Thursday, December 30, 2010

New York

New York City

Bouley **
Boulud Sud (pre-theatre prix fixe)
Center Cut
Del Posto (lunch prix fixe)
Dessert Truck
Di Fara Pizza (Brooklyn)
Eleven Madison Park *
Gramercy Tavern *
Jean Georges ***
Katz's Deli
La Mar Cebicheria
Le Bernardin ***
M. Wells (Queens/Long Island City)
Marea *
Momofuku Noodle Bar
Russ and Daughters
The Stanton Social
Yakitori Totto


Anchor Bar

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Young Women at the Helm: Nick + Stef's Steakhouse (Downtown Los Angeles)

A recent article in Brand X spotted a trend of young women heading restaurant kitchens. One of them is 29-year-old Megan Logan, who is the new executive chef at Patina's Nick + Stef's Steakhouse.

Chef Megan Logan
Megan externed at Nick + Stef's while at Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, CA, which then opened doors for her. After graduating in 2003, Logan continued with Patina Restaurant Group, eventually becoming sous chef at Patina before being promoted to executive chef at Nick + Stef’s in 2010.

I had the opportunity to try her creations myself when I was invited to a blogger dinner back in October.

Our meal kicked off with a Kusshi oyster followed by a beet salad with gorgonzola cheese, toasted hazelnuts.

Beet Salad

We enjoyed our appetizers, but the steak and the sides were the stars of the night.

When our main attraction came, we were served not one but two pieces of steak: Prime Angus Rib eye and New York steak, both cooked to a wonderfully juicy and tender medium rare. The rib-eye steaks at Nick + Stef's are dry-aged for 28 days.

Of course, the steak came with a variety of sides. All of the sides were excellent and we dug into them like mad, especially the cabbage and kale fricassee with bacon lardon.
Mushrooms and creamed spinach.

Nick + Stef's is also doing a nice cheese and craft beer pairing program, which we also tried. Everyone's favorite pairing was the Hook's 10-year cheddar with Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale ale.
Cheese Board

Craft Beer Tasting

The lack of women in the professional kitchens used to be common knowledge, but Megan showed that even a young woman can lead the kitchen of a steakhouse, thought to be male-dominated, and do it well. Here's to all the female chefs out there.

Nick + Stef's Steakhouse
330 S Hope St
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 680-0330
Nick & Stef's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Year's Eve Dining Under $60

There's no need to drain your savings to eat out on New Year's Eve (or opt for AYCE kbbq like I've done in the past 2 years). For a classy night out that won't break the bank, check out these restaurants offering prix fixe menus for under $60:

Border Grill. 4-Course Dinner For $45, $5 wine pairings (half-glasses).
1445 4th St, Santa Monica, CA 90401. (213) 746-0050.
445 S. Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90071. (213) 486-5171

Corkbar. $55 for 4 courses, complimentary glass of sparkling wine included. 6:30 and 9:30 pm seatings.
Optional pairings: $10 beer, $18 wine, $25 champagne/sparkling. Live music from 9 pm.
403 W 12th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015. (213) 746-0050.

District. $45 for 3 courses and includes a glass of bubbly. Menu choices will include oyster, smoked pork, and market fish.
6600 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028. (323) 962-8200

Eva Restaurant. $55 for 4-course dinner (6 pm seating only, 6-course for a higher price for later seating). Chef Mark Gold promises bubblies for diners.
7458 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036. (323) 634-0700

Ford's Filling Station. $55 for 3 courses.
9531 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232. (310) 202-1470

Nick + Stef's Steakhouse. $59 for 3-course dinner. Menu includes lobster and truffle ravioli, venison loin and berry ladyfingers.
330 S Hope St, Los Angeles, CA 90071. (213) 680-0330

Noir Food and Wine. $59 for 4-course dinner for 8:30-9:30 PM (second seating, a la carte menu available earlier).
40 N Mentor Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106. (626) 795-7199

The Yard. $50 for 3 courses + champagne. Menu includes crab bisque, beef wellington, and meringue custard.
119 Broadway Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 395-6037.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Scoops Westside is in Business (Congrats!)

Fellow blogger Mattatouille's project, Scoops Westside, is finally in business! The second extension of the famed Scoops ice cream opened its doors on December 1st in a little strip mall in Palms, just down the street from Chego!, serving Tai's beloved ice cream along with Intelligentsia coffee and tea.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

M. Wells Diner: A Real Gem in Queens

As the end of the year nears, it's time that I blog about one of the best things I ate this year. It was inarguably the best dish I had in New York this year, although I had great meals are Lincoln, Marea, Di Fara, and Osteria Morini. It's the mussel hash from M. Wells diner in Queens. A nicely browned stack of hashbrowns is topped with tender braised brisket, fresh, perfectly cooked mussels, and a runny poached egg drizzled with an unusual and exceptional scallion dressing.

Mussel Hash at M Wells

I had the same reaction as my friend whom I asked to accompany me to M. Wells. Going all the way to Queens for a diner?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Dine Out this Holiday: Affordable Christmas Eve/Day Menus

We all know most restaurants jack up their prices on holidays, but that doesn't mean you can't dine out in style and still make it under budget. Here are a few options under $50. (PS. Eva's $39 family style dinner is the same price as their normal Sunday family dinners!)

Christmas Eve

Eva Restaurant. $39 Family-style dinner.
On the menu: Salted Prime Rib Roast, Whole Roasted Organic Chicken, Creamed Spinach, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Butterscotch Pudding.
7458 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036. T: (323)634-0700.

Nick + Stef's Steakhouse. $45 for 3 courses.
On the menu: Wild mushroom and mascarpone tortelloni, Roasted black cod with winter truffle sauce, and Bûche simplicity.
330 S Hope Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071. T: (213)680-0330.

Christmas Day

Cauliflower Souffle
Oliverio at the Avalon Hotel. $48 for 4 courses.
Choices include cauliflower souffle, veal ravioli with cheese and truffle fondue, roasted sea bass with cabbage and porcini, and cranberry parfait.
9400 W Olympic Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90212. T: (310) 277-5221.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

La Cachette Bistro Switches to Tapas Menu for the New Year

La Cachette Bistro is switching to a French-Mediterranean tapas menu come the end of this month. In the meantime, though, you can start ordering items from the new menu as well as the current menu.

A couple of weeks ago, Chef Jean Francois Meteigner offered a tasting of about 10 items for $50 per person. I think I got a few extra dishes when I went, but since blogging about all of them would result in a very, very long post, I'll just give you the highlights (which were still almost all of them ...) to let you know what you can expect. A few were paired with wines chosen by their sommelier, who had to be on her feet since this was the first night Chef Meteigner served the new menu items. I'd say she did a good job, though!

Many of the current menu items make an appearance, just in smaller portions.
We started with the Foie gras terrine and duck rillete with fig jam. Paired with Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc, Baron de Rothschild Collection, Bordeaux, 2008.

Foie Gras and Rillette
Foie gras and fig, a match made in heaven.

Bacon wrapped dates
Bacon wrapped dates
Sure, bacon-wrapped dates are everywhere now, but I like how the bacon here is particularly crispy. This was paired with a grenache that I had originally thought to be too young, but in fact paired very nicely with each decadent bite.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

All You Can Eat for $1?! Kopi Klotok (Secang, Central Java, Indonesia)

All you can eat for $1? Am I serious? It's less than $1 actually (Rp.8,500 to be exact). In the small towns of Indonesia, such things are still possible.
If you've never heard of the town Secang in Central Java, you're not the only one. I never heard of it either until this trip and even now it will just be that town we had to drive through to get to my mom's hometown (Magelang) from Semarang (the closest airport unaffected by the erupting Merapi volcano).

None of us were hungry after lunch but when we were told about the AYCE for Rp.8,500 at Kopi Klotok that's supposed to be good, all of us said "why not?" Turns out they had quite a few of traditional Javanese items even I haven't tried before, like this Buntil, made with coconut, anchovies, green chili, wrapped and steamed in papaya leaf.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Taste of FPAC and Manila Machine: My First Tastes of Filipino Food

The 19th Annual Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture kicked off with a reception called Taste of FPAC, which benefited FilAm Arts (The Association for the Advancement of Filipino American Arts and Culture)

The Taste of FPAC was held at Oinkster (the chef/owner Andre Guerrero, is a Filipino) and also featured the first Filipino truck in SoCal, Manila Machine.

Besides some pancit my aunt's friend liked to make, this is the first time I've really had a Filipino meal. Sure, I've tried a couple bites of Manila Machine's pork adobo at the LA Street Food Fest, but this time I got to taste a slew of items.

I first started with Chef Andre Guerrero's plate of Filipino food, complete with BBQed pork skewer, pork bicol express (pork, coconut milk, potato), and inihaw (roast pork).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"A Dose of Vitamin P" for FoodGPS!

Since FoodGPS had a disappointing week in pork, the bloggers who went down to Tijuana for the Pork 5 ways meal decided to each do A Dose of Vitamin P, dedicated to FoodGPS! (For those of you who didn't know, P here stands for Pork. FoodGPS highlights the best pork dish in his weekly Dose of Vitamin P.)

My Vitamin P was this tosta de cachete con erizo from Chef Jair Téllez of Laja in Valle de Guadalupe. He had run out of food within an hour so I was the only one in the group who had it (sorry!). Here you have uni and avocado on top of a "toast" made with pork cheek. Sweet, creamy uni. Crispy, fatty pork. Mind, blown.

Pork and Uni
Toast? Crostini? BORING. Crisped pork needs to be the new toast. Bruschetta with crispy pork. I'm going to smear foie gras torchon on a piece of toasted pork cheek. Pork rillette on pork, anyone?

For more porkporkpork, check out my fellow adventurers Street Gourmet LA, e*starLA, and My Last Bite who are all supposed to be posting their Dose of Vitamin P today.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Lunch Prix Fixe at The Kitchin (Edinburgh, UK)

The menu read: "Ravioli of game from the border"

I (stupidly) asked: "which border?"
The waiter looked at me. "The England-Scotland border."
Oh, right, silly me. I was in Scotland.

Having survived on grilled sandwiches (sorry, "toasties") for lunch that whole week and dining at bars/pubs with friends (which were awesome) after my conference sessions, I treated myself to one nice lunch: The Kitchin. The Kitchin was opened by husband and wife Tom and Michaela Kitchin in 2006 and six months later, in 2007, won a Michelin star.

Gougere and an assortment of vegetable chips

Their tagline? From Nature to Plate. Meat sourced from a local game-keeper, hand-dived scallops, and mushrooms from around Edinburgh hunted by the Kitchins themselves.

Dining at The Kitchin is pretty expensive, but luckily they have a three-course lunch prix fixe for £24.50. The wine list was also notably expensive. The cheapest glass I could find was £9.50 (almost $15). Regardless, a glass must be had.

As an amuse bouche, I started with a bowl of Langoustine Bisque over tomato. It was cold in Edinburgh, and this bowl warmed my body right up as I hunted for the langoustine pieces.
Langoustine Bisque at The Kitchin

Monday, December 6, 2010

Dec 8: Pig Out in Tijuana, Head to Tail

Mexico? It ain't that far, and this Wednesday is the perfect time to cross the border. How does a pork feast, from head to tail, with paired wines for 350 pesos (about $35) sound? Talk about a deal! Yup, on Wednesday December 8, you can partake in 5 Chefs, 5 pork preparations, 5 Baja wines at Villa Saverios in Tijuana.

Here's the chefs' lineup:
Chef Max Bonacci from The Linkery and El Take it Easy (San Diego,CA)
Chef Benito Molina from Manzanilla and Muelle Tres ( Ensenada)
Chef Jair Tellez from Laja (Valle de Guadalupe) and Mero Toro (Mexico City)
Chef Paul Zamudio from Peacocks(San Jose del Cabo)
Chef Javier Plascencia from Villa Saverios, Casa Plascencia, and Mision 19 (Tijuana)

Paired with wines from Valle de Guadalupe:
Adobe Guadalupe
Sinergi VT
Tres Valles

For reservations, call Villa Saverios, from the US dial 011-52-664-686-6443,ext. 104.

Wednesday, December 8,2010, 7PM.
Villa Saverios
Blvd Sanches Taboada
Esq. Escuadron 201
Zona Rio, Tijuana, Mexico

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tea Tree Tea (Edinburgh, UK): A Solace for Tea Lovers

I thought being in the UK, I would find quality teas around, but going around Edinburgh, I was disappointed to mostly serve Twinings tea bags. Granted I was in Scotland and not England … but really? Just Twinings everywhere?

I was therefore extremely excited when I found Tea Tree Tea, a shop specializing in loose leaf teas, just two blocks away from the conference center (and around the corner from Starbucks). I accidentally discovered it on my walk to the Edinburgh Castle and made a mental note to stop on the way back.

Tea Tree Tea is a charming little shop with friendly people. It's usually pretty quiet and they have free wi-fi to boot!
On my first visit I had a chai latte to warm me up after a long walk around the city and the castle.This lighter version is a nice change from all the sugary, powdery ones you find at chain coffeehouses.

I also like their attitude:

Thursday, December 2, 2010

This Saturday: The Taste of Mexico Bicentenntial and Eat My Blog Bakesale

Here's the plan. On Saturday morning, head to the Eat My Blog Bakesale. This bakesale benefiting the LA Regional Food Bank was first put on my bloggers and now include some bakeries and restaurants around the city as well (its last sale included Bakelab, Angeli Caffe, and more).

Chocolate cloud cookies from Bakelab and other goodies

The deets:
Saturday, Dec 4, 2010, 10am-4pm
Tender Greens (West Hollywood)
8759 Santa Monica Blvd

Since the holiday is near you can expect a lot of eggnog flavors and Yule logs. And since some of the food bloggers are mighty creative you can also apparently expect curry macarons (I'm curious ..) or bacon brownie with bourbon caramel sauce. Oh and I'm buying the Yoda green tea Oreos because it's Yoda!

This time I'm looking forward to Starry Kitchen's durian flan cheesecake! I'm not sure how many people will be buying a durian dessert in WeHo but I'm certainly planning to. Roomies, I apologize in advance about how the fridge will smell.

After you stuff your loot in the fridge, you'll head to The Taste of Mexico Association's Bicentennial Celebration: "200 Years of Mexico's Cuisine." At this event, you can taste regional Mexican specialties from Guelaguetza, La Casita Mexicana, Frida Mexican Cuisine, and La Monarca Bakery. Oh, and lots of tequilas, of course.

The deets:
Saturday, Dec 4, 2010 5-10PM
Cathedral of Saint Vibiana
214 S. Main St. Los Angeles, CA 90012

Ticket proceeds ($75 presale, $100 at the door) will go to benefit Heal the Bay.

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