Friday, October 29, 2010

Kiki Maraschino is Moving!!!!

Kiki Maraschino has reached that age where it's time to slip away for a little work (this is Los Angeles, after all). Along with her new, improved looks she has new digs to match. So check her out at:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How to Make the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich in the World

I spent some time hanging out with the guys from The Foundry, kings of the world's best grilled cheese sandwich, last weekend at LA Magazine's Food Event. I'm serious about this sandwich. They even have the trophies to prove it.

1. Heat pan to pretty darn hot and spread raisin walnut bread with apricot-caper puree and taleggio cheese

2. Add arugala and tomato confit

3. Add second piece of bread and press down firmly to seal.

 4. Keep checking the sandwich until it is just perfect. It may look burnt, but it isn't.

5. Present it to someone you deem worthy.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Remember to Pace Yourself Sunday at LA Magazine's Food Event from the Vine!

People, I cannot stress enough the importance of doing your stretches. This Sunday, LA Magazine will be hosting its 5th annual Food Event and you will want to be in it for the duration. Sure, you've been to big food events before, but did you ever have to outrun a camel?

This year will also be a celebration of  Los Angeles magazine's 50th anniversary and the November "Mexican Food Lovers Guide" issue, so they will be pulling out all of the stops. In addition to unlimited food and wine, there will be cooking demos by top chefs as well as panels under the cool shade of a giant tree in the Conversation Lounge.

The event takes place on the grounds of the Saddlerock Ranch in the Malibu Hills. We have visited the ranch's tasting events and frequently enjoyed their Semler and Saddlerock wines. Plus they keep a large array of animals, so if you see a zebra, no, you haven't had to much wine.

Favorite restaurants represented include Loteria! Susan Feniger's Street, The Capital Grille, and the Foundry on Melrose. Demos and panels will be presented by big names like Neal Fraser, Mark Peel, Susan Feniger, and mixologist Julian Cox. Panels will be moderated by Carrie Kommers and Lesley Bargar Suter

General admission is $95 including parking. The event runs from 1pm to 4pm,  and you will have a lot of ground to cover, so remember to hydrate, wear comfortable shoes, and once again - start working on those stretches. Buy tickets here!

A few photos from last year:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Oktoberfest at Rush Street

I grew up near Alpine Village where Oktoberfest is a big deal and frankly, kind of scary. But when Rush Street invited me to their Oktoberfest, I couldn't accept fast enough. I love Rush Street and there was no chance of being accosted by an oompah band.

There were two special beers on the menu, the bitter Paulaner Oktoberfest Draft and the more gentle, but still bocky and intensely flavored Spatan.

Whereas most restaurants would just boil up a sausage or toss a little sauerkraut around and call it a day, Chef Dave Northrup of Rush Street would never be so lazy. He came up with an ingenious version of the German Schweinebraten sandwich.

First he marinated a pork loin in Lost Abby Ale, then coated it with brown mustard and some caraway seeds. Thick slices of the pork were heaped onto pretzel bread, topped with a layer of melted Swiss cheese and the lightest touch of sauerkraut. You really have to be careful with that stuff, and Rush street knows when enough is enough.

The sandwich could easily be gimmicky, but even the pretzel bread was just right. The Schweinebraten was so hearty and comforting, I told Bob, "I can see how you would want this around October, before the first snowfall. I could eat this sandwich, then crawl into my cave and be ready to hibernate all Winter."

"...then you'd wake up in Spring craving that sandwich."

Owner Brian McKeaney

There was the uhhh traditional Oktoberfest magician (what? You never heard of that tradition? See what Alpine Village teaches us)...Fantastic Fig. I noticed he had sparkly rings and fingernails to distract the eye, and some tape under the rings, but he picked our card every time so that's still damn impressive, so umm, Achtung! Errr, schnell! Dang, I learned all of my German from watching Hogan's Heroes. I don't know any German exclamations.

Oh my God, the servers have no legs! Roll out the barrel!

Again, no legs! Ach du lieber!!!

It's hard to rock a Tyrolean hat and still be so cool. Weinerschnitzel!

Seriously, that sandwich is worth driving across town any day. I hope Rush Street makes the Schweinebraten a permanent menu item, or at least until it's time to hibernate.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Roy's Unveils its Fall Fusion Menu

I will confess that I had not seen the inside of a Roy's Restaurant prior to an invitation to join Queequeg for a special sampling of their Fall Fusion Prix Fixe menu. I had always assumed Roy's would all be sticky, sweet sauces, pork and pineapple. The delicious 1988 Martini with grapefruit and pomegranite juices was  the only tropical treat we sampled.

Roy's is more of an upper middle-class restaurant with a varied menu. Although it is a chain, the chefs are allowed leeway beyond Roy's signature dishes and special event menus, so each restaurant features a number of different options. For example, Roy's Pasadena offers opah, and Anaheim features barramundi, while Roy's LA is much more meat-heavy.

Roy's LA resident chef/partner, Garrett Mukogawa, hails from Torrance, which makes him a local boy for me. He is inspired by Japanese and Korean Ingredients, and of course, his grandmother.

The restaurant has a very pleasant, warm interior that encourages lingering. We were guided to a private dining room with white tablecloths and mirrored walls with high-backed wooden banquettes. Cute little dishes began to arrive, the size of sampler plates at large foodie events.

The Blackened Rock Shrimp and Red Bean Soup featuring Portuguese Sausage and Shishito Peppers was one of the more popular dishes of the evening. With a dark, rich broth it was reminiscent of a gumbo. The shrimp was extremely tender considering it was served in a hot soup -- I suspect it was added at the last possible minute.

"Elaine's Kabocha Squash Salad with Cinnamon Spiced Pepitas had a scrumptuous cranberry vinagrette. If I get that recipe, I will use it every holiday season from here on out.

The Cilantro Tiger Shrimp was accompanied by bland curried lentils. Bland curry is almost an oxymoron, but they somehow pulled it off.

The Artichoke and Goat Cheese Crusted Salmon with Sundried Tomato Sauce  was the least successful dish of the evening (said in Padma's voice). I'm not a big fan of intensely flavored salmon in the first place, and cheese with fish is a tough sell. It's almost like they were given a basket of random ingredients like on Chopped and had to make do.

Tender Braised Beef Short Ribs was the most successful dish of the evening (yes, I'm still Padma). With the tender beef, rich sauce, and creamy mashed potatoes, this is the warm Autumn dish I would order.

The real stars of the evening were the desserts. It was clear that everyone at the table was tempted to ask for seconds. One person even did. Another writer commented, "I want these two desserts to have a baby," which caused some creative dessert-within-a-dessert attempts.

In spite of being a little outdated, the molten chocolate cake, errr, Roy's Melting Hot Chocolate Soufflé, is destined to have a permanent place on menus, right up there with the perennial flourless chocolate torte, cheesecake and tarte tatin. Why? Because it is damn good. Roy's version of deep, rich chocolate lava flowing out of the tender cake was delicious with the vanilla ice cream.

The texture of the Pumpkin & Ginger Cheese Cake with Pumpkin Anglaise was light and delicate, which went perfectly with the intense spices. It was a dish to return for. It's such a shame Autumn only lasts for 3 months.
 Michael of South Bay Foodies' camera has a function mine is missing - camouflage!!!

The 3-course Fall Prix Fixe menu is currently available at Roy's for $35.95 per person, which includes a fresh and flavorful appetizer, entrée and dessert. You can view the menu online.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Jonathan Gold's Cocktail party to Benefit Zócalo


Zócalo's Gregory Rodriguez: Founder/Executive Director/Executive Editor, Swati Pandey: Managing Editor, Laura Villalpando: Media & Field Producer, Dulce Vasquez: Program Director with Zócalo supporter/award-winning author/bon vivant Jonathan Gold

Zócalo Public Square is a Los Angeles-based idea-wrangler. Their popular lectures and panels often focus on politics, food, and the politics of food. But it would be unfair to pigeon-hole them, as their mission is about offering a forum for the entire spectrum, bringing together disparate fields and giving a voice to the unheard since 2003.  

Zócalo also offers screenings, conferences, and produces a web-based magazine. Focusing on community, they They reach out to "...a new, young, and diverse generation...Zócalo Public Square connects people to ideas and to each other in an open, accessible, non-partisan and broad-minded spirit."

Jonathan Gold, who often volunteers with the organization to chair panels, hosted his second annual Cocktail Party at Union Square. It is the event of the season, with restaurants hand-selected by Gold and drinks organized by downtown mogul Cedd Moses.

The room is gorgeous, and in comparison to the last Cocktail Party, the organizers have a very fast learning curve. Tickets were less expensive, the room was dotted with round bar tables instead of a theater-set-up, and they dispensed with the panel and entertainment that proved difficult given the acoustics and wild drinking last year.

Not that we did not get a little wild again this year. I decided to stick with one liquor so as not to suffer a hangover the next day.  I enjoyed the Cruzan Ace of Spades from the Cana Rum Bar:

A cacao-tinged daiquiri get an herbaceous update via Cruzan 9 Spiced Rum and cacao-infused bitters.

It tasted like stone fruit to me, maybe peaches. They were mysterious about the ingredients in the eyedroppers decoratively dotted on the cocktail. I let them drop what turned out to be cacao bitters directly onto my tongue. The manager and mixologists were friendly and fun on my two, errrr three? trips back to the bar.

 Over at Las Perlas, they were serving the Spiced PaQui Tequila Daisy, and Bob attested to its heat.

PaQui Silver Tequila, fresh lime juice, organic agave nectar, fresh juiced jalapenos, basil and cucumber, Sal de gusano. 

I'm not sure what was up with this lil feller. Maybe Golden Gopher will soon have a counterpart, The Rabid Raccoon? The Feral Ferret? 

Other drinks featured were Seven Grand's Chivas Regal 12 year Highballs and the Varnish's Plymouth Fitzgerald

A classic sour gin, fresh lemon juice, sugar, shaken and served up and lightly drizzled with Angostura bitters 

One of the mixologists was proving that he could get 12 drinks out of his giant shaker 

Now, on to the food! Whereas mood lighting makes for a beautiful setting, it makes food photography difficult. I try not to blind people with the flash too much, and that often makes the food weirder. So, no, it was not a theme party with red-only food.

My darling Rivera offered his Pre-Columbian and Post-Columbian gazpacho. I asked Alexia doubtfully, "Pre-Columbian?"  She said, "Really. He researches this stuff." I was only disappointed that John himself was not there for me to fawn all over.

 Comme Ca offered Gougeres, duck rilletes, and chanterelle cream. I cannot count how many of these I ate.

 In a somewhat similar vein, Jar was serving Pork croissant with mustard sauce, Suzanne Tracht's take on dim sum. The mustard was insanely hot, so depending on who was adding the sauce, it was either a nice burn or your sinuses were cleared out.


 First and Hope went upscale with a butternut panna cotta wth crab salad. A little part of me wished it was corn panna cotta, but even in LA we have to accept it is Autumn at some point.

Grace restaurant brought the pork with a delicious squash flan and smoked sage jus.

 At Lazy Ox Canteen we fell in love with yellowtail crudo with avocado, creme fraiche and white soy made into little taco-esque bites.

Rustic Canyon pleased our palates with Black mission figs, roasted chestnuts, burrata, saba and toasts. I could have used a second toast for the generous helping of burrata.

Susan Feniger's Street dished up a very refreshing watermelon salad with something like crunchy granola. The servers were so friendly the first time they scared me away. "Hi! Would you like to try Burmese melon salad???? It's VERY refreshing!" I needed another drink before I could handle the intensity. It was very refreshing. They were right.

Sadly, I missed Providence's Japanese kanpachi sushimi.  The Rustic canyon and Seven Grand crowds merged to hide them from sight. They got rave reviews, though.

It was an extremely successful party. It was so nice to see HC, and Lindsay, and everyone pictured here. I certainly hope I get an invitation next year! I have a fringe dress. We have a top hat. I'm already watching the mail.

Ludo Lefebvre, whose name I can only spell with assistance.

Gotta love Hadley.
 Chef Rachel Narins

 The lovely Alexia, and date, who is NOT from England

 Who would have thought one could get so much mileage out of a top hat?

 Someone told me I should have a blog where I just follow Ludo around taking pictures of him with his perennial 5 o'clock shadow. She said it would be the most popular food blog ever. Well, here's one for you where-ever you are. Hopefully not outside Ludo's bushes.

One rule: Do not lick the chef.

 The lovely Miss Caroline on Crack

Thank you, Dulce!!! Thank you Jonathan! Thank you, Cedd! And to everyone who works so hard throughout the year!