I have been meaning for the past decade to record my family’s history beyond our beloved recipes, to learn as much as possible—big and small—from my grandparents. I have always wondered how they met and courted, what motivated them to leave Vietnam after the war, and even what foods they missed most during the early days at Camp Pendleton. While I’ve gathered bits and pieces of information over the years, the busyness of life kept me from immersing myself in the subject and fully satisfying my curiosity.
Following a long day of production on Trailblazers, a short documentary that I helped produce for Panda Express in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, my colleagues and I sat down for dinner at Estela. Though we were exhausted from the day’s shoot, we were also giddy from having been graced by Connie Chung’s brilliance. Wine and really good food was just what we needed, and Estela delivered on both fronts.
Opened in 2013 in the space that once housed the Knitting Factory, a music venue I visited once circa 2000, if memory serves me right, Estela serves minimalist small plates with a Mediterranean bent. Every dish we tasted on Chef Ignacio Mattos’ menu this evening was as thoughtful as it was delicious.
To start, half a dozen chilled oysters dressed ever-so-lightly in a yuzu kosho mignonette ($24).
Considering how warm the weather is year-round here in Los Angeles, it takes a lot more than rising temps to signal that summer is upon us. What I have found to be a much more reliable indicator of seasonal changes is what’s on my plate: Cherries? Check. Peaches? Check. Three Sisters? Check, check, check. Summer is most definitely here.