May 2018

Oriel – Los Angeles (Chinatown)

Oriel - Chinatown - Los Angeles

I had the best time catching up with my girlfriend Thien at Oriel. Opened by Bar Covell’s Dustin Lancaster late last year, Oriel is a newish wine bar tucked underneath the Metro tracks on the edge of Chinatown. There’s nothing quite like enjoying the melodic soundtrack of trains coming and going, while sipping a very nice glass of wine—whoosh! I highly recommend you try it.

Oriel - Chinatown - Los Angeles

With springtime in the air, sparkling rose felt appropriate for the occasion. We sipped a glass each as we perused Chef Evan Algorri’s (Union Square Cafe, Bouley) classic French bistro menu.

Oriel - Chinatown - Los Angeles

It was a cold day by L.A. standards, so the French Onion Soup ($10) with 15-month-aged Comte sounded particularly appealing. The broth was warm and satisfying, while the cheese and crouton topping was so, so good. I don’t normally order French Onion Soup, but the loveliness held within this tureen may have turned me in to a convert.

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May 2018

Pasta alla Vodka with Basil and Parmesan

Pasta alla Vodka with Basil and Parmesan

The Astronomer and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary this past April. In line with tradition, we relived our wedding banquet at Five Star Seafood Restaurant in San Gabriel and prepared something delicious inspired by antiquated anniversary gifts. Thus far in our marriage, The Astronomer has been gifted edible interpretations of PaperCottonLeatherFruitWoodSugar, and Wool.

Pasta alla Vodka with Basil and Parmesan

Since it is customary to bestow bronze upon one’s beloved in recognition of the eighth anniversary, I procured Italian-made bronze-cut pasta for the occasion. As its name implies, bronze-cut pasta is extruded through bronze dies. According to super-scientific articles, as well as more general consumer-facing ones:

Using bronze is actually more traditional—bronze having been around a little longer than Teflon. Bronze-cut pastas are a little coarser, a little more porous—and, thus, a better surface for sauces to cling to.

Pasta alla Vodka with Basil and Parmesan

As soon as I purchased the pasta from nearby Roma Italian Deli (500 grams for $5.99), I knew the perfect recipe to test its sauce-clinging prowess: Jon & Vinny’s vodka sauce. I’m pleased to report that the bronze-cut pasta met all expectations, holding on to the rosy, silky sauce with aplomb.

Happy anniversary, Vern. Here’s to clinging together effortlessly like vodka sauce on bronze-cut pasta.

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Apr 2018

Maestro – Pasadena

Maestro Restaurant - Pasadena

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the dining scene in Old Pasadena just keeps getting better and better. With the likes of Bone Kettle, Fishwives, Lost at Sea, and Maestro lining the streets in and around Colorado, we’re on the cusp of being spoiled over here. All that’s missing is a solid Vietnamese joint (wink, wink).

Maestro Restaurant - Pasadena

Opened at the start of 2017, Maestro is Chef Danny Godinez’s first restaurant in L.A. He has three Mexican restaurants in Orange County.

My friend Miguel, a Mexican food snob to rival Bill Esparza, previously dined here and had a terrific time. He was eager to return with Juliam and me in tow to share his favorite dishes and to try new ones together.

Maestro Restaurant - Pasadena

To drink, a mighty strong “Agave Old Fashion” ($14) made with tequila, mezcal, spicy agave, and bitters.

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