Posts Tagged ‘dessert’

Travelogue: Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort in Scottsdale, Arizona

Fairmont Scottsdale room

Fairmont Scottsdale room

I recently visited Scottsdale, Arizona, and had the opportunity to stay at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess resort. Located in North Scottsdale, it’s a little out of the way, but that may just be the whole point.

The Fairmont Scottsdale is a sprawling resort complete with multiple pools and eateries, as well as a two-story wellness spa, for maximum desert-style relaxation.

First, the rooms. Our room had ample space, with a walk-in closet, desk, seating area and private balcony. The bed was comfy, and the bathroom had both a stand-up shower and a tub, as well as Le Labo bath products. No complaints.

View from our room

View from our room

Welcome amenities at Fairmont Scottsdale

Welcome amenities at Fairmont Scottsdale

Amply stocked minibar at Fairmont Scottsdale

Amply stocked minibar at Fairmont Scottsdale — with my fave Macallan 12

Fairmont Scottsdale bathroom

Fairmont Scottsdale bathroom

As Scottsdale is known for its luxurious spa experiences, I naturally partook in a treatment at the resort’s Well & Being at Willow Stream Spa, which offers everything from traditional spa treatments and a rooftop pool to aerial yoga classes and nutrition and fitness consultations. I opted for a full body scrub and light massage with natural Body Bliss and Naturopathica skin products, all of which are derived from natural and/or organic ingredients. My provider Mistie made me feel comfortable right away and explained everything to me. And with access to the open-air pool, grotto waterfall, steam room, Swedish dry sauna, eucalyptus inhalation room, Swiss shower, hot whirlpool and cold plunge pool, as well as a full spa cuisine menu, you can easily spend a full relaxing day here. Oh, and fitness classes are included in your booking. Score!

Aerial yoga

Aerial yoga

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30

06 2014

Superba Food & Bread opens in Venice, carb lovers rejoice

Superba pastries

Superba pastries

Venice just got another great place to eat. And it’s not on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

The recently opened Superba Food & Bread on Lincoln Boulevard is what proprietor Paul Hibler, of Pitfire Pizza and East Borough fame, called the good sibling of Superba Snack Bar. Indeed, Superba Food & Bread’s menu is lighter, but the baked goods more than make up for any differences in calories. And what tasty calories they are!

The brioche sticky bun and pretzel croissant are two of my favorites. Both have great texture and balanced flavors — not too sweet or salty. But the porchetta di testa croissant is a revelation. Porchetta di testa, made from marinated and braised pig’s head, is sliced paper-thin and layered into a pretzel croissant. Savory and sweet at its finest. Thank you, Pastry Chef Lincoln Carson, for bringing this into my life.

Brioche sticky buns

Brioche sticky buns

Pretzel croissants

Pretzel croissants

Porchetta di testa croissant

Porchetta di testa croissant

And Executive Chef Jason Travi, formerly of Fraiche and concurrently of Littlefork, should be thanked for his concoctions, too.

The pain au levain toasts are a great way to start a meal. For something sweet, go for the kaya version with coconut jam, pickled fresno and cilantro, and for something savory, go with the burrata, muhammara (walnuts and roasted peppers), pickled radish and parsley combination.

Kaya toast

Kaya toast

Burrata toast

Burrata toast

When it comes to sides, the roasted and raw sunchokes with green goddess sauce, as well as the crispy cauliflower, are standouts.

Sunchokes

Sunchokes

While I didn’t favor the vadouvan leg of lamb (I rarely like lamb, so this is a personal preference), I did enjoy the seared arctic char served with snap peas, rhubarb and mint. Execution is definitely not an issue here.

Arctic char

Arctic char

While two of the dessert options, a strawberry basil pavlova and vanilla caramel custard with orange, were too floral for my taste, the Superba “candy bar” with marcona almonds, chocolate and sea salt was on point for me. It’s rich, sweet, salty, smooth and crunchy — basically, everything you could ask for. You can also savor some Stumptown coffee while you enjoy your dessert or pastry.

Candy bar

Candy bar

I can’t wait to go back!

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further reading:

First Taste: Superba Food + Bread in Venice Opens Tomorrow by estarLA

Superba Food & Bread Testa Croissant (Food of the Week) by Food GPS

15

04 2014

The Wallace brings international flair to Culver City

Broccoli

Sprouting Broccoli

From former SBE corporate chef Michael Teich comes The Wallace, a shareable plates concept in downtown Culver City featuring an internationally influenced menu and a respectable cocktail menu from Mixologist Holly Zack, who also hails from SBE.

My favorites here include the sprouting broccoli served with tahini, marinated feta and dukkah (pictured above), as well as the braised pork cheeks with lentils, apple, horseradish and red onion agrodolce. Both pack flavorful punches.

Braised pork cheeks

Braised pork cheeks

The chicken liver mousse with balsamic onions and five spice and the roasted bone marrow with parsley, radish, tarragon and pickled shallots are solid choices, though I wouldn’t say they were the best versions I’ve ever had.

Chicken liver mousse

Chicken liver mousse

When it comes to dessert, if it’s available (I think this was a special when I went) get the house made gelato, sorbet and cookies. The marshmallow ice cream and  ginger cookie combo was my favorite, followed by the cream cheese ice cream and pumpkin cookie. The cherry sorbet with chocolate cookie was my least favorite, but I personally don’t like cherry-flavored things that much.

Ice cream, sorbet and cookies

Ice cream, sorbet and cookies

As for Zack’s drinks, the stirred pleased my palate more than the shaken (though that’s to be expected from me). I liked the Day Rate, made with coffee-infused scotch, cognac, honey syrup and chocolate chili bitters, as well as the Roundtrip with Angel’s Envy bourbon, byrrh, persimmon syrup and sour cherry bitters. I did like the Warm Fuzzies, a shaken drink made with Blackwell rum, cognac, Cynar, egg, lemon and simple syrup.

Day Rate, left, and Roundtrip

Day Rate, left, and Roundtrip

Warm Fuzzies

Warm Fuzzies

I really wanted to like the, ahem, Morning Sex, with bourbon, chai fennel syrup, passion fruit, lemon and Peychaud’s bitters, but it was just a bit sweet for me. It’s pretty, though.

Morning Sex

Morning Sex

While I’m glad to see new restaurants opening up in a neighborhood so close to my ‘hood, I’ve grown somewhat weary of restaurants that offer dishes from a what seem like a myriad of influences made from whatever is in season. Not that I’m opposed to fresh, seasonal ingredients — Teich shops at the Culver City farmers market located just steps outside his kitchen, and I think that’s great — but I sometimes feel like restaurants use this as an excuse to not choose a focus. I’ve read in more than one place that Teich’s menu is influenced by Italian food, but when I see a dish such as lamb with farro risotto, chickpeas, harissa and yogurt on the same page as duck confit with hoisin sauce, noodles and a sesame tortilla, I get confused. I appreciate having many choices on a menu, but it can also be a head-scratcher. To each her own, I guess.

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further Reading:

Vegetables Take Center Stage at Soon-to-Open Wallace in Culver City by Los Angeles Times’ Daily Dish blog

Wallace Serves Up Playful Sustainable Fare in Culver City by Where LA

24

12 2013

All-dessert Thanksgiving with Salt and Straw ice cream

Salt & Straw ice cream

Salt & Straw ice cream

If you’re looking to spice up your holiday meal this Thanksgiving, consider this: an entire meal in five pints of ice cream. And not just any ice cream — handmade, small-batch Salt and Straw ice cream direct from Portland, Oregon.

So what’s so special about Salt and Straw? Cousins Kim and Tyler Malek use only all-natural dairy; local, sustainable and organic ingredients; as well as imported flavors from small, handpicked farms and producers. The ice cream is made with 17 percent butterfat, little air and low sweetness. And then there are the unique flavors: Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Cracked Pepper, Coffee and Bourbon, and Pear with Blue Cheese, among others.

Which brings us back to the Thanksgiving flavors. The Maleks recently visited the only place outside Oregon that serves their ice cream – Joan’s on Third in Los Angeles, which carries the five-pack and serves Salt and Straw by the scoop (we Angelenos are super lucky) – to share these unique holiday flavors with us.

Herewith, Salt and Straw’s Thanksgiving dinner:

Sweet Potato and Candied Pecans: pureed sweet potatoes in the ice cream, with marshmallow fluff and roasted pecans. I much prefer this to the real thing.

Sweet Potato and Candied Pecans

Sweet Potato and Candied Pecans

Apple Cranberry Stuffing: celery-sweetened ice cream with cranberries, apples and a white bread pudding flavored with a variety of spices. Really interesting — and delicious — given the celery ice cream. I also like chewing on the bits of bread.

Apple Cranberry Stuffing

Apple Cranberry Stuffing

Salted Caramel Thanksgiving Turkey: Salted caramel ice cream with turkey skin brittle. Really, really interesting. It’s reminiscent of candied bacon ice creams, but it takes like turkey. Definitely tastes like turkey.

Salted Caramel Thanksgiving Turkey

Salted Caramel Thanksgiving Turkey

Mincemeat Pie: holiday spiced ice cream with dried figs, cherries, currants and apples steeped in brandy and fresh citrus. Apparently mincemeat pies don’t actually contain meat (at least, not anymore). This ice cream is super spiced, with lots of cinnamon, clove and all kinds of good holiday flavors.

Mincemeat Pie

Mincemeat Pie

Pumpkin Custard and Spiced Chèvre: pumpkin custard piped into a spiced goat cheese ice cream. This was my favorite, hands-down. I love pumpkin-flavored treats and look forward to pumpkin pie every Thanksgiving. I thought Trader Joe’s made the best pumpkin ice cream I’ve ever tasted. There’s no comparison next to Salt and Straw’s.

Pumpkin Custard & Spiced Chevre

Pumpkin Custard and Spiced Chevre

All five flavors, and you have to buy them as a package, are available while supplies last at Joan’s on Third for $65. While you’re there, pick up some of Joan’s tasty housemade potato chips.

Note: This tasting was hosted.

Further reading:

Turkey Ice Cream? Thanksgiving Flavors from Portland’s Salt and Straw, Now at Joan’s on Third by Gourmet Pigs

23

11 2013

Littlefork pleasantly surprises, launches brunch

Maple Eggs

Maple Eggs at Littlefork

By now you’ve probably heard of Littlefork, the months-old restaurant from A-Frame owner David Reiss and former Fraiche chef Jason Travi. But in case you haven’t, know that with its inventive and well-executed Atlantic Northeast menu that it’s one of the most exciting restaurants to hit Hollywood in a long time. And now Littlefork, which also has an outstanding cocktail menu from Chicago import Dino Balocchi, has just started offering everyone’s favorite meal — brunch.

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01

04 2013

Dine L.A. Restaurant Week Pick: GORGE

Beer Sausage

Beer sausage

There’s one more week left for Dine L.A. Restaurant Week, and if you’re going to go to one place, I suggest you try GORGE, a cozy house-made charcuterie and wine bar from Top Chef alumna Elia Aboumrad and pastry chef Uyen Nguyen (Le Cirque, Craftsteak, Restaurant Guy Savoy). GORGE is located on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood just steps away from old-school rock hangouts the Roxy and Rainbow Room. Not exactly where one might expect to find such fine food, so all the more reason to patronize the place!

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27

01 2013

J. Nichols Kitchen steps up its game

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich at J. Nichols Kitchen

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich at J. Nichols Kitchen

Since Executive Chef Roger Hayot, formerly of Authentic Café on Beverly Boulevard, joined Marina del Rey’s J. Nichols Kitchen this summer, he has turned up the sophistication factor at the neighborhood diner, incorporating more seasonal, locally sourced ingredients to create a new contemporary comfort food menu.

I had never been to the previous incarnation, so I didn’t have anything to compare it to. But no matter — the new version stands on its own. There’s a little bit of everything on the menu, so if you can’t decide what to have for dinner, then J. Nichols might be the place for you.

Start with the Black Pepper Wings with ginger soy glaze, garlic and black pepper, or get The Del Rey salad, a hearty mix of chicken, kale, mixed greens, pink lady apples, applewood bacon, aged white cheddar, nuts, dried cranberries, egg and a sweet mustard vinaigrette.

Black Pepper Wings at J. Nichols

Black Pepper Wings

The Del Rey at J. Nichols

The Del Rey salad

The BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich (pictured above), which comes topped with slaw and crispy onions on a pretzel bun, is one of the best I’ve ever had (I’m such a sucker for pretzel buns). The Creamy Chipotle Rigatoni with chicken, mushrooms, corn, cherry tomatoes and a chipotle cream sauce sounds strange but ultimately works. And for dessert, try the bread pudding and the key lime pie — both are made for sharing.

Creamy Chipotle Rigatoni at J. Nichols

Creamy Chipotle Rigatoni

The restaurant also recently introduced Sausage Sundays. From 5 p.m. to close every Sunday night, Chef Hayot will be offering a variety of sausage specialties made in-house – all for under $10 each. The menu will rotate, but expect to see items such as a chicken sausage sandwich with apples, caramelized onions and fried sage; pork and Mexican chorizo posole with corn tortillas; and Asian duck sausage with fried jasmine rice. Pair one of those with a $4 glass of beer, a selection of three rotating brews that might include Scrimshaw Pilsner, Dead Guy Ale or West Coast IPA. Or go on a Tuesday for Pizza & Beer Night, when you’ll get any pizza, salad and two draft beers for $32.

See more photos from J. Nichols Kitchen:

Note: This meal was hosted.

Further reading:

The BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich & More at J. Nichols by estarLA

07

10 2012

Where old is new again: Towne Food & Drink

Crispy Pork Shank at Towne

Crispy Pork Shank at Towne

If you’re looking for an upscale dining experience but also want comfort food, then Towne Food & Drink in downtown Los Angeles is your place.

Helmed by Executive Chef Ryan Morrison, who spent time with Chef Scott Conant’s hospitality group, including as chef de cuisine at Scarpetta Beverly Hills, and consulting chef Eric Hara (Citronelle, davidburke & donatella, Chez Josephine, Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel), Towne is a delightful mix of high and low. Its New American menu features a variety of internationally influenced flavors prepared in a contemporary style. This philosophy extends to the dessert and cocktail menus, which are filled with updated versions of old favorites.

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17

09 2012

Upstairs, downstairs: Simmzy’s offers upscale food in a comfy space

Simmzy's Long Beach

Simmzy’s Long Beach

Want to have a nice meal with good food and drink but don’t want to deal with having to dress up? Then Simmzy’s is your place.

Founded by brothers Mike Simms, who also owns Tin Roof Bistro and M.B. Post, and Chris Simms, owner of Lazy Dog Cafe, Simmzy’s is a casual pub with an upscale menu — a gastropub, if you will. Chef Anne Conness works it out with creative (but not too creative as to be off-putting) dishes, such as the Bacon & Date Mascarpone Pizza and the addictive Blue Cheese Haystack (shoestring fries smothered in blue cheese dressing, garlic and spicy sauce).

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29

07 2012

Travelogue: La Jolla, California

La Jolla Cove's sea lions

La Jolla Cove’s sea lions

To celebrate our first wedding anniversary, Rory and I took a weekend trip down to La Jolla, just north of downtown San Diego. La Jolla, an affluent beach community that’s home to UC San Diego, is just a couple hours’ drive from Los Angeles, so it’s easy to either make a day trip or weekend out of a visit there.

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09

07 2012