly make a point to catch up with Michael and enjoy Clio on up coming visits to Bean Town. Not all photos have complete descriptions as Liz, my official note-taker wasn’t with us.

Almond & Foie Gras Financier with quince jam and fennel foam – nice amuse from the chef.

Lobster & Uni Cassolette, parsnip foam, chili threads, fried shallots –  Absolutely superb…wonderful flavor. Reminded this reporter of a soup years ago at Le Bernadin…heavenly flavor. Wished Lizzie the Uni freak could have been here for this one.

Close-up of the uni soup

Squash Soup, pistachio croquet, balck truffle—very nice extra from the chef

Beet salad with????

Don’t have a clue!

Asiette of Porcelet (Cheek, Belly, Loin) Sparrow free cider, granola

Buttermilk Braised Chicken, Gnocchi

Jimmy’s main – he said great flavors, nice combination…the cous cous really added to the flavors.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening.

Vin Bar

I sound like a broken record, but this is just the best Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. Chef Nico devised our menu and Piero and Paul Sherman selected the wines. A glass of champagne to start – not pictured. Piero mentioned that many of the dishes that Chef Nico created were “new” to him – Nico is an incredibly talented chef with a contemporary flair.  His flavor combinations are just extraordinary, he is a fantastic saucier and his execution is flawless.

Marinated swordfish carpaccio, blood orange dressing, pistachio, baby tomatoes, arugula – a perfect light beginning.

First Wine

Abalone, sea urchin, sea urchin dressing, pea shoots, mashed potato under the shell – Chef Nico knows my love of sea urchin and this was a fantastic combination of flavors – uni and abalone – you can’t get better than that.

This was introduced as Chef Nico’s interpretation of Matzoh Ball soup! The “ball” was actually composed of speck, pork, crab, celery, carrot and ricotta cheese. It floated in a crab bisque with pieces of crab. There are no words to describe how good this was. The bisque was so rich and deeply flavored that you knew this was not made in minutes, but carefully constructed and lovingly tended to for hours.

Wine Number 2

Cannelloni (made with white semolina flour and squid ink infused pasta) stuffed with lobster, pappa al pomodoro sauce, ricotta cheese sprinkled on top and a roasted cherry tomato on the side – not a hint of toughness from the lobster and again the saucing was flawless.

Orecchiette pasta (literally little ear’s pasta), Swiss chard, pecorino, sweet mozzarrella cheese, olive oil – Valentino has always excelled at pasta and this was no exception.

Close-up of the pasta – another winner.

Wine 3

Wine 4

Risotto saltato covering venison ragu on a sauce of ricotta cream, olive oil and parsley. Risotto saltato refers to the fact that you fry the risotto rice in a frying pan so that it becomes a golden and crispy cake. We were on a roll – each dish shone, not one overshadowed the other.

Fonduta on top of braised beef tartare, pea sauce, shaved white truffles on top – I am running out of descriptive adjectives. Enough to say that this was perfect.

Grilled pork, fines herbes, a sauce of jus, butternut squash, carrots, green beans, zucchini, baby corn, fennel – the vegetables were market fresh and the pork succulent.

Underneath the pork was a mosto (must) of raisins, figs and apricots

Cheese for dessert – not pictured,

This was a perfectly constructed tasting menu and far superior to any Italian restaurant in Los Angeles. I can’t wait to go to Vin Bar again and see what else Chef Nico has up his sleeves. His creativity and execution are limitless.

Cracking Eggs – Scrambled/The Arpege Egg

This is the egg cutter I use. Michel Richard discovered it and it is by far the best that I have found.

I find that if I hold the device this way, I can gently crack the egg.

Gently push on the egg where the cutter made the crack.

To remove the white clinging to the shell, let the cracked egg simmer in water. Then carefully with your thumb peel the white clinging to the shell.

A perfectly cleaned egg.

Now you can fill the egg with softly scrambled eggs and top with caviar or you can make the Arpege egg.

A word of advice – you can make the shells a day ahead and just let them sit in the refrigerator covered. Normally I will use the eggs for either scrambled eggs or if I am doing the Arpege egg use another batch of eggs. The key is to have the eggs shells ready to use ahead of time.

See here for soft scrambled eggs:

Arpege Eggs with Maple Syrup

At the restaurant Arpege, Wells says, “one dish that won me over immediately was this adorable palate pleaser that appeared out of nowhere at the beginning of a meal: a surprising mixture of egg, cream, maple syrup, and sherry vinegar all served in the shell – an appetizer that properly awakens your palate with a jolt of surprise and a clap of acclamation.”

4 tablespoons heavy cream (I increased the amount of heavy cream to a 1/2 cup and used 3/4 teaspoon of sherry vinegar. The recipe calls for 4 tablespoons of heavy cream which is too little and 3/4 teaspoon of sherry vinegar for that amount of heavy cream is way too acidic.)

About 3/4 teaspoon sherry vinegar, or to taste

Sea salt to taste

6 very fresh eggs at room temperature

2 teaspoons finely minced fresh chives

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

About 2 teaspoons maple syrup


An egg cutter or a very sharp knife, 6 porcelain egg cups

1. Place a bowl in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. In the chilled bowl, whisk the cream until soft peaks form. Season with the sherry vinegar and sea salt. Set aside.

2. Place an egg in your hand, tapered end up. Using an egg cutter or a very sharp knife, carefully slice off about the top third of the eggshell. (See above for cutting the eggs). Carefully pour the egg white out of the shell into a small bowl, holding back the yolk with the flat side of a knife. (Instead, I separated the white from the yolk out of the shell after I cut off the top third and then returned the yolk to the shell.)
With a damp paper towel, wipe the bottom of the shell. (See above for cleaning the shell). Place the shell in a porcelain egg cup. (If you return the eggs to the egg carton, they are likely to stick and will be impossible to remove later.) Repeat with the remaining eggs. (I’ve never had a problem returning the eggs to the carton)

3. Select a large, shallow skillet that is large enough to hold the eggshells in a single layer. Add water to about 2 inches in depth. Bring just to a simmer. You want the water temperature to be between 165 to 175. I use a thermometer to hold the temperature steady.

4. Carefully lift the eggshells from the egg cups and place them in the simmering water (the eggshells should just bob on top of the water). Cook just until the yolk begins to set around the edges, about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Using your fingertips, carefully remove the eggshells from the water and return them to the egg cups.

5. Sprinkle each cooked egg yolk with minced chives. Season with sea salt and pepper. Then carefully spoon the whipped cream over the yolk up to the rim of each egg cup. Drizzle with maple syrup, and serve immediately.

6 servings

 The Arpege Egg done by Chef David Kinch at Manresa






Villetta – Santa Monica

We are so pleased to be treated as a member of the Villetta family! It’s always a fun evening with good food and wonderful service.

The staff dressed up for Halloween even though it was 2 days before Halloween.

Jennifer, our wonderful server

BYO Champagne

Pizza with roasted cremini and oyster mushrooms, taleggio and sage

Close-up of the pizza (We eat half the pizza and take the rest home for the next day. It reheats perfectly).

Seared Santa Barbara prawns with gigante beans and salsa verde – always a favorite

BYO Red Wine

Warm Duck Confit with Kosui pear, spicy greens and toasted pitachio ‘aillade’ – this was the dish of the evening- absolutely perfect.

Mezze maniche with hot and sweet sausage, peas, tomato and cream – another favorite

What a treat to have a neighborhood restaurant of this caliber.

Bouchon – Beverly Hills

You don’t have to go to Yountville to indulge in Ad Hoc’s fried chicken. You do have to brave Los Angeles traffic, but it is worth it. Chef Rory Hermann has nailed the Ad Hoc fried chicken to perfection. Our server, Brandon was superb and the over-all experience was in a word, fantastic!

John started with a dirty martini. I started with Sancerre – no photo.

Oysters – Kushi from the Pacific Northwest, Luna from Carlsbad, Cook’s Cove from Prince Edward Island, Misty Point from Virginia and Umami from Rhode Island – Bouchon has some of the best oysters in Los Angeles and is a perfect start to any Bouchon meal.

BYO Red Wine

Ad Hoc Fried Chicken – 2 pieces gone as we couldn’t wait to start eating before snapping the picture served with

Macaroni and Cheese

Red Wine Braised Cabbage and New York Cheddar Biscuits and Sausage Gravy (photo below)

Chicken plated – biscuit on the right. All I can say is that this was one wondrous plate of food.

You just can’t ask for better food and service!