Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wood and Vine (Hollywood, CA): Monday Market Dinners and ChickenandWaffles

Fact: Wood and Vine has one of the best al fresco dining area in Hollywood. Insist on a table here as long as the nights aren't too cold. It's a quiet escape from the craziness of Hollywood Blvd.

When Wood and Vine first opened, the executive chef Gavin Mills had to figure out how to work with the tiny kitchen and now he's got it down. The kitchen is so small it has no walk-in fridge! But that just means Chef Gavin goes to the market every morning for fresh ingredients.
At a recent dinner, I started my night with a Chai Gold Rush (chai and vanilla infused bourbon, lemon, honey, $12). This was a great cocktail, probably my favorite of the night! It's not overwhelmingly "chai"-like, just notes of spices. I hope they keep this one on the menu for a while!

Mondays are good to give Wood and Vine a try with their Monday Market Prix Fixe menu, $18 for 3 courses. There were three of us dining, so we tried one of the prix fixe menu while ordering other items to try.

The first course was a Melon consomme with basil.
This was a rather interesting first course. It was cold (good for the summer) but since it's also sweet, it was more like drinking melon juice rather than a consomme.

The entree that night was Shrimp and Grips with Anson Mills grits and house andouille sausage
The current menu has plenty of Southern items (as you'll see more below, chicken and waffles being one) and he's also doing a Southern Sunday suppers. I lived in South Carolina for high school and developed a liking to grits. I liked the shrimp and grits here, especially the texture of the grits and the addition of the housemade sausage.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thursday Night Family Dinners at Huckleberry Cafe (Santa Monica, CA)

Huckleberry is always crowded during breakfast and brunch, but not many know about their dinners. Huckleberry usually opens until 8pm on weekdays, but on Thursdays they stay open later serving a family style prix fixe dinners!

The Thursday night dinners are $30 per person (half price for kids 12 and under) and the menu changes every week. I went on August 30th and had a feast!

Before the "courses", each table got some House Marinated Olives (marinated in orange juice, garlic, thyme, rosemary, olive oil)
The orange juice was a nice touch.

This wasn't part of the menu, but we also had some guacamole spread on baguette
I usually also don't pay attention to the beer and wine list here, but in the future I shall. We tasted some good wines that night, starting with a 2011 Red Car, Rose of Pinot Noir, Bybee Vineyard, Sonoma Coast.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Road Trip Food (Yellowstone): Cowboy's Lodge and Grille (Gardiner, Montana)

On my last trip to Yellowstone, we flew into Bozeman, Montana and drove 1.5 hours to the North entrance of Yellowstone National Park. Feeling hungry on the road, we decided to stop in Gardiner, Montana for a bite, but most restaurants were closed in between lunch and dinner service. Luckily, Cowboy's Lodge and Grill was open.

Being cold, I had to order a cup each of their gumbo, chili, and the ranch hand stew ($4 for a cup). I've had better gumbo elsewhere but the other two were hearty and really hit the spot.

If you ever find yourself looking for food in Gardiner, Montana, I recommend the stew here!
I had to order the bison steak since I was in Montana (it's on all the menus here, pretty much) but here it turned out to be pretty tough (a bit overcooked) and pretty expensive ($28), especially compared to the stew and chili!
The cobbler ($3) was unfortunately disappointing, with canned peaches and mushy crust.
Despite the disappointing steak and cobbler, we were happy with our stews and chili and were just glad to find a place to eat here between lunch and dinner service! Not too bad of a first meal at Yellowstone.

Cowboy Lodge and Grill
303 2nd St S
Gardiner, MT

Friday, September 21, 2012

Your New Pasadena Lunch: Burger Haven at Haven Gastropub

Burger Haven isn't a pop-up, but a restaurant within a restaurant. During the lunch hours, the back part of Haven Gastropub in Oldtown Pasadena turns into Burger Haven, serving burgers, fries, and milkshakes. There are 6-7 items on the menu including the Haven burger, the lamb burger, a veggie option, and Here's the Kicker topped with habanero, serrano, jalapeno, and pickled ghost chili! I tried a bite of this and was dying from the spiciness, but I know quite a few people who would love it! You can see the full menu here.

For my lunch, I went instead with the Shake and Bake, which is their fried chicken sandwich. It's made with Mary's free range chicken, coated in corn flakes and pan fried, topped with rosemary mashed potatoes, gravy, braised collard greens, and honey mustard on jalapeno-habanero bun ($9)

It's like your handheld Southern plate. Fried chicken and all the staple Southern sides compacted between two buns. You may have to explain to your boss why you fell asleep after lunch when you eat this, but at least you'll be full until dinner time!

Regardless of how full I was after that fried chicken sandwich, there's always still room for a Nutella shake ($5)!
How can you say no to milkshake AND Nutella?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Brunch and Sherry "Mimosa" at Bow and Truss (North Hollywood)

Bow and Truss is a new Spanish restaurant in North Hollywood featuring a sherry focused bar program by Aidan Demarest and Marcos Tello. They recently started doing brunch with a Latin slant and sherry brunch cocktails. I don't know how busy it gets at night, but it's a quiet and spacious place for brunch, with a beautiful bar at the center.

Bow and Truss - Bar
Bow and Truss

I did say the brunch menu leaned towards Latin flavors, but you may want to also get the Crepes with Almond Butter and house made caramel ($6)
Loved the texture of these crepes! With almond butter like this, you don't need syrup or toppings.

Since this is a sherry-centric bar, and since Aidan and Marcos doesn't mess around, even their brunch cocktails are special. The Mimosa de Manzana is no regular mimosa. They call it a "Spanish Style” mimosa and it's made with Pedro Ximenez sherry, organic apple juice, rosado, apple slice
It's still a "mimosa" so it's topped with some sparkly, but it's much better and much more interesting than your regular mimosa and bellinis! They also have Bloody Mary's here and I tried a sip of one which was quite good.

For the brunch entree I recommend the "I’m Creamy" with polenta, asparagus, charred corn, peppers, cotija, quail yolk, piquillo pepper sauce ($10)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Go Thee To Baja! Baja Culinary Fest Oct 11-14

October 11-14 is the 2nd annual Baja California Culinary Fest! Thanks to the generosity of Chef Javier Plascencia, I was able to attend the 1st annual festival last year and with more experience, this year's is promising to be even better. There are many different events over the four days, from special dinners, a gastro tour of Tijuana, a visit to the Ramonetti cheese cellar, a festival in Rosarita, and many more.

It all culminates in a festival at the Galerias Hipodromo. Last year's festival had some of the best restaurants in Tijuana, and this year will probably have even more. Instead of paying an all inclusive ticket, last year attendees buy tickets for each item purchased.
From a whole leg carved on-site by Cheripan, Tijuana's premier Argentinean restaurant.
There was a great chocolate clam cocktail from Catavina (it's a type of Mexican clam, there's no chocolate in it!)
Clam Cocteles

Friday, September 14, 2012

LA Beer Week and Ticket GIVEAWAY!

The 4th Annual LA Beer Week is coming very soon on September 20-30 and there are many great events for you to look forward to, culminating in the LA Beer Week Festival at the Union Station! You can check the complete event listing here, but here are some of the great events they're having (and don't miss the ticket giveaway at the end of the post!):

  Thursday, Sept 20

  • Stone Total Town Takeover: Pasadena | Stone Brewing Co. previews its soon-to-open Stone Company Store – Pasadena location. Co-Founders Steve Wagner & Greg Koch will be on hand, sharing special beers and nibbles from Stone Catering, with live music. Tickets are $25; all proceeds will benefit a local charity. (7-9:30p) Other events with the Stone Brewing Co. team will also be taking place in Pasadena throughout the day. (Details)
  • Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Invades Little Tokyo | Far Bar will be pouring 12 of this famed Delaware brewery’s beers, including some very rare and hard-to-get selections. In addition, an extra special treat will be running through the “organoleptic hop transducer module”... better known to Dogfish Head fans as Randall the Enamel Animal. (6p)

Friday, Sept 21

  • Poutine Paradise | Five courses of gourmet poutines will be paired with five Schneider-Weisse beers, along with a special dessert pairing at P’tit Soleil Westwood. (Two seatings: 6:30p &8:30p)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Try This New Rosé Flavor from Le Bon Garçon Caramels!

A while back I raved about Le Bon Garçon, the only caramels I ever really LOVED because it's so smooth, melts in your mouth and never sticks to your teeth.

Le Bon Garcon

Well, for a limited time they have a new flavor, Rosé, made with raspberry, lychee and rose essence. 
You can easily tell which one is the Rosé from the color, since unlike the others that are caramel colored, the Rosé is reddish!
Nutty and sea salt caramels are pretty common these days (although Le Bon Garcon's handmade versions are still the best), and Le Bon Garcon's seasonal fruit flavors stand out. The Rose is noticeably fruity but not as tart as the mango-passion, a great option for those looking for a little something extra in their caramel treats!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Savor the Midsummer Cocktails and Patio at Big Bar (Los Feliz)

It's September but it still sure is warm. That means you still have time to head over to the Big Bar in Los Feliz for their midsummer cocktails, designed to be the perfect patio drinks! Big Bar is part of the Alcove Cafe and Bakery and yes, they have a beautiful patio that you can sip them in, although we enjoy sitting at the bar watching Dan Long and his bartenders do their work.

A few weeks ago I made my first visit to Big Bar and tasted through the midsummer cocktail menu. Here are some highlights from the menu:

I loved the Gin and Tonic cocktail.
This was obviously not your usual gin and tonic, as you can see it's served up. The cocktail was made with Beefeater gin, quinquina, lime, bergamot, kaffir lime spray. the quinquina gave it that "tonic" flavor. You can also smell the kaffir lime as he is serving it to you.

The next one may be my favorite find that night. I can sip this one all night!
The Picon Punch is made with Amaro Montenegro, Pierre Ferrand 1840, lemon, grenadine, orange bitters
The Picon Punch is a traditional Basque after dinner drink. Traditionally it is made with Picon but that's not available in its original form anymore so they tried to find a substitute with similar flavors. The base is Amaro so it had strong herbal flavors, but if you like that flavor profile you will love this. I thought it was really perfect to calm your tummy after dinner.

Of course, you have to try a cocktail named Most Interesting Cocktail in the World, made with Vida mezcal, lime, cinnamon syrup, Miracle Mile chocolate-chili bitters, cayenne peppers

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Eating and Riding Around Knott's Berry Farm

I've been invited to many restaurants and food events, but every once in a while something fun and different comes along, like an invitation to Knott's Berry Farm! OK, so the invite was to come to a tasting of their food offerings around the theme park, but I have to admit the opportunity to ride roller coasters was a major draw for me. Knott's Berry Farm isn't just known as a theme park, but their fried chicken and pies were what started the whole enterprise. Mrs Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant started in 1934 and attracted so many tourists that they started building shops and attractions around it to entertain waiting guests. So it really was the food that started the theme park!

The most famous food here of course is the fried chicken from Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner in the MarketPlace area, where they still serve the original recipe from 78 years ago. I actually have never had the fried chicken up until now, despite having lived in LA for almost 10 years. Verdict: they're quite good and hit the spot.

During the tasting I also tried the chicken pot pie, which also turned out to be really good. Flaky crust with creamy filling!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Let's Talk About Luxury: The Macallan's £10 Bar at The Montage Beverly Hills

The names Macallan and The Montage Beverly Hills are already synonymous with luxury, but the £10 Bar is on another level. This Macallan exclusive bar is by-reservation only and has a $50 minimum per person. It's not hard to meet the minimum with the prices. The 12-year old Macallan aged in sherry oak is  £10, and the price goes up from there. Luckily I was there as Shop Eat Sleep's guest on her hosted media visit.

But I had to do a double take when I saw a $64,000 drink on the menu. Yep. I did say this bar was on another level of luxury, right? The 64-year-old Macallan goes for $64,000. That's for a glass/shot, by the way, but hey, they have the last two ounces of this stuff left on earth.
That beats the special Royal Marriage edition which was $12,000 for a whole bottle.
We sat outside since it was a nice day. Quiet, breezy, overlooking the garden and fountain. It is certainly a nice place to hang out and chat.

Of course, we had to order some Macallan. Our server told us that the sherry oak whisky tends to be smoother and fruitier. If you prefer something oaky, go with the ones in the fine oak section where the whiskies were finished in a bourbon barrel. For the smokier ones, there's the Highland Park line. So. When you order whisky here, they will bring you the four different ice options. There's the whisky soapstones, the ice cubes, specially made ice balls, and the one he most recommended - the ice ball made with Highland Springs water.

They actually ship water from Scotland to make these ice balls, no joke. It's supposed to be best since it's the same water used to make the whiskies. Even the "local" ice ball is no ordinary ball: it has the £ logo carved inside of the ice.

Los Angeles Bar Reviews

1886 Bar (Pasadena)
£10 (Ten Pound) Bar (Beverly Hills)
Big Bar (Los Feliz)
Buzz Wine Beer Shop (Downtown)
City Tavern (Culver City)
La Cuevita (Highland Park)
Mixology 101 (The Original Farmers Market, West Hollywood)
Next Door Lounge (Hollywood)
Oldfield's Liquor Room (Culver City)
Villains Tavern (Downtown)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

LA Loves Alex's Lemonade Returns Sept 29

There are plenty of food charity events in LA, but LA Loves Alex's Lemonade is still one of the best out there with famous chefs arriving from all over the US to raise funds to fight childhood cancer.

The chefs and restaurants that participate in this event do not skimp, as evidenced by the raw bar with oysters, uni, and crab at last year's event

Michael Cimarusti from Providence was previewing his new casual restaurant, Connie and Ted's, with the best clam chowder I've ever had. I'm still waiting for this place to open so I can have this again!

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