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Cork and Rind

Above the potatoes.

Updated: 2018-03-07T12:31:06.810-08:00


Humble Potato, WILL Leather Goods, More!


It's been a HOT MINUTE since I've updated Cork & Rind. I'm getting ready to launch a totally new website, but until then I'm back here with a dose of the colored palate. Current obsessions:EATHumble Potato on Lincoln Boulevard near LAX. Think fast casual American comfort food with a Japanese twist. Affordable and unique. I predict this one will slowly multiple around town. Below, Parmesan and garlic fries topped with nori. Also try the Katsu Sando (panko-crusted fried chicken sandwich) and Mocha Custard. DRINKNew to Abbot Kinney in Venice is WILL Leather Goods, an adorable leather shop based in Oregon vending hippy chic bags and more. Toward the back is a small hidden coffee bar brewing a mixed batch of beans. Could be a tough sell though with Intelligentsia across the street. WEARI stole one of these Mexican print belts from my mom and am obsessed. Rock with a denim shirt tucked into khaki shorts and tie the belt in a bow up front. LISTENAside from Calvin Harris' new album, 18 Months, which came out on October 30, thanks to Pandora I've been listening lately to Chromeo. They're not a new group by any means, just slightly newer to me and Needy Girly is a rad beat.[...]

Dine: Nawab of India


Unfortunately, I believe LA offers no great Indian options. As a kid growing up, my parents fed me and my brother a myriad of cuisines, some weirder than others, some stinkier than others. But one cuisine which appeared both on the dinner table at home, and fulfilled restaurant nights out, was Indian. I've visited a slew of Indian eateries around LA and even dragged skeptical diners to the likes of Artesia (aka Little India) on several occasions. I do very much enjoy Nirvana in Beverly Hills, Bombay Palace across the street is owned by the same family and offers a more shmancy upscale affair, then there are local haunts like Gate of India and Tandoor India which I've visited many a time. Oh, actually, one fantastic Indian market and shop (there are a few locations) that I would highly recommend is Indian Sweets and Spices, which supplied many ingredients for my Indian-themed dinner a while back. Anyway, as I am always up for trying something new, I recently hit up Nawab on Wilshire since it's in my hood and came highly recommended from my best friend who just happens to be Indian. Decor-wise, not much going on not much to discuss. So, onward to edibles. We started off with some rather tasty poppadoms, then ordered garlic naan, yellow dal, saag paneer, chicken tikka, a house special lamb dish, gulab jamin, plus one mango lassi to top it all off. Overall I thought the chicken tikka was delicious, juicy and perfectly cooked, and the lamb was quite tasty as well served in a thick tomato curry topped with shredded egg (odd?).I was totally psyched for the dal since I love lentils, but I found this yellow dal to be lackluster and devoid of taste. Saag paneer was fine, nothing to praise or complain about, and the garlic naan was delicious stuffed with silky roasted garlic. I don't normally care for very sweet desserts, but for some odd reason I absolutely love Indian desserts especially gulab jamin which I have actually made before and which happens to be very VERY sweet. Here the confectionary was just as expected, slightly dry, slightly chewy with the right amount of sweetened rose water. Nawab of India1621 Wilshire BlvdSanta Monica, CA 90403(310) 829-1106[...]

Dine: Brunch at The Tasting Kitchen


I simply adore The Tasting Kitchen on Abbot Kinney, and despite the fact that I capped off my Friday night there with a late night dinner, I returned again Sunday morning for brunch. The restaurant only started serving weekend brunch about a month or so ago, and ever since then I've been meaning to check it out. So... the menu. I was very confused. I literally had to read it over about five times to fully understand what was happening and it took me a good ten minutes to decide on my order. First offense, no cappuccino. Only French press coffee, at least they brew Four Barrel out of San Fran, so that had to suffice. Second offense, no fresh oj. Third offense, no fresh grapefruit juice (despite the fact that the table next to us ordered two glasses...apparently "the bar literally only had enough for two glasses...I am SOO sorry." Right.

Back to the menu. Since I eat out almost every single night, I would have to say I am pretty good with menus. Seriously though, I picked this one up and was very very befuddled. There is a savory and sweet waffle situation, the diner must assume that "cluck" is chicken. There's this whole egg section and a meat section, both are completely nondescript literally it just says "steak." So, I am getting a slab of meat with...nothing? I really don't even know. And what the hell is an "egg board"?? A cheeseboard but with eggs? ANYWAY, I opted for marinated veggies with a soft boiled egg, of course the type of veg was a surprise to me since "marinated veggies" was all the menu would share. I got a little bit annoyed and didn't bother asking exactly what type of veggies were on the plate...and figured I like vegetables so it would be what it would be.

I ended up with a plate of cold eggplant and broccolini alongside a partially sliced soft-boiled egg, and while I will say the veggies were delicious -- my guess is they were roasted in the oven with olive oil, vinegar, chili flakes and a pinch of salt -- my egg was cold and I think there is nothing more gross then cold running egg yolk. I do love warm running egg yolk but cold -- it kinda takes on the consistency of, gooey snot (yeah I went there), I simply don't understand the decision to serve that egg cold. If that egg had been served warm, it would have been a great plate.

Since The Tasting Kitchen prides itself on farm to table cuisine, I will definitely come back to check out more of the (warm) menu.

The Tasting Kitchen
1633 Abbot Kinney Boulevard
Venice, CA 90291-3744
(310) 392-6644

Bites and Sips: Shangri-la, Harvard & Stone, Poke Poke, Le Saint Amour, One Pico, Go Burger, Hostaria, Crust


Last Friday Hotel Shangri-la launched its new cocktail menu conceived my new barman Cole Apodaca (Santa Monica's best kept secret). Check out his alluring Berry Apropos comprised of St. Germain, Black Razz Belvedere, white cranberry, Champagne, fresh berries, and dry ice.Pablo Moix's Trinidad Sour at my newest obsession, Harvard & Stone. Seriously, this is LA's next best bar, understated industrial cool, hip, with a cozy fire hole. Yup, indoor fire hole. Love. It. LA's best donuts from Zelda's Corner Deli in Venice.Hawaiian tuna sashimi from Poke Poke just off the Venice Boardwalk.Not only was I pleasantly surprised by Hotel Shangri-la's cocktails, the food there is actually really great as well. The Hotel's ground floor restaurant is a total undiscovered gem. Above, roasted lobster with Brussels sprouts.Beet salad from One Pico inside Shutters, Santa Monica.Go Burger's duck fat fries, Hollywood.Beautiful Pear brulee from Hostaria del Piccolo, Santa Monica.Crust Bakery's Saltine cracker brittle.An assortment of house-made terrines from Le Saint Amour, Culver City.[...]

Cook: Roasted Romanesco Broccoli


(image) Earlier this week, for a change, I ate at home. After a quick stop at Whole Foods I scooped a gorgeous head of Romanesco broccoli, which is really more closely related to cauliflower, and with that we whipped up quinoa tossed with diced tomatoes, feta, Meyer lemon, and parsley, plus some steamed kale with a squeeze of Meyer lemon. I am a big Meyer lemon fan and if there is one piece of fruit that I ALWAYS have in my fruit basket, it's either lemons on Meyer lemons (and actually seasonal Persian limes too recently). My roasted cauliflower or broccoli dish is a tried and true classic I've been making for years, my friends now recreate this recipe at home, even my parents adopted it. Plus, with Romanesco now in season, this dish is even more delicious. Basically, you are just roasting the Romanesco in olive oil with some red pepper flakes, then when it comes out of the oven, a dusting of Parmesan finishes this dish. Try it out:

Roasted Romanesco

1 head Romanesco (or regular broccoli or cauliflower)
2 tablespoons olive oil
pinch red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash Romanesco, then separate into florets. Lay florets on baking sheet and toss with olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add red pepper flakes and toss to coat. Place baking sheet in oven and bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and mix Romanesco. Return to oven and cook for 10 more minutes until florets begin to turn golden. Remove from oven, transfer to serving dish, and sprinkle with Parmesan.

Judging A Bobby Flay / Jimmy Kimmel Throwdown


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Bites and Pieces: Toranoko, Chaya, Baby Blues


No surprise I've been eating a lot lately, bites and sips from my latest adventures. For anyone that hasn't yet visited Toranoko, GO! If you like Lazy Ox, you will heart Toranoko, similar vibe with a Japanese focus.Cocktails at Toranoko.Udon at Toranoko.Assorted cocktails at Toranoko.Yanagita Seafarms Uni Goma Tofu at Toranoko.Owner Michael Cardenas over right. He's SUCH a muffin. This plate from Chaya Brasserie is off the menu but includes seared magret duck, baby shiitake mushrooms, hidden foie, pickled radish plus greens, candied citrus from the farmers market. Shmancy chicken soup aka chicken consomme with foie gras ravioli.Black truffle cream cheese at Chaya Brasserie. Green tea fettuccine with bolognese.Tabletop at Baby Blues BBQ.Fried okra at Baby Blues BBQ.[...]

Library Bar Revisited


(image) [Greg mixing his Yellow Bell]

At this point I've written about my favorite watering hole, Library Bar in the Roosevelt, probably 100 times. And the reason I can continue to revisit this bar and continue to write about it is because every time I am there it's a whole new experience. I don't think I have EVER gone to Library Bar and had the same drink twice (unless I specifically asked for a repeat), and I seriously have been there now about 50 times if not more since I first discovered it almost a year and a half ago.

(image) [Matt's horseradish creation]

I trust the men behind that bar at Libs. I never tell them what I want, rather they tell me what I want. Whether it's Matt, Greg, Ryan, or Chris (sorry that I didn't remember we met before!), each knows how to mix and muddle the farmers market bounty that sweeps the bartop. This week I spotted currants, strawberry guavas, salmon berries, finger limes, sososososo much good stuff happening here. Also, a great way to get extra vitamins via cocktails (seriously)!

Annddddd I simply adore savory cocktails (check out the horseradish up up above) ...cocktails that are less sweet such as Matt's Bloody Mary (it's beyond epic with layered tomatoes from the farmers market)...and a tomato basil creation which I make all the time at home. Here's a salty seaweed creation by Matt.

Something Greg created for me, so pretty!

Library Bar in the Roosevelt
7000 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, CA 90028

A Mediterranean-Style Dinner Party


I recently decided to host a dinner party chez moi along with the help of a friend. I hit the SM farmers market that morning with a Mediterranean-themed menu in mind, followed by a trip to Andrew's Cheese Store on Montana. I scooped some delicious dates at the market, which I stuffed with this ridiculous blue cheese (wish I remembered the name). I roasted the bundles for about 10 minutes and voila, the easiest, yummiest app slightly more interesting than a cheese plate.A few weeks prior I had acquired a jar of my newest obsession, candied wild hibiscus flowers, these purple-magenta gems I added to coupe glasses and topped with Henriot rose. The hibiscus flowers imbue the Champagne with a hint of sweetness like a Kir and also add a pale pink tinge (hello Valentine's Day). The flowers also appear to effortlessly float in the glass which looks just oh so pretty. Love. Meanwhile, I marinated the lamb for a few hours in red wine, ginger, fresh tangerine juice, cumin, corriander seeds and cilantro, then roasted it until a lovely medium-rare. We served this along with mashed chickpeas spiked with cilantro, roasted garlic, and caramelized onions. Instead of mashed potatoes, mashed chickpeas, a healthier alternative. Great switcheroo. We threw together a salad with baby arugula, shaved fennel, pomegranate seeds (I bought a white pomegranate), and crispy prosciutto, and finally mini baby eggplants sauteed until silky smooth with tomatoes and basil. For dessert, a super serious Bon Appetit torte which essentially just calls for chocolate, eggs, cream, and sugar (doesn't get much better than that!). This dessert is called La Bete Noir which translates into "The Black Beast," and is basically just like eating a block of rich and creamy dark chocolate. A most appropriate name. I suggest serving this with a dollop of unsweetened heavy cream and some fresh berries. [...]

Drink: Rose Pepper Smash


Tonight, to celebrate the launch of Jersey Shore, I threw a cocktail party. Mini cocktail party. HELLO it's Jersey Shore! I made a version of Hyde's Love Unit (muddled red bell peppers, basil, fresh grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice, and gin), and then I stumbled upon this bottle of rose syrup I've been meaning to play with. SO, I combined rose syrup with grapefruit juice and gin (could sub in vodka) and crushed sweet pink peppercorns atop. The peppercorns not only look pretty, but the flavor of the peppercorns plus the rose pair perfectly together.


Rose Pepper Smash
1 ounce rose syrup
2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
2 ounces gin (or vodka)
crushed pink peppercorns

Shake rose syrup, grapefruit juice, and gin together. Serve up in a coupe glass and garnish with crushed pink peppercorns.


Christmas Dinner Chez Moi


Every year, Christmas dinner is a situation. As in, preparations start three days in advance with my dad brining a turkey. For the past few years his brine of choice has included soy, mirin, ginger, sesame oil, garlic, scallions, star anise...basically an Asian-inspired brine. At this point, three days out, I am just beginning to consider my contributions. The day of, I generally wake up after noon to classical music blaring from the kitchen plus sounds of clanking pots and pans. Every once in a while there is a "VLASTA!" which means my dad is yelling at my mom who is probably picking at his caramelized onions or toasted walnuts. It's still too early to break out the vino (or is it? according to my aunt, no), at this point I sleepily stumble into the kitchen asking for some sort of breakfast. Next, I am informed that we have no food to eat (putting aside the fact that the fridge, both the upstairs and downstairs one, is jam-packed, but all those lovely gooey cheeses, cold cuts, foie gras (if we serve it that year)...are NOT for me, rather for dinner which will probably commence around 6PM. Knowing my fam they will tell guests to expect to eat at 7PM, but the turkey will usually take longer than expected, so add on an extra 30 minutes. First, I make myself a cappuccino (or two), then continue on with a papaya or some toast. This year I think I just went with cold macrobiotic soba noodles I bought the night before anticipating this situation. Such a great call. Finally I am somewhat awake, which means it's time to start cooking. Since I started preparing recipes the night before, my cookies are finished, though I still have two savories and a dessert I planned to prepare. I also wanted to make a Nancy Silverton Buttermilk Crackers recipe (I actually bought this cookbook when I was in middle school not even knowing who NS was), but I ran out of time. First order of business, finish my chocolate tart, which means rolling out the dough, making the filling, baking only the crust, adding the filling, then popping the whole thing into the freezer to firm up. Somewhere in there, factor in some worry about the recipe and the filling not solidifying (I didn't have the exact proportions and had to guesstimate). K, tart is in the freezer. Next, moving right along to my Brussels sprouts. Peel off outer leaves and wash, sautee pancetta, remove pancetta from drippings, sautee BS in pancetta oil. Add fresh roasted chestnuts, thyme, pancetta, cream, and maple syrup. Hm, 1/4 cup, is this dish going to be too sweet? Ugh, hope not. Brussels sprouts are on the sweeter side, note to self use only 1/8 cup maple syrup next time. Still delish though. On to the gratin. Recruit my brother Peter to peel squash for me, meanwhile I break out a baking sheet and start cubing the squash. Add to baking sheet, toss with S and P and olive oil, into the oven until golden. Meanwhile, sautee leeks, place half of leeks in bottom of baking dish. Top with roasted squash, add chevre, more leeks, squash, chevre (at this point Peter interjects saying, "hm, it's like a pasta-less vegetarian lasagna"), heavy cream, and toasted hazelnuts on top. Oven. Meanwhile, my dad is dealing with the turkey, cranberries, potatoes, my mom is arranging cheese for guests, then preparing the table.No time for crackers, bff Wes shows up with a rather unique bottle of vodka (just what I need) where you can actually program greetings to run on the bottle (another post), shower time for me.. Christmas 2010.Also recounted on LA Weekly.[...]

Bake: Sam's Mom's Raspberry Coconut Bars


This year for Christmas, one of my bffs, Sam, brought over these bars made from raspberry jam and toasted coconut. She told me it was a famous recipe of her mother's and this year, for the first time ever, she attempted to recreate the bars on her own. To great success. By the next day only one bar remained, and I ate it. So, I asked Sam for the recipe which she immediately emailed me, and today, again, I baked. This recipe is super simple and takes only about 15 minutes to throw together. You pat the dough into a baking sheet, add jam (next time I am going to try this with my grandmother's homemade apricot jam) crumble the remaining dough, and add more coconut. Oven it up, and 20 minutes later, freshly baked fruit bars. Yummmmmmy.Sam's Mom's Raspberry Coconut Bars1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour3/4 cup light brown sugar1/4 cup granulated sugar1/2 tsp. salt1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold, unsalted butter, cut in pieces1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats (not instant)3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam (or other jam of your choice) Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Spread 3/4 cup coconut evenly on a baking sheet and toast in the middle of oven, stirring once, until golden, about 8 minutes. Cool. Adjust oven to 375 degrees. Blend together flour, sugars, and salt in processor. Add butter and blend until a dough begins to form. Transfer to bowl and knead in oats and toasted coconut until combined well. Reserve 3/4 cup of dough. Press remainder evenly into bottom of buttered 13 x 9" metal baking pan and spread jam over it. Crumble reserved dough evenly over jam, then sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup untoasted coconut. Bake in middle of oven until golden, 20-25 minutes. Cool completely on a pan or rack. Loosen from sides of pan with sharp knife. Lift out in 1 piece and transfer to cutting board. Cut into 24 bars. [...]

Bake: Akasha's Salted Chocolate Tart


I don't remember when exactly I first set foot in Akasha, it was sometime after the restaurant first opened, so maybe about three-ish years ago. Anyway, I do remember sitting down (starved) and devouring that mini loaf of seed-flecked challah-esque bread that is temptingly placed on every table, actually I think I went through two of those. Super happened. One of the highlights of that meal was owner Akasha Richmond's insanely delicious salted chocolate tart which she serves with this chocolate hemp ice cream. At the time I was able to procure the tart recipe, but the hemp ice cream she wouldn't part with (you also need a Pacojet to make it, apparently). In the restaurant I believe Akasha makes this tart vegan using soy products in place of dairy, but I switched it up, adding dairy, so the below recipe is my take on her dessert.Akasha Richmond's Salty Chocolate Tart (adapted)Crust4 oz organic palm shortening or unsalted butter2 oz sugar1 teaspoon vanilla extract2 tablespoons hot water.75 oz cocoa powder6 oz unbleached all purpose flourPinch of saltAdditional flour for rolling the doughFilling8 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips3/4 cup whole milk1/4 cup heavy cream Topping1/8 cup honey1 teaspoon fleur de sel Lightly sweetend whip cream on the side For crust:Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the shortening, butter and sugar for 3 to 4 minutes, until very well blended. Slowly add vanilla and hot water. Sift cocoa powder, flour and salt together. Fold dry ingredients with a rubber spatula into the creamed mixture, mixing until just incorporated, being careful not to over mix. Form mixture into a 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least 30 minutes.Roll out dough 1/8-inch thick with a floured rolling pin into a 9- or 10-inch tart pan on a lightly floured surface, then fit into tart pan. Trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang inward and press against side of pan to reinforce edge. Chill 30 minutes. Bake for 11-13 minutes. Let cool.For the filling: In a saucepan, scald milk and cream. Pour over chopped chocolate. Let sit for 1 minute and then whisk until smooth. Add additional 2 tablespoons milk. Pour into cooled tart shell. Let cool in the refrigerator for 2- to 3 hours or until set. To finish tart:Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with salt. Serve with lightly sweetened whip cream.[...]

Bake: Candy Cane Cookies


Before I was old enough to go to camp, my mom deported me, during balmy summer days, to our neighbor up the block's house. Our neighbor had this kind of "camp" a craft camp for kids and maybe like 15 or so would take over her house Monday through Friday July-August. I also happened to be friends with her daughter so for me in was good fun, now in hindsight it's kinda weird. But whatever. Anyway, what I remember from those days was...quite obviously food (major shocker). I remember grape-flavored Kool-Aid poured from a frosty plastic pitcher into those wax Dixie cups. I think that's where I developed an affinity for grape-flavored foods which carries out to this very day (hello...that yummy muddled grape cocktail at Fraiche, and grape kombucha). As part of the "camp" we would do all sorts of crafty Martha Stewart-y things, some of which included cooking (my fave). Once we made gummy bear cookies which seriously, if I had that recipe I would make them all the time. I LOVE gummy bears (but they have to be Haribo) and in the oven the bears would melt into a colorful rainbow upon their sugar cookie base. Those were rad. [Tip: Add used vanilla beans to jars of sugar to impart extra vanilla flavor.]We also would make these candy cane cookies, yeah it totally was not even close to the holidays, but for whatever reason candy cane cookies it was! Imagine a pretty simple sugar cookie dough but instead of granulated sugar it called for powdered sugar and some almond extract for a nutty flavor. We would make the dough, divide it into two batches, add red food coloring to one batch (we always added too much color, just a few drops goes a looooong way) which would also inevitable stain our hands from the next two days. Next we would roll out the dough, twist the red and white ropes together and form a candy cane. On to a baking sheet and into the oven. Nine minutes later, perfectly finished cookies which we would then cover in more powdered sugar for "snow." I don't necessarily consider myself a baker since I cook just as much savory as sweet, but when it comes to baking, long recipes annoy me. Like, when dough needs to chill for 30 minutes or an hour, when it needs to rise for four hours, ugh really? I cut corners in situations like these. SO, when cookies need just nine minutes to bake, aha perfect, just my speed. Because the holidays are like, now, I thought it high time to recreate those lovely candy cane cookies which I haven't made in quite some time. In typical me form I accidentally bought whole wheat pastry flour today in place of regular pastry flour, so I guess that means my cookies are just extra healthy, enjoy!Candy Cane Cookies2.5 cups a.p. flour (or pastry flour)1 teaspoon salt1 cup butter (2 sticks)1 cup powdered sugar1 egg1.5 teaspoons almond extract2 teaspoons vanilla extractred food coloringpowdered sugar (garnish)Preheat the oven to 375° and grease two cookie sheets. Whisk the flour and salt together. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add the egg, almond extract, and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Slowly stir in the flour mixture. Once mixed, divide your dough in two and add the food coloring (about 4 drops) to one batch until well-combined and uniformly red.At this point you should have one batch of red dough and one of white. Roll about 1 tablespoon of each dough into roll about 5 inches long. Twist the two colors together and form a candy cane.Place each candy cane on your cookie sheet. Continue forming cookies until you use up all the dough. Bake for 9 minutes. Remove from oven. While the cookies[...]

Bake: Toasted Almond and Saffron Biscotti


This evening I started sorting though my old Saveur magazines (dating back to 2003 and 2004) looking for a specific Bouche de Noel recipe I was thinking about organizing for my family's upcoming Christmas feast. While scanning the issues I came across a recipe for almond and saffron biscotti, simple enough and rather user friendly. Whenever I am home (NY), especially around the holidays, I go into super cooking mode, and tonight had a hankering to bake. Oddly enough I've never made biscotti before, so even though the recipe was incredibly simple, it posed a challenge because I was delving in new cookie domain. Biscotti are So easy to make! Serious. Just mix a few ingredients together, roll the dough into logs, bake, cut, bake and doneski.Toasted Almond and Saffron Biscotti3 1/2 cups a.p. flour2 cups sugar1 teaspoon baking powder1/2 teaspoon salt2 pinches saffron1 cup almonds, toasted3 whole eggs1 egg yolkPreheat oven to 325°F. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, saffron. Add 2 whole eggs plus yolk. Mix. Turn onto counter and knead dough. Divide into four parts, roll each section into a flat log. Whisk together remaining egg. Brush tops of logs with egg wash.Bake 45 minutes until tops are golden. Remove logs from baking sheet, slice into 1/2-inch thick pieces and return to baking sheet. Bake biscotti an additional 35 minutes until brown.[...]

Dine: Shima in Venice


Everybody in LA has a favorite sushi spot, I personally am a traditionalist so I love Sushi Park, Sushi Zo, Kiyokawa, Asanebo, and Hiko. For some odd reason, Shima isn't on the sushi radar as much as it should be, and while I've eaten at the colorful modern restaurant on Abbot Kinney a handful of times in the past, up until recently the eatery didn't make my tops list. A week or so ago Brad started freaking out to me about Shima and how it was the second best sushi restaurant in LA next to Asanebo, a personal favorite for both of us. He, however, loves Asanebo because of those little live crabs they serve which are deep fried just moments before they end up in your mouth. Anyway, according to him I HAD to revist Shima, so the other night, amidst treacherous rain, we went over for dinner. First off, the space is absolutely adorable and tastefully done with a minimalist approach. Spots of color pop through the space from the bar stools to the colorful (vintage antique Bauer) plates stacked across the sushi bar. We grabbed seats at the bar and our eating adventure began. However, before I get to details, I need to mention a few things. Shima serves brown rice sushi, makes its own soy sauce (which is INSANE), and grates fresh wasabi root in place of the paste/rehydrated powders that appear in restaurants across the city. Shima also serves NO meat and all desserts are vegan.We started off with a personal favorite which is now in season, baby sweet shrimp served in coupe glasses topped with caviar. Plate two consisted of lotus root wrapped around chevre, marinated Japanese spinach, salmon wrapped around sweet shrimp, king crab wrapped in cucumber, and this fish pate which wasn't my favorite. Too fishy pour moi. Next came salmon sashimi with jalapeno, onion, and shiso, incredibly fresh, didn't have any of that fishy salmon taste that I despise.Especially since it was cold and rainy outside I LOVED the delicate matsutake mushroom broth with matsutakes and one chewy ginkgo nut.The next course was our favorite, a boiled lobster removed from its sell with hand-sliced accordion cucumbers, avocado, cilantro leaves, tossed in a zippy yuzu ponzu sauce- insanely delicious, craving this right now. More sashimi, red snapped (as I recall) lightly seared with truffle oil, black truffles, ponzu, slivers of ginger, chives. YUM. A live scallop (seared) in its own shell came next, followed by what I had been craving all night, simple sushi. Blue fin tuna, red snapper, yellow tail, giant clam, uni, and sweet shrimp. At this point we were both stuffed, though decided to split an uni/caviar roll to top it all off, our wonderful sushi chef obliged withoth batting an eye. And finally, for dessert, a frozen coconut ice topped with sweet red beans, a chocolate pudding-esque sweet with granola and slivered almonds, and a bowl of fresh fruit with fraise de bois, persimmons, melon, gem pomegranate seeds and blueberries. Again, all vegan.Little disclosure, omakase like this isn't cheap. To go for the fully monty expect to drop about $500 for two people, though ordering a la carte is a cheaper (still delicious) option. Shima1432 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice310-314-0882[...]

Bake: Bradley Ogden's Blue Corn Muffins


Several months back I was wined and dined by Vegas, specifically hitting many eateries with the Harrah's portfolio. While on the trip I had a fantastic meal at Bradley Ogden, and one of the many highlights from the meal were these tiny sweet-savory blue corn muffins brought out with the bread service. (team mascot looking for scraps)Whenever I undergo a multi-course tasting menu, I mentally tell myself I am allowed to only TRY the bread, not eat it but TRY it. After (mildly) surviving many of these extensive dinners-- after eating, say three rolls, I definitely can't make it though all the courses, so I've learned my lesson. I am allowed to take a piece of bread and butter (or olive oil) to taste but no more than that. Unless of course, the bread is something special. For example at Guy Savoy not only did I try the tasting menu, but I also tried the bread tasting menu...aka a different bread brought out for each course. I mean HELLO, that's like two tasting menus in one. Not fair.Anyway, we're talking Bradley Ogden here. Those mini blue corn muffins are out of this world. Slightly sweet, with loads of dill (if you don't so much care for dill, stop reading here), and kernels of fresh corn. Let's just say I ate more than one, and I wasn't the only one. Part sweet, part savory, all around addictive winners.As we were leaving dinner we were granted a few of the recipes from the meal, and I've been meaning to recreate these small sensations at home. First problem, the recipe I was given was for a huge restaurant so I had to start by dividing the recipe by four and going from there. I wasn't sure if it would work because baking is such a science and halving a recipe (in this case quartering) doesn't always work...luckily for me it did.Bradley Ogden's Blue Corn Muffins (adapted) 6.25 ounces a.p. flour3 ounces sugar2/3 Tablespoon baking powder3/4 Tablespoon baking soda4 ounces blue corn flour (I used blue corn meal)1/2 Tablespoon salt1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper8 ounces sour cream3/4 cup buttermilk1/8 cup cream3 whole eggs4 ounces butter (melted)1 cup fresh corn (I used frozen since corn is out of season)1/2 cup freshly chopped dillPreheat oven to 350 °F. Sift all dry ingredients together. Add dill, corn, salt, pepper. Mix wet ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and fold until half incorporated. Fold in butter and mix until smooth.Bake in buttered mini cupcake bolds until brown on top, about 25 minutes.[...]

Thanksgiving Apple Tart


This year for Thanksgiving I contributed several dishes and I definitely wanted to keep them all as seasonal as possible. I am not really into pumpkin pie, for the most part I feel like pumpkin pie is too...not real/fresh tasting...I many bakers out there are buying a pumpkin, roasting it, pureeing get the point. SO, most turn to canned pumpkin which I don't doesn't even look like real food when it comes out of the can (I checked today). Anyway, I did stumble upon this extra light pumpkin pie that calls for creme fraiche in the filling as well as for the topping and it's become a go-to for me. Even my non-pumkin pie-loving family is a big fan. Anyway, let's talk apples.

(apples bathing in butter mmmmmmmmm)

This is seriously the easiest dessert EVER. All you have to do is peel, core, and slice in half a bunch of apples. Then add sugar and butter to an oven-proof skillet, add the apples cut side up. Cook until caramel forms, about 30-40 minutes, add your dough atop and bake for 35 minutes. Voila! Right before serving you heat the bottom of the pan and then invert the whole thing onto a serving dish done. The recipe I followed was actually for an Italian apple tart, though to me it looks just like a tarte tatin. Either way, super easy, few ingredients, great way to impress guests.


Bake: Tom Colicchio's Parker House Rolls


Whenever holidays roll around, I am on dessert duty. Always always always. Which is fine by me since I love sweets, but lately I've been branching out into appetizers and breads. Although I cook a ton of savory at home (in LA), my dad always plays head chef. Also fine by me (I get lazy when I am home and love when my parents cook for me since they are great cooks). Anyway, Thanksgiving is right around the corner so naturally I've been brainstorming sweet contributions. So far I am making a pumpkin pie with creme fraiche topping, a caramelized apple tart, and I was deciding between these Parker House rolls from the November issue of Saveur or these insanely yummy blue corn muffins served at Bradley Ogden in Vegas.I decided baking two bready things was highly unnecessary, so I am saving the blue corn muffins for The Giving and tonight I tried out Tom Colicchio's Parker House Rolls which he serves at Colicchio & Sons in NYC.Ok so, here's the problem with me and baking. For the most part we are friends, but sometimes when dough needs to rise for an extended period of time, I get antsy and skips a few hrs, oops! So...that may or may not have happened this evening...Anyway, the secret to these rolls is barley malt syrup. It's sold at Whole Foods (saw it in Venice), today I scooped up a jar at Fairway, it's like molasses but with a delicious malty flavor, would be great in or on ice cream or even in a milkshake, yum!Coliccho & Sons Parker House Rolls3/4 cup milk, heated to 115 °1 tsp yeast1 tsp barley malt syrup2 cups flour1 1/2 tsp kosher salt2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, cup into cubes1/4 cup clarified butter, for greasing and brushingfleur de sel to garnishStir together milk, yeast, and malt syrup in a large bowl; let sit until foamy, 10 minutes. In a medium bowl whisk together flour and salt; add to milk mixture along with butter and stir with a wooden spoon until dough dorms. Transfer to lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth 5-6 minutes. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let sit until nearly double in size, about 1 hour. Uncover and punch down dough; cover and let sit until puffed, about 45 minutes.Heat oven to 325°F. Portino dough into fourteen 1 1/2-diameter balls, and transfer to a grease 8-inch cast-iron skillet or 8-inch x 8-inch baking pan (I used round pan), nestling them side by side; cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit until double in size, about 2 hours. Brush with clarified butter and bake until puffed and pale golden brown, 20-22 minutes. Transfer to a rack and brush with more clarified butter; sprinkle each roll with a small pinch of fleur de sel and serve warm.[...]

Dine: Sham, Santa Monica


It's totally crazy that I have yet to write about Sham, in fact, I can't believe it. That's what my blog tells me, anyway. So, here it goes. B and I discovered Sham about three years ago, it was a fluke because I rarely search for random restaurants via MenuPages, but on this one given evening I was craving something ethnic in the Venice locale, so on a whim I decided we would try Sham for dinner. MAJOR score. A total diamond in the rough, a random unassuming Lebanese/Syrian experience with super fresh fare, freshly-baked housemade savory pastries, a delicious garlic sauce-- we were sold. Sham became a regular spot for us and even to this day I frequent the eatery at least once a month, plus it doesn't hurt that I live just two blocks away. Over time we've tried much of the menu. We always start with hummus (the one area that I think Sham could improve is with its pita bread), tabbouleh, cheese fattayer (when they run out of cheese we opt for spinach), falafel, sometimes we have a veggie like the favas spiked with garlic, olive oil, parsley, and lemon juice, and finally as an entree we share a plate of kebabs chicken skewers marinated in garlic sauce then roasted, plus beef skewered with tomatoes, onions, and peppers served with a dollop of garlicky garlic sauce (I love this stuff), a side salad, and some pickled turnips and cucumbers. Since we started eating at Sham we've witnessed more than a dozen chef changes, therefore just a heads up that sometimes the meat is a bit dryer but other times it is absolutely perfectly cooked, juicy with garlic sauce or flavored with veggies. So it's no surprise that I took Midtown Lunch there a while back for a midday refuel where we sampled my newest obsession, pomegranate pizza! Yup, no joke. A few months ago, maybe like eight months or so ago, Sham introduced Arabic pizzas. While they are all pretty solid (sometimes the crust gets soggy from too many toppings, just saying) I am utterly hooked on the Mouhummara pizza, a mix of roasted chili peppers (it's a tad bit hot but not much), walnuts, olive oil, tomato sauce, pomegranate molasses, and a bit of mozzarella. OMG. Tangy, sweet, earthy and creamy -- I am addicted. Oh and two other important points to note. Sham has been offerings this to-go deal where you buy one of those Arabic pizzas (costs about $11ish) and the second one is free!AND, you can score a rad dining discount gift certificate here. Sham716 Santa Monica BlvdSanta Monica310-393-2913[...]

Seasonal Elixirs at Library Bar


My absolute favorite place to drink in LA is at Library Bar in the Roosevelt. I've written about the uber talented mix master Matt Biancaniello a zillion times over, but he constantly surprises me with delicious drinks, I literally don't think I've ever consumed the same beverage twice. I also have to give a high five to Ryan Green and Greg (sorry Greg, don't know your last time) who you will also find behind the bar on a given night, all talented mixologists crafting libations from the market's bounty. Down below, just a few creations I've been recently sipping:

Figgy Smalls

Peach and gin creation...

Muddled tomatoes, gin, basil, lemon, ss...

Hot and sweet, muddled tomatoes, hot peppers, tequila...

Muddled cherry situation...

Tip: Come on a Wednesday when Matt has a bar topped with farmers market goodies, it's the best night all week!

More Bites From Here and There


Raw bar at Water Grill downtown.Rosted ginkgo nuts at Kiriko. Homemade sushi.Indian dinner party.Dinner party with friends.I threw together this quick app using crostini that I topped with sharp provolone, freshly picked figs (I picked them), and a good aged balsamic. Baked eggplant with garlic, pomegranate, cumin, cilantro.[...]

Bites from Here and There


Wow it has been WAY too long- for multiple reasons, mostly because I've been insanely busy, I haven't had an opportunity to write here but I am back! Also, I was hired as the food and nightlife editor of LA Canvas, so track my eats on their blog (and in the paper mag)! Let's see...some recent eats:Fried chickpeas from Beechwood.Vanilla bean panna cotta with caviar and salted caramel from LudoBites 6.0. Milk bao from Bao Dim Sum HouseCocktail tasting at 1886.Panna cotta with carrot ice cream and fruit leather.CRACK popcorn with seaweed, sesame seeds, butter, chili at A-Frame.Assorted cutiepies from simplethings (opens Monday).Hazelnut chocolate cookie sandwich from Eataly.Mozzarella tasting at Obika.Pizza from Cube.Chewy tortilla chips with vanilla ice cream, cinnamon and powdered sugar at Tinga.Veal tartare at Fraiche.At the launch for new Moet Ice- drink this Champagne on the rocks.[...]

Dine: Mariscos Chente


It's probably a bad idea to write about food when you're really hungry, which is exactly what is happening right now. Just looking at these pictures again...want to eat this! About two weeks ago I finally got around to trying Mariscos Chente, a complete dive in Culver City, but serving GREAT fresh Mexican seafood. Though these two below pictured shrimp dishes look the same, they're not. One dish involved shrimp, butter and cracked pepper, while the other called for a nice dose of tequila for a bit of earthy flavor. Meanwhile, the ceviche incorporated shrimp, octopus, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, in a zippy lemon marinade which was quite delicious piled atop a crisp tortilla chips. Best of all, this place is super cheap, each dish costs between $10 and $13, and for really fresh seafood that's a great deal. Can't wait to go back for more!Mariscos Chente4532 S Centinela AveLos Angeles, CA 90066(310) 390-9241[...]