Tag Archives: wine

AUSTRALIA – Jo Bites Oz, Part Two

Part Two: Atlantic Restaurant – Melbourne, Australia

Part ONE of my Australia adventure here.

This year, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival (MFWF) will celebrate all things water. As noted on the official website, “In 2014 we honour water; soaking, dousing, steaming and fishing our way through a veritable ocean of information from sous vide to sustainability, from the Amazon to the Arctic.”

If you missed my last post, in September I was invited by Tourism Australia to preview some of the festival restaurants, in and around Melbourne. MFWF programs begin on February 28th and run through March 16th. Click here for details.

The Atlantic Restaurant, MelbourneMy first night in Melbourne I attended a dinner at Chef Donovan Cooke’s Atlantic Restaurant, an “ocean to plate” concept that fits in perfectly with the upcoming festival’s water theme. After an early-morning arrival from Los Angeles, plus an afternoon exploring Sichuan food (aka getting lost) in Chinatown… I was ready for an elegant, fine-dining experience.

Yorkshire-born Donovan Cooke has quite a distinguished culinary pedigree, honing his skills under the likes of Marco Pierre White and Michel Roux.

From the Atlantic website:
“He has worked at The Savoy Hotel and the Waterside Inn in London and La Cote St Jacques in Roigny, France. Donovan was Head Chef at the age of 23 at Harvey’s. Donovan came to Melbourne in 1996 where he was co-creator of the influential Est Est Est in 1997. Luxe was next was awarded The Age Good Food Guide three hats in its first year. Ondine followed and it was awarded Best New Restaurant in 2002. From 2004, Donovan was chef de cuisine at Derby Restaurant and Bar at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. In 2005, he was recognized as Honorary Commander, La Commanderie des Cordon bleus de France for outstanding culinary achievements.”

In 2010, Donovan returned to Melbourne to become Executive Chef and partner of The Atlantic. The restaurant theme is inspired by the “hustle and bustle of the fish markets of years gone by, in New York and Chicago.” It’s a beautiful, waterfront location, set on the banks of the Yarra River.

Melbourne Food & Wine describes Donovan as “Intense, earnest and knowledgeable, Donovan Cooke has a reputation for his uncompromising approach to impeccable seafood and the best way to handle it. His Michelin pedigree is undeniable; his skill and technique, faultless.”

And yes, he’s also been on MasterChef Australia!

For this MFWF preview dinner, Chef Scott Pickett (Estelle Bar & Kitchen) was also manning the stoves along with Donovan Cooke. Pickett also has an impressive cooking background, winning Two Chef Hats in the Age Good Food Guide.

Photos – Dinner at The Atlantic Restaurant (9/8/13)

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
The Atlantic on the banks of the Yarra River.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
“Ocean to Plate”. Seafood on display, like a fish market!

The Den (at the Atlantic Restaurant) Melbourne
Cocktails before dinner at the The Den, downstairs from the restaurant. (This photo from Atlantic website)

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Wagyu Bresaola, Quail yolk, Heritage Cauliflower by Chef Scott Pickett. You can’t see the quail egg in this photo, but this was such a gorgeous dish. The crunchy chips added a great texture.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Truffled “Chicken Wings”, Hand-Rolled Macaroni, Broccoli Crumbs by Chef Scott Pickett. Pure comfort food. De-boned wings made into sausages. More please.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Olive Oil Confit Ora King Salmon, Spring Vegetables, Diamond Clams, Artichoke Essence, Confit Tomatoes, Soft Herb Emulsion by Chef Donovan Cooke. PERFECTION. He has spent TWO DECADES refining this salmon dish. A fact that’s even posted on his twitter profile.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
I had the absolute pleasure of dining (and drinking) next to Coldstream Hills Winemaker, Andrew Fleming. He explained each pairing and made the evening so much fun!
Wine: Coldstream Hills Chardonnay Notes of grapefruit and stone fruit and a creamy mouthfeel.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Wine: Seppelt Chalambar Shiraz  Black fruits with subtle hints of pepper.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Just getting started.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Kitchen Tour (Chef Donovan Cooke at right)

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Chef Donovan Cooke (and his tasting spoons)

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Hanging out on the line…

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Mixed Berry Cheesecake Trifle: Raspberry cheesecake foam, cream cheese ice cream, vanilla cookies, strawberry jelly, berry marmalade by Pastry Chef Rhiannon Voros. Such a shame I only had room for one bite.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
More sweets! Nougat, Valrhona White Chocolate, Pistachio Nuts, Cranberries by Pastry Chef Rhiannon Voros. Loved the pistachio.

The Atlantic Restaurant, Melbourne
Scott Pickett (left) and Donovan Cooke. Bad Ass Chefs.

Note: Donovan Cooke will be appearing at the MFWF 2014 Langham Melbourne MasterClass. Info and Tickets

The Atlantic Restaurant
Crown Entertainment Complex
8 Whiteman Street
Southbank VIC 3006
Tel: +61 3 9698 8888
www.theatlantic.com.au

Follow Donovan Cooke on Twitter, FaceBook

Scott Pickett’s Estelle Bar and Kitchen
243 High St, Northcote VIC 3070, Australia
+61 3 9489 4609
www.estellebarkitchen.com.au

Follow Scott Picket on Twitter

Melbourne, Day 1Many thanks to Melbourne Food and WineTourism AustraliaTourism Victoria

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

Check back soon for more Australia!

Part ONE

Part THREE

Leave a comment

Filed under Eating Out, Travel

Magnum at Biergarten

No one person has taught me to appreciate wine, like my good friend David Haskell. Like many of his pals, I call him simply “Haskell” because (for me) it rhymes with RASCAL.

David Haskell pairing Slaw Dogs for me!My drink of choice, ever since I was a young gal has always been vodka (don’t hate me!). Diet lemonade & vodka on the rocks was always our “house party drink”, due to it’s low carb (and quick buzz) factor. And to be honest, I can’t think of anything sexier than an old-school, super-chilled vodka martini (straight up with 4 olives) at the Polo Lounge in Beverly Hills.

Gin and I have an (almost) irreparable history. A high-school aftertoon jacuzzi party with straight gin & naughty teens (myself included) made me associate the juniper berries with vomit. Mind you, this was THIRTY years ago! Recently at Fraiche restaurant, I was surprised that I actually liked a gin cocktail called St. Tropez. I liked it so much that I asked our server to double-check that it wasn’t vodka! Gotta give some props to Henricks Gin for sure.

The first time I drank wine with Haskell was when he did a Slaw Dogs (yup, hot dogs!) wine pairing for me. It was a really fun afternoon, and I was blown away at how he even took the time to pair the side of onion rings with Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Märzen Beer.

During our lunches at Jitlada Thai, I started to appreciate how special Haskell’s wine skills really are. It’s not just that he knows so much about wine (he worked at Le Cirque and Aquavit in New York, Guy Savoy in Paris) but it’s the WAY he shares this knowledge. I’m still new to LIKING wine, although there are a few bottles I do keep around, like A Mano’s Primitivo or a crisp Bastianich Tocai. Haskell makes learning about wine fun, he’s never arrogant and ALWAYS surprises me and my palate.

Recently, he and ex-Bastide Chef Joseph Mahon started a dining pop-up called “Magnum”. Of course I had to be there to support the rascal, and since Peter was working, I grabbed my best friend Brent for a trek to Biergarten in Korea Town, the location of the first MAGNUM event. Not only was Chef Mahon’s food phenomenal (I never got to Bastide during his tenure), but Haskell’s pairings were out of this world. For the first course he paired a rosé champagne with a carrot pudding and explained that the combined flavors would result in creamsicle. It did (even turning creamy on my tongue), and that was just the start to a fantastic evening. I cannot wait for the next Magnum event!

Magnum at Biergarten:

Magnum at Biergarten
Orange Granita with Shaved Peanuts, paired with NV Jules et Michel Beauchamp: Champagne, France: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier (combined)

Magnum at Biergarten
Coconut Soup with Mussels, Tapioca, Cilantro Pistou and Lime paired with Wakatake “Onikoroshi”, Junmai Daiginjo: Shizuoka, Japan

Magnum at Biergarten
Wild Mushrooms: Dashi, Pork Cheeks, Rice Paper, Béarnaise Mousse paired with 2006 Domaine Jo Pithon “Les Blanches Bergeres”: Anjou, France: Chenin Blanc

Magnum at Biergarten
Fried Chicken with Arugula, Bacon, Dried Tomato, Celery, Radish, Buttermilk Dressing paired with 2007 G. Moulinier “Les Sigillaires”: St. Chinian, France: Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre

Magnum at Biergarten
Cured Salmon with Pickled Cabbage. Cucumber, Daikon, Kimchee Broth paired with AleSmith Brewing Company “Nautical Nut Brown Ale”: San Diego, USA

Magnum at Biergarten
Duck Confit with Black Beans, Swiss Chard, Black Vinegar Sauce paired with 2008 Pithon-Paille: Bourgueil, France: Cabernet Franc

Magnum at Biergarten
Ginger Bread Waffles with Cranberries, Clover Honey, Whipped Creme Fraiche paired with Jinro “Chamisul Soju”: Seoul, South Korea

Magnum at Biergarten
NV Jules et Michel Beauchamp: Champagne, France: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier
Wakatake “Onikoroshi”, Junmai Daiginjo: Shizuoka, Japan
2007 G. Moulinier “Les Sigillaires”: St. Chinian, France: Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre

Magnum at BiergartenAll photos from Magnum at Biergarten

Biergarten
206 North Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90004
(323) 466-4860
Dining Date: 12/14/10

Follow @DavidSHaskell & @JosephMahon for MAGNUM event updates!

A few photos of Haskell Pairing Slaw Dogs for me (full post soon)!

More Photos of Haskell’s Pairings

Jitlada Thai Restaurant

Gin Cocktail at Fraiche

The Polo Lounge

Hendricks Gin

Slaw Dogs

1 Comment

Filed under Food Events (festivals, classes, etc.)

Best New Chefs!

My friends at Animal Restaurant were just named “Best New Chefs” by Food and Wine Magazine. Congratulations to Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook!

The complete list at Food and Wine Magazine

Jon, Jo, Vin
Jon, Jo, Vin food and wine best new chefs chefs 2009 animal restaurant vinny dotolo jon shook food and wine best new chefs chefs 2009 animal restaurant vinny dotolo jon shook

Food and Wine Magazine

Positively Delicious Photos from Animal on Flickr

My Many Visits to Animal, Start Here

food and wine best new chefs chefs 2009 animal restaurant vinny dotolo jon shook food and wine best new chefs chefs 2009 animal restaurant vinny dotolo jon shook food and wine best new chefs chefs 2009 animal restaurant vinny dotolo jon shook food and wine best new chefs chefs 2009 animal restaurant vinny dotolo jon shook “Best New Chefs” by Food and Wine Magazine.Congratulations to chefs Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook

4 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Little Bites

Animal’s Loco Moco

ilikai hotel, MyLastBite.comI first tried Loco Moco back in 2003 while on vacation with my husband in Hawaii. It was Peter’s first visit to the islands, and I insisted that we stay at the Ilikai Hotel on Oahu. I’ve always been a huge fan of  “Hawaii Five-O”, and if you remember the opening credits with the cool, balcony shot of Jack Lord (aka the legendary Steve McGarrett!), then you’ll recognize the Ilikai Hotel. We had such a fun time visiting random locations from the show, and we definitely made an effort to eat like the locals.

Loco Moco Hawaii 2003, MyLastBite.comOur favorite dish was (of course) the Loco Moco. The traditional version is made with white rice, hamburger, fried eggs and brown gravy. We first ordered the burger version for breakfast at our hotel, and also tried a SPAM version (instead of beef) that I loved.

It’s been almost six years since I enjoyed that first plate of Loco Moco and I guess I just never thought about searching it out in Los Angeles. So when I read about Animal’s version on TastingTable last week, my heart skipped a beat and I sent Peter a text: “WE NEED TO GET TO ANIMAL NOW!”

Animal’s Loco Moco (below) is anything but “traditional”, and should probably be called “Beyond Loco Moco”, or simply “WHACK”! The dish exemplifies the reason I love Animal so much… because chefs Vinny and Jon are absolutely FEARLESS. Their version doesn’t come with just the burger or a piece of SPAM. It comes with BOTH, and they top it off with an insanely decadent piece of seared foie gras and a fried quail egg.

Foie Gras Loco Moco! MyLastBite.com

It was so good that Peter and I couldn’t stop laughing while we ate it! You know, that guilty “we should be ashamed but we’re NOT” sort of laughing. I can still taste the runny egg yolk spilling over the seared foie gras, through the crispy spam and tender beef, then down to the bottom of the gravy soaked rice. 

Foie Gras Loco Moco! MyLastBite.com

Of course it was rich… and I admit that I made sure Peter and I both took our 81 grams of heart-healthy aspirin afterwards. A few days later, I’m pretty certain I still haven’t worked off the calories, but it was SO worth it! Foie Gras Loco Moco, Quail Egg, SPAM, Niman Ranch Burger, Anson Mills Gold Rice, $35

Crispy Hominy and Lime, MyLastBite.com

I try to order only new things when we eat at Animal, but Peter insisted on getting his favorite Crispy Hominy and Lime! $5

Fluke Crudo, MyLastBite.com
Along with the Loco Moco we did select a light and healthy dish (above) that we loved. The palate-cleansing and refreshing Sliced Fluke, Citrus, Mint, Sea Salt & Jalapeno, $12. (See? They make healthy dishes too!)

[Visit #11)

Animal Restaurant
http://www.animalrestaurant.com
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

Mentioned Above:

Tasting Table

Opening Scene of Hawaii Five-O

Ilikai Hotel

More SPAM

Loco Moco on Wikipedia

A few more Hawaii Photos:
Hawaii 2003, MyLastBite.com   Hawaii 2003, MyLastBite.com

< Animal Visit #10

Written by Jo Stougaard ©MyLastBite.com All Rights Reserved.
No usage allowed including copying or sharing without written permission.

10 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me)

The Bazaar by José Andrés [4]

I think it’s perfectly fitting that my fourth visit to the Bazaar by José Andrés, came just a few days before the L.A. Times awarded the restaurant FOUR stars. I don’t have a rating system on MyLastBite, but if I did… I would give the Bazaar a TEN (out of ten).

Since the very first night the restaurant opened (I was there), I’ve been telling everyone about this “gift” that Jose Andres has given to L.A. I know times are tough, but if you can afford to eat out once in awhile and haven’t been to the Bazaar yet, then make a reservation now. Your spirits (and taste-buds) will be quickly lifted, and you’ll feel good that you did something nice for yourself.

I love the Bazaar so much that I find myself berating friends who haven’t been there yet. These are friends who eat out once or twice a week and just haven’t “gotten around to it”. I want to shake them and scream “Do you have ANY idea what you are missing?”. Thanks to S. Irene Virbilia (L.A. Times Restaurant Critic), maybe now they’ll finally go experience the magic for themselves. 

The Bazaar is not just a “special occasion” restaurant, although on this fourth visit we went to celebrate my nephew Cody’s birthday. Each time we go to the restaurant, Peter and I make sure to take family or friends, because it’s such an awesome experience to share with people you love… especially if you are celebrating something (or someone) special! 

What we ate:

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Of course, we started the evening with my favorite… the 
Foie Gras Cotton Candy! Bites of foie gras rolled in crushed corn nuts then wrapped in cotton candy. My nephew Cody and his girlfriend Jade loved them! $5

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.comCaviar Cones with Crème Fraîche $8

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Nitro Caipirinha $20

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Making the Nitro Caipirinha (cachaça and lime) made with Liquid Nitrogen

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
“Not Your Everyday (Winter) Caprese” (Molecular Liquid Mozzarella Balls)$12

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Steamed Crab Buns with Pickled Japanese Cucumber $15

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
”Just Shrimp Cocktail: Yea Right” $12

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Alitas de pollo: Boneless chicken wings with green olive puree $9. These were so good, we ordered seconds!

Mushrooms toped with Truffles, MyLastBite.com

Chef Marcel Vigneron brought this special dish to our table. I can’t remember what is was called, but it was filled with mushrooms and topped with freshly shaved truffles. A wonderful treat… THANKS CHEF!!

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
truffles, lovely truffles!

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Pisto Manchego con flor de calabaza: Sauteed peppers, zuchini, onions, eggplant and tomatoes with a beautiful poached egg. $9

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Beef Hanger Steak and Piquillo Pepper Confit $10

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Japanese Baby Peaches with Persimmon, Yogurt and Olive Oil $12

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
The incredibly gracious William Douillet making our “Dragon’s Breath”! Caramel Popcorn bites “cooked” in Liquid Nitrogen!

Liquid Nitrogen at the Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
William lifting the Caramel Popcorn out of the Liquid Nitrogen!

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
I love Cody’s face as he bites into the “Dragon’s Breath”!! Priceless.

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Cody exhaling the “Dragon’s Breath”

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Cody, Jade and Chef Marcel Vigneron

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
The Patisserie Menu

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Nitro Island, specially delivered by the lovely Waylyn Lucas!

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
“Nitro Coconut Floating Island” Dessert $10

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Apples Carlota $10

Cody's Birthday at Bazaar, MyLastBite.com
Jo, Felix, William, Dan, Jade and Cody. Thanks for ANOTHER fantastic evening!

At The Bazaar by Jose Andres, MyLastBite.com 
My wonderful husband, Peter.

Additional dishes we had (as well as previous visits):

Olives Ferran $8

Sweet potato chips $10

Toro (Tuna) “Nigiri”, Wasabi, Watermelon, Soy and Jalapeño $16

Jicama wrapped guacamole with micro cilantro and corn nuts $10

“Philly Cheesesteak”: Air bread filled with cheese and topped with Kobe beef $8

Lomo de corder con Patatas y trufas: Lamb Loin with Mushrooms and Potato. $14.00

Jamon Platter $32

Five Quesos: Murcia, Valdeon, Idiazabal, La Serena, Manchego $25

Jamon Croquettes $9

The Bazaar by José Andrés, SLS Hotel
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 246-5555
http://www.TheBazaar.com

Bazaar photos on Flickr

Dining Date: 2/15/09

<– Bazaar Visit #3

–> Bazaar Visit # 5 and 6

Mentioned Above:

L.A. Times (Don’t miss the awesome video)

About Cody

My Adventures in Molecular Cooking

The Bazaar by Jose Andres on Urbanspoon

17 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Molecular Cooking

Animal [10]

I was a little worried about taking our friends, Ron and Diane, to Animal over the weekend. Ever since my first visit to the restaurant last summer, I’d been raving, ranting and downright praising the food heavens for bringing us Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo. Not only because everything they cook is delicious and adventurous (link to previous posts & photos below), but also the profound sentimentality I feel when I eat it. The food at Animal reminds me of my dad’s cooking and since he lives far away in Scotland, a meal at Animal makes me feel closer to him. A little silly I know, but that’s the magic of food and memories.

For our dinner last Saturday, our server was someone new (to us). Joshua was sweet and very helpful, especially when we were deciding which wine would go with our various dishes. After we tasted a couple of different glasses, we selected the La Salette Valpolicella (Italy) 2006, $54. The new manager, Asher, was also very gracious and made sure I went back to see the guys in the kitchen (I missed them!). Jon (chef & co-owner) came out to say hi to Peter and meet our friends, then had to get back on the line for the busy dinner service.

After Joshua took our orders, I was still a little concerned about Ron and Diane. They’ve eaten in the best foodie towns in the world… from Le Bernardin in New York, to the freshest sashimi in Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market. Would Animal be good enough for them? Maybe I overhyped it. Maybe the food wouldn’t be “refined” enough for them.

I need not have fretted of course because, just like me… they LOVED every bite. 

What we ate:

Fried Chicken Livers at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Fried Chicken Livers w/ Jalapeno Slaw $7

Pork Belly at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Pork Belly, Kimchi, Peanuts, Chili, Soy Sauce & Scallions $11

Rabbit Ravioli at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Rabbit & Kale Ravioli w/ Truffle Butter & Parmesan $22. (This dish forced me to have bad table manners because after finishing the ravioli, I couldn’t stop dipping my finger into the truffle butter sauce!)

Flatiron Steak at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Flatiron Steak w/ Mash, Foie Gras Sauce, & Roasted Cipollini Onions $28

Mexican Shrimp at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Mexican Shrimp, Fennel, Olives, Tomato, Borlotti Beans & Green Garlic $26

Duck Breast at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Duck breast with parsnip, apples, bacon, butternut squash & red wine $25

Desserts at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Bacon Chocolate Crunch Bar w/ S&P Anglaise $8, Tres Leches Cake $7, Joe’s Doughnuts w/ Apple & Caramel $8

Donuts at Animal, MyLastBite.com
A close up of
Joe’s Doughnuts w/ Apple & Caramel $8 (As Bourdain would say…”these are purely EVIL… but in a GOOD way”)

We also ordered: Crispy Hominy with lime $5 (Ron said he loved it, and he could imagine movie theaters selling fried hominy by the bucket!)
and
Melted Petit Basque with Chorizo and Garlic Bread $11

Dining Date: 2/7/09

<- Visits 8 & 9

- > Visit 11

Animal Restaurant
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225
Website

Mentioned Above:

Tsukiji Fish Market

Le Bernardin

La Salette Wines

Bourdain

Eater L.A.

With my dad in Scotland

 

Animal on Urbanspoon

5 Comments

Filed under Eating Out

Sign up for “Tasting Table”!

tastingtable1

To Los Angeles area food lovers…
Sign up for “Tasting Table LA” (former editor of Eater LA, Lesley Balla, is the new editor) via
this link or by clicking above.

“Tasting Table is a free daily email that delivers the best of L.A. food culture to adventurous eaters everywhere. Each weekday, we send our subscribers one delicious idea about dining, wine, cocktails, cooking or restaurant personalities”.

Leave a comment

Filed under Little Bites

Palate Food & Wine [1 & 2]

When Palate Food & Wine first opened last May, I thought the restaurant was located in a mall. Specifically, I thought it was one of the new eateries at the “Americana at Brand” in Glendale. I immediately added it to my “eat there soon” list, but I hesitated making a reservation because it was in a mall.

It’s not that I have anything against eating at a mall. Whenever I go to the Grove (next to Farmer’s Market), I love eating at Ulysses Voyage Greek restaurant. My favorite bite there is the “Chicken Lemonato”. When I go shopping with my sister’s kids at Montclair Plaza, we ALWAYS stop for a bite at Hotdog-On-A-Stick, and it’s usually me begging to stop! I have no problem eating at a mall… it’s just that I’ve never gone to a mall for the sole purpose of dining … until recently.

When Los Angeles Magazine proclaimed Palate Food and Wine, the “Years Best Restaurant” (Jan 2009 issue), I thought “well that’s worth eating at a mall”. My husband and I made a reservation for an early 6pm Saturday dinner on January 3rd. We left the house about thirty minutes before (it would usually be about a fifteen minute drive), because we were concerned about busy mall parking. I was also worried about trying to find the restaurant in a shopping center that neither of us had been to before.

Driving up to Americana we saw signs for valet parking so we turned in the driveway, but before we got out I asked, “which way is Palate?”. The valet had no clue so we waited in the car while he checked for us. He came back a minute later and said there was no “Palate” restaurant at Americana. 

By this time, I decided to do the obvious thing and called the restaurant for directions. I wish I could find a better word than this, but since it works so beautifully here… I simply need to say… DUH, Palate Food and Wine is NOT located at the mall!

For those of you (who like me) thought it was located INSIDE the Americana at Brand, the restaurant is actually a few blocks PAST the mall (if you’re coming from the 134 freeway). It’s on the right side (on Brand blvd) in between Garfield and Chevy Chase Dr. Just look for the Mazda dealership and you’re very close.

What about the food? We LOVED it. So much that we went back the next Saturday, but this time for a later 9:30 dinner reservation (just to get a different vibe). Chef Becerra was warm and inviting on both visits. We chatted about truffles on the first night and pork belly on the second. I mistakenly thought the pork belly portions were bone marrow (from across the room) and was wondering why they weren’t on the menu. 

During our first dinner at Palate, our table was next to where Chef Becerra was expediting orders… which is absolute HEAVEN for me, except my back was to the chef and kitchen! Peter kept “oohing” and watching as Chef Becerra was finishing the plates before sending them out to diners. I made sure I had the better view on our second visit.

Near the end of that first dinner…. after we had ordered our cheese course, Peter said “hey, that looks like a truffle shaver. I think the chef is shaving truffles”. I quickly snapped my head around and yes indeed… Becerra was shaving big, beautiful black truffles on to what looked like three portions of the lightest, fluffiest scrambled eggs ever. This was definitely not on the menu so I asked the chef what he was making. And then I called our waiter over so, we too, could partake in the decadent truffle egg dish.

The waiter paused and said “really?… you want to order it now, after your cheese course? I’ll have to check with the chef”. A few minutes later we were happily eating the lighter-than-air fluffy eggs (on a crostini) covered with perfectly shaved truffle slices.

That was definitely one of our favorite bites at Palate (so far). And we would have missed it if Peter didn’t know what a truffle shaver was! He was familiar with it because I use ours regularly to slice garlic and shallots. It would have been so unfortunate if we had missed out on the delicious “off the menu” dish.

Our favorite server on both nights was the lovely and charming Monica. Just like Chef Becerra, she made us feel comfortable and welcome. If you haven’t been to Palate yet, you should find your way there (it’s not at the mall!) soon.

What we ate (from “Winter Dinner Menus” 43 & 44)
Butter at Palate, MyLastBite.com
Homemade butter with radish slices and fleur de sel.

Dinner at Palate, MyLastBite.com
Porkfolio with Grape Leave Mustard $12, Potted Salmon Rillettes $5, Short Ribs (with Pomme Puree) $19, Pork Belly (with Sweet Potato Hash) $17.

Dinner at Palate, MyLastBite.com
Pickled Persimmon $3, Scallops $12, Cheese Course: (Puits d’astiers, Brillat Savarin, Epoisses) $12 (for 3), Young Rabbit with Roasted Grapes $18.

Truffles & Eggs, MyLastBite.com
Crostini with Eggs and Shaved Black Truffles (off menu item). Not in photos that we also loved: Potted Olives with Citrus & Thyme $5, Potted Berkshire Pork $5.

Fromaggier at Palate, MyLastBite.com
One of my favorite rooms at Palate was the fromager station. If you love cheese as much as I do, then you’ll want to press your face against the chilled glass too. Make sure you wave a hello to the AWESOME fromager, Andrew Camp!
Fromaggier at Palate, MyLastBite.com
Andrew hard at work. 

Cheeses at Palate, MyLastBite.com

Chef Octavio Becerra, MyLastBite.com
with the delightful Chef Octavio Becerra

Note: This restaurant is now CLOSED

Palate Food and Wine
933 S Brand Blvd
Glendale, CA 91204
818. 662.9463

Positively Delicious Reviews posted on:

L.A. Times

CitySearch

Gayot

Additional Links:

My Truffle Shaver

http://www.AmericanaAtBrand.com/

http://www.UlyssesVoyage.com/

7 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me)

Ten Minutes To Midnight

My husband Peter and I had reservations at Animal for New Year’s Eve dinner. We’ve been “regulars” for the past six months and there was nowhere we would rather be at years end, than at our favorite eatery celebrating the outstanding food of our friends Vinny and Jon.

So when I came down with a wicked head-cold a few days before, I was a tiny bit distressed. What if I had to stay home and miss out on the Flat Iron Steak with PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) Fondue? Who would be eating the portion of my beloved Foie Gras, Biscuit and Maple Sausage Gravy? And what about the totally addictive “crisp, assertively salted” Fried Hominy that Jonathan Gold recently raved about in L.A. Weekly?

On the morning of the 31st, I still felt pretty lousy and looked even worse. There was no way I would be going out to celebrate. Peter really didn’t want to sit home watching me pout and gulp Nyquil, so he called a friend and kept the reservation. Doing my best to be unselfish, I told Peter that I was happy his buddy Julian would be his New Year’s Eve date. But honestly, I wasn’t happy… I was selfishly miserable.

I tried going to bed early, but the Nyquil wasn’t making me sleepy like it usually did, so I sat at my computer watching the clock. Then I started “timing” Peter’s delectable dinner. “He’s been there a half an hour, so he’s licking his fingers from devouring a bowl of the Fried Hominy with Lime”… “Forty-five minutes in, that means he’s biting into the Pork Belly and Kimchi”… “I wonder if he’s ordering the Quail Fry with Grits, or the Stewed Rabbit with Turnips”?

It was pathetic and I actually worked myself up into a ridiculous, jealous state. I can blame most of this on lack of sleep and continuous sips of Nyquil, but the truth is… I felt like Peter was CHEATING on me! Not with a hot, young girl he met at the bar, but with Animal’s hot, gut-pleasing plate of Poutine (french fries) covered with Oxtail Gravy and Cheddar. How could Peter be so uncaring? How could he even step into Animal Restaurant without me??

At ten minutes to midnight I heard Peter’s car pull up the driveway. This was several hours after I assumed he had finished his dessert (the now famous Bacon, Chocolate Crunch Bar). I was ready for a battle, but didn’t jump up and yell at him like I wanted to. What was I going to say?… “You ate Animal’s house-cured, crispy Pork Belly WITHOUT me, so now you’re sleeping on the couch!”?

With just a hint of sarcasm I blurted out “How was dinner?”. Before Peter said a word, he handed me a bag. “Oh golly, THANKS…. scrappy leftovers” I thought. When I looked in the bag I just smiled. My wonderful and caring husband had brought me my very favorite dish from my very favorite restaurant…. the Foie Gras on a Biscuit with Maple Sausage Gravy. It was perfect and it was officially “MyLastBite” of 2008.
Foie Gras To Go! MyLastBite.com

Foie Gras To Go (plated)! MyLastBite.com

My Dinners at Animal (with photos)

Animal Restaurant
http://www.animalrestaurant.com
435 N. Fairfax Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

3 Comments

Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me)

Animal [8 & 9]

12/13/08 Dinner with Peter and Julian.

Crab Legs & Sweetbreads at ANIMAL, MyLastBite
New dishes we really enjoyed were 
King Crab Legs, Sweetbreads, Hush Puppies & Tabasco Butter$22

and

Flat Iron, PBR Fondue at Animal, MyLastBite.com
Flat Iron Steak, PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) Fondue, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, $25

Foie Gras To Go (plated)! MyLastBite.com
 12/31/08 Foie Gras on a Biscuit with Maple Sausage GravyOfficially “MyLastBite” of 2008.

Animal Restaurant
http://www.animalrestaurant.com
435 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 782-9225

Dining Dates:
12/13/08
12/31/08

-> Visit #10

<- Visit #7

Animal on Urbanspoon

Leave a comment

Filed under Eating Out