Posts Tagged ‘ice cream’

The Wallace brings international flair to Culver City


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


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


11 2013

Travelogue: Louisville, Kentucky

I’ve been to Louisville before and have even been to the Kentucky Derby. But on this last trip, I tried a bunch of new food, some at old-but-new-to-me places and some at places that have opened since my last trip nearly eight years ago.

First off, I was told that I needed to go to Graeter’s, which specializes in French pot ice cream (dense, custard style). I had both the Bourbon Ball and Black Raspberry Chip flavors, and surprisingly, I liked the Black Raspberry Chip better. Perhaps the best part of this ice cream is the chocolate chips, which are created by pouring melted chocolate into the pot and letting the paddle break up the then-hardened candy into various sizes. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a big piece of chocolate in one of your bites. Since visiting this store, I’ve found Graeter’s ice cream at my local Ralphs, though not all flavors are carried there. They do carry Chocolate Coconut Almond Chip, my new favorite flavor. How can you go wrong with chocolate ice cream dotted with coconut and almond pieces surrounded by those special chocolate chips?

Graeter's Black Raspberry Chip ice cream

Graeter’s Black Raspberry Chip ice cream

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08 2012

Fun, delicious, with dash of social commentary: brunch at Playa Rivera

Huevos Polenta

Huevos Polenta at Playa Rivera

When I first heard that Chef John Rivera Sedlar was opening Playa Rivera restaurant in the old Grace space on Beverly Boulevard, I jumped for joy. I love Sedlar’s food (and Julian Cox’s cocktails) at Rivera downtown, so having one of his eateries closer in proximity to where I live is really a treat.

Elegant, hearty and delicious, Playa Rivera’s brunch is a great choice for a casual-but-elevated meal. I had the pleasure of having brunch here with Fiona of Gourmet Pigs, Lindsay of LAist and Esther of estarLA, and we had a well-rounded meal complete with cocktails and a chat with Sedlar himself, who happened to walk in just as we were leaving.

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09 2011

L.A. Street Food Fest returns to Pasadena

Fire-roasted tomatoes with burrata and black mint pesto. Fire-roasted sweet potato, honey and serrano chili sauce. Both from the Picca menu by Ricardo Zarate.

Los Angeles’ biggest and most epic food festival, the L.A. Street Food Fest’s Summer Tasting Event, pops back up at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on July 16. This year’s event will feature a curated selection of street-inspired food from all kinds of vendors, including gourmet food trucks, old-school carts and stands, celebrity chefs, and restaurants, serving up everything from tacos to ice cream sandwiches. You’ll taste favorites from the Naan Stop, Grilled Cheese and Flying Pig trucks, Starry Kitchen and Guelaguetza restaurants, Food & Wine‘s Best New Chef Ricardo Zarate of Mo-Chica and Picca fame (who is creating something special just for this festival), and many, many more. There will also be a group of Baja chefs, including Javier Plascencia and Diego Hernandez, who will be cooking together for the first time. This feat was accomplished by none other than L.A.’s most-knowledgeable Mexican food aficionado, Bill Esparza of Street Gourmet L.A. There will also be ice cream, cocktails, beer and a special tequila tasting tent. It’s too much to list; here’s a list of L.A. Street Food Fest’s participants.

Naan Stop truck's samosa, which will be served at the L.A. Street Food Fest

Festival vendor Beachy Cream's Ginger Wipe Out with candied ginger ice cream and molasses spice cookie (left), Key Lime Cowabunga with key lime ice cream and coconut oatmeal cookie.

A portion of every ticket sold will benefit a local cause. This year it’s the Downtown Womens Center, which works to end homelessness among women.

To avoid long lines and overall craziness that has plagued the festival in the past, this year’s event is only offering a set amount of tickets. All tickets will be sold on a pre-sale basis only; tickets will not be available to purchase at the door. A $60 ticket gets you everything — food, drinks, cocktails, beer, music and parking.

For those of your concerned about Carmageddon, AKA the complete shutdown of the 405 freeway from late July 15 to early July 18, the Street Food Fest folks have come up with a whole staycation plan, with a free shuttle to the Gold Line, bicycle parking and hotel deals.


07 2011

Travelogue: California’s Central Coast, Part 2

The Lone Cypress in Carmel

The second part of our drive up the California coast started with a stop in Cambria. After a beautiful drive on Highway 46 from Paso Robles, we came upon the cutest little town and gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean in Cambria. We found a kind-of-crappy-but-good-enough-for-one-night motel called Mariners Inn for about $80 — a price that couldn’t be beat considering the place practically sat right on the water. Listening to the waves crash at night was delightful.

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06 2011

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…


10 2010

Holy crap, that’s a long line: L.A. Street Food Fest

This past weekend will go down in L.A. food history as The Weekend That Was The Clusterf*ck Known As The L.A. Street Food Fest. Don’t get me wrong — I thought it was a great idea, and I enjoyed myself while I was there. But as is the case with so many first-time events, there were problems, though I guess things could have been worse.

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02 2010

Another Blackboard Eats adventure: Ammo Restaurant

I had been wanting to try Ammo for a while, so when Blackboard Eats offered a 30 percent off deal for the entire check — including alcohol — I jumped on it. I recruited a few of my friends (the discount was good for up to parties of four) — the usual suspects, Esther of e*starLA, Caroline of Caroline on Crack, and H.C. of L.A. and O.C. Foodventures — to join me. What I discovered was a restaurant that offers great value for your buck in a pleasant (if a tad too dark) setting.

We started off with cocktails, of course. I had the restaurant’s whiskey sour, made with Black Maple Hill bourbon, and lemon, orange and grapefruit juice, topped with a house made brandied cherry. I liked the abundance of citrus, which gave it a light sweet and sour taste without using a nasty-tasting mix. I appreciated that.


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01 2010

Blackboard Eats adventure: Grace Restaurant

gracetableOK, so eating at Grace isn’t really an adventure, but this was my first time using a Blackboard Eats deal and my first time at Grace, so the whole experience was kind of adventure-like. And what an experience it was: great food, great service. Can’t beat that.

I cannot stress how important service is to me. Good service should be easy, but apparently far too many restaurants find this hard to come by. Service can make or break a diner’s whole experience, so when I encounter really great service (or really bad service), I make a mental note. In Grace’s case, the note is a pleasant one.

From the get-go, Grace exhibited nothing but exemplary service.  When I called to make the reservation, I asked if there was a way to substitute the main course on the Blackboard Eats prix fixe menu for something else. You see, the main course was supposed to be lamb, and I don’t like lamb. Honestly, I didn’t think the restaurant would accommodate me, that they would say that this special deal was what it was, and that would be that. But the person who took my call said she would ask the chef, who wasn’t available at the time, so she said she would call me back once she had a chance to ask him. And she 1) actually called me back the next day and 2) said I could have the salmon or grilled tempeh dishes from the regular menu instead. So of course I made a reservation for me and Esther of e*starLA, who had agreed to try out Grace — and Blackboard Eats — with me.

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12 2009