Three days before the sixth iteration of Ludo Bites came to a close, The Astronomer and I finally scored a table due to a last minute cancellation. It was a bit of a nightmare driving from Pasadena to Sherman Oaks during rush hour, but a little traffic couldn’t stop us from experiencing Chef Ludo LeFebvre’s latest creations.
We arrived a little frazzled, but on time for our 6:30 slot. Krissy seated us immediately and presented us with the evening’s menu and a wine list. The tables were packed quite cozily in the dining room, but I didn’t mind because my neighbor to the right was the incomparable Jo of My Last Bite—I love how she brings good cheer wherever she goes. My neighbor to the left was sporting a DSLR camera and a little cell phone light, which helped to forge an instant bond between us too.
With so many enticing dishes on the menu, we decided to forgo adult beverages to save precious real estate. I was also thinking about forgoing bread, but thankfully, The Astronomer talked some sense into me. To start, we shared a warm baguette served with smoked butter and sardine-Laughing Cow cheese ($5). The bread and butter were both solid, but the highlight upon the wobbly plank was the sardine-laced Laughing Cow cheese. Fishy flavored cheese? Yes, please!
About midway through the bread course, the Vietnamese-style hamachi ($15) arrived. The presentation was reminiscent of the confit pork belly with Thai-style choucroute from Ludo Bites 5.0. However, the flavors and ingredients in this dish were much lighter.
Tucked underneath the jicama slaw were the most pristine slices of hamachi. Lightly dressed in a nuoc cham-like dressing, the plate was brimming with fresh, clean, and bright flavors. This was definitely one of my favorite dishes of the evening.
Continue reading ‘Ludo Bites 6.0 at MAX – Los Angeles (Sherman Oaks)’
Our little apartment would’ve roasted us alive had we not left the premises this past weekend. After a summer of moderate weather, temperatures hit over a hundred degrees throughout the city seemingly out of nowhere. To escape our overheated pad, I suggested to The Astronomer that we troll for cute dresses in an indoor mall. He nixed that idea and offered that we head to an air-conditioned bar for NFL action instead. I couldn’t get behind that plan either. In the name of compromise, we sought respite in the least likely of places: the L.A. County Fair.
Spending the day in Pomona probably wasn’t much cooler than staying at home in Pasadena, but it was far and away more fun. It’s not every day that I can attend a pig race and then eat barbecued ribs afterward. No sirree, just once a year when the fair rolls into town.
The L.A. County Fair is equal parts food, rides, and exhibits. We focused solely on eating and observing during our visit. Before deciding what to consume first, The Astronomer and I strolled through the fairgrounds scoping out the goods. The 1/2 pound dogs glistening in the sun looked mighty enticing roasting next to a pile of onions and peppers. Truth be told, these were the largest wieners I’d ever seen.
The giant turkey legs nearby smelled and looked terrific as well. My friend Laurie attended the fair a few weeks before and reported that the turkey legs were seriously delicious.
Continue reading ‘L.A. County Fair 2010 – Pomona’
A tour of D.C.’s food scene wouldn’t be complete without examining Chef José Andrés‘ restaurant empire. The Think Food Group owns five highly lauded eateries in the metropolitan area: Minibar by Jose Andrés, Café Atlántico, Oyamel, Jaleo, and Zaytinya. Located within walking distance of one another in Penn Quarter, each restaurant has a different vibe and a distinct culinary viewpoint.
On our second day in the city, we enjoyed a progressive lunch at Chef Andrés’ restaurants. My feelings were lukewarm at best after dining at The Bazaar by José Andrés in Los Angeles, so this tour offered the perfect opportunity to experience the chef’s cuisine on his home turf. I was hoping to be wowed.
Minibar by José Andrés
With Minibar tucked into the second floor of Café Atlántico, our first two stops turned out to be one in the same. The six seat Minibar (yep, just six seats!) serves an avant-garde tasting menu with upwards of 30 courses. “This is food that owes as much to art and science as it does to gastronomy, food that is as much about the brain and eye as it is about the tongue and stomach, food that forces the diner to rethink food and its presentation,” states the restaurant’s website.
As a tremendous fan of Spanish molecular gastronomy, I was most excited to experience Minibar. Unfortunately, we were only given a taste, literally and figuratively, of what the restaurant had to offer.
“Olives Ferran Adria” arrived on a porcelain spoon in a shallow pool of olive oil. The spherified green olive encompassed all the qualities of a great olive, minus the proper texture. I’ve experienced these spheres dozens of times, but the sensation of the thin membrane popping and unleashing a flood of flavored liquid never gets old. [Watch Ferran Adria and José Andrés explain the spherification process here.]
Continue reading ‘José Andrés Washington D.C. Restaurant Tour: Minibar, Café Atlántico, Oyamel, Jaleo, Zaytinya’
After The Astronomer and I left the sunny shores of Valencia, we hopped a train to Girona, where our only order of business was to dine at El Celler De Can Roca. Even though this was our third three-star Michelin meal in the span of two weeks, I eagerly anticipated it as if it were the first.
Founded in 1986, El Celler de Can Roca gives new meaning to the term “family restaurant.” The place is run by three brothers [Joan Roca heads up the kitchen, Josep Roca is the maitre d’ and head sommelier, and Jordi Roca is the pastry chef], but the food is far from homey, and the space is decidedly modern.
In 2007, the restaurant relocated a hundred meters from the original grounds. Here, the chefs work in a state-of-the-art kitchen cum lab, while the sommelier manages a wine cellar that offers customers an audio-visual journey through five key wine regions.
In the custom-built space, diners are treated to a gorgeous dining room with an abundance of natural light pouring in. The miniature arboretum in the center offers a tranquil and understated view. As The Astronomer and I settled into our table and perused the menu, we were served complimentary glasses of Cava (Finca Viladellops 08 D.O. Penedes).
Continue reading ‘El Celler De Can Roca – Girona’