Amorino gelato packs big flavor in pretty package

Amorino gelato's flower cone

Amorino gelato’s flower cone

I love ice cream and all its variations, so when I learned about Amorino gelato and its beautifully crafted flower cones, I jumped at the chance to try it. Everything looks like it tastes better when it’s shaped like a flower, right?

Luckily, Amorino gelato lives up to appearances. Using all natural and organic ingredients, the Beverly Hills store (the only one on the West Coast) makes wonderfully smooth gelato. Texture is key to me, and Amorino’s gelato is nicely dense and elastic, just as gelato should be (American ice cream has more air and cream churned into it, so it’s fluffier and creamier than gelato, which is generally denser).

The gelato’s flavor is satisfying, too. I tried the tiramisu and chocolate, which complement each other. The tiramisu has just right amount of espresso, and the chocolate is rich.

One thing to note: I had this gelato in a take-home container, which is supposed to be consumed within two days for optimal taste. If you take the large container home, you better have a bunch of people ready to help you eat because there is A LOT of gelato in there. Then again, you could just keep it all for yourself…

Note: This tasting was complimentary.

25

05 2015

Take a trip to Provence with Kendall’s Brasserie

Tuna nicoise salad

Tuna nicoise salad

I’ve never given Kendall’s Brasserie much thought — I believe most people think of it only when they need a place to eat before a show at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion or Disney Concert Hall — but after having a special Provencal dinner there from the very French Executive Chef Jean Pierre Bosc, I’ve come to know Kendall’s as a place to get a solid meal, no matter the occasion.

As part of the Passport to France dinner series, May is Spring in Provence month. Using Mediterranean ingredients, such as olive oil, fresh vegetables, garlic, seafood and herbs, Chef Bosc has crafted six dishes that can be ordered a la carte or in a three-course prix fixe menu.

If you’re going to choose, I’d start with the niçoise salad made with house-made albacore tuna confit, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, chopped eggs, olives and a shallot vinaigrette. I’m not usually a niçoise fan, but this version’s house-made tuna confit makes this dish special. It’s delicate yet flavorful.

For your entree, I’d go with the bouillabaisse made with rock snapper, shrimp, scallops, mussels and saffron potatoes served Provencal style with croutons and rouille, a sauce made from olive oil, breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and chili peppers that’s like a lighter aioli. The croutons and rouille make this seafood soup special.

Kendalls bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse

To end, choose the Nougat Glacé Maxim made with candied fruit and nuts, frozen meringue, and a raspberry coulis. It took a deft hand to make this light-as-air nougat, which had just the right amount of bite.

Kendalls nougat

Nougat Glace Maxim

The three-course prix fixe ($40) is available from 7:30 p.m. to close.

Next up in the Passport to France series at Kendall’s Brasserie is Fall in Lyon from Oct 1-31. I can’t wait to see what Bosc has up his sleeve for that meal.

Note: This meal was hosted.

18

05 2015

Terrine cocktail menu finds balance while packing punch

Terrine Barman Ryan Wainwright

Terrine Barman Ryan Wainwright

While foodies have been fawning over Terrine restaurant‘s Chef Kris Morningstar’s dining menu of French-meets-California cuisine (and with good reason), the Terrine cocktail menu is not to be overlooked.

Barman Ryan Wainwright, formerly of Tasting Kitchen, has an extraordinary talent for finding balance in his drinks, making each one on his menu dangerously easy to imbibe. The Terrine cocktail menu is divided into categories based on taste. Here are my picks in each group:

Bubbly & Refreshing

Prairie Fire Punch with Buffalo Trace bourbon, lemon, pomegranate, Calisaya herbal liqueur and soda.

Prairie Fire

Prairie Fire Punch

It’s no secret that bourbon is my favorite spirit, so of course I’m going to recommend this one. While there isn’t any actual fire in the Prairie Fire Punch, the Calisaya lends an interesting note while the soda makes it fun.

Crisp & Clean

Beverly Fix with El Silencio mezcal, lime, pineapple, housemade orgeat and serrano tincture.

Beverly Fix

Beverly Fix

This one is everything you could ask for in a flavor-forward drink: it’s a little smoky, a little spicy and a little sweet. If you like bold, this is your cocktail.

Smooth & Elegant

Counter Point Sling with Plymouth gin, Punt e Mes vermouth and Vergano Biano vermouth.

Counter Point Sling

Counter Point Sling

This is my favorite drink from this menu, and the fact that I like it so much surprised me because gin isn’t my favorite spirit. But Wainwright created a cocktail that definitely lives up to its “smooth and elegant” categorization. There’s body, but it’s not oppressive. The Counter Point Sling is just a classy drink.

Dark & Bitter

Pimm’s Pong with Pimm’s, Contratto Bianco vermouth, Ramazzotti Amaro and chocolate bitters.

Pimm's Pong

Pimm’s Pong

Usually Pimm’s drinks are clear or light in color, but this one is dark. It’s an interesting take, with the Amaro and bitters adding dimension.

Sweet & Velvety

Strawberry Puff with Hayman’s Old Tom gin, strawberry, lemon and cream.

Strawberry Puff

Strawberry Puff

Drinking this drink is as close to having a milkshake without actually having ice cream in it. It’s rich and frothy, and will satisfy any sweet tooth without being cloying.

And the food? The entire regular menu is available at the bar, so you definitely don’t lose out by sitting here. My recommendation would be to order a charcuterie plate (three words: chicken liver mousse) and enjoy a drink or two from the Terrine cocktail menu. Go ahead, indulge.

Charcuterie

Charcuterie

Note: This tasting was hosted.

Further reading:

Dine on California Comfort Fare at Terrine by Where L.A.

What to Drink at Terrine, Opening Soon by Los Angeles magazine

Terrine California Gold Cocktail (Drink of the Week) by Food GPS

04

05 2015

Best week of the year: dineL.A. Happy Hour Week

Terrine's Pimms Pong

Terrine’s Pimms Pong

Little known fact: my favorite meal is happy hour. With discounted drinks and food, what’s not to like? So when I found out that dineL.A. is holding a Happy Hour Week April 27 through May 1, I thought it was about time!

Happy hour is a great way to check out a restaurant or bar without having to fully commit to a whole meal. It’s an especially good deal for those pricey restaurants you’ve had your eye on but haven’t pulled the trigger on yet.

The good news is dineL.A.’s Happy Hour Week includes not only restaurants with regular happy hours but also those that normally don’t have happy hour specials, such as Terrine and Redbird. That means you should definitely get the truffled chicken liver toast for $9, something you normally can’t get except as part of Terrine’s charcuterie board, and barman Ryan Wainwright’s Rosewater Sour for $9 (regularly $12) or Pimms Pong for $10 (normally $13). Even the storied Polo Lounge is getting in on the act with an entire food and drink menu priced at $10.

Before visiting, make sure to check out the hours for your intended restaurant, as some are doing traditional evening happy hours, while some are doing just late night (and some are doing both).

I’m personally looking forward to five days of drink and food specials all over Los Angeles — because cocktails and bar bites are always a good idea.

Follow dineL.A. and #happyhourweek on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the latest info.

23

04 2015

French with a Chinese twist: David Feau’s Coin de Rue 13eme pop up

Raw shaved carrot salad

Raw shaved carrot salad

Chef David Feau (Patina, The Royce, Le Ka)’s Coin de Rue pop-up restaurant has made its way to Chinatown and has an Asian-inspired menu to match. Now dubbed Coin de Rue 13eme, after Paris’ predominately Chinese 13th arrondissement, Feau is serving a French-Chinese menu at Michael J’s Pizzeria & Bar after his stint serving classic French bistro dishes in the old Red Medicine space.

The three-course dinner menu, with optional supplements, is small but varied. If you want to go with lighter fare, start with the tempura asparagus with truffle honey and sea salt or the raw shaved carrot salad. Then move on to the clay pot-baked Alaskan halibut with mushrooms.

Clay pot halibut

Clay pot halibut

If you want a more flavorful experience, start with the soft scrambled eggs with cabbage, sea urchin and crab bisque (this dish reminds me of the Chinese scrambled egg with shrimp and scallions). For your main, choose the chicken oyster and scallops with leeks, fava beans and poached egg.

Sea urchin scrambled eggs

Sea urchin scrambled eggs

Chicken oysters and scallops

Chicken oysters and scallops

For dessert, go with the brown butter caramel ice cream and pretzel crumble. It’s more salty than sweet, allowing your taste buds to end on a clean note.

Brown butter caramel ice cream

Brown butter caramel ice cream

As for supplements, Feau offered two this past weekend: a spring roll with seared foie gras, forbidden rice, lettuce, toasted shallots and duck sauce, as well as pan-roasted frog legs with parsley root juice, bone marrow and spring garlic. Neither dish is overpowering but both are interesting, so getting either one would make a nice complement.

Seared foie gras roll

Seared foie gras roll

Pan-roasted frog legs

Pan-roasted frog legs

Coin de Rue 13eme is taking place again this weekend and next, April 23-25 and April 30-May 1. The prix fixe menu is $49 for three courses, with supplemental entrees for an additional $18 each. Wine pairings are available for an additional $20. First seatings start at 7 p.m., and last seatings start at 10:30 p.m.

But wait, there’s more. From 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. each night of the pop up, enjoy special bar bites ($10-$12) from Feau and a cocktail menu ($12-$15) from mixologist Garrett McKechnie (The Raymond, 1886). The peppercorn croquembouche with chicken liver and foie gras mousse is my personal favorite, with the rabbit rillette on country toast served with peach mustard another good choice. When it comes to cocktails, go with the light and sweet Countryside, a combination of Calvados apple brandy, honey, kumquat and tarragon, or the dark and bitter An American in Paris, with rye, byrrh, amargo Angostura bitters and a cherry.

Peppercorn croquembouche

Peppercorn croquembouche

Rabbit rillette

Rabbit rillette

Countryside

Countryside

An American in Paris

An American in Paris

Coin de Rue 13eme at Michael J’s Pizzeria & Bar
643 N. Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Reservations 213.604.3421

Note: This meal was hosted. 

Further reading:

David Feau’s Coin de Rue Pop-Up Goes to Chinatown by Eater L.A.

David Feau’s Coin de Rue French bistro pop-up heads to Chinatown by Los Angeles Times

Coin de Rue Pop-Up by kevinEats

20

04 2015

Cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant: Tim Ho Wan dim sum in Hong Kong

Tim Ho Wan

Tim Ho Wan

I’m not the biggest dim sum fan, but when I visited Hong Kong for the first time this past fall, I knew I had to try the food in its city of origin. So why not go for the best?

Tim Ho Wan offers the cheapest Michelin-starred food in the world. Dishes start at about US$1, so you can eat your heart out without breaking the bank (and with the US dollar rising in value, now is a good time to go). Even though my mother and I were on our own, we still ordered a respectable 10 dishes — not as many as the table next to us, which, judging by the number of piled-up bamboo steamers, I’m pretty sure ordered the entire menu.

I visited the Sham Shui Po location in Kowloon, the only restaurant of the four in Hong Kong that actually has a Michelin star. It wasn’t the easiest location for us to get to — my mom actually said to me, “This better be worth it” — but Tim Ho Wan’s dim sum was easily the best I’ve ever had. Every dish was just as you’d expect and more, with high quality ingredients crafted by a subtle hand.

My absolute favorite dish was the char siu bao (barbecue pork bun), which is baked instead of steamed here at Tim Ho Wan. The best part was the sweet flaky topping reminiscent of the kind found on Chinese pineapple buns (named for their appearance and not for their ingredients), which provided another layer of texture. I still drool thinking of these!

Char siu bao

Char siu bao

Keep reading

13

04 2015

Travelogue: MilkWood restaurant in Louisville, Kentucky

Toy Tiger cocktail at MilkWood restaurant

Toy Tiger cocktail at MilkWood restaurant

When I saw Chef Edward Lee on “Top Chef: Texas” cut his hand, pull on a glove and keep cooking while the blood pooled in it, I thought, now that’s a badass. So when I last visited my husband’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, I knew I had to see if Lee’s food tasted as powerful as he cooked on the show. So of course I had dinner at MilkWood restaurant.

Lee’s MilkWood restaurant, located on the lower level of the Actors Theatre of Louisville, recently celebrated its second anniversary. I visited last spring, and the menu, a melange of Southern and Asian influences with some classic French thrown in for good measure, has helped to elevate the local restaurant scene, which has lately experienced a boom in artisanal cuisine.

A Brooklyn native of Korean descent, Lee also owns 610 Magnolia, an upscale contemporary Southern restaurant. Together with Chef Kevin Ashworth, Lee has taken his more refined tastes found at 610 Magnolia and punched them up with bolder flavors at MilkWood.

The pork burger on a pretzel bun, with napa kimchi, cracklins, havarti cheese, remoulade and cilantro, is just an example — rich and flavorful.

MilkWood pork burger

MilkWood pork burger

The seasonal fish and pork dishes I tried, as well as a spicy preparation of sunchokes, were also bold in flavor. MilkWood is not a place for the faint of heart.

MilkWood sunchokes

MilkWood sunchokes

The cocktail menu is equally forward. The Toy Tiger, with Old Forrester bourbon, vermouth and bitter orange, is a potent take on the traditional Manhattan — just how I like my drinks.

I look forward to going back to MilkWood restaurant, this time for the bowls of ramen. The one featuring pork belly and country ham follows Lee’s lead, but the Mazeman Ramen with egg yolk, parmesan cheese, roasted garlic, pancetta and uni butter is the one that intrigues me more. I hope Lee keeps doing what he’s doing.

Further reading:

Fork in the Road: A Top Chef’s Next Course by Garden & Gun

29

03 2015

Eat well at Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge happy hour

Spaghettini Fish & Chips. Photo by Eric Hameister.

Spaghettini Fish & Chips. Photo by Eric Hameister.

You don’t always have to spend a pretty penny when dining out in Beverly Hills. Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge — yes, jazz musician Dave Koz — offers not only dinner and a show, but it also has a generous happy hour.

Every Tuesday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Spaghettini’s Social Hour offers special food items, regular menu items at a discounted price and a rotating drink menu.

Bar Manager Lauren Trickett highlights a different spirit each week in two classic cocktails, in addition to a selection of wines, sparkling wines and craft beers on tap — all for $8 each.

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned

When it comes to food, Executive Chef Scott Howard designed a happy hour menu that includes Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge favorites Pommery Shrimp with Pommery mustard, citrus and mache ($15, regular price $24) and the rich Smoked Gouda Orzo Mac & Cheese ($8, regular price $10), as well as Social Hour-specific items such as the Spaghettini Burger with aged white cheddar, onion jam and arugula ($15) and Fish & Chips with tartar sauce and malt vinegar aioli ($12) — one of my personal favorites.

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge Orzo gouda mac and cheese

Smoked Gouda Orzo Mac & Cheese

And if you grab a seat at the bar, you don’t have to pay for the entertainment cover charge to enjoy the live music. Another perk of being frugal.

Note: This visit was hosted.

Further reading:

Spaghettini & the Dave Koz Lounge by eaterLA

An evening at Spaghettini Beverly Hills by Los Angeles Times

22

03 2015

Treat yo self: Quality food and drink at good prices

Asa Meza ceviche

Asa Meza ceviche. From Asa Meza.

If you’re like me, you want to enjoy the finer things in life, but you can’t always afford it. That’s when knowing where to score some reasonably priced eats (sometimes free!) at some of Los Angeles’ up-and-coming restaurants and bars comes in handy.

Two new deals from Asa Meza and Now Boarding should whet your appetite.

On Thursday, March 19, Latin- and Asian-inspired restaurant Asa Meza is hosting a Hollywood Social Night from 6 to 10 p.m. Go to check out the menu, craft cocktails and beers while also enjoying complimentary appetizers.

Asa Meza
1718 Vine St.
Hollywood, CA 90028

Blackjack Smash at Now Boarding.

Blackjack Smash at Now Boarding. From Now Boarding.

At Now Boarding, a travel-inspired bar in West Hollywood, Sunday nights are now “You Don’t Know Jack” nights. Starting at 9 p.m., enjoy free live music from funk, soul and R&B bands, as well as happy hour-priced $9 specialty Jack Daniels cocktails. Considering these kinds of cocktails are usually $14, this is a bargain.

Cocktails include:

~Tiny Dancer with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, passion fruit and prosecco
~Blackjack Smash with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, blackberries and mint
~Jackalope with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, pineapple, coconut and Ancho Reyes ancho chile liqueur
~Elda Fitzgerald with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, St. Germaine elderflower liqueur, orange, lemon, sugar and egg white

Now Boarding
7746 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90046

15

03 2015

Experience an ode to the 80s with Dear John Hughes

Dear John Hughes by For the Record

Dear John Hughes by For the Record

If you’re a fan of the movies The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles and Pretty in Pink (and if you’re not, we can’t be friends), then you’ll want to check out the musical theater show Dear John Hughes presented by For the Record.

For the Record shows string together music from one auteur’s films to create a cohesive live musical stage show. Dear John Hughes weaves songs together from The Breakfast Club (celebrating its 30th anniversary this year), Sixteen CandlesPretty in Pink, Weird Science, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Some Kind of Wonderful to create a new story while still holding true to the originals. You’ll hear Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” David Bowie’s “Changes,” Suzanne Vega’s “Left of Center” and many more while enjoying cocktail and food specials inspired by the 80s (read: sweet drinks and Jiffy Pop). It’s basically one big party.

Evan Rachel Wood in Dear John Hughes

Evan Rachel Wood in Dear John Hughes

Joining the For the Record cast this time around for Dear John Hughes is actress Evan Rachel Wood (Thirteen, Pretty Persuasion, The Wrestler), who shines as Basket Case, i.e., Breakfast Club Allison, Ferris Bueller Jeanie and Some Kind of Wonderful Watts. Wood is passionate in her role and has a great set of lungs to boot. When Wood isn’t performing, Rumer Willis plays Basket Case. If her performance in For the Record’s Baz Luhrmann is any indication, she’ll also be great in Dear John Hughes. And don’t overlook Alex Wyse’s portrayal of Brain, i.e., Anthony Michael Hall characters as well as Ferris Bueller. He’s amazing.

Dear John Hughes shows every Friday through Sunday through April 5 at DBA in West Hollywood. Baz Luhrmann shows on Thursdays through the end of March. Buy tickets.

Note: Admission to both Dear John Hughes and Baz Luhrmann were complimentary.

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16

02 2015