Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’

Bashan Restaurant serves up frill-free fine dining

This is the first post by ShopEatSleep contributor Shirley Lau, a proud native of Los Angeles who loves all things food and travel. She’s eaten at some of the swankiest restaurants in the world and — thanks to her stomach of steel — at some of the grimiest street-side food stalls. Her passion to see the world has taken her to more than 20 states and 18 countries. A seasoned communications professional, Shirley is a freelance writer and editor who, when not gorging on food and jetting off on a plane, loves to spend time with her two dogs.

Pork belly adobo at Bashan Restaurant

Pork belly adobo at Bashan Restaurant

Every year, my husband and I approach dineL.A. Restaurant Week with enthusiasm and caution. We’ve had our share of great experiences — my favorite by far was Spago — and several not-so-memorable ones (and that’s putting it nicely). Bashan Restaurant in Montrose/North Glendale falls somewhere in the middle.

At first glance, Bashan Restaurant may look a bit out of place. Located on Verdugo Road, the restaurant seems to be one of the only sit-down eateries along that stretch. And when you add fine dining to the mix, it becomes even more of a head-scratcher.

But this fine dining establishment is different from the rest — it’s casual. It’s the kind of place you can go in flip-flops and jeans and feel perfectly comfortable. The brainchild of Chef Nadav Bashan, whose impressive resume includes working at Michael’s in Santa Monica and Providence, the restaurant offers a menu that is both seasonal and farmers market-driven. Infusing California, Mediterranean and Asian practices, Bashan Restaurant incorporates classic French technique in all its preparations.

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25

07 2014

Broadway Bites is back in NYC

This post is written by ShopEatSleep contributor Deanna Ting, a New York-based writer and editor who hails from Los Angeles. She is a seasoned travel, lifestyle and fashion writer, having written for publications such as TravelAge West, Luxury Travel Advisor, Los Angeles magazine and WSAToday (a magazine that was entirely devoted to shoes). These days, you can find her working as a managing editor/senior editor for Incentive and Successful Meetings magazines, as well as scouring New York–and the globe–for her next favorite meal. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @deanna421.

Onigiri by Tampopo at Broadway Bites

Onigiri by Tampopo at Broadway Bites

Given the downright nasty winter that New York City endured this year, the return of warmer weather–and all that comes with it–is a more than welcome sight. One great mainstay of summer is the return of outdoor food events like Broadway Bites, a pop-up, outdoor culinary market that occupies a prime location in the shadow of the Empire State Building.

Located at Greeley Square Park, between 32nd and 34th streets on Broadway, Broadway Bites serves up a collection of 30 different vendors selling fare as varied as handmade chocolates (Nunu) and Japanese takoyaki (Mimi & Coco) to Michelin-starred pizza (Roberta’s) and “California street food” (Jicama). If Broadway Bites seems familiar it’s because it’s the work of the same folks behind the wildly popular Madison Square Eats, Urban Space. Last year, Broadway Bites debuted for the very first time in late October and now it has returned with a new summer lineup.

While some favorites have remained–including Roberta’s, makers of that aforementioned Michelin-starred pizza–there are also a number of newbies that are worth a try. Here’s a look at just a few:

Onigiri by Tampopo: Onigiri, a traditional Japanese rice ball wrapped in nori, is deceptively small but incredibly filling. Many onigiri that I’ve had before have lacked in flavor, with a disproportionate amount of white rice overwhelming whatever tiny morsel–ume, salmon, chicken and the like–was wrapped inside. Tampopo’s version is the exception: The salmon scallion onigiri that I had was so flavorful. With each bite I could taste the lightly seasoned rice, flecks of bright green scaillions and fresh salmon pieces; I never had to search for that one tiny morsel–it was already in every bite. A variety of unique flavor combinations are available (ummm cheddar shiso, anyone?), so save multiple visits to try out each one.

PalenqueHaving traveled to Colombia last summer and eaten more than my own weight in arepas while I was there, I’ve longed to find another arepa as good as the ones I had over there. While Palenque’s aren’t quite exactly like the ones I had in Colombia, they’re pretty darn close. Arepas come in three varieties–classic corn, and quinoa and multigrain for the more health-conscious–and, like miniature pizzas, they are topped with generous heapings of Oaxacan cheese, savory sauces and toppings of your choice, like angus beef and marinated chicken. The chicken arepa, composed entirely of white meat, was never dry and was the perfect mix of salty and savory.    

And here’s a look at a few of my favorite mainstays:

Chutney: I love Indian food, and I also happen to love Mexican food, so this mash-up, while a little bit out of the ordinary, really works. The chicken tikka taco was great–really flavorful, with just the right amount of tikka masala and juicy bits of chicken. Bonus points for the fact that all tacos are made fresh to order. There are also two vegetarian options available. One taco is $4 while an order of three, a good-size meal, is $10.

Chutney tacos at Broadway Bites

Chutney tacos at Broadway Bites

Red Hook Lobster Pound: I like to judge my lobster rolls by two main factors–the buttery-ness of the bread and the quality of the lobster itself–and in both of those categories, Red Hook Lobster Pound is a winner in my books. I also happen to love the fact that Red Hook’s lobster isn’t drenched in mayo or any other unnecessary dressings–they simply let the lobster, and the roll, speak for themselves.

There are so many other great finds to be found at Broadway Bites, so do yourself a favor and start exploring. Stop by now through Aug. 1, every day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

15

06 2014

Chef Ben Bailly’s new menu at Cliff’s Edge

Cliff's Edge lamb cheeks

Chef Ben Bailly shows off his lamb cheeks. Photo by John Ales.

Is third time the charm for Ben Bailly? Bailly recently joined Cliff’s Edge as executive chef, where he was brought on to revamp the menu after stints at Petrossian and Fraiche Culver City. Cliff’s Edge is Bailly’s third restaurant since arriving in Los Angeles, and his food complements the Sliver Lake location nicely. The menu is elevated but not stuffy, which seems to speak well to the discerning hipster neighborhood.

During a recent visit to Cliff’s Edge, I enjoyed both the cocktails and the food. I really liked the Bitter Pill (Zaya 12 year rum, Fernet Branca, brown sugar, fresh lime juice, egg whites, orange oils), which had great depth of flavor. The Gold Rush (Buffalo Trace bourbon, honey syrup, fresh lemon juice, orange oils) and Question Mark (Bols Genever gin, lavender simple syrup, fresh grapefruit and lemon juice, Peychauds bitters, flamed grapefruit oils) were also winners, mostly because I love the bourbon-citrus combo as well as lavender in general.

As for the food, the Whipped Ricotta with lavender (again!), honey and olive oil is a must to start. It’s fluffy, creamy and fragrant. The Crispy Polenta served with mushrooms, egg, and Pecorino Romano cheese, as well as the Seared Scallops with lebne yogurt cheese, cauliflower, Vadouvan spice and salsa verde, are solid savory options.

The Skate Wing served with sunchokes, brown butter, pine nuts, lemon and capers was hands-down my favorite main dish. It was reminiscent of a fish and sunchoke dish that Bailly served at Fraiche that I also enjoyed. The Lamb Cheeks with celery root purée, rapini and hazelnut gremolata is another good choice.

The Chocolate Torta is what you should order for dessert. At once light, smooth and decadent, this cake is one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve had in a while. I don’t normally order the chocolate cake at restaurants, but I would definitely do it here.

Note: This meal was hosted.

 

01

03 2012

The funky flavors of Japanese Kit Kats

I love Japanese candy. I love the unique flavors and the cuteness of it. So when a friend from Japan recently gave me these Japanese Kit Kats, I was overjoyed! Now, I know strawberry and green tea aren’t that exotic, but the red bean toast (toast!) flavor was definitely something new…and I’m not sure I liked it. I love red (azuki) bean, but the toast component just made it taste a little burned, which isn’t my cup of tea, so to speak. I also didn’t love the green tea flavor — too matcha-y for me. I did really like the strawberry, though. I know, that’s so boring! But it had a perfect strawberries-and-cream flavor. I believe you can find some of these flavored Kit Kats at Japanese supermarkets in the United States, such as Mitsuwa. I wonder if you could find some of the weirder flavors, such as grilled corn, Royal Milk Tea or soy sauce (yes, soy sauce!). Have you tried any of these flavors before?

Further reading:

Japan’s Strangest Kit Kat Flavors by Weird Asia News

Kit Kat Kaleidoscope: Far-Out Flavors from Japan by NPR

26

01 2012

Last-minute holiday shopping guide for LA foodies

Valerie Confections SUPER CHOC-O-FOOD

Valerie Confections SUPER CHOC-O-FOOD

Still scrambling for holiday gifts? If you’re shopping for people who like food, or should like good food, then look no further than these L.A. options:

Valerie Confections: While Valerie Gordon is know for her toffees and cute-as-a-button petit fours, an interesting gift would be the SUPER CHOCO-O-FOOD, a huge block of milk chocolate with a hint of caramel loaded with dried pears, apricots, golden raisins, macadamia nuts, cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds and peanuts. The packaging comes from Commune Design, and each color (pink, violet, aqua) corresponds to part of a triptych image found under the label. Valerie now also has teas blended by the American Tea Room just for the shop, including the Black & Blue, which was inspired by her Black & Blue jam and contains black tea from Nilgiri, blackberries, black currants, blueberries and blackberry leaves.

Kiss My Bundt Baking Academy: Chef Chrysta Wilson of Kiss My Bundt, formerly on West Third Street, is now teaching baking classes at Surfas in Culver City. The first class will be on January 15 and will focus on baking with winter citrus. And if you purchase a spot in this class before December 24, you’ll get 20 percent off. If you’ve ever had Wilson’s bundt cakes, you know they’re a treat.

Monsieur Marcel at the Original Farmers Market at Third and Fairfax: This gourmet foods store has all kinds of delicious treats, including European chocolates, fancy vinegars and oils, flavored salts, cheeses, wine and all kinds of fun stuff. This place will have lots of variety, so you’re sure to find something for the gourmand on your lift.

20

12 2011

Sweet fun: Max Brenner Las Vegas

Milkshake in an Alice cup at Max Brenner

Yes, I’m writing this post a month and a half late. But I wanted to document my bachelorette party on this blog in some way, so I’m going to tell you about my meal at chocolate heaven-on-earth Max Brenner in The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. This may not have been the best meal in terms of food, but it was definitely the most fun.

The best part of the menu was the variety of drinks. My friends and I ordered the Mexican Spicy Hot Chocolate (red chili, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper), the Melting Marshmallow Hot Chocolate (hot chocolate with tons of mini marshmallows on top), what I think was the Hazelnut Cream Chocolate Milkshake (vanilla bourbon ice cream, dark chocolate truffle and whipped cream) and the Chocolate Chai (chai spice blend infused with white chocolate). All were very good, but my favorite was the chai, which was enhanced by the white chocolate, not overpowered as I had feared. The presentation of the drinks is noteworthy, too, as Max Brenner has created his own cups for different drinks (the Hug Mug for hot chocolates, the Alice for milkshakes, a tea pot that dispenses when you place it on top of your cup).

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02

05 2011

Bits and pieces: Junior Drake sales, Oliverio chocolate madness and Hilton weekend discounts

Junior Drake Shina bag

Junior Drake warehouse sale: The purveyor of handbags is at it again. Seems like JD has this sale every other week, but no matter. From Dec. 17 through Dec. 19, get bags at prices as low as $14.95 and even a three pack of leather bags for $99. Can’t make it to the sample sale? Get 60 percent off online purchases plus a free leather coin purse (discount is taken at checkout).

740 E. 60th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90001
Dec. 17 and 18: 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Dec. 19: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Oliverio‘s Choco-Sutra: Avalon Hotel’s tasty restaurant just got tastier: now there’s an unlimited chocolate buffet. Every Friday and Saturday, indulge in everything from triple chocolate truffle pizzettas made with Nutella, dark and milk chocolate, and topped with white chocolate shavings, to a dark chocolate, cinnamon and red chili pot de crème.

9400 W. Olympic Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
Fridays and Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
$28 per person ($17 with dinner) or $50 per couple

Hilton HHonors Any weekend, Anywhere sale: Hilton HHonors members who book stays between now and Jan. 31, 2011, at the Hilton family of hotels can save from 20 percent to 50 percent on a future weekend stay any weekend in 2011. Current HHonors members will also receive double base points on completion of their stay.

13

12 2010

It’s the Chosen dessert: Chozen kosher ice cream

Like ice cream? Keep strictly kosher? Then Chozen All Natural Ice Cream may just be the dessert for you.

Now, I’m not Jewish, but I do love ice cream and I enjoy the food of the chosen (get it?) people, so when I was offered samples of ice cream with flavors such as Rugelach, Chocolate Babka, and Apples and Honey, I said, “Sign me up!”

I was sent two pints: one of Coconut Macaroon made with almond ice cream and toasted coconut flakes mixed in, and one of Matzoh Crunch made with vanilla ice cream and chocolate- and caramel-coated matzoh crackers. The Coconut Macaroon got me right away since I’m a sucker for anything with almond and coconut. The Matzoh Crunch didn’t wow me at first, but it grew on me as I found the texture of the chocolate- and caramel-covered matzoh nice to munch on. My only real complaint is the texture of the ice cream itself — it’s a bit icy for my taste. You can see in this photo how it doesn’t really stick together when you’re scooping it and gets melt-y quickly:

Coconut Macaroon (left), Matzoh Crunch (right)

The ice cream is all-natural, though not certified organic, per its website, which means it’s made without chemical gums or stabilizers. That probably explains its texture. Its kosherness comes from being “100% kosher certified by experience rabbis,” though it’s not kosher for Passover.

Chozen is sold in stores in New York and New Jersey, so if you want some here on the West Coast, you’ll have to order it online. Don’t worry — the dry ice and insulated package keeps the ice cream nice and frosty. However, it looks like the only flavors available for shipping are Coconut Macaroon and Matzoh Crunch, which explains why I got those two. Overall, I enjoyed the flavors of the ice cream but didn’t love the texture. Rugelach and Chocolate Babka sound good, though…

11

10 2010

Straight from the farm to my belly: FIG Santa Monica

I had been meaning to try FIG Restaurant in the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica since it opened early last year, so when I was invited to dinner there, I jumped at the chance. The restaurant’s seasonal, farm-to-table concept sounded good — how could a place that places its emphasis on fresh local ingredients not sound good? The good news is this philosophy isn’t just lip service: Chef Ray Garcia knows his ingredients, and his kitchen can really cook.

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22

06 2010

Fancy, and comforting, chocolate: Madame Chocolat


Madame Chocolat is a confectionery located just across the street from the Montage hotel and Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro in Beverly Hills. Not a bad location, eh? Oh, and the chocolates aren’t bad, either, considering their pedigree: The shop’s owner, Hasty Torres, is classically trained in the art of chocolate making, and she’s married to New York chocolatier Jacques Torres. You can’t really go wrong with anything in this store.

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23

03 2010