Tag Archives: bourdain

SXSW Austin Eats

Last year I was invited by Samsung to check out the food scene during South By Southwest (SXSW),  the yearly film, music and interactive conference in Austin, Texas.

There were so many incredible bites, including the BEST BRISKET I have ever tasted (photos below), and a pop-up food trailer park called SouthBites that made it easy to find some tasty surprises too. SouthBites will be up and running again at this year’s 2014 SXSW beginning March 7. Check out the details here. 

Franklin BBQ, Austin
If you haven’t been before, Franklin BBQ should be your first stop. Order the brisket.

I asked for the FATTY parts of the brisket. Franklin BBQ, Austin
Brisket… Glorious Brisket. I asked for the fatty part and it was life-changing!

Franklin BBQ, Austin
There will be a line at Franklin BBQ. It’s worth it. I arrived three hours before opening and was still about tenth in line. Thankfully someone across the street was renting chairs. About an hour before opening someone came around with beer for sale. Yes, beer for breakfast!

The MAN, Aaron Franklin.
The MAN, Arron Franklin.

Tipsy Texan Sandwich at Franklin BBQ, Austin
Tipsy Texan Sandwich with chopped beef, sausage, slaw, onions, pickles.

Brisket & Sausage at Franklin BBQ, Austin
The sausage is good too… but it really is ALL ABOUT THE BRISKET.

Franklin BBQ, Austin
“Sold Out”. I saw a few tears when the sign was posted. So full from my meat fest, I walked to the end of the line and gave my extra brisket to the last man standing. He smiled.

Do plan your schedule accordingly as Franklin BBQ is open Tuesday–Sunday and CLOSED on Mondays. Hours: 11am–sold out (just open for lunch). Watch Bourdain eat at Franklin hereMore Franklin BBQ photos.

Ramen Tatsu-ya (Austin, Texas)
Ramen Tatsu-ya is Austin’s first authentic Japanese ramen shop opened by chefs/DJs, Tatsu Aikawa and Takuya Matsumoto. Get there EARLY as well as there are usually lines out the door. Lunch Hours are Tues-Fri, 11am-2pm (Sat+Sun, 12pm-3pm), Dinner Hours are Tues-Sun, 5pm-10pm.

How good is it? Bon Appetit named them one of their Top 50 Restaurants! “A strip mall may not be the first place you might think to look for one of the country’s best new restaurants, but you’ll be glad you did when you stumble upon this Japanese gem. The dining room’s bright red chairs and red-accented lamps set a fun, energetic vibe, but it’s the steaming bowls of ramen with hunks of pork belly that cause fans to line up outside the door.”

#1 Tonkotsu Original at Ramen Tatsu-ya
Ramen Tatsu-ya’s #1 Tonkotsu Original: Creamy pork noodle soup with chashu, ajitama egg, wood ear mushroom and scallions. More Ramen Tatsu-ya photos

Barley Swine, Austin
Hankering for a more higher end (yet still casual) meal? Then head to Bryce Gilmore’s Barley Swine.

Crispy Trotter, Grilled Pig Face (Barley Swine)
I dined solo at the bar and started with the Crispy Trotter, Grilled Pig Face, Loin, Beans, Sauerkraut.

Hen Egg, Popcorn, Fermented Goats Milk (Barley Swine)
Soft Hen Egg, Popcorn, Fermented Goats Milk, Celery, Dill. No wonder GQ included Barley Swine on their 2012 Top 10 Restaurant list. More Barley Swine photos.

Veracruz in Austin, Texas
Veracruz All Natural is a food trailer located at 1704 E Cesar Chavez.

Migas with eggs, tortilla chips, avocado, cheese.
HANGOVER HEAVEN. Migas with eggs, tortilla chips, avocado, cheese at Veracruz.

Breakfast Migas at Veracruz in Austin, Texas
Two please. (Travel Maxie watching over my breakfast of champions). More Veracruz photos.

East Side King
Unfortunately I didn’t get to eat at Qui last year (I don’t think it was open yet!) but the awesome SouthBites food truck lot was curated by chef Paul Qui.

East Side King (a rare moment with NO LINES)
Fortunately I got to try Paul Qui’s food via his food truck, East Side King, at SouthBites.

Kara-age Kimchee Yakisoba
East Side King’s Kara-age Kimchee Yakisoba egg noodle, fried chicken kara-age, cabbage, cilantro, sesame, spicy mayo.

ESK Pork Belly Slider
ESK Pork Belly Slider: Pork Belly, Pickles, Cilantro on a Sweet Roll by East Side King.

Deep Fried WAGYU Weiner w Bacon Relish
I don’t see Foreign & Domestic on the #SouthBites food truck list this year, but their Deep Fried WAGYU Weiner w Bacon Relish was killer.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffle w Ancho Chile Honey
Scheduled to be at #SouthBites again is the comfort-food-on-wheels Waffle Bus. Definitely go for the Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffle w Ancho Chile Honey.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Also returning to SouthBites is Ohio’s Jeni’s Ice Cream. My favorite was their Salted Caramel Ice Cream.

Bushmill's Irish Honey Ice Cream at Coolhaus Austin
Follow CoolHaus Austin on twitter for SXSW locations. Their Bushmill’s Irish Honey Ice Cream is to DIE for.

Hey Cupcake! SXSW 2013
Hey Cupcake gets my vote for the CUTEST FOOD TRUCK ever!

Michael Jackson Chocolate Cupcake w Cream Cheese
Michael Jackson Chocolate Cupcake w Cream Cheese by Hey Cupcake.

Many thanks to Samsung for this fun and delicious experience! All my photos were taken on a Galaxy Note II.

All my Austin food photos

Franklin BBQ website

Ramen Tatsu-ya website

Barley Swine website

Veracruz on FaceBook

East Side King website

Waffle Bus website

Jeni’s Ice Cream website

Cool Haus Austin website

Hey Cupcake website

About SouthBites

SXSW SouthBites Food Trailer Park by Austin 360

Note: SouthBites is located at 604 Driskill St – Southeast corner of Cesar Chavez & Red River and is open to all SXSW Registrants & the general public.

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AUSTRALIA – Jo Bites Oz, Part One

Part One: Melbourne Food & Wine Preview, Flight to Oz (upgrade!), Searching for fire (Sichuan-style) in Chinatown.

Twenty-five years ago, I pretty much travelled non-stop for both work and pleasure. My ex-husband (we split in ’93) was a pilot for United Express and we took great advantage of free passes with its parent company, United Airlines. Back then (pre-9/11 of course) we had a stack of blank tickets and wrote in any, international (or domestic) destination.

Not only did we fly for free on United  (always on standby), but other major airlines honored the tickets as well. Yearly vacations to Europe (usually the Greek Islands), the U.K. and Japan were peppered in with work expeditions to Africa and the Arctic. My job as a field assistant to an award-winning nature photographer took me from safari tents in Tanzania to polar bear camps near Nunavut, Canada. Yeah, I know… I got PAID for that.

These days I don’t travel abroad too much, at least not as much as I used to. Once a year I visit my dad and step-mum in Scotland, and usually stop off to see friends in London. My husband Peter travels for work on occasion, and although we don’t have children, we DO have a house full of loving dogs.

My limited globetrotting is a separation-anxiety issue. Mostly mine, but the dogs suffer from it too. I hate leaving all of our dogs (currently we have Woody, Ziggy and Maxie), but it’s especially hard being away from my “baby” Maxie. He sleeps next to me every night, so when I travel… it simply has to be worth leaving him.

When Tourism Australia contacted me last summer, inviting me on a ten-day (all-expenses-paid) trip to be a “corOZpondant” (OZ + correspondent, get it?), I thought, “Well okay… THIS IS WORTH IT.”

MelbourneFoodAndWineLogoThe ten-day adventure began with previews of the 2014 Melbourne Food and Wine chefs and restaurants, which runs February 28 to March 16.

If you live near Melbourne or are planning a trip to Australia, you still have plenty of time to get tickets. This year, the Festival will celebrate all things water, with special events like MasterClasses led by international chefs including Christopher Kostow from Meadowood in Napa Valley. 

- Good Food Australia has a nice roundup of the upcoming event here.
– Melbourne Food and Wine video here.

In addition to the food and wine preview, I also got to browse local markets, wineries and coffee shops, travel the spectacular Great Ocean Road, and spent an afternoon on a beautiful farm with Dolores the truffle pig!

My Australia wine education continued with a short flight to Adelaide, South Australia to attend the Savour Wine Forum. Before flying home I attended a dinner in the Barossa Valley and shared wine with the legendary Maggie Beer.

NOTE: This is just PART ONE of my Australia adventure. I’ll be posting details and photos of the entire trip here on the blog, so please check back again soon!

Australia – Jo Bites Oz, Part One

My introduction to the generosity of Australia (and it’s people) actually began BEFORE I left Los Angeles. Whenever I travel, I’m especially organized and start packing weeks before the departure date. Guidebook? Check. Passport? Check. “Travel Maxie”. Check. Neck pillow for uncomfortable economy seat? Check. Healthy snack (usually almonds) to eat instead of crappy, airline junk? Check. Sleeping mask, for when your seatmate insists on leaving his reading light on the entire flight? Check!

After arriving several hours early at LAX (Los Angeles Airport), I walked around the terminal preparing myself for fourteen hours in a cramped, economy seat. While I waited to board the Virgin Australia flight to Melbourne (via Sydney), I logged on to Twitter to pass the time. There, a direct message was posted from Aussie chef Luke Mangan. We were introduced online via a mutual friend, and I was hoping to meet him while in Oz, but my trip did not include any time (except the plane change) in Sydney.

Luke asked if I had already checked in for the flight. I replied that in fact I had checked in two hours earlier. He quickly messaged me back and told me to check with customer service because he had me upgraded. It turns out that Luke Mangan was (and still is) Virgin Australia’s official chef.

As boarding announcements began, I ran up to the counter and asked the gate agent if she could check on my seat, which was printed 49G on the boarding card. She asked me why and I explained that a friend might have had me upgraded. With a tilt of her head, and an “in your dreams” rise of her eyebrow; the agent grabbed my back-of-the-plane boarding card and entered my name.

There was a pause, a blank stare, then a forced smile and, “you’ve got SOME friend at the airline” comment before printing out the new boarding card. Seat 1H… that meant I got to turn LEFT when I entered the plane… a rarity for me. Excited, I quickly photographed the two tickets before boarding the plane.

Neck pillow? Not needed. Healthy snack? Untouched. Sleeping mask? The down duvet covered my head just fine. What a way to arrive in Oz!

Photos – Travel to Oz and Day 1 in Melbourne (9/7/13)

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
Travel Maxie warming up my upgraded seat on Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
Chef Luke Mangan’s Menu, International Business from L.A. to Australia

Untitled
Delicious, rich mushroom soup with porcini and tarragon. Pure comfort.

Barramundi fillet w bok choy, ginger soy by Chef Luke Mangan
Barramundi fillet w bok choy, ginger soy. How did they get the skin so crispy in the air? So good!

Muenster cheddar, Chatelain camembert, Fourme d'Ambert blue
Cheese course: Muenster cheddar, Chatelain camembert, Fourme d’Ambert blue. Cheese over dessert anytime.

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
Scotch w a movie. Love the Sydney Opera House salt and pepper shakers on Virgin Australia. I did NOT steal them, but I thought about it!

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
The FULL BAR!

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
See? Stocked!

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
In case of turbulence… “Sit on the floor and hold on to bar stools”

Virgin Australia L.A. to Melbourne (via Sydney)
Ready for bed? The lovely air hostess reclined the seat (fully), fitted a pad over the seat, then offered a sleep suit or duvet. HEAVEN.

Along the Yarra River, Melbourne
Arriving in Melbourne, the Yarra River

View from Crown Metropol Hotel, Melbourne Australia
View from my room at the Crown Metropol Hotel. No time for Jet lag!

Crown Metropol Hotel, Melbourne Australia
The bed in my room looked inviting… but I actually SLEPT on the plane! Time to explore…

Chinatown, Melbourne
I jumped in a cab, headed to Chinatown and began searching for Dainty Sichuan restaurant. I first learned about it on an episode of Bourdain’s “No Reservations” and Jonathan Gold also suggested I eat there. Using my phone GPS I found the address posted on the Travel Channel website, but no luck. 

Fact: Chinatown Melbourne is the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the western world, dating back to the gold rush days of the 1850s.

Searching for Dainty Sichuan in Melbourne's Chinatown
Dainty Sichuan had MOVED and the current occupants (another Sichuan restaurant) had absolutely no desire to help me. I couldn’t blame them. How many other Bourdain fans had come knocking with dissapointment?

Searching for Dainty Sichuan in Melbourne's Chinatown.
I tried searching for the new address on my phone, but several addresses popped up and suddenly I was very confused AND jet lagged. So, I turned to my friend Twitter and asked if anyone knew where the original Dainty Sichuan had moved… and yes… a response in minutes!

Dainty Sichuan, recommended by Jonathan Gold (and Bourdain)
Now situated upstairs in a mall, the address for Dainty Sichuan is Level 1, 2A Cambridge Street, Box Hill, Victoria. Tel +61 3 9041 4318

Chongqing Chili Sichuan Chicken at Dainty Sichuan, Melbourne
There were SO many dishes I wanted to try, but since I was by myself I went for the Chongqing Chili Sichuan Chicken. “As seen on Travel Channel”, the server noted! Incredibly spicy, I was suddenly OVER my jet lag.

Chinatown, Melbourne
I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring and photographing Melbourne’s delightful ChinaTown.

Pool at Crown Metropol Hotel, Melbourne Australia
Back to the hotel for a refreshing swim before heading to dinner.

Part 2

Many thanks to  Tourism Australia, Tourism Victoria, Melbourne Food and Wine… and Luke Mangan of course!

If you’re on Instagram, I posted photos every day while in Australia. Just search for #JoBitesOz

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Chef Ludo’s New Show!

What a lineup! Ludo stars along with two of my long-time culinary heroes… BOURDAIN and NIGELLA!

TheTasteLudoBourdainNigella

Four culinary masters get down to what really matters, The Taste! Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre & Brian Malarkey will each coach a team of 4 cooks, consisting of professional chefs and home cooks whom they will hand pick based on a blind taste challenge. Throughout the season, their mentors will prepare them for challenges in creating dishes that will ultimately be judged by the superstar chefs in blind taste tests. One cook will be left standing to take home The Taste trophy along with a new Ford C-Max and $100,000! 

Premieres Tuesday, January 22 at 8|7c on ABC!

LudoBitches will be live-tweeting during each episode. Follow us at @LudoBitches!

The Taste on FaceBook

Follow The Taste on Twitter

Follow Ludo on Twitter

Follow Bourdain on Twitter

Follow Nigella on Twitter

Follow Brian on Twitter

TheTasteFBLudoBourdainNigella

 

Photos via The Taste

My photos with Ludo

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Meeting Bourdain

Last spring, when it was announced that Anthony Bourdain would be touring to promote his new book, I immediately hopped online and checked on ticket prices. June 16th was the date he’d be gracing UCLA’s Royce Hall stage, reading from “Medium Raw”, his his most-recent tell-all memoir. At $175 each, the tickets were pricey BUT included a meet and greet after-party, with food provided by Wilshire Restaurant.

Meeting Bourdain had been one of my life-long dreams, although instead of a book tour, I’d rather it had taken place at some gritty bar in New York (or Tokyo). “No Reservations” (his show on the Travel Channel) is my absolute favorite, and I’ve been a fan since his “Cook’s Tour” show aired on the Food Network.

To me, Bourdain is the ultimate BAD BOY chef (aka pure HOTNESS), and my heart was racing in anticipation for days before the event…

So was $175 ticket worth it?

HELL YES!!!!

V.I.P. Tickets (worth every penny!)
V.I.P Tickets

Bourdain signing my books!
I look so calm… but my heart was racing, I was sweating and shaking!! So, how does one spend an extra few seconds with Tony? By purchasing EXTRA books of course!

I can die now...
Absolute Joy.

Meeting Bourdain
During the V.I.P. post party we munched on Chef Andrew Kirschner’s treats from Wilshire Restaurant. Top Photo: Hamachi Crudo. Bottom Photo: Braised Pork Cheek Crostini with Bacon Tomato Jam and Cipollini Marmalade.

Bourdain V.I.P. Pass
Um yea… I slept with it.

More photos on Flickr

About Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain on Stage“No Reservations: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain”
June 16, 2010
8:00pm – 11:00pm

Royce Hall at UCLA,
340 Royce Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90095

“Kitchen Confidential”, Bourdain’s MUST-READ for food lovers!

No Reservations on Travel Channel

A Cook’s Tour (video clip)

“Medium Raw” by Anthony Bourdain

Meeting BourdainMy favorite quote from the book:
“Everyone should be able to make an omelet… Perhaps omelet skills should be learned at the same time you learn to fu*k.” (page 62)

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El Cafe Colombia

THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED.

 

A few weeks ago, after my Colombian friend Robert told me about his mother’s delicious home cooking, I embarrassingly admitted that my only experience with Colombian food, was from watching Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”.

If you’re a regular MyLastBite reader, you know how much I love Bourdain. He’s sort of like a “Fantasy Foodie Godfather” to me, and in my eyes he can do no wrong. Well, except for that one time when he ate warthog rectum in Namibia. I get queasy just thinking about that scene. Usually, whatever Bourdain eats, I want to eat it too.

The Colombia “No Reservations” episode was especially intriguing because I personally thought the country was “off limits” for travel. It seemed dangerous and definitely wasn’t on my “global wish list” of places to visit. I had no desire to voluntarily enter a country filled with battling drug cartels and a corrupt government.

Thankfully, Anthony Bourdain (and the Travel Channel) opened my eyes to the real Colombia.

Bourdain wrote:
“What you might not know about Colombia is that it’s beautiful. That the food is really good–with the same kind of fantastic mix of African, European and indigenous influences that makes Brazilian cuisine so interesting and vibrant. That they actually like Americans down there.”

Like so many of his episodes, I watch them over and over, hoping (mostly fantasizing) to someday eat in the exact same restaurants that Tony visits. Colombia is certainly on my travel wish list now!

El Cafe Colombia, MyLastBite.comLuckily for me, since I live in Los Angeles, I don’t need to travel far to experience authentic Colombian eats. Last week I met Robert for lunch at El Cafe Colombia, which is less than fifteen minutes away in nearby Burbank.

I rarely eat lunch (late breakfast, late dinner) so this was a real afternoon treat. Since both of Robert’s parents hail from Colombia (he also went to school there as a child), he knew exactly what dishes (and drinks!) I should try on this first visit.

Owners Reinaldo and Gabriela Alvarez were both charming and very patient with me (and my camera)! Not only did I love the food, but also the imported Colombian treats for sale as well. After a couple glasses of Refajo (soda mixed with beer) and finishing off a hearty lunch, I honestly felt like I had spent the afternoon in South America. Now I can’t wait to take my husband Peter… maybe a breakfast “trip to Colombia” next time!

What we ate:

El Cafe Colombia, MyLastBite.com
Empanadas $1.50 each

El Cafe Colombia, MyLastBite.com
Bandeja Paisa: Carne Asada , Chicharrón (Pork Belly marinated in garlic, then deep-fried), Patacón, Maduro Frito, Pinto beans and rice topped with a fried egg. Also includes a side of salad and Arepa. $12.95 (I did Bourdain proud, that chicharrón went FIRST!)

El Cafe Colombia, MyLastBite.com
Refajo Colombian Soda mixed with Beer

El Cafe Colombia, MyLastBite.com
Pandebono Colombian Cheese Bread. Looks simple right? Far from it! The texture was amazing… a little sweet, crispy and cheesy on top… light and fluffy inside.

El Cafe Colombia, MyLastBite.com
Arequipe Dulce de Leche from Colombia. I don’t love sweets but I LOVE THIS.

El Cafe Colombia, MyLastBite.com
Imported Colombian goodies! Of course I took home some treats.

El Cafe Colombia
222 So. Glenoaks Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91502
(818) 558-3985

Website

Dining Date: 9/29/09

All El Cafe Colombia photos on Flickr

About Colombia

Cuisine of Colombia

Anthony Bourdain’s Colombia Photo Journal

Anthony Bourdain’s Colombia Travel Guide

Robert’s mother is from Cali, Colombia

Robert’s father is from Boyaca, Columbia 

Cafe Colombia on Urbanspoon

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The Bazaar by José Andrés [11]

After multiple visits to the Bazaar (this being number eleven), Peter and I get most excited when we’re bringing in “Bazaar Virgins” (first timers) to the restaurant. It’s even more fun when they’re big time foodies like our friends Ron and Diane. Thanks to the wonderful staff (William, Felix, Alison, Audra!), we were seated at my favorite table in the Rojo room, with a direct view of the open kitchen.

It’s always a delight when Amanda rolls up to our table with the liquid nitrogen cart (or caviar or cotton candy). And I love when servers that aren’t even working our table (Calvin and Hugh) stop by for a quick hello. I’ve had several people ask me why I keep returning to the Bazaar, when there are so many other places to try, and honestly… besides the incredible food and fun atmosphere, it’s because they make me (and my “virgins”) feel perfectly welcome on each and every visit.

THANK YOU to everyone at Bazaar and SLS!

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
West Hollywood Cone: Rainbow Tobiko Caviar (almost too pretty to eat!)

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Papas Canarias: Salty, wrinkled potatoes with mojo verde

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Japanese Taco: Grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi and chicharron

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Tortilla de Patates “New Way” Potato Foam, egg 63, caramelized onions

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Gazpacho estilo Algeciras: Traditional gazpacho

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Ensaladilla Rusa: Potato salad, tuna belly and mayo (I know this doesn’t look like much, but the flavors here were FANTASTIC.)

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Wild Mushroom Soup: Idiazabal cheese and golden egg yolk

Bazaar Visit #11, MyLastBite.com
Uva Bella cocktails (muddled white grapes, gin, elderflower liqueur, fresh lemon juice, simple syrup and orange bitters).

The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel
 465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 9004
(310) 246-5555
http://www.theBazaar.com

< Visit 10

Dining date: 4/26/09

The Bazaar By Jose Andres on Urbanspoon

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Saam (Bazaar visit 9, Saam visit 1)

Dining in the new Saam restaurant makes you feel special. It’s located behind a secured, nondescript door near Bar Centro, at the Bazaar by José Andrés. Each of the twenty courses (one or two bites each) are brought out on individual plates, while you sit at one of the exclusive, coveted tables. To me, it feels like a sleek and sexy modern-day speakeasy.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.comThe service? Impeccable. I haven’t been to Alinea yet, but I’m guessing the experience is close, or at least as close as we’re going to get here in Los Angeles! It’s like flying first class, where you’re treated like a celebrity and you know it. Especially true for an early dinner on opening weekend. We were one of the first to be seated for the Saturday evening service, and at times there were four staff members looking after the two of us.

The food? It was my ninth visit to the Bazaar and I knew the menu backwards and forwards, so I was pleasantly surprised to find each dish “kicked up a notch”, and thrilled to try a few new bites as well. I found myself mouthing “wow” to my husband Peter, especially when we were served updated versions of dishes we tried on previous visits.

“Saam: The Chef’s Tasting Menu” is printed on top of each take-home menu (rolled up and tied with a little black ribbon), a great souvenir to remember an elegant evening. But throughout our wonderful dinner, I couldn’t help but feel there was something missing. The food was the best I’d ever had at the Bazaar, so that wasn’t it. Our server Charlie was attentive, engaging and throughly knowledgeable. Carolina was nearby in case we had any needs or questions as well. Managers William and Felix stopped by to ensure that we (and later, each and every table) were enjoying the evening, but my dinner still felt incomplete. Why?

Because “Saam: The Chef’s Tasting Room” was missing the one thing I love most about the Bazaar (besides the food), it was missing the chefs.

My favorite tables at the Bazaar are one of the two “Tron” tables in the Rojo room. They’re not officially called “Tron” tables… that’s just what we call them because they have cool laser-like red lights beneath the surface. The few times I’ve been lucky enough to have a seat facing the open kitchen was at one of the these tables. I loved watching Chef Voltaggio warm up the “smoking” gun to finish off the salmon dishes. And as a fan of the show “Top Chef”, could there be anything better than seeing Chef Marcel Vigneron working the foam? By the way, I think the show portrayed him as an arrogant nitwit, because in person he’s a real sweetheart. 

After we finished our evening at Saam, we made our way to the Rojo kitchen where the kitchen staff was in full swing. It was busy, crowded and the room was filled with the frenetic energy that I missed. It sort of felt like I had been at the wrong party earlier.

Do I recommend Saam? Absolutely. Especially if it’s your first visit to the Bazaar. It’s quieter and more focused than either the Rojo or the Blanca room, and you’ll be carefully guided through a palate pleasing, high-flying experience. Heck, it’s not that I don’t like flying first class (the few times I’ve experienced it), it’s just that I like watching the crew even better.

Tasting Menu is $120 per person.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #1: Salt Air Margarita. Delicious as always.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #2: Sweet Potato Chips and Yogurt Dip. I love the anise flavor in the yogurt.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
 Caviar Steamed Bun. Using the steamed bun makes for a nice twist on a classic.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #4: Olive Oil Bonbon This was such a treat!! I first saw this being made on “Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie” by Chef Andrés and his Minibar Chefs: Ruben Garcia and Katsuya Fukushima. It’s like a candy shell filled with olive oil. Into your mouth and it crumbles. SO AMAZING.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #5: Bagel and Lox Cone. Delicious as always.

Foie Gras Cotton Candy, MyLastBite.com
Course #6: Cotton Candy Foie Gras (foie gras rolled in corn nuts). Still a favorite and so good I forgot to take a photo before eating! (photo from previous visit)

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #7: Olives Ferran Adria. My first love (and why I started taking Molecular Gastronomy classes last year!)

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #8: Jose’s Ham and Cheese.  I LOVED the Jamón Ibérico with the soft La Serena cheese inside the “air bread”. This was one of the “kicked up” dish updates, similar to “Philly Cheesesteak”. La Serena is a creamy, aromatic (aka really stinky which I love!) cheese from Extremadura in Western Spain.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #9: Sea Urchin Conservas. Fantastic flavors AND presentation.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #10: Boneless Chicken Wing. Delicious as always.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #11: Shrimp Cocktail. The updated cocktail sauce was richer, almost creamy.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #12: Nitro Gazpacho. I always love when the Liquid Nitrogen cart rolls up! Gazpacho “cooked” in the nitro.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #13: Blufin Tuna Toro (and Norwegian Lobster). Both AMAZING.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #14: Norwegian Lobster.
Perfection in one bite.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #15: “Smoked” Salmon. Another favorite, the dish is finished using a “smoking gun”.

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #16: Not Your Everyday Caprese (top). I recently learned how to make these liquid mozzarella balls!

Course #17: Tournedos Rossinii 2009. Wagyu beef, truffle and foie gras. MORE PLEASE!

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Course #18: Dragon’s Breath (caramel popcorn “cooked” in liquid nitrogen). Currently only served in the Saam room, we’ve enjoyed it several times before. It’s FUN!

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Felix Meana making Dragon’s Breath

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Coconut in a “Half Shell”. Peter loved all three desserts. I was too full!

Saam at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Chocolate Biscuit Coulant Michel Bras (above) and Petit Fours: Tablets, Bonbons

Saam, at the Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel
 465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 9004
(310) 246-5555
Dining date: 4/11/09

Mentioned above:

Tron, the movie

Tron, the table

Alinea (someday!)

Top Chef

Smoking Gun

Molecular Gastronomy Classes

Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie

Watch the episode with the Olive Oil Bonbon!

MiniBar

In the kitchen with the chefs

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Filed under Eating Out, Molecular Cooking